Fan Fiction Contest Winners

Congratulations to the Redwood Writers
2017 Fan Fiction Contest Winners!

Click here to open the Winners Flier and read the winning story, or open the tabs, below:


“Hogwarts Alone”
by Mara Lynn Johnstone

Mara Lynn Johnstone grew up in a house on a hill, of which the top floor was built first. She lives in California with her husband, son, and laptop-loving cats. She enjoys writing, drawing, and spending hours discussing made-up things.

This is an alternate Harry Potter timeline, where the main characters aren’t around to stop the bad guys, and Voldemort is unopposed in gathering his missing Horcruxes so they can’t be destroyed…Except someone was left behind in Hogwarts: the kid from Home Alone. (The movie/s with booby traps galore.)

The evacuation was hurried, with professors and prefects raising their voices over the clamor. Belongings were packed. Schoolbooks were abandoned. Owls were ushered into cages and hauled out the door. Black robes fluttered everywhere.

They left by any means available, as long as it was fast. A blind eye was turned to more than one illegal enchantment; flying cars and motorcycles joined thestrals and hippogriffs. Everyone fled.

The last carriage disappeared moments before dark clouds swirled to life in the horizon.

Hogwarts was echoingly quiet while the Death Eaters approached. All except for the room where the transfer student had been sleeping.

“Not again,” said Kevin McAllister, finding a window.

He grabbed his wand. At least he had a few minutes to get ready.


When the doors to the entrance hall were flung open with a thunderous bang, it was the Dark Lord’s lieutenants who entered first. A half dozen strutted in, with sneers on their faces and arrogance in every motion. They swept up the grand staircase like they owned it.

They didn’t hear the voice in the shadows. Muffled by a simple charm, it whispered a word.

The stairs became a ramp.

Elegance turned into tumbling indignity while the Death Eaters landed hard on the slick marble, sliding into a pile of elbows and anger.

They approached carefully the second time, on their guard and limping. They took a different route — there was more than one Horcrux to collect, after all — but they didn’t know the secret passages, and they didn’t hear the footsteps.

Bellatrix Lestrange was the first to enter the great hall. Her feet were instantly swept out from under her, and she found herself suspended as if an invisible giant held her by the ankles.

Her swearing was almost drowned out by Lucious Malfoy’s laughter, then his own irritation as he found himself suddenly, uncontrollably, dancing.

Other Death Eaters hid their own amusement behind counterspells and revealing charms. Peter Pettigrew was the first to spot the boy crouched behind a tapestry.

“It’s just one person!” he shouted. “Reducto!”

Kevin raced down the passage while tapestries shredded and rocks crumbled behind him. He didn’t slow as he came out the other side, taking a zig-zag path through the school with the invaders on his heels.

He ran through a bathroom where a collection of bath bombs waited at the edge of a tub. He paused to hook a string to the doorknob, then moved on. When that door opened behind him, the bath bombs tumbled free — calling up a riot of colored steam, illusory images, and music with different beats.

Waiting at the far side of the room, Kevin hefted another, this one from a certain joke shop in Diagon Alley.

Before the Death Eaters could pick him out through the confusion, he threw it into the tub and ran.

Colored water exploded upwards, drenching everyone and everything in the room.

They were really angry after that one.

Kevin ducked back the way he had come, hoping to lose his pursuers. More voices echoed ahead. He went over his options and spun on his heel, dashing out of sight moments before heavy feet prowled down the hallway.

There weren’t as many suits of armor in this area as in some others, but they stepped smartly forward at his exclamation of “Piertotum Locomotor!” They even listened when he suggested that they fight whoever was chasing him.

Kevin paused to watch the hollow knights brandish swords and shields. They made a respectable formation, lining up in perfect discipline. Kevin wondered how far he could make the spell reach. He was no star pupil, but maybe—

His train of thought crashed when a very toothy human rounded the corner and proceeded to tear into the armor. It wasn’t the full moon, but Fenrir Grayback was terrifying nonetheless. Kevin ran.

They were approaching from several directions now; Kevin heard raised voices and changed his plans again. That room was too far away, but maybe this room…

Someone shouted, and a petrification curse missed him by inches. He leapt behind a door and slammed it shut. Casting about for ideas, he saw opulent wall hangings, plush chairs, and tables piled high with schoolwork.

The door shook. He ran for the far side of the room, giving his wand a swish and flick as he did so. “Wingardium leviosa!” Papers flew upward. In moments the room was filled with swirling clouds of parchment, a chaotic distraction for whoever was breaking the door down behind him.

