Fiction Contest

Other Winners: 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2009

2010 LEAPFROG FICTION CONTEST

WINNERS ANNOUNCED

June 2010

Adult Fiction Winners

Children's Fiction Winners

The First-Prize winner in the Adult Fiction Division is Joan Connor for the short-story collection How to Stop Loving Someone (October 2011)

In the words of the judges:

"[E]xcellent and lively. There is a sharp wit in many of these stories, the apt metaphor, the turn of phrase that pleases and surprises."

"[B]right, brassy, spunky, intelligent. Ingenious writing. Also quirky and filled with metaphoric twists that often startle. Energetic and telling. This is an excellent short story collection."

The First-Prize winner in the Children's Fiction Division is Mick Carlon for the middle-grade novel Riding on Duke's Train (January 2012).

In the words of the judges:

"A wonderful voice all its own... [S]trong command of voice, period and ethnic dialect, and clear love and in-depth knowledge of Duke Ellington and his band."

"An excellent, uplifting story with something real to say."

Leapfrog Press is delighted to honor its 2010 Fiction Contest winners. Twenty winning manuscripts were chosen out of 448 adult fiction entries, and seven winners out of 153 middle grade / YA manuscripts. Manuscripts were judged "blind" (judges did not know the names of the authors or any other information). Manuscripts were submitted from 22 countries, giving the judges a delightful diversity of style and theme.

Please click on the authors' names for more information on the winners and their manuscripts. This information is gradually being updated.

ADULT FICTION FINALISTS

How to Stop Loving Someone (stories) by Joan Connor, US

Weight of the Land (novel) by Mariko Nagai, Japan

The Color of Weather (novel) by Amy Schutzer, US

El Camino (stories) by Josie Sigler, US

SEMI-FINALISTS

Peter Never Came (stories) by Ashley Cowger, US (published by Autumn House Press)

Send Me Work (stories) by Katherine Karlin, US

Blue Exile (stories) by Chantel Acevedo, US

What She Was Saying (stories) by Marjorie Maddox, US

HONORABLE MENTION

Goldenland Past Dark (novel) by Chandler Klang Smith, US

Dysfunction (stories) by Annam Manthiram, US

Tales from Planet Wine Cooler (linked stories) by Kate Baggott, Germany/Canada

A Bug Collection (stories) by Melody Mansfield, US

Poet in New York: A novel of Federico Garcia Lorca (novel) by Bryan T. Scoular, Switzerland

Funerals and Other Fiestas (novel) by J. L. Bautista, US

The Greatest Show (stories) by Michael Downs, US

The Foothills of Olympus (novel) by Callie Bates, US

The Byrd House (novel) by Starkey Flythe, US

The Soothing Balm of Cadmium Red (novel) by Julie Valentine, US

Other People's Ghosts (stories) by Barbara Salvatore Klopping, US

Ruth (novel) by Kunthavai Jayadevan, US

Six manuscripts almost made honorable mention. They were among the top 6% of entries, and we feel they deserve mention here.

Song of the Cicada by Ted Cleary

The Sojourn by Andrew Krivak (published by Bellevue Literary Press)

How Long Must I Dream by Richard Goodwin (forthcoming, Seedpod Publishing)

God's Tears, New Mexico by Claire Ortalda

The Music Box Treaty by Richard Duggin

Quantum Physics and My Dog Bob by Pat Rushin

Click here to see information on winners of the 2009 contest

CHILDREN'S / YOUNG ADULT FICTION FINALISTS

The Summer of Love by Len Spacek, US

Riding on Duke's Train by Mick Carlon, US

The Green Apettes by Thom Mark Shepard, US

HONORABLE MENTION

Aesop: The Storyteller by Gail Tansell Lambert, US

Bright Coin Moon by Kirsten Lopestri, US

Madison Billsby: Taco Defender by Courtney Sirotin, US

No Laughing Matter by David Rish, Australia

General Information

Here are some interesting bits of information about the contest entries.

Total adult fiction manuscripts: 448. 50% men, 50% women; 9.5% non US.

Total children's fiction manuscripts: 153. 28% men, 70% women; 13% non US. (2% sex unknown based on author's names)

22 Countries represented, listed by number of submissions:

US, UK, Canada, Australia, Ireland, Switzerland, Japan, Germany, Spain; and in no particular order, China, Israel, Thailand, France, Turkey, Bulgaria, Trinidad & Tabago, Greece, Nigeria, Morocco, New Zealand, Hungary, Indonesia.

