I love running writing contests.
I really do.
Right up until the moment when I have to narrow a field of 300 fabulous stories down to a finalist list of 12 or so!
That’s the moment when I say to myself (every single time!), WHAT WAS I THINKING???!!! WHOSE IDEA WAS THIS WHOLE CONTEST THING ANYWAY???!!!
It’s all fun and games when the entries are rolling in, and each one is better than the last, and I’m enjoying the stories and marveling over everyone’s talent and creativity.
But then I have to evaluate all those wonderful entries – dissect and weigh and nitpick (and hem and haw and dither over every single one I have to let go) – because really, everyone steps up and does an amazing job, and there is at least something to like about all of them!
So here I am, along with my fellow judges, doing our best impressions of the Pillsbury Dough Boy after all the chocolate we’ve consumed to get us through this torturous decision-making, having not gotten out of our pajamas for days as we read and re-read. . . really, it’s a very good thing you can’t see us right now! 😊
Please know that we did the best we could to make good choices – entries that met the contest criteria, that were kid-friendly and Halloween-y and had a strong element of story (because those were big reasons why many entries were cut – too adult, not Halloween-y enough, not enough story – which we know is VERY hard in 100 words!)
I just want to say three little things before I post the actual finalists (shocking, I know, because normally I’m so quiet you can hardly get a word out of me 😊😊)
First, 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 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, I want to reiterate how difficult it was too choose! 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. There was a huge amount of competition. Judging, no matter how hard we try to be objective, is always subjective at a certain point – we all have our own preferences for what makes a great story. And 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 revise, expand, and polish 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 in Halloweensie, Holiday, or Valentiny Contests, plus a chapter book series that came out of the Fractured Fairy Tale Contest one spring! So bravo to everyone who entered!
Are you ready for the finalists?
I hope you like them!
Please read through them all, then vote for your favorite in the poll below by Thursday November 11 at 3 PM Eastern (so I can post the winners on Friday!)
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 identify yourself or ask others to identify you as a finalist on social media, please do not ask people to vote for a specific number or title, and please do not ask people to vote for the story about the broomstick-riding vampire princess 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! Read! Enjoy! VOTE! 😊
1. JELLYFISH GEORGE’S HALLOWEEN
Jelly George’s glow-in-the-dark skeleton costume arrived today.
He would FINALLY have bones!
“Just wait until my friends see how good I look. How creepy. And SOOOOO boney!”
George visited Susie Sponge’s house first. He rang her bell with excitement, full of goosebumps.
The door opened.
George could see envy seeping from Susie’s pores as she gave him candy.
She wanted bones too. And he was FULL of them.
George floated the night away, collecting goodies and passing his jelly buddies with their silly mediocre masks.
He felt like a king.
UNTIL he noticed …
David Dogfish eyeing him.
2. SANTA’S HALLOWEEN
‘Tis Halloween evening, and up at the pole
ol’ Santa sneaks into his sleigh, with one goal.
“I know it’s not Christmas but I need a snack!
I’ll gather some goodies and—WHOOSH—I’ll be back.”
“Now, Dasher! Now, Dancer! Now, Prancer and—YIKES!
I didn’t expect to see skulls stuck on spikes!”
“Monsterly mayhem and ghouls on the streets?
Galloping goosebumps! Now where are the treats?”
But glow-in-the-dark decorations galore
shock Rudolph so much that he’s shook to his core.
“My poor little reindeer have had such a fright.
We’re outta this town—good riddance, good night!”
3. TRICK-OR-TREAT, NIGHT ANIMALS!: A HOLLOWEEN STORY
Coyote was first to spot the stampede.
“Trick-or-Treaters! Hide!” he yelped with alarm,
hurrying into the big tree’s hollow.
Goose heard Coyote.
If Trick-or-Treaters scared fierce Coyote,
they must be goosebump worthy.
She honked and joined Coyote inside the tree.
Racoon heard Goose.
