Fiction Contest

Other Winners: 2015, 2014, 2013, 2011, 2010, 2009

2012 LEAPFROG FICTION CONTEST

Adult Fiction Winners

Children's Fiction Winners

(2011 winners -- 2010 winners -- 2009 winners)

Contest information: Total adult manuscript entries: 424. 46% women authors. 15% story collections. Total children's manuscripts: 122. 79% women authors. 44 US states represented, plus the Virgin Islands. Non-US entries came from the UK, Canada, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, Mexico, Israel, France, China, Germany, India, Tasmania, Japan, and Kenya.

ADULT FICTION

First Place

Being Dead in South Carolina (stories) by Jacob White (Vermont, USA)

"Fresh, fierce, sad, funny, deep.  The author is a natural story teller, with a voice that is like music.... This book sings.  It’s real, it’s beautiful." --Lev Raphael, finalist judge

2012 Finalists

I Truly Lament (stories) by Mathias Freese (Nevada, USA)

Brief Eulogies at Roadside Shrines (stories) by Mark Lyons (Pennsylvania, USA)

Semifinalist

Fire Year (stories) by Jason K. Friedman (California, USA) winner of the Mary McCarthy Prize; forthcoming from Sarabande Books

Transoceanic Lights (novel) by Sui Li (Massachusetts, USA)

Honorable Mention

Derby Widows (stories) by Steven LaFond (Massachusetts, USA)
During a Dry Season (novel) by Portia Tewogbade (Georgia, USA)
Safe in Your Head (stories) by Laura Valeri (Georgia, USA)
The Heart of June (novel) by Mason Radkoff (Pennsylvania, USA)
The Hundred Year Old Man (novella) by Jane Mushabac (New York, USA)
The Princess and the Pimp (novella) by Tony Adam Mochama (Nairobi, Kenya)
The Sound in High Cold Places (novella) by Sarah Van Arsdale (New York, USA)
Without a Dog, It’s Just a Life (stories) by Tempa Lautze (Washington, USA)

CHILDREN'S FICTION

Finalist

Lone Wolves by John Smelcer (Alaska, USA)

Semifinalist

The Icon Thief by Anna Angelidakis (New York, USA)

Summer of the Swallowtails by Sarah Prevatt (Florida, USA)

Game On! (stories) by Len Spacek (Ohio, USA)

Honorable Mention

Run Away Home by Robin Tzucker (Washington, USA)
Home Base by Suzanne Kamata (Japan)
The Adventure of Crow-Boy by David Fuller Cook (North Carolina, USA)
The Falls of the Wyona by David Brendan Hopes (North Carolina, USA)

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Adult Fiction Descriptions and Author Bios

Jacob White "The Days Down Here"

The stories in The Days Down Here concern people who no longer recognize themselves, who have arrived, like the Sunbelt itself, to a strange day that seems disconnected from all the old days, the old stories, the old selves.  Yet it's always on this day we must answer for ourselves -- right an overturned car, recover the body of a brother, convince a son of our worth and his.  We are adrift with bad judgment, a little loose in the head, but searching for the correction.

A South Carolina native, Jacob White studied creative writing at Binghamton University and the University of Houston, where he received the Donald Barthelme Memorial Fellowship in Fiction.  His fiction has appeared in many journals, including The Georgia ReviewNew LettersSalt Hill, New Orleans Review, and The Sewanee Review, from whom he received the Andrew Lytle Prize.  He currently lives in Vermont with his wife and son and teaches creative writing at Johnson State College, where he edits Green Mountains Review.

Mathias Freese "I Truly Lament: working through the Holocaust"

I Truly Lament is a varied collection of stories, inmates in death camps, survivors of these camps, disenchanted Golems complaining about their tasks, Holocaust deniers and their ravings, and collectors of Hitler curiosa (only recently a few linens from Hitler’s bedroom suite went up for sale!) as well as an imagined interview with Eva Braun during her last days in the bunker. The intent is to perceive the Holocaust from several points of view.