2010 Finalist Judges

Alexandria LaFaye is an associate professor of English at California State University in San Bernardino, and the author of eight novels for middle-grade readers. Her novels have received many awards, including a Notable Children's Book Award from the Smithsonian Institute (The Strength of Saints); the Scott O'Dell Award for historical fiction, a Nebraska Book Award, and a California Book Award (Worth); and Best Book listings for Band Street College of Education (The Year of the Sawdust Man and Edith Shay).

Marge Piercy is the author of 39 books, including 14 novels, many volumes of poetry, a memoir, and several works of nonfiction. Awards include, among many others, the Patterson Award for Literary Achievement, the Patterson Poetry Prize, an American Library Association Notable Book Award, and the Arthur C. Clarke Award for Best Science Fiction Novel (UK).

Information on the 2010 Winners

Joan Connor "How to Stop Loving Someone"

Joan Connor’s stories in How to Stop Loving Someone explore the vagaries, and vicissitudes, the velleities and verities of love and lust, of loneliness and loss. Tonally the stories range from the dark to the darkly comic, from the optimistic to the outright silly. Geographically they wander from Greece to Maine, from Vermont to the fictional Hobson’s Choice (somewhere near Troy, New York). But wherever her characters find themselves, whether lucky or unlucky in love, whether in their teens or middle-age, they cling tenaciously to the belief that the quest for love is self-validating, that love is yet possible.

Joan Connor is a full professor at Ohio University and a professor in Fairfield  University’s low residency MFA program.  She is a recipient of a Barbara Deming Award, the John Gilgun award, a Pushcart Prize, the Ohio Writer award in fiction and nonfiction, the AWP award for her short story collection, History Lesson,  and the River Teeth Award for her collection of essays, The World Before Mirrors.  Her two earlier collections are: We Who Live Apart and Here On Old Route 7.  Her work has appeared in: Glimmer Train, Shenandoah, The Southern Review, The Kenyon Review, Chelsea, Manoa, The Gettysburg Review, TriQuarterly, The Journal of Arts & Letters, and Black Warrior, among others publications. She lives in Athens, Ohio, and Belmont, Vermont.

Mariko Nagai "Weight of the Land"

Bad harvest. Father dead from the long lingering illness. Hana’s mother is left with her twins: a boy and a girl, Hana. There is only thing Hana’s mother can do: remarry so that the boy can live, so that the mother and the boy can live, but on one condition – to sell Hana to a broker and pretend that she died. This is where Hana’s journey as a ghost, and her twin brother's bondage to the land start.

Born in Tokyo and raised in Europe and America, Mariko Nagai studied English at New York University. Her numerous honors include the Erich Maria Remarque Fellowship from New York University, fellowships from the Rockefeller Foundation Bellagio Center, UNESCO-Aschberg Bursaries for the Arts, Yaddo, and Djerassi. She has received the Pushcart Prizes both in poetry and fiction. Nagai’s collection of poems, Histories of Bodies, won the Benjamin Saltman Prize from Red Hen Press. Her first collection of stories, Georgic: Stories, won the 2009 G.S. Sharat Chandra Prize in Fiction and will be published by BkMk Press in fall 2010. She teaches creative writing and literature at Temple University, Japan Campus in Tokyo.

Amy Schutzer "The Color of Weather"

Set in late Depression-era South Dakota, The Color of Weather pivots around Janey Weed and the family house that was passed down to her. Through word of mouth, Janey begins to shelter women running away from violent situations. When Daisy and her daughter May appear at Janey’s back door, the course Janey chooses leads her to accept dangerous compromises in order to follow her heart, and her convictions.

Amy Schutzer is an award-winning poet and fiction writer who lives in Portland, Oregon. Her first novel, Undertow, (Calyx Books, 2000), was a Lambda Book Award finalist, Violet Quill Award finalist and Today's Librarian Best of 2000 Award winner. Her poetry has appeared in a variety of literary reviews and magazines including Portland Review, Fireweed, HLFQ, Sequoia and Hurricane Alice.  She is the recipient of an Astraea Foundation Grant for Fiction (1997), and a grant from the Barbara Deming Memorial Fund (1999). She has recently finished revision on a third novel, and is hard at work on a fourth book; and always, poems.  

