. The 2014 Leapfrog Fiction Contest is open for entries from January 15 to May 1.
What to enter
How to enter
What to Enter
The contest is for Adult Fiction and Children's Fiction (middle grade and YA only*). Any novella- or novel-length work of fiction, including short-story collections, not previously published** is eligible. The minimum length is 22,000*** words; there is no maximum length.
All unpublished stories submitted in short-story collections will automatically be considered for publication in Crossborder.
* Middle grade fiction is loosely defined here as novels for 4th-8th graders, usually featuring a protagonist in that age group. YA or young adult novels can be for age 13 and up, approximately. If you are unsure whether your novel is YA or adult, it is fine to indicate "YA/adult." We are not picky about labels. We do not accept picture books for young children or any books with color illustrations.
** Previously self-published books that have no more than 100 copies in circulation will be considered "unpublished" and may be submitted. Short stories that have been published in literary journals may be included in collections.
*** "Why can't my manuscript be less than 22,000 words?" We have set this as a rough minimum because a certain length is needed to create a book. Even 22,000 words makes for a tiny book indeed, in height, width, and thickness. Anything less, and there would be no spine possible. A "long" short story might run 20,000 words, and would not make a stand-alone book. If your manuscript is just under that minimum, but you feel it is strong and large in concept, though short on words, we will not automatically disqualify it from the contest. Be sure that if it is for children it is for at least an advanced 8-year-old. To get a sense of our middle grade books, take a look at the novels of BB Wurge or Mick Carlon (you can use the "search inside" feature on Amazon).
How to Enter
1. Email email@example.com. The subject line should read "Contest entry: manuscript title" (please use actual manuscript title). Please use the full title, or as much as possible. In the body of the message, include your full name, address, email address, and the book's title. Please do not include any biographical information.
Attach your entire manuscript as a single text, Word, or PDF document. Use the title of the manuscript as the file name. Please do not call your file "mybook.doc" or "leapfrog.doc" or "manuscript1.doc" etc., as it will be indistinguishable from the tens of other submissions so titled. Please do not use your title's initials, as this causes lots of confusion around here.
Please DO NOT include illustrations in your attached file. If your file size is much more than 1 MB, you are including special symbols or illustrations that should be deleted before your manuscript is attached.
Manuscript format: we are not picky. Just make it readable. It is important that no personal information be included in the attached file: Please do not put your name or address in the page headers or on a title page. Use only the book's title as identification.
We have lifted the restriction on the number of manuscripts from any one author, since a number of authors wanted to submit multiple manuscripts in the past. Multiple submissions will be judged separately; the judges will not know they are from the same author. Note that we do not encourage more than two manuscripts from one author. Much as we'd love the opportunity to read your additional manuscripts, we encourage authors to submit to multiple contests, and not put all their resources (i.e., contest fees) into a single contest.
2. Entry fee: the entry fee is $30. This can be paid through PayPal or by check to:
Leapfrog 2014 Fiction Contest, PO Box 505, Fredonia, NY 14063.
If mailing a check, please be sure your name, address, and manuscript title are on the check or legible on the envelope, or else written on a piece of paper enclosed. This allows us to match checks with entries. If the envelope and check contain all important information, no note or letter is needed.
To pay with PayPal, click on the button below.
You will receive an email acknowledgment when your manuscript is received. Please allow two or three days for the acknowledgment.
If you have not heard from us within three days, please let us know. Questions may also be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Judges include Leapfrog Press editors Lisa Graziano and Rebecca Schwab 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.
First Prize: publication contract offer from Leapfrog Press, with an advance payment, plus the finalist awards (see below).
Finalists: $150 and 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.
Past winners: 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009
2013 LEAPFROG FICTION CONTEST RESULTS
517 manuscripts, from 49 states and 16 countries (the one missing state? North Dakota): US, Canada, Columbia, UK, Dominica, France, Australia, Zimbabwe, Brazil, Indonesia, Ireland, The Netherlands, United Arab Emerites, Switzerland, Germany, and Greece.
Authors: 50% men, 47% women, 3% not determined by name
Story collections: 20%. Children's novels: 15%
Going Anywhere stories by David Armstrong (Nevada)
The Trench Angel a novel by Michael Gutierrez (North Carolina)
The Trickster Woodchuck stories by Ted Pelton (New York)
Neruda, the White Raven, the Black Cat a novel by Pietro Corsi (California)
You Were Never Lovelier a novel by Lev Olsen (New York)
A Kind of Freedom a novel by Margaret Wilkerson Sexton (California)
Third Daughter a novel by Vanessa Hua (California)
Only Ghosts a novel by Carrie-Ann Tkaczyk (Oregon)
I Didn’t Steal Your Mermaid a middle-grade novel by Richard Stim (California)
Regarding Theo a novel by Rebecca Spencer (Oregon)
The Canary Keeper stories by Dinah Cox (Oklahoma)
We Are the Children stories by Kate Krautkramer (Colorado)
Tales from Ma’s Watering Hole linked stories by Kaye Linden (Florida)
Cockpuncher stories by Zach Powers (Georgia)
The Demon Who Peddled Longing a novel by Khanh Ha (Maryland)
The Twenty and One Nights a novel by Barbara de la Cuesta (New Jersey)
Discoveries stories by Edie Cottrell (California)
Come by Here a novella and stores by Tom Noyes (Pennsylvania)
Stupid, Stupid Men stories by Jay Todd (Louisiana)
It Became Hard to Withhold Comfort stories by Jonny Diamond (New York)
Stealing for Orphans stories by John Blair (Texas)
Bind Me, I Still Can Sing stories by Michael Bourne (British Columbia, Canada)
Going Anywhere: stories by David Armstrong
The stories in Going Anywhere occupy the space between life’s dark realities and the fantastic leaps of faith people make to survive. A father seeks out a way to deal with the unexpected death of his daughter, a heroin-addicted mother kidnaps her own son to teach him about beauty, expectant parents wrestle with their own doubt, and one man searches for answers about the massacre of his neighbors. But beneath the human struggle is a prevailing sense of wonder—a public pool with miraculous properties, a church that requires its parishioners to carry the plasticized hands of corpses, a dog at a gas station with insight about a man’s marital indiscretions, and a worldwide epidemic of ghosts. Connecting them all is the journey: people traveling in search of solace, insight, clarity, and purpose, gathering up their own lives into discernible pieces of fact and conviction in the hopes of getting it right.
David Armstrong’s stories have won the Mississippi Review Prize, New South’s Annual Writing Contest, Yemassee’s William Richey Short Fiction Contest, Jabberwock Review’s Nancy D. Hargrove Editors’ Prize for Fiction, and Bear Deluxe Magazine’s Doug Fir Fiction Award, among others. He currently serves as fiction editor of Witness Magazine and is recipient of the Black Mountain Institute Fellowship at UNLV, where he is a PhD candidate in Fiction. His latest stories appear or are forthcoming in The Baltimore Review, The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, Potomac Review, Carve Magazine, and Apalachee Review. He lives in Las Vegas with his wife, Melinda, and their dog, Prynne.
The Trench Angel: a novel by Michael Gutierrez
Set in World War I France and 1919 Colorado, The Trench Angel explores the divisions caused by runaway capitalism and the fear instilled in a town by the specter of terrorism. When widower and war photographer Neal Stephens returns home, he discovers that Deputy Clyde O’Leary has been murdered and his sister has been charged with the crime. In his effort to free her, he investigates the Pinkerton Detective Agency and its plot to break the strike of a local coal miner union. Over the course of three violent days, Neal contends with a frightened town and his own father, Jesse Stephens, a notorious anarchist who disappeared fifteen years earlier. It is through this effort that he hopes to not only free his sister, but also understand his own part in the death of his wife. Part mystery, part dark comedy, The Trench Angel examines the havoc wreaked upon war’s survivors, while also showing the dark side of the American Dream.
Originally from Los Angeles, Michael Gutierrez holds an MFA in fiction from the University of New Hampshire and an MA in history from the University of Massachusetts. His work has been published by Scarab, The Pisgah Review, Untoward, and LA Weekly. He is currently a finalist for the James Jones First Novel Fellowship. He resides with his wife in Chapel Hill, where teaches at the University of North Carolina.
The Trickster Woodchuck: stories by Ted Pelton
Ted Pelton is the author of four books -- the novel Malcolm & Jack (and other Famous American Criminals); a short story collection, Endorsed by Jack Chapeau; and two novellas, Bhang and Bartleby, the Sportscaster. He has received National Endowment for the Arts and Isherwood Fellowships in fiction, as well as twice receiving residency fellowships at Vermont Studio Center. Stories from The Trickster Woodchuck have appeared in or are forthcoming in The Brooklyn Rail, Gargoyle, Altered Scale, Fiction International, Del Sol Review, Yellow Edemwald Field, and the anthology, The &Now Awards. Pelton is also the founder of the nonprofit fiction press Starcherone Books, where he serves as Publisher, and is a Professor in the Humanities department at Medaille College of Buffalo, NY.
The Trickster Woodchuck is a story cycle, mostly in the medium of prose fiction but including also narrative verse and texts that employ features of creative nonfiction, taking as its inspiration Native American trickster tales. Its hero, Woodchuck, has supernatural origins and is perhaps a savior figure to his people, woodchucks (a.k.a. marmots, groundhogs), who have been victimized both by sportsmen with rifles and by automobile drivers. But Woodchuck is also a trickster, unclear about his spiritual calling and seemingly more interested in pleasure than in fulfilling a proscribed destiny. In the style of trickster tale cycles, the text complicates any easy attempt to define its central protagonist. Woodchuck carries his penis in a box, and so is at turns the agent and the victim of his own desire, as his penis, with a mind seemingly of its own, escapes Woodchuck’s complete control. In a series of adventures, Woodchuck meets an undead Hank Williams, a living but fated John F. Kennedy, and a mystic Harriet Tubman, among other confrontations with and refigurings of American myth.
Neruda, the White Raven, the Black Cat: a novel by Pietro Corsi
Born in Molise, in the mid-50s Pietro Corsi settled in Rome where he worked as a translator for the film industry and collaborated on the creation of radio programs. While later visiting Canada, he was offered a position at the weekly newspaper Il Cittadino Canadese. His first novel, La Giobba (in English Winter in Montreal, Guernica Ed., Bressani Prize 2002), was born from that experience. He resumed work as a translator in Mexico City, with the Churubusco film studios, at the same time writing articles on Italian cinema for Cine Mundial. Today he lives in California, Mexico and Molise: “following the sun,” as he likes to say. Read more at pietrocorsiscrittore.blogspot.com.
Beginning with insidious thoughts contained in Pablo Neruda’s memorias, and brooding over the ancient legends of the Haida people in British Columbia (the white raven) and over Italian superstitions (the black cat), with transparent sensibility, the protagonist of this story transports us into the world of Italian emigration post World War II.
You Were Never Lovelier: a novel by Lev Olsen
You Were Never Lovelier is a comedy about a group of friends who become obsessed with money, matrimony and revenge. An excerpt titled "I Would Like a Large Lobster" appeared on the zine The Gay Utopia.
Cockpuncher: stories by Zach Powers
Zach Powers lives and writes in Savannah, Georgia. His work has appeared in The Brooklyn Review, Phoebe, PANK, Caketrain, The Bitter Oleander, Quiddity, The Nervous Breakdown, and elsewhere. He is the founder of the literary arts nonprofit Seersucker Live (SeersuckerLive.com). He leads the writers’ workshop at the Flannery O’Connor Childhood Home, where he also serves on the board of directors. His writing for television won an Emmy. Get to know him at ZachPowers.com.
All seventeen stories in Cockpuncher are set just a step outside of reality, where the weird and fantastical are commonplace. One story is about children defying gravity, another about a man’s marriage to a lightbulb. There is an astronaut stranded in space and a bathroom with an endless row of stalls. The Devil appears as a character, as does a banjoist, as does a miracle worker. A foreign exchange student, haunted and taunted by the yaks of his homeland, discovers suburbia. An actor keeps living in the world of a film after filming has ended. The stories are tied together by their themes of convergence and divergence, characters coming together or growing apart. These basic human relationships are revealed through the lens of the playfully absurd.
I Didn't Steal Your Mermaid: a middle-grade novel by Richard Stim
I Didn’t Steal Your Mermaid is the second book in the Frankie Jackson mystery series, set on the houseboats of Sausalito. In this novel, 12-year-old Frankie dreams she saves a mermaid. Meanwhile, the town of Sausalito is buzzing with rumors about a wealthy woman who disappeared into the Bay wearing a million-dollar necklace shaped like a mermaid. Is it just a coincidence? That's what Frankie has to find out!
Richard Stim is a former children’s audiobook producer, and the author of several children’s books including Ivan The Not-So-Terrible, recipient of the 2007 Honors Award from the National Parenting Publications Awards. Read more here.
We Are the Children: stories by Kate Krautkramer
Kate Krautkramer's work has appeared in such publications as North American Review, Colorado Review, Fiction, Creative Nonfiction, National Geographic Magazine, Washington Square, Zone 3, Mississippi Review, The Tusculum Review, South Dakota Review, Confrontation, Weber: The American West, andthe New York Times. She has been included in The Beacon Best, The Best American Nonrequired Reading, and Best of the West 2011. Krautkramer's commentary has also aired on National Public Radio’s Morning Edition and Day to Day. Kate lives with her husband and children in rural northwest Colorado.
Kate Krautkramer's short story collection We Are the Children explores issues of culture belonging and disconnection. The characters in the included stories struggle with emotional maturity and the affectations associated with assuming the role of adult or parent, particularly in chaotic or ambiguous cultural constructs. Stories from We Are the Children were also included in The Best of the West anthology and nominated for the Pushcart Prize.
