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Announcing the winners of our 2023 Novel Excerpt Contest!

In February, over 650 of you shared pieces of your NaNoWriMo novels with us as part of the "Now What?" Novel Excerpt Contest. We read about spaceships, ghosts, and magic powers; about mysterious strangers, evil scientists, far-off worlds, and talking animals. We read dialogue that made us laugh, and plot twists that made us gasp. You all are so very talented and we had a blast basking in your genius. Please keep writing these novels, no matter what - we want to read the rest of them some day!  


Now, the winning excerpts! Look for them next week in Breaking News and the NaNoWriMo blog.

(We also wanted to say sorry for the delay in making our selections! We were dealing with COVID and a baby who keeps getting colds over here. It really put a wrench in our best-laid plans!)

Grand Prize (Age 14-18 Division)

Sunbird by Asenath

Guest author judge Sarah Suk said this about Sunbird: "A riveting piece of writing that made me think, “Wow, I want to read more.” I was completely immersed in the tension, the vivid descriptions, and the raw emotion of this scene. This is a writer to watch out for!"

Grand Prize (Age 13 and Under Division)

A Kingdom of Embers and Ash by Hannah

Guest author judge Sarah Suk said this about A Kingdom of Embers and Ash: "In just this short passage, I was able to get a sense of the world, the stakes, and the bond between the characters in a way that made me instantly root for them (protect them at all costs!). Impressively told with a voice that shines."


Our guest judge selected these excerpts from the group of Official Finalists. Their authors crafted unique characters and rich worlds, and found the way to move us, even in such a short space. Congratulations!

Official Finalists

These excerpts stood out from all the others, and we sent them on to our guest author judge to read through and choose from:

  • The Blood Heist by Emma; Call Me When You Land by Grace M; The King of the Wolves by Lily; Knightfallen by Ruby; Rabbits in the Rain by Anjali; The Rebels' Underground by Josephine; Remnants of Moonlight by Autumn; Runaway by Zurie; Sadists at Dusk by Mary; The Time Keeper by Joanne; Undercover Agents, Evelyn and Elf; Book 1: The Stolen Serum by MoonStar; What You Wish Four by Kyle

Honorable Mentions

There were just so many wonderful excerpts to read! Here are a few more we loved and kept thinking about:

  • Alpha, Romeo, Foxtrot by Aaron; Bree by Maya; Charlemange by Imtiaz; The C'tarct Archives by Raconteur; The Dark by Emre; Discernment and Deception by Amelia; Dollhouse by Kaitlyn; Dovelind Academy by Lila; The Dream by Isabel; Dust to Dust by Abigail; Far From Safety by Sarina; Final Year: A Teen's Memoir by Salma; The Fox And The Wolf by Teia; The Great Phoenix Chase by Mia; Hellbound by Zehwah; A Journey Through The Wild by Shakti; Kingdom of Instinct by Abigail; Light Years by Noliver; A Prophet so Bold and Broken by Salem; The Righteous Hand by Anna; Road Trip by Holden; Sacrifice by Anika; Secrets of the Conformatorium by Charlotte; A Tale of the Earth and Sky by Olivia; Wolf in Sheep's Clothing by Eden

Finally, we've said this before, but it bears repeating because it's so very true: if your excerpt didn't get picked, it DOES NOT mean your writing is bad, or we didn't like it. Submitting stories to a contest is kind of like entering a lottery. At a certain point, it really comes down to luck. All writers—even professional ones, even famous ones—get rejected tens or hundreds of times before they get accepted. Among writers, a rejection is a badge of honor because it means you took a brave step: you sent your work into the world. 

We encourage you to post your story and read others in this dedicated forum thread, and most importantly, to keep writing and revising your work! Being a writer takes guts, and you've got them.

Special Guest Judge

Sarah Suk (pronounced like soup with a K) lives in Vancouver, Canada, where she writes stories and admires mountains. She is the author of young adult novels Made in Korea and The Space Between Here & Now, as well as the co-writer of John Cho’s middle grade novel Troublemaker. When she’s not writing, you can find her hanging out by the water, taking film photos, or eating a bowl of bingsu. You can visit Sarah online at and on Twitter and Instagram @_sarahsuk.

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