Initiation Short Story Essay Contests

Writing contests are any writers’ test of excellence. Well, do you all agree with this statement? Is it only about your writings skills and talent or there’s more to winning a writing contest?

While many of my writer and blogger friends take part in many such competitions of writing, but not all know the secrets of winning them.

So, here comes to help a seasoned freelance writer and speaker, and an Aha!NOW blog community member for a long time. Please welcome Amandah Blackwell, who takes part in writing contests and understand them well. Here’s over to her guest post on the 101 of writing contests.


It’s a word you’d like to read when you open up your email after submitting your short story, blog, poem, novel or whatever writing you sent in for a writing contest.

But for many writers, they don’t see the word winner. They receive an email with, “Thanks for entering our contest. We regret to inform you that you are not the winner. Please try again.”

The rejection and agony become too much and before you know it, you’re drowning your sorrows in a pint of ice cream. And the heartbreak leaves you cold and empty inside; never wanting to write another word, again.

But remember what Thomas Edison said, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”


Before you say “Goodbye,” to writing contests know that you have a glimmer of hope. YOU CAN WIN a contest, if you know the secret. Your confidence will soar to new heights and you can take your writing to the next level. And remember what Thomas Edison said, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”

Types of Writing Contests

The most common type of writing contest is one that you pay for. For example, Writer’s Digest offers an annual “Show Us Your Shorts” short story contest. The early bird entry fee is $20 per manuscript. You may wonder, “Why should I pay to enter a contest?” Good question.

When a contest is from a reputable publisher such as Writer’s Digest, you can trust they won’t take your money and run. You’ll receive the prize (cash, trip to a writer’s conference and publication of your writing) for your entry. Read all guidelines before you submit your prose because one misstep could disqualify you if you don’t.

Genres for writing contests include:

● Blog
● Poetry
● Short Story

You can enter no fee writing contests, but you want to make sure they’re from reputable publishers (Writer’s Digest, Publishers Weekly and others) and companies. Read the guidelines, twice, before you submit your entry.

Why Enter a Writing Contest

Winning a contest adds credibility to your freelance writing career – you can soar to the next level.

It doesn’t matter if you’ve had a writing career for 2 years or 20 years, clients and readers, potential and current, will take a second when they visit your website.

They’ll fill out your contact form or pick up the phone and call you for writing services. They’ll also sign up for your newsletter (if you have one) and purchase your books.

You can also use winning to launch a speaking career, if you want one. You have the potential to speak in front of hundreds and thousands of people each year, teaching and encouraging them. Before you know it, well known authors and business professionals will ask you to appear with them at conferences and other events where you can reach even more people.

The marketing and PR opportunities are endless. For example, you can proudly display a badge on your website for everyone to see that you won a particular contest. Also, you can show off your entry that was published in a magazine and/or book. Sometimes, you receive a percentage from book sales.

Bloggers, if you have a book idea, blog it, transfer your material to a Word document, edit and submit your manuscript to writing contest. Even if you don’t win, the experience gives you the opportunity to hone your writing skills.

Remember, as a blogger or writer, you want to take advantage of every opportunity to grow and strengthen your writing skills. You’ll become better at your craft.

Where to Find Writing Contests

You can find writing contests online.

For example, the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award contest opened on February 16th and ended on March 2nd. ThePensters Essay Writing Contest will award $1000 scholarship for Your Essay!

You needed to create a pitch of 300 words and an excerpt of 3,000 to 5,000 words. Manuscripts were between 50,000 to 125,000 words. “One Grand Prize winner will receive a publishing contract with a $50,000 advance, and four First Prize winners will each receive a publishing contract with an advance of $15,000.” If you entered, good luck! If not, don’t worry. Enter next year.

Romance writers can enter Harlequin’s 2014 So You Think You Can Write. The grand prize winner receives a publishing contract with Harlequin, which is associated with Mills & Boon. The second place winner receives an editorial consultation on their manuscript. The third place winner receives a year’s subscription to a Harlequin series.

But you could receive a bonus.

Entrants for the 2013 So You Think You Can Write contest received phone calls from editors to either revise or submit their full manuscript. See that. Even if you don’t win, you may receive valuable feedback from an editor.

Here’s a list of sites that publish information on various writing contests:

● The Writer
● Funds for Writers
● Poets and Writers
● Gotham Writers
● Writers Weekly
● Winning Writers

Again, read the guidelines before you enter. Follow the instructions, even if they don’t make sense to you. If you have questions, contact the organizer. It’s better to err on the side of caution versus entering a contest only to find out you didn’t follow the rules aren’t eligible.

Finally, don’t assume all writing contests are legit. Some are scams, which is why you should only enter ones from reputable organizations. When in doubt, perform a Google search and reviews, reach out on social media and listen to your intuition. If something sounds too good to be true it usually is.

3 Secrets to Win a Writing Contest

How do I know the secrets to winning a writing contest?

I know the secrets because I’ve entered poem and short story contests since 2006. One of those contests was a poetry contest from the Ohio Writer Newsletter. I had to write a poem based on the cover/theme of their newsletter: war.

My poem “Welcome to Hell,” was selected as one of the poems to be featured in an issue of the Ohio Writer Newsletter. I was excited! Whenever I need inspiration, I look at the newsletter from time-to-time to remind me that I can win writing contests. And so can you!

Give the Judges What They Want

The November/December 2012 issue of Writer’s Digest the article “Inside the Creative Processes of Real Writers” featured five writers who shared their tips and tricks. Joanne Castle Miller was one of those authors. She wrote about how failure is a writer’s best friend.

Ms. Miller also wrote about how she won a national writing contest when she was 10 years old. Would you like to know how Joanne won?

She “wrote a tug-at-your-heartstrings story about a homeless man living in family’s attic. She knew the judges would eat that crap up.”

Research writing contests and judges and review previous winning entries. Give the judges what they want and you’ll win!

There is a catch.

You may not like the writing style that judges seem to favor. But if you want to win a writing contest, gain exposure and boost or jump start your writing career, give them what they want.

Go Against the Conventional

Write a blog, short story or poem with a theme that goes against conventional wisdom. For example, if a blog contest’s topic is “inspiring posts about people who quit their jobs to become entrepreneurs,” write about how your boss and co-workers begged you to stay. Go beyond yourself and write the post from their perspective instead of yours.