Third Daughter: a novel by Vanessa Hua
On the eve of the Cultural Revolution, Third Daughter is recruited for a ballroom dance troupe at the Sea Palaces, the opulent home of the Chairman. She becomes his lover and, in time, his protégé. Despite plots against her by romantic rivals and scheming aides, she emerges from his tutelage as a model revolutionary too clever for her masters. A teasing glimpse of documentary footage inspired my novel: the jowly Chairman surrounded by giggling teenage dancers. Intrigued, I imagined how one might have influenced the course of the country’s youth revolution.
Vanessa Hua is an award-winning writer and journalist. Her fiction, essays, and articles have appeared in the Atlantic, ZYZZVA, The New York Times, Newsweek, Salon, and elsewhere. Previously, as a staff writer at the San Francisco Chronicle, she covered Asian American issues and filed stories from China, South Korea, Panama, and Burma. She will be a Steinbeck Fellow in Creative Writing and writes about three generations under one roof, living with her husband, twin toddlers, and her widowed mother, at threeunderone.blogspot.com. She can be found at www.vanessahua.com.
The Demon Who Peddled Longing: a novel by Khanh Ha
Khanh Ha’s debut novel is FLESH (June 2012, Black Heron Press). He graduated from Ohio University with a bachelor’s degree in Journalism. He is at work on a new novel. His short stories have appeared in Outside in Literary & Travel Magazine, Red Savina Review (RSR), Cigale Literary Magazine, Mobius, DUCTS, and Lunch Ticket,and are forthcoming in the summer issues of Glint Literary Journal, Zymbol, Taj Mahal Review, The Mascara Literary Review, The Underground Voices (2013 December Anthology), and The Long Story (2014 March Anthology).
Visit his author website at authorkhanhha.com.
Set in post-war Vietnam, The Demon Who Peddled Longing brings together the damned, the unfit, the brave, who succumb by their own doing to the call of fate. Yet their desire to survive and to face life again never dies, so that when someone like the boy who is rescued by a fisherwoman takes his leave in the end, there is nothing left but a longing in the heart that goes with him.
It Became Hard to Withhold Comfort: stories by Jonny Diamond
Jonny Diamond is a recent refugee from the world of NYC media and now splits his time between Brooklyn and the Hudson Valley. His short fiction has appeared in Avery Anthology, Hobart Pulp, Exquisite Corpse, Vol. 1 Brooklyn, PRISM, Geist, and other oddly named journals. More of his writing can be found at JonnyDiamond.tumblr.com.
A senile elevator man, an insomniac thief, a virtuosic pet grief counselor, a wounded rock star, a mute rottweiler—these are some of the characters that live and die in Jonny Diamond's first story collection, It Became Hard to Withhold Comfort. And though these stories do not all take place in the suburbs, the endless suburbs are here throughout—overlit parking lots, trash-strewn medians, half-empty housing developments—a malign growth blossoming underfoot, a country you can never leave, no matter how far you go.
The Canary Keeper: stories by Dinah Cox
Dinah Cox’s stories have been published or are forthcoming in Prairie Schooner, Cream City Review, Copper Nickel, J Journal, Salt Hill, and elsewhere.She’s a longtime Associate Editor at Cimarron Review at Oklahoma State University in Stillwater, the fictionalized version of which acts as the setting in the manuscript of her story collection, The Canary Keeper. The collection also features several linked stories about actors, dancers, dentists, restaurant waiters, and librarians, artists and thinkers all.
Stealing for Orphans: stories by John Blair
My short story collection, American Standard, was the 2002 winner of the Drue Heinz Literature prize and was published by the University of Pittsburgh Press. I’ve also published two books of poetry, The Occasions of Paradise (U. Tampa Press, 2012) and The Green Girls (LSU Press/Pleiades Press 2003). I also have two novels from Ballantine/Del Rey & poems & stories in Poetry, The New York Quarterly, The Sewanee Review, The Antioch Review, New Letters, and elsewhere.
Bind Me, I Still Can Sing: a novella and stories by Michael Bourne
Bind Me, I Still Can Sing is a collection of stories about love and all the trouble it can cause. In the title story, a young man must choose between his affection for a new girlfriend and the much older and more twisted love that binds him to his mother. In another story, set in New York City in the 1990s, an acting student falls in love with a wealthy, seriously ill classmate who harbors a tantalizing secret. And in the collection's final, novella-length story, a young black law school graduate who has just learned she is pregnant with her white boyfriend's child spends a painful weekend as the only nonwhite guest at a reunion of her boyfriend's extended family held at an eighteenth-century mansion in Southern Virginia located just miles from where her own ancestors were once enslaved.
Michael Bourne is a teacher and writer based in Vancouver, Canada. The stories in this collection have appeared either in print or online at The Cortland Review, River City, Red Wheelbarrow, The Orange City Review, and Tin House. He is a contributing editor for Poets & Writers Magazine and a staff writer for the literary site The Millions. His essays and reviews have appeared online in the Los Angeles Review of Books, The Economist,The Baltimore Sun, and The Common. Read more about Michael Bourne here.
The Twenty and One Nights: a novel by Barbara de la Cuesta
Barbara de la Cuesta lived for fifteen years in South America, where she taught English and wrote feature articles for the Caracas Daily Journal.
Her submission, The Twenty and One Nights, grew out of an anecdote told to her by a friend, whose ex-husband actually walked in one night, having gotten absent mindedly, or drunkenly, off a commuter train at the old stop where they had lived together many years. What follows is a product of her imagination, which is frequently fed by her own experiences with eccentric renters, church choirs, restoring old houses, raising a daughter, and “laughter in kitchens.”
She has one published novel, The Spanish Teacher, winner of the Gival Press Fiction Prize in 2007. The Twenty and One Nights and four others of her novels are available in the Kindle Store.
In of 2008, she received a fellowship to the Millay Colony, where she completed her last novel. She is also a past recipient of a fellowship in fiction from the Massachusetts Artists’ Foundation, and the New Jersey Council on the Arts.
A Kind of Freedom: a novel by Margaret Wilkerson Sexton
In A Kind of Freedom, 22-year old American Robin Miller travels to the Dominican Republic to volunteer in a small, Haitian-Dominican village. She has grand plans to transform a struggling clinic and forms an especially close friendship with Neseley, the community’s respected leader. Then a brazen new American volunteer named Diamond arrives and leaves an unsettling impression on everyone who meets her. Despite the community’s reaction, Robin and Diamond are drawn to each other. But when Diamond has an affair with Neseley’s husband, the reputation of the community’s most highly regarded family is destroyed. Robin must decide whether to betray Diamond, whom she’s come to rely on, or Neseley, her true friend and the pillar of the community she set out to help. A Kind of Freedom is told through Neseley’s, Diamond’s and Robin’s perspectives with each character telling the part of the story that elicits her deepest shame. The book depicts the idealism of a generation and explores themes of race, culture, and class from a contemporary perspective.
Margaret Wilkerson Sexton studied Creative Writing at Dartmouth College and wrote a book of poetry there entitled Bleach. Born and raised in New Orleans, she lived in the Dominican Republic for a year after college. She is a lawyer by training, and has written one novel, A Kind of Freedom. Her work has been published in Grey Sparrow Journal.
Regarding Theo: a novel by Rebecca Spencer
Regarding Theo is written from the perspective of four very different people. This book introduces well-intentioned characters who weave together to create a story about loneliness, imperfection and true love. Rebecca Spencer is a writer by night and an outpatient pediatric speech-language pathologist by day.
Discoveries: stories by Edie Cottrell
The twelve stories in Discoveries take the reader to the fictitious town of Red Wolf where the swampy Texas heat seeps in even behind closed doors. One schoolgirl, who still believes in fairytale endings, settles for a one-night stand while another must unlearn everything her mother taught her about men. Grieving his mother’s death, a man discovers he never knew her, or his girlfriend, at all. A ghost visits a young woman who has moved into her dream house, an attorney confronts his own demons when his best friend is struck with a life-threatening illness, and the entire community ponders the too-close relationship between two sisters which has ended in tragedy. Caught between their dreams and reality, the people of Red Wolf do the best they can in a world that often harbors dark secrets but just as often promises a discovery which might just change everything.
Edie Cottrell grew up in San Antonio, Texas. After receiving her B.A. from the University of Texas, Austin, and her M.A. from the University of California, Berkeley, she taught English and humanities at Merritt College in Oakland, California. Recent fiction has appeared in Proud to Be: Writing by American Warriors (fiction contest finalist), The Healing Muse, and Puzzles of Faith and Patterns of Doubt. Currently, she is working on a novel.
Stupid, Stupid Men: stories by Jay Todd
Stupid, Stupid Men is a collection of short stories about characters trying to get a grasp on what it means to be whom they are. While all can be considered literary fiction, many, such as 'The Man Who Shot Henry McCarty,' which was published in Fiction Weekly, and 'Goodbye, Mr. Wonderful,' which is forthcoming in the Xavier Review, play with the conventions of other genres. The collection begins with 'This Is Where,' which was awarded Second Prize in the first annual Southern California Review Fiction Contest. 'Goodnight, Reilly' was originally published in the Chicago Quarterly Review, 'Not Josef' in Paradigm, 'Horatio' in Phantasmagoria, and 'Outside Evansville' in The Armchair Aesthete. The collection concludes with 'When Will It End?' which was nominated for a Pushcart Prize after appearing in 971 Menu last year.
Jay Todd received his Ph.D. from the Center for Writers at the University of Southern Mississippi. He teaches literature and writing at Xavier University of Louisiana in New Orleans and lives in Bogalusa, LA, with his wife and children. You can follow him at twitter.com/jtodd1973
Come by Here: A Novella and Stories by Tom Noyes
The pieces in Come by Here: A Novella and Stories are set in and around the Great Lakes region, and each in some way engages an environmental crisis or controversy. One story is set in the infamous Love Canal neighborhood of Niagara Falls, NY, and another takes place in Battle Creek, MI, the site of the 2010 Kalamazoo River oil spill. Another story explores the controversies surrounding commercial fishing and invasive species in the Great Lakes, and the novella and title piece of the collection, set in what is now the ghost town of Centralia, PA, treats the subject of Pennsylvania’s mining legacy.
Tom Noyes has published two story collections, Behold Faith and Other Stories (2003) and Spooky Action at a Distance and Other Stories (2008), both with Dufour Editions. The books garnered laudatory reviews in The New York Times Book Review, Kirkus Reviews and other forums, and were named finalists for such prizes as the Flannery O’Connor Award, the Grace Paley Prize, the Bakeless Prize and Stanford Libraries’ William Saroyan Award. Tom teaches in the creative writing program at Penn State Erie, The Behrend College.
Tales from Ma's Watering Hole: linked stories by Kaye Linden
Ma, a ninety- nine year old Australian aboriginal shaman, owns a Sydney café where the lonely and homeless gather. Each evening, Ma, or one of her quirky patrons tells a story.
Ma’s patrons feel disconnected from their lost outback lands, but gain comfort in community and stories. Tales from Ma’s Watering Hole is a linked story collection that conveys the sardonic “tongue-in-cheek” humor of the Australian— resilient in hard times, spirits buoyed through camaraderie. These tales weave together nostalgic themes relating to lands lost, families scattered and the joyful support found in human companionship. Ma is the playful trickster who holds these stories together.
Kaye was born and raised in Australia and taught by native aboriginals how to throw a boomerang. As a result, she became interested in their mythology and hence Ma’s tales were eventually born. She currently lives in the USA. She has an MFA in fiction, is past editor and short fiction editor with the Bacopa Literary Review, current assistant editor for Soundings Review, short fiction adult education teacher at Santa Fe College, and medical editor for “epresent learning lecture reviews.” Kaye was nominated in 2011 for a Pushcart prize for a tale from “Tales from Ma’s Watering hole.” Her short stories, prose and haiku have been published in multiple journals. Visit Kaye at www.kayelinden.com and sign up for her blog Singing for my friends.
Only Ghosts: a novel by Carrie-Ann Tkaczyk
Only Ghosts is not a ghost story, but the Nepali villagers of Batuwaa don’t know this. They believe an ancient soul dwells in a mysterious pool near their village. Asha and Arjun, lovers from separate castes, clandestinely meet in this hidden grove and discover its secrets. Certain that nothing haunts them, they perceive they are safe. But during Nepal’s tumultuous transition to democracy, no one is safe. When Asha and Arjun’s forbidden love gets tangled up in the village’s visions of wealth and revolution, the lovers are forced make a difficult choice between challenging their traditions and losing one another. Their choice will forever alter the sleepy village of Batuwaa.
The author experienced Nepal’s democratic movement while serving as a Peace Corps volunteer in the early 1990s, the time period of this story. Only Ghost also received Honorable Mention in the 2013 Great Novel Contest. The author and a group of six poets and musicians also put the story to music and performed it in 2012. In addition to Only Ghosts, the author’s writing has won Best Short Story at Third Goal, and is found in publications such as Portland Bridge Poem Anthology, ECS Nepal Magazine, The Bicycle Review, ABC-Clio, and Peace Corps' Digital Library. She is a founding member of the writing group The Guttery (www.theguttery.com), and lives today with her daughter in Portland, Oregon, where she teaches high school students from around the world, and writes and performs stories, poetry, and songs. Learn more at the Only Ghosts website: https://sites.google.com/site/kalirati/
cover art by Marianne Oberdoerster
2012 LEAPFROG FICTION CONTEST
Adult Fiction Winners
Children's Fiction Winners
(2011 winners -- 2010 winners -- 2009 winners)
Contest information: Total adult manuscript entries: 424. 46% women authors. 15% story collections. Total children's manuscripts: 122. 79% women authors. 44 US states
represented, plus the Virgin Islands. Non-US entries
came from the UK, Canada, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, Mexico,
Israel, France, China, Germany, India, Tasmania, Japan, and Kenya.
