Would You Read It Wednesday # 126 – Martin’s Perfect Web (PB) PLUS The February Pitch Pick

I am SO excited!

Only ONE MORE DAY! until the Match Madness Writing Contest opens!

I cannot wait to read the fabulous entries I hope will soon be pouring in to distract us from the fact that it is still 10 degrees even though tomorrow is the official first day of spring!

(The only small fly in the ointment is that I STILL don’t have an idea for my sample story…  EEK!  I am seriously running out of time!!!)

One quick note on the contest: apparently the definition of “fairy tale” is a knotty one, not, as I thought, clearly the Snow White, Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood, Goldilocks, Sleeping Beauty, Ugly Duckling, Rapunzel, Rumplestiltskin etc. type of story.  So many people have argued their cases for nursery rhymes, fables, etc. and I don’t want to have to disqualify anyone over a difference in the definition of fairy tale, because different definitions do appear online, so whatever you guys have written is fine.  Apparently the rules were not clear enough, so my fellow judges and I will figure it out 🙂 But, I do hold the line on art notes.  Even if your story is intended to be a picture book, no art notes because we get into a weird area with word count.  And in answer to someone’s question, your title doesn’t count in the word count.

I think Something Chocolate might fuel the creative muse.  Let’s have some of Teresa’s French Chocolate Silk Pie, shall we?

Teresa’s French Chocolate Silk Pie – gorgeous, isn’t it?
And here’s a tasty view of a delicious slice – YUM!

Ah!  I feel more creative already! 🙂

But now let’s get down to brass tacks!

First, the February Pitch Pick.  Here are the contestants:

#1 Kristine
The STEM Girls Take Off – Picture Book (ages 5-8)
Sophia wants to win the school science fair, but when her project won’t cooperate, she uses perseverance and teamwork to bring home the goal, proving that every girl can be a STEM girl.

#2 Pam B
Fee Fi Fo Flub – Picture Book (ages 4-8)
The giant Mini wants to continue her school’s tradition of putting on the annual production of Klurg and the Beanstalk. But during practice, Mini’s co-star makes jokes and goes off-script, and Mini fears he will ruin the show. It is only when Mini makes her own blunder on opening night that she realizes the value of creativity and flexibility, and works with her co-star to make the show a success.

#3 Julie G
Diary Of A Linky Kid – Picture Book (ages 4-7)
Herman wishes he was like everyone else, but when all the other kids are gazing at their belly buttons during gym class, Herman is hiding his coil shaped tummy under his t-shirt. When just another day at school turns into a daring rescue mission, Herman becomes an unlikely hero when his flexibility saves the day.

#4 Steve
Silly Tilly – Picture Book (ages 4-8)
Tilly’s dreams of having a baby come true when a hatching egg presents her with a fluffy bundle of … crocodile! Everything is bliss until Charlie starts to grow. AND grow. When her friends start disappearing, Tilly worries that she’s next on the menu. But when Charlie invites her down to his cave, she’s in for a big surprise … party!

Please vote in the poll below by Friday March 21 at 11:59PM ET for the one you feel most deserves a read by editor Erin Molta.

Many thanks!!!

Today’s pitch comes to us from Beth H. who says she is a, “Chocaholic, reformed Catholic, (I don’t feel guilty anymore about eating chocolate), red wine lover – (no I was not an altar girl) seeking to publish children’s books that introduce children to self love, thinking out of the box and just plain silliness.”  

Here is her pitch:

Working Title: Martin’s Perfect Web
Age/Genre: Picture Book (ages 5-7)
The Pitch: In a quest to build the perfect web, an obsessive compulsive spider confronts his biggest fears through an unlikely friendship with an inquisitive dragon. In a wild ride on the dragon’s tail, Martin learns how to relax and enjoy the simple process of creating – leaving a beautiful web behind him to his utter disbelief.  

So what do you think?  Would You Read It?  YES, MAYBE or NO?

