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Winning Writers Newsletter - March 2023

View Free Contests

We found over four dozen excellent free poetry and prose contests with deadlines between March 15-April 30. In this issue, please enjoy an excerpt from "Birches" by Robert Frost, illustrated by Julian Peters.

Last Call!
Deadline: April 1. 22nd year. $3,500 in prizes, including a top award of $2,000. Final judge: Jendi Reiter. Both unpublished and previously published work accepted. See last year's winners and enter here.

Deadline Next Month
Deadline: April 30. 31st year. $9,000 in prizes, including two top awards of $3,000 each. Fee: $22 per entry. Final judge: Mina Manchester. Both unpublished and previously published work accepted. See last year's winners and enter here.

Coming in next month's newsletter: We'll announce the winners of our 20th annual Tom Howard/Margaret Reid Poetry Contest. View past newsletters in our archives. Need assistance? Let us help. Join our 140,000 followers on Twitter and find us on Facebook. Advertise with us, starting at $40.

Featured Sponsor
Now on sale! The Third Edition of The Frugal Editor

The Frugal Editor - Third Edition

Why a third edition?
Carolyn explains, "It surprises people when they learn that grammar rules change over time. Or that what they learned in high school or college is either passé or may not apply to fiction. Further, as my client base grew, I kept running into common misconceptions and outright annoying style choices that would never fly in the publishing world. Thus, a new edition of The Frugal Editor was a must!" Here is a smattering of what's new:

• Beta readers and peer reviewers
• What you probably don't know about custom dictionaries
• Up-to-date rules for accommodating gender-specific and other cultural needs
• A chapter for word-lovers and poets
• Quickie reviews of word processors
• What front and back matter can do for your book sales, your career, and your readers
• Considerations around sensitive language have evolved greatly over recent years
• How to spot publishing scams

Get your copy now from Modern History Press (paperback $26.95) or Amazon Kindle ($8.95).

Recent Honors and Publication Credits for Our Subscribers

Congratulations to Carrie Grinstead, Joan Leotta, Geoffrey Heptonstall (featured poem: "The Wicken Bird"), Mary Salisbury, Gary Beck, Judy Juanita, Annie Dawid, Ellaraine Lockie, Kyle McDonald, MB Caschetta, Gail Thomas, Amy Greenberg, Corey Schulman, R.T. Castleberry, and The Poet Spiel.

Winning Writers editor Jendi Reiter's essay "Don't Turn Around", about the song "Der Kommissar" by After the Fire, was featured in March Fadness, an annual pop-song playoff from the editors of the literary journal DIAGRAM. "Der Kommissar" next goes up against "She Blinded Me with Science". Vote for Jendi's song to win! Voting begins at 11am Eastern time on March 16 and lasts 24 hours.

In other news, Jendi and their NSFW teacup were featured on the Instagram account Mugshot Writers 2, curated by Stephanie Austin.

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

Have news? Please email it to

Do you use TikTok or Instagram? Send your news to the @winningwriters account so we can share it!

Ad: Poetry Masters 2023 sponsored by Oprelle

Poetry Masters 2023

Deadline: May 18

Cash awards of $500, $400, $300, $200, and $100, plus trophies for our top five winners. We will showcase up to 20 poems from each of these poets in our 2023 Poetry Masters Anthology.

For poets aged 14+. To enter, submit 1-3 of your best poems. Entry fee: $25. Finalists may be asked to submit a few more poems before our final decisions are made. Both published and unpublished poems are acceptable, any subject or style. Length limit per poem: 20 lines (excluding the title and any blank lines). International poets welcome. English only, please. Winners will be announced on Oprelle's website on or before June 30.

Submit online via Submittable.

Ad: Submit Your Book Manuscript at Atmosphere Press

Atmosphere Press

There are a lot of hybrid publishers out there nowadays, and we know the track record for these can be spotty. Some charge a fortune and provide little in terms of services. Some are dodgy about who is actually on their staff, or have secret escalator clauses in their contracts. Some are owned by hazy corporations whose bottom line is all that matters. It's a lot for an author to sort through!

