PB Party, 50 Precious Words, & a CP Meetup…OH MY!

What a whirlwind week it’s been!

A few weeks ago, I entered a manuscript into the annual PB Party contest. This is a highly anticipated and very competitive contest among the kidlit writing community. It only happens once a year and there is stiff competition. This year, nearly 1000 talented authors and/or illustrators entered.

A panel of judges combed through every entry and narrowed the list down to just 50 finalists.

I knew it was a long shot. But I went for it anyway. And, lo and behold—last Thursday evening, I found out that I was a finalist!!

This was my second year entering PB Party. I was not chosen as a finalist last year (although my critique partner Lindsey was!), but I’m so glad I didn’t give up and I tried again this year.

So, this week, I am currently in an agent/editor showcase with the other finalists. Over 60 literary agents and editors signed up to take part and they’ve been reviewing the entries all week. So far, one agent has requested my work. And I’m hopeful there may still be more requests before the week is done. There are no guarantees, of course. But, even if nothing comes of this, I feel honored that my work was recognized and chosen out of such a large pool of incredibly talented creators.

Meanwhile, as I was still basking in the excitement of my PB Party finalist status, winners were announced for the 50 Precious Words contest that I had also entered earlier this month. I found out that I was chosen as an Honorable Mention in that contest! There were nearly 750 amazing entries in that contest, so to get any recognition at all feels wonderful!

To top it all off, my friend and critique partner Lindsey just happens to have come to my area on vacation this week! So we finally got to meet in person for the first time (even though I feel like I’ve known her forever!). 😍😍😍 We enjoyed an oceanfront lunch and an afternoon on the beach together. And it topped my other wins this week by a mile! Seriously, it was absolutely the highlight of my week to meet my dear friend. ❤️

It’s easy to get down trying to make it in this business. There is a lot of rejection and ups and downs. Not to mention, I’ve been in a writing slump lately. So to have this much excitement lately despite it all has been an unexpected blessing. It’s been a great month!

50 Precious Words Contest 2022

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It’s March (how is it March already?!) and that means it’s time for this year’s #50PreciousWords contest, run by author Vivian Kirkfield. I’m super excited to enter this contest for the second year in a row.

You probably guessed that stories entered in this contest cannot exceed 50 words. It sounds easy, right? Well…it can actually be quite a challenge to write a full story with a true story arc in such a limited word count. But, picture book writers know to make every word count, so this contest is great practice at cutting out all the unnecessary fluff.

Read more about the #50PreciousWords contest here.

I hope you enjoy my entry below:

MILK

By Jessica Hinrichs
45 words
“Mom, where does milk come from?”


“Some milk comes from cows,
and some milk comes from goats,
coconuts or soy,
or sometimes even oats.

Some milk comes from nuts,
like almonds or cashews.
All milk is delish!
Which milk would you choose?”


“That’s easy…

CHOCOLATE!”

Kids’ Choice Contest 2022

Happy New Year!

I’m excited to kick off 2022 with what else, but another kidlit writing contest. This contest is super special because KIDS get to choose the winners. And they’re the ones who matter the most anyway, right?! Read all about the first annual Kids’ Choice Kidlit Writing Contest on Kailei Pew’s blog here. Kailei has put together a panel of around 100 kid judges, and it’s going to be so fun to find out which stories they choose!

Now, admittedly, I didn’t write an entirely new story for this contest. My entry is a (shorter version of a) story I originally wrote for Susanna Leonard Hill’s 2020 Holiday Contest, where it won an Honorable Mention. That story was 250 words, but I shortened this one a bit to fit the word count parameters for this contest. I hope you like it!

THE MERRY MELODY FARM

By Jessica Hinrichs

Genre: PB (199 words)

It was a peaceful Christmas Eve on the farm. The animals were snoring softly when suddenly . . .

THUMP! THUD! CRASH!

“What on earth?!” Duck cried.

The barn door creaked open and in stepped . . .

Santa!!

“HO, HO, HELLO! I’m in a bit of a pickle, friends. Could you lend a helping hand?”

“Would you settle for a helping hoof?” asked Pig.

Santa chuckled. “Ohhh, yes!”

“How can we help, Santa?” Horse asked.

Santa explained, “My sleigh flew into stormy weather and crashed. But music will restore its power so it can fly again. I need the most magical, merry melodies you can muster!”

“We love to sing!” Cow replied.

The animals gathered around Santa’s sleigh.

Cow crooned, “Have yourself a MOOEY little Christmas.”

