Wheee-hee-hee! Witches In The Air! – Announcing The Guidelines For The 11th Annual Halloweensie Writing Contest!

So, I know it’s Monday and I don’t usually post on Mondays.

But this is a special Monday.

A Monday I post on almost every year (except when I’m really behind schedule and end up on a random Thursday…😊)

And you know what I’m about to say, right?

Of course you do!

This isn’t your first trip around the blog! (See what I did there?)

So. . . .

. . .it’s time for our annual history lesson!

On this day in 1492 (well, ok, not actually THIS day because who really knows whether it was the 2nd Monday of October or perhaps a random Thursday?), good ole Chris Columbus, your friend and mine (we can call him Chris because we’re buddies), sailed the ocean blue (although, if we’re being accurate, while the Mediterranean is most certainly blue, the Atlantic, is just as often gray or green) and got credit for discovering America (even though it might actually have been Irish monks, the Vikings, or China), resulting in us getting to skip school and work on the 2nd Monday in October every year (which circles back to why we are friends!)

Across the wild ocean he sailed with the Nina, the Pinta, and the Santa Maria (the boat he was actually on), sporting (most likely) breeches, a doublet, stockings, shoes, and a short cloak. (I know he’s often pictured with a foofy hat, but really, that would be so impractical in the wild ocean winds, so let’s nix the hat.)

But do you know who doesn’t nix the hat?



You hardly ever see a witch without a hat. It’s an essential part of their look.

And what, pray tell, I hear you asking, do witches have to do with Columbus?

Absolutely nothing!

But they have everything to do with

The 11th Annual Halloweensie Writing Contest!!!

~ for children’s writers ~

So! Are you ready?

THE CONTEST: write a 100 word Halloween story appropriate for children (children here defined as 12 and under) (title not included in word count) using the words glow-in-the-dark, goosebumps, and goodies.

  • Your story can be poetry or prose, scary, funny, sweet, or anything in between, but it will only count for the contest if it includes those 3 words and is 100 words. Get it? Halloweensie – because it’s not very long and it’s for little people 😊
  • You can go under the word count but not over!
  • Title is not included in the word count.
  • Also, being super clear for this year, glow-in-the-dark counts as 1 word (even though it looks like 4 😊)
  • You may use the words in any form i.e. glowed-in-the-dark, goosebumpley, goody (“Oh, goody!”, goody-two-shoes etc.), whathaveyou 😊
  • You are welcome to enter more than one entry – just remember you’ll be competing against yourself 😊
  • No illustration notes please!

And yes, I know 100 words is short, but that’s part of the fun and the challenge! We got just shy of 300 fantastic entries last year, so I know you can do it!

POST: your story in the comment section of the Official Contest Post between 12AM Eastern Friday October 29th (the day the official contest post will go up here) and Sunday October 31st at Midnight – the witching hour! (see, there are those witches again 😊)

  • For those of you who would also like to post on your blogs, please feel free to do so! You are welcome to include the link to your blog with your entry in the comment section of the Official Contest Post so that people can come visit your blog, but all entries must be posted in the comment section of the Official Contest Post between 12 AM Eastern Friday October 29th and Sunday October 31st at Midnight.
  • If you have difficulty posting your entry to the comments, which unfortunately sometimes happens, you may email your entry to me and I’ll post it for you! [susanna[at]susannahill[dot]com Please place your entry in the body of the email including your title and byline at the top NO ATTACHMENTS! and please do not submit any entries before the official opening of the contest at 12AM Friday October 29th. They will not be accepted.
  • I know how hard you all work on your entries, and how anxious you are to get them posted, but please try to be a little patient if your entry doesn’t show up immediately. Many comments have to be manually approved, and it sometimes takes me a little while to post entries that come in by email. I promise I will get to everything as soon as I can. I try never to leave my desk during contests, but sometimes it’s unavoidable 😊

THE JUDGING: in a grueling marathon over the following days, my devoted assistants and I will read and re-read and narrow down the entries to a finalist field of about 12 which will be posted here for you to vote on I hope by Friday November 5th (though if the judging takes longer than expected it might be a little later – we will do our best!) The winner will be announced Monday November 8th (good lord willin’ and the creek don’t rise 😊)

Judging criteria will be as follows:

  • 1. Kid-appeal! – These stories are intended for a young audience (ages 12 and under), so we’re looking for stories that children will enjoy and relate to.
  • 2.  Halloweeniness – the rules state a Halloween story, so it must be crystal clear that the story is about Halloween, not just some random spooky night.
  • 3. Use of all 3 required words and whether you came it at 100 words or less.
  • 4. Quality of story – entries must tell a story, including a main character of some kind and a true story arc even if it’s tiny 😊  Entries must not be merely descriptions or mood pieces.
  • 5. Quality of Writing: check your spelling, grammar, punctuation etc.  If you’re going to rhyme, give us your best 😊  Use and flow of language, correctness of mechanics, excellence of rhyme and meter if you use it, PROOFREADING!
  • 6. Originality and creativity – because that is often what sets one story above another.
  • 7. How well you followed the Submission Guidelines – agents and editors expect professionalism. This is a chance to practice making sure you read and follow specified guidelines. If you don’t follow agent and editor submission guidelines, they won’t even read your submission.

THE PRIZES: So amazing! What wonderful, generous people we have in our kidlit community! Just wait til you see what you can win! (This list is still under construction, so there may be changes…!) (And in the interest of getting this posted I’m merely listing the prizes tonight – I will add details ASAP!)

