July 1, 2013

The 4th Of July Secret Mystery Writing Contest!!!

FINALLY!  It's here!

The Fourth Of July Secret Mystery Writing Contest!
WHO ATE THE BLUEBERRIES???!!!
I am so excited about this!  I look forward to these contests so much because so many wonderful, talented writers contribute such fantastic stories!  I can't wait to read what you've all come up with this time!!!

ThContest:  Write a children's story, in poetry or prosemaximum 400 words about the 4th of July in which a secret is revealed or a mystery is solved!

You may choose any 4th of July setting you like: country, city or small town, sleepaway camp or vacation, with family or friends or all alone, at a parade, a picnic, a fireworks show or a bonfire, in the middle of the woods or in a country where the locals don't celebrate 4th of July.  Your secret or mystery doesn't have to be anything earth-shattering.  It could be who took Granny's award-winning Fourth of July cherry pie?  Or what did Robin tell Sarah who told Olivia who told Gracie about Anna in cabin 7?  Or where did the flags for the parade disappear to?  Or why doesn't Becky Sue want to go to the fireworks show? Or what Old Mrs. Hootenspiegal knows about the mayor!  Just as long as a secret or mystery of some kind is revealed or solved by the end.

Post:  Your entry should be posted on your blog between Monday July 1 at 12:01 AM EDT and Friday July 5 at 11:59 PM EDT, and your post-specific link should be added to the link list below which will remain up through Sunday July 7 (no Would You Read It on Wednesday July 3... and although the post will remain up through Sunday to give everyone plenty of time to read and enjoy, the entry list will be closed at midnight Friday so we have time to judge).  If you don't have a blog but would like to enter, please copy and paste your entry into the comments on this post by midnight Friday July 5th.  (If anyone has trouble commenting, which unfortunately happens, please email me and I'll post your entry for you!)

The Judging:  My lovely assistant and I will narrow down the entrants to five (or possibly a couple more :)) finalists which will be posted here on Monday July 8 for you to vote on for a winner.  The vote will be closed at 6 PM EDT on Thursday July 11 and the winner will be announced on Friday July 12.

The Prizes!:  The first place winner will receive (I am not making this up!) a picture book manuscript critique from Simone Kaplan!!!!!  Yes, THE Simone Kaplan!!!  I wish I knew how to put that up in lights and make it all sparkly! :)  Simone Kaplan has been editing children's books and magazines for over 20 years.  She was an editor at Henry Holt and Company, and then a Senior Editor at HarperCollins.  More recently she has worked as a consultant to various authors, illustrators, and publishing houses.  She also runs a wonderful website called Picture Book People (where you can sign up for her free newsletter among other things.)  A prize like this makes me wish I could compete in my own contest! :)

If we get more than 15 entries, we will place through 3rd.  If we get more than 25 entires we will place through 5th.  Additional prizes will include:
 - a $50 Amazon gift certificate
 - a picture book manuscript critique from yours truly (a $75 value)
 - the writing craft book of your choice (up to $30 value)
 - a place in Making Picture Book Magic (my online PB writing course) (a $99 value)

Here is my sample (and I will admit this was a REAL challenge for me!  I've never tried writing a mystery before (as I'm sure you'll be able to tell!), so that was hard enough, but fitting it into 400 words nearly killed me!  In fact, I didn't quite manage, but it was past my bedtime.  I had to cut so much out to get it near the word count that I'm not sure it even makes sense anymore :)  Be forewarned this may qualify as the worst story I've ever written - that's what happens when you over-schedule and write at the last minute! :)

