Rick De Marinis Short Story Contest 2018

    Cutthroat Literary Magazine


    "Air Drop"

    Excerpt from: AIR DROP


    The Smoke and Feathers VIP Lounge is at the back of the club and you can only get in with a lot of money and a password. She watches him watching her behind her gold and black mask. She leans her elbows against the bar. Watches him scan her body, the lean long muscles, the flat stomach. She reaches around for her drink so he can take in her high ass.

    Here, he’s not a senator. She walks over to the jeweled jukebox and pushes buttons. Can’t Take My Eyes Off Of You. She lifts her chin at him. He stands up, sticks his hands in his pockets. As she walks over, he smiles his disarming smile, overdoes the drink slur to cover his nerves,

    --You wanna dance?

    --You have to get me to come to you. Get up. Sing with Frankie.

    She walks back to the bar, props her elbows and leans back.

    Write Well Award, Silver Pen Writers

    2018 Anthology

    "Fishers of Men"

    (nominated by december literary magazine)


    If another boat comes, like Ryker says, the captain will tell us, You know what those SAR80s are for, boys. I will be the first to shoot and the captain will be so proud of me that he will give me another special hat, like the last time. I shot two men. They tried to come on board. They had a small boat and they wanted our boat because it is bigger. The captain told them to go off. They wouldn’t listen and so he told us to fire. And I shot first. They fell backwards. One fell into the sea and got sucked under into the motor. It was a terrible noise and the motor broke. We had to paddle the boat to shore for repairs.

    Everyone was given permission to visit our families for one day. But I couldn’t go to my home.

    When I first told my mother I was going to join the captain she became very angry with me. I told her not to worry. We have good weapons and cannot get caught. And if we do, the captain can just pay the judge and we will go free. Everyone knows this.

    But when I came from the first trip and gave her the money she was still angry,

    --Galad, I am your mother but I hide my face when the others talk about pirates. All this big-talk. But it is a bad thing. Your father would be shamed.


    NOTE: You can order the anthology here!

    Lorian Hemingway

    Short Story Competition 2018


    "Meanwhile the Forests Continue to Die"



    She’s seen too many of them, the bonny boys, loud in the way that boys are because they are afraid of not being heard. When they throw their legs over furniture or kick a hole in the screen door what they mean is, I am here but I don’t know if I am here. They’re hit/ scolded/thrown out/called a shame to the family, and they land on the other side of the foot/belt/door.

    There’s a whole tribe that come tromping through the forest in search of drugs or love or sympathy or who knows what kids want these days. She sees them, beating and blatting and tearing through the trees, the city ones that don’t know a bush from a bus.


    Katherine Anne Porter Prize for Fiction 2018


    "Meanwhile the Forests Continue to Die"


    She leads him through the forest, away from the path, away from the animal trails. They climb over charred, fallen trees, around the remains of burned bush. He wonders if this is where he will die. He has been lured to his death by the smell of chicken. If he does manage to escape he doesn’t know where he is. The sun filters weakly through the wet leaves. Where is north? What good would it do to know?



    50GS Magazine, The Empathy Issue

    Spring 2018



    When goats hear bombs they shake like babies. They have difficulty standing. Their milk stops. They can go blind.


    The goat’s heart has atria like two small ears. You can dissect it easily.

    You can also cook it and eat it. There are YouTube videos for both options.


    What is it like to eat the heart of some other creature? Do you think about the heart beating inside the owner just before it was killed by a bomb, a machete, a man with a small caliber weapon? A heart that has died from fear will taste different from a heart that is unaware of approaching death.


    You can read the whole lit mag here.



    2018 radio novel-in-progress

    FISSURES OF MEN is the sequel to THE GEOGRAPHY OF KITCHEN TABLES and follows Cebo’s journey after he is awarded a two-semester scholarship to Cal State Channel Islands. He moves from a South Africa that is still in turbulent recovery from apartheid, to a post-election turbulent America dealing with political and social issues that have exacerbated cultural and racial divisions. I'll be recording found sounds with single instruments to layer over some of the sections. And that's about all I can say right now since I'm wrassling with the first draft!



    We will start…

    … on an airplane. Even that is not true because it started before the airplane. But an airplane is a good place to start because you feel you are also in the airplane and we are going somewhere together.

    We are in row, 68. There are three sections and three passengers in each section. I am in the “I” seat—next to the window. Did my mother spend extra money so I could sit in this privileged seat?

    In the last weeks before I left Alex, I was afraid of everything: how to find the way in the airport, how to find my seat, how to put the seatbelt on. And then I was afraid I would die.

