MENTOR: Gail Nall

MENTEE: Abby Cooper



WORD COUNT: 47,000



Thirteen-year-old Elyse has a disease where the names people call her stick to her body like temporary tattoos, and not the cool kind. If she’s chosen as the leader for the big class trip, popularity and positive words will be hers. If not, she’ll be doomed to feel like a loser forever—and look like one, too.



Holy high heels, was I in pain. And I mean pain. It was like getting my ears pierced all over again, except I basically had three million ears instead of two. And instead of getting cute little sparkly studs at the end of all the torture, I got words plastered all over my arms and legs. Stupid, stupid, stupid words. And they didn’t even sparkle.

I took a giant deep breath and inspected my right arm. The word NERD, written in big, bold uppercase black letters, stung like a slew of angry bees.

“Jeg!” I whined into the phone. “You know you can’t say that, even when you’re joking!”

“Sorry!” she said, and I could tell she really meant it. As my best friend, it was her responsibility—no, her job—to make sure she didn’t hurt me on purpose. And to lend me adorable shoes. Mostly to lend me adorable shoes.

Mom poked her head into my room. She was carrying a laundry basket, which meant two important things: one, it was laundry day again, and two, I was about to get in big trouble.

“Elyse!” Mom said, looking around the room like she had never seen anything more disgusting in her entire life. “What did I tell you about leaving dirty socks all over your room?”

Trouble. Called it.

“Hang on,” I whispered to Jeg. Then, to Mom, I argued, “They’re only on the floor for easy access, so I don’t have to go all the way to the dresser.”

1 comment to PW-7 (MG): STICKS AND STONES

  • John Cusick

    Wanted to comment on this one, because I think it’s such a fascinating conceit. The tone feels off to me, though. I almost want this to be a serious magical realism tale, but the voice feels light and quirky– great for some stories, but maybe not for this one? Just a thought.

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