The 4th Of July Parade

Lola longed to lead the Crumb Creek 4th of July Parade.
But Granny crashed her motorcycle and broke her arm, and it looked like there would be no 4th of July Pie this year.
“Never mind the parade,” said Lola.  “I’ll help you bake.”
“Fiddlesticks!” said Granny.  “I can bake pie with one hand tied behind my back!”
Lola gave her a hug.  “I’ll be your other hand right after tryouts.”
“Knock their socks off, Sugar-Pie!” said Granny.
At tryouts, the boys hopped on YankeeDoodlePony one after another. Lola hated to admit it, but they were pretty good riders.
When it was her turn, Lola rode her best.
Afterwards George said, “You won’t win.”
“I have just as much chance as you,” said Lola.
Henry said, “You’re too small.”
“I’m the right size for YankeeDoodlePony,” said Lola.
Billy said, “You’re not a boy.  Yankee Doodle was a boy.”
Lola had nothing to say to that.
“This year, the leader will be Lola!” announced Mayor Fluffbottom.
Billy had nothing to say to that.
George stuck his tongue out at Lola, but she was too happy to care.
“They picked me, Granny!” Lola sang, rolling piecrust while Granny picked one-handed through seventeen quarts of blueberries.
“I knew they would!” said Granny.
By bedtime, fifty pies cooled on the counters.
“How will you get these to the Village Green without your motorcycle?” worried Lola.
“I’ll figure a way,” said Granny.  “Sweet dreams, Sugar-Pie.  Big day tomorrow!”
In the morning Lola raced to the barn.
“Hey!” said Billy.  “YankeeDoodlePony is gone!”
“What?” Lola gasped.
George and Henry smirked.
“What did you do with him?” demanded Lola.
“Nothing!” the boys insisted.
The parade started in thirty minutes!
Lola had to find YankeeDoodlePony!
“Help me look for him!” she begged.
They searched high and low, but YankeeDoodlePony was nowhere to be found.
Lola discovered hoofprints and wheel tracks on the driveway.
“It looks like someone drove a pony out here, but he’s long gone.  I guess I won’t be leader after all,” Lola said miserably.
Clip-clop-rattle-rattle.
YankeeDoodlePony came down the road at a smart trot pulling a little cart.  Granny drove one-handed!
“Sorry I’m late, Sugar-Pie!  Had to deliver the pies!”
Lola turned to Billy, Henry and George.  “I’m sorry I thought you hid YankeeDoodlePony,” she said.
“That’s okay,” said Billy.
Lola hopped aboard YankeeDoodlePony
George handed her the flag.
Then Lola rode out to lead the 4th of July Parade.
She sat tall and straight and proud.
YankeeDoodlePony pricked his ears and pranced.
The American flag waved its stars and stripes in the hot breeze.
The crowd along the sidewalk cheered.
And afterwards, there was 4th of July Pie for everyone!


Now then!  That was quite spectacularly awful!  So I hope it will fill you all with confidence, because I know you can all do better than that!

CAN'T WAIT to read your stories!!!  Don't forget to add your post-specific links below, or copy and paste to the comment section!  Look for Sidney, Sian, Pam, Michele, and Brianna's stories in the comments.


Reactions:

160 comments:

  1. That was quite the nice example, Susanna. I'm wishing I could participate since I'm beginning to get into PB writing now. Timing can be a bother sometimes. Just not enough hours in the day. Le sigh. But I had fun reading yours :-)

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  2. Not sure I shall get to this with WOW and other revisions this week, but good luck to all who enter, and what a swell first prize!

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  3. OK, Susanna. I'm trying this for the 1st time (your contest) Thanks a lot for hosting. And I love your name Mayor Fluffbottom! I guess I've been around my kids too much today. :P

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  4. I am so excited for this contest! It was the first thing I thought of when I woke up this morning. Thank you so much for hosting Susanna! Your story was very cute. My favorite part was, "You're not a boy. Yankee Doodle was a boy!" Gotta love those childhood squabbles.

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  5. This_Kid_Reviews_Books_ErikJuly 1, 2013 at 9:36 AM

    I like the idea of a granny on a motorcycle! Great story! I still need to finish mine! :D

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  6. I'm looking forward to yours, Erik! And thanks for your kind words... I'm not happy with this story - I had to cut so much out that I don't like what's left. I want to write a version that's twice as long :)

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  7. Thank you for entering, Heather! I loved your story - great job! And you're very kind to find something nice to say about my miserable attempt at a mystery :)

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  8. Loved your story, Nancy! Have fun at Jury Duty :)




























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  9. You're just making stuff up, Teresa - but that's to be expected - you're a writer :) Loved your story! Happy Monday and Canada Day to you too :)

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  10. Well I'm glad you enjoyed it, Angela - you're very kind. Sorry if the timing didn't work out for you (although you've still got nearly 5 days to get something posted if you think of an idea! :)) but there will be other contests... at least 2 more this year :)

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  11. I know you're busy, but I hope you'll get an inspiration and find a few minutes to enter! I will miss you if you don't! :)

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  12. I'm so excited you entered, Tina - I loved your story! And I rather liked Mayor Fluffbottom too - actually, it was my favorite part of the story! :)

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  13. Thank you, Catherine! I can always count on you to say something nice even when I've posted rubbish :) I loved your clever poem/story!


























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  14. Everyone looks as if they're having great fun. I know I'm enjoying reading these amazing stories. What talent! I know it's far too soon but I've got a favorite. Can't wait to see if this changes.

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  15. I know! Isn't everyone amazing? I'm so impressed by people's abilities and creativity! Looking forward to reading yours, Pam... don't make me get the ECP :)



























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  16. Ouch! I'm trying! I really am! No one's (mc and his gang) cooperating. But to your motorcycle riding granny, TOO FABULOUS! I love it! This totally does not read like the last minute story I know it was. So love the fact that Gran had taken the horse since she couldn't ride her bike. See what skill and talent can get 'cha? Well it can get 'cha a really cool and funny story.

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  17. Poppycock! This is not my best work! But it was a very eye-opening exercise :) Tell that MC and gang to cooperate or I'll use the ECP on them :)


























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  18. Now that I'm back from Jury Duty . . . I had time to read your story. It's FUN, FAB, and FULL of Energy, Susanna.


