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Contest 2008 - Results
First Prize, $1000, an interview on The Writing Show, and a month of free writing/creativity coaching from author/celebrity judge Joe Nassise

Linda Simoni-Wastila of Reisterstown, Maryland for Brighter Than Bright. "Two Harvard students experience the fragility of human relationships, the discovery of self, and the power of love in the wake of incurable mental illness."


Second Prize, $400 and a month of free writing/creativity coaching from author/celebrity judge Joe Nassise

Brianne Frazier of Washington, D.C. for Fisher. "After Hallie's mother is murdered by her mentally unstable brother, the young woman struggles to make sense of her past and move forward."


Third Prize, $300

Frances Julia Kemp of Peoria, Illinois for The Painted Slate. "The story of a woman who believes the only way she can get in control of her life is by becoming somebody else."


Fourth Prize, $200

Mary Bowers of Chicago, Illinois for The Second Whack. "15 year-old Annabelle Macalester is obsessed with the identity of her anonymous sperm donor and, unbeknownst to her two moms, tracks him down over the Internet. But when an altercation with a drug-crazed neighbor leaves the neighbor dead and Annabelle facing murder charges, Annabelle learns more about identity, family and belonging than she bargained for."


Fifth Prize, $100

Karen Nilsen of Old Fort, North Carolina for The Witch Awakening. "Safire of Long Marsh struggles to keep the curse of her psychic abilities secret lest she be burned at the stake as a witch in her native land Cormalen, an island nation akin to Renaissance England. Forced to keep her talents hidden instead of learning how to use them, Safire is ill-prepared to face the enraged ghost Arilea, the long dead mother of Safire's betrothed."

Ten lucky winners, selected at random, received 750 words of feedback
  • Ron Cooper
  • Brenda Crawford
  • Valerie Getsinger
  • Dharma Kelleher
  • Frances Julia Kemp
  • Clayton Luz
  • Talitha Mitchell
  • Christian Schulenburg
  • Aaron Smith
  • John Michael Tracy


What We Looked For

We searched for the world's most compelling first chapter of an unpublished novel and judged your writing on:

  1. Story. Is it a compelling read with a great hook? Are we engaged?
  2. Style. Is the writing smooth and tight, without awkward constructions, extraneous verbiage, and redundancies?
  3. Dialog. Is the dialog natural and does it move the story along?
  4. Character. Are the characters interesting? Do we care about them?
  5. Mechanics. Are grammar, spelling, and punctuation correct?


Our first-level judges were:
  • Mick Halpin
  • Mark Leslie
  • John Marco
  • Tom Occhipinti
  • Ann Paden
  • Paula Paul
  • Jill Ronsley.


Our celebrity judges were:
  • Wendy Barnard
  • Candace Lake
  • Simon Moore
  • Joe Nassise
  • Laura Wright.

Read more about our judges here

Congratulations to all our winners, and thank you to all who entered! Thanks, too, to all our judges for making the contest so successful!