The 6th Annual Halloweensie Writing Contest – aahhhrrrooooOOOOO!!!

Ear of frog and toe of newt!  It’s finally time for . . .

The 6th Annual HALLOWEENSIE CONTEST!!!!!
aahhhrrrooooOOOOO!!!!!


halloweensie-pumpkin

The Contest:  write a 100 word Halloween story appropriate for children (title not included in the 100 words, children here defined as 12 and under), using the words spider, ghost, and moon.   Your story can be scary, funny 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 nearly 150 fantastic entries last year so I know you can do it!)  Also, you may use the words in any form – e.g. moon, moons, mooned, spidery, ghostly, whathaveyou 🙂  No illustration notes please!

Post your story on your blog between right now this very second and Monday October 31st by 11:59 PM EDT and add your post-specific link to the list below.  There will be no Perfect Picture Book post on Friday Oct. 28 so the post and the list of links will stay up all weekend for everyone to 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 below. (Or, if you have difficulty with the comments, which unfortunately sometimes happens, you may email your entry to me and I’ll post it for you! Please place your entry in the body of the email – NO ATTACHMENTS!)  P.S.  Although I try to stay glued to my computer 24/7 I am sometimes forced to leave my desk.  If you haven’t commented on my blog before, your comment won’t show up until I approve it.  It may take a little while if I’m away from my desk.  Likewise, if you send me an entry to post, I promise I will do it as soon as I can!

The Judging: in a grueling marathon over the following days, my lovely assistants and I will narrow down the entrants to 3 top choices (hee hee hee – you know how much trouble I have with only 3, so we’ll see) which will be posted here and voted on for a winner on Monday November 7th.  The winner will be announced on either Wednesday November 9 or Thursday November 10.  If we get more than 20 entries, I will post 6 finalists and give prizes for 1st through 3rd.  If by some chance we get the kind of turn out we did last year, all bets are off.  I may post as many as 10 finalists and I’ll probably end up giving everyone a prize 🙂  But we’ll cross that bridge when we get to it 🙂

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:

–  a Picture Book Manuscript Critique by wonderful editor Marilyn Brigham of Two Lions!!!

marilyn-brigham

Marilyn Brigham

Marilyn Brigham edits picture books, chapter books, and middle grade for Two Lions, the children’s imprint at Amazon Publishing. Her recent titles include Go to School, Little Monster by Helen Ketteman, illustrated by Bonnie Leick and The Secret Knock Club: The Great Sleep-Under, by Louise Bonnett-Rampersaud, illustrated by Adam McHeffey. She is looking for commercial, character-driven picture books and chapter books; holiday picture books; and widely appealing, high-concept middle grade. She is not currently acquiring board books or nonfiction.

– a Picture Book Manuscript Critique by the fabulous agent Jodell Sadler of Sadler Children’s Literary Agency!!!

jodell-sadler

Jodell Sadler

– winner’s choice of a Picture Book Manuscript Critique or a 15-minute phone call for all your writerly questions from fantastic author Katy Duffield (LOUD LULA – Two Lions 2015, FARMER MCPEEPERS AND HIS MISSING MILK COWS – Cooper Square Publishing 2003, ALIENS GET THE SNIFFLES TOO – forthcoming from Candlewick, and many other titles)

katy-duffield

Katy Duffield

–  winner’s choice of a Picture Book Manuscript Critique or a Query Letter Critique from amazing author Dori Kleber (MORE-IGAMI, Candlewick  2016)

dori-kleber

Dori Kleber

– a Picture Book Manuscript Critique from the awesome Vivian Kirkfield, author of the forthcoming SWEET DREAMS, SARAH – Creston Books, 2017) AND personalized signed copies of her wonderful books SHOW ME HOW and the LUCKY DRAW ANTHOLOGY.

vivian-kirkfield

Vivian Kirkfield

–  a Bundle Of Books from KidLit411 (must be selected by someone in the USA due to postage) including:
Picture Books:

THEY ALL SAW A CAT by Brendan Wenzel
GOODNIGHT GOODNIGHT CONSTRUCTION SITE by Sherri Duskey Rinker
THE LITTLE MOUSE, THE RED RIPE STRAWBERRY AND THE BIG HUNGRY BEAR by Don and Audrey Wood
A MORNING WITH GRANDPA- Sylvia Liu

Middle Grade Books:

THE GEOGRAPHY OF YOU AND ME- Jennifer E. Smith
SUNNY SIDE UP Jennifer and Matthew Holm
IF YOU’RE READING THIS Trent Reedy
AL CAPONE DOES MY SHIRTS Gennifer Choldenko

(What a totally awesome book bundle for writers, readers, parents, teachers, or gift-givers!!!)

– a 6 month subscription to One Stop For Writers (value $50)

– an e-pub or PDF copy (winner’s choice) of Linda Ashman‘s Nuts And Bolts Guide To Writing Picture Books.

– a personalized signed copy of THE PEDDLER’S BED by Lauri Fortino

the-peddlers-bed

– a personalized signed copy of GRIMELDA THE VERY MESSY WITCH by Diana Murray

c361c-grimelda

Please join me again 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, or supporting them in any other way you can dream up 🙂

Now then.  Time for my sample entry which I provide because I would never ask you to do anything I wouldn’t do myself.  Also, in case anyone is worried about the quality of their entry they have only to read my truly horrific attempt to be filled with confidence that their’s is MUCH better!  I have to confess, I was really down to the wire this year (my schedule is a little bit nuts!), I have a deadline for tomorrow… which also means I may be a little behind getting started reading entries… just so you know… but I digress!

So, here goes nothing…!

Won’t You Come Into My Parlor…? (100 words)

The Halloweensie Spider was lonesome as could be.
“Nobody ever comes to visit me.
“I know!” she said.  “I’ll plan a big to-do!”
So she sent out invitations to everyone she knew.

The Halloweensie Spider got ready for her guests.
Hot apple cider and candy treasure chests.
Games organized for lots of friendly fun
Like Pumpkin Golf, a Witch Ring Toss, and Find The Skeleton.

The Halloweensie Spider stood at her moonlit door
Greeting the witches, goblins, ghosts, and more.
“So glad you came!” she told them with a smile.
“Forgive my sticky floors, but I hoped you’d stay awhile!”

Everyone feeling better about their stories now?  I should certainly HOPE so! 🙂

Also, this is so weird I just have to share it.  I realized belatedly that totally by chance, my sample entry from last year also included the 3 words from this year.  Look!

Halloween Surprise! (100 words)

Halloween.  Trick-or-treat.
Spooky shadows.  Darkened street.
Suddenly my brother, Jay,
Tugs my arm.  “Let’s go this way!”
He pulls me off the beaten track,
Passes Old Man Clancy’s shack.
Creeping fog licks at our heels.
I don’t like the way this feels.
Something glides in silent flight,
Ghostly shapes against the night.
“Witches!  Let’s go home!” I say.
“Owls.  Let’s go on,” says Jay.
Spidered moonlight through the trees.
Heartbeat pounding.  Shaky knees.
Up ahead this haunted night
Monsters dance by bonfire light!
Turning!  Running!
Then, “SURPRISE!”
Costumed monsters end disguise.
Cake and presents, friends who say,
“Happy Halloween Birthday!”

How weird is that?!  But I figured it would be cheating to use it again 🙂

I can’t wait to read all of your entries!  I’m so looking forward to them!  I hope there will be a lot – the more the merrier!  And there are still nearly 5 days to write, so you have time if you haven’t written yet.  Feel free to spread the word to your writing friends as well.  And your reading friends – parents, teachers, etc.  The more people who read and enjoy your stories, the better!!!

So!  I don’t love this link system, but it’s all I have, so my apologies and do your best with it, and let’s hope it works!

Contest Entrants, remember to add your post-specific link to the linky list below so we can all come read your awesome stories!  (Post-specific means not your main blog url, but the actual url of the post that has your story in it – otherwise if you post again before the contest ends, your link will take readers… and judges!… to the wrong place!)

