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

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!

Just One Child

Happy Halloween Everyone. I wrote this 100 word story for the 9th annual Halloweensie contest on Susanna Leonard Hill’s website. Click the link to check out contest rules. 🙂 Enjoy!

************************************************************************

Creak. Her rocking chair broke the eerie silence.

“Just one child,” she thought.

She adjusted her pointy black hat, and rubbed her gnarled hands together greedily. “Just one.”

Yet, none came.

Her eyes scanned fake cobwebs and tattered scarecrows with disgust.

At long last, she rose to go inside—heart heavy, lonely.

Then, a chorus of voices behind her.

Trick or treat!”

A potion for her soul! She turned. Not just one child. Her great-grandchildren!

“Sorry we’re so late. It’s a long drive, but we wanted to visit on your first “nursing home Halloween”.

A full heart. A smile. Happy.

The Empty Spot

amazing-beautiful-breathtaking-cloudsHappy Fall Y’all! This is my entry for the Kidlit Fall Writing Frenzy contest.

The Empty Spot

196 words, Image 5, Picture Book category

This used to be our spot. On dark nights when the moon was full, we’d dash past Rachel’s feet and scurry up this tree. Full moons were always the best—especially when drifting clouds made it look like cheese. Sometimes, on nights like this, we would reminisce about the pranks we’d pulled or the ham we’d snitched from Rachel’s sandwich when she left it unattended for a minute. She loved us anyway. Even when she called us “her little stinkers.” Some nights we just sat, and rubbed our necks together.

 

I remember the day Rachel brought us home from the rescue in a cardboard box. She’d only planned for one cat, but ended up bringing us home together. Last week he stopped eating. When Rachel walked in the door with the empty carrier, I’d paced and paced. “I’m so sorry,” she’d said. Where was he? When would he be back?

 

Tonight, I sit alone. One, in a spot made for two. My purr is stuck somewhere in my chest. I wonder if it will ever come again?

 

I stare at the same moon. I sit in the same place. But nothing is the same. Not anymore.