    Gotta love a motorcycle (grand)mama! Vroom. Vroom.

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  19. Silly me! I accidentally posted my link twice! Can you take one down for me? And thanks for hosting such a great contest! (The Case of the Fruity Felon)

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  20. No worries, I already fixed it :) Loved your clever story, Melinda! So glad you entered!


























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  21. This_Kid_Reviews_Books_ErikJuly 1, 2013 at 3:26 PM

    Why don't you do that, and call it a book? ;) I finished my story! :D Gonna post it SOON! ;) Okay I'm posting it on... THE FOURTH OF JULY!!!

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  22. I've read everyone's entry and left comments on most . . . but I couldn't get past the bouncers at the door on #2 and #10.


    I enjoyed everyone's stories!

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  23. Mysteries are hard! It's been a real challenge coming up with one for this contest. I have much greater respect for those who write mystery now.

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  24. I know - I had to try 5 times on one of them, and it took me a while to figure out the drag and drop game on one of them :)



























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  25. So do I, Heather! I love to read them, but I never realized how hard they are to write! :)

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  26. WOW SUS!!!!! YankeeDoodlePony is so much fun. You aced it pal! Mine however stinks. I'm embarrassed to post it. Wishing I could tell the blog followers that some crazy person who THINKS she's a writer hacked my blog and posted some jibberish. :( I couldn't work on it today. Too much other stuff going on down here at the farm.

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  27. You cannot possibly be embarrassed to post yours after I posted mine, Robyn!!! I'm glad you like it, but it truly stinketh and I'm sure yours is better. I hope you see that I took my inspiration from the barn though :)

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  28. You're going to make me wait 3 whole days to read it? That's just mean! :)

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  29. Cute story, Susanna! Thanks for sharing it. I'll post mine later this week in the comment section.

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  30. I have no blog so have to post here.

    My mystery is definitely a mystery with a tiny lowercase 'm' and I'm not American and so know very little about July 4th. However here goes anyway! -

    "The Disappearing Drumsticks"

    “Where are my drum sticks?” asked Jonny. It was July the 4th and it was time for the town parade. Jonny played the Big Bass Drum. His BOOM BOOM BOOM kept the beat for the whole band.

    “I saw them sticking out of your bag,” said his band mate
    Karen.

    But they weren't there. Jonny searched high and low but the drum sticks had disappeared.

    “What are we going to do,” wailed little Camille. Nobody knew.

    Then they heard the noise. COO, COO. Two pigeons had nested in the gutters above them. In amongst the twigs were two drum sticks.

    “Hey,” yelled Jonny, “you pesky robbers. They’re mine!”

    The pigeons looked down at him through beady eyes.

    “What we need is a ladder,” said Jonny. The children soon found one in the store cupboard.

    Karen held the bottom while Jonny gingerly climbed to the
    top.

    “I’m up,” he bellowed down below, “I just need to grab
    the….”

    Before he could reach out the pigeons picked up the drum
    sticks in their beaks and with a flurry they flapped away.

    “After them” Jonny roared.

    The members of the band flew down the road following the
    birds. They zoomed passed the parade floats. The State of Liberty, Abraham Lincoln and some Hula girls cheered them on.

    Finally the birds landed at the top of a very tall tree,
    cooing happily.

    “How are we going to get them back?” Camille was wailing again.

    Jonny had an idea. He rushed off to find Mrs Morris. Her cake
    stand took pride of place at the fair.

    “Mrs Morris,” said Jonny breathlessly, “ I really need a
    piece of your yummiest cake.” He went on to tell her the rest of the story.

    Mrs Morris cut a slice of a delicious looking red velvet cake.

    “Good luck dear,” she said and Jonny hurried back.

    “Here you go birdies,” he shouted and he held the prize up
    high.

    The aroma of warm cake filled the air and the pigeons
    couldn’t resist. They dove down and started to gobble. The drum sticks clattered on the ground.

    “Got them!” Jonny was triumphant.

    Jonny’s booming drum kept time for the best parade yet. But the star of the show was Mrs Morris’s red velvet cake.

    “Best cake ever,” said Jonny with a face full of crumbs. The cooing pigeons up in the trees agreed.

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  31. Vivian KirkfieldJuly 2, 2013 at 1:04 AM

    Hurray for Susanna's Holiday Writing Contests!!!! I've posted my link...can't wait to read all of the other entries. :)
    Yours is so cute, Susanna...and how do you arrange such amazing prizes?

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  32. I enjoyed taking part it was difficult editing down to the 400 word limit. A learning curve for me.

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  33. I enjoyed Lola's adventure with YankeeDoodlePony, Now to make coffee and read the other entries!

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  34. Yay, Pam! I'll look forward to it! :)




























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  35. I love Granny. She sure is a tough cookie! She is a great character who needs her own series Susanna!