    The dream that I have every night in the week before I leave: the plane takes off and then crashes—a big fire over Johannesburg. How long does it take to die in such a crash. What do I think about as I fall? Probably: Fok. I am dying and I never arrived in California.

    TRIP WIRES, story collection

    Leapfrog Press Fiction Award 2017

    June 2018


    TRIP WIRES travels around the world, with stories, many in children's voices, set against turbulent socio-political backdrops from Afghanistan to Syria to Columbia to America. The terrain is different in each story, but all of these young people face the dilemma of being without resources even as they try to find and maintain relationships.


    Click here to buy a copy.


    Interview with Cassidy McCants, Nimrod International Journal here.


    Interview with San Diego Writers Ink here.


    Excerpt from "Against the Stranger":


    --You Pathan.

    Heartstop and careful finger off the trigger. I didn’t hear him. What’s wrong with me?

    Skinny boy, yellow pants dragging in the dirt, head tilted far back to stare down his nose.

    It’s one of those quiet deployments on the Afghanistan border. We’re on the outskirts of the outskirts. If we were any further on the outskirts we’d be pants.

    One of those bombed-out towns just like you see in movies, except this one has three-leg goats that hobble and chew through the trash, and fat-tailed sheep with deep red furrows ploughed through their fleeces. Some of the little kids say nothing. Some of them shake. A lot of them shake. Their hands, their heads. One kid’s knee shakes like it’s a small flag.

    SMALL CHANGE, fiction chapbook

    Gold Line Press Competition 2016


    Copies at my book store, below, or at Small Press Distribution.


    Audio preview here!

    A boy crawls through a tunnel in the Gaza Strip to bring back supplies to his family and neighbors despite the high risk of the tunnel being flooded, gassed, or bombed. On the eve of the Arab Spring in Libya, a girl and her best friend disguise themselves as boys to train for a school sports competition, knowing that if they’re caught they will be severely punished. Four young girls, three of them pregnant, decide to escape their abusive husbands and attempt to cross from Morocco to Spain.


    Set against these turbulent backdrops, the children’s voices, apolitical, remind the reader of the distilled best of human relationships. With no resources and armed with only loyalty, guts, and tenacity, they risk their lives for their friends.



    Novel set in post-apartheid South Africa

    Jan, Boer, and Motsumi, Zulu, marry in the heady post-apartheid days of Nelson Mandela's presidency. Despite their parents' objections, Jan and Motsumi settle into their life and have 2 kids, believing in a glowing, post-racial future. When Jan's promotion gives them the chance to move to a better neighborhood, they face considerable racial slurs and threats. A street gang attacks their nine-year-old daughter, Liseli, and the family begins to unravel. This story examines the roots of where we come from, and the astonishing strength, and capacity for love and forgiveness of children.



    I stepped over the leaking plastic bag, and wrenched the gate open. A short, bald, red-faced man, startled eyes, dry old mouth open, skittering backwards in his tackies. I reached back, grabbed the bag by the knot and turned back to see him disappearing down the alleyway by our house that lead to the backfield. I ran after him as he tried to sprint, his fake Nikes turned out, his old bowed legs struggling, waving both hands like he was trying to stop a bus. Finally he stopped and turned around, gasping, sweating,

    --Go away

    I took two more strides and launched the stinking bag. Gaping astonishment as it split and splattered over shoes, pants, shirt.

    --You—you fokken bitch—

    --I have returned what is yours. Literally masimbakho. Your shit.


    This novel is in-the-wings. Hoping it moves onstage soon!


    July 2014

    Arjun Kulkani brings his family to North West London, England, after Indian Independence. While he struggles to fit in, his family adapt almost seamlessly. When he is diagnosed with spinal muscular atrophy, he suffers a further loss of identity. Even as his body fails, Arjun gains more understanding of his youthful impatience, his careless cruelty to his family, and how to love even those he doesn’t like.



    Sometimes Sunila goes to stand at the bottom of the garden pretending to tidy up the compost heap, and allows the forbidden thought to come: divorce. She can only whisper it. It’s a bad word. Bad people do it. But in the Women’s Own magazine at the doctor’s office, she read that Elizabeth Taylor had done it. She’d done it so many times that it was just part of her normal routine. Get up, put on face cream, divorce Richard. How daring it sounds, so chic.


    Click here to buy a copy.


    Collaboration with Lisa Sanders, fine artist



    The Girl and the Shedding Fox has been picked up for three exhibitions in 2019!

