Thanks to everyone who bravely embraced the challenge of this competition! We received more entries than we expected, spanning a multitude of genres—from historical fiction to romance to sci-fi—but fantasy was by far the most popular. After many hours of reading, sorting, and discussing, Josiah and I chose our finalists. The results were close, because we saw promise in several of the stories, and we hope that will encourage you to participate in future contests. For the moment, however, please join us in showering the victors with accolades and confetti! They’ve earned it.
First Place: “Backstays of the Sun” by Chelsea Pennington
A contemporary story about a man wrestling with regrets while his wife undergoes an emergency C-section. This entry instantly landed atop our pile of favorites and never slipped downward during the judging rounds. The characters, dialogue, and scenes felt very real. We’re eager to share this moving story next Friday!
Meet the Author
Chelsea Pennington lives in Boulder, Colorado with her husband. She has a B.A. in English/Creative Writing and an M.A. in Museum Studies. She has been writing fiction for as long as she can remember and believes in the power of stories to change the world. She has published several short stories and is working on her first novel, Chaos Theory. Chelsea can be found online at chelseapenningtonauthor.com, where she aims to help readers and writers discover and create life-changing stories through her blog, Penn & Paper.
Second Place: “Endbringer” by Martin Detwiler
A mythical tale of a wraith who pronounces doom upon anything he touches, but his interaction with the world begins to change after he meets a boy who doesn’t recoil at the sight of him. We were fascinated by the allegorical elements woven into the narrative. Read it on September 7th!
Meet the Author
Martin Detwiler is a strange fellow, full of paradoxes and odd surprises. But at the heart of it all, he is a man made new by Christ, the Author of that cosmic tale we call history. Martin has had a passion for stories from his earliest years, and the transition from reading others’ stories to writing his own seemed to be a foregone conclusion. His greatest inspirations are C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien, both of whom stirred up a passion for stories that combine the aesthetic and the true in such a way that the reader is given an experiential glimpse of God’s reality. Martin lives in Ohio with all his hopes and dreams, most of which are still intact.
Runner up: “Tick. Tock. Pause.” by Nicole Gusto
A steampunk story highlighting the romance between two androids who were made for each other, but due to man’s meddling, cannot be together. The charm and unexpected twists of this piece intrigued us, along with the unique setting.
Meet the Author
Nicole Gusto is part nerd and part artist. She is passionate about her day job as a therapist in the rehabilitation sector. She advocates for people with disabilities and works toward improving their quality of life. That’s her happy, nerdy side.
She is also a huge geek for stories and visual creations. She started crafting stories when she was five years old, but only began pursuing writing as a medium of storytelling in her late teens. You’ll often spot her reading books from the realms of fantasy, sci-fi, and slice-of-life. She hopes to write excellent stories that spark the birth of stars in the midst of darkness. (She can be too poetic at times.) She believes that stories should present relevant and thought-provoking themes while speaking life to the reader. This will always be her artistic side.
Nicole is a full-blooded Filipina from the Philippines. If she isn’t journeying across the islands, you’ll find her working as the associate editor and staff writer at One Voice Magazine. You can visit her blog or catch her travels on Instagram.
As a special bonus, we’d like to give a nod to the following stories that warranted more than one reading:
“The Death of Hubris” by Valorie E. Kieper
“Even in Silence” by Kayla Stoltzfus
“Grave Future” by Violet Thorne
“The Undertaker’s Son” by Anne of Lothlorien
“Gifted” by Audrey Caylin
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!
Brianna Storm Hilvety has been a professional editor for four years, a writer for a decade, and a bibliophile from the moment she pronounced her first syllable. Although she began as a writer, her penchant for noticing typos and obsession with syntax compelled her to wield a red pen rather than a black one. She’s worked on a variety of projects for individual clients, publishers, and writers organizations, including Gilead Publishing, Castle Gate Press, and Kingdom Pen. She is also a silver member of The Christian PEN and holds editing certifications from The PEN Institute.
At Story Embers, she juggles multiple roles—founding board member, managing editor, and graphics director. She oversees the entire publishing department and its personnel, ensuring that content is processed, edited, scheduled, and posted on the site weekly, in addition to curating the creation of graphics and moderating story contests. She loves aiding writers in achieving their aspirations to captivate and change the world through fiction.