Fiction Contest

Other Winners: 2015, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009

2014 Leapfrog Fiction Contest winners announced

26 manuscripts have been chosen out of 385 entries.

Click on the titles to see a description of the manuscript and author bio.


The Lonesome Trials of Johnny Riles (novel) by Gregory Hill (Colorado)


An Old Horse Named Troy (middle-grade novel) by Ashley Mace Havird (Louisiana)
Andretti in the El Camino (stories) by Terrance Manning, Jr. (Pennsylvania)
Tiki Man (novel) by Thomas M. Atkinson (Ohio)
One Eye Closed Tight Against the Coming Jesus (stories) by Shane Stricker (West Virginia)


Go Home (novel) by Sohrab Homi Fracis (Florida)
Insulting the Flesh (stories) by James Reed (Nebraska)
Twilight (stories) by Helen Degen Cohen (Illinois)
Sea Never Dry (novel) by Ben East (Virginia)
Love War Stories (stories) by Ivelisse Rodriguez (New Jersey)
The Beautiful Gathering (novel) by Antoinette Mehler (Colorado)
Love, Longing, and Exile (stories) by Bipin Aurora (California)
The Outskirts of Nowhere (stories) by Robert McGuill (Colorado)
Unredeemed: Hateful and other stories (stories) by EC Hanlon (Massachusetts)
By the Fountain of the Four Rivers (linked stories) by Tony Ardizzone (Oregon)


The Other Side of Silence (stories) by George Harrar (Massachusetts)
The Magic Laundry (stories) by Jacob M. Appel (New York)
Tandy Caide, C.P.A. (novel) by Stephanie Wilbur Ash (Minnesota)
King of the Gypsies (stories) by Lenore Myka (Massachusetts)
Cross-Eyed Monkey Cabaret (stories) by Aaron Tillman (Massachusetts)
Missionaries (stories) by David Ebenbach (Washington, DC)
Penpals and other stories (stories) by Robert Perchan (South Korea)
The Limp and the Lens (middle-grade novel) by Brigit Mikusko (New York)
The Negro Claim (novel) by Kim McLarin (Massachusetts)
The Patchwork Variations (stories) by Manini Nayar (Pennsylvania)
Woman at the Window (novel) by Mary Anderson Parks (California)

Judging and Awards for the 2014 Contest

Judges include Leapfrog Press editors Lisa Graziano and Rebecca Schwab, SUNY Fredonia interns, and several authors. Our finalist judge in 2014 is author Mark Brazaitis.

All judging is done "blind": The judges have no information except the manuscript itself and its title. Judging is done in several rounds. Manuscripts that are placed in the "awards" category will be divided into Honorable Mention, Semifinalist, and Finalist categories. These will be announced in early June. The first-prize winner will then be chosen from among the finalist manuscripts.

Mark Brazaitis is the author of five books of fiction: The River of Lost Voices: Stories from Guatemala, winner of the 1998 Iowa Short Fiction Award; Steal My Heart, winner of the 2001 Maria Thomas Fiction Award; An American Affair: Stories, winner of the 2008 George Garrett Fiction Prize; The Incurables: Stories, winner of the 2012 Richard Sullivan Prize; and Julia & Rodrigo, winner of the 2012 Gival Press Novel Award. His book of poems, The Other Language, won the 2008 ABZ Poetry Prize.

Brazaitis’ short stories, poems, and essays have appeared in The Sun, Ploughshares, Witness, Confrontation, Notre Dame Review, Beloit Fiction Journal, Poetry International, Poetry East, and other magazines, and his journalism in The Washington Post, the Detroit Free Press, the Richmond Times-Dispatch, American Medical News, the Charleston Gazette, Glamour, and elsewhere. He is the screenwriter of the Cine Golden Eagle Award-winning Peace Corps video How Far Are You Willing to Go to Make a Difference?

His writing has been featured on the Diane Rehm Show as well as on public radio in Cleveland, Iowa City, New York City, and Pittsburgh. A former Peace Corps Volunteer and technical trainer, he is a recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship. Brazaitis is a professor of English at West Virginia University. He is also the director of the West Virginia Writers’ Workshop, the fundraising committee chair of the Appalachian Prison Book Project, and the advisor to the WVU Figure Skating Club.