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  36. I'm so glad you like her, Lauri :) I like the idea of a series about her, but books with adult MCs are VERY hard to sell (unless you're Cynthia Rylant or Quentin Blake :)) But it might be fun to do just for fun :)

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  37. Very cool and brilliant, Sidney! In addition to what Susanna said, I love that you used the presidents' names too. :)

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  38. Sian, you wrote a fine 4th of July story even if you're not American! :)

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  39. True - like the Gracie and Grandma books, Granny needs an awesome kid sidekick. Maybe a girly boy? You don't see much of those.

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  40. True! Excellent food for thought! :)

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  41. Sidney Schuhmann LevesqueJuly 2, 2013 at 10:44 AM

    Thanks, Teresa! I had a lot of fun writing it. I was amazed at how many presidents' last names are now common first names, not to mention Reagan and Carter! Too funny :)

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  42. Sidney Schuhmann LevesqueJuly 2, 2013 at 10:44 AM

    Thank you, Susanna! You made my day! Thank you for the fun writing challenge.

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  43. Thank YOU for joining in the contest! :)




























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  44. Vivian KirkfieldJuly 2, 2013 at 2:27 PM

    Sidney...what a FANTASTIC story...you put so much thought into this...and I love how each of the gifts is such a true representation of what America stands for. And how clever the apple pie maker was to think of equality as her gift, when she had originally thought it would be the pie itself.:)

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  45. Vivian KirkfieldJuly 2, 2013 at 2:31 PM

    I wonder if bloggers who set up those roadblocks find that they don't get as many comments as they should. With Wordpress, I never get spam...they filter it all out.

    I also had to try several times...failed the lemonade game and the building blocks...open sesame with the keys in the keyhole.:)

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  46. Sidney Schuhmann LevesqueJuly 2, 2013 at 3:00 PM

    Thank you, Vivian!

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  47. delores @ thefeatherednestJuly 2, 2013 at 5:48 PM

    It would appear that my link is not working so I shall copy/paste here....

    A Guest At The Picnic

    The little town of Wainright was preparing for their annual
    Fourth of July celebration. Flags and
    bunting hung outside the shops and houses.
    The parks department had mowed the park and raked the ball diamond.

    7 year old Jenny didn’t feel much like celebrating. Her daddy was a soldier and he hadn’t been
    home for a long long time. Jenny missed him so much.

    “When is Daddy coming home?” she asked her mother.

    “I don’t know sweetie, but we have to brave and look after
    things until he does.” her Momma replied.

    Jennie’s momma was packing the picnic basket to take to the
    parade and ball game. Jenny watched with
    wide eyes as sandwiches and potato salad and fried chicken, brownies and
    lemonade went into the basket.

    “Is someone coming with us?” she asked. “There’s an awful lot of food there.”

    “Well, you never know.” Her mother said. “There might be
    someone there who forgot to pack a lunch and we can share.”

    “I hear the band.” Jenny squealed.

    “Me too. Let’s go.”

    The band played and the veterans marched and the school
    children waved flags. It was a very
    stirring sight. The mayor mounted the
    grandstand and made his usual Fourth of July speech and invited everyone to
    spread out over the park and enjoy a picnic before the big ball game.

    Jennies momma set the picnic table they chose with a
    tablecloth and three plates.

    “Who is the third plate for?” Jenny wanted to know.

    “Well you never know if someone forgot to bring a lunch.
    We can share can’t we?”

    Jenny wondered who the mystery guest at their picnic would
    be.

    Just then the mayor made a further announcement. “If you could all direct your attention to
    the ball diamond ladies and gentlemen we have a special surprise for someone in
    the crowd.”

    The was a horrific roaring noise coming down out of the
    sky. The grasses in the field beside the
    ball diamond started swaying and twisting and the dust from the ball diamond
    rose up in spinning clouds. A huge camo
    painted army helicopter slowly descended onto the ball diamond. The big door opened and a heavy duffel bag was thrown out. A soldier climbed out with his back to the
    crowd.

    “Let’s get a little closer.” Jennies mom said and she led
    Jenny through the crowd to the edge of the ball diamond.

    Jenny was little nervous about the big helicopter but
    the blades had stopped moving so she stood close beside her Mom to see what was
    happening.

    The soldier slowly turned
    around........DADDY................

    “Happy Fourth of July sweetie.” Jennie’s momma said. “Do you think we could share our picnic
    lunch with Daddy?”

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  48. Stanley & KatrinaJuly 2, 2013 at 7:34 PM

    Best of luck everyone! Neighbor Girl drafted a story but our schedule changed drastically and she won't have time to get back to it in time. Fluffbottom is a great name and we will enjoy reading the other stories. Thank you for the amazing opportunities!
    Cool Mom/Christine M.
    (Stanley & Katrina Tech Support)

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  49. I was literally embarrassed to post mine. I ONLY did it because I told you I would. Hey. A thought just jumped into my mind. I will say I nipped at the cookin' sherry with you. Yeah man! That's MY story.

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  50. Oh, that brought happy tears to my eyes! What a wonderful story!

