November 28, 2011

Thanksgiving Contest Finalists and More Fun To Come!

Happy Monday everyone!  We've got all kinds of fun in store today, but first I have to share something totally off topic that made my day :)
Isn't that just the nicest thing? :)
OK.  Now on to today's important business!

I had no idea what I was letting myself in for when I started the Thanksgiving Contest.


To begin with, there were more than twice as many entries as for the Halloweensie Contest - 19 all together in case you were wondering (the 20th was in there just for fun, but because the author is related to the judges it could not in fairness be considered :))

To top that off, you are all so creative and talented!  I could have found a reason to make any of the entries a finalist.  My assistant judge and I couldn't even come to a consensus on which 3 it should be, so in the end, as senior judge, I made the call.  I just want you all to know it was really hard, and I wish I could give everyone the prize!

Entries were judged on appropriateness as a children's story, originality, and Thanksgiving-ness (that is too a word!)

So without further ado, here are the 4 finalists because I just couldn't decide between 2 of them and make it 3, so I'm cheating and leaving it up to you guys :)  They will be identified by number only.  Please vote for your favorite!


They were set to go to Grandma’s
For their big Thanksgiving feast,
But the blizzard came in fast
Growling, howling like a beast –

Hurled itself around the house
Rattling windows, banging doors.
They laid a fire in the hearth
Against the blizzard’s wicked roars.

They couldn’t roast a turkey.
Electricity went out.
They ate tuna for their meat,
For their veggie – sauerkraut.

They wrapped themselves in blankets
Lit some candles, played some gin.
Dessert was pumpkin out of cans
With some cinnamon stirred in.

They started telling stories
Scary, funny, tried and true
Til the fire turned to embers
And the clock struck half past two.

They stoked the fire to blazing,
Snuggled close and rested heads.
That fire was so darned cozy
That they did not miss their beds.

They formed a sleeping circle
With the dog curled up inside.
Slept so soundly through the night,
They did not hear the storm subside.

They woke up the next morning
To a dazzling, blinding light.
Snow had piled up to the rafters,
And the world was frosted white.

They threw on coats and snowsuits
Raced out straight into the snow.
Threw some snowballs, built a snowman
Came back in with cheeks aglow.

They sat sipping some hot chocolate
When they heard the doorbell ring.
Behind the door was Grandma
With a giant turkey wing!

That Thanksgiving sure was different.
Many folks would call it lame.
But they made the most of family
And were thankful just the same.

"They were supposed to go to Grandma's for Thanksgiving, but the blizzard came in fast.
The weatherman said, "It's best to stay inside until this storm is past...
In fact don't heat the oven. Make sandwiches instead
With pumpkin flavored jelly spread on a piece of bread."
That's when I said with a look of great suspicion,
"That funny looking weatherman knows nothing of tradition."
And what is that he's wearing? A faux-feather suit!
And that…That's a waddle dangling down from his snoot!
"DAD! Call the station! Quick! This guy is a fraud!
The whole blizzard’s just a big facade."
So, as they snatched Mr. Gobble right off the TV station,
We loaded up and headed out for Thanksgiving vacation.
“Grandma we’re coming. There’s really not a blizzard.
But you can’t blame a turkey when he tries to save his gizzard.”

They were supposed to go to Grandma’s for Thanksgiving, but the blizzard came in fast.  The wind howled.  The tree creaked.
Papa stockpiled wood inside the burrow.  He stomped his feet and bolted the door.
Papa looked at his shivering brood of three.  “I know you are disappointed, but we are safer in our burrow.”
“What about Grandma’s acorn pie, ” asked Sammy.  His pudgy cheeks quivered and is large glossy eyes brimmed with tears.
“We have plenty of nuts, berries, fruit, seeds and grains to feast upon,” said Mama.  “Why don’t you do your chores.  Be thankful that we’re together.”
Sammy, Teddy and Rose tidied up their nests and swept the burrow.  Sammy wondered what they could do to make Thanksgiving special.
Then Sammy spied a twig resting against the wall inside the burrow.
“Hey Teddy and Rose, I have an idea,” said Sammy.  The three siblings huddled and whispered.  Rose jumped up and down.   The rest of the morning they worked in a corner of the burrow on their idea.
Mama worked all morning preparing their feast.  Papa tended to the fire so that the burrow remained warm.
Sammy carefully placed their centerpiece on the table.
“It’s beautiful!”  Mama gasped.
“It’s our thankful tree,” beamed Sammy.  Tied to the branches were acorns, pine cones, and dried leaves bearing the names, Mama, Papa, Grandma, Sammy, Teddy and Rose.
They heard a rustle in the tunnel and a voice called out,  “Acorn pie anyone?”
“Grandma,”  they chirped.  “We’re thankful you’re here!”

