AWW Contest Winners

The Good Read Novel Competition 2013 winner

CONGRATULATIONS to winner Anneliese Schultz, author of a young adult tale, Distant Dream.

It’s always a great thrill when the final decision has been made, and we can tell you about the new recipient of our $500 award for the novel judged best (among some amazingly good entries) in the Good Read competition.

This year, it’s Anneliese Schultz, for a young adult tale, Distant Dream, which will captivate adult readers, too; her story comes dripping and pelting out of the latest scary predictions about global warming. She has created a world-wide crisis scenario that is discouraging, frustrating and downright dangerous, especially if you are a fifteen-going-on-twenty-five-year-old female, stuck in the mud and longing for adventure after all your modern conveniences have drained away in the storms.

A U.S. citizen and former Bread Loaf Scholar, Anneliese Schultz lectures in Italian at UBC, where she also completed her MA in Italian and MFA in Creative Writing. Her fiction has been recognized by the Toronto Star, New York Stories, Ruminate, Snake Nation, Wild Leaf and WriteCorner presses, and the Heekin Group Foundation, and published in several anthologies. The winner of the 2013 Enizagam Literary Award in Fiction, her story “Child” has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize.

What struck our judges immediately was the voice Anneliese has found for her teenage heroine. We’re sure you’ll agree, from this brief excerpt:

All right, FYI:

  1. I am fifteen, five-foot-something, indecisive hair, blue eyes that once in awhile mix it up by turning green
  2. This is Okanagan Falls, BC, Canada but I was born in Colorado, and before here, we lived in Grass Valley, California and then Gray, Maine (the best)
  3. It is getting close to October in the majorly pathetic year of 2022 [Ex. no electricity since 2019, cellphones and internet dead and gone the year after]
I am basically a friendless orphan on a screwed-up planet. All right, fine, that is pretty exaggerated. Obviously, my parents care about me... But what I am talking about is somebody who might maybe, let’s say, understand me?

Congratulations to Anneliese Schultz!

The Good Read Novel Competition 2012 winner

Carmen Estevez Phelan, of Madrid, Spain, author of Checkout Girl Harassed by Love Struck Customer!

Carmen Estévez Phelan of Madrid, Spain, has taken the Good Read prize with her charming first novel, Checkout Girl Harassed by Love Struck Customer. Daughter of a Spanish father and an Irish mother, Carmen was raised in Ohio, USA. After encounters with varied cultures and a career as a classroom teacher, she has created fictionalized vignettes of some amazingly real-life characters, including the attractive, ambitious Annabel, a grocery clerk who is repeatedly visited by a mysterious but determined young admirer. The novel deftly spans the brink between their separate but equally amusing lives; and the uncertain outcome of their star-crossed relationship excites our interest from the first page:

For the last month Annabel has been quietly and kindly dealing with a young man who has been coming to her register on a daily basis. Edwin (she had checked his name on his debit card.) has been making purchases, one at a time, every day since he first set eyes on the lovely Annabel. At first it was a Snickers Bar and when Annabel asked, as all salespeople usually do, “Anything else?” Edwin answered very softly, “Only you.”

The Good Read Novel competition 2011 winner

Kate Pascoe, author of Frog Hollow!

We had a fantastic round of entries with an international flavor for the Good Read competition in 2011. Deciding the winner was no easy matter.  So we’ve selected the grand prize winner, and two writers who merited an Honorable Distinction.

This year the grand prize for a Good Read goes to Australian Kate Pascoe, who has written an evocative novel about a slum neighborhood, Frog Hollow, and the eccentric people who live there. This snippet provides a flavor of the literate expressiveness and human touch of which Kate is capable:

For a moment, quite out of the blue, an old fear stirred in her, a bedtime story told long ago from the Children’s Bible, about Noah and the great flood.  Forty days and forty nights teeming rain and the world washed away.  It had set a terror in her as a child.  Back then when hard rains had fallen, Emma would run to her room and hide under the bed, and although she could hear the voices of other children out in the street, laughing and shouting as they kicked water at each other and sent paper boats spinning down the gutters, it did nothing to quell her fear.  Emma learnt to count the distance between the thunder strikes, the higher the count – the further away the storm. 