Don’t enter the same piece of writing as everyone as one else because some judges get tired of reading the same posts, stories and poems over and over again. Open with a BANG and hook them immediately. Make them stick to your entry like glue.

Write an Eye-Catching, Error Free Piece

Have someone read your entry before you submit it. Why? Because you want to make sure you’ve written a piece that grabs the judges’ attention and that’s it free of errors.

Start with a strong title and use strong verbs and delete fluffy adjectives, adverbs and filler words. Format your writing according to the rules. For example, you may have to use 12 point Times New Roman instead of 11 Point Arial.

Your entry should be clean. Don’t add a note to the judges thanking them for reading your entry. Treat a writing contest as if you’re submitting your writing to a publisher.

Go Ahead and Enter Writing Contests!

Don’t hesitate to enter writing contests. Even if you don’t win, you can still use your entry as a portfolio piece. It’s another way to show potential and current freelance writing clients your depth of writing.

If you win a contest, mention it in your query letter or proposal to a literary agent or publisher. They’re interested in your writing credentials and winning a writing competition can move you to the top of the pile, if your book idea is marketable and sellable.

Here’s a bit of advice: don’t tell anyone you’ve entered contests. Why? Because they could say something like, “Do you know what you’re odds are for winning?” You don’t want any ‘stinking thinking’ around your submissions. If you must share your news, tell only the people who support you. And when you win, tell everyone!

Over to You

Do you enter writing contests? Would you pay to enter them? Have you won any writing contest? What advice can you offer writers who want to win writing contests? Share your tips in the comments.

Photo Credit: FreeDigitalPhotos

About the author

Amandah Blackwell

Amandah Blackwell, owner of Savvy-Writer, provides content writing and marketing and social media management to small businesses and non-profits. First-rate writing, marketing (online and offline), and social media management that produce the results you want for your bottom line.

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Jennifer Amos is a multi-genre writer from Portland, Oregon whose work includes commercial freelance writing, creative nonfiction, poetry, and fiction. Her work has been published regionally, academically, and nationally as young as age eight. More recent publications include literary outlets such as The Penmen Review and The Literary Yard, where she has taken to using the pen name J.L. Amos. Since obtaining her BA in Creative Writing and English from Southern New Hampshire University in 2014, her big dream is to continue on to an MFA program sometime before her children are grown. Her hobbies include novel procrastination, photography, watercolor painting, pointless research, watching the sun set on her youth, and raising her son and daughter to be decent human beings.


Scott Anderson has been teaching screenwriting since 1993, beginning at U Mass - Lowell and currently at Emerson College where his "Business Of Screenwriting" course was the first ever offered at the college level. He was the director of the acclaimed screenwriter's workshop The Harvard Square Scriptwriters for 14 years and is currently the Creative Director for Johnston Media LLC. Through his Imaginary Forests writing service he has helped numerous writers overcome writers block, finish books and publish them.  His website is

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Alessandra Bautze holds an M.F.A. in Screenwriting from The University of Texas at Austin, as well as a B.A. in The Writing Seminars and Film & Media Studies from The Johns Hopkins University. While in graduate school, Alessandra taught screenwriting to undergraduates and served as a fiction reader for Bat City Review. Alessandra’s writing often tackles diverse issues of social import and has garnered numerous awards. Her screenplay EIGHT DAYS IN ’88, a drama about identity, empowerment, and belonging set against the backdrop of the Deaf President Now movement at Gallaudet University, the world's only liberal arts university for the deaf and hard of hearing, placed in the top 15% of all entries in the 2016 Academy Nicholl Fellowships in Screenwriting. Her screenplay SAVING SHENANDOAH, a drama about a teenage girl in foster care who goes to great lengths to protect her late foster mother’s young biological daughter, will receive a live reading in Seattle on April 26, 2017 in conjunction with the Seattle International Film Festival. When she’s not writing fiction or screenplays, Alessandra can be found watching movies at the local arthouse cinema, browsing the shelves of the local independent bookstore, speaking French, or conversing in American Sign Language. She loves strong female protagonists, is an avid fan of Doc Martens, and values individuality. Visit her website at, check out her blog at, or follow her on Twitter and Instagram @abautze.

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Alan Turner Bell is a graduate of Boston University (B.A., English) and New York University (M.A., English Literature). Currently based in South Beach (Miami Beach, Florida), he is a published author (his abridged version of his novel called Duke and the Nukes was published in the Journal Of Experimental Fiction in 2014), a screenwriter (his expanded Scriptment for Duke and the Nukes can be seen at the website; Duke and the Nukes is in process of being adapted for a feature Hollywood movie for international distribution), a fashion photographer, an abstract art painter, a blues musician (his original rock and roll band opened up for Van Morrison, the legendary Irish singer), and a private jet airplane broker. In one of his many career incarnations in this lifetime, he taught Creative Writing at a private boarding school in Arizona. He was known as the poet "Sons of X" on Russell Simmons' online poetry forum called "Def Jam Poetry".

The recipient of six national teaching awards, including being selected as “The Outstanding Educator of America,” Dr. Roy Berko has advanced degrees in psychology, communication, and theater.   He has been a professor at George Washington University, the University of Maryland, Towson University, Pennsylvania State University and Notre Dame College Ohio).  His extensive experience in teaching adults has been developed from being in the life long learning programs as Cuyahoga Community College, Baldwin Wallace College, Lorain Community College, The Rose Instiute and the Jewish Community Center.  His theater experience includes award-winning acting, directing and producing on the professional, amateur and college levels. He is the theater reviewer for, and was selected for membership in the American Theater Critics Association. Dr. Berko‘s communication background includes authoring 38 books about interpersonal, nonverbal and public communication.  He has been recognized by the National Communication Association as a “Teacher On Teaching.”  Roy has served as a speech writer and public relations consultant for political and business leaders and was the Coordinator of Public Relations and a speech writer at the White House.  Holding state and national certification, he has been in private and public practice as a mental health counselor and life coach.  He is trained in Gestalt psychology, Choice Therapy, Hypnotherapy and Neurolinguistic Programming.   He is a certified Reiki practitioner and a volunteer with The Hospice of Western Reserve.  Dr. Berko was the staff communication expert for ABC-TV Cleveland (Channel 5) for seven years, as well as being an on-air talent for National Public Radio.  He has appeared on "Good Morning America" and "Fox News."