Author of The i Tetralogy (Wheatmark, 2006), a Holocaust novel, winner of the Allbooks Review Editor’s Choice Award 2007, and Down to a Sunless Sea (Wheatmark, 2007), a collection of short fiction, Indie Excellence Finalist Book Awards, Mathias B. Freese is a retired psychotherapist and teacher. Non-fiction articles have appeared in the New York Times, Voices: The Art and Science of Psychotherapy, Pilgrimage and other journals. In 2005 the Society of Southwestern Authors honored him with a first-place award for personal essay/memoir. In November/December 2011 Mensa Bulletin published this essay in revised form. In 2011 ten stories from his new collection, I Truly Lament—Working Through the Holocaust, were published, the latest being “Slave,” Del Sol Review #18, 2011. His writer’s blog is www.mathiasbfreese.com. This Möbius Strip of Ifs, a collection of essays written over four decades, was published in February 2012.

Mark Lyons "Brief Eulogies at Roadside Shrines"

Brief Eulogies at Roadside Shrines are meditations on how strangers meet in the most unlikely places and move on with a new perspective of their place in the world.  A snake-handling preacher loses the anointing and finds faith and redemption in a junk yard. A hitch hiker feasts on roadkill with a hobo on the plains and discovers the cosmos. Raven, the great trickster of the First Nations, finds flight on high tension power lines and breaks the treaty between the new nations of Canada and the U.S.  A Mexican-American Border Patrol officer arrests a mojado--a wetback--and is asked a question which makes him confront his own history.  A soldier returns from Iraq, his navigation system out of whack, and meditates on the fate of his tumbler pigeon. These are stories of longing to restore lost connections, of surviving wars within our families and overseas, how our lives change in an instant when we're not looking, of regrets and forgiveness.  

An ex-alcoholic watches two teens falling in love in an all-night diner while listening to Louie Louie and wonders if he is brave enough to find his daughter. A son tells family stories to ease his dying father to sleep, and confronts the anger and lost chances for connection within those stories. A woman who has never had a lover awakes on a flight to Europe to find the head of the man in the next seat asleep on her shoulder, and tries to imagine. An American artist brought to his knees returns to a Mexican village and rediscovers color while sitting on a bench with a painter of walls, watching the paint dry. These stories are about communities, of people finding ways to survive the night together, of pulling each other out of sinkholes. A rural village embraces a Vietnam vet and tries to keep him afloat, to steer him to safety. The inmates of a chronic public hospital ward, a hermetic magic mountain, dream of escape to a life outside and confront the reality that this is their last home, their last stop on the line, that all they have is each other. 

Mark Lyons lives in Philadelphia.  His fiction has been published in several literary journals and has been read in the Reading Aloud program at Interact Theater, in Philadelphia. He is the author of Espejos y Ventanas / Mirrors and Windows: Oral Histories of Mexican Farmworkers and Their Families, written in Spanish and English. He created a theater piece from Espejos y Ventanas, which was performed at the Border Book Festival in Mesilla, New Mexico. Mark was nominated for the Pushcart Prize, and awarded Pennsylvania Council on the Arts Fellowships in literature in 2003 and 2009. Currently he is co-director of the Philadelphia Storytelling Project, which works with recently arrived immigrants and high school students to teach them to create digital stories about their lives.

Jason K. Friedman "Fire Year"
Winner of the Mary McCarthy Prize, to be published in 2013 by Sarabande Books

FIRE YEAR is a collection of long and short stories that draw on my experiences as a gay man, a southerner, and a Jewish person. It’s up to someone—anyone—other than me to say what they mean or discuss their themes.  In selecting these stories for this collection I did notice that a religious outlook was a given in many of these characters’ lives.  But I don’t think the stories themselves reflect a religious outlook. The religious characters and the ones who have no use for it are all standing on the fault, all of them in danger of being swallowed up, all of them capable of stepping away.

Jason K. Friedman was born in Savannah and works as a technical writer in San Francisco, where he lives with his husband, filmmaker Jeffrey Friedman, and their dog, Lefty.  He graduated from Yale and the Johns Hopkins Writing Seminars.  His work has appeared in literary journals and anthologies including Best American Gay Fiction and the cultural-studies reader Goth: Undead Subculture.  He has published two children’s books, including the thriller Phantom Trucker. He was the runner-up in the Associated Writing Programs Award Series in the Novel. He won the Karma Foundation-Moment Magazine Short Fiction Prize for "Blue," the first story in FIRE YEAR, as well as the Mary McCarthy Prize in Short Fiction for the collection as a whole.