Eager Readers – you ALSO need to click the “click here” to add your entry button on the linky list just to see the list of links.  I apologize profusely for the inconvenience of not having the list visible right here on my site.  But this, apparently, is wordpress…

Powered by Linky Tools

Click here to enter your link and view this Linky Tools list…

Happy Writing and Happy Halloween!!! 🙂

 And don’t miss the 90 fabulous entries in the comments below!
Trick Or Treat – Lesley/Maggie
Untitled – Sherry
Teensy-Weensy Witch Strikes Back – Julie
Candy Korn – Karen
Haunt The Vote –
Moon Spell – Rebecca
Hesper’s Revenge – Michele
Entry #1 – Dave
Entry #2 – Dave
Sylvia’s Best Halloween – Susan
A Little Erie Gift – Kathy
Untitled – Eleanor
What Should Witch Be For Halloween – Robin
The Treat Escape – Maria
Mordecai Moon – Kathryn
Spider’s Halloween Treat – Lisa
Spider And Ghost At Halloween – Polly
Spider’s Scary Night – Claire
Gregor The Ghost – Joan
Spider-Ghost – Kelly
Into The Forest – Kirsten
Spencer Spider: Master Spinner – Lorraine
Halloween Toast – Elizabeth
Goober The Ghost And The Scariest Night Of The Year – Joni
The Sun’s Halloween Party – Alice
The Spiders Who Stole Halloween – Kristen
The Broom Of All Brooms – Tracy
Spiderling’s Ghost Moon – Kathleen
Boo You’re It – Anne
What Owl Didn’t Know – Charlotte
Halloween Dog – Barbara
Itsy And Bitsy’s Halloween Treat – Becky
Monster Chef – Kristy
Sarah Spider’s Curse – Jennifer
Halloween Surprise – Jessica
The Spider Ghost’s Curse – Anne
Little Witch’s Holiday – Jen
Trick Or Treat – Melissa
Little Ghost Lost – Anne
Spider’s Trick Or Treat – Sara
Booboo Ghostie Caught A Sneezy – Ann
BooBoo Finds A Friend – Sydney
Spider And Moon – Jennifer
Entry #1 – Hilary
Entry #2 – Hilary 
The Ghost Of The Moon Spider – Susie
Little Spider’s Magic Halloween – Marty
Gilford’s Halloween – Sarah
Crinkle-Snap – Jill
The Dare – Sandy
On Halloween Night – Rocio
Untitled – Laura
What Spiders Dream – Mike
Sick Or Treat – Candy
The Ghoulie-Gold Fairy – Emily
Little Miss Zombie – Ingrid
Kali And Asha – Jessica & Noah
Trick Or Treat – Marie
Ghost And Spiders – Jerry
Halloween For Real – Mary
The Halloween Moon – Lisa
Everyone’s Afraid Of Something – Debbie
Let’s Trick-Or-Treat! – Katherine
Spider And Ghost – Jim
Ghosts Say Boo – Danielle
Moon’s Halloween – Marilyn
Frankie’s Fabrication – Amanda
The Witch’s Broom – Judy
A Headless Halloween – Jill
Aunt Claire’s Soul Cake – Corinne
Tree’s Halloween Costume – Linda
Beware The Full Moon Halloween – Sharon
Itty Boo Ghost – Monica
Woody Sings On Halloween – Bev
The Spider And The Fly – Gabrielle
Webster’s Spin – Carol
Spider’s Halloween Hunt – Kristen
Scaredy-Cat-Pat – Sara
Ding Dong – Elaine
Ghost Saves Halloween – Jessica
Spiderella – Sam
After Trick-Or-Treat – Kate
Untitled – Heather Elizabeth
Dare – Merriweather
Sticky Candy Bag – Nancy
Moon’s Halloween Surprise – Stefanie
A Halloween Story – Tonya
Pup’s First Halloween – Ellen
One Good Trick Deserves Another – Marc
Four Finicky Ghosties – Shelley
Ready, set, GO!  aahhhrrrooooOOOOO!!!!! 🙂

And Now…The Moment You’ve All Been Waiting For…!

Happy Columbus Day everyone!

Ah, Columbus Day!  That wondrous day on which we all get to skip school and work because old Chris happened to bump into the Bahamas and thereby be forever remembered and credited as having discovered America which he did not remotely accomplish! 🙂  (Poor Chris.  If only he’d had Sat Nav  on the Santa Maria!)

But we don’t mind, do we?!  We get the day off!  And as I always say, what better way to spend that Columbus Day off than by thinking happy thoughts of Halloween?

And what happier Halloween thoughts to dwell upon than anything else (besides the delightful abundance of chocolate it will be your duty to collect – you know, the Mom Tax (or Dad Tax) – the percentage you discreetly skim from those heavy-laden plastic pumpkins to make sure your little darlings don’t overdo it 🙂 ) than…


The 6th Annual HALLOWEENSIE CONTEST!!!!!


halloweensie-pumpkin

The Contest:  write a 100 word Halloween story appropriate for children (title not included in the 100 words), using the words spider, ghost, and moon.   Your story can be scary, funny 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 nearly 150 fantastic entries last year so I know you can do it!)  Also, you may use the words in any form – e.g. moon, moons, mooned, spidery, ghostly, whathaveyou 🙂  No illustration notes please!

Post your story on your blog between 12:00 AM EDT Thursday October 27th and Monday October 31st by 11:59 PM EDT and add your post-specific link to the list that will accompany my special October 27th post.  There will be no Perfect Picture Book post on Friday Oct. 28 so the post and the list of links will stay up all weekend for everyone to 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 that post once it’s up. (Or, if you have difficulty with the comments, which unfortunately sometimes happens, you may email your entry to me and I’ll post it for you! Please place your entry in the body of the email – NO ATTACHMENTS!)

The Judging: in a grueling marathon over the following days, my lovely assistants and I will narrow down the entrants to 3 top choices (hee hee hee – you know how much trouble I have with only 3, so we’ll see) which will be posted here and voted on for a winner on Monday November 7th.  The winner will be announced on either Wednesday November 9 or Thursday November 10.  If we get more than 20 entries, I will post 6 finalists and give prizes for 1st through 3rd.  If by some chance we get the kind of turn out we did last year, all bets are off.  I may post as many as 10 finalists and I’ll probably end up giving everyone a prize 🙂  But we’ll cross that bridge when we get to it 🙂

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:  yeah… I’m still working on the prizes 🙂  Feel free to chime in in the comments if there’s something you’d particularly like to win! 🙂  But prizes will include:

okay… I admit it… this part isn’t quite together yet since I’m still waiting to hear back from some people 🙂  but for starters…

– a read and comments on a picture book manuscript by the fabulous agent Jodell Sadler!!!

– a 6 month subscription to One Stop For Writers (value $50)

– an e-pub or PDF copy (winner’s choice) of Linda Ashman‘s Nuts And Bolts Guide To Writing Picture Books.

Plus stay tuned because other great stuff is coming including more PB critiques, signed books, etc! 🙂

I hope those fantabulous prizes will at least whet your appetite for the contest!

So sharpen your pencils!

Get your butt in that chair!

See what amazing, knock-your-socks-off story you can dream up!

It’s a chance to hone your writing skills, practice your craft, write to specifications and a deadline, win amazing prizes, AND get to read and enjoy the wonderful stories written by all your fellows 🙂

Many, many thanks to Jodell for her very generous prize offering!

I literally cannot wait to read your stories!!! 🙂

Have a Marvelous Monday everyone! 🙂

Halloweensie Contest 2013 WINNERS!!!

Hey!

What are you all doing here?

Don’t you know it’s Thursday?

I don’t post on Thursdays.

Go home.

I’ll see you tomorrow for Perfect Picture Books.

Oh!

You’re here for a reason?

Well, I’ll be darned!

You must have all come over to hear about my hangnail!

Aren’t you just the sweetest to be so concerned!

Let me tell you, it’s a doozy.  It started on Monday when I was washing the dishes.  It was just that little tiny painful beginning, you know?  And I noticed it when I went to dry my hands and that painful little poinky end got caught on the dish towel and I was like, “Oh, man!  Not a hangnail!”….

Wait a minute.

You’re all managing to look very patient.

But I heard yawning…

…and I see some eye-rolling in the back over there….

You didn’t really come over to hear about my hangnail, DID you!

I KNEW it!

So why are you here on a Thursday?

Go home, I tell you!

