September 10, 2012

Summer Send-Off Contest Finalists! - Vote For Your Favorite!

Yee-haw!  It's voting day!  Fun for you, but let me just say I haven't slept in 5 days sweating over who to choose as a finalist!

illustration copyright Heather Newman 2012 used by permission

I love contests.

I love writing for them - the challenge of trying to come up with a story that fits certain parameters!

I love hosting them - it's so much fun to read everyone's creative entries - there is just so much talent out there!

But of course when I host them, I have to judge the entries, and that is always the hard part!  I don't like having to cut anyone!  This contest was no different - everyone's stories were terrific!  From undercover spies, to damsels not in distress, to People For The Ethical Treatment of Dragons, to the origin of 'smores, to heroes who do hero work to pay the writing bills, to knights and fair maidens, witches and sorceresses, in rhyme and in prose, they all had something wonderful, creative and entertaining to share!  It was cruel to have to choose!!

It would have been far, far easier to post all 15 and make you guys do the choosing!  But I figured that would be a long blog post, even for me :)  So for better or worse, my assistant judge and I have winnowed the field down to the following 6 entries (I told you I'd never make it down to only 3 finalists :)).  The three main judging criteria were creativity, child-friendliness (would a child really love to read it?), and whether you stayed within the 250 word limit.

Thanks to everyone who participated.  I think I speak for us all when I say we loved getting a chance to read your incredible writing.

Please enjoy reading (or re-reading!) these fabulous entries and cast your vote for your favorite!

#1 - Avery's Fairy Tale by Sidney - 247 words

“Once upon a time, a princess lived in a castle tower.”
Avery stopped writing and pondered the sentence. She glanced at her dresser mirror and wrote “raven-haired” in front of princess.
“Avery! Are you doing your homework or goofing off?” her mother called from the kitchen, where she was cooking dinner.
The girl grimaced and wrote a new sentence: “Once upon a time, a raven-haired princess was trapped in a castle by a mean old witch."
Her dog, Trixie, sleepily raised her head and sniffed. “Do you smell that, girl?” The odor of burned toast wafted into the room. Avery picked up her pencil.
“Once upon a time, a raven-haired princess lived in a castle surrounded by fire and guarded by a dragon named Trixonia.”
Avery looked over the pictures taped to the dresser mirror. One pictured her little brother in his goofy outfit from Colonial Day at school. Another showed her grandmother in her favorite apron. Avery blushed when she looked at the third photo.
“Once upon a time, an evil witch trapped a raven-haired princess in a castle tower by stealing the key to her heart. Only the bravest of men could battle the fierce dragon guarding the
fire-ringed castle and free the princess with true love’s kiss.”
“Avery! Time for dinner,” her mother announced.
Sighing dreamily, Avery blew a kiss to the boy’s face on her mirror. “Goodbye!” she said. “And start thinking about how you are going to save me from that dragon!”

#2 - Untitled by Jess - 250 words

Nora was a lonely princess.
There were no princes professing love or fire-breathing dragons.
She just sat alone, wishing that one day things would change.
Then, one morning, she awoke to find a rose at her window.
She picked up the flower, curiously.
“If only a handsome prince had brought me this rose!” she thought
as a petal slipped from the flower, falling toward the ground.
Then, a puff of smoke! And there below her was a dashing prince.
“Did you see that?” the princess whispered to herself, “My
flower must be magic!”
“Then…. he shall have a horse !“ she thought as another
petal fell.. Puff! A valiant steed appeared.
“And of course, what is a prince without a dragon?” Puff! A
roaring beast appeared.
“And a moat of fire!”
This was all becoming too much fun. The petals were dropping
like raindrops as Nora dreamed bigger and bigger.
Suddenly, Nora looked down , realizing the chaos below her.
The dragon licked his chops, ready to
devour the horse. The prince, forlorn, was trying to jump the fiery mote. Soon,
both he and the horse would be dragon barbeque!
In horror, Nora threw her flower to the ground, yelling “au
revoir!”, and wishing it all would just disappear.
Then Puff! In a whisp of silvery smoke everything had
There were no more princes professing love or fire-breathing
Instead she sat alone. And, for the first time, she was satisfied
that things were just as they should be.

