The Winners of the Spring Writing Contest

In March, we hosted the Spring Writing Contest in partnership with Short Fiction Break literary magazine. Entering this contest was a huge accomplishment for all our writers, and we want to celebrate the winners here on The Write Practice.

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 join the Summer Writing Contest 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:

Christa Carmen lives in Westerly, Rhode Island with her husband and a beagle who rivals her in stubbornness. Her short stories have appeared in numerous eZines and anthologies, and her 2017 publication schedule includes Comet Press’ ‘Year’s Best Hardcore Horror Volume 2,’ Alban Lake Publishing’s ‘Only the Lonely,’ ‘Anotherealm,’ ‘Mad Scientist Journal,’ and ‘Blood Moon Rising.’ Links to her writing appear on her website, and you can find her on Facebook and Twitter (@christaqua).

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 at Facebook where he has succumbed to social media pressures. When not writing or working, he is usually . . . asleep!

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!

JD Edwin is a lover of all types of stories, from Stephen King to Sophie Kinsella and everything in between. In between managing a full time job and a family, she writes short stories, drafts novels that never seem to be completed, and creates art in oils, pens, and digital mediums. Her artist pages can be found on Facebook and Instagram.

David Emery was found on the back porch in a puddle of green slime (according to his sisters). He has two published short stories, has won a Writers of the Future Honorable Mention, and has acted as a writing contest judge. You can find free stories here, his blog here, and sign up for his mailing list here.

Jeff Elkins is a writer living in Baltimore with his wife and five kids. He is the author of four books, including Mencken and the Monsters. He regularly blogs at Vagrant Misunderstandings.

Erin Halden writes. Sometimes she gets paid, sometimes she doesn’t. She keeps writing anyway. She got her start as editor-in-chief and sole reporter for Spot News, the main daily newspaper on Jupiter (at the age of seven, no less). She can be found on her website and on Facebook and Twitter (@erinhalden).

Lesley Howard’s fiction has appeared in The Lascaux Prize Anthology 2015 and her poetry was included in an installation at the Moss Arts Center. She is currently an MFA candidate in Warren Wilson College’s low-res program, and leads writing workshops upon occasion, too. She blogs about writing at The Art of Practice, and you can follow her on Twitter @LHowardwrites.

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.

Alice Nelson is a regular contributor to Short Fiction Break. She currently co-hosts a flash fiction podcast called A Creative Mind Fiction, where she narrates her original stories. She also co-moderates a flash fiction writing group, and is in the midst of editing her first e-book of short stories. You can hear more of her writing here and read her short stories here.

Cathy Ryan enjoys writing, gardening, and playing piano. A graduate of the Odyssey Writing Workshop, Orson Scott Card Bootcamp, Heritage Workshop at GMU, and Donald Maas’s High Tension Workshop, she is a member of “Write by the Rails,” a local branch of the Virginia Writers’ Club, and has been published in Beneath Ceaseless Skies and Deep Waters.

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.

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.)

The Sponsors

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

The Story Grid is a tool developed by editor Shawn Coyne to analyze stories, see what works, pinpoint problems, and inspire original creation. With over 25 years of experience, Coyne has worked with some of the best selling fiction authors in the world. His book The Story Grid is the essential guide to telling a story that works.

Book Launch: For the last eight years, author and book marketer Tim Grahl has helped top bestselling authors like Daniel Pink, Hugh Howey, and Jeff Goins launch their books and reach the bestsellers list. His book Your First 1,000 Copies is an invaluable resource for getting your book into readers’ hands.


Just to recap: The grand prize winning story will be featured on the front page of Short Fiction Break. The winner will be invited to become a monthly contributor to the literary magazine. They’ll receive one year of free membership to Becoming Writer, normally $180, as well as a cash prize of $300. They will also receive a print copy of The Story Grid by Shawn Coyne.

Two runners-up will have their stories featured on the front page of Short Fiction Break. They will also receive one year of free membership to Becoming Writer, normally $180, a $100 cash prize each, and a print copy of The Story Grid by Shawn Coyne.

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, were featured on the front page of Short Fiction Break:

Still Friends by Tim Grahl
The Red Herring League by Bradley Harper
Arthur Went In by Bart Mann
Pearl’s Bucks by William McCauley
The Warmth of Blankets by David H. Safford


Up In Flames” by KG. This is a quirky tale of an ungraceful wife, accidental arson, and unwelcome discoveries.

Bread and or on Water” by Gayle Woodson. This harrowing tale of war, captivity, and desperate hope takes a surprising turn.

Grand Prize

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

The Porthole” by Sef Churchill. This is the odd story of a mystical porthole and the unpredictable consequences of whimsical decisions. It’s delightfully bizarre, a surreal dance full of intriguing visuals and unusual twists. Its gradually mounting tension and believable (though unlikeable) protagonist won the judges over, and we’re pleased to declare it the winner of this contest.

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

Will you join us for our next contest? Our Summer Writing Contest is now open, and we’d love to read your story! You can enter the contest here.

Share your congratulations in the comments!

The post The Winners of the Spring Writing Contest appeared first on The Write Practice.

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