Award Winners to the Winter Story Summits

Winter Story Summit Announces Awards for Gifted Writers

Winners will be joining the February Summit in the Caribbean

With the help of Michael D Publishers and Tito’s Handmade Vodka, Winter Story Summit announces 21 Awards to 21 participants to enable them to attend the writing summit taking place in February 2020.

Each season, Story Summit gathers award-winning professionals from across the globe to provide intimate, meaningful and productive relationships with screenwriters and authors in an inspiring, immersive and naturally beautiful environment.

Joining other writers on Royal Caribbean’s majestic Independence of the Seas, these award winners will take advantage of a writing week in tropical weather focused on art, commerce, craft, and community.

“We are pleased to make these announcements,” said David Kirkpatrick, Story Summit Founder and former President of Paramount Pictures. “ Every one of these writers deserves this opportunity. We have a two-year plan to make these summits completely scholarship-based. Until then, we are grateful to sponsors like Michael D Publishers and Tito’s Handmade Vodka for supporting the Story Summit’s vision. Storytelling is uniquely human. We want to invest in the future of story, and the way that’s achievable is to invest in future storytellers.”

Scholarships and Founder Awards were available in six categories: Moms@Work (working mothers), JumpStart (writers starting out), Dream on (Writers 50 or over), Best Inspirational Dog Stories (Tito’s Handmade Vodka), Non-Fiction (Michael D Publishers), and Satovsky Asset Management (for best book proposal). This is the wrap-up for the 21 winners of these awards.

This wrap-up does not include the Reading Is Fundamental scholarships. Literary material for that competition is still being reviewed. Also, there are a few Founder Awards yet to be announced ( in the coming two weeks).

As of this writing, there are no new scholarships available for the Winter Story Summit but there is some grant money that that could help reduce the financial exposure of attendance. Applicants can apply through this website portal. You will need to submit a literary work of at least 1,500 words.

Winners applied in 5 categories. They are featured in alphabetical order

“We have award winners from Poland, Canada, the USA, and Russia,” says Story Summit Director, Thom Black. “Our winners are from all walks of life and range from 23 years of age to 79 years of age. We are proud of every one of them. No applicant is turned away because of class, race, gender, age, or political affinity. The only qualifications necessary are a desire to write and a talent, however raw, to be able to deliver on that aspiration.”

The 21 winners listed excelled in the 6 competitions.

a) Alejandro Cornejo — Non-Fiction Founder Award for “Survival Guide”

“My mission in life is to positively impact the lives of people through inspiration, motivation, and empowerment,” says Alejandro Cornejo, winner of a Non-Fiction Founder Award. His funny and insightful book manuscript, “Survival Guide,” is based on his own experience in dealing with his wife extramarital affair.

“Understanding that our mind, body, and spirit thrive on struggle and challenge, I’ve used one of my most hurtful personal life experiences as a platform to share transformational tools and insights with others,” says Alejandro. “ I believe that our most painful experiences can become the doorway to growth and new levels of happiness if we have the courage to embrace them and learn all that we can from them.”

b) Annette Maxberry-Carrara — Moms@Work Scholarship for “Yalda”

A mother living in Austin Texas, Annette Maxberry-Carrara, won the top prize in the Moms@Work scholarships. Moms@Work Scholarships reward working mothers who possess unique writing talents.

Annette Maxberry-Carrara is writing a biographical adventure screenplay about her and her own “adopted” daughter, Yalda. “I am a writer, a storyteller, and I have countless stories to convey through film and literature, “ says Annette. “ I want to make meaningful films about the topics that will touch lives and bring humanity together. I believe the Winter Story Summit will expose me to the experts in film and literature, give me more confidence in my own abilities, and help make my writing clearer and more relevant. And I’m down for anything with free liquor.”

c) Bailey Patterson — Founder Award for his screenplay, “A Beautiful Life”

Bailey Patterson, a young videographer from Calgary, Canada, won a Founder Award for his touching, original screenplay, A Beautiful Life. Bailey has been writing movies since he was twelve years old and he’s still refining his craft.

