2021 Mix ‘n’ Match Mini Writing Challenge Week #3

Ok, writers, are you ready?

Forget the dishes in the sink, the pile of work in your inbox, and the fact that it’s your mother-in-law’s birthday on Thursday and you still haven’t thought of a good present!

It’s time to Mix ‘n’ Match your way to a new story! 😊

Mix ‘n’ Match Mini is a 7 week writing challenge for anyone who needs a little boost, a little inspiration, or a little encouragement to get writing. . . or maybe just a little fun!

You get to write your own story, enjoy and be entertained by everyone else’s stories, and get yourself in the running for some awesome prizes (please see the end of the blog post for a list of all the prize goodies which continues to grow!)

To be eligible for the prize drawing you must enter all 7 weeks.

For a full description of the challenge, to read the Week #1 entries, or to add your Week #1 entry, please go HERE (Week #1)

To read the Week #2 entries or add your Week #2 entry, please go HERE (Week #2)

Mix ‘n’ Match Mini Writing Prompt #3 for Week of May 24:

So far we’ve played with character needs/goals, and with writing a cumulative story.  This week we’re going to play with a picture prompt, 3 random words. . . and a secret!

Here’s the picture, drawn by the incredibly talented Julie Rowan-Zoch (author/illustrator of I’M A HARE, SO THERE! HMH Books For Young Readers 2021, and illustrator of LOUIS by Tom Lichtenheld HMH October 2020!) and used with her permission for your writing fun 😊 (Thank you, Julie!!! 💕)

illustration copyright Julie Rowan-Zoch 2021 used by permission, all rights reserved

And here are random words! Choose one from Column A, one from Column B, and one from Column C.

Column AColumn BColumn C
raindropspicnicstrawberry tart
nestrope swingpond
cherry treemistakebucket/pail

But wait! There’s a twist! One of the characters has a secret! Which character? What secret? And how does it impact the story? You will probably want to think up your own secret, but in case anyone needs an idea, here are a few suggestions:

-took something that didn’t belong to them
-hid something on purpose
-told someone something that wasn’t true
-doesn’t want to play hide ‘n’ seek (or duck, duck, goose, or musical chairs, or tag, or. . .)
-only wants to play hide ‘n’ seek (or duck, duck, goose, or musical chairs, or tag, or. . .)
-is allergic to acorns
-wants to invite someone to their birthday party (or for a sleepover, or. . .)
-is afraid of dogs (or cats, or bicycles, or bees, or swimming, or. . .) and doesn’t want anyone else to know
-plans to bake a surprise cake for someone
-has a special present for someone
-isn’t telling someone something they should
-secretly really likes someone
-secretly doesn’t like someone
-is getting something they know everyone will love

Write a 100 word story for kids about the pictured characters, using three random words and giving one of the characters a secret which you incorporate into the story, and post your in the comment section below! (If for some reason you have trouble posting, you may use the contact form to email your entry to me and I’ll post it for you.)

  • Stories can rhyme or not – totally up to you!
  • You can go under or over 100 words if you want to – also totally up to you! – 100 is a guideline
  • If you’re deeply inspired by random words that are not on the list you can use them instead – the purpose here is inspiration and to get you writing!
  • For simplicity’s sake (and to aid skimming readers who might be interested in a particular thing) please say which random words you’re using you’re using at the top of your entry along with your name, word count, and title if you have one.

I am SO looking forward to seeing what you guys come up with!  There have been so many amazingly creative, clever, fun, and entertaining stories written so far!!!

Now 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! 😊

(And remember, for full details on the 7 week challenge you can check HERE)

Check out the Week #3 stories!

