Nathan Bransford, Author


Thursday, January 7, 2010

THE SECRET YEAR Publication Day! Plus Finalists!

Confetti!!! Streamers!!! Ticker tape!!!

Big congrats to Jennifer Hubbard as THE SECRET YEAR is now officially on sale at bookstores around the country!! Please be sure and pick up or order your copy as it is quite an amazing book, in case you haven't heard.

And we have finalists for the THE SECRET YEAR Teen Diary Contest Extravaganza!

But first I thought I'd explain a bit about what went into my (ridiculously difficult) decisions.

Choosing the finalists was way more subjective than usual, even by contest standards, because there's really no easy way to judge entries that varied so much - some seemed like excerpts from bigger stories, some seemed like they were meant to stand on their own, and there were so many different goals for what authors were hoping to achieve. It was also extremely difficult to judge these out of context: some may have been completely perfectly appropriate in the context of the story, but take them out and it's harder to determine how well they may have fit into a larger narrative.

So please bear in mind that this was extremely difficult, and just because yours wasn't chosen doesn't mean it's not fantastic.

The thing I love about Julia's diary entries in THE SECRET YEAR is that they are completely in character. It's not an epistolary novel, but they pop up at key moments in the narrative and hearing her voice is extremely powerful. Particularly since we know Julia is dead, it's all the more compelling/poignant/tragic for Julia's personality and voice to just leap off the page. There's a vivid picture in the entries of a brash, forward girl, who also sometimes tries to stretch and use evocative words and images because she wants to be something more than what people think of her. So in choosing the finalists, I was drawn to ones that showed a unique, distinguishable voice, which was the most important factor in my decision.

I'd also like to be clear that I wasn't actually going strictly for verisimilitude. It wasn't a contest to sound most like a teen - it was a contest to write the most compelling entry. Just as with other first person narratives, I think the best entries give the illusion of a teen diary without actually making it sound completely literally what a teen diary reads like in real life (if you read my actual real life teen diaries you'd probably want to end yourself).

So if these end up sounding more eloquent than what most teen diaries would be like in real life: well, yeah!

Some random preferences/common themes/extra thoughts:

- There were a whole lot of teen rants, and I found that these were extremely difficult to pull off unless they were funny. There were quite a few that read, essentially, "This sucks! I hate this, I hate this so much let me tell you PRECISELY HOW MUCH I hate this, God have I mentioned I hate this?" Stretch this over 500 words and it's extremely difficult to keep the reader engaged and to keep the character from being completely unlikeable, particularly out of context.

- There were also a ton of unrequited crushes, which, hey... I'm sure at least half of the ink produced in the history of the world has been spilled in teen diaries about unrequited crushes, but when reading many many entries in a row these ended up running together just a tad unless there was something unique.

- I found myself drawn more to ones that told a story rather than just providing scattered observations.

- There were lots of notes to selves, letters to dead people, and therapists/parents forcing kids to write a diary. Also pregnancy sticks.

- Some of the entries felt more like excerpts from a novel with a "Dear Diary" tacked on and didn't provide enough of a sense that they were from a diary or unsent letter.

NOW THEN!!

The honorable mentions, who I'm afraid just missed the cut of finalists but who done quite good:

Holly Bodger
Melissa
AimeeLove
virg nelson
Liz Czukas
Kelly R. Morgan
Mira
Ryan @ 12:53
june

Good work!!!

Before I announce the finalists for real, please remember the voting rules:

In order to vote for the winner, please leave a vote in the comments section of this post. You will have until approximately 9-10 PM Pacific time TONIGHT to vote. Please not e-mail me your vote.

Anonymous comments are closed for the voting.

Also: No campaigning for yourself or for your favorites out there on the Internet. Let's keep this fair. Please remind friends of this as well.

The grand prize winner will be announced tomorrow.

The five finalists are............


Jamie B!

Dear Pop Pop,

There's sand in Nana's hair. It's the last time I'll see her like this, on the beach, collecting shells, her blue veins showing through her delicate skin.

She stumbles and Mom catches her arm. Both of them laugh as waves rush up their calves.

Her smile still looks the same as it did when she was younger in the photograph Mom has of the two of you on the mantle.

Remeber the time you let me cast your rod into the ocean, certain I'd tangle up the line and lose your bait? Remember how shocked we all were when I reeled in a flounder?

The Outer Banks aren't the same without you.

Now she'll be missing from the cottage too.

But, she'll be with you again. I can still hear the two of you laughing and playing cards in the summer evenings out on the screened in porch. Ice tinkling in your High Ball glasses.

We've taken care of her for you, and it's almost time for you to take over again.

She's looking down at her hand and twisting her wedding ring that she'll never remove.

She's looking forward to being with you again.

I'll see you someday, Pop Pop.

Love,
J


Jenny!

