Announcing The Mix ‘n’ Match Mini Writing Challenge!!!

Rise and shine, my friends!

It’s about time for some new high jinx and shenanigans!

Given the unusual circumstances we all find ourselves in at the moment, I bet you are all challenging yourselves each and every day!


There’s the What Can I Make For Dinner Out Of 1/2 A Cup Of Raisins, A Sleeve Of Saltines, And A Can Of Baked Beans? Challenge. . .

. . .the Total Body Workout On Top Of The Coffee Table Because That’s All The Space I Have Challenge. . .

. . .and the Lord Help Me How Will I Entertain The Children On What Feels Like The Millionth Evening Of Quarantine (If I Have To Play Candy Land One More Time I Will Have To Be Committed!) Challenge!

It is just possible that the novelty is beginning to wear off of these a teeny tiny bit. . . 😊

So I am here to offer you something new and different! (and feel free to use it to solve #3 above as well 😊)

When life is so topsy-turvy it can be hard to find the energy and motivation to write, so how about a little boost and a little encouragement with perhaps a soupçon of competition?

It’s time for

The First Ever Mix ‘n’ Match Mini Writing Challenge
For Children’s Writers!


Mix 'n' Match Mini Writing Challenge

(Not a contest exactly… no room in the blog calendar, no time for judging, no gigantic prizes on offer…but still (hopefully!) tons of fun!)

Here’s how it works:

Starting today, each Monday until June 22 (which makes 7 Mondays total and will get us to the end of the school term) I will post a Mix ‘n’ Match Mini Writing Prompt for a 100 word story.  Post your story in the comment section for that week’s challenge (or if you have trouble posting it, email it to me and I’ll post it for you.)  At the end of the 7 weeks, everyone who has posted one story for each week’s prompt will

A) have 7 brand new stories to play with!  (Who knows? Your next picture book or even chapter book or longer might be sparked by something you write for the Challenge!)

B) be able to take credit for entertaining lots of stuck-at-home fellow writers and their kids (not to mention you’ll entertain yourself and your own kids!)


C) qualify to win a prize from the Mix ‘n’ Match Mini Mystery Bag of Marvelous Prizes for Writers! (I’m not really expecting 400 people to complete this challenge… if that happens we will have to eenie meenie miney mo winners until we run out of prizes, but you will still win A and B above!)

You can compete with yourself to see if you can write all 7 stories!  You can compete with your writing friends to see if you can write more than they do! And if you want to get really competitive, you can all read the stories that are posted and “like” the ones you think are best and see who gets the most “likes” 😊 (If you do that there might be some special prizes…who can tell??? 😊)

When the going get’s rugged, children’s writers beat the blues by playing writing games and creating new stories to keep themselves and everyone around them entertained!

So here we go!

Mix ‘n’ Match Mini Writing Prompt #1 for Week of May 11:

Choose one item from one or more of the columns below – minimum 1, maximum 3.  You can choose only one item (for example, one item from Column B), or you can choose one from Column A and one from Column C, or you can choose one each from Column A, B, and C – whatever combination you like depending on what you feel you need to spark your story.

Write a 100 word story for kids which includes at least 1 and not more than 3 of the items below.  Please either highlight them or list them at the top so it’s easy for me to see who has qualified for the challenge. (If you want to use a title, the title will not be included in the word count.)

Post your story in the comment section (or email it to me to post.)

Read, enjoy, and comment on each other’s stories! 😊

Here is today’s mix ‘n’ match list:

Column A Character Column B Setting Column C Emotion
knight birthday party cranky
alien school bored
camel beach jubilant

*For those of you who feel you would benefit from a little more structure, you can make this a Mother’s Day story – but that is a suggestion only for people who want it, not a requirement for this week’s story.*

So you might choose “camel” only.  Or you might choose “school” and “jubilant”.  Or “knight”, “beach” and “cranky”. . . (And you can throw in Mother’s Day if you want to 😊)

Get the idea?

