# Competitions

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So is it worth entering them? Is it worth the nail-biting twitter feed stalking that I promise I won’t do, but manage to nonetheless?

The answer is YES.

I’ve entered a couple in the past few months, and have had mixed success. #MSWL resulted in a request for the first 50 from a respected agent, and although ultimately it was a ‘no’, I did get some personal feedback (otherwise known as ‘star dust’ as it’s so rare).

I’m awaiting the results of #PitchSlam at the moment – this comp was super useful (as well as lots of fun!) as feedback was given on the 35 word pitch plus first 250, and competitors got the chance to re-submit after revisions. What a stellar idea!

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Children’s Illustrator competition

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The deadline for Susanna Leonard Hill’s competition is looming (Monday April 28 at 9 PM EDT) http://susannahill.blogspot.co.uk/2014/04/the-first-ever-pretty-much-world-famous.html?m=1″ and I’m watching with anticipation as my rhyming fractured fairy tale ‘Sweetie Witch’ was a winner in last month’s writing competition, so is open to be illustrated in this one.
There have already been two versions of a ‘Sweetie Witch’ book cover entered (follow the link to admire them, both fabulous in their own way).
The range of styles already entered is vast, and Susanna is a wonderful person for giving writers and illustrators a chance to showcase their work, network, and most importantly have lots of fun!
Here’s my winning entry (it came joint third).

Sweetie Witch
By Pen Avey

A sweet old witch named Hilda
Lived deep in Toffee Wood,
Weaving magic, casting spells…
Some bad, but mostly good.
One day while dipping in a stream
To catch a moonlight pearl,
She heard a sob, and in a bush
There crouched a tearful girl.
“I beg you Miss, don’t eat me!”
Pleaded little Gretel,
“My bones are dry, my flesh is thin,
My blood tastes yuck, like metal.”
Hilda laughed and shook her head,
Though Gretel was suspicious.
“Why would I eat you dear
When my house tastes so delicious?”
The witch led Gretel through the trees
Into a fairy glade,
And Gretel’s eyes grew round as hoops
At wonders there displayed.
A cottage built from gingerbread
And cake, instead of oak.
Up from the chocolate chimney pot
Rose cotton-candy smoke.
Brightly colored lollipops
In pots beside the door.
Honeycomb for roof tiles,
And sherbet on the floor.
A table made from liquorice,
With soft marshmallow chairs.
A rug of woven apple-whips,
And jelly-beans for stairs.
“The best part’s round the back, my dear,”
Hilda trilled with glee,
“My sweetie tree makes anything – look –
I’m growing a muffin settee!”
When Gretel saw she gave a gasp
For on it her brother sat,
His mouth crammed full of muffin crumbs,
Stroking the witch’s cat.
“Hello there, my name’s Hansel,”
The foolish glutton said,
“Could you get me some milk to wash this down?”
Suddenly… the witch… saw RED!
“Oh, greedy boy!” yelled Hilda,
“You really are a hog!”
With that she waved her candy wand
And turned him to a frog.
Poor Gretel started weeping,
Which softened Hilda’s heart,
And she turned her to a frog too
So they’d never be apart.
Now Hansel and Gretel live happily
In Hilda’s little stream,
Diving down for moonlight pearls
And eating fly ice-cream.

Pleased to meet you!

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Here's my Nana T (left) and Aunty M enjoying a day out at Blackpool Pleasure beach

Here’s my Nana T (left) and Aunty M enjoying a day out at Blackpool Pleasure beach

Okay, so I’ve decided to finally embrace the 21st century and start a blog. But before I plough into the future I want to briefly re-visit the past…

My family all hail from the North East of England, so I’d like to tell you a bit about my maternal and paternal grandmothers (sadly, both no longer with us) so you can see where I’m coming from (literally!)

I never got to really know either of them as my parents moved to the south coast when I was a baby, so apart from brief visits and occasional letters, I’ve built a picture of them in my head mainly from snippets of information gleaned from other family members.

I’ll start with Nana S, my Dad’s Mum. A tiny, bird-like woman who lived in the same street her whole married life. By all accounts she loved tap-dancing as a young woman (Dad said she’d get the whole family to join in!) and lived frugally, only getting a colour telly when her children all chipped in for her and Grandad S’s golden wedding anniversary. Ironically when they had both passed away (within months of each other) my Aunty was clearing their house and found thousands of pounds in old money stuffed under the mattress! As a child I used to write to her and looked forward to receiving letters in her spidery hand. She sent me a poem once, called ‘The Lighthouse’, so she obviously shared my love of poetry. Sadly her letters are lost and I don’t own a photograph of her but in my memory she’s always happy and smiling.

Moving on to my Mum’s Mum, Nana T. By all accounts she was an incredibly strong-willed woman, and my Aunty M told me a story from when she was a child which illustrates this well.

Back then (must have been the 1930’s) most working class families lived in terraced houses with small back yards. Nana T had fallen out badly with her next door neighbour who was evidently slightly more well off and enjoyed rubbing that fact in Nana’s face. When the neighbour bought a new rug she draped it over the adjoining brick wall to beat it (or to show off, as Nana saw it!) and Nana saw her chance for some revenge. Under cover of the rug she snipped away at the underside, so that later when the neighbour went to bring her rug inside and shook it, most of the suface fell away!

Of course this infuriated the neighbour who got her husband to have a go at Nana over the back wall. He happened to be wet shaving at the time, and after a war of words, he threw his shaving brush at her.

Nana calmly retrieved it, and from then on it was displayed like a trophy in a small window which the neighbours could see from their yard!

So you can see that I have some real characters in my family (there are more, but maybe another time…)