Family Gatherings Contest with YARN

Family Photo

Photo: Flickr/starlen

We want you to use your family (to create an engrossing story). They’re there to help you (with their unbelievable idiosyncrasies). They love you (enough to forgive you for immortalizing their more unattractive habits and tendencies). And, of course, the holidays are a time for family to gather (so you can observe every member at once). Take the opportunity to write an essay about your crazy, funny, awkward, nonsensical, loving family and submit it to our Family Gatherings Essay Contest with YARN!

YARN (the Young Adult Review Network) is an award-winning literary journal for YA writing (with a super cute acronym). It publishes works from established authors like Mitali Pekins, Tomas Mournian, and Alisa Libby, but it also publishes the work of aspiring authors like you! Even though YARN is a young literary magazine, it was recently honored with an Innovations in Reading Prize from the National Book Foundation, so they’re kind of a big deal.

YARN’s premiere essay contest was on “Family Gatherings,” and it produced two fantastic winners: teen Helen Hasbun and adult Susan Young. Now, it’s your time to sparkle in the spotlight. Enter our Family Gatherings Contest, which we’re co-sponsoring with YARN, and you could be published in their online journal! Start practicing signing your name, “Mr. Firstname Lastname, published author.” Alternatively, you can swap out “published author” for “bigshot”.

What do you have to do?

Get cracking! Write a nonfiction essay in 2,000 words or fewer about a memorable family gathering. Could be a holiday, a wedding, a party, but it MUST include a teen or young adult. Essays are due by 11:59 p.m. EST on December 12. Voting will run until 11:59 p.m. EST on December 19 at which point the ten most-hearted stories will be judged by the YARN editorial staff along with special guest Susan Beth Pfeffer, New York Times best-selling author of Life as We Knew It and Blood Wounds. The winner will be announced on January 3, 2012, and the essay will be workshopped and published on YARN in January! (The winner will also receive a Writer’s Bundle chock full of swag, including a copy of Blood Wounds and Stephen King’s On Writing).

Teachers!  YARN was started by your kind, and they’ve created a lesson plan that you can download here, which will help you incorporate this contest into your lesson plans.

1. Read the full rules
2. Create an account on
3. Start a new writing
4. Tag that writing with YARNessaycontest on the Details tab
5. Press “Publish Now.”
6. You should receive a pop-up confirmation of your entry, and in about two hours or so, your piece should appear among the submissions.

Click here to read the finalist entries.

37 thoughts on “Family Gatherings Contest with YARN

  1. I printed out this page, and as it was printing, I read that it was only open to residents of the US. Can you please tell me which competitions, if any, are open internationally? Thank you.

    • Hi Khulood,

      Unfortunately, we cannot run contests outside of the U.S. at this time, but we will let you know when that changes.

  2. What do you mean by essay? Like five paragraphs (intro, conclusion, three body paragraphs), or can it be more like a story?

  3. Okay, I have a true story that I want to enter, but I’m not sure this falls under the category of a “family gathering.” My immediate family got together to go travel to a larger family reunion and got stuck on the highway during a snow storm. Would this still be eligible to enter?

  4. Can this be about a fictional person? My family gatherings normally consist of us all texting or emailing and not speaking to one another.

  5. I was just about to enter when I saw it was a heart contest, jee! Of course all the, I’MONEVERYSINGLEMOMENTOFTHEDAY people are going to win….. I have no chance, Never mind about joining!


    • Hi Taylor,

      Don’t let that stop you from entering the contest! Hearts are beautiful things full of love. Enterenterenter!

  6. So it says memorable and does that mean it has to be happy and joyful? Or can some thing like go wrong? Because my family has a very “memorable” get together but it isn’t happy, joyous, or cheery at all.

    • Hi S.E.T.!
      No! Not stupid! All you have to do is untag the story (go to “My Writing”, “Edit” your story, then go to “tags” in the “details” tab).

  7. Okay, was I just imagining things when I read this last time? I thought there would be three winners – one grand prize, and two others. And then all three would have their pieces published on YARN. What happened?

  8. i entered a while ago, and i was just reading my entry through today. i found some grammer issues and wanted to add a part to it. is it still ok to fix now, or do i have to keep it the way it is?! (it said essays were do on the 12th, and i was wondering if i could still edit it…)

  9. Again, I’ll quote my previous question:

    “Okay, was I just imagining things when I read this last time? I thought there would be three winners – one grand prize, and two others. And then all three would have their pieces published on YARN. What happened?”

    And another problem: there was an entry submited today that is in third place; how is it able to be part of the contest? The entry period is long overwith.

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