Writing materials

Bruce Coville Halloween Writing Contest 2022: Mystery at Mousewell Manor

Editor’s Note: Syracuse children’s writer Bruce Coville has once again written the beginning of a Halloween story – and it needs an ending.

Complete the story and send it to us. Winners will be chosen from each of three groups: Kindergarten to Grade 3, Grades 4 to 5, and Grades 6 to 7. (See contest rules below.) Winning entries will be posted on www.syracuse.com and in The Post-Standard.


Mystery at Mousewell Manor

Priscilla Mouse sat at her desk, staring out into the dark, rainy night. Jagged lightning split the sky, but the young mouse was so lost in thought that she barely noticed the huge rumbles of thunder that followed. Her little paws trembled as she picked up the mysterious letter that was causing her so much concern. Before she could unfold the paper to read it again, the candle next to her went out, causing her to scream in alarm.

A happy laugh next to her startled her at first, then calmed her.

“John!” she exclaimed. “John Mouse! Don’t ever do that to me again. You half scared me, bro.

His twin chuckled as he relighted the candle. “Sorry Pris. I couldn’t resist. You looked so solemn I thought you were ripe for a scare.

“I was already scared,” Priscilla said.

John looked at her with concern. “We are both devastated by the disappearance of Uncle Zeke. But that was a year ago. What’s bothering you tonight?

Priscilla held out the letter.

“Where does that come from?” John asked, taking it from her.

“I don’t know. I found it on my desk this morning. I have no idea how it got here.

John frowned as he unfolded the letter. His frown deepened as he read aloud the odd content. “To John and Priscilla Mouse – If you want to know something important, meet me at the ruins of Mousewell Manor at midnight tonight. Do not be late !”

“Look at the signature,” Priscilla said.

“The Scarlet Claw,” read John. He returned the letter to his sister. “It’s very weird.”

“I know! And I’ve been waiting all day for you to talk about it. Where have you been?”

“Fighting with people who want money from us. Uncle Zeke left us a lot of bills when he disappeared.

Priscilla sighed, then said, “So what do you think we should do with this letter?”

“We will of course go! We cannot fail to know something important. Who can tell what it is?

“But in this storm?

“It’s calming down,” John said. He glanced at the clock on the fireplace. “And we should leave soon. It’s a long walk.

So the two brave mice left for Mousewell Manor. The storm had passed, but a light wind was still rustling the October leaves that were piled up deep on the road. Although the moon was full, John carried a lantern as heavy clouds sometimes blocked his light.

Unlike most Mousetown residents, John and Priscilla did not believe Mousewell Manor was haunted. Even so, the crumbling old mansion, with its broken windows and looming towers, looked spooky in the moonlight.

The mice stopped in front of the steps. “Maybe we should turn back,” John said, his voice shaking a little.

“No,” Priscilla replied firmly. “We have come this far, we must continue.”

Side by side, hand in hand, the mice climbed the creaking steps. When they reached the door, John reached out to take the handle. Before he could touch her, the door opened by itself.


Hey kids: write the end of the story

Syracuse children’s writer Bruce Coville has once again written the beginning of a Halloween story – and it needs an ending.

Complete the story “Mystery at Mousewell Manor” and send it to us.

Winners will be chosen from each of three groups:

  • From kindergarten to third grade;
  • Fourth and fifth years;
  • Sixth and seventh years.

The winning works will be published in The Post-Standard and on www.syracuse.com. Winners will receive an autographed copy of one of Coville’s books.

Rules for Writing a Halloween Story

To enter the Halloween Story Contest, write an ending to “Mystery at Mousewell Manor”, by Bruce Coville.

On your registration, include your name, address, age, rank and a telephone number where you (or a relative) can be reached.

Send your story to:

Advanced Media New York

CNY Halloween Story c/o Chris Baker

220 S. Warren Street

Syracuse, NY 13202

You can also submit it by email to [email protected]. Be sure to include “CNY Halloween Contest” in the subject line. The deadline is Friday, October 14 at noon.

Please limit entries to between 600 and 800 words.

Advance Media New York is not responsible for lost, late or misdirected entries. A panel of judges will choose the best entry from each of these three groups: kindergarten through third grade; fourth and fifth years; and the sixth and seventh years.

Enrollment is limited to children attending schools in central New York.

The judges will select the works they deem the most original, creative and entertaining. Winners will be notified by Advance Media New York by phone or email. All decisions of the judges are final.

Employees, carriers, distributors and agents of Advance Media New York and their immediate family members are not eligible. All entries become the property of Advance Media New York and will not be returned.

Winners agree to have their entries published by Advance Media New York and its affiliates. The Contest is subject to all federal, state and local laws and regulations; void where prohibited.