Archive for September, 2010

Grades 6 – 12 Short Story, Poetry and Essay Contest

September 30, 2010

EPIC Writing Contest For Students

Competition Guidelines

Eligible Students: This contest is open to students worldwide, attending public, private, or home schools. Students must be in junior high/middle school or high school in the U.S., or the equivalent grade level in their specific international school system.

Categories for entries: Entries may be a story, poem, or essay, written specifically for the contest or as a school assignment for grades 6-8 / ages 11 – 14 (Middle School categories) or grades 9-12 / ages 15 – 18 (High School categories). The sub-categories are Story (fictional Short Story), Poetry, and/or Essay (nonfiction).

Language: All entries must be in English.

Entry Limit: An entrant may enter no more than one (1) entry in each category, equaling a maximum of three (3) entries.

Entry Fee: None.

Deadline: All entries must be received between August 1, 2010 and October 20, 2010.

Judging: Entries will be judged by a panel of judges, including teachers, librarians, published writers, publishers, and editors. All entrants will receive feedback ONLY from the first-round judging panel. Finalists will move to a secondary judging panel.

Profane, sexually explicit, plagiarized, or libelous content will be rejected as an entry.
Middle School Categories
(Ages 11 – 14)
High School Categories
(Ages 15 – 18)
Story (Fictional Short Story)

  • Maximum length: 750 words
  • All genres will be considered.
Story (Fictional Short Story)

  • Maximum length: 1000 words
  • All genres will be considered.

  • Maximum length: 20 lines
  • All themes and forms will be accepted

  • Maximum length: 30 lines
  • All themes and forms will be accepted
Essay (nonfiction)

  • Maximum length: 750 words
  • All themes and forms will be accepted
Essay (nonfiction)

  • Maximum length: 1000 words
  • All themes and forms will be accepted

Competition Guidelines and Rules

Contest entry grants a one-time, non-exclusive print and electronic right for EPIC to publish the entrant’s submission, biography, and e-book knowledge in the EPIC’s Anthology and on the EPIC Website. Entrants retain the copyright to their individual work.

EPIC reserves the right to cancel a category if, at the sole discretion of the EPIC’s Young Writers Competition Chair(s), there are not enough entries to merit judging.

For entry form, more details and if you have questions visit:

Ever met a celebrity?

September 26, 2010

A friend of mine just got back from England where she met Prince Charles. 


She and her husband were touring the gardens of Buckingham Palace and there was some show going on.  He was in the midst of  a crowd,  smack dab in front of them,  along with Camilla, where they chatted with my friends about mulching and plants and tulips and what-not. 

Although I’ve seen a few Hollywood actors on sets and in streets (their names escape me so unfortunately I can’t impress you with name-dropping here) I haven’t been stunned by anyone truly in the upper echelon of famous-ousity.   

Oh wait.  One name-drop.  Sorry.  I took my son to see Clinton before he was president so my son could shake his hand.  We were in a crowd of twenty so it was lovely indeed.  And he was personable and pleasant and of course I handed my camera to someone else to take pictures and never thought to ask for him to take a picture of the three of us . . .

But other than that, my life has been celebrity free.

What about yours?  Do you know a hairdresser’s son’s cousin who’s the brother of Lindsay Lohan?  Poor girl.  Sorry about the unfortunate choice.  I was trying to be contemporary and that’s all I could come up with at the moment. 

Writing Prompt:

1.  Write a personal narrative.  You can have dinner with anyone famous in history or the present time.  Who would you choose?  What do you ask?  What happens?  (My choice?  Dorothy Parker, Abigail Adams, everyone’s choice which is Eleanor Roosevelt and Dr. Seuss for starters . . .)

2.  Change your personal narrative into a poem.  Choose concrete images and metaphors.  Remember a poem isn’t just prose set in stanzas.

3.  Zap yourself into Hollywood.  Write a short story with you as a character.

Mistaken Identity

September 23, 2010

The other day I took Zoie for a walk and noticed “my” red-tailed hawk flying low over our house.  Looking for lunch? 

We came inside and heard a CA-THUNK. 

“What was that?” asked my husband. 

We both looked out of the living room windows which over-look the oak trees, the open space, and our deck.  Nothing that we could see had been disturbed. 

“Probably the neighbors,” I said.  So many people around us are either retired or work at home, there is lots of noise and activity around us these days. 

