Jefferson students participate in annual NaNoWriMo National Novel Writing Month

Image courtesy of National Novel Writing Month

Image courtesy of National Novel Writing Month (

Mailynn Nguyen, Writer

During the month of November, 8th grade students in Storytelling participated in the annual program called NaNoWriMo, National Novel Writing Month. NaNoWriMo, a nonprofit organization that began in 1999, provides students with a structure for writing a relatively short novel in the span of one month.

Below are a few excerpts from novels written by students.

Three Missing Pieces by Zosia

“Rora Miller!” Coach Herrera stormed into my cabin, her narrowed eyes scanning each of my cabin mates that were now gaping up at her. I quickly floated up to the ceiling before she saw me.

“Where is that girl?” The coach snarled, turning in a slow circle, surveying every inch of my cabin. As she completed the circle, I let out a laugh that resonated through the cabin.

I laughed again, floating down from the ceiling with the grace of a swan. I brushed the bright red hair from my face, touching down without a sound.

“You bellowed?” I asked, smirking.

“Miller, you know you can’t use your ability without coach supervision! Coach Herrera’s coal black eyes bore through mine.

“Are you not a coach?” I asked, batting my eyes.

“Without supervision and permission. You better watch that smart mouth of yours, Miller. And you better fix the trouble you caused, or else!” Undaunted, I met her cool, calculating gaze.

“Fix what mess?” I asked, tilting my head innocently.

“Don’t act so innocent, Miller! I know it was you the second my comm device disappeared at breakfast. I had to spend half the day getting it back from the snow drift at the top of Mount Tainview! No other camper could get there without days of travel. Which brings me to another point. You used your ability to levitate up the mountain, and didn’t have either supervision or permission.” The trumpet signaling lunch echoed through the cabin. The hunger of my cabin mates overpowered their curiosity over what would happen next. In seconds, only I was left with Coach Herrera. I started to move to the door so I could go eat, but the Coach was blocking my way.

“Oh no you don’t. This cannot go without punishment. You will levitate to the top of that mountain, and stay there, while the rest of us eat lunch, swim, and train. You will stay until the sun fully sets, then you may come down, and warm your chilled bones in bed.” The Coach turned and started to leave the cabin, but this time I blocked her.

“I thought I needed supervision to use my ability,” I smirked. Coach Herrera growled and pushed past me, so I took that as an invitation to leave and go eat my lunch.

The Notebook
by Mailynn

“Vee Alessia Ssmoino!” Vee’s mother, Ginerva Ssmoino, called from below in her singsong voice. “Come down, come down, wherever you are! It’s… dinner time!”

“Coming, Mamma,” Vee answered. She began her descent, her writing notebook, as always, clenched between her teeth since she needed both hands to grasp the limbs of the tree. When she landed with a soft thump, her mother was upon her with a disapproving click of her tongue. Her mother truly reminded Vee of a mother hen frazzled with her restless chicks.

“Oi!” Mamma admonished. “Your hair! You’re becoming a tree, with all the leaves in your hair!”

Vee rolled her eyes, running a hand through her shoulder-length hair and finding a few leaves and twigs entwined. She tugged them out, taking a few brown strands with them.

Mamma squinted as if inspecting Vee’s work. “Good. Come now, Vee. Let’s join your pàpa for supper.”

Supper, as it turned out, was a meal of homemade pasta, cooked by her father. No one spoke at the dinner table, which was rare for the Ssmoino family, so Vee tried to stir up some conversation.

“So, Mamma and Pàpa, would you like to hear my best microfiction of the day?”

“What is a microfiction, again?” Mamma asked, pursing her sanguine lips in confusion.

“I’m sure you ask this every day,” sighed Vee. “A microfiction is a short, one to three page or even shorter fictional story. Would you like to hear one?”

“Oh, a short story, like an opera?” interjected her father, Lorinzo. “On the Ides of November, we’ll be performing The Phantom of the Opera.” He threw a fist in the air victoriously. “Did you hear that? le Fantôme de l’Opéra! Finally,” Lorinzo smiled. “I’ve been pushing for them to have us put on that opera since… since…”

“Well, since we met,” Mamma finished, a wide smile appearing on her pale face.

