August 27, 2012

Summer Send-Off Writing Contest!!! - And A Short & Sweet Update

If you've arrived in the middle of the adventure, you may start at the beginning by going HERE.

Erik and Josie head for home

Benton and the black horse trotted eagerly side by side toward home and supper.

"So I'm assuming you were responsible for my birthday gift going missing?" Erik asked Lady Josie.  He still had not seen what she carried, but the clues had all led him to believe she had his gift.

"Yes," admitted Josie.  "It wasn't perfect, and it has to be perfect."

"What is it?" Erik asked.

"It's a surprise," said Josie primly.

Erik could see he wasn't going to get any more information out of her.  Lady Josie was maddening that way - if she decided she wasn't telling something well then by golly she wasn't telling!

His stomach grumbled, reminding him that he was starving.  He bent over and took a small nibble of the cake he carried.  It was apple-y and delicious, full of cinnamon and topped with a creamy brown sugar-caramel icing.  YUM!

"I saw that," said Josie.

Erik wiped frosting off his nose and chin and licked his fingers and didn't care.

Just then, Benton's steps quickened and when Erik squinted into the deepening twilight he could just see the lights of the castle.  They were nearly home!

They slowed the horses to a walk so that they could catch their breath and not be too hot when they reached the stable.  A few minutes later they crossed the drawbridge.  The horses turned without prompting toward the barn, knowing the way.  A groom took Lady Josie's black horse, and Erik removed Benton's saddle and bridle, gave him a quick rub-down, and fed him a measure of grain and a flake of summer-sweet hay.  "Good boy," he said, giving his pony a fond pat.  Then he headed for the castle with what was left of his cake.

Lady Josie was waiting for him just inside the castle.  "Come with me," she said, leading him toward the Great Hall.

Erik followed her through the huge doors, thinking about some hearty stew and crusty bread to go with his cake when suddenly...



The Great Hall was decked out with garlands of flowers and streamers and candles, and everyone from the castle was there!  The lords and ladies, most of the guards, the jester, the cook, the knights, even the king!  All dressed in their festive best and waiting for him, wishing him Happy Birthday!

Erik didn't know what to say.  He'd never had a birthday like this.

"Come forward, young Erik," said the king, "and tell us of your adventures this day!"

So Erik stood before the king and all the assembled dwellers of the castle and told of the woodcutter, and following the black horse, of the Brownie at the bridge, the tinker at the ford, Berwyn, and Greta, the ogre, the Seer, and everything else, and how eventually he had faced Cuddles the dragon and returned safe and sound after all of it with the Lady Josie.

"Well done," said the king at the end of Erik's tale.  "I believe it is time for your present."

Lady Josie and Sir Lionel stepped forward, holding the box from the long-ago morning between them.  "Happy Birthday, Erik," said Josie.

Erik opened the box.

And this time, when he looked inside there lay a shining silver sword, its edges honed to perfection, a star-shapped ruby glinting richly from its exquisitely wrought handle.

"Oh...!" Erik breathed, scarcely daring to touch it.

It was the king who reached forward and lifted the sword from it's resting place.  "Kneel," he said solemnly.

Unbelieving, Erik sank to his knees before the king and bowed his head.  The king laid the gleaming sword first on Erik's right shoulder then on his left.  "I dub thee knight," he said.  "Rise, Sir Erik!"

And Erik stood.  A knight.  At last, a real knight!

The king handed him his sword and Erik took it, feeling the weight of it, and how the hilt fit his hand perfectly.

The Great Hall erupted with applause and cheering.

"And now," said Erik, who was determined in this venture, "let's have some CAKE!!!"

And so they did.

And forever after, Erik proclaimed that to be his Best Birthday Ever!


HAPPY BIRTHDAY, ERIK!  And for your actual present which is not a sword or a knighthood but is hopefully still fun, please Email Me!!! :)

To start the adventure again and choose different options, go back to the beginning! HERE

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Well, my friends, somehow or other it's the last week of August.  When I think of everything I've done this summer - life in general, writing, blogging, getting a new washing machine (yes! it's true! and so pretty :)), applying my black thumb to the butterfly bushes (apparently when they say full sun they mean, like, ALL THE TIME!) and a few Secret Projects (details coming possibly soon... or possibly later... depending how long it takes to get things finished up :)) all stuck in around the edges of 21 college visits in about 14 states and DC - it makes sense that it's nearly September.  But on the other hand, the start of the new school year always seems to catch me by surprise.... probably what some would chalk up to not being the brightest bulb on the Christmas tree :)

