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<<November 2014>>
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Viewing: Blog Posts from the Writer category, Most Recent at Top [Help]
Results 16,176 - 16,200 of 216,756
16176. Call for Submissions: Drunken Boat

Tom Hazuka (editor of Flash Fiction Funny and co-editor of Sudden Flash Youth and the original Flash Fiction anthology) is soliciting humorous short stories, essays, poems, and audiovisual performances for the spring issue of Drunken Boat magazine. Maximum length of 750 words. If a recorded performance, it also has to hew to the word limit. Send previously unpublished (or published in a small circulation print journal) literary work in a Microsoft Word attachment or send links to audio/video to:

tomATtomhazukaDOTcom (Change AT to @ and DOT to .)

Writers will be notified when work is accepted; rejection letters will not be sent.

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16177. Call for Submissions: THE BOILER

THE BOILER is accepting submissions in poetry, short stories, and short memoir/essays (prose under 3,500 words) for its spring 2014 issue. Submissions close February 20, 2014. We look forward to reading your work.

For submission guidelines visit our website.


The Boiler was started online in 2011 by a group of MFA students from Sarah Lawrence College. Now publishing quarterly, we've featuredemerging writers and established writers such as Paul Liscicky, David Hollander, Bruce Bond, Thomas Lux, Daniel Chacon, Raena Shirali, Robin Richardson, Cinthia Ritchie, Kelli Allen, Emma Bolden, Cynthia Cruz, Joseph Millar and others.

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16178. Call for Submissions: Postcard Poems and Prose

Postcard Poems and Prose Magazine is expanding their publication schedule.
On January 1, 2014 we will begin publishing a new feature every other day.
Fifteen features per month and the occasional short story and contest means will need to publish 200 new features in 2014.
We are pleased to be able to offer these additional opportunities for authors and artists.

With that in mind we are once again calling for submissions of poetry and flash.
Our guidelines may be found here.

If you don’t have the time to read our guidelines - we probably won’t find time to read your manuscript. J Cheers from Dave and the staff.

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16179. Dalek Week on Deviant Art

It’s almost time for the annual Deryn/Alek (Dalek) week on Deviant art!

By miyaginoasakura.

Dalek Week goes from Dec 16 to Dec 22, and challenges you to upload one piece of art per day. Each day has a theme:

7-Happy days

Click here to enjoy the spoils of Dalek Week. (I’ll be posting a few of the submitted pieces later this week.)

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16180. Take Responsibility for Your Own Lives, People.

So I heard on a radio home show today …

The couple who sold their house couldn’t figure out why they weren’t getting any of their mail – no catalogs, no glossy magazines, no bills … nothing.

They emailed the radio show host to ask if it was illegal to not forward their mail to them. Didn’t the new owners of their old house know they needed to forward their mail??

They admitted, in their email, that they hadn’t filled out a forwarding address form, but STILL. Don’t the new owners know they have to take it upon themselves to address their mail with their new address? What was WRONG with these people … GAWD.

The radio host, very kindly, explained to the people who wrote the letter, that it wasn’t against the law to throw away catalogs and glossy magazines, but it was absolutely a felony for someone to throw away first-class mail.

I can just imagine the smug looks of satisfaction that crossed the people’s faces of whomever wrote that letter. “See?” They knowingly nudge each other. “Told you!”

However. It wasn’t the responsibility of the new owners to fill out a change of address card for their new address. All the new owners had to do was write “return to sender” or “no such person exists” on the envelope and put it back into their mailbox.

This story absolutely got my blood boiling – IT’S STILL BOILING. I have a tendency to let a lot of things roll off my back and I’m already convinced that a large chunk of people are honest-to-God stupid nowadays, but I have no patience – ZERO – for people who refuse to take responsibility for themselves and/or are too lazy to fill out a freaking change of address card and take care of their own damn business.

Instead, these stupid people spent the time and energy to write a radio talk show host to find out if there were legal ramification to get someone else in trouble for something they should have the brains to do themselves.

This is where we are in America today.

Doesn’t it give you the warm and fuzzies??

Filed under: Life

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16181. GOOFBALLS 6!

the next book in the series. put to bed and out to stores spring 2014!  think this is going to be my fav, so far...lots of super goofiness and awww! kindergarteners!  "-) ALL IMAGES ©COPYRIGHT 2013, 2014, EGMONT BOOKS, USA/UK. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

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16182. In the Limelight with Middle Grade Author Mikey Brooks...

Welcome to the Official Blog Tour of:
Book Two in The Dream Keeper Chronicles

A thrilling fantasy-adventure series for middle-grade reader!

Don't forget to check out the GIVEAWAY
at the bottom of this page for a chance
to win one of over 30 prizes! 


Interview with Mikey Brooks:

1.     How long have you been writing, Mikey?
I started writing when I was about twelve. At the time I lived with my grandparents in a rural town in Missouri. Our nearest neighbor was about a mile away and the farm house was surrounded by dense, dark woods. Those woods served as the backdrop of many stories. 

2.      Where did you get your idea and inspiration to write The Dreamstone?
The idea for The Dreamstone came about as I was writing the ending to The Dream Keeper. There was this hidden side plot that kept creeping to the surface as I was writing book 1. By the time I wrote the last chapter of The Dream Keeper I had the whole story outlined in my head for the second book. Originally the idea came as I was trying to fall asleep. I was wishing there was someone who could just escort me to Dreams…seconds later, there was Gladamyr (the dream keeper).

3.      What sets The Dreamstone apart from other books in the same genre?
I had a hard time getting a publisher to first pick up this book because it is so different from other books in its genre. Reviewers have compared it to the action of Percy Jackson and the magic of Fablehaven, but the story is not like them. It’s a story of self-discovery and finding the courage to stand up for who you are. The magic and action are just there to move the story along.  

4.      As an author, Mikey, what is your writing process?
I first start with an idea. Now it can be anywhere from a cool scene or a concept I want to explorer. I then create a rough outline of the plot. Then I try and find the best characters to fill that story. Sometimes the characters come first—Gladamyr was one of those. The rest just seem to find their way in. I then set to it. I write chronologically. I have skipped over stuff and gone back but that always proved to mess the story up later on. So I’m an outliner.