An Old Horse Named Troy: middle-grade novel by Ashley Mace Havird

Summer, 1964.  Etta McDaniel, who will soon turn 12, wants nothing more than to find on her family’s tobacco farm buried treasure of the sort her hero Heinrich Schliemann found at ancient Troy.  How else to regain control of her world: her family, as well as the closed-in community of rural South Carolina, suddenly shaken by upheavals—assassinations, racial conflict, the rumor of war in Vietnam?  But the treasure Etta finds, with the help of Troy, the “devil-horse,” is a double-edged sword.  Etta comes to understand that her world has never been idyllic, with its economy dependent on tobacco and before that on slavery—as excavations on the farm reveal.  Death, bigotry, and violence, the ugly truths of history—these things scar Etta and set her figuratively upon the back of her lightning-scarred horse and on her life’s journey.  A novel for advanced middle-grade readers and older, An Old Horse Named Troy is set in the lush South of fields and swampland, amid the web of recent history, where someone is as likely to turn up a human skull as an Indian arrowhead. 

Ashley Mace Havird has written three collections of poems.  Her most recent book, The Garden of the Fugitives, won the 2013 X. J. Kennedy Prize and will be published by Texas Review Press in 2014.  Her chapbook, Dirt Eaters (2009), won the South Carolina Poetry Initiative Series Prize; and Sleeping with Animals (2013) was published by Yellow Flag Press of Lafayette, Louisiana.  Her widely published poems and short stories have appeared in such journals as Shenandoah, Southern Humanities Review, Southern Poetry Review, The Southern Review,and The Virginia Quarterly Review.  A native of South Carolina, Ashley Mace Havird lives in Shreveport, Louisiana, with her husband, the poet David Havird.  An Old Horse Named Troy is her first novel.

Andretti in the El Camino: stories by Terrance L. Manning

The often working-class stories of Andretti in the El Camino are based in Pittsburgh, PA, and attempt to understand the unrelenting line between dreams and reality, primarily the long and quiet space of failure and defeat that becomes those dreams—of fathers, of mothers. A high school wrestler starves himself to shed the fat of his father’s fizzled ambitions; a woman strives to perfect her life before her son is old enough to remember the chaos of his. By focusing on the complexities of work, and how it’s linked to the idea of dreams, of relationships and love, these stories give voice to those who internalize labor in a way that creates a language to communicate with the world, their family, and -- mostly —themselves. A deaf millboy takes up spaghetti art to ask forgiveness of his son; an axman sees God in the form of a childhood lover and destroys his marriage to understand it; the son of a dead asbestos man rebuilds his father’s El Camino at night, and works around the city in the day, removing every noxious specimen his father left behind. All the characters in this collection are connected through a nearly obsessive ambition to survive, to overcome the failures of their fathers and their mothers and, at times, even their children, and to push forward anyway, even blind, or with their eyes wide open.

Terrance L. Manning Jr has his MFA from Purdue University, where he served as fiction editor of Sycamore Review. He’s received 1st place in the Boulevard Short Fiction Contest for Emerging Writers, as well as the National Society of Arts & Letters Literature Competition. He’s been a finalist in the Glimmer Train Fiction Open, the Cincinnati Review Schiff Awards for Prose, and Colorado Review's Nelligan Prize. He lives and writes in Pittsburgh, PA.

Tiki Man: a novel by Thomas M. Atkinson

TIKI MAN is about family, about the nature and necessity of it, and about its many disguises. The novel shadows a single day in the life of Pere and Tammy, an accidental “family,” an essential surrogacy cobbled from the remnants of other families, hanging on to a grubby edge of Florida by their fingernails. Misty, Tammy’s pregnant mother, has been recently jailed for drug possession and it is Pere, Misty’s boyfriend, who comes to the bus station to pick Tammy up. In the long shadow of Misty’s methamphetamine addiction and resulting illness, they try, within their own limitations, to be the family they aren’t. They have unlikely allies in Pere’s friends and neighbors, and Doris, the local librarian who helps Tammy navigate the Department of Corrections website. When Tammy becomes entranced by a palm tree stump waiting by the curb for trash day, Pere sculpts it to her design with a borrowed chainsaw. The resulting tiki man is both homeopathic mythology and a token offering to generations of lost children, even the one Misty carries, who long for the quiet comfort of stability.

