. . . BOO!!! Announcing the 9th Annual Halloweensie Writing Contest!!!

It was a dark and stormy night!

Ghostly shadows lurked among the grave stones…

…and from the mist-shrouded forest a ghastly voice shrieked, “BOO!!!!”

Please ignore the fact that it’s morning and the kitchen smells comfortingly of fresh coffee and toast with strawberry jam and the only sound is your preschooler singing the alphabet song.  We’re setting a mood here! 🙂

And I bet you can guess why!

Because it’s time to announce the rules 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 potion, cobweb, and trick.  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 over 235 fantastic entries last year, so I know you can do it!)  Also, you may use the words in any form – e.g. potions, cobwebbed, trickery, 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 Monday October 28th and Thursday October 31st by 11:59 PM EDT and add your post-specific link to the list that will accompany my special October 28th post.  There will be no Tuesday Debut, 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 28th post once it’s up (please include your byline if your posting handle is something like MamaWritesByNightlight 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 Tuesday November 5th (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:  SO AMAZING! What a generous community we have to donate so much awesomeness!!! 🙂

Go Directly To Go! Skip The Slushpile at Blue Whale Press and Get Your PB Manuscript Directly On The Editor’s Desk!!!

Submit your picture book manuscript directly to editor Alayne Christian for her consideration and critique. Helpful feedback is a certainty, publication could be a possibility!

blue whale logo

Who Will Will You Cover Reveal Official  thumbnail_randall-randall-cover-ISBN9780981493879-highres

Blue Whale Press is an SCBWI PAL publisher of children’s books that focuses on stories involving themes of friendship and/or personal challenge. Most often, stories are selected for publishing due to their inherent educational or moral value. But as a general rule, a good dose of humor or a tug at the heart doesn’t hurt their chances of being published either. While a few chapter books and a middle grade are on their list, their focus is picture books. As a boutique publisher who doesn’t mind taking risks, Blue Whale Press considers itself to be a launch pad for authors and illustrators hoping to establish themselves.

For more info: https://www.bluewhalepress.com/

Hone Your Skills with the Lyrical Language Lab Rhyme & Meter Self Study Crash Course (11 Lessons) from accomplished writer and poet Renee LaTulippe


This option contains all the same lessons as Module 1 of Renee’s fully guided course, including all supplemental materials, downloads, and audio/video components. This is the option to choose if you need to build a strong foundation in the mechanics of rhyming picture books and poetry. The major focus is on the four main types of meter and how to use mixed and varied meter. Other topics include rhythm, cadence, breath, scansion, rhyme, sound devices, figurative language, imagery, and diction.
You also have the opportunity to submit two of your assignments to Renee for feedback, and have email access to ask questions about the lessons as you complete them. Although lessons will arrive every other day, you are free to complete them at your own pace.
See the course description above for more information.

For more info: https://www.reneelatulippe.com/writing-courses/ (scroll down)

Picture Book Manuscript Critique (Rhyming, Non-Rhyming, Fiction, or Nonfiction – Vivian is open to any type of picture book critique) from Vivian Kirkfield author of SWEET DREAMS, SARAH (Creston Books, 2019), PIPPA’S PASSOVER PLATE (Holiday House, 2019), FOUR OTTERS TOBOGGAN (Pomegranate 2019), MAKING THEIR VOICES HEARD (Little Bee, January 14, 2020), and more…

Sweet Dreams Cover Template Revised Screen Shot 2018-12-05 at 10.39.16 PM

Nonfiction Picture Book Manuscript Critique from Christine Evans, author of EVELYN THE ADVENTUROUS ENTOMOLOGIST (Innovation Press, September 2019)

Evelyn cover Christine Evans

Rhyming Picture Book Manuscript Critique from Carrie Finison, author of DOZENS OF DOUGHNUTS and DON’T HUG DOUG, forthcoming from Putnam in August 2020 and Spring 2021.


Picture Book Manuscript Critique (non-rhyming please) from Janet Johnson author of HELP WANTED, MUST LOVE BOOKS (Capstone, March 2020) as well as the MG novel THE LAST GREAT ADVENTURE OF THE PB & J SOCIETY (Capstone 2016)

must love books JanetJohnson.AuthorPic

Fiction OR Nonfiction Picture Book Manuscript Critique (non-rhyming please) from Darshana Khiani, author of HOW TO WEAR A SARI forthcoming from HMH/Versify, Spring 2021

Screen Shot 2019-10-09 at 8.19.13 PM

Picture Book Manuscript Critique (non-rhyming please) from Gabi Snyder, author of TWO DOGS ON A TRIKE, forthcoming from Abrams Appleseed, May 2020 and LISTEN, forthcoming from S&S/Wiseman, Spring 2021

twodogsonatrike_cov gabi-snyder-profile-pic

Query Letter Critique from Dee Romito, author of PIES FROM NOWHERE: HOW GEORGIA GILMORE SUSTAINED THE MONTGOMERY BUS BOYCOTT (Little Bee Books, 2018) as well as several middle grade books.

pies from nowhere dee romito

Book Bundle #1 – Nonfiction
Signed Copies of WAITING FOR PUMPSIE (Charlesbridge, 2017) and THE BOO-BOOS THAT CHANGED THE WORLD (Charlesbridge, 2018) by Barry Wittenstein

waiting-for-pumpsie boo boos barry-wittenstein-photo

Book Bundle #2  – Board Books
Personalized Signed Copies of LITTLE TIGER and LITTLE PANDA (both Amicus Ink, 2019) by Julie Abery

Little Tiger Cover Little Panda Cover julie abery

Book Bundle #3  – Holiday Books
Personalized signed copy of NOT SO SCARY, JERRY (Spork, 2017) by Shelley Kinder

Personalized signed copy of THE QUEEN AND THE FIRST CHRISTMAS TREE (Albert Whitman, 2018) by Nancy Churnin

Jerry  The Queen and the First Christmas Tree

shelley-kinder_orig .         nancy churnin

Please join me in thanking these very generous authors and other writing professionals for contributing their books and writing expertise as prizes by visiting their websites and blogs, considering their books and services for holiday or other gift purchases, rating and/or reviewing their books on GoodReads, Amazon, B&N or anywhere else if you like them, recommending them for school visits, or supporting them in any other way you can dream up 🙂

Now!  Lay in a good chocolate supply (no better time than right before Halloween for THAT!)! Butt In Chair! Pencils, pens, or keyboards ready! Fire up the old idea generator!  And write those prize-winning stories!!!

