Lit Pup Writers! R.L. Stine & Want Your Haunted House Stories


Good morning, readers, writers, and shark fans!

McKenzie here (Editor-in-Chief at Lit Shark). I received the coolest opportunity this morning for my Lit Pup writers, and I wanted to share this with our Lit Shark community right away. Lit Pup writers, I hope you’ll apply, and the rest of my Lit Shark community, if you know someone who might like to apply, I hope you’ll forward the information to them!

Every year, hosts a Halloween-themed writing contest, and this year, for their “Haunting Hooks” contest, they’re partnering with none other than Goosebumps author R.L. Stine as their guest judge. I don’t know about you, but R.L. Stine was my breakthrough writer. I struggled to read as a child, and because of that, I just didn’t WANT to read. But when I found R.L. Stine’s The Werewolf in Fever Swamp, I was hooked and started pushing myself to read more—so that I could read more of his books. Throw in a surgery, having to spend an entire summer in bed, reading every Goosebumps book in the original series and every Fear Street I could get my hands on, graduating on to Stephen King’s books—and I became a reader for life… and an aspiring writer at the age of 13.

Enough about me, though. But it was a no-brainer for me to share this opportunity with all of you. To all of my Lit Pup writers, I hope you will submit your best and your spookiest! It’s a very short submission, so it won’t even take you long to do, and it appears to be free to submit, just like Lit Shark’s opportunities (we love that here). Applicants must be 18 years or older, but I figure this could still be a fun thing for some of you to do with your parents, as well as for emerging writers who are breaking into their submission era!

And of course, if you’d like to see more submission opportunities, I’ve included everything Lit Shark and Lit Pup currently have available just below Dictionary and R.L. Stine’s call!



Write a captivating opening to a scary story in 50 words or less!

Entries open now through Friday, October 13, with R.L. Stine’s top pick to be announced on Halloween.

OAKLAND, CA—October 4, 2023—, the leading online and mobile English-language educational resource, is welcoming audiences to its third annual Halloween writing contest—Haunting Hooks: Haunted House Edition. This year, the winning entry will be selected by guest judge R.L. Stine, one of the best-selling children’s authors in history.

Contestants are challenged to write a captivating opening to a scary story in 50 words or less. Original submissions will be accepted at through Friday, October 13. The winning entry will be announced on Tuesday, October 31, across’s site and socials (@Dictionarycom). For full rules and regulations, visit

The writing contest offers a chance to win prizes, including a signed copy of the first book in Stine’s new Goosebumps series from Scholastic, House of Shivers, swag and the ultimate bragging rights, of course!

“’s Haunting Hooks contest elevates our mission to inspire and celebrate creativity in a world powered by words,” said John Kelly, vice president of Editorial at “Who better to help us select the most haunting hook than the incomparable R.L. Stine?”

The theme of this year’s Haunting Hooks is the haunted house. Writers can set the start of their story inside the devious dwelling, approaching its eerie exterior or at its menacing entrance—as long as it’s a spooky beginning to a haunted house story that instantly haunts and hooks!

“How wonderful to be involved in’s Haunting Hooks writing contest. I certainly appreciate the wild and weird world of words, and look forward to choosing the entry that delights—and scares!—me the most,” said Stine.

Last year’s contest featured a scary sci-fi story theme and received more than 5,000 submissions. For more information on Haunting Hooks, visit

About and

Words define every aspect of our lives, from our ideas to our identities. aspires to empower every person, of every background, to express themselves, make connections, and open the door to opportunity through the power and joy of language. Introduced in 2023,’s powerful AI-backed writing tool, Grammar Coach™, takes writing from good to great instantly. is the premier destination to learn, discover, and have fun with the limitless world of words and meanings. The brand helps you make sense of the ever-evolving English language so you can put your ideas into words—and your words into action.

About R.L. Stine

R.L. Stine is one of the best-selling children’s authors in history. Goosebumps, which recently celebrated its 30th anniversary, has more than 400 million books in print in 32 languages. An all-new Goosebumps series, House of Shivers, will debut in September 2023.


While You’re Here—Don’t forget to submit to Lit Pup and Lit Shark, too!


Lit Pup Magazine Submissions Are Open!

For most of 2023 since the launch of the Lit Shark community, we’ve put most of our effort into growing our community and getting our Lit Shark Magazine off the ground—but now, we’ve reached the point where we want to get Lit Pup Magazine off the ground, too, to give the rest of our community a place to submit, as well.

