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Winning Writers Newsletter - February 2019

Emily Bracale, winner of the North Street Book Prize

We are thrilled to announce the results from our fourth annual North Street Book Prize for Self-Published Books. Emily Bracale of Bar Harbor, Maine won this year's Grand Prize across all genres for her graphic narrative Our Last Six Months, a tender, homespun, and informative memoir of how her blended family came together to nurse her ex-husband through terminal cancer. She received $3,000, a marketing analysis and one-hour phone consultation with Carolyn Howard-Johnson, a $300 credit at BookBaby, and 3 free ads in the Winning Writers newsletter (a $450 value).

We further congratulate our category winners, Jeannine Bernardi (Children's Picture Book), Angela Carole Brown (Mainstream/Literary Fiction), Carol DeMent (Genre Fiction), Francesco Granieri (Creative Nonfiction & Memoir), and W.R. Rodriguez (Poetry). Petula Caesar, Juliette Chen, Sarah Hina, K. Gordon Neufeld, and picture book co-authors Barbara Jean Hicks and Kevin R. Wood earned Honorable Mentions. Final judges Jendi Reiter and Ellen LaFleche were assisted by Annie Keithline and Lauren Singer Ledoux. Read excerpts from all the winning entries and the judges' remarks. Read the press release.

$9,250 was awarded in all, making this one of the world's most generous contests for self-published books. Our new competition opens today, with a deadline of June 30. We are increasing the prize pool to $10,500 and adding a new category, Graphic Narrative. ENTER HERE.

We found over four dozen high-quality poetry and prose contests that are free to enter with deadlines between February 15-March 31.

View Free Contests

In this issue: Please enjoy an excerpt from "Le Grand Meaulnes", illustrated by Julian Peters.

Join our 114,000 followers on Twitter for timely news about contests and resources for writers. Want to view past newsletters? Visit our archives. Need assistance? Let us help.

Featured Sponsor: 2019 William Van Dyke Short Story Prize

William Van Dyke Short Story Prize

Deadline: February 18

Ruminate Magazine announces the 2019 William Van Dyke Short Story Prize. This year's competition will be judged by award-winning writer Tyrese Coleman.

The first-place winner will receive a $1,500 cash prize along with publication. A runner-up will receive a $200 cash prize and publication. The entry fee is $20 and includes a complimentary PDF copy of the prize issue featuring the winning work. You may submit one story per contest entry fee. Each entry may have up to 5,500 words. There is no limit on the number of entries per person. Entries must be previously unpublished (if it had a circulation of 500 or greater, in print or online, we consider it previously published).

For the complete submission guidelines, please visit our website.

Ruminate, located in Fort Collins, Colorado, is a nonprofit, reader-supported magazine that celebrates slowing down, encountering honest art and storytelling, and living awake.

Recent Honors and Publication Credits for Our Subscribers

Congratulations to Cindy Kelly Benabderrahman (featured poem: "Pageantry"), Caroline Tuohey, Fern G.Z. Carr, R. Bremner, Lesléa Newman, Carol Smallwood, Tom Taylor a/k/a The Poet Spiel, Connie Lounsbury, Jennie MacDonald, and R.T. Castleberry.

Winning Writers Editor Jendi Reiter was interviewed in January at The Bookends Review by poet and novelist Carol Smallwood. The interview covered the history and mission of Winning Writers and the inspiration for Jendi's new story collection, An Incomplete List of My Wishes (Sunshot Press, 2018). Carol's most recent poetry collection is A Matter of Selection (Poetic Matrix Press, 2018).

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

Have news? Please email it to

Dennis Norris II Can Help You Navigate the Toughest Subjects with Grace

Dennis Norris II

"Worrying that some racially charged scenes in my novel, Carnegie Hill, might offend readers, I hired Dennis as a sensitivity reader. He edited my novel carefully and lovingly, highlighting and extrapolating on what I got right, and helping me see my blind spots without making me feel foolish. I had written parts from the perspective of a gay black man, and Dennis helped me reshape the character in places where he seemed too naive or otherwise not believable. Dennis helped me revise my novel so that it portrayed, but did not condone, micro- and macro-aggressions."

—Jonathan Vatner, Author, Carnegie Hill, forthcoming from St Martin's Press in August 2019

Are you looking to take your manuscript to the next level? To generate ideas? To refine your sentences, or integrate shifting points of view? Are you nervous to write about controversial topics or people from marginalized identities without doing it in a way that's offensive, stereotypical, or otherwise reinforcing oppression?