If your answer is YES, please feel free to tell us what you particularly liked and why the pitch piqued your interest.  If your answer is MAYBE or NO, please feel free to tell us what you think could be better in the spirit of helping Beth improve her pitch.  Helpful examples of possible alternate wordings are welcome.  (However, I must ask that comments be constructive and respectful.  I reserve the right not to publish comments that are mean because that is not what this is about.)
Please send YOUR pitches for the coming weeks!  For rules and where to submit, click on this link Would You Read It or on the Would You Read It tab in the bar above.  There are openings in July so you’ve got a little time to polish up your pitches and send yours for your chance to be read by editor Erin Molta!

Beth is looking forward to your thoughts on her pitch!  I am looking forward to the contest!  The March Madness Writing Contest!!  Which starts tomorrow!!!  I’m so excited!!!!  Oh, wait.  I’m having deja vu.  Did I already say that???  Never mind.  It’s still true.  Start counting the hours!!!

(And won’t I feel silly if my sample – which promises to be quite dreadful since I don’t even have an idea yet, and therefore have yet to write a single word with less than 12 hours before I have to post it –  is the only entry!  So please, save me from myself and enter! :))

See you tomorrow even though it’s Thursday…

Have a wonderful Wednesday, everyone! 🙂

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!
 “BOO!” she screamed.
“Cute nose!” the goblin said.
“I’m SCARY not CUTE!” Drusella cried.
“BOOO!” Drusella yelled.
“Beautiful eyes!” the dragon said.
“I’m SCARY not BEAUTIFUL!” Drusella hollered.
“BOOOO!” Drusella screamed.
 “Pretty nails!” the Witch said.
“BOOOO!” Drusella shouted.
 “Perfect ears,” the Witch cackled.

“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.
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.


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 :))

Vote For You Favorite Jingle! – And Your Favorite Kids Entry!

Alrighty my friends!  I hope you ate your Wheaties this morning!

Today is the day you get to vote for your favorite jingle!

You’ve got two big decisions ahead of you, so I won’t waste your time with a long intro.  Just go through the entries below, and after you’ve viewed them all, choose your favorite and vote!  Feel free to have your friends and relations visit and vote too.  You will have until Thursday May 16 at noon EDT to cast your vote, and I will announce the winner on Friday after Perfect Picture Books.  The prizes (if you need a refresher) can be viewed HERE.

Oh and BTW, I’m sorry I couldn’t get all the entires to load right here.  I tried.  But you know me and technology.  So I apologize if you have to click.  They should at least all open in separate windows or tabs!

Ready? Set? Vote!

#1 Ruth – rhyme, no tune

Text/Jingle Copyright Ruth Benedum 2013
Illustrations Copyright Mike Wohnoutka 2010

#2 Vivian – rhyme, no tune

Ava Ava needs some sleep.
Ava Ava counts some sheep.
Ava Ava wide awake!
Ava Ava take a break,
Count some pigs and cows instead.
Much too noisy for my bed!
If you please, I need my sleep
Cannot sleep without my sheep.

#3 Nancy – to the tune of Swagger Jagger

You can’t stop reading this book
Reading this book
Reading this book
You can’t stop reading this book
So get a copy now
You can’t stop counting those sheep
Counting those sheep
Counting those sheep
You can’t stop counting those sheep
So get a copy now
Can’t sleep without sheep
Can’t. Can’t.
Can’t sleep without sheep
So get a copy NOW!

#4 Heather – camp chant
Leader:  What do you do when you cannot sleep?
Group:  Call for sheep!  Call for sheep!
Leader:  What will you do when they jump the gate?
Group:  Count and wait!  Count and wait!
Leader:  What are you waiting for?
Group:  Sleep!  Sleep!  Sleep!
Leader:  What kind of sleep?
Group: Long and deep!  
Leader:  What will you do when the sheep wear out?

Group:  Um’s and uh’s and shoulder shrugs. 