Being Dead in South Carolina (stories) by Jacob White (Vermont, USA)
"Fresh, fierce, sad, funny, deep. The author is a natural story teller, with a voice that is like music.... This book sings. It’s real, it’s beautiful." --Lev Raphael, finalist judge
I Truly Lament (stories) by Mathias Freese (Nevada, USA)
Fire Year (stories) by Jason K. Friedman (California, USA) winner of the Mary McCarthy Prize; forthcoming from Sarabande Books
Derby Widows (stories) by Steven LaFond (Massachusetts, USA)
During a Dry Season (novel) by Portia Tewogbade (Georgia, USA)
Safe in Your Head (stories) by Laura Valeri (Georgia, USA)
The Heart of June (novel) by Mason Radkoff (Pennsylvania, USA)
The Hundred Year Old Man (novella) by Jane Mushabac (New York, USA)
The Princess and the Pimp (novella) by Tony Adam Mochama (Nairobi, Kenya)
The Sound in High Cold Places (novella) by Sarah Van Arsdale (New York, USA)
Without a Dog, It’s Just a Life (stories) by Tempa Lautze (Washington, USA)
Lone Wolves by John Smelcer (Alaska, USA)
The Icon Thief by Anna Angelidakis (New York, USA)
Summer of the Swallowtails by Sarah Prevatt (Florida, USA)
Game On! (stories) by Len Spacek (Ohio, USA)
Run Away Home by Robin Tzucker (Washington, USA)
Home Base by Suzanne Kamata (Japan)
The Adventure of Crow-Boy by David Fuller Cook (North Carolina, USA)
The Falls of the Wyona by David Brendan Hopes (North Carolina, USA)
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Adult Fiction Descriptions and Author Bios
Jacob White "The Days Down Here"
The stories in The Days Down Here concern people who no longer recognize themselves, who have arrived, like the Sunbelt itself, to a strange day that seems disconnected from all the old days, the old stories, the old selves. Yet it's always on this day we must answer for ourselves -- right an overturned car, recover the body of a brother, convince a son of our worth and his. We are adrift with bad judgment, a little loose in the head, but searching for the correction.
A South Carolina native, Jacob White studied creative writing at Binghamton University and the University of Houston, where he received the Donald Barthelme Memorial Fellowship in Fiction. His fiction has appeared in many journals, including The Georgia Review, New Letters, Salt Hill, New Orleans Review, and The Sewanee Review, from whom he received the Andrew Lytle Prize. He currently lives in Vermont with his wife and son and teaches creative writing at Johnson State College, where he edits Green Mountains Review.
Mathias Freese "I Truly Lament: working through the Holocaust"
I Truly Lament is a varied collection of stories, inmates in death camps, survivors of these camps, disenchanted Golems complaining about their tasks, Holocaust deniers and their ravings, and collectors of Hitler curiosa (only recently a few linens from Hitler’s bedroom suite went up for sale!) as well as an imagined interview with Eva Braun during her last days in the bunker. The intent is to perceive the Holocaust from several points of view.
Author of The i Tetralogy (Wheatmark, 2006), a Holocaust novel, winner of the Allbooks Review Editor’s Choice Award 2007, and Down to a Sunless Sea (Wheatmark, 2007), a collection of short fiction, Indie Excellence Finalist Book Awards, Mathias B. Freese is a retired psychotherapist and teacher. Non-fiction articles have appeared in the New York Times, Voices: The Art and Science of Psychotherapy, Pilgrimage and other journals. In 2005 the Society of Southwestern Authors honored him with a first-place award for personal essay/memoir. In November/December 2011 Mensa Bulletin published this essay in revised form. In 2011 ten stories from his new collection, I Truly Lament—Working Through the Holocaust, were published, the latest being “Slave,” Del Sol Review #18, 2011. His writer’s blog is www.mathiasbfreese.com. This Möbius Strip of Ifs, a collection of essays written over four decades, was published in February 2012.
Mark Lyons "Brief Eulogies at Roadside Shrines"
Brief Eulogies at Roadside Shrines are meditations on how strangers meet in the most unlikely places and move on with a new perspective of their place in the world. A snake-handling preacher loses the anointing and finds faith and redemption in a junk yard. A hitch hiker feasts on roadkill with a hobo on the plains and discovers the cosmos. Raven, the great trickster of the First Nations, finds flight on high tension power lines and breaks the treaty between the new nations of Canada and the U.S. A Mexican-American Border Patrol officer arrests a mojado--a wetback--and is asked a question which makes him confront his own history. A soldier returns from Iraq, his navigation system out of whack, and meditates on the fate of his tumbler pigeon. These are stories of longing to restore lost connections, of surviving wars within our families and overseas, how our lives change in an instant when we're not looking, of regrets and forgiveness.
An ex-alcoholic watches two teens falling in love in an all-night diner while listening to Louie Louie and wonders if he is brave enough to find his daughter. A son tells family stories to ease his dying father to sleep, and confronts the anger and lost chances for connection within those stories. A woman who has never had a lover awakes on a flight to Europe to find the head of the man in the next seat asleep on her shoulder, and tries to imagine. An American artist brought to his knees returns to a Mexican village and rediscovers color while sitting on a bench with a painter of walls, watching the paint dry. These stories are about communities, of people finding ways to survive the night together, of pulling each other out of sinkholes. A rural village embraces a Vietnam vet and tries to keep him afloat, to steer him to safety. The inmates of a chronic public hospital ward, a hermetic magic mountain, dream of escape to a life outside and confront the reality that this is their last home, their last stop on the line, that all they have is each other.
Mark Lyons lives in Philadelphia. His fiction has been published in several literary journals and has been read in the Reading Aloud program at Interact Theater, in Philadelphia. He is the author of Espejos y Ventanas / Mirrors and Windows: Oral Histories of Mexican Farmworkers and Their Families, written in Spanish and English. He created a theater piece from Espejos y Ventanas, which was performed at the Border Book Festival in Mesilla, New Mexico. Mark was nominated for the Pushcart Prize, and awarded Pennsylvania Council on the Arts Fellowships in literature in 2003 and 2009. Currently he is co-director of the Philadelphia Storytelling Project, which works with recently arrived immigrants and high school students to teach them to create digital stories about their lives.
Jason K. Friedman "Fire Year" Winner of the Mary McCarthy Prize, to be published in 2013 by Sarabande Books
FIRE YEAR is a collection of long and short stories that draw on my experiences as a gay man, a southerner, and a Jewish person. It’s up to someone—anyone—other than me to say what they mean or discuss their themes. In selecting these stories for this collection I did notice that a religious outlook was a given in many of these characters’ lives. But I don’t think the stories themselves reflect a religious outlook. The religious characters and the ones who have no use for it are all standing on the fault, all of them in danger of being swallowed up, all of them capable of stepping away.
Jason K. Friedman was born in Savannah and works as a technical writer in San Francisco, where he lives with his husband, filmmaker Jeffrey Friedman, and their dog, Lefty. He graduated from Yale and the Johns Hopkins Writing Seminars. His work has appeared in literary journals and anthologies including Best American Gay Fiction and the cultural-studies reader Goth: Undead Subculture. He has published two children’s books, including the thriller Phantom Trucker. He was the runner-up in the Associated Writing Programs Award Series in the Novel. He won the Karma Foundation-Moment Magazine Short Fiction Prize for "Blue," the first story in FIRE YEAR, as well as the Mary McCarthy Prize in Short Fiction for the collection as a whole.
Sui Li "Transoceanic Lights"
Told from the perspective of a five-year-old boy, Transoceanic Lights depicts the interlocking lives of three families who immigrate to the US from post-Mao China. The focus settles on Ma, the mother of the unnamed narrator, who becomes pregnant with her second child as financial tensions threaten to rend apart an already failing marriage. Her struggles compound when her husband suffers a broken arm from a car accident and her father back home falls ill with a mysterious lung disease. Her only solace lies in the distant promise of better lives for her children. Meanwhile, her son spends his days in school dreaming about his homeland, longing for its comfort and familiarity while his two cousins, one precocious and the other rambunctious, assimilate effortlessly. Loosely based on the author’s first four years in the US, Transoceanic Lights is a story of familial love and discord, selfishness and sacrifice, and hope and futility.
S. Li was born in Guangzhou, China in 1984 and came to the US in 1989. He graduated with an A.B. in Biochemical Sciences from Harvard in 2006 and an M.D. from the University of Massachusetts in 2010. He currently lives in Boston where he works as a neurology resident. When he is not at the hospital, he is either sleeping or writing his second novel.
Steven LaFond "Derby Widows"
Derby Widows is a collection of linked stories set in the world of modern women's roller derby. These stories follow the skaters and their loved ones through the physical hits on the track and the emotional toll of sacrificing free time, health, and relationships in order to play this growing amateur sport. Told from the perspective of the lovers of these skaters, Derby Widows is about the shifting dynamics in the lives of these couples and how the non-skating partners cope with the skaters' new identities. Some succumb to the behemoth and become as involved in the sport as their wives, others are left holding down the fort at home, resentful of their partners’ new love; a sport with which the widow(er)s cannot compete.
Steven LaFond is a writer who lives in Arlington, Massachusetts, with his wife Jessie and their pets Ari and Goblin. He received his MFA from the Bennington Writing Seminars. His fiction and essays have appeared in apt magazine and derbylife.com. He is an announcer and former roller derby widow.
Portia Tewogbade "During a Dry Season"
It is September 1980, the beginning of Nigeria’s dry season, and Garnett Adewale, a young, obese, African-American striver from a notorious Brooklyn housing project, has moved with her banker husband, Kayode, to his home in Kaduna. The wintry mornings and sand storms from the Sahara form a vivid backdrop for her vain struggles to conceive a child and adapt to an unfamiliar culture. She nearly unravels under badgering from her mother-in-law, attacks by malaria and Moslem fanatics, and betrayal by her philandering husband, but somehow she holds on until her dry season blows away.
Portia Tewogbade is a former English instructor at Georgia Tech and Federal Government College in Nigeria, where she lived for three years. She has received awards from the Sandhills Writers Conference and the Atlanta Writers Club. Her short stories have been published or scheduled for publication in an anthology, Getting in Touch with the Source, and several journals, including African Voices, Mobius, Hawaii Pacific Review, and Kweli. Portia lives in Lithonia, Ga., near her hometown of Atlanta, and is completing a collection of short stories.
Laura Valeri "Safe in Your Head"
A middle class Italian family finds reason to emigrate to America when Italy is threatened by the Red Brigades’ terrorist movement of the 1970’s. The family patriarch manages a transfer to the United States, certain of better prospects and of a more secure future for his family, but each of the family members experiences a deeper kind of upheaval, negotiating personal losses and the estrangement that comes as a result of the psychic scarring from the violence left behind. A grandmother, a mother, and a granddaughter each discovers the many insidious ways in which war warps and defines life, even at a distance of decades.
Laura Valeri is the author of The Kind of Things Saints Do (U of Iowa Press), an Iowa/John Simmons Award winner, and winner of the Binghamton University John Gardner Award, and the author of Safe in Your Head. Her work appears in numerous magazines, including Glimmer Train, Big Bridge, Creative Nonfiction, Gulfstream, Night Train, V.I.A., Waccamaw, The Adirondack Review, The Patterson Literary Review and Conjunctions. She was winner of the Glimmer Train Family Matters competition and a finalist of the Glimmer Train Open Fiction Awards as well as a Finalist of the New Letters Awards in fiction. Her nonfiction is also published in Lee Gutkind’s Our Roots Are Deep With Passion: Creative Nonfiction Collects New Essays by Italian American Writers (Other Press/Creative Nonfiction). Laura Valeri has an MFA from Florida International University and an MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. She was a 2008 Walter E Dakins Fellow at the Sewanee Writers Conference. She is Associate Professor of Creative Writing specializing in fiction at Georgia Southern University.
Mason Radkoff "The Heart of June"
By virtue of wanting little, Walt Farnham has it all. Never mind that he lives above his ex-wife’s garage, or that his once-promising academic career has segued into lazy days spent as a handyman who manages only to repair himself each night to a corner bar and its motley collection of fellows who care even less. In this coming-of-middle-age tale, our wry hero’s comfortable state is thrown into turmoil as he is made to face the mortality of prickly Miss June Creighton, a manipulative octogenarian whose sharp tongue and unbending propriety are eclipsed only by her insistence that he do his chores. While Miss June’s once-great family fortune may have fallen, her dignity has not, and she relies on him to maintain both her venerable estate and the illusion that little has changed. But when Walt’s daily performance drops below even his own questionable standards, the old woman’s puppeteering reaches new heights, and she presents the unsuspecting man with not only a monumental task, but also with a path toward peace with his place in the world. Poignant, funny, and, at times, madcap, The Heart of June examines how we express our love — in all of the messy, misguided, and redemptive ways that we can.
Mason Radkoff’s short fiction was included in a three-month-long installation at the Three Rivers Arts Festival show By Design. The installation included 13 framed short stories, accompanied by a vintage refrigerator door that was the touchstone for the varying voices in the work. He was a semi-finalist in the 2012 Steeltown Film Factory screenwriting competition with his screenplay Beginning Chemistry. A lifelong Pittsburgher, he is inspired by the city’s textures and eclectic social fabric, and these sensibilities find their way into his work. The Heart of June is Mason’s first novel-length manuscript. He is currently polishing his second.
