We are excited to present the
longlist of awardees for the 2018 Leapfrog Fiction Contest.
The finalist manuscripts are being critiqued
by this year’s finalist judge,
Entries to this year’s contest came from 12
countries, and included adult and young adult novels, novellas,
and story collections.
We would like to thank every
author who submitted to our 10th annual fiction contest. As
always, it was our privilege and pleasure reading so many
The 2019 Leapfrog Fiction Contest
will open on January 15.
The 2018 Leapfrog Fiction Contest
Why No Bhine (Why No Goodbye),
a young adult novel in verse by Pamela Laskin
stories by Cai Emmons
On Earth as It Is in Heaven,
stories by Vishwas Gaitonde
stories by Noelle Katherine Allen
stories by Susan Lowell
A Building of Worry
on My Chest,
stories by Edward Hardy
a novel by Joseph Boone
A Common Person,
stories by R. M. Kinder
Smile for Me,
stories by Wendell Mayo
stories by Gregory Wolos
Drown in Water Like This,
stories by Rachel Luria
What Comes After,
a young adult novel by Mary Ann McGuigan
a young adult novel by Kirby Olson
stories by Lisa Cupolo
A Visit from a Relative,
stories by Ashley Cowger
Jewel Box Stories,
stories by Alison Withey
The Goode Sisters,
a novel by Charlene Finn
On the Divide,
stories by Iver Arnegard
The Incident on Live
a novel by Jon Sealy
a novel by Sheila Myers
Genuine Natural Color,
stories by Adam Golub
by Robert Hodgson Van Wagoner
a young adult novel by Esther Ra
a story collection by Aimee Pogson
Ratboy and Other Stories,
a story collection by Rich Ives
a story collection by Valeria Miner
a story collection by Priscilla Mainardi
Part of the Landscape,
stories by H. E. Francis
Why No Bhine (Why No Goodbye), a novel by Pamela Laskin
What happens to the child left behind? Jubair’s family is stuck
in Myanmar, until his mother escapes—with three out of four
children. On the cusp of adolescence, the young boy—interned to
a farmer—is filled with rage. Jubair is left to sleep in the
woods and fend for himself. He does not know how to read and
write, so why does his mother even bother smuggling in these
letters? Jubair begins to express this anger in his own letters,
as he develops a level of literacy, eventually becoming a reader
But where is HIS escape? How does he feel about his
parents, his siblings, knowing they have managed to escape? And
what happens when he meets “the girl”—someone who has also run
away from her despairing challenges—an arranged marriage to a
man much older than herself?
WHY NO BHINE, an epistolary novel, explores loss, grief
and transcendence: how does a young person manage to climb out
of the pit of despair and discover some glimmer of hope in all
Pamela L. Laskin is a lecturer in the English Department at The
City College, where she directs The Poetry Outreach Center, and
teaches Children’s Writing in the MFA Division. She is the
author of five books of poetry, most recently LOST AND FOUND,
Harlequin Creatures, whose focus is on found political and
social action poetry (2018). Several of her picture books have
been published, most recently HOMER THE LITTLE STRAY CAT, Little
Balloon Press, 2017. Harper Collins published RONIT AND JAMIL, a
Palestinian/Israeli ROMEO AND JULIET in verse for teens in 2017.
The reviews were excellent. She is a member of PSA, American
Academy of Poets & SCBWI.
Furnace Creek, a novel by Joseph Boone
Furnace Creek retells
Dickens' Great Expectations as a coming-of-age story set
in the American South of the 1960s and 1970s. Its "Pip"
character, Newt, is a proto-gay adolescent growing up in rural
Virginia. In the opening pages his world is turned upside down
when a black maid-turned-convict makes him an accomplice in her
escape. Two years later, taken under the wing of an eccentric
old bachelor (a queer version of Dickens’ demented Miss
Havisham), Newt finds himself equally attracted to and tormented
by the old man’s visiting nephew and niece, twins whose combined
seductive allure and worldliness feed Newt’s ambitious desires.
The climax of their erotic entanglements dovetails with the
revelation of Newt’s "expectations," launching him on an odyssey
that takes him to prep school in New England, to bohemian
digs in Rome after he experiences heartbreak and drops out of
Harvard, to a life-changing encounter with a person from his
past in Paris, and finally back to Virginia as he
embraces adulthood and comes to peace with the various actors
marking his life of expectations and disappointments.
As in Dickens’s novel, Newt’s progress encompasses a capacious
range of humanity, including a wide swath of social types and
class strata, and it occurs against the backdrop of a period of
rapid social change marked by the war in Vietnam, racial
conflict, and the feminist and sexual revolutions. In terms of
genre, Furnace Creek draws on the bildungsroman format
(Dickens with shades of Southern gothic), the novel of erotic
discovery and coming-out, and, in its latter third, a
mystery-detection subplot whose seeds have been planted in the
opening scene (and in which an entrepreneur’s line of
African American beauty products dovetails with a missing
Caravaggio and Bauhaus-inspired furniture designs).
Like Zadie’s Smith’s homage to Forster’s Howards End in On
Beauty or Michael Cunningham’s revision of Mrs. Dalloway in The
Hours, Furnace Creek doesn't simply transpose a
preexisting plot to a modern setting but rather uses the
Dickensian template as a launching point, as a means of freely
improvising upon its themes and style in ways that create an
original story that stands on its own legs. If the reader knows Great
Expectations, he or she may experience moments of déjŕ vu
that enrich the fictional encounter; but that knowledge isn’t
necessary to appreciate Furnace Creek on its own.