Josie Sigler "El Camino"

Spanning from the Gulf War to the War in Iraq, El Camino is a collection of short stories about those fighting for survival in the post-industrial heartland: a gay Marine attacked by men from his own unit, a girl living in a motel where her mother works as a prostitute, and a man who intentionally sets himself on fire when he loses his job at General Motors.

Josie Sigler’s stories and poems have appeared in Water~Stone, Silk Road, Hayden’s Ferry Review and others. Her chapbook, Calamity, was published by Proem Press. Her book of poetry, living must bury, winner of the 2010 Motherwell Prize, was published by Fence Books. Her story “Deep, Michigan” received a special mention in the 2009 Pushcart Prize Anthology. She was recently awarded the 2011 Margery Davis Boyden Wilderness Writing Residency for her short story “El Camino” (forthcoming in Roanoke Review). She is currently at work on a novel, The Johns, and a new book of poems, Hospitality

Ashley Cowger "Peter Never Came"

First-Prize winner, Autumn House Press fiction contest. To be published in 2011.

Peter Never Came includes thematically linked stories that explore the difference between the way we see the world as children and the way we see the world as adults. The stories are arranged from childhood to adulthood and ultimately explore how we manage to accept and eventually learn to love the world for what it is, not what we think it should be.

Ashley Cowger holds an MFA in creative writing from the University of Alaska Fairbanks. Her short fiction has appeared in several literary journals and has been nominated for a Pushcart. She is editor and cofounder of the online journal, MFA/MFYou (www.mfamfyou.com), and she teaches college English and lives in Ohio.

Katherine Karlin "Send Me Work"

"Send Me Work" is a collection of short stories about women on the job--including a shipyard welder, a refinery operator, a print saleswoman, and an orchestra oboist.

Katherine Karlin's fiction has appeared in the Pushcart Prize collection, New Stories From the South, One-Story, Alaska Quarterly Review, ZYZZYVA, L.A. Weekly, and many other journals. She teaches creative writing at Kansas State University.

Chantel Acevedo "Blue Exile"

Set in Cuba and Miami, covering nearly fifty years of tropical history, the stories in BLUE EXILE unfold the lives of Cuban and Cuban-American families in the patterns and permutations of memory, exile politics, and growing up on both sides of the ninety mile stretch of water that separates the two places.  BLUE EXILE conjures a Cuban setting that evokes mysticism and magic.

Chantel Acevedo's novel, LOVE AND GHOST LETTERS (St. Martin's Press, 2005), won the Latino International Book Award for Best Historical Fiction and was nominated for the Connecticut Book of the Year. Acevedo's short stories and poems have appeared in such journals as The Chattahoochee Review, Prairie Schooner, Cimarron Review and American Poetry Review, among others.  Acevedo currently serves as co-editor of the Southern Humanities Review, and is as Assistant Professor in the Department of English at Auburn University.

Marjorie Maddox "What She Was Saying"

This linked short-story collection explores power and silences in women’s voices and grapples—in this unsafe world—with the definitions and boundaries of “home.” The collection was one of three finalists for the 2005 Katherine Anne Porter Book Award and a semifinalist for Eastern Washington University’s Spokane Fiction Book Award. Individual stories have previously appeared in a variety of literary journals, magazines, anthologies, and newspapers.

Director of Creative Writing and Professor of English at Lock Haven University, Marjorie Maddox has published Weeknights at the Cathedral (an Editions Selection, WordTech, 2006); Transplant, Transport, Transubstantiation (2004 Yellowglen Prize, WordTech Editions); Perpendicular As I (1994 Sandstone Book Award); When the Wood Clacks Out Your Name: Baseball Poems (2001 Redgreene Press Chapbook Winner), six chapbooks, and over 350 poems, stories, and essays in ournals and anthologies. She is the co-editor of Common Wealth: Contemporary Poets on Pennsylvania (PSU Press 2005) and author of two children’s books from Boyds Mills Press: A Crossing of Zebras: Animal Packs in Poetry (2008) and The Rules of the Game: Baseball Poems (2009). The recipient of numerous awards, Marjorie lives with her husband and two children in Williamsport, PA. www.lhup.edu/mmaddoxh/biography

Chandler Klang Smith "Goldenland Past Dark"

Goldenland Past Dark follows Webern Bell, a 16-year-old hunchbacked midget on the road with a ramshackle traveling circus in 1960s America. Alienated by his deformity from the larger world but at home among his circus family, Webern devotes himself to his acts—surreal clown performances that come to him in dreams. As he travels through a landscape of abandoned amusement parks and rural ghost towns, he is haunted by his bizarre family history, particularly his otherworldly sisters and the role they may have played in his mother's death. Other characters include Nepenthe, the seductive Lizard Girl, whose relationship with Webern leads to unforeseen complications; Dr. Show, the grandly flawed ringleader of the circus, whose relentless showmanship conceals a failed life; Marzipan, a chimp who wearily regards the folly of human behavior while tending to her hapless owners; and Wags, Webern's childhood friend, who may or may not be imaginary, and whose motives are far darker than they seem.