Lit Pup Magazine is open to submissions from children writers, teen writers, parents, and professional writers who write children’s books, middle-grade stories, and YA (Young Adult). The magazine is meant to be BY minor writers and FOR minor writers, and we’re so excited about it!

Please use our Lit Pup submission portal for poetry, short fiction, artwork, novel excerpts, and children’s book artwork. 

For the time being, we have the goal of producing one issue per year for Lit Pup Magazine, but in the future, we hope there will be enough interest to have four Lit Shark Magazine issues and four Lit Pup Magazine issues appearing per year!

If you know someone who would like to submit to our magazine, please share the news with them! Schools, libraries, parents, teachers, friends—we’re looking at you!


Lit Shark: Issue 3: The Spooky (Jaws) Edition

Issue 3 of Lit Shark Magazine: The Spooky (TEETH) Edition Is Closing Soon!

I unapologetically love fall and all things spooky; Halloween could be every day of the year, and I’d be happy. So when I started this literary magazine, I was already thinking of having a specifically spooky issue each year—but when I started receiving ghost stories, I knew that I needed to make it official.

We’ve already received many amazing submissions for this issue, both stories and poetry, but we definitely would love to receive more before the issue closes.

This is the time of year to share your spookiest work with us—but if you have a dark retelling in you, or a reimagining of Jaws or The Meg in you, we’d love to see those, too.

You can use our submission portal here.

We want to be very mindful at Lit Shark of how sharks and other marine animals are portrayed in entertainment and how those depictions impact the care they receive in the wild. Statistically, sharks are more mistreated by people in the wild than, say, dolphins, because they’re so frequently villainized —and this impacts the outreach and support they receive in conservation efforts, as well.

So while I may love Jaws and other similar stories, I want to contain stories like that to the spooky issue, because that’s what this form of entertainment should be. It’s meant to be a scary or gory story, not a real-life depiction of a natural, beautiful, not-evil animal.


Lit Shark: Issue 4

Not Interested in the Spooky Issue? Issue 4 of Lit Shark Magazine Is Open, Too!

For our final issue of the year, we’re leaving the submissions open to you to choose what you would like to send! We want to end this year on a high note and come into 2024 with a “Best Of” anthology of all of our favorite pieces from the first four issues this year.

It’s been such a wonderful first year at Lit Shark Magazine, and we can’t thank all of you enough for your support and your submissions.

You can use our usual submission portal here. 

Poetry, fiction, nonfiction, and short plays are all welcome.

As always, we love marine-themed work, but your work can contain any theme you wish!


And Don’t Forget Our Poem of the Month Contest—Closing October 25th!

Our last item for today (I know, this is a lot!)—don’t forget our monthly Poem of the Month contest!

We received submissions in September for our October Poem of the Month, and we’re currently open to submissions for our November Poem of the Month. From October 1 to October 25, you can submit for this paid opportunity.

The winner of the contest will receive $20, a broadside of their poem, a feature on our website, and also a feature in our next issue of Lit Shark Magazine (in this case, Issue 4 of 2023).

Honorable Mentions may also be considered, and they will receive a shoutout on our website, and will also be featured in our next issue of Lit Shark Magazine (also Issue 4 of 2023).

You can use our usual submission portal for this, but make sure to mention you’re submitting for the Poem of the Month Contest!


From us (and R.L. Stine! and!) to you—Happy Writing and Happy Submitting!

Some of the links in this post are affiliate links. You will not be charged extra, but a portion of your purchase will help support Lit Shark’s causes in inclusive and accessible literature and writing resources, as well as our growing movement in conversation education, rescue, and revitalization.

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Written By McKenzie Lynn Tozan

McKenzie Lynn Tozan (she/her/hers) lives and writes in Europe with her family (originally from the Midwest). In addition to being the Editor-in-Chief of Lit Shark Magazine and the Banned Book Review, she is a novelist, poet, and book reviewer. She received her MFA in Poetry from Western Michigan University and her BA in English/BS in Education from Indiana University South Bend, where she began her work in publishing. Her poems have appeared in Rogue Agent, Whale Road Review, Young Ravens Review, The Birds We Piled Loosely, and Encore Magazine, among others; and her book reviews and essays have appeared in The Rumpus, Green Mountains Review, Memoir Mixtapes, The Life Collective, Her Journal, Motherly, and more. When not writing, she enjoys reading, appreciating nature, and spending time with her husband and three children.




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