Ruth’s Birthday Surprise – Sue Lancaster

The Perfect Gift – Erika Romero

Getting There – Rose Cappelli

A Hare Raising Mistake – Bru Benson

Acorn Day – Jen Subra

The Secret – Marty Findley

The Secret Spot – Isabel Cruz Rodriguez

The Smashed Bash – Laura Bower

The Secrets of Beryl The Bunny – Elenore Byrne

Hare…Or Not – Susan E. Schipper

Better Than Acorns – Erin Cleary

Acorns And, Er, What?! – Marty Bellis

Bunny’s Problem – Deb Sullivan

Floppy And The Rope Swing – Dawn Young

Untitled – Elizabeth Volkmann

The Cherry Pie Problem – Ashley B. Pedigo

Chip, Drip, And Skip – Meg King-Sloan

A Small Mistake – Leslie Degnan

Turtle’s Strawberry Hill Surprise – Joyce Uglow

Disappearing Dewberries – Candice Marley Conner

Rabbit Won’t Have To Wait – Sara Kruger

Hare Today And Gone Tomorrow: From Brey To Form, A Secret That Saved! – Sally Yorke-Viney

Miss Bun’s Secret – Elizabeth Meyer zu Heringdorf

A Happy Tail – Marta Cutler

Safe Cracking Squirrels – Susan Summers

Clueless Squirrels – Lyn Jekowsky

Scratch And Scritch’s Show Stopper – Ashley Sierra

Fireworks – Aly Kenna

Late Lunch – Hannah Roy LeGrone

Bunny’s Magic – Dianne Irving

Thoughtful Harry – Padgy Soltis

A Secret Entrance – Lauri Meyers

The Scavenger Hunt – Barbara Renner

Vanishing Act – Marta Cutler

Rabbith’th Thee-cret (Rabbit’s Secret) – Allison Strick

Harah Helps Look – Sarah Meade

Momo’s Cherry Tree – Bevin Rolfs Spencer

In The Mood To Play? – Amy Leskowski

A Couple Of Nuts – Jill Lambert

Mr. Bunny’s Secret Skill – Mia Geiger

B-U-N-N-Y Spells Trouble – Jeannette Suhr

Rainy Picnic – Nicole Loos Miller

The Secret of Sassafras – Linda Schueler

A Friend In Need – Candace Kubinec

Untitled – Lauren Scott

The Unicorn – Lynn Katz

Unicorn’s Secret – Michelle S. Kennedy

The Happiest Habit – Christine Alemshah

The Bunny’s Secret – Marla Yablon

Watch Out For Bear? Watch Out For Hare! – Katie Schwartz

The Will To Win – Colleen Owen Murphy

Magic Unicorn – Robin Currie

Happy Spwing – Deb Buschman

The Unicorn’s Mistake – Brenna Jeanneret

Tantrum Blues – Sarah Hawklyn

That Hare – JC Kelly


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

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 gift purchases, rating and/or reviewing their books on GoodReads, Amazone, B&N, or anywhere else if you like them, suggesting them for school visits, and supporting them in any other way you can dream up! 😊

⭐️ Picture Book Critique from Penny Parker Klostermann, the lovely and talented author of THERE WAS AN OLD DRAGON WHO SWALLOWED A KNIGHT (Random House 2015) and A COOKED-UP FAIRY TALE (Random House 2017)

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⭐️ 30 Minute Q&A with Penny Klostermann

⭐️ Picture Book MS Critique OR Query Letter Critique (Winner’s Choice) from Jennifer Buchet, debut author of LITTLE MEDUSA’S HAIR DO-LEMMA (Clear Fork/Spork May 11, 2021)

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⭐️ Picture Book MS Critique from Jen Raudenbush, agented writer of picture books, middle grade, and poetry. (Represented by Natascha Morris of The Tobias Literary Agency)

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Jen Raudenbush

⭐️ 30 minute Zoom chat about anything industry related (manuscript, query letter, best practices for querying) with Becky Scharnhorst, amazing author of MY SCHOOL STINKS (Philomel Books, July 6, 2021)

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⭐️Picture Book Manuscript Critique with Audio Recording by author and poet Sarah Meade Sarah will do a written critique of your manuscript and include an audio recording of her first read-through of the manuscript. The audio recording is to help the author hear how the story flows and/or where a new reader may stumble when reading aloud.