  • #3 - The Dragon Prince by Romelle - 250 words

    Prince Nogard lived in Castle Alder for as long as he could remember. But today, unlike any other day, he smelled trouble.
    Fifer, the mischievous fox, strutted in.
    "It's time you knew," said Fifer. "You're not a prince. You are just a dragon."
    Prince Nogard fumed. "How dare you say such a thing."
    Prince Nogard has been treated like royalty, sleeping on fluffy pillows, and dining on the finest steaks. His loyal servant, Crocker, groomed him daily.
    Fifer snickered. "Crocker is not your servant. He is your master and Prince is your nickname."
    Prince huffed and puffed. "That's not true," he said in a faint voice. He wondered about his walks with Crocker. "Could he be walking me?" Prince dismissed the thought, but it kept burning in the back of his mind until he finally made a disturbing discovery.
    "I'm not just a dragon...I'm a pet dragon!" Prince felt like a lizard. He decided to leave Castle Alder.
    "Where are you going?" asked Fifer.
    "To find my real family," said Prince. "Farewell."
    "I'll walk you out," said Fifer with a smirk.
    Prince hadn't gone too far when he heard a cry. "Do you hear that?"
    Prince's heart ached. He and Crocker were inseparable. He hurried back.
    When Prince arrived at the castle, he found Crocker sobbing. "I thought you left."
    Prince rubbed his cheek against Crocker. "I will never leave you," thought Prince.
    Prince Nogard may not be a prince, but he was the happiest pet dragon around.

    #4 - Another Princess To Save - by Lauri - 221 words

    Moats were pretty common in the land, but this river of fire was overkill.  The dragon's red hot scales and sharp horns were frightening enough.  His snake eyes followed me as I searched for a place to jump to the castle.  

    I could see the captured maiden over the tips of the flames.  She was pretty, but not the fairest of them all.  Princess Gwen's gold hair dangled to her knees, and I only had to save her from a single ogre.  I battled trolls with foul-smelling warts to rescue Princess Amelia, and you could see the ocean waves in her eyes.  

    This maiden focused on her knitting.  When she finally noticed me, she sprang to the window and said "oh help me brave knight."  After a moment she returned to her work.  I supposed I should save her from the dragon, but she seemed calm enough. 

    The dragon moved, and I noticed a boy peeking out behind him.  The dragon's lips curled up in a wicked smirk.  My horse reared up to run, and she was never wrong.  Sayonara, fair maiden.

    "Did you see that?" the maiden yelled to her brother.  "That knight just turned and ran the other way!"
    "You could try brushing your hair every once in a while," her brother yelled back rubbing the dragon's empty belly.

    #5 - Dragon! by Erik - 250 words

    Once Upon A Time, in a land far away (depending on where you are), a princess named Violet was high in a tower. She wasn’t trapped there, mind you. You see, Violet wasn’t an ordinary princess.
    One day, Violet heard a commotion outside her window.
    “He lit the moat on fire again!” Shouted the stable-boy to Josi, the princesses’ faithful servant.   “I already asked The Pale Sorceress to cast an extinguishing spell!”
    Josi yelled up to Violet’s window. “Did you hear that? Your parents will banish us all! What kind of princess has a pet dragon anyway?”
    “But Cuddles is just a baby!” was the reply.
    “A BABY? He’s about 15… Oh-no, here comes Timothy!” Josi groaned. Violet rolled her eyes at the approaching figure.
    As Timothy got closer he boasted, “I shall smite thee, foul beast and save yonder fair maiden, Violet! Oh dear Violet, I hath come hither to rescue thee!”
    Violet felt her face get red with anger as she screamed back. “First of all, don’t talk funny. Smite and hither, who talks like that? It’s weird. Second, Cuddles is my PET! I DON’T NEED RESCUING!”
    Just then, Sorceress cast the spell to blow out the fire. As the gust came, it lifted Timothy and blew him back to his kingdom!
    “Farewell!” Timothy called as he faded in the distance.
    “Will he be alright? Josi asked.
    “Don’t worry, he’ll be back. He always comes back.” Violet sighed.
    And they all lived happily ever after…well, until next time.

    #6 Boot Camp At Old Dragons-Lair by Vivian - 240 words

    The first day of boot camp at Old Dragons-Lair
    The white witch decided to darken her hair.
    So tired was she of her colorless locks
    She lifted the red from the tail of the fox.