Thursday--

Things I love about Jake: 1. The way his hair curls at the nape of his neck when it gets too long. It reminds me of water skiing in the third grade when his parents and my parents would drag us to the lake and we'd tumble through the water--he'd toss his head and send droplets into my eyes. 2. The way he hunches down over his desk, like now, when he's taking notes and I'm writing this, pretending to take notes. I wonder what he doodles in the margins? He'll get up soon when the bell rings. He'll uncurl like a cat and that's the best part about watching him. 3. The way he remembers my name in the hallway and says "Hey, Amy" even when his arm is around Brina's shoulders. People are surprised we know each other. Him: a boy with torn-knee jeans and rock and roll t-shirts. Me: laced up science wiz. 4. The way he guides Brina into a room with his hand at the small of her back. When I see that, I feel the cold space of skin beneath my shirt and know his hands would warm it. 5. All the bits I've collected of him: his Grateful Dead keychain, his iPod (with earbuds), his essay on the Civil War, his cologne. If I lean forward now I could smell it on the cotton of his t-shirt, but that'd be too strange. Better to watch his hair curl from here. The bell's gonna ring and, like always, he'll unfold himself, turn around to grab his backpack, which has fallen on the floor--he'll nod, smile his half-smile that ignites the dimple beside the corner of his mouth, say "See ya, Amy" and walk out of Mr. Timberly's class as if we didn't share a secret.


Rowenna!

May 5, 1780
Full sun, unseasonably warm

I know it is an awfully uncharitable thing to think, but I cannot be in the room with Aunt Madeleine’s spoilt children for more than five minutes before I start to wonder if Swift’s Modest Proposal could be tested in our household. Perhaps this is why Mother protested so violently to Father allowing me to read modern writings, though I believe the primary reason to lie more solidly in her own inability to read any but the most elementary of compositions. Anyone knows that I am most conscientious to avoid prideful thought or uncharitable comparison, but I cannot escape the fact that my mother not only far less educated but less inclined to education than I. Regardless, I shall be escaping ever the more often to the library to escape Ophelia and Cornelius (are those not the silliest names you can imagine bestowing upon children?) as they will be with us for another fortnight.

Perhaps I am in a particularly foul mood on the subject of those children as it is on their account that I am being kept from the dinner party at the Greenes’ next Thursday evening. Mother thought it a delightful idea that I remain at home and watch the miniature terrors so that Madeleine could attend the party. I protested that my old nursemaid would be better suited to the task, but as she is now the plantation’s pastry cook Mother felt she would be kept too busy at her own tasks to properly manage the children, too. In addition, she felt it would be beneficial to my moral character and maternal instinct to watch them. Maternal instinct, indeed! As though one could feel maternal toward a pair of sticky-handed demons.

It is almost as though Mother knows that Betty Greene has been contriving to arrange dancing after dinner, and to provide her middle brother for my partner. Betty can think of no better amusement than match-making her brothers away to her dearest friends, hoping, I suppose, that she can eventually add us as sisters. It is not that I find Jerome Greene terribly appealing—he is too short, for one, and his red hair does not suit him—but it would be nice to dance for an evening like a proper adult. No, instead I am chained to a pair of prattling, screaming Lilliputians. It seems that everyone around me is permitted some acquiescence toward adulthood—my brother joining the Congressional forces of his own volition, Betty with her little dance parties. I must content myself with books, I suppose.


Tara!

Dear diary,

Oksana left today. Dad's parting words were "Never believe a mail-order bride when she says I love you." He was so chin-trembling, tear-stained-cheek sad watching her tear up our lawn that I wanted to cry just looking at him.

Oksana, on the other hand, was throwing her luggage around and cursing him in Russian. I wasn’t sure how safe it was for either of us standing by the living room window with so much glass around.

Dad always said she was different. I thought he was referring to the Belarusian catalog she came from, but his tears were genuine.

He whispered, “Sorry about the eggs.” This morning, Oksana accused him of deliberately making runny, undercooked eggs. It escalated to an accusation of salmonella poisoning. Finally, she revealed the real reason for the argument.

Dad and I both know that she keeps this house so clean you can eat out of the sink, drink from the toilet, and perform surgery on the kitchen table. And neither of us thanked her for it. I guess I stopped noticing what she did for us when I began expecting it.

Dad thinks she'll come back. Every time she's left us, she's come home apologetic after the mall closed. I haven't told him that this time is not like the previous ones. I saw her take the kitchen timer. Who takes a kitchen timer with them when they leave? People who move.

Just before she left, she paused in her ranting and looked at me. Her expression softened like she was going to cry too. Could it be that Oksana, the step-mom with the maternal instincts of a broom, was going to miss me? That's when she waved good-bye to me slowly, three times with one hand, and got in the car.

As she backed out the driveway, I think I surprised her as much as she surprised me by mouthing the words "thank you."


LJKuhnley!

Dear Future Losers of Brookview High,

The world looks a little brighter when your head’s suspended in a toilet. In between the water swirling around your ears and your silent thanks that nobody’s taken a piss in the bowl this morning, there’s a strange sort of calm that comes over you. Mouth closed. Eyes open. Water whooshing ‘round a porcelain sky. The hell of high school disappears and for a moment, you feel at peace. Because you know, that for those seven seconds, life can’t get any worse.

