December 3, 2012

Monday Short And Sweet AND The 2nd Annual Holiday Contest!!!

I hope you're ready because boy are we going to have fun today!
badge created by the uber-talented Loni Edwards
First off, we'll be having birthday cake because we have a birthday in our family today :)  Happy Birthday, Justin!  Cake anyone?
Yum!  Now that we're all supplied with a nutritious breakfast (why do you think I put strawberries on?), we'll have a Short & Sweet to get our writerly gears turning for a week of exceptional productivity.

For today's Short & Sweet we're going super simple:

There's been some kind of holiday mishap, mix-up, miscommunication, mistake, or potential disaster.  Write the newspaper headline (and a couple lines of the article if you like)!

(Admit it.  You didn't think I could come up with anything that simple!  Well, I'm giving you a break after my very long-winded post on Friday :)  Also, my mouth is full of cake :))

Here are a couple examples :)

Santa's Letters All Delivered To South Pole Penguins!  Postal service blames malfunctioning GPS.  The penguins only comment was, "Hrowrrk, Hrowrrk!"

Viking Delegation Arrives At Rockefeller Center.  "We thought you asked for a Norway Truce!" exclaims Harald V whose senior advisor is looking into new hearing aids for the king.

Monopoly Dispute May Ground Sleigh!  "I called first dibs on the shoe!" Dasher yelled as he was hauled off to time out.  Dancer was quoted as saying, "You poopy head!" which earned him a stint in time out as well.  A spokesman for the Clauses said, "This is trouble.  The sleigh won't fly with only 6 reindeer!"

Post your headline (and as much article as you like :)) in the comments and hopefully yours or someone else's will give you a great idea for a story!

And finally!!  The moment you've all been waiting for!!  Announcing....

The 2nd Annual Holiday Contest!!!
The Contest:  Write a children's holiday story beginning with any version of "Dashing through the snow in a one horse open sleigh."  You may use that actual opening, or you may change it to any similar version "[Verb of your choice]ing through the [any substance you choose] in a [conveyance of any kind]."  For example, "Dashing through the sand in a two-wheeled donkey cart" or "Sloshing through the swamp in a green and white canoe" or "Flying through the air in a striped hot air balloon..."  You get the idea, I'm sure :)  But "Dashing through the snow in a one horse open sleigh" is completely acceptable too - whatever works for you :)  Your story may be poetry or prose, silly or serious or sweet,  religious or not, based on Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa or whatever you celebrate, but is not to exceed 350 words (because I have to read them all in the week before Christmas! :))

Post:  Your entry should be posted on your blog between Saturday December 15 and Wednesday December 19 at 11:59 PM EST (no WYRI that day), and your post-specific link should be added to the link list on the official holiday contest post which will go up on my blog on Saturday December 15 and remain up through Wednesday December 19 (no new post on Monday December 17).  If you don't have a blog but would like to enter, please copy and paste your entry into the comments on my December 15th post.  (If anyone has trouble commenting, which unfortunately happens, please email me and I'll post your entry for you!)

The Judge:  My lovely assistant and I will narrow down the entrants to seven (or possibly a couple more :)) finalists which will be posted here on Friday December 21 (no PPBF that day) for you to vote on for a winner.  The vote will be closed on Christmas Eve and the winner(s) will be announced on Wednesday December 26 (no WYRI that day).  Whoever gets the most votes will be first and so on down to fifth place.

The Prizes!:  When I said the prizes were fantastic, I wasn't kidding.  In the spirit of the holidays, winners will be named for 1st - 5th place, and will each receive a picture book manuscript critique AND a $20 Amazon gift card to spend on the reading material of your choice AND the incredible fame of being able to say you won (or placed in) the Pretty Much World Famous 2nd Annual Holiday Contest!  The critiques have been generously donated by the following fabulous children's authors (in alphabetical order by first name :)):

Alison Hertz: author and illustrator of FLAP! (Magic Dreams Publishing, November 2012)

Amy Dixon: author of MARATHON MOUSE (Sky Pony Press, October 2012)

Corey Rosen Schwartz: author of Hop! Plop! (Walker Children's Books, April 2006), THE THREE NINJA PIGS (Putnam Juvenile, September 2012), and the forthcoming GOLDIROCKS AND THE THREE BEARS and NINJA RED (both coming from Putnam).  Corey also writes the Meter Maids blog with Tiffany (below).

Sarah Frances Hardy: author and illustrator of PUZZLED BY PINK (Viking Juvenile, April 2012)

Tiffany Strelitz Haber: author of THE MONSTER WHO LOST HIS MEAN (Henry Holt, July 2012).  Tiffany also writes the Meter Maids blog with Corey (above).