“I know I am a good writer but, I want to be a great writer, “says Bailey. “ I strongly feel that the Winter Story Summit will enhance my ability on doing so. Storytelling is a puzzle, and I need some more experience in putting together the pieces.”

d) Carol Reedy Rogero — Non-Fiction Founder Award for her memoir, “Drifting Away”

Carol Reedy Rogero won a Founder Award for her lyrical memoir, Drifting Away. Carol writes on Medium and also blogs on This Pedestrian Life where she hopes readers feel a connection and find something inspirational that speaks to their heart and touches their soul.

Carol’s work has been published in Where Journeys Meet, The Voice of Women’s Poetry, an anthology edited by Catherine Ghosh. Her writing has also been featured on the web at The Tattooed Buddha, Women’s Spiritual Poetry Blogspot, The Manifest Station and Midlife at the Oasis.

e) Cathy Kinard — Dream On Founder Award for “A Motherless Child”

Cathy Kinard considers herself a “writer trapped in a nurse’s body.” Cathy is a lifelong critical care nurse, soon to enter her 44th year. Cathy won a Dream On Founder Award for her autobiographical work, A Motherless Child. The Dream On scholarship program celebrates writers 50 years of age or older.

Cathy has found her retirement job working in home infusion and mobile transfusion services. She is “a mother to 3 humans, and 7 felines.” At age 52, Cathy realized a childhood dream when she began to volunteer at least once a year on surgical missions in countries around the world.

f) Derek Larthey — Tito’s Handmade Vodka Award (male) Scholarship for his inspiring dog story, “Rescue Me”

Derek Larthey, a Pennsylvania public school teacher and an actor who has appeared in House of Cards and other series, won the Tito’s Handmade Vodka award for the best inspiration dog story in the men’s division. His screenplay is about a returning vet and a dog from Iraq who find salvation, stateside, in their relationship.

Derek is looking forward to the opportunity that the story summit provides for him. “I can learn from some of the best in the business,” Larthey says. “I have a mentor in Jeff Arch ( the Academy-nominated writer of Sleepless in Seattle ) who will not be shy about pointing out my mistakes, guiding me to expand my knowledge and hone my craft.”

g) Gail Lynn Heil — Non-Fiction Founder Award for her manuscript, “The Heroine’s Journey”

Gail Lynn Heil is a winner of a Founder Award for her biographical manuscript, The Heroine’s Journey. It is a powerful personal account of how Gail, rejecting much of Western medicine, embarked on a fascinating odyssey to heal herself from Lyme Disease through the power of the mind, and combining spiritual practices with holistic medicine (herbs/essential oils/food/prayer/meditation).

A former public-school teacher for 18 years, Gail Lynn Heil is on a mission to make a difference in the 43,000 American lives effected by Lyme Disease every year. “I feel my story could help others find hope and healing. If one person is saved, it’s worth telling the story.”

h) Izabela Borowska — Founder Award for her book manuscript, “ Soul Transplant”

Izabela Borowska , an award-winning writer and film director from Warsaw Poland, won a Founder Award for her fictional manuscript, Soul Transplant. Many of Izabela’s previous screenplays have been recognized at US competitions including the ScreenCraft Screenwriting Contest, Vail Film Festival Screenplay Competition, The Script Lab, and the Script Summit Screenplay Contest.

Soul Transplant is Izabela’s debut novel. “In the book,” says Izabela, “ I deal with topics in the field of genetics, heart transplantation and ‘genetic recombination’ , which have been studied by NASA in recent years. I’m also in contact with an employee of the NASA Exobiology Group who confirms the concepts and hypotheses I included in my book.”

i) Jane Sibbett — Michael D Publishers Non-Fiction Scholarship for her memoir. “About Jane”

Jane Sibbett, an actress best known for her role as Carol Willick, Ross Gelller’s first wife, in the iconic sitcom Friends, is the winner of the Michael D Publishers’ Non-Fiction Scholarship for her memoir, About Jane. The manuscript chronicles the amazing, 4-year journey that began when the actress learned that her hands were a conduit for healing. “The summit will allow me focus and time to get a better handle on the memoir.” Jane will be working with mentor and best-selling author, Debra Engle, who specializes in memoirs and has her new novel, Twenty, in bookstores in January 2020.