“Ah, yes,” said Pàpa. “Ever since we met, we’ve been trying to get them to let us perform it. Be assured, Salem, Oregon: le Phantom is on its way! Guess whose part I’ll be singing, Vee?”


“Right. And your mother?”


“Correct. We’re lovers in life and lovers in l’opéra. Perfecto.”

Vee’s parents leaned over the table to meet each other in a passionate kiss. When they returned to their seats, Vee saw some bright red lipstick on her father’s mouth.

“Ah, how I love the Phantom,” Ginerva began to sing in her high soprano voice, “‘Prima Donna, the world is at your feet…’”

Lorinzo joined in, a baritone: “‘A nation waits, and how it hates to be cheated! Light up the stage with that age-old rapport!’”

And then Vee tried: “‘Sing Prima Donna–”

Everyone’s voices broke off at the sound of Vee’s horrible singing voice. It wasn’t that Vee didn’t like music; as the daughter of two opera singers, she was in fact raised with it. And Vee loved listening to The Phantom of the Opera: loving Phantom was a given when concerning the Ssmoino family. However, only her parents were able to sing, and sing well, for Vee’s voice was a horror.

“…once more.” Vee finished weakly and embarrassed, her eyes on the table.

“My, my, child,” her Mamma tsked. “You will never make it to the opera.”

“Aye,” Vee agreed. “But I will make it to the publishing office. And the rock climbing gym.”

“Yes, rock climbing, which will get you killed, girl, I swear,” Lorinzo shook his head.

“You and that friend of yours. Kat,” Ginerva added. “You both are far too risky. Heights, ugh.” She shuddered. “You two scare me.”


How to Find Your Kidnapped Half-Sister by Penelope

I sighed and tried the first door on the right. Miraculously, it opened to stairs. Stairs to the basement. I checked to make sure Kye was still in the kitchen making lemonade and then walked down the stairs. It definitely was a basement. When I reached the bottom of the stairs, all I could see was pitch-black nothingness. I walked into the pitch-black nothingness, keeping my hands on the wall to find a light switch. That’s when the lights clicked on. Jaelynn was standing a couple steps away from me.

“I knew you could do it!” She said, smiling.

“What?!” I exclaimed, suddenly very confused.

I looked around and realized that the basement did not look like a place where a kidnapped person had been staying for a whole day. There was a bed. And not a bad kind of bed, like a cot. It was a nice bed. It looked like it would be for a guest. There was also a couch in the basement. And a TV. Then I realized that the door to the basement wasn’t locked. Jaelyn wasn’t kidnapped.

“You weren’t kidnapped, were you?” I asked Jaelyn, slightly annoyed.

“No, sorry. I was trying to help you write your second novel. You can use this incident! Harper’s sister or something gets kidnapped and she has to solve the mystery, but she’s on a clock.”

“Wait. You were just faking the whole thing. Who are these guys? Levi and Kye? I mean, what?”

“After I left the restaurant, I went to a diner. I sat down at the bar and ordered some food. There are two guys who were sitting at the bar, too. The must’ve recognized me from when I went to those signing events with you,” Jaelyn began.

“Levi and Kye. They’re both fans,” I said.

“Yeah. We got to talking. They’re actually pretty nice. So, I told them what happened. And about your writer’s block. They wanted to help. So we came up with a plan. We set everything up. They’re roommates are out of town for some sports thing so I’ve been spending the day here. The text was sent at about 8am. Your time is almost out. It’s about 3:40. You did it!” Jaelyn finished.

“What the heck, Jaelyn?!” I exclaimed.

She looked surprised of my outburst.

“What do you mean? I’m helping you.”

“By faking a kidnapping? That’s going a little too far.”

“Well, you weren’t doing very well on your own. Or do you have another novel idea you’d like to share?”

I didn’t know what to say. She was right.


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