Boot Camp Favorites: In Which We Land on the Moon

moonlandingHi, folks!

If you participated in Boot Camp, you’ll remember that we demanded the inclusion of certain items in your stories. Aside from being a clever way to weed out impostors in the submission manager (just kidding) (not really) (okay, kidding, but wouldn’t that have been clever?), this struck us as a nifty–and maybe even useful–technique to help get writers’ imaginations going. One of our requirements may or may not have been the inclusion of a reference to the 1969 moon landing. (I can’t tell you, because the packets are SECRET.)

That said, a whole lot of moon landing talk showed up in our Boot Camp stories, so as we read, we’re picking out some of our favorites. Here are five of them:

1. ‘Thank You, Cleveland’ by Crystal Patenaude

In Mason, Maine, the Marigold was the least popular diner, but it’s where Tessa and I spent a lot of our time. Her mom Bunny was a waitress there so no one bothered us and we got free food. We’d sit in the corner booth, the one with a photo of the 1969 moon landing hanging over the napkin dispenser, and look out onto Spring Street while eating French fries. Sometimes it seemed like we knew everyone who walked by, knew where they lived, where they worked, even where they bought their milk.


2. ‘Inconstant Moon’ by Seana Graham

That was the kind of person my brother was—the kind who could recite Shakespeare to suit the occasion. But it was not the kind of person he had been recently.

“Shit,” he said. He sighed.

“What’s wrong?” I asked.

“I don’t know—it’s wrecked now, isn’t it?”

“What is?”

“The moon. I mean it used to be this mystical unobtainable object. People were inspired by it. Poets. Lovers. Freakin’ Shakespeare. And then along comes 1969, and there’s NASA, there’s Neal Armstrong and all the rest after him, trampling around on it, leaving their litter, leaving their grubby little footprints. I mean, how can anyone write poetry about it anymore?”

I thought about it. I squinched my toes down into the cold sand beneath the warm sand’s surface. “I guess the poets will just have to include the footprints now too.”


3. ‘Museum of Air’ by Gail Webber

Mr. James continued, “I’m sure you can understand the need to establish the chain of ownership and therefore the authenticity. That’s critical with something as unique as each of these samples is, as you can imagine. Of course, we have more details on file. These are just the pertinent facts. See this one?”

Archive #2986: Apollo 11, 1969 From: Plastic bag heat-sealed in Lunar Module, and recovered from interior of splashdown capsule by John Aloysius, passed to MoHA…

He stopped reading. Something from the moon landing? Though he hadn’t been asked, Guidry nodded. “I know about us walking on the moon, Neil Armstrong, the whole ‘One step…giant leap’ thing.” But there was nothing in this jar, either. How could this place, this exhibit, be “all set up”? And what did Mr. James think was in this jar?


4. ‘Underground’ by Daphne Tan

Comparatively recently the people here, who are perpetually in motion, never at peace, transported one of their own to the Moon. Why they named their mission “Apollo” and not “Luna” or “Selene” or something more logical, since after all they weren’t aiming for the Sun, is a puzzle. They took scrapings. They planted a flag. My Aunt Diana, or Artemis as she preferred to be called, was its patron goddess, and I think she would have been affronted by such insolence.


5. ‘Hunted’ by Katharina Kolata

The cold night air forced me to stay where I was. If I fled now, they’d hear me. I stayed put and fought my urge to flee. The surface of the water reflected the waxing moon like a damaged pearl. It would have been lovely if it weren’t for the two human silhouettes sitting in front of a tent.

“Science has come quite a way since Armstrong landed up there.” The figure on the right pointed to the moon. At night, humans looked all the same to me, but I could tell my creator from the hunter by his voice.


Come back next week to see some of our favorite uses of the word “laconic”!

Boot Camp: Titles

Titles1Hello, Boot Campers! We’ve begun combing through our submissions, and we’re loving what we’re reading so far. In advance of selecting the three stories we’ll be publishing on our website, we’ve decided to share the love by posting some excerpts and selections for you in themed lists throughout the month. We’re beginning with the very first element that one encounters in a story: the title.

A good title should be memorable without being clunky, and should pique curiosity without giving too much away. Here are some of our favorites, so far, from the Boot Camp submissions!