Hire me, Dennis Norris II, to help you address any, or all, of the issues above. As an editor, I've worked with clients on full-length literary and genre novels, including speculative fiction and young adult (YA), as well as short story collections, and essays. I am most interested in works that examine questions of identity and give voice to folks who've often been underrepresented on the page. I am also available as a sensitivity reader, particularly for narratives that deal with African American, queer, and religious characters.

As a writer, I've been fortunate enough to win fellowships from The MacDowell Colony, Tin House, The Kimbilio Center for African American Fiction, and the Virginia Center for Creative Arts. I'm the former fiction editor for Apogee Journal and currently serve as the Assistant Fiction Editor for The Rumpus, co-host of the popular podcast Food 4 Thot, and final judge of the Tom Howard/John H. Reid Fiction & Essay Contest sponsored by Winning Writers. If you're interested in working with me, please say hello at my website.

Creative Nonfiction seeks new work for an upcoming issue dedicated to MEMOIR

Deadline: February 25

We're looking for stories that are honest, accurate, informative, intimate, and—most importantly—true. Whether your story is revelatory or painful, hilarious or tragic, if it's about you and your life, we want to read it.

Submissions must be vivid and dramatic; they should combine a strong and compelling narrative with an informative or reflective element, and reach beyond a strictly personal experience for some universal or deeper meaning. We're looking for well-written prose, rich with detail and a distinctive voice; all essays must tell true stories and be factually accurate.

Creative Nonfiction editors will award $2,500 for Best Essay and two $500 prizes for runner-up. All essays will be considered for publication in a special "Memoir" issue of the magazine to be published in 2020.

Essays must be previously unpublished and no longer than 4,000 words.

See our complete guidelines.

Creative Nonfiction

42 Miles Press Poetry Award

David Dodd Lee

Deadline: March 15
Judge: David Dodd Lee, Series Editor

The 42 Miles Press Poetry Award was created in an effort to bring fresh and original voices to the poetry reading public. The prize is offered annually to any poet writing in English, including poets who have never published a full-length book as well as poets who have published several. New and Selected collections of poems are also welcome.

Manuscripts submitted for the 42 Miles Press Poetry Award should exhibit an awareness of the contemporary "voice" in American poetry, an awareness of our moment in time as poets. We are excited to receive poetry that is experimental as well as work of a more formalist bent, as long as it reflects a complexity and sophistication of thought and language.

Urgency, yes; melodrama, not so much.

The winning poet will receive $1,000, publication of his or her book, and 50 author copies. The winner will also be invited to give a reading at Indiana University South Bend as part of the release of the book. The final selection will be made by the Series Editor. Current or former students or employees of Indiana University South Bend, as well as friends of the Series Editor, are not eligible for the prize.

Winners will be announced via our website in the summer of 2019. We will also announce the winner in major magazines such as Poets & Writers. The winning book will be published in September 2020 and be available to purchase on SPD and Amazon. Previous 42 Miles Press publications include books by Allan Peterson, Betsy Andrews, Bill Rasmovicz, Carrie Oeding, Erica Bernheim, Kimberly Lambright, Nate Pritts, Mary Ann Samyn, Tracey Knapp, William Stobb, and Christine Garren.

See the complete guidelines and submit by mail or email.

Read "Sonnet No. 44" by Nate Pritts, winner of our 2016 contest.

Announcing the 12th Annual Miller Audio Prize from The Missouri Review

Miller Audio Prize

Deadline: March 15

The Missouri Review invites submissions to the 2019 Miller Audio Prize in the following four categories: audio documentary, poetry, prose, and humor. Winners in each category will be awarded $1,000, publication on our website, and promotion on our social media accounts.

Entrants choose their own entry fee ($10, $16, $24, or $30), and each entrant will receive a digital subscription to TMR. Previously published or aired pieces are acceptable as long as you, the entrant, hold the rights. Our final judge this year is Cher Vincent. See the complete guidelines.

Wergle Flomp Humor Poetry Contest (no fee)

Wergle Flomp Humor Poetry Contest

Dancing Poetry Contest

Deadline: April 15

Now in its 26th year, all Dancing Poetry Festival prize winners will receive a prize certificate suitable for framing, a ticket to the 2019 Dancing Poetry Festival at the John A. and Cynthia Fry Gunn Theater at the Palace of the Legion of Honor Museum, San Francisco, and an invitation to read their prizewinning poem at the festival.