Sui Li "Transoceanic Lights"

Told from the perspective of a five-year-old boy, Transoceanic Lights depicts the interlocking lives of three families who immigrate to the US from post-Mao China. The focus settles on Ma, the mother of the unnamed narrator, who becomes pregnant with her second child as financial tensions threaten to rend apart an already failing marriage. Her struggles compound when her husband suffers a broken arm from a car accident and her father back home falls ill with a mysterious lung disease. Her only solace lies in the distant promise of better lives for her children. Meanwhile, her son spends his days in school dreaming about his homeland, longing for its comfort and familiarity while his two cousins, one precocious and the other rambunctious, assimilate effortlessly. Loosely based on the author’s first four years in the US, Transoceanic Lights is a story of familial love and discord, selfishness and sacrifice, and hope and futility.

S. Li was born in Guangzhou, China in 1984 and came to the US in 1989. He graduated with an A.B. in Biochemical Sciences from Harvard in 2006 and an M.D. from the University of Massachusetts in 2010. He currently lives in Boston where he works as a neurology resident. When he is not at the hospital, he is either sleeping or writing his second novel.

Steven LaFond "Derby Widows"

Derby Widows is a collection of linked stories set in the world of modern women's roller derby. These stories follow the skaters and their loved ones through the physical hits on the track and the emotional toll of sacrificing free time, health, and relationships in order to play this growing amateur sport. Told from the perspective of the lovers of these skaters, Derby Widows is about the shifting dynamics in the lives of these couples and how the non-skating partners cope with the skaters' new identities. Some succumb to the behemoth and become as involved in the sport as their wives, others are left holding down the fort at home, resentful of their partners’ new love; a sport with which the widow(er)s cannot compete. 

Steven LaFond is a writer who lives in Arlington, Massachusetts, with his wife Jessie and their pets Ari and Goblin. He received his MFA from the Bennington Writing Seminars. His fiction and essays have appeared in apt magazine and derbylife.com. He is an announcer and former roller derby widow.

Portia Tewogbade "During a Dry Season"

It is September 1980, the beginning of Nigeria’s dry season, and Garnett Adewale, a young, obese, African-American striver from a notorious Brooklyn housing project, has moved with her banker husband, Kayode, to his home in Kaduna. The wintry mornings and sand storms from the Sahara form a vivid backdrop for her vain struggles to conceive a child and adapt to an unfamiliar culture. She nearly unravels under badgering from her mother-in-law, attacks by malaria and Moslem fanatics, and betrayal by her philandering husband, but somehow she holds on until her dry season blows away. 

Portia Tewogbade is a former English instructor at Georgia Tech and Federal Government College in Nigeria, where she lived for three years. She has received awards from the Sandhills Writers Conference and the Atlanta Writers Club. Her short stories have been published or scheduled for publication in an anthology, Getting in Touch with the Source, and several journals, including African Voices, Mobius, Hawaii Pacific Review, and Kweli.  Portia lives in Lithonia, Ga., near her hometown of Atlanta, and is completing a collection of short stories. 

Laura Valeri "Safe in Your Head"

A middle class Italian family finds reason to emigrate to America when Italy is threatened by the Red Brigades’ terrorist movement of the 1970’s. The family patriarch manages a transfer to the United States, certain of better prospects and of a more secure future for his family, but each of the family members experiences a deeper kind of upheaval, negotiating personal losses and the estrangement that comes as a result of the psychic scarring from the violence left behind. A grandmother, a mother, and a granddaughter each discovers the many insidious ways in which war warps and defines life, even at a distance of decades.

Laura Valeri is the author of The Kind of Things Saints Do (U of Iowa Press), an Iowa/John Simmons Award winner, and winner of the Binghamton University John Gardner Award, and the author of Safe in Your Head. Her work appears in numerous magazines, including Glimmer Train, Big Bridge, Creative Nonfiction, Gulfstream, Night Train, V.I.A., Waccamaw, The Adirondack Review, The Patterson Literary Review and Conjunctions. She was winner of the Glimmer Train Family Matters competition and a finalist of the Glimmer Train Open Fiction Awards as well as a Finalist of the New Letters Awards in fiction. Her nonfiction is also published in Lee Gutkind’s Our Roots Are Deep With Passion: Creative Nonfiction Collects New Essays by Italian American Writers (Other Press/Creative Nonfiction). Laura Valeri has an MFA from Florida International University and an MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. She was a 2008 Walter E Dakins Fellow at the Sewanee Writers Conference. She is Associate Professor of Creative Writing specializing in fiction at Georgia Southern University.

