At Short Fiction Break, we believe there are two groups of stars in every writing contest. The first group is obvious: all the writers who enter their stories, who bravely offer their writing for critique, judging, and publication.
The second group is less obvious, but equally important: the contest judges, working hard behind the scenes to read every story and select a handful of the very best.
MEET THE JUDGES
In the last few weeks, we’ve celebrated the prizewinning stories and authors of the Fall Writing Contest. Now, it’s time to celebrate the judges who made this contest possible.
EDITOR Ash Van Otterloo
Ash Van Otterloo was born and raised in the Appalachian foothills, and currently resides in the PNW with their four wild forest gremlins. Ash is the author of middle grade magical realism books Cattywampus, A Touch of Ruckus, and The Beautiful Something Else (Scholastic Press, 2023).
They are also a freelance copyeditor and writing mentor whose experience includes specialized authenticity reading and feedback for major publishing houses, mentoring ELA classrooms through #KidsNeedMentors, guest teaching in ELA classrooms grades 3-12, and adjudicating the annual Young Inklings Society writing contest.
For information about Ash’s writing services, visit their website.
Read The Beautiful Something Else
It’s exhausting trying to be the perfect daughter.
Still, getting good grades without making any waves may be the only way to distract from the fact that Sparrow Malone’s mother is on the verge of falling apart. Which means no getting upset. No being weird. No standing out for the wrong reasons.
But when Mom’s attempts to cope spiral out of control, Sparrow is sent to live with Aunt Mags on a sprawling estate full of interesting, colorful new neighbors. And for the first time, trying to fit in doesn’t feel right anymore. Even Sparrow’s shadow has stopped following the rules.
As Shadow nudges Sparrow to try all the scary, exciting things Mom has always forbidden, Sparrow begins to realize something life-changing: they don’t feel like a girl. Or a boy. And while this discovery is exciting, now Sparrow must decide whether to tell everyone—their new family and friends, not-so-secret crush, and most importantly, their mom—the truth, especially if it means things change forever.
AUTHOR Sarah Gribble
Sarah Gribble is the international Amazon bestselling author of Surviving Death and her short stories have appeared in dozens of online and print publications. She spends her days working as a writing coach at The Write Practice and imagining new ways to freak her readers out. She’s currently working on her third novel.
Join her mailing list at sarah-gribble.com for news and free scares.
READ Surviving Death
Tilly’s death isn’t going very well. She’s been assigned the last job anyone wants: escorting souls to Hell. Worse, the afterlife is run on an automated system of justice based on arbitrary rules and three-strike punishments, and despite her best intentions, her strikes are running out.
One more screw up and she’ll be damned for all eternity.
Just like her mother.
Furious at the ridiculous rules in the afterlife, Tilly risks her own damnation in a search for justice. She sets out on a quest through Heaven and Hell—one that makes her the accidental face of a rebellion and leads her to an ultimate showdown with Lucifer and Death himself.
Her mother’s soul—and the souls of mankind—depend on her.
Get the bestselling novel, Surviving Death, here or at your favorite online retailer.
THE JUDGES’ EXPERT ADVICE
In each contest, we offer writers the opportunity to hear directly from the judges why their story was or was not selected as a winner and what they can do to take their story-writing skills to the next level.
Together, Sarah and Ash wrote personalized, expert feedback for more than a hundred writers in our Fall Writing Contest.
Didn’t sign up for feedback on your story? There are a handful of common challenges many stories in this contest faced. Check out this article on The Write Practice for the most common weaknesses judges find in contests and how to fix them.
Of course, no contest is complete without the writers who enter and the stories that win! We’re excited to celebrate the eight stories judges selected as the winners of this contest.
Don’t miss out on these wonderful reads!
Want more like this? You can find the stories the judges shortlisted, as well as all the stories published in this contest, here.
MORE STORIES TO COME
We had so much fun in this writing contest, and we hope you did, too. Keep your eye out for our next contest, full of more exciting themes, supportive writing community, publication opportunities, and expert judging.
Until then, happy writing!