I'm delighted to announce the winners of the 2020 inaugural Page One Prize, selected in a blind contest from 604 remarkable submissions; judging was truly a challenge. Congratulations to our two winners and six honorable mentions. Outstanding work, everyone.

This inaugural prize aims to find the best opening page of a novel-in-progress written in the English language. Our judge will be looking at the quality of writing, originality, a sense that a story or bigger narrative is emerging, and whether the opening hook entices readers to turn the page.

About Annie Dawid

Colorado, USA


ANNIE DAWID, Standing Beside Love


MICHAEL SIROIS, If a Butterfly


These six first pages really stood out. Click on the working titles below to read these pages; you're in for a treat!

LIZ BERG, Liskeard, UK > Guernsey Gâche

J.W. ELLENHALL, American ex-pat from Colorado, USA > A Tale of Two Grails| Twitter

REBECCA HAAS, Oregon, USA > The Bright Morning Star

PHILLIP JENSEN, Colorado, USA  > Moab's Queen of Diamonds

TAMARA MATTHEWS, Illinois, USA > Currency | Website | Twitter

ANDREW MOLLENKOF, Alabama, USA > Old Daddy Time 


Annie Dawid teaches creative writing at the University College, University of Denver. She was formerly professor of English and Director of Creative Writing at Lewis & Clark College in Portland, OR. Her Page One Prize winning entry was taken from her novel Standing Beside Love, which was a finalist in three contests: the Retreat West competition, the Dana Awards in the Novel and the Faulkner novel-in-progress award.

“The Closer You Were, the Less You Knew,” won the 2019 Sequestrum Reprint Award and was published on that website in Spring 2020. Annie won second place in the 2018 London Independent Story Prize. In 2016, she won the International Rubery Award in fiction for her first book and the Music Prize from Knuthouse Press in Fiction. Other awards include the Dana Award in the Essay, the Orlando Flash Fiction Award, The New Rocky Mountain Voices Award (drama) and the Northern Colorado Award in Creative Non-Fiction.

Most recent publications: London Independent Story Project (2020), Pure Slush, Spelk, Arts & Letters, London Independent Story Prize, Brilliant Flash Fiction, Casket of Fictional Delights, Fictive Dream, Reflex Fiction, Windmill, and Joyland; non-fiction in Wordrunner Echapbook. and a poetry chapbook, Anatomie of the World, Finishing Line Press, 2017.



Michael was reading by the age of four, plowing through classics like Treasure Island before the first grade. In third grade he produced a playground version of Helen of Troy so he could cast himself as Paris, and Linda Leonard as Helen. She had great freckles. A poem about discovering lint in his navel and a story about fighting monsters on Mars soon followed, but in high school he fell in love with acting, and added that to his repertoire. 

In the late-1970’s, armed with English and Drama degrees, he taught writing, drama, and technology for two decades, but continued to act and write. One of his stories, Loonie Louie, placed in the top 100 of the 1989 Writer’s Digest’s Short Story contest. The 1990’s saw his one-act play, Baum in Limbo, produced in Houston. His screenplay, An Ordinary Day, survived the first round of cuts in the 2005 season of Project Greenlight, beating out over 5,000 other scripts. 

He retired from Rice in 2009, and lives with his wife, Minay, in a suburb of Houston, where he is hard at work on a third novel, The Hawthorn’s Sting (another thriller). Ideas for a few more are also floating around somewhere in that scary place he calls his brain.