It was time for Zoie to go on the downstairs deck for her good sniffs.  I joined her and glanced down at the small sliver of land we have before it drops off into a sharp hill below.   That’s where Bob perched his beloved plastic $3.99 pink flamingoes. (Sigh) Why?  Partly because he likes them, and mostly to jokingly annoy me.  It sort of matches the fuzzy dice he has hanging from the mirror in his truck.  (Sigh #2)  He USED to have them in his El Camino.  (Sigh #3)  But that’s another story . . .

It was then I noticed that one of the pink flamingoes was lying at the bottom of our hill, leaning against our fence.  Its legs were still standing firmly in the ground at the top of the hill.  Without the fence to stop it, the body of the plastic bird would be in the creek by now.  (Darn that fence . . .)

On its wings were deep gashes . . .    Holes punctured the head. 

I gazed upward and saw the hawk.  “Sorry,” I sent telepathically to him.  “Wish you would have succeeded in carrying it off.  Hope you have better luck with your lunch on your next try.”

Writing Prompts:

1. The dive-bombing hawk at the plastic pink flamingo must have been very disappointed to discover his case of mistaken identity.  When have you ever had a case of mistaken identity?  Ever think someone or something was different from reality?  Write a personal narrative about this happening. 

2.  Write a short story about a mistaken identity.  It could be a comedy, a tragedy, a mystery, a romance or even a science fiction piece. 

3.  Create a poem with that theme.  Remember a poem is not just prose set up into poetry format.  Take out all the unimportant words and replace them with images and concrete words that show and don’t tell. 

4.  Write a newspaper article about a case of mistaken identity in journalistic form. 

How do all of these types of writing differ?  Which one is the easiest for you?  The most difficult?

Teachers and Librarians – Win $1000 in Graphic Novels for Your School – Enter by Sept. 24, 2010

September 21, 2010

Picture Literacy Contest by School Library Journal

Grand Prize  $1000 in Graphic Novels for Your School!

Second Place  $300 Graphic Novel Prize Package

Two Runner-Ups  $100 Graphic Novel Prize Package Each

Sweepstake Rules

Oodles of Doodles Creativity Contest

September 20, 2010

Due date:  October 31, 2010

Calling all kids!  Do you like to doodle and draw?  

  Visit and download an entry form for this contest.

Five grand prize winners will receive:

* A deluxe set of art materials

* A limited edition, framed print autographed by Taro Gomi

* The full collection of Chronicle’s Taro Gomi books and gifts

Good luck!

Where Everyone Knows You

September 20, 2010

Every week my husband and I go to a local diner where we meet friends for dinner.  When we hear the familiar jangle of the bell as we open the door, we know we’ll be met with enthusiastic greetings. 

Nearly everyone who goes is a regular.  Sometimes we’ll all get into a group conversation – – and everyone is chiming in on a subject and it’s like one big party!  All different ages and backgrounds, coming together because of the locale and the food. 

Now if I were to write a scene with a group of people who all knew each other, how would real life be different from writing?  If I wrote exactly what happened on one of these nights, it might be a tad amusing, but frankly, I would bore you to sleep.  Why?  There wouldn’t be any tension or conflict.   Lacking suspense, there really isn’t any reason to read.  What’s the problem?  What does anyone have to lose?  What does anyone need?

Writing prompt:

Write a scene with a group of people.  It could be in a school cafeteria, a classroom, a business meeting, a family reunion, a celebration, or any place people gather together.  Next, have these people interact with each other.  Remember to get them talking and in between the dialogue intersperse a bit of the description of the place and people, their actions and reactions to each other. 

Next, add conflict with each other.   What is the problem in this scene?   Or perhaps there could be different relationship problems between separate people adding layers of tension. 

After you write the scene, read it out loud.  This helps not only to catch your errors, but to help with your pacing.  It will show you when you need more or less dialogue and more or less narration. 

What makes a story the best is the perfect blend of both.

Of Writing Ideas and What Happens Next

September 17, 2010

As an author, the first question everyone wants to know, is where do I get my ideas?  Ideas can come from a line of dialogue over-heard at a school visit, in line at the movies, grocery store, or at the park.  My ideas stem from my loves:  chocolate, dogs, dreams, books, the beach, humor . . . Ideas are everywhere!

But then what?  If the idea hits you as unique, funny, interesting . . . then it’s a keeper.  Jot it down in a journal, your white board, notepad, IPAD, or whatever you use so you won’t forget it. 