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  51. Nonsense, Robyn! Yours is better than mine! I was embarrassed to post mine and only did it because I always provide a sample and I figured it would be encouraging to people whose confidence was at low ebb. I needed SO many more words. It was literally painful to cut and cut and cut down to this!

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  52. Oh! Sad face! I'm so sorry you're not going to get one in - I was really looking forward to it! I hope your schedule change is all good things and you're having a fantastic summer so far! :)

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  53. Oh! What a wonderful, sweet story, Delores! And one that truly captures the spirit of 4th of July! Great work! I will check your link and see if I can fix it, but I'm so glad you posted this here just in case! Thanks for a great entry!


























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  54. I wonder that too. I sometimes give up if i can't get through after the 3rd try. I only keep at it for people I know whose blogs I really want to leave a comment on.

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  55. I agree with Teresa, Sian! Great job writing a 4th of July story! Very cleverly done :) I have to love a story where cake saves the day! :)

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  56. I too, read all the entries, but a few had barriers tougher than the U.S. Customs and Border Protection, so, I gave up trying to comment. :(

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  57. I know what you mean :) Thanks for reading!




























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  58. Stanley & KatrinaJuly 3, 2013 at 8:44 AM

    So were we. It is all good. We are moving and the date was pushed up, so our computer/online time is being drastically impacted but DD will be able to have a few weeks in the new home before school starts - so, yes, it is ALL good! Thanks.
    ~Cool Mom

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  59. That was some granny! A cute story, too, Susanna, despite what you think. Thanks for thinking up this contest to inspire and challenge us!

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  60. Yes, very clever, Sidney, and so well composed! I love all the references to what our country stands for, and the appropriate names given to the children. Huzzah!

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  61. Well done, Sian, especially considering the fact that you are not familiar with American history as are many Americans. Thanks for sharing it with us!

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  62. Thanks for the writing fun, Susanna--and your funny story! I mean, Mayor Fluffbottom? That's a keeper! :-)

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  63. Sidney Schuhmann LevesqueJuly 3, 2013 at 3:32 PM

    Thank you, Jarmila! It was a good opportunity to sit down and sum up what America means in just a few words and then try to illustrate that. A fun challenge.

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  64. I'm having trouble posting a comment at Jannatwrites' blog (Butterfly Wings and Enchanted Trees entry), but just wanted to let her know that I did visit...and hope the comment will show up at some point.


    Okay, I'm done hijacking your blog now, Susanna! ;)

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  65. That IS funny! You're clever to notice it...I hadn't until reading your story. My lightbulb is not very bright...haha!

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  66. The link is working now, and I commented on your very sweet story, Delores!

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  67. What a wonderful opportunity for some lucky writer! I wish I had been paying attention. (UGH) Good luck to everyone who enters.

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  68. There's still time, Sharon! You have until midnight July 5 - more than 2 whole days! :)

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  69. Thanks, Susanna, but we leave on holiday tomorrow. I'll be crossing my fingers for one of my cps.

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  70. Well have a WONDERFUL holiday!!! And you can join in the next contest, which will probably be Halloween unless I can't stand to wait that long :)

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  71. I was just there - your comment is up :)

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  72. Thanks Cathy! I think that was my favorite part :) I loved your story! So glad you entered!


























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  73. Glad you enjoyed the story, Jarm, and so glad you entered! I loved your July kitty and her stars and stripes kittens!

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  74. Vivian KirkfieldJuly 3, 2013 at 9:57 PM

    Read the story on your blog! It is wonderful!

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  75. Vivian KirkfieldJuly 3, 2013 at 10:00 PM

    So fun! Love the little details like Red Velvet Cake...one of the 4th of July favorites of many.:)

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  76. Great story! I like how Jonny solved his problem in a clever and yummy way. :-) A fun story!

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  77. Wow, I really liked this. What a great way to honor the holiday. Love the names for the children. Great story!

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  78. Hi Susanna, Here's my 4th of July story for the contest.

    An Even Better 4th of July

    Martha Sanders loved fireworks. For as long as anyone could remember, her backyard was the place to celebrate the 4th
    of July. Every year townspeople would cram onto her porch, drink iced tea, and watch the nighttime show.

    But this year, no one volunteered to set off the town’s fireworks.

    “You won’t still have your party, will you?” people asked Martha, and she assured them she would.

    A week before the celebration, Martha bought sparklers, garden lights, and a fancy new dress. “This might be even better!” she said. People scratched their heads. “Fourth of July without fireworks? It won’t be much of a party.” For the first time, people turned down her invitation.

    The day before the celebration, Martha made apple pies and wrapped ribbons around her porch, decorating like never before. “This might be even better!” she said. But no one noticed. For the first time, people didn’t comment on the sweet smells from her home.

    The day of the celebration, Martha hung out flags and lined up sparklers just so. She put on her new dress and waited in her red, white and blue rocker. “This might be even better,” she said. But she didn’t really believe it. For the first time, she was alone on the 4th of July.

