The 2018 Halloweensie Contest FINALISTS (…FINALLY!!!)


The day has FINALLY come!

Normally, I’d engage in a bit of tomfoolery to sidetrack you from our mission and make you think I’d forgotten why we were here on a Thursday.

But I have made you wait so long for the finalists that there will be no stalling today!  We shall get right to announcing the finalists and voting!

(Yes, it’s really me writing this post.  I haven’t been abducted by aliens 🙂 )

We had a huge turnout with 237 very high quality entries!  It is wonderful to watch the writers we see coming back contest after contest getting better every time… but boy does it make the judging hard!!! There are fewer obvious standouts, almost none that are easy to cut, and there are a LOT of very 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.  A lot of people have successfully done that at this point – we have quite a few books in the world that were born in Halloweensie, Holiday, or Valentiny Contests!  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.  Same for entries where the appeal, humorous or otherwise, seemed more directed toward adult readers than children.

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 character and 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.

A surprising number of this year’s entries were amazingly written… but in spite of the warning, still failed to really tell a story.  This is SO TOUGH in 100 words – I totally get it.  But some people managed better than others.  There were any number of entries that were superbly written that we wanted to choose, but when we got right down to it, there really just wasn’t much story… not compared to some of the other entries that really managed to tell one.  They were more descriptions, lists, or mood pieces.  So as awesome as they were, we had to make some very hard calls.  A couple were too adult.  Some, because of the cruelly limiting word count were a little hard to follow.  Some of the rhyming ones we really liked were too off-meter to make the cut.  Some entries were just so close, but missed out because of one relatively small thing!  GAH!  So hard!

When you read the finalists you will note that almost all of them are in rhyme!  This is partly because those just happened to be the best ones, but also because the entries as a group this year were heavily weighted toward rhyme.

Also worthy of note, we had 4 entries with witches named Wanda in the title, at least 3 entries entitled “Witches’ Brew” (plus one Horrid Witches’ Brew), 2 or 3 entries besides my sample that had hot chocolate in the cauldron, and 2 completely different entries written by different authors called “Potion Commotion”!  The vast majority of witches had “w” names – Wanda, Willa, Winni, Winnifred, etc, though we did have a Gwen and a Belinda and probably some others I’m forgetting right now too 🙂

So, without further ado, I present to you the 2018 Halloweensie Contest Finalists.  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 sombrero-wearing witch 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.

So here we go!

#1 – Belinda’s Broken Brew

Belinda’s best cauldron went bonkers one night.
All her concoctions were full of…delight?
She dropped in a shiver–out popped a kiss.
She snuck in a slither–out poured some bliss.
In went a howl–out came a grin.
A giggle rang out when a wriggle fell in!
She dribbled in cackles, a moan, and a shrug–
Out sprang some cuddles, a wink, and a hug.
She threw up her hands, no more could be done.
She had to admit, the cauldron had won.
This was a curse, nasty and mean!
Belinda was stuck with a nice Halloween.


#2 – Witches’ Brew

The witches convened
in a clearing each fall,
to conjure the trickiest
spell of them all.
They gathered up bats
and black cats
and an owl.
Then sprinkled in shivers
and shrieks
and a howl.
The cauldron grew bubbly,
all spicy and hot,
creating a vapor
that rose from the pot.
The witches fell silent.
Their pointy ears perked
each anxious to hear
if the witches’ brew worked.
Then over the clearing,
came rollicking noise.
“Trick or treat!”
sang the sweet girls and boys.
The witches, they cackled.
They’d done their job well,
successfully casting
The Halloween Spell.


#3 – Broken-down Broom

While flying away to the Halloween Ball,
Gwen’s broom went CAPUT! and she started to fall.
She dropped with a crash into Skeleton Wood-
the creepiest place in the WHOLE neighborhood.
A shrill, nearby howl made her shiver in fright.
She thought, “Now I might miss the party tonight!”
She pulled out her cauldron and looked all around.
She grabbed molding mushrooms and worms from the ground.
Then just as another shriek echoed unseen,
Gwen whipped up a potion for broom gasoline.
She poured in the mixture and scrambled aboard.
“I’m bound for the ball!” She declared as she soared.

#4 – Dracula Wants Pie

Today is the day of the Halloween fair and Dracula is hungry.
His mom offers some of her famous red juice. Dracula shivers, “eewwww. I’m tired of juice, I’m in the mood for something new…”
“Get your marshmallows here!” shouts Ghost.
No thanks, Dracula wants pie.
“Cauldron is bubbly, hot and delicious”, tempts Witch.
No thanks. Dracula wants pie.
“Care for a bite, do yooouuu?” howls Werewolf manning the grill.
No thanks. Dracula wants pie.
Only one stand left. Finally, he reaches Pumpkin.
Dracula smiles.
Dracula loves pie.