Leader:  Sounds like you guys need a back up plan.  Read Susanna Hill’s  E-Book “Can’t Sleep Without Sheep” to find out what  happens after the sheep get tired.

#5 Delores – to the tune of Ghost Riders In The Sky
Go HERE to hear Delores sing it!
Young Ava
she went to bed
one dark and stormy night.
She said “Oh Mommy
please don’t turn out the light.
I’ve lost my sheep
and I can’t sleep
without him by my side.
How will I get to sleep tonight.”
was her mournful cry. 
“I need my sheep.
I need my shee-eep.
No sleep for me tonight.”
Up in the land of happy dreams
her mournful cry was heard
and one brave soul raised his head
and gazed upon his herd.
“We’re needed now
and we must run
to stand by Ava’s side.
If we don’t bleat
she won’t sleep.
Come on my friends, let’s ride.”
“She needs her sheep.
She needs her shee-eep.
Let’s help her sleep tonight.” 
They gathered
all around her bed
their bleating rose on high.
Young Ava smiled
and counted them
as round her bed they’d fly.
“I’ve got some sheep
now I can sleep
and every thing’s all right.
Brave Wulliam and the herd
have come to save the night.
I’ve got some sheep
Now I can slee-eep
Now I can sleep tonight.” 

#6 Iza – please click HERE to hear her jingle to the tune of The Beverly Hillbillies
Or go HERE and click on the link in her post if the above doesn’t work!

#7 Carrie

#8 Catherine – go HERE to see her video if it doesn’t come up below!
Ava hard time fallin’ asleep
Pigs and hippos too slow
and through the fence go buffalow
Lots of rushin’
Tush Tushin’
Haulin’ and hollerin’
Crowdy and rowdy
Oh sheep…come back!


#9 Penny – Go HERE to see her video!

#10 Julie – Go HERE to see her video if it doesn’t show up below


#11 Erik – please click HERE to see Erik’s sheep rap

#12 Laura – please click HERE to see her video to the tune of Clementine

#13 Tim – please click HERE to see his video if it doesn’t show up below



#1 Josie – please click HERE to see her 2 drawings.

#2 Matthew – please click HERE and scroll past Catherine’s video to the TOP drawing

#3 Rylee – please click HERE and scroll past Catherine’s video and Matthew’s drawing to the BOTTOM drawing.

As with the jingle poll, please cast your vote for the kids’ contest winner by Thursday May 16 at noon EDT.

Thank you all for being such good sports about entering and about voting!  Especially since, after all this, the e-book is still not available!  But we had fun anyway!

Looking forward to seeing who the winners will be!!!

Please spread the word to anyone you think would like to vote!

Have a great day, everyone! 🙂

Perfect Picture Book Friday PLUS Please Vote!

Happy first Friday of spring, everyone!

I am not letting the fact that it continues to be 20 degrees, windy, and snowy get me down.  It is officially spring!  Time is on our side 🙂  I haven’t seen Phyllis is days… she’s keeping a low profile.  I think she might actually be on the lam, hiding out in sunny Mexico where it feels like spring has arrived.  She and I are going to have words when she gets back! 🙂

Speaking of spring, if you have not yet had a chance to vote for your favorite finalist in the In Just Spring Contest, please go HERE – the voting is open until tomorrow – Saturday Match 23 at midnight.  It’s quite a tight race, and there’s an amazing prize on the line, so pretty please vote!

The In Just Spring Contest!

Please read the fantastic finalist stories and vote for your favorite HERE!!!

I had actually intended to skip Perfect Picture Book Friday today, so that the post with the vote would stay up until the poll closed, but I realized I forgot to say that ahead of time, and I thought some of you dedicated bloggers probably had PPBs scheduled to post today and I didn’t want to stand you up.  My compromise, such as it is :), is to not post a PPB today myself, but put up the contest voting reminder in pretty colors, and then post the link up list for you all to attach your wonderful books to so we can all come visit 🙂

So please add your post-specific link to the list below and we’ll all come add to our weekend library list! 🙂

Have a great weekend, everyone, and stay tuned Monday for the announcement of the In Just Spring Contest winner!  Ooh, the suspense!!! 🙂

Holiday Contest Finalists! – Vote For Your Favorite!

