Posted by: Colleen Owen Murphy | February 13, 2022

C.I.T. (Cupid-in-Training)

I aced the classes from the start–
the first, the most important part
of picking out the hopeful heart.

Then after months of target training
this cool dude was still remaining
number one, with no one gaining.

WIth Valentine’s the final test
and chance to put my rank to rest,
I honed in on a heart’s request.

I hovered and I braced my bow,
while basking in success’s glow
“Oops!” I let the arrow go.

“I launched before I looked,” I said.
“I drew the arrow made of lead
and struck the man with hate instead.”

Thank goodness my instructor came
to fix the lovelorn fellow’s flame
and right my wrong (but not my shame).

So back I went to Cupid classes
mixing in among the masses
less concerned with stats than passes

knowing I would not relent
until I cleared the last event
and earned my right to represent.

Susanna Hill is challenging writers once again. This time the requirement is to write a story for children, 12 and under, involving pride and Valentine’s Day. Both must be a part of your story.

Posted by: Colleen Owen Murphy | December 4, 2021

He Knows If You’ve Been Bad or Good 

“The envelopes sit on the top of the shelf,
and each is inscribed with the name of an elf.
The challenge is simple, to sew and to stuff
a dozen brown teddy bears filled full of fluff.
The first one to finish,” said Santa Claus, “wins.
At the sound of my sleigh bells, the contest begins!”

As soon as he signaled, assembly commenced,
except with Cassandra (as Santa Claus sensed).
She wielded her needle with purpose and flair
but never inserted it into a bear,
while other elves easily crafted with thread. 
(As Santa suggested, they’d practiced ahead.

“I didn’t see value in such an endeavor;
there’s more to explore for a pixie so clever.”)
She slyly kept count of the projects completed.
At ten bears apiece she thought, “Action is needed.”
“Dear Elfmates, excuse me, a personal matter
behooves me to run and attend to my bladder.”

In minutes Cassandra came running and screaming,
“The bathroom is flooding; the toilets are teeming.”
Everyone rushed to attend to the mess–
(except for Cassandra who praised her success),
then came back to notice their stores had diminished.
Before they could protest, Cassandra said, “Finished!” 

By touching his nose Santa calmed down the crew. 
“We must give Cassandra the credit she’s due.
Now open this envelope bearing your name.
They’re longing to hear the reward you will claim.”

“Your prize,” read Cassandra while wiping a tear,
“is to clean out the stalls in the barn for a year.”

And you are encouraged to enter!! Susanna has yet again hosted another fabulous contest with lots of prizes. Write a 250 word (or less) holiday story about a contest. The story should be written for children 12 and under.

Posted by: Colleen Owen Murphy | October 27, 2021

How Hannah Saved Halloween

A wicked storm blows out the lights
up and down the street.
With costumes set, the children fret,
“They’ll cancel trick-or-treat.”
Except for hopeful Hannah who,
as always, starts to plan,
certain she will find a way
to shift from can’t to can.
She first imagines fireflies,
“Too scattered to control.”
She next considers candlelight.
“Too hard to hold and stroll.
Aha!” she says as goosebumps form.
“A perfect resolution!
We’ll use my sticks that glow-in-the-dark
for lighting substitution!
I’ll ride throughout the neighborhood,
deliver while it’s bright,
then everyone can still collect
their goodies when it’s night.

This is an entry for the amazingly generous Susanna Leonard Hill’s 11th Annual Halloweensie contest. The rules are to write a Halloween story in 100 words or less (not including the title) for children ages 12 and under, and to include the bolded words. Your story can be in prose or in rhyme.

Posted by: Colleen Owen Murphy | September 30, 2021

Shirley’s Showdown

Zombies lifting
Spirits shifting
on this Hallow’s Eve.

Barn owls screeching
branches reaching
for the nearest sleeve.

Little Shirley
blonde and curly
greets them with a grin,

No one here
can match the fear
I generate within

Werewolves howling
demons growling
shadows rattling chains.

Bat wings flapping
fingers tapping
on the window panes.

Most delightful.
Hardly frightful.
More like child’s play.

“This girl’s screams
will haunt your dreams
and take your breath away.”

North Wind surges
Moon emerges
lighting up the sky.

“Where’s the sprout
who calls us out?”

Shirley answers, “Hi!

“Pardon me
you seem to be
a bit too bold my friend.

Spooky sights
and shocking nights
have caused some mortals’ end.”

Moon, don’t test me.
You can’t best me
when it comes to scary.

“Specters in
are extra-ordinary.”

“That’s enough.
I call your bluff.
It’s time to prove your force.

When you fail
it will entail
a consequence, of course.”

Shirley pries
from deep inside
a scene from days ago,

to reengage
that chilling rage
when Mother told her, “No.”

Zombies scatter
windows shatter
werewolves tuck their tails.

See!” she states
as Moon abates,
The spoiled brat prevails!”


This is an entry for the 2021 Fall Writing Frenzy. Choose an image to inspire you and then write a story of two hundred words or less! Many thanks to the hosts, Kaitlyn Sanchez and Lydia Lukidis, as well as to the guest judge, Ameerah Holliday!

Posted by: Colleen Owen Murphy | February 12, 2021


Cora wrestled in her bed 
while thinking of Miss Mae.
She hadn’t been to visit her 
since Grandma went away. 

The lemon scent. The comfy chair. 
The daisies in the vase. 
The Jello cups. The candy mints—
all things she couldn’t face. 

But up until tonight, at least,
she hadn’t thought to care
how all alone Miss Mae would be
without her grandma there.

So Cora tossed her covers off’
retrieved her art supplies,
then cut and colored paper hearts,
each one a different size.