    Prose-poetry and fine art

    On the edge of the forest, the river, the village

    The Girl watches and listens

    She knows about the Shedding Fox

    Who lives on the edge of the forest, the river, the village

    And she tells no one

    Because of the sharp dangerous edge of the word alone


    I recorded the narrative with the amazing Paul Tavenner. I've also completed the first set of short videos of people wearing a Japanese fox mask that are part of the installation.

    The next set of videos will be of Yavapai College students, faculty, and staff. This is SO going to rock!

  • Shop Now


    To contact me directly, please use the form below.


    September 11 2018, University of Tulsa

    Thanks to Kathy for this opportunity to chat (and chat and chat) about writing! Interview here.



    TRIP WIRES, short stories

    Foreword Reviews

    Book of the Day 6/13

    Leapfrog Press, June 2018

    These stories follow young people and children as they struggle for survival in turbulent settings across the globe, from Afghanistan to Los Angeles.

    Order here.

    Press: Nimrod International Journal interview with Cassidy McCants here.


    Metaphorical prose is abundant, achieving a poetic quality while evoking profound emotions and creating lifelike characters. Racism, classism, and injustice are captured in ways that ignite justified feelings of rage. TRIP WIRES is a beautifully written collection, both poetic and melancholic.

    Deeply moving in their confrontations of unimaginable tragedies, each story evokes a bold, emotional response.

    --Kate Asher, Foreword Reviews


    This is what life looks like when conflict repaints the canvas against which [the] characters seek love, family and a moment's stability. [Sandra Hunter's] keen eye for twinned details―the fleeting safety of an imam's lap is set against a prayer rug in the back room of a California suburban home, far from neighbors' eyes―lends this collection a rare power and poignancy. Not to be missed.

    --David Rocklin, The Night Language


    In spare and unflinching prose, the stories in TRIP WIRES depict children and young adults struggling to deal with the brutal consequences of war and social upheaval. I am deeply grateful to Sandra Hunter for the courageous and sympathetic way she tells these young people's tales.

    --Jean Hegland, Into the Forest


    Within this poignant collection, there’s a thread that compels her characters to reach for survival, and it’s this gossamer wire, these small miracles of love, that electrify her stories.

    --Shilpa Argawal, Haunting Bombay



    Sandra Hunter writes with unflinching honesty and a profound love of humanity. Passionate and visceral, I found myself reading a line over and over tasting the power and stark poignancy of this collection ripping apart the wounds of injustice, racism, separation, the turbulence of human relationships and more.

    --Prem Kishore


    Each short story of Trip Wires packs a huge emotional impact on the reader. There are themes of survival, humanity and loss of ordinary people caught in extraordinary circumstances. Ms. Hunter brings awareness to these real-life situations and encourages the reader to learn more.

    --Kathy Jonokuchi


    Trip Wires by Sandra Hunter is excellent, empathetic, terrifying hard writing, and I was riveted by it. Each short story burns like a fuse headed straight toward explosives and I couldn't put it down. No lie, I missed out on a day of cycle commuting because I wanted to read on the metro instead of having to put down this gripping collection and take up my handle bars.

    --Philip Dawkins


    Gold Line Press, August 2016

    SMALL CHANGE does what great fiction should do. Rather than strive for newness for the sake of novelty, or reinvent language to showcase the writer’s chops, it approaches language in a new way because the material—struggling for life and love in the Middle East—demands it. Fresh, invigorating, and profound, I hope you enjoy these stories as much as I did.

    --David Treuer

    Fiction judge of the 2016 Gold Line Press Competition


    Each of Hunter’s three stories does what stories should do, using small moments in time to touch larger themes. Here the touching, sometimes tactile, sometimes cerebral, sometimes brutal, sometimes beautiful, presses against the Middle East, a place where turmoil too often touches its people. SMALL CHANGE points to big change with quiet grace, touching hard places and hopeful places.

    --Adam Berlin

    Author of BOTH MEMBERS OF THE CLUB, THE NUMBER OF THE MISSING, BELMONDO STYLE, and HEADLOCK. He teaches at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, and is editor of J Journal: New Writing on Justice.


    Complete review by Adam Berlin at Word Riot here.

    October 22, 2016.


    Audio preview: Interview with Camille Bradshaw of Gold Line Press: Interview with Natalie McNair of Speaking of Marvels:

    Video of Why There Are Words May 11 2017, reading.



    I was so gripped and moved by those three stories, and they've continued to haunt me.

