The 2020 Halloweensie Finalists Are Here. . . At Last!

You know, I really like to be trendy.

You’ve probably noticed that about me.

Always with the most up-to-date, hip fashions, always with my finger on the pulse of current events, absolute master of the newest technology (snort! ok, I can’t pull any of these off with a straight face 😊)

But today, I am trendy.

Why? you may ask.

Because as some of you may have noticed, voting is extremely trendy this week.

It’s all anyone is talking about. Going to vote, talking about how you voted, counting votes, speculating about the outcome of votes, waiting for the outcome of votes. . .

And just when you were worried you might run out of voting-related things to do and discuss, I have something else for you to vote on in the nick of time so you don’t go into voting withdrawal 😊 . . .

The 2020 Halloweensie Contest Finalists!

After many grueling days of reading the 289 fabulous entries you submitted and being forced to winnow them down to 12 (oh! cruel and terrible fate!), (interrupted only by our obsession with following the election coverage which lost us all a big part of Tuesday and is responsible for why the finalists didn’t get posted sooner) my fellow judges and I are mere skeletons, creeping toward bed now that our work is done, and waiting for YOU to unmask the winner! (See what I did there? 😊)

There were SO MANY well-written, fabulous, entertaining, delightful, and spooky entries.  In order to pick 12 for you to vote on we had to put aside literally hundreds, many of which were of equal quality.  So I recognize that many of you may feel you would have chosen differently.  I get that.  In the final analysis, try as we might to be objective, an element of subjectivity almost has to come in to play in order to choose between multiple entries of similar quality.  Please know we admire everyone for their talent, throughly enjoyed every story we read, and that we did the best we could.

12 entries made the finals.

277 did not.

A mere 4.15% made it to the top.  If you’re in that 4.15%, give yourself a congratulatory handshake.  If you’re not, rest assured you’re in extremely good company. (And if you’d like to question how I arrived at 4.15% because I failed to Show My Work, please don’t because I’m pretty sure I invented some “math” to arrive at that number. Math is not my strong suit unless it’s If Susanna had one of those gorgeous boxes containing 6 Godiva chocolates, what percentage did she eat? because that answer is always 100% 😊)

We were ruthless about some things because we simply had to be.

(Following is the part where I remind you of the judging criteria and rationalize, explain, and apologize for the fact that we had to cut some of you even though you’re awesome – it is not required reading unless you need a little emotional bolstering before you look at who the elite 12 are – feel free to skip a bit, Brother Maynard 😊)

The judging criteria were clear:

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. Unfortunately, as always seems to happen, there were some stories that could have taken place at any time – not specifically Halloween. Two of the entries all the judges loved fell into this category – we were SO disappointed not to be able to include them with the finalists.

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.  There were a lot of problems in this department, and since the competition was so fierce, we did cut people for punctuation, capitalization, spelling, and word usage errors, as well as for relatively minor glitches in meter – one or two lines that threw the rhythm off – because there were so many that were perfect.

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!

(There is nothing like reading through so many to give you an editor’s perspective.  Read through 300+ stories and you’ll quickly see how there can be A LOT that are really quite good, so there has to be something to make them stand out.  Something that sets them apart from the ocean of very-strong-nothing-particularly-wrong-with-them-but-nothing-that-makes-you-say-WOW submissions.  It will make you realize exactly how important it is to make your manuscript fresh and heart -or mind-capturing in some way. You want yours to be the submission the editor (or contest judge) can’t stop thinking about.😊)

So now, just quick before we get to the finalists, 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 one final time how truly difficult it was too narrow such a field!  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.   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 or had new life breathed into them in Halloweensie, Holiday, or Valentiny Contests!  So bravo to everyone who entered!

So, without further ado, I present to you the 2020 Halloweensie Contest Finalists.  A mix of poetry and prose (weirdly weighted toward rhyme – just the way it panned out), 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 werewolf Snow White 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 – A Night Out…

This will be fun
I’ll just jump in the dish,
Like a chocolate delight
Or a red Swedish Fish.