5.      How long did it take for you to start and finish The Dreamstone?
It’s funny when I am asked this. The first book took me almost 3 years to write. I was going to school full-time as well as working full-time. It got bits and pieces along the way. After I had finished writing that I started on book 2, The Dreamstone. It took me a little over a month to write out the first draft. I then had it sit there as I queried agents and editors for The Dream Keeper. It sat there too long. I am excited to have it out.

6.      Do you have any advice for other writers, Mikey?
Never, ever give up! Know that what you have is a gift—a gift to tell a story is indeed a form of magic.

7.     What’s next for Mikey Brooks the author?
More and more books. The final installment in The Dream Keeper Chronicles, The Dream Makers, will come out in summer 2014. I have a standalone Narnian tale, The Stone of Valhalla, coming out in the spring as well as a picture book I wrote with my wife, ABC Adventures: Cooking with Kids. There are others in the wings waiting to hit the stage but so far that’s all I have scheduled. I love to write for kids and as long they keep reading I’ll keep writing.

8.      Okay, here’s one for me, since I’m writing a time travel series—If you could time travel anywhere into Earth’s past, where would you go and why?
I’d have to say the 17 century. I’ve always loved Alexandre Dumas and his tales of swordfights and noble brotherhood. I think kids would love to see the age of Musketeers and swashbuckling action. There is so much you could explore in a time period like that. Especially if a girl was involved; the roles of men and women were so different back then. Would our heroin have to disguise herself as a boy to get the respect of the other musketeers? It would be a fun adventure.

Anything else you'd like to share?

I am excited to announce the release of book two in middle-grade fantasy series THE DREAMSTONE. It is an action-packed adventure with a toe in both the real world and the fantastic. 


Dorothy called it Oz, 
Alice called it Wonderland, 
but Nightmares call it HOME. 

When Parker’s mom is dreamnapped by the wicked Mab, it is up to him and Kaelyn to save her. When they return to Dreams, they discover Mab isn’t their only problem. Gladamyr has lost his powers and the only way to get them back is to become what he fears the most—a nightmare.

In Book 1, The Dream Keeper, Parker and Kaelyn discovered that Dreams was a real place that everyone visits while they sleep. An evil nightmare named Fyren took control of the gateway to that world. Parker and Kaelyn teamed up with Gladamyr, the only dream keeper to escape capture by Fyren, and together they save Dreams from Fyren’s rule. After the defeat of Fyren the children return to Awake to find Mab, Fyren’s next in command, has dreamnapped Parker’s mom. 

The story continues in Book 2, The Dreamstone, as the children return to Dreams to save Parker’s mom. Finding her, however, is not their only problem. Mab has waged a war on the Crossing and has sent an army of dragons to bring it down, nightmares have been released from prison, and Gladamyr has lost his powers to shape-shift. Parker, Kaelyn, and Gladamyr must once again defy all odds to set things right and save Parker’s mom before it’s too late.    

“The Dreamstone, by Mikey Brooks, is a wild stallion of a story: fast, thrilling, and unpredictable. I was hooked in chapter one. If he can snare the attention of an old reader like me, he’ll have kids sneaking this one into class underneath their text books…If this one isn’t a kid-pleaser, I don’t know what is.” –Michelle Isenhoff, author of the Divided Decade Trilogy and the Taylor Davis Series.

“This really is a cracking novel. Action-packed and spellbinding!”—Cas Peace, author of The Artisans of Albia series.

"If you like the Percy Jackson, Fablehaven, or the Harry Potter series, you'll love this!" –An Amazon Reviewer.

Mikey Brooks is a small child masquerading as an adult. On occasion you’ll catch him dancing the funky chicken, singing like a banshee, and pretending to have never grown up. He is the author/illustrator of several books including the best-selling ABC ADVENTURES: MAGICAL CREATURES and BEAN’S DRAGONS as well as the middle-grade fantasy-adventure series THE DREAM KEEPER CHRONICLES. His art can be seen in many forms from picture books to full room murals. He loves to daydream with his three daughters and explore the worlds that only the imagination of children can create. Mikey has a BS degree in English from Utah State University and works full-time as a freelance illustrator and cover designer. As a member of the Emblazoners, he is one of many authors devoted to ‘writing stories on the hearts of children’. He is also one of the hosts of the Authors’ Think Tank Podcast. You can find more about him and his books at: www.insidemikeysworld.com
Now Available in Audiobook!


Hardback: 978-1-939993-22-9, Paperback: 978-1-939993-23-6, eBook: 978-1-939993-24-3

Hardback: $19.95, Paperback: $12.99, EBook: $2.99.


10 winners will receive a gift bag with numerous signed books marks, 
collector cards, wrists bands, and a handmade dream key necklace.

Paperback Books:

Can You Survive? Treasure Island, by Blake Hoena

The Super Spies and the Cat Lady Killer, by Lisa Cole Orchard

Color of Freedom, by Michelle Athearn Isenhoff

Explorer X-Alpha, by Lm Preston

Gangsterland, by Ansha Kotyk

Cycles, by Lois Brown
Andy Smithson: Blast of the Dragon’s Fury, by L.R.W Lee
Princess Kandake, by Stephanie Jefferson
Weight of the Crown, by Stephanie Jefferson
Arrow of the Mist, by Christina Mercer
Cassidy Jones, by Elise Stokes
The Seventh Attendant, by Elise Stokes
Curse at Zala Manor, by BBHMcChiller
The Curse of the Double Digits, by Lynn Kelley
Into the Forest and Down the Tower, by Ann T. Bugg
Off to Camp and Discovering Art, by Ann T. Bugg
Agency, by Shantal Hiatt
Psyched, by Juli Caldwell
Ragesong, by J.R. Simmons

Secret Sisters Club, by Monique Bucheger
Trouble Blows West, by Monique Bucheger
The Alien Mind, by Virginia Jennings
The Last Time Keepers, by Sharon Ledwith
Frogs & Toads, by Stacy Lynn Carroll
Nexus Point, by Jaleta Clegg
Warrior Beautiful, by Wendy Knight
Shahira and the Flying Elfs, by Anna del C Dye (PDF)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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16183. What's Better Than the Library? Nothing.

I've been spending a lot of time in the mall and online, looking for those perfect gifts for the special people in my life. I'm so happy when I find the exact perfect match for that special person, at this particular point in time.

I love it when I'm on the other end of that deal, too. When I open a box and in it is exactly what I want at that moment.

But I'm lucky. Really lucky. I get that feeling of opening up a box and finding that exact special treat so many times every year. I get it every time I walk into my library.