    Just when she was about to put the pies in the fridge, her old friend Billy Lane walked into her yard.

    “I’ve a secret,” he told her. “I know how much you love those fireworks. So I was the one who always lit them come 4th of July. But this year I reckoned I’d celebrate with you instead.”

    Martha blushed. Before she could reply, a little girl passed by with her family. “Your house is pretty,” she told Martha. “I just wish there were fireworks.”

    Martha looked at Billy. She had an idea.

    For the first time, Martha closed up her home, gave away her pies, and helped Billy set up fireworks near the park. “I have a secret, too,” she told him. “I threw these parties because I always hoped you would come.”

    Billy handed her a flare. “I’m sorry your party didn’t work out.”

    Martha lit a firework. “That’s okay,” she said, and watched the sky brighten. “This might be even better.”

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  79. Susanna, I'm having trouble loading entry #19. Maybe it's just me? I'll try again later. Thanks! Happy 4th of July! :-)

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  80. Something was wrong with the link, Cheryl. I think I fixed it. Let me know if you still have trouble!

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  81. Wonderful story, Pam! So sweet :) I love the circular nature, and how it ends with something different that might be even better! Thanks so much for joining in the fun! :)

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  82. Yay! It works. :-) Thanks, Susanna!

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  83. You're welcome :) Yay! I did something techy right! :)

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  84. Thanks for your motivating comments, Susanna!

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  85. That sneaky Billy knows just how to make his neighbor smile! Mmm...I could go for a slice of Martha's pie right about now. :)

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  86. Oh, how fun! A sweet love story. I think things might turn out even better for Martha and Billy. :-)

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  87. I've tweeted about this contest making my own hashtag looking like this; #mysterystorycontest. Hope you find it y'all.


    I've loved reading these entries. Each one is better than the last. Susanna is going to have a hard time finding the winner. Lol.


    It's great fun to read. I couldn't have done better. Did I chicken out? I'm just enjoying the summer writing. But not this contest. Sorry, Susanna. I will next time. You have no lack of entries though. they are all great! :)

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  88. Thanks so much for tweeting and sharing the word, Clar. I'm sorry you're not entering this one, but I know you're busy with other writing :) And yes, we have LOTS of terrific entries and it's going to be VERY hard to choose!

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  89. Oh, well that's good then! And you can enter the Halloween Contest - by then you'll be settled in and ready for some fun :)

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  90. Thanks! And that sounds like an excellent plan! :)




























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  91. I had a hard time with that too! And as I confessed, I didn't quite make it on this one. What a bad example I'm setting! :)



























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  92. Loved your story, Vivian - I hope you're enjoying all the others :) And the great prizes are only because of wonderful, generous people!

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  93. delores @ thefeatherednestJuly 4, 2013 at 10:31 PM

    So many wonderful stories...I've read and enjoyed them all. I certainly don't envy you your job of choosing the winners.

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  94. Sidney Schuhmann LevesqueJuly 5, 2013 at 12:05 AM

    Sweet story!

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  95. Vivian KirkfieldJuly 5, 2013 at 12:32 AM

    What a beautiful love story, Pam! I think the fireworks between Billy and Martha will be igniting for a long time to come.:)

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  96. Vivian KirkfieldJuly 5, 2013 at 12:37 AM

    Good thing I came back tonight...there were three more entries! What a great turnout, Susanna...your holiday contests are the best!

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  97. That's because so many talented, creative writers participate - you included!!! :)

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  98. I know! I don't envy me either! :)



























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  99. Great contest, with a wonderful prize. This was y first experience with your website. I'm looking forward to seeing what else you have to offer.

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  100. Hi Susanna -- What fun! Here is my story...




    The Incredible, Unforgettable Birthday Wish
    By Michele Norman

    Here in Independence Hollow, you learn that July 4th is America’s birthday before you can talk or walk.

    And before you even start school, you learn that here in Independence Hollow, America’s birthday is a big deal. Here in Independence Hollow, July 4th is really, really big deal.

    In every town all over America, July 4th is a day to celebrate life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. But in Independence
    Hollow, it is also a day to celebrate creativity, wonder and surprise.

    It’s a tradition that began hundreds of years ago on July 4, 1777.

    That day, they say, began like every other day.

    Before sunrise, farmers were up milking cows, collecting eggs and tending to their crops.

    The blacksmith fired up his forge and the silversmith went to work on a very special teapot that would soon be a wedding gift.

    While horses and cows grazed in the pasture, Mothers gathered their baskets and readied the children for a walk to town to trade things they had made or baked.

    But as the people of Independence Hollow made their way to the town common, a simple dimple of green amidst a ring of towering oaks, it quickly became clear that this day was not, in fact, an ordinary day.

    On the grass in the center of the common, a collection of carefully laid sticks of varying sizes spelled out a simple message: “Happy Birthday America!”