Wow!  Would one of those critiques be an awesome prize to win or what?!  And $20 to spend on a book you wanted but didn't get for the holidays?  Plus bragging rights?  So put on your thinking caps!  Sharpen your pencils!  Fire up your imagination!  And start writing those holiday stories :)  You've got 2 whole weeks! :)

Just to be clear, in case it wasn't above, in the interest of leaving time and space for the contest and giving y'all time for the busy-ness of the holidays and all the things I know you have going on in your homes and lives at this time of year, my usual posting schedule will be in a complete shambles between Dec. 15 and 26.  I will have a special post on Saturday December 15 (not a usual posting day for me) to kick off the contest, there will be no new post on Monday Dec. 17 (so we can keep posting and reading each other's stories), no WYRI on Wednesday Dec. 19 (so we can finish posting and reading each other's stories), no PPBF on Friday Dec. 21 (so I can post the finalists and you can vote), no new post on Christmas Eve (because it's Christmas Eve :)) and no WYRI on December 26 (so I can post the winners!)  Hopefully that will free you up to write, read all the wonderful entries I sincerely hope we're going to get, because with 5 such fabulous prizes to give away it would be very sad if we only got 3 entries :(, vote, and still have time for your families :)  I think we got somewhere between 30 and 35 entries last year - I hope we can meet or exceed that this year so our critique donors will feel loved and appreciated :)

I can't wait to read your Short & Sweet headlines :), and then I guess I'd better get to work on my sample entry for the holiday contest since I have absolutely no idea what I'm going to write! :)

Happy Monday, Everyone!  And please spread the word of the Holiday Contest to anyone you think might be interested.  It's a chance for some writing fun, lots of blog visits, and maybe even a prize :)


  1. GAH! Your headlines are so clever and funny! I just love them. I'll think about it and come back later. And two weeks for the contest? Surely I can get my act together for that. Yay!!!


    Short and sweets is a great idea to get the juices flowing :)

    Reindeer gets the flu at the last minute - who can replace him?
    Only an elf's dog can step in but she keeps eating all the candy and stopping to sniff.

  3. I love this, Catherine! I can totally picture the dog irritating the reindeer by stopping to sniff and not having his mind on the business at hand! :)

  4. Your headlines are super! My brain can't wrap itself around short and sweet (lengthy and bland would be more my speed) but it'll be interesting to see what others come up with.

    No PPBF on the 21st? *slumps in her chair* Hmmm... that means I will need to come up with something stupendously brilliant for my blog that day in its place. Okay. I can do that.

  5. Hahaha! Lengthy and bland! You are funny :) I don't want to upset your schedule... I could post the link list that day for anyone who wants to do PPBF - I'm just not going to do it because I'm going to post the finalists and that's a long enough post by itself, plus I think they deserve all the attention that day :) Of course, this is assuoming we get any entries... maybe I won't be doing anything of the kind :)

  6. YAY! I look forward to your headline, and I'm so excited! If you enter the contest that means we'll have ONE ENTRY! :) You could end up winning 5 critiques :)

  7. Oh, I'm sure you'll get entries -- and don't worry about PPBF, we can do without for a week. I'm having a hard time finding books I like with a Christmas theme that aren't out of print!

  8. I'm having a hard time figuring out how I'm going to get everything done that needs to be done in the next 3 weeks or so! :)

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

    Oh, I'm sure you'll get entries -- and don't worry about PPBF, we can do without for a week. I'm having a hard time finding books I like with a Christmas theme that aren't out of print!

    Link to comment
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  9. Just relax, and we'll get back to PPBF in the New Year. There will be a lot of people who have a lot to do in the next few weeks.

  10. :)

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

    Just relax, and we'll get back to PPBF in the New Year. There will be a lot of people who have a lot to do in the next few weeks.

    Link to comment
    IP address:

  11. delores @ thefeatherednestDecember 3, 2012 at 12:53 PM

    MMMM...mouth full of cake.

    "Elves on Strike....Toy Supply At All Time Low"
    The North Pole is in turmoil today as Santa announces this latest turn of events. The reindeer have volunteered to help in the toy shop and Mrs Claus has taken over the role of foreman on the factory floor in the vain hope of getting enough toys turned out in time for Christmas Eve. Come on Santa....all those elves want is a little more fairy dust.

  12. Ooh! I love it! Thanks for joining in the fun, Delores! :)

  13. Help! Santa is lost in freak snowstorm.

    Santa and his sleigh were last seen sitting on top of Mt. Everest. Even Rudolph's bright nose was not bright enough to guide them through the snow. Santa and the reindeer were eating cookies while waiting for the storm to pass.

  14. Santa's Naughty/Nice List Vanishes: The North Pole is on lock down as Santa and his Elves frantically search for the list. Believed to be a sinister plot to disrupt Christmas Eve, everyone is under suspicion. A spokesperson from the North Pole says "the FBI has been called into investigate and help capture the culprit."