#spincycle, by Jessica Gregg

Adam Kelly’s Last Mixtape, by John Lawton

OXOBOXO, by Nancy Stone

The Bonesetter’s Stepdaughter, by Betsy Kepes

Ziggy Starbucks, by Anne Paris

Come to our Homecoming Fundraiser: Dance to Tiger Beat

Tiger Beat 12_5On Wednesday, October 2nd, One Teen Story is hosting a Homecoming Dance & fundraiser at 7pm at Littlefield (@622 Degraw Street in Gowanus Brooklyn). Please come in your best school dance attire.

The dance will be glorious, replete with the crowning of a Homecoming King and Queen (it could be YOU), gorgeous outfits, and rad tunes. That’s right–we’re getting TIGER BEAT, the splendid live band made up of YA authors, Natalie Standiford, Libba Bray, Barnabas Miller, and Dan Ehrenhaft AND DJ extraordinaire T Cole Rachel. We’re prepared to help you kings, queens, court, and loyal peons, dance the night away!

Tickets are $15 in advance and $20 at the door. All proceeds will go to support One Teen Story as it enters its second year of publishing great YA short stories, one at a time.

Want to know more about Tiger Beat?
Check out these videos and articles, or just read their bio:

A history of rock icons: Tiger Beat
After meeting while still in elementary school in New York, four future YA authors formed Tiger Beat. The band rose to the pinnacle of the rock scene in 2008 with their debut album, Where’s the F*%ing Food Court?  Their latest album, Gonzo Was Robbed, weaves Libba Bray’s politically charged lyrics with Dan Ehrenhaft’s arena-ready power chords, Natalie Standiford’s face-melting bass riffs, and Barnabas Miller’s searing drumming, to churn out a genre defining album chocked full of fist-pumping rock, tinged with after notes of dysfunction and identity confusion.  With standout tracks like ”Baby, NO!” already certified platinum in Turkey, Tiger Beat can count on loads of future success.

And here’s a little about Cole, our DJ.

T COLE RACHEL is a freelance writer based in Brooklyn. His work has appeared in Interview, V, OUT, Numero, Purple, and The New York Times Magazine. His books include Surviving the Moment of Impact and Bend, Don’t Shatter. He is also a part-time bartender and collector of ceramic cats.

ONE TEEN STORY Contest Judge Matt de la Peña Speaks About Our Winner and Honorable Mentions!

confetti-iconThere were four outstanding finalists in this year’s One Teen Story Contest. I was very taken with the language in Elaine Tang’s “Ashes Where a House Should Stand.” The author developed a very interesting concept with a great deal of restraint. “Blue” by Sophie Chabon is reflective and well-explored story about a girl reconsidering her dream to become a doctor. Quinn Bornstein’s “Ten Steps of Elle” was a powerful look at the complexities and awkwardness of love. I was very moved by this story. But the winning story has to be Claire Spaulding’s “Helen.” The author employs a complex non-linear structure, which expertly underscores the complexities of identity and orientation explored in the piece. The language is often beautiful, and I love that the author chose to tell the story in a series of clipped vignettes. I often found myself lingering over each vignette, which often left off with a telling image. “Helen” is a powerful and important story, and I’m proud to be able to announce it as the winner of this year’s One Teen Story Contest.

–  Matt de la Peña

Contest: Drumroll Please?

trophy_goldenDear Readers and Writers:

We had many, many entrees for this year’s One Teen Story contest, and we read some truly wonderful stories. There can only be one winner, though, and our winning story is called ”Helen,” and was written by Claire Spaulding.

Matt de la Peña, this year’s contest judge, will be writing a brief explanation of what he loves about this story and why he chose it, which we will post on the blog within the next few days. Until then, here are our some words about the Honorable Mentions that we chose for each age group!

Honorable Mentions:

18-19 Age Group:

“Blue” by Sophie Chabon – A thoughtful story about a reflective girl who is reconsidering her dream of becoming a doctor. Set in a hospital while a 78-year-old man undergoes emergency treatment, this story excellently balances a quiet internal voice with a chaotic, dramatic setting and plot. The protagonist’s choice at the end of the story is well underscored by the landscape of the hectic ER and the valiant attempts to save a life.

16-17 Age Group:

“Ten Steps of Elle” by Quinn Bornstein – A beautiful, genuine “first-time” story, told in fragments. A second-person narrator reveals the fated evening and the weekend that follows in isolated, emotional moments. We were especially impressed by how the author shied away from a clichéd ending, opting instead for a closing fragment that is complicated and emotionally resonant.

