Helping Hands

I’m excited to be participating in Susanna Leonard Hill’s 10th annual holiday writing contest. I was inspired by this years theme of holiday helpers. My story comes from the heartwarming true tale of a little northern saw-whet owl trapped in the New York City Rockefeller Christmas Tree, and her brave journey from Oneonta to NYC. The helping hands of the tree workers, and wildlife rescue workers that helped to heal the little owl, and set her free back into the wild captured the hearts of us New Yorkers, and I’m sure all who read about her journey.  The little owl was aptly nicknamed Rocky, for the Rockefeller Tree, but I couldn’t help think of Rocky the boxer, and that fighting spirit that helped her survive.

The format of my story is called a pantoum. I hope you enjoy it.

Helping Hands
(248 words)

Too-too-too, cried the Rockefeller tree,
From a teeny, tiny, owl’s hootenanny “Help me!” plea.
Helping hands were needed to set the little owl free.
The tree-team stooped to look inside to see what could it be.

From a teeny, tiny, owl’s hootenanny “Help me!” plea,
A Burly workman spied a roosted hitchhiker so wee.
The tree-team stooped to look inside to see what could it be.
They knew they had to cut away the bramble, and debris

A Burly workman spied a roosted hitchhiker so wee,
Snap-snap-snap the tiny beak warned: one, then two, then three.
They knew they had to cut away the bramble, and debris,
To clear a path, and help set free, this feathery detainee.

Snap-snap-snap the tiny beak warned: one, then two, then three,
The frightened, quaking owl was as hungry as could be.
To clear a path, and help set free, this feathery detainee,
Helping hands retrieved the frightened Christmas adoptee.

The frightened, quaking owl was as hungry as could be.
The Burly workman scooped her up, and whispered, “Come with me.”
Helping hands retrieved the frightened Christmas adoptee,
An Oneonta, Saw-Whet Owl upstate escapee.

The Burly workman scooped her up, and whispered, “Come with me,
Ravensbeard will help you heal in rural Saugerties.”
An Oneonta, Saw-Whet Owl upstate escapee.
Little Rocky, Rockefeller owl honoree.

Ravensbeard will help you heal in rural Saugerties
Too-too-too, cried the Rockefeller tree
Little Rocky, Rockefeller owl honoree.
Helping hands were needed to set the little owl free!


To all of you out there I wish you a wonderful holiday season, and a happy and healthy new year!


10th Annual Holiday Writing Contest

Ho, ho, ho, I am hyped for the 10th annual holiday helpers writing contest hosted by the humble, helpful, heart-warming, hostess, Susanna Leonard Hill! Not sure what this contest is all about? Then head on over here to read all about it. Whether you read, or write, or do both, you will enjoy this lovely holiday tradition of storytelling that will leave you filled with the spirit of the season.


10th Annual Halloweensie Contest

Play me while reading!

Ghosts and Goblins, Witches and Warlocks, Monsters and Mummies, it’s finally that time of the year that you’ve all been waiting for…

Covid to be over?


2020 to be over?


In flight dining to begin again?

Definitely NO!

No my dear Ghouls, it is the scariest of all times…time for Susanna Leonard Hill’s

10th Annual Halloweensie Writing Contest!

Wait… you don’t know what that is?

Now I’m scared!

Do be a good monster and head on over here to read all of the gruesome details.

Now get writing!


Madness Poetry 2020

I’m so excited to announce that I will be participating in Ed DeCaria’s, Madness Poetry competition beginning this Sunday March 8th! 64 Authletes (Writer athletes) will be competing against each other for the title of Poetry Gangster, and the grand prize Thinkier trophy pictured below.  Head over to Madness today and sign up to read, vote, and have fun!

The match up brackets mimic basketball’s March Madness brackets. The Authlete’s are provided a single vocabulary word (think SAT/GRE Vocab.) and must create a poem suitable for children, within a defined character limit (Not Easy!).

Ed has the voting divided into three sections: the authlete vote, the student vote, and the community vote. We as writers get to vote all throughout the competition, even if we lose, and this vote carries some extra weight. The student vote comes from schools that have signed up their classrooms to read, and vote on the poetry entries. The student vote also carries heavy weight considering the poems have to be kid friendly. The community vote consists of everyone else who chooses to sign up to read, and vote for their choice of best poem (that means you). The voting is open for two days, at which time everyone can vote, and comment on their favorite poems. The winner then proceeds to the next round. With each round the authletes are cut by 1/2 until only one winner is left standing. Last year’s winner was Lori Degman, whose poems were a delight week after week.

This is my third year entering and I am so excited, and nervous. The talent is amazing!

If you’re a teacher, get your class signed up, if you’re a reader, then get yourself signed up so can you can vote, and if you’re an authlete, I wish you good luck!

Look for me under Jean (James) O’Connor



March 2nd, is Dr. Seuss’ birthday, and to celebrate, the #50preciouswords contest is now open.  Don’t know what the #50preciouswords contest is, then head on over to Vivian Kirkfield’s website here to read all about it.

Dr. Seuss was not immune to writing challenges either, and was dared by Bennett Cerf, his editor at Random House, to write a story using no more than 50 unique words (not the word count). The result: Green Eggs and Ham.


Thank you Vivian for all that you do to support the kid lit community. You are a true inspiration!

Here is my STEAM story at 48 words:

Quaking Bog

Warmed by a sunrise,
shivered in fog,
on a great golden pond,
floats a great quaking bog.

 The bog is a fragile wetland display
of how to preserve
instead of decay,
but beware of this quivering, quaking like glen
’cause it’s known to have swallowed,
and mummified men.





The 5th Annual Valentiny Contest -FINALISTS!!!