Amidst all the chaos of choice, we're glad to present Atmosphere Press, the most professional hybrid publisher. They have a well-credentialed team of actual people working for them, and a Publication Timeline that's proven successful for nearly 800 books over the last seven years. Founded by an author and PhD in Literature, and with the most author-favorable contract, Atmosphere Press combines the rights and autonomy of charting your own author destiny with the experience and attention to detail that only a true publisher can offer.

They're reading now in all genres with no submission fee, so please send them your manuscript or query and they'll be in touch!

Ad: One More Day by Diane Chiddister

Grand Prize, 2022 North Street Book Prize Competition sponsored by Winning Writers, and Finalist in the First Novel category, Next Generation Indie Book Awards

From the North Street critique by Jendi Reiter:

Diane Chiddister's exquisite literary novel One More Day delves into the inner lives of four denizens of an old-age home. Full of tenderness that stays on the right side of sentimentality, One More Day braids its characters' paths into a journey that leaves all their lives richer. The action is intimate and small-scale, but as Robert Frost said, "the game is played for mortal stakes." Nothing less is at issue here than how we might die well.

Read an excerpt (PDF), see the trailer, and buy now at Amazon.

"Achingly beautiful, heartbreaking and ultimately a tender celebration of life."
—Natalie Symons, novelist

Ad: Rattle Magazine: The Neil Postman Award for Metaphor (no fee)

Brian Morrison

Rolling deadline

Rattle is proud to announce Brian Morrison's "Lighting the Rocket", which appeared in issue #75, is the winner of the 2023 Neil Postman Award for Metaphor.

We established the Neil Postman Award for Metaphor in honor and remembrance of Neil Postman, who died on October 5, 2003. The intention of the award is simple and two-fold: to reward a given writer for their use of metaphor, and to celebrate (and, hopefully, propagate) Postman's work and the typographical mind.

Each year, the editors choose one poem that was published from regular submissions to Rattle during the previous year. There are no entry fees or submission guidelines involved. The author of the chosen poem receives $2,000.

For more information and to read all fifteen previous winners, please visit the award's webpage. To submit your own poems, choose any free submission option on our Submittable page.

Lighting the Rocket
by Brian Morrison

It was almost finished, the rocket fuse
nearly lit. Wind blew flame to my thumb,
blackened it. A woman walking in Grape
Ape purple headphones crossed the street,
then sped into a jog. We yelled, "Run
faster, bitch!" Or we didn't. What was said
was maybe worse. I don't know
what I said, but my mouth is a casket for it.
What boys say to women should stop
their hearts. The woman's husband
stomped over not ten minutes later, while she
sat in the car behind sunglasses,
and the shitty rocket was still grounded.
He told us with a sharp finger
we were "punks" and "the worst kids
in the neighborhood." Maybe we were.
We traded black eyes and split lips
just for fun. We threw ice cubes and eggs
at the gas station that sold us cigarettes.
Misogyny was a word we didn't yet know,
and we were heart-shaped, beating ourselves
against ribcages to end the moment.
The man was one of us, and we knew it.
My grandpa used to say, "He held his mouth
right," and he did—the lips just so, teeth
set in seethe. The polyurethane
caked on his chest from the fridge factory
on Stolle Lane was proof enough. "Stupid,"
he said. We knew our fathers' fists
better than any teacher's best efforts.
The man eyed the rocket, us. He saw
the shame in our faces, said "Fuck it, let me,"
and he grabbed the lighter out of my hand
quick as rainfall. The brush of his watch
over my thumb was lightning to sand
and left what felt like a jagged glass shard
spiked into my skin. He said, "Women
shouldn't be afraid to walk the sidewalks
around you idiots," as he hiked up his gray
Saturday sweatpants, picked up the rocket,
shook it, pulled the fuse out (it pulls
out?), and lit the fucker. We all watched
close-lipped (we held our mouths right)
as the white-blue cylinder flew up unsteady
in a high wave, was left-thrown by the wind,
then thudded down like a shot bird
across the field. The woman, headphones
looped around her neck, stepped out,
picked up the rocket, and set it at our feet
with a shark-eye glare under raised
shades. "You'd be cuter kids
if you smiled more." The rocket smoked
right there until it didn't.