Boone is the author of three books of non-fiction and the
libretto to a musical version of Herman Melville's novel The
Confidence-Man. Furnace Creek is his first novel, and
he is completing a collection of short stories tentatively
called "Endangered Youth and Other Victims." In the past year he
has placed four stories in literary journals, one of which
received Third Prize in the Hackney national fiction
competition. Another story was named a top-ten finalist in the
New South story contest. He has received Guggenheim, ACLS, NEH,
and Huntington,, as well as residencies at Bellagio, Bogliasco,
and Valparaiso for his writing.
A Common Person, stories by R. M. Kinder
The thematically linked stories in A Common Person highlight the
individual’s need for self-value and community. In spite of
hardships and loss, the characters strive for understanding and
communion but fight when they must.
An elderly woman who worked to own a modest home has no
say on what mailbox is placed before her property or whose name
is on the box. A
young man hides his distress in order to honor his father and
comfort his mother. A man steals his neighbor's dog to spare it
misery. A woman
posts a statement on social media and learns her freedom is at
peril. These characters—children, men and women—hew out a
personal code that sustains them, identifies them, and helps
define the community into which they're born or the one they
wish to join. Overall, it's an inclusive world, where everyone's
rights matter and the small battles of everyday are actually
grand, at least worthy of attention.
R. M. Kinder's second novel,
The Universe Playing Strings, was published fall of 2016 by
University of New Mexico Press; the novel was a finalist for the
2017 Binghamton University John Gardner Fiction Book Award.
Previous work includes
An Absolute Gentleman,
a novel published by Counterpoint Press in 2007; and two
collections of short fiction:
A Near-Perfect Gift,
winner of the 2005 University of Michigan Press literary fiction
award, and Sweet Angel
Band, winner of Helicon Nine Editions 1991 Willa Cather
Award. Kinder is co-author, with Kristine Lowe-Martin, of
Old Time Fiddling: Hal
Sappington, Missouri Fiddler, a short biography published by
Johnson County Missouri Historical Society in 2012. Her short
fiction has appeared in
Confrontation, Jabberwock, Descant, Other Voices, Notre Dame Review, North Dakota
Review, North American
Review and other publications.
Most recently, her short story “A Common Person” won the
2018 Arts and Letters
Fiction Prize, judged by Melissa Pritchard.
Recent non-fiction is an article in
Missouri Life on
Missouri artist Gary Cadwallader, and a review in the latest
New Letters of Jacob
M. Appel’s The Liars’
Asylum. She is editor emerita of
Pleiades, still reads
and judges for that journal, and serves as an advisory editor
with New Letters and
BkMk Press. She is from Southeast Missouri originally, spent
long years in Tucson, and now lives in Warrensburg, Missouri.
Smile for Me,
stories by Wendell Mayo
Smile for Me
is composed of three cycles of stories: “Smile,” “Choke,” and
across all three cycles are at once contemporary—and historical.
For example, the title story in the first cycle is told by a
first-person plural persona pitching a product, “Smiles,” drawn
from art history to assuage the puzzling ennui of a bullying
dullard—a decidedly unreflective sort. The “Choke” cycle, begins
with an elegiac persona struggling to understand a teen's death
in 1967 due to autoerotic asphyxiation. Characters in the “Burn”
section are the most self-aware, taking on the devaluing of
education, joblessness, the legacy of Viet Nam, and like
conflicts in our time. With each of the three cycles, characters
grow in awareness of the absurd and often scary circumstances
that span the last fifty to sixty years, one foot in the 20th
Century, and trembling toes of another in the frightening waters
of the 21st. They act in surprising, yet very human ways, for
instance, in the final story when Cole, hopelessly
everything related to his education and upbringing and sets
it on fire, a grotesque promise of a new beginning.
Mayo has authored five full-length story collections, two
reviewed in The New York Times Book Review, and another
in The LA Times. His debut collection,
Centaur of the North,
was winner of the Premio Aztlán and the sole finalist in the AWP
Award Series in Short Fiction, selected by Lorrie Moore. His
other story collections are Survival House; The
Cucumber King of Kedainiai; B. Horror and Other Stories;
and a novel-in-stories, In Lithuanian Wood, which
appeared in Lithuanian translation as Vilko Valanda [Engl: Hour
of the Wolf] with Mintis Press in Vilnius. Over one-hundred
of his short stories have appeared widely in magazines and
anthologies, including Yale Review, Harvard Review, Manoa,
Missouri Review, Boulevard, New Letters, Threepenny Review,
Indiana Review, Chicago Review, and others. He
completed his Ph.D. in English at Ohio University and has taught
over twenty years in the MFA / BFA Creative Writing Programs at
Bowling Green State University. See also
Vanishing, stories by
five stories in Vanishing
are about women in different walks of life who are
disconcerted to discover the world is not as they thought it
was; now they must recalibrate their positions.
Emmons is the author of the novels
His Mother’s Son and
The Stylist. Her
newest novel Weather
Woman, forthcoming from Red Hen Press in October 2018, is
about a meteorologist who discovers she has the power to change
the weather. Formerly a playwright and screenwriter, her short
work has appeared in such publications as
TriQuarterly, Narrative, and
Arts and Culture, among others. She teaches in the
University of Oregon’s Creative Writing Program.
stories by Gregory Wolos
The title of this collection,
Bizarre Rituals: Stories,
comes from Franz Kafka: “. . . I saw my family as strange aliens
whose foreign customs, rites, and very language defied
comprehension, and though I did not want it, they forced me to
participate in their bizarre rituals.” The characters in these
stories find themselves on what might be seen as the wrong side
of Alice’s Wonderland looking glass. How will each contend with
his own set of “bizarre rituals”?
