The storySouth Million Writers Award
Notable Stories of 2008

Here they are: The best online short stories published during 2008.

Many thanks to the editors and readers who nominated a story. And a big thanks to the preliminary judges who screened the nominations and/or nominated their own lists of favorite stories: Jackie Corley, Thom Didato, Caitlin Horrocks, Dorothee Lang, Robert Laughlin, Krista McGruder, Erica Naone, Tripp Reade, Cynthia Reeser, Nick Ripatrazone, Alexis Enrico Santí, Beth Staples, D. Antwan Stewart, and Wayne E. Yang (along with the three judges who wished to remain anonymous). I should also make note of my comments at the bottom of this page about a few flash fiction stories which again sneaked into this year's list.

The top ten stories of the year will be released May 15th, 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:

  • Overall winner: $500
  • Runner-up: $200
  • Honorable mention (third place): $100

If you are curious about my comments on these notable stories as I read them over the coming weeks, 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

  • Narrative Magazine wins this award by having eight notable story selections. Narrative is the highest paying online market for literary fiction, which obviously allows the magazine to publish a large number of established authors. More importantly (in my opinion), they also run an innovative story of the week program, which not only publishes newer writers but also promotes these writers to Narrative's large mailing list.

Million Writers Award for best publisher of novella-length fiction

  • The usual suspects in online novella-length fiction continued their runs in 2008, with the standouts being Narrative Magazine and The King's English, along with (to a lesser degree) Jim Baen's Universe and Subterranean Magazine. However, it doesn't seem right to award any of them the award. While I believe The King's English continues to be the best online magazine devoted solely to novellas, they only published two stories last year (although they are gearing up for much more in 2009, having recently published a great winter issue). As for Narrative, they won the overall award, while the other magazines appeared to publish fewer novellas than in previous years. As a result, this time I will not hand out the novella award.

Million Writers Award for best new online magazine or journal

  • Cha: An Asian Literary Journal wins the award for best new online magazine. As the "first and currently only Hong Kong-based online literary quarterly journal dedicated to publishing creative works from and about Asia," Cha released their first issue in late 2007, followed by four top-notch issues last year. Each issue of Cha showcases the tastes of a changing roster of guest editors, who are selected from the ranks of writers previously published in the journal. The runner up for best new magazine was Beneath Ceaseless Skies, which hit the ground (skies) running in late 2008 and is already a top online SF/F market.

The Notable Stories of 2008

3AM Magazine


5 Trope

Aberrant Dreams

Abyss & Apex



Arch Literary Journal

Apex Magazine

The Apple Valley Review

Atomjack Magazine

Baen's Universe
(Note: These stories can only be accessed with a subscription)

Bear Creek Feed

Beneath Ceaseless Skies


Boston Review

Cafe Irreal

Carve Magazine

Cezanne's Carrot

Cha: An Asian Literary Journal

ChiZine: Treatments of Light and Shade in Words

Clarkesword Magazine



Drunken Boat

The Dublin Quarterly

Eclectica Magazine


The Exquisite Corpse



Fantasy Magazine

Farrago's Wainscot

Fiction Weekly


Freight Stories

FRiGG: A Magazine of Fiction and Poetry

Front Porch Journal



Hayden’s Ferry Review


Hot Metal Bridge

Identity Theory


Keyhole Magazine

The King's English

Lamination Colony

Literal Latte

The Literary Review


Lone Star Stories

Lost Magazine


Menda City Review

New Mississippi Review


Narrative Magazine

New Ohio Review

Night Train

On the Premises

Orange & Sardines / Poets & Artists

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

Our Stories


The Paris Review

Per Contra Fiction

Pick of the Spindle


Plots with Guns


Publishing Genius Press

Rope and Wire


Serendipity Magazine

Smokelong Quarterly

Still Blue Project

Stirring: A Literary Collection



Strange Horizons



Summerset Review

Theaker's Quarterly Fiction

Thieves Jargon

The Thrilling Detective Web Site


Toasted Cheese

Underground Voices

Unlikely 2.0

Wheelhouse Magazine

Word Riot

Words Without Borders

The Workplace Anthology

Additional information

Jason Sanford says, "There are three stories in this list which clock in under 1000 words. Last year I was virtually attacked for allowing this since the MWA rules clearly state only stories over 1000 words are eligible. Mindful of last year's outrage, I told the preliminary judges to keep their selections to stories longer than 1000 words. Despite this, three nominations came in under that--one by only a few words, two by a significant numbers of words. My first instinct was to kick out these stories. However, the simple truth is they are good stories, so what the hell, let's list them. The reason the Million Writers Award has a minimum word count is to focus the award on longer format stories. But I also have little desire to override a decision made by a preliminary judge, especially if it concerns a good story. I doubt this explanation will satisfy anyone, so feel free to savage me online."

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).

Jackie Corley is the editor and publisher of Word Riot. Her collection of short stories, The Suburban Swindle, was published by So New in October 2008. She maintains a personal website at

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.

Caitlin Horrocks’ debut short story collection, This is Not Your City, won the 2008 Spokane Prize for Short Fiction and will be published in Fall 2009 by Eastern Washington University Press. Her fiction also appears in The PEN/O. Henry Prize Stories 2009, The Paris Review, Tin House and elsewhere. She lives in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Dorothee Lang is founder and editor of BluePrintReview, an award-winning experimental online journal. Her work has appeared in The Mississippi Review, qarrtsiluni, Pindeldyboz, eclectica, Pequin, juked and numerous other places. Currently, she participates in an international group novel project. She lives in Germany, her website is:

Robert Laughlin lives in Chico, California. He is the creator and administrator of the Micro Award, the only competition for previously published flash fiction. Mr. Laughlin's short story, "In the Evening Made" was a Million Writers Award Notable Story of 2006, and his first novel, Vow of Silence, was released by Trytium last December. His author website is

Krista McGruder has a farm in Eagle Rock, Missouri.

Erica Naone is an assistant editor at Technology Review, where she covers topics related to the Internet and computer software. Her fiction has appeared in Coyote Wild, On The Premises, and Storyglossia. She lives with her husband in Allston, MA. Her blog lives at

Tripp Reade's fiction has appeared in such publications as the anthology Rebellion: New Voices of Fiction, and the journal 42opus, and includes a 2005 Million Writers Award notable story. He has fiction coming out in the May issue of Fourteen Hills, occasionally reviews books for Paste, and is a recent graduate of the Queens University MFA program.

Cynthia Reeser, Editor-in-Chief and founder of Prick of the Spindle, is a freelance writer and web designer whose book reviews can be found on NewPages, Tarpaulin Sky,, and in other places througout the web. Her poetry is present or forthcoming in 42opus, elimae, DOGZPLOT and temenos; and her artwork can be seen at She holds degrees in Music (Piano Performance) and in English Literature. Her poetry chapbook, Light and Trials of Light, is forthcoming from Finishing Line Press sometime in 2009.

Nick Ripatrazone’s recent work has appeared in The Kenyon Review, where he was third prizewinner in the 2008 Short Fiction Contest, and is forthcoming in The Saint Ann’s Review and The New York Quarterly.  He holds an MA in English Literature from Rutgers University, Newark , where he is currently pursuing an MFA.  He is a staff writer for the Luna Park Review.

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.  He is the editor in chief of Our Stories ( the only peer review literary journal of its kind.  Previous to founding Our Stories in 2006, he served on the boards of Phoebe, So to Speak, United and THEL.  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 is a writer / photographer. He is also a former associate editor at Night Train. His web site is

There were also three judges who wished to remain anonymous.

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