This week marks the publication week of Jennifer Hubbard's spellbinding YA debut THE SECRET YEAR, which is about a high schooler, Colt, who was secretly dating a rich girl for a year, and no one knew - not even her boyfriend. When she dies in a car crash he discovers her diary, which is full of memories and unsent letters that describe how much she cared about him and reveals the things she didn't have the courage to tell him while she was alive.
It's a poignant and unforgettable novel about love and loss, and, per Booklist, "is a fine addition to the pantheon of YA literature." Really really amazing, heartbreaking, moving, and etc. Though books don't have a ratings system, THE SECRET YEAR is intended for an older young adult audience and as always all the parents out there should use their own discretion.
So. For the first time IN BLOG HISTORY (er, well, for this blog's history anyway), in honor of THE SECRET YEAR we will have a writing prompt contest!
Your prompt: Write the most compelling (fictional) teen diary entry. It may be a diary entry or an unsent letter, but it should be in a teen's voice.
That's all you gotta do.
Let's start with the prizes.
The GRAND PRIZE ULTIMATE WINNER of the THE SECRET YEAR Teen Diary Writing Contest Extravaganza will win:
- A signed copy of THE SECRET YEAR (pending winner's proximity to the US of A)
- Their choice of a query critique, partial critique, or 10 minute phone conversation/consultation/dish session
- The pride of knowing OMG you are like the greatest writer for teens ever.
Runners up will receive a signed THE SECRET YEAR bookmark (pending finalists' proximity to USA), plus a query critique and/or other agreed-upon prize.
Now for the rules. Please note that all rules may and probably will be amended at my sole (and fickle) discretion.
1. Please enter one teen diary entry not to exceed 500 words in the comments section of this blog post. E-mail subscribers: you must must must must must (must) enter in the official contest thread. Please do not e-mail me your entries! If you need help leaving a comment, please consult this post.
2. You may enter once, and once you may enter.
3. Spreading the word about the contest is not only encouraged, it is strongly encouraged.
4. Snarky comments, anonymous or otherwise, about entries, the weather, the Na'vi tribe of blue people, and/or Mike Tyson will be deleted with relish. You will find the nearest free speech zone approximately 500 pixels away from this blog.
5. Please please check and double-check your entry before posting. If you spot an error after posting: please do not re-post. I go through the entries sequentially and the repeated deja vu repeated deja vu from reading the same entry only slightly different makes my head spin. I'm not worried about typos, nor should you be.
6. I will be the sole judge of the contest.
7. You must be at least 14 years old and less than 137 years old to enter. No exceptions.
8. I'm on Twitter! You can find me at @nathanbransford and I may be posting updates about the contest.
9. The deadline for this contest is 4:00 PM Pacific Time on Wednesday January 6th. Finalists will be announced Thursday morning, and you will have the opportunity to vote on the winner, which will be announced on Friday.
To get you in the teen diary spirit, here is a brief excerpt from one of Julia's unsent letters to Colt in THE SECRET YEAR:
I can't stop thinking about you. I'm supposed to see Austin tonight, and I'd rather chew on sandpaper. If I have to listen to one more story about how wasted he got, or the magic chemical mixture he invented to clean a smudge off his car seats, I'll hang myself. Why do I stay with him? You never ask, but sometimes I wonder if it bothers you that I'm with him. Maybe you're even glad. It lets you off the hook. I told you once that you wouldn't want to be my boyfriend, and you didn't argue with me.
The thing about Austin is, we have a lot in common. We both like dancing and partying, and it's fun until he gets too drunk. Sometimes on Sunday afternoons, I go to his house and the family's sitting around with the Sunday paper all over the place, and maybe we play a game or something, and it's nice. I belong there. With Austin, everything fits. With you, I never know.
Good luck! May the best teen diary writer win!
UPDATE: Time's up! Thank you so much for entering!