Congrats to Our YANovCon 2023 Short Story Contest Winners!

Congratulations to our YANovCon 2023Teen Short Story Contest winners! The theme for the 2023 contest was Family and Found Family. Thank you to all our amazing teen authors who shared their stories of what family or found family means to them.

2023 Winners

  • 1st Place - Keiran H., San Carlos, for Swept Away
  • 2nd Place - Sonora K., San Mateo, for Baggage
  • 3rd Place - Jacilyn C., Millbrae, for Wander

We look forward to reading everyone’s stories for YANovCon 2024! Keep an eye on for updates on next year's event.

Enjoy the 1st Place Short Story

Swept Away by Keiran H.

The autumn breeze ruffles my hair as I step into the backyard. Dad hands me the black bag somewhat hesitantly. The velcro inside scratches my hand as I pull out the razor and plug it in. Dad stands behind me watching as I remove the guard from the razor. My hands slightly tremble. The black patio chair creaks as dad sinks into it.

The sun peeks over the horizon, casting long shadows on the deck. I click on the razor. I trim a slim strip of hair so small it's barely noticeable. His hair flutters like a helicopter leaf as it falls to the ground. I brush my fingers through dad’s hair, laughing.

“Well at least you don’t have a bald spot.” I say.

I trim another line down his scalp, edging up to his ear. The buzz, a soft rumble in the back of my conscience.

I start to think about my friends. What were they doing during this dark and lonely time of Covid? As my mind wanders, so does my attention. My hand slips a little.

“Ouch!” He exclaims, laughing.

“Sorry, it was an accident I swear!” I promise, giggling along with him. I slowly trim around his ear. I brush off fragments of hair from his shirt. Like a skier paving paths through the powder, the razor cuts paths through his hair.

“Now use the number three attachment. Okay?”


My brain feels uncertain. What if I cut it too short? What if I mess up?

I carefully shave uneven line after uneven line. The wavy border where the hair goes from three centimeters to four. I rake the razor sideways in hopes of straightening out the waves. My unsteady hand almost turns into part of the razor as I get into the rhythm. The razor’s no more of a disturbance than holding a pencil.

Dad shifts in his chair to look at me.

“Well done.” His gruff voice is soothing and gentle. A reminder that I’m not alone.

I brush the hair off his shoulders. It tumbles down his shoulders into pools around my feet, like water falling over rocks in the wilderness.

I imagine a time when the hair was maple leaves and I would jump through the leaves with my brother as dad watched from the front steps. Back when we lived in Chicago. Back when I lived in the comfort of the cold.

The memory hits me like a wall of water.

My father gets up to leave. Back to the place he always goes.


To his job. The one in Sonoma

I think of the mere minutes I had with him. How friendly he was, no is. I have to remember he doesn’t have a choice.

I can’t help feeling jealous of all the people he helps, and oversees. All of the people who get his words, his love, his affection. I know he must go.

I slowly turn and sweep up the remains of our precious time together.