SFWP 2017 Literary Awards Program: The Long List

I don’t envy the judge. With so many excellent manuscripts in hand, just getting down to the long list of finalists was a major effort. If I had my way, this list could easily have had a couple hundred names on it – there were so many manuscripts that caught our eye, spoke to us, and changed the way we viewed the world. There were so many applicants this year who really had a great voice and a wonderful command of the craft of writing.

But, eventually, we have to get down to just three authors. A grand prize winner and two runner-ups. A few weeks ago, I posted the rough timeline for the overall process. We’re still pretty much on track. In fact, we may beat the clock and be able to announce the winners in mid-September.

So, without further chatter, here is the Long List (in no particular order). The next blog post will feature the “short list” of roughly 20-25 names.


Sandra Hunter: Trip Wires

Solveig Eggerz: Sigga

Erni Johnson: Some Things Are Better Left Unsaid

Laurence Klavan: DNA: The Story of the Muth Co.

Diane Josefowicz: Guardians & Saints

Stephanie Harper: Wesley Yorstead Goes Outside

B. Stufflebeam: A Town Called Riddle

Sam Ritzenberg: Tap 4 Times

Allison Green: At Fifty: Essays

Kelly Kiehl: Bad Love

Jon Chopan: Crisis Hotline: Veterans Press 1

Jerome Gold: Hard Lives: Children in Prison, and After

Sonja Coppenbarger: The Banshee of Machrae

Michael Levitin: Disposable Man

Michele Swide: Melanie Loves Edith

Lourdes Rosado: Riding the Number 7

Marisa Clark: Hermosa

Kate Wisel: Driving in Cars with Homeless Men

Brad Windhauser: An Appropriate Amount of Change: A Story Collection

Deborah McCutchen: The Whale Road

Elise Atchison: Crazy Mountain

Dana Kroos: The Wayfinder’s Guide

Caroline Manring: Some Trace More Permanent

Nathan Long: Two Tales, Some Stories, and a Yarn

Matthew Levine: Hollow

Joy Lanzendorfer: What Happened In The Woods

Ryane Nicole Granados: The Aves

Susanne Davis: The Appointed Hour

Kathryn Trueblood: The No-Tell Hotel

Elizabeth Lantz: Baking Bread

Susan Isaak Lolis: The Bootlegger’s Husband

Sandra Jensen: Ten Virtuous Acts

Andrea Askowitz: Attention Whore

Ginny Fite: Stronger in Heaven

Joan Schweighardt: River Promises

Michael Orbach: The Last Jews of Long Island

Catherine Klatzker: You Will Never Be Normal

Perry Glasser: La vie et la mort de Pierre Doucet

Craig O’Hara: One Thirty Five South

Brice Bogle: Losing Deseret

Doug Crandell: Tornado Season

Ashley Barsody: Who We Are

Scott MacGregor: Tunnel To Hell~The Lake Erie Tunnel Disasters~Tales of Heroism and Tragedy: A Graphic Novel

Dwaine Rieves: Shirtless Men

Wendy Fox: If the Ice Had Held

Andrea Shaw: The Ministry of Other Things

Julie Dalton: The Poachers’ Code

Ross Wilcox: Golden Gate Jumper Survivors Society: Stories

Cathy Cruise: Love, Faith, and Other Stories

Amalia Gladhart: A Book of Rice

Ian Orti: Royal Mountain City Fugue

Justin Gardiner: Beneath the Shadow: Legacy and Longing in the Antarctic

Brooke Larson: Pleasing Tree

JoeAnn Hart: Scofieldtown Road: A 70’s Tale of Race, Death, Love, and Real Estate