Jane Mushabac "The Hundred Year Old Man"
The Hundred Year Old Man is a short novel about a Turkish Jew born early in the 20th century in the fast deteriorating Ottoman Empire. He is from a city on the Strait of Dardanelles, a narrow waterway at the center of the world, dividing Europe from Asia. In a time of war and scarcity, the main character seeks survival. He is looking for food and meaning. The book’s brief episodes go back and forth in time, and include glimpses of the countryside in early 1900s Turkey and the streetscapes of late 1900s New York.
Jane Mushabac is a New Yorker. She has had fellowships from the Mellon Foundation and Harvard University. Her writing about Judeo-Spanish characters includes a radio play, Mazal Bueno, commissioned for NPR broadcast with Tovah Feldshuh in the lead, and a short story in Judeo-Spanish. Her fiction has appeared in Chautauqua, Midstream, Conversations, and Sephardic Horizons and has been anthologized. A Short and Remarkable History of New York City, which she co-authored, was selected as a “Best of the Best” by the American Association of University Presses and is in its fifth printing. Her writing on Melville has appeared in an MLA anthology and the Columbia Journal of American Studies. Mushabac teaches creative writing at City University of New York, where she is associate professor of English.
Tony Adam Mochama "The Princess and The Pimp"
Tony Mochama is a popular performance poet in Nairobi, Kenya, leading columnist with the Standard Group of Newspapers, and holder of a Law degree from the University of Nairobi. He is the author of a poetry collection (What if I’m a Literary Gangsta?, 2007) and a short story anthology (The Road to Eldoret, 2009), and the forthcoming Goethe-Institute-sponsored collection of essays (The Last Night Runner, 2012) about Nairobi's nocturnal escapades. He has spoken at creative writing workshops in Russia and Canada in the recent past, and is a guest lecturer in July this year at the DisQuiet International Literary Festival in Lisbon, Portugal. THE PRINCESS AND THE PIMP is his “loopy take on the pimps, drug lords, sex safarists and dirty politicians who litter our local landscape.”
Sarah Van Arsdale "The Sound in High Cold Places"
The Sound In High Cold Places is set in roughly the year 1000 A.D. in the
high Canadian arctic. The original inspiration came from a trip I took to
the arctic, which made me want to write about people in a setting very
different from my own. To concentrate the story, I chose to set it before
the arrival of any European explorers, and to focus on one small band of
people. And yet, ultimately, it¹s about human intelligence and emotion, as
we enter the world of one character, Simut, and see her experience in a way
that, I hope, helps us see the commonality we all share: the quest---after
food and shelter---for understanding and love.
Sarah Van Arsdale¹s third novel, Grand Isle, was published by SUNY Press in
April, 2012. She is the author of Toward Amnesia (Riverhead, 1996) and Blue
(Univ of Tennessee Press, 2003) which was the 2002 winner of the Peter
Taylor Prize. She holds an MFA from Vermont College, and teaches creative
writing at New York University, City University of New York, and works as a
private manuscript consultant. In addition to writing fiction, she makes
short animated films from her watercolors.
Tempa Lautze "Without a Dog, It’s Just a Life"
Without a Dog, It's Just a Life comprises 14 short stories for and about folks who love dogs. I believe loyalty is the common thread that binds these stories together. A hunting dog saves a man's life; a succession of German Shepherds enriches a 60 year marriage; a teller of tall tales uses a Border Collie to teach a little respect; a widower seeks healing through the companionship of a Finnish Spitz; a cartoonist shares his ordinary dog with a charmed readership; a woman and her Schnauzer wait more than 25 years for the return of a lover; a Norwegian Elkhound solves a mystery; a 'ghostly' Husky guards a Russian immigrant; an elderly dog trainer tells the true story of a long ago circus fire; a young woman finds romance in spite of her seven pound puppies; a Welsh Corgi runs away and sets off events that lead to a wedding; the reluctant inmate of an assisted-living facility longs for her little Maltese; a wartime grandmother raises her son's boy with the help of a Scottie pup; a lonely teenager falls for an injured Black-and-Tan hound.
I have raised, bred, shown and written about pure bred dogs for many years. Awards include: One first place, two second places and an honorable mention in the annual AKC Gazette fiction competitions. I have also received two Maxwell Medals (awarded annually for the best canine short fiction) from the Dog Writer's Association of America. Changing gears a bit, I have recently added short stories on less specialized subjects to my writing repertoire. "The Ulysses Contract" was awarded 3rd place in the Write on the River competition in May, 2012. My first novel, Grievous Matters, is currently being critiqued by the Wenatchee Valley Writers Group.
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Children's Fiction Descriptions and Author Bios
John Smelcer "Lone Wolves"
Deneena Yazzie isn’t like other 16-year-old girls. While most teenage girls spend their time listening to music or watching music videos, surfing the net, talking or texting on the phone for hours, Deneena spends her time in the woods or on the trail learning to run a dogsled with her grandfather, training for the Last Great Race, a 1,000 mile long test of courage and endurance through the vast Alaskan wilderness, crossing frozen creeks and rivers, mountains and valleys, and the treacherous, frozen Arctic sea. Most people in her village make fun of her, calling her a tomboy, while others demean her because she is only part Indian with blue eyes. But Denny, the name most people call her, is at home in the wilderness and especially on the trail. She is what some people call a “lone wolf.”
Lone Wolves is a multi-genre adventure story for middle school and young adult readers, complete with diary entries and poems about finding meaning in modern life, about being true to one’s self, about resisting peer pressure and staying above the influence, about the value of intergenerational friendships, and about maintaining connections to one’s heritage.
John Smelcer is the author of more than forty books. His first novel, The Trap, published worldwide and hailed as an “epic” and “masterpiece,” received the James Jones Prize for the First Novel, was an American Library Association BBYA Top Ten Pick, a VOYA Top Shelf Selection, and a New York Public Library Notable Book. Nobel Prize winner Elie Wiesel (Night, etc.) called his novel The Great Death “A beautiful and poignant story.” The Great Death was short-listed for the 2011 William Allen White Award. His third YA multicultural adventure novel, Edge of Nowhere, was also published in the UK. The Independent, one of England’s largest newspapers, named it one of the “Best Teen Books of 2010.” John’s short story collection, Alaskan, was a gold medal winner in the 2011 international eLit Book Awards. His Alaska Native mythology books include The Raven and the Totem (introduced by Joseph Campbell). His short stories, poems, essays, and interviews have appeared in hundreds of magazines. John currently lives in a cabin in Talkeetna, the climbing capitol of Alaska, where he is writing a YA adventure novel about climbing. His website is johnsmelcer.com.
Sarah Prevatt "Summer of the Swallowtails"
Summer of the Swallowtails is the story of Anise Gallagher, a fifteen-year-old girl who has been living a quiet—albeit lonely—life with her ill-natured father and reserved older brother since her mother left when she was only seven. The novel begins in the summer of 1990, just as unprecedented swarms of swallowtail butterflies invade a rural Florida town. Anise has been warned that butterflies can represent a coming evil, and she is inclined to believe the myth when a local pastor is found murdered. The controversy surrounding his death soon brings to light secrets about her family, and she is ultimately forced to question both her faith and family loyalty as the conflict escalates.
Sarah Prevatt holds an MFA from the University of Central Florida. Her short fiction has appeared in several literary journals, including Vestal Review, The Chaffin Journal, Bound Off, and Saw Palm: Florida Literature and Art. She has taught creative writing at the University of Central Florida and Miami-Dade College and has also served as Director of Maitland Poets & Writers. Her website is www.sarahprevatt.com.
Anna Angelidakis "The Icon Thief"
The Icon Thief takes place on a remote Greek isle during World War II. The villagers have bravely endured abuse and famine under the German occupation, but when the Archangel, a beloved icon, is stolen from the local church, they feel that their lives have been upended forever. Sophia, a twelve-year-old orphan, is caught in the middle, seeing and hearing things that lead her closer to the mystery of the stolen Archangel. Most puzzling to her is Dieter, a charismatic SS officer who befriends her for reasons of his own. While the villagers speculate about the possible suspects, Sophia accidentally witnesses a suspicious transaction between some local villagers and German soldiers. Called to testify, Sophia has to choose between telling the truth or betraying her people. After a series of harrowing revelations that test her familiar world, Sophia realizes that truth can be found in the most unexpected ways.
Anna was born in Athens, Greece. Daughter of a sea captain, she spent her early childhood on board a 40,000-ton cargo ship. From The Great Wall of China to the headhunters of New Guinea and across the Strait of Magellan, she was quickly immersed in a world where reality and imagination blended.
She earned a BFA in Art & Design and an MA in Cultural Anthropology and continued to write. Her story The Night The Birds Came has appeared in Eight Million Stories and her novella, Iris Unbound, was a semi-finalist in the 2003 William Faulkner Competition. She’s a member of The Society of Children’s’ Book Writers and Illustrators and PEN American Center.
Anna is represented by Erzsi Deak at Hen&ink Literary.
Len Spacek "Game On"
Game On! is a book of short stories about sports geared toward the young adult audience. In this collection, the characters use sports to help them face a variety of life’s obstacles. David utilizes what he has learned from playing football to face a cancer diagnosis in the short story Double Sessions. In The Back Nine, Kenny comes to understand fair play on the golf course, while Chris finds out that life is a lot like track. They both come down to seconds. Mike uses basketball to help him with his anxiety attacks. Sam learns boxing from Carlos, a former golden gloves champion, in order to stand up to the bullies he faces at school. For Suah, soccer is a form of therapy to come to terms with losing his family. Baseball is Franky’s way of dealing with life’s adversity. Woody Fletcher explains what it takes to be a state champion wrestler. In Back on the Board, Tyler uses surfing to face his fears and come to grips with his best friend's death. The short stories demonstrate that sports are really life being played out on a different stage.
As an athlete and coach for a good portion of his life, Len Spacek has played and coached everything from college football to varsity basketball to middle school track. His purpose for writing these stories is to entertain and at the same time demonstrate that sports are about so much more than just competition and having fun. Sports teach us about life in such profound ways. Len completed his undergraduate degree from the University of Dayton, his master’s degree in Education from John Carroll University, and his creative writing degree from the Northeast Ohio MFA program. He is a middle school English teacher and coach. He was a finalist in the 2010 Leapfrog Press contest for his Woodstock story, The Summer of Love. His passions are his family, writing, teaching, playing the guitar, and just about any sport.
Robin Tzucker "Run Away Home"
Sixteen-year-old Alissa has bounced between foster homes and her drug-addicted mother for years. When her brother, Trent, learns that their mom is about to be released from prison and wants them back, they decide upon a plan of action that will take them from Bakersfield to Seattle in search of the father neither of them remembers. Faced with the possibility of a future without her brother’s protection, Alissa is willing to do almost anything to avoid landing in her abusive mother’s care again. As they make their way north, Alissa knows that even one slip-up might mean the difference between finding a safe home or ending up back in the system. Frightening situations, new friends and unexpected betrayals force Alissa to grapple with the unintended consequences of her decisions and ultimately compel her to decide whether to blindly follow her brother or find a way to break the bonds of her past. Run Away Home is the captivating story of a teen girl’s search for belonging that stretches our understanding of what it means to be part of a family.
Robin Amada Tzucker grew up in California but has lived near Seattle, Washington since 1990. She graduated from the University of California, Santa Cruz and Seattle University and began writing again after her three children graduated high school. Her short story Whupped was published in My First Year in the Classroom. She teaches fourth grade in Bellevue, blogs about the ups and downs of life, and is currently working on another YA novel.
Suzanne Kamata "Home Base"
Fifteen-year-old Satoshi Matsumoto spent the last three years living in Atlanta where he was the star of his middle-school baseball team - a slugger with pro potential, according to his American coach. Now that his father's overseas assignment has finished, he's moved back to his hometown in rural Japan but he no longer fits in. Living abroad has changed him, and his old friends are suspicious of his newly acquired foreign ways. They also don't get why he's suddenly hanging around with the mysterious Misa, who is rumored to be earning money through dating older men. As if that's not bad enough, his grandfather, who's suddenly obsessed with his pet seal robot, doesn't seem to remember him. He joins the baseball team at his new high school in Japan, confident that he can help them get to the National Tournament at Koshien, an event on par with the Super Bowl in the U.S. His new coach, however, is more concerned with his poor bunting than his superior batting skills. He perseveres, but just when he begins to bond with his teammates, his frustration comes to a boil. He punches the pitcher, whose father happens to have underworld connections, for insulting Misa, and gets kicked off the team. Satoshi must find a way to make amends (and avoid getting pounded to a pulp), or go back to America to live with his former coach, abandoning the friends and family who need him the most.
Suzanne Kamata's adult novel, Losing Kei, was published by Leapfrog Press. She is also the author of a short story collection, The Beautiful One Has Come (Wyatt-Mackenzie Publishing, 2011) and editor of three anthologies. Her debut YA novel, Gadget Girl, is forthcoming from GemmaMedia. She lives in rural Japan with her family.
David Fuller Cook "The Adventure of Crow-Boy"
The Adventure of Crow-boy is a lyrical, whimsical mythology, the story of the first fairy born in the forest of Odden in three hundred years, raised and taught the laws of the natural world by a clan of crows. As a protector of the small birds of Odden Crow-boy comes to learn the hidden truth of his fairy heritage and disturbing knowledge of the Darkening: the loss of living kinds, and of humanity’s loss of soul-connection to the natural world. Illustrations for The Adventure of Crow-boy, oil-paintings by artist Susan Beebe, are viewable at www.susanbeebestudio.com.
David Fuller Cook moved to the Piedmont as a child in 1953 and has been a student of its ways ever since. In 1989 he co-founded the bioregionially based Schoolhouse of Wonder, an environmental education non-profit that offers natural and cultural history programs for children. He now teaches in the field of gifted education at George Watts Elementary in Durham, NC.