But not, it turned out, much use for the door that swung open in front of him. He tried to backpedal at the sight of pale skin, a hairless head, and evil eyes, but he was too slow.

“Petrificus Totalus.”

Kevin’s arms and legs snapped together, and he dropped like a felled tree. His wand clattered to the floor next to him. Only his eyes were free to move, granting him a view of the Dark Lord who approached, exuding malice and smugness.

“Are you alone, child? I’m sure I can find a use for you before you die.”

One other thing Kevin could see, and the Dark Lord could not, was the chandelier over his head. And the poltergeist waiting beside it.

One more step forward into the room full of drifting paper, and the chandelier parted with a snap. Voldemort looked up from his prey just in time to be crushed by glass, metal, and no small number of bricks.

Peeves cackled with glee, looping about the room.

Death Eaters cried out and shot curses at him. The poltergeist only laughed, flinging papers into the air anew and knocking over several chairs before darting out the nearest door. The Death Eaters charged after him, yelling for the others.

Completely ignored, Kevin lay in the shelter of a fallen chair and a layer of papers. A distant voice sounded like one of the paintings on the wall. It talked about summoning back the wizards to destroy the Horcruxes before the Dark Lord’s followers could create a new body for him. Peeves was still leading them a merry chase — through one or two of Kevin’s other booby traps, if he was not mistaken.

A distant sound of retching told him someone had stumbled into the Dungbomb drop. Someone else activated the fireworks, mounted at head level. The Exploding Whizz Poppers were easy to pick out, as were the Peace Disturbers. And that first wizard was still throwing up.

Kevin would have smiled if he could. As it was, he listened to the undignified retreat and hoped that someone would arrive soon with a counterspell. His nose was starting to itch.

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“Becky Thatcher Goes Rogue”
by Sandy Baker

While Sandy Baker grew up as an active, athletic tomboy, she always included reading, writing, and doodling in her quiet times. Like Becky Thatcher, she preferred climbing trees and paddling rafts! Since joining Redwood Writers in 2009, Sandy has written eight children’s gardening books, a thriller, and one middle grade collection of short stories. Next up is Gardens Around the Globe: A Coloring Book for Grownups. Sandy is currently president of Redwood Writers.


In Mark Twain’s original book, Tom Sawyer, Becky Thatcher is the new-found love interest of Tom, smitten from the first time he saw her even though he was already “engaged” to Amy. In Tom Sawyer, Becky is pretty, prim, and perfect—also a tease. They were both about 12 years old.

“Rebecca Thatcher!”

Well, I declare, that’s not even my name, it’s Becky. Period. What does that biddy want now? Did she find out? 

“Rebecca Thatcher, you come on up to my office right this minute.” I could hear the head mistress shouting to me from where she stood outside our dreary room. Her raspy voice echoed off the walls of the brick dormitory and classroom prison.

“Coming, Miss Snogg…Snodgrass.” Oh my, I almost called her Snogglenose—that’s what we all call her. 

“Sally, I’ll be back in a little bit,” I whispered to my best friend. “Don’t you fret now, I’ll never tell her.”

“Okay, Becky, but you mustn’t lie, leastways not a big one,” Sally warned. “Tidy up your uniform. Straighten out your pigtails.”

My pigtails were forever coming undone. One last look in the broken piece of mirror to retie my ribbons. Oh, that Snogglenose, how I do hate her.

The school wasn’t but 50 miles from my sweet little home in St. Petersburg, but it could have been across the whole state of Missouri. Ugly dark bedrooms and classrooms where we had to sit up straight with folded hands, and say “Good morning, Miss Snodgrass. Yes, Miss Smithers. No thank you, Miss Wallace.”

I skipped into her office and dropped a quick curtsey.

“What’s the meaning of this, Rebecca?” Snogglenose asked, holding up a crumpled piece of paper.

I almost choked as I sucked in my breath. “Why, I don’t rightly know, Miss Snodgrass. What IS it?”

Waggling the paper in my face, she said, “This looks quite like your handwriting, Rebecca, wouldn’t you say?”

Now, I was surely going to get it. It did look like that pretty pink stationery Mama gave me, just so I’d write to her from school.

Already knowing what it said, I took the paper from her and using my entire hand, slowly smoothed it out on her desk. I’d carefully written those very words myself yesterday before supper.

Come below my window at eight o’clock tomorrow night.