Thomas M. Atkinson is an author and playwright, current 2014 Ohio Arts Council Individual Excellence award winner, and the 2013 OAC/Fine Arts Work Center Writer-in-Residence in Provincetown, MA. His story "Grimace in the Burnt Black Hills" appeared in The Sun, received two 2013 Pushcart Prize nominations, and won a 2012 Ohio Arts Council Individual Excellence award. “Red, White & Blue” was a finalist for Tampa Review’s Danahy Fiction Prize and appears in their current issue (47/48). His work has appeared in The Sun, The North American Review, The Indiana Review, Tampa Review, The Moon, City Beat, Clifton and Electron Press Magazine. His short play, Dancing Turtle, won the 38th Annual Samuel French Off Off Broadway Festival, and will appear in two different short play anthologies in 2014. He has won numerous honors and awards for both fiction and drama, including five Ohio Arts Council grants in three different writing disciplines. His first novel, Strobe Life, is available for Kindle, and he has just completed Standing Deadwood, a collection of linked short stories. TIKI MAN is his second novel.

The Lonesome Trials of Johnny Riles: a novel by Gregory Hill

It’s autumn of 1975 and Rancher Johnny Riles is in a rough patch.  He’s drunk, he’s depressed, his parents don’t like him, his loudmouth younger brother--whom Johnny taught to play basketball--just got drafted by the Kentucky Colonels, and someone has brutally murdered his horse.  Things are about to get worse.

A prequel to the darkly comic father-son portrait East of Denver, The Lonesome Trials of Johnny Riles returns to the stark landscape of Stratford County for a gritty homespun tale of two brothers irrevocably at odds. 

Gregory Hill lives, writes, and makes odd music on the Colorado High Plains.  His previous book, East of Denver, won the 2013 Colorado Book Award for Literary Fiction.

One Eye Closed Tight Against the Coming Jesus: stories by Shane Stricker

One Eye Closed Tight Against the Coming Jesus opens with a whole cow—save the hooves and hide—appearing on a family’s front lawn and ends by telling how, after everything, the folks in this collection might still find a kind happiness.  In between, the characters who inhabit this fictionalized Sikeston, Missouri, grope about the flatlands, struggling with meth and alcohol addictions, their anger at Kenny Loggins, the fact that they can’t see no ghosts.  Like most of us, the people who live in this world struggle with place.  They struggle with class.  Man, do they struggle with religion.  Here, the leaves bend to the summer breeze. The earth is humidity.  Here, characters imagine a life, somewhere, beyond the burnt corn and the vastness of the sky.

Shane Stricker is originally from Sikeston, Missouri, but completed his MFA at West Virginia University in 2013.  He is currently in Morgantown teaching writing.  His work appears in or is forthcoming from Midwestern Gothic, Whitefish Review, Lake Effect, and others journals.

Go Home: a novel by Sohrab Homi Fracis

A transnational novel, Go Home is set in campus-town Newark, Delaware, during the aftermath of the Iran hostage crisis, and in what was then the city of Bombay, India. It's the story of a Parsi graduate student's quest for a place in this migratory world and his all-transforming reaction to a petty assault. “Go home!” was the cry directed at foreigners back then, and its relevance is undiminished. The outsider's evolving perspective gives readers a from-the-inside-out understanding of the disenchanted foreigner. Viraf must find satisfaction on his own and restore his battered pride. He must climb out of the quagmire of alienation and reverse prejudice into which he has sunk. He must learn to distinguish his friends from his foes. He must resolve an intercontinental love quadrangle. And he must choose between America and India, even as events threaten to take the decision out of his hands. Go Home is a book for these international and violent times, the story of a world that is nevertheless slowly coming together.

Sohrab Homi Fracis <> is the first Asian author to win the Iowa Short Fiction Award, for Ticket to Minto: Stories of India and America. It was published by University of Iowa Press, and republished in India and, in translation, Germany. His stories appeared in Slice Magazine, Other Voices, The Antigonish Review, Weber Studies, The Toronto Review, India Currents, State Street Review, Writecorner Press, Ort der Augen, Wild Application, and South Asian Review. An excerpt from Go Home, "Distant Vision," in Slice was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Another excerpt, "Country Roads," appeared in South Asian Review. He taught creative writing at University of North Florida, after earning his M.A. there. He is on the fiction faculty of the UNF Writers Conference. He was fiction and poetry editor at State Street Review, final judge of the Page Edwards Short Fiction Award, and Visiting Writer in Residence at Augsburg College. He was a Florida Individual Artist Fellow in Fiction, a Walter E. Dakin Fellow in Fiction at Sewanee Writers’ Conference, and an artist in residence at Escape to Create and, twice, Yaddo.