—from Rattle #75, Spring 2022


Cleaver Magazine Form & Form-Breaking Poetry Contest

Deadline: March 31, 11:59pm Eastern US Time

Judge: Diane Seuss

  • $500 First Prize
  • $250 Second Prize
  • $100 Third Prize

Show us your poems that hold up the perfect iambic pentameter of a Shakespearean sonnet or crash it on the rocks of free verse. Show us a villanelle with textbook patterning or show us the villanelle who just crashed her car. Whatever the form, we want to see your poems that use form consciously, whether that's to execute them to perfection or execute their expectations. The one requirement is that your work engages with a form of poetry; whether it gets married to that form or breaks up at the last couplet is up to you.

  • The initial submission fee is $15 for 1-2 poems of up to 3 pages each, with an option to upload additional poems for $10 apiece.
  • No previously published work.
  • Winners will be announced in June. Prior to the announcement, all submitters will receive an email notifying them of any decisions regarding their work.
  • Prizewinners will be published in Cleaver's Fall Issue, September 2023. Finalists may also be offered publication.

More information at our website.

Ad: Geminga: $500 for Tiny Fiction, Nonfiction, Poetry, or Art

Sunspot Lit

Deadline: March 31

Authors & Artists Eligible

Geminga is a neutron star so small it was difficult to detect. It was named, in part, for a transcription of gh’è minga, meaning "it's not there."

With Geminga: $500 for Tiny Fiction, Nonfiction, Poetry, or Art, Sunspot Lit honors the power of the small. No restrictions on theme or category. Word limit is 100 for fiction and nonfiction. Micropoetry is limited to 140 characters. Graphic novels should be 4 pages or fewer.

Titles are not included in the word count. Compound words separated by hyphens, numbers, and letters of the alphabet are counted as a single word. In the micropoetry category, characters include spaces, punctuation, numbers, and letters of the alphabet.

Visual art entries should be paintings, drawings, or sketches no larger than 25 inches square. Sculptural forms should be no larger than 25 inches in any dimension (length, height, or width).

Entry fee: $10

Prize: $500 cash, publication for the winner, publication offered to runners-up and finalists.

Enter through Sunspot's Submittable form or through Duotrope.

Ad: $6,000 in Prizes: Nimrod International Journal's Literary Awards for Fiction and Poetry - LAST CALL!

Nimrod Literary Awards

Deadline: April 1

The 45th annual Nimrod Literary Awards, the Pablo Neruda Prize for Poetry and the Katherine Anne Porter Prize for Fiction, are open. The Literary Awards offer first prizes of $2,000 and publication and second prizes of $1,000 and publication. Winners will also take part in a virtual Awards Ceremony and Reading in fall 2023. All finalists and selected semi-finalists will be published and paid at a rate of $10 per page up to $200.


  • Poetry: 3-10 pages
  • Fiction: 7,500 words maximum
  • Fee Per Entry: $20 payable to Nimrod (additional $3 fee for work submitted online), includes a one-year subscription

No previously published works or works accepted for publication elsewhere. Author's name must not appear on the manuscript. Include a cover sheet containing major title(s), author's name, full address, phone, and email. Open to international submissions. Entries may be mailed to Nimrod or submitted online.

For complete rules, visit Nimrod's website.

Ad: Our No-Fee Humor Poetry Contest - FINAL MONTH!

Wergle Flomp Humor Poetry Contest

Ad: The Masters Review Anthology XII Awarding $5,000 + print publication

The Masters Review Anthology XII

Every year The Masters Review opens submissions to produce our anthology, a collection of ten stories and essays written by the best emerging authors. We are in our 12th year of offering this prize and our aim remains the same: to showcase ten writers who we believe will continue to produce great work. The ten winners are nationally distributed in a printed book with their stories and essays exposed to top agents, editors, and authors across the country. This year's judge is Toni Jensen, the author of Carry: A Memoir of Survival on Stolen Land, a finalist for the Dayton Peace Prize and a New York Times Editors' Choice book (Ballantine 2020). Submit your short stories up to 7,000 words by April 2nd.