⭐️ Picture Book Manuscript Critique by Dawn Young, author of THE NIGHT BAAFORE CHRISTMAS (WorthyKids, 2019), COUNTING ELEPHANTS (Running Press Kids, 2020), THE NIGHT BAAFORE EASTER (WorthyKids, 2021), THE NIGHT BAAFORE THE FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL (WorthyKids, 2021), and the brand new ONCE UPON A CHRISTMAS (WorthyKids, October 19, 2021)!

⭐️ Picture Book Manuscript Critique (nonrhyming) by Janie Reinart, author of WHEN WATER MAKES MUD: A STORY OF REFUGEE CHILDREN (Blue Whale Press, 2021)

⭐️ Picture Book Manuscript Critique (biography) by Lindsey McDivitt, author of NATURE’S FRIEND: THE GWEN FROSTIC STORY (Sleeping Bear Press, 2018), TRUTH AND HONOR: THE PRESIDENT FORD STORY (Sleeping Bear Press, 2020), and A PLAN FOR THE PEOPLE: NELSON MANDELA’S HOPE FOR HIS NATION (Eerdman’s Books For Young Readers, 2021)

⭐️ Picture Book Manuscript Critique by Kenda Henthorn

⭐️ Picture Book Manuscript Critique (rhyming or lyrical) by Randi Sonenshine

⭐️ Picture Book Manuscript Critique by Danielle Dufayet

⭐️ Storyboard Notebook – a great way to draft your picture books!

⭐️ Personalized signed copy of ONCE UPON A CHRISTMAS by Dawn Young

⭐️ Personalized signed copy of BRANCHES OF HOPE by Ann Magee

⭐️ Personalized signed copy of MIMIC MAKERS by Kristen Nordstrom

⭐️ Personalized signed copy of A PLAN FOR THE PEOPLE by Lindsey McDivitt

⭐️ Personalized signed copy of THE NEST THAT WREN BUILT by Randi Sonenshine

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

Now!  Lay in a good chocolate supply (no better time than right before Halloween for THAT!)! Butt In Chair! Pencils, pens, or keyboards ready! Put on your pointy black thinking cap (you know, to get in that Halloween mood 🧙🏿‍♀️ 😊!)  And write those prize-winning stories!!!

I can’t wait to read them!!! 😊

Perfect Picture Book Friday – Nature’s Friend: The Gwen Frostic Story PLUS The Love Is Kind Giveaway Winner!!!

Woo hoo!  It’s Perfect Picture Book Friday!

And you know what that means . . .

The weekend is (for all intents and purposes) HERE!!!

Autumn weekends are the best, aren’t they?

Apple picking…cider donuts…fall foliage…cider donuts…pumpkin picking…cider donuts… hiking…cider donuts…I’m sure you get the point…cider donuts 🙂 )

Today, I’m sharing a book about nature – well, really about a person who truly loved and appreciated it – even though not specifically about autumn.  (And not at all about cider donuts – although I’m sure the book would be even more enjoyable with a plate of them to munch on 🙂 ) Have a look!

Gwen Frostic

Title: Nature’s Friend: The Gwen Frostic Story

Written By: Lindsey McDivitt

Illustrated By: Eileen Ryan Ewen

Sleeping Bear Press, July 2018, nonfiction

Suitable For Ages: 6-9

Themes/Topics: nature/environment, overcoming disabilities, girl power, artists

Opening: “Gwen followed her brothers and sisters everywhere, like a small fawn follows its herd.  They roamed the woods and fields near Croswell – their tiny town tucked into the thumb of Michigan.  Gwen played and picked wildflowers.  But her hands were weakened from an illness as a baby.  Her speech was slurred, one small foot dragged, and she fell down often.  
     She bumped her shins.
          She bruised her knees.
               She banged her elbows.
“Gwen doesn’t need your help, Helen,” Mama called from the porch.  Mama knew Gwen could do whatever she put her mind to.

Brief Synopsis: A picture book biography of lesser-known environmental pioneer, artist, and businesswoman, Gwen Frostic, who rose above the challenges caused by a debilitating childhood illness to create nature-based artwork, help build WWII bombers, create her own printmaking business, and encourage people to appreciate, protect and cherish nature.

Links To Resources: the book itself is a resource, including back matter with additional biographical information on Gwen Frostic and a print-making art/nature activity; make your own leaf rubbings

Why I Like This Book: Most picture books are for kids up to age 8.  I love when the occasional one comes along that is intended for slightly older kids because, let’s face it – they love picture books too!  Educational and/or biographical information is so much more palatable in picture book format! :). This book is beautifully written, placing the emphasis on Gwen’s intelligence and determination to succeed in art, environmental protection and business, in spite of dire warnings in her youth that she’d never be able to write (never mind draw or carve) because her hands weren’t strong enough to hold a pencil and the fact that her physical disabilities made getting around difficult.  The repeated phrase that Gwen knew she could do whatever she set her mind to is inspirational and motivational for young readers.  I also love that Gwen was ahead of her time, doing things that women didn’t typically do.  Very empowering for young readers.  All around a very interesting book about a person I hadn’t heard of before!

I hope you enjoy it as much as I do 🙂

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

PPBF folks, please add your titles and post-specific links (and any other info you feel like filling out 🙂 ) to the form below so we can all come see what fabulous picture books you’ve chosen to share this week!

Have a wonderful weekend, everyone!!! 🙂

Oh, and if you missed the Halloweensie Contest announcement and want to work on your story this weekend, click HERE for the guidelines!!!

OH!  And I almost forgot to announce the winner of last week’s giveaway!  Laura Sassi and her generous publisher, Zonderkidz, offered a copy of LOVE IS KIND to one lucky commenter.  And the winner is . . .


Becky Scharnhorst!!!

So, Becky, give me a holler and I’ll put you and Laura in touch with each other so you can get your book!!!

Many thanks, Laura and Zonderkidz!