Insulting the Flesh: stories by James Reed

From a speakeasy owner remembering his days on the Klondike to a young boy navigating family life during his father's tour of duty in Vietnam, Insulting the Flesh presents a range of characters puzzling over the paths their lives have taken to lead them to here, wherever their particular here might happen to be.

James Reed's work has appeared in such journals as Carolina Quarterly, West Branch, The Gettysburg Review, and Folio in addition to the anthologies Tribute to Orpheus (Kearney Street Books 2007) and The Jazz Fiction Anthology (Indiana University Press 2009).  Among other awards he is a recent winner of The Midwest Short Fiction Contest (GreenTower Press/The Laurel Review) and holds a Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts.

Twilight: stories by Helen Degen Cohen

Twilight is a collection of stories ranging in tone from reaching and reverent to irreverent and satirical, from traditional to experimental.  These stories may appear realistic, but then surprise the reader by entering into, and usually incorporating, some alternate reality or alter-ego.  Characters wander into their own pasts or into the lives of others where, often with the help of a bit of humor, they may reassess their perceived realities.  One dictionary definition of "twilight" is "the soft, diffused light from the sky when the sun is below the horizon." Most of these characters have done some living, and it's this soft, imaginative light on their lives that allows them to see either wider or deeper. 

Helen Degen Cohen's (Halina Degenfisz's) awards include the National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship in Poetry, First Prize in British Stand Magazine’s Short Story Competition, and three Illinois Arts Council Literary Awards (in poetry and fiction).  She has published three poetry collections.  She publishes widely in American as well as international journals, such as West Branch, The Antigonish Review (Canada), Versal (Holland), Stand Magazine (England), Akcent (Poland), Nimrod, and Tupelo (forthcoming).  She co-edits the poetry journal Rhino. 

Sea Never Dry: a novel by Ben East
(shortlisted for the 2014 Dundee International Book Prize; winner TBD)

Sea Never Dry began as a short story about crooked cops and drug traffickers in West Africa, originally published as One Dead Cop in 2012 by Umbrella Factory Magazine. Two years later, the story centers on the murder in Ghana of Peace Corps Volunteer Charlie Winston, the son of a prominent American Congressman. Thick with spies and fetish priests, Internet fraudsters and the unlucky Ghanaian orphans turning a buck on Accra’s e-waste ash heaps, Sea Never Dry  examines Western development efforts in Africa and the corruption, tribal politics, and black magic that undermine progress there.

Ben East spent the last two decades working on various teaching and diplomatic assignments in Africa, the Middle East, and throughout the Americas.  A native of New England, he recently returned to the United States where he lives in Virginia with his wife and two sons.  Ben is shortlisted for the 2014 Dundee International Book Prize, and his fiction and reviews have appeared in The Foreign Service JournalAtticus Review, and Peace Corps Writers.  He compiles his work at benonbooks.

Love War Stories: stories by Ivelisse Rodriguez

Love War Stories is about the narratives of love adolescent girls and young women are told to hang their hearts on.  One story is a hyperbolic account of a “love war” enacted between idealistic high school girls and their love-weary mothers.  Another story is about a prep school student who visits a botánica because she wants love until she realizes that what must be cajoled will surely walk away.  The characters in these stories are shedding the tropes of who women are supposed to be while finding out how culture, in its myriad forms, can betray.

Ivelisse Rodriguez has published or has work forthcoming in the Boston Review, All about Skin: Short Fiction by Women of Color, Aster(ix), the Quercus Review, Ragazine, Vandal, Kweli, andthe Bilingual Review.  She has received fellowships to attend Las Dos Brujas Workshop, Summer Literary Seminar in Kenya, Voices of America (VONA) workshop, and the Writers of Americas Conference in Cuba.  In December 2010, she was nominated for two Pushcart Prizes for her fiction.  She holds a Ph.D. in English-creative writing from the University of Illinois at Chicago and an M.F.A. in creative writing from Emerson College.  Ivelisse is an assistant professor of English at Borough of Manhattan Community College.  She is currently working on a novel about Salsa musicians.

