Writers, To The Starting Line! Guidelines For The 11th Annual Holiday Writing Contest!!!

This will be a fun challenge!

Susanna Leonard Hill

I was tootling along, minding my own business, when suddenly I realized it’s November 22!

“Holy Flying Reindeer, Batman!” I said to Violet. “Do you understand the implications of this?”

Apparently she thought I was asking her to BE a flying reindeer and felt no urgency whatsoever regarding the situation!

I, on the other hand, understand the urgency all too well!

There are only TWO WEEKS until the opening of the Holiday Contest and you guys need your guidelines so you can put your thinking caps on and start writing!

I tried to get Violet to put HER thinking cap on but she was very uncooperative so I had to fake it. Clearly, she doesn’t like the fake one any more than the real one.

ANYWAY, the point is that somehow November has flown by and it’s time to tell you what you need to know to get started on…

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Heading into Autumn

Summer is quietly leaning into autumn in Northwest Ohio. Night falls quickly, no more lingering sunsets and light until 10 p.m. No more sitting on the front porch in shorts and t-shirts. The air is getting cooler and the sun is farther away. The grass is fading and the leaves are wilting. We can count on these things, can’t we?

My thoughts turn to planning. Planning for the rush of weeks until the holidays arrive. In my family, our holiday season begins with Hallowe’en and ends with the feast day of the Three Kings, January 6th. In between, we celebrate in ways that grow in meaning as the years pass. Sometimes, that means watching an old movie together, like Beetlejuice, or a new movie, like Coco. It means cooking and baking and looking forward to friends and family gathering. It means making music and making gifts. It means feeling grateful for all of the blessings that have come our way.

My writing changes, too. I plan for the dark, cold evenings that make dinnertime feel like we are eating at 9 p.m. instead of 6 p.m. I’m looking forward to NaNoWriMo this year, my second, during which I will be revising for the umpteenth time a coming of age manuscript that’s been floating around in my head for about 15 years. I am looking forward to Picture Book Summit for the first time this year, getting inspired, and meeting new aspiring pb writers. I think this autumn will be a good season!

Ghost or Not? Published in White Cat Publications

Check out my latest story “Ghost or Not?” at White Cat Publications. If I may say so, I’m pretty proud of this story. Inspired by a story written by my friend Rich Goss, I think it could form the basis of a screen play. Writing a screenplay is on my bucket list.

Check out “Ghost or Not?” at http://www.whitecatpublications.com

Ponderings in the month of 60

Well, I turned sixty last Saturday. Finally having our house remodeled to the point at which to entertain is comfortable, we threw a small get-together to celebrate this milestone birthday. It was just warm enough outside that guests could sit around the fire (with coats on) and listen to my son’s band play on the patio. We ate like royalty, enjoyed the company of family, neighbors, and friends, and all around had a good time.

Then Sunday came, and I learned that a woman I’ve known for fifteen years died of cancer only diagnosed in March. She was my girls’ dance teacher and a legend in Toledo. Even though my girls long ago stopped taking tap and ballet lessons, Karen Niewiadomski will always remain in my heart as one of the kindest, most patient, and talented people I’ve ever known. Losing her was like losing a family member.

And so it goes. I keep on writing through all of it, taking time each day to put pen to paper or fingers to the keyboard and get some thoughts down, or a story line, or a rough draft. Something. Anything. I know that one day, it will pay off, someway.

A few January-February writing achievements…

-Writing every day, every single day;

-reading the ’21 Institute for Writers Children’s Magazine and Book markets reference books;

-Attending Maria Dismondy’s Flipgrid webinar;

-Having my picture book manuscript “Lavender’s Tower Day” critiqued by Katie Davis (GREAT!);

Joining and posting on 12 x 12 Picture Book Challenge (HUGE!);

-posting 5 queries to #PBPitch (Even MORE huge!);

-not giving up!

Snow in February

February is a unique month for me. It has the fewest days in any month even during Leap Year (which makes this Ohioan happy since most of them are cold!); it is my ‘workiversary’ on the 7th; and it is the month I start to think about spring, even though weeks and weeks of winter weather are yet to pass. But something about the sun and its position in the noon sky gets me to thinking of warmer times.

This year, I’m thinking about spring in a way I’ve never done before: will the world be normal any time soon? Will I go back to the office at least a few days a week? Will I see my clients, coworkers, and friends on a somewhat regular basis? Will I be able to travel with abandon, not worrying about hopping into my car without a mask or five?

Right around this time of year, I start to become excited about new writing projects. My motivation to sit down and write for hours kicks in. So, at this moment, I’m happy it’s February! (Oh and tomorrow is Super Bowl Sunday!)