The 2016 Halloweensie Contest Finalists!



Snooze button.

It’s Monday.


Wait!  It’s Monday?!

Oh my gosh!

Get out of bed!


Stupid bed covers!

Oh my goodness!  What time is it?

Good gracious!  Is it late?

Wait.  If the clocks turned back yesterday does that mean it’s an hour earlier than it was? or an hour later?  Whose idea was daylight savings time anyway?  All it does is confuse things!  Where are my pants?!  I’m moving to Arizona (where they are intelligent enough NOT to go on daylight savings!) as soon as I get untangled from the bed covers and stop tripping over my own feet!

This is what happens!!!  Long days and late nights of poring over entries, reading and re-reading, analyzing, weighing, comparing, contrasting, gnashing teeth, rending garments, and consuming large amounts of chocolate TAKE THEIR TOLL!

And now, here we are, very possibly both late and pant-less but who can tell because we don’t live in Arizona?!

On the off chance, however, that you’re interested in the results regardless of the time or the pants, get ready for the 2016 Halloweensie Writing Contest Finalists!

We had the biggest turn out we’ve ever had in terms of number of entries – 150! – and the overall quality of the entries was fantastic.  Every contest I am thrilled to see that the quality of the entries has gone up yet another notch.  This means there are fewer obvious standouts, almost none that are easy to cut, and there a LOT of very good ones that we have to get very nit-picky over!  It is agony, I tell you!

Before we get to the actual list of finalists, I have a couple things to say.  (I know you’re shocked :))

First of all, I want to thank EVERYONE who took the time and care to write an entry for this contest.  You all did a fabulous job and provided great enjoyment for many!

Second, I’d also like to thank EVERYONE – writer, reader, or both – who took the time to 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, before I list the finalists, I want to say again how difficult it was too choose!  There were so many amazing entries.  Really.  I could find at least something terrific about every single one.  The sheer volume of entries meant that many good ones had to be cut.  So if yours didn’t make the final cut please don’t feel bad.  There was a huge amount of competition.  Judging, no matter how hard we try to be objective, is always subjective at a certain point – we all have our own preferences for what makes a great story.  And the fact that you didn’t make the final cut DOES NOT mean you didn’t write a great story.  Everyone who plonked their butt in a chair and worked hard to write a story for this contest is a winner!  You showed up.  You did your best work.  You practiced your craft.  You wrote to specifications and a deadline.  You bravely shared your writing with the world.  And you have a brand new story that is now yours to 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.  Onto the judging criteria which were as follows:

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.  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.

3. 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.  We looked for a character and a true story arc.

4. Quality of Writing: we took note of spelling, grammar, punctuation etc.  In addition, for the rhymers, we looked at rhyme and meter (for which we are sticklers!)  We also looked at overall writing quality and use of language.

5. Originality and creativity – because that is often what sets one story above another.

A surprising number of this year’s entries were amazingly written… but in spite of the warning, still failed to really tell a story.  They were more descriptions, lists, or mood pieces.  So as awesome as they were, we had to make some very hard calls.  A couple were too adult.  Some, because of the cruelly limiting word count were a little hard to follow.  Some of the rhyming ones we really liked were too off-meter to make the cut.  Some entries were just so close, but missed out because of one relatively small thing!

But, without further ado, I present to you the 2016 Halloweensie Contest Finalists.  A mix of poetry and prose, stories for younger readers and slightly older (but still kid) readers, funny, spooky, and cute.  Please read through them carefully, take your time, think it over, and vote for your favorite.  To help with objectivity, finalists are listed by title only, not by author.

And I’d like to be very clear about the voting process.  You are MOST welcome to share a link to this post on FB, twitter, or wherever you like to hang out, and encourage people to come read ALL the finalists and vote for the one they think is best.  Please do that.  The more people who read and enjoy these stories the better, and the more objective votes we get the better.  HOWEVER (and I want to be very clear on this) please do not ask people to vote for a specific number or title, or for the story about the pumpkin ballerina or whatever.  Trolling for votes or trying to influence the outcome is counter to the spirit of this competition which is supposed to be based on merit.  I thank you in advance for respecting this.