No one will notice
I’m not like my peers,
As I creep through the wrappers
Without any fears.

All the skeletons, witches,
And mask wearing folk,
Will think I’m a treat
It’s my little joke.

That all of the children
Perhaps parents too,
Will happily eat me
I’m one of the crew.

I did it! I did it!
I’m sly like a fox,
“Hey raisin,” Twix shouts.
“Get back in your box.”

#2 – TRICK OR TEETH

She flits through the air
in the still of the night,
once tricksters and treaters
have turned out the light.

No cape on her shoulders,
no mask on her eyes,
a dusting of magic
provides her disguise.

She slips by the skeletons
guarding the door
and creeps past the pumpkins
while Mom and Dad snore.

At last she approaches
the head of the bed.
In search of a tooth,
she discovers instead…

the fang of a goblin—
half-rotten and green!
The Tooth Fairy wishes
she skipped Halloween.

#3 – Hola Halloween!                     

Morty McCreak was a skeleton freak
who just didn’t dig darkness or doom.
The mere squeak of a rat or the flap of a bat
sent him clattering out of the room.

Halloween Balls made him put up his walls
and a creep-tastic mask wasn’t fun –
Trick or Treat was a strain, so he jumped on a plane
to go whiten his bones in the sun.

Morty was shocked, his bones pleasantly rocked,
all the beaches and streets were alive.
This ol’ Mexican rave brought some glitz to the grave,
Yep, this ‘Day of the Dead’ was his jive!

#4 – Bones: A Love Story

“A Halloween Ball!” Lafta longingly sighed,
“What clever maneuver could get me inside?”
(For Mummy decorum expressly forbade
A Skeleton guest at the Mum-masquerade.)
Undaunted, she crept in at seven o’clock,
Impeccably swathed in a masking tape frock.
She charmed the Queen’s son with a sweet pirouette.
“I might,” Lafta whispered, “Fool everyone yet!”
But catching her tape on a dowager’s shroud,
Her costume unraveled in front of the crowd!
The onlookers gasped—but their host cracked a grin,
“Your wrappings were hiding the treasure within.”
Their boundless romance has endured ever since,
The skeleton girl and her Halloween prince.

#5 – Halloween Surprise

Tonight was Halloween and Jojo was upset.

She had a costume she had made herself. She wore her sparkly pink tutu, a skeleton shirt, bones cut out of cardboard and a mask decorated with glitter.

But there was no trick or treating in her neighborhood.

To make matters worse, it stormed outside.

Suddenly she heard a horrible shrieking sound.

Were the Halloween monsters coming?

Would they creep up on her in the darkness?

She looked out the window …

and quickly opened the door to a tiny wet, black kitten.

She cuddled him close. “Maybe Halloween has come to me.”

#6 – THE ELETONKS                                                                     

A skeleton’s job on Halloween night

is making kids scream with terrible fright.

But this Halloween, poor skeleton stumbled,

as he crept down the hill, and got totally jumbled.

Now, eletonks’ bones are all out of place.

A mask full of tarsals makes up his face.

His femurs are feet. His skull’s near his knee.

His spine’s tangled up where his left arm should be.

His fidgety fingers hang down from his thighs,

and two broken ribs poke out of his eyes.

So, giggle at eletonks. Trust me you’d tremble

if skeleton’s bones could just

reassemble.

#7 – A SCARE A SKULL A SKELETON

a scare

            a skull

                        a skeleton

                                    I clatter down the street

a creep

            a crawl

                        a caterwaul                                    

I’m knocking for a treat

a rant

            a rave

                        an open grave                                    

I wear a scary mask

a trick

            a treat

                        a something sweet                                    

I TAKE! (and NEVER ask)

a bugaboo

            a witch’s brew

                        the treat I took is cursed…

a salty lick

            a yuck

                        an ick                                    

my brother is the WORST!

a snore

            a sleep

                        a sneaky peek                                    

a tippy-toe attack

a spider…

            SCREAM!