I could never afford to buy all the books I read in a year. And often, books I do buy languish at the bottom of my TBR pile for too long -- those shiny new library books have a return date. When I'm the first one to snap up a new release, I feel guilty keeping it too long.

There are so many times I swear I will not walk into the library. I'm going to simply return what I've finished and tackle all those books I own. But the library's pull is too great. I walk in. I head right over to the new MG releases. Last week I picked up Neil Gaiman's FORTUNATELY, THE MILK. Then I try to check out and exit, but the YA section calls -- I'll just take a look. Ooooh! They have Rainbow Rowell's FANGIRL and Elizabeth Wein's ROSE UNDER FIRE.

Every trip to the library is like opening those gifts under the tree. Each book a surprise, waiting to happen.

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16184. Guest Post - Sheila LaGrand

Making Peace with Christmas

Blog post by Sheila Seiler Lagrand, author at http://sheilalagrand.com

In my strident youth I was a Christmas militant. I railed against the displays of candy canes and chocolate snowmen lurking about the bags of Halloween candy. I fumed as tinsel mingled with the harvest cornucopia in some kind of mall marketing miscegenation. I averted my eyes when neighbors’ Christmas lights brightened the street before we had celebrated Thanksgiving.

Not this year. Maybe it’s because I’m not as young as I used to be. Maybe it’s because the grandchild count has risen to nine—which means more gifts, more wrapping, more time to dream up selections that say I love you. Maybe it’s because I’m traveling across an ocean to spend Christmas with my daughter, her Navy-Chief husband, and their children on Guam. For all these reasons, I have overcome my Christmas-season-snobbery. Never again, Lord help me, will I judge the mom scooping up the latest Legos in October.

And never again will I jam all the gift-choosing, making, ordering, or buying into the precious few weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas. It was a legalistic maneuver all along, I see now, not a decision born of grace and joy. And what is more important at Christmastime than grace and joy? As I consider it today, I can’t even remember why I thought it was such an achievement to exhaust myself by squeezing every bit of preparation into a few short weeks.

After all these hard-line years, it’s been deliciously daring to choose gifts in October, to be laying in stores of red-and-green tissue during the first crisp days of autumn. Once I committed to changing my approach, and my attitude, about the Christmas schedule, I reaped an unexpected bonus: The rejoicing heart, the sense of blessedness as I reflect on the priceless gift of our Savior, the real key elements to the Christmas season, they kicked in early, too. Instead of three or four weeks of an overflowing heart, I’ve enjoyed the jubilation since late October.

I understand better now the friend who sings carols in March, the heart-sister who displays a Christmas tree all year long. I’ve been cheating myself out of a heap of exultation. So if we cross paths at the beach next summer, please don’t be surprised if I greet you with a hearty “Merry Christmas!”

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16185. Announcing ‘Maggie’ Christmas Giveaway

Do you know someone who needs hope and inspiration this holiday season? Hope is the central message of  Maggie Vaults Over the Moon. The story of Maggie Steele, who overcomes tragedy and rises to new heights as a pole-vaulter, has … Continue reading

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16186. Beginnings

The beginning stage of creating a book is such a delightful time for me. Lots of unanswered questions of course, and yes, many doubts, but it's also the high octane exciting time of creating. Knowing which idea, from hundreds that occur to the one that becomes the main focus of a year's work, can be a bit of a mystery as well.

Some of my books have come from true life events that I wanted to record, or consider more deeply, or share with others. More and more my stories are completely fictional, growing out of my own imagination. But these still have true life experiences and emotions that rest close to the surface. I find for me the most important thing that allows me to "notice" or "grow" a story is just to be open to the beauty around me. To do this I carry a sketchbook just about everywhere, recording life through drawings and writing. I try never to judge the work when writing in a journal, just record. More often than not, I'm so completely overwhelmed by the beauty of the thing I'm recording, there's no time to judge. Later is the time for thoughtful contemplation and a "going over" of these ideas. That’s when the "one" rises to the top and becomes a full fledged story.

Notre Dame, Paris

I've just begun a new story for a picture book that bubbled up from one of my journals – one I kept on a trip to Paris last spring. My journals don't just hold memories of things I saw or did while traveling. The cluttered pages filled with sketches and watercolors hold daydreams and musings recorded during that enchanted time away. I used to paint only what I saw on travels, trying to capture architecture, nature, or every beautiful note of light. But on this trip, the daydreams I indulged in as I looked out over the rooftops of Paris, or walked the halls of museums were just as important to the experience as what I was seeing. I painted a lot from my imagination and a new freedom and experimentation danced into the pages of my journal. I also painted characters that came to my imagination while walking the streets of Paris. Now two of these little characters, born from such a treasured trip, are coming to life in this story.

Paris Journal

I've always encouraged kids in classrooms to keep a journal – keep filling them up, and remember to go back and look at them later. I'm thankful for this practice I started so many years ago. Stacks of journals line my bookshelves keeping memories alive, and books have grown directly from their pages. I'm thankful too that I have a husband who loves to travel with someone who spends a lot of time with her nose in a blank book. The time I put into it can be "somewhat" intense. But Dave happily explores and daydreams himself, and treasures the journal of memories that grows during our time away. He doesn't mind holding brushes and paint pallets when I setup in cramped spaces makes it difficult to spread out. And he's been known occasionally to leap heroically after brushes that are about to float away on the waves of rivers. I'm lucky in my travel companion. And this trip to Paris was one of our best trips ever, so I'm lucky to get to create a story from it!!

Here are just a few of the paintings done on that trip – a varied range of musings from life and imagination. I'll share more of the story itself when it is further along.

Musings from the Louvre

Ancient Egyptian Carving

Persian Pot, Louvre

Cypriot painted terracotta, Louvre

Painted on a brown bag from Shakespeare and Company, Paris

The post Beginnings appeared first on Lita Judge.