Jeez Louise!  You’d think I had nothing better to do than to entertain you lot with the

ANNOUNCEMENT OF THE HALLOWEENSIE CONTEST WINNERS!!!!!

Heeheehee!  I’m sorry!  I just can’t help myself.  Heeheehee.  I don’t even HAVE a hangnail!  Heeheeheeheehee!

Okay, really.  I’m sorry for tormenting you with my juvenile behavior.  Let’s start with a few surprises, shall we?

As you are all aware by now, we had a record turnout for the Halloweensie Contest – 79 entries!

I was thrilled beyond measure to see so many wonderful stories!

But with large entry numbers come hard choices.  My assistant judges and I worked hard to winnow the total down to a manageable number of finalists that we felt were truly all-around deserving of that distinction, and those were the ones we presented to you on Monday for your vote.

There were, however, many other entries that were outstanding in certain areas even though they might not have qualified all-around for one reason or another.

So my assistant judges and I would like to award recognition and a small prize to the following authors for the following merits:

1.  For Honorable Mention In The Competition As A Whole:
     Vivian Kirkfield for Halloween Dance Party Countdown
     Carrie Finison for Callie’s Prize-Winning Potion
     Lauri Meyers for White Cat’s Halloween
     Suzy Levinson for Black Cat Goes To Spooky School

2.  For Best Use of Poetic Language:
     Kathy Moncrief for Halloween Night!
     Heather Greene for Untitled (Hallowed Eve)
     Julie Rowan-Zoch for Halloween Comes To The Farm
     Bradin Farnworth for The Witches’ Song
     Kimberley Moran for Black Glass Cat

3. For Spookiest Entry: (not already in the finals)
     Teresa M.I. Schaefer for Grim Concoction
     Laura Shovan for The Old Hotel
     Jackie Wellington for A Disappearing Act
     Deirdre Sheridan Englehart for The Spookiest Night!

4.  For Funniest Entry: (not already in the finals)
     Mike Allegra for Spooky Piggy
     Janet Johnson for Brewster’s Trick
     Sheila Renfro for Helga’s Black Cat Search

5.  For Sweetest/Cutest Entry: (not already in the finals)
     Deb for Boo: The Scaredy Halloweenie Cat

6.  For Great Kid Appeal: (not already in the finals)
     Michelle Barnes for The Witching Hour
     Meg Miller for The Halloween CAW Ball
     Kirsten Bock for Scare D-Cat

7.  For Most Original Format:
     Nancy Hatch for Cackle… The Spooky Black Cat – in rap! 🙂

8.  For Best All-Around Entry By A Newcomer To The Blog: (not already in the finals)
     Juliana Lee for Sleepless Hallow’s Eve
     Doris K. Stone for The Fat Black Cat Sat

9.  For Favorite Character:
     Stacy Couch for her Ninja Ballerina in Olivia vs. The Witch 🙂

Congratulations to all of you for fantastic elements of your stories!  You may all email me at susanna[at]susannahill[dot]com to collect your prize, which is your choice of one of the following: (the titles are all links so you can go see what they’re about)

For Kindle:
The Emotion Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide To Character Expression by Angela Ackerman & Becca Puglisi , OR

The Postitive Trait Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide To Character Attributes by Angela Ackerman & Becca Puglisi, OR

The Negative Trait Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide To Character Flaws by Angela Ackerman & Becca Puglisi, OR

In paperback:
Show & Tell In A Nutshell: Demonstrated Transitions From Telling To Showing by Jessica Bell

And now…

…the moment you’ve all been waiting for…

…a picture of my hangnail!

… THE WINNERS OF THE 2013 HALLOWEENSIE CONTEST ACCORDING TO THE POPULAR VOTE!!! (which did not have the consideration to work out very neatly as you will see…)

In First Place, winner of a picture book manuscript critique from Corey Rosen Schwartz (celebrated author of The Three Ninja Pigs and other wonderful picture books) AND a copy of Linda Ashman’s brand new Nuts & Bolts Guide To Writing Picture Books

DDDDDRRRRRUUUUUMMMMMRRRRROOOOOLLLLLLLLLL!!!!!

Nata Romeo
for Drusella, The Black Spooky Cat

Congratulations, Nata!!!

In Second Place, winner of a picture book manuscript critique AND a query letter critique from Heather Ayris Burnell, author of Bedtime Monster,

Marcie Rinka Wessels
for Miss Sadie

Congratulations, Marcie!!!

In Third Place, we have a tie between

Eric Weibel          and          Margaret Greenias
      for The Dare                  for One Ghostly Halloween

One of them will win the signed copies of Halloween Hustle by Charlotte Gunnufson, The Monster Who Lost His Mean by Tiffany Haber, and Marathon Mouse by Amy Dixon, which was the original 3rd prize.  The other will win The Writer’s Workout: 366 Tips, Task andTechniques From Your Writing Coach by Christina Katz AND Rip The Page: Adventures In Creative Writing by Karen Benke – they will have to fight amongst themselves and/or come up with a way to split and share the spoils 🙂

Congratulations, Erik and Margaret!!!

In Fifth Place, we have another tie! between

Laura Renauld          and          Cheryl Secomb
for Foe or Friend?                     for On Halloween

Since I didn’t previously announce prizes past 3rd, I’m going to keep this tie fair by awarding both Laura and Cheryl a $20 Amazon Gift Certificate – that way they won’t have to fight like Erik and Margaret 🙂

Congratulations, Laura and Cheryl!!!

All the winners should email me at susanna[at]susannahill[dot]com with the subject heading Prize Winner so we can work out details for you to receive your prizes!  Finalists who did not finish in the top 6 (Joanna, Nancy, Katie, Donna and Buffy) may also contact me for their choice of the Kindle or paperback prizes listed above.

Congratulations again to all our winners – it was a stiff competition!! – and congratulations to EVERYONE who wrote and entered a story in the contest.  You all deserve a huge round of applause, a confetti parade, and a large amount of chocolate cake 🙂

Thank you to everyone who helped make this contest SO MUCH FUN, whether by writing an entry, reading people’s stories, leaving comments for the authors, and/or voting in the finals.  It’s because of all of you that this contest was such a success, so many, many thanks from the bottom of my heart!

And before we go, I will give you all advance warning so you can start planning a little time into your December schedule…

The 3rd Annual Holiday Writing Contest will be coming up sometime in the neighborhood of December 11-18.  I’m running it a little bit earlier this year so we can all fully enjoy it and still have time for last minute holiday things.  And to whet your appetites and get your thinking caps on, I will tell you that first prize is something AWESOME!  A picture book manuscript read and critique by an actual editor at an actual highly regarded publishing house!!!  But that is all I’m saying for now 🙂  You will just have to stay tuned for more details as the Holiday Contest approaches.  And I will do my best to post the rules well in advance so you all have time to work on your stories!

Have a terrific Thursday everyone, and thanks again for making the Halloweensie Contest such a wonderful time for all! 🙂

The 2013 Halloweensie Contest Finalists! – Vote For Your Favorite!

Holy Halloweensie!

You guys sure know how to give a judge a run for her money!

Gone are the days of the first Halloweensie Contest when we got 7 or 8 entries!

My assistant judges (yes, I called in reinforcements!) and I agonized over winnowing this amazing field of entries down to a manageable number for you to vote on.

And I have a few comments.  (Don’t I always :))

First of all, I want to thank EVERYONE who took the time and care to write an entry for this contest.  It was far and away the most well-subscribed contest we’ve ever had.  79 entries at the final count (because yes, I counted wrong on Friday :)) and the quality of the entries across the board was fantastic.  There were no easy cuts.  (Except, sadly, for one that went over the word count to 114 and had to be disqualified.)

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 – SURPRISE! – as a result of the quality and quantity of entries, I have decided to give prizes through 6th place instead of only through 3rd.  I have also decided that you might need a little extra time to vote and that the post that announces the winners should be exclusively devoted to that celebration.  So the post with the winners will go up on THURSDAY November 7 (not with WYRI on Wednesday as I originally planned.)

Before I list the finalists, I want to say once again how difficult it was too choose!  There were so many fabulous entries.  Really.  I could find at least something terrific about every single one.  There were so many good ones that in the end some got cut on the basis of a word or phrase that we felt was a little off, or a concept we weren’t quite sure a child would get.  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.  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.  So bravo to everyone who entered!