Over the past decade, my short stories have appeared in more
than seventy journals and anthologies. My work can be found in
publications like Glimmer
Train, Georgia Review, Florida
Baltimore Review, The
Pinch, Post Road, The Los Angeles
Review, PANK, and
Tahoma Literary Review.
My stories have won awards sponsored by
New South, and the Rubery Book
Awards, and have earned six Pushcart Prize nominations.
Regal House Publishing will release my collection
Women of Consequence
in early 2019. For full lists of publications and commendations,
A Building of Worry on
My Chest, stories by Edward Hardy
The dozen stories in A Building of Worry on My Chest all
circle around love and relationships that have somehow spun
sideways. In “Hole In The Sand,” there’s a near beach disaster
that’s about to rupture a marriage. Later on in the collection
there’s a father brought to the edge by invading raccoons, a
couple brought back from the brink by dancing bears, a lie
between airplane seatmates that seeps out of control and a
wayward inflatable Gumby.
Edward Hardy is the author of two novels, Keeper and Kid
(Thomas Dunne Books/St. Martin’s) and Geyser Life
(Bridgeworks). His short fiction has appeared in many literary
magazines, including Ploughshares, GQ, Epoch,
Glimmer Train and the New England Review, and been
listed in the Best American Short Stories. He has won
three fiction fellowships from the Rhode Island State Council on
the Arts. He is a former newspaper reporter and editor, has an
M.F.A. from Cornell and has taught fiction writing at Cornell
and Boston College. He currently teaches in the Nonfiction
Writing Program at Brown and lives just south of Providence and
with his wife and two teenage sons.
Children Will Drown in Water Like This, stories by Rachel Luria
My collection of thematically linked stories depicts the lives
of women and girls whose days are filled with darkness and
humor, violence and compassion. A mix of realism and magic
realism, humor and horror, the collection explores the dreams
and nightmares of childhood and the hopes and heartbreaks of
adulthood. All set in the same town in Florida—a swampy sprawl
of suburban-gothic neighborhoods and dirty canals—the collection
includes ghost stories, love stories, stories of revenge, and
coming of age.
Rachel Luria is an Associate Professor at Florida Atlantic
University’s Wilkes Honors College. The June 2018 Artist in
Residence in Everglades, her work has appeared in The Normal
School, Harpur Palate, Sport Literate, Saw Palm, Phoebe, Dash
Literary Journal, Yemassee, and others. Her nonfiction was named
a Notable Essay of 2015 by the editors of Best American Essays
and she was a winner of a 2017 Teacher Scholarship from the Key
West Literary Seminar. To read more from Rachel Luria, visit
What Comes After, a
young adult novel by Mary Ann McGuigan
What Comes After
explores the power of friendship and trust to heal the pain of
loss and abuse. Terry and Jo are best friends, each keeping a
terrible secret and about to face a life-changing decision, one
that could harm people they love. Each believes she must control
her world so that her worst fears won’t come true. But the world
Since sixth grade, the year
her parents separated and her mother moved to New York, Terry
has lived with her grandmother (Hilda). Now Terry is sixteen and
Hilda’s health is deteriorating from Alzheimer’s. Terry can’t
bear the thought of Hilda being placed in a nursing home. Just
as dreadful is the prospect of living with her mother in NY,
leaving behind her friends at Atlantic Regional, who’ve become
her surrogate family. Terry believes she can manage Hilda’s care
on her own by hiring extra help and keeping Hilda’s worst
mishaps secret. But as the woman’s condition deteriorates,
Terry’s options become limited and her choices more desperate.
When Terry finally lets her
guard down—at first only with Jo—she discovers that the people
who love her are on her side, ready to help.
Jo’s dilemma is even more desperate. Something is happening to
her eleven-year-old sister, Irene. It happens when the girl is
left alone with their dad. Only Jo suspects the worst, because
she hasn’t forgotten what her father did to her. Silence will
keep her shameful secret safe, but it will not protect Irene.
Only sharing her suspicions will do that. But who would believe
her? Jo puts it off, lets her family’s denial—and her own—lull
her fears. She plots to keep Irene from being alone with her
father, but he foils her plan. Jo finally confronts him, which
triggers her decision. Her family is sick, and she must get
help. When she finally shares her secret with Terry, she
receives acceptance and support. The teacher she thought would
shun her finds a way to help. The friends she believed she’d
lose draw closer. And the family she feared she’d destroy begins
Mary Ann McGuigan’s
young-adult novels are about teens trying to make sense of the
chaos grown-ups leave in their wake. The New York Public
Library, the Junior Library Guild, and the Paterson Prize have
ranked Mary Ann’s young-adult novels among the best books for
teens. Where You Belong,
her second novel, was a finalist for the National Book
Award, and she has served on the panel of judges for the
National Book Award for Young People’s Literature.