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16187. Bubble World Book Review

Title: Bubble World Author: Carol Snow Publisher: Henry Holt and Co. Publication Date: July 30, 2013 ISBN-13: 978-0805095715 352 pp. ARC provided by publisher You may be bundled up the layers as you sit by the fireside and sip on hot cocoa, but if you want to escape to somewhere sunny, Bubble World by Carol Snow is a perfect beach read. Escape is a key word here, as Bubble World isn't an

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16188. Monday Mishmash 12/16/13

Happy Monday! Here's my mishmash of thoughts:
  1. Touch of Death in the YA Highway Cover Story Post!  Over on YA Highway, they did an awesome cover story post where they created a story and used book covers to "illustrate" it. Touch of Death was among the covers! Yay! You can check out the post here.
  2. Editing  I'm swamped with client edits through mid-January. I'm loving it, but I need to find a way to sneak in writing time, too.
  3. Christmas shopping  Ugh, I'm STILL not finished shopping. The snow this past weekend cancelled my shopping trip, so I'll be out there with all the other last-minute shoppers.
  4. School Visit Guest Post  In case you missed it, I was on Sarah Negovetich's blog talking about school visits. You can check it out here and feel free to ask me questions. (Sarah's blog is a wealth of information, so if you haven't checked it out yet, go now! Seriously!)
  5. Querying  I'm nearing the point where I should hear back on the fulls I have out. I'm biting my nails (Figuratively speaking. I love my long nails.) and still hoping Santa brings me a new agent.
That's it for me. What's on your mind today?

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16189. Teaching: Manners and Customs of the Bible – Part One

Every Sunday I provide videos and valuable links to the Truth or Tradition teachings. We’ve been following the Truth or Tradition teachings for many years now and they have truly blessed our family. We have found peace and happiness through our beliefs and we walk confidently for God. My hope, by passing on this information to you, is that what you find here, or on the Truth or Tradition website, will guide you to a better, more blessed and abundant life.

Let’s get started:

Thanks for watching.

Check out Truth or Tradition teachings on:

Online Store

More from Write From Karen

Filed under: Abundant Life

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16190. The 2013 Holiday Contest Finalists! - Vote For Your Favorite!

The 3rd Annual Holiday Contest!!!


I know.

You didn't sleep a wink all weekend just desperate to know who would make the finalists list for the Holiday Contest!

It's okay.  You can admit it.  I understand :)

But now it's finally Monday!  And you can find out!

After a few words from our sponsors :)

First, I want to thank EVERYONE who found time in their busy holiday season schedule to write an entry for this contest.  With a final count of 118 entries, this was by far the most well-subscribed contest I've ever held.  The overall quality of the entries was absolutely amazing!  There were no easy cuts.  My assistant judges and I found something to like in every story and hated having to cut anyone!

Second, I want to thank EVERYONE who took the time to go around to as many of the 81 different blogs as you could, as well as the 38 entries posted in the comments here, and read and leave supportive comments for the writers who worked so hard on these stories.  In this business where rejection is a common and unavoidable part of the process, it means a great deal to writers to know that their work was read and enjoyed and to receive a few kind words about their writing.  It is one of the best things about this community - that people are so generous and kind to each other.

Third, before I list the finalists, I want to say again how really difficult it was to choose.  There were so many fabulous entries.  The sheer volume means that many great stories had to be cut.  So if yours didn't make the final cut please don't feel bad.  There was a huge amount of competition.  Judging, no matter how hard we try to be objective, is always subjective at a certain point - we all have our own preferences for what makes a great story.  And the fact that you didn't make the final cut DOES NOT mean you didn't write a great story.  Everyone who plonked their butt in a chair and worked hard to write a story for this contest is a winner!  You showed up.  You did your best work.  You practiced your craft.  You wrote to specifications.  You bravely shared your writing with the world.  And you have a brand new story that is now yours to hone and tweak if you like and maybe submit at some point to a magazine or as a PB manuscript.  So bravo to everyone who entered!

Finally, I'd like to be very clear about the voting process.  Due to the large number of entries, there are 14 finalists listed below.  I have deliberately listed them by title only, so as to help with objectivity.  Please read through them and choose the one you feel is best and vote.  You are MOST welcome to share a link to this post on FB, twitter, or wherever you like to hang out and encourage people to come read ALL the finalists and vote for the one they think is best.  Please do that.  The more people who read and enjoy these stories the better, and the more objective votes we get the better.  HOWEVER (and I want to be very clear on this) please do not ask people to vote for a specific number or title, or for the story about Vixen and the canoe or whatever.  Trolling for votes or trying to influence the outcome is counter to the spirit of this competition which is supposed to be based on merit.  I thank you in advance for respecting this.

Now, without further ado, here are your finalists.  There is a mix of poetry and prose, funny, cute, and poignant - quite a spread!

Remember that the judging criteria were:

1. Kid-appeal! - These stories are intended for a young audience, so entries that were well-written but lacked child-friendliness or whose humor or content felt more appropriate for an older or adult audience did not make the cut.
2.  Suitability of mishap to holiday/originality of mishap - the rules stated a holiday mishap, so entries that lacked a mishap did not make the cut even if they were well-written.
3. Quality of story - the rules stated that entries were to tell a story, so if they appeared to be more of a description or mood piece, they didn't make the cut.  We looked for a true story arc.
4. Quality of writing - use of language, correctness of tense, spelling and grammar, quality of rhyme and meter for the poetry entries, and overall impression of writing were factored in.
5. Originality and creativity - because that is often what sets one story above another.

We cut 104 entries to leave you with these 14.  It was very hard!  We did the best we could.  I hope you'll all find at least one of your favorites on the list below.


‘Twas the morning of Christmas. Fresh snow sparkled bright.
Eager eyes, young and old, woke with hope and delight.
For THIS was the day it would all become clear!
Had their patience and kindness been noticed this year?

Old sweet gray-haired Granny, who lived down the street,
had asked for fur slippers to warm up her feet.
Wrapped under her tree was an iPod, instead.
“What’s this thing-a-ma-jig? Does it need to be fed?”

Confused, little Claire, sadly stared with a frown.
Men’s large tighty-whities? She wrote down a crown!
Max wished for a toy, not a stick carved from wood -
his whisper to Santa was misunderstood!

Poor four-year-old Nate wanted alphabet blocks.
He cried when he opened up argyle socks.
And old man McGee had requested a cane.
But how could he walk with a jet-propelled plane?

The neighbors all gathered outside in the square.
“Santa messed up!” “Does he no longer care?”
“Did he drink too much nog?” “Get confused in the fog?”
“Did his hand-written list become lunch for his dog?”

As they chittered and chattered, up hobbled McGee,
a plane in his hand, and a wobbly knee.
Max noticed a use for that stick in his hand.
He traded McGee, who could now proudly stand.