Looking back Emma couldn’t say if it had been just one summer or many, she’d known that dread.  She remembered a school day when a storm was brewing and Sister Mary Joseph had found her pale and trembling, alone in the music room.  In a quivering voice she’d tried to explain it, how she saw the world filling up with water till there was no space left to breathe between the land and the sky. 

Sister Mary Joseph, quick to lay the child’s fears to rest, explained God’s promise never to curse the ground again by flood. “God gives us the rain so that all things may grow and prosper. Do not be afraid of it,” she said.  She put her arm around Emma’s shoulders and gave the child an affectionate squeeze.  It was a clumsy moment; their heads knocked together and Sister Mary Joseph’s glasses were pushed up.  In that split second, Emma saw her differently.  Younger, smooth skinned, motherly.  After that she saw the rain differently too.

Kate has this to say about herself and about A Woman’s Write:

“I've lived in Sydney all my life and began writing at a very young age.  Some of my poems were published in the junior comic section of the Sunday newspaper and this would fill me with pride and encourage me to keep writing, much the same as the Good Read competition as done for me now. I am very much interested in local history; I find there is a never ending supplier of stories and characters to be dug out of old newspapers, diaries, and letters held in the city's archives, and from these I like to spin tales and place them in more contemporary settings, as I like the contrast of the old mixed in with the new.

“I have nothing but praise for A Woman’s Write and the Good Read Competition.  It's rare to find a competition that offers to critique the work it receives. This is valuable feedback for budding writers, and can give them new eyes through which to see their work… AWW goes a long way to empower women to write and we need more of that in the world today.”

We’re betting that Kate Pascoe will soon be a published novelist.

The Good Read novel competition 2011 honorable distinction awards

Two of our entries won Honorable Distinction awards:

  • American physician/author Jennifer Frank has a passion for chick-lit. She sent us Alison’s Big Do-Over, the farcical adventure of a woman who’s trying to change her life by moving up in her profession, but discovering that the pitfalls of ambition can be as complex as the woes of being stuck in place. Frank has a talent for making life’s little annoyances seem like hugely hilarious cosmic catastrophes. We wish Jennifer well in her own new career well started.
  • Eugenia Cosinschi wins Honorable Distinction for her novel, The Plan , a breezy, zany saga of what can go awry when a young woman decides to quit her job and see what happens next. When she comes up with what seems like a reasonable a plan for survival, everything, including her love life, begins to come unglued. Eugenia writes in a pleasant, idiomatic style belying the fact that English is her second language. Seems like a formula for future success.

As you can see, we are welcoming international writers (women 18 or older, writing in English). All entrants receive, in a timely manner, one of our invaluable critiques (we’ve been told that the help that we offer to new writers through our critiques is worth far more than the cost of the entry fee). Some of our entrants may later seek our editing services, which are refreshingly inexpensive and carried out with professionalism and a personal interest in making good books better.

Our new submission year for the Good Read novel competition begins January First annually. By submitting earlier in the year, writers have a chance to resubmit their work based on the editorial suggestions of our reader/editors. It’s one of the unique features of the competitions at A Woman’s Write that is much appreciated by our participants.

Winner, 2011 Truth to Tell Competition

Winner CYNDY DREW ETLER, author of Straightling

Cyndy Drew Etler is the winner of our first annual Truth to Tell non-fiction book prize. Her harrowing memories of life as a teen held captive in a rehab facility is the basis for her current work with troubled teenagers. Her book Straightling is part of that endeavor. Cyndy writes:

I never was a badass, actually. Or a slut, a junkie, or a stoner, like they told me I was. I was just a little kid looking for something good: a grownup with some love to spare or a place, a safe place, to hide. I was a wannabe in a Levis jean jacket; anybody could see that. Except my mother. And the professionals at Straight.

