Doin’ The Skeleton Dance! Announcing The 10th Annual Halloweensie Writing Contest!

Howdy, Folks!

I know it’s Thursday and not a usual posting day, but sometimes there just isn’t room for everything in the normal course of our weekly schedule.

This is one of those times.

And what is it we must make time for, you may wonder?

Well, I’ll tell you.

I feel it is imperative that we shake our booty. . .

. . . to the tune of

Your leg bone connected to your knee bone
Your knee bone connected to your thigh bone
Your thigh bone connected to your hip bone
Doin’ the Skeleton Dance!

etc… 😊 ☠️

It is a well known fact that a little dancing sparks creativity!

(And if that isn’t well known. . . or a fact. . . it should be! 😊)

I believe, under the circumstances, that the Hokey Pokey would also be an excellent choice, given that body parts get shaken around in that one too 😊

Any dance will do, however, because all that matters is that your creativity gets fired up as we (I’m using the Royal We here) announce the rules for. . .



~ for children’s writers ~

(Holy Caped Crusaders, Batman! I just have to interject here! Can you believe this is the 10th year of Halloweensie? The TENTH???!!! ZOWEE!)

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 skeleton, creep, and mask.  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 325 fantastic entries last year, so I know you can do it!)  Also, you may use the words in any form – e.g. skeletons, creepy/crept, masked/unmasked, 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 Eastern Time Thursday October 29th and Saturday October 31st by 11:59 PM Eastern Time and add your post-specific link to the list that will accompany my special October 29th 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 29th 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 topNO 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 12 top choices (give or take… you know how hard it is to choose!) which will be posted here and voted on for a winner on Wednesday November 4th or Thursday 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 Monday November 9th (good lord willin’ and the creek don’t rise 😊 )

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!!! 😊
(and I’m still working on this part of the post so it’s incomplete and will be updated with links and photos and more prizes!)

Get Your MS in TipTop Shape With Vivian Kirkfield!

Vivian is offering a PB MS Critique (fiction or nonfiction/rhyming or prose), along with a 30 minute Skype or FB video chat to discuss, along with a read-through of the revision. And top it all off she will also help you with a query/cover letter edit to go with your polished up ms! WOW!

Penny’s Two Cents – an incredible opportunity for any picture book writer!

Sometimes it’s helpful to chat with a published author about your writing journey. Penny Parker Klostermann is offering her two cents. The prize includes General/Big-Picture Feedback on one picture book manuscript + One 30-Minute Chat (Rhyming or prose-750 words or under) Penny doesn’t claim to have it all figured out, (by any means) but she’s happy to share her two cents based on what she’s learned and continues to learn on her journey as an author.

Penny is the author of THERE WAS AN OLD DRAGON WHO SWALLOWED A KNIGHT (Random House 2015) (now available in board book and with matching pajamas! 🙂 ) and A COOKED-UP FAIRY TALE (Random House 2017)

Picture Book MS Critiques from
Carrie Finison
Lydia Lukidis
Teresa Robeson
Kirstine Call
Ellen Leventhal
Heather Gale

Signed book and 15 Minute “Ask Me Anything” Video Chat with Keila Dawson

Either A Signed Copy of ROCK AND ROLL WOODS (PB) or an ARC of SPIRITS AMONG US (MG) from author Sherry Howard

A signed copy of TWO DOGS ON A TRIKE by Gabi Snyder

2 Picture Books donated by Darshana Khiani

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!!! 😊

44 thoughts on “Doin’ The Skeleton Dance! Announcing The 10th Annual Halloweensie Writing Contest!

  1. Carrie Karnes Fannin says:

    Congratulations on 10 wonderful years! Your contest is a bright spot in the calendar. Thank you for all the work that goes into running the contest & to the generous prize donors.

  2. viviankirkfield says:

    Susanna…your blog was my first introduction to the kid-lit world. Your contests and challenges inspired and motivated me to take those first steps of putting my work out there. Congratulations on 10 years of lighting the Halloweensie jack-o-lantern! I’m honored to have the opportunity to participate as a prize – woo-hoo!!!

  3. Colleen Owen Murphy says:

    I don’t know how you are managing to put this on after just having your daughter married. You are a rock star.

    As I am thinking of possibilities, I had a question as to whether skeletal or skeletonic would be acceptable. Not that I am going to use them, but just in case. Lol.


  4. Dana Marie Miroballi says:

    Congrats on 10 years! I wrote my first ever entry this morning. Whether mine is selected or not, I’m grateful for the inspiration. I wrote a new story that I simply adore. I’m excited to read the other entries.

    • Susanna Leonard Hill says:

      Thanks for the congrats, Dana! I couldn’t do it without all the writers who participate and authors, editors, agents, etc who donate such wonderful prizes! I’m so glad you’ve written a story you’re excited about, and I look forward to reading it when the contest opens in 2 weeks! 😊

  5. marty says:

    Look forward to this every Halloween! Thanks, Susanna, for all the great contests and posts you offer up throughout the year. Love each and every one 🙂

  6. Janet Smart says:

    Congratulations on 10 years! Thanks for the contest and those great prizes. Would love to win one of those critiques.

  7. Jill Lambert (@LJillLambert) says:

    Congratulations on 10 years of Halloweensiness, Susanna! Your contests are always a wonderful challenge and a joy to enter. Thank you for all you do to provide opportunities for the writing community. Thanks also to all the generous prize donors.