In an attempt to answer possible questions I will say:

  • you can write as many stories as you want each week
  • you can post them at any time during the week (just make sure they’re on the Monday Mix ‘n’ Match Mini post for the week you’re entering – e.g. below for Week #1))
  • you can play catch up (so if you miss a week you can go back and add to an earlier week if you’re trying to complete the challenge and qualify for prizes as long as all entries are posted on the correct week and are posted no later than Saturday June 27th at midnight Eastern time.)
  • no illustration notes
  • if 2 or 3 items from one column are what get your creativity sparking, that is okay (e.g. you can use knight and alien if you want)
  • You may go over the word count if you’re on a roll and you wish to (because there is not judging 😊)
  • You may write in poetry or prose


Here’s a little sample to show you how it works:
(No comment on the dreadfulness of the sample 😊)

Week #1: camel, school (99 words)

Camel School

Cami was excited for school!

Would she learn reading? Writing? To count past 12?

“First class, Hydration,” said Miss Dromedary. “Try for 30 gallons of water in 13 minutes. Practice makes perfect!”

Cami couldn’t imagine drinking that much!

“Next, Spitting! Try for 120 feet. Practice makes perfect!”

Cami’s tongue flickered like lightning, but could she spit far?

“Now, Sand Running! A steady 25 mph. Practice makes perfect!”

“Even practice can’t make me that fast!” cried Cami.

Miss Dromedary patted her head. “This is Camel School, dearie.  Chameleon School is next door.”

“Phew!” said Cami, scurrying to join her friends.


And here’s a little sampling of the prizes up for grabs to whet your competitive spirit 😊 MORE TO COME!

When it comes time for prizes, names of all those who completed the challenge will be drawn randomly and matched with prizes drawn randomly until we run out! 😊

For Spacious Skies by Nancy Churnin, award-winning author of so many fabulous books I don’t have space to list them all! Visit her website or Amazon Page!

For Spacious Skies

Picture Book Manuscript Critique from Kirstine Erekson Call, author of THE RAINDROP WHO COULDN’T FALL (Character Publishing 2013) and the forthcoming MOOTILDA’S BAD MOOD (Little Bee Books, September 2020), COW SAYS MEOW (HMH March 2021), and COLD TURKEY (Little Brown Spring 2021)

Kirsti Call Mootilda

Picture Book Manuscript Critique from Ellen Leventhal, author of DON’T EAT THE BLUEBONNETS (Spork 2017), HAYFEST: A Holiday Quest (ABCs Press 2010), and LOLA CAN’T LEAP (Spork 2018)

Ellen Leventhal Lola Can't Leap

Picture Book Manuscript Critique from Lindsay Hanson Metcalf, author of BEATRIX POTTER, SCIENTIST (September 2020), FARMERS UNITE!: PLANTING A PROTEST FOR FAIR PRICES (Calkins Creek November 2020), and NO VOICE TOO SMALL: FOURTEEN YOUNG AMERICANS MAKING HISTORY (Charlesbridge September 2020)

Lindsay+H.+Metcalf+(CREDIT+ANNA+JACKSON)+copy Beatric Potter

Picture Book Manuscript Critique (non rhyming) from Kaye Baillie, author of BOO LOVES BOOKS (New Frontier Publishing October 2020), and MESSAGE IN A SOCK (Midnight Sun Publishing 2018)

kaye-baillie-author-headshot Boo Loves Books message-in-a-sock-cover-1_2

Your choice of EITHER a Picture Book Manuscript Critique or a Virtual Visit with Keila Dawson, author of THE KING CAKE BABY (Pelican 2015), and NO VOICE TOO SMALL: FOURTEEN YOUNG AMERICANS MAKING HISTORY (Charlesbridge September 2020)

Screen Shot 2020-05-11 at 1.51.59 PM King Cake baby Keila No Voice Too Small


15 Minute Video Chat – ask your questions about writing, research, submissions – whatever’s on your mind! –  with Christy Mihaly, author of DIET FOR A CHANGING PLANET: Food for Thought(Twenty-first Century Books/Lerner 2018), HEY, HEY, HAY!
A Tale of Bales and the Machines That Make Them (Holiday House 2018) , and FREE FOR YOU AND ME: What Our First Amendment Means (Albert Whitman March 2020)

Chris closeup Free For You And Me HEY, HEY, HAY! Cover

Quick Impressions on your Picture Book Manuscript from Rosie Pova, author of IF I WEREN’T WITH YOU (Spork 2017), SARAH’S SONG (Spork 2017), the forthcoming SUNDAY RAIN (Lantana Publishing March 2021) and others.