Mary Ann’s short stories—nominated for the Pushcart Prize and
Sundress Publications’ Best of the Net—appear in
North American Review,
The Sun, Prime Number,
Grist, Perigee, Into the Void, and many other literary
journals. Pieces, her
collection of related short stories, was published by Bottom Dog
Press in November 2017. For more about Mary Ann’s fiction, visit
Exchange Student, a young adult novel by Kirby Olson
YA novel about a freshman who wants a beautiful girlfriend in a
Finnish exchange student. He runs for class president, as
well as tries out for the high school soccer team, in order to
draw her attention. Their year together is up and down,
and features the trials of two young people who want to know
what it is to be true when everything around them is a lie.
They struggle and doubt themselves, and one another. There
are virtually no good models around them. Nevertheless, her
Finnish father is a pastor, and his mother believes in God.
Will this couple endure against the odds?
is a tenured English professor at SUNY-Delhi in the western
Catskills. His books include a novel (Temping), about an
English professor who starts a circus in Finland; a book of
poems entitled Christmas at Rockefeller Center; and
several books of literary criticism about ludic surrealists. He
is currently working on a memoir of his time spent at Naropa
Institute studying with Allen Ginsberg and William S. Burroughs.
He is a Lutheran and a member of AARP.
Division, stories by Lisa Cupolo
includes stories from Calgary and Toronto, Catalina Island,
California, two from East Africa, and another in the South from
the fictional voice of Zora Neale Hurston.
stories have appeared in Ploughshares, The Idaho Review,
Virginia Quarterly Review,
and Narrative Magazine. She is
a Canadian writer who was a publicist at HarperCollins Toronto,
and now teaches creative writing at Chapman University in
Two Desperados, stories by Susan Lowell
Although they’re mostly set in the American Southwest, the
stories in “Two Desperados” do range: they run in time from the
nineteenth to the twenty-first century, in length from fifty
words to fifty pages. Characters include the newborn and the
moribund, the literary and the illiterate, a lion hunter, a
basket maker, two poets, a so-called witch, several dogs, a
vampire coyote, and even possibly a ghost.
I’ve been writing now for many years (these compositions
actually date from the 1990s to the spring of 2018) but as I
reach my green old age I feel wonderfully liberated: free to
experiment and eager to spill some of the secrets I’ve been
collecting all my life.
My fiction has appeared in journals, anthologies, and a
collection called “Ganado Red,” which won the Milkweed Editions
National Fiction Prize. I am also the author of 15 other books
for adults and children, several of which have won prizes. A
fourth-generation Arizonan born in Chihuahua, I divide my time
between Tucson and a ranch with a long, beautiful view into
A Visit from a Relative, stories by Ashley Cowger
A Visit from a Relative comprises stories ranging from flash
fiction to longer works, which all explore the theme of familial
relationships. These stories explore a variety of family
dynamics, ultimately posing the unanswerable question, what is
the value of family? In what ways does family bolster us? In
what ways does family drag us down? From the disillusionment of
motherhood to a child’s inability to fully know his own parents
to the difficulty of loving one child after you have lost
another, these stories seek to investigate a grittier side of
family than the perhaps too readily accepted Hallmark image of
the family bond.
Ashley Cowger is the author of the short story collection
Peter Never Came, which was awarded the Autumn House Press
Fiction Prize and was a semi-finalist for the Leapfrog Fiction
Contest. Her short fiction has appeared in numerous literary
journals. She holds an MFA from the University of Alaska
Fairbanks, and she is an Assistant Teaching Professor at Penn
State Harrisburg. Learn more at
stories by Alison Withey
Although the tales in
Jewel Box Stories are united by a focus on gemstones and
precious metals, beneath the surface one discovers strange tales
of the human condition. The result is an unconventional,
somewhat twisted journey in which the reader, drawn to brilliant
and curious things, gains new perspectives on all that glitters.
Brilliant Bit of Work”
A diamond-cutter with OCD exacts
the perfect revenge.
A mountain of scrimshaw and a madwoman
marooned in the Galapagos.
A hoard of gold, two men, and four burros in
Arizona’s Superstition Mountains.
Corruption, disease, and addiction in the jade
mines of Burma.
Tit for tat and the return of an amethyst
undergraduate, Alison Withey studied art history and
anthropology at Brown University. After a decade of travel she
returned to Duke University where she earned a PhD in botany.
She has gemology credentials from the Gemological Institute of
America and the Gemmological Society of Great Britain.
her varied career, Alison authored many types of scientific and
gemological works including congressional testimony, educational
materials, and grant proposals. Alison’s fiction consists of
dark, slightly twisted stories about gemstones and precious
metals. Her work has been short-listed for the Serena McDonald
Kennedy Prize, the Santa Fe Writers Project Literary Award, the
Clay Reynolds Novella Prize, the Fish Short Story Prize, and the
William Faulkner-William Wisdom Creative Writing Award. It has
been long-listed for the Fish Short Story Prize, the Eludia
Award, the American Short Fiction Prize, the Hourglass Literary
Magazine Writing Prize, and the William Faulkner-William Wisdom
Creative Writing Competition.
is currently working on a novel and another story collection.
Her website and blog can be found at jewelpedia.net.
Goode Sisters, a novel by Charlene Finn
Dolores Santos has returned to the orchards of her childhood in
eastern Washington carrying a secret. Her boss, el jefe
Jacobsen, fathered the teenage boy she calls her cousin. Now Mr.
Jacobsen is dead and his daughter, Kate, together with her
husband, runs the fruit ranch. Kate has been newly
diagnosed with early stage multiple sclerosis and she is
struggling to do the harvest work that anchors her marriage and
self-worth, a love of farm work she inherited from her father.
