Contest Seven: “Monsters and Marvels” (Winners Announced)

Winners Announced

This was by far our best contest yet, with a final count of 1,424 Poetry, Prose, and Artwork entries. Eliminations were heartbreaking—there was so much good writing, and artwork entries were stunning!


Entry statistics for Contest Seven are available on our Contest Seven Statistics page.

Artwork Winner

Grand Prize: There May Be Giants by Luke Spooner

The popular vote resulted in a tie between “There May Be Giants” by Luke Spooner and “Monster & Marvel” by Jonathan Hsu. That left the final decision to the Editor-in-Chief, Brian Lewis. Brian said, “I’d be honored to work with any of these artists. Since I have to pick just one, ‘There Might Be Giants’ fits my vision for this volume best. I wish I could publish them all.”

You can see all seven artwork finalists on the Contest Seven Artwork Finalists page.

Poetry Winners

Grand Prize

Medusa Recalls Her Last Day as a Woman by Julia Kolchinsky Dasbach

Second Place

Each Uisge by GennaRose Nethercott

Third Place

Chimera by Molly Kugel Merkner

Prose Winners

Special Mention by Guest Judge Lisa Mangum

Agnete and the Merman by Christina Elaine Collins

Grand Prize

A Principle of Light by Janet Irvin

Second Place (Tie)

Under Skin and Spike by Catherine Foster
Kuriko by Stewart C Baker

Honorable Mention (in no particular order)

People-like Trees in the Night by Louis Rakovich
Moth Belly Blues by Sean Moreland
Homunculus by Siobhan Gallagher

Theme: “Monsters and Marvels”

Like darkness and light, Yin and Yang, monsters and marvels are two sides of the same coin. Each entry should include both a monster and a marvel—though “monster” and “marvel” may refer to same element of your entry. For a prose example, see the imaginative short story by Peter Medeiros, Silence Like a Falling Chandelier.

The theme for this contest invites open interpretation: are monsters physical manifestations of evil, or the internal demons that plague us all? Marvels: fantastic bestiary creatures, or symbols of the human spirit’s resilience?

Featured Artwork

This interpretation of our theme was provided by artist Tyler Lamph. Find more of his work at!

Poetry & Prose Guest Judges

Artwork Judges

Finalists are selected by the senior editorial staff of Spark. Up to twenty artwork finalists will be posted October 15 on, and the winner will be selected by popular vote.


No fee is required for this contest. You will have an opportunity to make an optional donation once your entry is submitted. We rely on your tax-deductible contribution to keep our contests free.

Spark’s production costs are covered and contributing writers are paid in part through sales of the anthology and in part by generous donations from people like you. Funds for all remaining expenses are donated by Brian & Amy Lewis.

Awards (Artwork)

Grand Prize

  • US$500.00
  • Publication as the cover art of an upcoming volume of Spark: A Creative Anthology
  • One-year print & digital subscription to Spark: A Creative Anthology

Awards (Poetry & Prose)

Grand Prize

  • US$500.00
  • Publication in an upcoming volume of Spark: A Creative Anthology as the first (poem) or second (prose) piece in the collection
  • Lifetime Premium Membership at Scribophile, the online writing group for serious writers
  • One-year subscription to Duotrope
  • One-year print subscription to American Poetry Review or Poets & Writers magazine or The Writer magazine
  • One-year print & digital subscription to Spark: A Creative Anthology

Second Place

  • US$100.00
  • Lifetime Premium Membership at Scribophile
  • One-year digital subscription to American Poetry Review
  • One-year digital subscription to Spark: A Creative Anthology
  • One print copy of Spark: A Creative Anthology, any volume

Third Place

  • US$20.00
  • One-year Premium Membership at Scribophile
  • One-year digital subscription to Spark: A Creative Anthology
  • One-year digital subscription to American Poetry Review


  • Contest entries will be accepted from September 15, 2014 until the stroke of midnight, U.S. Pacific Time, on October 2, 2014. (In other words, make sure your entries are submitted before 11:59 pm on October 1).
  • There are no genre restrictions for this contest, and content guidelines are similar to our standard submission guidelines, including what we are not accepting.
  • Contest Seven awards prizes for poetry and prose according to our contest judging criteria.
  • Each entrant may enter up to three pieces in any combination of categories.
  • Prose includes both fiction and creative nonfiction, but we have not divided the category further because we believe that well-written creative nonfiction should tell a story so well that the result is indistinguishable from fiction. Prose must be less than 12,000 words.
  • Poetry includes all styles, meters, and rhyme schemes, or may be free-form. Poetry must be less than 300 lines.
  • Artwork includes every medium that can be reproduced as a two-dimensional book cover, including photographs of three-dimensional sculpture. Entries should be appropriate for general audiences and avoid nudity or gore. See our cover gallery for examples of the variety we’ve accepted in the past. For details on dimensions, see Contest Artwork Dimensions.