Rosie Pova Sunday Rain

RONAN THE LIBRARIAN, (Roaring Brook Press April 2020) brand new fromfabulous author Tara Luebbe


Your Choice of EITHER A Picture Book Manuscript Critique (fiction, non-rhyming) or an Ask Anything 15 Minute Video or Phone Chat with Tara Luebbe, author of  SHARK NATE-O,(Little Bee Books 2018), I AM FAMOUS ( Albert Whitman 2018), I USED TO BE FAMOUS (Albert Whitman 2019), OPERATION PHOTOBOMB (Albert Whitman 2019), and RONAN THE LIBRARIAN (Roaring Brook Press 2020) (see above)

Tara Luebbe Shark Nate-O

Sherry Howard, author of Rock And Roll Woods (Spork 2018) and a series of Nonfiction Middle Grade titles for Escape Publishing (2019)

Sherry Howard (4) Cover Rock and Roll Woods

Sherry Howard MG NF Books

is offering 6 of her nonfiction middle grade titles which will go to 6 lucky winners!

Ann Whitford Paul, author of Writing Picture Books (being donated by Becky Scharnhorst below), the book we ALL use as our picture book bible 😊, and countless wonderful picture books, is offering signed copies of her IF ANIMALS… Series (Farrar Straus Giroux):

Ann Whitford Paul

If Animals Went To School                     If Animals Kissed Good Night

If Animals Went To School (2019)         If Animals Kissed Good Night (2008)

If Animals Said I Love You                     If Animals Celebrated Christmas

If Animals Said I Love You (2017)        If Animals Celebrated Christmas (2018)

If you would like to benefit from her picture book wisdom, please sign up for her newsletter HERE!

A hand lettered quote of someone’s choice from a picture book,  or a quote about reading or writing that could be framed as a gift for a child’s bedroom, a writer you know and love, or an inspiration for writing in your own work space (why shouldn’t you give yourself a present?!) offered by Kristy Roser Nuttall! (Samples below – you can choose your own quote!)

Kristy Nuttall 20200512_092224 20200512_091604

Making Picture Book Magic – Self Study Class any month (x3)


Writing Picture Books by Ann Whitford Paul, donated by Becky Scharnhorst whose debut picture book P.S. Camp Wildwood Stinks will be released in Summer 2021 from Philomel!

Writing Picture Books Revised and Expanded Edition: A Hands-On Guide From Story Creation to Publication by [Ann Whitford Paul]

Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert donated by Becky Scharnhorst whose debut picture book P.S. Camp Wildwood Stinks will be released in Summer 2021 from Philomel!

Big Magic

The Nuts & Bolts Guide To Writing Picture Books by Linda Ashman (only available for Kindle) (x2)

The Nuts and Bolts Guide to Writing Picture Books by [Linda Ashman]

Magnetic Poetry – Little Box of Happiness

Magnetic Poetry - Little Box of Happiness Kit - Words for Refrigerator - Write Poems and Letters on The Fridge - Made in The USA


The Story Book Knight by Helen Docherty

storybook knight

This Book Is Gray by Lindsay Ward

This Book Is Gray

Story Cubes

Screen Shot 2020-05-10 at 11.23.08 PM

Writing Journal (x10)


Scythe by Neal Shusterman

So come join the fun! Get some writing done! Encourage your kids (or students) to give it a try! Or just have a good time together reading what other folks have written!

Ready, set, WRITE!!! 😊

Check out the Week #1 stories!