The Beautiful Gathering: a novel by Antoinette Mehler

Guta’s story could start in Bangladesh. Cambodia. Bosnia. Rwanda. Darfur. Syria. But it begins in a Nazi ghetto, in 1939.
Six years later, the war ends.
Guta is free. Still, she cannot leave her prison. It is the last place she saw her sons. She goes as far as the now-abandoned gates and sinks to the ground, a huddled, heartbroken lump.
Three days pass before Salek appears in the distance. Gradually, he comes closer. And even though they have both changed, he recognizes her. A lifetime ago, she stumbled into his arms as they marched to a selection. He and his sons and she and hers. Half the ghetto was gone after it was over. But not Guta or Salek or their boys. Being together had saved their lives.
Now he reaches for her again. They marry late the following spring. You are alone and I am alone. We can be alone together, he tells her. Soaked in love and grief and determination, weighed down by divided loyalties and dangerous secrets, Guta and Salek board a converted packet steamer headed to a burgeoning and primitive country in South America.
Guta carries their little girl in her arms. How will they endure? How will they build on a broken past?

Antoinette Mehler was born in Regensburg, Germany in 1946; nine months – almost to the day – after her parents were liberated from Nazi concentration camps. In 1949, Antoinette and her parents emigrated to South America. When she was eight years old, she began secretly weaving together, in Spanish, the snatches of history that escaped her parents and their friends when they thought she wasn’t listening or didn’t understand. The stories she collected slowly accumulated in their cardboard boxes until one day, somewhere between California and Texas, the cartons disappeared. Maybe it is just as well, she thought. I have a young child. It is time to leave the past in the past. She raised her son. Her son had sons: the generation after-after-after. Her parents died. She retired from her career. And in the sudden quiet, bidden by what she had tried to forget but that lived within her, she started to write The Beautiful Gathering, a semi-autobiographical novel about the Holocaust which she finished last spring. She has just completed her second novel, The Temple Prostitute, an adaptation of the biblical tale of Tamar and Judah. Both manuscripts are represented by The Sandra Dijkstra Literary Agency.

Love, Longing, and Exile: stories by Bipin Aurora

Two brothers come to school and do nothing but tell stories. An Indian college student in America goes on his first date. A young man from Korea works in a convenience store. An unnamed narrator offers his "notes" on modern-day America, the culture of success. An old Jewish man in a nursing home tells the tale of his daughter. A retired man in India tries to collect his pension. A woman tells the story of her husband's death in partitioned India (1947). A man in a horse-drawn cart goes through the San Francisco Bay Area trying to sell his outdated petroleum products. Some of the stories are set in India, some in America. Some are fable-like, others more realistic. Some deal with sex, some are intellectual stories. But the underlying themes--exile, home, exile, home--remain the same.

Bipin Aurora has worked as an economist, an energy analyst, and a systems analyst. His fiction has appeared, or is forthcoming, in Quarterly West, Epiphany, Harpur Palate, Prism Review, Southern Indiana Review, North Atlantic Review, Quiddity, Puerto del Sol, Southern Humanities Review, Rosebud, The Common, Eclipse, Michigan Quarterly Review, Southwest Review, Nimrod, Witness, The Chattahoochee Review, and Western Humanities Review.

The Outskirts of Nowhere: stories by Robert McGuill

Robert McGuill is a three-time Pushcart Prize nominee, Narrative Magazine Contest Winner, Glimmer Train Stories “Family Matters” finalist, and 2013 “Best of the Net” nominee whose works of fiction have appeared in literary magazines throughout the U.S. and abroad, including Narrative Magazine, The Southwest Review, The South Dakota Review, The Santa Clara Review, The Southern Indiana Review, The Baltimore Review, the MacGuffin, The Hawai’i Review, The South Carolina Review, and the Concho River Review. He lives and writes in Colorado 

The Outskirts of Nowhere is a collection of stories whose roots are deep-set in the badlands of today’s American west. Hardscrabble places where people come to abandon things, or are, at times, themselves abandoned. In one story, a small-town schoolteacher deciphers the fate of a “winged” man, found dead in the bottom of an abandoned stock tank. In another, a hitchhiking palm reader unwittingly tricks a down-and-out rancher into making a murderous confession. In the title story, “The Outskirts of Nowhere” (first published in the Southwest Review), a reclusive hunter’s guide, Tom Wales, haunted by the memory of an unspeakable sin committed in his youth, finds his salvation in the arms of a beautiful woman. Outskirts is a world of lost souls and desperate dreams. It is also a meditation on the indomitability of the human spirit. From the small-town sheriff who hangs up his spurs after having spent too much time on the grid to the corporate-raider-turned-big-game-hunter who’s brought to justice by the savage hand of nature, this is a landscape whose inhabitants live, and die, on the fringe of civilized society.