Though Cora tried to wipe her tears,
some landed on her art.
“These should have been for Grandma too.”
She pressed one to her heart.

And then with all the crafting done,
while sitting in her bed,
Cora kissed the heart she held.
“Please give me strength,” she said.  


The smell of pancakes woke her up,
the heart lay on her chest.
She tucked it in her mirror’s frame
then gathered up the rest.

Before she sat for breakfast,
she took her mother’s hand.
“I’m scared, but have to see Miss Mae.”
My dear, I understand.”


“Oh Grandma,” Cora said that night,
“I bet you knew I’d see
those Valentines I gave Miss Mae
were also gifts to me.”

This is an entry for the 6th Annual Valentiny Contest generously brought to you by Susanna Leonard Hill! Writers need to craft a story, written for children, in 214 words are less. The theme is Valentine’s Day and bravery. Here is the link to the contest if you are interested in entering:

Posted by: Colleen Owen Murphy | December 6, 2020


Jack-in-the-Box to Sir Slinky declared,
“No child will want me if I’m not repaired!

“My spring’s lost its sprung and I no longer jump
when you pop up my lid, I do nothing but slump.

“How I wish to be wrapped and put under a tree,
but Slinky, it’s not going to happen for me.”

Oh Jackie, don’t worry; this isn’t the end.
We’ll muster up some kind of magic my friend.”

“It isn’t a potion we need to be mixing.
It’s more like a solder; my spring’s needing fixing.”

“There’s Timmy the Toolman…

“The boy’s full of fluff.
He boasts he’s the best, but it’s only a bluff.”

“Let’s face it Sir Slinky, my countdown’s begun.
It’s Christmas on Monday; I’m broken and done.”

“No slinky surrenders and neither will you; 
let’s concentrate Jackie on what we can do.

Sir Slinky reflected while shifting his weight. 
But Jackie, dejected, just dwelled on his fate. 

Soon Slinky flipped over. “I’ve got it!” he said.
Who needs a repairman? Put me in instead!”

“Sir Slinky, you’re clearly the best friend I’ve known;
I can’t let you give up a life of your own.”

I’d only be losing if we had to part.
To me this would be not an end, but a start.

get ready for wrapping; make room on the floor
cause Jackie, my partner, you’re slumping no more!”


This is an entry for the amazingly generous Susanna Leonard Hill’s 10th Annual Holiday Contest. The entry must be a story about a holiday (Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanza…) helper. It must be targeted for children ages 12 and under, as well as told in 250 words or less.

Posted by: Colleen Owen Murphy | October 28, 2020


The skeletons stared. The spiders crept.
With dinner downed, the children prepped
for trick-or-treat — well all except
the youngest, Tommy-Lee, who slept.

At least he closed his eyes and tried.
Those scary masks; the dark outside.
The prospects made him terrified.
“I’ve got a tummy ache,” he lied. 

The others knew their brother’s game
(In fact, Jolene had done the same.)
And so their mission now became
to set their brother’s feet aflame.

“Do you want buckets bulging through
with Reese’s Cups and Snickers too
with both of us protecting you?”
To that their brother said, “I do!”

99 words

This entry if for Susanna Hill’s 10th Annual Halloweensie contest. All are welcome to compete. Simply write a story, in 100 words or less, about Halloween, for children, using the words skeleton, mask and creep.

Doin’ The Skeleton Dance! Announcing The 10th Annual Halloweensie Writing Contest!

Posted by: Colleen Owen Murphy | October 5, 2020

A Haiku Inspired by Last Night’s Sunset

Your brilliant flashlight
shines upon the evening sky
This never grows old

Posted by: Colleen Owen Murphy | October 4, 2020

A Villanelle

Oh evil heart I’ll never know
the depth of bitterness you taste.
What makes your acrimony grow?

What seeds of sickness did you sow?
With what was innocence debased?
Oh evil heart I’ll never know.

The slate’s unscathed at birth, although
your soul and hate seem interlaced.
What makes your acrimony grow?

Did you resist the undertow?
From whence are your beginnings traced?
Oh evil heart I’ll never know.

Since self-reflection’s apropos
perhaps your mirror’s been misplaced?
What makes your acrimony grow?

Concern for you may overflow,
but hope, I fear, has been erased.
Oh evil heart I’ll never know
what makes your acrimony grow.


The form is a villanelle. The rhyme scheme is as follows:

A1 is the first refrain and A2 is the second.
Posted by: Colleen Owen Murphy | October 1, 2020

No Turning Back

Three autumns ago on a Halloween night
with the moon barely sharing a sliver of light,
young Templeton stalked through the neighborhood streets
in his Lucifer costume, no bag for his treats.
As Templeton strutted down Rookery Road
the children all acted as if he’d explode
which made him walk taller and narrow his gaze.
He determined his targets: the pumpkin displays.
He started with house number one fifty-four
where six of his marks lit a path to the door.
Undaunted by witnesses standing around
he picked up and hurled every gourd to the ground.
With subsequent smashings his smile grew slyer.
Every home he hit after increased his desire.
He ravaged his way to house one ninety-eight
where a brittle old woman stood guarding her gate.
She constantly petted the pumpkin she held.
From its openings lavender gasses expelled.
But Templeton’s focus stayed fixed on the prize.
If only he’d heeded the gatekeeper’s cries.
Her cautions of Karma rejected, instead –
he wore what she’d held in her hands on his head!
As he pushed and he pulled the woman said, “Son,
once punishment’s meted, it’s never undone.”

This is an entry for the Fall Writing Frenzy run by Kaitlyn Sanchez and Lydia Lukidis. The rules for the contest are here:

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