Beatrice Bernstein, the main character in Semi-Charmed Life by Nora Zelevansky, has always felt like an outsider in her family. Her parents and sister are all super intellectual, while Beatrice would rather kick back with some junk food and watch trashy TV. Inspired by Beatrice, we asked you to write a story where the main character is completely different from everyone around him or her. We got some great entries, and we sent the top ten most-hearted stories to Nora Zelevansky for judging. Here are the results!
Grand-Prize Winner: The Shift by reb
– Great title
– Very evocative beginning, I felt like I could feel the burning hot concrete on my feet.
– This immediately made me think of Quantum Leap, which was this fantastic TV show about uncontrolled time travel from back in the day. But I love that this explored the alienation of moving from place to place and always being the stranger.
– You had me sucked in it right away! Immediately absorbing and a little creepy almost at the beginning as the reader wonders if this is an apocalypse or something?
– We go through an emotional journey in such a sort time. We actually feel sympathetic and don’t want her to have to leave, even though we’ve only known the character for a matter of minutes.
Congratulations, reb! You’ll receive a copy of Semi-Charmed Life by Nora Zelevansky, an advanced reader copy of Death and the Girl Next Door by Darynda Jones (which doesn’t come out until October!), and a copy of The Demon Trapper’s Daughter by Jana Oliver.
Second Place: Someday, Somewhere by Bailey
– Brambles—love that name!!! What a great word even. Names can be tricky and that is very believable for a pet hamster.
– Right away you establish the main character’s state of mind. She’s stuck in bed, sick and unhappy and we know where we stand.
– I liked details about gluten and dairy free blueberry waffles and almond milk. Those kinds of specifics ground us in contemporary culture and also get us to wonder if part of her illness involves being careful about what she eats or food allergies.
– I really like the sound effects of the wheelchair. That’s an original way to tell the story and help us understand what it’s like to live in her world.
– The whole back story with her friends is skillfully revealed just by describing that one lunch room table, where she is unwelcome.
Third Place: SUPER-not by McKenna Rose
– I like this title a lot because it obviously refers to the story’s subject (superheroes), but also, if you were to interpret the title as slang, it would imply a comedic cynicism, which fits the tone of the piece.
– I like the reversal of the usual fish out of water story. She’s weird because she’s normal! And isn’t that often the case in real life? We’re staring at the crazy people surrounding us, wondering why we’re the ones who they deem different!
– We really feel the main character’s stress along with her. We wonder, how could they make her take Power Practice when she doesn’t have a power? It seems wrong! We relate to how unfair it seems.
– Also, this is a new way to tell a classic underdog or bullying story and I have to say I’m a sucker for that type of narrative.
Great work, McKenna! You’ll receive a copy of Semi-Charmed Life.