Allison Bethell is a writer and blogger residing in Miami, Florida with her husband and dog. She is passionate about traveling, fashion, real estate, art and business and expresses this through her writing. She also enjoys writing poetry and fictional short stories in her free time. She writes for several real estate websites and publications, and has been published in travel and lifestyle publications. She has traveled to all 7 continents including, most recently, Antarctica and loves to share her adventures. She completed a B.A in Sociology and Business from Villanova University in only 3.5 years. When she’s not writing, she is a successful real estate broker and investor. She is also an entrepreneur who owns several small businesses. You can reach her through her blog:


Brittany Bogan's first serious literary endeavor was at Sacramento City College, where she was elected Editor-in-chief of the college's literary journal. 2012's Susurrus explored dichotomies of every kind, good vs. evil, dark vs. light, emotional vs. stoic, death vs. rebirth. From there, she transferred to University of California, Davis and went on to receive Higher Honors in English Literature and a minor in Medieval Studies. While at UCD, Britt was accepted in to the Honor's Thesis Program, a multi-semester, research-intensive undergrad thesis writing program. Her paper, entitled "Expanding the Scope of ‘Gendered Violence’ in Thomas Middleton and William Rowley’s The Changeling," sought to dissect how violence in "The Changeling" was used against various genders and how such violence was characterized depending on the perpetrator's gender. Britt is currently pursuing a career in professional editing, working out of the California Bay Area.


Paula Andrea Bolander hails from the Southside of Chicago and proudly reps her Chicagoan and Chicana roots on every platform. A writer, musician, and general creative enthusiast, Paula Andrea loves exploring and connecting through words, movement, visual art and sound. Paula Andrea is a recent graduate of UW-Madison's First Wave Program, where she received a full tuition scholarship for poetry. Paula Andrea has published several zines and is the co-author of "Where Sea and Sky Meet". Currently, Paula Andrea is in the process of writing her newest theatre production, CORE, which encompasses original poetry, dance, and music, set to debut at the Chicago Hip Hop Theatre Festival June 2016.

Susana Borosic is an educated writer with an Honours Specialist degree in Literature and Critical theory from the University of Toronto, Canada. Professional experience in corporate communications has lead her into the field of content writing and editing, but her passions continue to be writing poetry and volunteering with internationally acclaimed film events. She is absolutely thrilled to explore new creative works and share ideas with up-and-coming writers as a judge with NYC Midnight.  For company information and her latest work, please visit


Sandra Cain is a senior lecturer in media and creative writing at Bournemouth University in the UK.  She is a member of the Society of Authors, a member of the Chartered Institute of Public Relations, a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy and a member of the National Association of Writers in Education.  She holds a Masters degree in creative writing and her Phd thesis was entitled, 'The Art of Enlightentainment: Narratology and MBS genre.'  Sandra has published fourteen titles, including, fiction, non-fiction, academic, fiction for children and young adult. Her latest book, 'Media Writing: A Practical Introduction' was published in 2016 by Palgrave Macmillan.  She has designed, written and managed Masters degrees in both media and creative writing for several British universities including, Southampton Solent, Bournemouth and the Open University. She has previously judged short story writing competitions for the BBC, Radio Four and Fresher Publishing.  Sandra also manages the ghostwriting agency, 'Wordshaker', which is based in Los Angeles, California and Hampshire, England.

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Sam Collier is a Chicago-based playwright, poet, and theater artist. She has taught writing at Cornell College, the University of Iowa, the Iowa Young Writers Project, Combined Efforts Theater, and Young Playwrights Theater. Her work has been produced and/or developed by The Make Ready, PTP/NYC, New Ground Theater, Horse & Cart, Theater Nyx, and NTI Theatermakers. Her poems have been published in Prompt Press, Guernica, Pure Frances, and Broad!. She holds an MFA in playwriting from the University of Iowa, where she was also a 2015-2016 Provost's Visiting Writer.

Decater Orlando Collins is an author and screenwriter based in Portland, Oregon. He recently completed a collection of short stories entitled, They Both Loved Vonnegut. Quitting The Grave, his first full-length novel, was published in 2015 and he has previously released Picasso Painted Dinosaurs, a collection of microfiction, and Ahab’s Adventures in Wonderland. He is currently working on several web series for which will debut this spring.


Charlotte 'Lottie' Dingle is a writer, journalist and art tutor living in London. She is currently studying for an MA in creative writing at Brunel University and working on a PhD proposal looking at Borderline Personality Disorder in fiction. She graduated with a BA in English literature from University College London in 2005. Charlotte had her first poem published at the age of 14 in the Kaleidoscope Young Kentish Poets' Collection. After something of a hiatus(!), she has since had poetry published in the Ariadne's Thread anthology and a novella serialised on the Indie Berlin website. Charlotte has recently read at the Medway Arts Festival, Lewisham LGBT's Women's Words event and Ladywell Arts Festival. She is also a regular fixture on her vibrant local open mic scene.  As a journalist, Charlotte writes regularly for Cosmopolitan, Diva magazine and Occupy, as well as editing her own Stonewall-award-nominated website, Biscuit. Charlotte edited g3 magazine, at the time one of the two leading lesbian and bi women's magazines in the UK, between 2008 and 2011. g3 won the Stonewall Publication of the Year award in 2009 under her editorship. As editor, she was also named 48th most influential LGBT person in the UK on the Time Out Pride Power list.


Kellie Doherty has a masters in Book Publishing from Portland State University and a bachelors in English Literature with a minor in Creative Writing from the University of Alaska Anchorage. To put it simply, books are in her blood. She’s been writing since she was little, first in the world of others via fanfiction, then in the worlds she created herself. Her first book Finding Hekate was published by Desert Palm Press in April 2016, and the sequel Losing Hold will come out April 2017. During the day, she’s working with her freelance editing clients, and by night, she writing her next series, a five-book fantasy. She’s been featured in Flight (Mischief Corner Books), Mission 20 (Back of Beyond Books) 49 Writers Alaska Shorts, Pathos Literary Magazine, the Chugiak Eagle River Star, F Magazine, and Alaska Women Speak.


Making her theatrical debut as “the pond” playwright, Kirsten Easton has come a long way since the fifth grade. She holds a  B.A. in both Theater and Sociology from Occidental College and an M.F.A. in Playwriting from Southern Illinois University. Her plays have been performed in Los Angeles, NYC, Chicago, Milwaukee, Columbus, Fayetteville, AK and Carbondale, IL. In addition to her playwriting pursuits, she has taught courses in introductory theater, play script analysis, and acting.