Betsy Bernfeld: The Journal of Henry David Tarantula

Angela Mitchell: Unnatural Habitats

Anthony Mariani: Little Man: A Semi-True Story

Lynn Miller: The Unmasking

Jonathan Escoffery: If I Survive You

Alyssa Metcalfe: Street

Jacqueline Lyons: Breakdown of Poses

Liz Egan: Situational Awareness and Other Stories

Laine Cunningham: As a Songbird Trails Its Mate

Manreet Someshwar: The Radiance of a Thousand Suns

Lorien Megill: Missed Connections

Jamie Lyn Smith: Untitled

Sarah Townsend: Inverted Skin: A Memoir of a Postpartum Psychosis

Irshad Abdal-Haqq: Dash! and Other Stories

Josie Sigler: The Galaxie and Other Rides

Hadley Moore: Not Dead Yet

David Armstrong: Small Lives Cross-Referenced for Your Convenience

Michele Berger: Doll Seed and Other Stories

Colleen Rich: Things You Won’t Tell Your Therapist: Stories

Christina Milletti: Choke Box: a Fem-Noir

John Gifford: The Sharks of Al Jubail

Brian Heston: Billy Penn’s Hat

Alexandria Constantinova Szeman: M is for Munchers

Miles Wilson: Fire Season


  1. Mary Lloyd Evans

    Thanks for the opportunity to comment. Definitely trying not to take it to heart, but I must say that it seems odd to me that a book as substantial and actually distinguished as mine could not have made it even as far as the Long List. Makes me wonder whether the judge actually read it all the way through, if at all. Eight hundred books and only one judge? It just doesn’t make any sense to me.

    • Andrew

      Hello Mary,

      Thanks for your comment. Judging a book (whether you’re a contest judge or a browser in the bookstore) is a very subjective process, of course. It’s really not possible to figure out why a judge picks one book over another book. In the end, the judge is making a selection based off of their particular taste. This is how we all select the books we enjoy, I think!

      In terms of processing (reading) manuscripts, I’ll use myself as an example: I receive about 200 solicitations for the publishing wing every week and usually get through them all that week. When you’re in the book business, speed is definitely the key. When I interview judges, I lean on this fact. They know going in that they have to clear a large block of time.

      There is a preliminary judging process. We review manuscripts as they come in to make sure there are no technical glitches, potential conflicts such as a personal relationship with the judge, or glaring grammatical/style/editorial/subject matter problems with the manuscript (there are many examples from the last 17 years of the SFWP contest that might be better suited for a blog post). During this phase (and our contest runs for roughly 8 months), the judge has access and we don’t discourage preliminary reading. So some manuscripts may have been reviewed as they arrived over the first half of 2017.

      July and August also tend to be quiet months in the publishing industry, so there’s the opportunity to spend a couple hundred hours reading away! I try to time the contest to end in the summer for just that reason. (Speaking of hours spent reading, the judge is not required to read the entire manuscript if he makes a decision early on. This, again, is where the subjective aspect of judging comes into play.)

      It’s a tremendous amount of work but, after 17 years, I’m able to keep everything moving quickly and efficiently. I interview judges during the selection process to gauge their comfort level and expected free time, and they always get about a year’s warning to block off their calendars for some hard core reading.

    • Nigel Tufnel


      Face it, our books sucked. Mine was a 400-page erotic thriller about zombie turtles that live on the moon. It was called Dark Side of the Shell. I mean, how does that not crack the top 100?!?

      • Andrew

        I totally went right to Submittable to search for that entry, Nigel! A little disappointed that it doesn’t exist…

    • John McIlveen

      If only our books were as good as we think they are, we’d all have a Pulitzer.

  2. Robert Gately

    Hey, I”ve been entering writing contests forever. In fact, I’ve come in finalist or better in close to 180 competitions – 27 wins with 19 second places. As much as I’ve been recognized, my work has been overlooked many more times than not. Subjective indeed. My only complaint when I must lick my wounds when rejected is that I get no feedback. I would like to know why the reader didn’t advance my work. Was it grammar? Was the plot not strong enough? I think you get the picture. And I think a quote from Derek Jeter is appropriate here. He once said once, “There may be people who have more talent than you, but there’s no excuse for anyone to work harder than you do and I believe that.” And so do I. Being rejected more times than not, and being a Temple University Screenplay Judge for a couple of years, I’m convinced there’s an abundance of talent out there. So…keep on working hard. You’ll get there.

  3. Noelle Q. de Jesus

    Thank you, Andrew, for such positive and soecific feedback, despite my book not making the long list. I am nevertheless grateful for your words and will of course persevere with the writing. It is not as though I have any choice in the matter. Will take your suggestions and try your recommended strategy. Thank you. It’s a tough job that you have, and necessarily, subjective. Because life is that way too. I remain grateful. More power.


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