Magic City. Drew Lerman. 2007 Gold Medal, Novel Writing. Published by PUSH, 2007.

NaNoWriMo! November 1st marks the beginning of National Novel Writing Month. Each year, professional and aspiring novelists around the country unite with one mission: to complete a 50,000 word novel in 30 days.

Here at the Alliance, we’re also encouraging you to get started on your novel. In fact, research tells us that 81% of all Americans think they have a book inside them. But unlike National Novel Writing Month, we’re not challenging you to complete the entire book. Instead, we’ve teamed up with Scholastic Inc.’s PUSH imprint to present the novel writing category of the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards. All students in grades 7-12 are eligible to submit. We’re looking for 3-5 chapters of your original story, no more than 15-50 pages. You’ll also need to include a 1-2 page outline and synopsis of your novel-in-progress. Dazzle us with your words, but be sure stay within the submission guidelines: if your manuscript is longer than 50 pages, only the first 50 will be read. Leave us wanting more!

Like other writing categories of the Awards, national winning work is judged by professional writers, editors and authors. National Gold Medal winners will spend their summer interning in New York City with Scholastic Inc.’s Push imprint to finish and possibly even publish their book. Founded in 2002, Scholastic Inc.’s PUSH imprint is about founding new literary voices with compelling stories to tell. This past year, five students won national medals and two Gold Medal winning students, high school junior Kate Coursey (The Hamsa’s Song) and senior Cecilia Meserve (The Tool Shed Burning), have teamed up with PUSH editors to polish their novels.

Past Scholastic Writing Award novel winner Drew Lerman, who published his book Magic City in 2007, described the experience as surreal: “I set up my laptop…and just sort of stared at the screen, thinking, okay! Write! It was so strange at first, writing for basically seven hours a day. But it was great, of course, and incredible to work with such talented people on this thing I’d written, and was continuing to write and rework. It was also a great insight into the publishing world that I imagine a lot of authors don’t get to see.”

Last year, we received almost 500 manuscripts in this category. The submissions blew us away and this year we look forward to receiving more submissions than ever before. Because of the special nature of this category, the submission deadline for all regions is February 25, 2011. Are you going to write the next great American novel? There’s only one way to find out. Full instructions are available here.

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