Ad: Deadline Extended! Missouri Review's Perkoff Prize

Perkoff Prize Deadline Extended

$1,000 Fiction | $1,000 Nonfiction | $1,000 Poetry
Regular entry fee: $15 | All-Access entry fee: $30

Submit one piece of fiction or nonfiction up to 8,500 words or up to 10 pages of poems. Enter online or by mail. Winners receive a cash prize, publication, and promotion on our website, newsletter, and social media platforms. Submit stories, poems, and essays that engage in evocative ways with health and medicine. All entries considered for publication.

Each entrant receives a one-year subscription to the Missouri Review in digital format (normal price $24). All-Access entrants receive the same subscription plus access to the last decade of TMR digital issues, which are accompanied by audio recordings of each issue's features. Learn more here. Check out the prizewinners and finalists from last year's contest here. Winners will be announced in late 2023.

Ad: Dancing Poetry Contest (no fee)

Dancing Poetry Contest in honor of Richard Angilly, 1941-2022

In honor of Richard Angilly, 1941-2022, co-founder of Dancing Poetry Festival and the Poetic Dance Theater Company

Closing next month! Postmark deadline: April 15

All prize winners will be invited to read via Zoom for our 30th Dancing Poetry Festival, 2023, to be presented on YouTube. 

Three Grand Prizes will receive $100 each plus their poems will be costumed, danced, and filmed. Many smaller prizes. All winners will receive a prize certificate suitable for framing. You may submit up to 10 poems, with a limit of 38 lines per poem.

See video and pictures from our Dancing Poetry Festivals that show 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. Please do not feel constrained to submit a poem about dancing. We look forward to reading your submissions. See the complete contest rules.

No entry fee. Donations are greatly appreciated.

Ad: The Westmoreland Arts & Heritage Festival Poetry & Short Story Contest

Poetry & Short Story Contest sponsored by Westmoreland Arts & Heritage Festival

Deadline: April 28

The Westmoreland Arts & Heritage Festival is currently accepting previously unpublished poems and short stories for its 2023 Poetry & Short Story Contest. The contest is open to any author writing in English anywhere in the world.

The 49th Annual Westmoreland Arts & Heritage Festival takes place June 29, 30, July 1 & 2 at Twin Lakes Park near Greensburg, Pennsylvania.

Winning works will be published on our website for visitors to read. Each author may enter one story (up to 4,000 words) for $10. Each poet may enter two poems (any length) for $10. Enter both contests for $20. All genres are accepted. Awards for both contests total $1,000.

Questions? Please email or call 724-834-7474. For more information, visit the Westmoreland Arts & Heritage Festival website and click here for the official entry form.

Ad: 2023 CRAFT Short Fiction Prize Awarding $2,800 + publication

2023 Craft Short Fiction Prize

Send us your best short stories! Submissions are open through April 30, 2023 for work 1,000 to 5,000 words in length. Guest Judge Nana Nkweti will choose three stories from a select shortlist of fifteen. We're looking for short stories that ring with excellence on every level of craft—intricate characterization, meaningful narrative development, and unforgettable voice. We want openings that spark and fire, middles that maintain momentum and tension, and endings that resonate long after we leave the page. Our only requirement is that you show excellence in your craft.

Ad: Our Fiction & Essay Contest Closes Next Month

Tom Howard/John H. Reid Fiction & Essay Contest

Ad: Ploughshares Emerging Writer's Contest

Ploughshares Emerging Writer's Contest

Deadline: May 15

Calling all writers: Ploughshares Emerging Writer's Contest is NOW OPEN! Featuring judges Gish Jen for fiction, Sandra Cisneros for poetry, and Meghan O'Rourke for nonfiction.