The rest of the town followed Max’s kind lead.
They searched with their gifts to find someone in need.
With an uproar of giggles, the Mayor said, “Claire!
I’ll give you my crown for the underwear pair!”

Then lastly, the iPod. Teens gathered around.
To Granny’s surprise, the small square produced sound!
As they patiently taught her to download a song,
she played Christmas classics. They all sang along.

The families set out their warm suppers to share.
No person left hungry, all plates were licked bare.
They toasted their glasses with “CLINKS” and with “CLANKS”.
They feasted, shared laughter, and offered up thanks.

Perhaps ol’ Saint Nick was no senile man.
Maybe this mix-up was really his plan.
For THIS Christmas season was not for receiving,

but gathering, giving, and mostly, believing.


Santa was used to getting letters, but this one was different.
“Antler Air was having a last-minute special, so we booked a trip to Europe! Don’t worry, Santa. We’ll be back to fly the sleigh. – The Red-Nosed Guy”
“But there’s only three days until Christmas Eve!” said Ernie the Elf.
“Rudolf’s responsible,” said Santa.
The next day Santa received a text message.
“Europe’s a hoot! Visiting the louvre.
Skiing in switzerland. Home tom 2 deliver toys :-) rudolf et al”
“They know how to ski?” asked Ernie.
Santa shrugged.
The next day Santa’s phone buzzed.
“Holland having sale on wooden clogs. Behind schedule, but will make it & have surprise 4 u! LOL ;-)” rudolf & co
“Behind schedule!” Santa bawled.
Christmas Eve arrived the next day, as did another text.
“OMG! All non-sleigh flying banned! May b spending 2nite in germany :-[ Rudy”
“How will we pull the sleigh?” bellowed Santa. His round belly shook, and his rosy cheeks turned blotchy.
“I have an idea!” said Ernie, and he scampered off.
He returned in the wink of an eye.
“You want me to use . . . moose?” asked Santa.
“Meet Amble, Shamble, Shuffle, Stroll, Dawdle, Dillydally, Linger, Lumber, and Bob,” said Ernie.
“They’re so . . . BIG. They’re supposed to be tiny reindeer.”
“We’ll use four,” said Ernie.
“Are they more rapid than eagles?” asked Santa.
“Good question!”
The moose stood still.
“If they can fly, the gig is theirs,” said Santa.
Ernie hitched the moose to the magic sleigh.
“To the house-top!” said Santa, and up they went.
Then down they plummeted through the roof.
“On second thought, looks like you won’t be dashing anywhere,” said Ernie.
There was prancing on the rubble. “I’ll guide the way.”
“Rudolf!” said Santa. “How did you—”
“We hitched a ride with Father Time. These are for you.” He held up a pair of extra-large Lederhosen.
On Christmas morning, Rudolf awoke to a letter:

“Kris Cringle Cruises was having a New Year’s deal. We’re off to the Greek Isles! Don’t forget to clean the factory. – Santa & the missus”


Dear Santa, Hi, remember me?

I asked you for a pet.

A goldfish or chinchilla,

That’s what I hoped I’d get.

But seriously Santa?

A reindeer? Really? Gee!

First he ate the ornaments

And then he ate the tree!

He ate the treetop angel

And the lights! Now that was shocking.

He swallowed all the garland down

And then he ate my stocking!

We couldn’t find a name tag.

Is he Vixen?  Is he Comet?

But when he barfed up tinsel,

I thought I’d call him Vomit.

So Santa, what’s your policy

On taking presents back?

 We just can’t keep this reindeer

Who eats curtains for a snack!

And after all that eating,

When he could munch no more,

He left a present of his own

Upon the hardwood floor.

You must be trying to downsize.

I guess you just don’t need him.

But gee, before you dropped him off,

How come you didn’t feed him?

I know you must be tired,

Too pooped to come yourself.

But please!  Come get this reindeer!

If you have to, send an elf!

Seriously, Santa,

Old Vomit has to go.

I tried to put him in the yard—

  He doesn’t like the snow!

He likes it by our wood stove

With a sofa for his head.

I must admit he’s comfy

When I use him for a bed.

He’s helpful with the firewood,

And holds our hats and coats.

I’m sure he keeps my bedroom safe

From alien zombie goats.

I went on-line for reindeer chow,

I guess we’ll be OK.

He’s so cute when he’s sleeping…

So Santa, he can stay.

P.S. Next year I’ll leave cookies

And cocoa in the kitchen.

But promise me I won’t wake up

and find you’ve left us Blitzen!



Bags packed tight with Christmas gifts,
Loaded on his sleigh,
Santa called to Mrs. Claus,
“I’ll be on my way!”

But Mrs. Claus rushed to his side.
“Wait one minute, dear!
She dropped a present in his hands.
“A special gift this year!”

Perhaps she’d bought a new fur hat?
Warm and wooly socks?
Santa ripped the paper off,
Opened up the box.

“With years of wear,” said Mrs. Claus,
“Your maps are such a mess.
To help you find your way this time,
I’ve bought a GPS!”

“But how to hold it?” Santa asked.
“I need my hands to steer.”
“With this,” she said, and Velcro-strapped
it to a reindeer’s rear.

Fingers flying o’er the screen with
Rapid button presses,
Santa typed in names and streets --
thousands of addresses.

Lights and arrows flashed onscreen while
Santa sat there waiting,
drumming fingers while a tinny
voice said, “Calculating…”

The GPS began to shake,
smoke poured from its top.
Beep! Boop! Fizzle! Snap and sizzle!
Then a giant POP!

The startled reindeer jumped and jerked.
They lifted off to go.
But pulling back upon the reins,
Santa shouted, “WHOOA!”

“Now steady, boys!” He calmed his team
and motioned to an elf.
“Please run inside and grab my maps --
I’ll find the route myself.”

Elves and reindeer stopped to watch
enormous maps unfold.
A giant grid with children’s homes
Each marked with dots of gold.

So many good kids in the world!
It came as no surprise
that Santa’s map lit up and twinkled
like the starry skies.

He clapped his hands, snapped the reins.
“Now, dash away!” he cried.
With a whooosh the sleigh began
its global nighttime ride.

Each stocking stuffed and gift dropped off,
Soon Santa’s work was done.
He flew back to his frosty home
Before the dawning sun.

As Santa stood by Mrs. Claus,
He held a mangled mess --
tangled wires and plastic bits --
The broken GPS.