But then the jerk holding your feet lets you down and you’re gasping for breath and the world comes rushing back. You stare at the bowl, water dripping down your face, wishing you’d been flushed down the pipes and spit out in the James (or wherever piss-water goes). Because the moment your feet touch the ground, your seven seconds of peace are over.

If you’re a loser (and if you’re reading this I guess you are), the best advice I can give you is gain weight. Fast. Forget the dollar menu. Super-size those fries, scarf down all the quarter pounders you can swallow and keep right at it. Because an extra layer of fat is the only defense against the jerk-wads of the world.

Sure, you’ll get the lard-ass jokes. But, take it from me, if you can gain a few pounds-or thirty-do it. I’m cursed with an ultrafast metabolism my mother would kill for which means no matter how much lard I shovel down my throat, my bony ass doesn’t get an inch bigger.

I’ve been stuffed in lockers, trash cans and believe it or not- a tuba case. And that’s not even the worst of it. Did you hear the rumor about the geek who went dumpster diving for his retainer on mystery meat day? Yep, that was me. The total dweeb whose locker was plastered with pictures of the Jonas Brothers? Me again. The dork whose underwear got sent up the flagpole with him in it? You guessed it.

So let me tell you, if you’re as big a loser as I was, plunging head first in a toilet bowl might just be the highlight of your day.


Thanks again to everyone who entered, and congrats to the finalists!

UPDATE: Voting is closed! Winner will be announced tomorrow.






294 comments:

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Yat-Yee said...

I am just impressed you could read all the entries and still keep your eyesight (and sanity?)

Thanks for another awesome contest.

hannah said...

With all due respect to your previous contestants, I think these are the strongest finalists of any contest you've had. Well done, guys.

stephanie said...

I am so glad my favorite made it to the list of finalists. There were tons of superb entries, but Jamie B's really tied me in knots. I loved this one. So, there's my vote.

And yes, thanks, Nathan for another great contest!

Tiana Lei said...

My vote goes to Jenny. I loved reading all of these. Thanks for hosting the contest!

Hilabeans said...

Jaime B!

Rachele Alpine said...

Jamie's piece is my fav! I'm impresed I could feel so sad for the narrator when only reading a a few sentences. Well done!

Rachel Hamm said...

my vote also goes to Jenny. Her's sounds the most like a journal or diary entry to me.

Congrats to all the finalists- superb writing!

And Nathan- I am AMAZED you were able to read through all of the entries in such a short amount of time. thanks for your hard work

Valerie L Smith said...

Usually it's easy to pick a favorite, but these are all good in their own way. I think I'm leaning toward LJKuhnley, though.

Thanks for the fun!

Melissa Sarno said...

My vote is for Jenny! I'm curious to know how these two characters know eachother. Very compelling.

Thanks for a fun contest!

JustineDell said...

LJKuhnley! LJKuhnley! The words ring out so true for anyone who has ever been bullied in school. My vote is for LJKuhnley.

Triffany said...

These are all great. I'm so impressed, but since this is a vote and I have to pick a favorite, my fave is Jenny's entry.

Ugh..so hard to pick! How did you do this?! I guess it gives me a little insight into how tough your job really is.

Wonderful exercise!

Amanda said...

These are great!

My vote goes to Jamie B.'s. :)

Jeni said...

My vote goes to Jenny, too -- loved the description -- but Jamie B.'s was a close second. Awesome entries all around! Thanks for such a great contest -- it was fun. JEni

Sheila said...

I vote for Tara, but I enjoyed reading all of them. Congrats to you all!

Thanks, Nathan!

Josin L. McQuein said...

1. Congrats to finalists and HM's.
2. Nathan... you should be in Guinness Book for power reading.
3. I vote Jamie B.

:-)

Sophie said...

My vote goes to LJKuhnley but Jenny was nipping at the heals. Both sooo good.

Stephanie said...

LJKuhnley!

Sheila said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sophia said...

My vote is for Jenny's entry. It kept me reading, it was easy to visualize, I loved the voice and the final line mentioning a secret was perfect. Great work!

Holly Bodger said...

Oh, I love LJKuhnley (the entry, not the person... not that there's anything wrong with you LJKuhnley... I'm sure you're lovely... or handsome... or have a great personality)

Eric said...

LJKuhnley

Congrats to all.

Sharon said...

I'll cast my vote for Jenny. I'm curious to know their secret.

Also, to honorable mention AimeeLove... your entry brought tears to my eyes!

Good job everyone, especially Nathan! That wasn't easy.

JEM said...

My vote: LJKuhnley

Mira said...

Wow.

I'm sorry I didn't even read the rest of the post yet.

I made the honorable mention list????????

Do you have any idea how validating that is, Nathan? Well, you probably do. Did you really mean it, or are you just being nice because I threatened to jump off a bridge if I lost the contest. I mean, I meant it - I would have jumped off a bridge - but it would have been a very small bridge.

