Announcing the winners of our Fiction & Essay Contest |

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Winning Writers Newsletter - October 2021

View Free Contests

We found three dozen excellent free poetry and prose contests with deadlines between October 15-November 30. In this issue, please enjoy Elizabeth Bishop's famous villanelle, "One Art", illustrated by Julian Peters.

Tamako Takamatsu and Megan Falley

CONGRATULATIONS to the winners of our 29th annual Tom Howard/John H. Reid Fiction & Essay Contest! Tamako Takamatsu submitted the winning story, "The Pastures of My Eccentric Uncle", and Megan Falley submitted the winning essay, "The Act of Vanishing". They each received $3,000 and a gift certificate from Duotrope. We also awarded ten Honorable Mentions. This contest received 2,513 entries from around the world. Denne Michele Norris selected the winners, assisted by Mina Manchester. See our press release about the winners and read the winning entries with the judge's remarks.

Our new fiction and essay contest is open now. Duotrope rejoins us as a co-sponsor, and we will again award $8,000 in prizes. Ms. Norris is retiring from the contest for a well-deserved rest and to devote more time to her new role as Editor-in-Chief of Electric Literature (congratulations!) We will announce our new final judge later in the fall. The contest deadline is April 30, 2022.

View past newsletters in our archives. Need assistance? Let us help. Join our 135,000 followers on Twitter and find us on Facebook. Advertise with us, starting at $40.

Featured Sponsor
Uncharted Magazine Horror/Thriller Short Story Award

Deadline: October 31

Writers are invited to submit your spookiest unpublished short stories. Guest judge Benjamin Percy will choose three winning stories from a shortlist. We're excited to offer the winner of this prize $3,000 and publication, while the 2nd and 3rd place winners will receive publication and $300 and $200, respectively along with publication.

Mr. Percy is the author of five novels—most recently, The Ninth Metal (Mariner Books)—three story collections—including Suicide Woods—and a book of essays titled Thrill Me that is widely taught in creative writing classrooms.

Uncharted Magazine publishes Horror/Thriller Short Stories from fiction writers of any background or experience. We want stories that keep us up at night, afraid to turn the corner. Stories that take us into the resonant fear of looming monsters and haunting ghosts. We want stories that thrill us by keeping us on the edges of our seats, hearts pounding, wondering how it will end! Stories with characters who refuse to stay in the shadows! We want stories that thrill us, that make us feel alive, that awaken our desires to explore and go on adventures.

Learn more and submit!

Recent Honors and Publication Credits for Our Subscribers

Congratulations to Ruth Thompson (featured poem: "Pine Trees in Tennessee"), Chen Du, Judy Juanita, Mark Scheel, J.C. Todd (featured poem: "It's War, Fadwa Says"), J Brooke, Kayleb Rae Candrilli, John Reinhart (featured poem: "Attack of The Saurus"), Gail Thomas, Yvonne, Emily Rose ColeCeline Aenlle-RochaKatie Bickham, Annie Dawid, Phyllis Klein, Konstantin N. Rega, Michael House, Brian M. Mich, and R.T. Castleberry.

Learn about our subscribers' achievements and see links to samples of their work.

Have news? Please email it to

Ad: Social Media for Writers with Gila Pfeffer

Interested in growing and maintaining your social media presence? Humorist and essayist Gila Pfeffer speaks with Leigh Stein about the importance of social media for writers, with insight on how she sustains and expands her cross-platform audience of 25k+ followers. Read the interview and follow Gila on Instagram and Twitter. Here are some quick tips:

