I'm delighted to announce the winners of the 2023 Chapter One Prize! 

Out of a total of 887 international submissions in this blind contest, 21 chapters rose to the top for final consideration; it was truly a challenge to select the top three winners, and reading each writer's work was a pleasure and a privilege. In addition to the three winners, six writers were selected for honorable mention status, and twelve were selected as notable. This year's winners are from Australia, Canada, England, Germany, Poland, Spain and the United States. 

The writers showcased on this page represent a variety of genres for both adults and young adults. What their chapters shared in common is that while reading, I found myself feeling in capable hands, enjoying myself as a reader (versus editor), fully immersed in the prose. As the judge, I was looking for the following elements, and each of these writers ticked all the boxes: a clear point of view; a tone appropriate to the genre and story; an introduction to the protagonist; a sense of what the story would be about; a gripping opening scene; a vivid setting or settings; and a chapter ending that urged readers on to the second chapter. 

Thanks to all who submitted, and congratulations to our winners. Outstanding work, everyone.

Please read the winning chapters and follow these authors; they're all writers to watch!

FIRST PRIZE ($1,000)

PATRICK CUMBY, The Sixth Veil, Upmarket 

Asheville, North Carolina, United States


MORGAN KARPIEL, Bloodlands, Mystery/Thriller

Sułów, Malopolskie, Poland


LAUREN D WOODS, Man of Orpheus, Literary

Washington, District-of-Columbia, United States


These six entries really stood out among the top 21 finalists.

Bruno George, Seattle, Washington, USA, for Dead Revolting, Detective/Dystopian/LGBTQ+

Read Chapter One  |  Website 

Michael McClister, Englewood, Florida, USA, for The Last Campaign, Political

Read Chapter One  |  Email

Mark Rhodes, Simpsonville, South Carolina, USA, for Transversion, Speculative 

Read Chapter One  

Natalie Sprite, Lamb Island, Queensland, Australiafor Almost Famous, Women's/Commercial

Read Chapter One  |  Website

Scott Thomason, Wallingford, Pennsylvania, USA, for Atomic Dreams, Literary/Speculative

Read Chapter One  |  Website

Mary Wood, Eugene, Oregon, USA, for The Blue Edge, Literary

Read Chapter One 


Richard AttreeEl Médano, Tenerife, Spain, for Rhythm of Time, Literary

Read Chapter One  |  Website  |  Facebook  |  Amazon

Hiyaguha Cohen, Bluffton, South Carolina, USA, for The Invisible Red Thread, Historical

Read Chapter One

William French, Mentor, Ohio, USA, for Kelso's Island, Action

Read Chapter One

Thomas Graham, Honolulu, Hawaii, USA, for The Footscray Files, Mystery

Read Chapter One  

Monica Halka, Atlanta, Georgia, USA, for Trees, Monsters and a Ship, Magical Realism

Read Chapter One

Tom Howard, Arlington, Virginia, USA, for The Shakespeareans, Comedy/Adventure

Read Chapter One  |  Website  |  Twitter   Post

Fredric Koeppel, Memphis, Tennessee, USA for Dilly and Mags: A Madrigal, Literary

Read Chapter One Facebook  |  Twitter

Heidi Marjamäki, Berlin, Germany, for A Legacy of Cranes, Horror 

Read Chapter One  |  Website  |  Twitter

Karen Milner, Lancaster, Lancashire, England. for Devil's Claw Bay, Mystery/Crime/Thriller

Read Chapter One  |  Twitter  |  Facebook  |  Instagram

Pamela Nowina, Niagra-on-the-Lake, Ontario, Canada, for Undertow, Literary

Read Chapter One

Susan Wilson, Whitby, Ontario, Canada, for Assumed Identity, YA Thriller

Read Chapter One

Vicki Zalascek, Fayetteville, North Carolina, USA, for Alien, Joined, YA SciFi Fantasy

Read Chapter One


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.


Karen Palmer is the author of the novels All Saints and Border Dogs. She has been awarded a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship, a MacDowell fellowship, and grants from the Colorado Council on the Arts. Her essay, “The Reader Is the Protagonist,” published in Virginia Quarterly Review, was selected by Leslie Jamison for inclusion in Best American Essays 2017; her short story, “Virtuoso Mio,” received a Pushcart Prize and is anthologized in The Bedford/St. Martin’s Introduction to Literature. Other writing has appeared in The Rumpus, The Kenyon Review, The Denver Post, Five Points, Arts & Letters, The Manifest-Station, and Kalliope. Karen has taught at UCLA Extension and at Lighthouse Writers in Denver, Colorado, and is currently working on a memoir and a novel.



Victoria Bell is an editor and writer based in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. She holds an MFA from the University of British Columbia. In fiction, she’s interested in exploring the things people do to one another, whether on a nation-wide basis or within a family — she's currently working on a trilogy set in South Africa during the dying days of Apartheid, while she's also polishing up her novel The Weight of Air, about a mother-son relationship imploding within the dangerous, pressurized environment of a mountaineering expedition in Argentina.

