Exploring the art of prose


CRAFT First Chapters Contest 2022

2022 CRAFT First Chapters Contest

$2,800 Awarded

Thank you to all writers who sent excerpts to our 2022 CRAFT First Chapters Contest, Guest Judge Maisy Card! We are delighted to publish the winning entries in December 2022. Congratulations to the winners, finalists, longlisters, and honorable mentions!


First Place: Leah Bailly, Vegaboy
Second Place: Sarah Harris Wallman, Angels and Bears
Third Place: Ra’Niqua Lee, Frenzied, Desperate Birds


Christopher Seiji Berardino, Infamy
Jesse Devyn Crowe, Daughters of Ix Chel
Trevor Crown, The Substitute
Angel Di Zhang, The Light of Eternal Spring
Paul Festa, The Death of Autofiction
Susan Fox, Here’s Where the Story Ends
Evelyn Krieger, When We Were Bad
Y. S. Lee, Monsoon Season
Kelly Magee, Loss Prevention
Julia Strayer, Call Me Caroline
Carly Tagen-Dye, All That You Can See
Janey Tracey, True Believer

The Rest of the Longlist 

Travis Ables, The Incubator Baby
Sophie Brochu , Aquatic Memory
Hillary Casavant, All Things Lost and Found
Andrew De Silva, The Rewind Boys
Nadia Kijanka, Porcelain
Clancy McGilligan, North
Joseph Moldover, String
Olivia Powers, The Waiting Game
Amy Purcell, The Great Dying
Sari Rosenblatt, Daughter of Retail
Heidi Samuelson, The Reasons Why
Eric Van Meter, The Corn Palace

Honorable Mentions 

D. Michael Armstrong, Eleanor
Dan Asenlund, The Spiral City of Lost Time
Joy Baglio, The House of Love
Pat Brothwell, The Bereaved Wives of East Fulton Township
CJ Hribal, Housebreaking
Elizabeth Jones, The Vindication of Abigail Flynn
Casey Loken, June in Alaska
Gale Massey, Becoming Toby
Gale Massey, Ordinary Things
James McAdams, The Florida Shuffle
Dorotea Mendoza, Requiem for a Beauty Queen
Rebecca Mlinek, Lovely in Eyes Not Hers
Sue Montgomery, The Man in the Movie
Jennifer O’Neill Pickering, Summer of the River Bottom Dragon
Melissa Ragsly, The Half Measure
Susan Reimer-Torn, Before the Closing of the Gates
Robyn Ryle, Sex of the Midwest
Audie Shushan, We Are All Pillars of Salt
Sharon Solwitz, The Book of Harrison
Carol Spaulding, Navelencia, 1910
Tamako Takamatsu, The Three Arrows
Maria Wickens, Drown ’Em Like Puppies
Martha Witt, The Truth Lies Between

We’ll be back next year for the 2023 First Chapters Contest!


Photo Credit: Tehsuan Glover

MAISY CARD is the author of the novel These Ghosts Are Family, which won an American Book Award, the 2021 OCM Bocas Prize in fiction, and was a finalist for the PEN/Hemingway Award for Debut Novel, The Center for Fiction First Novel Prize, and the Art Seidenbaum Award for First Fiction. Her writing has appeared in The Paris Review Daily, AGNI, The New York Times, Guernica, and other publications. Maisy is a graduate of the Brooklyn College MFA in Fiction Program. She is currently a fiction editor of The Brooklyn Rail.


Founded in 2010, ARTFUL EDITOR is an editorial agency that helps writers elevate their prose and prepare their manuscripts for agent submission and publication. We offer honest manuscript reviews, developmental editing, copyediting, and one-on-one coaching. Our team is comprised of seasoned book editors, published authors, and former in-house editors, many of whom also edit for major publishing houses and independent presses. We’re based in Los Angeles, California, but work with writers from all over the world and at every stage of their careers. You can find us on TwitterInstagram, and Facebook.

BETH MARSHEA is the owner and Lead Agent at Ladderbird Literary Agency. She has a BA in Literature and a Masters in Business Administration and is always looking for new and exciting ways to bring more diversity into publishing and beyond. Her tastes are wide ranging from Adult all the way to Picture Books in both fiction and nonfiction. Some the books she has championed include Adult Fiction like Saving Ruby King and Becoming Sara King by Catherine Adel West, and Everyman by M Shelly Conner; nonfiction like A Night at the Sweet Gum Head: A Decade of Drag, Drugs and Disco by Martin Padgett, YA like Strictly No Heroics by B.L. Radley, and picture books like The Leaping Laddoo by Harshita Jerath. What really compels her to take a project is a story with an urgency to be told. She wants stories from all communities that show new perspectives and allow honest voices to shine. Outside of agenting, Beth teaches writing in her local community with a focus on bringing reluctant writers and readers into the magical world of books.

LADDERBIRD is a full-service boutique literary agency out of the Boston area with a passion for bringing marginalized voices to the forefront. We work with authors at all levels to create the right path towards achieving each author’s specific goals. It is our passion to create long-lasting relationships and to be the best advocate for our clients. At Ladderbird, we believe in building a supportive community that benefits all.