  • Share other writers' content and always tag/credit properly
  • Be polite
  • Think about what value you add to the lives of your audience members. Do you entertain? Inspire? Educate?
  • Find a supportive community, one person at a time. Your people are out there. Make the effort, it will be so worth it. Take initiative and create engagement/sharing groups on your platforms.
  • Don't focus on the number of followers; focus on engagement (how much interaction your posts generate) and identifying your "thousand true fans", i.e., the people who like, comment, react and DM regularly. Those are the people who will buy your books and talk about you to their friends. Never take their attention for granted.
  • Never punch down (aka don't be an asshole)
  • Be authentic; people can smell BS
  • Think about what tone/message you want to convey about your brand—and yes, you ARE a brand, like it or not—and be consistent. Think about consistent fonts, colors and filters.
  • Don't be afraid to change things up and experiment with new content.
  • At first you'll feel awkward and dumb posting videos and photos of yourself. You'll get over it soon enough. I certainly did.
  • Pay attention to trends in content (e.g., Reels are doing well because Instagram is pushing them, video content and stories are more popular than static posts)
  • Generate quality, relevant and compelling content
  • Have fun!
Gila Pfeffer

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Ad: The Missouri Review's 31st Annual Jeffrey E. Smith Editors' Prize

The Missouri Review's 31th Annual Editors'Prize


$5,000 Fiction | $5,000 Nonfiction | $5,000 Poetry

Winners receive a cash prize, publication, promotion, and a celebration in their honor. Submit one piece of fiction or nonfiction up to 8,500 words or up to 10 pages of poems. Enter online or by mail. All entries considered for publication. Regular entry fee: $25. All-Access entry fee: $30. Winners will be announced in early 2022.

Each entrant receives a one-year subscription to the Missouri Review in digital format (normal price $24) and a digital copy of the fifth title in our imprint, TMR Books, Private Lives, a new anthology of stories that first appeared in TMR (normal price $7.95). All-Access entrants receive access to the last decade of TMR digital issues, which are accompanied by audio recordings of each issue's features.

Read a prizewinning story by Melissa Yancy, an essay by Peter Selgin, and a selection from poetry winners Katie Bickham, Kai Carlson-Wee, and Alexandra Teague.

Ad: 2021 "Matter" Poetry Contest

'Matter' Poetry Contest

Deadline: October 30

"Several members of the Winning Writers community have done well at Oprelle, most notably our former contest judge Ellaraine Lockie, winner of Oprelle's 2021 Poetry Masters Contest. I encourage you to enter!" —Adam Cohen

Something of substance for really great writers! Any topic or style is welcome.

Even though this anthology will be called Matter, all that is expected is that your poetry reflects emotions and thoughts coming from the depths of you. You need not write about a particular word. We just want you to know that your talent with words can matter to others.

Submit 3-40 lines in any style, on any topic. Fee per entry: $15. The winners will be announced on November 20, 2021.

1st Prize – $300 and prime 2021 Matter anthology placement (back cover). Free copy of anthology and a featured position for a minimum of one week on Oprelle's website.

2nd Prize – $200 and prime 2021 Matter anthology placement (first page). Free copy of anthology.

3rd Prize – $100 and prime 2021 Matter anthology placement (last page). Free copy of anthology.

Finalists (up to 150) will receive publication in Matter and a free digital copy.

Learn more and submit.

• Joy Harjo Poetry Prize
• Barry Lopez Nonfiction Prize
• Rick DeMarinis Short Story Prize


Reading Period: August 31-November 1

$1,500 First Prize, $300 Second Prize, Honorable Mention


GUIDELINES: Please go to our website and submit poems and stories through our online submission manager on the Submissions Page. Submit up to 3 poems (100 line limit/one poem per page) or one short story or one creative nonfiction piece (5,000 word limit/double spaced) in 12-point font. NO AUTHOR NAME ALLOWED ON ANY MS. There is a $23 nonrefundable entry fee per submission.

UNPUBLISHED WORK ONLY! No work that has already won a prize is eligible. No former CUTTHROAT prize-winning author may enter the contest he or she has previously won. Enter as often as you wish. Multiple submissions okay, but we must be informed immediately of acceptances elsewhere. Finalists considered for publication. Winners published in CUTTHROAT and announced on our website, in POETS & WRITERS, and WINNING WRITERS. No relatives of or staff members of CUTTHROAT nor close friends, relatives, or students of judges are eligible to enter our contests. See our website for more information. WE RECOMMEND YOU READ A COPY OF CUTTHROAT BEFORE ENTERING OUR CONTESTS.


