Jill here to announce the winners of the Go Teen Writers #WeWriteBooks Contest. Our top ten finalists were listed in this post back in October, and we appreciate your patience as Roseanna read over the top three finalists to choose an overall winner.
Below you will find our winner and the two runners up (listed alphabetically by story title). All three gave us permission to post the first 500 words of their stories, though I posted a few more or less words to stop at the end of a paragraph. Following each excerpt are a few lines from Roseanna's feedback to give you an idea of her overall thoughts on what worked so well in each story.
Please extend your congratulations to the winners in the comments below, and thanks again to those of you who entered the contest. We are proud of you all! We hope you enjoyed the #WeWwriteBooks series, the contest, and found your feedback from the judges helpful.
Work of My Hands by Kady Cossins – Winner
Few things can distract me from a science book. Unfortunately, the voice of Ferdy Fields is one of them.
“Dagnee!” Coming through his nose, Ferdy’s voice squeaks like a cornered hedgehog. Why did Darse have to send Ferdy?
“Here,” I call, swinging down from my evergreen perch. I spot Ferdy running in the wrong direction, away from me, panting and clutching his side. I’m tempted to let him keep running right off the edge of the cliff.
The best way to describe Ferdy is an adolescent nineteen year old. He tops my height by two heads but probably weighs about the same. I always wonder how he scrunches those grasshopper legs into the claustrophobic mine tunnels. A thick topping of dirty blond hair and plentiful eyebrows make him look like a gangly sheepdog. He’s about as smart as a sheepdog too.
“Here, Ferdy.” I finally catch his attention by waving my book above my head. He scrunches his face at my book, obviously disapproving of my hobbies, but says nothing about it. Thank goodness.
“You know,” he says, walking towards me, “I ran half a mile to find you. Looked at your house first, but you weren’t there. Knocked for five minutes. You should really stay in one place if you’re going to be the mine mechanic.”
“What’s the problem?” I ask, shoving my book in my satchel.
“Elevator quit working on the western wing. Jammed or something. You should check up on your little machines more often. Seven men are trapped down there. Darse doesn’t know how much—”
I jog out ahead of Ferdy, losing his griping in the wind. Ferdy has harbored a sore spot towards me ever since I replaced him as mine mechanic four years ago.
“You know,” Ferdy says, catching up with me, “your sister stared out the window at me for the whole five minutes and didn’t answer the door.”
How does he talk while sprinting? Quickening my pace, I attempt to lose him again, but his wire legs have an advantage when it comes to speed.
“What’s the problem with her?” Ferdy asks. “While we’re at it, what’s the problem with you? I think the Magicians should smite you both. What’s her name even? Wren.”
The word slides through his mouth like a rotten piece of goat cheese. I’d love to see him chew those words thoroughly and swallow. My sweaty fists are itching to find a place somewhere near Ferdy’s forehead.
“Wren is fine,” I say through my teeth.
“Doesn’t seem fine to me,” he continues. “You know, I don’t think Darse should let you near the mine, curse and all. My dad says he feels like the whole thing will collapse when you’re in it. You’re tainting it.”
Fortunately for Ferdy and for me, we come into the mine clearing before either of us sustains a concussion.
Roseanna said: First of all, the writing is fabulous. A true pleasure to read and amazing voice. You have real talent! I really enjoyed reading the selection and would certainly want to read more.
Azren by Charlotte Feechan – Tied for Second Place
It’s quite a feeling, the first time you bring something back from the dead.
Everyone marvels at the way the body starts to twitch and how their eyes light up with the unnatural glow of reanimation, an undead sack of flesh now bent to your will. And it’s true—all of that really is quite a sight to behold.
But Necromancer never seem to talk about the feeling that comes along with the spectacle, the vulnerability of the spell. I think that’s because a part of you gets used up each time you breathe life back into a corpse. A small part, sure, but it’s a piece you’ll never get back. A price to pay for the dark gift.
My first resurrection was a cat. My brother’s pet, Taggle, had been hit by a wagon and gotten its head bashed in—or rather, Taggle leaped in front of the moving vehicle without a second thought (he never was a particularly bright animal, but my brother still loved him dearly). So we stole a spell tome from one of the Calsanni professors seeking to revive him, in one way or another. We were eleven years old and saw the enterprise as more of a joke than a legitimate attempt at necromantic magick, which was, perhaps, our downfall.