In 2001 David self-published the regionally successful Piedmont Almanac: A Guide to the Natural World. A second edition, The New Piedmont Almanac, is in the works. In 2007 his manuscript Reservation Nation, published by Boaz Publishing of California, won the Fabri Literary Prize. The Adventure of Crow-boy is the first book in a mythic trilogy; presently David is reworking the third manuscript in this series, The Language of the Crows.
David Brendan Hopes "The Falls of the Wyona"
The Falls of the Wyona is a coming-of-age story wherein three boys and a girl discover love, danger, courage, and fear during the same river-engorging storm in their town in the Tennessee-North Carolina line.
David Brendan Hopes is a well known poet, playwright, and nature writer who is just with this book making a foray into extended fiction. The Falls of the Wyona was recently named a semi-finalist in the James Jones Fellowship Contest. Look for his play The Loves of Mr. Lincoln in New York in the upcoming season.
2011 LEAPFROG FICTION CONTEST
Allen Learst had been awarded First Prize for his linked story collection
"Dancing at the Gold Monkey"
The Immanence of God in the Tropics (stories) by George Rosen
Hollywood Buckaroo (novel) by Tracy DeBrincat
A World of Born (novel) by C. K. Killheffer
Rooms and Closets (stories) by Janice D. Soderling (Sweden)
Into the Wilderness (stories) by David Harris Ebenbach
Heart's Blood (novel) by Elizabeth Zinn Ervin
Revelation (novel) by Colin Winnette (forthcoming, Mutable Sound Press)
A Wilderness of Monkeys (stories) by Robert McKean
Splendorific by (stories) Liza Kleinman
Outside In (novel) by Scott Shachter
The Impossibility of Crows (novel) by Rosanne Daryl Thomas
Saluting the Magpie (stories) by Jacob M. Appel
Family Lovers by (stories) Norma Rosen
The Incurables (stories) by Mark Brazaitis
Sidewalk Dancing (stories) by Letitia L. Moffitt
The Water Monarchs (novel) by Zenju Earthlyn Marselean Manuel
We'd like to thank all the authors who submitted manuscripts.
Here are some interesting details about this year's entrants:
Total entries: 546. Short story collections: 24%. Authors: 52% men. 7% non-US. Countries: Australia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Israel, Italy, New Zealand, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Trinidad & Tobago, United Arab Emerites, and the United Kingdom.
George Rosen "Our Big Game"
In the stories of “Our Big Game,” George Rosen focuses on wanderers—expatriates, refugees, or the simply discontented—who have left behind the restrictions and the certainties of home. An English missionary sailing to 19th-century Africa to convert heathen he can barely imagine, a divorced American teacher of Business English seeking in Mexico in middle age a new language to understand his life, a group of veterans of the Old Left who find themselves strangers in the strange land that their own country has become—all look in new and different worlds for the surprise of hope and the rediscovery of love.
George Rosen was born in Chicago and educated at Harvard. In addition to working as a political speechwriter, a high-school debate coach, and a low-income-housing consultant, he was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Kenya, which served as the setting for his 1990 novel, Black Money (Scarborough House), called by Kirkus Reviews “a sophisticated, rich, and tantalizing portrait of East Africa” and by Library Journal “a strong study of power that corrupts at every level and of idealism that persists.” His short stories have appeared, among other places, in Harper’s, the Yale Review, the Harvard Review, and a Harcourt Brace anthology of crime fiction, A Matter of Crime. Rosen has reported on West Africa for the Atlantic, on Mexico for the Boston Globe, and writes frequently for the Globe’s op-ed page. He has been a radio commentator for the Boston NPR station, WBUR, and taught writing at Tufts University. His awards include the Frank O’Connor Memorial Award from the editors of Descant, two fellowships from the Artists Foundation, and most recently, a Fellowship in Fiction from the Massachusetts Cultural Council.
Tracy DeBrincat "Hollywood Buckaroo"
Tracy DeBrincat’s debut story collection, Moon Is Cotton & She Laugh All Night (Subito Press/University of Colorado), won the 2010 Prize for Innovative Fiction and is a 2011 Next Generation Indie Book Award Finalist. Her prize-winning short stories and poetry have been published in journals from Another Chicago Magazine to Zyzzyva. Tracy’s hometown is San Francisco, but she loves living in Los Angeles, where she is a freelance creative advertising consultant and authors the blog Bigfoot Lives! www.tracydebrincat.com
Hollywood Buckaroo is the darkly comic tale of a wannabe director coming to grips with love, death and family secrets while filming a hamburger commercial. Sander is a plumber's son and aspiring filmmaker whose thirtysomething life is in the toilet. Unable to grieve for his recently deceased dad, he takes advantage of an opportunity to direct a commercial starring a freshly rehabbed pop star on location in the old west town of Buckaroo for a producer who needs, well...someone with no talent. Amid Sander's efforts to prevent the troubled project from imploding, a host of eccentric locals jumpstart his creative juices and crack open the places in Sander’s heart where he loves and can grieve for his father.
Allen Learst "Dancing at the Gold Monkey"
Allen Learst has published fiction, nonfiction, and poetry in War, Literature and the Arts, Alaska Quarterly Review, Chattahoochee Review, Hawaii Review, Passages North, Ascent, The Literary Review, Pisgah, and Water~Stone. His essay, “The Blood of Children,” was nominated for a Pushcart Prize and received a “Special Mention” in the 2008 Pushcart Prize XXXII Best of the Small Presses, and a “Notable” in the 2007 The Best American Nonrequired Reading. He teaches at the University of Wisconsin-Marinette.
My stories reveal the aftermath of war through the voices of Vietnam veterans and their families. These stories take place in Detroit, a bleak environment that backgrounds the edgy, violent, and often dysfunctional motivations of my characters, who manage throughout their wanderings to exhibit moments of tenderness and compassion. My intention is to show my audience parallels between all wars, the suffering those who return from combat must confront and the suffering of those who survive war’s consequences: threats of violence, suicide, anxiety, alienation, and depression. These stories are about loss and redemption; they are about survival.
C. K. Killheffer "A World of Born"
Despite all we may know about the realities of agribusiness, for most of us ‘farm’ still means something small and appealingly human-scaled, a place of orchards and weathered barns, home to animals dear to us since childhood. It is an ideal that we love and we yearn for because such places, like the animals they sustain, are now almost entirely lost to us, consumed by a condo and strip mall landscape.
That sense of longing forms the basis of A World of Born, which begins with the demise of one of these beloved farmsteads. The novel follows the consequences of that loss – not for the human community, but for the animals living on the farm, who, sensing danger after the farmer dies, flee first into the woods, then into an increasingly suburban world, finally to the edge of the city itself. The story looks through the animals’ eyes at our own predicament of loss, our own longing for the “world of born” that we've left behind.
C. K. Killheffer is a graduate of Dartmouth College and a manager at Yale University Library. For ten years he worked on a small organic farm in Connecticut, a rich and varied experience which gave rise to much of the substance of A World of Born. Killheffer's essays and fiction have appeared in Touchstone and Pilgrim, and he's currently at work on his second novel.
Janice D. Soderling "Rooms and Closets"
Janice D. Soderling is a writer, poet and translator. This collection of short stories and flash fiction ranges from lyrical prose through surrealism to narrative. Her awards for writing in English include first place in a short fiction competition at Glimmer Train Stories and the Harold Witt Memorial Award from Blue Unicorn for Best-of-Volume 2010; for her Swedish writing, she was recipient of the 2007 Artistic Women regional award from Stiftelsen för Kvinnlig konstnärskap och kreativitet (Foundation for Women's Artistry and Creativity); her work appears more than one hundred print and online venues based in the United States, Canada, England, Australia and other countries, and in several American and Swedish anthologies. She grew up in the United States but lives in Sweden.
David Harris Ebenbach "Into the Wilderness"
David Harris Ebenbach's first book of short stories, Between Camelots
(University of Pittsburgh Press), won the Drue Heinz Literature Prize and
the GLCA New Writer's Award. His poetry has appeared in, among other places,
the Beloit Poetry Journal, Subtropics, and Mudfish. Recently awarded
fellowships to the MacDowell Colony and the Vermont Studio Center and an
Individual Excellence Award from the Ohio Arts Council, Ebenbach has a PhD
in Psychology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and an MFA in Writing
from Vermont College. Find out more at www.davidebenbach.com.
The short story collection Into the Wilderness explores the powerful
experience of parenting from many angles: an eager-to-connect divorced
father takes his kids to a Jewish-themed baseball game; a lesbian couple
tries to decide whether their toddler son needs a man in his life; one young
couple debates the idea of parenthood while another struggles with
infertility; a mother recovering from a difficult pregnancy throws herself
back into the world of dance. We also get to know a new single mother named
Judith in four stories scattered throughout the book. These stories both
stand alone and, when taken together, form a novelistic narrative arc that
takes the reader through Judith's challenging first weeks of motherhood,
culminating in an intense and redemptive baby-naming ceremony. These
stories -- the Judith stories and all the others -- approach the world of
parenthood with freshness, sympathy, humor, complexity and awe. Several have
been published in literary magazines, such as Agni, Ascent, the Antioch
Review and the North American Review, and one was nominated for a Pushcart Prize.
Elizabeth Zinn Ervin "Heart's Blood"
Elizabeth Zinn grew up in Michigan and attended the University of Michigan and the University of Paris as a Fulbright Scholar. After a career in music she spent eight years as Vice Provost for Academic Affairs at the University of Arizona before retiring to write fiction full time. After a lifetime of authoring various nonfiction and academic works, she now has completed three novels, a collection of short stories, and a number of poems. Her short story Dancer won an Honorable Mention in Glimmertrain’s 2010 Short Story Award for New Writers competition, placing it in the top 5% of over a thousand other works. She lives in a small town in the mountains of southern Arizona.
Heart’s Blood is a novel of place, filled with lyrical and cinematic descriptions of the grasslands and vistas of the southern Arizona border, the changing seasons, and the people who are part of the rich mix of rural life at the end of the 20th century. It is a family saga, spanning two generations beginning in the early 1970s. The story follows the life of the central character, Tyler McNeil, from his impulsive (and fateful) decision to leave his itinerant existence, through unexpected parenthood, loss, love, and finally peace in his old age. A cast of colorful characters wander in and out of the tale, sometimes taking center stage, sometimes weaving themselves into the tapestry of the whole. We meet Mana, an illiterate and abused border crosser who bears a child and then vanishes; Lita, her infant daughter whom Ty adopts and raises; the complex and evil Blanco, leader of a powerful drug cartel; the frightening Marcela Beltran, Blanco’s wife, who only eats white food and covets Lita’s daughter; Claire, the love of Ty’s life whose stumbling heart threatens to take her from him; and, CJ, Ty’s natural son who rejects him when he learns of his parenthood. These and many others serve up a hearty mixture of love, hate, murder, compassion, and humor.
Scott Shachter "Outside In"
A mob boss, a schizophrenic painter, and a choir of interdimensional aliens with very sharp teeth are all that stand between Shawn and jazz stardom. Shawn's music is more than just unusual. It's a portal to other worlds and a magnet for groupies so disturbed that they form a cult in his honor, scaring off the love of his life, the one person he can't do without.
Scott Shachter has performed his flutes, clarinets and saxophones in groups ranging from the American Symphony to Manhattan Transfer, as well as on more than fifty Broadway shows, including Billy Elliot, 42nd Street, Phantom and The Producers. He has a Master of Arts, summa cum laude, from California State University, Northridge, and a Bachelor of Science, magna cum laude, from Temple University. OUTSIDE IN, his first novel, reached the quarterfinals for the 2011 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award.
Colin Winnette "Revelation" (forthcoming, Mutable Sound Press)
For Marcus, in the face of unrelenting catastrophe (the seven trumpets of the Book of Revelations, to be specific), the question of how to go on is impossible. There is no time. Hail, forest fires, swarms of locusts, the earth collapsing into itself, bodies falling from the sky, all of these things are daily happenings for Marcus, his family and his friends. The book chronicles Marcus' efforts to live in this catastrophic world, to find what human connections he can, and to question their function, as the chaos around him destroys the ground on which these relationships are formed.
Colin Winnette is an author and artist living in Chicago. HIs award-winning novella Revelation is forthcoming in October 2011, with Mutable Sound. His short work can be found in American Short Fiction, Alice Blue Review, Spork Press, Everyday Genius, and many others. An excerpt from his new novel, In One Story, can be found in the May Issue of PANK Magazine. You can find him online at www.colinwinnette.com. Or catch him in person this summer (2011), on tour with the poet Ben Clark. Dates and locations are available at colinwinnette.com or benclarkpoetry.com.
Jacob M. Appel "Saluting the Magpie"
Jacob M. Appel has published over two hundred short stories in literary journals and has been short-listed for the Best American Short Stories, O. Henry Prize and Pushcart Prize on numerous occasions. He is a graduate of Harvard Law School, Columbia University's College of Physicians and Surgeons and the Creative Writing Program at New York University. He currently teaches at the Gotham Writers' Workshop and practices medicine at the Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City. More at: www.jacobmappel.com.
Robert McKean "A Wilderness of Monkeys"
A town that came together in the early 20th century as a stage set: a steelworks that ultimately stretched nine miles along the Ohio River; thirteen company-erected housing plans into which the laborers who spoke a myriad of languages were segregated ethnically and racially; a busy commercial area with a single main street running down through the center of a steep valley; 15,000 workers and their families—all this way of life comes to an abrupt end on August 8, 1983, when the conglomerate that owns the mill shuts it down. A Wilderness of Monkeys, set in Ganaego, Pennsylvania, is a collection of interlocking stories whose characters form a diverse ethnic, racial, and generational stew of lives and passions. Beneath the stories of the individuals runs the deeper story of Ganaego itself, its rise to a flourishing community and its fall into bankruptcy. The stories range in era from 1937 through 2004. At the heart of the book is the story of August 8, 1983, “Shutdown,” when the steelworks closed and everything changed, a day every Ganaegoan will always remember.
