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!