But her stubbornness to accept her illness is driving her away
from the people she loves—particularly her sister Olivia, who
has reluctantly returned home to help Kate. In the wake of a
near-fatal fire at the height of the Bing cherry harvest, the
secrets of these three women's pasts—the daughter beloved of the
father who inherits the family ranch but flees it, the rejected
daughter who returns with secrets all her own, and the young
Mexican woman who shoulders the burdens of the father's
sins—explode into the present.
Charlene Finn grew up in eastern Washington and spent some of
her childhood in the fruit orchards of her grandparents where
The Goode Sisters is based. Prior to being a writer, she worked
as an ICU RN. She received her MFA in Fiction from Warren
Wilson. In 2004, she received the Washington State Artist Trust
literature fellowship for an excerpt from this novel, then
called Uneven Ground. She was awarded a residency at
Hedgebrook in 2002 and returned as alumni in April 2008, 2015.
An excerpt of this novel was published as a story, Uneven
Ground, in Potomac Review, spring 2004. Ellipsis magazine in
2003 also published a story of hers, The Harvest, which
again focuses on women, family, work and a harvest. The novel
form continues to be her passion. A few of her short
pieces from her second novel have been awarded finalist status
in several contests including Glimmer Train Family Matters and
Reynolds Price contest. She is immersed into her second novel,
entitled Shadow Sister, a contemporary story with a historical
thread that weaves a tale from Berdichev, Ukraine, during WWII
to Seattle, Washington, 2001. She lives in Seattle with
Divide, stories by Iver Arnegard
On the Divide
is a collection of inter-connected stories about the women and
men who inhabit hard-to-survive Western towns from New Mexico to
Alaska and much of the rugged wilderness in between. There are
hard times and desperation in these tales. But there’s also a
lot of hope.
Iver Arnegard’s fiction, nonfiction, and poetry has been
published in the North
American Review, Gulf
Coast, the Missouri
Review, and elsewhere. His first book,
Whip & Spur, won the
2013 Gold Line Press Fiction Award. He is the head of the
Creative Writing Program at Colorado State University-Pueblo,
but is currently on sabbatical in Alaska.
The Incident on Live Oak Road, a novel by Jon Sealy
The coastal town of Overlook is a sleepy tourist and retirement
community known for its golf courses and laid-back lifestyle.
But when 19-year-old Samantha James is killed in a hit and run
one night while riding her bicycle home from work, the town sets
out to crucify the alleged culprit, Daniel Hayward. The
headlines tell a compelling story, but the truth is much less
clear. As novel delves into the differing accounts of what
happened, The Incident on Live Oak Road offers both a
gripping courtroom drama and a probing look at questions of
justice and mercy in our era of social media, fake news, and
Jon Sealy is the author of The Whiskey Baron. A South
Carolina native, he is currently a writer in Richmond, Virginia.
Ephemeral Summer, a
novel by Sheila Myers
When Emalee's parents die tragically she is sent to live with
her Aunt who spends her summers on an idyllic lake in Upstate
New York. To cope with her loss, Emalee becomes emotionally
detached from everyone around her.
As she enters adulthood, Emalee struggles to maintain
this façade, especially while trying to navigate relationships
with the men in her life:
Peter, an artist and close friend who lacks the ambition
to make his art known to anyone but himself; and Stuart – a
quiet, intelligent philosopher with whom she falls in love one
summer, only to get caught up in a bizarre love triangle with
his cousin, Danielle.
Rising passions, shameful secrets and desperate acts drive
Emalee away from her summer home and the mysterious Stuart.
Years later, as a graduate student tracking moose in the
Canadian wilderness, Emalee finds herself embroiled with yet
another forbidden affair and must decide: is love worth it?
Set among the pristine lakes of Upstate New York and the
Canadian wilderness, the characters in Ephemeral Summer come to
life in vivid landscapes impossible to forget.
Sheila Myers is an Associate Professor at Cayuga Community
College where she teaches and coordinates the Honors Study
Program. Sheila has spent most of her career working to educate
the public about the natural world. Her first novel
(2014) is a contemporary coming-of-age story set in the Finger
Lakes and intertwines many ecological themes throughout the
story. Myers began writing a historical fiction trilogy on the
family of the robber baron, Dr. Thomas C. Durant, after spending
time at one of his Great Camps in the Adirondacks. Myers won the
Best Book of Fiction of 2017 Literary Award from the Adirondack
Center for Writing for her last novel in the trilogy:
The Night is Done. Her
essays and short stories are published in the Adirondack Life
Magazine, Coffelicious online literary magazine, and Crossing
Genres online literary magazine. She has been a contributor to
numerous online blogs sites including the Adirondack Almanack,
Women Writers Women’s Books, and Bang2Write. You can connect
with Sheila Myers via her website @
https://www.sheilamyers.com/ or twitter @sheilammyers
or her Facebook page @SheilaMyersAuthor.
