#50 Precious Words Writing Challenge is Almost Here


Are you ready for a whole lot of fun?

As many of you know, I’m a BIG fan of writing contests and challenges.  I love them because

  1. they encourage writers to write
  2. they push us to submit our work
  3. they engage us in the kid lit community and provide us with positive feedback and inspiration.



March 2nd is the birthday of the incredible Theodore Geisel, better known as Dr. Seuss. Last year I put together a little contest based on Random House founder Bennet Cerf’s 1960 challenge to Seuss to write a children’s book using only 50 words. And the classic Green Eggs and Ham was born. It’s true that the story has over 700 words…but only 50 unique words.


My challenge is a bit different…yout MAX WORD COUNT for the entire story is 50.

If you are currently writing picture books…or just reading them, you’ll notice that the average word length for many is getting shorter and shorter. So I thought, wouldn’t that be a great challenge…to write a story for kids with only 50 words? With a beginning, a middle, and an end. I wondered if I could do it. I opened the challenge to everyone. Much to my surprise and amazement, there were 128 entries! And now it’s time to DO IT AGAIN.

Please put on your thinking caps and get busy writing. You have a couple of weeks until you need to post your story. Here are the guidelines:


  1. Write a story appropriate for kids ages 12 or under, using only 50 words…they can all be different words, or you can use some of them over and over…just as long as the total word count for the story is 50 or less.
  2. It can be prose, rhyme, free verse, silly or serious…whatever works for you.
  3. Title is not included in the word count.
  4. No illustration notes please.
  5. The contest officially opens on Thursday, March 2nd, in a special post on my blog.
  6. Between March 2nd and March 6th, post your story on your blog if you have one and put the link in the comments of my #50 Precious Words Challenge blog post OR post the entire story in the comments of my #50 Precious Words Challenge blog post. Last year, because the stories were so short, eventually, we had all of them in the comment thread. Please make sure you put your name in the post.
  7. Deadline for posting the story or the link in the comments is Monday, March 6, at 11:59pm.
  8. Winners will be announced Thursday, March 9.
  9. Winners? Of course, there will be winners…and prizes, too! The book prizes are limited to USA addresses, please.
    1. A critique from my beloved agent, Essie White (some of you may remember that the winner of last year’s contest chose Essie’s critique as her prize…and she subsequently signed with Storm Literary Agency!) essie

2. A seat in author Susanna Leonard Hill’s amazing Making Picture Book Magic online writing class (the first writing class I ever took and it set me on the path of writing wonderful picture book manuscripts).

mpbm3. A seat in author Kristen Fulton’s incredible Nonfiction Archaeology online writing class (that was the class that opened the door for me to discover the joy of writing nonfiction picture books).


4. This next prize can be chosen by two people…there are TWO 50% off coupons for Alayne Kay Christian’s ART OF THE ARC online writing class (this is the next class I would love to take).

art_of_arc_v35. OR…if you have already taken Alayne’s awesome class, you can choose 50% off an in-depth critique from her (when Alayne says it is an in-depth critique, she isn’t kidding. I had one of those…it is supercalifragilisticexpialidocious).

6. A seat in one of the KidLitCollege webinars (I’ve attended a few and they are FABULOUS!) OR $19.99 off a critique, donated by Jodell Sadler, JCLA Editorial Agent and Founder of KidLitCollege. Winner choses one and will get a special code.


7. A manuscript or query letter critique from author Rebecca Colby.


8. A picture book critique from author Lori Degman


9. A picture book critique from author Anna Forrester.


10. A fiction picture book critique from author Ariel Bernstein


11. A picture book critique from author Rosie Pova



12. A book on the craft of writing from author Rosie Pova

13. A copy of Bunny’s Book Club from author Annie Silvestro:


14. A book on the craft of writing from author Maria Marshall


15. A copy of Hello, My Name is Tiger from author/illustrator Jennifer P. Goldfinger.


16. A copy of LIZZIE AND LOU SEAL plus an adorable SEAL NECKLACE from author/illustrator Patricia Keeler.


17. A copy of CLAMS ALL YEAR by Maryann Cocca-Leffler.


18. A SUPER HAPPY book prize package from author Marcie Colleen with copies of Super Happy Party Bears Gnawing Around and Super Happy Party Bears Knock Knock on Wood.


