YANovCon Short Story Contest

YANovCon 2020 is right around the corner, and we’re hosting another Short Story Contest. Submit your story, opens a new window by Friday, December 20, 2019, and you could win a one-on-one lunch and feedback with a published YA author and other goodies.

This year we are asking you to create a short story where a character's academics or online interactions have MAJOR impacts on their life.

We understand that social media and academic pressure can create a lot of anxiety in middle and high school students. Many people come up with healthy and unhealthy techniques to handle this pressure. How might the characters in your story work through these issues?

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 in San Mateo County
  • Submit your own original work of 500 words or less
  • All submissions are due by Friday, December 20, 2019

Submit Your Story Now, opens a new window

Looking for a little inspiration? Last year’s first-place story on in-house issues and how they affect teens is a great place to start.

A Living Ghost by Bridget

I have to run up the miniature hill in order to see into dad’s room. I hurry to check up on him, even if he doesn’t know that I am. I have to see through the rose bush and squint past the redwood trees but, at the top of the hill, I can see dad. His hair has grown grey and he has become nothing but skin and bones. All he ever does is sleep yet it looks like he doesn’t know how. On the bedside table next to him, lay old dinner plates, dirty clothes, and unswallowed pills. It hurts to see him like this.

I wish that he was sitting next to me. Outside. It’s been at least a month since he’s last smelled the oak trees, dipped his toes into the relaxing creek, or even rolled down the small hill. Dad’s avoided going outside of his room which leaves me with more responsibilities. My face beats red at the thought I might have caused all of this. If I was never born, then Mom wouldn’t have died. Then he wouldn’t have depression. He has always had a pinch of darkness in him, but recently, it’s expanded into much more.

This has gone on for too long. I haven’t shown up to school in weeks and when I do show up, I’m always late. I’ve had to put a pause on all of my after school activities too. This isn’t fair to me. I should be hanging out with friends, Emily, Courtney, and my best friend, Cayce, like normal teenagers. I shouldn’t be taking care of my own dad. Dad told me not to tell anyone. That this is a personal issue and it really isn’t anyone's business. I’ve respected him for long enough, I don’t think I can do it anymore.

The light has aged into darkness which reminds me that I need to make dinner. Why do I even try? It’s not like dad eats it anyway. I made up my mind. I need to tell someone. I squeeze through the rusting screen door and pick up the land phone. I dial Cayce’s number fast knowing that if I waste anymore time, I’ll talk myself out of it.

I’m not really sure what I’m expecting. Cayce can’t do anything to fix this problem but having someone to talk to could be nice. I’m alone most of the day and it’s becoming extremely lonely.

My eyes fill with tears as I explain to Cayce why I haven’t been at school. She still is the same old Cayce, understanding and kind. I can’t even pretend to be strong anymore. I’m just so sick of pretending like I’m ok. I can’t do this. I have to be strong for dad but that’s just causing more stress. “I know it’s hard right now, but I’m going to help you get through this.” Those words meant more than I can explain. Once they enter my ear, I never let them escape.