Unredeemed: Hateful and other stories: stories by EC Hanlon

Unredeemed: Hateful and Other Stories explores the taboo topic of mental illness from various points of view in a variety of ways. From Tracy, the self-destructive twentysomething with bipolar disorder to Suzanne, the prejudiced pharmacist bent on doling out her own kind of justice, the characters in this collection come alive and express new ways of viewing what it means to be "healthy."

EC Hanlon holds both undergraduate and graduate degrees in Creative Writing. Her publication credits include short stories and memoir in magazines such as The First Line, Soundings East and The Leopard Seal. However, the greatest achievement of Ms. Hanlon's life has been raising her twin boys. She lives in Salem, MA, with fellow writer Nathanial W. Cook.

By the Fountain of the Four Rivers: linked stories by Tony Ardizzone

By the Fountain of the Four Rivers is a linked collection of stories set in Rome between the morning of the devastating December 2004 South-Asian tsunami and the death of John Paul II in April 2005. The stories cycle around these events as well as the concerns of the book's central characters: a Boston stocks analyst and his pregnant wife, a young Montessori teacher from British Columbia involved with a married man, a Chicago-born hostess who takes a leave from her job in Tokyo’s Ginza district, a native Roman who works as a centurion outside the Colosseum, a pet-store owner from San Francisco who travels to Rome to trace the footsteps of his recently deceased daughter, a divorced New York academic facing an ethical dilemma at her university, and a former Christian Brother who travels to Rome to pray for his ailing stepsister and climb on his knees the steps of La Scala Santa. Interweaving these characters are several recurring figures, including a Roman performance artist dedicated to reenacting the life of Caravaggio, a young woman from Ferentino who plays the organetto at the foot of the Fountain of the Four Rivers, an unscrupulous but highly knowledgeable German tour guide, and a former nun who has left her cloistered convent in Croatia for a life of social service in Rome.
The book is also about Rome itself, as each of the stories reflects, and draws its central narrative from, the religious history and art in of one or more of the city’s churches. The collection is loosely patterned after Krzysztof Kieslowki’s work, adapting aspects of his interconnected series of short films, The Decalogue, as well as his Three Colors trilogy and his film The Double Life of Véronique.

Tony Ardizzone lives in Portland, Oregon, and is the author of seven books of fiction, most recently the novels The Whale Chaser and In the Garden of Papa Santuzzu. His work has received the Flannery O’Connor Award, a Pushcart Prize, and the Chicago Foundation Award, among other honors.

The Other Side of Silence: stories by George Harrar

The title to the story collection is taken from a passage in George Eliot’s novel “Middlemarch” that describes the fatal roar that one would hear “if we had a keen vision and feeling of all ordinary human life.” “The Other Side of Silence” offers eleven stories of human life, finding the extraordinary in the ordinary. The opening story, “The 5:22,” was selected for Best American Short Stories, 1999. The rest of the collection has been written since then, and half of the stories are unpublished.

In addition to his short fiction, Harrar has published two novels for adults that fall into that nebulous category of “literary suspense.” “The Spinning Man” from Penguin Putnam (2003) was reviewed in the New York Times as “elegant and unnerving.” “Reunion at Red Paint Bay” from Other Press (2013) has been translated into French and is currently in production by ARPSelection France as a film.

The Magic Laundry: stories by Jacob M. Appel

From a father whose daughter wishes to harbor an escaped baboon to a landromat owner whose washing machines perform miracles, the stories in The Magic Laundry explore the ways in which ordinary people confront extraordinary events.

Jacob M. Appel is the author of the novels The Man Who Wouldn’t Stand Up, which won the 2012 Dundee International Book Award, and The Biology of Luck (2013).  His story collection Scouting for the Reaper (2014) won the Hudson Prize.  His stories have been short-listed for the O. Henry Award, Best American Short Stories, Best American Nonrequired Reading and the Pushcart Prize anthology.  More

Tandy Caide, C.P.A.: a novel by Stephanie Wilbur Ash

King of the Gypsies: stories by Lenore Myka

Set against the deteriorating landscape of post-communist Romania, KING OF THE GYPSIES: STORIES recounts the struggles of individuals to transcend the limitations of history, ethnicity, and culture. Inspired by the author's experiences as a Peace Corps volunteer in Romania and linked by recurring characters and geography, the stories that comprise the collection examine the ill-fated effects of our ballooning global community on everyday lives.