Genuine Natural Color,
stories by Adam Golub
California is both setting and supporting character in
Genuine Natural Color,
his collection of short literary fiction that explores the
workings of memory, the staging of desire, and the yearning for
connection in a region permeated by its own mythology. Whether
telling the tale of a thief who steals an art lesson at a wine
and paint studio in L.A., or a monster who preys on the lonely
and parched during the California draught, or a retired teacher
who reconnects with an old friend to find a daughter who has run
away to the Sierra Nevada, these eleven stories examine how
space, place, community—and its absence—can shape our everyday
Adam Golub is a writer and American Studies professor who lives
in Southern California. His creative work has appeared in
Linden Avenue Literary
Journal, The Bookends
101 Fiction, Pulp Literature, and elsewhere. He is co-editor, with
Heather Richardson Hayton, of
Monsters in the Classroom:
Essays on Teaching What Scares Us (McFarland, 2017). Born in
Philadelphia and raised in New Jersey, he earned his B.A. in
English from Vassar College, his M.A.T. in English from Boston
College, and his Ph.D. in American Studies from The University
of Texas at Austin. He currently teaches courses on literature,
popular culture, music, and monsters at Cal State Fullerton.
Strong Like Water, 20th Century Stories by Robert
Hodgson Van Wagoner
Each of the eight stories in Van Wagoner’s Strong Like Water,
20th Century Stories explores the religious
tensions and failures endured by late 20th century
Mormons facing circumstances too complex for the provisions of
their faith—a middle-age woman whose husband is having an affair
with a man must decide whether to help her dying mother end her
life. A lapsed Mormon fears God’s surly intervention when
he suffers multiple complications after receiving a vasectomy.
A teenage boy, in the wake of his mother’s death by lightening,
must survive his father’s conviction that his wife’s demise is
God’s punishment for his (the father’s) pornography addiction.
The single mother of a sperm-bank baby struggles to manage her
patriarchal father in the aftermath of her child’s injury.
A Mormon bishop, in a crisis of faith, goes to a bar seeking a
one-night stand and gets a good deal more than he’d hoped for.
The non-Mormon father of two young sons fights to save his
family after his wife turns to Mormonism in the wake a bizarre
accident. A young mother of two toddlers faces the
prospect of raising a third, adult child when her husband is
impaired by a massive brain injury. A protestant minister
and his severe Mormon neighbor carry on a decades-long feud
after their children must marry each other. Universal in
the struggles it illuminates, Strong Like Water is a
meditation on the limits of faith in a complex world.
Robert Hodgson Van Wagoner’s novel Dancing Naked was
awarded the Utah Book Award by the Utah Center for the Book, and
the Utah Original Writing Competition’s Publication Prize, the
top literary award given by the Utah Humanities Council and the
State of Utah. His short stories and author interviews
have appeared in periodicals, ezines and anthologies, and have
been selected for various awards, including Carolina
Quarterly’s Charles B. Wood Award for Distinguished Writing,
Shenandoah’s Jeanne Charpiot Goodheart Award for Fiction,
Sunstone’s Brookie and D.K. Brown Memorial Fiction Award,
and Weber: The Contemporary West’s Dr. O. Marvin Lewis
Award for Best Fiction.
Pond, a young adult novel by Esther
Ra and Kay Sin
It’s a new semester at the Lux Mentis Academy, the prestigious
private high school where only the most intellectually rigorous
students are accepted. Three first-years launch into their new
lives: Haejin Lee, an idealistic, poetry-addicted dreamer;
Sungjoon Choi, a lazy, happy-go-lucky player of games and girls;
and Min Koh, a brilliant student who suffers from his parent’s
constant comparison of him with his late genius brother. When
the truths about their charismatic fellow student Jungseok Joo
surface, the three can no longer be blind to the long-buried
problems that threaten to dismantle their lives - from both
within and without.
Ra is the author of the book of untranslatable things
(Grayson Books, 2018), which won first prize in the Grayson
Books Chapbook Contest. Her work has been published in
Poached Hare, The Scriblerus, and Consequence
her poetry has received the 2017 Women Writing War Poetry Award.
She is deeply interested in grappling with the quiet beauty in
the ordinary, the price of courage, and the space of ambiguity
between different cultures.
Sin is a math-enthusiast by day and a writer by night. She has
aided research on children’s health and spends most of her time
wrestling with data-driven projects. She loves teaching,
technology, and traveling wherever new books exist.
Unnatural, a story collection by Aimee Pogson
In the short story collection, Unnatural, a woman wakes
one morning to find salmon appearing in her apartment—on the
windowsill, in her shoes—and has to concoct a plan, a mailman is
exposed to the unfortunate phenomenon of aching in the grass and
succumbs to ache himself, and a woman cuts off her toes to
express undying devotion to her lover. Other characters contend
with the difficulties of burying a long man and living with
spirits who reside in closets, wrapped around ouija boards. In
Unnatural, characters live at the extremes of experience
and as a consequence, are forced to carve out their own unique
Pogson’s work has appeared in Arts & Letters, Nimrod,
Western Humanities Review, and SmokeLong Quarterly,
among other journals, and has been shortlisted in Best
American Essays. She currently teaches in the BFA program at
Penn State Erie, the Behrend College, where she also co-edits
Ratboy and Other Stories, a story collection by Rich
As the palate must be cleared between tastings of wine, these
widely ranging concoctions need a breath between them and are
separated by contrasting flash fictions that alter the
directions of the reader’s understandings of what the stories
should be doing. Often the stories extend or turn in a new
direction the expectations
established in more traditional fictions. From a young boy with
a vestigial “tail” to stories told in the briefest of episodes,
Ratboy and Other Stories
explores not only the implied and suggestive lives of its
characters but the ways in which themes can be self-reflective,
thinking about what they’re doing even as they are still forming
Rich Ives has received grants and awards from the National
Endowment for the Arts, Artist Trust, Seattle Arts Commission
and the Coordinating Council of Literary Magazines for his work
in poetry, fiction, editing, publishing, translation and
photography. His writing has appeared in
Verse, North American
Review, Massachusetts Review, Northwest Review, Quarterly West,
Iowa Review, Poetry Northwest, Virginia Quarterly Review,
Fiction Daily and many more. He is the 2009 winner of the
Francis Locke Memorial Poetry Award from
Bitter Oleander. He
has been nominated seven times for the Pushcart Prize. He is the
2012 winner of the Thin Air Creative Nonfiction Award. His books include Light from a
Small Brown Bird (Bitter Oleander Press--poetry), Sharpen (The
Newer York—fiction chapbook), The Balloon Containing the Water
Containing the Narrative Begins Leaking—What Books) and
Tunneling to the Moon (Silenced Press--hybrid).
