Fiction Contest

Other Winners: 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010


The first-prize winner is Vickie Weaver, for her novel Billie Girl (formerly The Mercy of Killing).

Our list of winners includes novels, novellas, and short-story collections; traditional tales and post-modern tales, some that are neither of those, and a few grand fairy tales. Some of our judges' comments are given below. Please scroll down to read more about the winners and their manuscripts.

Excerpts from each manuscript will be posted soon. Quotes given below are from the contest judges.


Billie Girl by Vickie Weaver

"[H]eart rending, funny, sentimental, nostalgic, sad, shocking, surprising, and brilliant. It tears at the heart string and presents vivid, down-to-earth images, and more vivid, down-to-earth human beings who struggle along with what they are given. The writer isn't afraid to slip-slide around in the mud of human relationships and emotions. Billie Girl is a tremendous character."


And Yet They Were Happy by Helen Phillips

"Off-the-charts creativity. Fluid abstractions provide glimpses of the complex dynamics of times, the phrasing is heart-breakingly beautiful."

"Startling. Stunning. Magical...told in a language that surpasses itself, that goes well beyond the words on the page."

Big Horse Woman by Barbara Salvatore

"It is impossible to read this book without admiring it. Big Horse Woman is a character you're not likely to meet in other novels of this ilk, nor are you likely to forget her stunning portrayal."

Driftwood by Nicholas T. Brown

"Some powerful images and meta-fictional elements."

"A formidable grasp of language and a deliciously demented sense of humor."

The Talking Cure by Madeline Sonik

"[B]rilliant, twisted, poetic writing. Writing that encompasses vast creations and destruction, universes of the imagination."

"Virtually every piece in the collection is filled with a surprise, whether it be danger, humor, or something other-worldly."



Black Crow White Lie by Candi Sary

Brother's Ghost by Stephen Spotte

In the Lap of the Gods by Li Miao Lovett

Longing to Love You by David Philip Mullins

Miracles of the Non-Real World by Ivan Faute

Patrice: A Poemella by Geri Gale

The Changeling: A Dream of Love and Loss by Rebecca Boroson

The Gossip's Crime by Mary Overton

What Remained of Katrina by Kelly Jameson

Congratulations to all the winners!

Here is some interesting information on the contest entries, for those who are curious.Number of entries: 480. Percent women authors: 44. Percent men authors: 48.5. (We realize that this does not add up to 100. The remainder are indeterminate from their names.) Countries represented: US, South Africa, Ireland, Japan, UK, Canada, Bulgaria, France, Germany, Australia. Date the most entries came in (30): April 30. Percent of titles beginning with "The": 23.


Judges include authors/writing instructors/book reviewers Michael Lee, Michael Mirolla, and Michael Graziano, as well as Leapfrog's editor-in-chief and editorial staff.


First prize: Publication contract offer from Leapfrog Press, with an advance payment of $1,000, and permanent listing as a Leapfrog Fiction Contest winner on the Leapfrog Press Web site.

Finalist(s): $150 and two short critique of the manuscripts; permanent listing on the Leapfrog Press Web site as a Leapfrog Fiction Contest finalist.

Honorable mention(s): Listing on the Leapfrog Press Web site.

Information on the winners

Helen Phillips "And Yet They Were Happy"

A young couple sets out to build a life together in an unstable world: a world haunted by monsters, plagued by natural disasters, a world that seems on the verge of collapse--but also a place of transformation, wonder, and delight.

Each piece in this book is exactly 340 words in length. The book hovers between autobiography and mythology, between reality and surreality, between elation and anxiety, whimsy and darkness, anticipation and dread.

Helen Phillips received the 2008 Italo Calvino Prize in Fabulist Fiction for an excerpt from And Yet They Were Happy. Excerpts from the book have appeared in Salt Hill Journal, Faultline, Small Spiral Notebook, Hotel St. George Press Literary Magazine, TheyAreFlyingPlanes, and Canto XXVI, and have received finalist status in three contests. Helen won the 2009 Meridian Editors’ Award for her short story “The Eyeballs of Cecile.” Other short stories have appeared in The Mississippi Review, The Brooklyn Review, and L Magazine, and have received finalist status in several contests. She received her BA from Yale and her MFA from Brooklyn College, where she now teaches undergraduate creative writing.

Barbara Salvatore "Big Horse Woman"

A lone American Indian woman confronts her past and present as the white settlers take over the land.