The 2nd Annual Holiday Contest!!!

I don’t know about you, but I am completely floored by a) how many entries we got for the Holiday Contest (40!!) and b) how good they all were!!!

What a job it’s been trying to winnow down 40 fantastic entries to a manageable number of finalists!  It’s actually a great exercise in understanding what editors must go through.  I could find at least something to like about every entry – it was a question of weighing and balancing strong points and weaker points and overall impression – and it gives me an appreciation for the subjectivity aspect of editorial choosing – it’s entirely possible that some of the finalists my assistant judge and I settled on are not the same ones you would have chosen.

All of this to say that everyone really did a wonderful job.  It was a pleasure to read every entry, and even if you didn’t make the list of finalists, please know that our decision was agonizing and there were many great things about every single story – we really wrestled with choosing the finalists and went back and forth for a LONG time! – so you should feel good about your effort no matter what!  And my assistant judge and I, as well as ALL the readers (there were over 1200 views of the Holiday Contest post alone, not to mention how many visits you all got on your individual posts) got loads of enjoyment and entertainment out of your wonderful stories, so thank you all so very much for participating and sharing your creativity with us all!

In the final analysis, though, the finalists were chosen on the basis of 1) kid appeal (it is a children’s story after all!) 2) originality/creativity 3) writing quality and story quality, and 4) if you chose to write in rhyme we were pretty strict about how well you did it since there was a prose option (although of the 40 entries, only 15 were in prose.)

Please review the finalists’ entries below and then vote for the one you think should win!  You have until midnight Christmas Eve to vote (December 24 11:59 PM EST.)  There are 10 finalists (I know!  I’m sorry!  But I did get it down to 25% of the entries, and a lot of you will have read them all already and there will be 5 prizes given!) and they’re all fantastic, so we’re going to need all the votes we can get! 🙂  Oh, and one more thing – if you make it all the way to the bottom, the girls and I have a special Holiday message for you and I really don’t think you’ll want to miss it 🙂

#1 Dashing Through The School

Dashing through the school,
The bell’s about to ring,
I can’t be late again,
And disappoint Miss Sing.
I’ve got the leading role,
The play’s about to start,
Through the doors and up on stage,
I’m born to play this part!

There’s the bell, there’s the bell,
I’m in the nick of time,
The auditorium is packed,
And the curtains start to climb.
“Jingle bells, jingle bells,”
The chorus sings in tune,
My tummy’s feeling funny,
‘Cause I know it’s my turn soon.

I take a big deep breath,
Step forward on the stage,
Look out at the crowd,
Is that my Aunty Paige?
The lights shine in my face,
This costume’s far too hot,
The words catch in my throat,
An actor, I am not.

Jingle bells, jingle bells,
They’re ringing in my head,
At practice I was doing fine,
But now I’m filled with dread!
I’m not well, I’m not well,
I’m really feeling ill,
I wonder if it’s not too late,
To swap my part with Bill.

I take another breath,
Deliver my first line,
The butterflies are gone,
Suddenly, I’m fine.
When the play is done,
Applause rings ‘round the hall,
I take my final bow,
I’m an actor after all!

I did well, I did well,
My heart is beating fast,
I never thought I’d feel this way,
The day that I was cast.
“Jingle bells, jingle bells,”
I’ll sing it loud and clear,
I wonder if they’ll let me play,
This part again next year.

