2022 Spring Fling Kidlit Contest Entry

GIF from Giphy.com

I‘ve decided to join in and write a 150-word story for kids inspired by a GIF. To find out more about this contest and its generous creators and prize donors, click here. The above GIF inspired me to write about the Sakura, or cherry blossoms. When we visited Japan, we learned these blossoms are symbolic of beauty, mortality and renewal. Those themes inspired my story, which I hope embodies them all. Okay, without further ado, here is my 2022 entry which comes in at 147 words:

Sakura Snowfall

Last spring, our bench became a magic portal.

“Under this canopy of cherry blossoms, we could be anywhere in the world,” Grandma said. “Tokyo, Paris, Portland, or Washington, D.C.–“

“Can we visit Tokyo?” I blurted.

She laughed and plucked a pink blossom from my hair. “Squeeze my hand, and we’ll go together.”

I did.

“We’re in the East Gardens of the Imperial Palace. Straight ahead is Edo Castle, built over 500 years ago. Cherry blossoms, or Sakura, dot the water’s edge.”

As she’d painted pictures with her words, springtime Tokyo unfolded before my eyes.

From our bench, we visited ten cities before the last blossom had fallen.

Today, as I approach the empty bench, my heart explodes with memories of Grandma.

I snuggle my puppy Sakura who sneezes as a drifting blossom tickles her nose.

I laugh, and whisper in her tiny ear, “Where should we go first?”

March Word Prompt

The image for this month’s WordPress prompt

The way I look at it, much of life involves making decisions to cross (or not) some type of metaphorical bridge.

Each and every time we find ourselves facing a dilemma, there’s a choice to make. We cross the bridge (often times facing unknown and unforeseen circumstances) or we stay on our own side.

Throughout history, men and women have chosen to cross bridges. Even if staying on the familiar side of the bridge felt safer. Even when crossing the bridge led to arrests, beatings, ridicule, sometimes even death.

I’m grateful for the brave souls who’ve crossed bridges to bring about needed change in the world. As I gaze at the image of this bridge leading to the unknown, I’m challenging myself to cross a bridge today. Even if I ruffle feathers when I get to the other side. Will you join me?

#WordPrompt

Kidlit Writing Contests

If you follow my blog, you’ve seen that most of my posts lately have been related to writing contests for creators of kidlit. I thought I’d take a few minutes to write an actual blog post about why I enter so many of these, and why you should consider them if you haven’t already.

  1. It hones your craft. All of these contests have a word limit. Some are as little as 50, and some go as high as 200. Regardless of the number of words allowed, it’s a challenge to create a story with a well-developed plot and a clear beginning, middle and end–in so few words. Also, writing from a prompt is a good skill to perfect, and many of these contests have prompts provided.
  2. Engage with the kidlit writing community. Writing is largely a solitary task, but many of these contests create a ton of engagement on Twitter. It’s fun to read other entries and to share your own. You’ll meet other people who love creating stories for kids and make writing friends–maybe even critique partners if you’re lucky. In fact, to increase engagement, my SCBWI region is hosting two “write-ins” this month to work on our entries for the upcoming Spring Fling Writing Contest.
  3. Get your work out there. One of the biggest hurdles for new writers is sharing your work. It can make you feel vulnerable, but feedback is incredibly useful in helping us become better writers. It’s incredibly satisfying to hear that your story connected with someone, making them laugh or cry. Sometimes in this tough business, it’s the encouragement we need to keep going!
  4. Learn what types of stories hook the judges. Some of the people judging entries are kidlit agents. Some are agented/published kidlit authors. Even if your entry doesn’t win a prize, you can still get something valuable out of the contest. By looking at the entries that were picked by the judges, you see what types of stories resonated. This can be useful when crafting manuscripts to query.
  5. It’s fun! For most of us, writing is a creative outlet. Something about the challenge and brevity of these stories has been just the tonic I’ve needed to get through some of my creative slump during the pandemic. You’ve got nothing to lose, and so much to gain. I hope you give it a try.

I’d love to answer any questions you might have about these contests. I’m including some of the ones I’ve entered below.

If you decide to enter, good luck and have fun! Happy Writing!

Here are a couple of my entries that have won prizes:

The Accusation

Mac’s Stage Fright

Links to some wonderful contests:

Spring Fling Writing Contest

50 Precious Words

Fall Writing Frenzy

Halloweensie Writing Contest

Valentiny Writing Contest

The Show Must Go On

I decided to enter Vivian Kirkfield’s 50 Precious Words contest this year. Read all the details here: https://viviankirkfield.com/2022/03/04/50preciouswords-2022-official-contest-post/#more-25735

Please find my story below, coming in at exactly 50 words! Hope you enjoy it.