In the mid-1800s, Big Horse Woman of the Ponca Tribe and Magghie, daughter of German immigrants, are Seed Savers, medicine carriers, from different cultures, but with the same purpose. They keep the food, medicines and poisons of their place and time – in the seeds that they carry. As irrevocable tides of change sweep through their lives and the country, they realize that together they must save the seeds of plants that they fear will be lost.

Barbara Salvatore is owner and president of Beyond Design Inc., a company that specializes in fabrication services for Broadway, film, museums, and the art market. As well as running a farm in upstate New York, she maintains a studio in Nebraska, where the cultural and language research for this book was done.

Nicholas T. Brown "Driftwood"

Driftwood is a collection of short stories ranging from psychological realism to absurdist comedy to fairy tale to postmodern experiment to unclassifiable.

Nick Brown is a recipient of the 2007 Donald Barthelme Fellowship. The short story "The New Toothbrush" (from Driftwood) is forthcoming in Matchbook. Nick has an MFA from the University of Houston, and is an adjunct in the University of Houston system and a lecturer at Rice University.

Vickie Weaver "The Mercy of Killing"

Written with dark humor, The Mercy of Killing tells the story of Billie Girl’s life, from her infant adoption by two women (who are, unknown to all, brothers), to her final years as a resident in a nursing home where she secretly practices euthanasia as a kindness. 

Vickie Weaver is a 2006 Pushcart Prize Nominee. Her unpublished novel Below the Heart was a semi-finalist in the Mary McCarthy Prize in Short Fiction in 2008, and placed in the top ten of The Parthenon Prize 2007. Her short stories have appeared in Timber Creek Review, Roanoke Review, Alligator Juniper, and the anthology Women.Period. Weaver earned an MFA from Spalding University in Louisville, Kentucky, and teaches at Indiana University East. More at

Madeline Sonik "The Talking Cure"

The Talking Cure is a collection of stories that probe the psychological dimensions of voicelessness and victimhood.

Madeline Sonik is the author of the novel Arms, the story collection Drying the Bones, the children’s novel Belinda and the Dustbunnys, and the poetry collection Stone Sightings. She has won many awards for her nonfiction, including The Bellingham Review’s Annie Dillard Award for Creative Nonfiction for Cucarachas. Stories from The Talking Cure have appeared in The New Quarterly, The Antigonish Review, Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, Broken Pencil, Prairie Fire, and The Dalhousie Review, among other magazines; the storySlick” appeared in sub-TERRAIN magazine and was one of the 2004 Lush Triumphant fiction competition winners. Madeline earned her doctorate in creative writing at the University of British Columbia, and is currently a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Victoria.

Candi Sary "Black Crow White Lie"

An eccentric Hollywood mother gives her deprived child a chance at a great life not by changing his circumstances, but by changing his story.

Candi Sary has written four other novels. Finding Grace made the short list for finals in the 2007 William Faulkner-William Wisdom Creative Writing Competition; Love Me Madly won second place in the 2007 Dahlonega Literary Festival Novel Contest; and The Sound That Red Makes and Thrown Away were finalists in the 2002 Santa Fe Writers Project Literary Awards.  

Li Miao Lovett "In the Lap of the Gods"

A massive dam rises, a million lives are thrown in turmoil…and a widower saves an abandoned infant girl from the Yangtze.

Li Miao Lovett began her writing career after a 600-mile backpacking trip on the Appalachian Trail where she encountered a stalker, a compulsive poet, and ten thousand mosquitoes. She has been a frequent contributor to the San Francisco Chronicle and KQED Perspectives. Her literary and environmental writing has also been published by Narrative Magazine, Earth Island Journal, Stanford Magazine, China Rights Forum, and Sierra Club Planet. In both fiction and nonfiction, Li’s work has won awards or finalist standing from Stanford Magazine, National League of American Pen Women, and Dana Award in fiction. In the Lap of the Gods was a top-four finalist in the James Jones First Novel Fellowship. More at

David Philip Mullins "Longing to Love You" (Sarabande Books, forthcoming)

The story of Nick Danze, a young sex addict who returns to his hometown of Las Vegas to care for his emotionally ailing mother after his father's death.

