YANovCon 2021 Short Story Contest

A lot is different this year including the dates for YANovCon, opens a new window! Our 6th annual Young Adult Novelist Convention (#YANovCon) includes two panel sessions, opens a new window with award-winning YA novelists on Saturday, March 20 and a Short Story Contest. Submit your story, opens a new window by Monday, April 12 for a chance to win prizes!

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

This year we are asking you to create a short story based on one of these three themes: Mental Health, Social Justice, or Body Positivity. Stories can be realistic fiction, sci-fi, fantasy, mystery, dystopian, or whatever you come up with.

Short Story Guidelines:

  • Open to 6-12 graders who reside or attend school in San Mateo County.
  • Submit your own original work of 500 words or less.
  • All submissions are due by Monday, April 12, 2021

We can’t wait to read your story! 

Submit Your Story Now, opens a new window

Looking for a little inspiration? Last year’s first-place story about academic pressures and how it can affect teens is a great place to start.

The Mirror by Kaylie

I looked down. There it was, a big, fat, bloody red B. How? How could I have gotten a B! I thought my essay was flawless. This stupid, stupid paper was the single defining determinant than made my grade an A or B.

What would I do? My parents would kill me. They would set me up with a fancy writing tutor that cost $100 an hour. They would take away my phone until I got an A. They would prevent me from hanging out with my friends. This single, life defining B was all it took for my life to be hell. Was it even worth coming home at all? What would they say? More importantly, what would they do? My teacher might as well show up at my door with my head stabbed onto a pole, I wouldn’t disappoint my parents then.

At that moment my eyes welled up, threatening to cast forth a pool of tears. Not even a pool, the whole damn ocean if last week’s episode was any inclination. I swear, if I bottle up all the tears I shed for bad papers or low test scores I could have cured California’s drought. My nose started to clog with snot, my lashes shouldered the tears that began to spill. I stood up, mumbled something about using the restroom, and took the bright yellow pass out the door.

It was a desperate sprint to the bathroom. How long could I make it before I burst into tears. I pawed my giant Harvard sweatshirt over my hands and used it to wipe away my snot. I threw myself into a bathroom stall and let the tears come. Heavy sounds broke from my chest and my vision was blurred. The chipped paint of the tiles faded in and out of focus while I furiously wiping my eyes.

It was 10 minutes, or longer, before I emerged from the bleak stall. Staring in the mirror was a face. A face that I couldn’t recognize. She had limp black hair, smudged mascara, and a dripping nose. The saltiness of my tears had made its way into my mouth, making me lick my already chapped lips. My snot covered sweatshirt was a darker shade of grey than before. I looked back up into the mirror. The same blotchy face greeted me once again.

Okay, breakdown session over, time to put yourself together. I slipped my dark strands into a ponytail. Scrubbed at my raccoon eyes until my skin was raw. Dabbed at my nose with paper towels. The sweatshirt came off, and I tucked the tear stained sleeves close to my body so none could see.

For the last time I looked in the mirror. There I was, perfectly put together. Tear free, with slightly pink cheeks. It was okay. I was normal. I pushed the bathroom door open, and stepped back into the real world, shoving that broken version of myself deep. deep down, until the next time.