“So begins Straightling, my young adult memoir about Straight, Inc, a cult masquerading as a drug rehab. With a fourteen-year-old’s voice, the book takes readers on a first-person rollercoaster ride. It rips through my wide-eyed childhood, then on into my sixteen months locked in a building, singing preschool songs and being spit on by a hive of troubled teens.

“As I slog through the process of submitting to agents—fidgeting through lag time and gnashing through heartbreak—this award from A Woman’s Write serves as glorious validation. What a boost for a striving author.

“To learn more about Straightling, and to receive a free sample chapter, please go to www.straightling.com.”

Winner, 2010 Good Read Fiction Book Competition


Little Song tells a twisty tale of a rogue ex-husband who returns, spends a week living with the heroine and her new husband, and gives everybody a chance to get some serious thinking done about the distinctions between love and romance:

…My whole life, my best friend was that boy next door, big blonde Sammy Bear.
"You shoot him, and I'll cut off his ears," Sammy said whenever one of Momma's men got near me. Then we'd get to planning how we could bury the man in the woods, covering up the fresh dirt with hemlock branches. Even picked out the best spot on Vancouver Island, at the base of an old-growth cedar that's been there a thousand years and more. The Grandmother Tree, they call it, because it's surrounded by its children's children. But, though Sammy Bear had his nasty side and liked to catch things that squealed—squirrels, weasels, cats, an otter now and then—he never did help me kill any of Momma's men.

Grandma said the Bears had long been trouble—bad blood will out, don't you know?—and she told tales of banishment and crimes. As time passed, and Sammy and me got skin-close, her tales grew more horrific, her charges touching sacred taboo and ancestral sins. I heard bedtime stories of moons stolen, whale-women raped, cedar spirits felled against their will, dancing masks cursed, and, inevitably, intercourse with all the wrong sorts of bears.

But, though my face looked a lot like Grandma's, our brown eyes didn't see the same when it came to Sammy, so it wasn't a surprise when I married him right after high school. And, if you knew Sammy and his wandering ways, it wasn't much of a surprise when he took off eight months after our son Josh was born. The surprise came when he showed up sixteen years later…

Margaret says: "This work--the characters, story, setting, and words--are close to my heart so I deeply appreciate the recognition this award brings. I hope A Woman's Write continues giving encouragement to emerging women writers for many years to come."

We congratulate Margaret, who won our Good Read prize in a field of excellent competitors, and we thank all of you who contributed and expressed your faith in A Woman's Write for another creative year. Now it's time to start polishing up your entry for the 2011 contest!

Winner, 2009 Good Read Fiction Book Competition

CONGRATULATIONS to ERNA MUELLER, author of Spencer's Tail!

Erna says, "Spencer's Tail (working title) started out as a screenplay that won numerous awards. I adapted it into a novel and loved the process -- the generous use of words and getting lost in detail is a luxury you can’t afford in screenwriting.

"As emerging writers we should keep honing our skills and never give up on our dreams. Contests are a great device for getting your foot in the door and one step closer to getting published. The GOOD READ COMPETITION was very professional and encouraging which made for a wonderful experience. Thank you Woman’s Write for giving us aspiring writers an opportunity to showcase our work."

Winner, 2008 Good Read Fiction Book Competition

Cynthia Parks, author of Houses, is the winner in this round of the Good Read Novel Writing Competition. Here’s an excerpt from the prologue of her evocative work:

The chapters of my life are held in the houses—the physical structures where I have lived, and where we have lived, and I can’t tell my story any other way. If you want to know the way it was, you will have to know the houses. You will have to hear about moving ins and moving outs, about windows and ceilings and walls and floors. About yards and gardens and neighbors, furniture and fixtures. Because that’s the way I remember.