Three Grand Prizes will receive $100 each plus their poems will be danced and filmed. Many smaller prizes. Each Grand Prize winner will be invited onstage for photo ops with the dancers and a bow in the limelight.

Please look at photos of our Dancing Poetry Festivals to see the vast diversity of poetry and dance we present each year. For poetry, we look for something new and different including new twists to old themes, different looks at common situations, and innovative concepts for dynamic, thought-provoking entertainment. We look forward to reading your submissions. See the complete contest rules and please enjoy "Circles of Light" by Allegra Jostad Silberstein, winner of a Grand Prize in 2018.

Submissions to Gulf Coast Prizes in Fiction, Poetry and Nonfiction Now Open

Deadline: April 15

The 2019 Gulf Coast Prizes in Fiction, Poetry and Nonfiction are now open! This year's judges are Aimee Nezhukumatathil (Poetry), Garth Greenwell (Fiction), and Leslie Jamison (Nonfiction).

In each genre, we'll award $1,500 and publication in Gulf Coast to the winner. Two honorable mentions will be awarded $250. All entries will be considered for publication, and the entry fee includes a one-year subscription to Gulf Coast. Learn more and view last year's prize winners.

Submit to the Gulf Coast Prizes via Submittable.

Tom Howard/John H. Reid Fiction & Essay Contest

Tom Howard/John H. Reid Fiction & Essay Contest

Creative Nonfiction Seeks Essays for “Exploring the Boundaries” Section

Deadline: May 13

Creative Nonfiction is currently seeking experimental nonfiction for the "Exploring the Boundaries" section ("experimental", "boundaries"...yes, we know these can be loaded terms). We're looking for writing that is ambitious, pushes against the conventional boundaries of the genre, plays with style and form, and makes its own rules. As always, we have only one absolute rule: nonfiction must be based in fact.

Please note that this is NOT a call for an entire "Exploring the Boundaries" issue of the magazine; accepted pieces will be published one per issue, and earliest possible publication will be in Issue #72 (Fall 2019). 4,500 word maximum.

See our complete guidelines.

Creative Nonfiction

Now Open: Two Sylvias Press Poetry Chapbook Prize

Deadline: May 31

  • Judge: Maggie Smith (award-winning author of Good Bones)
  • Prize: $500 and publication by Two Sylvias Press, 20 copies of the winning book, and an amethyst Depression-era glass trophy (circa 1930)

The Two Sylvias Press Chapbook Prize is open to all poets (previously published or not). Manuscripts should be 17-24 pages long. Simultaneous submissions are accepted. All manuscripts will be considered for publication.

Created with the belief that great writing is good for the world, Two Sylvias Press is an award-winning publisher that has been featured in O, The Oprah Magazine, The New York Times Magazine, NPR, and other noted outlets. Two Sylvias Press offers the popular National Poetry Month Writing Prompts and an Online Poetry Retreat created for writers who would like to generate new work with daily poetry prompts and creative inspiration. They also sell the nationally recognized The Poet Tarot: A Deck of Creative Exploration.

See the full guidelines for the Two Sylvias Press Chapbook Prize.
Learn more about Two Sylvias Press.

Creative Nonfiction Seeks Essays for “Power” Issue

Deadline: June 10

Creative Nonfiction is looking for new work about power. For this issue, we are seeking true stories that explore the dynamics within groups and systems, however big or small—for example, family units, schools, sports, churches, and government.

We're interested in everything from the murky world of politics to the power games we all occasionally play. Share your stories about power lunches, power grabs, power suits, powerlifting, people power (and/or power to the people), or will power. Tell us about a time when you (or someone else) had power, or a time when you didn't, or tell us about your secret superpower.

Above all, we are seeking vivid narratives, sourced from true events, that demonstrate strong storytelling, voice, and grasp of detail.

Essays must be previously unpublished and no longer than 4,000 words. All essays must tell true stories and be factually accurate. Everything we publish goes through a rigorous fact-checking process, and editors may ask for sources and citations.

See our complete guidelines.