How To Have A Camel Birthday Party – Brenda Whitehead (camel, birthday party)

A Knight At The Beach – Jess Murray (knight, beach)

Puddles From Pluto – Julie Abery (alien)

Untitled – Candice Marley Conner (knight, beach, jubilant)

Birthday Surprise – Genevieve Petrillo (birthday party)

The Knight And The Bouncy Castle – Little Cornish Writer (knight, birthday party, bored)

Andromeda And Nick – Cindy S. Boyll (alien, knight)

Carlos The Camel Goes To Revere Beach – Susan Reese Krevat (camel, beach, bored)

Chloe’s Extraordinary Bunny Beach Birthday Party – Corine Timmer (birthday party)

Wake Up Call – Jill Lambert (alien, school, cranky, Mother’s Day)

Cranky Camel At The Beach – Susan Inez (camel, beach, cranky)

Blast Off – Barbara Renner (alien, school)

Mommy’s Cranky Beach Baby – Jamie Bechtelheimer (beach, cranky)

Night Knight School – Matthew Lasley (knight, school, cranky)

How To Pet A Camel – Jeanette Jones (camel)

Untitled – Carmen Castillo Gilbert (cranky, birthday party, beach)

An Ode To Our Teachers – Michelle S. Kennedy (school)

The Uninvited Guest – Jarmila  (alien)

Knight Light – Margo  (knight)

Sir Grumpsalot’s Lesson – Dot Anson (knight, beach, cranky)

The Knight’s Princess – Linda Schueler (knight, birthday party)

Camel’s Surprise – Susan Schipper (camel, beach, jubilant)

The Birthday Party: A Circular Story – Rose Cappelli (camel, birthday party)

Alien Beach Adventure – Ashley Congdon (alien, beach)

Prehistoric Hairdo – Kristy Roser Nuttall (cranky)

Beach Bummed – Sarah Meade (beach)

The Cranky Alien On The Beach – Linda Boyden (cranky, alien, beach)

A Good Knight – Patricia Nozell (knight, school)

It’s Not My Party – Sarah Hoppe (birthday party, emotion of cranky but not the word)

Back To School – Deb Sullivan (school, alien, cranky)

Ulric, The Tap Dancing Knight – Brittany Pomales (knight)

If You Invite A Camel To Your Birthday – Sara Ackerman (camel, birthday party)

Grandpa’s Style – Leslie Denkers (jubilant)

Camel On Vacation – Dawn Young (camel, beach, jubilant)

Untitled – D. Litwer (alien, beach)

Alien Annie – Linda Staszak (alien)

Untitled – Mary VB (beach, knight, cranky)

(K)Night School – Bev Baird(knight, school)

Mr. Camel Needs A Break – Sue Lancaster (camel, beach, cranky)

Lost In Time – Colleen Murphy (knight, beach)

Sir Sunny – Rebecca Gardyn Levington (knight, beach)

Horace – Amy Flynn (camel)

Gismos The Alien – Everard Anson (bored, alien, jubilant, cranky)

A Limerick – Marty (knight, jubilant)

Pal – Mia Geiger (camel)

How To Homeschool An Alien – Liz Kehrli (alien, school)

A Knight’s Delight – Nancy Riley (knight, beach)

Zara’s Blooming Flower – Lori Himmel (camel, school, jubilant)

Cranky Camel – Deb Buschman (camel, cranky, beach)

260 thoughts on “Announcing The Mix ‘n’ Match Mini Writing Challenge!!!

  1. Sue Lancaster says:

    Mr. Camel Needs a Break (100 words)
    (camel, beach, cranky)

    Mr. Camel was cranky.
    What’s given you the hump?” asked Mrs. Camel.
    “I’m tired of life in the desert…
    The endless sand…
    Searing sunshine…
    Relentless heat…
    I need a change. A break from the norm. A vacation!”
    “A vacation!” cried Mrs. Camel, excitedly. “I’ve always fancied the city.”
    Mr. Camel groaned. “Far too busy.”
    “The mountains?”
    Mr. Camel gasped. “Far too dangerous.”
    “The lakes?”
    Mr. Camel grumbled. “Far too wet.”
    “So… where then?”
    Mr. Camel grabbed a travel brochure.
    “I was thinking here.”
    Mrs. Camel peered at the picture…
    Endless sand…
    Searing sunshine…
    Relentless heat…
    “The beach!” she said. “Perfect!”

