The Nina, The Pinta, and the Guidelines for the 8th Annual Halloweensie Contest!!!

Happy Columbus Day, Everyone!

As usual on this day, it’s time for a special message from our sponsors.

Remember how on a dark and stormy night in 1492 (I think it was Thursday) our good ole buddy Chris, involved in a heated discussion with his crew about what the 5 Little Pumpkins were doing on a gate in the first place instead of being home in bed where they belonged, accidentally sailed the Nina, the Pinta, and the Santa Maria into an island in the Bahamas for which he was credited with discovering America even though he missed the entire coast from Maine to the Florida Keys?  (And incidentally never figured out why the 5 Little Pumpkins were on that gate.  I don’t think Thursdays are his day.)

Anyway, the point is, thanks to his navigational shortcomings, we all have the day off!

And what better way to celebrate poor navigation skills and a day off than by warming up our writing utensils and setting forth to win a contest?

That’s right! (Or should I say, that’s write?!)

(Yeah.  Okay.  Sorry 🙂 )


In case you haven’t guessed…

It’s time to announce the guidelines for…



~ for children’s writers ~


The Contest: write a 100 word Halloween story appropriate for children (children here defined as 12 and under) (title not included in the 100 words), using the words shiver, cauldron, and howl.  Your story can be scary, funny, sweet, or anything in between, poetry or prose, but it will only count for the contest if it includes those 3 words and is 100 words (you can go under, but not over!)  Get it?  Halloweensie – because it’s not very long and it’s for little people 🙂  (And yes, I know 100 words is short, but that’s part of the fun and the challenge!  We got 235 fantastic entries last year, so I know you can do it!)  Also, you may use the words in any form – e.g. shivered, shivery, cauldrons, howled, howling, whathaveyou 🙂  NO ILLUSTRATION NOTES PLEASE! (And yes, you may submit more than one entry if you’re so inclined 🙂 )

Post: your story on your blog between 12:00 AM EDT Saturday October 27th and Wednesday October 31st by 11:59 PM EDT and add your post-specific link to the list that will accompany my special October 27th post.  There will be no Perfect Picture Book or Would You Read It posts for the duration of the contest so the links will stay up for everyone to visit and enjoy.  If you don’t have a blog and would like to enter, you can simply copy and paste your entry in the comments section of my October 27th post once it’s up (please include your byline if your posting handle is something like AwesomeWriter92 so I can identify you.)  If you have difficulty posting in the comments, which unfortunately sometimes happens, you may email your entry to me at susanna[at]susannahill[dot]com and I’ll post it for you.  Please place your entry in the body of the email including your title and byline at the top – NO ATTACHMENTS!  And please do not submit entries before the start of the contest!

The Judging: in a grueling marathon over the following days, my devoted assistants and I will narrow down the entrants to 3 top choices (hee hee hee – you know how much trouble I have with only 3, so we’ll see) which will be posted here and voted on for a winner on Monday November 5th (if the judging takes longer than we expect if could be later…but we will do our best!)  The winner will be announced on Thursday November 8th (good lord willin’ and the creek don’t rise 🙂 ) If we get more than 25 entries, I will post 6 finalists and give prizes for 1st – 3rd.  If by some chance we get the kind of turnout we’ve had the past couple years, I may post as many as 10-12 finalists and I’ll probably end up giving everyone a prize 🙂  But we’ll cross that bridge when we get to it!

Judging criteria will be as follows:

  • 1. Kid-appeal! – These stories are intended for a young audience (ages 12 and under), so we’re looking for stories that children will enjoy and relate to.
  • 2.  Halloweeniness – the rules state a Halloween story, so it must be crystal clear that the story is about Halloween, not just some random spooky night.
  • 3. Quality of story – entries must tell a story, including a main character of some kind and a true story arc even if it’s tiny 🙂  Entries must not be merely descriptions or mood pieces.
  • 4. Quality of Writing: check your spelling, grammar, punctuation etc.  If you’re going to rhyme, give us your best 🙂  Overall writing quality and use of language are also important.
  • 5. Originality and creativity – because that is often what sets one story above another.

