The storySouth Million Writers Award
Notable Stories of 2009

Here they are: The best online short stories published during 2009.

Many thanks to the editors and readers who nominated stories. And a big thanks to the preliminary judges who screened the nominations and/or picked their own favorites: Beverly Akerman, Forrest Anderson, Thom Didato, Roxanne Halpine, Rusty Keele, Travis Kurowski, Dorothee Lang, Judah Mahay, Erica Naone, Karen L. Newman, Nick Ripatrazone, Alexis Enrico Santí, Beth Staples, D. Antwan Stewart, Wayne E. Yang (along with several judges who wished to remain anonymous).

The top ten stories of the year will be released around May 1st, with the public vote for the top story beginning then. Thanks to the support of our donors, the winners of the public vote will receive the following monetary prizes:

  • $400, plus the $100 ThinkGeek gift certificate and a Greatest Uncommon Denominator subscription, for the first place winner;
  • $200 for the runner-up, plus PDFs of GUD magazine;
  • $50 for the honorable mention (third place), plus PDFs of GUD magazine.

If you are curious about my comments on these notable stories as I read them over the coming month, please check out my blog and website.

Thanks to everyone for their support of online literature.

Jason Sanford
founding editor

Top Online Magazines and Journals

Million Writers Award for best online publication

  • The winner of this year's Million Writers Award for best online publication is Fantasy Magazine, by virtue of landing seven stories on the notable list. Fantasy Magazine started life in 2005 as a high-quality print magazine, but two years later they transitioned to online only. Their literary take and high standards with regards to fantasy stories has won them praise from a diverse group of readers, and showcases so perfectly why they are one of the premier online fiction magazines!

Million Writers Award for best publisher of novella-length fiction

  • Subterranean Magazine is the winner of this year's Million Writers Award for best publisher of novella-length fiction. The magazine published three novellas and 11 novelettes in 2009, proving it is determined to find an online home for longer-length fiction. Runner-up is Prick of the Spindle, which published a number of longer-length novelettes and one novel. I should note that previous three-time winner The King's English continued to published good novella length fiction, but I had to honorably retire them from consideration to give other magazines a shot.

Million Writers Award for best new online magazine or journal

  • The winner of this year's Million Writers Award for best new online magazine or journal is Kill Author. Since their debut last year, Kill Author has published an impressive line-up of authors, as shown by the four stories making our notable list. However, what is most impressive about Kill Author is their ability to publish fiction with a strong storytelling voice. Sometimes it seems as if the fiction published in different magazines all sounds the same, but this is not the case with Kill Author. Runner-ups for the best new online magazine or journal are Cerise Press, Knee Jerk Magazine, and Slush Pile.

The Notable Stories of 2009

3AM Magazine


10,000 Tons of Black Ink

Absent Willow Review

Abyss & Apex

Afterburn SF

Agni Online



Apex Magazine

The Apple Valley Review

Atomjack Magazine


The Barcelona Review

Bartleby Snopes

Beneath Ceaseless Skies



Bosphorus Art Project Quarterly

Cafe Irreal

Carve Magazine

Cerise Press

Cha: An Asian Literary Journal

Chiaroscuro (ChiZine): Treatments of Light and Shade in Words

Clarkesworld Magazine

Clapboard House

The Coachella Review

The Collagist

Crossed Genres

Dead Mule


Diamonds in the Sky anthology

Dispatch Litareview

Drunken Boat

Eclectica Magazine

The Edge of Propinquity

Electric Spec


Fantasy Magazine

Farrago's Wainscot


Fiction Weekly

Five Chapters

A Fly in Amber


Freight Stories

Fried Chicken and Coffee

FRiGG: A Magazine of Fiction and Poetry

Front Porch Journal

The Future Fire

Girls with Insurance

Gray Sparrow Press

Guernica Magazine

Hot Metal Bridge

Identity Theory




Kenyon Review Online

Kill Author

Killing the Buddha

The King's English

Knee-Jerk Magazine

Literal Latte


Lone Star Stories

Matchbook Literary Magazine


Menda City Review

Mississippi Review Online


Moulin Review

Narrative Magazine

Necessary Fiction

Night Train

NOÖ Journal

Orson Scott Card's Intergalactic Medicine Show
(Note: These stories can only be accessed with a one-issue purchase)

Our Stories



Plots with Guns

Prick of the Spindle

Rough Copy

The Rumpus

Slush Pile Magazine

Stirring: A Literary Collection



Strange Horizons


Summerset Review

Swink Magazine

Theaker's Quarterly Fiction

Thieves Jargon

Thoughtcrime Experiments

The Thrilling Detective Web Site


Toasted Cheese

Twelve Stories

Underground Voices

Web Conjunctions

Wheelhouse Magazine

Wily Writers

Word Riot

Words Without Borders

Writers' Bloc Magazine

You Must Be This Tall to Ride

Preliminary Judges

Many thanks to the preliminary judges who selected these notable stories. To avoid any conflicts of interest or peer pressure, these judges remained anonymous to both each other and the general public until they made their selections. In addition, they were not allowed to select stories or authors with which they had a conflict of interest (this means, for example, that judges could not select their own stories for inclusion on this list).

After decades in molecular genetics research, Beverly Akerman realized she'd been learning more and more about less and less. Skittish at the prospect of knowing everything about nothing, she turned, for solace, to writing. Her short story collection, The Meaning of Children, is under consideration. It pleases her strangely to believe she’s the only Canadian writer ever to have sequenced her own DNA.

