Announcing the Winners of Our Inaugural Short Story Contest

August 24, 2018

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.


Honorable Mentions

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!


  1. Daeus Lamb

    Dude, Martin. Congratulations! And everyone else involved! I am so excited to see the winning submissions. 😀

    • Martin Detwiler

      Thanks so much, Daeus! I was blown away to even make it into the top three! I was hoping for an honorable mention, honestly. Still can’t believe it!

      Big congratulations to you, Chelsea! I honestly cannot wait to read your story, and honestly I’m going to look into the things you have already published. 😊

    • Chelsea

      Thanks Martin! I’m super pumped to read yours–I’m always amazed at people who can write fantasy in a short fiction form, and yours sounds fascinating!

  2. Micah Summers

    Great work, everyone! 🙂 I can’t wait to read these!

  3. Kate Lamb

    CONGRATULATIONS! I planned to enter this contest but life happened and said no, and I’m so pleased to hear there were so many others who participated. Great work, everyone. So proud.

  4. K.M. Small

    Congratulations Chelsea, Martin, and Nicole! 😀 And great job to the honorable mentions too! (I can’t believe I’m on there O.O)
    Question: will there be another short story contest any time soon? 😉

    • Brianna Storm Hilvety

      We definitely plan to host more story contests in the future. 🙂 I’m not sure when exactly—possibly next spring. Right now Josiah and I could use a bit of a reprieve because a lot has been going on. 😜

  5. Jenna Terese

    CONGRATS TO EVERYONE! I am dying waiting to read some of these when they’re posted! 😀 Nice job!!!

  6. Moira S

    Congratulations to all who won and to those who received honourable mentions! I’ve been waiting for the announcement for a long time. I can’t wait to read the stories!

  7. Buddy J.

    Yay!!! Congratulations! I am really looking forward to reading your stories… Like really really looking forward!

  8. Sarah Baran

    CONGRATULATIONS EVERYONE!! (Winners and honorable mentions alike.) I can’t wait to read these stories!

  9. I, David

    Great job, everyone! I look forward to reading these!

  10. Sarah Inkdragon

    Congratulations everyone! I can’t wait to read all your stories. I was going to enter… but alas, I cannot write a short story. My short story of the year has turned into a possibly 50k novella. *sighs* 😉

    • Joy

      I. Know. The. Feeling. XDD

  11. Jacy

    Congratulations guys!!!!! I’m 15 with like no skill or anything so I knew I would not win but I decided to try anyway for the fun! I can’t wait to read the stories!!!!! Karthmin’s story looks super interesting!!!!!!! Well, maybe I’ll at least make it to the honorable mention next time.

  12. Jacy

    You know, I wish you guys would do an artwork contest. That’s one thing I ‘m good at. What if we had to draw of paint a Bible story? That would be so awesome!!!!!

  13. F.C. Tait

    Yay for the winners!
    Looking forward to more competitions in the future 🙂

  14. Joy

    Congrats, you all!!! =DD Can’t wait to read the stories!!

  15. Filewriter

    Yay! Congratulations, guys! I can’t wait to read these! XD

  16. Anne of Lothlorien

    Congratulations to all the winners!!!
    Thank you to the Story Embers people that included me in the Honorable Mentions!
    I actually plan on putting up my short story here so the non-judges can read it. If you entered a story and didn’t get selected, I’d love to see it here!

  17. Sam Kowal

    😀 Congratulations to all the winners. I can’t wait to check out the stories that are posted here

  18. Dakota

    Congratulations, winners!


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