Category Archives: Writing Contests
One of the most important things a writer can do is…WRITE!
Perhaps you set aside a large chunk of time every day to write. Or maybe, because of family and other obligations, you snatch precious minutes whenever you can.
Jane Yolen advises writers to BIC…Butt in Chair.
And one way that encourages writers to do that is to enter contests and writing challenges. One of my dear friends and favorite picture book authors, Susanna Leonard Hill, is holding her 7th Annual Halloweensie Contest.
If you are interested in joining in the fun, there is still time to do so. And even if you aren’t able to participate, you’ll have so much fun reading all of the entries.
The rules are simple: Write a 100 word Halloween story for children using the words monster, candy-corn, and shadow. For more details, go to Susanna’s website by clicking the link above.
I decided to take a trip around the world via the internet to see how Halloween is celebrated in other countries. Interestingly enough, it began in Ireland and has spread, in various forms, to many parts of the world. In some places it is celebrated on different days and in others, it is a more religious holiday to honor the dead. But costumes and candy seems to be present in most of the celebrations.
Here is my entry. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it. Maybe I need to do a picture book about HALLOWEEN AROUND THE WORLD.
THE HALLOWEEN CONNECTION (100 words)
It’s time to search for Halloween
Around the globe and in-between.
Jack-o-lantern in the shadow
Glowing eyes and burning smile.
Trick or treat,” a monster shouts.
Chinese children say Teng Chieh.
Lanterns glow to light the way.
Special foods are offered up.
Spirits come on Halloween Day.
In Mexico, kids decorate
With posies bright and candy-corn
And shout “Queremos Halloween.”
They trick or treat from dusk till dawn.
Disguised, Greek children come to call.
“Do you know who I am?” they ask.
A guessing game begins until
The treats are served and they unmask.
Hurray for Halloween!
Photo courtesy: https://www.google.com/search?q=halloween+around+the+world&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjqk-qr3ZTXAhVHSyYKHR3MBJ8Q_AUIDCgD&biw=1094&bih=408#imgrc=ZK8axJblvt5XUM:
And hurray for Susanna Leonard Hill and her wonderful 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!