Jane and fellow actress, Jocelyn Jones, a professional acting teacher and creative consultant, tied for the non-fiction award scholarship. “We are honored to be able to acknowledge both authors for this award,” says Story Summit Mentor, Tab Murphy, the screenwriter of such animated Disney classics as Tarzan, Brother Bear, and The Hunchback of Notre Dame. “Both Sibbett and Jones are in command of their vision, and their writing is lively, entertaining, and eminently readable.”

j) Jocelyn Jones- Michael D Publishers Non-Fiction Scholarship for her memoir, “Artist”

Jocelyn Jones also won the top non-fiction scholarship prize for her memoir, Artist. Jocelyn’s memoir is not only an autobiography, but it is also an examination of the all-important creative process.

Born into an acting family, the world of imagination has always been a part of her life. Jocelyn has worked as an actress with such luminaries as playwright Christopher Hampton and director Clint Eastwood. She is also an in-demand acting teacher and creative consultant. Known as a “secret weapon” to some of the biggest stars in the industry, she has served as a confidential creative consultant, working on some of the highest-grossing pictures of all time. From advising artists on which projects to choose, to working with writing teams, to developing current and future projects, Ms. Jones’ consultant work has been considered an invaluable asset to many. In Artist, she finally shares the secrets of the creative process.

“Being chosen for the Michael D. Publishers award is an honor that has touched my heart in the most profound way,” says Jocelyn Jones. “Writers work in a vacuum. Ploughing through doubt and resistance of all kinds may well be the most challenging part of the job. To be acknowledged in this way breathes life into an artist. I am eternally grateful and looking forward to playing in the sun, surrounded by such outstanding company.”

k) Joyce Salter — Dream On Founder Award for her collection of fiction, “Late Night Playlist”

Joyce Salter won a Founder Award for her manuscript, Late Night Playlist. The fictional work has been described as a cross between Joan Didion’s Year of Magical Thinking and Nora Ephron’s I Feel Bad About My Neck. “Late Night Playlist strikes me as a commercial property,” says David Kirkpatrick, “The truth is that the majority of the books in America are bought by women over 40. Joyce’s project hits that sweet spot.”

“Late Night Playlist,” says Joyce, “is a collection of vignettes that all address the theme of women in the third act of their lives — a time when most women feel invisible and grocery clerks call them “m’am” and “sweetie.” A time when losses pile up and they must come to terms with their revised dreams.”

L) Keenan Eriksson — Satovsky Management Scholarship for his “Health Compilation Proposal”

Keenan Eriksson, 24, from Plano, Texas is one of our youngest award winners. Keenan’s scholarship is underwritten by Satovsky Asset Management. The management company advises on over $2 billion in assets and manages more than $500 million.

Keenan Eriksson is one of the top health and wellness writers for the highly respected Medium publication, Better Humans. Better Humans is a collection of writing on human potential and self-improvement, written by experts.

“Keenan had a health crisis three years ago. His body quit on him. His personal journey back to health is extraordinary reading,” says Thom Black, Director of the Story Summits. “Keenan became the ultimate bio-hacker, reading everything, learning, and experiencing methodologies that brought him back to strength.”

“I am thrilled for this opportunity,” says Eriksson. “ I have wanted to bring all my articles together for a first book and the summit will give me the chance to begin that process. I am eager to learn about structure and format from mentor, Debra Engle and the other mentors.”

m) LoriAnn Quasky — Founder Award for her work of fiction, “ Broken Picket Fences”

LoriAnn Quasky began her career writing songs, singing, and performing on the stages of her hometown of Rye, NY, a suburb of NYC. She became a critically acclaimed songwriter and recording artist who has received Billboard Awards, been a featured writer at the world-famous Bluebird Cafe, and was selected as a top finalist on Nashville Star.

In more recent years, her passion for telling stories through song has evolved into a deep love for screenwriting and novels. Now, as a mother of two, LoriAnn brings a newfound perspective to the table on life and motherhood. “As I have gotten older, I feel called to inspire & give hope to women through the different characters I create in my stories,” says LoriAnn.

Her Founder Award winning work, ‘Broken Picket Fences,” explores the bittersweet reunion of two young sweethearts. After not seeing each other for 20 years — love is reignited, old memories die hard and dark secrets struggle to find the light of day in a maze of choices. One of the early readers of the manuscript commented, “Broken Picket Fences has a beautiful ennui about it,” says summit mentor, Rosa Salazar, a top show runner and writer for Televisa. “There is a bittersweet quality that is extremely touching.”

n) Lulu McManus — Founder Award for “What Would Dolly Do?”

