Contest Winner - Joy Hancock

Contest Winners


Joy Hancock

Winning Entry: The Groundhog and the Shadow

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Welcome to the Winner’s Circle where we celebrate the success of our ICL students. It’s time to throw the confetti for Joy Hancock!


What contest was your winning entry submitted to?
ICL Holiday Story Contest


How many writing contests have you entered?
Probably 50 or so


Tell us the title of your entry and a short summary of the story.
The Groundhog and the Shadow

Rally, the smallest groundhog, and his brothers are afraid of shadows. They’ve never seen a shadow, but being brave is hard even though they try. Finally, Rally is off into a crowd of people to possibly confront his biggest fear – the dreaded shadow. Only, Rally finds being with the people is fun. They give him tasty treats and support him, but, then, they seem a little afraid, too. The shadow is coming! After all the worry, Rally finds he isn’t afraid of shadows at all and, perhaps, he’s a braver groundhog than he thought.


What inspired your winning entry?
I tend to fear confrontations. Lots of people, not just children, are afraid of new and uncomfortable situations. Sometimes, our fears grow much bigger than they should. By confronting fears, we can learn to deal with them and have more confidence in ourselves.


How has entering this contest helped your writing?
This contest gave me a real boost of confidence. Now, I need to brave my own fears and shadows and submit my manuscript and see if I can find a publisher. If not, this contest has given me enough confidence in my story to maybe brave the shadows enough to illustrate and self-publish, I think. (I have illustrated other stories.)

Are you a full-time writer? If not, what is your “day job”?
I am not a full-time writer. I am an adjunct English professor at a community college. (I work full-time in hours. I just don’t have a “full-time” position.)

How long have you been writing?
As long as I can remember. I liked writing stories in elementary school.

What will you do with your piece now that it’s been recognized?
Hopefully, The Groundhog and the Shadow will find a publisher. The contest has given me the confidence to try submitting the manuscript to publishers.

Any fun plans for the prize money?
Maybe I’ll go to the zoo for the day and find some more inspiration.

What do you do when you’re feeling discouraged or blocked? Do you have any tips for your fellow writers?
I am always so busy that I just get lost in other tasks. This contest gave me the boost to set aside time maybe five days a week for writing…that’s what I need to do.

If you could go to the yard sale of any character in the history of children’s literature, whose would you go to, and what would you buy?

I would like to go to the yard sale of the Mad Hatter in Alice in Wonderland. Maybe I’d make a friend or two…the Cheshire Cat would be fun to take home. That cat makes me smile!!!


Is there anything else you’d like to share about your ICL experience?

This was a great confidence-booster for me. The review was so nice, and yet I also received a few helpful tips to make my story even better than before. Wonderful!

Nicole Groeneweg Winners Circle

Nicole Groeneweg

Contest: Narrative Nonfiction Picture Book | 4th Place


May 31, 2024

Read More »

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