#2 Christmas Bash-A-Roo

Tromping through the pines
In their woolen socks with toes,
Yetis march in lines
Grunting Ho, Ho, Ho’s!
They meet their Sasquatch friends,
And Bigfoot buddies too.
The time is here to all attend
The Christmas Bash-A-Roo!
Bigfoot tap, Yeti rap,
Sasquatch line dance too—
Gathered in the forest
For their Christmas Bash-A-Roo!
High up in the sky
A flash caused them to pause.
“Could this be the guy?
Could this be Santa Claus?
We’ve heard the tales of old.
We’ve heard the human lore,
But never has he joined our fold
At Christmas time before.”
Bigfoot tap, Yeti rap,
Sasquatch line dance too—
Gathered in the forest
For their Christmas Bash-A-Roo!
They heard a Ho! Ho! Ho!
And saw a red-nosed gleam.
Coming through the snow
Was Santa and his team.
“I think we can agree—
Though sightings have been few
It can be reality—
Yes, legends can be true”.
Bigfoot tap, Yeti rap
Sasquatch line dance too—
Gathered in the forest
For their Christmas Bash-A-Roo!
Santa flashed a grin
And said, “Hey guys, let’s bop.”
The reindeer joined right in
And did the Reindeer Hop.
He handed out sweet treats
To each and every beast.
Then said, “Let’s dance a few more beats
Before we fly on east.”
Black-boot tap, Santa rap
Reindeer line dance too.
What a holly-jolly,
Hairy Christmas Bash-A-Roo!
Santa waved goodbye
And headed to his sleigh.
He winked a twinkling eye
As he flew away.
Oh, what a joyful night—
A Santa Claus debut.
Oh how merry! Oh how bright!
The Christmas Bash-A-Roo!
Bigfoot tap, Yeti rap
Sasquatch line dance too—
Gathered in the forest
For their Christmas Bash-A-Roo!
Tromping through the pines
In worn out socks with toes
Yetis march in lines
Grunting Ho, Ho, Ho’s!
They wave at Sasquatch friends
And Bigfoot buddies too.
And say, “We’ll see you all again
At next year’s Bash-A-Roo.

#3 Garbage Truck, Garbage Truck

Trashing through the snow, in a noisy garbage truck,

The bins are hard to empty, with boxes getting stuck.

Crumpled wrapping paper, chunks of Styrofoam,

Packing peanuts everywhere are blown from home to home.

    Oh, garbage truck!  Garbage truck! After Christmas trash.

     Load it in the garbage truck and watch it mash and smash.

    Garbage truck!  Garbage truck! Haul it all away.

    What looked so festive yesterday is now J-U-N-K.

Dried-up wreaths with bows, Lights that didn’t light,

Toys already broken, clothes that got too tight.

The garbage man is tired.  He’s handled lots of stuff.

He wishes folks could see that they already have enough.

          Oh, garbage truck!  Garbage truck! After Christmas trash.

          Load it in the garbage truck and watch it mash and smash.

          Garbage truck!  Garbage truck! Haul it all away.

          What looked so festive yesterday is now J-U-N-K.

The garbage man goes home, and hugs his kids and wife.

They eat and read together, a calm, uncluttered life.

He’s happy with his job, but wishes people knew

That things don’t bring you happiness, but times together do.

        Oh, garbage truck!  Garbage truck! After Christmas trash.

          Load it in the garbage truck and watch it mash and smash.

          Garbage truck!  Garbage truck! Watch it blend and mix.

          So much turns to garbage on December 26.

#4 The Tree

Sliding through the snow
in Granddad’s beat-up truck,
Looking for a tree.
  Not having any luck.

Evergreens galore.
The Spruce and Firs abound
Nothing fits our search –
too dense, too big, too round.

Finally I spy
the perfect Christmas tree.
Granddad swings his axe,
“Ready. One, two, three!”

“Granddad, stop!” I shout,
“I see a mouse nose there.
Don’t you see that nest?
And isn’t that a hare?”