Horse hummed, “A-NEIGH in a manger.”

Sheep shrilled, “Jingle BAA, Jingle BAA.”

The sleigh sputtered. “It’s working!” Santa shouted. “Keep singing!”

Pig squealed, “OINK to the world.”

Duck bebopped, “QUACKin’ around the Christmas tree.”

A choir of cats harmonized, “We wish you a MEOWY Christmas.”

It was the sweetest serenade Santa had ever heard!

The sleigh REVVED . . . it ROARED . . . it ROCKED . . . 

then it lifted off the ground!!

The animals cheered!

“Thank you, friends!” Santa waved. “You’ve saved Christmas!”

Birthday! Birthday! Honorable Mention 🎉

I was excited to find out today that my story won an Honorable Mention in the Birthday! Birthday! contest from last month.

Thanks to Gennie and Amy for hosting such a fun contest!

Check out the other winners and honorable mentions too!

And, if you missed my silly/dark contest entry, you can read it here.

Have a great rest of your week!

Birthday! Birthday! Contest 2021

I’m so excited to participate in this brand-new contest, started by one of my own critique partners and one of her critique partners.

Gennie Gorback and Amy Leskowski discovered they have the same birthday…and thus, this contest was born!

Read all about the Birthday! Birthday! Contest here.

The rules are pretty simple. The stories have to stay at 100 words or fewer, and we have to include at least one word from each birthday girl’s list below.

I thought it would be fun to take it juuust a little further. So my silly story includes, not two, but 10 of these 12 words. 😄 Enjoy!

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, GENNIE and AMY!!! 🎉🎉

BEDTIME
By Jessica Hinrichs
100 words

Turtle yawned, and switched off the lamp. “Bedtime!”

“Nope!” Monkey switched the lamp back on.

Monkey did crafts and puzzles, munched on cookies, and noisily slurped his milk.

“Seriously?!” Turtle said. “I’m trying to sleep here.” He switched off the lamp.

“And I’m trying to play here.” Monkey switched the lamp on.

“This is a conundrum.” Turtle sighed.

“Let’s compromise.” Monkey suggested. “One game of baseball, then I’ll go to bed.”

Monkey pitched. Turtle swung the bat.

Whoosh! The baseball flew through the air, bonking Monkey smackdab in the noggin.

Monkey snoozed.

Turtle switched off the lamp, smiling slyly. “Finally.”

Halloweensie 2021

Here we go again! If you haven’t figured it out, it’s contest season in the #KidLit #WritingCommunity! 👻🎃🍁

For the Halloweensie contest, our stories have to stay at 100 words or less. That’s tough! My first draft came in at 140 words, so I had to cut, cut, cut. ✂️ The rules for this contest also state that we must incorporate 3 specific words into our story: goosebumps, glow-in-the dark, and goodies.

Thanks to Susanna Leonard Hill for always putting on such fun writing contests! Read more about the Halloweensie contest here.

My entry is below. Happy Halloween! 🎃

BRUCE GOOSE
By Jessica Hinrichs
100 words



Bruce Goose had a problem. He had no goosebumps.

Who ever heard of a goose with no goosebumps? Ridiculous.

Bruce determined this would be the Halloween he got his goosebumps back, so he asked his friends to scare him, and scare him good!

Duck dressed as a vampire and circled overhead.

Sheep dressed as a glow-in-the-dark skeleton and shimmied and shook.

Pig dressed as a witch and cackled a spooky spell. “Honkus Ponkus!”

But still, no goosebumps. 

Then, Lucy Goose—Bruce’s crush—held out a treat bag. “Wanna share my Halloween goodies?”

And she planted a kiss smackdab on Bruce’s beak...

GOOSEBUMPS!

Fall Writing Frenzy 2021 Winner

Great news to start a Monday! I wasn’t expecting Fall Writing Frenzy winners to be announced until the end of the week, but when I woke up I had a message from one of my lovely critique partners letting me know and cheering me on! Supportive CPs are worth their weight in gold, aren’t they??

Anyway, I was thrilled to see my name among the winners for this year!! Check out the rest of the winners and honorable mentions here.

And, if you want to read my contest entry, you can find it here.

I’ll see y’all again at the end of the week when I post my entry for Halloweensie! Have a great week! 🍁

Fall Writing Frenzy 2021

It’s contest time again!

This particular contest holds a special place in my heart because this is the contest that brought my critique group together ONE YEAR AGO! Last year, we dubbed ourselves The Frenzy Friends in honor of the Fall Writing Frenzy contest that brought us together, and the name has stuck.

