Welcome to the 6th Annual Short Story Contest, sponsored by the Friends of San Diego Central Library. The Short Story Contest, a part of the Local Author Program, continues the support that the Library provides to local writing, and shines a spotlight on local authors who craft short stories.
A. K. McCutcheon | 1st Place
A.K. McCutcheon began crafting tales of magical realism to entertain her younger siblings. She set storytelling aside for an office administration career in radio broadcasting, magazine publishing, and theater management. Following her recent retirement, her passion for writing reignited with membership in writer’s communities online, where she advocates fiercely for Oxford commas. A.K. and her husband Dan enjoy movies, travel, and browsing used bookstores.
Tammie Elliott | 2nd Place
Tammie Rue Elliott always dreamed of writing. She has published one novel, short stories in literary magazines, and is a repeat contributor to the Chicken Soup series. She currently resides in San Diego, where she is working on completing the myriad of half-finished novels which reside on her computer.
Janice L. Newman | 3rd Place
Janice L. Newman is the author of the acclaimed science fiction and fantasy romance collection “At First Contact” and, under the name Laura Weyr, the Rainbow Award-winning fantasy romance, “The Eighth Key.” She has contributed to both volumes of “Rediscovery: Science Fiction by Women,” and is currently working on more thrilling science fiction and fantasy romances.
ShuJen Walker Askew | Shortlist
ShuJen Walker Askew writes short stories, poems, scripts, and plays in various genres. Her works can be viewed in college and professional San Diego anthologies. She is currently working on her first novel, Across All Skies. ShuJen is an Electrical Engineer by trade, mother of two, and enjoys writing.
Susan Gembrowski Baker | Shortlist
Susan Gembrowski Baker is a member of the Dramatists Guild and of Around the Block Playwrights. The group showcases its work in staged readings at San Diego venues. She is a board member of San Diego Writers Ink and her short stories have been published in “A Year in Ink.”
Anna Glynne | Shortlist
Anna Glynne started writing short stories in 2020. Her story, "The Sea is a Deceitful Thing," was published by the San Diego Decameron Project. When she's not writing at her kitchen table in La Jolla, Anna enjoys hiking on the trails in Idyllwild with her husband and two college-aged daughters.
Regina Morin | Shortlist
Regina Morin’s first published poem appeared in a 1954 high school anthology. Since then she has written articles, plays and one musical. Her poems have appeared in several volumes of “A Year in Ink” and the “San Diego Poetry Annual.” “Name Your Poison” is her most recent foray into fiction.
John R. Morris | Shortlist
John R. Morris, a native Californian, enjoys surfing, skiing, and traveling. He’s been writing since the 1980s and is a longstanding member of the Spring Valley Writers Group. His debut novel, “The King's Steel,” was released in 2022. John’s currently working on his second novel entitled “Planet in a Box.”
Deb Nordie | Shortlist
Deb Nordlie has taught English since dinosaurs ruled the earth. After a lifetime of writing assignment sheets, she’s branched into writing life stories, believing “we are all anthologies filled with short stories and poems.” Occasionally though, she pens uncharacteristic oddball lit. A teacher of writing in adult school, she still continues to scribble away at the Great American Novel. You can view her work in the Chestnut Review, San Diego Poetry Annual, Coffee + Crumbs, Reminisce, Crown City Magazine, the San Diego Reader, and the Scapegoat Review.
Nicholas Tran | Shortlist
Nick E. K. Tran is a San Diego native who graduated at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo in marketing. He helps market beer during the day and writes at night. He likes to write short stories, poetry, and is currently writing his first novel.
Learn More About the Short Story Contest
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the SDPL Short Story Contest?
The Short Story Contest is a short fiction competition open to all writers residing in San Diego County. All genres of fiction are acceptable: literary, mystery and crime, science fiction, fantasy, horror, mixed-genre, and experimental.
What is the goal of the Short Story Contest?
The goal of the Short Story Contest is to nurture and foster local writing talent, and to provide a platform for the promotion and publication of short form fiction in the area.
Who’s eligible to enter the Short Story Contest?
All writers in San Diego County age 18 and older are eligible to enter the Short Story Contest. San Diego Public Library staff and members of affiliated organizations such as the San Diego Public Library Foundation, Friends of San Diego Public Library, and the Board of Library Commissioners are not allowed to participate in the contest.
How many short stories will be allowed to participate in the contest?
A maximum of 75 short stories will be accepted, based on a first come first served basis. Registration will automatically stop after the 75th author registers their manuscript.
Who will judge the Short Story Contest?