Thoughts swirl round my head.
I tell Granddad my plan.
He wags his graying beard,
then shakes my mittened hand.
Singing as we drive,
we race back to the farm.
I raid the kitchen store,
while Granddad raids the barn.

Night begins to fall.
We truck back through the snow –
find our lonely tree,
lit up in starry glow.

Stringing beans and hay,
instead of paper chains.
Nuts and seeds in fat,
we cover all in grains.

Then we sit and wait.
and slowly they appear.
The bestest gift and tree
from any Christmas year.

#5 Humphrey The Humbug

Dropping through the mail slot in a BAH-Mobile, came Humphrey. Humphrey was no ordinary bug. He was a Humbug. And being a Humbug, Humphrey had to follow one simple rule: ‘Make Christmas cheer disappear.’
It was Christmas Eve. Humphrey’s well-trained eye zeroed in on the slightly tilting Christmas tree. “All I have to do is give that tree a push, knock over the glitter, and let the cookies burn and the Holly Household’s Christmas cheer will soon melt into the Grinchy grumps,” Humphrey said to himself.
But I can’t wreck another Christmas, thought Humphrey. The truth was, Humphrey was a half-hearted Humbug. He secretly liked everything about Christmas: the tree, the lights, and especially the music.
He poked his head out of his BAH-Mobile.  The coast was clear. First, he made his way to the tree but, instead of giving it a push, he made it stand taller, tightening the bolts in the stand.  Next, he took the jar of glitter and tightly screwed on the lid. Finally, he set the kitchen timer so the Holly’s would take the cookies out of the oven. 
Humphrey settled down inside his BAH-Mobile, happy for the first time. I spread Christmas cheer this year, he thought, as he drifted off to sleep.
Humphrey awoke to a laugh. “Ho, Ho, Ho,” chuckled Santa. “I’ve caught a Humbug!”  He gently placed Humphrey on his knee.
“I know I’m on the Naughty List, Santa, but let me explain,” started Humphrey.  Santa held up his hand.
“You are mistaken, Humphrey.  You are on the Nice List this year.”
“I am?”
“You, my friend, have had what is called a ‘Change-of-Heart.’
“Yes!” said Humphrey. “I don’t feel like a Humbug anymore.”
“Did you know,” asked Santa, “that Humbugs are very musical?”
“I do like to hum,” said Humphrey.
Santa handed Humphrey a small package. “My first present!” he shouted. Tearing it open, Humphrey found a book of Christmas carols. “Oh, thank you!” he beamed.
Now, at Christmastime, Humphrey, the humming bug, follows his own rule: “Hum carols far and near to make Christmas cheer appear!”  

#6 That’s Not Santa!

Walking through the mall,
In my brand new Christmas Shoes,
Look at that kid bawl,
I have got the blues!
My mom smiles at me,
She wants this photo,
Can’t anybody see,
His beard is fake,
His eyebrows snake,
His mustache is dark brown,
I feel bad for the lad,
That Santa just put down!
He has a belt,
It’s made of felt,
That just makes me pause,
His suit’s off-red, like I said,
(Second Verse)
I don’t have a choice,
Four more kids to go,
I hear Santa’s voice,
He says “Hoo Ha Ho”?
The girl on Santa’s knee,
Looks as scared as she can be,
The camera makes a flash,
The girl makes a dash!
His beard is fake,
His eyebrows snake,
His boots are made of plastic,
I’m ahead and my mom said,
“This will be fantastic”!
He has no belly,
That shakes like jelly,
I am feeling sick,
On his lap is when I yap,