Angela Fielder is a former journalist turned novelist who has penned a few spy novellas on  Many of her articles were featured in Rolling Out, The Wave Magazine, and she had two syndicated columns, (one on parenting and one on family travel  called "The Great Escape") onAnne Arundel She has a passion for gritty stories, multi-dimensional characters, fascinating plots and dazzling settings. In her spare time she enjoys writing about crime, and researching strategy. She has a Bachelor of Science in Sociology from Northeastern University, and lives in Maryland with her amazing son.

Michael A. Fink works as an editor and a hand scorer in Monterey, California, where he occasionally has to explain what hand scoring is. He's published one novel ("The Found Diary of Avery Alexander Myer") and numerous pieces of short fiction and poetry via such publishers as Meritage Press, the Point Lobos Foundation, Marsh Hawk Press. and Fiera Lingue. His writing explores memory, identity, and transgressive notions of self. A second novel is in progress.

Eons ago, back in the 80’s, aside from selling a number of his own scripts, Neil Golin also served as a script reader and analyst for John Veitch, then President of Columbia Pictures, and Claire Townsend, VP-Creative Affairs at 20th. Neil recently wrote, produced, directed and edited his own feature film comedy in Florida, “Run Stinky Run”, which had its world premiere at the Fort Lauderdale International Film Festival. Neil was trained as an actor in the early 70’s at the Strasberg Institute in NYC and performed as a stage dancer for 11 years. He also did three years of stand-up comedy on the West Coast and hosted a late night Los Angeles radio talk show with comedians as on-air studio guests.


Jaclyn Gramigna is the founder/Director of Whippersnapper Films. Her short films have screened in film festivals all over the USA as well as featured in the Short Film Corner at Cannes. In the summer of 2013 she was highlighted as an "emerging filmmaker to watch" in Miramax's blog and is currently a member of the Brooklyn chapter of The Filmshop (a filmmaker's collective). While studying at NYU, Jaclyn was accepted into the prestigious screenwriter's lab in Dublin, Ireland and since then has written 3 feature-length scripts and many shorts. Other than making films, she is an avid home cook and musician (she plays trumpet, ukulele and sings). She is currently writing the feature expansion of her recent short thriller, CROW. Follow her on Twitter @JACoLYNtern.

Monique Hayes holds an MFA from the University of Maryland College Park, where she taught fiction and rhetoric courses. Her fiction and poetry have appeared in Midway Journal, Prick of the Spindle, District Lines (Politics&Prose), Revise the Psalm (Curbside Publishing), Aberdeen Larks (the Dickens Fellowship) and the Jewish Currents Anthology. She was awarded a residency at Wildacres Retreat, and has received awards from the Missouri Writers Guild and Missouri Literary Festival. She currently serves as a Manuscript Screener for Callaloo: A Journal of African Diaspora Arts and Letters.


Katharine Henner is a writer and director based in New York. She is the writer and director of the film novella No Man's Land, currently available to watch on iTunes. She wrote and directed the cult series, Nights in UltraViolet with her writing partner Matt Cook. The series was featured in Vulture, Gothamist, Portable TV, and other media outlets. Her play, The Brighter the Star was recently selected out of over 1,500 applicants around the world to be one of 30 finalists for the Samuel French 40th Annual Off Off Broadway Festival. Her short stories have been published in the Bushwick Review and performed in various festivals in New York. She received her Masters Degree in Writing for Stage and Broadcast Media at the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama in London, UK.  Learn more at


Alessa Hinlo hails from the Washington D.C. area. Born in the Philippines and raised in Virginia, she writes stories that reflect the push and pull of conflicting cultures and feature people who fall into the spaces between. After many years working in biological research, she recently left the field to pursue a writing career. Her short fiction has been featured by REUTS publications and in The Sea is Ours, an anthology of Southeast Asian steampunk. Follow her on Twitter @alessahinlo or visit her website to learn more:


A multifaceted writer, publisher and story performer, Laura McHale Holland has released the flash fiction collection, The Ice Cream Vendor's Song, and the award-winning childhood memoir, Reversible Skirt. Her stories have appeared in such anthologies as Every Day Fiction, Wisdom Has a Voice, Vintage Voices and My Gutsy Story. Her articles have been published in NorthBay biz magazine, the Noe Valley Voice and the original San Francisco Examiner, among other publications. Previously, Laura was a featured teller at San Francisco’s Asian Art Museum, the Lake Tahoe Storytelling Festival and numerous schools in the San Francisco Bay Area. Her play Are You Ready? was produced in the Sixth Street Playhouse 2014 Passport to the Plays festival. Laura is currently editing Sisters Born, Sisters Found: A Diversity of Voices on Sisterhood, an anthology that includes perspectives from every continent except Antarctica. To connect with Laura, visit, where you can subscribe to her newsletter and read a multitude of short shorts, true and untrue. 

Natalia Holtzman lives with two animals in Ann Arbor, MI, where she writes poems and fictions. Her work has appeared in Salt Hill, DIAGRAM, Hobart, B O D Y, Redivider, Phoebe, and elsewhere. After earning her MFA at the University of Alabama, she began working as a freelance writer and editor, reviewing fiction for Kirkus Reviews and serving as Director of Publicity for The Langum Charitable Trust, among other things. She can be reached @NataliaHoltzman 


Valjeanne Jeffers is a graduate of Spelman College and NCCU; a member of the Carolina African American Writers’ Collective (CAAWC); and a member of the Carl Brandon Yahoo group.  She was a featured panelist of the Octavia Butler Arts and Activism (2013), and the Florida A&M Black to the Future (2014) celebrations.  Valjeanne is the author of eight books: Voyage of Dreams: A Collection of Otherworldly Stories; Immortal; Immortal II: The Time of Legend; Immortal III: Stealer of Souls; The Switch II: Clockwork; Immortal IV: Collision of Worlds; Mona Livelong: Paranormal Detective; and Colony: Ascension: An Erotic Space Opera. In addition, her writing was featured in 60 Black Women in Horror Fiction.  Her stories have been published in Reflections Literary and Arts Magazine; Steamfunk!; Griots: A Sword and SoulAnthology; Genesis Science Fiction Magazine; PurpleMag; Griots II: Sisters of the Spear; Possibilities; and The City.  Her novella, The Switch (Book I of The Switch II: Clockwork) was also nominated for the best ebook novella of 2013 (eFestival of Words); and her short story Awakening has been published as a podcast by the District of Wonder's Far Fetched Fables.  Her poetry has been published in Drumvoices Revue; The Ringing Ear: Black Poets Lean South; Revelry; and Liberated Muse: How I Freed My Soul Vol. I.  Valjeanne is also one of the screen writers for 7Magpies, a horror anthology film showcasing black female writers, created by Lucy Cruell (in production). 