A Committee of Librarians with subject expertise in fiction, writing, publishing and literary studies will judge the contest. Judging will be anonymous. When you enter the contest your story will be assigned a number. Judges will identify your story by title and number only.
Does it cost anything to enter the Short Story Contest?
There’s no fee to participate in the Short Story Contest. However the public library is always in need of support from the community that it serves. To support the library please visit the website of the Friends of San Diego Public Library and the San Diego Public Library Foundation.
What is the deadline to enter the Short Story Contest?
The Short Story Contest submission form will be available online by 6:30 p.m. on Monday, March 6, 2023. Submissions will remain open until we receive 75 stories - registration and submission will shut down after we’ve received the 75th submitted story, whenever that occurs.
Who owns rhe rights to the submitted stories?
Authors retain all rights to the stories they submit.
2022 Contest Winners
David J. Schmidt | 1st Place
David J. Schmidt is an author, podcaster, multilingual translator, and homebrewer who splits his time between Mexico City and San Diego, California.
Schmidt has published a variety of books, short stories, and articles in both English and Spanish, including Three Nights in the Clown Motel, a book of “non-fiction horror,” as well as the series Gone Viral: Urban Legends of the COVID-19 Pandemic.
Schmidt is the co-host of the podcast To Russia with Love. He speaks twelve languages and has been to 33 countries. He received his B.A. in psychology from Point Loma Nazarene University.
David Hogan | 2nd Place
David Hogan is the author of two novels, Hear Us Fade and The Last Island, both published by Betimes Books. His stage plays include the GTC National New Play Initiative award-winning Capital and No Sit – No Stand – No Lie, which opened the ‘Resilience of the Spirit’ Human Rights Festival. He has contributed to Writing.ie, Points in Case, The Good Life Review, and OPEN: Journal of Arts & Letters, among others.
Sara Wilczyńska (pronounced Veel-chin-ska) | 3rd Place
Sara Wilczyńska was born and raised in Warsaw, Poland. She graduated in computer science and works as a software engineer at Google. After living in Barcelona, Edinburgh, London, Zurich and New York, she settled in San Diego. She teaches yoga and meditation and is a sound healing practitioner. She explores sticking words together into sentences, and presently flirts with short forms. Her work was published in Helikopter literary magazine.
Kate Webster is a Polish-to-English literary translator living in London, UK. She has translated short stories and essays by Joanna Rudniańska, Marta Kisiel and Agnieszka Graff, among others. Examples of her work can be found on the websites of Przekrój, Switch on Paper and Eurozine. Her translation of Barbara Sadurska's novel The Map is due to be published in 2021.
Jerry Jamison | Honorable Mention
Jerry Jamison is a nationally award-winning copywriter with more than forty commendations to his credit. The author of ten novels, he is currently researching and writing on several headline-grabbing true crimes of the 1940s. His fifth book in the genre is in production. Jamison and his wife live in Chula Vista.
2020 Contest Winners
Carl Snow | 1st Place
Carl Snow is a native of Kansas City, Missouri. Carl Snow graduated from the University of Maryland and had a long career in the United States Navy. After retirement, he worked as Assistant Editor for The Hook magazine and then as Production Editor for the Topgun Journal at the Navy Fighter Weapons School. When Topgun moved to Fallon, Nevada, Carl remained in San Diego, working as a Technical Writer, researching and writing manufacturing process documents for hi-tech electronics manufacturers. Carl retired for good in March 2011 and volunteers in the Midway Museum Research Library in San Diego, California.
David Hogan | 2nd Place
David Hogan’s debut novel, The Last Island
, is published by Betimes Books. The novel was a finalist in the San Diego Book Awards and the Kindle version was a bestseller in Australia and the U.K. His stage plays include the New Play Initiative award-winning Capital
and No Sit – No Stand – No Lie
, which opened the ‘Resilience of the Spirit’ Human Rights Festival. He’s a dual citizen of the US and Ireland and has contributed to Writing.ie, Irish Central, and Points in Case, among others. He has just completed a new novel, Hear Us Fade
Cheyanne Nelson | 3rd Place
Cheyanne Nelson is a Sophomore at Valley Center High School. This is her first short story she has ever written, although she has worked on writing many books before. She has an interest in photography, music, writing, and art, along with riding her horses, and spending time in the desert with family. She is looking to enlist in the United States Marine Corps after graduating and gaining a PhD in Criminology and Psychology.
Maddy Cowee | Honorable Mention
Maddy Cowee is an aspiring novelist who waits tables by day and writes by night. Raised on a steady diet of fantasy and fairy tales, she can be found reading, playing video games, and drawing. Though this is her first short story, she has worked as a fiction ghost writer and editorial columnist. Currently writing a novel, she hopes to see her books on shelves everywhere in the not-too-distant future.
