This is the 3rd week of analyzing the Fall Writing Frenzy winners’ work from 2020! It’s been absolutely amazing diving in deeper with you and learning about the inspiration of the writers too! If you missed the first two weeks, check out the 1st week analysis here and the 2nd week here!
Before we dive in today, tomorrow is American Thanksgiving, and I hope you enjoy the company (virtual company is still company, my friends) of your family and friends and also reflect on what you’re thankful for and also what Thanksgiving really is about. Here’s an article that I really appreciated that shares the true nature of what happened: https://www.usatoday.com/in-depth/news/nation/2020/11/23/plymouth-400-mayflower-first-thanksgiving-pilgrims-wampanoag-massasoit/6343621002/
And now the basics of the analysis for the Fall Writing Frenzy winners:
Every week I will try my best to share 5-8 pieces from the Fall Writing Frenzy Winners that have something similar, a theme, if you will. (Figurative gold star if you get the theme in your comment ;))
Please use the comments to share what you think is working for the pieces and why, and you even what you think can be improved if you notice anything. Then you can respond to each other’s comments and of course come back to the blog on Fridays for interviews and giveaways!
Please make sure to be constructive.
We want to learn and grow together in a safe environment.
For example, if you think a piece was rambling (something I often do lol) please don’t say, “They’re rambling forever, can’t they just stop?” Try, “It seems to be a bit on the wordy side, maybe consider cutting out certain parts.”
Thanks for joining in the conversation!
Now off we go!
No Turning Back
By Colleen Murphy
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.”
Among the Trees
By Lisa Lowe Stauffer
Among the trees one misty day,
Ten of us went out to play. . .
One got spooked and ran away.
Nine of us played hide and seek:
One disappeared, without a shriek.
Eight of us played leap-the-stump . . .
The last in line—just a thump!
Seven raced from here to there.
One got lost (we don’t know where).
Six of us played old Red Rover.
One—poof!—vanished when he came over.
Five of us played toss-a-stick . . .
One absconded, double-quick.
Four of us climbed up a tree.
One went missing . . . then there were three.
Three of us sat down to chat,
Fog rolled in—one was gone like that!
Two of us hurried to leave.
One made it home for Halloween Eve.
One dressed up for trick-or-treat,
And found the rest—
down the street!
By Ashlee Hashman
It’s how the nightmare always ends.
A bone-gray station wagon creeping down our gravel driveway.
The shadow of a hooded figure peering over its shoulder. I’m seen.
I awake in a pool of sweat, clutching my blanket like a child’s last promise of safety.
Just a dream.
But I have to pull back the curtains and check anyway.
Relief. Autumn leaves crinkle against the gravel. The gnarled hickory lashes out a branch toward my window. But no creeping car.
I laugh. It appears the universe is trying to frighten me tonight.
I turn to climb back under my blanket, but a sharp flash of light reflects off the wallpaper in front of me.
I flinch, heart kicked into overdrive.
Surely just the neighbor heading home. I can’t stop myself from checking.
The hickory’s hateful branch obscures my view, but there’s no mistaking the crimson glow.
My heart drops to the clammy hardwood. I clamp my eyes shut and shiver. It can’t be.
Adrenaline compels me to open my eyes.
Peeling open an eyelid, my mind’s having trouble comprehending.
Like the breath of the Reaper, a dusky station wagon emerges from the dust.
The Red Spark
By Jakki Licare
My little sister holds the bright, red leaf up to her eye. “One more time. Please.”
“I shouldn’t have done it before,” I say, pulling her down the path.
Her lip quivers, making my resolve disintegrate. I really shouldn’t. If I’m found out they’d take me away, but it’s nice to share my magic with someone who isn’t afraid.
I check around and the path is clear. “Last time.”
Her wide smile is so warm, it wraps me up like a woolen scarf. I concentrate on the leaf’s flame-red color and it begins to sizzle. Its tips curl as the smoke mixes in with our steamy breath. Until pop, a spark flies into the air, then another and another. Crackling sounds silence the chattering squirrels and the glowing flecks hover like stars come down to earth.
I send the red sparks to dance around my sister and her giggles fill the crisp air. She chases the sparks as if they were fireflies. Flinging them into the sky, we ooh and awe as they explode like fireworks. All the red sparks fade away, except one. In the distance, the red glow of a cigarette smolders as someone watches us.