If Goose and Coyote feared Trick-or-Treaters,
Racoon couldn’t mask his nerves.
He chattered, then crammed into the hollow.
Cat heard Racoon.
She didn’t fancy herself a fraidy-cat,
but Trick-or-Treaters sounded ferocious.
She hissed, then jammed into the tree with the others.
Deep in the hollow, Coyote’s sharp teeth glowed-in-the-dark.
“Goody,” he drooled.
“Trick AND treats.”
4. A FEW OF THE SCARIEST THINGS: A Parody to the tune of My Favorite Things
Witches on broomsticks and vampires flying,
Frankenstein monsters and zombies not dying,
Ogres and aliens, all ghastly green!
I’m getting goosebumps ‘cause it’s Halloween!
Halloween night doesn’t make me feel merry.
Walking around in the dark is too scary.
Glow in the dark, that’s what I need to be.
Trick or treat goodies would all be for me!
Hey I’ve got it!
I could light up….
I know what I’ll be!
Bright lights and some tinsel, a glittering star!
A Halloween Christmas Tree!
5. BUNNY’S BORED!
“Won’t Easter ever come?” sighs Bunny. “I’m bored.”
He checks his calendar.
“Yay! Tonight’s Halloween—I’ll hide yummy glow-in-the-dark goodies.” Hopping through creepy woods, Bunny hears branches shake.
“What’s that?” Goosebumps spike up his back.
“ROARR!” Out jumps Monster.
“Eee-yoww!” Bunny dashes.
“Wait!” Laughing, Monster removes his mask.
“I got bored waiting for Christmas.”
The ground trembles—
Killer-Robot clanks from the dark.
“Great costume!” cheer Bunny and Santa.
Red beams shoot from Killer-Robot’s eyes—
Bushes explode into flames.
“Eee-yahh—he’s real!” Bunny and Santa skedaddle.
Killer-Robot’s head slides off.
“Tee-hee-hee!” Ms. Claus grins—
“HAPPY HALLOWEEN EVERYONE!”
6. HOW HANNAH SAVED HALLOWEEN
A wicked storm blows out the lights
up and down the street.
With costumes set, the children fret,
“They’ll cancel trick-or-treat.”
Except for hopeful Hannah who,
as always, starts to plan,
certain she will find a way
to shift from can’t to can.
She first imagines fireflies,
“Too scattered to control.”
She next considers candlelight.
“Too hard to hold and stroll.
Aha!” she says as goosebumps form.
“A perfect resolution!
We’ll use my sticks that glow-in-the-dark
for lighting substitution!
I’ll ride throughout the neighborhood,
deliver while it’s bright,
then everyone can still collect
their goodies when it’s night.”
7. MY LAST TRICK-OR-TREAT
It was the biggest house, once showy now spooky and scary with oodles of stairs that led to darkness; but this was my last Halloween.
Leaves crunched and the wind cried.
Alone except for goodies bumping in my bag.
Ahead, a glow-in-the-dark hand on a curtain at the window. A ghost? A ghoul? Goosebumps form.
Shadows surround me.
At the top a door – large and looming.
A hand materializes from the darkness behind the door.
I look in my bag.
I am filled with horror.
Looking back at me, one small box of … RAISINS!
8. THE HAUNTED HOUSE HIGH UP ON THE HILL
Across a front door where no one dared roam,
Spider had woven a web-tastic home.
Dead in the middle, she stifled a cry.
“What?!” grumbled Goosebump, a ghost floating by.
“Halloween’s coming, the ONE night they call!
Children won’t notice… my cobweb will fall!”
Goosebump replied: “I know what to do…”
Then into the derelict mansion he flew;
He reappeared holding a luminous potion,
Splattered it over the web in one motion.
When tricksters arrived for their goodies, they spied
A cobweb that glowed-in-the-dark, stretching wide.
“Best not approach,” someone sounded unsure,
He scurried away…
To try the BACK door!
9. KIT’S COSTUME
Kit couldn’t wait to go trick-or-treating.
