#Kidlit Fall Writing Contest: The Empty Seat

Kaitlyn Sanchez over at Math is Everywhere (she’d love the picture book featured in our last post) is hosting a Kidlit Fall Writing Contest with some awesome prizes like critiques and children’s books.

The process is straightforward. Pick one of the photographs as a prompt on the contest rules page and write up to 200 words in any children’s genre (picture books to YA).  Then submit at this page by by Oct 11th 11:59 PM PST.

Although the pumpkin and sunflower photographs gave me ideas for nonfiction picture books (my usual genre), I decided to stretch myself with YA based on this autumn scene:

(Photo by Jake Colvin on Pexels.com)


The Empty Seat

by Roberta Gibson

During his break, Torin wandered to the practice field. The chill autumn air blew away the smell of food that clung to him. He sat at his usual bench by the water.

Three boys ran by, their footsteps swishing in the fallen leaves.

Unexpectedly, a girl sat next to him and stretched out her legs. “Do you know them?”

Torin shook his head. “I’m not a trainee. I work in the kitchen.”

“I know. I’ve seen you.”

“You’ve heard about me?” He veiled his disappointment. He knew what came next. They always wanted to know.

“Should I have?”

“No.” The bench was getting uncomfortable. “Of course not.”

She pushed her ginger-colored hair over her shoulder and grinned. “Now I’m curious. What’ve you done?”

“Nothing,” Torin said.

“You can tell me.”

“Okay. My darkest secret is I make a mean cherry cobbler. Would you like some?”

She laughed. At that moment a teacher beckoned her to the practice area.

She jumped up. “Sorry. Got to go.”

She leaned down and whispered in his ear, “I’m Maya. Raincheck?”

He didn’t have a chance to nod before she slipped away.

One seat would be empty tonight.

“Please be her,” he whispered.

6 Replies to “#Kidlit Fall Writing Contest: The Empty Seat”

  1. Roberta, I love this sweet live story with a hint if mystery, whatever did Torin do? Also, I did the SAME thing when I was writing my sample. I’m all about picture books, but I chose this picture and wrote a YA. If you haven’t read my sample, check it out and you’ll see what I mean. So interesting that the other pictures spoke to both of us but this is the one the drew a story: https://mathiseverywhere439319476.wordpress.com/2019/10/05/samples-for-kidlit-fall-writing-frenzy/

  2. Thank you. I had noticed we both chose the same photograph prompt. Yours was very spooky.

    I also noticed that for some reason I have no trouble with limiting my word count to a couple hundred words for a picture book, but when I finished the first draft of this it was closer to 400 words!

    Great contest.

  3. Thank you so much, I haven’t written spooky like that since I was in college; it was fun! And so great that it switched things up for you. Maybe there’s a novel in your future I’m so glad you’re enjoying the contest, I am very much too!

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