A Wilderness of Monkeys was a finalist in the Flannery O’Connor Award for Short Fiction and the Mary McCarthy Prize in Short Fiction; it was also a finalist in the Sewanee Writers’ Series.
Robert McKean, recipient of a Massachusetts Arts Council grant, writes fiction set in and around the steel-mill towns of Western Pennsylvania. His work has been featured in a number of publications, including, most notably, The Kenyon Review, the Chicago Review, and the Dublin Quarterly. His current projects are two novels: A Catalog of Crooked Thoughts, which explores profound loss and recovery; and Shutdown, which deals with the cataclysmic Rust-Belt Depression of the 1980s. Shutdown was a finalist in the Heekin Group Foundation James Fellowship for the Novel in Progress and a semi-finalist in the Peter Taylor Prize for the Novel.
Mark Brazaitis "The Incurables"
Mark Brazaitis is the author of three books of fiction, including The River of Lost Voices: Stories from Guatemala, winner of the 1998 Iowa Short Fiction Award, and a book of poetry, The Other Language, winner of the 2008 ABZ Poetry Prize. His stories have appeared in The Sun, Ploughshares, Witness, Notre Dame Review, Confrontation, Beloit Fiction Journal, Western Humanities Review, and elsewhere. He directs the Creative Writing Program at West Virginia University. http://creativewriting.wvu.edu/about_the_program
The Incurables is about characters who believe they are stuck in inescapable situations.
Rosanne Daryl Thomas "The Impossibility of Crows"
The Impossibility of Crows is a serious, and often seriously funny, novel about love, the power of the natural world, the fragility of ideas and how perception often determines our fate.
Leo Melampus is not exactly dead. But then again, he never really lived. When an earthquake casts his routine existence into the abyss, he feels strangely elated. Free at last, Leo flees into the unknown and finds himself off the map in a town called Elysium Fields. It’s almost heaven. But not quite. Crows communicate with unimaginable clarity. Millions of narcissi dance in the fields. A beautiful 19th century idea, seeking someone to think her once more into existence, takes human form. A romance novelist is hell-bent on making Leo into her hero and will not be deterred. An elegant, charming widow appears to be a philanthropic murderess. An artist paints the weather before it occurs. In Elysium, Leo learns to discern improbability from impossibility, to accept beauty he cannot always comprehend. Confronting the malleability of perceived reality, Leo Melampus grasps the potential of his own imagination for shaping the world in which he lives. But he’s not the only local citizen with an imagination. When Leo’s wondrous Elysian idyll is poisoned by the relentless designs of the amorous novelist, Leo becomes the snake in his own paradise. One of them has to go. In trying to protect what he has come to love, will he destroy it forever?
In addition to The Impossibility of Crows, Rosanne Daryl Thomas has recently completed The Ladies of the Italian Class and the Urge to Purloin (writing as Edie Watson). She is currently working on the second Ladies of the Italian Class novel and putting the final touches on a travel memoir. Her novel The Angel Carver (Random House/Warner Books) was named a New York Times “Notable Book”, and featured by Barnes and Noble in “Discover Great New Writers”. She is the author of Awaiting Grace (Picador US) and the memoir Beeing: Life, Motherhood and 180,000 Honeybees (Lyons Press/ Globe Pequot). She both wrote and illustrated the graphic novella Coffee: The Bean of My Existence (An Owl Book/Holt). Rosanne Daryl Thomas has an MFA in film from Columbia University and taught writing at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst honors college.
Liza Kleinman "Splendorific"
Liza Kleinman is a freelance writer who lives in Portland, Maine. Her fiction has appeared in several literary magazines, including Hayden's Ferry Review, The Greensboro Review, and Hawaii Review, and in the anthology Writes of Passage: Coming-of-Age Stories and Memoirs from the Hudson Review. She has an MFA in fiction writing from Indiana University.
Splendorific isa short story collection about people who get carried away with their illusions. A boy betrays his friend for the chance to win loot on a TV game show; a man paints his child's bedroom to resemble an old-time cafe; a woman remembers the day her uncle's loopy prediction came true. Characters walk the line between sane and crazy, often with one foot in each.
Letitia L. Moffitt "Sidewalk Dancing"
Letitia L. Moffitt was born and raised in Hawaii. She received a doctoral degree in English and Creative Writing from Binghamton University in New York, and she currently teaches creative writing as an associate professor at Eastern Illinois University. Her work—fiction, poetry, and creative nonfiction—has been published in literary journals including PANK, Black Warrior Review, Aux Arc Review, Jabberwock Review, Coe Review, The MacGuffin, and Dos Passos Review. http://baberunner.blogspot.com/
Sidewalk Dancing consists of thirteen interconnected short stories focused on a multi-ethnic family in Hawaii. Six hours after shy, pragmatic Grace Chao and globetrotting dreamer George McGee get married, they hop on a plane to Oahu to start a new life, as chronicled in Sidewalk Dancing. Together they build a house, raise a child, and run a popular local diner, even while they seem to be polar opposites in every way. George keeps coming up with new, big ideas—for himself, his family, the world—while Grace simply wants the world to leave her alone. Their daughter Miranda wonders how two such different people could ever have gotten together, and how so many conflicts between her parents (and increasingly within herself) will ever be resolved. Miranda eventually begins to see that some people feel like outsiders no matter where they are, and this may be the one thing all her family members have in common. Just as her parents struggle through conflicts of culture and character, Miranda struggles to find a sense of wholeness in her own identity and with her own relationships.
Zenju Earthlyn Marselean Manuel "The Water Monarchs"
Zenju Earthlyn Marselean Manuel is a Zen priest, visual artist, and author of many spiritual books including Tell Me Something About Buddhism (Hampton Roads Publishing, 2011). She is a recipient of three Hedgebrook writers-in-residencies. The Water Monarchs is her first novel.
In The Water Monarchs, set in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, a stabbing forces a family of slaves to leave St. Domingue/Haiti and take refuge on an Island that is unknown to the outside world and therefore unknown to slave owners. Off the coast of Louisiana, on the new beautiful Island of Le Grand Du Pointe, their lives are shaped by the magic of water. The main character and narrator, Yuli, lives out a destiny created by the actions of her mother, Erzuli Pierrot, a slave of St. Domingue who was named for the Haitian Vodou Lwa spirit of love.
Norma Rosen "Family Lovers"
Norma Rosen has published four novels and a short-story collection. Family Lovers concerns lovers who have lost their connection to one another and seek new ones.
2010 LEAPFROG FICTION CONTEST
Adult Fiction Winners
Children's Fiction Winners
The First-Prize winner in the Adult Fiction Division is Joan Connor for the short-story collection How to Stop Loving Someone (October 2011)
In the words of the judges:
"[E]xcellent and lively. There is a sharp wit in many of these stories, the apt metaphor, the turn of phrase that pleases and surprises."
"[B]right, brassy, spunky, intelligent. Ingenious writing. Also quirky and filled with metaphoric twists that often startle. Energetic and telling. This is an excellent short story collection."
The First-Prize winner in the Children's Fiction Division is Mick Carlon for the middle-grade novel Riding on Duke's Train (January 2012).
In the words of the judges:
"A wonderful voice all its own... [S]trong command of voice, period and ethnic dialect, and clear love and in-depth knowledge of Duke Ellington and his band."
"An excellent, uplifting story with something real to say."
Leapfrog Press is delighted to honor its 2010 Fiction Contest winners. Twenty winning manuscripts were chosen out of 448 adult fiction entries, and seven winners out of 153 middle grade / YA manuscripts. Manuscripts were judged "blind" (judges did not know the names of the authors or any other information). Manuscripts were submitted from 22 countries, giving the judges a delightful diversity of style and theme.
Please click on the authors' names for more information on the winners and their manuscripts. This information is gradually being updated.
ADULT FICTION FINALISTS
How to Stop Loving Someone (stories) by Joan Connor, US
Weight of the Land (novel) by Mariko Nagai, Japan
The Color of Weather (novel) by Amy Schutzer, US
El Camino (stories) by Josie Sigler, US
Peter Never Came (stories) by Ashley Cowger, US (published by Autumn House Press)
Send Me Work (stories) by Katherine Karlin, US
Blue Exile (stories) by Chantel Acevedo, US
What She Was Saying (stories) by Marjorie Maddox, US
Goldenland Past Dark (novel) by Chandler Klang Smith, US
Dysfunction (stories) by Annam Manthiram, US
Tales from Planet Wine Cooler (linked stories) by Kate Baggott, Germany/Canada
A Bug Collection (stories) by Melody Mansfield, US
Poet in New York: A novel of Federico Garcia Lorca (novel) by Bryan T. Scoular, Switzerland
Funerals and Other Fiestas (novel) by J. L. Bautista, US
The Greatest Show (stories) by Michael Downs, US
The Foothills of Olympus (novel) by Callie Bates, US
The Byrd House (novel) by Starkey Flythe, US
The Soothing Balm of Cadmium Red (novel) by Julie Valentine, US
Other People's Ghosts (stories) by Barbara Salvatore Klopping, US
Ruth (novel) by Kunthavai Jayadevan, US
Six manuscripts almost made honorable mention. They were among the top 6% of entries, and we feel they deserve mention here.
Song of the Cicada by Ted Cleary
The Sojourn by Andrew Krivak (published by Bellevue Literary Press)
How Long Must I Dream by Richard Goodwin (forthcoming, Seedpod Publishing)
God's Tears, New Mexico by Claire Ortalda
The Music Box Treaty by Richard Duggin
Quantum Physics and My Dog Bob by Pat Rushin
Click here to see information on winners of the 2009 contest
CHILDREN'S / YOUNG ADULT FICTION FINALISTS
The Summer of Love by Len Spacek, US
Riding on Duke's Train by Mick Carlon, US
The Green Apettes by Thom Mark Shepard, US
Aesop: The Storyteller by Gail Tansell Lambert, US
Bright Coin Moon by Kirsten Lopestri, US
Madison Billsby: Taco Defender by Courtney Sirotin, US
No Laughing Matter by David Rish, Australia
Here are some interesting bits of information about the contest entries.
Total adult fiction manuscripts: 448. 50% men, 50% women; 9.5% non US.
Total children's fiction manuscripts: 153. 28% men, 70% women; 13% non US. (2% sex unknown based on author's names)
22 Countries represented, listed by number of submissions:
US, UK, Canada, Australia, Ireland, Switzerland, Japan, Germany, Spain; and in no particular order, China, Israel, Thailand, France, Turkey, Bulgaria, Trinidad & Tabago, Greece, Nigeria, Morocco, New Zealand, Hungary, Indonesia.
2010 Finalist Judges
Alexandria LaFaye is an associate professor of English at California State University in San Bernardino, and the author of eight novels for middle-grade readers. Her novels have received many awards, including a Notable Children's Book Award from the Smithsonian Institute (The Strength of Saints); the Scott O'Dell Award for historical fiction, a Nebraska Book Award, and a California Book Award (Worth); and Best Book listings for Band Street College of Education (The Year of the Sawdust Man and Edith Shay).
Marge Piercy is the author of 39 books, including 14 novels, many volumes of poetry, a memoir, and several works of nonfiction. Awards include, among many others, the Patterson Award for Literary Achievement, the Patterson Poetry Prize, an American Library Association Notable Book Award, and the Arthur C. Clarke Award for Best Science Fiction Novel (UK).
Information on the 2010 Winners
Joan Connor "How to Stop Loving Someone"
Joan Connor’s stories in How to Stop Loving Someone explore the vagaries, and vicissitudes, the velleities and verities of love and lust, of loneliness and loss. Tonally the stories range from the dark to the darkly comic, from the optimistic to the outright silly. Geographically they wander from Greece to Maine, from Vermont to the fictional Hobson’s Choice (somewhere near Troy, New York). But wherever her characters find themselves, whether lucky or unlucky in love, whether in their teens or middle-age, they cling tenaciously to the belief that the quest for love is self-validating, that love is yet possible.
Joan Connor is a full professor at Ohio University and a professor in Fairfield University’s low residency MFA program. She is a recipient of a Barbara Deming Award, the John Gilgun award, a Pushcart Prize, the Ohio Writer award in fiction and nonfiction, the AWP award for her short story collection, History Lesson, and the River Teeth Award for her collection of essays, The World Before Mirrors. Her two earlier collections are: We Who Live Apart and Here On Old Route 7. Her work has appeared in: Glimmer Train, Shenandoah, The Southern Review, The Kenyon Review, Chelsea, Manoa, The Gettysburg Review, TriQuarterly, The Journal of Arts & Letters, and Black Warrior, among others publications. She lives in Athens, Ohio, and Belmont, Vermont.
Mariko Nagai "Weight of the Land"
Bad harvest. Father dead from the long lingering illness. Hana’s mother is left with her twins: a boy and a girl, Hana. There is only thing Hana’s mother can do: remarry so that the boy can live, so that the mother and the boy can live, but on one condition – to sell Hana to a broker and pretend that she died. This is where Hana’s journey as a ghost, and her twin brother's bondage to the land start.
Born in Tokyo and raised in Europe and America, Mariko Nagai studied English at New York University. Her numerous honors include the Erich Maria Remarque Fellowship from New York University, fellowships from the Rockefeller Foundation Bellagio Center, UNESCO-Aschberg Bursaries for the Arts, Yaddo, and Djerassi. She has received the Pushcart Prizes both in poetry and fiction. Nagai’s collection of poems, Histories of Bodies, won the Benjamin Saltman Prize from Red Hen Press. Her first collection of stories, Georgic: Stories, won the 2009 G.S. Sharat Chandra Prize in Fiction and will be published by BkMk Press in fall 2010. She teaches creative writing and literature at Temple University, Japan Campus in Tokyo.
