Contest Winner

Nicole Groeneweg Winners Circle

Nicole Groeneweg

Winning Entry: Happy in Nature: The Story of Earth Day Founder, Gaylord Nelson

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Welcome to the Winners Circle where we celebrate the success of our ICL and IFW Contest winners. Today we celebrate with Nicole Groeneweg whose narrative nonfiction picture book manuscript Happy in Nature: The Story of Earth Day Founder, Gaylord Nelson came in 4th place in our ICL Narrative Nonfiction Picture Book Contest! Congratulations, Nicole!

Nicole GroenwegWhat contest was your winning entry submitted to?

ICL Narrative Nonfiction Picture Book

How many writing contests have you entered?


Please give  the title of your entry and a short summary of the story.

HAPPY IN NATURE: THE STORY OF EARTH DAY FOUNDER, GAYLORD NELSON is a nonfiction biography. Nature played an important part in Gaylord Nelson’s life. As he grew up, he watched America’s natural beauty disappear. A chance reading about Vietnam War Teach-ins inspired him to create the first Earth Day. Americans joined him. They marched, they chanted, and they helped clean up the environment.

What inspired your winning entry? 

Like Gaylord Nelson, I am a nature lover. Earth Day has always been important to me. After learning the history of this special day, I felt I must share it with young readers.

How has entering this contest helped your writing?
I focused on the story and cut out unnecessary scenes that pulled away from the main idea.

How did the critique in the Winners Workshop help you?
The critique boosted my confidence. I had a smile on my face during the whole critique.

Are you a full-time writer? If not, what is your “day job”?

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I am a retired teacher who is currently my dad’s caregiver, so I can’t write every day. I cherish the moments I can spend writing, especially for children.

How long have you been writing?

14 years

What will you do with your piece now that it’s been recognized?
I am currently searching for an agent, so this will be one of the pieces I will submit.

Any fun plans for the prize money?
I will put the prize money toward a writing retreat.

What do you do when you’re feeling discouraged or blocked? Do you have any tips for your fellow writers?
I try to go for a walk in nature, preferably the woods. I also read books like The War of Art and Big Magic.

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 definitely pull over and check out Claudia Kincade’s yard sale. I would snap up Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler’s file bequeathed to Claudia and her brother Jamie.

Anything you’d like to share about your IFW experience?

ICL’s contests offer an opportunity to polish up a manuscript for submission. The debrief and critiques after the contest are chock full of writing tips and insights. Well worth entering!



Will you be our next contest winner? Discover our current writing contests here!

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