Holy Jack-O’-Lanterns, Batman!
Can you actually believe that this year is Halloweensie number 12?!
And are you ready? 😊🎃
Well, of course you’re not ready, because I haven’t told you the rules yet!
You’ve got 2 weeks and 5 days to write, eat miniature chocolate bars, revise, eat more miniature chocolate bars, polish, eat some candy corn (ooh, that was a surprise!) and take a little snooze before it’s time to submit your entry!
So get ready. . .
. . .get set. . .
Here are the guidelines for. . .
The 12th Annual Halloweensie Writing Contest!!!
~ for children’s writers ~
THE CONTEST: write a 100 word Halloween story appropriate for children (children here defined as 12 and under) (title not included in word count) using the words slither, treat, and scare.
- Your story can be poetry or prose, scary, funny, sweet, or anything in between, but it will only count for the contest if it includes those 3 words and is 100 words. Get it? Halloweensie – because it’s not very long and it’s for little people 😊
- You can go under the word count but not over!
- Title is not included in the word count.
- You may use the words in any form i.e. slithery (yes, it’s a word, we looked it up 😊), treated, scary, etc, etc, whathaveyou 😊
- You are welcome to enter more than one entry – just remember you’ll be competing against yourself 😊
- No illustration notes please!
And yes, I know 100 words is short, but that’s part of the fun and the challenge!
POST: your story in the comment section of the Official Contest Post between 12:01 AM Eastern Saturday October 29th (the day the official contest post will go up here) and 11:59PM Eastern Monday October 31st (So you have 3 full days to post – Saturday, Sunday, and Monday.)
- For those of you who would also like to post on your blogs, please feel free to do so! You are welcome to include the link to your blog with your entry in the comment section of the Official Contest Post so that people can come visit your blog, but all entries must be posted in the comment section of the Official Contest Post between 12:01 AM Eastern Saturday October 29th and Monday October 31st at 11:59PM Eastern.
- If you have difficulty posting your entry to the comments, which unfortunately sometimes happens, you may email your entry to me and I’ll post it for you! [susanna[at]susannahill[dot]com Please place your entry in the body of the email including your title, byline (that means who the story is by – you! – so for example, By Jane Doe) and word count at the top – NO ATTACHMENTS! and please do not submit any entries before the official opening of the contest at 12:01 AM Saturday October 29th. They will not be accepted.
- I know how hard you all work on your entries, and how anxious you are to get them posted, but please try to be a little patient if your entry doesn’t show up immediately. Many comments have to be manually approved, and it sometimes takes me a little while to post entries that come in by email. I promise I will get to everything as soon as I can. I try never to leave my desk during contests, but sometimes it’s unavoidable 😊
THE JUDGING: over the following days, my devoted assistants and I will read and re-read and narrow down the entries to a finalist field of about 12 which will be posted here for you to vote on I hope by Saturday November 5th (though if the judging takes longer than expected it might be a little later – we will do our best! But fair warning I have two school visits that week and a long drive Friday.) The winners will be announced Tuesday November 8th (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. Use of all 3 required words and whether you came it at 100 words or less.
- 4. 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.
- 5. Quality of Writing: check your spelling, grammar, punctuation etc. If you’re going to rhyme, give us your best 😊 Use and flow of language, correctness of mechanics, excellence of rhyme and meter if you use it, PROOFREADING!
- 6. Originality and creativity – because that is often what sets one story above another.
- 7. How well you followed the Submission Guidelines – agents and editors expect professionalism. This is a chance to practice making sure you read and follow specified guidelines. If you don’t follow agent and editor submission guidelines, they won’t even read your submission.
THE PRIZES: So amazing! What wonderful, generous people we have in our kidlit community! Just wait til you see what you can win! (I’m still juggling the list, so in the interest of getting this posted I’m merely going to generalize the prizes right now – I will add details ASAP!)
⭐️ Rhyme & Meter Self Study Course – Renee LaTulippe Renée M. LaTulippe is the author of The Crab Ballet (Cameron Kids/Abrams, 2022) and Limelight: Theater Poems to Perform (Charlesbridge, 2024) and has poems published in many anthologies including No World Too Big, Night Wishes, School People, National Geographic’s The Poetry of US, One Minute Till Bedtime, Poems Are Teachers, ThankU: Poems of Gratitude, and A World Full of Poems.