  2. Colleen Owen Murphy says:

    Here is an utterly nonsensical story I started. I have no idea how many words. I just had to end it somewhere. I took the knight and the beach – but the knight has ended up in a different era. LOL

    By Colleen Murphy

    “Sir Tuck, my steed, where hast thou gone?
    Wait! What is this I’ve set upon?
    A maiden with no clothing on?”

    “What‘s that you say, you silly brute.
    I’m dressed. I’m in my bathing suit,
    more fitting for this day’s pursuit.”

    “I must admit,” the knight replied,
    “This armor’s rather hot inside.
    In what estate dost thou abide?”

    “Estate? What makes you talk so strange?
    You need a drink. Go home and change!”

    “What transport, then, can you arrange?”

    “You have two feet. I’ve seen you walk.
    (More normally than how you talk)
    You’ll find a bus around the block.•

    “A Bus, my maiden, what indeed?
    Is that the name of your fair steed?
    My mount, Sir Tuck, is whom I need!”

    “Without him I’ll no dragons slay,
    And so, I must be on my way.
    To you and Bus, I bid good day!”

  3. RebeccaTheWriter says:

    Susanna! Thank you for the awesomely fun challenge! I used KNIGHT and BEACH. I’m a little over, at 140 words….

    By Rebecca Gardyn Levington

    Sir Sunny was a noble knight who wished to stroll the beach.
    But knowing that he’d likely rust, his dream felt out of reach.

    He longed to leap through salty waves, feel sand beneath his feet,
    to rest atop a big beach towel and bask in summer heat.

    “Alas, I am a knight,” he sighed. “The beach is not for me.
    I must forget this silly dream. It isn’t meant to be.”

    Sir Sunny went on knighting— fighting dragons, leading quests,
    but couldn’t shed the nagging ache within his gallant chest.

    And then, one cloudless clear-blue day, he cried: “I must be free!”
    He stripped off all his armor and ran right into the sea!

    Without the weight that held him down, Sir Sunny smiled and swam.
    Buoyed by a sense of calm. “Yes, THIS is who I am!”

  4. amyflynnnd says:

    By Amy Flynn

    Horace peered into the mirror. The other camels weren’t lying, he had no hump.

    I’ll grow one, he thought. He trotted off to the seed store, in search of a hump seed.

    There were no hump seeds.

    I’ll catch one, he thought. Spurred by the idea, he built a hump trap.

    He didn’t trap any humps.

    I’ll borrow one, he thought. He sent a question to every bactrian camel he knew.

    They had no humps to spare.

    “Horace!” the camels called.

    He galloped over, desperate to tell them how hard he had tried to find a hump, how badly he wanted to fit in.

    “Silly, horse. You don’t need a hump. We love you just the way you are.”

  5. Dorothy Dot Anson says:

    This is a story written by my husband. I got him interested and now he’s writing too….. awesome.

    Gismos The Alien..bored, alien, jubilant, cranky……(112 words) Everard Anson

    Gismos the alien was bored. He’d been on earth nearly one year according to the human’s calendar. He thought humans had parties once a year, but he hadn’t seen any.
    He had been sent by his cranky boss to gather information about the way humans work, play, learn and interact with each other. Gismos had been hoping for a promotion to the much larger planet Jubilantise, but here he was struck on this small, pretty but scary Earth.
    Hardly anyone was moving about, let alone working, learning or playing. No one was travelling between countries or cities.
    Gismos was so unlucky. He had arrived amidst a global pandemic called COVID 19.

  6. marty says:

    A Limerick ( using knight and jubilant )

    There once was a knight brave and strong,
    Who lived for the chance to right wrongs.
    Foiling dastardly deeds,
    Helping folks most in need,
    Made her jubilant all the day long!