⭐️ Webinar: How To Write Powerful First Pages Like A Pro by author and editor Alayne Kay Christian

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⭐️ A copy of Mary Kole’s Writing Irresistible Kidlit: The Ultimate Guide to Crafting Fiction for Young Adult and Middle Grade Writers, donated by Nicole Loos Miller

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⭐️ A personalized signed copy of SASSAFRAS AND HER TEENY TINY TAIL (MacLaren-Cochrane Publishing 2021) by Candice Marley Conner

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⭐️ Making Picture Book Magic Self Study Class (any month)

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⭐️A copy of A FLOOD OF KINDNESS by Ellen Leventhal

⭐️A copy of MAKING THEIR VOICES HEARD: The Inspiring Friendship of Ella Fitzgerald and Marilyn Monroe by Vivian Kirkfield

⭐️A copy of THERE WAS AN OLD DRAGON WHO SWALLOWED A KNIGHT by Penny Parker Klostermann

⭐️A copy of SLOTH AND SQUIRREL IN A PICKLE by Cathy Ballou Mealey

⭐️A copy of BINDU’S BINDIS by Supriya Kelkar

⭐️ 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

295 thoughts on “2021 Mix ‘n’ Match Mini Writing Challenge Week #3

  1. sunflowerscribe says:

    The Happiest Habit by Christine Alemshah [WC: 380]

    Pixie and Petie Squirrel puzzled at their fuzzy friend Fiona Rabbit.
    “Pst… did you make Fiona mad, Petie?”
    “I don’t think so. I didn’t eat Fiona’s carrots this calendar year. And, I didn’t fluff out her fuzzy tail. I wanted to because it’s so silky and soft and…
    “Petie, you’re doing it..,” said Pixie.
    “I know, you’re right. Someone should ask Fiona why she’s pouting preceding the picnic at the pond. She’ll be in the pits if she passes it up. All the pie, and pickles, and pretty pink petunias…”
    “Petie! You’re doing it again. I think YOU should go talk to her,” said Pixie pushing Petie closer to Fiona while slowly backing away. “Find out what’s bothering her and bring her to the picnic, ok?:
    “Right,” Petie replied. “Ok…wait, Pixie. Fiona doesn’t like me very much.”
    Petie sighed, brushing up dirt. “Foo-wee,” he whistled, sticking his acorn into the earth.
    “Hi, um, Fiona, so how are you today? you know it’s the big picnic and….”
    Fiona scuttled away on her bum behind the tree back toward Petie. “Hmph”
    Petie crossed his arms. “Ok then, um…so about the picnic.”
    “Go away!” Fiona called back.
    Petie inched closer. He sat on the other side of the tree, leaning back against gazing up at the sky. Petie was getting nowhere. So he decided to play his favorite game.
    “Fiona, you seem so unhappy. You should gaze at the clouds as I do, then you’d see the unicorn strumming a ukulele under an umbrella during the ultimate rainstorm.”
    “Why are you doing that?” Fiona asked, peeking at Petie.
    “Oh, it’s just a thing I like to do. I’m just like another U word — unique. There’s nobody else like me.”
    Fiona’s orb-shaped eyes popped open, and her cheeks flushed pink.
    “I’m unique, too. I’m a rather odd rabbit. I don’t have a big family like other rabbits, and I don’t even eat carrots. When you ate mine last year, I was grateful because it kept my secret. I prefer broccoli. I don’t want anyone to know. They’ll make fun of me.”
    Petie took Fiona’s paw in his. “I promise they won’t. Let’s go to the picnic together. Besides, when you’re unique, you’re YOU, and that’s the happiest habit for a rabbit to have.
    “Good one, Petie,” said Fiona. “And thank you!”

  2. Marla Yablon says:

    Fell behind a little. Hope it’s still okay to submit for week three.

    The Bunny’s Secret
    The strange bunny looked so sad that the squirrels couldn’t help but feel sorry for him. They offered him acorns and nuts, but he just frowned at them and shook his head. They tried comforting chitters and even hugs, but the mysterious bunny just got gloomier and gloomier.
    Finally, looking at their worried little faces, he gave a big sigh and said, “I’m sorry I’ve been so grumpy. It’s not your fault. I guess I owe you an explanation. You see, I’m the bunny best known as Easter, and I’ve lost my magic basket. How will I ever get eggs to all the children without it?”
    Suddenly the squirrels started jumping up and down excitedly. They gathered around the bunny and grabbed his paws. Chattering loudly, they pulled him toward a large oak tree. There, at the base of the trunk, was his glowing magic basket!
    “Well,” said Easter Bunny as he danced around the tree with his new friends, “that just proves that it’s never a good idea to keep secrets. Don’t hide your problems. Ask for help.”