2019 Contest Winners
Jeff Edwards | 1st Place
is a retired U.S. Navy Chief Petty Officer, Anti-Submarine Warfare Specialist, and consultant for the Defense Department. Trained extensively in mainframe computers, weapons systems, and naval combat tactics, he brings an experience-based edge of authenticity to his writing. Collectively, his novels have won the Admiral Nimitz Award for Outstanding Naval Fiction, the Reader's Choice Award, the Clive Cussler Grandmaster Award for Adventure Writing, the Military Writer's Society of America Gold Medal for Navy Fiction, and the American Author Medal. His novel, The Seventh Angel
, was selected for the 2012 Chief of Naval Operations Professional Reading Program.
Sarina Dahlan | 2nd Place
was born into an Indonesian family in Thailand. While children in the West grew up on fairytales, she learned parables through ghost stories, mythologies, and Japanese manga. A graduate of UCSD, she’s worked in careers as an advertising producer, corporate marketing strategist, small business owner, and a writer. She is the creator and manager of Wandering Wonder Woman, a blog by a global village of women who share travel stories, food recipes, and advice that promote a better world. She finds inspiration for her stories in travelling, the people she knows, and the places she has lived. Her debut short story collection, Shadow Play: Ten Tales from the In-between
was published in 2018.
Kim Keeline | 3rd Place
Kim Keeline is the president of Partners in Crime: the San Diego Chapter of Sisters in Crime and the co-chair of the organizing committee bringing the conference Left Coast Crime to San Diego in March 2020. This is her first short story ever although she is working on several books. She is a freelance book publicist, web designer, graphic artist, and social media expert. She also is a volunteer steam train engineer on a 1907 Baldwin Locomotive at the Poway-Midland Railroad, which would explain why she is writing a mystery set in a train museum. She gives monthly talks to Oasis Learning Center or local libraries on literary or historical topics because what else does one do with a Ph.D. in English Literature if one leaves academia after 15 years of teaching?
Makena Morgan | Honorable Mention
Makena Sunao Morgan is a graduate from Chapman University, having studied with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Creative Writing as a fourth generation Japanese American. He was inspired to become a writer after picking up a book on mythology during a trip to Japan. Since then he has begun exploring his heritage in more depth and one day dreams of teaching English in Japan for an extended period of time. His writing mainly focuses on science fiction and urban fantasy, with a focus on cultural mythology.
2018 Contest Winners
Aaron Garretson | 1st Place
Aaron Garretson grew up in San Diego. He attended University City High School, received a bachelor’s in biochemistry from UCSD and an MFA in fiction from Columbia University in New York. His writing has appeared or is upcoming in Carrier Pigeon, SLAB, Opium, Night Train, The Village Voice, and Mexico City's Hermano Cerdo (in translation), among others. He has been twice nominated for the Pushcart Prize and was shortlisted for the Best American Nonrequired Reading. He currently works in an infectious diseases lab at UCSD.
Jean Seager | 2nd Place
Jean Seager, a native Californian, is writing a short story collection about Jewish immigrants to America in the early twentieth century. Her stories have been published in the online magazine Mikrokosmos, the print magazine The Long Story, and the San Diego Writers Ink anthology A Year in Ink. She is an active member of San Diego Writers Ink, taking classes and participating in read and critique workshops for the past five years.
Bruce Golden | 3rd Place
Novelist, journalist, satirist, and native San Diegan Bruce Golden’s short stories have been published more than a hundred times across a score of countries and 30 anthologies. Asimov’s Science Fiction described his second novel, “If Mickey Spillane had collaborated with both Frederik Pohl and Philip K. Dick, he might have produced Bruce Golden’s Better Than Chocolate”--and about his novel Evergreen, "If you can imagine Ursula Le Guin channeling H. Rider Haggard, you'll have the barest conception of this stirring book, which centers around a mysterious artifact and the people in its thrall." His latest book, Monster Town, is a satirical send-up of old hard-boiled detective stories featuring movie monsters of the black & white era. It's currently in development for a possible TV series.
Eleanor Bluestein | Honorable Mention
Eleanor Bluestein has worked as a public school science teacher, editor of science textbooks, and designer of multimedia educational materials. Tea and Other Ayama Na Tales, her book of short stories, won the Chandra Prize for Short Fiction. Eleanor is thrilled to be honored by the San Diego Public Library. She and her husband are frequent and very appreciative users of the Pacific Beach Taylor Branch.
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