Chandler Klang Smith is a graduate of Bennington College and holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Columbia University, where she received a School of the Arts Writing Fellowship.  She has worked as a reader for the Columbia Journal and the Paris Review. She has also ghost-written two YA novels for Alloy Entertainment Group and taught creative writing in Columbia's Double Discovery and INTRO programs. An excerpt from Goldenland Past Dark won the Bronx Writers Center Chapter One award in 2006, and the completed novel was nominated for a Pushcart Editor's Book Award in 2009.  Chandler grew up in Springfield, Illinois, and now lives in New York City, where she works as an editorial assistant at a literary agency and as the Events Coordinator for the KGB Bar.

Annam Manthiram "Dysfunction"

Dramatically different in style and form, these tales range from the wicked (a divorcée recounts her failed marriages sardonically from A to Z), to heart-wrenchingly commonplace (an older Indian woman struggles to find a husband during humiliating bride-viewings), and emotionally barren (a mother cannot understand why her family doesn’t love her enough to remember her son’s first birthday).  At times funny, but always incisive, this collection of stories examines the survival of those whose only certainty is dysfunction.

Annam Manthiram is the author of two novels, The Goju Story and After the Tsunami, and a short story collection. Her fiction has recently appeared in the Chicago Quarterly Review, the Cream City Review, the Concho River Review, Straylight, Blink | Ink, the Grey Sparrow Journal, and the anthology, Daily Flash: 365 Days of Flash Fiction (Pill Hill Press – December 2010),and has been nominated for the PEN/O’Henry Prize and inclusion in the Best American Short Stories anthology. A graduate of the M.A. Writing program at the University of Southern California, Ms. Manthiram resides in New Mexico with her husband, Alex and son, Sathya.

Annam's novel "After the Tsunami" is forthcoming (Fall 2011) from Stephen F. Austin State University Press. See Annam's website at www.annammanthiram.com.

Kate Baggott "Tales from Planet Wine Cooler"

Tales from Planet Wine Cooler is a collection of short stories about a young woman and her best friend. The pieces are united by the themes of sex, music and the Internet. Some pieces from the collection are available online at Once Written and Unbrellazine. Other pieces are upcoming at Ghoti Magazine, Third Wednesday and JAAM (Just Another Art Movement).

Kate Baggott is a Canadian writer living in Germany. She holds an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of British Columbia and a BA from the University of Toronto. Her work ranges from technology journalism to creative non-fiction and from experimental fiction to chick lit. Links to recently published pieces can be found at www.katebaggott.com.

Melody Mansfield "A Bug Collection"

If you think bugs are "cute," read no further. This "Bug Collection" contains no cautionary tales for children, no morally uplifting fables, no top-hatted crickets or pig-loving spiders. What it does contain is sex, and death, and pretension, depression, sarcasm, longing. Politics. Spiritual questioning. Teleological matters. All the things that make humans human. Except that everything these characters do, they do really fast and hard because they are, well, bugs.

Melody Mansfield's first novel, The Life Stone of Singing Bird, was published by Faber and Faber, Inc., in 1996 and earned favorable reviews from The New York Times Book Review, Booklist, and others.  Her articles, poetry, and short fiction have appeared in a variety of print and online publications including Inside English, The Rectangle, Pedestal, Thought Magazine, Wild Violet, Fickle Muses, Ascent Aspirations, Spillway Review, Magaera, and Parent's Magazine.  Ms. Mansfield is a full-time high school teacher who has managed to eek out two additional novels--when not reading sophomore essays--along with this short story collection

Bryan T. Scoular "Poet in New York: A novel of Federico Garcia Lorca"