It’s hard to believe we’ve been together for a year already, but on the other hand, these special ladies have become great friends and I feel like I’ve known them forever. 🥰

So, for the Fall Writing Frenzy contest, we were given some fall pics to choose from as our writing prompts. Our stories can’t go over 200 words. But, other than that, there aren’t many rules. We can write funny, spooky, scary, dark—basically, whatever we think about when we look at the picture.

Read more about the Fall Writing Frenzy contest here.

I usually write picture books. But, for my contest entry this year, I went for a darker mood piece that definitely has a more middle-grade vibe. And then I decided, what the heck, I’ll make it interesting and write it in haiku.🤓

Here is the pic I chose, and my story is below. Enjoy! 🍁

MISS ANNABELLE:

A Haiku

By Jessica Hinrichs

196 words





I was ten years old
the day Miss Annabelle died.
She was my neighbor.

My very best friend.
Closest thing I’d ever had
to a grandparent.

She made the best tea
this side of Mississippi.
Tea and biscuits, both.

When Mama told me,
my heart felt like it shattered.
Grief-stricken, I cried.

A deluge of tears.
I couldn’t breathe, couldn’t speak.
Pain unparalleled.

A few days later,
we walked to the funeral,
somber and solemn.

Leaves crunched beneath us.
An earthy scent lingered, like
ashes to ashes.

The white church stood out
against the vibrant backdrop
of orange, gold, yellow.

How beautiful, and
how odd to notice beauty
in the midst of grief.

And those bells. Those bells.
The ethereal chiming. 
Still now, it haunts me.

A sorrowful song,
bidding eternal peace, and
a final goodbye.

I’ve tried to forget.
But, when I hear church bells, or
see the autumn leaves,

I can’t help but think
of that fateful day she left.
I miss my sweet friend.

But, Miss Annabelle
has been gone for two years now.
Two heartbreaking years.

So, why? I ask, why?
Why is she sitting on my
front porch swing right now?

4th Place Valentiny Winner!

I’m blown away and so excited to say that I won 4th place (out of 252 entries) in this year’s Valentiny Writing Contest! ❤️

Two of my lovely and talented critique partners won Honorable Mentions too, which just makes this win even sweeter! 💗

You can find the list of all of the winners here.

Speaking of my critique partners, I’m constantly amazed by their creativity and writing skills. They come up with ideas and stories much faster than I do! In fact, their stories were complete and ready to go before I even had any clue what to write for Valentiny! I considered not even entering this contest because I had so much trouble coming up with an idea. And then, one day, the idea just hit me…and I ran with it! I’m so glad I did!

See my previous post to read my story.

Valentiny Contest

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It’s contest time again! The first writing contest for 2021. Author and blogger extraordinaire Susanna Leonard Hill is hosting her 6th annual Valentiny Writing Contest, and I’m so excited to be entering for the first time this year! Read more about the contest here: https://susannahill.com/2021/02/12/be-brave-my-heart-the-6th-annual-valentiny-contest-is-here/

Basically, this contest has 3 rules:

  1. Your story must be about Valentine’s Day.
  2. Your story must include someone being brave in some way.
  3. Your story must be 214 words or less (because 2/14…get it?).

I hope you enjoy my short and sweet story! My entry is below:

Valentine’s Gotcha Day

By Jessica Hinrichs

(213 words)

Valentine sat in her kennel, nervously thumping her tail against the floor.

Was today the day? She’d gotten her hopes up before, but everyone always said her fur was too scruffy, her nose was a funny shape, and her size was just too much to love.

Day after day, she remained at the shelter, watching families adopt her friends and hoping one day it would be her turn too.

Just then, Valentine’s ears perked up. She heard a girl’s voice. Her heart beat faster as the girl approached.

“Look, Mommy!” The little girl squealed. “Her fur is red! Her nose is shaped like a heart! And there’s a lot of her to love! She’s perfect.”

The little girl knelt down and smiled—the prettiest smile Valentine had ever seen. 

Valentine’s eyes pleaded with her. Could this be my Gotcha Day? I’m too scared to even hope. Be brave! She trembled, but she held the little girl’s gaze.

As if the little girl understood, she reached out her hand and gently whispered, “Sweet Valentine, will you be mine?”

Will I ever! Valentine’s fears faded in a split-second and she lunged into the little girl’s arms, peppering her face with wet kisses.

The little girl giggled. “You’re the best Valentine ever!”

No, thought Valentine, you are.

THE END