By Kelly Jensen
The breath leaving my lips crystalized in the cold air, as the sound of my feet hitting the hardened earth matched the drumming of my beating heart. Faster, I commanded as the tempo increased in response.
Deep blue sky was melting into the grey of twilight. The light betwixt thin tree trunks dissipated into the encroaching fog, signaling the coming of night.
The Shadow’s danger increased in the darkness, cloaked with invisibility. He would soon be upon me, and there would be no hope for my anguished soul then.
I forced my burning lungs to inhale. I urged my legs to carry me forward through the wretched woods, the stolen star pulsating in my pocket— an unfortunate beacon of light.
An owl shrieked in warning. The wind whispered “make haste child,” while the earth beneath me shook, thunder-like, as he gained ground.
Hot breath warmed my neck as the distance between us closed. Whipping around, I wrenched the star from my pocket and held her outright- her light singeing The Shadow’s ethereal skin.
At the forest’s edge was a lone cliffside with thick blackness below. I had no choice. The star screamed as I leaped into the great abyss.
By Melissa Trempe
The November wind ruffled Wolf’s fur.
His belly grumbled.
His favorite holiday feast was a week away, and this cunning wolf had a trick up his sleeve.
Each night under the moon, he planned the guest list and plotted the perfect menu.
One fluffy faun. [Writes in notebook.]
Two tender porcupines.
Three sweet squirrels.
Four marvelous mice.
Five fantastic bunnies.
“Time to execute my plan!”
He collected everything he needed for his trap…
Leaves for faun.
Wildflowers for porcupines.
Acorns for squirrels.
[The pile of food he carries grows precariously higher.]
Cheese for mice.
And carrots for bunnies!
On Sunday, that sly wolf laid everything out.
He slunk behind a thorn bush to hide.
“Their noses will lead them straight to me!” Wolf chuckled.
A twig snapped… His mouth watered.
A leaf rustled… His claws quivered.
Just as planned,
the animals tiptoed into the clearing
“HOOOOWWLLLL!” [Leaps out!]
“SURPRISE! Happy Friendsgiving!”
“Wolf! You scared us half to death!” his friends gasped.
After many laughs and happy greetings,
they gratefully shared a vegetarian feast with their best friend Wolf…
Who sunk his fangs into ten delicious bean-burgers.
Lost in the Woods
By Jolene Gutiérrez
Twigs snap under my feet. I’ve been running for so long.
I’m surrounded by trees, wrapped in mist. Will I ever see the sunlight again?
My heart races, and I stop, hands laced behind my head, opening my lungs to let air in.
I stand in a clearing. The view is the same from every angle: forest. The trees are dark, skeletal. I am one of them.
Leaves rustle off to my right, and I’m running again. I think I can smell him. My heart pounds.
My parents gave me a whistle when I was little and told me to blow it if I ever found myself lost in the woods. It’s still on a chain around my neck, tucked under my shirt and warmed by my skin. My feet hit the ground: thud, thud. I’m getting tired. I don’t know how much more I can run. I pull on the chain, free the whistle from under my shirt, put it to my lips, and blow.
The sound is thin and high, like a distant scream. The forest shifts.
Others surround me. Together, we sniff, catching the scent of fear on the wind. Together, we run, a pack hunting prey.
The Lonely Road
By Kara Sibilia
Ashbury Lane—I know it well. Our road. We drove on it every day—school, work, Walmart—it led us out into the world, until the one night that it didn’t.
Every autumn, when the air turns crisp and the leaves begin to change, this road takes on a different meaning. I see fog rising from the asphalt, cradling the falling leaves, and think of you…and that night.
You asked me not to go, pleaded, cried, screamed. But me, stubborn as ever, said everything would be fine. It wasn’t. Now, once a year, you visit our road, see the makeshift shrine gone shabby over time—neglected symbols of remembrance, signs of someone loved gone too soon.
You say that you know it’s time to move on—I catch the tremble in your voice. You wonder if I can hear you, see you…I can. I try showing you that I’m here; through the gently rustling leaves I whisper your name. But you don’t hear, and then you leave me. Alone. Regretting my choice that you now live with…on this road that I will haunt forever.
Thank you all for joining us for the Week 3 Analysis of the 2020 Fall Writing Frenzy winners by sharing in the comments. I’m looking forward to learning and growing with you! Please remember to share on Twitter and come back next week for more analysis!
Kaitlyn Leann Sanchez
PS. If you haven’t heard about our free Kidlit Holiday Dance Party, check it out and we hope you join us!