In the summer of 1929, reeling from rejection by Salvador Dalí and depressed by the commercial success of THE GYPSY BALLADS, Federico García Lorca decided to travel abroad. “New York must be horrible, but that’s why I’m going there,” he wrote to a friend. “I think I’ll have a great time.” POET IN NEW YORK tells the story of how Lorca, born in rural Andalusia, came to write one of the great poetic masterpieces of the past century about urban alienation, spiritual emptiness, and metaphysical solitude. The novel traces the young Spaniard’s steps during his year in America and explores his loneliness, regrets, and longing, his constant struggle with his sexual identity, and his effort to push his newfound avant-garde aesthetic to the limit in his poetry, plays, drawings, and screenplays. At the same time, it shows Federico absorbing the spirit of the “sprawling Babel” as he visits the sights, meets various literary and cultural figures, witnesses the Crash on Wall Street, and enjoys the nightlife of Harlem.

Bryan Scoular earned an M.A. in Spanish at the University of Notre Dame and a Ph.D. in Spanish literature at New York University. He has published several articles of literary criticism and has translated the critically acclaimed memoir MIDDAY WITH BUÑUEL, by Claudio Isaac. He lives in Geneva, Switzerland, and is currently working on his second novel.

J. L. Bautista "Funerals and Other Fiestas"

A disparate collection of nobodies—a woman old before her time, another whose beauty is useless to her, an orphaned baby, a child whore, a blind man, a doctor with a killing secret—come together in nineteen-thirties’ Spain, their intersected stories the micro-history of a country struggling through civil war and dictatorship.  

J. L. Bautista was born in California and travels between her home in the Bay Area and Madrid, Spain. Fiestas, her first published book, is drawn primarily from the recollections and experiences of family and friends and was the winner of the 2005 George Garrett Prize in Fiction. It contains two stories based on chapters of her novel Funerals and Other Fiestas. She has published and won awards for short fiction, poetry, and essays, and worked as a journalist and researcher. She is presently at work on  her fifth novel.

Michael Downs "The Greatest Show"

July 6, 1944. Hartford, Connecticut. Fire flashes along the wall of a circus tent while inside a crowd of moslty women and children enjoy a matinee performance. Within minutes, hundreds will die. Those who survive will never forget the clowns and the screams. In these stories, the fire still burns.

Michael Downs’ book House of Good Hope (University of Nebraska Press, 2007), won the River Teeth Literary Nonfiction Prize. His short fiction has been mentioned among other distinguished stories in the Best American Short Stories series and earned him a literary fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts. He lives in Baltimore, Maryland, where he teaches creative writing at Towson University and directs the school’s reading series.

Callie Bates "The Foothills of Olympus"

Set in the aftermath of the second world war, The Foothills of Olympus follows Marion Corbeau on a journey to Greece in search of her missing brother. The novella reflects upon the ties that bind brothers and sisters, people and ideals, mixing communism and civil war with family relations, while the figure of T.E. Lawrence looms in the characters' personal and ideological pasts.

Callie Bates is a 2009 graduate (B.A.) of Lawrence University, where The Foothills of Olympus was her senior honors thesis. One might also say she is a graduate, 2010, of the School of Life, as she is currently in remission from endometrial cancer. She won the 2007 Nick Adams Contest and Lawrence's Didderrich Prize in Creative Writing. Her work ranges in scope from historical fiction to magic realism, nonfiction essays to contemporary short stories. She currently lives in Wisconsin.

Starkey Flythe "The Byrd House"

Starkey Flythe's stories have been anthologized in Best American, New Stories from the South, and the O. Henry Prize volumes. He was re-founding editor of The Saturday Evening Post, and served in the Middle East and Africa. He is the winner of the 2010 Snake Nation Press Prize for his collection of short fiction, Driving with Hand Controls.

Julie Valentine "The Soothing Balm of Cadmium Red"

Gregory Ashford is a Princeton University dropout and the son of an abusive alcoholic.  Once he’s finally grown his list of dead-end jobs and sabotaged his relationship with the only girlfriend he has allowed close to him, Greg concludes that suicide is his next best option.  It is his unlikely encounter with a mysterious 11-year-old boy, a handball and a pencil that lead him to the self-acceptance that has always eluded him. 

Julie Valentine is an executive assistant at a major motion picture studio in Los Angeles. She graduated from New York University with a B.F.A in Film and Television Production, but found she enjoyed the writing aspect of film best of all.  The Soothing Balm of Cadmium Red is one novella of eight in the book We Will Dance Where We Are & Be and when it is completed, it will be her first novel.