  3. Jill Lambert says:

    Wow! What a cliffhanger, Michelle! I want to know the donkey’s reaction! Fantastic work weaving all the prompts into a fabulous fantasy…and in prose! Inspiring!

  4. Katie Schwartz says:

    Watch Out For Bear? Watch Out For Hare! (word count 340, next week I’ll work on shorter!).
    Lost; cherry tree; took something that didn’t belong to them; hid something on purpose; and, told someone something that wasn’t true.

    “Hare, can you help us, our acorns are gone!
    We forgot where we hid them. We’ve searched here and yon.”

    “They look just like these, very crunchy and sweet.
    They’re possibly lost. They’re our favorite treat.”

    “I have NO idea”, Hare mumbled and frowned.
    “Stop hiding them places where they can’t be found.”

    His eyes darted past them, all over the place.
    And that’s when they got a good look at his face.

    “Look at your cheeks, Hare, I think they might pop!”
    He frowned even more. Turned around, hip, hip hop!

    A little too quick! And he tripped, don’t you know!
    Acorns flew from his mouth, far and wide, to and fro

    “Oh, oh, you should know” said our former friend Hare.
    “I was keeping them safe from a VERY LARGE bear.”

    Hank looked at Henry, his buddy looked back,
    “You can’t fool us Hare!” And they snatched back their snack.

    There were tall oak and cherry trees lining the trail
    They gathered more treats as they hiked, tail-to-tail.

    “Hare was a trickster. He thought we were chumps.”
    They took out the tidbits. They sat on two stumps.

    Each picked up a cherry, an acorn – or two
    But then before either had started to chew . . .

    “ROAR!” The ground shook! Interrupting their feast.
    “It must be the bear. And he sounds like a beast!”

    They jumped, their treats scattered like clouds scooting by.
    But it was just Hare. “How lucky am I!”

    “I hopped when the giant tree fell to the ground.
    I was scared! And I roared, like a bear – big and brown!”

    They had a good laugh, then sat back to relax
    “We’re so hungry”, they said as they all shared the snacks.

    Hare furrowed his brow, “Boys, “I’m speculating.
    Any day now the bears will be done hibernating.”

    “I can hide all the nibbles. I know a place.
    Top secret, you’ll see, and I won’t leave a trace.”

    Was it Henry’s harrumph, or the look in Hanks’s eye?
    Hare jumped and ran off without saying goodbye!

    • Katie Schwartz says:

      Thank you, it was fun to write! And luckily I found an okay way to wrap it up (finally!), not drag it on any longer!

  5. Colleen Owen Murphy says:

    My words: bridge, lost and pond.

    The Will to Win

    “I’ll race you to the northern ridge
    We’ll go by way of Founder’s Bridge.
    To make it fair,” Florinda said,
    “I’ll let you start ten yards ahead.”

    Nick and Nel both said, “Okay!
    Let’s get this contest underway.”

    They scampered down the grassy hill
    and instantly Nick took a spill,
    but when she saw how fast he flew,
    Nel tucked her legs and tumbled too!

    They crossed the pond with both aware
    they hadn’t spied a hide of hare.

    “Come on Nick. We cannot stop.
    We have to beat her to the top!”
    And by the time they reached the peak,
    neither Nick nor Nel could speak.

    They caught their breaths, but what a shock—
    Florinda waiting on a rock?

    “I thought for sure we’d won this race.”

    “We ran our fastest ever pace!”

    Said Flo-Jo, too ashamed to gloat.
    “You lost because I took a boat.”

  6. Katie Schwartz says:

    Love this Colleen! I think my heart was racing as I read it, and I couldn’t wait to get to the end! Love the line ‘hadn’t spied a hide of hare’, exceptional word play! And your names were super! (Nick and Nel, ha ha, Jack and Jill), hare’s name was Flo-Jo?! Another super word play/reference (Florence Joiner), overall superb entry!

    • Colleen Owen Murphy says:

      Thank you Katie! It was fun to imagine. And I did try with those names, so I am glad you liked them.