For the rest of my life, when I'm doubting my writing, I'll think that I made honorable mention on your list - and I am being completely truthful about that - you have such good judgement.

Thank you.

Btw, my word count was 428, but honestly, I don't care that much. Maybe you counted all the little dashes. This is good enough. Truly.

Um......I suppose that there is more going on here than just me. So, I'll go back and read the post, and cheer on the finalists.

And congrats to you and Jenn! I hope the book is a total smash!

Emily Hinchey said...

My vote is with Tara!

Rooty Too, mRoo, and other nom de plumes said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Margie said...

I vote for Jenny. Love the hook at the end.

Nathan Bransford said...

mira-

Oh no, Word must have counted the dashes! I'll remove the part about being over.

Stephanie Thornton said...

I'm going for Jamie B. Poignant and beautiful!

Alexa said...

Congratulations to finalists and honorable mentions.

My votes for Jenny, I really want to know what that secret is!

Bethanne said...

I like Jenny's. :)

Rooty Too, mRoo, and other nom de plumes said...

I vote for Jenny!

(Nathan, the Ryan excerpt link is broken.)

Again, a very informative contest.
Thanks Nathan and Congrats all!

Linda Godfrey said...

Congrats to all excellent finalists. My vote goes to Tara for the unique premise of Dad's Russian mail-order bride.

Hannah said...

Oh so many fantastic entries! I was incredibly torn between Jenny and LJKuhnley's entries, but the last line about the secret sold me on it - my vote goes to Jenny!

But they're all fantastic and I salute you Nathan for managing to get through so many words so fast, especially when it isn't actually part of your job!

Haley said...

Though I really like LJKhunley's a lot, my vote is for JENNY! Sounded so real.

susiej said...

These, of course, were all god but LJ Kuhnley sounded most like a teen diary to me. And as funny as it was the bit about getting fat and lard jokes being better than dweeb jokes-heartwrench!

Michelle said...

Tara!

They were all fabulous. Great contest, Nathan! Thanks for the opportunity.

Liesl said...

I loved them all, but I was particularly impressed with Rowenna.

T. Anne said...

Great fun! Thanx Nathan, that was a blast.
My vote goes to LJKuhnley. Well done!

Lauren said...

Jenny. :)

Christy Pinheiro, EA ABA said...

Tara hands down, was the best. And unlike some of the others, it sounds more like something that would actually happen.

Melissa Pearl said...

Thanks for your time and a really fun contest, Nathan :)

My vote is Jenny!

à la vanille said...

My vote goes to Jenny.
But congrats to all the finalists and honorable mentions!

chris said...

I have to go with Jenny. It's the only entry that made me wish for more right now!

Kayeleen said...

I'm voting for LJKuhnley.

Jille said...

LJKuhnley & Jenny

Kristen said...

My vote goes to Tara, with LJKuhnley close behind.

I'm surprised Jamie B's made it, despite how beautiful it is. The diary author talks and makes references that would suggest she's at least in her 20s.

How many teenagers can claim to have taken care of a sister who has a wedding ring around her finger? Am I just missing something?

Anita3 said...

This was really great!
My vote is for Jenny.
Anita

Diana Paz said...

Jenny, if these were novels and I could only have one to read it would be hers.

Suzanne said...

Congratulations to all of the finalists! Based on your well-written entries, I would pick up a novel from each of you. That's what makes voting for one so difficult.

My choice is Rowenna for such a clever entry. It was a reminder that teens in the 1700s were not all that different from teens today. Well done!

D. G. Hudson said...

My vote is for Jenny. Her words sounds like some of my own diary entries in my teen years. She seemed to instill that yearning that is so poignant in the teen's life. The last line got me too.

Good Luck to all the finalists! I loved reading the entries. Mira's earwig entry was fun to read, too.

Nathan Bransford said...

kristen-

I think you're misreading that, I believe she's talking about her grandmother.

Chuck H. said...

My vote goes to Rowenna. So refreshing to read a diary entry from someone my senior.

Congrats to all who entered, to all honorable mentions and to the finalists.

Bransford, you are a glutton for punishment. How you do it is far beyond me.

annerallen said...

My vote is for Tara. And Mira, CONGRATULATIONS! You rock. No more bridge-jumping fantasies allowed.

Franziska said...

Jenny gets my vote. All were great reads, though.

Karen said...

These are all good, but my vote goes to TARA. I wish I could read more about that story!

RLS said...

Excellent to all.
Tara gets my vote.
Way to go Nathan for all the work that went into this.

KT said...

Wow - what a lot to read through! Nathan, you must be seeing double by now.
My vote: LJKuhnley

Matilda McCloud said...

I vote for Tara.

Congrats to other finalists and honorable mentions!

Kristen said...

Oh yes, and thank you for the contest! Your assignment helped me sort out a problem I was having with a novel I've been working on for a while. I wish I had more random opportunities to compel me to write outside the box! Thank you very much!

tinainwonderland said...