    Okay I have two weeks, so I should come up with something for the contest. Lovely prizes offered!

  15. I love this, Janet! And I'm so glad they had cookies to sustain them - Santa and his reindeer are critters after my own heart :)

  16. This is great, Pat! Very creative - I love it :) And I can't wait to read your Holiday Contest entry! I'm sure it will be fantastic!

  17. Yummy cake! Happy Birthday to Justin.

    Today I started doing a long term (December and possibly some of January) sub job in Kindergarten. I had a great day and I know I will enjoy the little kiddos, but it sure will take a chunk of time from my writing and writing related activities like blog visiting!!! I will do my best though because I love the writing part of my life :-)

    Your headlines are fun!!! I had a big laugh at your second headline. I wear hearing aids (yes, I got them younger than most folks) and I hear things like that all the time!!!

    "Beard Burglar Bum-Bumps Barber and Behaves Badly"

    An unknown burglar bum-bumped Santa's barber right into a large vat of shampoo and proceeded to shave Santa's beard right off of his face. Mrs. Claus's shrill scream scared the burglar, who was last seen tumbling out of sight—head over electric razor. After a good rinse, the barber announced, "I'm hoping to help Santa grow his beard back in time for his Christmas Eve deliveries." It is rumored he will be adding a good dose of hot chocolate to Santa's beard conditioner.

    The holiday contest sounds fun!!! I hope to have an entry! We'll see if the Kindergartners do me in or not! HO! HO! HO!

  18. Thanks, Penny! I hope you're having fun with the kiddos - I'm sure they'll love you. And hearing aids have nothing to do with age - I have a friend who is 47 and has hearing aids in both ears! And 47 doesn't seem very old to me :) Glad you liked the headlines - I liked yours! and your follow-up lines! very fun! I HOPE you'll have a holiday contest entry - it won't be the same without you! Maybe the Kindergartners can help you :)

  19. Yay - a Short and Sweet - and the Holiday Contest!! You sure know how to make Mondays better! Here's my headline:


    After one month as Weight Watchers' Celebrity Spokesperson, Santa's lost his friction.

  20. Hahaha, Lori! You made me laugh :) Excellent headline :)


    "It must have been that last cookie. I was stuffed, but it was my favorite: peppermint meringue," Santa recalled from his bed. A reliable four-hoofed inside source claims that Mrs. Claus has already reached out to the doctors of the South Beach Diet threatening no carb-free snacks in their stocking next year if they don't help.

  22. Santa's Scarlet Snowpants Surreptitiously Stolen

    Kids around the world will be seeing more than a Christmas moon this Christmas Eve. St. Nick's pants have disappeared. Foul play is
    suspected. Santa is too superstitious to substitute his lucky red pants with another pair. If those bloomers don't appear soon, Santa
    will face uncomfortable shimmies down chimneys and risk frostbite knees in Scandinavia. When asked about the situation, Santa said, "Well I'll certainly be more comfortable delivering gifts around the equator! Ho ho ho!"

  23. Here goes:

    Does A Diet Mean More Presents?

    Santa Claus is on a diet. The reason - Mrs. Jessiphine Claus.

    "My dear Santa has been getting a bit overweight during the Christmas trips he makes," Claus says. "I have told him to stay on carrots and celery (and some milk) and leave the cookies for the reindeer."

    People usually leave the veggies for the reindeer, which they have gotten used to.

    "Dasher, Blitzen, Donner, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid and I have been used to our healthy night snacks. They keep us flying straight and true. Besides, Cupid has diabetes, Dasher is hyper enough, and Prancer is allergic to wheat," States Rudolph T. Reindeer.

    Everyone seems to asking the same question, though - does Santa weighing less mean that he can fit more presents on his sleigh? What will happen? Mrs. Claus has the answer -

    "Santa will keep his diet and just load more coal onto the sleigh. There has been a lot of bad kids lately." Claus told everyone at the North Pole.

    "Dang!" Dancer said.

    "Boohoo!" Blitzen wailed.

    "Drat!" Dasher stomped.

    "Very uncool," Vixen very loudly complained.

    "Crazy!" Cupid yelled.

    "Don't listen to her!" Donner kicked.

    "Play dead!" Prancer tried to persuade.

    "Come with me! We're going to the South Pole!" Comet shouted as he shot through the sky.

    What is going to happen now?


    Sorry it was so long... I couldn't help it...

    I'm in the contest! I LOVE the idea for it! Here's my signature! ERIK ;)

  24. Yummy-looking cake & the holiday contest sounds absolutely delicious!

    Now, for that (very) short & sweet:

    Reindeer Rumpus causes Christmas Chaos

    Christmas presents swirled from the sky like snowflakes in a blizzard as Dasher danced and Donner blitzed him, and the pair tussled over that foxy little Vixen.