#7 Jingle Sheep

Tiptoeing through the fog
On teeny tiny feet,
Six hundred wooly sheep
Were sneaking down the street.
Poor Santa had the flu.
His temperature was high.
His doctor told him, “Stay in bed
And stay out of the sky.”
Wooly sheep, sneaky sheep
Come to Santa’s aid
Wearing beards and Santa hats
And antlers that they made.
Wooly sheep, sneaky sheep
Glad to help St. Nick
Spreading joy and happiness
With a festive, merry kick.
The sheep tried very hard
To visit every child.
They tried to keep it quiet
But soon got very wild.
The children did not dream
Of sugarplums and toys.
They peeked out of their bedroom doors
To wonder at the noise.
Wooly sheep, sneaky sheep
Come to Santa’s aid
Wearing beards and Santa hats
And antlers that they made
Wooly sheep, sneaky sheep
Glad to help St. Nick
Spreading joy and happiness
With a festive, merry kick.
At first the children stared
And some began to cry.
They then began to giggle
And not be quite so shy.
The sheep shared all their hats
And danced around the tree.
The children shared their gingerbread
With shouts of happy glee.
Wooly sheep, sneaky sheep
Come to Santa’s aid
Wearing beards and Santa hats
And antlers that they made
Wooly sheep, sneaky sheep
Glad to help St. Nick
Spreading joy and happiness
With a festive, merry kick.
The sun began to rise.
The party had been grand.
The gifts had been delivered,
Though not like Santa planned.
He thanked them just the same,
The dear sweet, sneaky sheep.
He asked them what they wanted.
They asked for sixty jeeps.
Wooly sheep, sneaky sheep
Come to Santa’s aid
Wearing beards and Santa hats
And antlers that they made
Wooly sheep, sneaky sheep
Glad to help St. Nick
Spreading joy and happiness
With a festive, merry kick.

#8 New Skates Please, Santa!

Wobbling on the ice
In my sister’s worn-out skates,
I might as well be wearing
Great big wooden crates!
The blades are really dull,
They’re too big for my feet,
and when I try to glide along
I end up on my seat!
Scrape, scrape, scrape,
Skid, skid, skid,
I do a crazy dance,
I can never learn to skate
While sitting on my pants!
Thump, thump, splat,
Ow, ow, drat,
Falling’s not much fun,
I’d really rather glide and twirl
And whirl like everyone.
My friends all have new skates
They glide around with ease
While I just watch them swish right by
Me, fallen on my knees.
It’s almost Christmas Eve,
I’ve wished upon a star,
I hope that Santa hears my plea
And brings skates from afar.
Scrape, scrape, scrape,
Skid, skid, skid,
I do a crazy dance,
I can never learn to skate
While sitting on my pants!
Thump, thump, splat,
Ow, ow, drat,
Falling’s not much fun,
I’d really rather glide and twirl
And whirl like everyone.
The presents are unwrapped,
No shiny skates in sight,
Just sweaters, hats, and oranges –
but what about tonight?
My sis hands me a box
and much to my surprise
Bright shiny skates, the kind I wished,
And look! They’re just my size!
Swish, swish, swish,
Zip, zip, zoom,
My skates are really fast,
I can whirl and twirl all day
And never be outclassed.
Swoosh, swoosh, swoosh,
Jump, twirl, spin,
Across the ice I glide,
This is better than I dreamed,
I’ll never go inside!

#9 How The Grinch Spends Christmas

Dashing through the snow
In Santa’s stolen sleigh
Over Santa’s toe
Laughing all the way. MUA-HA-HA!
Flying snowballs sting
I’m not at all contrite
How fun it is to toss and fling
The gifts into the night.

Oh, bah humbug, Christmas, ugh!
Mischief saves the day
Trouble making – Reindeer MUSH!
In Santa’s stolen sleigh
Bah humbug, Christmas, ugh!
Mischief saves the day
Trouble making – Reindeer MUSH!
In Santa’s stolen sleigh

This morning when I woke
I thought, “The fun begins,”
I’ll lick the cookies clean
Return them to their tins
Pluck festive door wreathes bare
Chop down Christmas trees
Cram stockings — not the kind you wear —
With coal lumps to the knees

Oh, bah humbug, Christmas, ugh!
Mischief saves the day
Shelf Elf shaking, snow globe breaking
Reindeer led astray
Bah humbug, Christmas, ugh!
Mischief saves the day
Snowman baking, present taking
In the mall Santa’s toupee.