Barbara Salvatore Klopping "Other People's Ghosts"

Other People's Ghosts are all dreams; very vivid dreams, where the author is not herself, but occupies the body of a complete stranger. Until recently, Barbara thought everyone had dreams like this. The stories are brief dramas and glimpses, sometimes only surreal snapshots, into Other People's lives.

Barbara Salvatore Klopping is owner of Beyond Design Inc., a company that specializes in fabrication services for Broadway, film, museums, the art and architectural markets. (www.beyonddesigninc.com ) She lives on an old dairy farm in Walton, New York, with her family, and a team of Percheron horses, small pet menagerie and large herb garden. She has a studio in Nebraska, where research and many illustrations for her books are done. Barbara holds a BFA in Painting from the School of Visual Arts and has extensively studied writing, theater, herbs and horses. She's had pieces published in Small Farm Journal, United Plant Savers News, and the collective Ithaca Remembers. She is Founder and Editor of Who Knew? The Catskill Literary Magazine, with its premier issue due Summer 2010. Her novel, Big Horse Woman, was a Finalist in the 2009 Leapfrog Press Fiction Contest.

Kunthavai Jayadevan "Ruth"

“We must be as swiftly moving and unrelenting, letting go of all the false things that hold us backwards…” – Ruth Michael Brown.  Can one person affect the path of all humanity?  Set in the Deep South, Ruth follows the life of a seemingly normal woman and the extraordinary direction her life takes.  This soulful multi-generational epic hints of myth, but remains firmly grounded while seeking a clue to the very nature of Man.  Guided by nothing more than her own thoughts and intentions, Ruth Michael Brown unapologetically molds the course of her family and ultimately the very direction of the world around her.  A story about the potential of a single life, Ruth strides boldly through terrible darkness and pain into a destiny much greater than anyone could have ever comprehended.

Kunthavai Jayadevan’s first novel is Ruth.  Her stories have been both short- and long-listed for the Fish Publishing International Short Story Prize and her poetry has been featured in several international publications. Her work has also been published in SCMP and she is the founder and former head of the non-profit green organization LIFE.  A compulsive writer, outdoor adventurer, skydiver and mountaineer, Kunthavai spends her time exploring the far corners of the world, seeking out the common threads that bind humanity and listening for the often unheard voices. Having lived on five continents, sometimes in a life of peace, sometimes in the chaos of war, she has witnessed the incredible depth and mystery of seemingly common lives that people rarely reveal.  She is currently completing her debut short story collection, STOMP And Other Gospels.

Pat Rushin "Quantum Physics and My Dog Bob"

Stories from Quantum Physics and My Dog Bob have appeared in The American Literary Review, The North Atlantic Review, The King's English, Lake Effect, The Southeast Review, Trillium, and elsewhere.

Richard Duggin "The Music Box Treaty"

Richard Duggin was raised in New England and received his bachelor’s degree in literature and writing from the University of New Hampshire and his master’s degree in fiction from the University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop. His written work includes three novels and numerous short stories, some of which have appeared in periodicals such as Beloit Fiction Journal, Crosscurrents, Laurel Review, American Literary Review, The Sun, Playboy, and elsewhere.  His work has been cited by Best American Short Stories, Pushcart Prize Anthology, and Playboy Magazine Best Fiction.  He has been awarded a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship, two Nebraska Arts Council Individual Artist Merit Awards, and several artist residencies at Ragdale, Yaddo and the Anderson Center for Interdisciplinary Studies.

Ted Cleary "Song of the Cicada"

TED CLEARY received a B.A. and M.A. in English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University, where he graduated summa cum laude and was awarded the Cornell Woolrich Fellowship and Seymour Brick Memorial Prize for creative writing and playwriting.  He has published in various literary magazines and written songs, stories, poems, screenplays and novellas.  He teaches writing in New York City.

Claire Ortalda "God's Tears, New Mexico"

Claire Ortalda, who has experienced various incarnations as a journalist, editor and English instructor, has been published in numerous literary journals and been the recipient of Hackney, Fugue, Georgia State University and other fiction and poetry prizes. God's Tears, New Mexico, is a linked story collection about a small southwest town whose peculiar geography "excites problems of identity in nearly everyone in town," as the quirky residents grapple with issues of love, death, purpose and virtue.

