Judge Agent CeCe Lyra has made her selections! Congrats to the winners! Thank you to all of the submitters throughout the contest! The shortlisted writers deserve a celebration as well as it’s not easy to make the shortlist!
1st Place: HOMILY by Amanda Baldeneaux: The premise is intriguing: murdered girls begin to unexplainably reappear. Right away, the reader understands that Homily’s — the protagonist — journey is one filled with strangeness and strife. I appreciate how the author zoomed in on dialogue to give us a sense of the relationships’ dynamics, while still relying heavily on narrative to build on the story’s overall voicey-ness. This chapter made me think about what it means to survive, and to be remembered.
THE DISPENSATIONALISTS by James Maddox Kennedy: From the very first page, I could tell that this was a story with humor and teeth. The protagonist is a sharp, opinionated observer, which is something I’m naturally drawn to since it makes the reader feel like they are navigating a novels’ world-building in a steady, grounded way. I appreciated how the emotionality didn’t shy away from the so-called ugly emotions since, really, these emotions humanize characters. I finished this chapter contemplating the invisible sequence of events that make up a life, and how it often all feels both random and inevitable.
Clairvoyant by Christen Fisher: The first thing that stood out to me was the speedy, conversational tone the protagonist struck with the reader. I appreciated the rich interiority on display, the almost painful self-awareness woven in scenes. There is an undercurrent of impatience to these pages, giving this chapter a fast-paced feel. At the same time, the author does not shy away from pausing to weave in larger, biting social commentary firmly grounded in the protagonist’s on-the-page experiences. This chapter had me examining the degrees of privilege that go into social interactions.
I AM IN LOVE WITH A STRANGE GIRL NAMED GEMMA USHERWOOD by Michael Adams Preston
On the Roof by Meg Fox
Night Service by Cecilia Gigliotti
Wouldn’t Be Seen Dead by Matt Hampton
Billamina and the Ship that Sailed the Trees by Rebecca Harrison
Mourn in Glory by M.M. Kaufman
Across the Vengeful Deep by Tessa Swackhammer
Angeel Mercenary by Sariah Swartz
The Plague of Flowers by Chris Zerby
HOM by Ellen Koga
Wolves in Chic Clothing by Sarah Parke
Incarnate by Elizabeth Cobbe