Susanna Hill’s 8th Annual Holiday Contest Entry

I often mention how important it is to be writing and be submitting. Writing hones our craft and submitting…well…without submitting, your work will sit in a drawer or folder or computer file and never help a child deal with a problem or make someone smile.

One of the least stressful ways of submitting is to enter a writing challenge or contest. That’s why I host #50PreciousWords every March. If you win, that’s great! If you don’t, no worries. You exercised your writing muscle and connected with the kidlit community. A win-win situation!

I’ve been participating in Susanna Hill’s writing contests for EIGHT years. That’s right, folks…EIGHT! She is a fabulous mentor to all writers and the Holiday Contest is only one of the many ways she reaches out. This year I’m honored to be one of the prizes.


The contest rules: A story, 250 words or less, appropriate for children ages 12 and under about a Holiday Hero.

And here is my entry. I hope you enjoy it. And then, when you are finished, please click on this link to read all the other entries on Susanna’s blog.



The sign flashed PIZZA/DELI. Christmas bells jingled as Rachel hurried inside. Shaking off snow, she slipped past cloth-covered tables. Warmed with the heat of a wood-fired oven, the room felt good, but Rachel wondered if this would ever feel like home.

Almost a year ago, Rachel and her family arrived in America. She was grateful to be in a safe place. But everything was different. She was different. Living over the store, Rachel always smelled like pastrami or salami or pepperoni pizza. Kids at school stared and glared and wrinkled their noses. Especially Mia, who lived over the laundromat next door. Mia smelled like flowers and sunshine and spring rain. Rachel sighed. Still, it was Christmas vacation – no stares or glares or wrinkling noses for a whole week.

That night, the wind howled and snow fell. In the morning, silence. Power was out all across the city. But the wood-fired oven burned merrily and Mama lit candles for each table. In the kitchen, Rachel layered pastrami and salami and thought about Mia. Without power, maybe Mia’s family would have no heat. Rachel remembered being cold.

“Can we invite Mia to eat with us?”

“Of course,” Mama replied. “Go ask.”

Soon, Mia and her family trooped in, stamping snow from their boots. Before long, everyone was biting into sandwiches piled high with meats and cheeses.

 “Here in New York,” Rachel said, “this sandwich is called a hero.”

 “Maybe,” Mia said as she moved closer. “But to me, you are a hero.”


Thank you for stopping by, my friends. It’s hard to believe it is December. Happy Hanukkah to all who celebrate. My dear critique buddy Jill Weber, the illustrator for PIPPA’S PASSOVER PLATE, just gave me a copy of her newest book….a board book edition of THE STORY OF HANUKKAH written by David Adler. It’s a wonderful story with very simple text and fabulous illustrations!

the story of hanukkah

And please come back tomorrow and Saturday for a very special Perfect Picture Book Friday and Will Write for Cookies with one of my first blogging buddies, host of the long-running blog Non-Toxic Kids, Katy Farber.

37 thoughts on “Susanna Hill’s 8th Annual Holiday Contest Entry

  1. Okay. I am reading this story right before dinner and am very hungry, so I want to be invited to Rachel’s house too!! I could picture Rachel’s situation very well thanks to your description. And I really liked how gracious Rachel was to Mia. Well done!!


  2. Cooked a pizza for dinner so Rachel’s story came alive here! Such a good friend and a heroine when she expected nothing in return. Excellent story, Vivian, and thank you for your generous prize contribution to this awesome contest!


  3. Vivian, your descriptive writing brought the December holidays to life. What child doesn’t have feeling of inferiority about something? But for Rachel to use the one thing that makes her uncomfortable to save the day is wonderful. Good luck.


  4. What a lovely story, Vivian—so engaging and beautifully written. Your opening had me in the small Italian restaurant’s ambiance immediately!
    Thank you for donating your generous prize—what an amazing opportunity for the lucky winner.
    Happy Holidays!


  5. Vivian, your story was “food for thought” and “food for the soul” – really captured the holiday spirit and what being a hero is about. And thank you for donating your skills and services as a prize! Excited to find out who the lucky winners will be! Fingers crossed!


  6. What a warm, lovely, beautifully written story, Vivian! And I love the play on “hero” – very clever! It was heroic of Rachel to extend the invitation to Mia in spite of her worries about stares and glares and wrinkling noses (loved that repetition) and it earned her a friend 🙂 Thanks for joining in the Holiday fun!!! (And also for reading all the entries and commenting – so sweet of you!)


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