Wednesday, December 9, 2020

Susanna Hill's 10th Annual Holiday Contest Entry A LITTLE LIKE ALWAYS

 Hi all, I'm not even sure if this will make it in time. Talk about last minute! This is my entry for Susanna Hill's 10th Annual Holiday contest. Here's the link to find the rules and other story entries.


by MaryAnn Cortez

Jimmy had big plans for George’s visit. Ice skating on the pond, building a snowman, and of course, their annual marshmallow eating contest.

He knocked on the door.

A pair of eyes peered at him through a slit in the drapes. “Mrs. Garcia? It’s me, Jimmy. Is George here?”

The drapes opened. “Hi Jimmy,” Mrs. Garcia said. “I can’t come to the door, with the sickness going around I should keep my distance. George isn’t coming this year.”

Not coming? Who would put up the lights and set up the nativity scene? George always came at Christmas. His dad always hung the outside lights while Mrs. Garcia baked cookies and made tamales.

“Okay.” Jimmy waved goodbye.

“Merry Christmas.” Mrs. Garcia called after him.

“Mom, George isn’t coming, and his grandma doesn’t have anyone to help her for Christmas.”

“That’s sad,” Mom said.

“Do you think we could do it? Dad could hang the lights and I can help set up the nativity.”

“That’s a great idea. I’ll call Mrs. Garcia and set it up.”

“Maybe the other neighbors could help too.” Jimmy said.

“Remember, we shouldn’t gather in big groups right now.”

“We can do it at different times, in family groups. Mom, can you post it on the neighborhood app.?”

“Another great idea,” Mom said.

By that weekend Mrs. Garcia’s house twinkled with Christmas cheer. Jimmy got to facetime with George. It wasn’t the same as being with his friend, but it was still a little like always.


Monday, November 23, 2020

5 Ways to Count your Blessings

 I’ve been thinking a lot this year about how thankful I am for my family and my life. 2020 has been exceptionally tough for so many people. We’ve all lost so much, some losses have been harder than others but this year I think we have all shared the feeling of uncertainty and loss.

That’s why I am so glad we have this particular holiday to celebrate the good. One day, set aside to acknowledge any blessings we have experienced through this trying time.  There have been blessings even in the darkness, think about it, find them, and embrace them, if not every day, then at least on Thanksgiving Day.


"I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought; and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder." G.K. Chesterton


Here are 5 things you can do to find blessings to be thankful for on Thanksgiving Day.

 1. Remenber

Think about a time in your life when you were feeling down or unsure and someone just happened to call or show up with a kind word or gesture. Write down how that moment made you feel. Remember it. Feel it again.


2. Say it.

Write a thank you card or text to a healthcare worker you know or one that may have helped someone you know.


3.Look around.

 Look around you. Is there someone in the room you are thankful for? Think about why you are thankful that they are there, even if it’s something as simple as at least you’re not alone.


4. Recieve and Pay It Forward

 Allow someone to pay it forward. I had friend who would always say, “Don’t steal my blessing,” when I would refuse to let her pay for my lunch or my coffee.  She taught me to receive with grace and gratitude. Has someone blessed you recently? Recieve it and pay it forward.


5.Gratitude Jar

 And of course, there is the gratitude jar. Even if there are just 2 of you at your Thanksgiving table, drop a note in the jar stating what you are thankful for. Sometimes it’s easier to write it than say it. You can choose to read them out loud or share silently, but it’s sure to put a smile on your face and the attitude of gratitude in your heart.  

Happy Thanksgiving!    

#countyourblessings #thanksgivingday #blessings #thanksgiving 








Saturday, October 31, 2020

Halloweensie story PET-rified

Photo credit shutterstock

It's Halloweensie time! If you've been here before you know I'm a big fan of writing contests. It keeps my skills sharp and the comPETion is fierce. I almost didn't make the DEADline this year, but I worked on a last minute piece and here it is. 100 words is all we get and all the stories must include the words Skeleton, mask and creepy. 

Click on the link to check out the rules and entries. My story is posted below. 