                        its Halloween                                    

and—yep!—I got him back


#8 – A Hollow Halloween  

’Tis Halloween night and next to the church,
Old skeletons exit their tombs with a lurch.

They creep through the graveyard and into the streets,
armed with a trick to get themselves treats.

Pretending they’re kids wearing costumes and masks,
they go door-to-door, holding out their big sacks.

When the candy’s collected, they scurry away,
dying to feast on their sugar buffet.

Gobbling up jawbreakers, chocolates and gummies,
they get mad when the treats fall right out of their tummies.

With no tongues in their heads and no sense of taste,
all that work getting candy was sadly…a waste!

#9 – MARINE HALLOWEEN

Deep in the ocean there’s quite a commotion;
what nautical nightmare is this?
Curious creatures with spine-chilling features
are slithering through the abyss…

With his powerful claws and his snippy-snap jaws,
skeleton shrimp creeps along.
Slimy and squirming, now hagfish comes worming
her way through the sinister throng.

An inky-black cape, a mean, mask-like shape –
vampire squid joins the pack.
Fangtooth soon follows, she lunges and swallows,
devouring a flavoursome snack.

With a flurry of fins, the party begins;
behold the spectacular scene!
So what’s this commotion deep down in the ocean?
That’s right – it’s Marine Halloween!

#10 – The Brown, Brown Boots on the Cold, Cold Floor  

I was slurping soup on Halloween night
When…
KNOCK…..KNOCK…..KNOCK
“Who is it?”

Creeeeeeeeeaaaaaaak

In stomped two brown, brown boots on the

cold, cold floor.

I crept to the corner, clutching my napkin like a mask
and waited.

KNOCK……KNOCK…..KNOCK….
“Who…..who is it?”
Creeeeeeeeeaaaaaaak

A bony, bony body floated in and placed itself on
brown….brown boots…..
on the
cold…cold floor……….

KNOCK……KNOCK…..KNOCK….
“Who…..who is it?”
Creeeeeeeeeaaaaaaak

A skull floated and sat on the bony, bony body
on
brown, brown boots
on the
cold……….cold floor.

“WHAT DO YOU WANT?!”

The skeleton pointed:

“You’re…eating…mysoup!

“It’s yours!” I said as I ran into
the shivering
night.

#11 – The Skeleton Creep                        

On All Hallows Eve
when I’m meant to be asleep
I peep out at the graveyard
where skeletons creep.
They push aside their gravestones,
rising from the ground.
Have they come to haunt us?
No!
They simply…
hang around.
They melt into the shadows
until they’re masked from view,
scaring one other
by playing…
PEEK-A Boo!
I really want to join them,
play their games, hang out!
But the teeny tiny problem is…
MY BODY’S INSIDE OUT!
If my bones were on the outside
would they let me play?

“No, but you’ll be welcome…

WHEN YOUR RIBS ARE ON DISPLAY!”

#12 – Trick or Treat


Who’s dancing down the street at night
This spooky Halloween?
The rattling sound she makes is like
A boney tambourine.

You might think she’s a little girl,
If you don’t get too near.
The dark night makes it look as though
There’s nothing there to fear.

She wears a mask, a sweet child’s face,
That covers up a grin
Of ivory teeth that clack inside
A skull that needs some skin.

So, if she creeps up to your house,
Don’t open up your door.
A skeleton’s shrieked, “Trick or Treat!”
Will stop your heart with horror.

I know this is a tough choice!  But please read and consider and choose your favorite and vote for it in the poll below by Sunday November 8 at 5 PM Eastern time!  That gives you 3 whole days to vote! (Which, as we’ve established, you’ve had plenty of practice at lately 😊)

I am so looking forward to seeing who you guys choose as your winner and how everyone will place! 😊 Enjoy reading and voting and have a great weekend!!! 😊

28 thoughts on “The 2020 Halloweensie Finalists Are Here. . . At Last!