Mason Radkoff "The Heart of June"

By virtue of wanting little, Walt Farnham has it all. Never mind that he lives above his ex-wife’s garage, or that his once-promising academic career has segued into lazy days spent as a handyman who manages only to repair himself each night to a corner bar and its motley collection of fellows who care even less. In this coming-of-middle-age tale, our wry hero’s comfortable state is thrown into turmoil as he is made to face the mortality of prickly Miss June Creighton, a manipulative octogenarian whose sharp tongue and unbending propriety are eclipsed only by her insistence that he do his chores. While Miss June’s once-great family fortune may have fallen, her dignity has not, and she relies on him to maintain both her venerable estate and the illusion that little has changed. But when Walt’s daily performance drops below even his own questionable standards, the old woman’s puppeteering reaches new heights, and she presents the unsuspecting man with not only a monumental task, but also with a path toward peace with his place in the world. Poignant, funny, and, at times, madcap, The Heart of June examines how we express our love — in all of the messy, misguided, and redemptive ways that we can.

Mason Radkoff’s short fiction was included in a three-month-long installation at the Three Rivers Arts Festival show By Design. The installation included 13 framed short stories, accompanied by a vintage refrigerator door that was the touchstone for the varying voices in the work. He was a semi-finalist in the 2012 Steeltown Film Factory screenwriting competition with his screenplay Beginning Chemistry. A lifelong Pittsburgher, he is inspired by the city’s textures and eclectic social fabric, and these sensibilities find their way into his work. The Heart of June is Mason’s first novel-length manuscript. He is currently polishing his second.

Jane Mushabac "The Hundred Year Old Man"

The Hundred Year Old Man is a short novel about a Turkish Jew born early in the 20th century in the fast deteriorating Ottoman Empire. He is from a city on the Strait of Dardanelles, a narrow waterway at the center of the world, dividing Europe from Asia.  In a time of war and scarcity, the main character seeks survival.  He is looking for food and meaning.  The book’s brief episodes go back and forth in time, and include glimpses of the countryside in early 1900s Turkey and the streetscapes of late 1900s New York.

Jane Mushabac is a New Yorker. She has had fellowships from the Mellon Foundation and Harvard University.  Her writing about Judeo-Spanish characters includes a radio play, Mazal Bueno, commissioned for NPR broadcast with Tovah Feldshuh in the lead, and a short story in Judeo-Spanish.  Her fiction has appeared in Chautauqua, Midstream, Conversations, and Sephardic Horizons and has been anthologized. A Short and Remarkable History of New York City, which she co-authored, was selected as a “Best of the Best” by the American Association of University Presses and is in its fifth printing. Her writing on Melville has appeared in an MLA anthology and the Columbia Journal of American Studies.  Mushabac teaches creative writing at City University of New York, where she is associate professor of English.

Tony Adam Mochama "The Princess and The Pimp"

Tony Mochama is a popular performance poet in Nairobi, Kenya, leading columnist with the Standard Group of Newspapers, and holder of a Law degree from the University of Nairobi. He is the author of a poetry collection (What if I’m a Literary Gangsta?, 2007) and a short story anthology (The Road to Eldoret, 2009), and the forthcoming Goethe-Institute-sponsored collection of essays (The Last Night Runner, 2012) about Nairobi's nocturnal escapades. He has spoken at creative writing workshops in Russia and Canada in the recent past, and is a guest lecturer in July this year at the DisQuiet International Literary Festival in Lisbon, Portugal. THE PRINCESS AND THE PIMP is his “loopy take on the pimps, drug lords, sex safarists and dirty politicians who litter our local landscape.”

Sarah Van Arsdale "The Sound in High Cold Places"

The Sound In High Cold Places is set in roughly the year 1000 A.D. in the high Canadian arctic. The original inspiration came from a trip I took to the arctic, which made me want to write about people in a setting very different from my own. To concentrate the story, I chose to set it before the arrival of any European explorers, and to focus on one small band of people. And yet, ultimately, it¹s about human intelligence and emotion, as we enter the world of one character, Simut, and see her experience in a way that, I hope, helps us see the commonality we all share: the quest---after food and shelter---for understanding and love.