He kissed his wife and said to her,
“It was a thoughtful treat
But sometimes old things work the best --
Did you keep the receipt?”


The puppy Santa left under my tree on Christmas Eve has been acting a bit weird. Don’t get me wrong…I absolutely LOVE him…his fur is brown, and he is as soft as my favorite fuzzy blanket. He has big brown eyes, skinny legs, and a cute stubby tail. I think he likes the way I taste because he licks me all the time.
When it was time to eat, though, he sniffed his dog food bowl, looked at me, and walked away. I was eating salad for dinner and
dropped a lettuce leaf on the floor. Guess what happened…my dog ate it right up and looked at me for more. So I put my whole bowl of salad on the floor. He loved it…I think my dog is
a vegetarian. He can eat my vegetables every day, no problem!
When it was time to drink, though, he sniffed his water bowl, looked at me, and walked away. I was drinking hot chocolate for
dessert. I even had a candy cane to stir it with. I poured a little into his bowl. Guess what happened…my dog drank it right up and looked at me for more. So I poured my whole cup of hot chocolate in his bowl, candy cane and all. He loved it!
When it was time to go to bed, though, he wouldn’t sit still. He kept running and jumping in the hallway. He leaped off the bed. He leaped off the dresser. Then guess what happened . . . he leaped off
the top of the steps! I must say, he’s a pretty good jumper. He stayed in the air for at least 5 seconds.
I still haven’t decided what to name my puppy . . . oh, wait a minute . . . he’s wearing a name tag. It says, “Blitzen Jr.”. That’s a cool name for a dog, don’t you think?


‘Twas the night before Christmas and Papa was late,
Snowed in at the airport, stuck at the gate.
“My plane has been grounded. I’m sorry, my dear.
It looks like I’m going to miss Christmas this year.”
“But Papa,” I cried, as Mama drew near,
“It won’t be the same if you are not here!”
“Don’t worry,” said Mama, squeezing me tight,
“Maybe Dad will be able to catch the next flight.”
I had put on my jammies and climbed into bed
When a terrible thought entered my head.
“If snow’s going to keep us from being together,
How will Santa arrive in such wintery weather?”
“Santa will make it even if the snow’s deep,
But he won’t come to visit unless you’re asleep!”
Mama gave me a kiss and turned off my light,
Then I tossed and I turned the rest of the night.
I had just drifted off and was dreaming of toys,
When I woke with a start after hearing a noise.
“Santa!” I whispered and jumped out of bed.
“He made it for Christmas just like Mama said!”
In my robe and my slippers, I ran down the stairs
And found Papa, not Santa, in one of our chairs.
“Papa!” I cried. “When did you make it home?
You said you were stuck when we talked on the phone!”
 “Surprise!” exclaimed Papa, “but I found my way
With a jolly red elf who was driving a sleigh!”
“You met Santa?” I asked, “He gave you a ride?”
“With some help from his reindeer,” Papa replied.
“Mama!  I shouted, “You won’t guess who’s here!
Papa! He’s made it for Christmas this year!”
“Santa also delivered a present or two.”
“But Papa,” I cried, “the best present is you!”


On Dia de los Reyes, three boys dressed as little kings sit in la cocina, the kitchen, while Mama makes dough for Three Kings Cake—a large Rosca, a wreath, with plastic baby Jesus baked inside. Plop! Plop! Plop!
Into the dough, go one, two, three baby Jesus figurines. Three sets of eyes watch wide-eyed as Mama says, “Now we let it rise.”
“What will we do?  Jesus can’t go in the oven,” says king number one to kings two and three. They all nod their heads.
 Tip-toe. Tip-toe. The Little Kings take a peek. Mama is fast asleep…
Tip-toe. Tip-toe. Quick! Make the switch.
Aye yi yi! 
Too late! Papa is in la cocina getting a drink. When he leaves…
Tip-toe. Tip-toe. Quick! Make the switch.
Aye yi yi!
Uh oh! Now Sister is searching for a snack. The three Little Kings try not to make a peep. Soon she leaves… Tip-toe. Tip-toe. Quick! Make the switch.
Arriba los Reyes! Yea!
They escape la cocina right on time.
When Mama wakes she bakes the cake. When night arrives it’s time to cut the wreath.

One. . .two. . .three plastic dinosaurs instead—just as sweet!

The elves smiled and waved as the sleigh slipped past the moon and into the Christmas Eve sky.
“Let’s have some cocoa,” said CLEO, Chief Loader of Elf Operations.
But then he stopped.
In the corner, behind a bag of Reindeer Nibbles, was a toy.
“Oh My Gumdrops!” he said.
He looked at the Elf-Emergency Button on his belt.
“No,” he said. “Santa’s busy.”
“Surely I can deliver one toy.”
He whistled for Wanderer, Reindeer-In-Training. Wanderer was an excellent flyer, but sometimes got his directions mixed up.
So, they picked up ENZO, Elf of Navigation and Zooming Operations, and were off.
“There it is,” said ENZO. “Down there.”
Wanderer slowed and settled on the roof.
CLEO looked at the chimney.
“Well, here goes.”
Headfirst into a stocking.
CLEO wiggled.
He squirmed.
He twisted.
“Wanderer . . . ENZO . . . Heeeelp!”
Thwack! Jingle!
“Stuck!” said Wanderer. “Antlers entangled in Christmas tree.”
“Stuck!” said ENZO. “Swinging from garland by bell-bedecked booties.”
“And . . . stuck!” said CLEO. “Stuffed in

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16191. For my fellow fairy friends

Fellow fairy girl Lindsey Stirling is amazing. Share a little light wherever you can, wherever you are.

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16192. Chasing

Sometimes, my food dish gets away from me.


It slides off my placemat and I slurp it across the kitchen.

kitchen bowl

Then it slips into the living room and tries to escape behind the rocking chair.


I keep my eye on it and chase it and keep eating without missing a beat.

rug bowl

Sometimes, Mom’s story ideas get away from her. She thinks she has an idea, and then she starts writing and suddenly the idea she thought she had escapes behind the rocking chair and a new idea takes over without missing a beat. A story about a funny looking creature sitting next to a regular little girl starts out silly and funny and light and crazy, and then the creature gets bullied! Wait! What?

fish bed

That’s not silly or funny or light or crazy.