The ooey-gooey goodies, the goosebumps, the KIDS!
All he needed was a bit of black paint
and he could be part of it!
One last glob…
Under the moon’s glow-in-the-dark light
Kit crept to the corner and peeked.
“Look Mum, a kitty!”
finally walking freely.
And with so many people in sight!
Kit marched with creative costumes,
devoured thrills, chills and too-much candy
He felt a wave of wet.
Kit raced to stay dry
but, the paint had…
“Well…that had been fun.” Kit sighed.
10. ASTRONAUT AIDAN
Stuffed bear co-pilot? Check.
Goosebumps covered Aidan’s arms.
This Halloween he was flying into space.
No huge piles of goodies like last year, he thought.
No parading through the streets with his brother either.
Nervously he waited to take flight.
“The nurses have a special surprise for you,” Mom encouraged.
Do all astronauts feel this topsy-turvy before take off, he wondered.
“Ready, Astronaut Aidan?” the nurse called.
Slowly the lights dimmed.
One by one, glow-in-the-dark stars shone from above.
Reassured, Aidan smiled.
From his seat aboard the radiation machine rocketship he bravely counted. “3, 2, 1 … blastoff!”
11. IT’S HALLOWEEN IN TOOTHYTOWN
It’s Halloween in Toothytown,
The ghouls and goblins gather ‘round.
Their trays arranged with cakes and pies,
In hopes of grabbing this year’s prize.
Miss Dragon’s Breath, the crusty judge,
Turns up her snout at Franky’s fudge.
She sneers at Ogre’s goosebump blintz,
And gags on Troll’s toejam with lint.
But Gremlin’s spicy pepper bread,
Makes Dragon hold her scaly head.
Her nostrils flare. She starts to wheeze,
And lets out a gigantic…
The goodies sizzle, snap, and spark,
Like pumpkins glowing in the dark. Miss Dragon’s eyes begin to brim,
“Now that’s a treat! Let’s all dig in!”
12. THE WITCH’S MISTAKE
OH, GOODY, my first victim! Goosebumps prickle my warty body.
At last I will turn these horrid children into delightfully frightful black cats!!
It was an easy potion: dog tears, firefly butts, swamp mud, and a fingernail of salt. Looks just like king-sized chocolate bars!
Yes, they all come running now. Greedy goblins!
I stifle a cackle and wait…
But instead of feline screeches and yowls, I hear…
“Woah! Check us out! We glow-in-the-dark! Best. Halloween. EVERRRRRR!!!”
OH, BOO! I can’t believe I mixed up the sugar and salt again. Worst. Halloween. Ever.
13. PUMPKIN’S HALLOWEEN
Alone near the farm truck, Pumpkin sagged and straightened his white tag like a tie.
Ryan zigzagged through the pumpkin patch. “Here’s the last one!”
Grandpa shook his head, “Cracked.”
Ryan touched Pumpkin’s white tag. “What’s it say?”
“Sound it out.”
Ryan traced the letters. “F-R-E-E. We’ll take Free home! Put two happy eyes and a great grin on his goose-bumply face!”
Glowing-in-the-dark on Ryan’s stoop, Pumpkin enjoyed the costumes. The giggles. “Halloween is beautiful…”
Ryan thanked her shining friend with goodies. “Your midnight snacks.”
Soon, Pumpkin’s light faded. His eyes drooped. But his smile didn’t. “I’m Free.”
So there you have them! Your 2021 Halloweensie Finalists!
(And yes, I realize we posted 13 finalists and 12 prizes, so I’ll dream up an extra prize!)
Please vote for your favorite in the poll below by Thursday November 11th at 3PM Eastern!
Tune in Friday November 12th to see THE WINNERS!!! – same bat time, same bat station 😊
Thank you all so much for taking the time to write (if you did), read, and vote! These contests simply wouldn’t be what they are without all of you!
I truly cannot wait to see who you choose as the winner! Good luck!!! 😊