Valentiny Contest Entry: A Valentine’s Day Cake for the Queen

Today’s post is a treat…my story for Susanna Leonard Hill’s 2nd Annual Valentiny Contest.


Before you read my entry,  it might be fun for you to see a bit of the process I used in writing it.

  1. I read Susanna’s guidelines. Whether you are entering a contest or submitting a story to an agent or editor, ALWAYS make sure you follow the guidelines.
  2. When my kids were young, I loved baking cakes for their special occasions…and they loved eating them. I figured that a story about a cake might be something kids could relate to.
  3. Since the guidelines called for confusion on the part of one of the characters, I thought that it would add a bit of humor and tension to have the pastry chef perplexed by the stacking of the layers of the cake.
  4. Children need to identify with a character in the story so I added a young kitchen boy who saves the day.
  5. I wanted to add some fun words, so I checked the thesaurus for alternative terms for confused…I found a LOT and chose two that made me smile: befuddled and discombobulated…I hope they make kids smile also. I also gave her a name that’s a play on the famous Eliza Doolittle in My Fair Lady. Kids may just laugh at the name, DOUGHLITTLE, but parents and teachers may enjoy the deeper joke.
  6. I wanted the reader to know that Eliza, the pastry chef, was a bit arrogant and full of herself…but in picture books, we are not supposed to TELL…we are supposed to SHOW. I didn’t say: Eliza was arrogant. Instead, I said: Eliza STRUTTED into the kitchen. If you close your eyes, you can just imagine how she entered the room. And before she began, she PUFFED UP HER CHEST. Yes, she’s quite vain about her baking abilities. When the young boy wants to help, Eliza PURSED HER LIPS AND RAISED HER EYEBROWS. Quite hoity-toity (hmmm…that’s another fun word…maybe next story).
  7. Keeping within the 214-word limit was a challenge…but I made it! I hope you enjoy my little story. If you want to read a whole bunch of wonderful Valentine’s Day tales or enter with your own story, please hop over to Susanna’s post.


A Valentine’s Day Cake for the Queen (210 words)


Pastry chef Eliza Doughlittle strutted into the castle kitchen. Valentine’s Day was tomorrow. The king had ordered a 7-layer cake for the queen.  Eliza snapped her fingers. She puffed up her chest—she could do it!

She pulled out pans. She lined up ingredients. She studied the recipe.

“Can I help,” said a small voice from behind the flour sacks.

“How can you help me?” Eliza told the kitchen boy. “You scour pots and pans!”

Eliza measured. She mixed. She poured. She baked. She frosted. Perfection!

Eliza stacked the layers.

The cake leaned to the left.

Befuddled, Eliza tried again.

It leaned to the right.

Discombobulated, Eliza rearranged the layers.

The tower teetered



“Please,” said the kitchen boy. “Let me help.”

Eliza pursed her lips. She raised her eyebrows. “What do you know about making cakes?”

“Not much,” said the boy. “But I stack stones by the riverbank.”

Eliza moved aside. The kitchen boy set the largest layer on the platter.








Eliza peered at the cake from every side.

No teeter.

No totter.


“Thank you,” said Eliza. “Now I have a Valentine’s Day cake to present to the queen.”

“You’re welcome,” said the boy. “Now I have a job as assistant pastry chef.



If you’d like to read the other entries, please hop over to Susanna’s blog. The contest ends on February 14.

And on February 15th…HOLD ON TO YOUR HATS…we are going to unveil the 2nd Annual #50PreciousWords contest. You’ll have plenty of time to prepare your entry…the contest opens on March 2nd, the birthday of Theodore Geisel, better known as Dr. Seuss. YOU DON’T WANT TO MISS THAT POST!

91 thoughts on “Valentiny Contest Entry: A Valentine’s Day Cake for the Queen

    • My daughter’s best friend brought me a cappucino cake, my son got a decadent chocolate cake for me, and at dinner on my birthday, the restaurant brought out what they called: sinfully chocolate delight…oh yes…I’ve had a year’s worth of cake calories in one weekend. 😉 Glad you like the story. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  1. I love that you wrote about your process and took us into your thinking on this entry, Vivian. Yay for the kitchen lad! Super story – you have mastered this one.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Once a teacher, always a teacher. 😉 Yes, I taught kindergarten for many years…you can take the girl out of teaching…but you can’t take the teacher out of the girl…or something like that. 😉 So happy your enjoyed it!


  2. Vivian, I really enjoyed this! I love Eliza’s name, the boy’s cheeky response at the end, and your concrete poem-like structure. Thank you so much for sharing your process too. It’s fabulous to see the inner workings and how it all came together!

    Liked by 1 person

    • You are so right, Nancy. And I think the shorter the story, sometimes the more time it takes to make it right. I hope lots of people will give my #50PreciousWords Challenge a try…posting about it on 2/15. Glad you enjoyed my word fun.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Such a sweet story, Vivian. She gained a sous chef! You have such fantastic word play, e.g., “Eliza Doughlittle” and “puffed up her chest” (I mean, what else is a pastry chef going to do?). I also love the way you formatted the text to convey the idea of stacking. Very clever!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. What a sweet story, Vivian. I loved how you incorporated the confusion and I loved how you shared your writing process. And what a lovely idea to write about a cake – on your birthday! I hope your birthday cake didn’t teeter or totter!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Vivian, I love that Eliza trusted the help of the kitchen boy and that he solved her problem using his skills and ingenuity. This is a heartwarming, clever story.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Vivian, I loved that the kitchen boy stacked stones, so he could stack a cake.I love giving my characters just the right name and enjoyed your naming process. My favorite part of the story was No Teeter. No Totter. Perfection! It’s a perfect story!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh my goodness…thank you so much, Ali…your words are music to my ears…every writer wants to hear that the elements of their story are in a state of…perfection.;) 🙂 You are very kind…I’m so glad you enjoyed it!


  7. Scrumptious, Vivien. Eliza may have had trouble, but you mixed the right ingredients to perfection and assembled your story so it’s a perfect treat. Thank-you for the peek behind the scenes as well (BTW, The name “Eliza Doughlittle” is my favorite element!)


  8. What a fun story, Vivian! LOVE the language – it leaned to the left… it leaned to the right… it teetered… it tottered… such fun to read! And love her name – Eliza Doughlittle 🙂 I’m glad the cake was worthy of presentation to the queen and that the kitchen boy got promoted 🙂 Thanks so much for joining in the Valentiny fun!


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