The Prizes:  as usual, I’m still working on the prizes 🙂  Feel free to chime in in the comments if there’s something you’d particularly like to win! 🙂  Or if you have something awesome to offer!  I’d be very grateful if anyone could put me in touch with an agent or editor who would be willing to be the big prize because I’m not having good luck with that so far!!!  But for starters, prizes will include:

– several picture book manuscript critiques from amazing critiquers (details to come – I need to spread my generous volunteers out over 3 contests, so, planning…)

 – 2-Pack of Personalized Signed Picture Books by the lovely and talented Tania Guarino, author of MEET THE QUACKERS (Spork, 2017) and GARDEN PARTY: A COUNTING ADVENTURE (Spork, 2018)
tania-guarino_1_orig Quackers Garden Party

– a personalized signed copy of NOT SO SCARY JERRY by the wonderful and gifted Shelley Kinder

shelley-kinder_orig   Jerry

– Bundle Of Books – assorted PBs, MGs, YAs (details to come) – generously donated by KidLit411

– an e-pub or PDF copy (winner’s choice) of Linda Ashman‘s Nuts And Bolts Guide To Writing Picture Books. OR paperback of Ann Whitford Paul’s Writing Picture Books: A Hands-On Guide from Story Creation to Publication.


Plus stay tuned because other great stuff is coming! 🙂

I hope those fantabulous prizes will at least whet your appetite for the contest!

Many, many thanks to Tania, KidLit411, and the PB MS critiquers for their very generous prize offerings!

So sharpen your pencils!

Get your butt in that chair!

See what amazing, knock-your-socks-off story you can dream up!

It’s a chance to hone your writing skills, practice your craft, write to specifications and a deadline, win amazing prizes, AND get to read and enjoy the wonderful stories written by all your fellows 🙂

I am SO looking forward to seeing what you all come up with!!!

Have a Marvelous Monday everyone! 🙂

54 thoughts on “The Nina, The Pinta, and the Guidelines for the 8th Annual Halloweensie Contest!!!

  1. Nancy Riley says:

    Hi Susanna, it was this time last year that I discovered your website. I was SO lucky! I’m sharpening my pencil. Will need to make something chocolatey for brain power. This was so much fun last year!

  2. celticsea says:

    I was hoping to hear this news! I guess I should have remembered it coincided with Columbus Day. I love your intro, by the way.

    Good luck to all and thanks for the challenge Susanna.

  3. John Bryndal says:

    Does Facebook count as a blog? If I post it there with a link to your contest? Or better to just paste as a comment on actual contest page? It’s going to be so hard to wait till the 27th. I want to post it now! LOL

    • Susanna Leonard Hill says:

      FB can be tricky, John. It’s hard to get a direct link that people can follow easily to come and read your story – especially if you have a personal page, not an author page, and people aren’t friends with you. It is probably better to paste your story as a comment on my October 27th post. I will look forward to reading it then! But you are of course free to post your story on your FB page now for all your friends to enjoy!

  4. David McMullin says:

    Has it been a year? I have such clear memories on working on last year’s story. Time to start brainstorming.

  5. jeanjames926 says:

    Woohoo my favorite contest of all time is finally here! I love Halloweensie! I was celebrating my youngest’s 11th birthday yesterday so a day off, a birthday…and now Halloweensie…does it get any better than this?

  6. sarahheturadny says:

    Oh my gosh! I am so excited for this contest, which I’m going to use to practice my pithy PB writing skills. As soon as I saw that it was announced, I sat down and scribbled out SIX different stories. I thought up one or two more, wrote those down, and now I’m going to revise, revise, revise until I decide which one is my absolute BEST! (Honestly, I don’t know where I find the time….) Thank you for this wonderful contest; the hope for prizes won definitely motivates me to practice my writing! haha!

  7. ingridboydston says:

    I’m soooooo happy the contest is up I won’t even complain (very much) that teachers in California did not get the day off either! Its been such a year. I’ve been working on polishing and/or overhauling all my “old” stories and have only written one brand new story. But this contest always gets my wheels turning so thank you Susanna! Some people get excited about pumpkin spice, I get excited about Halloweensie! 🙂

    • Susanna Leonard Hill says:

      Golly! What is about California and Alaska that they don’t take the day off like the rest of the civilized world?! Sorry about that Ingrid! Virtual chocolate to you too! And you made my day saying Halloweensie is your pumpkin spice 🙂 I don’t know who thought up pumpkin spice or when it became all the rage (although I confess I have always loved pumpkin muffins and pumpkin pie) but the way people go on about it now it’s like the be-all and end-all! I heard they now make pumpkin spice trash bags! So I’m glad if Hallwoeensie makes you feel that way! 🙂

  8. Jilanne Hoffmann says:

    Once again, I didn’t think I had time to do this. I’m prepping for NaNoWriMo and writing other things, but I decided I had a “message” that needed to get out—in 86 words. Woohoo! Looking forward to reading everyone’s work!

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