Amy Jordan has been working as a sketch comedy writing teacher at The New Movement theater in Austin, Texas for the past 7 years. She is currently the director, head writer and executive producer of The Neighborhood Sketch Comedy Show, a monthly show that had been running at TNM since 2010.  Amy produces and co-hosts the weekly podcast, Yes But Why, which interviews artists about their journey and their aspirations. She is also the Senior Copy Writer for Good Counsel legal services based out of New York City.  Amy is delighted to be judging this short story competition and looks forward to helping as many writers as she can!

Christopher Karr is the co-creator of the indie streaming series Server Life on Vimeo. His novels include the coming-of-age tale JR SR YR and Kingdom Come, a slim adaptation of the Bible (both available on Amazon). Karr’s interviews and essays on film have appeared inHighbrow Magazine. His award-winning plays have been performed in Kentucky, Cincinnati, and Chicago. He currently lives in Austin, Texas. Watch new episodes of Server Life at 

Mary Kobayashi is a freelance writer and editor, born and raised in Missoula, Montana. She has written for Funny or Die and been featured multiple times in The Huffington Post, Playboy, Splitsider, and on The Ellen Degeneres Show. Most recently, she co-wrote and executive produced BOOK CLUB with AIMEE MANN for Funny or Die. She is a regular performer at Public School, a story-telling show in Los Angeles.

Anne Korkeakivi is the author of the novel, An Unexpected Guest (Little, Brown; 2012. Her short fiction has been published by The Atlantic, The Yale Review, The Bellevue Literary Review, Consequence, and others. Her nonfiction has appeared in, for example, the New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Times (UK), Travel & Leisure, and on The Millions. In 2011, she was named a Hawthornden Fellow. She currently divides her time between Geneva, Switzerland, and her hometown of New York City. You can also find her on Twitter and Facebook. For more information about Anne’s writing, Paris, and book suggestions, please visit her website.

Anete Kruusmägi is a fiction writer and poet from Estonia. Currently she’s working at a local newspaper in Estonia, along with writing a children’s book and an adventure novel about Indonesia with her boyfriend.  She has an MA in creative writing from the University of Westminster (UK). In 2010 she spent a semester at West Virginia University studying creative writing and ballet. In 2015 she received the ArtsLink fellowship and participated in an International Writers Program at the University of Iowa. In the autumn of 2016 she taught creative writing at a youth centre in Estonia and spent two months at a writers’ residency in Finland.  Her poems have been published in Melancholy Hyperbole, the Estonian literary journal Värske Rõhk, and her short story is published in Jess. Her reviews have been published in Fourth & Sycamore.

Patricia La Barbera, MFA, is an author and editor. She's an active member of the Horror Writers Association and a member of Mystery Writers of America. She’s also the organizer of the Sarasota Editors Association. Various magazines and anthologies have featured her work. The first three books in her paranormal romance series, The Wolf’s Daughter, The Wolf’s Revenge, and Wolf Slayer, have release dates from February 2013 through April 2013. She lives in the Sarasota, Florida, area with her husband.  Learn more at


Allison Landa is a Berkeley, CA-based writer of fiction and memoir whose work has been featured in The Guardian US, The Washington Post, The Rumpus, SheKnows and Salon Magazine. A graduate of the St. Mary’s College of California MFA program, Landa has held residencies at The MacDowell Colony, Playa Summer Lake, Kimmel Harding Nelson Center for the Arts and The Julia and David White Artists’ Colony. She is the recipient of a City of Berkeley Civic Arts Grant and fellowships to Writers in Paradise (St. Petersburg, FL) and The Mendocino Coast Writers Conference (Fort Bragg, CA). She is represented by Miriam Altshuler of DeFiore & Co. Visit her online at

Richard Larson writes short fiction (mostly of the darkly fantastic variety) and criticism, frequently reviewing books for Strange Horizons and film for Slant Magazine. His short stories have appeared in a variety of magazines including Subterranean, ChiZine, Strange Horizons, and Daily Science Fiction, as well as the anthologies Beyond Binary and Wilde Stories 2011: The Year's Best Gay Speculative Fiction. A new story will also appear later this year in Zombies: Shambling Through the Ages (Prime Books). He is a member of SFWA, the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, and he's been a first reader for a variety of literary journals including Electric Velocipede, a magazine of weird fiction. Born and raised in St. Louis, he now lives in Brooklyn. He works for NYU's Expository Writing Program, and he's also currently pursuing an MFA at the NYU Writers Workshop in Paris. Visit him online at or on Twitter @LarsonRichard.

Anthony Leclair has been a freelance poet, playwright, lyricist, journalist, and composer for nearly a decade now, and is heavily invested in the world of writing. Currently he is Managing Editor, and contributor to the arts and culture publication Working now on several projects, including an adventure travelogue/conservation book on the Manitou Islands on Lake Nipissing, and an upcoming album (Whisky Moon), to be released this Summer, Anthony makes his living through writing contracts for music reviews, and list-based articles respectively. A graduate of Canadore College's Theatre Arts program in North Bay, ON, Leclair has traveled across Canada writing for several publications (RazMataz Music Mag, GUFF, The Reason Tribune), as well as writing and producing his own theatre productions. Having just returned to North Bay, to be closer to the site of his upcoming book, Anthony is always eager to share, and have art shared with him. 

Ethan Levinskas has made a living on the betterment of his fellow writers. He has had his writing featured in Taste of Cinema, Tech Gen Mag, Blank Page, and Gumbo Fiction Salon. His work with several literary management and production companies has focused on improving the material of writer clientele through rigorous critique. He currently resides in Los Angeles where he enjoys not experiencing winter, and having a plethora of burger joints, the latter of which reminds him that life is still worth living.

