Yes, it's time once again for one of Susanna Hill's Pretty Much World Famous and Totally Amazing writing contests — THE VALENTINY CONTEST! The rules are simple. Write a Valentine story for kids, no more than 214 words (2/14. Duh.) in which someone ...


It’s VALENTINY Time! Susanna Hill’s Pretty Much World Famous Valentine Contest, 2019 edition!

Yes, it’s time once again for one of Susanna Hill’s Pretty Much World Famous and Totally Amazing writing contests — THE VALENTINY CONTEST! The rules are simple. Write a Valentine story for kids, no more than 214 words (2/14. Duh.) in which someone feels guilty. And so, without further ado (or adon’t) I present my entry.

AND be single, double, TRIPLE sure to pop by Susanna’s blog and read all the other wonderful entries! Here’s the link (there are more being posted all the time, so you’ll want to go back again and again!)

Single… Double… TRIPLE GUILTY!

Valentine’s Day tomorrow! Tony could hardly wait. Ms. Flinker was throwing an old-fashioned Valentine’s party with balloons and cupcakes, and a Valentine’s Box for each of them, so all the kids in the class could put in cards.

Tony dumped out his box of SuperZoomer Valentines. Uh-oh. 20 cards per box. 21 kids in his class. 

He giggled. He wouldn’t give nasty Lisa one. She said he was too little for Kindergarten. She called him Tiny, even when he yelled MY NAME IS TONY!

On Valentine’s Day, a SuperZoomer Valentine superzoomed into nearly all the Valentine Boxes lined up along the front table. Nobody noticed that Tony didn’t put one in Lisa’s box. His stomach did, though. GUILTY, it told him.

They ate their cupcakes. They drank red juice. Then it was time for the Valentines. The first one out of his box was from – LISA! Oh no. His stomach said DOUBLE GUILTY. The Valentine said, “Tony – I’m sorry. Can we be friends?”

TRIPLE GUILTY said his stomach. He ran to the back of the room. Red construction paper. Markers. SuperZoomer fast, he made a Valentine.

“Lisa, my card for you wouldn’t fit in the box.” 

She looked. “To my new friend. Happy VALENTINY Day!”



I’ve just started reading this, and had to come to my blog to urge you to find it and read it too.

From the blurb on the back cover, “Meet 10 remarkable women you’ve probably never heard of. They battled bears and cougars, traversed mountains and extreme terrain, endured hardship during wartime and challenged ideas of what was appropriate for women in their time.”

From the acknowledgements, I can tell that Lisa researched this book thoroughly and vigorously. From what I’ve read thus far, I can also tell that she knows how to take rigorous research and make the person come to life on the page.

But don’t take my word for it! Check out this post on 49th Shelf, and Lisa’s website.

Best of all, if you are in or near Fergus or Toronto, Ontario on March 2, you can attend one of her book launch events! (Details at the link to her website.)


LOVE LIKE SKY by Leslie C. Youngblood (MG)

This is another book that I’m just setting down long enough to post about it, then going right back to reading. It is moving and real.

I was immediately drawn to G-baby (Georgie), the main character, who is trying so hard to get used to being part of a “blended-up” family. She’s torn between a little sister, Peaches, who needs more reassurance than G-baby can give and an older step-sister, Tangie, who can’t stand her. G-baby is desperate to get Tangie to like her. Then Peaches becomes seriously ill.

And that’s the point where I set down the book long enough to post this and urge you to read it, too. Here are a couple of links to tell you more about the book, which was just published in November 2018.

Author’s website

Excerpt read by author (video)

Kirkus review

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to find out what’s going to happen to Peaches.



Julie Hedlund’s 12 Days of Christmas for Writers 2018 Edition!

Woohooooooo! Julie Hedlund has just announced the 2018 edition of her fabulous 12 Days of Christmas for Writers. If you read my post on Monday, you’ll know I’ve been pacing around with my fingers crossed, eagerly awaiting this announcement.

To find out more and to sign up, go to this link: 12 Days of Christmas for Writers 2018.

I recommend this experience very highly for all writers, no matter what genre you write.

If you missed my post about this experience, check out this link: The Importance of Taking Stock and Setting Goals in a Writer’s Life.


The Importance of Taking Stock and Setting Goals in a Writer’s Life

In this brief time before the end of the current year and the beginning of the New Year, I like to pause and look back over what I have achieved – and what I haven’t achieved – and what I want to do in the coming year.

I do this in a variety of ways. I create a vision board that includes my writing goals, hopes, and plans for the coming year as well as my goals in other areas of my life. I’m in the process of doing that now. This year, since I’ve had a writing accountability buddy (post coming in the new year) we may be able to do some evaluation together. I’m also always brainstorming with my first reader/critique partner on all my writing goals.

For the past few years, I have found Julie Hedlund’s 12 Days of Christmas for Writers to be invaluable for the process of looking back and making plans to move forward with my writing. Every year as December approaches, I start wondering if Julie will offer this opportunity again.

The all-too-brief time of the 12 Days focuses on clarifying successes and non-successes from the past year, clarifying just what we want to build on in the coming year, giving and receiving support in a group of other writers who are going through the daily exercises, and above all, having FUN together!

In Julie’s words, from her blog post about last year’s 12 Days, it’s to “keep the holidays going even after the New Year begins,” and “to start your writing year from a place of inspiration, illumination, and optimism.”

If Julie decides to offer The 12 Days of Christmas for Writers in 2018, I’ll update my blog with a brief post to let you know. In the meantime, I’ll keep my fingers crossed.

This year, I’ll also be participating in a free webinar about looking back and moving forward, presented by freelance editor and former agent Mary Kole. The webinar is entitled Rock Your Writing Goals, and will take place Saturday, December 29, at 11 a.m. CST. It will run for about an hour.

In Mary’s words, “Let’s spend an hour together this last weekend of December and do some creative brainstorming for the year to come. … I’ll discuss creativity, actionable steps for achieving your writing or publishing goals this year, and send you off into 2019 with a bang!” Learn more about Mary’s webinars and sign up at this link.

How do you prepare for the year-to-come? I’d love to hear about it in the comments.


Here’s to a great 2019!