#5 – Stitchy Witchy Brew

Party time looming and closet shelves bare,
Hazel VanBazel howled, “Nothing to wear!”
Flipping through frocks, she fell down in a slump.
“This clothing won’t cut it. I look like a frump!”
She danced to her cauldron with sheets from her bed,
satchels of sequins, and spider-silk thread.
In flurries of fabric, she sang out a spell,
tumbled in buttons, then folded it well.
The pot gave a shiver and spit out a gown,
sure to make Hazel the talk of the town.
She twirled in her tulle and sashayed in her sash,
ready to shine at her Halloween bash!


#6 – Potion Commotion

One broom, one flight….one magical Halloween night.
“Swizzle-zee, swizzle-zum, sizzle and simmer till it’s done!”
Tabitha sampled her brew. Something was missing… garlic should do.
The cauldron crashed. The potion pitched. The broom set aflame!
No broom, no flight! One horrid Halloween night.
Tabitha paced. Tabitha pondered.
Tabitha began again.
“Swizzle-zee, swizzle-zum, sizzle and shimmer till it’s done!”
Tabitha sampled her brew. Something was missing… dragon scales would do.
Tabitha laughed! Tabitha danced! Tabitha shivered with glee!
No broom? Alright! Tabitha soared on dragon wing that Halloween night.


#7 – The Scariest Night Of The Year

Painted faces.
Heartbeat races.
Trick-or-treat at spooky places.
ghosts galore –
follow me from door to door.
Cauldrons bubble.
Werewolves howl.
Ghouls and goblins stalk and prowl.
Caught in cobwebs,
swooping bats,
monsters, mummies, creepy cats!
What’s that slithering?
Witchy fingers, gnarled and withering.
All this spooky, scary, stuff –
Maybe I’m not brave enough!
Hold on.
I’ll be just fine.
These spooks are all just friends of mine!
We’re dressed in costumes,
having fun.
Back to normal when we’re done.
I say good bye to all my fright
(but I’m still glad it’s just one night.)


#8 – If You Can’t Beat Them… 

Griselda banged on the caldron with an old bone. “Wake up. It’s Halloween.”
Around the graveyard ghosts and goblins stretched and yawned. Scratchy voices that hadn’t been used in a year yowled and howled.
“Here come children. Get ready,” whispered Griselda, shivering with excitement.
They leaped from their hiding places, bloodcurdling screams piercing the night air.
The children laughed.
“Forget them,” said Griselda. “Here come some more.”
Zombies wildly grasped for the children. Ghosts fluttered in their hair.
“Cool costumes,” the children said. “Are you going to the party?”
The creatures looked at each other and shrugged. “Might as well.”


#9 – The “Wolf” at the Door

On Halloween a pint-size witch
Went door-to-door without a hitch,
A plastic cauldron in her hand,
Collecting candy, as she’d planned.
But at the last house on the block,
In answer to her timid knock,
She heard a long and mournful howl,
Followed by a fearsome growl!
“Is that a wolf?” the young girl cried
As the front door opened wide.
She shivered as she looked around,
And then she saw ———— a basset hound!
She thanked his owner for the treat,
Then laughed and scampered down the street.


#10 – The Halloween Shack

beyond the woods,
a shack appeared.
“Halloween Goods,” read the sign.

Howling sounds from the shack today.
Gave me shivers!
Should I visit?

Peeked through the window.
Mist spewed from a cauldron.
Almost SURE I saw eyes…

Stepped inside today.
Skulls, spiderwebs, eerie pictures…
Something whispered, “Welcome,”
and I ran!

Walked past the shack today.
Something watched me from the window.

Trick-or-treated at the shack tonight.
Don’t ask why.
A veiled figure
handed me candy
through the door.

I saw its eyes.

beyond the woods,
the shack…was gone.


#11 – Monster Vacancy

My house lost it’s monster and I’m in a jam.
Halloween’s coming but I have a plan.
I called reinforcements. Demons and pests.
Howling wanted. Please come do your best.
I held my breath on Halloween night.
Only one ghost arrived, glistening white.
I put on the cauldron, set it to brew,
Safely conducted a quick interview.
Though doubtful about her blood-curdling skill,
I hired her instantly paying her bill.
To my satisfaction, my shivering fright,
I’d chosen wisely that October night.
When children approached to say ‘trick-or-treat’
Every kiddo ran screaming straight for the street.


