When the Bookworm of Edwards hosted a teen author panel last fall, it became clear the kids in the audience were more interested in their own words than the authors.
“It was really interesting because all the teens who attended to hear these big best selling authors, all they wanted to know was about the writing process; they wanted to talk about their own writing, and wanted to tell the authors what their own stories were,” said Bookworm co-owner Nicole Magistro.
Magistro and the other event organizers kept that knowledge tucked in the back of their brains and in the end, hosted a writing contest. There were around 20 submissions and the winners were announced Wednesday evening at an event at the Bookworm.
“A lot of other bigger cities have these (writing) outlets for kids and we wanted to take that opportunity and run with it,” Magistro said.
The winning stories are being printed at the Tattered Cover Press in the Tattered Cover Book Store in LoDo, Denver. Copies will be available for sale at The Bookworm by May 15.
“We wanted a physical copy for the kids,” Magistro said. “These days we have a lot of options. We can do a professional grade book and deliver it for sale in bookstore.
“We’re so excited; there’s been so much good feedback,” Magistro continued. “We’re definitely doing it again next year.”
Here are excerpts from the winning stories:
by Maddi Dougherty, ninth grader at Eagle Valley High School
It was dark and cold as I shivered nervously. They were coming for us. My little sister suppressed a gasp of terror as we heard the reptilian hissing approaching our sanctuary. I tried not to release a grim laugh. Sanctuary. Not something usually used to describe the remains of a billboard.
I pulled Lizzie, my little sister, closer to my body. My barely sane mind thought back to my last moments with my parents.
My little sister had lain on the couch, curled up with her favorite stuffed animal, while I watched from under the bed as the enormous, engorged lizard, a Stillio, brutally murdered my parents. I remember my bone-chilling fear when my mother dropped to the floor. The milk-curdling scream that escaped her lips. The very same lips that used to kiss my pain away. The same woman that had always been there for me was now lying on the floor, bleeding profusely from her wounded chest.
“Save Liz,” my wonderful mother gasped as her last breath escaped her bloody body. I remembered how determination had overwhelmed my mind, and how I managed to crawl out from under the bed.
I had reached behind me for my katanas. They had, up until that moment, been more for show, and reassurance, than actual defense, but they were now ready to serve their purpose. As the Stillio approached Lizzie, I lunged up and sliced his mutant crocodile head off. I had glanced at Lizzie, who was either asleep or dead. In my anger and sense of injustice, I proceeded to impale lamps, table and chair legs, and a few lingering bits of technology into the cold-blooded, statuesque reptile. All the while screaming insults, with salty tears running down my grimy cheeks. It just hadn’t been fair. I had already lost a sister to the hungering beasts, and my family and I had been in hiding for days. We had been only a few days away from the only Safehouse, a place for refugees, soon to be rebels, to calm down and gather their thoughts.
“Emmy? What’s wrong? What happened to mommy and daddy?” Lizzie’s small, innocent voice had given me the power to pick her up and carry her away.
Way of the Wild
by Sarah Bretta, sixth grader at Stone Creek Charter School
As the morning sun rose, Jay warmed himself in the early light. He was thinking about his mother and father, Satra and Warrior. Jay suddenly shuddered as he had remembered how Warrior had been suddenly attacked by Hush, the omega, the lowest ranking wolf of the Zio Pack.
The Zios are the darkest wolves of the plains. It is said that they came from Thera, the wolf hell itself. In The Great Howl, the history of the wolves, it is told that Scar, the leader of the Zio Pack back then, is said to have tried to take on the Star Pack, wolf heaven, and almost won. He would’ve won if Srarh, the creator of life, hadn’t killed him herself. Despite the death of their leader, the Zio Pack still lives on.
But this was the day that the Survivors, Jay’s own little group of warriors that protect the plains of Ares, would journey from the windswept plains and travel to where wolves were meant to be. Jay did not know where this was.
“Jay?” Kiya asked him in the middle of his thoughts. Jay turned his white head toward her.
“Yes?” He replied. “What is it?”
“We have to leave. The fire is spreading.”
“Oh yes. The fire.”
The fire was a large forest fire that started in the center of Colorado, known to many as “Denver.” It then spread north along the mountains. It was soon going to engulf the plains and the wolves as well. Jay had other plans though. He was going to lead his small group to a place where they could create new packs, and then at least some wolves would be safe once more. There was only one problem, the Colorado wolves. They lived in the mountains and they were tough, really tough. How would the plains wolves get by? Jay did not know.
Jay huffed and rose on his paws. He suddenly felt the wind in his red bandana. He breathed the fresh air of the plains wind. Jay sighed again just as Lark walked up to the two of them. The Survivors were ready and began the long walk of finding their new home.
by Kennedy Swearingen, fifth grader at Homestake Peak School
In a parallel dimension that can’t compare to our world, lay a mystical land with exotic creatures like no other. There are three-headed toads, trolls and dragons. Dragons were very rare, and most were vicious like one by the name of Ricki. She was a misunderstood mystical creature that stood over 600 feet tall and was undefeated.
In a raging cloud of smoke, the beast stormed out of her cave, releasing an explosion of volcanic flame. Just at the sight of her all the creatures hid in the brush and shadows, shaking in fear. Ricki was terrifying. No one understood her evilness; their true focus was on the disgusted scowl she gave as she madly stormed out of her den. She didn’t even know why she was angry. One day she just woke up cruel, and was never able to break the curse of evil. And the intimidating height and fierce looks were no help. This intense spell was one that couldn’t be broken. And because of this, her one true friend was a small vampire mouse that lay captured in a cage of flame, deep inside Ricki’s den. Ricki felt alone in the world, and she was. Her parents had been slayed by some Prince Charming who had come to save some lunatic princess, who’d been banished to their world a few centuries back. Ricki had lost herself like a bottomless pit of darkness and she didn’t know what to do.
But then came along Spike, who was one of the only other dragons in Terivicia (their parallel world). Unlike Ricki, Spike was caring and loved by everybody. He’d heard about Ricki and wanted to help her become inspired to be kind and loving to everyone. Therefore, he set off to her den. Thinking ahead, Spike waited until Ricki had drifted away to sleep, allowing him easy access inside her den. When Ricki would awaken, the training would begin.
When she awoke, she was furious. Why in the world was a stranger in her cave? The vampire mouse known as Crisp took cover behind a stone to protect himself from the scolding blow of flame. But dragon scales protect them from harm, so firing fire at Spike was useless. Spike stood there patiently while Ricki finished shooting at him. Let’s just say it took forever for her to calm down.
When Ricki was done hurling flames his way, Spike said, “Hello my name is Spike. I’ve traveled here to teach you to be kind.”