Mom wonders, “Do I keep writing this new story?” and “Do I backtrack and go back to my original idea?” and “Where are you going with that?”

running bowl

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16193. 2013 Hall o’ Faves

I feel like this was a less prolific year for me, in terms of reading, so there are fewer titles for this year’s list.  Hopefully I’ll pull out of this slump soon (and finally finish that darn challenge — there are new books I really want to read, but my path is blocked by the […]

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16194. The Missing Piece

This time of year is good for reflection. I remember well TBW. The Time Before Writing. I felt like something was missing despite all that I was fortunate enough to have in my life. Obviously that missing piece was writing, which I've been doing ever since I realized that. 

There have been times when life has gotten crazy. Distractions exist, both good and bad, big and small, but through everything I know that if I'm not writing, I'm not complete. 

I suspect it's the same for most of you. Whether you've been living with this conclusion for years or just learning it to be true, you probably have that same driving need inside of you. It's nice to know there's company!

There will be times - and I promise you this - that you'll get distracted by the glitzy lights and colorful wrapping (yes I'm using a metaphor here), when you get frustrated by rejection when you thought this was it, or you become overwhelmed with marketing, etc. But please remember to take a breath, close your eyes, focus on the story inside, and remember. Remember the moment you realized what the missing piece was. 

Because it all comes down to that. Don't cheat yourself. Be true to you and keep working toward your goal, whatever that is. Mostly, keep working on being better at expressing yourself on paper. You can enjoy the lights and gifts too, but it's the warm fuzzies inside that fuel the soul. 

Sorry if this was a little sappy for me. I guess I'm in that kind of mood. :D 

Happy Holidays whatever you celebrate!! 

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16195. WARRIOR Quote!

The fantastic team at HarperTeen did this beautiful social media graphic for the release of Warrior! If you like it, feel free to use it to help spread the word that Warrior is coming out December 31st of this year!! Woo Hooooooooo!

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16196. Shave and a haircut…

Whenever I try something new, I get obsessive about it. It doesn’t matter if it’s animation, cocktails, music, screen printing or my latest journey into straight razor shaving, I plunge myself into it. I’m not a toe-dipper, that’s for sure.

Sweeney ToddStraight razor shaving is slightly different from animation or cocktails. When making a film or a martini, there’s little to no chance I’ll slice open my jugular and bleed to death alone in a steamy bathroom. At the same time, all these activities share a common denominator, which is a big learning curve. I guess I’m into learning curves.

I also love doing things with as small a footprint as possible. Every week I was throwing away cartridges from my disposable razor. Future anthropologists will think our era was not only wasteful, but could only harvest aloe in thin strips. What a mystery that will be.

The other reason is financial. Have you shopped the razor aisle lately? If you’re lucky you have the easy-shaving kind of hair and can get away with those cheapo single-use Bics. Those don’t work on me. My beard is made of titanium and some sort of NASA-grade reentry tile material. If I bleed when I shave, it’s because the hair follicles self destruct out of spite. So I need razor blades that only come from Krypton. And there’s a limited supply with no backorder because, well… BOOM. So they’re super expensive.

I first explored the vintage art of straight razor shaving in New York around 2004. I can’t remember why I didn’t plunge into it then. I had visited the Art of Shaving in Columbus Circle and it looked like an old-timey romantic thing to do. I think they sales guy was wearing a vest and a cravat, so the atmosphere was a Sweeney Todd and Harold Hill mashup. And the dude knew his stuff. This was before P & G bought them out and corporate America flipped yet another thoughtful, artisan shop into a bland chain retailer. A story for another day, perhaps.

I thought again of getting into it a few years ago, but we lived in Oregon and everything in our trailer-style bathroom was constantly cold and damp. Not great conditions for carbon steel. Or people. But I digress.

Now that we live in Southern California, everything is warm and dry again – and our bathroom came with a light this time. So a couple weeks ago I picked up a straight razor at the Gillette outlet store (sorry, the Art of Shaving) and went to town on my face. I painted the town – er, face red. Literally. Red. And bumpy. It was not the baby-bottom cheek variety of shaving I had imagined, it more like gravel and salt rubbed into the bleeding stump where my nose used to be. I mean, holy OW. I felt like I was learning to shave all over again, which I was.

I learned a few things from this:

  1. Just because the sales girl says the razor is “shave ready” doesn’t mean it’s ready to shave you. Is that confusing? Yes, yes it is.
  2. Lather and technique don’t help if you’re shaving with what is essentially a butter knife.
  3. Blades need honing. Which is not something you can do with that big rock in your front yard.

I was referred to a local guy who does professional blade honing (http://bladeandstone.wordpress.com). I was slightly skeptical because at this point I had already dropped over $200 on stuff to remove my facial hair. So honing shmoning, what did I get myself into here?

Blade & Stone is run by a master honer named Ben. Aside from the fact that Ben saved my face and got me to love straight razor shaving, I really dig the fact that he is an artisan like us. There’s no corporate puppeteer employing hourly that’s-not-my-job types, it’s a guy who is accountable to his clients. He truly loves what he does and he shares his wealth of knowledge on blades and shaving for free.

So what happened with my shaves? “Holy ow” turned into “Good god almighty that’s a shave!” I am hooked on this method. I’m keeping some disposables around to shave my dome because I’m not as confident reaching behind my head with a surgically sharp blade just yet. I like wearing hats, but not skin grafts.

To me, straight razor shaving is like the craft of screen printing. You can push a button and have ink automatically spurt from a digital printer, but where’s the art and craft in that? So I love this off-the-grid way of shaving. It’s got a big learning curve, it takes mucho time and care, and not everyone does it.

Which is why I do most things. Because I – ahem – they are difficult.

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Her Ladyship knows we're here.

She picked up WHEEZE and pretended he was a ball of SNOT. Poor Wheeze is now stuck in the bin alongside soggy tissues and crumpled up story notes that scream of monsters and owls and things that go FA LA LA LA LA in the night. Then she tipped out a bag of MARSHMALLOWS and turned TREACLE into a MARSHMALLOW MONSTER. Poor Treacle is going to have to eat her way out and she HATES marshmallows.

MARSHMALLOWS are for old people with dentures. Even GREMLINS stay away from people with DENTURES.

Once the others are free, we're going to climb onto each other's shoulders and pretend we're a CHRISTMAS TREE then WE ARE GOING TO SING and she is going to…

REJECT thinks SHE'S going to poke a pen at us and snap off our branches.

