Tag Archives: Writing Contests

Week 8 – Summer Short & Sweet – Final Challenge – Have You Thrown a Hissy Fit Lately?

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“Do whatever you do intensely” – Robert Henri

Well, Susanna Leonard Hill, I thought Week 8 would be breeze, but I tripped and stumbled through your last challenge. Heather Newman’s painting made me gasp. One,–it’s lovely. And two,—a dragon, a castle, a knight, a damsel, and, and, and,–oh my! 🙂

Badge created by Loni Edwards

The last challenge was to write a piece based on Heather Newman’s lovely artwork, and Susanna’s tough criteria.

Artwork created by Heather Newman

1.  A pitch for a children’s story, any level (please specify PB (picture book), ER (early reader), CB (chapter book), MG (middle grade), or YA (young adult)) based on the picture, in the manner of Short & Sweet Week 6

2.  The first 50-100 words (more or less – whatever gets the creative juices flowing) of a children’s story, any level, (please specify PB, ER, CB, MG, YA) based on the picture.

3.  The last 50-100 words (again, more or less is fine – whatever works for you :)) of a children’s story, any level (please specify PB, ER, CB, MG, YA) based on the picture.

4.  Choose a character (there are at least 10 possibilities!) from the picture and introduce us to him or her – who he/she is, where he/she came from, how he/she got into this situation – a character sketch of sorts.

5.  Choose a character and give us a one paragraph synopsis of the story told by the picture from his/her point of view.

6.  The title of the story told by this picture – give us a good one! (Again please specify level).

7.  A poem following the rules from Short & Sweet Week 3 based in some way on this picture.

I persevered and crossed the finish line. Phew!

#6 – The title

Hot-headed Harold And His Hissy Fits (PB)

#1 – The picture book pitch

When a hot-headed lad finds his older sister locked in a tower, he has a hissy fit. Now Harold must steal the golden key from the ornery hag’s raven, slay the dragon, and rescue distressed Rampina before the dark knight claims her for his bride.

Thank you, Susanna. The challenges were fun, intriguing, and tough. I look forward to participating in future ones.

What challenges have you overcome in the last eight weeks?

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

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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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Week 6 – Summer Short & Sweet Challenge – Have You Been Bullied?

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This week, Susanna Leonard Hill’s Week 6 challenge is to come up with a pitch for a picture book. I offered sweets in my first pitch.

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

A writer needs to include three key elements for a successful pitch—character, conflict, and stakes.

Susanna’s definition is a:
“[Character] who [a unique, special, or defining characteristic of said character] wants/needs [goal] more than anything but can’t get it because of [obstacle(s)].

Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to write an awesome pitch (or 2 or 3) for a picture book. The fun part? It doesn’t have to be for a book you’ve written. Or even intend to write.

It can be a pitch for something you think up right here right now this very second! Or a pitch for a work-in-progress! Or a pitch for a bit of an idea you’ve been ruminating on since breakfast! Or a pitch for someone else’s published book – you take the story and boil it down into a pitch! Or take the idea from someone else’s published book, or a nursery rhyme, or a fairy tale, and change a detail of the plot, setting, character, POV etc. and make it into a new pitch idea! Anything goes!”

The challenge got me thinking about bullies.

Tracy Campbell - Whimsical Work of Art

Tracy Campbell – Whimsical Work of Art

Here are four scenarios:
Your boss threatens your job when you refuse to work weekends
Your ex-spouse threatens to keep your children from you
The new kid in class threatens to beat you up
The big, bad wolf threatens little red riding hood

Yes, bullies exist even in fiction. And no matter our age, we’ve all encountered a bully or two.

So here’s my first pitch on a fairy tale.

Timid, red riding hood needs to swallow her fear when the big, bad wolf breaks into her cottage, snatching her last batch of oatmeal cookies.

Here’s a second pitch from my middle grade novel.

Working Title: “Georgia Rose McLean and the Poisonous Paper Plane”

A new boy in class jams bubblegum into eight-year-old, impulsive, Georgie’s ponytail. When her hair-brained scheme for revenge backfires, she thinks she can never go home.

My pitch needs work. A pitch should be no more than 25 words. An ideal pitch is 12 to 17 words.

For more information on what makes up a good pitch, check out Janice Hardy’s blog post

To find out what some of the top fears and concerns parents may have about sending their children off to their first day of school, check out Positive Parental Participation’s blog post. 

Have you dealt with a bully? How did you handle the bully? Would you have handled it differently?