Nanette Littlestone is a best-selling author, editor, writing coach, publisher, and CEO of Words of Passion. She helps authors overcome writers block, master correct grammar, create strong structure, and write with clarity and passion by blending the technicalities of writing with intuition, emotion, and heart. Over 20 years of experience working with both fiction and nonfiction kindle Nanette's passion for assisting authors to achieve their own unique message. She specializes in helping women write from the heart so they can put their passion into words and inspire others.  Her books include F.A.I.T.H. - Finding Answers in the Heart, Volumes I and II, Overcoming Writer's Block: Moving from Fear to Passion, and the historical novel The Sacred Flame. She is at work on the sequel to The Sacred Flame called Bella Toscana. In her spare time, she works with the Conscious Life Journal as editor, managing authors and articles for this magazine that helps people journey into higher conscious awareness through the five stages of Mind, Body, Spirit, Integration, and Balance.

Frances Locke is a NYC based writer, editor, and activist with a background in publishing. She was the first senior editor for Punkin House Press and later a web editor for Defy Media at before starting Witty Bitches, a digital magazine focused on pop-culture, feminism, and progressive politics. As a contributor, Frances has been featured in publications like The Gloss, Maximum Middle Age, The Mary Sue, Dead Housekeeping, Navel Expo Magazine, and The Frisky.  

Hailing from Kalamazoo, Michigan, April Love has been creating stories since childhood. Her love for writing spans styles and genres, and her body of work includes fiction, non-fiction, stage plays and screenplays. With a Master's Degree from Northwestern's Medill School of Journalism, April won first place in her category in the 77th Annual Writer's Digest Writing Competition with her feature article entitled “My Cup Runneth Under.” Her other published pieces include an article in Canada's Vitality Magazine, a feature in a FaithWriters' compilation, and multiple works for eHow and other online resources.  With well over 100 short stories in her portfolio, April is unceasingly inspired by everyday experiences and interactions. She also performs at kid-friendly events as a doll-like character called Miss Pickles, who has served as a muse for several unique writing projects. Living now in Denver, April is working on producing scripts for a children's cable television show.

The fiction and children's author, Lily Mabura, is currently an Assistant Professor of English at the American University of Sharjah. She has a PhD in English (Creative Writing and Africana Studies) from the University of Missouri-Columbia, USA. She was a pre-doctoral dissertation fellow at the Frederick Douglass Institute for African and African-American Studies, University of Rochester, New York. Select areas of research and teaching include Women’s and Gender Studies, Post-Colonial Studies, and Creative Writing (Fiction). Her literary awards include the Jomo Kenyatta Prize for Literature, Kenya's National Book Week Literary Award, and the Ellen Meloy Desert Writers Award. Her short story, ‘How Shall We Kill the Bishop?’, was shortlisted for the 2010 Caine Prize for African Writing and is the lead story in her first collection titled How Shall We Kill the Bishop and Other Stories (African Writers Series, Heinemann-Pearson, 2012). Her other publications include a first novel titled The Pretoria Conspiracy and four children’s books: Oma, Saleh Kanta and the Cavaliers, Seth the Silly Gorilla, and Ali the Little Sultan.


Keely 'Poi' Majewski is a writer, editor, and blogger living part time in Pasadena, California and South West Florida. Keely's work developed over time with a strong background in creative writing for YA and children's fairy tales. The first published novel called Huberi catapulted personal productivity and innovation into overdrive when it came to writing, allowing Keely to branch out in many directions from journalism to pop culture blogging. Moving forward a few years after graduating from a specialized art academy for the fine arts in SWFL, the quest to begin an online publication became the main goal, GOLDEN BOY PRESS was born. With the help from Zane 'Zab' Brown as editor for the online underground arts magazine, that focuses on music, writing, influential people, and art, the duo has made a memorable impact on the 500+ contributors that have taken part in the GBP journey. Still working hard on GBP for almost 3 years now, she hopes to continue growing the brand and influencing the creative industries. Keely has also reconnected with her creative writing passion working on her newest novella during the past year, while also working as a writer and editor for The Talko, REVITA5, and a Freelance Copywriter.

Elisabeth McAvoy lives in Jackson Heights, New York, with her husband, 133,000+ other people, and her beloved cat. After graduating from Barnard College with a focus in English literature and art history, Elisabeth combined her love of writing and art in a position as research editor at Artforum magazine. One thing led to another-- and she ended up spending a few months taking creative writing classes in far-flung Buenos Aires. Most recently, she worked in the publicity department of a literary publisher in Manhattan; lunch breaks, weekends, and evenings were spent writing. Her short stories have been published in fields and Laundray Literary.


Melissa McCann is a Detroit based writer. She currently works as a writing tutor and is pursuing an MFA in writing at Lindenwood University. Melissa has previous experience working with online literary journals and in film. When she is not writing and reading, you can find her snuggling with her cat and binge watching TV.

Carole McDonnell holds a BA degree in Literature from SUNY Purchase and has spent most of her years surrounded by things literary. Her writings appear in various anthologies including but not limited to, “So Long Been Dreaming: Post-colonialism in science fiction,” edited by Nalo Hopkinson and published by Arsenal Pulp Press; Fantastic Visions III" anthology published by Fantasist Enterprises; “Jigsaw Nation” published by Spyre publications, “Griots: A Sword and Soul anthology,” edited by Milton Davis and Charles Saunders, “Steamfunk,” edited by Milton Davis and Balogun Ojetade, and “Life Spices from Seasoned Sistahs: writings by mature women of color.” Her reviews appear in print and at various online sites including, “Fantastic Stories of the Imagination” edited by Warren Lapine and published by Wilder Publications. Her novels are the Christian speculative fiction, Wind Follower, the alternative world novel, The Constant Tower, and the paranormal chicklit novel, My Life as an Onion. Her collection of short stories, Spirit Fruit: Collected Speculative Fiction, is available on kindle and several stories can be read or listened to online. She lives in New York’s Hudson Valley with her husband, sons, and a great pitbull wannabe named Hemotep.

Amanda Miska is Publisher of Split Lip Press and she is former Editor-in-Chief of Split Lip Magazine. She lives and writes in the suburbs of Philadelphia, where she is currently toiling away at a novel. You can find her essays and short stories at 


Maria Montemayor is a writer from Scarborough, Ontario. Her short fiction stories have been published by Polar Expressions Publishing, Akdaan Anthology, Nelson Education, and Young Voices. Her articles have been featured in The Catholic Register, the National Catholic Reporter, Global Sisters Report, Ignitum Today, Kiwanis International, and Her City Lifestyle. She holds a Bachelor of Arts (Hons.) degree in English and Political Science from the University of Toronto, Trinity College.