Forrest Anderson studied creative writing at Florida State University, where he worked as Robert Olen Butler’s assistant for two years. His fiction has appeared recently in Blackbird, the South Carolina Review, The North Carolina Literary Review, The Louisville Review, and elsewhere.

Thom Didato is the publisher and founding editor of the award-winning online literary and arts magazine failbetter. He has published stories in many literary journals and is the co-editor the widely used classroom text, The Fiction Gallery (Bloomsbury USA). The former Program Manager at The Council of Literary Magazines and Presses, Thom currently serves as the Graduate Programs Coordinator at Virginia Commonwealth University.

Roxanne Halpine graduated from the MFA program at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro . Her work has appeared in the Greensboro Review, Hawai’i Pacific Review, and Zoland, among others. She lives and writes in Philadelphia

Rusty Keele is a computer programmer who lives in northern Utah with his wife and three kids. He has spent most of his life reading science fiction, comics and anthropology books. He runs several web sites, including one where he reviews a science fiction short story each week. You can find his blog at

Travis Kurowski is editor of Luna Park Review and soliciting editor for Opium Magazine. He teaches fiction at York College of Pennsylvania.

Dorothee Lang is a writer, web freelancer, traveller, gardener, and the author of “in transit”. She lives in Germany, edits BluePrintReview and Daily s-Press, and has been published in literary journals of the eclectic nano crow metazen kind. For more about her, visit her at

Judah Mahay was born and raised in the rustic backwoods village of Talkeetna, Alaska, and currently lives on Long Island. His writings have been published in numerous journals. In 2008, he won the North Shoreian Yearly Writing Contest and had his story “Lord of the Dome” made into a short film after winning a contest by WeMakeYourMovie. He is also the founder of the business community and resource The website has grown to over seven hundred artists and has published eleven video/audio podcasts, co-published ten articles with North Shoreian Magazine, and hosted the annual Be Your Art Writing Contest. In 2010, he was accepted to Robert Wilson's Watermill Center residency by a panel of internationally acclaimed artists to write his Watermill Grimoire. Find out more at

Erica Naone is an assistant editor at Technology Review, where she covers topics related to the Internet and computer software. Her novel Needle and Fang was shortlisted in the 2009 International 3-Day Novel Contest. She lives with her husband in Allston, MA. Her blog lives at

Karen L. Newman lives in Kentucky where she's an active member of Horror Writers Association and edits Illumen and Afterburn SF. Over three hundred of her short stories and poems have been published both online and in print in places such as Star*Line, Dreams and Nightmares, and The Pedestal Magazine. She writes a column for The Black Glove: Horror Culture and Entertainment and blogs for the Apex Book Company. Her poetry collections include EEKU (Sam’s Dot, 2005), ChemICKals (Naked Snake Press, 2007), and Toward Absolute Zero (Sam’s Dot, 2009). She won the 2005 Kentucky Mary Jane Barnes Award and two of her poems received honorable mention in The Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror. She's been nominated for a Rhysling Award, James B. Baker Award, and twice nominated for a Dwarf Star Award. Please visit her online at

Nick Ripatrazone’s recent work has appeared in Esquire, The Kenyon Review, West Branch, The Mississippi Review, and Beloit Fiction Journal. He holds an MA in English Literature from Rutgers-Newark, where he is currently pursuing an MFA. He is a staff writer for the Luna Park Review. His site is

Alexis Enrico Santí earned his MFA in Creative Writing from George Mason University.  His work has been published in the Word Riot, In Posse Review, Dark Sky Magazine, Prick of the Spindle, Cubista Magazine, Revista 22 and The Plum Ruby Review. He has masthead credits for over a dozen newspapers, newsletters and other publications.  Previous to founding Our Stories in 2006, he served on the boards of Phoebe, So to Speak, United and THEL.  He recently finished his first novel: a book about drug running, Hungarian gangsters and rock-and-roll entitled The Song of the Midnight Rider. He is the editor in chief of Our Stories ( the only peer review literary journal of its kind.  Every quarter he publishes an essay about his thoughts on writing, aimed at assisting developing writers.  He was a Peace Corps volunteer in Romania where he took care of street children, raised money for Outward Bound and taught English at a local school.  In 2006 he was awarded a prestigious translation grant from the Romanian Cultural Institute.  He's gave the following interview in 2007 to Mason's fiction program blog where he discuss the founding of Our Stories, publishing, MFA programs and "the craft". In the 2008 he was profiled the Pulteney Street Survey.

Beth Staples received her MFA in fiction writing from Arizona State in 2007, where she now works full time as Managing Editor for Hayden's Ferry Review and teaches an an intermediate short story writing class. Her work has recently appeared in Phoebe and The Portland Review, and she’s trying very hard to finish her novel.  

D. Antwan Stewart is the author of The Terribly Beautiful (2006) and Sotto Voce (2008), both Editor's Choice Selections in the Main Street Rag Poetry Chapbook Series. Recent poems appear in The Best Gay Poetry 2008, Callaloo, Meridian, Many Mountains Moving, Verse Daily and others. He is an assistant editor for the online poetry journal Anti- and lives in Knoxville, Tennessee, where he waits tables while working on his first full-length poetry manuscript.

Wayne E. Yang grew up in South Carolina, where he learned to eat grits the proper way: smothered with butter and sprinkled with salt. You can imagine his horror when he went to graduate school in upstate New York and saw people eating their grits with milk and sugar. His writing and photography have appeared in The North American Review, The Christian Science Monitor, The Asian Review of Books, The New York Times, The San Francisco Chronicle,, and other publications. He is a former associate editor at literary magazine Night Train. His web site is

There were also several judges who wished to remain anonymous.

Return to Million Writers Award main page