I vote for LJKuhnley.

This entry tells so much about the character and how he sees the world, and that he has compassion for others going through similiar bullying. The author seems to have a firm grasp of a teenage boy's voice.

stopdropandplot said...

I vote for Jamie B.

It was beautifully written, vivid, and one of the four entries I was certain would place in either the mentions or the finals.

Larissa said...

LJKuhnley

Leis Draven said...

After much deliberation, I vote of Rowenna's piece -- the historical setting presented additional challenges, and she's done it extremely well.

All five are very good, it was difficult to choose just one.

Thanks for the contest, Nathan.

Cheryl said...

Thanks for the contest. It was fun. All of the finalists were fantastic, but I think my vote goes to Jamie B. I loved her voice - it seemed genuine and grabbed my heart. Good luck!

thoughtful1 said...

Jamie B. I thought hers was poetry when I first read it and I think it just glows in freshness and poignancy. Second I like Tara's. What a tale!

Kristen said...

Nathan: Whoops! Thanks for the clarification... I'm more used to seeing Nana as a name than a nick name.

She still sounds like someone in her 20s to me, but it's a lot more open to interpretation if the person in question is her grandmother.

So some people call their grandparents Pop Pop and Nana... I learn something new every day!

Mira said...

Thanks, Nathan. I just didn't want you to think I'd ignore your requirments. :)

Thanks DG and annerallen!! Okay, no bridge jumping today. :)

I'm too happy to vote. I'll have to come back and vote later.

Btw, Nathan, you do know that now I'll be impossible to live with?

'K. Enough about me. This is the finalists time to celebrate - I'm happy for all of you - congratulations!!! I'll vote later.

Kelly R. Morgan said...

Congrats finalists, great writing all around.

My vote goes to Rowenna. Very clever and entertaining. (And I have a soft spot for formality).

Jamie said...

My vote goes for Jenny although they were all great!

Laurel said...

LJKuhnley.

Written from a retrospective POV and still felt immediate. I also thought it was interesting that I had a vivid mental picture of what this kid looks like by the end even though he never describes himself. All we know about him is that he is skinny enough to fit in a tuba case.

These were all great, congrats to the finalists!

dan radke said...

Nathan, just wanted to say, thank you for keeping up with the shortlist. Gives a lot of us something to shoot for that's a little less intimidating.

My vote goes to Tara.

Jami G. said...

I vote for Rowenna. She kept the teen angst feeling but added the historical voice. Very tricky to do and very well done.

Jami G.

Kristin Miller said...

LJKuhnley FTW!

Ryan said...

Classic prompt! Thanks for taking us away from the misery of queries and proposals for a few moments. I'll mirror what Mira said. Any kind of validation helps. I always thought I was a tough guy with thick skin until I started writing--and sharing.

My VOTE IS FOR JENNY because her entry has the best teenage-diary voice.

Kuhnley's made me laugh really hard but it feels like an older guy writing in retrospect(which is what it is) instead of a teenager.

Great stuff in the other finalists' entries but Jenny's subject matter is pure high school.

Cheers to all on this wonderful blog.

Ok(sigh). Turn Wifi off. Back to proposal....

Kelly Bryson said...

great entries! I vote for Rowena. Mail order brides have fascinated me since Sara plain and Tall.

KathySkaggsPoet said...

Tara! But great entries all.

jls said...

I vote for Jenny. I always dig a story that starts out sounding sweet and then gets kind of creepy.

KLBradyWrites said...

For me, it was a close tie between LJKuhnley and Jenny. Wish I could vote for both. But I'm gonna pick one.

Really I am.

Now.

Okay now.

Seriously, this time I'm voting for sure.

Ummmmm...

Decisions. Decisions.

Eeney Meeney Miney Moe, catcha...

Oh nevermind.

Jenny...

Emma Michaels said...

My vote is for Jamie B! I don't feel so bad about not making it to the finals after reading how beautiful her entry was. Great choices.

Sincerely,
Emma

Natalie Whipple said...

Gah, I like them all! I really have to pick? Umm...

Jenny, though I want to know more about all of them.

Lydia Sharp said...

LJKuhnley.
Hands down. That was the best thing ever.

Melissa said...

First, *OMG* - How cool to be an honorable mention!!! I double and triple checked the link just to make sure that it was really mine! Just be warned that I plan on printing this post out and putting it on my fridge. (Now, if I can only work this into a query letter...)

Second, Wow! Awesome choices for HM and Finalists. There were so many other ones that I really enjoyed too.

Third, Aside from a 5-way tie, LJKuhnley's entry is getting my since I can *totally* picture some students I know reading a whole story about that character.

=)

Merry Monteleone said...

Another great contest, nathan, thanks for all the work!

My vote's for Jenny, though it was really hard to decide. Nice work, everyone.

Cory Clubb said...

I vote LJKuhnley! Nice perspective.

Jeanie W said...