#12 – Halloween Prize

Eve’s school gives a Halloween prize
for the costume with the best surprise.
Believe me competition’s hot
But she just might win with the idea she’s got.
With cardboard, scissors, paint and string
Eve could’ve made most anything;
A slime-filled cauldron, a spider-filled hat
But they’d been done so she didn’t make that.
Other outfits make kids shiver or scream
But Eve has gone for a different theme.
She attracts them with creative drama
All dressed up as a cute, little llama.
She may not howl, screech or hit
But they’d better watch out … because she sure can spit.


#13 – Gordie Goblin’s Potion

On Halloween morning Gordie Goblin awoke with an ACHOO!
“No!” he moaned. “I must do my fierce and frightening tricks tonight!”
Gordie headed out into the howling wind.
“Winni Witch!” he shouted. “I need a healing potion!”
Winni ushered him in and did a quick examination.
“You need a strong brew indeed.”
Winni lit her cauldron while Gordie studied her shelves.
Cyclops lashes
Bat fur
Werewolf toenails
“Yuck!” he thought with a shiver.
Finally, Winni brought him a steaming goblet.
Gordie braced himself and took a sip.
“It’s … yummy!”
Winni smiled. “Chicken soup works every time!”


#14 – Next Week

Three friends marched along in the light of the moon:
One doctor, one witch, and one purple baboon.
They shivered and quivered in fear or in chill.
Each carried a colorful cauldron to fill.
With candy—sweet candy! They’d waited all year.
The night they’d awaited was finally here!
“Dears, I’m sorry to say…
I haven’t got candy to give out today…”
“NO CANDY!” they howled.
“Now, my dears, let me speak…
You’ve come a bit early; I’ll have some next week.”


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 12PM EST (Noon) Sunday November 18. (We’re going to skip PPBF to leave the poll post up because of the timing getting messed up by the judging taking so long – sorry about that!)



Tune in Monday November 19 to see THE WINNERS!!!

Thank you all so much for taking the time to write (if you did), read, and vote!  These contests simply wouldn’t be what they are without all of you!

I can’t wait to see who the winners will be!

Tune in Monday… same bat time, same bat station 🙂

80 thoughts on “The 2018 Halloweensie Contest FINALISTS (…FINALLY!!!)

  1. Corine Timmer says:

    I love taking part in the Halloweensie contest. Thanks for the opportunity. It must have been so hard to choose. You and your Halloweensie team definitely deserve something chocolate 🙂 It’s hard to choose even from this winning collection. Congratulations to all those who entered and best of luck to the finalists!

    • Susanna Leonard Hill says:

      Such a nice comment, Corine! Thank you for your kind words and good sportsmanship, and for being such a huge part of the contest – it looked to me like you had read and commented on maybe every entry – close, anyway! – in addition to your own 2 wonderful entries! Good luck choosing who to spend your vote on! 🙂

  2. ptnozell says:

    Congratulations to the finalists & to everyone who entered – I read several other amazing entries, too. Congratulations to you & your fellow judges, Susanna, for a wonderful contest & for your ongoing support of this kidlit community.

  3. Wendy says:

    This contest is so much fun! Thanks for being such a great resource to the kidlit community, Susanna. Congratulations on the new car, too! (Queen Sapphire??) My car celebrates it’s 20th birthday next month!

    • Susanna Leonard Hill says:

      Glad you enjoyed the contest, Wendy, and thanks for the congrats. I would have kept Princess Blue until her 20th if the insurance company hadn’t insisted on resting her in pieces – apparently you didn’t drive your car into another one :). I’ve been mulling on Sapphire, but hadn’t thought of Queen Sapphire! Thanks 🙂

  4. Traci Bold says:

    Wow! These are all great and made it tough to choose; but I made my choice. Good luck to everyone and congratulations to all for being chosen as finalists!

  5. Chelsea Owens says:

    Wow! I had trouble keeping to the limit AND rhyming, so am very impressed with these final poems.

    Also, thank you to all the people who skipped around reading! I’ll admit I only got to half the list, myself. 🙂

    I’m enjoying these entries and I find just one difficult to choose!

  6. says:

    These are super! I agree. There were so many honorable mentions. Well done, everyone! Thanks for the fun contest, Susanna!

    • Susanna Leonard Hill says:

      Glad you like them, Katie! We loved enjoyed your entries, and particularly liked HALLOWEEN MISHAP – well written and fun! It is agony having to narrow the list to something manageable for the finalists, and we always end up having to cut stories we wish we didn’t have to!

  7. jeanjames926 says:

    Congratulations to all the finalists. Such a great list, and wonderful stories, it will be hard to choose. Thanks Susanna for all you do! This is always my favorite contest to both write in, and to read.

