Fiction Contest 2015: Celebrating the winners at CL Space

We gripped, we grinned, we celebrated great writing.

click to enlarge Judges' Prize winner Ritz Cerisi, honored for her story "Maybe the Mermaids." - Chip Weiner
Chip Weiner
Judges' Prize winner Ritz Cerisi, honored for her story "Maybe the Mermaids."


Rita Cerisi and Cameron Hunt McNabb took home the top honors in this year's Fiction Contest, it was announced last night at an awards party at CL Space. It was a night to celebrate the work of all of the entrants, but especially the talented writers whose stories were named, along with those of Cerisi and McNabb, to the top 10.

I opened the festivities by explaining the challenge we'd given writers this year — asking them to seek inspiration from local artworks — and introduced fellow contest judge Maureen McDole of Keep St. Pete Lit, whose Fantastic Ekphrastic! event in January was itself an inspiration for the contest theme. She reminded me just in time that our judging compatriot David Z. Morris, a frequent CL contributor, also played a part in the KSPL event: He won the audience vote for best story, for his ingenious take on a photograph by Herb Snitzer.

After the judges read some of their own work — two stories by Morris (including one that was equal parts horrific and hilarious about a meth dealer with notably skillful butt cheeks) and four poems by McDole (including the poignant "Dear One," her response to a painting by Carrie Jadus).

Then I got to grip and grin with almost all of the top 10 winners: 

Brian Lott, for "Bumping into Gaia"; Carol Hinds, for "Clarence";  Greg LeSar, for "Death for a Kiss"; Nina Chalama, for "High Horse"; Jeff Kraftchak, for "Janey's Solstice"; Samuel Warmack, for "Lost in Ybor"; Brooks Peters, for "Sun God"; Kara Wedekind, for "Test Pattern"; and the Judges' Prize winner, Rita Cerisi, for "Maybe the Mermaids," which she read for us.

Unfortunately, Readers' Choice winner Cameron Hunt McNabb, whose story "Dinosaur World" found its inspiration from some familiar roadside creatures (and gave our Creative Director Julio Ramos a great idea for a cover image), was ill and unable to attend. But I did my best Sacheem LIttlefeather imitation and accepted on her behalf.

Congrats to all! Find more pics from the party here.