Susanna Leonard Hill

Every time I run a contest I have a great time reading fabulous entries from writers who have entered my contests before and being dazzled by new writers who are entering for the first time, visiting blogs I’ve been to many times and blogs I’m seeing for the first time, reconnecting with old friends and making new ones, and generally being blown away by the collective talent (and peer support) in the kid lit community.


And everything is as lovely as lovely can be. . .

. . . right up until I have to choose the finalists!

Then, all of a sudden, I find myself saying, “Why? Why do I do this to myself?”

and, “Whose idea was this ANYWAY?!”

and “GAHHHHHH!!!!!!!!”


Because you are all creative geniuses, and your work is spectacular, but there are only 12 prizes.

So somehow the other judges…

View original post 3,408 more words


The Stinky Valentine

Happy Valentiny everyone! I’m so excited for another one of Susanna Leonard Hill’s Valentiny writing contests. This year the theme was curiosity. The rules entailed writing a 214 word story in which someone feels curious. “The curiosity may be about a person, place, thing, quality, idea, event, or about whether something will happen or something is true or real, or anything else under the sun…”

I had so much fun writing my entry. If you want to learn a bit more about this contest, post your own entry, or if you just want to remain anonymous and read some really fun Valentiny’s, then sit back, grab some of that Valentine chocolate you’ve been hiding, and head on over here.

I hope you enjoy my story. It comes in at 212 words!

The Stinky Valentine

The box arrived,
we stood and stared.
It smelled so bad,
that no one dared,
to pick it up
or sniff their nose,
the contents likely decomposed.

The box was wrapped
with bows, and hearts,
a Valentine
that smelled like farts!

It was addressed
to our whole family,
posted from
our favorite Grammy.
But why would Grammy
send a cache
that smelled like
weeks old, rotting trash?

I don’t think that’s
a Valentine’s treat,
it smells like Grandpa’s
stinky feet!

Mom called out
for Volunteers,
but we replied
with loud Bronx cheers!

Mom grabbed the box,
and held her nose,
tore off the hearts,
ribbons, and bows.

We all leaned in,
a tight knit squeeze,
and eyed a block
of blue veined cheese!

“Ewww,” we cried!
Quite displeased,
to find this marbled,
Valentine Cheese!

Then “Knock, Knock, Knock”
tapped like a score,
from the knocker
on our door.

Now who is that?
We went to see,
Mr. Mouse’s Family,
who held a box
adorned with hearts,
that smelled divine,
and not like farts.

“I think this box belongs to you!”
It seems the post
mixed-up the two,
and no offense,
but this box reeks
of sickly, sugary,
doughy treats.”

We all laughed,
relieved to find,
a much more palatable


Valentiny Time!

I can’t believe it’s already February! You know what that means? It is time for Susanna Leonard Hill’s Valentiny Writing Contest! Not sure what that is? Head over here to read up on all the contest rules. We have to write a tiny (Valen-tiny), 214 word story where somebody is feeling curious. I can tell you right now I’m so curious as to how I’m going to tackle this story idea. So if you’re feeling a little curious, check out Susanna’s website so you can enter a curiosity of your own. Until then…happy writing. See you back here by the 14th!


9th Annual Holiday Contest: The Evil Dr. Gerbil Steals Christmas

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow…so I can get cozy on the couch and start reading Susanna Leonard Hill’s Holiday Contest story entries. Not sure where to find them? Head on over here to read all about the contest and find the links to all the entries. I managed to squeak my story in at the last minute, and at 249 words!

It’s time to see what my beloved (or not so beloved) The Evil Dr. Gerbil is up to. When we last left off The Evil Dr. Gerbil managed to escape from prison again with the help of his on again, off again, girlfriend Patty Partridge, a stolen enchanted cauldron, and a little magic. Inspector Wallaby put his best agent, Wonder Weasel, on the case.

Fox Breaking News

An international gerbil-hunt is in effect after elves from the North Pole reported Santa’s sleigh, and eight tiny reindeer stolen. Bits of rodent droppings, and traces of pear were found at the scene, Investigators believe this to be the work of The Evil Dr. Gerbil, and his on again, off again girlfriend Patty Partridge.

 Story at 11…

“Oh Gerbs, you truly are the Evilest villain in town!”

“This is my greatest work yet, Patty! I’ve stolen Christmas…Christmas! No presents, no smiling children, no stockings by the chimney. Let’s see what those miserable critics have to say about me now!”

 Fox News Alert…

The 5 Golden Ring Avian Gang reported being knocked out of the sky this evening by a fast moving sleigh, believed to be piloted by The Evil Dr. Gerbil.

Our Fox reporter interviewed the fowled Fowl, who had this to say,

“It was that filthy rodent!”

Back to you in the studio…

Thank you Ralph. Children are bracing for this global crisis; Wonder Weasel has been called to investigate.

Meanwhile back at Police Headquarters…

 “Yes Santa…we’re wor…I under…of cour…CLICK! Wonder Weasel, please tell me you have a plan?”

“Yes Inspector Wallaby. I have a plan to return Santa’s sleigh, and put that rodent back in his cage…”

Fox Breaking News

Santa’s sleigh and eight tiny reindeer have been located on a small reindeer treat farm in upstate NY. The Evil Dr. Gerbil remains at large. Investigators are collecting DNA and paw-print evidence at the scene.

Stay Tuned…


Hope you all have a very Happy and Healthy Holiday Season and a Happy New Year!



9th Annual Holiday Contest

Wake up from your Turkey slumber, it’s time to write! Susanna Leonard Hill is at it again, with her 9th Annual Holiday Contest. Not sure what that is? Well, take a sneak peek here and read all about it. Last year I was too busy with Grad school papers to participate, but this year I’m free, and looking forward to writing more stories. So on that note, time to get writing…

Hope to see you in the contest too!