The Show Must Go On

Two minutes till showtime.

I peek through the curtain. Again.

Still…

Her empty seat glares back at me.

Rows full of faces.

Moms, dads, aunts…so many others.

Just not my person.

Lights dim.

Mom hurries in. Dressed in her work scrubs.

The crescendo of the orchestra perfectly matches my heart.

Other Halloweensie Contenders

I’ve already posted my entry for Susanna Hill’s annual Halloweensie kid lit contest this year. But, I had so much fun writing stories of 100 words or less using the words goodiesglow-in-the-dark, and goosebumps that I thought I’d create a post for the runner ups that I wrote. I could have entered multiple times, but I decided to just pick my favorite–which you can read here.

Below are the 2 other stories I wrote using the contest guidelines. Both of these come in at exactly 100 words. I hope you enjoy them!

Truth or Scare

On Johnson’s Farm, Jack-O-Lanterns flickered, dimmed, and finally darkened.

Goody wrappers littered fields.

Dried leaves became tumbleweeds.

Inside the barn, Gary Goose, Sam Sheep and Penelope Pig huddled in an empty stall for their annual “Scaredown”—repeating gossip overheard from humans.

“Junior wants a glow-in-the-dark wool hoodie,” whispered Penelope.

Sam shuddered, imagining the buzzing sheers.

“Grandma wants a new down pillow,” she added.

Gary shivered, remembering those awful goosebumps after plucking.

“What’ve you two got?” asked Penelope.

Gary and Sam gulped, and exchanged glances.

“You win.”

They simply couldn’t tell her about the weekend’s breakfast menu…

Sausage biscuits with gravy.

The Best Costume Ever

“Is my costume ready?” Lilly called.

Her mom made the best costumes. Last year Lilly was a glow-in-the-dark robot from outer space. The year before she was a ghastly ghoul that gave everyone some serious goosebumps!

This year, Mom had a new baby—and a whole lot less time.

Lilly tried to understand. Mom was tired and busy. But sometimes Lilly missed having her to herself.

“Ready!” call Mom.

When they set out for trick-or-treating, Mom’s hands were free for taking pictures, and holding collected goodies.

Lilly’s costume was the best ever.

A kangaroo…with her baby brother in her pouch.

And that’s a wrap for Halloweensie 2021! Thanks for stopping by and reading.

Halloweensie 2021

I won a prize in the fabulous Fall Writing Frenzy Contest earlier this month, so I decided to enter the amazing annual kid lit contest Halloweensie again this year. It’s hosted by author and blogger Susanna Hill. The rules are to write a 100-word Halloween story, using the words goodiesglow-in-the-dark, and goosebumps.

Thanks for stopping by! Here is my entry:

Title: Home for Halloween

Author: Melissa Miles

Word Count: 99

Sis and I decide to decorate our home for Halloween.

We cover the door with some Spanish Moss littering the curb. Spooky.

Someone’s discarded glow-in-the-dark stickers beautify our windows. Creepy.

Our woven plastic bag welcome mat is colorful. Cozy.

“There,” we say. “Not bad.”

We know the costumes we’ve created from clothes in our shared suitcase won’t give anyone goosebumps, but hopefully they’ll score us some goodies.

“I’m proud of you girls,” Mom says. “I promise it’s not forever.”

We set off hand-in-hand, leaving behind the parking lot’s glaring lights.

Hoping next year, our home won’t be the car.

*****UPDATE! I received an honorable mention for this story. Thanks to Susanna, and all the others who helped make this contest possible.

The Badge I received along with a gift card. Very nice surprise!

Fall Writing Frenzy 2021: The Accusation

I’m back to throw my hat into the ring for the third annual Fall Writing Frenzy, run by the amazing duo Kaitlyn Sanchez and Lydia Lukidis! Check out the contest link for all the details, but basically I’m writing a 200 word story based on the picture below. When I saw this old church in autumn, a strange story began to unfold. It’s written for a teen audience. Special thanks to the prize donors and special judge Ameerah Holliday! I hope you enjoy!

Photo Credit: Unsplash: Julia Solonina

The Accusation

(200 words)

The rising chants spur me forward. They’ve grown almost loud enough to drown out my hammering heart, and the crunching of leaves under my feet.
Am I too late?

The church comes into view.

Smoke prickles my nose.
What have I done?

I’m close enough now to hear shouted taunts—

“Witch!”
“Heretic!”
“Devil!”

All lies. But, who’ll believe me now?

Orange flames lash the pole. Crackling. Popping.