Sarah Van Arsdale¹s third novel, Grand Isle, was published by SUNY Press in April, 2012. She is the author of Toward Amnesia (Riverhead, 1996) and Blue (Univ of Tennessee Press, 2003) which was the 2002 winner of the Peter Taylor Prize. She holds an MFA from Vermont College, and teaches creative writing at New York University, City University of New York, and works as a private manuscript consultant. In addition to writing fiction, she makes short animated films from her watercolors.

Tempa Lautze "Without a Dog, It’s Just a Life"

Without a Dog, It's Just a Life comprises 14 short stories for and about folks who love dogs. I believe loyalty is the common thread that binds these stories together. A hunting dog saves a man's life; a succession of German Shepherds enriches a 60 year marriage; a teller of tall tales uses a Border Collie to teach a little respect; a widower seeks healing through the companionship of a Finnish Spitz; a cartoonist shares his ordinary dog with a charmed readership; a woman and her Schnauzer wait more than 25 years for the return of a lover; a Norwegian Elkhound solves a mystery; a 'ghostly' Husky guards a Russian immigrant; an elderly dog trainer tells the true story of a long ago circus fire; a young woman finds romance in spite of her seven pound puppies; a Welsh Corgi runs away and sets off events that lead to a wedding; the reluctant inmate of an assisted-living facility longs for her little Maltese; a wartime grandmother raises her son's boy with the help of a Scottie pup; a lonely teenager falls for an injured Black-and-Tan hound.

 I have raised, bred, shown and written about pure bred dogs for many years. Awards include: One first place, two second places and an honorable mention in the annual AKC Gazette fiction competitions. I have also received two Maxwell Medals (awarded annually for the best canine short fiction) from the Dog Writer's Association of America. Changing gears a bit, I have recently added short stories on less specialized subjects to my writing repertoire. "The Ulysses Contract" was awarded 3rd place in the Write on the River competition in May, 2012. My first novel, Grievous Matters, is currently being critiqued by the Wenatchee Valley Writers Group.

Children's Fiction Descriptions and Author Bios

John Smelcer "Lone Wolves"

Deneena Yazzie isn’t like other 16-year-old girls. While most teenage girls spend their time listening to music or watching music videos, surfing the net, talking or texting on the phone for hours, Deneena spends her time in the woods or on the trail learning to run a dogsled with her grandfather, training for the Last Great Race, a 1,000 mile long test of courage and endurance through the vast Alaskan wilderness, crossing frozen creeks and rivers, mountains and valleys, and the treacherous, frozen Arctic sea. Most people in her village make fun of her, calling her a tomboy, while others demean her because she is only part Indian with blue eyes. But Denny, the name most people call her, is at home in the wilderness and especially on the trail. She is what some people call a “lone wolf.”

Lone Wolves is a multi-genre adventure story for middle school and young adult readers, complete with diary entries and poems about finding meaning in modern life, about being true to one’s self, about resisting peer pressure and staying above the influence, about the value of intergenerational friendships, and about maintaining connections to one’s heritage.

John Smelcer is the author of more than forty books. His first novel, The Trap, published worldwide and hailed as an “epic” and “masterpiece,” received the James Jones Prize for the First Novel, was an American Library Association BBYA Top Ten Pick, a VOYA Top Shelf Selection, and a New York Public Library Notable Book. Nobel Prize winner Elie Wiesel (Night, etc.) called his novel The Great Death “A beautiful and poignant story.” The Great Death was short-listed for the 2011 William Allen White Award. His third YA multicultural adventure novel, Edge of Nowhere, was also published in the UK. The Independent, one of England’s largest newspapers, named it one of the “Best Teen Books of 2010.” John’s short story collection, Alaskan, was a gold medal winner in the 2011 international eLit Book Awards. His Alaska Native mythology books include The Raven and the Totem (introduced by Joseph Campbell). His short stories, poems, essays, and interviews have appeared in hundreds of magazines. John currently lives in a cabin in Talkeetna, the climbing capitol of Alaska, where he is writing a YA adventure novel about climbing. His website is johnsmelcer.com.

