Winners' Circle - Jennifer Hollingshead

February 15, 2019

Welcome to the Winner's Circle where we celebrate the success of our ICL students. Today we're celebrating Funny Fiction Winner Jennifer Hollingshead!

What contest was your winning entry submitted to?

Funny Fiction

How many writing contests have you entered?


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

A Hedgehog Way to Win
. Pinny the hedgehog boasts to Hare that he can beat him in a race, even though he knows Hare is a faster runner. Pinny's friend Spike comes up with a plan to trick the over-confident Hare, who ends up believing he lost the race.

What inspired your winning entry?

I like folktales with animal characters and a story line in which the underdog wins by outwitting the stronger character. I rewrote this tale with updated characters and dialog to make it more fun.

How has entering this contest helped your writing?

I framed the certificate and hung it on the wall above my desk. It inspires me to keep going. Writing can be a long, lonely process with a big rejection at the end. Entering the contest, and winning third place, gave me a much-needed taste of success.

How long have you been writing?

Since I was nine. That's a long time.

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

It was part of my final assignment for the ICL course, Writing for Children and Teens. I  am planning to submit it to a publisher, and now I can put in my cover letter that it won a prize.

Any fun plans for the prize money?

I will buy more books. That will require many hours of browsing at my favorite bookstore.

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

Procrastination is my greatest problem. No sooner do I sit down at my computer, than I think of at least seven things that must be done before I can start typing. I've read dozens of self-help articles on how to overcome procrastination, and the only advice that helped me was to think small. That means I don't try to set a huge goal like writing for six hours. I think tiny, as in, "After five minutes, I'll go put in the laundry." Usually, I get caught up in the work and continue. If not, at least the laundry gets done!

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 Miss Minchin's boarding school in London and buy Sara Crewe's doll, Emily, with her trunk full Victorian dresses, shoes, stockings, coats and shawls, all in perfect miniature.

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

My ICL instructor gave me detailed, helpful feedback on each assignment. She was always encouraging and amazingly adept at showing me where I was going wrong without knocking down my confidence.

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