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Writing by the Water

Contest History

Please use the menu to the left to navigate through our list of past novel and short story winners, as well as runners-up.

Due to unforeseen circumstances, AuthorsFirst was unable to host contests for 2016-2019.

2015 Novel Contest Winner

2015 Novel Contest Winner

Terminal Regression by Mallory Hill

Mallory Hill is a nineteen-year-old anthropology major at Indiana University.  Here’s what she had to say about her contest winning novel, Terminal Regression: "Terminal Regression is set in a world where purpose is everything and passion is taken for granted.  It follows Laura Baily, a self-proclaimed failure, as she embarks on a suicide attempt that results in her discovery of a secret, socially rejected community.  While her own life seems listless and without meaning, she becomes wrapped up in the trials and sufferings of those around her.  It becomes a sort of obsessive quest for justice and identity as she searches for a reason to live and fights to keep that reason safe."

Regarding the contest-winning novel and its author, Lou Aronica, President and Publisher of The Story Plant, said, "Mallory Hill is a tremendously gifted writer. She was a runner-up in last year’s contest, and Terminal Regression took our imaginations for a ride. We are thrilled to have it as our winner and very excited about publishing it."

And congratulations to our runners up....

Live Shadows by Heather Wittmer

Gambits by Kelly Shaw

The Game of Five by Robert Wayne McCoy

Diamonds in the Woods by Stef Kramer

The Future’s Dark Past by John Yarrow

Terminal Regression.webp

2015 Short Story Contest Winners

These three amazing stories were included in the AuthorsFirst anthology, A Dozen Truths, which also featured original contributions from other Story Plant authors.


"Join" by Eric Andersson


"Ollie" by Carmen Siegers


"Tonic and Spirits" by Craig Ham

2015 Short Story Winners
2014 Novel Contest Winner

2014 Novel Contest Winner

Pup by Christopher Slater

Pup is the story of a clumsy, socially awkward man who inadvertently becomes the key to the nation’s safety during an unexpected war. The judges compared it to the work of Kurt Vonnegut and Joseph Heller. Slater found inspiration from diverse sources. “As a World War II and Vietnam War living historian,” he said, “I have the privilege of meeting many veterans that are true-life heroes. As a teacher, I have the privilege of meeting many students that have potential that they don’t seem to comprehend themselves. I realized that these two groups of people were not mutually exclusive. Why not have a story where you meet not only a hero, but also hear what that hero thinks about his own actions? As I began fleshing out the character, I found that Pup had a great deal of humility, which brought forth another question: What happens when a hero never sees himself as someone unique?”

Slater is a career middle school educator in Tennessee. He started writing short stories to share with students in hopes the stories would encourage them to further reading. He started writing longer stories on his own to entertain his friends, and eventually expanded to completing novels. When he received word that he’d won the contest, Slater was stunned.

“I had just walked my students to the buses when I received the message. I stood there dumbfounded. When my coworkers saw the message, they began shouting and hugging me as I continued to stand there like a lump, trying to digest what I was reading. My reaction to winning this contest has been one of absolute shock and elation. Like any writer, amateur or professional, my ultimate hope is for someone to be able to read what I write and feel that they have gained something from it. Winning this competition gives me that opportunity, and I find myself having trouble finding the words to express how that feels. At this point I think that all I can say is ‘Wow!’”

The author has won a $5,000 prize, a book contract with The Story Plant, an iPad mini, and a year’s worth of Story Plant books.

“We received nearly a thousand entries,” said Lou Aronica, President and Publisher of both AuthorsFirst and The Story Plant, “and the range was wide and impressive. Once we narrowed down the field, the selection process became difficult because there were so many good choices. However Pup truly rose above the pack.... Christopher Slater is a uniquely talented writer,” Aronica said. “I think this will be the start of a long and successful career for him.”

And congratulations to our runners up....

I’m Not Her by Cara Sue Achterberg
Memento Mori by T.J. Jordan
See What Happens by Holly Hayes
One Wish by Mallory Hill
The Lost Road by Louie Lozano

All runners-up won an iPad mini loaded with a year’s worth of Story Plant books.


2014 Short Story Contest Winners

These amazing stories were included in the anthology, Portable Magic.

"Black Pearl Earrings" by Randy Ames

"The World Was an Island" by Abigail Anderson 

"Hazel" by Ashley Baldwin 


"The New Fenian" by B. Lynch Black 


"Ellen’s Lake" by Nina Boyd 

"Pieces of Art" by Kimberly Bunker 


"Protection" by Brenna Conley 


"Virginia is a Different Country" by Max Everhart 


"I Fell Off My Name" by Micah Juliot 


"Gabriel" by Lenisa Kelly 

"Phoenix Sun" by Stef Kramer 

"Cradle Robber" by Daniel Brian Mobley 

"Just Watch" by Lia Nasselquist 


"Kindness is a Four-Letter Word" by Charis Reich 


"Everyone Hates the Grays" by Chad Stambaugh 


"The Banshee Ciana" by Katherine Wielechowski 


"The Undying Passion" by Vivian Too Yee 

2014 Short Story Winners
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