⭐️ Picture Book Manuscript Critique (Rhyming or Non-rhyming, Fiction or Nonfiction) with written feedback AND a 30-minute Zoom Chat with children’s author Vivian Kirkfield, author of PIPPA’S PASSOVER PLATE (Holiday House, 2019), SWEET DREAMS, SARAH (Creston Books, 2019), FOUR OTTERS TOBOGGAN (Pomegranate, 2019), MAKING THEIR VOICES HEARD: THE INSPIRING FRIENDSHIP OF ELLA FITZGERALD AND MARILYN MONROE (Little Bee Books, 2020), FROM HERE TO THERE: INVENTIONS THAT CHANGED THE WAY THE WORLD MOVES (Clarion Books, 2021), and SHOW ME HOW! BUILD YOUR CHILD’S SELF-ESTEEM THROUGH READING, CRAFTING AND COOKING (MoneyPenny Press Ltd, 2010)
⭐️ 30 Minute Zoom Ask Me Anything with Rosie Pova author of IF I WEREN’T WITH YOU (Spork, April 2017), SARAH’S SONG (Spork, September 2017), SUNDAY RAIN (Lantana Publishing, March 2021), THE SCHOOL OF FAILURE: A STORY ABOUT SUCCESS (Yehoo Press, May 2022), and for Middle Grade readers, HAILEY QUEEN PRANKING MAKES PERFECT: THE ALIEN ENCOUNTER (Spork, April 2017) Rosie does a lot of school visits and presentations, should that happen to be of interest for your Ask Me Anything.
⭐️ Picture Book Manuscript Critique (rhyming preferred) with Andrea Denish, author of EVERYONE LOVES A PARADE (Astra Young Readers, March 2020), and THE WAY WE SAY HELLO forthcoming from Starry Forest Books February 7, 2023
⭐️ Picture Book Critique (non-rhyming) with Becky Scharnhorst, author of MY SCHOOL STINKS! (Flamingo Books, July 2021) and THIS FIELD TRIP STINKS! (Flamingo Books, August 2022)
⭐️ Connecting With School Librarians! Fabulous Opportunity for published or soon to be published authors! Winner’s Choice of either a Zoom or phone chat about how to connect with school librarians and get their ear or an Ask Me Anything Zoom or phone chat about K-8th grade author visits from a librarian’s POV from Kathy Halsey. Kathy Halsey is Storyteller Academy’s Community Manager and Ambassador. She enjoys writing picture books, humor, and nonfiction. Kathy’s active in SCBWI and blogs with other kid lit writers on the GROG. She serves on the Choose to Read Ohio Advisory Council and speaks at educational and literary conferences. Kathy’s a former K-12 school librarian and children’s bookseller. She writes monthly author studies for the Reading for Research Month along with Keila Dawson.
⭐️ 30 Minute Ask Me Anything Zoom Chat (anything relating to writing/publishing) with Penny Parker Klostermann, talented author of THERE WAS AN OLD DRAGON WHO SWALLOWED A KNIGHT (Random House 2015) and A COOKED-UP FAIRY TALE (Random House 2017) as well as the forthcoming SPIDER LADY: Nan Songer and Her Arachnid WWII Army (Astra/Calkins Creek 2025) and another as yet unannounced 😊
⭐️ Picture Book Manuscript Critique (Rhyming) PLUS Zoom Chat from developmental editor Lou Piccolo! Lou studied English Literature, creative writing and teaching at university in South Africa. After working as an EFL teacher in France for twenty years, she studied proofreading and editing before becoming a developmental editor of children’s and young adult’s literature for independent authors. She is a graduate of Renee LaTulippe’s Lyrical Language Lab – Punching Up Prose With Poetry course and Making Picture Book Magic, the in-house writer for Editions Entrefilet’s language-learning magazine ‘Go English Kids’ for children of 8-12 in France, and a traditionally published author of MG and YA fiction with Burlington Books.
⭐️ Picture Book Manuscript Critique PLUS Zoom Chat with Ellen Leventhal! Ellen is the author of DON’T EAT THE BLUEBONNETS (Spork, 2017), LOLA CAN’T LEAP (Spork, 2018), HAYFEST: A HOLIDAY QUEST (ABCs Press, 2010), and A FLOOD OF KINDNESS (WorthyKids, 2021)
⭐️ Picture Book Manuscript Critique (rhyming or non-rhyming) with Kelly Conroy whose poems have been published in 5 anthologies (10.10, wee words for wee ones, October 2021; BETTER THAN STARBUCKS, January 2022; THINGS WE EAT, Pomelo Books, March 2022; THINGS WE FEEL, Pomelo Books, July 2022; WHAT IS A FRIEND, Pomelo Books, October 2022) and also the author of a rhyming board book due out in 2025.
⭐️ 30 Minute Picture Book Zoom Critique Session with Lynne Marie
Lynne Marie is the accomplished author of Hedgehog Goes to Kindergarten – art by Anne Kennedy (Scholastic 2011), Hedgehog’s 100th Day of School – art by Lorna Hussey (Scholastic 2017), The Star of the Christmas Play — art by Lorna Hussey (Beaming Books 2018), Moldilocks and the 3 Scares — art by David Rodriguez Lorenzo (Sterling 2019 and Scholastic 2019), Let’s Eat! Mealtime Around the World — art by Parwinder Singh (Beaming Books 2019) and The Three Little Pigs And The Rocket Project — art by Wendy Fedan (Mac and Cheese Press 2022) and American Pie — art by Dea Lenihan (Dancing Flamingo Press, April 12, 2022)
⭐️ Picture Book Manuscript Critique (Rhyming or Non-rhyming, Fiction or Nonfiction) with a recording of first read-through by children’s author and poet Sarah Meade, contributor to HOP TO IT: POEMS TO GET YOU MOVING (Pomelo Books, 2020!)
