& TOM NETHERLAND
• A local historian and author, he released a book of ghost tales in September. A resident of Bristol, Va., Phillips writes a column about Bristol history each Sunday in the Bristol Herald Courier. Phillips is also in demand as a speaker on various subjects relating to the Twin City.
• Netherland works as a freelance journalist. His articles appear regularly in the Bristol Herald Courier in addition to scores of newspapers, magazines and websites. He lives, writes and photographs in his native Bristol, Tenn.
Judges' comments: "Frozen Halloween" won amid a large collection of strong stories. It crept to the top thanks to the author's spellbinding tale, which captivated such that it read with the speed of scared soul with a hellhound on his trail. The author employed a story that hooks the reader, reeled them in with wonderfully deceptive storytelling devices and then delivered an unexpected twist that sealed "Frozen Halloween" as the winner.
& GINNY GRANT
• A graduate of the ETSU Master's Storytelling program, Emmert is best known in the region as the Haint Mistress of Abingdon, where she has been telling about the town's ghosts and history along Main Street for 14 years. Her "Abingdon Spirit Tour" has been featured in numerous travel periodicals throughout the south. She is also an author and adjunct professor at Virginia Intermont College.
• Grant's series of "Campfire Stories" (Aug. 22-Oct. 3, Bristol Herald Courier, Community section) sparked the idea for the (Mildly) Scary Story Contest. By day, she works for the Washington County, Va., Public School System as an instructional aide assisting students with writing. By night she lets her imagination wander, creating stories which keep young listeners on the edge of their seats. Her stories are "meant to be a little spooky, but not too scary like the kind that causes nightmares."
Judges' comments: The decision was a difficult one with so many good stories. "A Bad Bet" and "Are You Scared Yet?" just rose to the top.