Longing to Love You, a collection of short stories, won the 2009 Mary McCarthy Prize in Short Fiction and is now forthcoming by Sarabande Books. It was also named a finalist for Black Lawrence Press’s Hudson Prize (2009), and a finalist for the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference’s Katharine Bakeless Nason Fiction Prize. David Philip Mullins is a graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. His stories have appeared or are forthcoming in The Yale Review, The Massachusetts Review, New England Review, Cimarron Review, Fiction, and North Dakota Quarterly, and have twice been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. He has received awards from Yaddo and the Sewanee Writers’ Conference. He teaches creative writing at Creighton University. More at

Ivan Faute "Miracles of the Non-Real World"

A collection of stories about people in peril who look for "miracles" to undo their knots of personal crisis, but, as in the fairy tales of old, the miraculous resolutions cause absurd, surreal, or unexpected consequences. 

Ivan Faute has published short fiction in Other Voices, Buffalo Carp, The Louisville Review, Relief Journal, Driftwood, and The Orphan Leaf Review. Awards for his fiction include finalist for the Rannu Fund for Writers of Speculative Literature, second in the Crucible fiction prize, a finalist for The Southeast Review's World's Best Short Short Story Contest, and a nomination for a Pushcart Prize. Stories from Miracles have been published in a number of journals, including The Pinch, Karamu, The Mochila Review, The Abacot Journal, The Binnacle, and The Cerebral Catalyst, and in the anthology Touched by Wonder (Meadowhawk Press). Ivan is also a playwright, and has had plays performed in San Diego, Chicago, and New York. An excerpt from Miracles of the Non-Real World was named a finalist for the Calvino Prize and an honoree in The Binnacle Ultra-Short Competition. Ivan is in the final year of a PhD in writing at the University of Illinois.

Geri Gale "Patrice: A Poemella"

Patrice: A Poemella is about the myth of art and artist and how a woman and man in a wartime setting pull truth and art from pain and desire.

Geri Gale’s major works include She, a collection of prosepoems told in the voices of women who are faithful and loyal to something or someone or someday; and a screenplay, Swayed, a coming-of-age tale about the innocence and love of two young lesbians growing up in a small Jersey town in the ’60s. Her prosepoems and stories have appeared in Otoliths, Raven Chronicles, and the Canadian Jewish Outlook.

Rebecca Boroson "The Changeling: A Dream of Love and Loss"

The Changeling: A Dream of Love and Loss is a kind of magical explanation for a child's sudden onset of autistic behavior -- and the havoc it wreaks on his small family.

Rebecca Boroson is an editor and journalist who has won a number of journalism prizes for editorials, news, reviews, and headlines. The Changeling is the third novella in the “dream” series, in which fantasy and reality are entwined. Rebecca’s short story "The Roussalka" appeared in With Signs and Wonders: An Anthology of Jewish Fabulist Fiction (Invisible Cities Press, 2001), and has been told by storyteller Dan Yashinsky. He can be heard telling this story at

Mary Overton "The Gossip's Crime"

THE GOSSIP’S CRIME is a collection of fabulist stories populated by uncanny characters – an oracular talking head, a women who burns, a lost forest monster, a dead baby resurrected, an obsessed virgin – narrated by a story-telling felon known as the Gossip.

Mary Overton is the secret identity of a school teacher camouflaged to fit into a conventional life. Her publications include the short-story collection The Wine of Astonishment (La Questa Press, 1997); short fiction in the anthologies Grace and Gravity (Paycock Press, 2004), Haunted Voices, Haunting Places (Halcyon Press, 2008), Great Writers Great Stories (IM Press, 1999) , and Southern Fried Weirdness 2007 (Southern Fried Weirdness Press); and short fiction in magazines including Glimmer Train, Gargoyle, Zahir, and Potomac Review.

Kelly Jameson "What Remained of Katrina"

Katrina Williams Jones Thomas Jackson Miller is a failed hooker, hotel maid, magician’s assistant, and ice cream truck driver presumed dead (only her hand was found after the hurricane). In the post-Katrina ghost town that was once the Ninth Ward, she paints murals over the red Xs left on houses to indicate the number of dead found inside. But soon she learns she’s not the only ghost in town.

Kelly Jameson is the author of the suspense-thriller Dead On, named Runner-Up in the 2006 Do It Yourself (DIY) Los Angeles Book Festival. Her short stories have been published in various online/print journals and magazines including The Summerset Review, The Mammoth Book of Best New Erotica 8, Amazon Shorts, Withersin Magazine, The Twisted Tongue, Barfing Frog Press, The Big Stupid Review, Ruthie's Club, and The American Drivel Review. More at


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