“Well, I do say, Miss Snodgrass, it does mightily resemble my writing.”

“What can be the meaning of this?”

“But I’m not entirely certain it’s my writing.” It wasn’t exactly a lie. Maybe if I looked straight into her eyes, she’d believe me. But I blinked.

“If your father the judge asked you to swear to that on your family Bible, what would you say, Rebecca? Would you lie to him like you’re lying to me?”

Time to stall, so I burst into a blubbering cry. I even managed to squeeze out a few tears to dribble down my cheeks. No good. She didn’t fall for it. She stood there, arms folded across her big ol’ front and stared down at me.

“Why, it IS my handwriting, Miss Snodgrass, but it doesn’t mean anything.” Choke, choke, blubber.

“And to whom did you write this note? Who was to come to your window?”

“I can’t tell. It didn’t happen.” Cough, cough, whine.

“You can’t tell, Rebecca, or you won’t tell?”

“It’s all my fault,” I blubbered some more, for real this time, and held out my hands, palms up, for the sound whacking I knew was coming.

Whack, whack, whack, whack, whack, on each hand.

“No more lies. I am keeping an eye on you, Miss Thatcher, and you break a rule one more time, I will contact the judge. This is a school for proper young ladies. Lights out at eight o’clock sharp! You hear?”

Uh oh—“Miss Thatcher.” That was even worse than “Rebecca.” What would Daddy say if he knew I climbed out my window to walk into town?

I ran back to my room where Sally was peering out the open window. Her eyes were saucers wide with fear, and I just knew she’d been crying.

“I hate this finishing school, Sally. Snogglenose is so mean. Look at my hands,” I said, turning up my red palms for her to see. “Why would Mama and Daddy want to send me here anyway?”

“They want to turn us into little ladies, Becky, so they can marry us off when we’re sixteen,” she explained with great authority.

“Well, I’m only 12 and never getting married. I don’t want to study Latin or sing or learn silly manners,” I said, stomping my foot. “I want to climb out the window and up that tree. I want to paddle a raft and swim like the boys at home.”

“You’ll never get a husband if you do that, Becky,” she chided. “No boy wants to marry a girl who can do things as good as he can.”

“Well, it doesn’t matter ‘cause I’m not ever getting married. So there. I hate this place anyway. Snogglenose said she’d tell my daddy if I got in trouble one more time.”

“If you sneak out again, Becky, she’s going to send you home.”

“But Jeffy is going to come to our window tonight. I’ll just talk to him for a little bit.”

* * * * *

“Psst. Becky.”

“Shhh, Jeffy. I got in frightful trouble today because that awful Miss Snodgrass found the note I left for you. I can’t sneak out for awhile. She’ll send me home.”

“But I wanted us to walk around town tonight and I’d show you the shops. You’d like that, wouldn’t you?”

“Oh yes, I dearly would. But I’d like to go down to the docks and watch the boats come in, too. It so reminds me of home.”

“C’mon, Becky. She won’t know. We’ll be gone for just a little while.”

“Not tonight, Jeffy. She’ll be watching me for certain. G’night.”

“Psst, Becky. Guess what I brought for you?” Jeffy teased.

“Quiet, Jeffy. I thought you went away. Now, just why would you be bringing me something?”

“Come on down and I’ll show you. It’s your favorite.”

“Oh, okay, but just for a couple minutes, Jeffy. I adore surprises!” It wasn’t difficult to climb onto that big branch by my window and swing down to the ground.

“Here ya go,” said Jeffy, thrusting a crumpled bag at me.

“Oh, peppermint drops, I do love these, Jeffy. You naughty boy, bribing me to sneak out again. Shhh, I hear something.”

“Rebecca Thatcher.”

“Oh my, that’s Snodgrass looking for me. I’ve must hide.”

“Behind that bush, and I’ll help you up the tree when she walks around to the door. There she goes. C’mon.”

“Unmph. Okay, I’m up, Jeffy. See you soon.”

I climbed through the window and jumped under my covers just as Miss Snodgrass opened the door to our room. I could hardly calm my breathing. She stomped over to Sally’s bed, and with her walking stick, began to hit the lump snuggled under the covers.

“Whack, whack, whack.” Sally began yelping as I sat up in my bed with the bedclothes pulled up to my neck.

“Ow, ow, ow,” Sally cried out.

“What are you doing, Miss Snodgrass? Why are you hitting Sally?” I asked, still wrapped like a mummy in sheets and blanket.

“Why, you impertinent girl, Rebecca, how dare you question me.”