Now, without further ado, here are your finalists.  There is a mix of poetry and prose, stories for youngest readers and stories for older kids, funny, cute, and spooky – quite a spread!  We really tried to keep it to 10… but we couldn’t… though we came close 🙂

Remember that the judging criteria were:

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.
2. 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.
3.  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.
4. Originality and creativity – because that is often what sets one story above another.

Finalists will be listed by title and without author for now in case that helps you be more objective 🙂

#1 Are You Scared Yet?

“I’m ready, ” said the little black cat.

“Let’s hear it,” said the big black cat.

“Booooooo,” said Little Cat.

Big Cat curled up. “Not spooky enough.”

“Ah ha ha ha,” she cackled, wrinkling her nose.

Big Cat yawned. “Not creepy enough.”

Little Cat bared her teeth. “Mwah ha ha,” she said.

“I’m still not scared,” said Big Cat, closing his eyes.

Little Cat took a deep breath and growled from her belly, getting louder until her body vibrated.

“Rawr!” she bellowed, and Big Cat jumped straight into the air.

“Not bad,” Big Cat said.


Little Cat smiled. I’m ready.

#2 Treat Or Trick

Headstone Hill’s a spooky place.
Wanda Witch lives there.
It’s said she steals small children.
Little ones beware!
Dared to go on Halloween,
Rip approached her house.
He tiptoed past the black cat.
Quiet as a mouse.
Wanda pulled the creaky door,
Stretching a sly smile.
“My, a sweet young child is here!”
EWWW, they’re all so vile!
Shaking, Rip held out his bag,
Waiting for some stuff.
Wanda gave a sugared snake.
“This was not so tough!
I don’t need to be afraid.
You gave me a sweet.”
Then she yanked Rip in, cackling,
“BEAST, come get your treat!”

#3 Miss Sadie

A bumbling witch named Miss Sadie
yearned to be wicked and mean.
When she tried to be spooky,
she came off quite kooky,
the clumsiest witch ever seen.
“Perhaps what I need to be scary
is something eerie and dark!”
So she found a black cat,
and a tall pointy hat,
and hid in a tree in the park.
“Trick or treaters, beware,” cackled Sadie,
“I’m here to give you a fright!”
Sadie laughed with such glee,
she fell out of the tree,
and “boo hoo-ed” on Halloween night.

#4 Drusella, The Black Spooky Cat

Drusella, the Black Spooky  Cat waited all year for this day…HALLOWEEN!
KNOCK KNOCK
 “BOO!” she screamed.
“Cute nose!” the goblin said.
“I’m SCARY not CUTE!” Drusella cried.
KNOCK KNOCK
“BOOO!” Drusella yelled.
“Beautiful eyes!” the dragon said.
“I’m SCARY not BEAUTIFUL!” Drusella hollered.
KNOCK KNOCK
“BOOOO!” Drusella screamed.
 “Pretty nails!” the Witch said.
“I’m SCARY not PRETTY”
KNOCK KNOCK
“BOOOO!” Drusella shouted.
 “Perfect ears,” the Witch cackled.
“I’m SCARY not PERFECT!”

“I give up!” Drusella sighed, “Next year I’m gonna be a Princess!”

#5 Black Cat, Black Cat

Black Cat, Black Cat

where are you going

this Halloweensie night,

a foul wind blowing?

Off to join the witchesfor their spooky spree.

Every Hallows Eve – a creepy jamboree.

Black Cat, Black Cat

who’s that on the broom

sat twixt the witch and you,

spewing words of doom?

That’s my bud, Ghoul One,

he plans his hex all year.

Ghouls Two, Three & Four

join in to up the fear.

Black Cat, Black Cat

what’s that in the pot,

cackling & bubbling,

oozing smoking hot?

Tis my Haloweensie meal –

tuna bake with spice.

Me and the neighbor kits

we like it with fried lice.

#6 The Dare

Joseph walked out in the dark of night.
The thought of his quest gave him a fright.
Shouldn’t have taken that dare.
The street was damp and empty as well.
The cold breeze blew up in a big swell.
Shouldn’t have taken that dare.
The air filled with a spooky thick mist.
Joseph jumped back when a black-cat hissed.
Shouldn’t have taken that dare.
The full moon shone in a bloody red.
The cemetery gate was ahead.
Why did I take this dare?
Tombstones and graves abruptly appear.
A dead voice cackled in Joseph’s ear.
“Shouldn’t have taken that dare.”

#7 Foe Or Friend?

October chill.
Argyle night.
Spooky shadows.
Black Cat’s delight.
Panther-like.
Freeze in a crouch.
Whiskers twitch.
Ready to pounce.
Leaves crunch.
Beginning to doubt.
About to bolt…
A cackle rings out.
A pointed hat.
A wide, black brim.
Gnarled hands.
A sharp, warty chin.
A hiss. An arch.
Fur stands on end.
A reach. A pat.
A new-found friend?
“It’s only me.”
A whisper is heard.
“Do you like my costume?”
Black Cat just purred.

#8 One Ghostly Halloween

Halloween was Billy’s favorite holiday. “I’m gonna scare someone good!”
But Billy was a ghost in the spookiest ghost town west of Texas. And ghosts don’t scare easy. She tested costumes:
black cat,
“Ain’t you adorable,” said Sheriff.
A witch with a mean cackle,
“Ooooh…spooky,” said the cowboys guffawing.
A tarantula, a headless cowboy, a were-coyote. But nope, nada, not even a whimper.
Billy frowned. A ghost who couldn’t scare wasn’t worth a penny – especially on Halloween.
She thought and thought until…
“AIYEEE! Float for your lives!” cried the town-ghosts.
“Trick or treat!” said Billy, the ghost hunter.

#9 Witch And Ghost

Witch and Ghost walk hand in hand.
They pass Black Cat, sleek and grand.
A tree branch rattles.  Cold winds blow.
But Witch and Ghost have far to go.
Their shoes clip clop on long, dark roads.
Their backs are bent with heavy loads.
Witch climbs the steps.  She pulls the gate.
Ghost slips through.  They can’t be late.
They hear a cackle!  A spooky shriek!
A dark door opens with a creak.
Witch grips her broomstick.  In Ghost glides.
What frightful sights await inside?

#10 The Scary Spell

“Harrison!” cackled Leona. “Time to get scary for the witches’ ball.”
Harrison flicked his pointy ears. Oh no. Leona’s wand broke after the wart-away spell.
She waved it over him. “Abracadarey, big and scary!”
What? Now he was a boring, black cow.
“Mooo!” said Harrison, wishing he still had claws.
Leona waved again. “Abracaglarey, mean and hairy!”
Stamping tiny goat hooves, Harrison growled. “Naaa!”
Leona tried one more time. “Abracadat, spooky black cat!”
Sparks flew. Harrison’s fur crackled. He bared his teeth.
“You’re scarier than me!” Leona said. “You’d better stay home.”
Perfect. He could have a monstrous cat nap.

#11 On Halloween

On Halloween,

The moon was full,

And the night was still.

Raccoon and Badger crept up the lonely path.

A cackle echoed from the trees,

And Raccoon froze. “A witch?”

“A bird,” said Badger.

A dark streak dashed across their path,

And Raccoon jumped. “A monster?”

Badger shook his head. “A black cat.”

Up ahead, glowing eyes flickered,

And Raccoon trembled. “A goblin?”

“A Jack O’ Lantern.”

They approached a spooky old house.

The door slowly opened.

Creeeaaak

Raccoon stuttered. “A g…g…ghost?”

Badger laughed. “My Grandma!”

And Raccoon giggled.

Raccoon and Badger raced to the door.

“Trick or Treat!”

#12 Hallowontsie

Halloween colors are orange and black,
but Spooky Black Cat was tired of that.
“Why can’t I be pink? Or salmon? Or bronze?”
she said as she stepped in the beauty salon.
Before you could cackle, that cat was festooned
with sparkly fur that left all in a swoon.
“You’re not going to scare anyone, pretty as that!”
“That’s what I want,” said the former Black Cat.
“Halloween is for goblins, monsters and ghosts,
but also for princesses, which I like most.”
She found an angel that night with wings of foam
who petted her till she purred all the way home.
So ready?  Get set… VOTE!  And PLEASE!  We will need all the votes we can get even though I know the choice is very, very hard!  Please cast your vote by Wednesday November 6 at 5 PM EST.
Thank you all again!  For writing, reading, commenting, and voting, and generally participating to make this such a fun contest!