Rules & Restrictions

  • You may enter up to three pieces in this contest in any combination of categories, but each entrant can win at most one prize, no matter how many entries are made. If you have more than three active submissions when we select finalists for the contest, all of your entries will be disqualified—please take care to select and enter your best work, and withdraw any superfluous entries before the entry period closes. See page comments for details.
  • Poetry and prose publication rights remain with the author or poet. Poetry & Prose Grand Prize winners are not obligated to publish their winning entry in Spark, but if our publication offer is accepted, the cash portion of the prize serves as the purchase payment for First Publication rights as outlined on our Rights & Rates page. All other entrants retain full rights to submit and publish their entries as they wish.
  • Rights to original artwork remain with the artist. As part of accepting the award, the Artwork Grand Prize winner grants the Empire & Great Jones Little Press the right to reproduce the artwork as the cover of one volume of Spark and to reproduce it in various print and digital formats for the purpose of promoting Spark. The artist does not grant any other rights, and Empire & Great Jones Little Press must negotiate any other use of the artwork. The artist always retains the right to include the entry in his or her professional portfolio.
  • Prose limits: We are looking for excellent writing and storytelling, not length. A compelling and well-written flash-fiction piece has an equal chance against a novelette. Prose must be less than 12,000 words.
  • Poetry limits: We are looking for evocative imagery that paints a small story in a poem. A haiku or tanka has equal chance against a sonnet or epic. Poetry must be less than 300 lines.
  • For both poetry and prose, only previously unpublished works will be considered. You may enter a previously-written piece if you feel that it satisfies the prompt for this contest, so long as it has not been published. Artwork that has appeared on your website or blog is eligible so long as it has not been reproduced in print or licensed for use in another print or digital publication.
  • This is an international competition, but funds will be sent to winners in USD and converted to local currencies as necessary. PayPal is the preferred service for transmitting prize monies.
  • There are no age restrictions for this contest other than legal restrictions imposed by your local jurisdiction.
  • In the event that a poetry or prose winner is ineligible for the Scribophile prize because of age or chooses to decline the membership, a three-year print and eBook subscription to Spark: A Creative Anthology will be substituted.
  • Spark: A Creative Anthology contest judges and their immediate families are not eligible.
  • Because this contest uses “blind judging” for poetry & prose—that is, the author’s name is withheld from the judges until the contest is complete—please omit personal information (such as author name or contact details) from the manuscript.
  • Also because this contest uses “blind judging,” authors and poets who have previously had work accepted for any volume of Spark: A Creative Anthology may enter this contest.
  • Blind judging does not apply to artwork. Artists who have previously provided cover art for any publication of Empire & Great Jones Little Press may also enter this contest.
  • In the event that a Grand Prize winner is an author or poet whose work has been accepted for Spark: A Creative Anthology, Volume VIII, we may choose to postpone or decline publication of either the previously-accepted work or the winning contest entry.
  • You may withdraw and re-enter the contest during the entry period without penalty, but any piece withdrawn after the entry period cannot be re-entered.
  • Judges will be unable to provide feedback on specific pieces.
  • Spark: A Creative Anthology reserves the right to post “No Award” for any category in the event that fewer than 30 total entries are received or fewer than three qualified entries can be selected for the final round of judging. This has happened before: in Contest Three (too few total entries) and Contest Five (too few finalists).

About the Guest Judges

E. Lily Yu is a fiction writer, poet, playwright, and narrative designer whose work has appeared or is forthcoming in places such as McSweeney’s, Boston Review, Clarkesworld, and The Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of the Year. She is a doctoral student at Cornell and a recent graduate of the Clarion West Writers’ Workshop.

Lisa Mangum has worked in the publishing department of Deseret Book since 1997. She is currently the Managing Editor for the Shadow Mountain imprint and has worked with several New York Times best-selling authors, including Ally Condie, James Dashner, and Jason F. Wright. While fiction is her first love, she also has experience working with nonfiction projects (memoir, educational, cookbooks, etc.) and some children’s picture books.
She loves finding that “diamond in the rough” in the slush pile, and she is particularly skilled in the developmental editing part of the process. Lisa is also the author of four national best-selling YA novels (The Hourglass Door trilogy and After Hello). She graduated with honors from the University of Utah, and currently lives in Taylorsville, Utah, with her husband, Tracy.

About the Awards

Scribophile is the largest online writing workshop and discussion group, boasting over 320,000 peer critiques written by community members ranging from amateur writers to professional authors and editors. Learn more at

Duotrope is a subscription-based service for writers that offers an extensive, searchable database of current fiction, poetry, and non-fiction markets, a calendar of upcoming deadlines, submissions trackers, and useful statistics compiled from the millions of data points they’ve gathered on the publishers they list, including Spark.

Cash Prizes are made possible by generous supporters like you. Sign up as a sponsor today and join these patrons:

Notes & Disclosures

The Lifetime and one-year Scribophile Premium Memberships were donated by Scribophile, the online writing group for serious writers. Learn more at
The one-year Duotrope subscriptions were purchased at a discount by Brian Lewis.
Magazine subscriptions are purchased at current retail prices by Brian Lewis.
Spark: A Creative Anthology is administered and published by the Empire & Great Jones Creative Arts Foundation, a registered 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation.

12 thoughts on “Contest Seven: “Monsters and Marvels” (Winners Announced)

  1. Pingback: Spark’s Monsters and Marvels Competition | SFF punk

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  3. Pingback: New Artwork Category for Contest Seven | Spark: A Creative Anthology

  4. Pingback: Fall Writing Contests and Submissions | LitBloom

  5. You do not have to enter three pieces, and if you choose to make multiple entries, they do not have to be in the same category. For example, any of these combinations are valid:

    • 1 prose entry
    • 1 poetry entry
    • 1 artwork entry
    • 1 prose entry and 1 poetry entry
    • 1 prose entry and 1 artwork entry
    • 1 poetry entry and 1 artwork entry
    • 1 prose entry, 1 poetry entry, and 1 artwork entry
    • 2 prose entries
    • 2 poetry entries
    • 2 artwork entries
    • 2 prose entries and 1 poetry entry
    • 2 prose entries and 1 artwork entry
    • 2 poetry entries and 1 prose entry
    • 2 poetry entries and 1 artwork entry
    • 2 artwork entries and 1 prose entry
    • 2 artwork entries and 1 poetry entry
    • 3 prose entries
    • 3 poetry entries
    • 3 artwork entries
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  7. Pingback: Contest Seven: “Monsters and Marvels” | Spark: A Creative Anthology | Meet & Geek

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