    As word spread and more and more people gathered to see the message, the people of Independence Hollow began to guess how the message came to be.

    Some thought the Schoolteacher might have left the message on the lawn.

    Others speculated that it might have been the Minister.

    Still others believed it might have been the Governor or his men.

    To this day, nobody knows who wrote that message in sticks. But because of that mystery now hundreds of years old, the people of Independence Hollow have made creativity, wonder and surprise a July 4th tradition.

    Each and every year, the July 4th birthday wish to America seems to magically appear in the most unlikely of places.

    On the side of a cow…
    Pulled by a plow…

    In the crust of a pie…
    On a kite in the sky…

    Lit with candles at night…
    In vapory puffs of white…


    Where will the message appear this year?

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  101. What a neat story! I really enjoyed that the mystery is unsolved and will never get old. :)

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  102. Better late than never - Thanks again, Susanna!

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  103. Vivian KirkfieldJuly 5, 2013 at 5:39 PM

    Hi Michele...love the story...the couple of lines of verse near the end are a nice touch! Very clever to have the mystery remain unsolved.:)

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  104. Ooh, yay! Can't wait to read it! ...but cooking dinner so will have to wait a little! :)


























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  105. Laura Anne MillerJuly 5, 2013 at 6:21 PM

    Dessert to the rescue!! Fun story!!

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  106. Laura Anne MillerJuly 5, 2013 at 6:24 PM

    Michele, this is lovely. I like the setting. I especially liked your phrase, "the town common, a simple dimple of green amid towering oaks...' gorgeous imagery.

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  107. Laura Anne MillerJuly 5, 2013 at 6:28 PM

    Sidney, this is wonderful!!! Depicting our rights and freedoms as a gift to America - and yet the gift is really to us. Wonderful reminder!

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  108. Very sweet. I love the language you used.

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  109. As an illustrator, my fingers are itching to draw the secret message in all those unexpected places! Thanks for firing the imagination.

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  110. Awww! Thanks for sharing this sweet story. I love your clever use of repetition, and your romantic surprise.

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  111. I admire your bravery. You did a marvelous job. I love your parade characters (and would secretly like my own piece of red velvet cake!)

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  112. You kept me guessing with the children's mysterious gifts. Well done!

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  113. This was such a challenge for me. I squeaked a submission in before midnight (Yay!) but now that I've started reading everyone else's stories I see you and I both have a character named Lola (Oh No!) Honest, I didn't do it on purpose. I guess my subconscious must've seen the name in your story as I was scanning the rules. (Yikes!) That's the only explanation I can think of. Well, I guess that makes this the Fifth of July Mystery.
    Thanks for keeping us on our toes. Love your biker Granny!

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  114. Poetry and prose, very clever. I love the idea of haw the annual celebrations begun. Good luck with the competition.

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  115. A lovely touch of romance. Nicely told. Good luck with the competition.

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  116. Holy crumbs! A great story. I am not American either and the sound of red velvet cake has me drooling. I am off in search of a recipe to try making it!


    Good Luck with the competition.

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  117. Sidney, this is a wonderful story and would make a great school lesson for young children.


    Good luck with the competition.

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  118. POSTED FOR BRIANNA (who is 10 and did submit this in time - I'm just posting it the morning after :))

    Who is in the Flag Costume?

    On the Fourth of July, there was a Gwinnett County Fair. There was also going to be a parade. When the parade was about to start, Kim and David saw something very suspicious. There were two flag costumes. There were two different flags. One was the US flag, but the other was different.

    One of the highlights of the fair was the Fourth of July flag parade. Kim and David were curious about the new flag they saw, so they went to the place where they first saw the flags, but before they could look at them, they were gone. So they didn’t get a chance to look at them.

    When the parade began, the American float was the first one, but there was only one flag costume on the float. So they thought they may see the other flag on another float, but they didn’t. Kim and David went back to where they first saw the two flag costumes, but the flags were gone. Kim and David decided to look around for the suspicious flags. They only found the US flag. They couldn’t find the other one. Kim and David gave up looking for the flags, and enjoyed the rest of the fair.

    Hours later as they were going to get something to eat, Kim and David found both flags again with people inside them! They said, “Who are you?” It was Francis Scott Key and John F. Kennedy! Kim pointed at Francis Scott Key and said, “Aren’t you the one who wrote the Star Spangled Banner?” David said, “Aren’t you there 35th president of the United States?” Both costumes answered, “Yes we are!”

    What a day! They had fun at the fair, they solved their mystery, and they saw two important people in history!! It was the best time of their lives!

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  119. What an interesting mystery, Brianna! I love that you included some history in your mystery :) Thanks so much for sharing your wonderful story with us!

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  120. What a fun story, Michele! I love that the mystery continues! Your use of both prose and poetry was very clever. And some of your language was particularly delightful - I loved the "simple dimple of green" :) Thanks so much for joining in the fun!!!