“Sally didn’t do anything and I’m right here in bed.”

“This will teach you both not to disobey any of the rules here. And, Sally, this is just to show you what happens if you do.” Miss Snodgrass stormed out of our room.

“Well, I never. I do apologize, Sally. She probably thought that was just a pile of pillows. That’s it!”

I climbed out the window again and swung down to the ground. “Jeffy, you here?”

“Right here, Becky. Was that you crying? Did she hit you?”

“No, siree. She spanked Sally in her bed thinking it was me. Nasty woman. Now I promise I just don’t care at all.”

We raced down to the docks and sat sucking on peppermint drops while we watched the lantern-lighted boats drift by. Time drifted by, too, and soon the moon was up and painted a shimmery white streak on the dark water.

“What time do you think it is, Jeffy?”

“I thought you didn’t care.”

“Just wondering. Time to go. I need to sleep so I can get up for classes tomorrow.”

We ran back to school where Jeffy boosted me up to the tree, and I crawled through my bedroom window.

Oh no, what’s that big ol’ shadow sitting there?

“Rebecca,” the shadow said. “I gave you fair warning and you disobeyed me the very same night. I am sending a message to the judge, and you’ll be gone by dinner tomorrow.”

The shadow surely didn’t see the smile on my face.

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“Neverland’s Mother”
by Crissi Langwell

Crissi Langwell is a writer, blogger, and novelist. She has eight published books, including Reclaim Your Creative Soul, a guide for artists who wish they had more time to create, and Loving the Wind, the story of Neverland told by Tiger Lily. She lives in Petaluma with her husband, their blended family of three teens, and a ridiculous teenage dog.


Based on the characters and setting in the book, Peter and Wendy, by J.M. Barrie, this tale shares the land of Neverland and the themes of Lost Boys, merfolk, pixies, and pirates. However, there’s a twist. Peter Pan is now a waifish girl named Petra Pan, Wendy Darling is now a lad named Wendell, and Captain Hook is now the sinister Captain Hess—a woman who leads a band of female pirates over the seas. In this story, Wendell struggles to remember his past. Little does he know, the truth might be better left forgotten.

I couldn’t remember my mother. I could recall a softness about her, and if I thought real hard, I was sure I could almost remember the way she laughed. There were even times when the trade winds would blow over Neverland that I thought I could recognize her scent in between the sunshine and the cool earth. But when I tried to conjure her face, I saw nothing.

“Relax, Wendell,” Petra had told me. “I’m the mother now, and you can be the father, and these,” she said as she gestured to the rest of the Lost Boys, “are all our children.” The way she said it with such surety, I had no reason to question her. But when I was on my own, I would worry about my fading memory, dread the moment I’d forget my mother completely.

I’d been on the island for three days now. Perhaps it was three weeks. Actually, it may have been three years. It was hard to tell. None of us aged. We flitted from moment to moment. Magic ruled the world, and Petra Pan was its master.

She told me I’d been lost when she found me. She said I’d fallen into the stars and she had plucked me from the sky and brought me here to my new home. But sometimes I remembered it differently. I recalled baseball games and stories at bedtime. I remembered a nursery and a giant dog. When I really concentrated, I thought of a time when every moment was a lesson on growing older. As soon as I remembered, I’d push it out of my head. Here in Neverland, aging was for pirates. However, there were flashes when I wondered if growing up was really all that bad.

Still, when it came down to my jigsaw memories of my past or Petra’s stories of how we met, I preferred hers to mine any day.

“Wendell, it’s time to go hunting.” I looked up to see Petra balancing on a tree limb, her arms out wide as if she might fall any second. I knew she wouldn’t, but she still took my breath away as she teetered on the tiny branch. She was like one of the island’s fairies, just without any wings. She had delicate features, from her tiny nose to her pointed ears. Her mouth was like a rose, with her petal lips and thorny smile. Her blue eyes danced like the stars, and her hair held the wind. Sometimes when the air was still, I was sure her golden tresses rippled with an unseen breeze caught between the locks. Like the rest of us, she wore autumn leaves and cobwebs. Unlike the rest of us, a light layer of pixie dust covered her fitted shift and she could soar with the wind.

She was the center of my world. To be fair, she was the center of everyone’s world. The Lost Boys followed her every whim. The fairies swirled around her in glittering flight. The mermen protected the island at her command. Even the pirates—the evil Captain Hess and her crew of sinister seafarers—focused their attention on conquering Petra and anyone who followed her lead.