MaryAnn Cortez


A spooky shindig at the school

A bring your pet affair

Kids in masks get tricked or treats

It’s Halloween, BEWARE


Out of nowhere comes a sound  

The rattle-pop of bone

A werewolf leaps into the crowd

And yowls a creepy moan


Skeleton holds werewolf’s leash

He sighs with much regret

“Never take a human and

convert him to a pet.”

The silver moon blooms fat and full

The wolf-man starts to growl

Then fangs and hair grow everywhere

A symphony of howls.

All the kiddos (werewolves now)

Into the darkness stride

Howling loudly at the moon

“We’ve been pet-rified.”


Friday, October 2, 2020


 It's safe to say that 2020 pretty much crippled my writing life. Coming up with new stories was painfully difficult, but nothing lasts forever and for now I'm back to a regular writing routien. 

It's contest time again and that's the best way to get my creative jucies flowing. This is a fairly new contest and my first time participating. I hope you'll check out some of the entries for a fun read and a peek into the stories that someof us kidlit writiers are creating these days.  

The rules state 200 words or less. Using one of their picture prompts.  Mine is image #1 and exactly 200 words. 

 My entry is titled Rumors

By MaryAnn Cortez

I wiggle my toes to make the tingling stop. Is it happening? An autumn breeze lifts my hair and leaves a chilling whisper on the back of my neck. Yessss.

I’ll know by dusk. There is no way to hurry the process, at least none that I could find. All I can do is wait.

Jack and I had been dating for six months when Chloe came into the picture. Within a week he was bewitched by her. Yes, there were rumors, but Jack said to ignore them.

 A crowd of kids in charming costumes ring doorbells and scamper down the sidewalk. Their mother trails closely behind. She glances in my direction then quickly turns away.  Mom always leaves a bowl of candy on the porch, just in case. I grab one, tear it open and pop it into my mouth. The kids won’t come. They never stop at our house.

As the sun sets, The tingle in my toes returns. My phone tings. I tap the notification and watch a video of Jack and Chloe slowly transforming from themselves to Chloe the black cat and Jack the gray mouse. She hisses. He runs. They should’ve listened to the rumors. 


Thursday, February 13, 2020


It's contest time again. I just can't get enough of them. They force me to sit down and complete a draft so, I just couldn't pass up the chance to enter Susanna Hill's 2020 Valentiny contest again.
 A Yeti story has been sitting in my idea file for quite some time, so I thought, why not? I hope you enjoy it. Read the rules below. 
 Write a Valentines story appropriate for children (children here defined as ages 12 and under) maximum 214 words in which someone feels curious!  Your someone can feel curious themselves or make someone else feel 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 you can think up!  Think beyond the obvious!  Your story can be poetry or prose, sweet, funny, surprising or anything in between, but it will only count for the contest if it includes someone curious (can be the main character but doesn’t have to be) and is 214 words (get it? 2/14 for Valentines Day. You can go under the word count but not over!

If you are interested in entering the contest, or want to read more entries check out her blog here.

Let me know if you like my story in the comments below.

 word count 210

                                                       YETI WANTS A VALENTINE   
By MaryAnn Cortez

Yeti wants a Valentine,
a friend who thinks he’s dear.
But every time he finds a pal,
they run away in fear.       

Kids are so afraid of me.
Perhaps it is my size. 
If they got to know me,
they’d be in for a surprise.

Yeti plots a hopeful plan,
in dirt beneath a pine.
If I sneak inside the school,
I’ll get a Valentine.

Can I pull it off? he thinks.
Can I find friends at school?
Could there be a kid out there
who thinks a Yeti’s cool?

He buffs his fur down to a shine.
He puts on pants and shoes.
A baseball cap - he looks divine.
But still, there are some clues.

A bristly back -eight big sharp teeth.
A face blue as a berry
Yeti tells the class a lie.
“Hi, I’m the new kid, Gary.”

At recess time he swings on bars -
climbs ropes and jumps off swings.
At craft time he makes Valentines
with sentiment and bling.

At last the party hour arrives,
but Yeti’s head hangs low.
Not one single Valentine.
His tears fall cold as snow.