"The Way Things Are Going in Liberty, Utah" by Sunni Wilkinson of Ogden, Utah
Joy Harjo Poetry Prize

"Speak to Me of Love" by Linda Lucero of San Francisco, California
Rick DeMarinis Short Story Prize

"Legally Speaking, Rats Aren't Even Animals" by Timothy DeLizza of Baltimore, Maryland
Barry Lopez Nonfiction Prize

Ad: Carve Magazine's Prose & Poetry Contest

Carve Prose & Poetry Contest

Deadline: November 15

Carve Magazine's Prose & Poetry Contest accepts submissions from all over the world. Prizes: $1,000 each for fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. Length limits: 10,000 words for fiction and nonfiction; 2,000 words for poetry. Entries must be in English. Entry fee: $17.

Guest judges are Lydia Conklin for fiction, Julietta Singh for nonfiction, and Jihyun Yun for poetry. All three winners will be published online and in print in Spring 2021. Honorable mentions and semi-finalists will be listed online for up to 6 months. All work submitted will also be considered for non-contest publication.

Learn more and submit online.

Ad: Jeff Marks Memorial Poetry Prize

Deadline: December 1

DECEMBER MAGAZINE seeks entries for our 2022 Jeff Marks Memorial Poetry Prize. Judge Grace Cavalieri is the author of 26 poetry collections, the Poet Laureate of Maryland, a playwright, and the producer of "The Poet and the Poem" on Public Radio. Prize: $1,500 & publication (winner); $500 & publication (honorable mention). All finalists will be published in the 2022 Spring/Summer awards issue. Submit up to 3 poems per entry. $20 entry fee includes a copy of the awards issue. For complete guidelines please visit our website.

December, founded in 1958, has a distinguished legacy of publishing the early work of little-known writers and artists, many of whom became major literary figures, including Donald Barthelme, Marvin Bell, Stephen Berg, Rita Mae Brown, Raymond Carver, Stephen Dunn, Donald Hall, Michael Harper, Donald Justice, Ted Kooser, Philip Levine, Joyce Carol Oates, Marge Piercy, William Stafford, C.K. Williams, Charles Wright, and James Wright.

December Magazine

Ad: 2022 Hefner Heitz Kansas Book Award (no fee)

2022 Hefner Heitz Kansas Book Award

Ad: Rattle Chapbook Prize

Deadline: January 15, 2022

The annual Rattle Chapbook Prize gives poets something truly special. Every year, three winners will each receive: $5,000 cash, 500 contributor copies, and distribution to Rattle's ~8,000 subscribers. In a world where a successful full-length poetry book might sell 1,000 copies, the winning book will reach an audience eight times as large on its release day alone—an audience that includes many other literary magazines, presses, and well-known poets. This will be a chapbook to launch a career.

And maybe the best part is this: The $25 entry fee is just a standard subscription to Rattle, which includes four issues of the magazine and the winning chapbook, even if it isn't yours. Rattle is one of the most-read literary journals in the world—find out why just by entering! For more information, visit our website.

We congratulate our three winners from our 2021 contest:

  • Gil Arzola, The Death of a Migrant Worker (September 2021)
  • Amanda Newell, I Will Pass Even to Acheron (December 2021)
  • Elizabeth Ambrose Johnston, Imago, Dei (March 2022)

Please enjoy the title poem from Gil Arzola's winning chapbook:

The Death of a Migrant Worker

Ad: Now Open for Submissions: The DISQUIET Literary Prize

Disquiet Literary Prize

Deadline: January 24, 2022

Submissions are now open for the DISQUIET Literary Prize! This contest is for writing in fiction, nonfiction, or poetry by a writer who has not yet published more than one book with a major press. The first prize winners in each genre will be published:

One grand prize winner will receive a full scholarship including tuition, lodging, and a $1,000 travel stipend to Lisbon in 2022 (June 26-July 8). Genre winners will receive a $500 cash prize in addition to publication. Reading fee: $15.

