Congratulations to the authors of the following stories, two of the three that received Honorable Mention in our 2019 Short Story Award competition. They are listed in alphabetical order by the author's last name.  The 2019 call was for "Animal Stories," so we hope you enjoy these entertaining twists on the theme.

And don't forget, our 2020 Short Story Award competition is now open. Our theme is once again"Animal Stories"--broadly interpreted. See more information here.

For more from our members, check out their blogs or websites:

Marianne H. Donley

A. E. Decker 

Headley Hauser

Christopher D. Ochs
Carol L. Wright

Will Wright


Take a Cue from the Canine

Phil Giunta

Huddled inside the cramped compartment of the roll top desk, Joel flinched as the beagle scratched and pawed at the antique wood slats. “Rusty, no.” He ran a soothing hand over the dog’s belly. “It’s gonna be okay. We just need to be quiet for a little longer.”

Joel knew his best friend was not only scared, but probably still in pain. Resting his head against the hard surface, Joel tried to ignore his own set of freshly inflicted bruises.

A liquid lunch had cost Uncle Larry yet another job, sparking his worst whiskey-fueled rampage in months. Joel’s attempts to calm him had been rewarded with the usual beating, but the confrontation had turned life-threatening after Larry kicked Rusty across the living room and pulled out a sawed-off shotgun from beneath the couch. When he’d stood up too quickly and toppled backward—blasting a hole in the ceiling—Joel snatched up Rusty and fled across the yard to the garage.

Ten minutes had passed since then. Maybe he’s too wasted to come after us. . . .

Read more here . . .

Phil Giunta’s novels include the paranormal mysteries Testing the Prisoner, By Your Side, and Like Mother, Like Daughters. His short stories appear in such anthologies as Plague of Shadows, Beach Nights, Beach Pulp, the ReDeus mythology series, and the

Middle of Eternity speculative fiction series, which he created and edited for Firebringer Press. As a member of the Greater Lehigh Valley Writers Group, Phil also penned stories and essays for Write Here, Write NowThe Write Connections, and Rewriting the Past, three of the group's annual anthologies.

Phil is currently working on the second draft of a science fiction novel while plotting his triumphant escape from the pressures of corporate America, where he has been

imprisoned for over twenty-five years. Visit Phil’s website at www.philgiunta.com.

Find him on Facebook: @writerphilgiunta and Twitter: @philgiunta71

Stanley the Cat

Bill White

I sat in my dark living room, listening to the winter wind and staring at what was left of my fire.

My husband, Stan, had died a month before. We had been watching “Jeopardy,” yelling out answers as usual, when he was stricken. I punched 9-1-1 through frantic tears, but by the time the ambulance arrived, he was too far gone, although I didn’t get the news officially until we were at the hospital.

Read more here . . .

Bill White retired from The Morning Call newspaper in November 2018, after forty-four years there, including twenty-seven years as a full-time columnist. He is a graduate of Lehigh University and received a master's degree in journalism at Ohio State University. In addition to his duties at the Call, where he won several statewide awards as a writer and editor, he has been teaching journalist at Lehigh University for thirty-six years.

Since You Went Away
BV Lawson

The best the doctor could do was prescribe structure and routine. Thus, these weekly pilgrimages with Candace’s mother were circled in red on the calendar every Saturday morning for ten o’clock. They parked in the same spot, used the same door, visited the same stores in the same order, and ate at the same Five Guys hamburger stand. Candace dubbed it the Mall Memory March.

Candace clutched her mother’s hand as they walked side-by-side, heading for their usual first stop, the bead store. Candace made the mistake once of leaving her mother alone for two minutes, and it took three security guards to find her after a half hour of searching. Right now, as the older woman stared at the store window, her normal blank face was beaming. Beaming just like the little girl skipping out of the store clasping a balloon as the girl’s mother kept a close eye on the child.

Read more here ...

BV Lawson’s stories have appeared in dozens of publications. BV is a four-time Derringer Award finalist and 2012 winner, as well as a contributor to the Anthony Award-winning Blood on the Bayou. BV’s Scott Drayco crime series has also been named Best Mystery in the Next Generation Indie Book Awards. It was chosen as a Featured Library Journal Self-E pick and was a finalist for the Shamus, Silver Falchion, and Daphne Awards. BV lives in Virginia with her husband and enjoys flying above the Chesapeake Bay in a little Cessna. Visit her website at bvlawson.com. No ticket required.

                                        Fatherless Christmas

                                                                                Adam Stemple

                                                                                It rained

                                                                                on Christmas day,

                                                                                snow's absence

                                                                                apropos of the nothing,

                                                                                the void

                                                                                on the red velvet couch—

                                                                                pale and frayed

                                                                                now, but still there—

                                                                                where he'd always sat.


                                                                                he said, piling on

                                                                                every robe,

                                                                                every sweater,

                                                                                every hat

                                                                                he received. Warmth

                                                                                was our most common gift

                                                                                as he faded

                                                                                into old age.

                                                                                But Christmas past recalls

                                                                                a towering man

                                                                                in camouflage and bold beard,

                                                                                buck knife slitting open

                                                                                presents almost as easily

                                                                                as the turkeys he shot

                                                                                and hung

                                                                                from the garage

                                                                                for Thanksgiving.

                                                                                Blood and memory;

                                                                                love and time.

                                                                                I wish it would have snowed.

Adam Stemple
is an author, poet, musician, and web designer, roughly in that order. He can be found online at adamstemple.com.

On the Luck Stone Bridge Turn-off No One Uses Anymore

                                                                            Sandy Green

                                                                She’s buried in our tangled family cemetery –

                                                                sister, twin, imagined one –

                                                                a knackered section of the old farm on Sharp Mountain,

                                                                among our ancient kin:

                                                                Abraham and Serena, Rufus and Charity

                                                                Mother tends the grave

                                                                prising the frame of green crabgrass

                                                                from the tiny marker,

                                                                Her hands reek of grief and frozen mud

                                                                while a frazzled juniper sapling,

                                                                points to blue infinity

                                                                Split-rail fences enclose the yellowed plot

                                                                Thin gray shoulders shudder against late March,

                                                                which clings to frosty fleabane, devil’s snuffbox, rabbit tobacco,

                                                                posies for another sort of dance

                                                                Mother exhales a funnel of crystals,

                                                                her white breath streams upward

                                                                flowing to the clabbered sky

                                                                sticking to the clouds

                                                                When her sacrament is finished,

                                                                her sweater chafes her wrists

                                                                and her chin shines in Ellijay apple red,

                                                                she huddles in Daddy’s blue-rust truck

                                                                ladling sorrow into his arms.

Sandy Green
writes from her home in Virginia where her work has appeared in
Bitter Oleander, Northern Virginia Review, Existere, and Qwerty, as well as in her chapbook, Pacing the Moon (Flutter Press, 2009). BatCat Press published her limited-edition chapbook, Lot for Sale. No Pigs, in June 2019. Her website is sandradgreen.webs.com