“Gary, wait! Your Valentines
 do not fit in your box.”
To our new friend Gary
A Yeti who really rocks!  

Tuesday, December 10, 2019


It feels like I just finished writing the story for the Halloweensie contest and packed away the pinecone turkey centerpieces from Thanksgiving, and here I am again with another contest entry. I love KidLit contests and can't get enough of them. Here's the link, if you'd like to check out the other entries.

This one is a winter holiday contest. Rules state that there can be no illustration notes. It must written for kids (12 or under) and be about a holiday treat. Also, it can not be more than 250 words.  Hope you enjoy reading it. Leave a comment in the box below to let me know what you think.

By MaryAnn Cortez   (250 words)

“Where’s the candy cane?”
“One-minute Santa’s magic candy cane was in my hand and the next, POOF! It was gone. PLE-E-E-ASE Tinsel, make another one, quick!”
“Sorry, Chip. I can make a normal candy cane lickety-split, but a time-bending candy cane - that takes a whole year to cure.”

Chip scratched his head. “But, doesn’t it speed-UP time?”
Tinsel sighed. “It all has to do with fancy physics, something called a relativity cloud, stretching and shrinking time and precise planning.”

Chip’s heart sank. “First day on the job, and Santa’s going to fire me. How can I fix this?”

“I’ve got it.”
“Everybody in the sleigh. Santa’s going to need lots of help.”

“Nope. Everybody out. Put the presents back in the bag.” Chip rubbed his temples.
“Fifty elves might have been pushing it.” Tinsel said.
“You think?”

Santa checked the reindeer’s gear.
Chip paced. “Maybe, if he shrinks himself…”
Tinsel frowned.

Chip slumped. “Well then, that’s it. I’m fired.”

“Where’s my cocoa?” Santa boomed. “We’re late.”
Chip scooped up his cap and went to confess.

“Sugar cookies! It’s been stuck on here all along!”
“Sorry, Santa. I thought I’d lost the candy cane, but I found it.”

Chip dusted off the fuzz and handed the candy to Santa. “Can I have another chance… Sir?”
Santa stirred his cocoa, then took a sip. “Perfect! No time to waste. I’ll need your help, Chip. Hop on. We’ll make this Christmas merry for all.” 

Monday, October 28, 2019

Halloweensie Time! LET'S GO SCARECROW!

Wow, it's been a while. I do admit I have let my blog posts wane, but that's because I've been so busy writing. Anyway, what a way to come back with my favorite time of year, Halloween.
Ah, and yes a HALLOWEENSIE story for Susanna Leonard Hill's world-famous Halloweensie story contest.
Here are the rules cut and pasted right from her site.

The Contest: write a 100 word Halloween story appropriate for children (children here defined as 12 and under) (title not included in the 100 words), using the words potion, cobweb, and trick.  Your story can be scary, funny, sweet, or anything in between, poetry or prose, but it will only count for the contest if it includes those 3 words and is 100 words (you can go under, but not over!)  Get it?  Halloweensie – because it’s not very long and it’s for little people 🙂  (And yes, I know 100 words is short, but that’s part of the fun and the challenge!  We got over 235 fantastic entries last year, so I know you can do it!)  Also, you may use the words in any form – e.g. potions, cobwebbed, trickery, whathaveyou 🙂  NO ILLUSTRATION NOTES PLEASE! (And yes, you may submit more than one entry if you’re so inclined 🙂 ) 

Also, here's the link to her blog, should you be interested in joining.

And now my story entry (Let me know what you think in the comments below)

                                                                                                                         word count 90

By Mary Ann Cortez

Let’s go, Scarecrow. There’s nothing to be afraid of.
Through the autumn leaves.
Over the creaky bridge.
Come on! Let’s go, Scarecrow.

Past the oozing potion. 
Let’s go, Scarecrow.
Under drooping cobwebs.
There’s the door.
TIP-toe TIP-toe
Shhh, Let’s go, Scarecrow.
Let’s go! Let’s go!
Under the cobwebs.
Past the potion.
Through the maze.
Over the bridge.
Down the path.
Through the leaves,
Finally, safe at home again.