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  121. I thought it was funny that you had a Lola too :) And I think you did a great job with your story (challenging or not! :)) and I'm so glad you squeaked in under the wire. Enjoy reading all the others - that's the fun part after your work is done :)

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  122. Thanks everyone for your kind comments.

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  123. Fun, surprising characters that are all patriotic in theme. Thanks for sharing.

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  124. Such a perfect reunion, and such a perfect story for a 4th of July mystery.

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  125. Awww, this was a sweet secret story! Love how you circled back to your phrase for the ending!

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  126. Julie Rowan-ZochJuly 6, 2013 at 10:48 AM

    What fun ideas!

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  127. Julie Rowan-ZochJuly 6, 2013 at 10:49 AM

    This is really sweet!

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  128. Julie Rowan-ZochJuly 6, 2013 at 10:51 AM

    I can smell that cake!

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  129. Laura Anne MillerJuly 6, 2013 at 10:55 AM

    A 4th of July Romance....awwww.....total surprise!

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  130. Laura Anne MillerJuly 6, 2013 at 10:59 AM

    Brianna, great job setting up your story. You had me guessing to the end.

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  131. I love this Michele! The rhyme mixed in made it really fun to read. Nice idea to have the mystery go on and on. :) Good luck in the contest!

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  132. How SWEET! I love Martha! And of course I love a love story. The ending is precious! I really enjoyed reading. Wishing you good luck. :-)

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  133. Mmm. I love to make cake. Any kind. Hahaha. Problem solved! Haha. Great job! Good luck in the contest! :-)

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  134. Wonderful job! What a great story that kept me reading. The names for the children are so well thought out. Good luck! :-)

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  135. This is so sweet. And just very well written. I really enjoyed it. The BEST reunion ever! :-)

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  136. Brianna, your story kept me wondering. History mystery! What a funtastical job. You MUST be a real honest to goodness writer. Am I right? Good luck and thanks for showing us your story. I loved it!

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  137. That would be moi! xoxoxo Mayhew!

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  138. I wish you had entered. You're the mystery gal. *wink*

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  139. I cannot find Pam's. I searched through. Did I miss it? Is it our Pam? Whatever Pam it is, I wanted to read it, but I don't have a lot of time right now. I read all the others. :( CRUD!

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  140. Julie Rowan-ZochJuly 6, 2013 at 11:55 AM

    I agree!

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  141. Thank you for your kind comments everyone!

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  142. Vivian KirkfieldJuly 6, 2013 at 2:15 PM

    Brianna...I loved the air of mystery throughout the story...it was great that the kids were able to enjoy the parade, even though they were still wondering about the other flag. And what fun for them to connect with famous people from history. :) You are a super writer!

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  143. Vivian KirkfieldJuly 6, 2013 at 2:17 PM

    And every time I return here, there are MORE entries...good thing submissions are now closed.:) What an awesome turnout.:)

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  144. Such an imaginative story, Brianna! What fun to bring Francis Scott Keys and Kennedy together. You did such a wonderful job with this story! :)

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  145. Great 4th of July love story, Pam!

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  146. Fun story with a historical flavor!

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  147. It's Pam Brunskill's, Rob, not our Pam. She didn't have enough time :(

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  148. I'll try to find it. xoxo

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  149. pennyklostermannJuly 6, 2013 at 5:16 PM

    Love the rhyming ending that leaves us with a mystery! The entire story was delightful!

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  150. pennyklostermannJuly 6, 2013 at 5:19 PM

    Pigeons with an eye for red velvet and drum sticks! What a fun story!Great job!

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  151. pennyklostermannJuly 6, 2013 at 5:26 PM

    Wow! Excellent! I just loved your story. You captured it all in so few words!

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  152. pennyklostermannJuly 6, 2013 at 5:29 PM

    Wonderful job, Brianna! Your story is very creative :-)

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  153. pennyklostermannJuly 6, 2013 at 5:35 PM

    Well who needs firecrackers when we have your Fourth of July Contest entries to add sparkle and bang??? I have read every one of them and had tons of fun!


    Your sample was so cute, Susanna! The characters came shining through! And, I think every parade should be led by Lola and YankeeDoodlePony!

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  154. Oh, I really like this. What a wonderful tradition. And I loved the rhyming at the end. Well done!

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  155. Wonderful, Brianna! What a fun mystery with a little history included, too. Great job!

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  156. You are far too kind about my sample, Penny, which as Robyn would say "stinketh" :) but I'm glad if you liked it. And I'm glad you got a chance to enjoy all the others - what a group of talented writers! I was impressed by how many people pulled off real mysteries in under 400 words!

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  157. I'm so glad you found the contest, Nathan! I loved your story :) And I'm sorry to be so late responding to this - I thought I had and then realized it had slipped through an inbox crack!

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  158. Thanks, and no worries. I know how all this internet stuff can get sometimes. Anyway, once this is all over, I will be getting in touch about something I'm working on that I would think you would be a great candidate for. Cheers!

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