    “Did you see that?” all the campers cried out.
    “I’ll do as I please!” the witch said with a shout.
    “I don’t like how I look…I’ll take what I wish
    The tail of the dragon…the eyes of a fish.

    “You can’t take from others”, the raven explained.
    Your magical powers should be more restrained.
    You’re leader of boot camp at Old Dragons-lair
    You can’t create havoc and cause such a scare.

    The black bird continued, “It’s what people do
    That shows their real beauty…believe me, it’s true!”
    And nodding her head, the witch waved her thin wand
    Her hair began changing from red back to blonde.

    The campers all gathered around the white witch
    And loudly applauded the spell-binding switch.
    She’d learned to treat others with love and with care
    You don’t bully people at Old Dragons-lair!

    The last day of boot camp at Old Dragons-lair
    The campers took part in a Renaissance Fair
    The white witch placed first in the costume parade
    And raven won gold in the gaming arcade.

    The campers were packed and excited to go
    The sky was alight with a fiery glow
    Each clambered to mount his own flying gazelle,
    And said to the raven and witch,”Fond farewell!”

    And I do want to give honorable mention to Joanna for Cedric's Cold, which was fantastic, but at 438 words it would have been unfair to choose it as a finalist when others fought so hard to stay within the 250 word limit, and to Hilary for her real estate twist which was SO funny and well-written, but maybe a bit more suited to older audiences.

    Now then, please cast your votes!  You have from now until Wednesday September 12 at 11:59 PM EDT!

    The winner will be revealed on Friday!

    And thanks again to everyone for a great contest!  It's been a privilege to read your work! :)

    (And if you love contests, save the date - October 31st - for the Halloweensie Contest!!!)


    1. All great entries! I had fun reading them all!

    2. Thanks for hosting the competition, Susanna. Congrats to all six finalists and after some debate, I have cast my vote!

    3. Glad you enjoyed them! Everyone did a great job :)

    4. Thanks for entering, Joanna! I really loved your story - as did MANY other people :) And thanks for voting!

    5. Congratulations, finalists! This WAS a tough choice as all of the entries were terrific, but I narrowed it down to one and I've cast my vote. Good luck, everyone!

    6. Thanks so much for voting, Kim, and for entering the contest with your story, which was also terrific! Seriously, I think next time I'm going to make you guys do all the narrowing down - it's awful to have to choose! :)

    7. I can see why you had such a difficult time choosing, Susanna...lots of creativity is oosing from these tales!

    8. I know! They're all so good, and so different. I really wanted to include 2 others on the vote list, but I thought that was getting a bit out of hand :)

    9. Just voted. Fun to read all of these! Congratulations to the finalists!

    10. Tough choices indeed! I narrowed it down to 2 and then went back and forth trying to decide. Personally, I thought it should be a tie, but alas, I voted for one....Thanks Susanna for a great contest! You are right. So much talent out there.

    11. Thanks for voting, Tina! It was a tough choice, wasn't it?

    12. I know! I had a terrible time even narrowing down to 6! I wanted to put them all up and let you guys make the decision :) Thanks for voting!

    13. Oh Susanna! You did an awesome job of choosing....and now I don't know how I am going to choose!!! I have favorite things about all six!!! I'm going to vote for the one that made me laugh out loud when I first read it and again when I read it today! But I will say, that I believe all of these are great stories and really drew me in. Congrats to all the finalists and to the honorable mentions!

      Thank you...Thank you for hosting these contests and challenging us. I look forward to participating in each one...and I especially look forward to reading the entries from a talented group of people. Susanna, you are helping us to become better writers!!!

    14. I had the same problem narrowing it down to 6. There really were excellent things about every entry and reasons I could have chosen all of them, so it was really hard to cull the group. Thanks for voting. Thanks for being such an enthusiastic participant in all facets of my blog. And thank you so much for all your kind words. It means so much to me to think that anything I do is helpful or fun or engaging - that's the whole point of this community - helping each other and becoming better writers, and also being among people who "get" us, as sometimes our non-writing friends and loved ones can't :) Susanna Leonard HillChildren's AuthorWebsiteBlogFace Book PageTwitter

      Subject: [susannaleonardhillblog] Re: Susanna Leonard Hill: Summer Send-Off Contest Finalists! - Vote For Your Favorite!