  7. Robin Currie says:

    Magic Unicorn
    In early spring, Rabbit spotted a rainbow in a pond. What could make wonderful colors appear in the water?
    Rabbit said, “There must be a unicorn, bubbling his colors! When he appears I’ll wish for a friend. I don’t want to share his magic, so I’ll keep it a secret.”
    Chickens shared corn. Musicians shared horns. Cowgirls shared longhorn. Squirrels shared acorns. But Rabbit kept waiting for a unicorn.
    The chickens and musicians, the cowgirls and squirrels all met.
    “Why won’t Rabbit be our friend?”
    One squirrel said, “Rabbit, whatever you are wishing for, maybe you already have.”
    Rabbit saw the corn, horns, longs horns and acorns. Then he saw the new friends who brought them.
    His wish had come true! What an amazing Magic Unicorn!

  8. Deb Buschman (@DebBuschman) says:

    By Deb Buschman
    124 words
    Bridge-Rope Swing-Pond-Secret-Spwing

    “Hi, Heddy Hare. Happy Spring,” said Scritch and Scratch Squirrel.
    “What do you want?” asked Heddy.
    “Would you care for a nut?” asked Scritch.
    “No thank you.”
    “Do you plan to sit in that spot all day?” asked Scratch.
    “Yes, why?”
    Scritch and Scratch whispered.
    “What are you whispering about,” asked Heddy.
    “Nothing,” said Scratch. “Gotta go.”
    Heddy sat and sat. She couldn’t take it anymore. Those wild squirrels were up to something. She went over the bridge, around the pond and they were nowhere to be found. She returned to her spot and was almost hit by…
    “Hey Heddy, jump on our spring swing or spwing as we call it.”
    Heddy couldn’t help it. She laughed and hopped on.
    “Happy Spwing!” yelled Heddy.

  9. brennajeanneret says:

    This one was the most fun! I ended up going way over, but I got really into it and might even turn in into a MS about eating superfoods 🙂


    Everyone knows that unicorns get their powers from rainbows, but how do you make a rainbow?

    Hi, I’m Coraline the unicorn.
    Every day I wake up and have breakfast. Sounds pretty normal, right?
    Well, what you don’t know is I have to eat all the colors of the rainbow every morning in order to get my powers.
    This morning I ate an orange, a banana, grapes, blueberries, and one eggplant just to round things out.
    I hope you enjoyed my presentation. I have a meeting to get to in the cloud so I must be going.


    What’s going on?! I ate my rainbow today…let me see, red, orange, yellow, HOLD THE UNICORN HORN!
    I forgot RED!! I wasn’t supposed to tell you this but…
    …without red, the rainbow won’t activate!

    Without, orange? I just can’t jump as high.
    No yellow? I get tired faster.
    No green? No flips.
    But no red?! The rainbow just doesn’t work and I have to walk around like a common horse! No cloud meetings, no sparkles, no magic.

    “I have half a strawberry tart leftover from my breakfast! Will that help?”

    Yum Yum Yum Yum Yum Yum

    Stand back, let me try.


  10. Grinny Butler says:

    Tantrum Blues
    by Sarah Hawklyn WC105
    Nest, Picnic, Tantrum
    When Mom told Lois that she couldn’t wear her best bow to the picnic, she had a stinker of a tantrum! Now she was embarrassed that Zip and Dot would be able to tell she had been crying. They would think she was a baby and wouldn’t want to play with her. She tried to hide her pink cheeks and dried her eyes with her ear. “Hey Lois, look at the great acorns Zip and I picked out of the nest.” Dot came and gave her a big hug.” “Thanks, Dot I needed that.” And they went and had a great time at the picnic.

  11. writestuff99 says:

    That Hare
    by JC Kelly
    (WC: 100, OPTIONS: nest/lost/bucket)

    Why are they staring?
    Why don’t they go back to their nest?
    The small one just asked… for my autograph?
    OMG. They think I’m the Easter Bunny.
    I am not the beloved rabbit who brings buckets of candy to children every spring.

    I‘m “The Hare.”
    You know, “The Tortoise and the Hare?”
    I’m THAT hare.
    The one who lost the race against the tortoise?
    Yes, sigh, I napped during the race.
    What?!?! You still want my autograph?

    To my Squirrel Friends,
    Slow and Steady Wins the Race, Hare

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