2017 Fiction Contest Winners

We are pleased to announce the winners of our 2017 Fiction Contest. Thank you to all who have submitted. The finalist manuscripts are being critiqued by this year’s finalist judge, Jeffery Renard Allen.

Information that may be of interest:

  • 31 manuscripts have been chosen for awards out of 410 entries.
  • Entries came from 43 U.S. states and 18 other countries (10% of total entries): UK, Canada, Germany, Ireland, Singapore, South Africa, Bermuda, Monaco, Turkey, Australia, Greece, New Zealand, Czech Republic, Republic of Korea, Israel, Sweden, Thailand, and India.
  • 80% of entries were novels or novellas, 20% story collections; 20% of entries were young adult or middle grade.



Trip Wires, stories by Sandra Hunter (California)
Report from a Place of Burning, a novel by George Looney (Pennsylvania)
Burn with Me, stories by Jordan Farmer (West Virginia)
Hallet House, a young adult novel by Natalie Harnett (New York)


Demonstration of Love, stories by Mahmoud Saeed (Illinois)
Specimens, a novel by Rosanne Daryl Thomas (Massachusetts)
The Visibility of Things Long Submerged, stories by George Looney (Pennsylvania)
Stone Skimmers, stories by Jennifer Kelly (Massachusetts)
Adababa and the Third Wife, a novel by Phyllis Barber (Utah)

Honorable Mention

The World Does Not Know, a novel by Mark Fabiano (Virginia)
Highlandtown, a novel by Miah Jeffra (California)
Guardians & Saints, stories by Diane Josefowicz (Rhode Island)
Magdalena, a novel by Candi Sary (California)
The Excavations, a novel by James Whyle (Johannesburg, South Africa)
Drafts of a Suicide Note, a novel by Mandy-Suzanne Wong (Bermuda)
Come Closer, stories by Patricia Powell (California)
Wolfish, a novella by Marion Woolley (Gloucester, UK/Rwanda, Africa)
No King in Israel, a novel by Anthony Otten (Kentucky)
The Indigo, a young adult novel by Heather Siegel (New York)
Your Own Secret Fallout Shelter, stories by Rachael Swearingen (Illinois)
Wrong Kind of Paper, a novel by Cindy Simmons (Pennsylvania)
Not All Dead Together, stories by Lynn Stansbury (Washington State)
In the Amber Chamber, stories by Carrie Messenger (West Virginia)
Surrendering Appomattox, a novel by Jacob Appel (New York)
Maids and Soldiers, stories by Kathleen Ford (Virginia)
Billy Penn’s Hat, stories by Brian Patrick Heston (Pennsylvania)
Sin Easters and Other Stories by Edward Francisco (Tennessee)
Stripped, stories by Leah Griesmann (North Carolina)
What We Leave Behind Follows, stories by Christopher Shade (New York)
On a Close Reach, a novel by Donald McCullough (California)
Drunk with Fire, a novella by Daniel Turtel (New York)

Farewell & Welcome

Today we say a tearful goodbye to our long-time intern, Corinne.

Corinne started working with us two years ago during the 2015 fiction contest and stayed on as editorial assistant to the then-acquisition editor Rebecca Schwab. Together, she and Rebecca sloshed through many a submission, and after Rebecca moved on to greener pastures, Corinne took over publicity and marketing duties. Now she is enrolled at the University of Denver for their 2017 summer publishing course, where she will hopefully succeed and carry forward on to greater things. We wish her the best of luck and thank her for all of the hard work she put into Leapfrog.

In place of Corinne, we welcome Nathan Carter as a submission reviewer and blogger. Nathan has been the associate editor & typesetter for Civil Coping Mechanisms press for nearly two years. He is also the layout editor for the literary journal, Lake Effect. He has been working with us since April in helping with reviewing submissions for our fiction contest and writing some recent blogs.

We look forward to the rest of summer and moving forward here at Leapfrog in this transition. Thank you again to all who have submitted to our fiction contest. We will be posting the results soon.