We should have gone to Grandma’s but the blizzard came in fast.
The snow banks drifted deeper and we knew that they would last.

We thought of Grandma’s turkey and prize winning pumpkin pie.
Could we miss her fancy feast? Oh no! We had to try!

Dad shook his head. “Our tire tread won’t get us out of here.
We need some transportation with snow blizzard traction gear.”

From the barn we pulled an old toboggan, bent and beat.
We lashed some rope onto the front and pulled it to the street.

The horse, the cow, the dog, the cat – we tied them to the sled.
Then gooped their feet with peanut butter, honey and some bread.

We hopped aboard and held on tight when Dad shouted, “Now, MUSH!”
Whoosh! We sailed across the snow and slid along the slush.

The icy snow was blinding, but we thought we headed east.
Our rag-tag team was working hard to get us to our feast.

On and on we traveled, til our teeth were blue with frost.
Finally little Suzie cried, “Oh Dad, I think we’re lost!”

Then up ahead we saw a twinkling light among the trees.
It wasn’t Grandma’s house but we must stop or else we’d freeze.

We would have gone to Grandma’s but the blizzard came in quick.
Who knew that was the year we’d have Thanksgiving with St. Nick!

With seriously honorable mention to runners-up Erik and Abby who nearly caused some heated hot chocolate slinging between the judges over whether to include or not!

See how hard this is?  I can't wait to see what you vote for!  Polls close Tuesday November 29 at 11:59PM EST so I can announce the winner on Wednesday, so please vote ASAP!

Now, on to that surprise I promised :)

The response to the Thanksgiving Contest was so enthusiastic, and I think we all had such a good time, writing our stories and reading everyone else's, and there was such a sense of fun and community, that I have decided to hold a Holiday Contest!  YES!  IT'S TRUE!  I'm announcing it now to give you all plenty of time to get your stories written before the holiday rush.  Here are the entry requirements:

Write your own version of Clement C. Moore's traditional poem, 'Twas The Night Before Christmas!  Entries must be at least 12 lines/3 stanzas, not to exceed 40 lines/10 stanzas (although I realize the original is 56 lines/14 stanzas, but I'll have to read them all during the week before Christmas :))  Entries may refer to any winter holiday you celebrate (Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, etc.) or to any combination of winter holidays, or no holiday - just a good winter-time story if you're not comfortable with a holiday.  I chose a rhyming challenge because so many people seem keen on it, but if the idea of rhyme strikes fear and loathing into your heart, you may write a prose version not to exceed 350 words :)

Entries must be posted on your blogs, or copied and pasted into the comments on my blog between Monday December 19 and Thursday December 22.

3 finalists will be chosen (hopefully really 3 next time :)) for you to vote on Monday December 26.  The winner will receive their choice of a $15 Amazon gift card (to buy themselves whatever book they really wanted and didn't get as a holiday gift :)) or the 2012 Children's Writers and Illustrators Market!

I hope you're all as excited as I am about the Holiday Contest!  And please, don't forget to vote for your favorite Thanksgiving entry by tomorrow night!


  1. Cool, loved reading all the entries to the Thanksgiving contest and, though very, hard have voted. Plan to carve out time to enter the next one. Thanks for running these fun competitions, Susanna!

  2. Congrats to the finalists. Looking forward to the Christmas contest.

  3. Joanna - you're most welcome! I think it's so much fun! Thank you for voting :)

    Delores - thanks so much for voting, and for entering the contest. Like I said, I wish everyone could have won! I hope you'll give the Holiday Contest a try :)

  4. Congratulations to the finalists and the honorable mentions. Oh, it was so difficult to even click a vote on these four. Hmm. I commit crimes of rhyme. I'm not so sure about this Christmas one ... but I have time to think and scribble some notes.

  5. Stacy - thanks for your Thanksgiving Contest entry - it was in the running, too! - and thanks for voting. I hope you'll enter the Holiday Contest - remember there's an out if you don't want to write in verse :)

  6. I can see how picking finalists was so hard. I loved going through and reading all of the stories! Agh. And trying to vote for a winner is killing me! But I picked one. I love them all though. This has been such a fun contest Susanna! I loved it :) Good luck to the finalist.

