Releases View of Fountain Square in Evanston, Illinois looking south-southeast towards Chicago and Lake Michigan (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Two Illinois Teens selected in Houghton Mifflin Harcourt writing contest

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Two Illinois Teens selected in Houghton Mifflin Harcourt writing contest

Global learning company Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH) today announced the 20 winners of the first-ever Spark a Story writing contest, a short story competition to find and encourage the nation’s best high school writing. Following a call for submissions from students across the country last summer, HMH editors carefully selected the top 20 stories based on their creativity, originality and overall quality of writing, and published them in an anthology titled Spark a Story: Twenty Short Stories by American Teens.

In the spirit of HMH’s Best American® series, the Spark a Story collection offers a diverse set of pieces from promising teen writers that feature dystopian world visions, macabre mysteries, families grappling with loss, coming-of-age tales with supernatural twists, and much more.

“The Spark a Story writing competition gave us an exciting opportunity to bring together HMH’s expertise in both the literary and education spaces to encourage and celebrate the next generation of American writers and storytellers,” said Bruce Nichols, SVP and Publisher, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Trade Publishing. “The resulting publication is an inspiring glimpse into the creative minds of today’s young writers and possibly tomorrow’s best-sellers. Congratulations to all.”

View of Fountain Square in Evanston, Illinois ...

View of Fountain Square in Evanston, Illinois looking south-southeast towards Chicago and Lake Michigan (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The contest winners are:

  • Tal Bajaroff, Miami, Florida, A Sixth Sense
  • Kayla Bernhoester, Maryland Heights, Missouri, Undoing Reality
  • Jaryn Blair, Phoenix, Arizona, The Gene
  • Niki Borghei, Los Angeles, California, Silent Words
  • Carlo Di Bernardo, Evanston, Illinois, The Sickle
  • Kyla Duhart, San Bernardino, California, The Unfortunate Tale of Sam Withersby
  • Adelle Else, Alexandria, Virginia, Dream World
  • Bethany Hall, Madison, Mississippi, Noli Me Tangere
  • Aamna Haq, Fremont, California, Only a Fool Would
  • Annie Hoang, Milwaukie, Oregon, Of Metaphors, Monsters, and Wild Thoughts
  • Morgan Levine, Houston, Texas, Arasing
  • Simon Liu, New Hyde Park, New York, All Westbound Trains
  • Aela Morris, Evanston, Illinois, A Portrait of the Artist as a Teenage Girl
  • Rushalee Nirodi, Fremont, California, The Cabin
  • Victoria Richardson, Humble, Texas, Black and White
  • Joshua Peck, Sherman Oaks, California, Etiam Doloris
  • Hannah Perry, Lake Orion, Michigan, Squish
  • Destiny Trinh, Fremont, California, The Letters
  • Grace Twomey, Apex, North Carolina, Sunday
  • Amelia Van Donsel, Waltham, Massachusetts, The Flood

In addition to becoming published authors, Spark a Story writers also received a cash prize from HMH.

To learn more about the 20 young writers or to order a copy of Spark a Story: Twenty Short Stories by American Teens, please visit

About Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (NASDAQ:HMHC) is a global learning company dedicated to changing people’s lives by fostering passionate, curious learners. As a leading provider of pre-K–12 education content, services, and cutting-edge technology solutions across a variety of media, HMH enables learning in a changing landscape. HMH is uniquely positioned to create engaging and effective educational content and experiences from early childhood to beyond the classroom.  HMH serves more than 50 million students in over 150 countries worldwide, while its award-winning children’s books, novels, non-fiction, and reference titles are enjoyed by readers throughout the world. For more information, visit

Ray Hanania

Ray Hanania is an award winning columnist, author and former Chicago City Hall reporter (1976-1992).

He is the recipient of four (4) Chicago Headline Club Lisagor Awards, the 2009 Sigma Delta Chi Award for journalism, and was named Best Ethnic American Columnist by the New America Media in 2007.

His personal web page is The Daily Hookah at (and

Hanania writes a weekly syndicated column for the Arab News in Saudi Arabia and is the managing editor of the American Arab online news website,

His mainstream columns are published in Chicago's Southwest Side and Suburbs in The Regional News, The Reporter Newspapers, the Southwest News-Herald and the Des Plaines Valley News.

Hanania is the managing editor of Suburban Chicagoland Online News website

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