Spotlight on Tricia Dower

In October of last year, we published Stony River by Tricia Dower, a coming-of-age novel that put the so-called innocence of the 1950s on trial for its dark secrets. Dower has since published a sequel through Caitlin Press entitled Becoming Lin, originally released in Canada and followed this year with a US release.

Recently, our managing editor Lisa Graziano asked Dower why she created the three very different teen girls with different, and unusual, lives to contrast with one another.

Stony River was an expansion of a short story that appear in my Shakespeare-inspired collection, Silent Girl,” Dower explained. “In that story, Linda, Tereza and Miranda first appear. The story was inspired by The Tempest’s Miranda and the two other girls were created to react to the mystery and strangeness of her as well as to support the story theme of sexual awakening.”

In Becoming Lin, the character of Linda has grown up with hopes of trying to escape her parents and her hometown. She marries and follows a minister to Minnesota and begins to discover her true self in a study of marriage across Vietnam-era political uprising and the civil rights movement.

Residing in British Columbia, Dower is the author of these two novels and a previous collection entitled Silent Girl. Her novels have been built from a single story in that collection and expanded into the universes they are now.

To learn more about Dower and her work, visit her website and be sure to pick up these books for great summer reading.

Subway Stops in May!

May is N. West Moss month here at Leapfrog. Her collection of short stories, The Subway Stops at Bryant Park, was released earlier this month and has already made its way across the country to several delighted readers.

Moss recently sat down with American Microreviews and Interviews to talk more about the book, her process, and inspirations.

“Without trying to make it so, the park was appearing in almost everything I wrote, as though it was the canvas I was painting on,” Moss explains. “After it appeared in three or four of my stories in a row, I realized what was happening, and made a conscious choice then to write about the park, using the setting as both a backdrop and a character. If, in my mourning, I could not stop thinking about it, I would allow it into my stories.”

Both LibraryThing and Goodreads are doing giveaways of the book until May 18. Visit them for more information and enter to win. Each outlet will give 10 copies for 20 total copies up for grabs!

So far, we’ve heard reports of Subway Stops in Florida…




and in the hands of these lucky ladies!

Get yourself a copy today for some great summer reading. And if you want to hear Moss read from her work, you can catch her at the following reading events:

  • May 11th at 7:00 pm – Desmond-Fish Library, Garrison, NY
  • May 16th at 7:00 pm – Book Culture, 536 W. 112th St, New York, NY
  • May 18th at 7:00 pm – Watchung Books, 54 Fairfield St, Montclair, NJ
  • May 23rd at 7:00 pm – La Rana Rossa, 154 Green St, New York, NY
  • June 7th at 12:30 pm – Bryant Park Reading Room, 42nd St side of the park, New York, NY


Fiction Contest Closed & Past Winners

As of yesterday, our annual fiction contest has come to a close. We’ve received nearly 400 entries from a number of countries and we thank all of you that have submitted. Our team now focuses on the hardest part – narrowing down to our top list. The winner, finalists, semifinalists, and honorable mentions will be announced in the coming months, but for now, we’d like to take the chance to look at some previous winners of our contest.

The Quality of Mercy by Katayoun Medhat, our 2016 winner, will be released this September. Mercy tells the story of K – aka Franz Kafka – on the trail of clues to a murder in a small town. Along the way through the rural Southwest, K meets Robbie Begay, a Navajo tribal cop and through their journey, the unlikely duo reveals much about intercultural relations and the crossing of our own borders. With this being Medhat’s debut novel, the story sings with a depth of cultural wisdom that ensures more to come from this Iranian scholar,

The Solace of Monsters by Laurie Blauner was our 2015 winner. The novel is told from the perspective of Mara F., a Frankenstein-like creation made by a grieving scientist.  Throughout her travels and exchanges with her father, we are asked to think about how parts make up a whole; the repercussions of ethical, emotional, and moral issues; and what constitutes solace for different people. Blauner’s work has previously appeared in The Georgia Review, American Poetry Review, Mississippi Review, The Colorado Review, and others. She’s the author of four novels, a novella, and eight books of poetry.

