My Valentiny Story “Mila’s Cookies” Has Been Awarded Recognition for Great Kid Appeal!

February is turning out to be an amazing month for me this year. After I announced on Saturday that I’ve won a Grand Prize for Storystorm, now comes the news (in this totally unscheduled, not-even-on-a-Saturday blog post) that I’ve won a prize for my entry in Susanna Leonard Hill’s Valentiny contest! You can read my story, “Mila’s Cookies”, here.

While I didn’t make it onto the list of finalists, I’ve been awarded recognition in the category Great Kid Appeal and get to choose from a list of fantastic books offered as prizes.

Congratulations to all the other winners (including my talented critique buddy Joy Pitcairn who won prizes for two stories!) and many thanks to Susanna Leonard Hill as well as the other judges for all the work you put into running the contest!


I’m Delighted to Be a Storystorm Grand Prize Winner!

Back in January I listed Tara Lazar’s Storystorm as one of the contests that I’m taking part in this year. A great thing about Storystorm (and there are many, many great things about it!) is that everyone who jots down 30 story ideas over the course of January is a winner and gets a pretty winner’s badge (designed by talented illustrator Melissa Crowton):


I ended the month with 41 ideas and proudly displayed the badge on my blog. I was able to start the year brimming with ideas waiting to be fleshed out into picture book drafts and could look back on another January full of inspirational blog posts and a wonderful sense of community through interactions with fellow Storystormers.

Then today I sat down at my computer (ready to write a totally different blog post from this one!) and found out that I’ve not only won Storystorm by participating and coming up with 30+ ideas – I’m also one of eight lucky grand prize winners!!

The grand prizes consist of feedback on five story ideas from top literary agents. I’m delighted to be paired up with Victoria Selvaggio, agent and partner at Storm Literary Agency!

I’d like to say a huge thank you to Tara Lazar for organising this fantastic challenge each year and to Victoria Selvaggio in advance for agreeing to donate her valuable time to a grand prize winner (lucky me!)

Congratulations to the other winners and to everyone who participated! 🙂



Get Ready for ReFoReMo 2019!

Next week registration will open for ReFoReMo (Reading for Research Month) 2019!

This year’s reading list has been revealed and it includes some fantastic picture books by equally fantastic authors such as Pat Zietlow Miller, Tom Fletcher, Tammi Sauer, Julia Donaldson, Josh Funk and many, many more.

Throughout March the various titles will be discussed and analysed in blog posts written by authors, literary agents, editors and other VIPs in the world of kidlit.

Each day of the challenge is devoted to a particular topic, for example, story voice, onomatopoeia, diversity and emotion. It’s a great way to familiarise yourself with a wide range of successful picture books and improve your understanding of how they’re structured.

ReFoReMo was founded in 2015 by Carrie Charley Brown, who now runs it together with Kirsti Call. Find out more here!

Mila’s Cookies – My Entry for the Valentiny Writing Contest 2019

My blog post is several days late this week because (as announced in my last post) it contains my entry for Susanna Leonard Hill’s Valentiny Writing Contest! You can read all about the contest here. If you still want to enter, you have until 14th February 11:59 pm EDT (GMT-4).

And now, without further ado, here’s my 214-word story based around the keywords “Valentine’s Day” and “feeling guilty”:


Mila’s Cookies

“Goodnight, Munchkin. I’m off to bake cookies for my office Valentine’s party.”
“May I have some?”
Mama kissed Mila’s nose.
“I’ll save you one,” she said.
Mila woke to a delicious smell.
I need a glass of water.
On the stovetop lay a tray of 14 heart-shaped cookies.
They each had an icing letter on, except one that was completely covered with icing.
That one must be mine! I’ll just have a little nibble. Yummm. If I eat it all up, Mama might think she forgot to ice one for me.
13 cookies is a lot. Mama won’t notice if I eat one more.
Mila stopped only when the tray was empty.
She stared at it for a moment, then turned and dashed to her room. She leapt into bed. Sweat seeped from her forehead.
What would Mama take to the work party now?
She closed her eyes tight, but the loud boom-boom of her heart kept her awake.
By the morning, her tummy was in knots.
She snuck into Mama’s room.
“Mama, I ate all your work cookies, I’m so sorry!” She burst into tears.
Mama frowned.
“It was wrong to eat so many cookies.” Then she grinned and hugged Mila. “But those ones were all yours! The letters spelt F-o-r m-y M-u-n-c-h-k-i-n.”

Valentiny Writing Contest 2019

I’m a bit of a spoilsport and have never been a fan of Valentine’s Day (for reasons I won’t bore you with!) But I’m certainly a fan of writing and of contests, so when I read that Susan Leonard Hill is running her Valentiny Writing Contest again this year for the fourth time, I couldn’t resist.

I’ve already thrown together a story, which is currently being critiqued by my wonderful critique partners. This contest is unusual in that you post your story publically – so watch this space, as I’ll be posting mine here next week!

If you want to enter, you have until 14th February 11:59 pm EDT (don’t forget to convert to your own time zone!) In addition to “Valentine’s Day” this year’s theme is “feeling guilty” and the story should be no more than 214 words long (it’s a lot harder than it sounds!)

You can find out more here.

Good luck! 🙂