Well done, everyone! These are all great, but LJKuhnley created the character I'm most interested in reading more about.

jjdebenedictis said...

Tara! The narrative slurped me right in.

Michele said...

Definately LJKuhnley. I felt like I was right there in that toilet . Loved the irony of how things can be so bad that you are relieved they can't get worse for just a moment. Great imagery and genuine voice.

fairyhedgehog said...

LJKuhnley.

It was very hard to choose - and we only had a few to choose from!

school_of_tyrannus said...

Tara

Well done

re-cap said...

Jenny!

MzMannerz said...

I vote for Jenny - and now I need to go back and count and see how many are with me. :)

Frosty said...

LJKuhnley gets my vote

Andy said...

Tara.

It's the only one that made me feel anything, and also came off (to me) as the one most like something someone might actually write. Tough to pull those off together in my book.

Kate said...

Tough! Really, really tough! All of them are so great, but Jenny's made me wish I had the whole book...

Deniz Bevan said...

Congrats all! I vote for Jenny :-)

Karen said...

My vote is for Tara. Oh, the intrigue! :)

Liz S said...

JENNY!

Kristi said...

Wow. I liked them all - a lot. If I had to pick one, I'd say LJKuhnley, but they were all fabulous. Great job to all the finalists!

Pamela Hammonds said...

Jenny gets my vote although I was torn between hers and LJKuhnley! Well done, everyone.

BriMaresh said...

Jamie B gets my vote for doing awesome emotional things with words.

Arabella said...

My vote is for Tara.

Anita Saxena said...

LJKhunley

Genny said...

My vote is for Jamie B. :)

TKAstle said...

I vote for Jamie B.

Great job, everyone.

Thanks, Nathan, for employing your superhuman reading ability and devoting your time and effort to this contest. You're a generous one alright.

Christina Adams said...

Jamie B. I wanted to cry!

Drgnwrtr said...

It was so difficult to choose, really. I decided to choose the one that felt more like a journal or diary entry and it was a toss up between Jenny & Roweena. And its even more difficult to choose between them.

I'm going to go with...

Roweena
I like her written voice.

Cassidy said...

The former high school nerd in me loves LJKuhnley. The former boy-obsessed high school nerd in me loves Jenny...

But I just have to vote for LJKuhnley. You had me at "piss".

cwsherwoodedits said...

LJ Kuhnley!
All were really well done, however.

Carolyn V. said...

Congrats everyone! There are some very good writers out there. I'm impressed.

Thanks Nathan, I love a good contest!

Véro said...

My vote is for Jamie B! The emotions and descriptions really sucked me in.

KatieGrrr said...

Tara!

Sarah Olutola said...

These are amazing!

I pick LJKuhnley!

writerlass said...

My vote is for Jamie B.

vividumas said...

My vote is for Jenny.

Rachel said...

I can't vote, I can't choose just one - but the last three (Rowena, Tara, LJKuhnley) are all books I would gladly read, if they were books. LJKuhnley's had me cracking up, though, so if I HAD to choose one, I'd go for that one.

But all five of these are lovely! It's just that when faced with five amazing ice cream choices, you have to break the tie with something unrelated (such as whether the name of the flavor makes you laugh) rather than the merits of each individual scoop. Uh, yeah.

Lyn Miller-Lachmann said...

Count me for Jamie B.

DeadlyAccurate said...

What hannah (2nd comment) said.

I had an incredibly hard time choosing, but I finally went with Rowenna.

Pixiewinkle said...

Congrats to all the finalists and runner ups!

My vote goes to Jamie B- only because I connected most with her entry. ALL the finalists were superb!

PatriciaW said...

Jenny

Terry said...

Tara has my vote.

But it was a tough choice. They were all first-rate.

Congratulations to the finalists and HM's!

And Congratulations on the pub of "The Secret Year!" That book sounds really good to me and I'm not even a YA.

Hey, two great excuses to break out the champagne.

Frank said...

I vote for LJKuhnley

Gretchen said...

Jamie B!

As a high school English teacher, I am well aware that teenagers are capable of such mature, poignant observations. This one made me cry.

Jenny said...

Wow! I'm so excited! Thanks to everyone who has voted so far! As much as I'd like to vote for myself, I feel it wouldn't be sporting...so I vote for LJKuhnley! Have I used enough exclamation points!!?

Haste yee back ;-) said...

LOL...
I can't believe you turned down,

TELL LAURA I LOVE HER
TEEN ANGEL
PATCHES

LOL,LOL!!!

Haste yee back ;-)

Bane of Anubis said...

Congrats everyone. I'm going with Rowenna.

Karla said...

LJ Kuhnley :)

laurel said...

I vote for Jenny. Catch-you-by-the-throat beautiful.

Ink said...

Jamie B.

Because Jamie B was Moe. Jenny was Minie.

shield maiden said...

LJKuhnley gets my vote!

moirayoung said...

I vote for Rowenna. :)

Kristan said...