Creative Nonfiction

An Incomplete List of My Wishes: "A Book You'll Not Be Able to Put Down"

An Incomplete List of My Wishes

Jendi Reiter's award-winning debut short story collection, An Incomplete List of My Wishes (Sunshot Press, 2018), received a 5-star Amazon review from Carol Smallwood, author of Visits and Other Passages (Finishing Line Press, 2019) and numerous other poetry and fiction books:

"I started reading and didn't realize the time until my eyes were tired and was surprised how long I had been reading. The first smile came quickly with the subtle humor which is sprinkled all through the collection; that along with the penetrating characterization of characters (no matter their age) makes the stories ones you will want to savor again. Reiter's writing is seemingly effortless but the craftsmanship is there in every word choice..."

Buy An Incomplete List of My Wishes now for $1.99 on Kindle.

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
Iris N. Spencer Poetry Award. West Chester University will award prizes up to $1,500 for unpublished poetry "composed in the traditional modes of meter, rhyme, and received forms" by US undergraduate students. Due March 1.

Intermediate Writers
NEA Literature Fellowships. The National Endowment for the Arts will award up to 60 $25,000 grants to published creative writers that enable recipients to set aside time for writing, research, travel, and general career advancement. Program alternates annually between poetry and prose (fiction and creative nonfiction); 2019 applications are for prose. Applicants must be US citizens or permanent residents. Due March 6.

Advanced Writers
St. Francis College Literary Prize. St. Francis College will award $50,000 for an author's third, fourth, or fifth published or self-published book of fiction (novel or short story collection). This contest runs in odd-numbered years only; for the 2019 contest, books must have been published between June 2017 and May 2019. Send 5 copies of the book. Due May 15.

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

Search for Contests

Calls for Submissions

PSA: The Whole Purpose of Education

The whole purpose of education is to turn mirrors into windows

Highlights from our Wergle Flomp Humor Poetry Contest Archives

Since we are no longer publishing the quarterly special issues of our newsletters, we are integrating their content into our regular newsletters.

Here are some of our favorite poems from past Wergle Flomp contests. They may not have all won a top prize, but somehow these poems wormed their way into our office chatter for years. To see more winning poems, visit our Contest Archives.

Kakie Mashburn

"Vanity! All's is Vainity!"
by Mark Orr

Honorable Mention
2003 Wergle Flomp Humor Poetry Contest

"Phunny Pharm"
by Kakie Mashburn

Second Prize
2005 Wergle Flomp Humor Poetry Contest

"Masculine Message from Damion McGraw"
by Jim Neill

Second Prize
2006 Wergle Flomp Humor Poetry Contest

"The Crack Epidemic"
by Gayle L. Porter

2006 Wergle Flomp Humor Poetry Contest

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An excerpt from "Le Grand Meaulnes", illustrated by Julian Peters

Le Grand Meaulnes, illustrated by Julian Peters

French novelist Alban-Fournier was killed in action on September 22, 1914, the last day of summer, at the onset of a long dark winter for Western civilization. In another two weeks he would have been twenty-eight years old. One year before he had published his first and only novel, Le Grand Meaulnes (The Great Meaulnes), which was to become a classic of French literature. The title inspired F. Scott Fitzgerald's novel, The Great Gatsby. In 1999 readers of Le Monde voted Le Grand Meaulnes the ninth greatest novel of the twentieth century.

"They disembarked in front of a wood of fir trees. The passengers had to wait for a moment on the gangway, pressed closely one against the other, for one of the boatmen to unlock the gate...With what emotion would Meaulnes later recall that minute in which, on the banks of the pond, he had had so close to his own face the face of that now lost girl! It was a profile of such purity, and he had filled his eyes with it until they were about to well up with tears. And he remembered seeing, like a delicate secret she had entrusted to him, a little leftover powder on her cheek..."

[From the website of Julian Peters Comics]

The Last Word

Jendi Reiter

Facing Literary Impermanence With Marie Kondo
They say that if you want to get your house clean, start writing a novel. Well, it's true. But I must protest that my KonMari fever is no mere procrastination tactic. Editing my life builds the same skills I need for mastering the clutter in my imagination. Am I listening to my intuition about what excites me—regardless of what I think I should own, or write, or do? Can I recognize that my relationship with something has ended, but still honor it? If I dare to prioritize my own joy, what obligations or substitute pleasures must I eliminate, while living in a way that's sustainable and responsible toward others? [read more]

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

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