So here we go!

#1  Night Fright

“Ah, perfect,” Webster the spider said as he put on his vampire costume. “This will scare everyone.”

Unfortunately, he didn’t scare anyone at all.

“Not a single scream,” he complained.

Luckily, he had backup costumes.

Now he’d be a ghost!

“Not a single scream.”

How about a mummy?

“Not a single scream.”


“Not a single scream!”

Webster gave up and went home. If you couldn’t be scary on Halloween, what’s the point?

As Webster sat in the moonlight, everything started to shake.

“AAAAH! A SPIDER!” someone yelled as they walked through his web.

Webster smiled.

#2  Tree’s Halloween Costume

Halloween’s here. Kids trick-or-treat.
Witches, monsters, and ghosts fill the street.
Gnarly tree watches jealously,
wishing it could dress up. But tree’s a tree.

A Princess parades in satiny gown.
Gracing her head is a sparkly crown.
Tree has a crown but will never be
a Halloween princess. Tree’s a tree.

Two dressed as dogs bark and chase
one costume cat all over the place.
Tree has bark but, unfortunately,
can’t dress as a dog. Tree’s a tree.

Clouds disperse, revealing the moon.
Light shines down and very soon
tree’s shadow creeps, bigger and wider,
forming a black Halloween spider.

#3  The Dare

Jake paused before the ramshackle house. No ghosts or spiders decorated the porch. No light shone for trick-or-treaters. But there was no way he could back out now.

Breathing raggedly, he followed his shadow to the door and knocked.

The door opened. A stooped old woman stood in the moonlight. Witch? Or not? His heart beat witchwitchwitchwitchwitch…

“I’m afraid I haven’t any candy, young man.”

Not witch! He knew it!

Jake thought fast. “I have lots.” He held out his bag. “Would you like some of mine?”

“I’d love some,” she cackled, her gnarled hand tangling with his. “Come in.”

#4  The Witch’s Broom

The wicked witch she had an itch
to ride upon her broom.
She gazed into her crystal ball
and searched through every room.
She questioned “Boney” skeleton,
each spider, ghost and goon.
She even quizzed an alien
whose homeland was the moon.
Her broom was nowhere to be found.
The witch began to cry,
“With such a snag, seems this old hag
is never going to fly!”
Then wily witch, she improvised,
you really should have seen her.
That wicked witch, she pulled a switch
and rode the vacuum cleaner!

#5  Candy Korn

“Now this is more like it,” said Rolo. “A bowl with a view!”
“No, it’s bad! I heard about this,” said Twizzler. “They call it… Halloween.”
“Sounds fun!” said Airhead.
“It’s a once-a-year candy MASSACRE, Airhead!” said Twizzler. “First, we’re moved to a bowl under the moon, then a bag decorated with ghosts and spiders, then there’s jiggling and jostling…”
“See? Sounds fun!” insisted Airhead.
“Shh!” said Rolo.
“One by one we disappear,” said Twizzler. “With only our clothes left behind!”
“Spooky!” said Rolo.
Twizzler continued, “It’ll be okay unless we hear…”

#6  Spider and Ghost

On a moonless Halloween night,
Spider and Ghost clashed in a fight.
“My loudest boo,” Ghost declared.
“Causes thousands to be scared.”
“I’m clearly the scariest!” Spider screamed.
“A nightmare children have often dreamed.
Ghost boos flew with yowls and bangs.
Spider showed her venomous fangs.
Behind a tombstone, a monster rose,
with a bolted neck and ghoulish nose.
“You’re the scariest?” the creature chuckled.
As he stepped forward, their bravery buckled.
Spider’s legs shook, while Ghost shivered.
Feeling a fear they never delivered.
Spider and Ghost raced off in fright,
Knowing neither of them was right.

