Tag Archives: birthday

Week 7 – Summer Short & Sweet Challenge – A Birthday Present


Fall is in the air. Adios, hot and hazy summer days. But I’m thankful for photos to remind me of sweet memories spent with my hubby’s family. A perfect lead into Susanna Leonard Hill’s, Summer Short & Sweet Challenge.

Badge created by Loni at http://www.loniedwards.com

I’m in the home stretch. One more week before I say adios, Susanna. Sorry, still no sweets to munch on while you read Susanna’s rules.

“We’re taking a field trip! It can be anywhere you want – and anything that fits into what you’re already doing – no special outings necessary. Going out with your kids to the beach, the zoo, a museum, the playground, the library? Going shopping at the grocery store? Washing the car? You don’t even need to leave the house – the kitchen or the back porch will be just fine!

Your challenge today is to describe a setting – any setting that tickles your fancy. In 50-100 words (more or less if you like, that’s just a ball park) make us feel like we’re there. Take a careful look at your surroundings – whatever they are. What does it look like? sound like? smell like? feel like? taste like?

BUT – here’s the trick. You can’t use the actual word of the place! So if you’re describing the kitchen, you can’t use the word kitchen. We have to be able to guess!

For an extra challenge, describe it from a kid’s perspective – try to look at it through the eyes of the average five -year-old, the typical picture book age target. Places can look a lot different to a five-year-old than they do to an adult. Different features stand out, and kids’ react to things differently.

Although we don’t devote a lot of words to setting in picture books because that part of the job is done by the illustrator, it is helpful to you as a writer to envision your setting clearly. Certain select details will be necessary, depending on your story, and this is good practice in focusing on the details that really matter. If you write for older readers, setting description is very important to make your reader feel like they’re there – but you can’t ramble on indefinitely. MG and even YA readers are not going to have a lot of patience for long-winded descriptions. So this is a chance to practice picking out the part you really need to say.”

I hope you enjoy my entry.

Krystal peeked around the corner. A warm breeze flapped plastic tacked to two corners on the wooden window frame. She giggled at Poppa’s fake owl perched on the ledge.

A beam of sunlight poked through a hole in the plastic and shone down on yellow metal plastered with decals.

Krystal’s mouth formed a perfect ‘O’. “Poppa, is that really for me?” She slapped her cheeks.

Poppa beamed. “Yes, Krystal. You’re old enough.”

“I know. I’m five-years-old.”

Poppa cranked the key. Grey smoke billowed from the exhaust.

Krystal coughed and clamped her hands to her ears.

Poppa patted her back. “Hop on.”

Krystal grunted, swinging her left leg over the hard, black leather seat. She planted her running shoes on the sideboards and wiggled her backside. Her sweaty palms tingled, gripping rigid rubber.

She stared out at the open field. “Hurry, Poppa.”

Poppa strolled to her side and pointed out some very important instructions.

Krystal nodded, licking dust off parched lips. She hunched forward. Her tummy somersaulted, coaxing the noisy machine toward the overhead towering frame.

“Well?” Poppa asked. “What are you waiting for?”

The engine roared.

Her body jiggling, she bounced over hilly mounds. “Whee!” 

Poppa yelled, “Slow—” But his voice got lost in the wind.

She flew past giant sunflowers that smiled and waved.

Krystal threw back her head and belted out at the top of her lungs, “Happy Birthday to me!”

(225 words) Okay, I can’t stick to the word count.

Five-year-old Krystal driving her ATV

Krystal didn’t fly past sunflowers, but she did chug around the yard with Poppa gripping a rope to cut the engine should she dare takeoff.

And one last item. I’m sending love your way, my son. Happy 18th Birthday. I love you.

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Poetry or Prose Contest – Happy Birthday! You’re One


Susanna Leonard Hill, a published children’s author, is running a contest. The rules stipulate that entrants write a children’s story about a very creative and/or unique birthday celebration in 300 words or less in either poetry or prose. The entry must be posted on their blog between Saturday, May 19th, and Tuesday, May 22, 2012.

So I’m taking the plunge and entering Happy Birthday! You’re One. This poem is one that I’ve written for my baby’s first year record book. I’ve also included the illustration that inspired this poem and that appears in the book. The artwork made its debut in my previously published calendar.

Happy Birthday! You’re One


I shoved invitations through a thin little slot,

The envelopes slid down the chute, mailing the lot.

I poked, emailed, and sent out oodles of tweets,

So family and friends could have a bash in the street.


I yanked open the oven, pulled out steamy, hot buns,

Then swirled icing on a sponge cake no one would shun.

I dressed you in bright colors of green and red,

And plunked a cone hat on top of your soft, downy head.


The guests arrived bearing gifts of all kinds,

You squealed with delight, ‘cuz you sure didn’t mind.

We whacked the piñatas, spilling candies galore.

Then you licked a lolly and plopped to the floor.


 I flipped hotdogs and burgers on our new barbecue,

Then I blew out your candle before you turned two.

Your eyelids did droop, though horns they did toot,

Time to dole out bags packed with loads of fun loot.


The sun disappeared out of our sight for the night.

 I kissed your cheek and tucked you in tight.

“Happy Birthday,” I hummed, “my sweet, little pet,

Today you turned one, a birthday I’ll never forget.”


Happy Birthday! You’re One

The finalists’ poetry or prose will be posted on Susanna Leonard Hill’s blog for you to vote on starting Monday, May 28th, and will stay up throughout Tuesday.

And here’s my blurb that I’ll submit to an agent. Don’t hold your breathe. It’s a lengthy process that will test my endurance.

OUR STORY—YOU & ME is sprinkled with quaint quotes and brimming with quirky rhymes that mirror my whimsical works of art. This unique diaper bag-sized keepsake book will appeal to mommies and expectant mommies who want to capture the milestones of their baby’s first year.

The book is unique in that it elevates a record book to an early-reader storybook a mom can read to her child. In the years to follow, they’ll giggle together, pouring over candid photos like a toothless grin, wobbly first steps, the ultrasound, and other special mementos. There’s a bonus envelope to preserve a lock of hair, a hospital bracelet, and immunization records.

Have an awesome long weekend!

  This poem and artwork is the property of the author. Please do not re-print or re-post.