In case anyone is feeling a little down about summer drawing to a close, and because thanks to Short & Sweets our writing gears are still finely tuned :), and because we really SHOULD finish Summer Shorts up with a bang, and because we haven't had a contest since MAY!, I thought this would be a good time for some fun - so let's have a contest!  (You all know how much I love contests! :))

illustration copyright Heather Newman 2012 used by permission
Contest Rules:
The contest will be for a children's story of 250 words or less based on the picture above and in which somebody somewhere in your story says, in dialogue, "Did/do you see that?" (you may substitute any of the other senses - "Did/do you hear/feel/taste/smell that?") and somebody somewhere in your story says, "Goodbye!" (you are allowed to substitute "Farewell!", "Au revoir!", "Sayonara!", "Ciao!", or "So long!")

Entries must be posted on your blog (or, if you don't have a blog but would still like to enter, in the comment section of the official contest post on my blog which will be up on Friday August 31 and stay up through Tuesday September 4) between Friday August 31 and Tuesday September 4 at 11:59 PM EDT.  (I'm giving you an extra day to post, because I realize it's Labor Day weekend!)

Once your post is up you must add your post-specific link to the linky list that will be up (or, if you don't have a blog, copy and paste your entry into the comment section as mentioned above.)  Special note:  I know some people have been having trouble commenting on my blog since disqus updated.  If anyone has trouble, please email your entry or your link or whatever you need to me at susanna [at] susannahill [dot] com and I will make sure your link gets linked or your comment gets posted!!!

Finalists - we'll say 3, but you know me... it's more likely to be around 6 :) - will be chosen by me and my assistant judge and posted for you all to vote on on Monday September 10.  I'm guessing we may not get tons of entries, what with it being Labor Day weekend and all (although I'm hoping I'm giving people enough time to plan ahead that they might still be able to pull it off! :)), so we'll probably only have one winner.  But if perchance we get lots - more than 20 say :) - we'll expand out to 1st , 2nd and 3rd places.  Prize choices will be:
1.  A PB manuscript critique by yours truly :)
2.  Your choice of 2 picture books.
3.  Your choice of 2 paperback middle grade books.
4.  Your choice of 1 paperback YA book.
5.  Your choice of 1 writing craft book.
and whoever wins will get their first choice of those options, whoever's second will get second choice, etc....  Hopefully there's something in there that will appeal to every writer! :)

Now, onto the other business at hand.  I wanted to share a little Short & Sweet update, now that the Summer session is officially ending.  Summer Short & Sweets was 8 weeks of fun and games, and to qualify for a prize, you had to provide at least one entry for every week.  As of this writing, we had a total of 51 people enter at least one of the weeks.  The week with the most entries was Week 1, with 36, and the week with the fewest entries was Week 7 with 17.  (Actually, Week 8 is about even with Week 7, but I'm pretty sure a few more entries will be trickling in over the next couple days.)  By my reckoning, 12 people are currently qualified for a prize (Delores, Vivian, Romelle, Heather, Robyn, Laura, Karen, Jennifer, Erik, Cathy, Penny, and Tracy), 2 people are only one entry away (Renee and Jarm), and 1 person is only 2 entries away (Pam).  I realize that a few of you have been having trouble posting comments lately, so feel free to email anything to me that you couldn't post and I'll copy and paste it for you in the appropriate spot.  Looks like I'm going to have to part ways with disqus.... but that's another story :)  If you think you posted an entry a week for 8 weeks and should be qualified and don't see your name here, please let me know!!!  The last day you can post entries on any of the weeks is August 31.

All in all, I think it was a success, and I really hope everyone had fun and got some good ideas out of it!

Short & Sweets will be continuing on alternate Mondays starting September 17 (because I forgot last week when I said September 10 that we need a day to vote on finalists for the Summer Send-Off Contest!) and we'll see how that goes :)

Now fire up those imaginations and get started on those contest stories!  Good luck and have fun!!!


  1. Looks like you're having another fun-filled contest! Best of luck to everyone!

  2. Thanks, Julie! I hope you'll join in! (And I'm sorry I haven't been a very good blogging friend this summer - crazy busy - I will try to be better when the kids are in school and I'm back to some kind of routine!) Hope you've been having a great summer :)

  3. Not sure what wifi access I will have at my brother's, but I plan to give this a go!

  4. Wow, Susanna. You sure squeezed a lot into what felt like a very short summer. Good for you! And all the while keeping so many things going here on the blog. You are an inspiration! =)

  5. 21 college visits--wow!! Plus I'm in awe that you kept the blogging up too. Ruth is right, you are an inspiration Susanna!

