With Hopeful Heart! Contest

Friends – It’s time to tell you about Susanna Leonard Hill’s WITH HOPEFUL HEART – 3rd annual Valentiny Writing Contest which is all about writing “big emotion for little people.”

This year’s story must be a maximum 214 words and contain a character who is hopeful.

I’m very excited to enter this contest for a third year in a row. While I didn’t win a prize last year, I gained a valuable main character that has become the star of my last three picture book manuscripts; one of which is being critiqued at next month’s SCBWI JambaLYya Kidlit Conference in New Orleans. I’m thrilled to put my beloved Officer Pudge in front of an editor, at last. *** Come join me in NOLA next month. Early registration is still available until Feb. 15th! ***

For this year’s story I imagined a kid who has a serious crush on a classmate and seeks out her attention right before Valentine’s Day. Do you remember Candy Grams at school and the anticipation of getting them delivered to your class? Well, I certainly do! WIll I get any? Who will they be from? Will someone other than my mom send me one? Yea, you remember now! See it’s bringing back all those feelings, right? Yep, so I threw that suspense in for good measure.

I hope that you will enjoy my 214 word, super-Valentiny story entitled, True Love at Ocean Academy (and this adorable seal photo, too).


Andy Seal

True Love at Ocean Academy

Andy Seal adored Audrey Beluga and wanted her for his special Valentine. For days, he wooed her with special treats.

On Monday, he left a pail of “Sandy Candy” in her seat with the note: “I like you a whole heap!

She gave it to Livy Octopus.

Tuesday, he sat a shovel and a scoop of chocolate shells on her desk with the note: “I really dig your smile!

She passed them to Simone Orca.

On Wednesday, he brought her a tackle box full of gummy worms and the note: “I love you hook, line, and sinker!

She shared them with the entire class!

Thursday, Andy sadly waddled to school. He had one last Valentine to give, if only . . .

During morning work, the Starfish Council came by passing out their annual Valentine Candy Grams. Everyone got one, but not . . . Wait!


A Candy Gram just for him!

He opened the envelope to find a stick of beef jerky; his favorite, and a handwritten note that read:

There once was a cutie named Andy.

Who gave gifts that came in quite handy.

He made this whale squeal,

He was her favorite seal!

And she liked him way better than candy!

Be Mine! XOXO Audrey

Together, they shared true love (and beef jerky) at Ocean Academy!


So, how did I do?

What would you change?

How could it be improved?

Please leave a comment and let me know what you think.

And . . . don’t forget that there is still time to write your own 214 word Valentine’s Day story. Submissions are open from now (moment this blog is published) until 2/14/18 at 11:59 p.m. EDT. If you write one, please let me where to find it so I can enjoy yours, too!

Wishing everyone a super-Valentiny Valentine’s Day with 214 best wishes!

27 thoughts on “With Hopeful Heart! Contest

  1. This is wonderful, Maria! The characters are adorable and I did NOT see that ending coming! GOOD LUCK with the contest!!!

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