Ariel Gore just returned home to Santa Fe from a tour promoting her new book, We Were Witches. The semi-autobiographical work is her first full-length novel, but she got into the publishing world by producing zines and says that's still a great place for both her work and that of new writers. Just this week, she released a coloring book, The Art Life.

Gore tells SFR she saw commonality among the fiction entries she judged.

"I love that there is this cowboy-noir aesthetic in all of them, and the theme of displacement was really present in most of the stories. I wondered if that was part of the prompts, but it wasn't; it was a natural theme that came up in a lot of the stories," she says. "I thought it was interesting that people were playing with these very Santa Fe motifs, even if they were not set here. Maybe it has to do with the overall political climate, too—this kind of tension between dystopia and life."

For Hampton Sides, who got his start as a published writer in the Memphis Flyer alt-weekly and now specializes in historical narrative books, reading personal essays was striking.

"They were very heartfelt," he says of the three winners he chose, "and it felt like there was a quality of memoir to all three of them. They are first-person and very passionate and very personal. It's a kind of writing that I myself have done very little of. I have been more comfortable as a reporter than sort of turning the camera on myself."

Read more from Sides in 3 Questions.

First-place winners received $100 prizes; second place, $50 gift certificates to Cacao Santa Fe; and third place $20 at Chocolate Maven. Join the SFR gang to hear the winners at Out Loud, a free event at 6:30 pm Dec. 6 at Meow Wolf (1352 Rufina Circle, 395-6369).