Richard Goodwin "How Long Must I Dream"

Wicker wants to win enough in Vegas to get his mother’s cremains out of storage, buy a van and never work again.  He’s a slot machine aficionado, a boozer and drug user who’s been wetting the bed lately and struggling to tame his unruly hair.  His plans are sidetracked when he meets Edna, a spacey elderly woman trying to get to the ocean.   They fall in love (sort of) and wind up in Tokyo, where Wicker drinks himself right into a teaching job at an English conversation school, and Edna disappears deeper into her own blurry world.

Richard Goodwin has an MFA in Creative Writing from Antioch University Los Angeles.  He lives in Vancouver, Washington, and teaches ESL at Portland Community College.  His short fiction has appeared in Monkeybicycle, The Adirondack Review, and The Dream People.  He is currently at work on his second novel.

Gail Tansill Lambert "Aesop: The Storyteller"

“Aesop: The Storyteller” is set in the ancient Greek world of slaves, sailors, merchants, wars and gods; all of which contribute to the slave boy Aesop’s eventual fame as the most celebrated storyteller in all of history.

Gail Lambert holds a Graduate Degree in Children’s Literature from Hollins University as well as a BA and a Master of Arts in Liberal Studies. She was a frequent reviewer for Best Sellers with a review included in Contemporary Literary Criticism, Vol. 30, as well asa Contributing Writer and Editor of Notable Women of Southwest Virginia, 1850 – 1950 published by the Historical Society of Western Virginia, 2007. She authored an essay for National Public Radio in 2009, teaches high school Latin, and is a  regularly published freelance writer in Virginia.

Kirsten Lopresti "Bright Coin Moon"

Kirsten Lopresti has an MFA from George Mason University. Her fiction has appeared in The Laurel Review, New Delta Review, So To Speak, Italian Americana, and Licking River Review. Bright Coin Moon has won two other fiction prizes. It placed second in the James River Writer's Best Unpublished Novel Contest, and it was picked out of 1,700 entries to win the grand prize in the YA Discovery Contest.

Courtney Sirotin "Madison Billsby: Taco Defender"

Meet Madison Billsby, the only girl in her seventh grade class who has to stand in the back row with the boys on picture day. It’s not because she’s tall and blessed with long legs like Giselle or a swan-like torso like Paris; quite frankly, it’s because she’s too wide. Madison is perfectly happy to live a life out of the spotlight until she finds out that Charlotte DuVain, the queen bee of the snobby girls, is going to run for student council president uncontested and for all the wrong reasons. The only way Madison can save her school from a year without a solid student government is to run against Charlotte herself. With a fierce appetite and a driving sense of justice, Madison Billsby and her loyal friends embark on a mission to defend the hot lunch menu and fight for the rights of their classmates.

Courtney Sirotin has a master's degree in Visual and Media Arts and has been in the entertainment industry since 2001. She started her career at a television network in Boston where she was the entertainment news reporter and then moved to NYC to be the Interactive Manager at Alloy Entertainment, where she developed the company’s online presence. Courtney lives in Georgia with her husband and is the author of the educational website www.foolyourselffit.com and the corresponding e-book, Metablolize This! Everything You Need To Know To Kick-Start Your Metabolism.  When she’s not writing novels or articles for magazines, Courtney freelances as writer and works in film production.  She is currently producing the film Quarterlife Ben and just completed production on the film adaptation of the tween novel, The Fat Boy Chronicles, a story about a teenage boy struggling to lose weight during his freshman year of high school.

David Rish "No Laughing Matter"

No Laughing Matter is the story of Dal, Ben and Cassie, who live on an island and share a deep love of fun. A series of strange incidents occur on a camping trip; a really odd cloud, a nighttime explosion, the disappearance of a packet of Curdlers, the strange black oil Cassie swims into when out diving, which sucks the light from her life. On returning to their homes, they find things have changed. Their usually easygoing teacher seems to have lost the ability to laugh, Dal’s mother can’t be jollied out of her bad mood, and all the island’s residents are being drawn to the cheese factory for some odd reason. Could it be that the black oil Cassie encountered is actually some sort of alien invader and could it be that Ben is somehow collaborating with the invaders and is a traitor? Their friendship and indeed their island life are put in jeopardy but it is friendship and their shared sense of humour that might also save everybody. No Laughing Matter is a comedy about friendship with a storyline to hook the most demanding of readers. www.netspace.net.au/~drish/

David Rish has published a number of children’s novels in Australia, including the Family Award-winning Mongrel, Casey’s Case and the comedy Extraordinarily Ordinary. Other credits include radio plays, reviews and articles, interviews and a semi-regular humour column for Teacher, a magazine for, unsurprisingly, teachers! In a past life he was an early childhood teacher and he has an on-going passion for children’s literature. It is his long-standing wish to see Maurice Sendak win the Nobel Prize for Literature.