Follow her on Twitter



Jessica McCann is a historical novelist and has worked for 30 years as a professional writer for magazines, universities, corporations and other organizations. Her debut novel, All Different Kinds of Free, was awarded the Freedom in Fiction Prize; her second novel, Peculiar Savage Beauty, was named Arizona Book of the Year and shortlisted for the international Rubery Book Award. McCann’s entry in the Chapter One Prize is from her novel-in-progress, Bitter Thaw. In all of her writing, McCann endeavors to share stories of ordinary people overcoming adversity to accomplish extraordinary things. 

McCann’s most recent release is a nonfiction book that offers a unique glimpse into her writing journey and process. In Words: Essays on Writing, Reading, and Life, McCann shares writing tips and her passion for books, as well as research that shows how reading improves our lives and connecting with nature improves creativity. With a philosophy that is equally pragmatic and optimistic, Words appeals to readers and writers alike.

Connect with Jessica: Website | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | Goodreads 



Raised crisscrossing America pulling a small green trailer behind the family car, Timothy Jay Smith developed a ceaseless wanderlust that has taken him around the world many times. En route, he’s found the characters that people his work. Polish cops and Greek fishermen, mercenaries and arms dealers, child prostitutes and wannabe terrorists, Indian Chiefs and Indian tailors: he’s hung with them all in an unparalleled international career that saw him smuggle banned plays from behind the Iron Curtain, maneuver through Occupied Territories, represent the U.S. at the highest levels of foreign governments, and stowaway aboard a ‘devil’s barge’ for a three-day crossing from Cape Verde that landed him in an African jail.

Tim brings the same energy to his writing that he brought to a distinguished career, and as a result, he has won top honors for his novels, screenplays and stage plays in numerous prestigious competitions. Fire on the Island won the Gold Medal in the 2017 Faulkner-Wisdom Competition for the Novel, and his screenplay adaptation of it was named Best Indie Script by WriteMovies. Another novel, The Fourth Courier, set in Poland, published in 2019 by Arcade Publishing, received tremendous reviews, and was a finalist for Best Gay Mystery in the 2020 Lambda Literary Awards. Previously, he won the Paris Prize for Fiction (now the Paris Literary Prize) for his novel, A Vision of Angels. Kirkus Reviews called Cooper’s Promise “literary dynamite” and selected it as one of the Best Books of 2012. 

Tim was nominated for the 2018 Pushcart Prize. His stage play, How High the Moon, won the prestigious Stanley Drama Award, and his screenplays have won competitions sponsored by the American Screenwriters Association, WriteMovies, Houston WorldFest, Rhode Island International Film Festival, Fresh Voices, StoryPros, and the Hollywood Screenwriting Institute. He is the founder of the Smith Prize for Political Theater.



Sean David Robinson is an author and playwright from Asheville, North Carolina. As a writer of speculative fiction, he enjoys exploring the intersection of the scientific and the mythical, finding kinship with characters who toil between the boundaries of logic and hope. BEYOND THE OVERCAST SKY is his debut novel. He lives with his brilliant wife and three mischievous cats.



Born in Richmond, VA, Hutch Hill studied writing and literature at Sarah Lawrence College in New York before enjoying some adventures and misadventures abroad and at home. Eventually he settled in Austin, TX where he lives with his wife and daughters and animals. He started writing in middle school and somehow never managed to stop. He is extremely surprised and grateful to be part of this announcement.




Lauren D. Woods lives and writes in Washington, DC, where she is finalizing revisions to her novel-in-progress. Her fiction, essays, and poetry have appeared in The Antioch Review, The Normal School, Hippocampus Magazine, Fiction Southeast, Lit Hub, and elsewhere. Her work has been nominated for The Pushcart Prize, Best of the Net, and Best Small Fictions. 



Patrick Cumby is a part-time nomad who, along with his frighteningly adventurous wife, loves to explore the world map’s little-known corners and meet the extraordinary people who call them home. He’s been a bookseller, a dad, a business school professor, a dungeonmaster, an aerospace executive, and the hushpuppy cook at a sketchy seafood joint. He is considered by all who know him to be a very bad dancer.

Patrick’s debut science fiction novel, a cross-genre mix of hard-SF and space opera called GRONE, is coming in April 2023 from Broken Monolith Press. He has written for the Star Trek Universe, is a member of the Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers Association, and supports local writing groups and environmental causes in his hometown of Asheville, North Carolina.

Discover more–including short stories, artwork and travel adventures–at


Morgan Karpiel works as a copywriter in the marketing and advertising field in Poland. When she's not working with creative teams and dreaming up campaign slogans, she loves to write fiction stories, scripts, and animated story videos for YouTube. Like many others in her community, she has been trying to help those affected by the war in neighboring Ukraine. Many of the stories she now writes are inspired by the people she knows, and the experiences they have shared. For more information on how you can help, please visit