Libraries Short Story fall 'Witching Hour' contest winners announced

The Witching Hour graphic
Credit: Penn State

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — The winning writers of Penn State University Libraries Short Stories’ “Witching Hour” fall 2020 contest have been announced. Representing six Penn State campuses, the latest writing contest challenged students, faculty and staff across the commonwealth to unleash their best original short stories or poetry on the "witching hour" theme.

“I was worried about submission turnout, especially since this is such a chaotic time. I thought people might’ve, understandably, lacked the motivation to write for a contest,” said Leigh Montes, editorial board managing editor and senior English major. “However, ‘The Witching Hour’ had the second highest submissions of all our contests — which is amazing — and I’m glad it provided some joy.” 

Each of the three Libraries Short Stories Editorial Board winners and the People’s Choice winner will receive a $100 Visa gift card. All winning stories, including honorable mentions, will be added to the Libraries’ Short Edition short-story dispensers, located around the University Park campus and six campus libraries, and at Schlow Centre Region Library

The People’s Choice winner “The House on Winthrop Ave" received the most online reader votes via the Libraries Short Stories website during the contest. Author Brennan Leitch is a counselor education graduate student studying at Penn State’s University Park campus, from Cleveland, Ohio.

The Libraries Short Stories Editorial Board winners, chosen by the all-student editorial team and listed alphabetically by title, are:

— "Day-Breaking,” a short story by Teresa Murphy.

— “Mirrors in the Dark,” a short story by Leorah McGinnis, a master’s student studying international affairs at University Park, from Denver, Colorado.

— “Needles,” a short story by Marcelle Thomas, a junior studying English and German at University Park, from Northampton, Pennsylvania.

— “Yee Naaldlooshii,” a short story by Jaret Kelly, a senior marketing student at Penn State Behrend, from Erie, Pennsylvania.

Honorable mentions, chosen by the all-student editorial team and listed alphabetically by title, are:

— “All Hallow’s Eve,” a poem by Brandon Muzyka, a graduate student studying higher education at Penn State World Campus, from Glassboro, New Jersey.

— “Ana’s Chorus,” a poem by Amanda Malizia-Hicks, a senior at University Park studying labor and human resources, from Lake Panamoka, New York.

— "Dracula’s Library," a short story by Michelle Baker, assistant teaching professor of advertising and public relations in the Bellisario College of Communications at University Park.

— "Heartbeat," a short story by Sabin Bottomstone, a junior writing and digital media major at Penn State Berks, from Myerstown, Pennsylvania.

— "He Who Wanders," a short story by Robert “RJ” Thomas, a freshman communications major at Penn State Berks, from Sinking Spring, Pennsylvania.

— "Nittany Jack," a short story by Rebecca Horwittt, childhood education assistant for the Arboretum at Penn State, University Park. 

— "Only in Whispers Does It Speak," a poem by Brianna "Brii" Schillings, a junior studying criminal justice at Penn State Abington, from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. 

— "Patrol Duty," a short story by Rebecca Philippe, a sophomore studying criminal justice at Penn State Abington, from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. 

— "Picture Perfect," a short story by Lindsey Combs, necropsy and receiving technician at Penn State Animal Diagnostic Lab, University Park.

— "Welcome Home, Son," by Lisa Baldi, director of Strategic Communications , Penn State Berks.

To read all entries from the fall 2020 contest, as well as past contest submissions, visit the Libraries' Short Stories website at . Anyone with a Penn State email address and anyone from Centre County, Pennsylvania, can sign up for an account to submit original creative works to the site, and can vote for and also leave reader comments on other writers’ stories. Centre County writers not affiliated with Penn State will have their work considered for distribution from Schlow Centre Region Library’s Short Edition short-story dispenser, and some will have their work added to the University Libraries’ nine other short-story dispensers, along with other previous contest winners.

Penn State Libraries short-story dispensers at the University Park campus can be found at: 

  • Paterno Library entrance
  • Pattee Library mall entrance
  • Grange Building entrance at Pollock Road
  • Physical and Mathematical Sciences Library, 201 Davey Lab

In addition, Penn State Libraries short-story dispensers also are at, or near:

  • Schlow Centre Region Library, State College, Pennsylvania
  • Penn State Abington College Library  
  • John M. Lilley Library at Penn State Behrend
  • Berks Thun Library at Penn State Berks
  • John D. Vairo Library at Penn State Brandywine
  • Penn State Harrisburg Library

Due to COVID-19 restrictions, some short story campus dispensers may be inoperable. Visit this link for up-to-date information about dispenser access, for voting, or for more information about writing contests.

Questions about the Libraries Short Stories writing contests, the Libraries Short Stories online platform, or short-story dispensers’ curricular or co-curricular use can be directed to Student Engagement Coordinator Hailley Fargo at [email protected].