A native of Chicago, Rebecca Norris is a writer, screenwriter, filmmaker, and story analyst now thoroughly enjoying the warm winters of Southern California. As a story analyst, she's read for Sundance, Screen Queensland, BlueCat Screenplay Competition, QED International, the Writers Store, and many more, and also worked in development for Southpaw Entertainment.  As a writer and filmmaker, her films and web series have screened in festivals worldwide, including Cannes, and have captured numerous awards. She recently co-wrote and co-produced her first feature film, CLOUDY WITH A CHANCE OF SUNSHINE, which is on the festival circuit, and was also proud to have recently had her writing showcased in the ABC Discovers Showcase in NYC.  Rebecca's currently working on a pilot and a novel, teaches writing at Screenwriters University, and writes about writing and production for Script Magazine.    

Kathleen Novak lives in Baltimore Maryland with her family and dogs. She has spent her freelance writing career focusing on the beauty and fashion industries, helping companies create captivating copy and execute marketing initiatives. Kathleen is the author of her own blog, has contributed to numerous online publications, and much to her delight was quoted on the cover of an Amazon 5 star rating book. She is currently hard at work on her first novel, a crime thriller, keeping her fingers crossed that she too will one day have her own Amazon 5 star rating book.

Rebekah Nowak lives in Washington, DC where she juggles multiple endeavors including a role as Editor-in-Chief at the Eurasia Institute, a non-partisan think tank. Previously, Rebekah has held positions as a Content Development Associate for the U.S. Green Building Council, an Internal Communications Associate for Conservation International, and an English teacher in Beijing, China.  Rebekah often escapes from the daily bombardment of politics by diving into pieces of both fiction and non-fiction, and cherishes the moments when she can get lost in creative thought. Her favorite authors include Thomas Harris and Stephen King, while her favorite pieces are Red Dragon and 11/22/63 respectively.


Anna Phelan hails from Kilkenny, Ireland, but after venturing across the Atlantic now lives in Queens. She is an Editorial Specialist at TED Conferences where she works on the TED Radio Hour and curates content for TED's editorial partnerships. She graduated from Trinity College Dublin with a BA in French and English, specializing in Creative Writing. For the past three years she has been curating an international art dialogue between writers and artists called Creative Whispers, which maps how inspiration translates between visual art and the written word.

Jennifer Pun is a writer and film & TV producer. Her producing credits include the award-winning tween series How To Be Indie, the action/adventure series Connor Undercover, the Canadian Screen Award nominated feature Fall and the horror feature The Void. Jennifer is also a founder and contributor to the young adult writers blog and a film reviewer for the San Diego International Film Festival. Jennifer spends most of her time between Toronto and San Diego.

Jordan Rivers is the author of “The Village Series” (children books) and currently the talk show host and producer of “Turn the Pages” on Chicago’s access network. Turn the Pages focuses on bringing parents and teachers together to solve problems in the education sector. As a writer Jordan’s mission is also to encourage children to read which is why she started Turn the Pages, a non-profit that helps authors promote literacy through tours within the schools, libraries and bookstores.  Jordan graduated from Columbia College Chicago with a degree in Creative Writing. She worked at the Cook County Juvenile Detention Center until she realized that she could reach more youth as a writer. After years of volunteering for a publishing company, school libraries and her Alma mater Kenwood Academy, Jordan decided that it was time to move forward and she received her Masters in Fine Arts with a concentration in Screenwriting from Full Sail University. Finally, Jordan created Rivers Ink (a children’s publishing company) for Black, Hispanic, Native American and Asian writers who have a story to tell to children who look like them due to the lack of diversity in children’s literature.  Learn more about Jordan @

Gabriel Robinson is a writer and freelance editor, originally from West Virginia. As a kid she read everything she could get her hands on, especially myths, fairy tales, and science fiction; she wrote bad stories and got other kids to act in her terrible plays. At Bard College she majored in comparative religions. She later earned a Ph.D. in history of religions from the University of Chicago with a dissertation about bullfighting and Catholicism. Her storytelling interests range across different media. She’s been an associate fiction editor for the Chicago Review and senior researcher for a film about the development of evolutionary theory. Her graphic short story, “The Red Calf,” was published in the horror anthology Hellbound II. She won a fellowship to attend the Stowe Story Lab in 2015, and in 2016 completed her first screenplay, The Soldier Nun, which placed fourth in the Stage 32 Feature Screenplay Competition. She is a visiting scholar at the Brandeis Women’s Studies Research Center, and lives in Cambridge, MA with her partner and two-year-old son. 

As a freelance editor, Jerusha Rodgers has worked on book projects at big trade publishers (including Random House, Simon & Schuster, Penguin, and HarperCollins), small literary presses (such as Unbridled Books) and on proposals with literary agents at William Morris Endeavor and Dupree-Miller.  She was sucked into the New York publishing arena in high school, working as an assistant on a number of high profile ghostwriting gigs. While earning her English degree at Sam Houston State University, she took a couple sabbaticals to do humanitarian work in developing countries between winning awards for writing, speaking and debate. After graduation, she interned as The League of Extraordinary Authors' Social Media Coordinator. Drawn to a nomadic life, Jerusha turned rogue, founding her freelance editing business, Rabid Badger Editing, and jetted off. She even published her first book, YOUR TITLE HERE: How To Craft A Killer Nonfiction Book Proposal, from a hostel in Cambodia (during a riot). Internationally, Jerusha has provided editing for Kosovo2.0, a nonprofit magazine, and social media development and support for several businesses throughout Southeast Asia and the Balkans.  Jerusha has spoken about ghost writing and editing at BEA, SXSW, and was a part of the International Indie Author Fringe Fest as a recorded speaker. She has also contributed as a writer to indie author resource books released through ALLi, The Alliance of Independent Authors.  As a plot whisperer, Jerusha has worked with Joni Rodgers, NYT bestselling author, on a plethora of book proposals, memoirs, novels, and screenplays, one of which went on to be nominated for an Academy Award.

Robert Rogers: I’ve called cities from Honolulu to NYC home. Taught at schools, farms, and museums. Worked jobs from acting to writing. I have an MFA in Creative Writing and have spent the past fifteen years writing and editing fiction, screenplays, and textbooks. I write, bike, and love through life sharing discoveries with friends gathered along the way.

