Meet the Finalists of the 2020 !Short Story Contest!

— including a portrait of each author’s favorite chair–
!a tradition!

Read the stories, here.

DC Diamondopolous is an award-winning novelette, short story, and flash fiction writer with over 200 stories published internationally in print and online magazines, literary journals, and anthologies. DC’s stories have appeared in: 34th Parallel, So It Goes: The Literary Journal of the Kurt Vonnegut Museum and Library, Ball State University, Lunch Ticket, Progenitor, Blue Lake Review, and many others. DC was nominated for Best of the Net Anthology. She lives on the California central coast with her wife and animals.

Sage Kalmus is a Pushcart Prize nominated writer whose work has appeared in The Writer Magazine, Spine Magazine, Sanctuary, Whisperings Magazine, CARNIVAL Online Literary Journal and Rose Red Review. He is a freelance writer, ghostwriter and editor of tens of thousands of articles and dozens of novels, plays and screenplays. He is a writing teacher, including a course in magical realism in Lesley University’s Creative Writing MFA program. He is also the publisher, with his beloved spouse, of 10 LGBTQ+ literary anthologies. They live in the lovely Berkshires of western Massachusetts with their furred, finned and feathered family. 

Malda Marlys teaches science just outside Chicago and writes the sort of speculative fiction that requires too many qualifiers for the normal flow of conversation. An out-of-practice black belt, mediocre birdwatcher, and two-time ISFiC Writer’s Contest winner, she spends most of her time being bullied by disreputable housepets and adding to a monumental TBR pile.

A.L. Diaz graduated cum laude from the University of La Verne with a degree in Creative Writing. She has publications with such literary anthologies as Prism ReviewCultural Weekly, and Fiction Kitchen Berlin, and was selected as a finalist for Defenestrationism’s 2020 Flash Suit Contest.

John D. Payne grew up on the prairie, where the tornadoes and electrical storms play.  Watching the lightning flash outside his window, he imagined himself as everything from a leaf on the wind to the god of thunder. Today, he lives with his wife and family at the foot of the Organ Mountains in New Mexico, where he he focuses his weather-god powers on rustling up enough cloud cover for a little shade. 

John’s debut novel, The Crown and the Dragon, is an epic fantasy published by WordFire Press. You can find his stories on podcasts like The Overcast, magazines like StoryHack, and books like X Marks the Spot: An Anthology of Treasure and Theft. 

Stalk him on Twitter @jdp_writes. Patronize him at

Aditya Gautam is a writer from India who believes very much in the power of fiction beyond entertaining—for instance, in throwing people out of windows. Among the many things he loves in this world are roasted peanuts, the sound of rain, thick books, toy trains, and weak sunlight. 

His short stories and poems have been published in Singapore, the USA, and the UK.  A speculative short story by him was included in the Best Asian Fiction Anthology, 2018 by Kitaab, Singapore. Most recently, he has been published in the June 2020 issue of The Bombay Review. 

His debut novel, A Dream of Duplicity, will also be published sometime later this year.

Ross West has placed fiction, essays, journalism, and poetry in publications from Orion to the Journal of Recreational Linguistics. His work has been anthologized in Best Essays Northwest, Best of Dark Horse Presents and elsewhere. He edited the University of Oregon’s research magazine, Inquiry; was senior managing editor at Oregon Quarterly; and served as text editor for the Atlas of Oregon and Atlas of Yellowstone.

Bryan Joe Okwesili is a chocolate loving realist, a poet and storyteller keen on telling diverse African queer stories. He writes from Anambra, Nigeria. He divides his time between reading, writing and drinking lots of water. His art have appeared on Brittle paper, Lunaris, Expound, Kalahari review, African Writers, and forthcoming elsewhere.
He is currently a student of law at the University of Calabar, Calabar.

Back to the 2020 !Short Story Contest!
Who’s responsible for this madcap affair?– Masthead
home/ Bonafides

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