Congrats to all the finalists and honorable mentions! (Yay Liz!) My vote is for LJKuhnley.

Thanks for doing this, Nathan!

J.T. Wilbanks said...

Tara, that broom line should be written on a plaque somewhere.

(I'm glad to have been beaten by these guys, they're entries were amazing. And I figured mine was far too sappy from the get-go.)

Hope you have another contest soon, this was fun.

T.R. Patterson said...

Thanks for a great contest Nathan !!

And looking forward to the arrival of my pre-ordered copy of TSY...

Congratulations to all the finalists and HM's they were all great entries...

My vote is for Jamie B !! :D

moirayoung said...

And congratulations to all the finalists and honourable mentions!

Erica said...

Congrats to all the winners! Well done :o)

My vote is for Jamie B! Beautiful work.

marilynpeake said...

Congratulations to all the Honorable Mentions and Finalists! I absolutely LOVE all of the Finalist entries, but my vote is for Jamie B!

Falen said...

i vote for Jamie B. But they were all great

marilynpeake said...

Mira,

Congratulations! I'm so happy for you! I know how long you've wanted to win one of Nathan's contests. I've long since given up on winning one, but it's wonderful to see you persevere and succeed. You go, girl!

CKHB said...

These were AWESOME. I had a very hard time choosing between the last 3 finalists, but ultimately I want to read more about LJKuhnley's narrator than anyone else.

Christy said...

My vote is for Jamie B. Great description!

Myrna Foster said...

I'm voting for Tara! All of the finalists entries were great though.

Madeline Mora-Summonte said...

I vote for JENNY's, although Tara's was a very close second.

Jennie said...

My vote is for Jamie B!

careann said...

Congratulations to Jenn on today's release of THE SECRET YEAR! I've posted an interview with her on my blog: http://wp.me/phaYw-ul

The contest was genius, Nathan. Kudos to all the finalists. My vote goes to Jamie B but Tara's and LJKuhnley's entries also appeal. :)

Carol Garvin

Regan said...

Jenny gets my vote! I thought hers was the most true to a diary entry. I also liked Melissa's the best out of the honorable mentions.


I also want to mention that I really thought the one by Hannah on the first page of comments was a contender. (The one signed Grace.) Also on that first page, I really liked the one by EB. BUT I confess to only reading the first couple of pages!! :) I never had time to read them all.


Congrats to all and good luck finalists!

Heather Dougherty said...

Although I thought they were terrific - my vote is for Jamie B. Hers connected with me on a very deep level - brought me right back to being sixteen and that first real experience with the pending loss of someone you love.

Elaine 'still writing' Smith said...

Well done to everyone who entered and I read them all! :)
Nathan, I think you a great job doing more than picking winners with a piece of random-number generating software!

MY VOTE - to JENNY

But, considering the heart-stopping-panics I had over spiders and daddy-long-legses when I was a teen, I think you can guess where my vote would have registered!

Also, Ryan - I loved it.

Liz Czukas said...

My jaw dropped when I found my name on the Honorable Mention list.

Thanks for the opportunity, Nathan!

My vote is for Jenny. Her entry is everything I love about YA: quirky, funny, honest and deeply human.

All the finalists did a fabulous job.

ryan field said...

I love Jaime B's entry so much I wish I could vote twice.

Jabez said...

Tara.

Congratulations to all the finalists, and most of all to Jennifer Hubbard. Best of luck to The Secret Year.

Lizardbreath McGee said...

All amazing, but I think my vote must be for LJKuhnley.

R. Garrett Wilson said...

Jamie B has my vote from the finalists. But I actually preferred Holly Bodger from the Honorable Mention list.

Kia said...

I vote for Jamie B. What a beautiful piece of writing. It's short but so powerful.

Jenny comes a close second. I love the dimples igniting line.

abc said...

Jenny!

This contest was my favorite! Can we have more writing prompt contests?

Seamus said...

I believe the most authentic was LJKuhnley. Maybe it's a geek thing.

Kasey said...

Congrats to all the finalists and runner ups. I still can't believe you read through all of those entries Nathan. That's definitely dedication.

Anyways, my vote goes for Jenny's entry. I had read through a good amount the night I submitted mine and hers stuck out to me even then.

Amy Kinzer said...

Nathan - I can't believe you read all of those. Gold star for you in the New Year.

I enjoyed all the entries.

My vote goes to TARA! - reminded me a bit of Vickie Christina Barcelona for some reason.

Good work all.

the Amateur Book Blogger said...

LJKuhnley gets my vote!

All five are strong in their own ways and I enjoyed them all. I think this looks like its going to be close!

Well done everyone, I really enjoyed some of these - AND THANK YOU - you help me see what's good about your writing that I need to strengthen in my own too. A contest with a benefit for everyone! Thanks for running it Nathan, an almighty task.

Jen P

Loaferholic said...

There are so many girls here. Sometimes makes me feel like I am the only guy who reads. Post after post its women. I want to vote, but will my vote make a difference against the female majority. The winner will definitely be a female favorite.