Cynthia told us in her introductory letter, “I hold an MA and a PhD from the creative writing program at Georgia State University where I taught literature, composition and creative writing classes for fourteen years.  I’ve published short stories in a number of private and university literary magazines and have been a finalist in a Redbook Magazine fiction contest, but Houses, at long, long last is my first novel.

“For many years now I have been making my living as a writer and editor of non-fiction and currently work as a web content writer for a local marketing firm. Only in the last year have I finally honored the promise made to myself, decades and decades ago, to start writing the books that have been languishing in my head.”

When she learned she’d won our Good Read prize, Cynthia wrote, “Obviously, I'm thrilled to have won the contest! I can't tell you how much this encouragement means to me and how much it energizes my desire to keep writing.

“I am especially grateful to A Woman's Write for the opportunity it offers women to "test the waters," so to speak, with our work. The website offers clear directions about contests, encourages us with the success stories of others, and generally provides a useful and supportive environment for women who are serious about their craft.”

Winners: Work in Progress Competition, Synopsis Competition, Query Letter Competition, January to May, 2008

CONGRATULATIONS to the winners of our three concurrent competitions!

Our sincere congratulations go to the following writers:

Tina Schrier, Winner, Work in Progress ($150 and Certificate)
Michelle Gordon, Winner, Synopsis ($50 and Certificate)
Tempa Lautze, Winner, Query Letter ($25 and Certificate)

Thanks to all who entered these competitions. Our choices are never easy and we appreciate the support of creative women.

The “Good Read” Novel Competition resumes this time around, with a deadline of November 30, 2008. With a prize of $500 to the winner, and the success stories of previous entrants as an added incentive, it’s time to hit the keyboard and send us that novel you’ve been hiding away.

Winner, Good Read Fiction Book Competition, November 30, 2007

CONGRATULATIONS to THEA HUGHES, the winner of our latest Good Read novel writing competition!

Her novel, Buen Camino, concerns two pilgrims who meet on the road to Santiago de Compostela. Thea, who now resides in New Zealand, worked in South Africa with dysfunctional families and sexually abused children. She developed a program called Kidsafe, which she introduced to schools… "Prior to my involvement in family welfare I worked in the field of the aged where I gained insight into the ravages of Alzheimer's Disease and debilitating effect of strokes. These experiences allowed me to get inside the head of my protagonist, Ana, in Buen Camino, a victim of incest and that of her lover, Richard, who suffers from Alzheimer's. I have traveled extensively, hiking and cycling in both Americas, Europe, The United Kingdom, Africa and New Zealand, and have always been fascinated by the spiritual journeys that accompany physical ones. My walk along the Camino trail two years ago inspired my novel, Buen Camino. For it was on this journey that I met many people who were at the crossroads of their lives, and who, by the end of the pilgrimage, managed to find a way forward."

Winner, Good Read Fiction Book Competition, March 31, 2007

Alice Loweecey, Don't Look Back

About Don't Look Back:

Life in the year 2216 seems to be homespun and comfortable. Annie—cook, book fiend, and wife of the Kansas City leatherworker—was gearing up for a carnival while she waited for her husband to return from a supply trip.

And then two hooded men kidnapped her and nailed her to a cross. Strangers pulled her down and healed her, but refused to reveal their identities or answer any of her questions. Now she’s searching for the reason the killers tortured her, but she'd better not stop to look over her shoulder. The killers are hunting her—to finish what they started.

Annie gathers clues but can’t fit them together. The killers called her “heretic”—but no one’s heard that word since the Last War ended 203 years ago. Her friends hold secret meetings over fragments of an ancient book. And why does everyone think she’s concealing vital information?

But to stop another crucifixion, Annie will have to face more than the killers.