“There’s no such thing as time, lady,” I teased her as she continued to balance above me. Petra put her hands on her hips and she glared down at me. Then she jumped from the tree, catching the wind as she swooped down to where I was. With surprising strength, she pulled me to my feet.

“If you don’t hunt for dinner, the children shall starve,” she admonished me. “Now grab your bow and arrow, and follow me to the sacred hunting grounds.

I smiled to myself before pasting a stern look on my face. With my bow on my back, I followed Petra as she flew, walking the curved trail to the hunting grounds. When I reached the clearing, I crouched down and waited. The air remained still. Not even the birds in the sky or the insects in the waving wheat made a sound. We were all waiting, ready to launch at a moment’s notice.

Petra’s swallow call sounded through the trees, and I yipped at the top of my lungs as I ran forward into the open field. Around the perimeters of the field, Lost Boys and wild animals did the same. Neverlions roared, shaking the earth below me. Plumed neverbirds burst into the sky, their feathers creating a cloud of color above. Even the field mice went to battle, falling into formation as they set their sights on a group of Lost Boys.

This was my favorite game in all of Neverland, one that never grew old. I spied a bear and launched forward, but felt myself pulled back with a lurch. I landed hard on the ground, the impact forcing the air from my lungs. A gorilla leapt over my head, turning in the air so that he landed on top of me and pinned me to the earth. He raised his head up, looking at me with hardened brown eyes. Then he bellowed in my face, his hot breath dampening my skin as he sought after my fear. I gave him none. I remained stony as he pawed at my chest with palms large enough to crush my skull with a single grip. When he saw I wasn’t afraid, he snorted through his nose, and then nuzzled me under my chin. He sat back, and I used his arm to pull myself up.

“To be fair, I was almost afraid,” I assured the giant beast. The gorilla snorted through his nose again, and then wandered off to find his next prey.

“Wendell, look out!” I heard Petra’s voice cry. I shook my head with a smirk.

“You’ll have to do better than that, Pan,” I called back, just as something grabbed me from behind. I tried to move my arms, but couldn’t. I looked down as I struggled, noting the gnarled hands of a pirate. If that wasn’t clue enough, the putrid smell of her breath left me no doubt.

I heard the gorilla’s battle cry before I saw him lunge at my attacker. I didn’t even have a chance to call him off before a sword met his body in a cloud of turquoise and purple. In a moment, my hunting opponent was gone, the only evidence he ever existed now covering me in a colorful layer of powder.

“Ashes to ashes, dust to dust,” the pirate cackled behind me as she held fast. The rest of the animals and Lost Boys scattered, followed by a dozen or so shrieking pirates on their trail.

“Let him go,” Petra demanded in the sky. Her command was met by the loud sound of a revolver by my head. My ears rang as I searched the skies for Petra. I breathed with relief when I saw her near the trees.

“Hold still, girly, so I can get a good look at you,” I heard Captain Hess say behind me. I continued my struggle in the pirate’s arms until I finally broke free.

“Get back here, you brat,” the pirate hissed, reaching her bony fingers forward in an attempt to grab hold of me.

“Leave him,” Hess commanded, her eye still trained on Petra over the barrel of her gun. She lowered the pistol and then straightened to face me. “Wendell Darling,” she said, and I lurched at her full use of my name. Darling. I’d heard that name before, I was sure of it. “Yes,” she purred, offering me a knowing smile as she regarded me. “I see you haven’t aged in all this time, and yet, you’ve changed,” Hess said.

I looked up and my eyes caught Petra’s. She hung her head in shame. Then, she was gone. I searched the skies for her, surprised that she would abandon me like this. She was the mother, I was the father. But sometimes, in the way she looked after us all, she felt like mother. A mother wouldn’t leave her son, would she? Defeated, I turned back to Captain Hess.

“Do I know you?” I asked her. As long as I’d been on Neverland, I’d never faced the captain of the pirates. I’d heard plenty of stories about her, and I’d done my best to avoid her path. But now that I stood in front of her, I couldn’t deny the familiarity that surrounded her. It was hidden under the plush purple of her oversized coat and tall boots. The dark liner around her eyes and the deep red that painted her lips were merely part of her mask. Underneath it all, I saw something soft and warm, an invitation to a memory from long ago. As I inhaled the secret scent in between sunshine and cool earth, I saw her smile reach her eyes in a way that opened my mind.

“Wendell,” she said, reaching forward. “I’m your mother.”

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