Lenore Myka's fiction was selected as a notable short story by The Best American Non-Required Reading of 2013 and a distinguished story by The Best American Short Stories of 2008. She was the winner of the 2013 Cream City Review and Booth Journal Fiction Contests. Her stories have appeared or are forthcoming in Iowa Review, Alaska Quarterly Review, Cream City Review, Booth Journal, West Branch, and Massachusetts Review, among others journals.

Cross-Eyed Monkey Cabaret: stories by Aaron Tillman

The Cross-Eyed Monkey Cabaret examines the pressures and uncertainties that complicate personal and cultural identities--especially for those who are compelled to search for answers. The humor found in each story sheds light on the characters and circumstances that make life both irresistible and, at times, impossible.

Aaron Tillman is an Assistant Professor of English at Newbury College. He received a Short Story Award for New Writers from Glimmer Train Stories and won First Prize in the Nancy Potter Short Story Contest at University of Rhode Island. His fiction has appeared or is forthcoming in Prick of the Spindle, great weather for MEDIA, theNewerYork, The Carolina Quarterly, The Drum Literary Magazine, Opium Magazine, The Ocean State Review, Scrivener Creative Review, Burrow Press Review and Glimmer Train, and he has recorded two stories for broadcast on the Words & Music program at Tufts University. His essays have appeared in Studies in American Humor, Symbolism, The CEA Critic, and The Intersection of Fantasy and Native America (Mythopoeic 2009).

Missionaries: stories by David Ebenbach

The characters in Missionaries are on missions so varied and uncharted that they tend to surprise the characters themselves: one woman tries to lose herself in a small-town cult; a man goes door-to-door evangelizing for atheism; another woman runs from telephones, a computer, and a knock on the door to escape the bad news they all carry; a barber who sees his profession as a calling gives a haircut that goes well beyond hair, and even skin; a group tries to defend its decision to exclude one man from an orgy they’ve otherwise thrown open wide to everyone else they know. These are restless, dogged, hopeful characters driven by motivations they don’t necessarily understand.

David Ebenbach is the author of two books of short stories—Into the Wilderness (Washington Writers’ Publishing House) and Between Camelots (University of Pittsburgh Press)—plus a chapbook of poetry entitled Autogeography (Finishing Line Press), and a non-fiction guide to creativity called The Artist’s Torah (Cascade Books). He has been awarded the Drue Heinz Literature Prize, fellowships to the MacDowell Colony, the Virginia Center for Creative Arts, and the Vermont Studio Center, and an Individual Excellence Award from the Ohio Arts Council. With a PhD in Psychology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and an MFA in Writing from the Vermont College of Fine Arts, Ebenbach teaches Creative Writing at Georgetown University.  Find out more at

Penpals and other stories by Robert Perchan

The tales in Penpals and Other Stories inhabit the hinterlands of Eros and give contour and color to the impossibility of ever escaping its sinister embrace.  Rooted in the venereal soil of South Korea, the Philippines, Thailand – and Ohio too! – they address eternal mysteries: Did a talking vagina from Bangkok’s Patpong really complain on Oprah that the blue-haired matrons in the audience were too fat?  How did a schizophrenic computer arts teacher in Cleveland master the art of undressing a Filipina 6,000 miles away?  Can a young poet of uncertain talent draw inspiration from a dead Korean taxi driver’s album of explicit Polaroid snapshots and so win the heart of the stunner in his English conversation class?  Imponderable questions, forbidden themes and exotic locales: You can’t get there from here, but when you do you just might find these stories got there ahead of you.

Robert Perchan’s poetry chapbooks are Mythic Instinct Afternoon (2005 Poetry West Prize) and Overdressed to Kill (Backwaters Press, 2005 Weldon Kees Award).  His poetry collection Fluid in Darkness, Frozen in Light won the 1999 Pearl Poetry Prize and was published by Pearl Editions in 2000. His metafiction novella Perchan’s Chorea: Eros and Exile (Watermark Press, Wichita) was translated into French and published by Quidam Editeurs (Meudon) in 2002. He currently resides in Pusan, South Korea, where he claims to be serving a life sentence for impersonating an English teacher.