It took an entire day to figure out the strange incantation but it was a clumsy, ignorant effort: the cat’s balance was off and its co-ordination non-existent. Once Taggle had leaped from the rooves of our village with superb feline grace, and yet after our meddlings he could barely walk in a straight line. Despite this, Taggle caught at least three rodents every day without failure, as well as tackling other animals as large as badgers. The most disturbing result was that our beloved childhood pet had developed a somewhat cruel disposition: for one, he’d try to bite off our fingers if we even attempted to stroke him, not to mention that he seemed to enjoy torturing the animals he’d ensnared, pinning them down in his paws and chewing off limbs and tails and ears.
A week after we resurrected Taggle, Akavarin Mallus came to us.
He appeared at our cottage in the early hours and spoke with our father until morning while we watched beneath the gap in our bedroom door. We’d seen plenty of mages in our lives, so it was very evident that Akavarin was not your average healer. He was wrapped in silk that seemed darker than black and yet still seemed to shimmer and shift in the night, coupled with a mask that concealed only half his face, while the other was covered in streams of deep tattoos. And then there were his eyes. Gods, his eyes.
Akavarin bought us from my father for a sum of money I have never learned, although and the abruptness and joy with which my father relinquished us from his care leads me to believe the figure was quite substantial.
Roseanna said: Let me start by saying your voice is spot-on and your writing style is smooth, easy to read, and very compelling—great job! You pulled me into your world right away, which is always the mark of a great storyteller. =)
The Outpatient by Ansley Hills – Tied for Second Place
Most cunning, cold-blooded killers don’t have their own receptionist. An average-looking receptionist, at that. She’s talking into a headset, her voice calm and smooth like ocean water splashing against the shore. She nods her head toward a wooden door on the right. I hesitate.
It’s just a door. I run my hand over the smooth varnish to convince myself. It’s not a magic portal that will transport me back to September. If it were, would I walk through?
My hands clasp the cold handle. I push through.
His lab coat is a scalding shade of white. It’s brighter in person and practically demands attention. He has the same dark hair, sideways smile. Even his stethoscope is the same.
His office hasn’t changed much either. Leather chairs. Bookshelf. Diploma-splattered wall. The ghost of memory tarnishing every surface. He reaches an outstretched hand in my direction, and I instinctively shrink away. “Have a seat.” He gestures to the chair on the right.
Last time, a frail, balding man--a stranger I’d known my whole life--slumped in that chair, drinking in the lies of this murderer. He was dangling precariously off the edge of a boat, tiptoeing across a fraying tightrope, searching for a glimmer of hope.
He wasn’t in the right condition to make the kind of decision the man behind the desk presented him with. She wasn’t, either. She was a statue, solid and stone cold to the rest of the world. Only I could see her cracks, notice them in the way she sobbed into the phone or wiped a hand across her eyes.
That was his chair. I can still picture him there, translucent fingers tracing the buttons on the left armrest.
This room was our hope, our One Last Chance. It wasn’t until later, much later, that a flashlight shone around the edges and shadows, crawling across the carpet and illuminating the face of the man behind the desk.
“Miss . . . um . . .” Dr. Davis looks down at his clipboard. “Abberson.” He glances up at me. I expect a flash of recognition to ignite behind his blue eyes, a look of surprise to flit across his lips. But his face reveals nothing. He doesn’t remember.
“You’re here for a job shadow?” he asks, running a hand through his black hair.
“Yes.” I’m the murderer’s apprentice. A chill runs up my spine as I let the thought sink in.
“I have an appointment with a patient. Follow me.”
I follow him out of the office and past the waiting room, where the burn of antiseptic wipes invades my nostrils. He steps into a vacant elevator, and I hesitate. The door starts to close, so I jump on before I lose my nerve. The elevator rises to the third floor, where we pass a hallway lined with doors. The doors conceal rooms filled with this man’s current targets. Some manage to escape; those people are the lucky ones. My father, however, was not lucky.
Roseanna said: Excellent beginning! Your opening grabs attention right away, and your writing is stellar. I love your vivid style and the unexpected way your heroine views the world.