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2019

1st Place: I Am Nightrunner, by Victoria Shanks

SYNOPSIS

I am Wellamo no-name, and last sixmonth I lost my entire world.

One spring night, my father and mother were murdered. My sister… murdered. I know who did it: his name is Stoneheart, Hand to the Lord Governor. Why he did it? I intend to find out. Stoneheart took everything from me, and I promise, he will not go unpunished.

Read on the Student Forum »

Victoria Shanks shows excellent world-building skills in this delightful and fast-paced fantasy. Not only is the prose strong, with wonderful turns of phrase and descriptions, but the plot was paced really well. I found Wellamo’s narratorial voice captivating, and one of the main reasons the novel pulled me in. Perhaps the best thing I can say about it is that I quickly stopped thinking about the story as a contest judge, and lost myself in Wellamo’s world.

2nd Place: Frostlighter, by Seraphina West

SYNOPSIS

They called me Frostlighter. The perfect weapon. The destroyer of kingdoms. Fitting, then, that I may be the one to topple the empire I helped to create.

Once, Hansel Shepherd was known as the Frostlighter—the child warrior who helped General Kyran bring the Empire to its knees. Now, he’s in hiding, a traitor to both his homeland and the army he served. With the help of his aunt, Christel, and the mysterious wyrm known as Clyowen, Hansel has managed to conceal his true identity… but not for much longer. When Christel is arrested, Hansel sets out to rescue her. He doesn’t realize that in doing so, he’s setting in motion a string of events that will rock the foundations of Kyran’s kingdom—and endanger the lives of everyone he loves. For Clyowen is not who she seems… and Kyran’s soldiers are never far behind.

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One judge commented that this manuscript is the most “grammatically correct” submission she has ever seen. That may not seem like high praise, but professionalism in a presentation matters. More than this, however, I really enjoyed the wonderful opening and the development of Hansel as a character. His inner conflict gives the story depth. The other characters are also well developed, and the inclusion of a hatchling wyrm added a freshness to the story that made it a unique and pleasurable read.

3rd Place: Message Carrier, by Emily Schaeffer

SYNOPSIS

Aren has been told all his life that there is nothing beyond the Wall. But there are also stories, stories that he hears in secret, of the Kingdom of Aralan—a kingdom unlike harsh Shudirion, one full of heroes and valor and sacrifice. So when Aren sees a stranger leaving Shudirion, he seizes his chance to search out his stories and find the truth. Aren’s journey pulls him into the climax of a conflict that has been escalating for hundreds of years, and he finds many looking to him as the Hero who can save them. As each passing day throws a different light on Aren’s beloved stories and familiar ground begins to shift, he begins to wonder—who are the heroes? What should they be saving? And as he remembers all he left behind in Shudirion, he is forced to decide—which side is he on?

Read on the Student Forum »

Emily Schaeffer’s fantasy novel is written in a dreamy, lore-like voice that adds texture to the layered plot. The novel builds one aspect of its story-world around legends told by the characters, and though not all the legends turn out to be true, they do impact the plot in unexpected ways. The characters are distinct and fun to follow, and the Inciting Incident and New World chapters demonstrate real skill.

Finalist: Outlaw, by Miriam Crews

SYNOPSIS

After his mother’s death, the responsibility of caring for his sister falls directly on sixteen-year-old Robert’s shoulders. He decides to [earn] his and his sister’s keep working out in the untamed Texan desert, far from civilization.

However, when Robert arrives at the small town of Nottingham, Texas, he crosses paths with the local sheriff, who’s been stealing from the townspeople. Will Robert keep his head down to protect his sister? Or break the law, and save Nottingham?

Read on the Student Forum »

The Outlaw is an imaginative blend of genres I’ve not seen in previous contests. The opening conflict, memorable characters, and fast pace lend confidence as you read that this story is in capable hands.

Finalist: The Traitor’s Sunstone, by Felicity Edwards

SYNOPSIS

Avenge my family. Expose the traitor. Get the Sunstone back. And to the King who thinks I betrayed him— I am not a murderer.

The Duke of Syphwood Castle, knight of King Arthur’s Round Table has been murdered, and all evidence points to a young King’s Ranger named Valiance. Valiance knows she did not commit the murder, but when an old friend reveals that the person who killed the Duke may be the very one who killed her family ten years ago, exposing the true traitor suddenly becomes more personal. But the murderer has a further trick up her sleeve—and all of Angland is in terrible danger. Can Valiance reclaim her birth right, avenge her family and expose the traitor before it’s too late? Or will she be the next one to die?

Not available to read, by author’s request.

The Traitor’s Sunstone has an engaging and unpredictable opening that immediately sucked me into the story. Good prose, vivid details, and an interesting twist on a familiar legend make this novel a worthwhile read.

