Adult Short Story Contest

Leeya Mehta is a poet and fiction writer. Her column on the writing life, “The Company We Keep,” runs online in The Independent Review of Books. Mehta grew up in Mumbai, India, and was a Radhakrishnan Scholar at Oxford University. She lives in Washington, D.C., where she works in international development. Links to her short stories, essays and poems can be found at


Joe Oppenheimer’s writings focus on feelings of injustice, loss, friendship, nature, aging and the foibles of life. For 40 years, he was a professor of mathematical and experimental social science and philosophy, mainly at the University of Maryland. He retired to write fiction, poetry and drama. He assisted a writers’ group at Progress Place, a homeless shelter in Silver Spring, and currently leads a weekly writers’ workshop at the Washington DC VA Medical Center. His work has been published in literary reviews, including Origins Journal, Scarlet Leaf Review and Corvus Review, and on his website, He lives in Chevy Chase.


Seema Reza is the author of A Constellation of Half-Lives and When the World Breaks Open. The Rockville resident is the executive director of Community Building Art Works, a multihospital program that encourages the use of the arts as a tool for narration, self-care and socialization among a military population struggling with emotional and physical injuries. Her writing has appeared online and in print in The Los Angeles Review, The Offing, and Entropy, among others. She has performed poetry across the country at universities, theaters, festivals, bookstores, conferences and at one fine mattress shop.



High School Short Story Contest

Sandie Angulo Chen is an entertainment journalist, film critic and book reviewer. She’s been writing about movies, books and pop culture for more than 20 years, contributing to outlets such as The Washington Post, Kirkus Reviews, Common Sense Media, Entertainment Weekly, Moviefone, HuffPost and Variety. She is a committee chair for the children’s literature nonprofit We Need Diverse Books and a part-time bookseller. Chen lives in Silver Spring.


Laura Scalzo is a graduate of Syracuse University. Her flash fiction has appeared in journals and online literary magazines, including Hobart, Ellipsis Zine and the 18th Annual Writer’s Digest Short Short Story Competition. She is the author of The Speed of Light in Air, Water, and Glass, a young adult novel published in October 2018, and is currently working on a novel for adults, The Nights and Days of Chry and Dare. She lives in Northwest Washington, D.C.


Lisa Schamess is a longtime educator of high school and college students, and the author of Borrowed Light. She has published short stories and essays in Creative Nonfiction, TOSKA Magazine, Defunct, Welter and Antietam Review. She blogs on Medium, both under her own name on mindfulness, politics and history, and also about debt and culture as “The Traumatized Budget.” She lives in Silver Spring.



Adult and High School Essay Contests

Revital Aranbaev has been a freelance writer and editor for more than a decade. She began her career as a journalist and had pieces published in various newspapers, including The Jerusalem Post. Aranbaev teaches writing classes at American University, including a writing course she developed that’s focused on the science of happiness. Aranbaev was born in Tel Aviv, Israel, raised in New York and now lives in Washington, D.C.


Kathleen Seiler Neary lives in Kensington and is an associate editor at Bethesda Magazine. She has been a writer and editor for more than 20 years. She has worked for magazines including George and Ladies’ Home Journal, and her writing has appeared in The Washington Post, Parenting and other publications.


Richard Peabody, who was born in Washington, D.C., raised in Bethesda and now lives in Arlington, Virginia, wears many literary hats. He taught at Johns Hopkins University for 15 years. His Gargoyle Magazine (founded in 1976) will release volumes 70 and 71 this year. He has edited or co-edited 26 anthologies, including Mondo Barbie and A Different Beat: Writings by Women of the Beat Generation. Guinness on the Quay, a new poetry volume by Peabody, was recently published by Salmon Poetry in Ireland.