November 2, 2015

The 2015 Halloweensie Contest FINALISTS! - Vote For Your Favorite!!!

Darlings?

Is that you?

I can't see that far...

...from my spot on the floor...

I'm delirious after an agonizing weekend of trying to choose 10 finalists out of more than 10 times that number of entries, all of them wonderful in one way or another!  (And no.  We did not choose 10.  We chose a baker's dozen - 13 for Halloween!)

The fact that I am flat on the floor is nothing to worry about.  Really.  I'm fine.  And so are the other judges.  You just can't see them because they crawled off to bed in the wee hours and have yet to emerge.

Seriously.  There is no need to worry about us.  But we won't say no to chocolate if you wish to send some our way and help us recover :)

We had the biggest turn out we've ever had in terms of number of entries - 145! - and the overall quality of the entries was fantastic.  Really, it is readily apparent that the quality of entries in these contests is improving every time.  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 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.

Without further ado, I present to you the 2015 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.

#1.  Leila's First Halloween
Tears puddle in Leila’s dark eyes. Tomorrow is the Halloween costume parade at her new school.
“Costumes cost money,” Mama sighs. “I can’t buy something you wear once for this strange holiday. Any extra money must be sent to our sisters and brothers in Aleppo.”
Halloween haunts Leila’s thoughts. A stomach ache? Mama never lets her miss school. A costume from Teacher’s bin? Her classmates will laugh.
“I know!” she cries, grabbing a navy pullover and red leggings.
As her classmates don costumes, Leila asks Teacher for 50 stars and white tape.
“I’m an American now, an American flag!”

#2 Pirate Prepares For Halloween
Pirate wonders what to wear.
Knitted cap with dreadlocked hair?
Striped pajamas? Bandoleer?
Same old shorts she’s worn all year?
Black bandana? New tattoo?
She can’t dress like pirates do!

But a costume would delight
on this dark and haunted night.
Zombie? Werewolf? Ninja? Cat?
Too cliché, she can’t wear that.
Pirate wants to go disguised,
but her friends should be surprised.

Pirate gathers what she needs:
old bandana, borrowed beads,
Jolly Roger, tattered lace.
Then she snips and sews with grace.
When her tutu is all set.
Sauté, plié, pirouette.
Pirate plans a dance routine
to perform on Halloween.

#3 Spooky Spies
He focused a triangle on the approaching costumed family.
“That Jack-O-Lantern is watching me,” said Franz.
“Don’t be silly,” said his mother, “It’s just a pumpkin.”
“It winked at me!” yelped Tess, “Creepy, haunted pumpkin!”
“Impossible,” scoffed their mother, ”On to next house!”
Hours later, after the last trick-or-treater had gone home,
a lone man waltzed down the dark street.
“Report, Jack-O,” he murmured.
“Evening, sir. I have your list. 100 kids said trick-or-treat. 95 kids said thank you. Five kids took their candy and ran,” reported Jack-O-Lantern.
“Excellent.” said the man, “See you next October.”
“Goodnight, Santa,” replied Jack-O-Lantern.

#4 Nothing To Wear
It was Halloween day,
soon to be night.
Where darkness would lurk,
between Halloween lights.
But Harry and Ava
had nothing to wear.
No colourful costume,
to give folks a scare.
So off they both set,
to "Costumes'R'us".
Hitching a ride, on the
666 bus.
They said to the driver,
"Your costume is cool.
Totally haunting,
just like a ghoul"
He smiled and he nodded
"it's Costumes'R'us"
then he drove them both there,
and they jumped off the bus.
But the shop sign said "closed",
How could that be?
Then the driver and bus,
disappeared from the street.

#5 Grow-A-Ghoul
“Grow-a-Ghoul in 31 days. Guaranteed to be a hit on Halloween. Keep your Ghoul in a dark closet, and feed them a cup of fruit punch every day,” read Meredith.
“Oh goody,” said Ethan, “I can’t wait to scare the pants off Franz Findley.
“My ghoul is going to haunt the whole town,” boasted Sarah.
On October 31st, the ghouls floated out of the closet.
“WOOOOOOO,” wailed Meredith’s ghoul.
“AAAHHHHOOOOO,” moaned Ethan’s ghoul.
“Let’s be best friends! We can hold hands and wear matching princess costumes!” exclaimed Sarah’s ghoul.
“Oh dear,” said Sarah, “My ghoul is broken.”

#6 The Unicorn Ate My Candy Corn: A Halloween Tall Tale
My costume’s crumpled in a heap,
My candy’s in the pail.
Blinking eyes, I’m close to sleep
Until I hear a wail.
And then a snort. And clacking feet.
I think my room is haunted.
A voice neighed out, “I NEED A TREAT!”
I ask what kind it wanted.
“The sweetest treat, shaped like my horn.
With bands of orange and yellow.
I’m craving all your candy corn!”
I hear the creature bellow.
My room is dark, but now I see
Four legs, a mane. . . a horn?
Who ate the treats? It wasn’t me.
I blame the unicorn.

