Last week, our partner literary magazine Short Fiction Break announced the winners of the 5th Anniversary Writing Contest. Entering this contest was a huge accomplishment for all our writers, and we want to celebrate the winners here on The Write Practice, as well.

5th Anniversary Writing Contest Winners

We received over 300 entries to this contest from a number of very talented writers. The judges thoroughly enjoyed reading all your stories, and with such an amazing selection, you made their job of choosing just a handful of winners very difficult.

You should be proud. We’re very proud of you.

The Difficult Part of Contests

The thing about writing contests is, when you select one—or even several—winners, you create a lot of not-winners. (That’s different from being a loser, I think.) I’ve been there many times. Rejection is simply a part of writing.

I believe that if you’re measuring your success as a writer by how many times you’ve been published, you’re using the wrong metric. Instead, count how many times you’ve been rejected. That’s a much more accurate indicator of your effort, discipline, and seriousness as a writer.

Rather than trying to get everyone to like your stories, get as much feedback about how to improve as you can. Rather than trying to justify how good you are, work to get better.

If you do this for long enough, you won’t need anyone to tell you you’re a success. You’ll be a success all on your own.

The Judges

Before I announce the winners, I want to say an enormous THANK YOU to the terrific judges who have worked tirelessly over the past month to read and consider our hundreds of entries. Without their immeasurable effort, this contest would not have been possible.

A huge thank you to these incredible writers:

Christa Carmen lives in Westerly, Rhode Island with her fiancé and a beagle who rivals her in stubbornness. Her short stories have appeared in ‘Devolution Z Horror Magazine,’ ‘Jitter Press,’ ‘Literally Stories,’ ‘Fiction on the Web,’ ‘The J.J. Outré Review,’ ‘Corner Bar Magazine,’ and ‘pennyshorts.’ She has a bachelor’s degree from the University of Pennsylvania in English and psychology, and a master’s degree from Boston College in counseling psychology. You can read her writing on her website and find her on Facebook and Twitter.

MC D’Alton shares her writing on her website.

David Emery was found on the back porch in a puddle of green slime (according to his sisters). He spent the majority of his life in the Pacific Northwest, with one extended interlude in the south. He has a short story published in the Sword and Laser Anthology, another on WordHaus, and has won a Writers of the Future Honorable Mention. He currently resides in Portland, OR. You can find David on his website.

Ashley Emma writes Amish novels in Maine where she lives with her husband, daughter and son. She is also a book editor and owns a salon in her home. Her new book, Undercover Amish, launches this Sunday. You can find Ashley on her website and on Facebook.

Sarah Gribble physically resides somewhere in Ohio, but where her mind resides depends on the day. When she’s not writing, she is trying to satisfy the intense attention requirements of a houseful of animals and one patient husband. Her writing has appeared in Wordhaus and is forthcoming in the anthology Hindered Souls Vol. 1. You can read her writing on her website and find her on Facebook.

Frances Howard-Snyder teaches philosophy at Western Washington University but prefers to explore ideas through fiction. She has published short stories at Oxford Magazine, Halfway down the Stairs, Cirque, Silver Pen, Wordhaus, Short Fiction Break, and Everyday Fiction. She lives in Bellingham, WA with her husband and two teenage sons. You can learn more about Frances and find her stories on her website.

Alice Sudlow has a keen eye for comma splices, misplaced hyphens, and well-turned sentences, which she puts to good use as the content editor of The Write Practice and Short Fiction Break. She loves to help writers hone their craft and take their writing from good to excellent. You can learn more about her editing services on her website.

Bill Wells has worked for Fortune 100 and Fortune 500 companies for over 30 years. He has extensive experience in business writing and technical communications. He has written white papers, positions papers, policy and procedure manuals, and developed reports and presentations for audiences of all organizational levels. He is an accomplished public speaker and known regionally for his expertise in information security and privacy.You can learn more about Bill on his website.

Thank you, thank you, thank you! (Everyone, say thank you to the judges in the comments.)


Just to recap: in honor of The Write Practice’s 5th Anniversary, the first place winner will receive a $500 cash prize. Five runners-up will receive $50 each.

Ready to hear the winners?

Here we go.

Shortlisted Stories

The judges were faced with a slew of excellent stories to choose from. I’m not exaggerating when I say your great writing made their job very difficult.

While these stories didn’t win a prize, the judges selected them as some of their favorite stories. They are all well worth a read, so head over to Short Fiction Break and check them out.

New Scars for Old Skin by Ryan Benson
The Memory of Breath by Catherine Callicott
A Scar for a Scar by Joslyn Chase
Sitting in the Shade with Jeremiah Rust by Simon Ciappara
The Warrior’s Scar by CJ Clark
Scar by Jeremy Dorfman
Keeping Out the Cold by Theresa Jenner Garrido
Yellowed Indigo by Nicole Grant
The Life and Adventures of a Desk-Job Confabulator by Alexandra Jade Goh-McMillen
Thank You for Your Service by Tom Heaven
Just Ask by Jennifer Kelly
Blue, Red by Monique Legaspi
The Girl Who Didn’t Care by Bart Mann
The Minister by Stephanie Mohs
The Ones You Can’t See by Melissa Muhlenkamp
The Scars that Bind by Marka Ormsby
On the Edge by K.C. Otenti
Forsaken by A.D. Pate
Turning of the Tide by Brandon Perkins
Kintsugi (or, Beauty for Ashes) by Carryl Robinson
Instead by Dawn Robuck
The Reckoning by Joanna Dunn Samson
Outsides Match the Insides by Rebecca Van Horn
A Thin White Line by Waldo Wesley
Partners in Crime by Pauline Yates

You can find these and all the published stories from the writing contest here.

Fifth Runner-Up

WingTips” by Jing X. Danforth. We received a lot of unique and unexpected interpretations of the contest theme. This story of shoulder angels is a particularly special, quirky tale, with a light humor that is unusual in a batch of stories about scars.

Fourth Runner-Up

The War Within” by Deb Bailey. This touching, exquisitely written story conveys a pain many of us struggle to understand.

Third Runner-Up

The Cicatrix” by Allison Walters Luther. This heartfelt story has an impressive story arc, conveying a lifetime in just a few short paragraphs.

Second Runner-Up

The Womb as a Tomb” by Gayle Woodson. This heart-wrenching emotional roller coaster kept us in suspense until the very end.

First Runner-Up

The Tea Party” by Denise Harris. This story beautifully captured a child’s voice, combining darkness with childhood whimsy.

The Grand Prize Winner

The winner of our 5th Anniversary Writing Contest and recipient of the grand prize is . . .

Red Beans” by Justine H. Cho. Justine’s story combines a deliciously creepy atmosphere, strong characterization, and subtle hints about a heavy topic. All this, as well as its masterful allusions to Red Riding Hood, won the judges over, and we’re pleased to declare it the winner of this contest. You can read “Red Beans” here.

Congratulations to Justine, and to everyone who entered this writing contest. This was a lot of fun, and I look forward to more contests in the future!

And if you signed up for feedback from the judges, rest assured it will be on its way soon. Now that the winners are selected, our judges are hard at work putting together their thoughts about a couple hundred stories. (Yet another reason to thank them in the comments!) You’ll get your feedback soon, I promise.

Share your congratulations in the comments!

Joe Bunting
Joe Bunting

Joe Bunting is a writer and entrepreneur. He is the author of the #1 Amazon Bestseller Let’s Write a Short Story! and the co-founder of Story Cartel. You can follow him on Twitter (@joebunting).