Mick Carlon "Riding on Duke's Train"

It's 1939 and Danny, a twelve year old orphan, hitches a ride on a train belonging to Duke Ellington and his Famous Orchestra.  Soon adopted by the musicians, the lad accompanies them on their Spring 1939 tour of Europe.  While crossing Northern Germany to reach Denmark, Ellington and his band--all African-Americans--are held up by Nazi officials in Hamburg.  The reader meets musicians such as Johnny "Rabbit" Hodges; Harry Carney; Rex Stewart; Jimmie Blanton; Cootie Williams; Ivie Anderson; Sonny Greer--and, of course, Edward Kennedy "Duke" Ellington.  Says the legendary jazz critic Nat Hentoff:  "I knew Duke Ellington for many years, and the Duke in this book is the man I knew."

Len Spacek "The Summer of Love"

When Rubin Hardin goes for a ride on his Super Scout 249 motorcycle in the summer of 1969, he inadvertently stumbles on the biggest musical festival in American history. After giving Country Joe Mcdonald and various other “hippies” a ride to the concert, Rubin comes across a cherry red convertible with the most beautiful girl he has ever seen sitting on the hood.  It only takes him a moment to realize that the girl is Summer Sweetwater, his brother’s old girlfriend.  Tommy, Rubin’s brother, is off fighting the war in Vietnam.  With thoughts of Tommy on their minds, Rubin and Summer embark on an adventurous and life-changing three-day journey.  Their Summer of Love is carefree, that is, until Tommy comes home. Summer of Love is the story of Woodstock and Vietnam, first loves, brothers, and making difficult decisions.  This book will give the reader the experience of what Woodstock was like, from the people to the music to the overall feeling of that moment in time.  

Len Spacek has been an English teacher and coach for fourteen years at Harmon Middle School in Aurora, Ohio, and he recently became a proud father.  He is a University of Dayton graduate, and he received his Master’s degree in Education from John Carroll University.  He completed his MFA in creative writing from the Northeast Ohio MFA program.  His passions are his family, teaching, writing, playing the guitar, and just about any sport.  He cherishes the opportunity to influence the lives of his students.  His goal is to make them want to become lifelong readers and to give them the opportunity to pursue their goals of becoming writers.  The reason he started writing was because he felt like had something to share, and he wanted to inspire his students to read.  He lives in Ohio with his wife Gretchen, his son Ryan, and his two dogs, Buddy and Skeeter.

Thom Mark Shepard "The Green Apettes"

The Green Apettes is a story about 13 year old Joe Sheffield, who idolizes his much older half-brother, Theo. But Theo is a poor role model, introducing Joe to graphic horror films. This resulted in a series of public panic attacks that has alienated Joe from most of his classmates. Now in middle school, Joe is a loner in need of new friends and begins to find one in Gina, the new girl in school. What keeps him stable are his humor, his piano playing, and his serious interest in designing flyers and posters. His latest flier, inspired by one of Theo’s tall tales, embroils him in a mystery. Searching for his principal’s kitten, he discovers that several cats, both pets and ferals, have vanished in a single day. As Joe investigates, his dark fantasies begin to resurface, and he comes to believe in the existence of cat-consuming primates that he calls the Green Apettes. When Theo makes a surprise visit, the two brothers go hunting for these very real creatures. But are they monsters? Are they part of an elaborate hoax? Or is the solution to this frightening and funny mystery something they never expected? In the process of discovering the truth, Joe learns to step out from his brother’s shadow and finds that both terror and solace can come from surprising sources.

Thom Shepard is a librarian at MIT Lincoln Lab. His story “Stick and Strings,” published in Mid-American Review in 1985, was nominated for a Pushcart Prize, and his story “The Tannery” won the top fiction prize in Indiana University's Graduate Writing Program in 1989. Like so many budding writers, he stopped writing fiction when he married and helped raise a family. During these unfulfilling in-between years, he wrote papers and delivered presentations on digital preservation and all things metadata. He recently returned to writing fiction with a new interest in "crossover" young adult fiction.

 


 

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