⭐️ 20 Minute Zoom Ask Me Anything with Darshana Khiani, author of HOW TO WEAR A SARI (Versify, June 2021), I’M AN AMERICAN (Viking Books for Young Readers, May 2023), and THE BOYS OF KOH PANYEE (coming Fall 2023)
⭐️ Rate Your Story Speed Pass from Lynne Marie
And maybe I’ll have some extra picture books to add in here and there to sweeten the pie. . . 😊
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 birthday, 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 and library visits, recommending their books for school and library purchases, and 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! Put on your pointy black thinking cap (you know, to get in that Halloween mood 🧙🏿♀️ 😊!) And write those prize-winning stories!!!
I can’t wait to read them!!! 😊
39 thoughts on “Goblins And Ghosties And Ghouls, Oh, My! – Announcing The Guidelines For The 12th Annual Halloweensie Contest!”
This is exciting, Susanna. I’ll give it a go.
Hurray! I’ll look forward to your story, Norah!
Thank you, Susanna. 🙂
Thanks, Susanna. I shared the link to this post with my writing group this morning. I hope many of them will enter!
Great, Penny! Thanks so much!!!
What Halloween fun! I hope to pick my brain for a story. Thank you for all you do to keep the kid lit community doing what we love best-writing!
My pleasure, Charlotte! Let those words roll around in your head for a day or two and I bet some ideas will come! 😊
How awesome! Can’t wait to read all the great entries. This contest inspired a poem in my book Halloween Night and Other Poems that released earlier this year, so I’m also excited to see what it inspires this go round. 🙂
I hope it will inspire something amazing! 😊
Thanks so much for the inspiration! It was a great exercise this morning and I actually really like my new story! Such a fun step in the day when you have a new story to run with.
So glad it was inspirational, Amy!
Oh, my. I’ll bet you’ll be getting lots of entries! I’ll have to see if I can drum up the energy to write a story after using all my get-up-and-go on Kidquake production, LOL. In any event, I’ll at least be rooting from the sidelines!
You can do it, Jilanne! Take a chocolate break and a nap to refuel, then write! Write like the howling, shrieking, Halloweensie wind! 😊
I always love entering your contests!!!
I always love reading your entries, Michelle! 😊
I love these kinds of short puzzle challenges! Shared to Twitter.
I’m so glad you like the challenge! And thank you for sharing!
It wouldn’t be October without HALLOWEENSIE! Thank you so much, Susanna, for being such a beacon of light for our kidlit community! I’ve shared this on Twitter and Facebook.
Good luck to everyone who participates…entering Susanna’s writing contests and challenges is how I got my start. 🙂
I have gotten kind of used to having Halloweensie in October after 12 years 😊🎃 Thank you so much for all your support, and for sharing everywhere! ❤️
Put my butt in chair & eat tiny chocolate bars–yes!! Write a super short story that’s Halloweeny- challenge accepted!🎃👻
Woo hoo! Go, Jenny! Remember, miniature chocolate has no calories 😊
Susanna, thanks for giving the kidlit community another opportunity to hone our writing skills!
“Halloweensie” has become a fall favorite!
I will share on Facebook, Twitter and my WordPress site! Happy Halloweensie writing! Thanks again for all you do! 🎃
It is truly my pleasure, Susan! It makes me happy if people have a good time, and also if someone ends up with a usable manuscript as a result! Thank you so much for sharing on social media and your site – so nice of you!
Yay! I’ve missed your writing contests. So excited to get started on this year’s Halloweensie challenge! Thank you so much Susanna for always inspiring us in so many different ways.
I’m so glad you’re excited, Marta! I’m looking forward to your entry! 😊🎃
Typing the first word is the scariest….no, the last word….no, all the words in the middle.
Oh, what the heck, It’s supposed to be scary, It’s Halloween. Boo!!
Eeeeeek! Hahaha! Have fun! 😊
Highlights High 5 is going to publish my Valentine contest entry! Thanks for these opportunities
That is FANTASTIC, Claire! Congratulations!!! 😊😊😊
Awesome news! Congratulations, Claire!
Yay! I second what @VivianKirkfield said, “It wouldn’t be October with out Halloweensie! I just love this contest and look forward to it every year. Thank you so much for continuing to host it year after year. Let the fun begin!
My pleasure, Mary Ann! I’ll look forward to your entry!
It just occurred to me that I hadn’t seen anything about the Halloweensie contest yet, so I had to get over here and see if it was happening. It IS!!! What a relief that I haven’t missed it! It’s a highlight of every October! (along with getting lost in a corn maze)
I’m sorry, Brenda! Life has been a bit crazy, and I completely forgot to share on social media that I had put the guidelines up! Maybe I’d better go do that, since at this point there’s less than a week before it opens!
Yay! I can make it this Halloween! Your contests have really helped me brainstorm new ideas, and respect deadlines while having fun. Thanks.
I’m so glad, Eleanor! I’ll look forward to your entry!