Holy Jack-O-Lanterns, Batman!
Look at me! A mere shadow of my former self!
A pumpkin who has fallen off her creaky broomstick!
Wrung out and harrowed after an entire weekend of trying to decide how to rank the incredible entries y’all submitted for Halloweensie 2014. What a job!!!
It’s a miracle I’m even here to tell the tale!
Thank goodness for the sustaining chocolate provided (via Face Book) by Joanna and Kathy 🙂 Thank you both, from the bottom of my chocolate-loving heart! (And no, they did not receive “special consideration” for their entries as a result – they are both just lovely people who didn’t want me or my assistant judges to keel over :))
And speaking of the assistant judges, I had to call in a fourth! I’m not kidding!
Because here’s the deal: we had the biggest turn out we’ve ever had in terms of number of entries – 132! – and the overall quality of the entries was fantastic. Really, it is readily apparent that the quality of entries in these contests is improving every time. This means there are fewer standouts, almost none that are easy to cut, and there a LOT of pretty good ones that we have to get very nit-picky over! It is agony, I tell you!
Before we get to the actual list of finalists, I have a couple things to say. (I know you’re shocked :))
First of all, I want to thank EVERYONE who took the time and care to write an entry for this contest. You all did a fabulous job and provided great enjoyment for many!
Second, I’d also like to thank EVERYONE – writer, reader, or both – who took the time to go around and read as many entries as you could and leave supportive comments. This means so much to the writers who worked hard on their stories. It helps them see what they did well, as well as giving them the joy of knowing that their stories were read and enjoyed. I hope you all got as much delight and entertainment out of the reading as I did! Plus, we got to meet quite a few new people which was a wonderful added bonus! 🙂
Third, before I list the finalists, I want to say again how difficult it was too choose! There were so many amazing entries. Really. I could find at least something terrific about every single one. The sheer volume of entries meant that many good ones had to be cut. So if yours didn’t make the final cut please don’t feel bad. There was a huge amount of competition. Judging, no matter how hard we try to be objective, is always subjective at a certain point – we all have our own preferences for what makes a great story. And the fact that you didn’t make the final cut DOES NOT mean you didn’t write a great story. Everyone who plonked their butt in a chair and worked hard to write a story for this contest is a winner! You showed up. You did your best work. You practiced your craft. You wrote to specifications and a deadline. You bravely shared your writing with the world. And you have a brand new story that is now yours to expand beyond 100 words if you like and maybe submit at some point to a magazine or as a PB manuscript. So bravo to everyone who entered!
Now. Onto the judging criteria which were as follows:
1. Kid-appeal! – These stories are intended for a young audience, so entries that were well-written but lacked child-friendliness did not make the cut.
2. Halloweeniness – the rules stated a Halloween story, so entries that failed to mention anything Halloween-y did not make the cut even if they were well-written.
3. Quality of story – the rules stated that entries were to tell a story, so if they appeared to be more of a description or mood piece, they didn’t make the cut. We looked for a true story arc.
4. Quality of Writing: we took note of spelling, grammar, punctuation etc. In addition, for the rhymers, we looked at rhyme and meter (for which we are sticklers!) We also looked at overall writing quality and use of language.
5. Originality and creativity – because that is often what sets one story above another.
This time around, 5 entries sadly had to be cut because of rule problems: one was 3 words over the word limit (I counted 6 times, by hand and with Microsoft Word’s word count tool, because it was otherwise a strong entry! but 131 other people managed to stay at 100 or under so I had to be strict!); two used “broom” but not “broomstick“; and 2 did not use “creak” in any form. (And yes, I checked the word count on all 132 entries and made sure the required words were present.)
After that, the going really got tough. Some of the stronger stories were written in rhyme where the meter didn’t work as well as it needed to. Some of the most beautiful rhyming entries with great use of language were more mood pieces than stories. So we had to make some very hard calls.
Without further ado, I present to you the 2014 Halloweensie Contest Finalists. A baker’s dozen – 13 for Halloween! 🙂 A mix of poetry and prose, stories for younger readers and slightly older (but still kid) readers, funny, spooky, and cute. Please read through them carefully, take your time, think it over, and vote for your favorite. To help with objectivity, finalists are listed by title only, not by author.
And I’d like to be very clear about the voting process. You are MOST welcome to share a link to this post on FB, twitter, or wherever you like to hang out, and encourage people to come read ALL the finalists and vote for the one they think is best. Please do that. The more people who read and enjoy these stories the better, and the more objective votes we get the better. HOWEVER (and I want to be very clear on this) please do not ask people to vote for a specific number or title, or for the story about the pumpkin ballerina or whatever. Trolling for votes or trying to influence the outcome is counter to the spirit of this competition which is supposed to be based on merit. I thank you in advance for respecting this.
#1 Halloween SMS (Short Messaging Scariness)
#2 Creaky Cackle
#3 Full Moon Rising
#4 Home Alone Halloween
I came home from school very excited. Halloween, my favorite day of the year.
#5 Sulky Spider’s Spooky Webs
#6 This Year’s Halloween Mascot
#7 Halloween Chase
#8 Halloween Hide-and-Go-Seek
It’s Halloween! It’s dark, it’s spooky, it’s perfect for a game of Halloween Hide-and-Go-Seek!
Blurp! Bloop! Blub!
Are you in the cauldron?
No, just some toadstool stew.
Rustle! Swish! Swoosh!
Are you in the closet?
No, just an old broomstick.
Creak! Crack! Bang!
Are you behind the curtains?
No, it’s just the wind blowing the windows open and closed.
Scritch! Scratch! Raow!
Are you behind the chair?
No, just the cat settling down.
Are you upstairs?
Are you in the bedroom?
There are my little pumpkins!
You’ve had your trick, now how about your treat?
#9 The Shadow
#10 Halloween In A Box
Now that you’ve had a chance to read through the finalists, please vote for the entry you feel deserves to win in the poll below by 5PM EST Wednesday November 5.
(And we will have a regularly scheduled Would You Read It on Wednesday too!)
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to take a nap.
I’m SO not a napper.
But I might eat some leftover Halloween candy 🙂
Have a marvelous Monday! 🙂