Submit your fiction, nonfiction, or poetry for the chance to win $2,000, publication in Ploughshares, and a conversation with Aevitas Creative Management.

$24 entry fee includes a one-year subscription to Ploughshares (beginning with the Spring 2023 issue and ending with the Winter 2023-2024 issue) and free submissions to the 2023 regular reading period. Current Ploughshares subscribers may enter for free!

See the contest guidelines.

Ploughshares is a quarterly literary journal that publishes fiction, nonfiction, and poetry by award-winning writers. Our issues have been guest edited by talents such as Tracy K. Smith, Celeste Ng, Tess Gallagher, and more.

Ad: Submit now for Grist's Imagine 2200 climate fiction contest (no fee)

Grist Imagine 2200 Climate Fiction Contest

Submissions are now open for Imagine 2200: Climate Fiction for Future Ancestors, Grist's cli-fi contest. Imagine 2200 seeks stories of 3,000 to 5,000 words that envision the next 180 years of equitable climate progress—roughly seven generations—imagining intersectional worlds of abundance, adaptation, reform, and hope.

There is no cost to enter. Submissions close June 13, 2023, 11:59pm US Pacific Time. The winning writer will be awarded $3,000, with the second- and third-place winners receiving $2,000 and $1,000, respectively. An additional nine finalists will each receive $300. All winners and finalists will have their story published in an immersive collection on Grist's website. Stories will be judged by a panel of literary experts, including acclaimed authors Paolo Bacigalupi, Nalo Hopkinson, and Sam J. Miller. Learn more and submit your story here.

Ad: Mudfish Poetry Contest

Mudfish Poetry Contest

Deadline: June 15

A prize of $1,200 and publication in Mudfish is given annually for a single poem. Deborah Landau will judge. Submit up to three poems of any length with a $20 entry fee ($3 for each additional poem). All entries are considered for publication in the next issue of Mudfish.

See our entry submission page, or make your fee payable to Mudfish and mail with your entry to:
Mudfish Poetry Prize
Attn: Jill Hoffman, Editor
184 Franklin Street
New York, NY 10013

You may also send your fee via PayPal to and submit your entry via email.

With your entry, please include a cover letter with the titles of the poems you've submitted, your name, and contact information (mailing address, phone number, and email address if available). Your name should not appear on the poems themselves. If submitting by postal mail, please also include a self-addressed stamped envelope to receive the results.

Mudfish is a journal of poetry, art, and fiction. It takes its title from the storyteller's stool in Nigerian art. In totally diverse ways, the poems each tell a story. Mudfish has featured work from the best established and emerging artists and poets—including John Ashbery, Charles Simic and Frank Stella—since it burst onto the poetry scene in 1984. The journal reflects the passionate, edgy, intimate voice of the 21st century.

Ad: The Geography of Absence by Gayle Lauradunn

The Geography of Absence

The Geography of Absence is the third poetry collection from Gayle Lauradunn, winner of the 2022 North Street Book Prize for poetry for All the Wild and Holy. In Geography we journey through the absences in her life and the search for what those absences contain.

Poet Morgan Parker says "Absence implies a memory of what once took place." How true are those memories? Can we trust the memories? Ms. Lauradunn writes poetry to learn what the world is about, to learn who she is. The poetry she wrote as a child did not survive her family's many moves. That in itself is an absence.

Ms. Lauradunn has moved many times during her life, as well as travelling to over 40 countries exploring the ways in which both landscape and geography contain absence. But, above all, absence is present in the geography of relationships and the geography within one's self.

Lost love, lost children, lost life are all in this collection. Some absences may be filled, many are there to savor, to love, to hold onto, and respect as absences. And yet, those absences are not holes, and Lauradunn fills those absences with beauty and light.

A wonderful book, one to read and contemplate, to chew and savor as a rare meal of perfectly spiced foods, as often as wanted.

—Lenora Rain-Lee Good, author The Bride's Gate and Other Assorted Writings

Buy The Geography of Absence now on Amazon.