I can’t wait to see who the winners will be!  And I have some more surprises planned for Thrusday’s Special Halloweensie Contest Winners post, so stay tuned!!!  (And don’t forget WYRI on Wednesday :))

The 3rd Annual Halloweensie Contest – aahhhrrrooooOOOOO!!

Eye of newt and toe of frog!  It’s finally time for

The 3rd Annual HALLOWEENSIE CONTEST!!!!!

courtesy google images

The Contest:  write a 100 word Halloween story appropriate for children (title not included in the 100 words), using the words spookyblack cat, and cackle.   Your story can be scary, funny or anything in between, poetry or prose, but it will only count for the contest if it includes those 3 words (you can count black cat as one word) 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 🙂  [Note: of you choose to use cackle as a verb, any form is acceptable – cackles, cackled, cackling…]

Post your story on your blog between now and Thursday October 31st by 11:59 PM EDT and add your post-specific link to the list below.  There will be no Would You Read It or Perfect Picture Books this week, so the post and the list of links will stay up all week for everyone to enjoy.  I hope everyone will visit everyone and you’ll all get your friends and relations to visit, read and enjoy too!  If you don’t have a blog and would like to enter, you can simply copy and paste your entry in the comments section below.  (If you have trouble, and alas, people sometimes do, just email your entry to susanna[at]susannahill[dot]com and I’ll post it in the comments for you!)

The Judging: my lovely assistant and I will narrow down the entrants to 3 (hee hee hee – you know how much trouble I have with only 3, so we’ll see) top choices which will be posted here and voted on for a winner on Monday November 4th.  The winner will be announced with Would You Read It on Wednesday November 6th.  If we get more than 20 entries, I will post 6 finalists and give prizes for 1st through 3rd.

The Prizes:

First Prize is a PB Critique from the amazing Corey Rosen Schwartz, author of The Three Ninja PigsHop! Plop!, and the forthcoming Goldirocks, Ninja Red, and What About Moose? AND a copy of Linda Ashman’s new Nuts And Bolts Guide to Writing Picture Books (your choice of e-book or PDF)!  The winner will also be incredibly famous and able to boast that he or she won The Halloweensie Contest… and that is not something most people can say! 🙂

Second Prize is a PB manuscript and query letter critique from talented author Heather Ayris Burnell, author of Bedtime Monster.

Third Prize is a set of personalized signed picture books just in time for the holidays – Charlotte Gunnufson‘s Halloween HustleTiffany Haber’s The Monster Who Lost His Mean, and Amy Dixon’s Marathon Mouse (perfect timing because NYC Marathon Sunday is next weekend!)

Please join me again in thanking these very generous authors for contributing their books and writing expertise as prizes by visiting their websites and blogs, considering their books for holiday purchases, rating and/or reviewing their books on GoodReads, Amazon, B&N or anywhere else if you like them, or supporting them in any other way you can dream up 🙂

I’m actually a little amazed (and worried) because the inaugural Halloweensie Contest, won by Cathy with Untitled was postponed due to 2 feet of snow – which around here is unusual for the end of October.  The 2nd Annual Halloweensie Contest, won by Julie with Hallow’s Eve was delayed and interfered with by Hurricane Sandy!  So fingers crossed we don’t get any wild weather this year!

Now then.  Time for my sample entry which I provide both because I wouldn’t ask you to do anything I wouldn’t do myself, and because in case anyone is worried about the quality of their entry they have only to read my abysmal attempts to be filled with confidence that their’s is MUCH better!

So without further ado:

A Witch For Spooky (100 words)

Spooky was a black cat with no witch.
Things just never worked out.
Grimelda’s potions were too stinky for his delicate nose.
“Scram!” said Grimelda when he kept sneezing.
Hauntabelle flew her broomstick like a maniac.
“Scat!” said Hauntabelle when he got broomsick.
Armathystle’s cackle made Spooky run and hide!
Spooky had almost given up when he found Serena.  She was very small, but she didn’t smell bad or fly fast or cackle.
“You can be my Pookie,” she crooned (which was close enough!), and she carried him home in a candy-filled plastic pumpkin.
Spooky had a witch at last!

and, to provide one in rhyme (kinda storta :))

Spooked! (100 words)

A pirate, a witch, and a gypsy queen
Went trick-or-treating one Halloween.
Away past the farthest edge of town
To the ramshackle home of Farmer Brown.
Up the dark lane where no one dared.
The gyspsy queen said, “We’re not scared!”
A spooky shadow loomed ahead!
“Relax,” said the pirate.  “It’s just a shed.”
“Eeeek!” shrieked the witch as she danced about.
“Something touched my leg!  Look out!”
“It’s just a black cat.  Come on, let’s go.”
But then came a sound they didn’t know.
Cackle-cackle!  “It’s witches on the loose!”
And they ran helter-skelter from the Farmer’s goose!

Everyone feeling better about their stories now?  I HOPE so! 🙂

I can’t wait to read all of yours!  I hope there will be a lot – the more the merrier!  And there are still 4 days to write, so you have time if you haven’t written yet.  Feel free to spread the word to your writing friends as well.

Remember to put your post-specific link (not your general blog link or people will find the wrong page if you post again before the contest is over) in the list below!

Happy Writing and Happy Halloween!!! 🙂

Don’t miss 19 entries in the comments section from Megan, Pia, Linda, Michele, Stacy, Laurie, Kathy, Patricia, Eileen, Nancy, Pam, Pat, Kristen, Teresa R., Teresa S., Suzy, Tracy, Heather, and Karen!  (Marcie is now on the link list at #15, Jackie is now on the link list at #33 – she has a brand new blog!, Laura S is on the list at #40, and Deirdre is on the link list at #52.  I hope I’ve caught all the doubles, but there may be a couple more.)

Perfect Picture Book Friday – Marathon Mouse AND Giveaway Winner AND Hallloweensie Contest Winner!!!

It’s finally Friday!  Hooray!  That means I finally get to show you Marathon Mouse!  Also, I will be announcing the winner of Monday’s giveaway signed copy of Marathon Mouse at the end of the post (I know – so much excitement!) so stay tuned!

Oh, and there is one other thing… halloween related… 🙂

But first things first, and you know the Perfect Picture Book always has to go at the top of Friday’s post.  Those are the rules.  And the person in charge around here made the rules so I really have to follow them 🙂

Marathon Mouse
Written By: Amy Dixon
Illustrated By: Sam Denlinger
Sky Pony Press, October 2012, Fiction

Suitable For: ages 3-8

Themes/Topics: Running, Marathons, Goals, Believing In Yourself, Determination

Opening: “Every New York City mouse dreamed of living under the bridge bewteen Brooklyn and Staten Island.  There, they didn’t have to dodge taxi cabs or escape hungry sewer cats.  And when they wanted to visit, the bustling city was just a hop, skip, and a scamper away.  But there was one day each year that their life under the bridge was not dreamy…

Brief Synopsis: Preston Mouse lives beneath the Verrazano Bridge and dreams of running the New York City Marathon.  “Mice were not made to run,” says Papa.  “A mouse could get crushed,” says Mama.  “You? Run 26.2 miles?” his sisters tease. With this lack of faith, Preston trains secretly, but train he does because he believes he can do it.  At least, he wants to try.

Links To Resources: Teacher’s Guide from author’s website.  Also I think reading this story gives an excellent opportunity to discuss with kids what they dream about – what do they think they can do?  what do they hope to accomplish?  Younger kids can draw pictures of themselves working toward or achieving something that matters to them.  Older kids can write a story about it.  Discover Marathon Kids.  And a little about the first marathon and some related activities HERE.