  8. Bonnie Kelso says:

    I’ve heard of your legendary Halloweensie contest and this year, I’m committing to entering! Thank you for all you do in the KidLit community. Some wonderful prizes, too. Many thanks to your donors. 🙂 Ghoul-licious!

  9. Stephanie Mena says:

    Hi, Susanna,
    I do not have blog of my own. I thank you for allowing me to piggy-back onto yours. I will put on a witch’s thinking cap and stir up 100 tasty words in time for a Halloween Treat.
    I love your stories and your offer to help. I’m new to Picture Book writing. Storyteller Academy is a wonderful resource. My backstory includes writing for WGN TV’s Bozo Circus and BJ and the Dirty Dragon Show. Before my retirement, the characters I wrangled were 7th and 8th graders in my Communication Class –Public speaking, debate, radio script writing etc.
    Thank you,
    Stephanie Mena

  10. melissamiles1 says:

    Hi Susanna,
    Thanks for all the time and effort you put into the contest, and also a huge thanks to the donors! I know we can’t put illustration notes in the story, but if we find a picture we like that compliments the story, is it okay to post it on our blog? Thanks!

  11. jeanjames926 says:

    WOW 10 years! What an amazing longevity, to an amazing writing contest, and of course, an amazing you! Thank you for all you do for the writing community. Thanks to all the generous authors too for their prize donations. I think my quarantine will be the perfect scary medium for me to get creative in. As always, looking forward to Halloweensie!

  12. Linda Evans Hofke says:

    Ten years! Congratulations.
    Thanks for all the great blog posts and contests.
    I hope to enter the Halloweensie contest again this year.

  13. yangmommy says:

    A decade of spooky & silly weensies–way to go, Susanna! Your contests continue to be inspirations for us all. Thanks so much for putting this one together, esp during such a busy month for yourself! After all, it just wouldn’t be Halloween without 100 words and this year of all years, we need some fun! 🙂

  14. farmfolkfamily says:

    I’m thrilled to be entering my first Halloweensie contest! Thank you, Susan, for the opportunity and the “dead”line. Every procrastinator, I mean, writer needs a deadline. I love the challenging restrictions! Thanks also to Writers Rumpus for listing this contest–I’ve found another lovely writer to follow. 🙂

  15. Stephanie Mena says:

    I had fun accepting your challenge 🙂
    I submitted my story to
    I hope you like it.
    I’m currently enrolled in Storyteller Academy. Now you have expanded my horizon even more.
    I am so happy to have found this marvelous world of picture book authors. I found it in my retirement years, but oh, what a world it is!
    I don’t have a blog. I’m not sure if I should have one at this point. I haven’t enough to say.
    Stephanie Mena

  16. Arianna Francis says:

    Creep, Crunch, Crawl
    by Arianna Francis

    Creep, crunch, crawl…
    Here comes fall.

    Snap, stick, snake…
    Grab your rake.

    Flock, fly, flit…
    Skeleton sit.

    Pip, pop, pap…
    Blanket lap.

    Wrap, warm, wish…
    Steaming dish.

    Mess, mask, moosh…
    Pumpkin goosh.

    Smell, sniff, slice…
    Pumpkin spice.

    Squish, squash, sluice…
    Apple juice.

    Cap, cape, cloak…
    Dripping soak.

    Slump, slop, slope…
    Creaking rope.

    Breeze, barn, boots…
    Night owl hoots.

    Flit, fly, fowl…
    Coyote howl.

    Wisp, wind, whoa…
    Not yet snow!

    • Denise Seidman says:

      It is great how use onomatopoeia and words relating to your nouns. ( I wanted to say animals but snow obviously isn’t one). It was fun to read!

  17. JennyMcC (@JennyMcCwriting) says:

    Thanks Susanna, I wasn’t planning to do this and I am so glad I did. It was loads of fun! Hope you enjoy and Happy Halloween! (a guiser is a trick or treater in Scotland btw, we call it guising)

    Mischief, Tricks, and Magic, by Jenny McClay

    The kid in the skeleton mask searches for mischief, tricks and magic!
    First they’re a skeleton… then a vampire… then a zombie!
    They creep between laughing guisers, weaving in and out in the dark, finding plastic, noise, glaring lights…
    no magic.
    At the poor kid’s door,
    no lights
    no plastic
    “We’ve not got much, just toffee-apples.”
    The mask melts away – a Puca stands, black mane swirling, hooves stomping, golden eyes smiling.
    “Come and play?” the Puca asks.
    The kid grins, jumps on the Puca’s back, and they tear away, cackling like witches, for a night of mischief, tricks, and magic!

  18. cowboymarty says:

    Susanna Hill –
    Thanks to Susanna
    . . . a million to one!
    This writing assignment
    was so much fun!
    Writing to dance is not a bore
    The challenge. . . perplexed
    99. . .100. . .and no more!
    Doin the Skeleton Dance
    like the Chachacha. . .
    just get out there
    and tread your stuff.
    Many treats if you do
    NO treats. . . if you don’t
    Now how can you go wrong!
    Loving that Halloweensie thing
    Good Luck to one, Good Luck to all.
    Doin that Halloweensie thing.

  19. Grinny Butler says:

    I had so much fun doing this challenge. The 100 word constraint keep me succinct and focused. Good luck to all who entered and thank you for having us enjoy your creeptastic contest.

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