Oh no… She's just pinned REJECT to the notice board and put a little Santa hat on him. I hope that CROOK has a plan to get them out of this. I'd help but she's glued my feet to a Christmas parcel for her INGENIOUSLY, DEVILLISHLY TALENTED NIECE. 

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16198. A nice testimonial

A couple weeks ago, one of my October students sent me a nice note after the workshop ended. She had taken the workshop with phone mentoring:

“I want to thank you so very much for your support, encouragement, and generosity with your time and knowledge. Your course and personal help was far and away more than I expected and absolutely invaluable to me. I feel like I got WAY more than my money’s worth, and also like I’ve found a friend and cheerleader who’s out there sending the Universe good vibes on my behalf. Who couldn’t use more of that? I can’t adequately express my gratitude, so I’ll just say thank you again.”

It’s always lovely to get a note like this, but the truth is L worked really hard those three weeks and overcame some big confidence issues just by doing. It’s the doing that builds confidence, which a lot of aspiring writers have a hard time believing. I swear, though, that taking action is the secret to success, and if you can just get out of your own way and do something, anything to move you forward–even if it turns out to the wrong step to take–you’ll be ahead of the pack of folks who believe there’s some other secret to making it as a writer.

This isn’t a sales pitch for my story idea workshop, btw. If you know what you need to do to move yourself forward–whether it’s increasing the number of pitches you send out each week, or simply calling a magazine to get an editor’s e-mail address–then DO IT. Don’t sign up for another class if you know what you need to do — you’re just stalling and throwing good money away when you could be making money. However, if you’re ready to take action–or, in the words of Tony Robbins, “massive action”–but want feedback on your ideas  and how to strengthen them (which you don’t always get when you pitch to an editor) or want to build the skills you’ll need to become a writer who’s brimming with stories to tell, then my class can assist you. It’s hard work and like I alluded to above with L … the work is really on your shoulders. I can only help when you do the heavy lifting of doing the assignments and working with me to refine those ideas into stories.

Last week L said she was moving forward slowly, but as I told her and what I would tell you, that’s terrific! It’s not a race, especially if you’re at the beginning of your career or you’ve got a lot of other responsibilities and/or issues. As long as you’ve got a plan and you’re taking action regularly and consistently–even if it’s every other week–you’re making progress.

Here’s to happy, prosperous, and confident 2014!!!

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vfaz cover

View from a Zoo has been nominated for The CLEL Bell Picture Book Award (Colorado Libraries for Early Literacy) in the category of reading. Winning books will be announced on February 5th, 2014.

View from a Zoo was featured in the December issue of The Midwest Book Review, and  New Jersey’s largest newspaper, The Star-Leger, on November 29th.

The Southern Newspapers Publishers Association is publishing and offering several of Artie’s children’s stories to newspapers across the United States. The latest is his Christmas story titled Bipper and Wick.  To read the first five stories, please click on the illustration below.

Bipper and Wick

Use of any of the content on this website without permission is prohibited by federal law 


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16200. The 2013 Holiday Contest - Judging In Progress!

Click HERE to go to the Official List of Entries to read and enjoy!!!

The 3rd Annual Holiday Contest!!!

judging in progress...

     Once upon a time, a picture book writer who also writes a blog thought it would be fun to have a little writing contest.
     "Writing is hard," she said to herself.  "Writing can be lonely.  Writers are faced with a lot of waiting and a lot of rejection.  We can all use a little motivation and fun and instant gratification... and some prizes :)"
     So for Halloween in 2011, she made up a contest, provided a prompt, and posted some rules and a sample entry.
     She got 7 contestants!
     "Not bad," she said to herself, "especially considering the freak snow storm that dumped 2 feet of snow on Halloween and totally knocked out the internet for 4 days!"
     She and the writers who entered had tons of fun writing their stories and reading each others', so she decided to do it again.
     She ran contests at Thanksgiving, Valentines Day, and 4th of July.
     She ran a birthday contest, and a contest for welcoming spring.
     She pretty much just made stuff up to suit her fancy in the hopes that other writers would enjoy both the opportunity to create a new story and the chance to read the stories written by everyone else.  After all, in most contests you never get to see the competition!  In her contests you get to read everything if you so desire, AND get lots of positive feedback from the people who read your work (a nice change from waiting and rejection :))
     On December 9, 2013, she posted the rules for the 3rd Annual Holiday Contest.  She tried to pick good prizes, and hoped that people would want to give it a try.
     "It's a busy time of year," she said to herself.  "It will be lovely if we get 30-40 entries.  It will be a miracle if we get 50-60."
     So imagine her surprise and delight when she received not 30 or 40 entries, not 50 or 60 entries, but ONE HUNDRED AND EIGHTEEN!
     "Holy Holly!" she said to her husband, her kids, her dogs... pretty much anyone who would listen :)  "Who'd have ever thought we'd get so many?!"
     And she spent a very happy week reading fabulous story after fabulous story, and marveling at the talent and creativity of so many writers who took the time to join the fun.

You'd think that would be THE END, wouldn't you?

But NO!  Because this is a contest, and a contest means competition, which means some entries have to be selected as standing above the others.

So now the writer had her work cut out for her!  How to narrow down a field of 118 fantastic entries to a manageable handful of finalists?

She called in extra judges.
She (and the assistant judges) read and imbibed caffeine and read and ate cookies and read and imbibed more caffeine and read and snacked on brownies and read some more.

They each ranked the entries.
They compared notes.
They discussed.
They re-read and re-ranked.
They had more caffeine and snacks.
They argued over kid-appeal, mishap-ness, and writing and story quality.
And they burned the midnight oil... and the candle at both ends.

And then the writer took a little break around midday on Sunday to let you know how the judging was going (ACK!!!! YIKES!!! HOW WILL WE EVER CHOOSE???!!!) and to give her chance to say, WOW!  You guys are amazing!  You have made the judging practically impossible!  We love all your stories.  Every single writer who showed up to write a story and share it is a winner, and there isn't a single entry that doesn't have something we like, some reason why we'd like to keep it in the running!

So please know how much we appreciate all of you - your effort, your creativity, your talent, and your generosity for sharing your stories and taking the time to read and comment on other people's stories - even though in the end, with a field of 118, most of you cannot be chosen.


Back to the judging currently in progress...

See you tomorrow with the list of finalists...

... if we survive the process! :)


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