Contest Winner - Sandra E Mcbride

Contest Winners


Sandra E. McBride

Winning Entry:  Funny Fiction

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Welcome to the Winner’s Circle where we celebrate the success of our ICL students. Today we’re celebrating Funny Fiction Winner Sandra E. McBride!


What contest was your winning entry submitted to?

Funny Fiction


How many writing contests have you entered?

Many! Both poetry and short story

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

Fiddle, the Fly and the Erie Canal – When their lead mule, Fiddle, falls into the Erie Canal while trying to shed a pesky fly,  our young heroine and her older brother have differing ideas on how to get the ornery critter back on the towpath.

What inspired your winning entry?

I love canal history, and since I live within 3 miles of both the Erie Canal and the Champlain Canal, I learn all I can about it. And I find mules to be fascinating creatures. From my years of handling livestock, I know well that a gentle hand almost always works better than force.

How has entering this contest helped your writing?

Feedback from judges is always helpful, even if you don’t agree with their thoughts. Entering contests helps you to focus and follow guidelines, and success in contests reinforces your will to keep writing.


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

Retired from dairy farming and also  bookkeeping for our school district, I am now a freelance writer. I’m currently working on my second collection of hometown feature stories that I’ve written over the nearly 12 years I’ve worked with a local weekly newspaper.  I have also self-published two volumes of “people poetry” and a middle grade novel on families caught up in the Revolutionary War.

How long have you been writing?

Since I could pick up a pencil.

What will you do with your piece now that it’s been recognized?

Perhaps I will submit it to publishers as a picture book manuscript. I would consider self-publishing it if I can find an artist who loves ornery mules and canal boats!

Any fun plans for the prize money? 

Love to travel!  We may take a riverboat cruise through Civil War heritage country.


What do you do when you’re feeling discouraged or blocked? Do you have any tips for your fellow writers?

Listening to the incessant rumble of a riding lawnmower often gets my muse moving.  Camping by a lake in the mountains is a good source of inspiration. People watching works, too.

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 go to Wyoming and seek out My Friend Flicka’s owner, young Ken, and buy the rope he used to train her.


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

I raised 6 kids on a dairy farm which left me little time to write. When the youngest graduated from high school, my husband encouraged me to take the ICL test. Am I glad I did! I’d been writing since I was a little kid, and I thought I was pretty good at it. My ICL mentor, Kevin McCauley, quickly showed me I had a lot to learn! But Kevin, and then Kathryn Jensen Pearce in my second course, were excellent teachers! I often hear from the folks who read my feature stories that they enjoy my writing because my articles do read like stories. And I credit my ICL courses, and those two wonderful mentors, for making me a storyteller more so than a writer.

Nicole Groeneweg Winners Circle

Nicole Groeneweg

Contest: Narrative Nonfiction Picture Book | 4th Place


May 31, 2024

Read More »

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