  6. You've been a busy little bee. I am not sure I will be able to enter. I'm still sick and hubby fell of our roof on Saturday. He broke some ribs, has a tear in one if his lungs, hurt his kidney, and separated shoulder. They airlifted him. Ivy been at the hospital all weekend. I'll try though. MWAH!

  7. I've been at the hospital all weekend. Sorry. Ivy has too though. *wink* (Our daughter's name)

  8. Aw! You guys are making me blush. I don't do any more than anyone else... I probably just talk about it more :)

  9. Oh, Robyn! That's awful! I hope he's recovering and not in too much agony! And poor you, on top of still being sick. This is some summer you're having. Sending hugs! (((((HUGS))))

  10. You were in DC this summer! Oh man . . . of course you come just after I move. :( But if you're ever in the midwest, I would love to come see you!

    Happy End of Summer to you!

  11. Whoa....I'll keep y'all in my thoughts & prayers, Robyn.

  12. My oh my have you been busy!!! I'm impressed that you can keep going at that rate.

    Short & Sweets has been great fun, and has challenged my creativity! Thanks...and I'm glad it will continue :•)

  13. Can't believe we're at the end of the summer -- time is speeding up. Wasn't able to participate in all the short and sweets, but had fun with my few entries. Good idea. Can't believe you made 21 college visits and kept up your blogging. And, you drove near me twice. You are so creative and full of energy.

  14. Thanks for your kind words, Pat. It means a lot to me to know you've enjoyed the Short & Sweets on whatever level was fun and workable for you. BTW, are the comments working easily for you now? or are you switching browsers just for me? :)

  15. I'm so glad you've enjoyed SS&S, Penny! I've certainly enjoyed all your entries! I'm looking forward to continuing too! :)

  16. Well, we weren't there for that long and most of it was driving in circles around the beltway :) I will probably have to make a point of coming to the midwest some time just so I can see you mad skills at hacker-sacking in real life :)

  17. Just checked again. I can comment when on my computer, but not my iphone, so maybe it's an Apple compatibility thing?

  18. You are an amazing woman, Susanna! You had a busy summer and managed to pull off this wonderful Short & Sweet Summer series. It kept my mind active and I enjoyed it. Thank you, Susanna. Looking forward to learning about your "secret projects! "

  19. I'm going with "Dragon! - The Short Yet Absolutely Wonderful Version" I'll write and post it later! :)

  20. Thanks, Romelle! I'm so glad you enjoyed the SS&S! And I'm looking forward to getting my secret projects done so I CAN share them!!! :)

  21. I don't know... do you use apple or not? I do, and I have no trouble.
    Susanna Leonard HillChildren's AuthorWebsiteBlogFace Book PageTwitter

    Subject: [susannaleonardhillblog] Re: Susanna Leonard Hill: Summer Send-Off Writing Contest!!! - And A Short & Sweet Update

  22. Will this be for the contest, Erik? If so, you have until at least Friday to write it, when I put up the official contest post, and then you'll actually have until Tuesday to get it up, so don't feel like you have to rush! I can't wait to read it!

  23. Cool! I will post it on my blog on Monday!

  24. Oh no, very sorry...thoughts and prayers are with you and family. :)

  25. Susanna, you've provided everyone with an amazing creative writing "course" this summer...for FREE! I know I am so very grateful!

    I remember those college husband did them with our sons...and our daughter went to a local school.

    I'm excited about the contest...and will do my best to continue on in verse. Thanks for giving us the extra time...I'll need it. :)

    If I go in with Mozilla Firefox as my browser, I have no problem. But I've had a problem for months if I tried to go in with Internet Explorer...and the problem got worse when everyone else started having problems commenting.

  26. Thanks so much for your kind words, Vivian! I'm so glad if you've enjoyed SS&S. I can't wait to see your contest entry - I think we're up to about 3 people who said they'd enter? :) - so you should have a good shot at a prize :) Thanks for the info about posting comments. I'd really like to give up and go back to a blogger option, but I think if I do I will lose ALL my comments... and that would be sad :( So I'm stalling and hedging while I try to think up a better way. If anyone knows of one, please share!

  27. I've started my story and am realizing that the 250 word count is going to be a challenge!

  28. There's a fine line between an assignment that's overwhelming in length and one that's hard because it's short. Good luck! I bet you can do it! (And I haven't even started my sample, so you're way ahead of me! :))

  29. THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU!!!!!!!! I wish I could have some of that cake... ;) Thank you for taking the time to do this for me! :D Happy Christmas Eve! :)

  30. You're welcome, you're welcome! We had a lot of fun doing it and are just glad if you enjoyed it :) Happy Birthday again, and hope your Christmas was special and fun :)


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