  7. Susanna Leonard Hill says:


    Week #1
    (word used: camel)
    By Mia Geiger
    105 words

    Pal yelled out
    just before dawn:
    “I’ve lost my hump!
    Boo hoo! It’s gone!

    “A camel has
    to look just right.
    Without my hump
    I’m quite a fright!”

    Owl came quick.
    So did Llama.
    Next was Sheep:
    “What’s the drama?”

    Sheep was clever,
    not just cute.
    (It was his best

    “Wait a minute,
    let’s think this through.
    Let me have
    a look at you.

    “Two eyes, a nose,
    a mouth, four feet.
    A tail, soft hair,
    a smile — sweet!”

    Sheep spied a nametag;
    “Hmm, a clue.”
    Pal O. Mino —
    carved in blue.

    “Aha!” said Sheep!
    “Yes, of course!
    You’re not a camel.
    You’re a horse!”

  8. Susanna Leonard Hill says:


    How to Homeschool an Alien – (Alien, school)
    by Liz Kehrli

    Homeschooling aliens is simple.
    First, confiscate all laser rays, stun guns and duplicators.
    And be sure to turn off his space pods and solar socks.
    Then sit your alien down and stare straight into his glowing green eyes.
    If you can make him blink, you’ll have his full attention.
    Whatever you do, don’t let him reach into his pocket.
    He might have a tickle taser or fart dart in there.
    And speaking of stinky stuff, make sure he hasn’t eaten any over ripe orbs.
    You can guess why.
    And the most important thing is-
    Hey, Zorfu, give me back my teacher’s tazbot.
    Don’t you dare point that at me!
    Ribbit! Ribbit!
    [Teacher/frog writes down: The most important thing, is to always have a backup plan!]
    [Frog sips on a giant margarita.]

  9. Nancy Riley says:

    Running behind as usual
    A Knight’s Delight (Knight, beach) 64 words
    by Nancy D. Riley

    “I must get to the beach,” said the knight.
    “To compete in this year’s dragon fight.”
    “Those beasts are a blight
    When they set things alight.
    I will vanquish one using my might!”

    He scanned the beach from a height
    And spotted two dragons in flight.
    Each danced like a kite.
    He was filled with delight.
    “I can’t hurt them; it wouldn’t be right.”

  10. Lori Himmel says:

    Week #1:
    I picked camel, school, jubilant. School is used in the story.
    Zara means “blooming flower” in Arabic. 99 words

    By Lori Himmel

    Zara’s smile was bigger than her crayon box in art school.
    But now, class was online.
    Ms. Barbary organized calls for her students.

    But Zara’s hooves fumbled on the keyboard.
    Her drool slobbered the computer.
    “Why can’t I go to class like before!” she cried.

    Everyday she tried to log on.
    “Dreaded dromedary!” she yelled.
    Then, one day, feeling annoyed, Zara said,
    “Computer! Open my class!”

    Now Zara could see Ms. Barbary and her friends.
    Zara dipped her brush and mixed colors.
    Her smile was bigger than her canvas as she admired her
    blooming flower painting!

  11. Deb Buschman (@DebBuschman) says:

    I Picked Camel, Cranky and Beach
    98 words

    By Deb Buschman

    Sand, sand and more sand. “I can’t take this place anymore!” shouted Cornelius Camel.
    He paged through travel brochures.
    Mountains! Fabulous.
    Cornelius trudged up the mountain.
    “Grrummpf, my hooves are killing me.”
    He flipped through more brochures.
    Jungles! Awesome.
    Cornelius smacked through branches and bushes.
    “OUCH! WACK! Too many bugs.”
    He rifled through more brochures.
    Cities! Excellent.
    Cornelius walked down the sidewalk.
    “Ummph! Bamm! Too many people.”
    He tossed away the brochures, but one stuck to his hump.
    Cornelius gazed at the brochure. Why not, he thought.
    “AWWW! Water and…
    Beaches! Perfect.

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