Amy Schutzer "The Color of Weather"
Set in late Depression-era South Dakota, The Color of Weather pivots around Janey Weed and the family house that was passed down to her. Through word of mouth, Janey begins to shelter women running away from violent situations. When Daisy and her daughter May appear at Janey’s back door, the course Janey chooses leads her to accept dangerous compromises in order to follow her heart, and her convictions.
Amy Schutzer is an award-winning poet and fiction writer who lives in Portland, Oregon. Her first novel, Undertow, (Calyx Books, 2000), was a Lambda Book Award finalist, Violet Quill Award finalist and Today's Librarian Best of 2000 Award winner. Her poetry has appeared in a variety of literary reviews and magazines including Portland Review, Fireweed, HLFQ, Sequoia and Hurricane Alice. She is the recipient of an Astraea Foundation Grant for Fiction (1997), and a grant from the Barbara Deming Memorial Fund (1999). She has recently finished revision on a third novel, and is hard at work on a fourth book; and always, poems.
Josie Sigler "El Camino"
Spanning from the Gulf War to the War in Iraq, El Camino is a collection of short stories about those fighting for survival in the post-industrial heartland: a gay Marine attacked by men from his own unit, a girl living in a motel where her mother works as a prostitute, and a man who intentionally sets himself on fire when he loses his job at General Motors.
Josie Sigler’s stories and poems have appeared in Water~Stone, Silk Road, Hayden’s Ferry Review and others. Her chapbook, Calamity, was published by Proem Press. Her book of poetry, living must bury, winner of the 2010 Motherwell Prize, was published by Fence Books. Her story “Deep, Michigan” received a special mention in the 2009 Pushcart Prize Anthology. She was recently awarded the 2011 Margery Davis Boyden Wilderness Writing Residency for her short story “El Camino” (forthcoming in Roanoke Review). She is currently at work on a novel, The Johns, and a new book of poems, Hospitality.
Ashley Cowger "Peter Never Came"
First-Prize winner, Autumn House Press fiction contest. To be published in 2011.
Peter Never Came includes thematically linked stories that explore the difference between the way we see the world as children and the way we see the world as adults. The stories are arranged from childhood to adulthood and ultimately explore how we manage to accept and eventually learn to love the world for what it is, not what we think it should be.
Ashley Cowger holds an MFA in creative writing from the University of Alaska Fairbanks. Her short fiction has appeared in several literary journals and has been nominated for a Pushcart. She is editor and cofounder of the online journal, MFA/MFYou (www.mfamfyou.com), and she teaches college English and lives in Ohio.
Katherine Karlin "Send Me Work"
"Send Me Work" is a collection of short stories about women on the
job--including a shipyard welder, a refinery operator, a print
saleswoman, and an orchestra oboist.
Katherine Karlin's fiction has appeared in the Pushcart Prize
collection, New Stories From the South, One-Story, Alaska Quarterly
Review, ZYZZYVA, L.A. Weekly, and many other journals. She teaches
creative writing at Kansas State University.
Chantel Acevedo "Blue Exile"
Set in Cuba and Miami, covering nearly fifty years of tropical history, the stories in BLUE EXILE unfold the lives of Cuban and Cuban-American families in the patterns and permutations of memory, exile politics, and growing up on both sides of the ninety mile stretch of water that separates the two places. BLUE EXILE conjures a Cuban setting that evokes mysticism and magic.
Chantel Acevedo's novel, LOVE AND GHOST LETTERS (St. Martin's Press, 2005), won the Latino International Book Award for Best Historical Fiction and was nominated for the Connecticut Book of the Year. Acevedo's short stories and poems have appeared in such journals as The Chattahoochee Review, Prairie Schooner, Cimarron Review and American Poetry Review, among others. Acevedo currently serves as co-editor of the Southern Humanities Review, and is as Assistant Professor in the Department of English at Auburn University.
Marjorie Maddox "What She Was Saying"
This linked short-story collection explores power and silences in women’s voices and grapples—in this unsafe world—with the definitions and boundaries of “home.” The collection was one of three finalists for the 2005 Katherine Anne Porter Book Award and a semifinalist for Eastern Washington University’s Spokane Fiction Book Award. Individual stories have previously appeared in a variety of literary journals, magazines, anthologies, and newspapers.
Director of Creative Writing and Professor of English at Lock Haven University, Marjorie Maddox has published Weeknights at the Cathedral (an Editions Selection, WordTech, 2006); Transplant, Transport, Transubstantiation (2004 Yellowglen Prize, WordTech Editions); Perpendicular As I (1994 Sandstone Book Award); When the Wood Clacks Out Your Name: Baseball Poems (2001 Redgreene Press Chapbook Winner), six chapbooks, and over 350 poems, stories, and essays in ournals and anthologies. She is the co-editor of Common Wealth: Contemporary Poets on Pennsylvania (PSU Press 2005) and author of two children’s books from Boyds Mills Press: A Crossing of Zebras: Animal Packs in Poetry (2008) and The Rules of the Game: Baseball Poems (2009). The recipient of numerous awards, Marjorie lives with her husband and two children in Williamsport, PA. www.lhup.edu/mmaddoxh/biography
Chandler Klang Smith "Goldenland Past Dark"
Goldenland Past Dark follows Webern Bell, a 16-year-old hunchbacked midget on the road with a ramshackle traveling circus in 1960s America. Alienated by his deformity from the larger world but at home among his circus family, Webern devotes himself to his acts—surreal clown performances that come to him in dreams. As he travels through a landscape of abandoned amusement parks and rural ghost towns, he is haunted by his bizarre family history, particularly his otherworldly sisters and the role they may have played in his mother's death. Other characters include Nepenthe, the seductive Lizard Girl, whose relationship with Webern leads to unforeseen complications; Dr. Show, the grandly flawed ringleader of the circus, whose relentless showmanship conceals a failed life; Marzipan, a chimp who wearily regards the folly of human behavior while tending to her hapless owners; and Wags, Webern's childhood friend, who may or may not be imaginary, and whose motives are far darker than they seem.
Chandler Klang Smith is a graduate of Bennington College and holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Columbia University, where she received a School of the Arts Writing Fellowship. She has worked as a reader for the Columbia Journal and the Paris Review. She has also ghost-written two YA novels for Alloy Entertainment Group and taught creative writing in Columbia's Double Discovery and INTRO programs. An excerpt from Goldenland Past Dark won the Bronx Writers Center Chapter One award in 2006, and the completed novel was nominated for a Pushcart Editor's Book Award in 2009. Chandler grew up in Springfield, Illinois, and now lives in New York City, where she works as an editorial assistant at a literary agency and as the Events Coordinator for the KGB Bar.
Annam Manthiram "Dysfunction"
Dramatically different in style and form, these tales range from the wicked (a divorcée recounts her failed marriages sardonically from A to Z), to heart-wrenchingly commonplace (an older Indian woman struggles to find a husband during humiliating bride-viewings), and emotionally barren (a mother cannot understand why her family doesn’t love her enough to remember her son’s first birthday). At times funny, but always incisive, this collection of stories examines the survival of those whose only certainty is dysfunction.
Annam Manthiram is the author of two novels, The Goju Story and After the Tsunami, and a short story collection. Her fiction has recently appeared in the Chicago Quarterly Review, the Cream City Review, the Concho River Review, Straylight, Blink | Ink, the Grey Sparrow Journal, and the anthology, Daily Flash: 365 Days of Flash Fiction (Pill Hill Press – December 2010),and has been nominated for the PEN/O’Henry Prize and inclusion in the Best American Short Stories anthology. A graduate of the M.A. Writing program at the University of Southern California, Ms. Manthiram resides in New Mexico with her husband, Alex and son, Sathya.
Annam's novel "After the Tsunami" is forthcoming (Fall 2011) from Stephen F. Austin State University Press. See Annam's website at www.annammanthiram.com.
Kate Baggott "Tales from Planet Wine Cooler"
Tales from Planet Wine Cooler is a collection of short stories about a young woman and her best friend. The pieces are united by the themes of sex, music and the Internet. Some pieces from the collection are available online at Once Written and Unbrellazine. Other pieces are upcoming at Ghoti Magazine, Third Wednesday and JAAM (Just Another Art Movement).
Kate Baggott is a Canadian writer living in Germany. She holds an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of British Columbia and a BA from the University of Toronto. Her work ranges from technology journalism to creative non-fiction and from experimental fiction to chick lit. Links to recently published pieces can be found at www.katebaggott.com.
Melody Mansfield "A Bug Collection"
If you think bugs are "cute," read no further. This "Bug Collection" contains no cautionary tales for children, no morally uplifting fables, no top-hatted crickets or pig-loving spiders. What it does contain is sex, and death, and pretension, depression, sarcasm, longing. Politics. Spiritual questioning. Teleological matters. All the things that make humans human. Except that everything these characters do, they do really fast and hard because they are, well, bugs.
Melody Mansfield's first novel, The Life Stone of Singing Bird, was published by Faber and Faber, Inc., in 1996 and earned favorable reviews from The New York Times Book Review, Booklist, and others. Her articles, poetry, and short fiction have appeared in a variety of print and online publications including Inside English, The Rectangle, Pedestal, Thought Magazine, Wild Violet, Fickle Muses, Ascent Aspirations, Spillway Review, Magaera, and Parent's Magazine. Ms. Mansfield is a full-time high school teacher who has managed to eek out two additional novels--when not reading sophomore essays--along with this short story collection
Bryan T. Scoular "Poet in New York: A novel of Federico Garcia Lorca"
In the summer of 1929, reeling from rejection by Salvador Dalí and depressed by the commercial
success of THE GYPSY BALLADS, Federico García Lorca decided to travel abroad. “New York must be horrible, but that’s why I’m going there,” he wrote to a friend. “I think I’ll have a great time.” POET IN NEW YORK tells the story of how Lorca, born in rural Andalusia, came to write one of the great poetic masterpieces of the past century about urban alienation, spiritual emptiness, and metaphysical solitude. The novel traces the young Spaniard’s steps during his year in America and explores his loneliness, regrets, and longing, his constant struggle with his sexual identity, and his effort to push his newfound avant-garde aesthetic to the limit in his poetry, plays, drawings, and screenplays. At the same time, it shows Federico absorbing the spirit of the “sprawling Babel” as he visits the sights, meets various literary and cultural figures, witnesses the Crash on Wall Street, and enjoys the nightlife of Harlem.
Bryan Scoular earned an M.A. in Spanish at the University of Notre Dame and a Ph.D. in Spanish literature at New York University. He has published several articles of literary criticism and has translated the critically acclaimed memoir MIDDAY WITH BUÑUEL, by Claudio Isaac. He lives in Geneva, Switzerland, and is currently working on his second novel.
J. L. Bautista "Funerals and Other Fiestas"
A disparate collection of nobodies—a woman old before her time, another whose beauty is useless to her, an orphaned baby, a child whore, a blind man, a doctor with a killing secret—come together in nineteen-thirties’ Spain, their intersected stories the micro-history of a country struggling through civil war and dictatorship.
J. L. Bautista was born in California and travels between her home in the Bay Area and Madrid, Spain. Fiestas, her first published book, is drawn primarily from the recollections and experiences of family and friends and was the winner of the 2005 George Garrett Prize in Fiction. It contains two stories based on chapters of her novel Funerals and Other Fiestas. She has published and won awards for short fiction, poetry, and essays, and worked as a journalist and researcher. She is presently at work on her fifth novel.
Michael Downs "The Greatest Show"
July 6, 1944. Hartford, Connecticut. Fire flashes along the wall of a
circus tent while inside a crowd of moslty women and children enjoy a
matinee performance. Within minutes, hundreds will die. Those who survive
will never forget the clowns and the screams. In these stories, the fire
Michael Downs’ book House of Good Hope (University of Nebraska Press,
2007), won the River Teeth Literary Nonfiction Prize. His short fiction
has been mentioned among other distinguished stories in the Best American
Short Stories series and earned him a literary fellowship from the
National Endowment for the Arts. He lives in Baltimore, Maryland, where he
teaches creative writing at Towson University and directs the school’s
Callie Bates "The Foothills of Olympus"
Set in the aftermath of the second world war, The Foothills of Olympus follows Marion Corbeau on a journey to Greece in search of her missing brother. The novella reflects upon the ties that bind brothers and sisters, people and ideals, mixing communism and civil war with family relations, while the figure of T.E. Lawrence looms in the characters' personal and ideological pasts.
Callie Bates is a 2009 graduate (B.A.) of Lawrence University, where The Foothills of Olympus was her senior honors thesis. One might also say she is a graduate, 2010, of the School of Life, as she is currently in remission from endometrial cancer. She won the 2007 Nick Adams Contest and Lawrence's Didderrich Prize in Creative Writing. Her work ranges in scope from historical fiction to magic realism, nonfiction essays to contemporary short stories. She currently lives in Wisconsin.
Starkey Flythe "The Byrd House"
Starkey Flythe's stories have been anthologized in Best American, New Stories from the South, and the O. Henry Prize volumes. He was re-founding editor of The Saturday Evening Post, and served in the Middle East and Africa. He is the winner of the 2010 Snake Nation Press Prize for his collection of short fiction, Driving with Hand Controls.
Julie Valentine "The Soothing Balm of Cadmium Red"
Gregory Ashford is a Princeton University dropout and the son of an abusive alcoholic. Once he’s finally grown his list of dead-end jobs and sabotaged his relationship with the only girlfriend he has allowed close to him, Greg concludes that suicide is his next best option. It is his unlikely encounter with a mysterious 11-year-old boy, a handball and a pencil that lead him to the self-acceptance that has always eluded him.