About Alice Loweecey

A former Franciscan nun, Alice Loweecey was raised on classic horror films and post-nuke literature. She is an actor, musician, singer, teacher, gardener, and crafter. In other words, She Is Woman—see her multitask! Her feature articles and reviews appear on BuddyHollywood.com, TheChristianPEN.com, AGreaterFreedom.com, and TrueTunes.com. Don't Look Back, the first in a series of speculative thrillers, was a finalist in the American Christian Fiction Writers' 2006 Genesis contest. She is the chair of Greater Buffalo Christian Writers and has a BA in English Literature from The Catholic University of America. She lives in Buffalo, New York, with her husband and two sons, and is a proud Band Mom and Soccer Mom.

About A Woman's Write

"What a great website and opportunity! The chance to be evaluated by professionals was too good to pass up. I've recommended A Woman's Write to a dozen fellow (female!) writers, and I've received positive feedback about everything here. Thank you again for the opportunity and the thrill of winning. May we all soon be sharing shelf space in major bookstore chains!"

Honorable Distinction, Good Read Fiction Book Competition, March 31, 2007

Maura Hanrahan, Sheila's Brush

About Sheila's Brush

In the late 1920s, a young rural woman nearly dies in childbirth. But Sheila Driscoll and her sickly child, Leah, survive. Sheila embraces village life, hard physical work, and the traditional medicine that keeps Leah alive. Despite her husband’s wishes, she is determined to keep Leah an only child.

Sheila’s unmarried sister, Claire Farrell, chafes and wants more. Then she is faced with an unwanted pregnancy that would tie her to a life like Sheila’s.

Sheila’s Brush is a story of women’s interior lives, as shaped by women’s bodies. It is a tale of love and loyalty, dreams and expectations.

About Maura Hanrahan

Maura Hanrahan (maurahanrahan.com) is the author, co-author, or editor of eight books in several genres, her latest being Domino: The Eskimo Coast Disaster, a work of creative non-fiction. Her Canadian best-seller, Tsunami: The Newfoundland Tidal Wave Disaster, released in the fall of 2004, won the Heritage and History Award. Several of Maura’s books are used in schools and universities. Also an artist and independent anthropologist, Maura is the author of several hundred newspaper and magazine articles, published mainly in Canada and Britain. She is married to the novelist Paul Butler and lives in St. John’s, Canada’s easternmost city.

About A Woman's Write

"After six years of working on Sheila’s Brush, I was just thrilled to receive an Honorable Distinction in the Good Read Novel Competition at A Woman’s Write. I’ve published several books in my native Canada but this encouragement from very accomplished women south of the border means a great deal to me. It’s wonderful that the women writers and editors at A Woman’s Write are so dedicated to the craft of writing. They deserve top marks for encouraging other women writers to develop their skills and aim for excellence. Thank you! "

Winner, Good Read Fiction Book Competition, June 30, 2007

Erica Eisdorfer, The Wetnurse's Tale

About The Wetnurse's Tale

The book concerns a young English woman in the 1800s, driven by necessity to become a wetnurse. In the course of her adventures, the heroine loses her first baby to her abusive father's avarice, and when she finds herself pregnant a second time, she determines to take charge of events, setting out on a dramatic, romantic, and sometimes bawdy adventure that ends in satisfaction for both heroine and reader. The book stands out for its tight plotting, believable characterizations, and the author's deft handling of foreign accent and setting, historical detail, and unusual subject matter.

Here's what Erica has to say about herself and the book:

"The Wetnurse's Tale sprang forth as if full-blown (except for the research and the rewriting and the backtracking and then more rewriting) from the Anglophilic mind of Erica Eisdorfer. The editor of Carolina: Photographs from the First State University and author of two novels besides Wetnurse, Eisdorfer is the longtime manager of the Bull's Head Bookshop at UNC-Chapel Hill. She lives in Carrboro, NC with her husband and two daughters."