Read the full contest guidelines and enter at Submittable.

Ad: 2022 William Saroyan International Prize for Writing

William Saroyan Prize for Writing

Entries must be received by January 31, 2022

Submissions are now being accepted for the 10th William Saroyan International Prize for Writing. Two prizes of $5,000 each are given for works of fiction and nonfiction. The awards, co-sponsored by Stanford Libraries and the William Saroyan Foundation, are intended to encourage new or emerging writers and honor the Saroyan legacy of originality, vitality, and stylistic innovation.

Submit five copies of your work published between January 1, 2020, and December 31, 2021, with a $50 entry fee by January 31, 2022. Writers who have published four or more books are ineligible. Visit the Saroyan Prize website for complete eligibility and submission details.

Congratulations to our 2020 Fiction Winner Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenya for Friday Black, and our 2020 Nonfiction Winner Jennifer Croft for Homesick. View our complete list of 2020 winners and finalists.

Ad: Call for Indie Book Entries - 80+ Categories

Entries are now being accepted for the 2022 Next Generation Indie Book Awards, the most exciting and rewarding book awards program open to independent publishers and authors worldwide who have a book written in English and released in 2020, 2021 or 2022 or with a 2020, 2021 or 2022 copyright date. The Next Generation Indie Book Awards are presented by Independent Book Publishing Professionals Group.

With 80+ categories to choose from, enter by February 11, 2022 to take advantage of this exciting opportunity to have your book considered for cash prizes, awards, exposure, possible representation by a leading literary agent, and recognition as one of the top independently published books of the year!

Spotlight Contests (no fee)

Some contests are best suited to writers at the early stages of their careers. Others are better for writers with numerous prizes and publications to their credit. Here is this month's selection of Spotlight Contests for your consideration:

Emerging Writers
Benjamin Franklin House Literary Prize. UK residents aged 18-25 can win prizes up to 750 pounds for short fiction or essays of 1,000-1,500 words on a question exploring Franklin's relevance in our time. 2021 theme is the Benjamin Franklin quote: "Without Freedom of Thought, there can be no such Thing as Wisdom; and no such Thing as publick Liberty, without Freedom of Speech." Entrants should interpret this quote for its significance today. Due October 31.

Intermediate Writers
Treehouse Climate Action Poem Prize. The Academy of American Poets will award up to $1,000 to US poets for previously unpublished poems of any length that "help make real for readers the gravity of the vulnerable state of our environment at present". Also, the top three winning poems will be published in the Academy's Poem-A-Day digital series, reaching 500,000 readers. Poems may be submitted in Spanish but must be accompanied by an English translation. Performance or Spoken Word poets may submit their work via video. Due November 15.

Advanced Writers
Gotham Book Prize. Howard Wolfson and Bradley Tusk will award $50,000 for a full-length book of fiction or nonfiction published during the calendar year that either is about New York City or takes place in NYC. Nominate a book by completing the online form. Due November 1.

See more Spotlight Contests for emerging, intermediate, and advanced writers within The Best Free Literary Contests database.

Search for Contests

Calls for Submissions

Winning Writers finds open submission calls and free contests in a variety of sources, including Erika Dreifus' Practicing Writer newsletter, FundsforWriters, Trish Hopkinson's blog, Erica Verrillo's blog, Authors Publish, Lambda Literary, Lit Mag News RoundupPoets & Writers, The Writer, Duotrope, Submittable, and literary journals' own newsletters and announcements.