The Limp and the Lens: a middle-grade novel by Brigit Mikusko

Be it earrings, love notes, or headphones, when somebody needs something they've lost, they’re told to go to the "Lost and Found": Tillie, the girl with the camera on an old, ratty strap around her neck and a permanent limp from a childhood car accident. Never separated from her camera, thirteen-year-old Tillie, quiet and awkward, documents the school’s hallways and classrooms and investigates her pictures to find the student body’s lost things. One day, outgoing seventh-grader Jake stops Tillie in the hall. Convinced she's the best detective around, he looks her in the eye and pleads for help finding his missing father. Despite Tillie's best efforts to remain a loner, Jake won't take no for an answer. The strangely matched pair go on a search that takes them to karaoke-bowling alleys perhaps best left to adults, out on midnight investigations in wizard camouflage, and ultimately toward revelations about themselves and the secrets and emotions that make up their parents' lives. Tillie and Jake search the world of adulthood together and begin to learn empathy and forgiveness for those who have failed them.

Brigit Mikusko writes adult fiction under the name Brigit Kelly Young and has had her work published in several literary journals including The Common, The North American Review, The Pinch, 2 River View, Eclectica Magazine, Drunken Boat Magazine, and Gargoyle Magazine. She is currently at work on another YA novel and a poetry collection.

The Negro Claim: a novel by Kim McLarin

Thirty-four-year-old Natalie Turner has dedicated her life to doing everything right and keeping her hands firmly on the wheel—because someone has to reverse the Turner “family curse,” decades of misfortune visited on the descendants of Biddy Turner, who killed a white man under mysterious circumstances during the Gold Rush. When Nat experiences a resurgence of the intuition she had as a child, flickers of insight about the future and the past, she fears that it heralds more bad luck for the entire family. And when she meets Christian Claybourne, the privileged scion of a wealthy, influential white family—and warm, handsome, and funny to boot—Nat falls hard. But when she stumbles upon evidence that challenges her family's understanding of its history, she must choose between claiming justice for her family and the love of her life. Told from Natalie’s perspective and through Biddy’s letters and other historical entries, The Negro Claim presents a multifaceted portrait of the ongoing African-American struggle for justice and enfranchisement.  

Kim McLarin is the author of the memoir Divorce Dog: Men, Motherhood and Midlife (C&R Press) and of three critically acclaimed novels, Taming It Down, Meeting of The Waters and Jump At The Sun, all published by William Morrow. She is a former staff writer for The New York Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer and the Associated Press.  Her nonfiction has appeared in The New York Times, Glamour, The Washington Post, The Root, Slate.Com and other publications. She is an assistant professor in the Department of Writing, Literature and Publishing at Emerson College in Boston. McLarin is also a regular commentator on Basic Black, Boston’s historic weekly television program devoted to African-American themes, produced by WGBH in Boston.

The Patchwork Variations: stories by Manini Nayar

The linked stories in The Patchwork Variations weave in and out of a single incident to create a fictional tapestry of coincidences and interconnections. In this novel of immigrants who defy stereotypes and expectations, each of the characters confronts the complexities of arrival in unpredictable ways -- a man sees his life eerily refracted by the Oklahoma bombings; a child peers up from a box into an uncertain future; a young academic meets her unexpected alter ego as she perches, teetering, on a broken birdbath; the ghosts of children past and possible pester and soothe a fractious couple. Lives, once separate and parallel, intersect in a fraught new awareness of the contingencies of exile.

Manini Nayar has published fiction in literary periodicals, and her stories have won awards from Boston Review, Stand Magazine (U.K.), and the BBC World Service.

Woman at the Window: a novel by Mary Anderson Parks

Woman at the Window is the deeply personal story of a woman whose life falls outside “normalcy,” who challenges convention. It is a compelling, authentic representation of the interior voice of every woman. The heroine exists outside the mores of society in a truthful, sometimes wildly funny, sometimes poignant way. The reader comes to share a very layered intimacy with her as secrets surface and she questions her reality, her guilt, her relationships with husband, housekeeper, gardener, deceased daughter, as she yearns to find a way to connect to the world.

Mary Anderson Parks has published two novels, The Circle Leads Home (University Press of Colorado 1998) and They Called Me Bunny (Livingston Press 2006). Both grew out of her work in Indian child welfare. Read more at


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