Julie Valentine is an executive assistant at a major motion picture studio in Los Angeles. She graduated from New York University with a B.F.A in Film and Television Production, but found she enjoyed the writing aspect of film best of all. The Soothing Balm of Cadmium Red is one novella of eight in the book We Will Dance Where We Are & Be and when it is completed, it will be her first novel.
Barbara Salvatore Klopping "Other People's Ghosts"
Other People's Ghosts are all dreams; very vivid dreams, where the author is
not herself, but occupies the body of a complete stranger. Until recently,
Barbara thought everyone had dreams like this. The stories are brief dramas
and glimpses, sometimes only surreal snapshots, into Other People's lives.
Barbara Salvatore Klopping is owner of Beyond Design Inc., a company that
specializes in fabrication services for Broadway, film, museums, the art and
architectural markets. (www.beyonddesigninc.com ) She lives on an old dairy
farm in Walton, New York, with her family, and a team of Percheron horses,
small pet menagerie and large herb garden. She has a studio in Nebraska,
where research and many illustrations for her books are done. Barbara holds
a BFA in Painting from the School of Visual Arts and has extensively
studied writing, theater, herbs and horses. She's had pieces published in
Small Farm Journal, United Plant Savers News, and the collective Ithaca
Remembers. She is Founder and Editor of Who Knew? The Catskill Literary
Magazine, with its premier issue due Summer 2010. Her novel, Big Horse
Woman, was a Finalist in the 2009 Leapfrog Press Fiction Contest.
Kunthavai Jayadevan "Ruth"
“We must be as swiftly moving and unrelenting, letting go of all the false things that hold us backwards…” – Ruth Michael Brown. Can one person affect the path of all humanity? Set in the Deep South, Ruth follows the life of a seemingly normal woman and the extraordinary direction her life takes. This soulful multi-generational epic hints of myth, but remains firmly grounded while seeking a clue to the very nature of Man. Guided by nothing more than her own thoughts and intentions, Ruth Michael Brown unapologetically molds the course of her family and ultimately the very direction of the world around her. A story about the potential of a single life, Ruth strides boldly through terrible darkness and pain into a destiny much greater than anyone could have ever comprehended.
Kunthavai Jayadevan’s first novel is Ruth. Her stories have been both short- and long-listed for the Fish Publishing International Short Story Prize and her poetry has been featured in several international publications. Her work has also been published in SCMP and she is the founder and former head of the non-profit green organization LIFE. A compulsive writer, outdoor adventurer, skydiver and mountaineer, Kunthavai spends her time exploring the far corners of the world, seeking out the common threads that bind humanity and listening for the often unheard voices. Having lived on five continents, sometimes in a life of peace, sometimes in the chaos of war, she has witnessed the incredible depth and mystery of seemingly common lives that people rarely reveal. She is currently completing her debut short story collection, STOMP And Other Gospels.
Pat Rushin "Quantum Physics and My Dog Bob"
Stories from Quantum Physics and My Dog Bob have appeared in The American Literary Review, The North Atlantic Review, The King's English, Lake Effect, The Southeast Review, Trillium, and elsewhere.
Richard Duggin "The Music Box Treaty"
Richard Duggin was raised in New England and received his bachelor’s degree in literature and writing from the University of New Hampshire and his master’s degree in fiction from the University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop. His written work includes three novels and numerous short stories, some of which have appeared in periodicals such as Beloit Fiction Journal, Crosscurrents, Laurel Review, American Literary Review, The Sun, Playboy, and elsewhere. His work has been cited by Best American Short Stories, Pushcart Prize Anthology, and Playboy Magazine Best Fiction. He has been awarded a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship, two Nebraska Arts Council Individual Artist Merit Awards, and several artist residencies at Ragdale, Yaddo and the Anderson Center for Interdisciplinary Studies.
Ted Cleary "Song of the Cicada"
TED CLEARY received a B.A. and M.A. in English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University, where he graduated summa cum laude and was awarded the Cornell Woolrich Fellowship and Seymour Brick Memorial Prize for creative writing and playwriting. He has published in various literary magazines and written songs, stories, poems, screenplays and novellas. He teaches writing in New York City.
Claire Ortalda "God's Tears, New Mexico"
Claire Ortalda, who has experienced various incarnations as a journalist,
editor and English instructor, has been published in numerous literary
journals and been the recipient of Hackney, Fugue, Georgia State University
and other fiction and poetry prizes. God's Tears, New Mexico, is a linked
story collection about a small southwest town whose peculiar geography "excites problems of identity in nearly everyone in town," as the quirky
residents grapple with issues of love, death, purpose and virtue.
Richard Goodwin "How Long Must I Dream"
Wicker wants to win enough in Vegas to get his mother’s cremains out of storage, buy a van and never work again. He’s a slot machine aficionado, a boozer and drug user who’s been wetting the bed lately and struggling to tame his unruly hair. His plans are sidetracked when he meets Edna, a spacey elderly woman trying to get to the ocean. They fall in love (sort of) and wind up in Tokyo, where Wicker drinks himself right into a teaching job at an English conversation school, and Edna disappears deeper into her own blurry world.
Richard Goodwin has an MFA in Creative Writing from Antioch University Los Angeles. He lives in Vancouver, Washington, and teaches ESL at Portland Community College. His short fiction has appeared in Monkeybicycle, The Adirondack Review, and The Dream People. He is currently at work on his second novel.
Gail Tansill Lambert "Aesop: The Storyteller"
“Aesop: The Storyteller” is set in the ancient Greek world of slaves, sailors, merchants, wars and gods; all of which contribute to the slave boy Aesop’s eventual fame as the most celebrated storyteller in all of history.
Gail Lambert holds a Graduate Degree in Children’s Literature from Hollins University as well as a BA and a Master of Arts in Liberal Studies. She was a frequent reviewer for Best Sellers with a review included in Contemporary Literary Criticism, Vol. 30, as well asa Contributing Writer and Editor of Notable Women of Southwest Virginia, 1850 – 1950 published by the Historical Society of Western Virginia, 2007. She authored an essay for National Public Radio in 2009, teaches high school Latin, and is a regularly published freelance writer in Virginia.
Kirsten Lopresti "Bright Coin Moon"
Kirsten Lopresti has an MFA from George Mason University. Her fiction has appeared in The Laurel Review, New Delta Review, So To Speak, Italian Americana, and Licking River Review. Bright Coin Moon has won two other fiction prizes. It placed second in the James River Writer's Best Unpublished Novel Contest, and it was picked out of 1,700 entries to win the grand prize in the YA Discovery Contest.
Courtney Sirotin "Madison Billsby: Taco Defender"
Meet Madison Billsby, the only girl in her seventh grade class who has to stand in the back row with the boys on picture day. It’s not because she’s tall and blessed with long legs like Giselle or a swan-like torso like Paris; quite frankly, it’s because she’s too wide. Madison is perfectly happy to live a life out of the spotlight until she finds out that Charlotte DuVain, the queen bee of the snobby girls, is going to run for student council president uncontested and for all the wrong reasons. The only way Madison can save her school from a year without a solid student government is to run against Charlotte herself. With a fierce appetite and a driving sense of justice, Madison Billsby and her loyal friends embark on a mission to defend the hot lunch menu and fight for the rights of their classmates.
Courtney Sirotin has a master's degree in Visual and Media Arts and has been in the entertainment industry since 2001. She started her career at a television network in Boston where she was the entertainment news reporter and then moved to NYC to be the Interactive Manager at Alloy Entertainment, where she developed the company’s online presence. Courtney lives in Georgia with her husband and is the author of the educational website www.foolyourselffit.com and the corresponding e-book, Metablolize This! Everything You Need To Know To Kick-Start Your Metabolism. When she’s not writing novels or articles for magazines, Courtney freelances as writer and works in film production. She is currently producing the film Quarterlife Ben and just completed production on the film adaptation of the tween novel, The Fat Boy Chronicles, a story about a teenage boy struggling to lose weight during his freshman year of high school.
David Rish "No Laughing Matter"
No Laughing Matter is the story of Dal, Ben and Cassie, who live on an island and share a deep love of fun. A series of strange incidents occur on a camping trip; a really odd cloud, a nighttime explosion, the disappearance of a packet of Curdlers, the strange black oil Cassie swims into when out diving, which sucks the light from her life. On returning to their homes, they find things have changed. Their usually easygoing teacher seems to have lost the ability to laugh, Dal’s mother can’t be jollied out of her bad mood, and all the island’s residents are being drawn to the cheese factory for some odd reason. Could it be that the black oil Cassie encountered is actually some sort of alien invader and could it be that Ben is somehow collaborating with the invaders and is a traitor? Their friendship and indeed their island life are put in jeopardy but it is friendship and their shared sense of humour that might also save everybody. No Laughing Matter is a comedy about friendship with a storyline to hook the most demanding of readers. www.netspace.net.au/~drish/
David Rish has published a number of children’s novels in Australia, including the Family Award-winning Mongrel, Casey’s Case and the comedy Extraordinarily Ordinary. Other credits include radio plays, reviews and articles, interviews and a semi-regular humour column for Teacher, a magazine for, unsurprisingly, teachers! In a past life he was an early childhood teacher and he has an on-going passion for children’s literature. It is his long-standing wish to see Maurice Sendak win the Nobel Prize for Literature.
Mick Carlon "Riding on Duke's Train"
It's 1939 and Danny, a twelve year old orphan, hitches a ride on a train belonging to Duke Ellington and his Famous Orchestra. Soon adopted by the musicians, the lad accompanies them on their Spring 1939 tour of Europe. While crossing Northern Germany to reach Denmark, Ellington and his band--all African-Americans--are held up by Nazi officials in Hamburg. The reader meets musicians such as Johnny "Rabbit" Hodges; Harry Carney; Rex Stewart; Jimmie Blanton; Cootie Williams; Ivie Anderson; Sonny Greer--and, of course, Edward Kennedy "Duke" Ellington. Says the legendary jazz critic Nat Hentoff: "I knew Duke Ellington for many years, and the Duke in this book is the man I knew."
Len Spacek "The Summer of Love"
When Rubin Hardin goes for a ride on his Super Scout 249 motorcycle in the summer of 1969, he inadvertently stumbles on the biggest musical festival in American history. After giving Country Joe Mcdonald and various other “hippies” a ride to the concert, Rubin comes across a cherry red convertible with the most beautiful girl he has ever seen sitting on the hood. It only takes him a moment to realize that the girl is Summer Sweetwater, his brother’s old girlfriend. Tommy, Rubin’s brother, is off fighting the war in Vietnam. With thoughts of Tommy on their minds, Rubin and Summer embark on an adventurous and life-changing three-day journey. Their Summer of Love is carefree, that is, until Tommy comes home. Summer of Love is the story of Woodstock and Vietnam, first loves, brothers, and making difficult decisions. This book will give the reader the experience of what Woodstock was like, from the people to the music to the overall feeling of that moment in time.
Len Spacek has been an English teacher and coach for fourteen years at Harmon Middle School in Aurora, Ohio, and he recently became a proud father. He is a University of Dayton graduate, and he received his Master’s degree in Education from John Carroll University. He completed his MFA in creative writing from the Northeast Ohio MFA program. His passions are his family, teaching, writing, playing the guitar, and just about any sport. He cherishes the opportunity to influence the lives of his students. His goal is to make them want to become lifelong readers and to give them the opportunity to pursue their goals of becoming writers. The reason he started writing was because he felt like had something to share, and he wanted to inspire his students to read. He lives in Ohio with his wife Gretchen, his son Ryan, and his two dogs, Buddy and Skeeter.
Thom Mark Shepard "The Green Apettes"
The Green Apettes is a story about 13 year old Joe Sheffield, who idolizes his much older half-brother, Theo. But Theo is a poor role model, introducing Joe to graphic horror films. This resulted in a series of public panic attacks that has alienated Joe from most of his classmates. Now in middle school, Joe is a loner in need of new friends and begins to find one in Gina, the new girl in school. What keeps him stable are his humor, his piano playing, and his serious interest in designing flyers and posters. His latest flier, inspired by one of Theo’s tall tales, embroils him in a mystery. Searching for his principal’s kitten, he discovers that several cats, both pets and ferals, have vanished in a single day. As Joe investigates, his dark fantasies begin to resurface, and he comes to believe in the existence of cat-consuming primates that he calls the Green Apettes. When Theo makes a surprise visit, the two brothers go hunting for these very real creatures. But are they monsters? Are they part of an elaborate hoax? Or is the solution to this frightening and funny mystery something they never expected? In the process of discovering the truth, Joe learns to step out from his brother’s shadow and finds that both terror and solace can come from surprising sources.
Thom Shepard is a librarian at MIT Lincoln Lab. His story “Stick and Strings,” published in Mid-American Review in 1985, was nominated for a Pushcart Prize, and his story “The Tannery” won the top fiction prize in Indiana University's Graduate Writing Program in 1989. Like so many budding writers, he stopped writing fiction when he married and helped raise a family. During these unfulfilling in-between years, he wrote papers and delivered presentations on digital preservation and all things metadata. He recently returned to writing fiction with a new interest in "crossover" young adult fiction.
SPRING 2009 FICTION CONTEST WINNER ANNOUNCED
posted July 9 2009
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 marriage...at 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 www.vickieweaver.com/index.html.
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 story “Slick” 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 http://www.limiaolovett.com/inthelapofthegods.html.
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 mockingbird.creighton.edu/NCW/mullins.htm.
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 http://tinyurl.com/pa5nwh.
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 www.DeadOnNovel.com.