    --Jean Hegland


    The voices are unique and yet hit me in my solar plexus. The topics are today's topics and written in a way that people can feel at one with the characters.

    --Joan D


    This is a 'small' book which could 'change' your understanding of childhood, as viewed from the perspective of children from other cultures who are facing adult challenges.

    --Amazon Customer

    These pics can be downloaded free. Please credit Zena Fairweather for the first two, Michelle Wing for the fourth one and Matthew Callender for the fifth one.

    Bios for re-use

    50 words

    Sandra Hunter’s stories have won the 2018 Lorian Hemingway Short Story Competition, 2017 Leapfrog Press Fiction Award, 2016 Gold Line Press Chapbook Prize, and three Pushcart nominations. She is a 2018 Hawthornden Fellow and the 2017 Charlotte Sheedy Fellow at the MacDowell Colony. Books: TRIP WIRES, stories, fiction chapbook SMALL CHANGE, and debut novel, LOSING TOUCH.



    90 words

    Sandra Hunter’s fiction has won the 2018 Lorian Hemingway Short Story Competition, 2017 Leapfrog Press Fiction Contest, 2016 Gold Line Press Chapbook Prize, October 2014 Africa Book Club Award, and three Pushcart Prize nominations. She is a 2018 Hawthornden Castle Fellow and the 2017 Charlotte Sheedy Fellow at the MacDowell Colony. Books: LOSING TOUCH, a novel (July 2014), fiction chapbook, SMALL CHANGE (June 2016), fiction collection TRIP WIRES (June 2018). She teaches English and Creative Writing at Moorpark College and runs writing workshops. Favorite dessert: Salted Caramel Insanity from Donut Friend.



    150 words

    Sandra Hunter’s fiction has won the 2018 Lorian Hemingway Short Story Competition, 2017 Leapfrog Press Fiction Contest, 2016 Gold Line Press Chapbook Prize, October 2014 Africa Book Club Award, and three Pushcart Prize nominations. Her story "Fishers of Men" was included in the 2018 Write Well Award Anthology. Her story “Finger Popping” won second place in the 2017 Katherine Anne Porter Prize in Short Fiction. Her story collection TRIP WIRES was published in 2018, the chapbook SMALL CHANGE was published in 2016, and her debut novel LOSING TOUCH was published in 2014. She’s just finished her second novel THE GEOGRAPHY OF KITCHEN TABLES set in post-apartheid South Africa, and is working on the sequel FISSURES OF MEN. She is a 2018 Hawthornden Castle Fellow and the 2017 Charlotte Sheedy Fellow at the MacDowell Colony. Sandra Hunter lives in Ventura, California where she teaches English and Creative Writing and runs writing workshops. Favorite dessert: Salted Caramel Insanity from Donut Friend.


    300 words

    Sandra Hunter is the author of LOSING TOUCH (2014), a novel about immigrant Indians settling into 1960s London and examines the double loss of identity through immigration and chronic disease. Her short story collection, TRIP WIRES (2018), won the 2017 Leapfrog Press Fiction Contest. It presents voices of young girls and boys—some of them children—set against turbulent socio-political backdrops such as Afghanistan, Syria and Colombia, Paris, Los Angeles, and an unnamed apocalyptic land. SMALL CHANGE (2016), won the 2016 Gold Line Press Chapbook Competition. The three stories, set in Palestine, Libya, and Morocco, are told in children’s voices. With no resources and armed with only loyalty, guts, and tenacity, they risk their lives for their friends.

    Recent works include stories such as “Meanwhile the Forests Continue to Die”, winner of the 2018 Lorian Hemingway Short Story Competition; "Fishers of Men" included in the 2018 Write Well Award Anthology; “Finger Popping”, 2nd place, 2017 Katherine Anne Porter Prize in Short Fiction; and “A Girl Needs Spiked Shoes”, Enizagam October 2017. She is a 2018 Hawthornden Castle Fellow and the 2017 Charlotte Sheedy Fellow at the MacDowell Colony.

    Sandra has just finished her second novel THE GEOGRAPHY OF KITCHEN TABLES set in post-apartheid South Africa. It follows the story of an interracial couple who marry in the rainbow glow of Nelson Mandela’s election. When their 9 year-old daughter, Liseli, is bottle-raped by a gang, the post-traumatic stress threatens to shatter the marriage. She is currently working on the sequel FISSURES OF MEN that follows one of the characters as he studies abroad in America.