Why I Like This Book:  Ah, so many reasons 🙂  First, it’s really well written, a captivating story told with gentle humor and warmth.  Second, this is the only picture book I’ve ever seen about running/marathoning, so it’s a new, fresh topic and one I think kids will love.  Third, I don’t think there can ever be too many books that encourage kids to work hard toward something that’s important to them, believe in themselves, and follow their dreams.  Finally, when Preston gets out there to run, I dare you not to cheer him on, and I think you’ll be surprised and touched by how the story ends 🙂  And seriously, how cute is this little guy? 🙂

Preston Mouse from Marathon Mouse by Amy Dixon & Sam Denlinger

For the complete list of books with resources, please visit Perfect Picture Books.

And now that you’re all just desperate to own a copy, I’ll tell you who won Monday’s giveaway 🙂  And I would just like to say that I so enjoyed reading about all the things you guys have accomplished (which was what you had to tell us to qualify for the drawing) – what an amazing group!  If you didn’t happen to read the comments from Monday’s post, hop over and have a look – you’re in impressive company over here!  But I digress… 🙂

Cue the trumpets!

The winner of a signed copy of Marathon Mouse is…

JARM!!!
(who it just so happens rode a camel to the top of Mt. Sinai and after sunrise walked all the way down! which is not why she won the book – that was just random.org – but I really thought you should know! :))

Please email me (by using the handy button on the side or by actually, physically, manually typing in susanna[AT]susannahill[DOT]com) and tell me your address and (never mind, Jarm – I have it from the PPB book mark mailing!) how you’d like Amy to sign it, and we’ll get it straight out to you!

So, have a nice weekend everyone!

What?

Oh, you think I forgot something?

Tee hee 🙂

Okay.  You twisted my arm.  I’ll tell you who won the Halloweensie Contest.  And let me just say – it was quite the nail biter!  But the voters have spoken!

And the winner is…

Oh.  I guess we better have trumpets AND a drum roll this time.

Okay.  The winner is…

Wait!  Maybe we should also throw some confetti, wouldn’t that be nice?

Okay, really.  The winner is…

Cake, anyone?  Something festive and Halloween-y?

Okay, really and truly.  The winner is…

Julie with Hallow‘s Eve!!!

Congratulations, Julie, for a fun story that even included the term halloweensie!!! and was artistically presented in the shape of a cat 🙂  (At least, it looks like a cat to me, but I suppose it could be a halloweensie mouse :))  Julie, you are the lucky recipient of the 5 signed picture books from our generous and talented fellow authors.  You will receive Marathon Mouse by Amy Dixon, The Three Ninja Pigs by Corey Rosen Schwartz, Puzzled By Pink by Sarah Frances Hardy, Flap! by Alison Hertz, and The Monster Who Lost His Mean by Tiffany Strelitz Haber!  Please email me and let me know how you’d like them signed and we’ll all get on the case 🙂  You are also the distinguished recipient of the incredible fame that comes with winning a contest of this caliber.  You can now hold your head high and proudly tell everyone you see that you won the Halloweensie Contest!  Not just anyone can say that!  (In fact, at the moment, only one other person in the world can say that – Cathy who won last year :))  Fame, I tell you! 🙂

Second place and a $25 Amazon gift card goes to Laura R for Jack O’Lantern!

Third place and a $15 Amazon gift card goes to Nancy for Halloween Drives Me Batty!

Congratulations to all the winners!

But I’d like to say again how fabulous ALL the entries were, and congratulate everyone who entered.  You all did a great job, and I know how hard it is to put your work out there, so BRAVO!!!  I know I speak for everyone when I say how much we all enjoyed reading ALL the entries!

And here’s a little heads up.  I’m not running the Thanksgiving Contest this year.  I think it’s just too much with everything else going on in November and having just finished the Halloweensie Contest.  But I WILL be running the Holiday Contest during the week of December 19-24.  And I’ll tell you right now that there are 5 (that’s FIVE!) Picture Book Manuscript Critiques up for grabs to the winners of that contest!!!  And maybe some other good stuff too!  So start thinking holiday thoughts.  Make some notes.  And be sure to keep your calendar open enough to participate!  The reason there are 5 fabulous prizes is because we got so many entries for that contest last year, which gave me the impression (possibly misguided :)) that it was popular.  So I hope people will enter, and please spread the word to anyone you know who might be interested.  I will post the contest rules in the first week of December… hopefully… 🙂

Okay.  Now for real, go have a nice weekend 🙂  PPBF bloggers, please remember to add your post-specific link to the list below!

The Halloweensie Contest Finalists – Vote For Your Favorite!!!

The time has come, the walrus said, for the Halloweensie Contest Finalists to be revealed!!!

I can just feel the very air quivering with excitement!!!

Let me just say that I was bowled over – by both the number and the quality of the entries!!!  I NEVER expected a turnout like this!  I was so happy at the response and enthusiasm – really it was just wonderful!  I had SO much fun going around to read each new entry as it was added to the list – each better than the last.  I hope you all had as much fun with it as I did.

Now, I realize I said I’d try to narrow the field down to 3 finalists, but you all know I can pretty much never do that anyway 🙂 and that was before I knew there were 38 entries!  And in this case there were so many great entries that cutting any of them was brutal!  So after much hemming and hawing and gnashing of teeth and consulting with my lovely assistant, I have ruthlessly done away with more than 75% of the competition – much as it pained me! – and have left you less than a quarter to choose from (and that’s just as close as we’re going to get to correct percentages because math is not my thing!)  And I’d like to say right up front that many of the entries that were cut I was EXTREMELY nitpicky about because I had to cut something!  They were all excellent!

I also decided that since there were so many entries I should give a couple more prizes.  So while the winner will still receive the fabulous 5 signed picture books, 2nd place will receive a $25 Amazon gift certificate, and 3rd place will receive a $15 Amazon gift certificate (which was the best I could think up on short notice!  If anyone has a better idea, let me know :))

So, with GREAT FANFARE, here are the finalists!  They were chosen on the basis of kid appeal and quality of story within 100 words – tough criteria.  Please read through and then vote for your favorite by Thursday November 8 at 6 PM EST.  In the interest of trying to help you be objective they are listed by title only – no author names for now (though of course if you have photographic memories and remember who wrote what I can’t help with the objectivity :))

I would also like to add that, for spookiness/creepiness, Renee (’round the moonlit town) and Sidney (The Last House) should receive honorable mention.  And for the other 2 stories that I finally cut because I decided 10 finalists was just too many and these were a little more like character sketches than stories but still really, really good, honorable mention to Cathy (The Halloween Queen) and Lauri (No Trick-orTreating For Jack).  But really – excellent job EVERYONE, and thank you all for providing us with such fantastic Halloween entertainment!

#1 Sneak-a-Sweet

There was a little witch
who kept a little bat
high upon the top
of her little pointy hat.
Every Halloween
when she would trick-or-treat,
the little bat would swoop right down
and grab an extra sweet.
The bat knew this was sneaky,
impolite and , yes, uncouth—
But when your home’s a witch‘s hat
you MUST tend her sweet tooth!


#2 The Witches of Fairy Top Hill


On Halloween eve up on Fairy Top Hill,
A trio of witches, Pam, Tamsin and Lil,
Were practicing magic and chanting out loud,
“Bat-candy, bat-candy…rain down from that cloud!”
“Kaput! and Kabob!” Pam invoked with a shout
The sky quickly filled with a hover of trout.
“Kibosh! and Pish-posh!” Tamsin yelled with finesse.
A chorus of frogs joined the fish-slippy mess.
Then bold Lil spoke up, “This is Trick-or-Treat night,
And children get candy and Turkish delight.”
Costumed as young children…with treat bags to fill,
The trio went guising, Pam, Tamsin and Lil.

#3 The Little Scaredy Witch

Chloe was a scaredy witch. She was scared of bats, jack-o-lanterns, and most of all, costumed trick-or-treaters. Her sister Mavis told her, “Don’t be a scaredy witch! You’re supposed to be the one scaring people on Halloween.” With Halloween days away, Chloe worried about the trick-or-treaters who would visit. Maybe she would hide until Halloween was over. She found a sheet, and draped it over her head. Mavis walked in and screamed. “You frightened me!” said Mavis. Chloe suddenly felt braver with her sheet. So on Halloween night, she wore the sheet and happily greeted trick-or-treaters at the door. “Boo!”