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Week 5 – Summer Short & Sweets – How To Deal With Road Rage

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Yeah! I’m over the hump. It’s Week 5 of Susanna Leonard Hill’s, Summer Short & Sweets challenge.
Sorry, still no sweets.

Badge created by Loni Edwards

Susanna’s rules:

“First, choose an emotion. Second, choose an animal that emotion makes you think of – either similar or opposite.

Pick an adjective that compares/relates/associates your animal to your emotion (e.g. if you chose angry and cat, you might choose hissing, spitting, or twitchy for your adjective)

Write an action filled phrase describing how the animal moves (e.g. if you chose cat you might say slinking, slitted eyes shifting suspiciously)

Write a phrase telling where the animal lives (e.g. if you chose monkey you might say in the crown of the rainforest)

Write a phrase that either tells readers why the animals acts the way it does, or possibly how others react to it (e.g. if you’re writing about an angry monkey you might say screeching for the baboon’s banana)

Put it all together like this:

Emotion
is [a/an/the] adjective from #1 animal
action filled phrase from #2
phrase telling where animal lives from #3
phrase telling why animal acts that way or how others react to it from #4”

Yesterday, (Friday morning), Week 5’s challenge sat in my inbox.
I rubbed my hands, eager to give it a whirl.
Ring.
A client called agitated, insisting she needed help choosing fabric.
I’m agitated.
When am I going have to time to write Week 5’s challenge?
There’s no way I’m finding myself at the bottom of Susanna’s list, again.

I showered and dressed (good thing).

Grabbed my decorator’s toolbox.

Lugged it, storming to the car.

Revved the engine and backed out.

Clunk, clunk, clunk.       

Jammed the gear stick into park.

Released the latch on the hood.

Shoved open the door.

Hopped out.

Stomped to the front of the car.

Raised the hood. (Ready for my challenge?)

And what did I find…but

An agitated, stiff-necked, red squirrel

Chest thrust in a challenged stance

Flicking a bushy-tail

Barring teeth sharper than a razor

Nattering like an old woman

Atop a carpeted, grassy drey

Wedged between steamy pipes

Under the hood of my BMW

Guarding winter’s walnut stash

Talk about road rage.

Okay, there was no red squirrel under the hood, but I chucked at least fifty walnuts into the field and yanked out a withered nest. I don’t have a photo of an agitated, red squirrel, and in my agitated state I forgot to take a photo of the walnuts piled under the hood. So this morning, I snapped a pathetic photo of chewed walnuts.

And to think I was agitated because I couldn’t stay home and write Week 5’s challenge.

What agitates you? What agitates your children? How do you react?

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Has Your Writing Been Rejected?

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Bah-Humbug! No, I’m not Scrooge, but I feel like him. You see, I entered a 500 word short story to a writing contest. The theme was to recount a childhood experience about Tales of Winter. I polished and submitted ‘Marbles in a Squeaky Snowsuit.’ Then I crossed my fingers and toes.

A week later I pounded my desk. “Rats!” No, I’m not referring to those furry critters. I didn’t even place in the darn contest. Then I vented my frustration on Marcy Kennedy who has won numerous writing contests. Visit her website www.marcykennedy.com to read her winning entries.

Then I was all set to include my story on my blog when Marcy said, “hold the presses.”

She didn’t really say that but she offered the following advice:

“Contests are funny things because the winner (and others who place) is sometimes determined by the judges’ preference. Not always, but that certainly can play a factor. A set of articles that Lisa and I co-wrote won an award from the Canadian Church Press but didn’t in TWG’s Canadian Christian Writing Awards. When we got the feedback from both contests, it seemed like what one set of judges really liked (the informal tone and focus on our personal experience) the other judges didn’t (they wanted to see more research and stats).

Don’t post the story on your blog, at least not yet. I’d suggest submitting it a few more times before you give up on selling it. Sometimes it takes 4-5 submissions before a short story or essay will find a home. If you’ve sent it out numerous times without a personal response (a personal note added to a rejection is actually a positive thing), then it will be time to give it a new life on your blog.

I was writing for years, trying to get published or win contests, before things finally clicked into place. Keep your chin up. You’ll get there. – Marcy”

So I’ve decided I’m not going to post my story. I know you’re disappointed. Don’t cry. You’ll just have to wait until I win or you see it pop up on my blog.

Wait! Before I go I’d like to encourage other writers. Don’t give up!

Dare to Dream Large

P.S. If you have a similar story you’d like to share or if I have encouraged you in some way, please leave a comment. Well, I’d best get back to writing.