E McD said...

I vote Jenny and the Grateful Dead!

E McD said...

p.s. I LOVE THE EARWIG STORY!!!

Leatherdykeuk said...

My vote to Jamie B

Yat-Yee said...

Oh, and my vote goes to LJKuhnley!

Ted said...

The finalists were all great. I vote for Tara, with Jamie B, Jenny, and LJKuhnley close behind. And I loved Mira's earwig.

Sam Downing said...

Voting for Rowenna. Great voice, and something a little different.

(Tara is a close second.)

A. said...

LJKuhnley gets my vote. That entry was perfect in every way.

Reading the finalists submissions, I kept thinking, "Wow. These are all fanstastic. How will I choose a winner?" But when I got to LJKuhnley's, there was no question.

Congrats to all of the finalists. Brilliant entries from all of you.

:)Ash

J. M. Sabel said...

I vote for Jenny.

Robert Michael said...

Nathan,
I am astounded you got through those so quickly. We appreciate your hard work and your positive attitude. Thanks again for your encouraging, meaningful blog. My day would be incomplete without it.

Congrats to all the finalists and honorable mentions!

My vote: LJKuhnley

Chantele said...

I vote for Jenny. Loved it!:)

klromo.com said...

Thanks for the contest Nathan, and congratulations to the winners - great writing! I vote for Jenny.

thndr said...

I was impressed by Jenny's but LJKuhnley captured a brilliant snapshot of life as a loser so that's who I'm voting for.

Lydia said...

Don't know if I'm in time: don't quite get this Pacific time stuff. However - it has to be Jenny. That is absolutely how if felt like to be a besotted teen, but she's made it more intriguing with the secret thing. Great writing - well done.

SZ said...

I cant even pick from 5 ! I am guessing you read some each day and not in one sitting, then kept notes. And now here you are reading posts and commenting !

I read, write like a teen, and tried to hard. Wish I know about the verisimilitude, maybe would have tried to be eloquent instead.

hmmmmm, Ok, um, Rowenna, and LJK right behind

Welshcake said...

My vote goes to Tara.

Jil said...

I vote for Tara - I know some Russian brides.
'The contest was fun and a learning experience. Thanks,Nathan.

Emily said...

LJKuhnley. Definitely.

kathy said...

I vote for Tara. I want to read the rest of that story.

Ash. Elizabeth said...

I vote for Jenny!

Jamie B said...

If you don't vote for yourself, why should anyone else? So - I vote me. Jamie B. :)

Although, I did have a tough time deciding - wow, great competition - congrats to all the others!!

sharpierae said...

Jenny!

Pam Harris said...

My vote's for Jenny all the way. :)

Mercy Loomis said...

This was a hard choice, but my vote goes to LJKuhnley!

Great posts guys!

Dara said...

LOL, yeah I was definitely one of those "unrequited crushes" entries. :P

Anyway, it's hard for me to choose but I think I'm gonna vote for LJ's entry. Something about the way they described having their head shoved in a toilet...I don't know, it just resonated.

Congrats to all the finalists and semi-finalists!

heather said...

LJKuhnley's Dear Future Losers of Brookview High gets my vote!

Taymalin said...

LJKuhnley!

Skipperhammond@gmail.com said...

Oh my, here I am on line and I still haven't decided--Tara or Rowenna. OK, I vote for, ah, for Tara.

Other Lisa said...

Okay, I'm actually going to vote this time...

Rowenna, with Tara a very close second.

I agree with whoever said that Rowenna managed to accomplish something tricky, a teen voice using believable period language.

And Tara's for the specificity of some of the images/events. The kitchen timer!

Laurie Lamb said...

Jamie B! Outstanding!

Shelby said...

Of these 5, the Jamie B 'Dear Pop Pop' is interesting..it gets my vote.

Catherine Ensley said...

I vote for Jenny

Corra McFeydon said...

All the entries were excellent!

I vote for Rowenna. :)

Elizabeth said...

Tara! I totally want to read the book.

Mikki Black said...

My vote goes to LJKuhnley, please.

(PS Sorry for ranting in my entry)

(PPS Sorry for ranting about a both a mom AND a therapist in my entry)

Oh, well.

Kate said...

Just ordered THE SECRET YEAR on Amazon. So excited.

Sharon Mayhew said...

Great job to all the mentioned writers!

My vote is for Jenny. LJ was a close second.

Thanks for doing the contest Nathan.

ruththomashansen said...

I wish I had a towel for LJKuhnley. I hope he wins.
Congratulations to all! Good job.

ljkuhnley said...

Jenny

Thanks for the vote. You've got mine.

I vote for Jenny.
(With an honorary vote for Mira. I love the earwig).

Julie Arduini.com: The Surrendered Scribe said...

Tara.

Great job, everyone!

Angie said...

Thanks for the contest, Nathan, and great entries everyone!

Difficult decision, but I vote Jenny (followed closely by Jamie B).

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