Melissa Rose is a performance poet, playwright, editor and artistic wellness coach. In addition to writing her own dramatic monologues, she has worked on dozens of novels, stage productions and poetry books, helping others discover the power of their voices. She is currently the Executive Director of Siren, a nonprofit organization that empowers women and girls through spoken word poetry. Her work has been featured in several magazines, anthologies and podcasts including Indiefeed and the International Poetry Slam Anthology, Planet Slam. Melissa earned her B.A. in Transformative Language and Performing Arts from Marylhurst University and lives in Eugene, Oregon where she is currently working on her first full length book of poetry.

Sam Scrimger is a Torontonian writer of numerous short fictions and articles on the outdoors and rock-climbing. After getting his start at Random House Canada he has been writing and editing fictions freelance. He is presently working on a new fantasy novel and has relocated to scenic New Zealand to continue his editing career. He spends his time climbing and camping around Christchurch.

Ariele Sieling is an author, an editor, and a member of Independent Publishers of New England. She is author of the light science fiction series, The Sagittan Chronicles, and the children's book series, Rutherford the Unicorn Sheep. She also offers coaching and publishing support for those pursuing the art of independent publishing, and has worked on dozens of books. She lives in NH with her three cats. 

Matt Snell is a fiction and non-fiction writer from Peterborough, Ontario. His work has appeared in Existere, Punchnel’s, and PRISM International, and his short screenplay “Vigil” was a quarter finalist for the 2014 Canadian Short Screenplay Competition. He is currently completing his MFA thesis at the University of British Columbia, where he is also teaches creative writing for the non-credit mentorship program Booming Ground. As a musician, he has performed throughout Quebec and Ontario, accompanying his original songs on guitar, banjo, and musical saw.

Rachel Logan Snyder is a poet and writing instructor from Westchester, New York. She earned her BA and MFA in Creative Writing from Sarah Lawrence College. After teaching at SUNY Purchase and Manhattanville college for several years, she recently moved to Austin, Texas to write, live, and roam. When she's not writing, she enjoys hiking and photography, and has developed a spontaneous interest in rock collecting. Her poems have most recently appeared in Slice Magazine, Decomp, Word Riot, and Big Lucks. 

D.W. Socha began her career as a story analyst when she was a college intern working for James Cameron. Her assignments included feature screenplays, graphic novels and short stories. After college she was an analyst for several production companies and literary agencies. Most recently, Socha has been working as an analyst for Script-A-Wish which caters to the writer directly, offering insights and story structure notes to aspiring writers. A writer herself, Socha has an ACE Double titled ‘The Ties That Bind’ available as an eBook and has two television pilots in development.

Erica Sparks is a short fiction writer and poet in Brooklyn, NY. An Austin native, she studied poetry and journalism at UT, where she enjoyed the burgeoning independent film scene. Her work has appeared in The Austin Chronicle, The Daily Texan, The Horn and Luna Luna magazine. She has participated in a short film contest for the Alamo Drafthouse, a much-beloved staple for rising filmmakers and SXSW screenings.

Beth Staples teaches editing and publishing classes in the Department of Creative Writing at the University of North Carolina Wilmington, and is associate editor for its literary magazine, Ecotone,and its press, Lookout Books. Before heading down South, she worked at the Virginia G. Piper Center for Creative Writing at Arizona State University, editing its literary magazine, Hayden’s Ferry Review, and other publications. She has taught fiction writing and editing at various universities and conferences, including Arizona State. Her work has appeared in the Portland Review, Phoebe, and Bat City Review. She is working, when she can, on a novel.

Elizabeth Stiras serves on the board of directors of Freethought House, where she has edited creative non-fiction, memoirs and essays. With a degree in journalism from the University of Minnesota Twin Cities, her freelance writing has been regularly featured in Lavender Magazine. She performs and writes stand-up and sketch comedy all over the country. 

Hayley Stone is a writer who lives in Rocklin, California. She recently graduated from California State University, Sacramento with a Bachelor’s degree in history—a subject she believes offers a wealth of story inspiration as well as a powerful look into what makes us human. While at CSUS, she had the pleasure of studying under award-winning poet, Joshua McKinney, who introduced her to a love of poetry, and taught her the value of precise language. Her poem, “Cinderella Comes Out of Egypt,” was published in the 2014 Calaveras Station Literary Journal. With an eye for detail and a passion for storytelling, she has contributed to manuscripts such as The Paper Magician series (47North) by Charlie N. Holmberg, and Inconceivable (Curiosity Quills) by Missy Shelton Belote due out this summer. Hayley is currently on submission for her own sci-fi novel, Machinations. She loves hearing from fellow writers and readers. Tweet her @hayley_stone or check out her website:

Wally Swist’s books include Huang Po and the Dimensions of Love (Southern Illinois University Press, 2012) and Invocation (Lamar University Literary Press, 2015).  His poems have appeared in many publications, including Commonweal;Miramar; North American Review;Rattle; Sunken Garden Poetry, 1992-2011 (Wesleyan University Press, 2012); and upstreet.  He is guest editor of the summer 2017 issue of Blue Lyra Review. 

Justin Michael Terry is a Los Angeles based writer and script doctor with a love of dark stories. Last year, Justin won, or placed in twelve different local and international short screenplay festivals and is currently shopping around a feature horror screnplay and two television packages.

Mary Trainor-Brigham, M.A. is the author of DEEP CINEMA, Film as Shamanic Initiation, and a Scribe~for~Hire, Writing Consultant and lecturer based on the tenets of that work. The book was included in the swag bag of the Los Angeles inaugural event of GATE: Global Alliance for Transformational Entertainment. She has been a Film Critic for 15 + plus years and her column was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize when she worked for the Telegram & Gazette in Worcester, Massachusetts. A lifelong fascination with Indigenous cultures has accrued over the decades, culminating in a M.A. and development of workshops which she facilitates nationally and internationally. Currently she and her husband, Ciaran, are designing a Mersapien Sea Chapel in order to have a site where people can be restored to enchantment and their Indigenous Souls. Mary's clients mainly include, but are not limited to, screenwriters, as her Deep "C" insights can be applied to any great story.

Oubria Tronshaw is a native of Chicago. She has a BA in Creative Writing from the Santa Fe University of Art and Design, and a MFA in Creative Writing from Chicago State University. Currently, she runs a website called


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