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2019 Short Story Contest

Cook Publishing, led by the Chatelain Press Imprint, had an outstanding turnout for our 2019 Short Story Contest. We are happy to showcase the talented finalists below and their works. We have sincerely enjoyed reading the eclectic collection of short stories linked below. We hope you do as well!

Short Story Contest Finalist - Daddy’s Girl by Joe Congel

About Daddy’s Girl

“Daddy’s Girl” was selected as one of our finalists for both the quality of the writing and the themes explored in the work. Joe Congel explores the psyche and responses of a deeply disturbed woman who finds a body floating in her pool. And in so doing, her dark past is also revealed. The ending leaves the reader with a feeling of horror as we realize the cycle is about to be perpetuated yet again. 

About Joe Congel

Joe Congel grew up in Syracuse, NY and currently lives in beautiful Charlotte, NC. He got his first break in the world of publishing when he illustrated the humorous book, Housetraining Your VCR, A Help Manual for Humans, published by Grapevine Publications back in the early 90's.

A few years after Housetraining set the world on fire, Joe decided that he was better suited as a writer rather than as an artist, so he began crafting stories that allowed the reader to use their own imagination to add the visuals to the narrative. 

Since he's enjoyed reading murder mysteries and PI detective stories all his life, he felt he had a pretty good grasp on how to create an engaging character in the world of private detecting. DEAD IS FOREVER is the first book in the Razzman Files - Tony Razzolito PI series. The book is set in Syracuse, NY and Charlotte, NC, with upcoming books in the series concentrated more in and around the Charlotte area. Joe is uniquely qualified to write about both areas of the country since he lived in Syracuse for 36 years and Charlotte for the last 20 plus years.

Follow Joe on 
and on Twitter: @JoeCongelAuthor

Joe Congel on Amazon

Short Story Contest Finalist - Through the Window by Bethany Martin


About Through the Window

Bethany Martin’s story "Through the Window" begins innocently enough with a young couple buying their first home in light of the impending birth of their first child. But their dreams of happiness become something much darker as a former resident of the home has other plans for their family. Ms. Martin’s easy dialogue and suspenseful buildup to the climax of the story keeps the reader engaged, and the ending leaves one with a chilly feeling of horror as to what is to become of this young family. Drawing on themes of the unknown, both in life and beyond, the story catches the reader’s attention from the beginning and holds it until the unsettling conclusion. 

About Bethany Martin

By Bethany Martin

Bethany Martin is a university student from Scotland. Growing up in the Highlands gave her a fascination for fairies and things that go bump in the night. She has been writing speculative fiction since she could hold a pencil.

Follow Bethany on Twitter: @ascottishbee

Learn more about Bethany at

Short Story Contest Finalist - From the Waters by Ashleigh Hatter

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About From the Waters

An interesting and somewhat familiar story which serves as a metaphor for the writing process. The protagonist struggles with his inner demons and the source of his muse. Creepy elements add to the atmosphere of this short story which explores a tortured psyche and the ability to tell stories. This story will reach fellow writers.

About Ashleigh Hatter

Ashleigh is a regular contributor for Drunken Pen Writing online, as well as a featured writer for Gallows Hills horror magazine. When not creating poetry and fiction, he can be found wandering around the forests near his home, or in his kitchen trying out new recipes for his family.  

Follow Ashleigh on Twitter: @AshleighHatter

Ashleigh’s Website:

Short Story Contest Finalist - Flourish by Lauren Leach-Steffens


About Flourish

A story about past lives intersecting with the present, and how second chances are a reality. Lauren Leach-Steffens examines how cultural differences may play a role in relationships, and through the characters’ dialogue, the reader begins to understand their past history and what brings them together in the present. 

About Lauren Leach-Steffens

Lauren Leach-Steffens has been a writer since her third-grade teacher posted her Groundhog Day poem on the classroom door. She has pursued many forms of writing over the years – poetry, lyrics, essays on spirituality, research articles – and has recently turned to fiction. When she is not writing, Lauren is an associate professor in human services at a small midwestern university, and she shares a house with her husband, Richard, and six cats.

Follow Lauren on Twitter: @lleachsteffens

Short Story Contest Finalist - Pieces by The Secret Submissive

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About Pieces

We chose “Pieces” as one of our finalists for the contest because it’s an engaging blend of erotica, metaphor, and science fiction. The tale of the woman in the story is also a tale of self discovery – examining what she has been through to see who she has become and weaves together both past and present to arrive at her final conclusion.   

About The Secret Submissive

The Secret Submissive is a British Indian author of honest and immersive erotic fiction, who was born n’ bred in Yorkshire. She is best known for writing A Taste of Submission – a 5-star one-handed-reads collection, which is available exclusively on Amazon Kindle and Kindle Unlimited.  

Taking inspiration from her real-life experiences and desires, TSS explores the thrills and plights of young women, as they explore the daunting yet alluring world of BDSM. She is passionate about communicating the importance of trust, equality and consent, within a relationship, and is a strong advocate for the eradication of abuse under the guise of BDSM. With this in mind, TSS’s stories will always feature healthy Dom/Sub relationships that challenge and reinvent the stereotypes of ‘normality’ that we are so often fed by society.

To learn more about The Secret Submissive, visit her Author Page here

Follow TSS on Twitter @TSubmissive

Short Story Contest Finalist - Strangers in the Jardin D’Ete by Dale Rominger


About Strangers in the Jardin D’Ete

Dale Rominger’s tale “Strangers in the Jardin d’Ete” is the story of a chance meeting in Arles between an American man and a French woman after his vacation plan have gone a bit awry. Rominger uses dialogue and description to draw the reader into this interaction between two people separated by language yet still drawn to each other.    

About Dale Rominger

Originally from the United States, Dale Rominger moved to the United Kingdom in 1987 where he lived for almost thirty years. He has been an educator, speaker, world traveler, consultant  and writer. He has traveled extensively worldwide assisting in development projects and creating educational and exposure programs with international partners. Now retired, he lives in Seattle with his wife, Roberta, reading, writing, managing his website, and cooking.  

Dale has published five books, including The Woman in White Marble and The Girl in the Silver Mask, both Drake Ramsey mysteries. His website, The Back Road Café (, features many writers from several countries around the world. Dale’s blog, Café Talk, can also be found at The Back Road Café.

Overall Winner - Bethany Martin ‘Through the Window”

Cook Publishing is proud to announce Bethany Martin as the overall winner of the “New Beginnings” Short Story Contest. Read more about Bethany on our blog here.

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