#4 Witch Party

The wee witchis very excited,
her pointed toes quiver with glee.
Today is the day
all the ghouls come to play.
This night will be super spooky. 
Bent tree branches scratch at the windows,
carved pumpkins do flicker and scowl.
Dry leaves fly and swirl
as the batsstart to whirl,
cold wind swoops around with a howl.
Her cauldron glows green as it bubbles,
the wild creatures party all night.
No one on this street
dares to come trick or treat.
They’re all in a shivering fright.

#5 The Scariest Halloween

     Ghost heard an eerie sound. 
     Hee-hee-hee-hee!
     He trembled beneath his sheets.
     Ding-dong-ding-dong
     Ghost froze. “It’s probably just a bat,” he said.
     He hid behind the curtain and peeked out his window. 
     Princesses, fairies, and superheroes roamed the streets singing, “Trick or treat!”
     “How could I forget?” said Ghost.
     He called Mummy, Skeleton, and Witch.
     “It’s Halloween!”
     They dashed out of their house.
     “Boooo,” wailed Ghost.
     “Muahahahaha,” cried Mummy.
     “Ah-ah-ah-ah-ah!” chattered Skeleton.
     “Ack-yak-yak-yak,” shrieked Witch.
     They scurried to the streets, running amuck until they reached their hiding place.
     A banana whizzed by them.  “This is the scariest Halloween ever!” said Ghost.


#6 Hallow’s Eve

#7 Halloween Drives Me Batty

Winifred stared at the calendar, “It’s Halloween!
Unimpressed, her black cat, Ebony, turned away and returned to slumber.
“I know witches are supposed to like Halloween.  But I don’t.  Halloween drives me batty.  I never want to hear  “trick-or-treat” again.” 
Winifred grabbed her Spell Book and turned pages, “No . . . No . . . Not a chance . . . Hmm . . . Maybe . . . No . . . YES!” 
Winifred chanted as she tossed ingredients into her cauldron: 
Eye of Newt, Hair of Dog, Wing of Bat

Just for today . . . turn me into a Cat!
*POOF*
Winifred padded over to join Ebony for a cat nap, and purred, “Better catty, than batty.”

#8 JACK O’LANTERN

Jack O’Lantern was an orange-headed kid
With a very round face, a stem on his lid.
On Halloween night, Jack met an old witch.
He begged for a spell and presented his pitch.
“I want to trick-or-treat like a regular boy
In spooky attire.  I love Almond Joys.”
Jack guzzled her brew, full of bat wings
And all sorts of other odd, horrible things.
“Jack?” Joe asked.  “You’re as white as a ghost.”
“A witch threw a pumpkin. I thought you were toast!”
“My pumpkin head’s gone! I feel….BOO!” Jack haunted.
“Turning into a ghost was not what I wanted.”

I know!  Tough choice, right?  We need all the votes we can get!  Ready, go!

Guest Post From Author Amy Dixon! (And A Giveaway!!!)

Happy Monday Everyone!

Boy did I wrestle with this post.

As you know, today is our day for a guest post from Amy Dixon, author of MARATHON MOUSE.  (And did I mention there’s a giveaway?!!)

It was also supposed to be the day I posted the Halloweensie Contest Finalists (of which there are a lot more than 3 because at final count we had 38 entries and 3 finalists was simply not a number I could get down to with so many fantastic stories!!!)

I actually started writing the post thinking I’d put everything in.

But by the time I got to the end of Amy’s part, I knew it wasn’t going to work.  Wonderful as you all are, I felt it was just too much to ask you to go on from Amy’s post to the contest finalists – it was getting VERY long.  So since today is her scheduled day, I hope you will all thoroughly enjoy her post, which is full of inspiring words for writers!  I will post the Halloweensie Contest finalists in a separate post either later on today or tomorrow (which I realize is not a normal posting day for me) – feel free to tell me in the comments which you’d prefer!

So without further ado, heeeeerrrre’s AMY!

Amy Dixon

When I was growing up, some of my favorite books involved one Miss Ramona Quimby. I’m sure I related to her trials as the little sister, and to her attempts to prove herself worthy of admiration and acceptance. I will say though, that Ramona went to much greater lengths to gain such admiration. I never accidentally cracked a raw egg on my head, or wore a Chiquita banana sticker on my face in order to be a part of the latest fad. But I was always delighted by her antics, and always wished, in spite of what seemed like constant embarrassment, that I could be more like her. What perhaps now I would categorize as impulsiveness, I then regarded as bravery. Ramona was brave. I wanted to be brave, too.
It was my affection for Ramona that made the nickname I earned on the soccer field when I was 10 a little more palatable. My sister and I both played on a team called The Golden Touch. I wasn’t a flashy player. I don’t think I ever saved or scored a goal. But our coach would put me in the midfield, point out one of our opponents and say, “Don’t you let her get by you.” I took his charge seriously. I followed that player around on the field like a stray puppy who was once given a scrap and was hoping for more. I would not leave her alone for a second. And so, on the soccer field, I became Amy the Pest.
When I started writing for children six years ago, I had no idea the tenacity that would be required to make things happen in this business. It definitely called for a bit of…pesty-ness.  Not a bombard-agents-and-editors-with-e-mails-and-phone-calls-till-your-name-is-engraved-on-their-list-of-psycho-writers kind of pesty-ness. But a persistent, persevering, resilient kind of pesty-ness. A pesty-ness that revises the same manuscript 27 times until it is just perfect…and then starts from scratch because an editor thinks it would work better in third person.  A pesty-ness that takes in each painful rejection and yet still finds a way to send the story back out again. A pesty-ness that makes us certain those rejections will be fun to share later in a “look how many times my amazing, award-winning story was scoffed at before it sold!” presentation.
And so, 20 years after my days as a half-back for the Golden Touch, Amy the Pest was resurrected. I wrote. I revised. I critiqued. I conferenced. I submitted. I was rejected. I revised some more. I submitted some more. I was rejected some more. I buzzed in the ear of the publishing world, and was swatted away again and again.
But like Ramona and her questions about Steam Shovels and their bathroom habits, I wouldn’t go away. I believed in my work. I had critique partners who believed in my work. And somewhere in there, somewhere in between growing as a writer and learning the business of publishing, I became brave. Brave enough to send out MARATHON MOUSE, even after getting some discouraging editor feedback. (So…all that happens in this book is…he runs? Am I missing something?) Brave enough to get a publisher’s offer on MARATHON MOUSE, and ask the editor for 2 weeks to follow-up with agents before saying yes. Brave enough to now say out loud, “I am a writer.”
Get your copy today! 🙂
So here I am…Amy Dixon, Age 37. Here to encourage you to channel your inner Ramona. Release your pesty-ness.  Learn to be brave. You will grow as a writer, even if, every once in a while, you end up with a little raw egg on your head.


Wasn’t that just terrific?  Thank you so much for those inspiring words, Amy!

I will tell you all that I have read MARATHON MOUSE and will be posting it this Friday as my Perfect Picture Book – it’s fantastic and I highly recommend it and you should all find any excuse you can to buy it! 🙂

In the meantime, one lucky, lucky reader is going to win a signed copy, because Amy is just that wonderful!  All you have to do is leave a comment telling about something you accomplished (like a marathon :))  For example, I could say that once I was Sneezy in our third grade play of Blanche Neige – and if you’ve ever tried to sneeze in French you will know just what an accomplishment that was!  But I realize it’s Monday morning and many of you may not be fully caffeinated yet, so if you can’t remember anything you’ve accomplished at this hour you can just write why you’d like the book 🙂

Stay tuned for the Halloweensie Contest Finalists and don’t forget to let me know if you have a preference for later today or tomorrow.  The post is already written because it used to be half of this one 🙂

Have a lovely Monday 🙂

Perfect Picture Book Friday – All The Places To Love, And A Teensy Halloweensie Update

You know me.  Planning is not my strong suit.  I’m definitely a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants kinda gal.  But for today, I planned.  I had a book in mind.  I was all set.  I ordered my copy well in advance.  Unfortunately the release date was shifted.  Fortunately, it still shipped in time.  But… thanks to Sandy… delivery has been delayed, so today’s book, which was supposed to have been Marathon Mouse by Amy Dixon, just in time for the NYC marathon and in advance of her interview here on Monday, ain’t happenin’.  Sad face.  Apparently I am not destined to be a planner!