  7. Congratulations to each of the finalists - Susanna, you are so right, this is a really hard choice! I re-read them each three times before voting. :)

    Slight change of topic - how DARLING are those thankful school kids? Photos like that are an inspiration to write them something to read, just to ensure that they keep smiling.

  8. Thanks for running the contest. Good luck to the finalists! I'll be back for the holiday version complete with rhyme.


  9. Abby - I'm so glad you enjoyed the contest! Your entry was a strong one, and I really hope you'll come back swinging for the Holiday Contest!

    Melissa - I know! Aren't they just the cutest? Opening the envelope with that photo in it absolutely made my day :)

    Jim - thanks so much for your entry, Jim! I'm so glad you're planning to come back for the Holiday Contest! I can't wait to read your story :)

  10. You're really rocking these competitions now Susanna. I was disappointed not to see yours there, I really liked it. No matter this was SO hard, I can't imagine how hard it was judging. All fabulous to read, it's so fun coming here :)

    And another competition how fun!

  11. Oh dear, making a choice this early in the day was not easy. I asked my son to help... I am excited to see who is everyone's favorite.

  12. Susanna, you have carved out a real niche for the writer's holiday celebrations! I love how quickly the number of entries is growing! I have learned so much by reading the varied interpretations of the first line. Fun!

    And that is a VERY cute class of readers in your photo!

  13. The wonderful class picture featuring your book is something I'm sure you'll always cherish. Congratulations to all of the finalists, as well as the honorable mentions! Best of luck to everyone! Julie

  14. Now that was a fun read for my lunch break!!! Congratulations to all the finalist!!!

  15. Catherine - I just post mine for fun and inspiration - I can't compete in my own contest :) I'll be looking forward to your Holiday Contest entry - it's a rhyming one - right up your alley!

    Stasha - I would be very interested in your son's opinion since appropriateness for children was high up on the list of considerations!

    Cathy - you have a knack for this apparently :) I hope you'll be entering the Holiday Contest too! And yes, aren't they just the cutest?

    Julie - it truly is an awesome photo :) I'm sorry your entry didn't make the finals - it was such a hard decision! I hope you'll try again :)

    Saba - glad you enjoyed reading! I hope you'll enter the next one!

  16. Congratulations to the finalists! Thank you for the nice things you said about my entry :) It is hard to pick a favorite! I'm in for the Holiday contest. I think it's going to be hard to make the rhymes up!

  17. Hey Erik - I'll look forward to your entry and don't worry - if the idea of rhyme sends you into a panic you can always write in prose :)

  18. Congrats to the finalists--what a creative and fun bunch!

  19. I could narrow it down to three but not one. :(

    They were all so good. I wish I could rhyme like that.

  20. Coleen - they are pretty awesome, aren't they? Maybe you'd care to take a crack at the next contest :)

    Stina - you know, just now when you said that I realized only one of them wasn't in rhyme! There were a number of other entries that didn't rhyme, but this selection makes it look like they all did!

  21. Those were some FABULOUS stories! I loved them!

    And how sweet is that picture? Awww. So very cool.

  22. So many excellent entries. Tough topic. Congratulations to the finalists and runners-up.

    Susanna, you are on fast forward with contests and ideas. The Christmas contest has me biting my nails. I haven't written verse since I was in my youth. Too many outstanding poets here!

  23. Such wonderful entries, but one of them in particular really found a soft spot in my heart - so that's the one I voted for! :-)

  24. Peggy - weren't they just? I hope you'll put on your thinking cap and enter the next one even though your niche may be more YA :)

    Pat - don't worry about verse! If it eludes you, you can write in prose. Verse isn't a requirement, just chosen because so many people seem to like it!

    Cally - glad you enjoyed reading them and found one a clear winner :) Thanks for reading and voting!

  25. What a sweet picture! I'm so glad I made it back in time to vote for a finalist--I loved reading them! I need to organize my time better so I can enter this next one! Thanks for hosting!!

  26. I voted! And, I am looking forward to the Holiday contest. I didn't get to join in on this one, but will enter the next one.

  27. Carla - thanks for voting, and I do hope you'll be able to join in the holiday contest :)

    Janet - thanks and yay! So glad you want to join in :)

  28. The Thanksgiving selections are all fantastic! I'm glad I missed the voting window because I have no idea which I would choose. All four are terrific!

    The Christmas contest sounds fun! It's funny because I actually did that for today's post, but it's a NaNoWriMo story. :) Can't wait to see what everyone comes up with!

  29. Laura - I can't wait to see what YOU come up with :) I just read your NaNo/greek Muse poem - now you have to give the contest story a whirl :)


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