 

Sarah Prevatt "Summer of the Swallowtails"

Summer of the Swallowtails is the story of Anise Gallagher, a fifteen-year-old girl who has been living a quiet—albeit lonely—life with her ill-natured father and reserved older brother since her mother left when she was only seven. The novel begins in the summer of 1990, just as unprecedented swarms of swallowtail butterflies invade a rural Florida town. Anise has been warned that butterflies can represent a coming evil, and she is inclined to believe the myth when a local pastor is found murdered. The controversy surrounding his death soon brings to light secrets about her family, and she is ultimately forced to question both her faith and family loyalty as the conflict escalates.

Sarah Prevatt holds an MFA from the University of Central Florida.  Her short fiction has appeared in several literary journals, including Vestal Review, The Chaffin Journal, Bound Off, and Saw Palm: Florida Literature and Art.  She has taught creative writing at the University of Central Florida and Miami-Dade College and has also served as Director of Maitland Poets & Writers.  Her website is www.sarahprevatt.com.

Anna Angelidakis "The Icon Thief"

The Icon Thief takes place on a remote Greek isle during World War II. The villagers have bravely endured abuse and famine under the German occupation, but when the Archangel, a beloved icon, is stolen from the local church, they feel that their lives have been upended forever. Sophia, a twelve-year-old orphan, is caught in the middle, seeing and hearing things that lead her closer to the mystery of the stolen Archangel. Most puzzling to her is Dieter, a charismatic SS officer who befriends her for reasons of his own. While the villagers speculate about the possible suspects, Sophia accidentally witnesses a suspicious transaction between some local villagers and German soldiers. Called to testify, Sophia has to choose between telling the truth or betraying her people. After a series of harrowing revelations that test her familiar world, Sophia realizes that truth can be found in the most unexpected ways.

Anna was born in Athens, Greece. Daughter of a sea captain, she spent her early childhood on board a 40,000-ton cargo ship. From The Great Wall of China to the headhunters of New Guinea and across the Strait of Magellan, she was quickly immersed in a world where reality and imagination blended.  She earned a BFA in Art & Design and an MA in Cultural Anthropology and continued to write. Her story The Night The Birds Came has appeared in Eight Million Stories and her novella, Iris Unbound, was a semi-finalist in the 2003 William Faulkner Competition. She’s a member of The Society of Children’s’ Book Writers and Illustrators and PEN American Center. Anna is represented by Erzsi Deak at Hen&ink Literary. 

Len Spacek "Game On"

Game On! is a book of short stories about sports geared toward the young adult audience. In this collection, the characters use sports to help them face a variety of life’s obstacles. David utilizes what he has learned from playing football to face a cancer diagnosis in the short story Double Sessions. In The Back Nine, Kenny comes to understand fair play on the golf course, while Chris finds out that life is a lot like track. They both come down to seconds. Mike uses basketball to help him with his anxiety attacks. Sam learns boxing from Carlos, a former golden gloves champion, in order to stand up to the bullies he faces at school.  For Suah, soccer is a form of therapy to come to terms with losing his family. Baseball is Franky’s way of dealing with life’s adversity. Woody Fletcher explains what it takes to be a state champion wrestler. In Back on the Board, Tyler uses surfing to face his fears and come to grips with his best friend's death. The short stories demonstrate that sports are really life being played out on a different stage.

As an athlete and coach for a good portion of his life, Len Spacek has played and coached everything from college football to varsity basketball to middle school track. His purpose for writing these stories is to entertain and at the same time demonstrate that sports are about so much more than just competition and having fun. Sports teach us about life in such profound ways. Len completed his undergraduate degree from the University of Dayton, his master’s degree in Education from John Carroll University, and his creative writing degree from the Northeast Ohio MFA program. He is a middle school English teacher and coach. He was a finalist in the 2010 Leapfrog Press contest for his Woodstock story, The Summer of Love. His passions are his family, writing, teaching, playing the guitar, and just about any sport.