Moving In, a story collection by Valeria Miner
Miner’s fifteenth book, is a story collection exploring
different kinds of salvage: the reclamation of the natural
environment, human relationships, material objects. The stories
are about forgiveness, reunion, rescue, repair, return and
restoration. Some of the stories have appeared in
Points, Southwest Review, Consequence, Michigan Quarterly Review
and other literary journals as well as in several books.
Valerie Miner is the award-winning author of fourteen books. Her
latest novel is Traveling
with Spirits. Other novels include
After Eden, Range of
Light, A Walking Fire, Winter's Edge, Blood Sisters, All Good
Women, Movement: A Novel in Stories, and
Murder in the English
Department. Her short fiction books include
Abundant Light, The Night
Trespassing. Her collection of essays is
Rumors from the Cauldron:
Selected Essays, Reviews and Reportage. In 2002,
The Low Road: A Scottish
Family Memoir was a Finalist for the PEN USA Creative
Non-Fiction Award. Her short fiction collections,
Abundant Light, were
each Finalists for the Lambda Literary Awards (1990 and 2005).
Valerie Miner’s work has appeared in
The Georgia Review,
Triquarterly, Salmagundi, New Letters, The Village Voice,
Prairie Schooner, The Gettysburg Review, The T.L.S., The Women’s
Review of Books, The Nation and other journals. Her stories
and essays are published in more than sixty anthologies. A
number of her pieces have been dramatized on BBC Radio 4. Her
work has been translated into German, Turkish, Danish, Italian,
Spanish, French, Swedish and Dutch. In addition to
single-authored projects, she has collaborated on books, museum
exhibits as well as theatre. She has won fellowships and awards
from The Rockefeller Foundation, Fondazione Bogliasco, Fundación
Valparaiso, The McKnight Foundation, The NEA, The Jerome
Foundation, The Heinz Foundation, The Australia Council Literary
Arts Board and numerous other sources. She has received
Fulbright Fellowships to Tunisia, India and Indonesia. Winner of
a Distinguished Teaching Award, she is now a professor and
artist in residence at Stanford University.
Nineteen Steps, a story collection by Priscilla Mainardi
is comprised of eleven linked stories in the first-person voice
of registered nurse and single mother Devon Heath. Part hospital
narrative and part exploration of the complexity of family
Steps tells Devon’s story through intimate portrayals of her
patients and their families as they struggle to navigate the
intricacies of illness and health care. The stories also explore
the emotional impact Devon’s patients have on her life, which is
told in brief glimpses in each story.
Priscilla Mainardi attended the University of Pennsylvania and
Rutgers University-Newark, where she earned an MFA in creative
writing. Her work appears in numerous journals, including
Prick of the Spindle,
the Examined Life Journal,
Pulse: Voices from the
Heart of Medicine, and
teaches English Composition at Rutgers-Newark and serves on the
editorial board of the online narrative medicine journal
Part of the Landscape, stories by H. E. Francis
Go Away, a
story collection by Noelle Katherine Allen
Dancers, finance ministers, artists, neurologists, and software
engineers make their way through these offbeat, funny, sometimes
unsettling stories that blur the lines between magical realism,
realism, and science fiction.
The characters of “Go Away” argue about the sexual
orientation of their magical pets, spill out their heartbreak
via Airbnb listings, and grapple with illnesses as strange as
fever dreams. One
theme runs through this eclectic collection:
the need for love despite the tenuousness of human
Noelle Catharine Allen has worked as a newspaper reporter in
Buenos Aires and Mexico City, and now lives in Seattle. Her
fiction has been nominated for a 2016 Pushcart Prize by Hunger
Mountain, and has appeared in Hunger Mountain, Phoebe, JMWW, and
other publications. She was a finalist in the Bosque and
Bellingham Review fiction prizes in 2014, and won the Editor's
Choice award in Best New Writing 2012. She is working on a
novel, and is represented by Donald Maass Literary Agency.
On Earth as It
Is in Heaven, a story collection by Vishwas Gaitonde
To turn earth into heaven is impossible, but the people in this
collection of stories hope that at least a small chunk of heaven
can brighten their patch on earth. The celestial slice that each
one desires is different. A doctor and his relatives are
at loggerheads as to whether England will be more of a paradise
with a touch of Pakistan. Professionals who flee their homelands
because of conflict struggle to adjust in their foreign locales.
