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Estate by Victoria Freund – First Place Winner of the Chicago Writers Association First Chapter Contest

Written on April 18, 2017

  Chapter 1      Ultimately, it was the lanyard that killed me.  A single key anchored the nylon necklace; a lightweight charm that swung and danced while I rode my bike in the spring air.  Just before I crashed into the aluminum frame of the SUV, the lanyard looped under my right handlebar as  Continue Reading »

Our Lovely War by Molly DiRago – Second Place Winner in the Chicago Writers Association First Chapter Contest

Written on April 3, 2017

    CHAPTER ONE Palm-sized, cool, brass.  A cowboy hat on one side, a horseshoe on the other.  Smooth and shiny from repeated rubbing.  I shake it.  After more than five years, the thing still has fluid.  I spin it between my fingers, flip it open, then spark the flame with my thumb.  This trick  Continue Reading »

The Forgotten American by Lisa Maggiore – Third Place Winner in the CWA First Chapter Contest

Written on March 21, 2017

I think about dying—a lot. The only reason I haven’t killed myself is because no one would even know. Well, maybe Ms. Alexander would, but she doesn’t count. She has to know how many kids are eating a meal at the orphanage. And Nan, my good friend who cleans my frizzy black hair of twigs  Continue Reading »

Excerpt from The Defender: How the Legendary Black Newspaper Changed America by Ethan Michaeli — Winner of the Chicago Writers Association 2016 Book of the Year for Traditionally Published Non-Fiction 

Written on March 6, 2017

The skies were clear over the North American prairie on Saturday, August 14, 2004. A summer sun rose across the blue expanse of Lake Michigan and crept along the city’s sandy beaches until it hit the glittering ridge of skyscrapers downtown and then filtered into the neighborhoods beyond. Very early that morning, a stream of  Continue Reading »

Excerpt from The Mirror Thief by Martin Seay — Winner of the Chicago Writers Association 2016 Book of the Year for Traditionally Published Fiction

Written on February 20, 2017

     The acolyte lights the candles as the priest opens the book. The long wicks flare, and the image of the Virgin appears in the vault above the apse, her gray form steady against the flickering screen of gold. The glass tesserae of her eyes catch the dim light, and her gaze seems to  Continue Reading »

Excerpt from A Bitter Pill to Swallow by Tiffany Gholar — Winner of the Chicago Writers Association 2016 Book of the Year for Non-Traditionally Published Fiction

Written on February 6, 2017

Chapter 1: A Reason to Die  Devante knew he couldn’t tell her the truth when his mother asked, “Are you sure you’re going to be okay?”  This was it. They had finally arrived at his school. They were parked in front of the main entrance, just like so many times before, just like nothing had  Continue Reading »

Ghost Train by Sharon Frame Gay

Written on January 23, 2017

Outside, limbs and twigs are dressed in snow like winter brides, dripping with wedding-night anticipation for the cold courtship of January. The pond has iced over, ducks thrusting bills beneath the reeds, searching for remaining food before ascending to the flyway, and warmer climes. Wind whistles down the chimney, flames sputter, then fight back. Inside,  Continue Reading »

Busia’s Hands by Marie Malicki

Written on January 8, 2017

Busia’s Hands by Marie Malicki When mass ended “sphhh-sphhh” was heard clear to the front pews where the children sat. It sounded weird, but I didn’t dare turn around for fear of reprisal from a nun. Soon, we’d be herded to class. I’d wait until then to satisfy my curiosity. It was the Rosary Society.  Continue Reading »

It’s Just Practice by A. J. Huffman

Written on December 26, 2016

  Falling into blindness, I am enchanted— mirror to his throne. I swallow malice like a champ, (chump) regurgitate a smile. Shady bitch, I have become a symptom of his alphabet: a . . . b . . . c things my way or I’ll crack your face with my fist. I adjust my angle  Continue Reading »

Eaten by Sharks by Isabell McAren

Written on December 11, 2016

     The man in line ahead of me is probably in his sixties, wearing a greasy baseball cap with unruly gray hair poking out from underneath. A wrinkled, button-up shirt is only half tucked into his baggy jeans. When he turns to the side, I can see he’s unshaven. I take an involuntary step  Continue Reading »