    Sandra teaches English and Creative Writing at a community college, runs writing workshops, and gives readings and presentations at writing festivals and conferences. Favorite dessert: Angry Samoa from Donut Friend.



    • 2018 Winner Lorian Hemingway Short Story Competition for “Meanwhile the Forests Continue to Die”
    • 2018 Hawthornden Castle Fellowship
    • 2017 2nd place Katherine Anne Porter Prize in Fiction, for "Finger Popping"
    • 2017 Winner, Leapfrog Press Fiction Contest, for collection TRIP WIRES
    • 2017 Charlotte Sheedy Fellow, MacDowell Colony
    • 2016 Gold Line Press Fiction Award for chapbook SMALL CHANGE
    • 2014 Africa Book Club Award for excerpt from THE GEOGRAPHY OF KITCHEN TABLES
    • 2014 H.E. Francis Short Story Competition for "Against the Stranger"
    • 2013 Women's Domination Short Story Competition for "Human Voices Drown Us"
    • Finalist, 2018 Rick De Marinis Short Story Contest for "Air Drop"
    • Semi-Finalist, 2018 Katherine Anne Porter Prize in Fiction for "Meanwhile the Forests Continue to Die"
    • Nomination Pushcart Prize 2018 by december Magazine for "Fishers of Men"
    • Finalist, 2017 Enizagam Fiction Prize, for "A Girl Needs Spiked Shoes"
    • Hon Mention 2016 New England Book Festival, for chapbook SMALL CHANGE
    • Short list 2016 Bridport Prize, for "Fishers of Men"
    • Finalist 2016 Curt Johnson Prose Awards, for "Fishers of Men"
    • Finalist 2016 Cupboard Pamphlet Prize for collection CROSSING THE WIRES
    • Semi-finalist 2015 Lascaux Prize for "30 Below"
    • Semi-finalist 2015 Horatio Nelson Fiction Prize for collection CROSSING THE WIRES
    • Finalist  2015 Nelson Algren Award for "Jewels We Took With Us"
    • Finalist 2015 Tucson Book Festival Literary Awards for "Natural Sex:
    • Semi-finalist 2014 Tucson Book Festival Literary Award for collection SMALL CHANGE

    Professional Memberships: PEN America, Association of Writers & Writing Programs, Hedgebrook Cedar Deep Giving Circle, Women's Writers Project, Women's National Book Association, American Association of University Woman.


    Agent: Celia J. Taylor-Mobley and Simon Lipskar, Writers House


    Work stuff: I found this stone on a bench during a hike at Rocky Peak. It's symbolic of what's going on with the novel-in-progress: interesting and engaging and hard as **!! to get into!

    Looking forward to a few days respite over the Winter Break and then back to the attack.


    Yum stuff: Donut Friend date this week. Salted Carmel Insanity here I come.

    Random stuff: The script for Mrs. Maisel?!! Love love LOVE that first episode. Re-reading Ondaatje's luminous WARLIGHT.

  • WHAT'S HAPPENING 2018/2019


    Date: April 5, 2019

    Time: 8:00am-5:00pm

    Place: Moorpark College, 7075 Campus Drive, Moorpark

    The second Moorpark College Writers Festival!

    Early bird registration: $65

    Contact: Tracy Stewart 805 553 4761

    Here's your incredible line-up of teachers for the 2019 festival: David Rocklin (fiction), Liska Jacobs (zines queen), Mark Sarvas (fiction), Meliza Banales (poetry and performance), Christiana Morgenroth (stand up comedy), Crystal Salas (poetry). All teachers accepting manuscript submissions for one-on-one feedback with registration: $65 early bird!



    Date: May 16-August 4, 2019

    Place: Spartanburg Art Museum, 200 E St. John Street, Chapman Cultural Center, Spartanburg, SC 29306-5124

    Partial installation: Lisa's shed sculptures and my recorded narrative, will feature in the exhibit A Gallery of One's Own at this beautiful South Carolina museum.


    Date: June 7-29, 2019

    Place: Durango Arts Center, 802 E 2nd Ave, Durango, CO 81301

    Delighted that Durango Arts Center has selected our installation. Looking forward to seeing lots of Instagram pics of people wearing fox masks and making their own!


    Date: Fall 2019

    Place: Verde Art Gallery, Yavapai College, Yavapai, AZ

    The Girl and the Shedding Fox land in Yavapai! I'll be heading out to AZ, prior to the opening, to video students, faculty and staff wearing a Japanese fox mask. These vids will be part of the installation. Look out for Instagram pics!


A Proud Member of the Greater Los Angeles Writers Society