    15. They were all super it was hard to choose. Really dorry I missed this one. Roll on Halloween. Thanks for the fun stories everyone!

    16. Just voted. I was thrilled to see my favorite among the six.
      And thanks, Susanna for following my new and improved blog, and for your encouraging comments.

    17. Voted! Hope you got a yummy snack after taking the time to read all the entries! :)

    18. Thanks so much for voting! Let's see... snacks? Looks like it's time to go to the grocery store!

    19. Thanks for voting, Tracy. Now of course I'm wondering which is your favorite :) And you're entirely welcome - love your art!

    20. So fun to read the finalists' entries. I've voted, and now I can't wait to see who wins. :)

    21. Thanks for voting, my hackey-sacking friend! I can't wait to see who wins either - the running is pretty darn close right now!

    22. A great contest, Susanna. Thanks again for hosting it and thanks to Heather for the inspired picture prompt. Such terrific entries, but I managed to vote for just one.

    23. Well done you - I was barely able to get it down to 6! :) Thanks so much for voting!

    24. I am so excited I made it to the finals! Good luck to everyone! :)

    25. You deserved it, Erik! Tons of people like your story :)

    26. They're all so awesome. And now I see what I don't have contests that require me to play judge. :)

    27. I think this was the toughest choice of all your contests Susanna, but I did cast my vote!

    28. Now you see why I only narrow it down so far and then leave it to you guys! :)

    29. This was a particularly tough one! Thanks so much for voting! :) I'm going to go check and see if the tie is broken yet! :)

    30. How you were able to narrow the finalists down...I'll never know. I had the hardest time trying to pick just one. :-)

    31. I think it's harder to pick just one! That's why I make you guys do it :)

    32. Voted! This was a tough one...can't wait for the next contest!

    33. Thanks so much for voting, Carrie. It WAS tough! :) Next contest... Halloween! :)

    34. Dragons, Princesses, Witches, oh my! Congratulations to the finalists!

    35. Wow, so hard to choose. But fun to read! Congratulations to all the finalists and good luck to everyone!

    36. I already had my top pick in my brain and was glad to see it among the finalists. Voted! This one's a nail-biter.

    37. Susanna...thank you so much for including mine as a finalist! The other entries are I am really honored to be among them.:) Your contests (and your entire blog with the Summer Short and Sweets, PPBF, Would You Read It Pitches, etc.) are an amazing inspiration to all of us...I know everyone joins me in saying a tremendous Thank You!

    38. Aw! You're so nice, Vivian. Thank you so much! I really and truly appreciate it. Likewise, I feel honored and privileged to have so many wonderful, generous, talented people in this community, joining in the conversations, helping each other out, and going along with all my crazy schemes :)

    39. Telling me! I've been watching the votes roll in. There are 3 main contenders and they're taking turns being in the lead. It's a VERY tight race between them. I will be interested to see who wins out in the end! :)

    40. Thanks for coming by and reading, Amy (and for voting if you did!) It is a close race!

    41. Sidney Schuhmann LevesqueSeptember 11, 2012 at 3:10 PM

      Susanna, I would like to add my thanks to you and your assistant judge for choosing "Avery's Fairy Tale" as a finalist. This is a fun experience, and I feel honored to be included among such a talented group of writers.

    42. Well I thank YOU for participating! It takes courage to put your work out there for people to read and judge! And you wrote a great story :)

    43. So exciting. Congratulations to all the finalist! I haven't made up my mind yet. They are all so brilliant.

    44. Congratulations to all the finalists! These are such amazing stories. I am humbled! I was disappointed, however, that Bathtime for Balkazar didn't make it. ;o)

    45. I know! It's a tough choice! And the voting results are neck and neck! So whenever you decide, your vote will make a difference! :)

    46. Entries written by the judge or her family members are not eligible :)

    47. I read the FB posts about how difficult this was__it was! I can't wait until Friday! Congrats everyone and Good Luck!!

    48. It's okay. I am giving you my best entry by a judge award. He-he...

    49. Aw shucks! I'm honored! I was up against so many :)

      Romelle (unregistered) wrote, in response to Susanna Leonard Hill:

      It's okay. I am giving you my best entry by a judge award. He-he...

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