  25. I imagine they will help me with all kinds of ideas...LOL!

  26. Hooray for Short and Sweet and Holiday Contests and you and those amazing and generous picture book authors! A critique by any one of them would be fabulous!

    Love your headlines, are so very creative!

    Mine comes from a PiBoIdMo picture book I am working on..I hope there is no actual story like this yet. :)

    World-Famous High-Steppers Join New York City Dance Troupe

    Theater-goers will get a big treat this holiday season when Dancer and Prancer pirouette and plie their way across the stage of Radio City Music Hall as members of the famed Rockettes. Neither reindeer would comment on the pending breach of contract suit presented in court last week by attorneys of Santa Claus, Inc.

  27. Happy Birthday to Justin! Cake in your honor and added to my hips :-)

    And here is my attempt:
    Elvis Presley may have had it right all along:
    A Blue Christmas

    Reports are sketchy, about as scattered as the elves skipping to and fro at Santa's workshop. But inside reliable sources shared that Santa's ripped another suit. Due to red being a favorite color of many gifts, from the red wagon to the red Mercedes Benz, the color is always in low supply this time of year.
    "Mrs. Claus could only find blue dye for his suit," our source supplied on the basis of anonymity. "Salmon was available but Santa's never been fond of the color or the fish."

    So there it is folks. Can the jolly old elf be his jolly old self in blue?

  28. "Misfit Toys Receive Legal Status" -
    Congress passes law to allow movement of Misfits across borders. "No more scary, nighttime boat rides to sneak onto the mainland," said Charlie in the Box, formerly of the Island for Misfit Toys.

  29. *waving* Happy birthday Justin! Love the cake. Thanks!

    I am going to start my entry tomorrow. No more waiting until the moment before it's due. (Your eyeballs are gonna be sloshing through the snow.) I hope all is well. I heart you woman!

  30. Happy Belated Birthday to Justin! Your examples are hilarious, Susanna!

  31. So did anyone else chuckle when they opened the Economist this week? Seems your Short & Sweets have struck a nerve across the pond, Susanna; I saw the following headline (really): Cancelling Christmas: Inefficiency is promoting autarky, perhaps by design. The article is something about Venezuela's ports.

  32. I, uh, haven't opened The Economist this week, so I missed that one :) Thanks for sharing, Patricia :)

  33. You're too kind, Iza! I was hoping for something from you! :)

  34. Thanks for the bday wishes - I'll pass them along :) - and glad you like the cake! Looking forward to your entry!!!!!!! Hope all's been well with you - I feel like I haven't seen you around much lately...!

  35. Ooh! Good one, Laura! Thanks for joining the fun :)

  36. This is GREAT, Angela! What a fun idea! I think there's a story in here... :) Thanks for playing along!

  37. I know - they were so generous to offer critiques! I hope we'll get lots of entries to honor them! LOVE your headline and story idea!!! I haven't heard of anything like that, so write it quick and get it out there :)

  38. I imagine they will :) Lucky you :)

    pennyklostermann wrote, in response to Susanna Leonard Hill:

    I imagine they will help me with all kinds of ideas...LOL!

    Link to comment
    IP address:

  39. Ooh! Excellent headline and story idea - and very clever puns! Love it, Patricia!

  40. I don't mind long, Erik! This is terrific! Very creative and fun. And I'm glad you so inspired :) I'm THRILLED that you want to enter the holiday contest - can't wait to read your story! :)

  41. Ho ho ho indeed, Lauri! You are too funny :) Excellent headline and idea! :)

  42. Poor Santa! Peppermint meringue sounds irresistible :) Great headline and story idea, Tracy! Thanks for joining in the fun :)

  43. Susanna, what did I say about putting pictures of desserts (or hot guys) first???? :D

    I tried to translate what the penguins said, but I think something got lost in translation. I'm a little rusty on penguin.

  44. That is not a dessert! It is breakfast! And I don't think I've ever posted a hot guy... this is a kid-friendly blog after all :) As for the penguins, they said, "Stina made us do it!"

  45. Happy Birthday, Justin. Your birthday "breakfast" looks delicious.

    And the Holiday contest sounds GREAT! I'll have to put on my reindeer antlers and give it some thought.

  46. Thanks for the bday wishes - I'll pass them along :) And oh please do put on the reindeer antlers (and take a picture :)) and think up a story! I can't wait to read it :)

  47. Ha! This is creative!

  48. LOL! Literally LOL!!!


    I so wanted to participate in your 2nd annual holiday contest, but with Christmas activities taking place, work commitments, and sending our query letters, I have to pass. :-(

    I can't wait to read the contest entries.

  50. I'm sad you won't be able to participate :( I'll keep my fingers crossed that you'll get a great idea and not be able to resist joining in! :)


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