In 2014, we saw The Lonesome Trials of Johnny Riles by Gregory Hill take the top spot. This novel was the prequel to Hill’s East of Denver, which won the 2013 Colorado Book Award for Literary Fiction. Trials tells the gritty story of two brothers at odds in Stratford County. Hill is currenly working on the third book in the series, tentatively titled Zebra Skin Shirt.

To read more about these winners and more from our past contests, visit out website. Again, we thank everyone for submitting to our contest and your continued interest in being Leapfrogian.

Smelcer, Ahtna Heritage, and Kiska

smelcerJohn Smelcer, author of the YA novels Lone Wolves, Stealing Indians, and Kiska – coming this fall, has been active in researching his past for a long time. Late last year, Smelcer started a YouTube channel dedicated to spreading the knowledge of his people – the Ahtna tribe of Alaska. In his videos, Smelcer teaches his audience how to speak their language and more about their culture. The author and historian is dedicated to not letting this and other cultures that we should cherish fall by the wayside as we modernize.

Earlier this year, Smelcer wrote an article for NPR’s Code Switch in which he details yet another unfortunate part of American history. During World War 2 when the government had their own internment camps on American soil to address what was largely being marketed as “the Asian threat” after Pearl Harbor, we not only imprisoned Asian immigrants and Asian-Americans but also members of the Ahtna tribe. In Kiska, he addresses this very topic when the U.S. Army arrives to evacuate Kiska’s entire village to an internment camp almost 2,000 miles away to be forgotten because they “look like Japs.”

Smelcer’s building concern for the endangered language of his kiskaancestors and the unfortunate general decline of appreciation of the Native Americans before us, drive his research and will to share that knowledge with his readers. Pick up one of his books today for an incredible window into Native American history and the stake we all should have in retaining and celebrating that history.

Literary Jazz: The Smooth Beats of Mick Carlon

CarlonFrom his inspirational TEDx talk on Louis Armstrong’s “ripple effect” to his semi-historical children’s literature titles, Mick Carlon is making his own waves for jazz’s literary voice today.

Riding on Duke’s Train (2011) told the story of Danny after sneaking onto Duke Ellington’s train in 1939, and through the nine-year-old’s eyes, we see the world of Jazz music at the time unfold and we meet a slew of personalities playing the scene along the way. Jack Bradley said of Riding: “When this marvelously evocative novel finds a home in the school curriculum, kids across America will be downloading Duke.”

Shortly after, Carlon turned his attention to the latter career of Jazz legend Louis Armstrong, when his main character, twelve-year-old Fred, accompanies Louis to Nashville in Travels with Louis (2012). Brian Morton said of Travels that “Carlon is driven by a love divided evenly between the subject (jazz) and the act of writing itself.”

In late 2015, Carlon took his wealth of Jazz knowledge and Girl Singerhis love of sharing it one step farther, challenging himself to write to an adult audience with Girl Singer. Singer is the story of Avery, an eighteen-year-old aspiring to be a singer and to be discovered. She’s recommended to Count Basie and thrown into the jazz life, landing in Greenwich Village after a handful of hit records and dealing with a new guest in her life. Reviews sang of Carlon’s unique ability to embody place, his seemingly endless knowledge of Jazz history, and his inescapably sympathetic blending of the multicultural narratives that bled through both the music and cities he explored.

Mick Carlon’s novels are now in the curriculum of over 50 schools across the country and he continues to share his love of Jazz as a teacher in the public school system himself. You can catch him at the 17th Annual Satchmo Summerfest in New Orleans from August 4-6 speaking on “A Glorious Collaboration: Louis Armstrong and the Mills Brothers” or his articles in the archive of the Jazz Times. Pick up one of his books to swing to this summer.