19. A copy of Mutt’s Promise,  a middle grade dog adventure written by Julie Salomen…donated by illustrator Jill Weber.


20. A picture book critique from me and a copy of my parent-teacher book, Show Me How! Build Your Child’s Self-Esteem Through Reading, Crafting and Cooking.


I am exceedingly grateful to all of these kid lit pros who generously donated prizes…to find out more about these wonderful people, please click on each link above to visit their websites…follow them on social media..and buy their books!!!!

Please help spread the word and share this around your social media…the more the merrier… #50PreciousWords.

Are you excited?

I am!

And I just can’t wait to read all of your precious words.

P.S. Don’t forget…this is NOT the post you will be using for the contest entries…that post will go live on March 2nd.



43 thoughts on “#50 Precious Words Writing Challenge is Almost Here

    • Of course, Deborah…but as Susanna Hill reminds people during her fabulous contests, you will be in competition with yourself. Last year several people did submit more than one…so, if you love the challenge…go for it!!! I’m excited to read your stories. 😉

      Liked by 1 person

      • Thank you, Vivian. You are lovely. I’m sorry, my reading comprehension error. I saw that only US residents could win the book prizes (so immediately excluded myself). I didn’t think to readjust those thoughts when I saw that some of the prizes are not books. I don’t have an expectation of winning, but I hope to join in. Better get the skates on, as they say. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  1. Pingback: #50 Precious Words Writing Challenge is Almost Here | Cecilia Clark

  2. Pingback: Time for rhyme – Readilearn | Norah Colvin

  3. Here is my entry, “Grandma’s Electric Reading Chair,” by Judy Bruns

    Grandma’s Electric Reading Chair
    by Judy Bruns

    Grandma DeeDee reads to me
    In her big, electric chair,
    Her walker propped beside it
    While words and pictures take us everywhere.
    We climb the Eiffel Tower.
    We ski down a mountain peak.
    We ride the range on bucking horses.
    Then, tired, we nap,
    My sleepy head by Grandma’s cheek.


  4. MISH MASH MAMMAL by Bruna De Luca
    (50 words)

    Platypus bemoaned his beak,
    a tear slid down one furry cheek,
    “I don’t fit in. I don’t belong.
    My paddle tail,” he wailed, “is wrong!”
    Then otter, beaver, drake and duck,
    swam by and he was thunderstruck!
    “I have their strengths, their odds and ends,
    a hotchpotch of potential friends!”

    I’m a writing comp virgin but I enjoyed the challenge. Thanks Vivian!


  5. A Spider’s Song
    By Tasha Hilderman

    Spin, spin, spin,
    I will make my web.
    Spin, spin, spin,
    Out of silky thread.
    Spin, spin, spin
    Pull the threads in tight.
    Spin, spin, spin,
    Working through the night.
    Spin, spin, spin,
    At dawn my work is done.
    Spin, spin, spin,
    Glistening in the sun.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. My Friend
    By Katie Walsh

    Henry reached into the broken box and pressed robot’s cracked buttons.
    The movers weren’t careful, but Henry could fix anything.
    All afternoon he tightened, cleaned, and glued robot.
    Zerriinng! Eerp. Beep!
    Colorful lights blinked. Robot’s eyes opened. “Hel-lo, Hen-ry.”
    Henry took a deep breath and smiled. “Welcome back, my friend.”


  7. COUNTING SHEEP (50 words)

    There was a wolf who couldn’t sleep.

    He drank warm milk and counted sheep.

    He counted sheep from one to ten,

    Turned them ‘round and counted again.

    “I will not need you anymore,

    So, Cook will show you through the door.”

    Dear Reader,

    Don’t be alarmed,

    No sheep were harmed.


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