So instead, in the aftermath of Sandy when so many have lost so much, I’ve chosen a book I dearly love.  I know.  This makes two quiet books in a row.  But after the craziness of this hurricane week it seemed like a good choice.  I dare you to read it without feeling touched 🙂

All The Places To Love
Written By: Patricia MacLachlan
Illustrated By: Mike Wimmer
HarperColllins, 1994, Fiction

Suitable For: ages 3-8

Themes/Topics: appreciating what you have, love, family, new baby

Opening: “On the day I was born my grandmother wrapped me in a blanket made from the wool of her sheep.  She held me up to the window so that what I first heard was the wind.  What I first saw were all the places to love…”

Brief Synopsis: Everyone in Eli’s family has a favorite place – Mama loves the blueberry barren, grandmother loves the river, grandfather loves the barn.  “Where else,” he says, “can the soft sound of cows chewing make all the difference in the world?”  Eli knows that no matter where he goes in the world, all the places to love are right here, connected to his family, and always to be cherished.  Then one day, Eli and his grandfather wait together in the barn until grandmother holds someone new up to the window, wrapped in a blanket made from the wool of her sheep – Eli’s sister Sylvie – and he looks forward to sharing his joy, showing her all the places to love including his favorite, which is revealed in the end, but I won’t spoil it 🙂

Links To Resources:  here is a nice Teacher’s Guide, but I also think this book lends itself perfectly to discussion of the places YOU love and why.  Draw a picture of a place you love.  Make a list of places you love.  Talk about why you love them, what makes them special.

Why I Like This Book: I don’t just like this book – I absolutely love it.  The language is poetic and lyrical with a rhythm that makes it wonderful to read aloud.  The art is warm, loving, and so appealing.  The story is all about love, appreciation, and family.  It’s a quiet book, just right for bedtime or those moments when children need to settle down.  It brings all the warmth and comfort of love and family to the surface, giving children a model whereby they can revel in their own experience of the people and places they love.  I read this book many, many times to my kids and after all those readings, even now, it makes me teary every time (in a good way :))  Simply a gem.

Here’s the only other picture that was available on the internet for a glimpse of the beauty inside:

For the complete list of books with resources, please visit Perfect Picture Books.

And now, before you all rush off to read everyone’s wonderful offerings for today, a teensy Halloweensie Contest update.  We had an INCREDIBLE turn-out – 37 entries at the time of this writing (and I did say I’d extend the deadline to the end of today to help people who lost their power and couldn’t post or link up.)  If you haven’t had a chance to read them, please go HERE and have fun following the links and checking the comment section for the 6 that were entered there.  All these writers worked so hard, and produced such wonderful, entertaining stories I’d hate for you to miss any of them.  And a couple got added late and I’m worried they didn’t get many visitors 😦 so please, if you’re looking for a little light reading over the weekend, check them out!

Now, if all you amazing PPBF bloggers would kindly leave your post-specific links below, we’ll all come visit you with a piece of paper and a pencil so we can make extensive library lists 🙂  OH!  And don’t miss Monday’s post – with Amy Dixon, author of Marathon Mouse, and the vote for the Halloweensie Contest Winner (assuming my assistant judge and I have any luck narrowing this unbelievable field!)

Have a great weekend, everyone, and GOOD LUCK to anyone who is running the NYC Marathon (and that includes my better half! :))!!!

Oh Susanna – How Do You Decide Which Blogs To Follow?

Batten down the hatches, all my fellow east-coasters!  In spite of the fact that I bought candles on Friday and filled the bathtubs with water this morning, the Frankenstorm appears to be coming anyway. I hope you are all in a safe place with plenty of batteries and chocolate and possibly your floaties and a rowboat!

To keep your minds off whether or not your basement is likely to approximate Lake Superior by tomorrow, let’s dive in to today’s Oh Susanna question, which is one that strikes a real chord with me, and I’m guessing a lot of you will feel the same way.

Penny asks, How in the world do you decide which blogs to follow regularly??? I would love to follow everyone! I would love to comment on all posts! But, if I do that, I have no time to do what I really love, which is writing! I read lots of blogs that I only comment on randomly, so the writer never knows that I read them often. We have become so connected by the Internet that I sometimes feel rude because I can’t spend time with all my writing friends equally. Does anyone have a “qualifier” list for what blogs they will choose to best suit their goals? Do those who blog rely on comments to “keep them going”…or are you going to blog no matter what? Is anyone else as frustrated about this as I am? (I know you covered time management in one of your Oh Susanna! posts…but I think I need a refresher focusing on blogs.)

Yes, Penny!  I am definitely as frustrated as you are! 🙂

As Penny mentioned, we did discuss this a little in the Oh Susanna post on Time Management.  But I decided to post this more specific question because it’s something I think  lot of people wrestle with every day (including me! :)), and I’m very interested in hearing from everyone out there about how they handle this issue.

I think the answer partly depends on what you hope to get out of blogging.  If you’re trying to hone your craft, then you’ll read a list of blogs that focus on craft and you might not need to comment unless you have a question.  This is a very different picture from that of someone who is trying to build a platform and will have to visit and comment on many blogs regularly in hopes of encouraging them all to follow back.

If you, like me, blog for community – for the connection, the interaction, the discussion, the feeling of being part of a group of like-minded people, the friendship – there’s really no limit to how much time you CAN put in, which is where the problem lies.  And from the way Penny asked the question, I think this is at least partially what she’s talking about.

This is a knotty problem, because we do develop friendships.  There is a large group of people out there who I am very fond of even though technically I’ve never met them in real life :)!  I feel guilty if a day goes by when they post and I don’t have time to read, or I read but don’t have time to comment.  I worry they’ll feel slighted and think bad thoughts about me!

But let’s face it: there are only so many hours in the day.  And most of us here have things to do besides blog 🙂

Just for fun, let’s take a quick survey:

#1

#2

#3

I’m very interested to see how these turn out!  And I have a feeling the results may be a very informational part of this post for all of us.  I hope a lot of people will respond.

If it helps to share concrete information, I’ll tell you what I do: (and I will admit straight out that I DO NOT have the answer!)

The blogs I follow regularly belong, as a general rule, to writers, illustrators, teachers, librarians, and a few agents, editors, book reviewers, and mom bloggers – at least, those are the blogs I read with commitment.  (I confess there are a couple funny ones I read sometimes that don’t fit into any of those categories :))  These are the people I share common ground with, the blogs where many of my interests lie, that also intersect with what I have time for.  (I would love to read blogs about horses and dogs and a few other things, but I simply don’t have time, so for me blogging centers in a more professional area.)

I like having new posts delivered straight to my inbox, even though it fills up, because then I’m sure to see them.  Anyone whose blog does not include an email option is likely to get sporadic reading from me because I read so many that I tend to forget about some without the reminder.

I try to carve out a chunk of time at the approximate beginning, middle, and end of my work day to read and comment on blogs, but it is rarely that neat… reading and commenting on blogs feels deliciously like being productive at moments when the writing isn’t going well which makes it a nearly irresistible distraction 🙂

I read an average of 30-40 blogs per weekday (fewer on weekends – I’m trying to cut back :))  I comment on an average of 20-25 per day, maybe a little more.  Chances are high that if you ever see comments from me (and you have an email option for delivery :)) I’m reading your blog all the time – every post.

As for comments on my own blog, they are very important to me.  They let me know that I’m not just shouting into the abyss – that I hopefully provide something enjoyable maybe sometimes even valuable on some level.  And I genuinely like hearing everyone’s thoughts on everything.

Truthfully I feel like the amount of blogging I do is both insufficient and far too much.

Wouldn’t it be great if we could agree on some sort of system?  So that we could spend a little more time on our actual work without worrying that our friends are feeling neglected and unloved?  Maybe an “I’m-Up-To-My-Eyeballs-But-I-Took-The-Time-To-Come-Over-Here-So-You’d-Know-I-Still-Love-You-Even-Though-I’m-Not-Reading-Or-Commenting-Today” button? 🙂

What works for one may not work for another, but it sure would be helpful to hear from you all about how you manage.  How do you decide who to read?  How much is enough?  Please share!!!

(And remember!  Only 2 days until the Halloweensie Contest!  Rules HERE!)