14-15 Age Group:

“Ashes Where a House Should Stand” by Elaine Tang – This story is a post-apocalyptic tale in which a young man who may very well be one of the last people on earth knocks on a door. Life, love, and something like trust are rejuvenated, empowering the protagonist to make the choices that she’s been avoiding for so long. We loved the candid, witty voice in the story and the heartfelt rendering of a stricken world in which the key to survival is the courageous act of loving another person.

And that’s all, folks! For everyone who participated: Thank you so much for submitting your stories. We were blown away by so much wonderful writing, and the selection process was far from easy. We sincerely hope you’ll submit again next year. Congratulations to all our Honorable Mention authors, and to our winner, Claire Spaulding!

Contest Update: We have a winner!

Dear Readers and Writers,

We’re very excited to tell you that our judge, Matt de la Peña, has selected a winning short story for this year’s contest!  We’ll be notifying the winner and our honorable mentions over the day couple of days, and we’ll post an official announcement here on Friday, September 6th.

Stay tuned — and thank you for your patience!

Aliens, Love, Dystopia: A Contest Update

may-the-odds-ever-be-in-your-favorHello, contest submitters! Have you been wondering about the status of your submitted story? Here’s a bit of an update!

First of all, believe me when I say that we feel so honored and lucky to read such fantastic work by so many incredible young folks.

We’ve read stories about alien love, stories about anxiety-ridden journeys, stories about identity, sex, loss, aging rock stars, overwhelmed hospital interns, and travels to faraway lands both mythic and dystopic. We’ve read heartbreaking stories of grief, inspiring stories of courage, and complex stories of familial love, hurt, and healing.

Somehow, we have managed to winnow the 350-plus contest entries down to a select group that particularly moved or thrilled us. In the next couple of days, we are pushing the chosen twelve forward through the Hunger Games–I mean, the submission process. Though all are valiant contenders, only one will be selected as victor by judge Matt de la Peña.  The announcement will be made on September 1st.

May the odds be ever in your favor.

Dancing in Fast-Food Joints; Parachuting From Buildings: A Weekly Roundup

This week, in teen news from the Huffington Post, we have both the best not-quite prom date ever, and the best post-exam celebration ever. But please, DON’T try the latter at home. Mostly because your home probably isn’t tall enough.

Also, I know we’re a little late in the game to be freaking out over this, but-but-but–the title for the last of the Divergent Trilogy has been revealed, with a 48-second video that is quite possibly 38 seconds too long–but we love Veronica Roth, so it’s all good.

Speaking of videos–movie news! (There’s just so much of it, lately.) For starters, here’s the Catching Fire trailer. Finnick’s my favorite character in the series, so I’m extra excited about this one. What are you most looking forward to in this second installment?

And, since now we’re talking movies and it is the glitzy jazz-age-themed elephant in the room, how about that Great Gatsby movie? The book, while not officially YA, is on most high school reading lists, so I feel like it belongs here. Honestly, I don’t know what to think yet. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see what happens. We accept the movie adaptations we think we deserve.

That said, I’ve never seen such–such beautiful shirts before.

Weekly Round-Up: A Little Less Y, A Little More A (but not in a 50 Shades of Gray way or anything)

Hello, readers! I hope you’ve all had swell weekends. Over here in One Teen Story Land, we’ve been reading TFiOS, the City of Bones books (Simon is adorbs), and Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe (which is phenomenal). Have you read these? (Sir Green aside; we know.) Did you like them? Feel free to comment!

And now, for our weekly series of internet rabbit-holes:

So this gem isn’t directly YA-related, but it does contain a great shout-out to One Teen Story author Aimee Bender. Also, it’s about gender and literature and it’s important. Just read it, okay?

Books make you smarter. This should surprise no one, but it’s always fun to add more evidence to the case.

And this is just a picture of superheroes reading books. Why, you ask? Well, I ask you in turn: why not?

Volume 1 Issue 7: You Never Know


Francesca Lia Block is one of my sister’s favorite authors, so it was really amazing to be able to work with Francesca and bring one of her stories to our readers.

I was transported back to my own high school days when I read “You Never Know.” The main character in this story is drawn to two boys, one she keeps returning to even though he hurts her, and a sweet boy who she doesn’t feel she deserves.

This story is a message to teens and Francesca is telling you that there are things that are going on right now that you don’t completely understand, but know that people care about you more than you think they do. You are important to them in ways you can’t know because you’re too caught up in your own insecurities.

“You Never Know” is a story about love. Loving other people, having other people love you, and loving yourself. Click here to read my Q&A with Francesca on the One Teen Story web site.