2017

1st Place: R.E.M., by Ashley Schaller

Ashley Schaller - 2017 Student Novel FinalistSYNOPSIS

Gwendolyn Gonzales would do anything for her best friend. Even allow herself to be dragged into Macy’s dreams by a British coffeeholic who claims to be Macy’s Dream Guardian. The rules of the Dream are simple, blend in and don’t die. It’s a command drilled into every Dream Guardian at a young age. When Macy’s dreams take a turn for the worst, following the rules may be harder than it seems.

Read on the Student Forum »

This is a terrific story that rockets along from the opening page to the genuinely surprising ending. Skillfully developed characters, prose, and scenes all contribute to the sense of being in the hands of a confident storyteller.


2nd Place: To Kidnap DNA, by Lydia DeGisi

Lydia DeGisi- 2017 Student Novel FinalistSYNOPSIS

Evelyn is a GMP—a genetically modified person—created for a specific purpose: Marry Reuben Goldwater. However, when Evelyn’s creator is kidnapped, she must sacrifice her destiny in order to save his life.

Read on the Student Forum »

This novel is more than a good story with excellent prose. DeGisi shows an ability to explore her characters in depth by revealing their unexpected human qualities, including humor, selfishness, and (hardest of all), innocence.


3rd Place: The Stonecrest Existential Crisis Club, by Sam Cooper

Sam Cooper - 2017 Novel Contest FinalistSYNOPSIS

The first fact: the death predictions are one hundred percent accurate.

Every day, Graham sits in an office at the Life Expectancy Prediction Services and calls the citizens of Stonecrest, Oregon. If someone is predicted to die, he reminds their family in a confidential phone call. It’s a courtesy service, since everyone has already memorized the deaths of their loved ones, but it’s a service that makes life convenient, stable, and pleasant.

So when Graham is faced with an unpredicted fatality and finds the blood of his brother-in-law on his shoes, he runs. The convenience crumbles. The glitches emerge and everyone is left questioning the safety of the prediction computers. Is someone to blame for the chaos in Stonecrest, and will the bloody footsteps Graham leaves behind unravel the secrets of the Life Expectancy Prediction Services?

The second fact is this: it is illegal to know your own death.

Not available to read, by author’s request.

I really admire Cooper’s ability to capture both character and action through magical turns of phrase. More than this, Stonecrest shows off his ability to create tension and suspense through raised stakes. I suspect the author could be either a pulp novelist or a literary one, depending on his mood.


Finalist: Agram Awakens, by Aidan Bender

Aidan Bender - 2017 Student Novel Finalist
SYNOPSIS

A man fighting a religious war. A woman kidnapped for political power. A fisherman stranded on an island. A boy fleeing from his gang-boss to see the world. A merchant trying to provide for his family. And a slave who flees from those she has killed.

The world ends. The Truil Goic return. Agram Awakens.

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Excellent world-building and compelling prose are not the only aspects of this novel that set it apart. Multiple point-of-view narration and layered storytelling make this the most ambitious novel we’ve ever received.


Finalist: Evik, by Emily Schaeffer

Emily Schaeffer - 2017 Novel Contest FinalistSYNOPSIS

Ansel is the foster-son of the High King of Aralan. After his father leaves and his Evik, Ansel’s brother and the appointed heir, rebels, the throne falls unexpectedly to Ansel. With the throne comes the responsibility to prevent the impending war brought on by Evik’s rebellion. Pitted against the ancient enemy of Aralan, the Lord Shudiri, and the Lord Shudiri’s superhumanly strong and unbendingly ruthless heir, Ansel must find a way to protect those he loves and preserve Aralan from ruin until the High King returns. But as time passes and the High King does not come, Ansel wonders: can faith win a war? Is it enough to believe in and follow the promises of the High King, or will the strength and faithlessness of the Lord Shudiri and his heir triumph?

Read on the Student Forum »

This high fantasy does a great job of creating situational curiosity. Not only is the prose good, but Scheaffer demonstrates a talent for turning genre expectations on their head to create interest and surprise.


Finalist: Starless Nights, by M. R. Shupp

M.R. Shupp - 2017 Novel Contest finalistSYNOPSIS

A history professor discovers that his favorite myth is not a myth. It is reality. A reality that is a little too close to home. Fighting against creatures bent on getting their own way, Immanuel must keep his students safe before they too are succumbed to the powerful magic of the stars.

Not available to read, by author’s request.

Shupp’s opening line hooks the reader with the promise of a fascinating story world. That promise is more than kept as her skillful narrative and engaging characters pull us deeper in.


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 for reading.


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 »