Lulu McManus was born and raised in Los Angeles. She was accepted into The American Film Institute, but enrolled in the University of New Orleans’ MFA film program instead, to study filmmaking in “the coolest city in the nation.” She has produced multiple shorts, reality pitches/pilots, and has worked on numerous features.

A 34-year-old mom of two daughters, usually wine buzzed, with an unapologetic outspoken demeanor, she brings the humor and heart to female driven stories. Reading What Would Dolly Do? was akin to reading the great Southern writers, Carson McCullers and Flannery O’Conner,” says mentor Rosa Salazar.

Lulu is working with an agent and producer in Los Angeles on multiple television and film projects as a screenwriter.

o) Maegan Sundlie — JumpStart Founder Award for “The Distance Between Us”

Maegen Sundlie attends university in New York City and is our youngest winner at the age of 21. JumpStart are for writers just getting started. Her award-winning manuscript, The Distance Between Us, is about her romance with a young man from Haryana, India. “Perhaps first love is like a meteor,” Maegan writes of her book, “you just hope it has a long trajectory.”

“The summit experience will provide me the high-caliber mentoring I need, “ says Maegan, “to not only to develop my first novel but also to help me construct the plot in a way that lends itself well to film.”

p) Mandi Lynn — Founder Award for “Sick and Twisted”

Mandi Lynn published her first novel when she was seventeen. The author of Essence, I am Mercy and She’s Not Here, Mandi spends her days continuing to write and creating YouTube videos to help other writers achieve their dreams of seeing their books published.

Mandi is the owner of Stone Ridge Books, a company that works to help authors bring their books to life through cover design and digital book marketing.

She is also the creator of The Book Launch Planner, a planner designed to help authors publish and market their books. When she’s not creating, you can find Mandi exploring her backyard or getting lost in the woods.

q) Natalia Alyukova — JumpStart Scholarship for “‘Method to Madness’”

Natalia Alyukova, 25, will be traveling from Moscow to the Caribbean to join the summit. Natalia’s winning screenplay, Method to Madness, is an historical drama about Ada Lovelace, Lord Byron’s daughter, who was a pioneer in early computer programming during the Victorian age.

“Ada lived a vivid, ambitious and imaginative life, full of personal drama and dreams about the future that we live in now,” says Natalia. “A period drama fan myself, I enjoy watching and reading stories about women, like Ada. I want to popularize their stories through films.”

Screenwriter, Tab Murphy, who himself, was nominated for an Academy Award for his historical adventure-drama, Gorillas in the Mist, will be mentoring Natalia at the summit in February 2020.

“It gives me hope to see a young woman with Natalia’s talent tackling big, universal themes,” says screenwriter, Tab Murphy. “ Natalia is an important young writer and I am fortunate to be working with her in this critical time in her development as an artist.”

r) Patricia Horan — Tito’s Handmade Vodka Scholarship (female) for “Give Us Your Paws”

Patricia Horan won the Tito’s Handmade Vodka Scholarship in the Women’s Division for her inspirational dog story, Bring Me Your Paws.

Jeff Arch, one mentor at the Winter Story Summit, said, “Patricia’s animated story, Bring Me Your Paws, about a flying dachshund who befriends the Statue of Liberty, is a loving tribute to our strength as a melting pot, and how the pure heart and soul of one little dog can remind us, especially in these conflicted times, who we are as a nation of immigrants and refugees.”

A forty-year veteran of New York book and magazine publishing, Patricia Horan is the founding editor of a longstanding Crown/Random House division. There, Horan developed, revised and reissued books and series, creating many perennial bestsellers. Among them are Gray’s Anatomy, the Blooper humor series, the Avenel classics and the Arthur Rackham series of distinguished children’s books.

She was a founding member of the pioneering and widely reviewed Westbeth Feminist Playwrights Collective, where Danny DeVito and Rhea Perlman first worked together on the New York stage. The plays and lyrics she wrote for Westbeth have been invited to the archives of the New-York Historical Society.

“I have been editing the work of others through mainstream publishing all these years,” says Horan, “and would like to feature my own original work now.”

