Challenges

Halloweensie Time!

Every year, Susanna Leonard Hill hosts her Halloweensie contest, which invites writers of children’s literature to write a Halloween story in 100 words or less. Today marks the first day of the Halloweensie contest, so if you want to read some great Halloween stories, hop over to Susanna’s blog!

And here’s my story . . .

The Spookiest House on the Block.

Skeletons dangled from the trees, twisting in the wind. Flickering lights barely illumined the sidewalk.

“Maybe we should just go to the next house,” Aiden whispered.

“No way,” Sophie said. She adjusted her mask, gulped, and crept carefully past clinging cobwebs.

“WELCOME!” Something lurking on the porch turned glowing red eyes towards them. Aiden shrieked.

Sophie ran past the figure and slammed her hand on the doorbell. “Trick or treat!” she gasped.

“Happy Halloween,” replied the man who answered. He dropped several treats into her bag.

They were full size Snickers!

“Best house on the block,” Sophie told Aiden.

Photo by Engin Akyurt on Pexels.com
Challenges

Fall Writing Frenzy 2020

Here we are in October. Everyone’s sipping their pumpkin drinks and planning for Halloween. Do you know what else it’s time for? The Fall Writing Frenzy, a contest for kidlit writers. It’s not too late to join the challenge, either! Find the rules here.

And here’s my entry for this year.

The Runner

Footfalls echo around me as I run, trying to pretend that things are fine, that I’m just a normal kid jogging in the woods. Trying to pretend that I’m bold and brave. Trying to pretend that the red cloaks are not roaming the woods, axes in hand, just looking for a wolf to chop.

Every breath I draw hurts now. If I tried to speak, I would find my throat raw. At least the woods are on my side: I can hear the trees shifting around me to cover my tracks; hear the paths hissing as they shift position behind me. I mouth a silent thank you and keep running, heading for the pack grounds deep in the heart of the woods. Any red cloaks that follow me there will get more wolves than they can handle.

Behind me, hoofbeats pound. Someone is catching up to me. I bite my lip and run faster. I don’t know how long I can keep this up, but I’m almost to pack land. Once I get there, I can shift form and run on four legs.

Uh-oh. Someone’s throwing axes now. First one misses . . . CRACK! Second one? Better aim.

Courtesy of Unsplash
Challenges

Rainy Day

It’s time for the shortest –and in some ways, most challenging– of the annual writing contests for children’s literature. Every year, Seuss week brings Vivian Kirkfield’s 50 Precious Words writing contest. And this year, once again, I’m throwing my hat in the ring with a new story that plays with the form of haiku. Enjoy!

“Rainy Day”

Dark clouds hide the sun.

Gloomy day; nothing to do

Till Mom brings out new

* * *

rain boots and raincoat.

Mud puddles plus yellow boots

Make rainy day fun.

* * *

Boots off, cocoa time!

Blow heat away. Sip slowly.

Sweet treat. A fun day.

Challenges

The Taste of Christmas

If you follow this blog at all, you know that I love writing challenges and contests. For a picture book writer, the challenge of having to write with a set word count is very useful training. It’s amazing what you can do with just 50 words, or 100 . . . or, in today’s contest story, 250. Because it’s time for The 9th Annual Holiday Story Contest!

Here’s my entry: The Taste of Christmas.

Photo by Jill Wellington on Pexels.com

Shopping downtown was like wandering through a holiday carnival. So much to see! Lights decked every signpost. Banners hung across the street.

So much to hear, too! Musicians played on street corners. Bells jingled from many of the doors.

Good smells floated everywhere. Food trucks filled the air with savory odors, and the candle shop smelled like every good winter scent mixed together. 

Camille was full of Christmas joy. Her brother? Not so much.

“Mom,” Aiden whined, “I’m COLD.”

“Almost done,” said Mom. “We’ll have hot chocolate when we get home.”

But there was no hot chocolate mix in the pantry.

Aiden pouted. Camille pondered. “Isn’t there some other way we could make it?”

“I think you can use baking cocoa, but I’ve never done it. What if I just make hot tea instead?”

“It has to be hot chocolate,” said Aiden.

“We can read directions,” Camille said. “Let’s try it!”

Aiden found the baking cocoa. “There’s a recipe here on the back.”

Together they measured water and sugar, a scoop of cocoa, a pinch of salt. Mom put the saucepan on the stove.

“A watched pot never boils,” Mom warned. But they watched anyway . . . and eventually the mixture boiled. Time to add milk!

Finally, Mom measured out tiny spoonfuls of vanilla and peppermint. Whisking it was fun.

“All done!” Mom poured out three cups.

“Sweet,” said Aiden. “We should make it this way all the time.”

“It tastes like Christmas,” Camille said. “It’s perfect.”

Challenges

Kidlit Fall Writing Frenzy: “Reminiscence”

One of the great things about autumn is the arrival of autumn writing contests, followed by winter holiday contests. I love these blog contests, because they’re fun to write and they’re fun to read. If you’ve never followed one, start with the Kidlit Fall Writing Frenzy right now, then wait for Susanna Leonard Hill’s Halloweensie at the end of October!

Here’s my entry. It’s, um, a little more disturbing than my previous holiday stories. Let’s say this one is for older kids, okay?

This story is based on Image 11.

“Reminiscence”

Two crows perched on a single branch, sharing memories.

“I remember when there were cows in this field,”

Said Edgar. “Not cows,” said Allen. “Horses.”

“Maybe both.”

“I remember when there was a scarecrow in that field,” Allen said.

They both looked across the road, and shivered.

“I never liked that scarecrow.”

“Me neither.”

Edgar shuffled his feet. Allen ruffled his feathers.

“I remember one night . . .” began Edgar.

“Stop!” replied Allen. “I don’t like that story.”

“But it happened!”

“Maybe it did and maybe it didn’t. But let’s not talk about it.”

They looked away from the field. They cawed at a passing dog.

“Whoever heard of a scarecrow walking, anyway?” Allen asked at last.

“If all it did was walk,” replied Edgar, “That wouldn’t have scared me.”

“That night,” Allen said, “The stormy night. . . ” He couldn’t finish.

So Edgar told the story: “Its head blew away in the gale.

And the scarecrow walked.”

Allen covered his head with his wings.

“When it came back,” Edgar finished, “it had a new head.

I always wondered how it got it.”

“I NEVER wanted to know.” They looked back at the empty field, and flew away.