Black Lawrence Press: Immigrant Writing Series
(literary manuscripts by 1st & 2nd generation immigrants to US - October 31)

(poems "grounded in humanity" - October 31)

Nimrod International Journal: "What Now?" Issue
(poems, stories, or essays on "the future we make" - November 1)

Santa Fe Literary Review: "Resilience" Issue
(poetry, literary prose, drama, and art on this theme - November 1)

Torrey House Press: "In the Garden" Anthology
(poetry, essays, art about gardening in relation to ecology and justice - November 30)

DMQ Review: Prose Poem Issue
(unpublished prose poems - December 12)

Bluu Books Anthology: Letters I'll Never Send
(short creative writing on this theme - December 21)

The Best New True Crime Stories: Crimes of the Famous and Infamous
(narrative journalism about celebrities involved in crimes - January 1)

PSA: Invest in Literacy

ProLiteracy is a leader in advancing literacy in the US and worldwide. Learn more.

Favorite New Resources

Here are some of our favorite newly added resources at Winning Writers. For a full list, see our Resource pages.

African Poetry Digital Portal African Poetry Digital Portal
Resource for the study of the history of African poetry

Author Media
Blog and podcast with book promotion tips

Best Websites to Download Free Audiobooks
Audiobook sources recommended by the tech review magazine Make Use Of

Bookmarks & Inkblots
Book review column at Virginia Living magazine highlights Southern authors

Caitlin Kunkel's List of Humor and Satire Websites
Humor-writing teacher and editor recommends markets for various styles of comedic writing

Comics Experience: Scripts Archive
Online comics school's archive of comic-book scripts

Free online program generates word counts for PDFs, ePubs, and other electronic document formats

E-book Design Tips from Podia
User-friendly overview of design principles to make e-books more readable and engaging

Free Music Archive
Royalty-free music clips, searchable by style, mood, pace, and more

How to Make a Zine
Well-illustrated article on how to layout and print a mini-magazine

How to Write Your First Comic Book
Genre basics from Jude Ellison S. Doyle, author of the horror comic MAW

Koss Web Design
Poet and illustrator Koss designs graphics and websites for writers

Manuscript Wish List
Online database of agents and editors, with info on what they're currently seeking

Modern Manuscript Format Guide
Sci-fi author William Shunn demonstrates the elements of a professional-looking manuscript

Octane Seating's Guide to Finding and Reading Scripts Online
Well-stocked directory of screenplays, with advice on how to read them for craft tips

Free web app creates transcripts of your audio recordings

Paper Cat Press
Curated collection of opportunities for animators, illustrators, comic creators, and writers

Publishing Trends
Weekly roundup of top stories from the publishing world

Query Shark
Literary agent Janet Reid posts and critiques query letters

Searchable database of literary agents, with tool for keeping track of your queries

Royalty Free Music by Bensound
Instrumental music tracks in various styles

Independent literary publisher of graphic novels

Tarik Dobbs
Arab-American queer poet and artist

"One Art" by Elizabeth Bishop, illustrated by Julian Peters

Here is, writes Julian Peters, "my comics adaptation of one of Elizabeth Bishop's (1911-1979) last and most beautiful poems, "One Art", first published in 1976. The poem is a villanelle, and there is something about the highly structured rhyme scheme of this verse form that to me always seems to give these works a bit of a game-like quality (which is not to say the emotions expressed therein can't be very serious and powerful, as this particular poem demonstrates). This element of ordered playfulness suggested my imagining of the poem as a kind of Monopoly/Chutes and Ladders board game board."

You can find more such adaptations in Poems to See By by Mr. Peters.

One Art

One Art

One Art

One Art

Jim Avis blended these illustrations with a spirited reading by Sophia Wilcott to produce this "vidiette":

The Last Word

Jendi ReiterEvangelism as Microaggression
Microaggressions are little mundane irritations that hurt because they hint at larger oppressive dynamics underneath. They’re behaviors that are still acceptable in "polite society", that remind you that your inclusion is conditional. They can be so stupid that you feel you should be strong enough to laugh them off, but somehow you're not, and that adds to the shame.

Hellfire evangelism feels like a microaggression because this person is trying to traumatize me...For the evangelist, a successful interaction would result in me imagining myself in horrible pain, which I can only alleviate by becoming exactly like her.

Read more

Jendi Reiter is the editor of Winning Writers.
Follow Jendi on Twitter at @JendiReiter.