In December, we hosted the Winter Writing Contest in partnership with Short Fiction Break literary magazine. This week, Short Fiction Break announced the winners. 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.

Winter Writing Contest Winners

We received over 300 entries to this contest from so many 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.

We love writing contests. Will you join us for the next one? You can find out about future contests here.

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:

Michelle Becker is a collector and arranger of words. As a writer it is her job to thread them together in a way that makes sense to her, and more importantly, her readers. She has had a short story published with wordhaus, and is currently working on her first full length novel, Between the Beats. You can follow her journey at Brain Drops and on Twitter (@me_b).

Justin Boote is a writer of horror/suspense stories who lives in Barcelona, earning his keep as a stressed waiter in a busy restaurant. Currently he has 5 stories accepted for publication. He can be found on Facebook where he has succumbed to social media pressures. When not writing or working, he is usually . . . asleep!

Jason Bougger is a writer living in Omaha, NE. He is the author of the YA novel, Holy Fudgesicles, and has published over twenty short stories. His blog and podcast can be found at Write Good Books. He is the owner and editor of Theme of Absence, an online magazine of fantasy, horror, and science fiction. He can be found online at his website.

Christa Carmen lives in Westerly, Rhode Island with her husband 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 (@christaqua).

Michelle Chalkey is a freelance writer and editor who specializes in blogging for businesses. In addition, Michelle is currently working on her first short story collection. She shares tips on the creative process on her blog. Michelle lives in Des Moines with her husband and black lab. When she’s not writing, she’s either reading, baking or coloring!

David Chase decided to write a book. It sucked. So he wrote another book. It too sucked. Then he wrote another book! It read like a history textbook, was too long, and sucked. But the fourth book! He worked with some other authors and got some help and so The Gods Themselves: Artemis was born. And so it begins!

Peggy Ernest currently writes fiction, poetry and essays, is seeking to publish a short story collection, and is working on a novel and a blog. Her publishing credits are mostly business related or local news features. She is married, mother of four and Gramma to nine grandchildren who light up her life. She is an artist, working in acrylics and mixed media.

Sarah Gribble physically resides somewhere in Ohio, but where her mind resides depends on the day. Her writing has appeared in wordhaus and Hindered Souls Vol. 1, and is forthcoming on the Manor House podcast, and in Digital Fiction Publishing’s Quickfic, Fantasia Divinity Magazine, and World Unknown Review. You can find her at Sarah’s Typos and on Facebook.

Antonia Juel is a fantasy writer from Sweden with a special liking for astrobiology in worldbuilding. In her free time, she grows her own food and cuts her own firewood. She sometimes blogs on her website, although it’s not as easy as she thought.

Phil Logan is a fiction writer and poet whose stories cross several genres. He loves travel but has lived for many years among the sugar cane fields of Queensland, Australia. Much of his writing highlights unique features of the wet tropics. You can find him on Facebook.

When she’s not chasing after her three children, Allison Walters Luther is crafting fiction in the historical, women’s, and thriller genres. You can read more about her and her work on her website. She also occasionally blogs about her family’s journey with autism at Simon Doesn’t Say, and she spends way too much time on Twitter at @AllisonLuther.

Deena Nataf, a book editor with over thirty years of experience, runs Bulletproof Writing, a website and blog for writers that delivers writing techniques, “comedy grammar,” and tips for the writing life. Get her free ebook, “144 Prompts: Your Daily Writing Guide,” by clicking here. For information on her online course, “Wake Up Your Prose: Description Unpacked,” click here.

Victor Phillips, recently retired after four decades’ career in natural resources management and education, shares time between Wisconsin’s Fresh Coast and Costa Rica’s Pacific Coast. His hobby interest in writing short stories fulfills a lifelong passion in creative fiction, especially those with uplifting endings. His former professional writings—technical scientific works—are approved to cure insomnia.