#7 Paisley The Ghostling
Paisley loved Halloween.
What other day could a ghostling wear a costume, trick-or-treat, and play in the
dark?
Paisley wished she could join the fun, but she had scare duty like all the other ghostlings.
Boo-hoo. What's a ghost to do?
An idea came as quick as a spook.
She'd wear a costume and haunt the kids trick-or-treating.
Paisley dressed as broccoli.
Vegetables were sure to bring a fright.
Paisley yelled, “Eat your vegetables!”
All the kids screamed.
Paisley had a spooktacular time.
Next year she will go as parsnip.

#8 A Meaty Trick-or-Treat
Once upon a Trick or Treat,
T. Rex set out to get some meat.
He and friends went door to door,
Until their bags could hold no more.
"T" raced home past ghosts and clowns,
Costumed pets, and haunted frowns.
When safely home, he dumped his treats:
Frog legs, pork, and scrumptious meats,
Gizzards, ribs, roast beef, and turkey,
White meat, dark meat, Jamaican jerky!
Then "T" saw something quite bizarre...
A package labeled, "CHOCOLATE BAR."
He grabbed it, halved it, took a bite,
But something simply wasn't right.
He stuffed some bacon in between,
And CHOMPED his Halloween Supreme!

#9 An Alien Goes Trick-or-Treating
Allen the Alien has landed on Earth on a cold, dark October night.
“Cool costume!” shouts a princess.
“Take me to your leader,” quips a vampire.
“Beep. Boop. Bop,” greets a robot.
Allen is confused.
“Where did his mother find that outfit?” remarks a witch dragging along a little ghost.
The Earthlings are playing dress up!
Allen puts on his costume – jeans, t-shirt, cap, sneakers. Aliens love to dress up as Earthlings.
Allen follows four ninja turtles to a haunted house.
“Trick or Treat!”
“Poor kid doesn’t have a costume,” whispers the ogre handing out candy.
Allen smiles.

#10 Spider's Halloween Debut
Spider spun her sticky web
and scrutinized the scene below.
A ghoulish ghost and ghastly witch
were putting on a scary show
to entertain a costumed crew
who bravely watched the chilling sight.
The audience heard gruesome groans
and shivered in the cold, dark night.
Spider itched to join the fun,
to haunt, to scare, to steal the show.
She dropped a line and skittered down,
but no one looked… so she let go
and landed on the witch’s neck.
Spider scampered, spider crawled,
She heard a screech! She heard a howl!

Creepy spider spooked them all.

#11 The Haunting

Tonight when children go to bed,
I’ll be that thing that they all dread.
I’ll creep into their darkened room,
A spirit from the grave exhumed.
For this is Halloween tonight,
When even darkness shakes with fright,
But I’ll be laughing with delight
When frightened children bolt upright!
What’s that in the children’s room?
A gang of youngsters in costume!
They’re waiting for me in the dark,
A clown, a monster,
…is that a shark?
Now it’s me who shakes with fright!
The children laughing with delight,
I bolt back to my burial site,
I won’t be haunting them tonight!

#12 The Teensy-Weensy Witch

On Halloween night: October thirty-one,
A teensy-weensy witch shrieked "Let's have fun!"
She packed her tiny spell book in her pointy purple hat,
Put on her witch's costume, grabbed her broomstick and her cat.
They left the tiny house in the thickening gloom,
And zoomed in the air on her itsy-bitsy broom.
Out of the dark came a haunting "Whoooooo...
Watch out witches we're after you!"
The witch gave a wobble, the broomstick took a crash,
Landing in a puddle with one ginormous splash!!!!!
DAGNABIT YOU GHOSTS OUT IN THE BLACK!!
Next Halloween I'll get you back!!!

#13 Goodnight Halloween

In the dark gray room
Lay a tattered costume
A dim glow-stick
And a bent witch broom
And the smell of
Fresh chocolate’s sugar perfume
And there were three little ghosts
Haunting a house
And a pair of black cats
With a little toy mouse
And a sad saggy pumpkin, flame guttered out
Goodnight room
Goodnight broom
Goodnight sweets I can’t consume
Goodnight mouse
Goodnight cat
Goodnight house and witch’s hat
Goodnight glowstick
Goodnight ghosts
Goodnight pumpkin-love you most
Goodnight socks and tired feet
Goodnight Halloween
Goodnight trick or treat

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 4.

Tune in Thursday November 5 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 :)

(And we will have a regularly scheduled Would You Read It on Wednesday too!)

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

Okay.

Not really.

I'm actually driving to Vermont as we speak and will be in the car all day, so forgive me if I don't reply to your blog comments until later!

But don't worry - I have plenty of miniature Halloween chocolate bars to keep my sustained whilst I drive... and A Clash Of Kings on audible to listen to (yes, I'm officially hooked on the Game of Thrones series! :))

Have a marvelous Monday everyone!!!

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