Category: march 2020 ywp contest

Last month, we challenged our Young Writers to submit a 400 word excerpt from their NaNoWriMo novels. From over 500 fabulous entries, we chose two Grand Prize Winners and four Runners-Up. We hope you enjoy reading them as much as we did!

“Of Silver and Swans” by Dana B.

Maman crooked her finger, beckoning her daughter forward.

“Why so afraid, my little cygnet?” she asked, holding out her hands so that the pooled moonlight glistened alluringly. She tilted her head, an unspoken challenge. “Don’t you want to reap the moon’s blessing?”

Lynette darted a glance at the moon, seeking a sign. Any sign that would let her get out of this, just once. But the moon’s lips were sealed. Read the rest!

“Swimming Upstream” by Rivka J.

I lean against a willow tree, heart racing, breathing hard. The cool summer breeze gently calms me. The Queen’s Guard fills the park, each woman drawing her sword and swinging it around threateningly. I finger the secret dagger hidden beneath my stolen belt and hope I won’t have to use it. Boys aren’t allowed to have weapons. I’ve seen younger boys been killed by guards just for wearing a belt. Read the rest!

“The Dragon Queen” by Leila M.

“Queen Gold, I challenge you for the throne of the Gold kingdom!” my daughter Winter hisses.

Dang it.

When female dragons like me lay eggs, they lay more than one at a time. They hatch at different times, when they’re ready-30 minutes to 3 years after they do. I laid all four eggs at the same time, but Spring hatched first, nine months after she was laid. However, dragon eggs require special care. Winter’s egg was turned upside down in the nest, even though I watched over the eggs. The turned egg gave her evil. Read the rest!

"The Frig” by Kyler

The Food Variety Show was finally over. That night, all the food in the refrigerator chatted excitedly.

“I don’t care!” said Mushroom. He had received the lowest score in the show. “I don’t care about popularity!”

“Of course, you don’t care,” muttered Cheese, “If you cared, then you wouldn’t be playing in the mulch and dirt all day.” Read the rest!

Last month, we challenged our Young Writers to submit a 400 word excerpt from their NaNoWriMo novels. From over 500 fabulous entries, we chose two Grand Prize Winners and four Runners-Up. We hope you enjoy reading them as much as we did!

“Phantom Mare” by Miriam G. — Grand Prize Winner (13 and Under Age Group)

Had she gone deaf?

Desperate for sound, Sharon dashed from the room. Her feet pounded but she couldn’t hear them. The door of the kitchen banged but she couldn’t hear it. She smashed into the table but she couldn’t hear it.

The world was silent.

Gasping and terrified, she dashed into the front hall. Her fingers scrabbled at the lock, clumsy with fear. She managed to turn it and yanked open the door.

Fog, unnaturally thick and white, filled the doorway, pushing to come in. Sharon shrieked, unable to hear it, and slammed the door on the fog. She locked it and waited, trembling, before forcing herself to move back to the kitchen.

The kettle lay forgotten on the burner. The burner, which she had turned on—but was now cold.

She had closed the window. Even with her mind fractured by terror, she remembered closing it. But now it was open, the fog blown in, the curtains rustling in the breeze.

Sharon stumbled toward it, grabbed it, tried to shove it closed. But it wouldn’t budge.

The fog wrapped cold, misty fingers around her, and she sprang back, tripping over a chair. She fell to the ground without a noise. The chair landed on her hand, causing a jolt of pain, but she ignored it and scrambled up.

She backed away from the fog as it slithered through the window, curling about her. She looked for the stairs, to run up them and take shelter from the terrifying fog, but the mist was already swirling up the steps.

Instead she fled down the hall, to the back door. She grabbed the knob and shoved at it before her fractured mind remembered. That door was jammed, and always had been. She couldn’t flee there.

That left only one spot for her to take refuge in. The living room. Sharon took a deep, shuddering breath, then dodged through the fog and into the room. She slammed the door behind her and waiting in the silent dark.

Nothing moved.

No fog curled under the door. Was she safe? She looked slowly around the room, her gaze landing unexpectedly on the forest picture. The horse inside looked out with black eyes.

Wait…

There never had been a horse in the forest scene.

The horse turned its head to look at her, and peeled back its lips to reveal sharp white teeth.

Sharon screamed.


Special guest judge Kat Zhang had this to say about “Phantom Mare”: “I love how tense this scene is! The build-up to the reveal is heart-pounding, and there’s a great rhythm to the sentences.”


Miriam G. is an aspiring novelist who enjoys writing about dragons and horses. She would spend all day at the barn around horses and all evening writing. Eventually, she hopes to publish her books. She wants to become a good enough artist that she can illustrate her books. Admittedly, she’s fond of self-inflicted pain through an accelerated math course to catch up with her older brother. She lives with her two brothers, her parents, and the sweetest, most patient cat in the world.

Last month, we challenged our Young Writers to submit a 400 word excerpt from their NaNoWriMo novels. From over 500 fabulous entries, we chose two Grand Prize Winners and four Runners-Up. We hope you enjoy reading them as much as we did!

“About Tea” by Noelle H. — Grand Prize Winner (14-18 age group)

On Tea Henshaw’s second day, she hit Calvin in the jaw. I don’t know what he said to her to make her do it, but I saw her knuckles connect with his skin. I saw him take it like a dog: first shocked and timid, but then bouncing back at her with big eyes.

You wouldn’t hit a girl, we said. You wouldn’t. Not with all these adults around, with all these authoritative eyes watching. Oh, but look—they’re not. They never are. We’re beyond their jurisdiction here, outside, on the edge of schoolyard and town. (And of course Calvin would hit a girl, we reminded ourselves, drawing our jackets tighter around blue autumn arms.)

We said all this from behind the fence. Chain-link. Along the rough line between grass and gravel.

They fought in the road.

She was wearing overalls, like a contractor or something, and they were cuffed all the way down at the ankles even though it was still eighty degrees out. Her work boots were gone, but that fringe remained. (When did she do it? Was it freshman year, maybe, that she cut her bangs?) It was an enduring mark of childish impulse.

She was no rabbit; she was slow and strong. Later when she stood beside me, she made me a dandelion beside an oak tree. She wasn’t really that tall. She just seemed it, because she hit Calvin.

We wanted her to hit him again. We wanted her to pummel him, to knee him in the nuts. We wanted to see him vomit on the ground. We wanted to breathe him in when he crumbled. We wanted to stand in her shade.

When Calvin hit her back, she shrank six inches.

He jabbed her in the stomach and she keeled over. He stood over her with his auburn hair eating the sun— absorbing it, folding it into a halo like in Renaissance paintings.

We don’t know what he said to her. She made no answer at first, just gave a tiny cry that maybe no one heard but me. I recognized that sound. It made us the same.

Tea Henshaw was born, and learned to walk, and spoke her first words between the same two bright yellow lines. (No passing, the lines said. Everyone passed on that road.)

She said, “Nice to meet you,” and they shook hands.

The September light was red.


Special guest judge Kat Zhang had this to say about “About Tea”: “I’m a sucker for a bold, unique voice, and I kept thinking about this excerpt long after I read it. The words paint a lovely, vibrant scene.” 


Noelle H. is a high school junior who enjoys writing, painting, swimming, and playing the violin. She has always loved stories. She has written one full novel (which is eternally in the editing stage), and hopes to finish a new version of it sometime this year. She plans to go to college for Art and Design, and dreams of working in animation.