“Father!” I shout in vain. I’ll make him believe me.

But, I can’t push through the frenzied mob. I’m too late to stop this.

Even now, bound in ropes, Anna looks beautiful—chin high, face proud.

Does she know what I’ve done?

Guilt knots my insides.

But, Henry had wanted her. My Henry.

Before Anna came, I’d been enough.

So, I lied. “She cursed our crops.”

They needed a scapegoat, so they believed. It was easy, really.

Suddenly, there’s a loud bang, a green flash. I’m thrown backwards into the crowd.
Fear grips my throat like a fist. I’ll be trampled!

At the crowd’s collective gasp, I follow their gazes skyward.

Anna soars above us, one finger pointing at me.

Our eyes meet.

Then…
she’s gone.

Again, I wonder. What have I done?

UPDATE**** I won a critique from amazing kidlit author Dorian Cirrone. Thanks to everyone who puts this together every year!

Rocky’s Tale: Couch Pup to Mountaineer

Dog Superman GIF from Tenor.com

I’ve decided to throw my hat into the ring again this year for the Spring Fling Kidlit Contest. Click here to learn more about this fun contest, and the wonderful folks who put many hours of their time into making it happen! Thank you to the amazing Kaitlyn Sanchez and Ciara O’Neal and ALL of the generous prize donors!

Rocky’s Tale: Couch Pup to Mountaineer

150 words

“Just a week until spring break in the mountains, Rocky!” My person says, scratching my belly.

The mountains? This couch pup better get in shape!
I make a daily schedule:

  1. Cut back on kibble
  2. Hit the treadmill
  3. Drink lots of water (Thank goodness there’s a doggie door!)
  4. Chase tail 3 times
  5. Chase squirrels around backyard
  6. 30 doggie push-ups
  7. Cut back to 5 naps
  8. No looking pitiful to score treats

I stick to my schedule—even #8!
I’m ready. A champion mountain dog. Super Rocky.
We’re finally on the road…
I yodel out the window. “Rodel-ray-re-roo!”

Finally, the car stops at a cabin.

I survey my new domain.
TV, check.
Comfy couch, check.
Treacherous hiking trails… Nope!

My kind of place!
I shamelessly beg for treats until my belly’s full, then snuggle into the couch.
Nap time.
Maybe we’ll have steak for dinner.

Impossible Assignment?

I decided to write two completely different stories for Susanna Leonard Hill’s tenth annual Halloweensie Writing Contest this year. So, here’s the second one. It’s kind of an inside joke for all of us who first looked at the contest rules and thought we couldn’t do it! I hope you enjoy it!

Photo by August de Richelieu on Pexels.com

The Impossible Assignment

97 words

“What’s wrong?” Henry’s sister Rachel asked.

“This assignment’s impossible. It’s bad enough having school on Halloween.”

She scanned his computer. “It’s definitely possible.”

“I can’t write a story in only 100 words using these three exact words.”

“Sure you can!”

“But how?” he wailed. Henry couldn’t trick-or-treat until he finished.

“Hmmm,” Rachel said. “I’ll be right back.”

At the sound of footsteps, Henry looked up.

“Why are you wearing my creepy skeleton mask?”

“There’s your story!” she said. “Write it down, and keep it short!”

“You’re the best!” Henry said with a grin as he started typing.

Sammy Skeleton’s Sticky Situation

I wrote this little story for Susanna Leonard Hill’s tenth annual Halloweensie Writing Contest. It’s a fun and challenging task to write a Halloween story in only 100 words. To make it even more challenging, some form of these words has to be included in the story: Skeleton, creep and mask. I hope you enjoy it!

Image used with permission by its creator, DazzlinggirlDIYShop

Sammy Skeleton’s Sticky Situation

99 words

Halloween was Sammy Skeleton’s favorite!
But, before he’d gotten far…
Squish.
“What creep threw gum on the sidewalk?”
His metatarsals were icky.
His cuboid bone was sticky.
“I’m a mess!”
Tears filled his Sugar Skull mask.
Before Sammy’s candy bucket was half-full, grass and leaves clung to his foot.
Gretchen Ghoul laughed.
Tommy Troll pointed with his club.
But, Wendy Witch said, “Let me brew some Go-away Goo.”
Clank. Clatter. His foot plunged into her cauldron.
Sizzle. Frizzle. Then…
“The gum’s gone!” Sammy shouted. “Thanks!”
“Let’s finish trick-or-treating,” said Wendy.
“Great,” agreed Sammy. “But, first I’ll get my shoes!”

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Thanks for reading! And if you love the gorgeous mask in the picture as much as I do, purchase link is in the caption. 🙂