YA Friday: Books that Began as NaNoWriMo Projects

Every November tons of aspiring writers all over the world participate in National Novel Writing Month, aka NaNoWriMo, with the goal of writing a 50,000 word novel in a month. That's about 1,667 written words every day. The short span of time keeps writers from overthinking the process and just get the words on the page. Nobody expects a masterpiece, but sometimes authors are able to take their draft and rewrite and revise and turn it into a published book. Below are some YA books that began as NaNoWriMo projects and can now be found on bookshelves at your nearest library!

And if you're interested in participating, be sure to check our events for NaNoWriMo meetups at your community library branch!

With the Fire on High, book cover

With the Fire on High by Elizabeth Acevedo

With her daughter to care for and her abuela to help support, high school senior Emoni Santiago has to make the tough decisions, and do what must be done. The one place she can let her responsibilities go is in the kitchen, where she adds a little something magical to everything she cooks, turning her food into straight-up goodness. Still, she knows she doesn’t have enough time for her school’s new culinary arts class, doesn’t have the money for the class’s trip to Spain — and shouldn’t still be dreaming of someday working in a real kitchen. But even with all the rules she has for her life — and all the rules everyone expects her to play by — once Emoni starts cooking, her only real choice is to let her talent break free.

Cinder, book cover

Cinder by Marissa Meyer

In New Beijing of the Eastern Commonwealth, citizens are plagued by a deadly disease called lutumosis and are in constant danger of being obliterated by a moon-dwelling population called the lunars. Cinder is a human with surgically implanted robot parts who lives with her stepmother, two stepsisters, and an android named Iko. She slaves away as a mechanic, working hard to fix robots, hovercrafts, and netscreens. One day a hooded stranger walks into her booth at the marketplace with a broken android. To her shock, it is Prince Kai. The teen is flustered by the handsome young man who is soon to be emperor but manages to hide her mechanical arm and foot, which would reveal that she is a lowly cyborg, and agrees to help him. Meanwhile her stepsisters, Pearl and Peony, are readying themselves for the ball, intended to help Prince Kai find a princess. After Peony becomes afflicted with lutumosis and is taken to quarantine, Cinder's stepmother volunteers her hated stepdaughter for research in a desperate attempt to save her. With the help of a strange yet kindly doctor, Cinder learns a shocking secret about her past that could help save Prince Kai's empire, if only she can figure out what it means.

The Night We Said Yes, book cover

The Night We Said Yes by Lauren Gibaldi

When high school senior Ella goes to a party with her best friend, Meg, she has two things on her mind: to see a friend's band play and to forget all about her ex-boyfriend. However, when she meets the new bass player, a slightly geeky but cute boy named Matt, all of that goes out the window. Ella, along with Matt, Meg, and Meg's ex-boyfriend, Jake, decide to have a carefree night where they say yes to almost any suggestion of fun. Matt and Ella's attraction is instantaneous, so when he suddenly moves away six months later, she's devastated. One year later, Matt reappears hoping for a reconciliation by re-creating that magical night. But Ella isn't sure if she should forgive him or move on.

Something Strange and Deadly, book cover

Something Strange and Deadly by Susan Dennard

In an alternate nineteenth-century Philadelphia, Eleanor Fitt finds herself in a troublesome spot. Her brother is missing, her mother refuses to acknowledge the sorry state of their finances and is trying to marry her off to the highest bidder, and the dead are walking. She goes to the Spirit-Hunters determined to find out what really happened to her brother. Instead of answers she finds more questions: Why are the Spirit-Hunters here? Are they causing the trouble with the dead, or are they simply patsies? And, more importantly, why is everyone associated with her brother dying in such a dramatic way?

Side Effects May Vary, book cover

Side Effects May Vary by Julie Murphy

Sixteen-year-old Alice is diagnosed with leukemia, but following a year of grueling chemo, she decides to end the unsuccessful treatment. Everyone is waiting for her to die: her parents; loyal Harvey, the boy who has loved her since childhood; and Alice most of all. But she has made her peace, having ticked items off her bucket list, most of which involve mean-spirited revenge pranks on those who wronged her (including her ex-boyfriend, Luke). But then, miraculously, she goes into remission. Now what?

Assassin's Heart, book cover

Assassin's Heart by Sarah Ahiers

Being a clipper—a legal assassin—is a ruthless life for Lea Saldana and her secret boyfriend, Val, a member of a rival assassin family. These nine families of killers all have their own rules, and murder is common, both as a contract and a training exercise. They kill in service to Safraella, the goddess of death, murder, and resurrection, and each body is given a coin to ensure its rebirth into a new life. Such a rebirth is all Lea can ask when her entire family is brutally killed—likely by Val’s family. Now, on a one-woman mission of revenge, Lea seeks out the help of a long-lost uncle who may have started the whole feud decades before. As she runs from the enemy families and the angry ghosts of the haunted plains, she hopes to calm her anger, her vengeance, and her broken heart.

Further Reading

Anna and the French Kiss, book cover
Under the Lights, book cover
Crewel, book cover
Fangirl, book cover
Alienated, book cover
The Forest of Hands and Teeth, book cover