Author and caffeine addict David H. Safford coaches writers who want to take their story-telling to the next level. Make your story an instant favorite with his free new book, The 10 Reasons Readers Quit Your Book (and How to Win Them Back). Get the book, innovative coaching, creative strategies, and more on his website.

Pat Garcia is honored to be chosen to write. She has seven blogs. Two of them showcase her storytelling. You can read her flash fiction here and read The Child and The Prophet, an allegory based on the alphabet, here. She is a lover of poetry and loves to sing. You may follow her on Facebook.

D.A. Steen is a fan of Stephen King, Haruki Murakami, and all things fantasy, horror, and sci-fi. He’s currently writing a dark fantasy novel called The Tumultu. He formerly wrote for a regional newspaper in the southern U.S.A. and holds a bachelor’s degree in English and Psychology. He hails from the magical kingdom of Alabama.

Alice Sudlow is a professional editor who works on our team here at The Write Practice and edits Short Fiction Break literary magazine. She has a deep love for young adult novels and a talent for scouring dirty countertops and comma-spliced prose. You can learn more about her editing services on her website.

Maia Thomlinson has been a storyteller from birth—she is a poet, circus artist, and lover of language. She enjoys listening to people’s stories, to uncover their stain glass window and then share it for all the world to see. She lives in a city in the middle of Canada, but hopes to one day see her words touch lives around the world.

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

The Sponsors

We were supported in this contest by some pretty amazing sponsors who have provided incredible prizes. They’re definitely worth checking out:

BookBaby makes self-publishing easy with a suite of publishing and promotion services. Download their free ebook, The End. Now What?!, for a step-by-step strategy to promote and sell your book.

Tribe Writers teaches writers to discover their unique writing voice, find the audience waiting for their words, and build a platform that will get them paid and published.

Productive Writer helps writers find the time to write, overcome their fear, and finish their books.


Just to recap: The Grand Prize winner will receive one year of free membership to Becoming Writer, as well as a cash prize of $400, and will be invited to become a monthly contributor to Short Fiction Break. They will also get to choose one of our sponsor prizes: Jeff Goins’s Tribe Writers course, Tim Grahl’s Productive Writer course, or a $500 credit to book publishing at BookBaby.

The Fiction and Narrative Nonfiction winners will also receive one year of free membership to Becoming Writer, as well as cash prizes of $150 and one of our sponsor prizes.

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.

You can find a shortlist of the judges’ favorites on Short Fiction Break. They are all well worth a read, so head over to Short Fiction Break and check them out.

Honorable Mentions

All these excellent stories, listed alphabetically by author, will be featured on the front page of Short Fiction Break:

When Life Gives You Lemonade by Retta Bodhaine
Betrayed by Christy Brown
Blind Faith by Jing Danforth
Great Almond Street by Anna Gaudard
Surviving by Jessica Gilmartin
Fading Glow by Natalie Lawrence
‘Membrances by Gary Little
The Poo-Poo Man by JDunnSamson
Daydreamer by Brent Stinebaker
From Comfort to Chaos (nonfiction) by Brandie Swenson

Fiction First Place

High Noon” by Mark Casper. This high-stakes shootout takes a surprising turn into an unexpected and satisfying resolution.

Nonfiction First Place

Never Run From a Gorilla” by Nancy Adair. This story transports us into the jungle, capturing the beauty and tension of a once-in-a-lifetime encounter.

Grand Prize

The winner of our Winter Writing Contest and recipient of the Grand Prize is . . .

The Appointment” by Erin Halden. This poignant tale masterfully blends reality and imagination, painting a world of color and light. It takes us along a magical journey to a bittersweet resolution. Its full emotional experience, strong writing, and well-developed characters won the judges over, and we’re pleased to declare it the winner of this contest. You can read “The Appointment” here.

Congratulations to Erin, and to everyone who entered this writing contest! This was a lot of fun, and I can’t wait for the next one.

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.

Will you join us for our next contest? We’d love to read your story! You can learn more about our upcoming contests here.

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).