Enter the 2022 YANovCon Short Story Contest!

The 2022 YANovCon Short Story Contest is here, and the inspiration for this year’s contest is identity. Submit your story by Saturday, April 30, 2022 for a chance to win prizes!

  • 1st Place Prize: Book Bundle and Journal
  • 2nd Place Prize: Book Bundle
  • 3rd Place Prize: Journal

To submit, create a short story where at least one main character is dealing with identity, either their own or someone that they know. Maybe they're scared to admit how they feel or maybe they're treated differently by their family, friends or peers. How might the characters in your story work through these issues while discovering who they are? 

Short Story Guidelines:

  • Open to 6th -12th graders who reside in San Mateo County
  • Submit your own original work of 500 words or less
  • Use of this year's theme: Identity – Self-Discovery and the Courage to Reveal Yourself
  • All submissions are due by Saturday, April 30, 2022.

Stories can be realistic fiction, sci-fi, fantasy, mystery, dystopian or whatever you come up with. We can’t wait to read your story!

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Thanks to everyone who participated in the 2021 YANovCon Short Story contest.

We asked for stories that were based on one of these three themes: mental health, social justice or body positivity.

Winners were:

Honorable Mentions
Abigail- Peanut Butter
Agnes - A Smile
Eisha - Vegan Fish
Emma - A Caged Bird Does Not Fly
Evelyn - In Determining Happiness
Gregory - Rain Keeps Falling
Kevin- Hopeless Flower
Iris - Intersection
Riley - Healing in the Night

3rd Place: Sofia - Long Live Belarus
2nd Place: Abbie - Bodies We Ought to Love

To help spark your imagination, read 2021’s First Place story or check out what #YANovCon authors have written.

Note to Readers: This story is a vivid and realistic depiction of one person's struggle with eating disorders.

The Colors of Me by Ailsa

I poured out Green, brown, red and yellow. Colors, swirling together, in and out, up and out, out, out. I looked down into the toilet bowl, at the white porcelain cradling the colors of me. Oh look, there’s some orange here. That’s good, it means it's reaching the Cheetos I ate earlier. I wonder if cereal melts in the stomach. Did I need to bring up clumps? Or was the white curdy stuff it? I thought of trying it one day. Mix Cinnamon Toast Crunch in milk and see if it melted.

I took a breath, felt the ribs tear at my tendons. Before they could slip back, I daintily picked up two fingers, and shoved it down my throat- then stopped. Someone’s footsteps tapped past the locked bathroom door. I held my breath, hoping that my father’s slippers couldn’t see under the door. They would whisper, “look what she’s doing in there. Just look at her.” 

The slippers dragged themselves away, into my father’s room. But I knew their eyes were on me. Watching, in colors of green, blue, brown, pink. They didn’t blink. They didn’t stop. They held me in their retina, looking in on me. They were going to find me - they were going to find me - they were going to-

“Stop. stop stop. Don’t think. You know what your therapist says. She says overthinking isn’t good. Everyone says overthinking isn’t good. You shouldn’t over think right now it's going to make things worse and give you mental health disorders. Do you want to have a mental health disorder? Calm down, Quiet your mind. Focus on the task at hand. It's true you can’t do anything right, but you should at least try.” I picked up my fingers, watching as they glistened under bright yellow light, flecks of cinnamon glinting like jewels. I kissed the saliva off them.

“Good girl.”

My bones shook, my throat pulling thin as I hacked up pale-yellow clumps. God, I felt so stupid. I knew bread doesn’t come up easy. I should have drank more water. I ran towards the sink, numbly pushing up at the handle. I should have brought a cup.

Rinse, wash, holy water pouring over my face, in my body, rinsing out the bad, bad, bad. Every meeting of the hands was a prayer for Noah’s flood to purge my body, drown everything clean, leaving me, the true me, the skinny me, the perfect me, to rise above, draped in a glistening, white ark. I bobbed on a sea of spit and stomach acid, then looked down into the ocean, and saw my own reflection. Bloodshot eyes smiled back at me, framed by purple veins, all wrapped up neatly in translucent skin. I looked beautiful.