Whooshing far and near
Dropping water bombs away
Then, Santa calls his deer
And rats! They do obey
He hums a little tune
Shakes his head so slight
Nails me with the last balloon
And flies into the night.

Oh, bah humbug, Christmas, ugh!
Santa made my day
I think I saw him gloating
As he rode his sleigh away
Bah humbug, Christmas, ugh!
Mean is in my genes
I can’t wait for him to find

I fed his reindeer beans. 

#10 Dashing Through The Snow

“Dashing through the snow in a one horse open sleigh…” The song floated from the kitchen radio. Holly heard her neighbor, Mrs. Frost, humming along.
Holly stared out the window at the snowless neighborhood and sighed. Would she ever have a white Christmas? She picked up the snow globe from the table and shook it. Tiny white flakes swirled about the miniature horse pulling a sleigh with two riders.
Mrs. Frost poked her head into the living room and smiled. “The first batch of cookies is almost done. Once they’re cool, you can help me ice them, okay?”
Holly grinned. “Sure!”
Mrs. Frost was Holly’s favorite grown up…besides her mom and dad, of course. There was something kind of magic about her, especially at Christmas. Her house glowed with red and green lights and holiday decorations. She even had a Christmas name. Like Holly.
Holly shook the snow globe again and set it on the window sill. She watched the tiny flakes spiraling inside. The song continued to play. “Dashing through the snow…” Her eyelids drooped. “I wish we had snow,” she whispered.
Suddenly, wind whipped through her hair, and she squinted as wet flakes splattered her face. “What?” She gasped in the chilly air. “Where am I?”
“Dashing through the snow, of course!” Mrs. Frost sat beside her, chuckling. She held the reins to a horse covered in white. Its neigh echoed like laughter.
Holly glanced down. Tiny houses flickered with Christmas lights far below. “We’re flying!” she yelled.
Snow flurries danced around them. “We’re dashing!” Mrs. Frost snapped the reins.
“It’s time,” she said.
Someone gently shook Holly’s shoulder. She opened her eyes to see Mrs. Frost standing beside her. “It’s time to ice the cookies.”
Holly blinked. A dream? She shivered. But it felt so real.
“Oh, look!” said Mrs. Frost.
Holly peered out the window. “It’s snowing!” Fluffy white flakes tumbled down.
She turned to Mrs. Frost and spotted something sparkling in her hair. Could it be?
Mrs. Frost’s eyes twinkled.
Holly was sure she saw a snowflake…before it melted away.

I told you it was going to be tough!  Ready, set, VOTE!

And my assistant judge and I felt we really must give Honorable Mention to Julie for Splash! Crash! Dash! – sibling Christmas vacation, very well written!, Renee for Holidaze – quite possibly the cleverest entry and amazingly well done, Carrie for Christmas In Lights which had a wonderful message about helping neighbors, Maria for Elmer The Christmas Sprite – a lovely, original, quiet story, and Linda for In A Daddy Open Buggy – excellent, excellent small child POV!  Oh, and I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention Jill whose story I Believe brought tears to my eyes with its wonderful ending, and Delores’s A Christmas Memory with it’s evocative writing and lovely nostalgic feel…  And now I’m going to stop before I’ve got the entire list up here 🙂

Have fun voting everyone!  And here’s a little holiday message from me and the girls 🙂

P.S.  I wasn’t going to post on Monday… and I still might not… but there may be a special surprise post going up that day if I can get it written and organized and if the stars are properly aligned… 🙂  If I can’t pull it off, then I’ll see you on Wednesday the 26th with the winners.  Happy Holidays Everyone! 🙂

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. 
     He trembled beneath his sheets.
     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!
Winifred padded over to join Ebony for a cat nap, and purred, “Better catty, than batty.”


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!