2018

1st Place: Say Uncle – Rosey Mucklestone – Read on the Student Forum »
2nd Place: Hearthfoot – Victoria Shanks – Read on the Student Forum »
3rd Place: Forgotten Flame – Michal Garner – Read on the Student Forum »

Finalists (not ranked)

Chasing Phantoms – Abby Anderson – Read on the Student Forum »
The Questers – Nicole DeBenon – Read on the Student Forum »

2017

1st Place: R.E.M. – Ashley Schaller – Read on the Student Forum »
2nd Place: To Kidnap DNA – Lydia DeGisi – Read on the Student Forum »
3rd Place: The Stonecrest Existential Crisis Club – Sam Cooper – Not available to read

Finalists (not ranked)

Agram Awakens – Aidan Bender – Read on the Student Forum »
Evik – Emily Schaeffer – Read on the Student Forum »
Starless Nights – M. R. Shupp – Not available to read

2016

1st Place: Chromeheads – Jake Buller – Read on the Student Forum »
2nd Place: Ten of Hearts – Joy Audens – Read on the Student Forum »
3rd Place: Hattie – Elisabeth Newton – Read on the Student Forum »

Finalists (not ranked)

Show Me the Way – Meredith Lundell – Read on the Student Forum »
Silhouettes: The Un-Telling of Peter Pan – Jamie Dougall – Read on the Student Forum »
Small Hands’ Flight – Charlotte Anderson – Read on the Student Forum »

2015

1st Place: Factory Rats – Catsi Eceer – Read on the Student Forum »
2nd Place: The Monster Upstairs – Elisabeth Newton – Read on the Student Forum »
3rd Place: The Reverse Road – Sam Cooper – Read on the Student Forum »

Finalists (not ranked)

Of Lavron – Ellie Gardiner – Read on the Student Forum »
Somnia – Amy Nickelsen – Read on the Student Forum »
Wings of Dust – Charlotte Anderson – Read on the Student Forum »

2014 

1st Place: The Witch’s Cat – Miguel Flores – Read on the Student Forum »
2nd Place: Under the Weather – Sam Cooper – Read on the Student Forum »
3rd Place: Children of Ashes – Justin Ferguson – Read on the Student Forum »

Finalists (not ranked)

Pitch Black Stars – Catsi Eceer – Read on the Student Forum »
When the Stars Are Singing – Meredith West – Read on the Student Forum »

2013

1st Place: Blue Sky Burnt – Erynn Besse – Read on the Student Forum »
2nd Place: Redemption – Annika Lee – Read on the Student Forum »
3rd Place: Broken Glass King – Abby Walsh – Read on the Student Forum »

Finalist (not ranked)

Dangerous Games – Emily Haan – Read on the Student Forum »
Flightless – Bethany Ingham – Read on the Student Forum »
Indumentum Oris – Verity Rising – Read on the Student Forum »

2012

1st Place: Bitter Magic – Collin Anne Suttle – Read on the Student Forum »
2nd Place: Hosanna House – Hannah Mills – Read on the Student Forum »
3rd Place: Quintessence – Rachel Garner – Read on the Student Forum »

Finalists (not ranked)

Heirborne – Braden Russell – Read on the Student Forum »
Survivor One – Richard LaRue – Read on the Student Forum »
Shining Stars – Wynter Croix – Read on the Student Forum »
Chatoyant – Sarah Seifert – Not available to read

2011

1st Place: Snapshots – Matthew Lauser – Read on the Student Forum »
2nd Place: Project Theta – Kyle de Waal – Read on the Student Forum »
3rd Place: Deep Six – Collin Anne Suttle – Read on the Student Forum »

Finalists (not ranked)

Archipelago – Sophia Debusschere – Read on the Student Forum »
Forewarned – Rebekah Swank – Read on the Student Forum »
My Lady – Grace Debusschere – Read on the Student Forum »
Sightless – Miguel Flores – Read on the Student Forum »
Speak Aloud, Scream Alone – Read on the Student Forum »

2010

1st Place: Recollections – Janae Leeke – Read on Student Forum »
2nd Place: Becoming Human – Jared Schmitz – Read on the Student Forum »
3rd Place: My Father’s Dream – Sarah Wacker – Read on the Student Forum »

Finalists (not ranked)

Sacrifice – Collin Anne Suttle – Read on the Student Forum »
The Fly by Night – Kyle de Waal – Read on the Student Forum »
Out of Darkness – Sarah Noé – Read on the Student Forum »
Of Princesses and Dragons – Grace Garner – Read on the Student Forum »
Offset – Matthew Lauser – Read on the Student Forum »

2009

1st Place: Kytt’s Tale – Carlie Gernhart – Read on the Student Forum »
2nd Place: Of Self and Sacrifice – Elizabeth Lobach – Read on the Student Forum »
3rd Place: Allemande – Lydia DeWolf – Read on the Student Forum »

Finalists (not ranked)

Forest of Lies – Rachel Garner – Read on the Student Forum »
Knights in Red Coats – Jane Johnson – Read on the Student Forum »
Child of Darkness, Child of Light – Rachel Werner – Read on the Student Forum »
Prince of Thertine – Grace Garner – Read on the Student Forum »

2008

1st Place: Averill – Lydia DeWolf – Read on the Student Forum »
2nd Place: Fable Weaver – Carlie Gernhart – Read on the Student Forum »
3rd Place: Betsy Flowain – Rachel Garner – Read on the Student Forum »

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