Patricia Horan is the daughter of the late historian, novelist and Pulitzer Prize-winning newspaperman, James D. Horan.

s) Rubi Herrara — Tito’s Handmade Vodka Award for “Otto Van Bismark, the Pug”

Rubi Herrara is the Founder Award Winner for Tito’s Handmade Vodka for her screenplay, Otto Van Bismark, the Pug. Rubi’s animated musical carries a deeply personal message about the growing population of “abandoned dogs”, who, for several reasons, are left to fend for themselves by their original owners.

“This scholarship will allow me to have the opportunity to engage with industry professionals in order to polish my screenplay into a salable script,” says Rubi. “ I feel that this story has the potential to create awareness to the growing problem of dog abandonment, as well as the need to stop backyard breeding and the inhumane treatment these innocent pups endure at the hands of those breeders. I can’t fix the world, but I can try to encourage those who care to help against the cruelty to animals.”

t) Susan Hunter — Dream On Scholarship for “77 Letters”

Susan Hunter, a writer from Gallatin, TN and a mother of three, won the Dream On Scholarship for her manuscript, 77 Letters. Dream On Scholarships reward talented writers 50 years or older with an unrealized dream of bringing a story to life.

Susan’s working manuscript, 77 Letters, was chosen for the top prize in an extremely competitive field. Susan’s manuscript is based on the true story of Susan’s Boston-based mother, Joan, who during the controversial Vietnam War, spearheaded “Operation Morale Booster,” a mission to ensure that every G.I. received mail at weekly mail call.

“This story will be depicting the Vietnam Veteran in a way they have never been portrayed before,” says Susan Hunter currently working on the manuscript. “Not glamorizing an awful war with some fictitious story, but rather sharing a true story of humanity at its brightest during a dark period of our nation’s history.”

u) Teresa L Drosselmeyer — Dream On Founder Award for “Rhetoric of Silence”

Teresa Drosselmeyer is a Founder Award Winner for her searing yet often darkly-humorous manuscript, Rhetoric of Silence. A university professor, Teresa has long been interested in the silent response expected of women in an all too patriarchal era. Rhetoric of Silence “is deeply personal and highlights the injustice of a social era where women were brutalized simply because of their marital status,” says Teresa. “It is one that I have always wanted to tell for my children and grandchildren, one where I can reclaim the narrative and create a new identity that is void of shame and guilt. Our stories — each of our stories — need to be told.”

For all the manuscript’s power, Teresa is able to find the humor in circumstances. Two of Teresa’s most popular tags from her students are that she is both “inspirational” and “hilarious.”

“What so impresses me in this group of authors and their writings is the thoughtful meaning behind every one of these projects, “ says David Kirkpatrick. “People read and watch to be entertained, but they also want to be changed. There are some life-changing stories in the works here and I am thrilled to be a small part of them.”

Story Summits acknowledge, refresh, and inspire gifted writers in an immersive and inviting global setting. A stimulating community of successful writers guide Summit participants in completing writing projects, the goal being to launch scripts and novels as commercial products. Go here for more information on the summits.

For further information on the Winter Story Summit, you can contact us through the website.

To apply for a Winter Story Summit Grant, the application can be found here. Please remember to upload a 1500 words writing sample. Thank you.




Founder of Story Summit & MIT Center for Future Storytelling, Pres of Paramount Film Group, Production Chief of Disney Studios, optimist, author and teacher.

Love podcasts or audiobooks? Learn on the go with our new app.

Recommended from Medium

Page One: ‘Shakespeare in Love’ (1998)

How to be a Creepy Writer Guy

I Write But I’m Not a “Writer”

I’m Making $50 a Day on Hubpages With These Simple Articles

What’s the Point of Purposeless Writing?

How To Make Your Articles Really Attractive And Easy to Read and Digest

What to say

Interview (Audio): Scott Frank

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
David Paul Kirkpatrick

David Paul Kirkpatrick

Founder of Story Summit & MIT Center for Future Storytelling, Pres of Paramount Film Group, Production Chief of Disney Studios, optimist, author and teacher.

More from Medium

Reading for Those Moments When I Put the Book Down to Say Thank You!

You Didn’t Really Write Your Best Work

Absurdity, Electricity, & Poetry

All Protagonists Are Jesus; They Get Punished for Their Audience