#7   Moon’s Halloween Surprise

In the middle of the night, Spider and Ghost prepared for Halloween.
Moon dropped down to join them.
“I’m going to make the biggest web ever,” Spider said.
“I’ll make the scariest sounds ever,” bragged Ghost.
Moon stayed silent. What could she do except hang in the sky?
The next day, while the children got ready,
Spider weaved.
Ghost practiced.
The sun went down, shadows lengthened, and Moon got an idea.
Halloween night,
Spider’s web was amazing.
Ghost’s sounds frightened.
But when Moon slid behind earth’s shadow,
Turning the night dark,
Everyone agreed, it was the best Halloween surprise ever.

#8  Little Miss Zombie

Little Miss Zombie
said “What a quandary!”
Eating her full-moon stew.
Along came ghost spider,
who sat down beside her,
hollering, “What will we do?!”

“Stay calm and be cool.
Don’t slobber or drool.
Remember they think it’s a game.
They wear costumes for fun;
take them off when they’re done.
They don’t know we are always the same.”

“We don’t have a choice
So lower your voice.
We’ll just give them candy to eat.
We can’t make a scene
for tonight’s Halloween!”
“Here they come! Open up…”

#9  Little Witch’s Holiday

Little Witch loved this time of year.
She loved the bright glow of the moon over the swirling leaves.
And how the air smelled like smoke.
“My favorite holiday is tomorrow! I have much to do!”
Little Witch’s friends knew not to interfere.
Spider watched her gather pumpkins.
Ghost watched her unload sweet treats.
Cat watched her sweep her front steps.
Finally, Little Witch was ready.
The doorbell rang and she peeked out the window.
Her friends were dressed up and waiting on her doorstep.
She smiled. It was time.
Little Witch threw open her door and shouted,
“Happy Thanksgiving!”

#10  Spider’s Trick or Treat

The Itsy-Bitsy Spider walked up the moonlit street,
knocked on a door and hoped for something sweet.
Out popped a ghost, scared Spider off her feet.
Guess the Itsy-Bitsy Spider forgot it’s TRICK or Treat!

#11  Itsy and Bitsy’s Halloween Treat

Itsy and Bitsy scurried down the path and scuttled up separate trees. Working together, they spun a giant web that shimmered in the moonlight.
“I think it’s our best yet,” said Itsy.
“Quick! They’re coming!” said Bitsy.
They lowered themselves into position as doorbells dinged in the distance. Soon, they spied three little ghosts skipping toward them.
“Boo!” yelled Itsy.
“Trick or Treat!” yelled Bitsy.
“Spider!” yelled the ghosts.
The buckets flew up, the candy fell down, and all three ghosts raced back to town.
“Happy Halloween!” said the spiders as they climbed on their web to feast.

#12  The Spider’s Treat

Samuel scanned the starry night.
He spied the silver moon,
lighting bright the ghostly night.
Halloween comes soon!

With all his spider heart he wished
to stop the trick-or-treaters
from tramping up his quiet street.
Those noisy candy eaters!

On Halloween, one giddy witch
swung wild her candy bucket.
Sweet treats flew straight for Samuel’s web.
Three pieces neatly struck it!

While tidying up his tangled web,
one foot touched chocolate candy.
With one sweet lick, the spider said,
“This holiday tastes dandy!

*                    *                    *                    *                    *                    *                     *

Now that you’ve had a chance to read through the finalists, please vote for the entry you feel deserves to win in the poll below by 5PM EST Wednesday November 9.

Tune in Thursday November 10 to see THE WINNERS!!!

Thank you all so much for taking the time to write (if you did), read, and vote!  These contests simply wouldn’t be what they are without all of you!

I can’t wait to see who the winners will be!

Tune in Thursday… same bat time, same bat station 🙂

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to lie on the couch and eat bonbons all day.


Not really.

I have to catch up with students, critique work, and stuff with a deadline!

But there might still be chocolate involved 🙂

Have a marvelous Monday everyone!!!  And make sure you VOTE!  It will warm you up for that other vote tomorrow 🙂


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

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



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 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

– 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

–  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

– 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

–  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

Middle Grade Books:

SUNNY SIDE UP Jennifer and Matthew Holm

(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


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


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!
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!!!!! 🙂