  1. Heather Kinser says:

    What a fantastic assortment of stories! Congratulations to ALL the finalists. I think we outdid ourselves this year. And THANK YOU SUSANNA, for making the fun happen!!! Let me mention that I couldn’t see the voting poll in my Firefox browser, but I switched to a different browser and the glitch resolved–in case anyone else runs into the same problem.

  2. Jilanne Hoffmann says:

    Oh, I had two favorites in this group of awesome stories. It was sooooooo hard to choose from those two. I would give them both A++++ Thanks for doing this again this year, Susanna! It must take up so much of your time. And thanks to all who donate prizes and help you judge!! There were so many fabulous entries this year!! Yay!

  3. Colleen Owen Murphy says:

    Congratulations to all of these authors with their fantastic entries. It really is hard to choose, but you are all in for some great prizes, so no one really loses.

    Thanks for all of your hard work Susanna getting this contest together as well as narrowing down the winners so quickly! And thank you to all who helped in the process!

  4. Sarah Meade says:

    That was a tough choice. Congratulations to all the finalists and participants! Thank you to Susanna and all the judges! Reading all the creepy and cute Halloweensie stories was a wonderful distraction at a time like this.

  5. limakat says:

    Congrats to the finalists and all the other great stories that were inspired by this event! Kudos to those who worked to make it happen, from judges to prize donors, and Susanna Hill for the generous time and energy that helps fortify the writing community. Many thanks!

  6. Cathy Ballou Mealey says:

    All so so VERY fabulous – what a chore to choose only one!
    Congrats to finalists and participants alike!
    Susanna and judges, you deserve ALL the Godiva you can consume.

  7. Keatley Eastman says:

    Thank you Susanna for my favorite contest of the year, so honored to be a finalist among so many amazing entries!

  8. jensubra says:

    How fun to read all these clever entries. A hard choice for sure! Congratulations to all the finalists and participants. And thank you, too, Susanna and other judges for your time and efforts in making this contest happen. It was a great way to challenge my writing skills!

  9. Laura Jensen Bower says:

    Wow – what amazing stories – Congrats to all the finalists!! Thank you Susanna and the judges for all your hard work! It is going to be tough to pick. Hope everyone had a great Halloween!

  10. Michelle S. Kennedy (@MichelleSKenned) says:

    These were all SO GOOD! It was really hard to choose just one of them! Congrats to all the finalists and thank you, Susanna (and the other judges) and donors for your time and efforts to do this event. It’s always one of my favorites and the creativity each year just gets better and better!

  11. carrieandtodd says:

    Loved reading so many of the entries & seeing which ones made the top 12 list. Now to root for my favorites! 🙂 Thank you all for the hard work that goes into running a contest such as this.

  12. Judy Sobanski says:

    Congratulations to all the finalists! So hard to vote for just one! Thank you, Susanna, for another fun Halloweensie Writing Contest!!

  13. JEN Garrett says:

    Amazing work this year, Susanna, getting in those finalists!
    Congrats to the finalists!
    I didn’t make the cut, but you know I only do this for fun. The possibility of prizes is just a bonus! 🙂

  14. ptnozell says:

    Such amazing stories! Congratulations to all of the finalists & a big thank you to Susanna & crew for the wonderful diversion this week! Happy Halloweensie 2020!

  15. Penny Parker Klostermann says:

    Unbelievable! What an impressive bunch of finalists. Voting was difficult but if you judges are brave enough to narrow it down, surely I can be brave enough to vote!
    Thanks to you and the judges for your hard work and congrats to all who entered!

  16. seschipper says:

    Wow!! So glad I did not have to choose a winner! It was difficult to select my favorite from among the top 12!
    Thanks Susanna and team! It was a great experience writing and submitting to “Halloweensie”!! :)!!

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