Next comes the fun part.  Sleep on it!  Dream on it!  DAYDREAM.  Yes!  Permission to daydream! 

Teacher:  “What do you think you are doing?”

Student:  “Why Ms. Know-It-All, I’m doing my assignment.”

Teacher:  “Staring out the window is the assignment?”

Student:  “Yes!  It’s important to daydream for me to fully develop the characters and plot of my creative writing assignment.”

Your best ideas are in your subconscious, where daydreams and your sleep-dreams take place.  So pay attention when words, thoughts, and images strike you there.  Keep pen and paper next to your bed so you can write these down immediately as they happen or otherwise they will blip off into space very quickly. 

Next, brainstorm on paper.  One word leads to another word of thought.  Be as relaxed as you can be!  If you are tense this won’t work well.  Give yourself ten minutes.  Write down anything that comes to your mind.  What might happen next?  What problem could occur?  Keep your pen going!

Where do I begin?  Not necessarily at the beginning.  Just begin where your characters start talking to you.  Or if the beginning comes naturally to you, begin there.  Just start writing!

*Give your character an obsession.  What does she or he want?

*What stops her from getting it?

* How can she overcome this?

On your first draft, just write.  Don’t worry about grammar and punctuation. 

1. Brainstorming is great for ANY TIME YOU DON’T KNOW WHAT HAPPENS NEXT.  In a novel, short story, essay or poem. 

2.  Try a dream intention. Before sleep, write down the question you need answered.  “What should happen to my character next?”  Sometimes this question needs to be rewritten each night for three or four nights before your dream will happen.  Sometimes you’ll get it on the first night!  Write your dream immediately after waking. Remember we dream in symbols.  So take time to think about what your dream could really mean to you. 

3.  Relax.   Any time we worry, we block our process.  If we just sit down away from our computer and get back to the old-fashioned pen and paper in a comfortable chair, you may be surprised how easily your “what happens next” question will be answered.

Colonial Essay Contest! Grades 5 – 8 Contra Costa County

September 14, 2010

 Celebrate America’s History!

Are you in 5th through 8th grade? 

You’re invited to participate in an…

   Essay Contest

 Topic:  Memoirs of Paul Revere

 In celebration in 2010 of the 275th anniversary of the birth of Paul Revere, pretend you are Paul Revere writing your memoirs.  Relate various accomplishments for which you wish to be remembered in the annals of American history.

 Open to Grades 5-8

Length:  300 – 1,000 words (depending on grade level)

Essays Due :  November 30, 2009

 To:  Leslie A. Pfeifer, American History Chairman, Daughters of the American Revolution

Anne Loucks Chapter

Essay is to be handwritten in black ink, typed, or prepared on a computer or word processor using black type in non-script font no smaller than 12 point or larger than 14 point. 

All of the essay must be the student’s original work.  Each essay must have a title page listing the following:

Title of Essay:  “Memoirs of Paul Revere”

(A subtitle is permitted if written below the topic.)

Contestant’s full name and address.  If the school’s regulations prohibit providing the student contact information, then school contact information may be substituted. 

Contestant’s telephone number (with area code) and e-mail address, if available.

Name of contestant’s school with grade level.

Name of sponsoring DAR chapter

Number of words in essay

Essay must have a bibliography listing all references utilized.  Internet resources, if used, should be cited in similar format to that used for printed resources.  Add the electronic address used to access the document as supplementary information.  Any essay with information copied directly from sources without using quotes will be disqualified.  

**To be eligible for this contest, students must live and go to school (or be homeschooled)  in Contra Costa County.  Questions?  Contact Leslie at the above e-mail address.  You may also email her your essay before November 30, 2009.  Good luck!



Things That Start Too Early Haiku

September 6, 2010

This month’s Contra Costa Times would like YOU to write haiku based on the theme “things that come too early.”

Send your haiku –three lines in a 5-7-5 syllable pattern — on the “too early to be borne” theme to by noon Sept. 27 

This would be a great activity for students!  See your poetry in print or online!  Start writing NOW!

Metafiction for Children

September 6, 2010

Metafiction is fiction about fiction, or a device that draws attention to the book.  I remember laughing out loud while reading William Goldman’s The Princess Bride when the author cleverly tells the reader that this is a story in many unique ways.  ( I’m not going to tell you how he does this.  Go read the book!)

For some examples in children’s literature, see the entertaining video posted here.  

Then you try your hand at a bit of metafiction!  Draw the reader into your story or poem by making fun of the convention.