    • Susanna Leonard Hill says:

      It really was, Angela! It is SO hard to narrow down! WE try to pick the ones we think are really all-around best, but we always have to cut some we really wanted to keep, and the readers/voters always feel we missed out on picking some we should have… It’s a tough job! Thanks for reading and voting, and hi to you Chipmunk 🙂

  8. celticsea says:

    What a tremendous undertaking, but great job choosing the finalists! Well done to all participants and good luck to the final fourteen!

  9. Sherry Howard says:

    So fun to read these! There were so many wonderful entries this year, and some of my favorites weren’t in the voting. So, as Susanna said, it must have been SO HARD to pick these wonderful finalists! I’m always amazed at the talent!

    • Susanna Leonard Hill says:

      Sigh! There are always peoples’ favorites that don’t make the voting, Sherry! We do the best we can, but there’s no guarantee we made the right choices. All I can say is as a group we felt good about the ones we chose…but there are always many more we would have liked to include but were forced to abandon to keep the finalist list from creeping over 50! :). We all enjoyed LOVE POTION NUMBER NINE 🙂

  10. yangmommy says:

    How you all narrowed it down from 240+ entries to 14 is a magical mystery, LOL! These are all fantastic and each & every one deserves a cauldron of treats :)!

    • Susanna Leonard Hill says:

      It is ALL a hard choice, David! Getting from the 240 range down to less than 20 is a challenge, and choosing 1 out of the final 14 just as hard! We were sorry not to be able to include Shiver Cauldron Howl McGoon – please give him our apologies! 🙂

  11. marty says:

    What a fun, and creative, group of stories to choose from.
    Thanks Susanna(and assistants!) for all your time and hard work.
    Love this contest! Look forward to it every year.

    • Susanna Leonard Hill says:

      I’m SO glad you enjoy it and look forward to it Marty! We enjoyed all three of your entries, especially HIGH TECH MAVEN which made us think of the Home Shopping Network…for witches :). If only everyone could win!

  12. Debora Hoffmann says:

    So many fabulous stories, and you whittled them down to just 14? An amazing feat! Thank you for all your hard work for this Halloweensie contest. It was fun to participate and to see all the great creative stories. Now I need to vote for just one? Gah!

    • Susanna Leonard Hill says:

      It is a tough job, Debora, and I know people often question our choices and wonder why we left certain entries out… but we have to somehow get down to a manageable number of finalists, as much as we’d like to choose everyone! Thank you for your three entries – we enjoyed them! – and for reading and voting and supporting the contest!

      • Debora Hoffmann says:

        Thank you so much, Susanna. I’m delighted that you enjoyed my stories! I am new to your blog (and I love it!) and have really had a great time with this contest, both writing and reading. I’m eager to see who’s the big winner and what’s next on your blog!

  13. Kirsten Ealand says:

    Yay – congrats to all the finalists!! Thanks so much for running this comp Susanna – I thoroughly enjoyed participating this year and am already looking forward to next year)

  14. Jennifer Broedel (@JBroedelAuthor) says:

    YAY FOR ALL THE RHYMERS, done so well! I’m positively tickled to be listed up there, and to share this post from the mountaintops! Thanks so much for hosting this fun and festive contest, and for challenging us writers to put out great work. I look forward to every one of your holiday contests, and I’ve mentally broadened my piece into a full PB MS already. 🙂

    Good luck to everyone, congratulations to each person who submitted an entry, and thanks again for the Halloween thrill! (I’ll be glued to my computer screen until the winner’s announced… I’m just too excited to be still!)

  15. Nancy Riley says:

    Wow! Such great finalists! Good luck to you all. It will be so hard to choose.
    Susanna, Thank you to you and your team for pouring over all the entries and being able to whittle the pile down to 14. I Don’t know how you did it. Chocolate for all! Thanks, for offering such wonderful competitions and prizes. They are so much fun.

  16. viviankirkfield says:

    Fabulous contest, Susanna! I loved all of the finalists…and got to read about half of the entries. What awesome talent. It was hard, but I voted.
    Congratulations to ALL who participated! And I agree with Nancy…chocolate for everyone!

  17. Heather Kinser says:

    Love it! Thanks so much for the contest, Susanna.

    FYI, I couldn’t vote in Firefox (the poll didn’t show up). Had to switch to Internet Explorer–then it was visible. I just wanted to mention that here, in case anyone else runs into the same problem.

  18. Rebekah Hoeft says:

    Congrats to all of you fine finalists! What a fun collection of stories! Susanna, as usual, I’m amazed by how much time you and your judges put it on these contests. Thank you for being the inspiration and curator of so many stories. 🙂

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