Fathers are desperate to understand their sons, while a mother
struggles to live without hers. Destiny becomes a bone of
contention to some. A garage sale turns into a boomerang. A Sri
Lankan aboriginal finds (and then loses) her paradise when two
British researchers land in her village. In the fourteen stories
in On Earth As It Is In Heaven we see that
our idea of heaven on earth is oftentimes very different from
those of the ones we love.
Vishwas R. Gaitonde spent his formative years in India, has
lived in Britain and now resides in the United States. He been
published in all those countries, and elsewhere. His writings
have appeared in literary journals such as The Iowa Review,
Bellevue Literary Review, Mid-American Review, Fifth Wednesday
Journal, and Santa Monica Review; in internet
magazines such as The Millions, The Mantle, Serenade, and
Scroll.in; and in newspapers and magazines such as The
San Diego Union Tribune, The Hartford Courant, The Hindu
(India), and Business Line (India). His Twitter handle is
What to Enter
Questions We Are Frequently Asked
How to Enter
We will accept all entries through our
Submittable page, which you can find here
Upload your complete manuscript. Use the title as it
appears on the manuscript as the file name (or as much as
possible, if the title is very long). Please be sure there is
no identifying information anywhere in the file (author name
or address), including on the title page and in page headers.
What to Enter
Adult, young adult (YA)
and middle grade (MG) novels, novellas, and short story
collections are accepted. Minimum word count: 22,000. Individual
stories in a collection may have been published in journals.
Books that have been self-published will be considered
"unpublished" if fewer than about 200 copies were printed.
We look for literary fiction and mainstream fiction, including science fiction. Generally we are less interested in strict genre fiction, but if a manuscript is good and grabs our attention, we don't care what the genre is.
All manuscripts will be reviewed by at least two Leapfrog editors, and those that go to the second round of judging may be read by editors at other small presses as well.
Manuscripts are reviewed "blind": the judges do not know the authors' names or any other information about them. This is important to our judging process and the integrity of the contest.
1. May I submit more than one ms? Yes, you may submit as many as you choose. Each requires an entry fee, and they will be judged separately. The judges will not know they are from the same author. However, our advice is that you use your resources to explore several contests rather than entering more than a couple of mss into a single contest.
2. May I submit to other contests/agents/presses while waiting for the Leapfrog contest results? Yes. We ask that you let us know when you enter what other contests you have entered with the same manuscript, and inform us if your manuscript receives an award elsewhere. Winning another contest does not disqualify a manuscript from being named for an award by Leapfrog. If you receive a publication contract elsewhere, please let us know as that will disqualify the ms from our first prize.
3. What if I edit my manuscript after submitting and want to resend? That is usually fine until the last month of the contest. Just send the new version by email with a short explanation, and we will make sure all judges receive the new version.
4. What if I am unable
to send the entry fee through Submittable? If you prefer to pay
the reading fee by physical check, please contact us by email at
firstname.lastname@example.org so that we can direct you
around the fee system.
5. What if I decide to withdraw manuscript? If you withdraw before your manuscript has been through several rounds of judging, we will refund your entry fee.
6. May I resubmit a manuscript that I submitted to this contest in the past? We do not encourage that. Even if you feel the ms has been through substantial editing, it is likely to be judged about the same as last time, even by quite different judges. If your ms was named for an award in the past, we cannot name it again. We are happy to take new manuscripts from past contest authors, however.
7. Do you ever publish more than one winner? Yes, we have done that several times. There may be two winners, especially if there are enough MG/YA manuscripts to make a separate category.
8. My computer went belly up and I have only a hard copy of my manuscript. May I send it by mail? In an emergency, we will accept a hard copy, but we need to know that it is coming or it will not be processed for the contest. Please email to discuss this with us before putting a hard copy in the postal mail.
9. Does my manuscript need to be formatted a certain way? No. We are not at all picky about that. Just make it readable. If it was a self-published book, be sure to eliminate title and copyright pages, and page headers, so there is no identifying information.
10. What if many of
the stories in my collection were previously published in
journals? That is fine, as long as much of the collection as a
whole has not already been published as a book. A list of
acknowledgments is also fine to include.
11. How many manuscripts do your usually receive? It varies between about 400 and 600.
12. What if I live
outside the United States? About 10% of our entrants each year
are not in the US. We are happy to read manuscripts from any and
all countries. Our 2016 winner lives in the UK.
13. My manuscript has illustrations. Is that OK? Well.... if they are essential, it's OK. We do not take picture books, children's or otherwise, and we do not publish in color. B&W images that are crucial to the book may be included. Again, please keep the file size reasonable.
14. Is there a
midnight deadline on May 1? We are not concerned about exactly
when your manuscript arrives. If we see it when we log in on the
morning of May 2, it has made the deadline. Sometimes there are
unavoidable delays and submissions arrive after May 1. Please
keep to the May 1 deadline unless there is an unavoidable issue.
Any other questions? Please email us at
email@example.com and we will be happy to help. You are doing us a favor by sending us your work to consider, and we'll do what we can to make the process easy.
First Prize: publication contract offer from Leapfrog Press, with an advance payment, plus the finalist awards (see below).
Finalists: $150 and one or two critiques of the manuscript from contest judges; permanent listing on the Leapfrog Press contest page as a contest finalist, along with short author bio and description of the book.
Semi-Finalist: Choice of a free Leapfrog book; permanent listing on the website.
Honorable Mention: listing on the Leapfrog Press website.
We encourage all contest awardees to inform us of any publicity/contracts/reviews of their entries. We will be happy to post that information on our website and in our newsletter.