Category Archives: Writing Contests
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Children need to identify with a character in the story so I added a young kitchen boy who saves the day.
- 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.
- 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).
- 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.
“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.
I HOPE YOU ENJOYED THE STORY.
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!
It’s always a thrill to participate in one of Susanna Leonard Hill’s writing contests. They are a wonderful way to connect with other writers, they are a great exercise in saying a lot in a few words, and there are always awesome prizes.
Today I’m sharing with you my entry into Susanna’s First Annual Pretty Much World Famous Valentiny Writing Contest. Here are a few of the basic rules: 214 words or less, appropriate for children ages 12 or under, and one of the characters has to be grumpy. If you are interested in participating or just want to read a bunch of fun stories, you can go here: http://susannahill.com/2016/02/08/be-still-my-heart-the-1st-annual-valentiny-writing-contest-is-here/
So how do you write a story about a grumpy character and Valentine’s Day? I started thinking of what makes people grumpy. Getting older, right? And having wrinkles, right? So I Googled wrinkles and got lots of animals that have lots of wrinkles. And then I thought, what would happen if one of those animals wanted to get rid of his wrinkles.
I love elephants…they have lots of wrinkles. What if an elephant wanted to propose to his ladylove on Valentine’s Day, but thought she might not want him because of his wrinkles. And what if he was a scientist and had an assistant who was given the job of finding the formula. And what if the assistant found the formula, but by that time, the professor had already realized that his wrinkles served an important purpose. What would the assistant do?
I hope you enjoy my little story…please let me know what you think of it…and don’t forget to hop over to Susanna’s website so you can enjoy all of the fun.
FOR THE LOVE OF SCIENCE (211 words)
Clutching a mirror, Professor Pachyderm glared at his assistant.
“Wrinkles and crinkles! Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day!”
“How can I propose to my ladylove with a face that’s folded and furrowed?”
“This is the last night to come up with the formula, Mortimer!” Slamming the door, the professor stomped downstairs.
Mortimer stared at the rattling test tubes. He shivered. He shuddered. He squeaked. “Eek!”
Mixing and measuring, he added a bit of this. He poured the formula onto a piece of wrinkled paper. Instantly it became…
a gob of soggy paper.
Stirring and shaking, he took away a bit of that, brushed the formula onto a folded metal fan and waited. Nothing.
Upending every jar and jug, Mortimer swirled and whirled the ingredients. He dipped a creased cloth into the big bowl and stared as the material smoothed out. Aha!
Just then, the professor returned. “Forget about it, my dear fellow!” he trumpeted. “I Googled wrinkles on elephants. Did you know I need them to keep me cool? My Valentine’s Day will be A-OK – she wouldn’t have me any other way! Sorry I wasted your time.”
“No problem,” Mortimer said, as he filled out a patent application for Permanent Press Fabrics. “Exploring the possibilities of science is never a waste of time.”
Thanks so much for stopping by, everyone…I hope you will check on the contest during the week…more entries will be coming in until the deadline on Friday. And then next Monday will be the announcement of the finalists on Susanna’s blog and you’ll have a chance to VOTE for your favorite.
Have a beautiful week!
Guess what? It’s December! Do you know how I know?
It’s time for Susanna Leonard Hill’s Annual Holiday Writing Contest! YAY!
And this is the fifth year I have participated! Sorry for all the exclamation marks…but it’s one of my favorite writing challenges.
Here are some of the basic rules from Susanna website: the contest is open to everyone and there is still time to enter—deadline is Friday, December 11. Write a children’s story (children here defined as approximately age 12 and under) beginning with any version of “Rocking around the Christmas tree at the Christmas party hop.” You may use that actual opening, or you may change it to any similar version “[Verb of your choice]ing [any preposition you choose] the [any item you choose] [any preposition you choose] the [venue of your choice].” For example, “Surfing along the wind-whipped waves at the Yuletide barbeque,” or “Wandering through the pine-sweet woods at the cut-your-own tree farm,” or “Quarreling in the checkout line at the local Toys R Us,” or “Waltzing among the candy canes at the Holiday Bazaar”…. You get the idea, I’m sure 🙂 And the maximum word count is 350. There are PRIZES galore! For more information: http://susannahill.blogspot.com/2015/11/monday-munchdayan-exciting-announcement.html
Those of you who know me know I love to write in rhyme. Here’s my entry—I hope you like it!
The Christmas Seed (341 words)
Circling round the planet Mars on their space craft RV-3,
the children begged and pleaded for a real live Christmas tree.
“There is no way,” cried Maw and Paw, “for that to come about.”
So Sue and Lou and Baby Boo would have to do without.
No Christmas tree? That cannot be…they vowed to find a way.
Sue climbed up high and searched the sky, but only saw a sleigh.
And Lou got tangled in the lights while looking in a drawer.
And Baby Boo picked up a seed as he crawled on the floor.
“Take that away,” cried Maw and Paw, “that’s not for Boo to eat”
But Boo skedaddled like a flash to the ejection seat.
Maw screamed! Lou tripped! Sue scrambled down! Paw reached to
save his kid.
They heard a BOOM! It shook the room! The spaceship blew its lid!
They watched as Boo flew through the air; it was a fearful sight.
This wasn’t quite the way they’d planned to spend this Christmas
And Maw, she moaned, and Paw, he groaned, and Sue and Lou,
But then they heard a HO! HO! HO! and Santa slid inside.
He opened up his big red sack – plucked out a doll for Sue,
a watch for Paw, a book for Maw, a bat and ball for Lou.
But Maw and Paw, their faces drooped, and Sue and Lou, they
until they heard, deep in the sack, a most familiar sound.
Then Santa reached way down inside and pulled out Baby Boo.
“I saved the best for last,” he said. “This one’s for all of you!”
And scrambling up onto his sleigh, he pointed straight at Mars
The seed Boo found had grown into a Christmas tree with stars.
And Santa’s booming voice rang out as he rode out of sight,
“May peace and love and joy be yours on this and every night.”
So if you get a telescope, please aim the lens towards Mars,
and you might see Boo’s Christmas tree, adorned with twinkling
I hope you get a chance to visit the other contest submissions…they are sure to be fantastic!
And before I forget, a couple of weeks ago, I was part of a book blog tour for Margret Peot’s new picture book, Crow Made a Friend. I promised there would be a GIVEAWAY of a copy of this precious story. And the winner is….
I will get in touch with you for your address so they can ship the book to you.
Have a wonderful week—pass along a smile, give someone a hug, and be kind to yourself.