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2018 Holton Winners!

2018 Hugh Holton Winners Announced!

The 2018 Hugh Holton Award contest had 32 entries this year. As the coordinators of the Critique Program and Holton Award contest this year, we wish to thank everyone who participated. And a very special thank you to all of our judges who devoted their time and expertise to help make this year’s award such a huge success.

All entries were submitted and judged blind. The winner of the member category receives a prize of $250 and the winner of the non-member category receives a year’s membership to MWA and our chapter.

Member Category

Chosen by Terri Bischoff, Acquisitions Editor for Midnight Ink

Winner: Mia P. Manansala (Brew-ha Café )
Honorable Mentions: Keith Mulford (A Perfect Crime – An Oak Cliff Mystery) and Ben A. Harshman (A Curious Death in the Park)

“What I love about Brew-ha Café is the voice,” said Bischoff. “Sassy and funny. In just 14 pages the author conveys a ton of information about the main character – who she is, how important family is to her, her background that lead her home again. And of course, we have the murder. I totally love it. The writing is alive and fresh.”

Of Filipino descent herself, Mansala is working on a mystery series starring a Filipino-American sleuth who solves crimes in nerdy pop-culture-related settings. (Think Veronica Mars, but queer, Asian-American, and all grown up). A lover of all things geeky, Mia spends her days playing video games, reading cozy mysteries, and dreaming of becoming best buds with Wonder Woman and Kamala Khan (Ms. Marvel).

An excerpt from her winning entry:

My name is Lila Macapagal and my life has become a rom-com cliché.

Not many romantic comedies feature an Asian-American lead (or dead bodies, but more on that later), but all the trademarks are there.

Girl from an improbably-named small town in the Midwest moves to the big city to make a name for herself and find love? Check.

Girl achieves these things only for world to come crashing down when she walks in on her fiancé getting down and dirty with their next-door neighbors (yes, plural)? Double check.

Girl then moves back home in disgrace and finds work reinvigorating her aunt’s failing business? Now we’re up to a hat trick of clichés.

And to put the cherry on top, in the trope of all tropes, I even reconnected with my childhood sweetheart after moving back to town. Derek Winter, my first love.

Too bad he’d aged into a ridiculous jerk with a weird vendetta against my family. Pretty much tried to shut down my aunt’s restaurant on a weekly basis.

What can I say? I had exceptionally bad taste when I was younger. You’re dumb when you’re fifteen and hopped up on hormones.

Heck, I’m twenty-five and still make dumb decisions thanks to these same hormones.

Non-Member Category

Chosen by MWA Midwest authors Mary Lee Ashford, L.D. Barnes, Deanna Fowler, Dallas Long, and Bo Thunboe

Winner: David Wielenberg(Cause and Origin)
Honorable Mentions:Brian Ehorn (Devil’s Landing) and Tracey Phillips (Fractured Girl)

Wielenberg was raised on an assortment of dairy farms scattered throughout central Minnesota before he ran away to college and secured a life free of the bovine ball-and-chain. He works full-time with a beverage distribution company and is also a member of the Alaska Volunteer Fire Department and a state-certified fire investigator.

An excerpt from his winning entry:

The high beams of the rental car cut through the deepening darkness, but not well enough to make Nate comfortable.  He was a city kid, born and raised, even if it was a small city.  Pullman, Washington wasn’t huge, but it made the little burg he was currently staying in look like a metropolis.  Birch Creek, Minnesota was a quaint little town, but not one that he would ever have ventured to without having business there.

Nate moved his foot quickly from the accelerator toward the brake as he saw a reflection and a faint mass looming on the right shoulder of the two lane road.  He had already seen two separate groups of deer, one of which had bolted across his path at the last minute.  They were some stupid creatures, he thought.  This time it was nothing more than a mailbox, its curved metal stand looking like a body, the yellow reflector at the front like an eye.


Driving in the dark on an unlit road bordered closely by pine trees was not his definition of a good time, and he wondered again if he should even be out here. He needed to be at the airport in Minneapolis by noon tomorrow, which meant leaving early in the morning.  The last thing he wanted to do was hit a deer and miss his flight.  He slowed again as he thought he saw another group of deer, but this time there was nothing there at all.


He had been living in a hotel room for close to two weeks and he was in hurry to get home, though he wasn’t entirely sure why.  Life at home was going to be considerably different than it had been before the trip.  Most of his belongings were in storage and he would be spending the better part of the next week getting situated in his new apartment.


That was as good a reason as any to be out here, he thought, as he scanned the road ahead and its ditches carefully.  Once home, he would be getting back into the grind, the moving, the teaching, the writing.  Work.  God, he really didn’t want to think about that.  He had no idea exactly how awkward it was going to be at the university from here on out, but it was going to be awkward.  He wouldn’t have to see Ellie every day, but they would cross paths.  Between the break up and the book…  Yeah, awkward.  All were very good reasons to make this little excursion.

Congratulations to the winners and runners-up!

2018-12-01T08:04:41+00:00 December 2nd, 2018|Contests, Public|