Here's what she wrote to us about her experience with A Woman's Write:

"You can't imagine how I felt when I found your contest online. It seemed to me the perfect place for The Wetnurse's Tale to make its first public (sort of) appearance. It wasn't just that the contest was for women and by women (whom I thought, for obvious reasons, might have an upfront (ha) kind of interest in my book), but in addition, the writing on the website is brisk and tight and clear and grammatical. I liked the whole package. I hoped to win the contest, of course. But I thought that even if I didn't win, I'd still like knowing that the judges were smart and pragmatic and interested in language for its own sake.

I'm thrilled to have won the contest. I'm also very glad that I coughed up the extra paltry dollars for the professional critique. It was the best money I ever spent.

Thanks so much for the platform and the opportunity and the validation."

Honorable Distinction, Good Read Fiction Book Competition, June 30, 2007

Lynn Veach Sadler, Intending to Building a Tower

Lynn Veach Sadler, winner of our Honorable Distinction award, is a professional writer. We were impressed with her finely woven, character-rich offering, Intending to Build a Tower, set on the Carolina coast and stuffed to bursting with intricate layers of plot. Bizarre situations lie seductively alongside the commonplace in Sadler's work; the reader doesn't feel comfortable, wants to plunge ahead, until the final page ties up loose ends. Some of Sadler's other writerly distinctions include:

Sadler's chapbook, Poet Geography, won the Lee Witte Poetry Contest and was published in the Mount Olive College Poetry Series in 2003. Mothers to the Disappeared, a full-length collection, was a finalist for the 2000 Bakeless Prize of the Bread Loaf Writers' Conference. The chapbook Having to Try won the 2003 Paris Trail Memorial Creative Writing Award of the Albemarle Literary Center. Her full-length collection, Like a Dragon's Mouth, won the RockWay Press Poetry Award (2005) and is forthcoming, as is a chapbook, America, from Poets' Corner Press. To “Talk in That Book” of Nature received the (2005) Charles Dickson Chapbook Prize of the Georgia Poetry Society. Sadler was invited to be Visiting Scholar/Poet in Israel in December 2001, judged the 2001 Voices Israel International Poetry Competition, was published in Pudding House's (invitational) National Archiving Project, Poets' Greatest Hits (2002), won The Pittsburgh Quarterly's 2001 Sara Henderson Hay Prize for Poetry, tied for first place in Kalliope's 2002 Sue S. Elkind Contest, was a runner-up for the 2002 Spoon River Poetry Review Editors' Prize Contest, and won the Poetry Society of America's 2003 Hemley Award and Asphodel's 2003 Poetry Contest. Her stories have been published widely and have won the North Carolina Writers' Network, Talus and Scree, Cream City Review, Rambunctious Review, and Cape Fear Crime Festival competitions. One was a finalist for and was published in Del Sol Press's Best of 2004: The Robert Olen Butler Prize Anthology. Another won the Abroad Writers 2006 Competition/Fellowship. Her unpublished novel, Tonight I Lie with William Cullen Bryant, was runner-up for the 1997 Dana Award and a finalist in the 2000 Florida First Coast Writers' Festival; Intending to Build a Tower received Honorable Mention in the 2001 Florida First Coast Writers' Festival competition; Long Pig, in the 2005. She was selected for the North Carolina Writers' Network Blumenthal Writers and Readers Series in fiction (1992) and in poetry (2002).

Winners, AWW Short Story Contests

November 2005
Seja Min, Elizabeth, "Homework Assigned"
Honorable Mention:
Gordon, Michelle, "Messages in the Sand"
Scharfman, Susan, "Not So Wild a Dream"

May 2005
Pollman, Courtney, "Scent of a Warrior"
Sutton, Jane, "From the Mouths of Babes"

January 2005
Watson, Anna, "Stray"

April 2004
LeMay, Kathy "Lunch Money"

August 2004
McCarty, Shannon, "Sweet Revenge"

January 2004
Tracy K., Excerpt from Ropeless, a novel