Announcing the Winners of Our Fifth Annual Short Story Contest

October 10, 2022

Thanks to everyone who bravely embraced the challenge of this competition! We received entries spanning a wide range of genres—from historical fiction to romance to fantasy—and after many hours of reading, sorting, and discussing, Josiah and I chose our finalists. Please join us in showering them with accolades and confetti! They’ve earned it.


First Place: “Cassie’s Pearl” (Contemporary) by Mackenzie Nicole

Cassie and her husband have waited years for a little one to brighten their lives. Finally, their dreams are about to come true—or so they think. After Cassie experiences a miscarriage, friends and family members tell her she should be thankful that she can have kids again. But the reminder makes her feel misunderstood and pushes her deeper into depression. Can she ever bury the pain when she has no grave to mourn over?


Read the story here!


Meet the Author

Mackenzie Nicole is a graduate student pursuing her Masters in Fine Arts in Writing at Lindenwood University. She has a passion for portraying the grace and healing of God through real-life challenges. When she isn’t working or writing, she can be found traveling or hiking the beautiful Ozark mountains.


Second Place: “Memory Knife” (Fantasy) by Victoria Shanks

Erin has tried to scrub away the filth covering her soul with the desert sand she’s chosen as her home. She’s a new person now—God promised to forgive her. But what if He hasn’t? Every night shadowy beings that only she can see creep closer, and when a Land Rover carrying a familiar passenger crashes into the canyon, she’s forced to face the past she’s been hiding from.


Read the story here!


Meet the Author

Victoria Shanks became addicted to storytelling when she was challenged to write a book at the age of eleven. She now writes speculative fiction and westerns, and she’s happiest when she can combine the two. She draws inspiration from the vibrancy of Andrew Peterson, the quirky characters of L.M. Montgomery, the raw prose of Markus Zusak, and the nostalgia of Louis L’Amour. She seeks to reveal the beauty of God through her stories of family and redemption. Other than writing, the loves of Victoria’s life are historical costuming, Bigfoot, and the Mojave Desert. She is a student at the Author Conservatory and lives in the hills of Kentucky with her parents, siblings, and a black cat named Princess Fish.


Honorable Mention: “Light After Dark” (Literary Fiction) by Ashlyn McKayla Ohm

Meet the Author

A worshiper of the Creator and a wanderer of creation, Ashlyn McKayla Ohm is most at home where the streetlights die and the pavement ends. She is passionate about shaping stories that weave together unfailing truths, vivid characters, and dramatic natural settings—bringing readers face to face with not only the mountains but also the God who still moves them. Follow Ashlyn’s writing on her website or keep up with her on Instagram.


Honorable Mention: “The Nameless Nightmare” (Fantasy) by Nicole Gusto

Meet the Author

Nicole is a dreamer, writer, and storyteller. She writes within the realms of science fiction and fantasy. Her stories feature extraordinary children, lovable misfits, flawed fantastic beings, and broken thingsmostly robots, oftentimes human hearts. Nicole hopes to write tales that not only entertain but also comfort and inspire. She believes that stories should speak life to readers the same way that a tiny spark signals the birth of a star despite the darkness.


Aside from being a writer, she’s a speech pathologist who experiences great joy when her students learn to speak and tell their own stories. She’s also a full-blooded Filipina from the Philippines, and when she isn’t journeying across islands, you’ll find her working as the associate editor at One Voice Magazine. You can visit her website or bookstagram account on Instagram.


Honorable Mention: “Beyond the Window” (Contemporary) by Lindsey Backen

Meet the Author

Lindsey Backen is the author of several novels that span from historical fiction to alternate realms. She uses her background in theater to teach writers how to craft character-driven fiction on platforms like Skillshare. She has recently begun attending the School of Kingdom Writers as a full-time student. You can find out more about Lindsey and her writing at LindseyBacken.com.



Congratulations to all, and be sure to return to our blog to view the first and second place stories that will be published in the coming weeks!


  1. Aninoritse

    A huge congrats to both winners and honourable mentions! It’s such a comfort to find an organisation that celebrates Godly and realistic stories. It would be amazing to get to read the stories. Is that a possibility?
    And to Josiah, Mariposa and all the awesome people behind Story Embers, thank you! Keep blazing on.You’re doing great👍I can’t be more grateful that I found your platform.

    • Brianna Storm Hilvety

      As I mention in my post above, yes, we do plan to publish the first and second place stories here on the blog. We just need to finish up the editing process first.

      I’m glad that SE has been a blessing to you! 🙂

  2. Lillian Keith

    Congrats to the winners and runner ups!

  3. Rachel L

    Congratulations, everyone! Your hard work is paying off!!! So excited for you.

  4. E. N. Leonard

    Congratulations! I can’t wait to read the stories!

  5. Fehrmaiden

    Congratulations to the winners and runners up! You all have awesome author bios, and I look forward to reading your work!


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