Announcing the Winners of Our Sixth (and Final) Short Story Contest

October 2, 2023

Thanks to everyone who made our last writing competition a success! 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: “New Samaria” (Historical Fiction) by Laurel Wood

A marine washes ashore on an uninhabited island after Navy forces attacked the Japanese ship where he was being held prisoner. Now he spends his days scavenging for food, fighting dehydration, and wishing he had a distraction from the memories that are eroding his sanity. But when he finds an unconscious enemy sailor on the beach one morning, he faces an unexpected dilemma: Will preserving a life, any life, cure his loneliness, or only bring him more sorrow?


Read this gripping psychological journey on Monday, October 23rd!


Meet the Author

Laurel Wood has been telling stories since she was six years old, creating baby books for her younger sisters and entertaining them during sleepovers. After discovering the young adult genre’s lack of uplifting stories, she began working on an adventure novel at age twelve and fell in love with writing. She majored in English and minored in Creative Writing at Pepperdine University, where she currently studies law. She contributes regularly to the Denison Forum on Truth and Culture, a forum dedicated to discerning news through a biblical lens. Her essay, “No Mere Materialism,” examining the frailty of materialist ideology in C. S. Lewis’s Space Trilogy, has been published in Pepperdine’s Global Tides and will appear in the Southern California Lewis Society’s Lamp-Post this fall. In her free time, she enjoys gardening, cooking, all manner of arts and crafts, exploring the great outdoors…and, of course, reading as many books as she can.


Second Place: “Treasure” (Fantasy) by N.J. Rayne

Meet the Author

N.J. Rayne is a fantasy novelist and avid reader who lives in Ohio with her three plants and two hundred books. While in the real world, she enjoys wandering through the woods and crossing creeks. She loves music, science, sports, and the outdoors. Any other time, you can find her exploring imaginary places and people through books.


An engineer by training, N.J. frequently spices her fantasy with science and math, though soft worldbuilding will always have its place (hello, Gossamer by Lois Lowry). She believes fiction has the power to illuminate the invisible truths of the world and aims to share hope through her words. You can check out her book recommendations and take a quiz to help you find your next fantasy read at NJRayne.com. She’d love to meet you!


Honorable Mention: “Your Last Birthday” (Fantasy) by Bethany Fehr

Meet the Author

Bethany Fehr is a student of story and a lover of language. She primarily writes historical fiction, often infused with a gentle touch of fantasy. Storytelling is her space to explore difficult questions and discover the character of God, and she hopes her stories will encourage others to think deeply about their faith. Classic authors George MacDonald, C. S. Lewis, and Harold Bell Wright are a few of her favorite sources of inspiration. Bethany lives in Alberta, Canada, where she sings with her family’s bluegrass/gospel band, teaches English to adult learners, and does freelance work as a developmental editor.


Honorable Mention: “Haystack Butte Square Dance” (Historical Fiction) by Hannah Martin

Meet the Author

Hannah is a crazy pen-wielding, jack-of-all-trades writer. She writes contemporary stories with a vintage (or magical!) twist, usually featuring big families, delicious food, and tear-jerking scenes. Along with writing, she enjoys camping, hiking, cycling, skiing, violin playing, sewing, reading, and many other “-ing” words. To see what new shenanigans Hannah may get into, visit her blog at PrecariousBookStacks.com.


Honorable Mention: “The Music Cabin” (Fantasy) by Anne of Lothlorien

Meet the Author

The summer she turned eight, Anne made two very important decisions. The first was to become a Christian, the second was to become a writer. She has never regretted either decision and knows she never will.


Besides many short stories and poems, Anne has managed to finish one novel (which will likely remain in the deep vaults of her computer files forever) and is working on two others.


When she’s not writing, Anne enjoys reading (of course), scrap journaling, watching movies, talking with friends about anything, and graphic design. She loves roller coasters, cheesecake, Disney World, sparkly things, getting mail, and short bios.



Congratulations to all, and be sure to return to our blog to view the first place story that will be published soon!


  1. Anne of Lothlorien

    Congratulations to all the winners and honorable mentions!!! 🎉

  2. A. J.

    Congratulations to all of you!!!

  3. Sara Twinkle

    congrats, y’all!

  4. Fehrmaiden

    Congratulations, everyone! I’m so happy to see historical fiction faring so well!

  5. Laurie Sibley

    Congratulations! What an honor. Where can we read these award-winning stories??

    • Brianna Storm Hilvety

      As I mention in my post, we’ll be publishing the first place story on October 23rd.

  6. Dixie Woodrum

    Awww mannnnn!!!! I just recently joined Story Embers and never got to participate in the contests…………….
    Well, congrats everybody anyway!


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