Saturday, October 1, 2011

Short Story Contest a Growing Success

Moonlight Mesa's annual Cowboy Up Short Story Contest is nothing short of a growing success according to publisher Becky Coffield.

"I am astounded, absolutely astounded, at the quality of stories that are being submitted," Coffield said. "Honestly, every year the stories are better than the year before. Maybe I should say there are MORE stories each year that are outstanding."

The contest, while not much of a money maker, is probably one of a kind. "The truth is, we barely break even in this contest, and we probably lose money if I count all the postage we use for it. People ask me why I keep running it if I'm not making any money, and the answer is so simple: there is a NEED for this contest. People want to write about the West! I see this contest as vital, actually. There are great writers out there who have great stories about the West. This contest is an opportunity for them to share their story, and not just with us. We've already published one very popular Western anthology, Award-Winning Tales, and we are seriously considering publishing a second," Coffield said. "I could see us pubishing one in 2013, after next year's contest ends."

Finalists for this year's contest are, in no particular order:

Joe Kilgore Mourning Mordecai
Jim Lindsey The Horse That Rode
Kathleen Ewing Searching for Sara AND The Burning Season
Melissa Embry No Place to Run
Ted Haynes Do No Harm
Murray Edwards Her Final Order
Gerald M Jarvis Runnin' Blue
Crystal Carey Husbanding Dreams
M. Edward Wyatt Anxious
Laura M. Gibson The Water Men
Drew Davis Tragedy Falls
Bill Starr Holy Night
Robert Walton The Wreck of the Annabelle Lee
Bill Wilbur Faith
Paul Conn I knew They Would Come

"The next round of readings will be scored using a different scoring guide. We hope there will be clear "cash prize" winners then, but the stories are all so good it make take time to really come up with the winners. We'll confer with others and with our editor, Paula Silici, if she's available," Coffield said.


Moonlight Mesa will soon be announcing the "rules" for next year's contest. The publisher is considering several ideas for it. "We've toyed with several novel ideas for the upcoming contest, but ultimately I think we'll just run a "regular" contest with no specific requirements, other than the story must be a Western," said Coffield.

This year the contest rules specified that the stories had to be a Western suspense, mystery, etc. "The stories were fabulous, but I don't want to make that a requirement for two years running," Coffield said. "I do like the longer length, though. So we will definitely keep the stories to the 3500 word length. It gives people more of an opportunity to develop their ideas and storyline if they need to. It makes the stories more interesting to read, too."


Responding reluctantly to publisher pressure, Western author Jere D. James now has his own website! Check it out! Coffield has recently required that all authors must have a website. Only two Moonlight Mesa authors were not in compliance: Jere D. James and Stoney Bowers.

"It's a statistical fact that people are far more inclined to go to an author's website than a publisher's website," Coffield said. "So we are now requiring that everyone maintain a website. Jere's is up and running now. BRAVO! Stoney has told me for two years that he's going to get one. We'll help in any way we can, but authors need to be involved in this business of trying to sell books. Websites help immensely!"

James is also under contract to blog at least monthly. :)You can follow his blog at

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