I can’t wait to read them!!! 🙂

60 thoughts on “. . . BOO!!! Announcing the 9th Annual Halloweensie Writing Contest!!!

  1. Kim Larson says:

    What a fun and fabulous opportunity, Susanna! Thank you! And much thanks to all the generous donors. The kidlit community is helpful and supportive beyond words.

  2. viviankirkfield says:

    HALLOWEENSIE! It wouldn’t be Halloween without it, Susanna…and we are all so grateful to you. These contests are a HUGE amount of work for you (and lots of joy also!)…I’m thrilled to be participating as a prize…and I just might have to sharpen my pencil to write a story.

    • Susanna Leonard Hill says:

      Aw, so kind of you to say it wouldn’t be Halloween without Halloweensie, Vivian! 🙂 As for the work, it’s no more work for me than the contests you run are for you! Thank you for being a prize, and I hope you WILL submit an entry! 🙂

  3. Colleen Owen Murphy says:

    I always look forward to this contest and am intimidated by the competition! Thanks for doing so much to support and inspire the writing community Susanna! ❤ And thank you as well to all of those who generously donated!

  4. Michelle Donny Kennedy says:

    I’ve been looking forward to this contest all year!!! Such GREAT prizes this year too! Thank you for putting it together and helping us all get creative!

  5. Patricia Finnegan says:

    Boo! yah (or booyah!), Halloweensie time has come again – Can’t wait to read all of the always amazing entries and to try to concoct something of my own.

    Thank you, Susanna, for the time and effort you devote to this teensie, yet very special, contest and all of the generous people who donated prizes!

  6. yangmommy says:

    Woohoo, it’s back!! I’m curious–I wonder how many drafts everyone creates before they post their final story? Goodness knows I’ve eaten a few bags of candy corn each year while massaging my drafts 🙂 Looking forward to reading some fabu tales!

    • Susanna Leonard Hill says:

      That is an interesting question, Jennifer! Akin to how much wood would a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood. How much candy do writers consume whilst creating contest tales? I’d suggest keeping count, but I personally will likely find I don’t want to confess to how much candy was consumed! 🙂

  7. Colleen Owen Murphy says:

    I have a question as well. If we use trick-or-treat, does that count for trick, or cannot it not be hyphenated. If the answer is no the hyphenated word doesn’t count, then would you accept trick or treat as separate words, or is that cheating? LOL

  8. fspoesy says:

    Thanks for hosting this fun contest again Susanna. As I work on my story I’ve come up with a technical question! For Halloweensie word counting purposes, is a hyphenated word such as trick-or-treaters considered one word or three. I’ve discovered that MS Word counts it as one word, but if Halloweensie rules count it as three then I’m over the 100 word limit. I will patiently await the judges decision and edit accordingly. 🙂

  9. Corine Timmer says:

    Thanks, Susanna and assistants. This is such a fun way to practice the craft and read other people’s stories. I love Halloweensie. So many wonderful prizes too! Yay!

  10. Deb Buschman (@DebBuschman) says:

    By Deb Buschman

    Owl flapped his wings, but the giant cobweb held him tight.
    “Whoo!” he called for help.
    Trick or treaters ran past.
    “WHOO!” he called.
    “Very realistic,” said a parent.
    “Whoo! Whoo!”
    A boy stopped.
    “I’m Cade the Wizard, my friends left me.”
    “Want some potion?”
    “Whoo! Whoo!” Owl tried to flap.
    “Oh no, you’re stuck. I’ll be right back.”
    “I’m Cade’s mama, let’s get you out.”
    Like a ghost in the night Owl flew free.
    Cade helped mama take down the decoration.
    “No more cobwebs mama.”
    A gentle breeze touched their cheeks.
    “Whoo, Whoo!”

  11. Kathy Mazurowski says:

    Black Cat’s Dream

    On Halloween Eve
    Black cat wrote:

    Night time’s swift.
    Cobwebs drift.

    Pumpkins chant,
    Werewolfs rant.

    Treater’s tricks
    Potions mix.

    Vampires bite
    Spiders fight.

    Witches scream
    in my
    Halloween dream.

    By Kathleen Mazurowski

  12. shelleykinder says:

    Fishy Witchy’s Halloween Treat
    By Shelley Kinder (100 words)

    Fishy Witchy, by the ocean,
    mashes seaweed into potion,
    sets some candy on a tray,
    as trick-or-treaters make their way.

    Cobwebs, pumpkins, deepest black
    cover Witchy’s humble shack.

    Seagulls cry from far away.
    Suddenly, they’re ON her tray,
    thieving candy left and right,
    swooping down, then back to flight!

    They steal more treats, snatch her hat.
    Witchy ISN’T cool with that!
    She finds a few more things to brew.
    Shark tooth, toad, and worm will do.

    A little stir, a pinch of brine.
    ALL the seagulls come to dine!

    Isn’t it so VERY handy
    when pesky seagulls turn to candy?!?

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