Robin Tzucker "Run Away Home"

Sixteen-year-old Alissa has bounced between foster homes and her drug-addicted mother for years. When her brother, Trent, learns that their mom is about to be released from prison and wants them back, they decide upon a plan of action that will take them from Bakersfield to Seattle in search of the father neither of them remembers. Faced with the possibility of a future without her brother’s protection, Alissa is willing to do almost anything to avoid landing in her abusive mother’s care again. As they make their way north, Alissa knows that even one slip-up might mean the difference between finding a safe home or ending up back in the system. Frightening situations, new friends and unexpected betrayals force Alissa to grapple with the unintended consequences of her decisions and ultimately compel her to decide whether to blindly follow her brother or find a way to break the bonds of her past. Run Away Home is the captivating story of a teen girl’s search for belonging that stretches our understanding of what it means to be part of a family.

Robin Amada Tzucker grew up in California but has lived near Seattle, Washington since 1990.  She graduated from the University of California, Santa Cruz and Seattle University and began writing again after her three children graduated high school. Her short story Whupped was published in My First Year in the Classroom. She teaches fourth grade in Bellevue, blogs about the ups and downs of life, and is currently working on another YA novel.

Suzanne Kamata "Home Base"

Fifteen-year-old Satoshi Matsumoto spent the last three years living in Atlanta where he was the star of his middle-school baseball team - a slugger with pro potential, according to his American coach. Now that his father's overseas assignment has finished, he's moved back to his hometown in rural Japan but he no longer fits in. Living abroad has changed him, and his old friends are suspicious of his newly acquired foreign ways. They also don't get why he's suddenly hanging around with the mysterious Misa, who is rumored to be earning money through dating older men. As if that's not bad enough, his grandfather, who's suddenly obsessed with his pet seal robot, doesn't seem to remember him. He joins the baseball team at his new high school in Japan, confident that he can help them get to the National Tournament at Koshien, an event on par with the Super Bowl in the U.S. His new coach, however, is more concerned with his poor bunting than his superior batting skills. He perseveres, but just when he begins to bond with his teammates, his frustration comes to a boil. He punches the pitcher, whose father happens to have underworld connections, for insulting Misa, and gets kicked off the team. Satoshi must find a way to make amends (and avoid getting pounded to a pulp), or go back to America to live with his former coach, abandoning the friends and family who need him the most.

Suzanne Kamata's adult novel, Losing Kei, was published by Leapfrog Press. She is also the author of a short story collection, The Beautiful One Has Come (Wyatt-Mackenzie Publishing, 2011) and editor of three anthologies. Her debut YA novel, Gadget Girl, is forthcoming from GemmaMedia. She lives in rural Japan with her family.

David Fuller Cook "The Adventure of Crow-Boy"

The Adventure of Crow-boy is a lyrical, whimsical mythology, the story of the first fairy born in the forest of Odden in three hundred years, raised and taught the laws of the natural world by a clan of crows. As a protector of the small birds of Odden Crow-boy comes to learn the hidden truth of his fairy heritage and disturbing knowledge of the Darkening: the loss of living kinds, and of humanity’s loss of soul-connection to the natural world. Illustrations for The Adventure of Crow-boy, oil-paintings by artist Susan Beebe, are viewable at www.susanbeebestudio.com.

David Fuller Cook moved to the Piedmont as a child in 1953 and has been a student of its ways ever since. In 1989 he co-founded the bioregionially based Schoolhouse of Wonder, an environmental education non-profit that offers natural and cultural history programs for children. He now teaches in the field of gifted education at George Watts Elementary in Durham, NC. In 2001 David self-published the regionally successful Piedmont Almanac: A Guide to the Natural World. A second edition, The New Piedmont Almanac, is in the works. In 2007 his manuscript Reservation Nation, published by Boaz Publishing of California, won the Fabri Literary Prize. The Adventure of Crow-boy is the first book in a mythic trilogy; presently David is reworking the third manuscript in this series, The Language of the Crows.

David Brendan Hopes "The Falls of the Wyona"

The Falls of the Wyona is a coming-of-age story wherein three boys and a girl discover love, danger, courage, and fear during the same river-engorging storm in their town in the Tennessee-North Carolina line.

David Brendan Hopes is a well known poet, playwright, and nature writer who is just with this book making a foray into extended fiction. The Falls of the Wyona was recently named a semi-finalist in the James Jones Fellowship Contest. Look for his play The Loves of Mr. Lincoln  in New York in the upcoming season.

 

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