A sample poem:
From Colorado to New York, 1971

Ad: The Art of Symeon Shimin by Tonia Shimin

The Art of Symeon Shimin

The Art of Symeon Shimin presents a striking collection of the fine art of this exceptional Russian born Jewish artist. Curated by the artist's daughter, it is the first collection and overview of Shimin's work. Including an autobiography by the artist, essays by noted arts journalists Josef Woodard and Charles Donelan, and over 100 plates and archival photographs, this book showcases art of rare beauty and raw expression.

Shimin is particularly noted for his masterpiece, the mural "Contemporary Justice and the Child", commissioned in 1936-1940 for the Department of Justice Building in Washington, DC. With paintings held in collections including the Chrysler Museum of Art, this is the first complete collection of his fine art.

Since publication, The Art of Symeon Shimin has received the following awards:

  • Winner of the North Street Book Prize in the art book category, 2022
  • The Independent Press Awards named The Art of Symeon Shimin the Distinguished Favorite for Fine Arts, 2020
  • Winner of 2020 NYC Big Book Award in Arts and Entertainment
  • Winner of The 2021 Book Excellence Award for Art
  • Winner, Pinnacle Book Achievement Award from National Association of Book Entrepreneurs 
  • The 2021 Eric Hoffer Honorary Mention Award for Art
  • Next Generation Indie Book Awards Finalist: Art
  • 2021 BRONZE Medal Award in Art - Independent Publisher Awards
  • 2022 Maincrest Book Award

Critics of The Art of Symeon Shimin say:

"Shimin was a vessel for the unheard voices of his time. Those who were shunned, he highlighted; for those who were unseen, he provided a stage. He saw the common man for what he was—beautiful, exceptional, and equal." —Lauren Kinsley, Research Assistant

"A loving survey of an artist's varied career." —Kirkus Reviews

"This coffee-table style volume is an impressively informative presentation that clearly and effectively showcases the life and work of one of the 20th Century's most gifted artists—and should be considered an essential and core addition to personal, professional, community, college, and university fine arts collections." —The Midwest Book Review

"A social realist." —Time Magazine

"The incomparable emotion of Shimin's drawings and paintings are on full display in this beautiful collection. Humanity is the subject, presented in humble iconic imagery and complex gestures alive with every turn of the page." —Eric Hoffer Awards

"His name will mean something in the long history of painting." —The Architectural Forum

"As long as we seek to understand and express the value and significance of human experience as such, there will be a place for artists such as Shimin." —Sam Ben Meir

Read an excerpt from The Art of Symeon Shimin (PDF)

Buy this book on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Pathway Books. For wholesale orders, please email Pathway Book Service or contact Ingram or Baker & Taylor. See also this listing at Edelweiss.

Ad: Helen in Trouble by Wendy Sibbison

Winner of the 2022 North Street Book Prize for Mainstream/Literary Fiction

Helen in Trouble

Wendy Sibbison offers an insightful, thought-provoking perspective in this coming-of-age novel; a poignant exploration of burgeoning womanhood, mother-daughter relations, family dynamics, and sexual awakenings rooted in the mores of an era that offers lessons for the present. Beautifully written, a meaningful read for mature readers of all ages and for book groups interested in the debates about Roe v. Wade.

Read an excerpt from Helen in Trouble (PDF)

Buy this book at Barnes & Noble, Massive Bookshop, and other fine booksellers

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
Great American Think-Off. The New York Mills Regional Cultural Center asks US writers to submit essays up to 750 words long on a selected philosophical question that changes annually. Four finalists receive $500 and an expenses-paid trip to New York Mills, MN in June for debate to determine the contest winner. The 2023 topic is: "Which is more important to protect: the environment or the economy?" Enter by April 1.

Intermediate Writers
Eleanor Taylor Bland Crime Fiction Writers of Color Award. Sisters in Crime will award a $2,000 grant for adult crime fiction, 2,500-5,000 words, by an author of color who has not published more than ten pieces of short fiction or two books. (Preference is given to previously unpublished authors.) Prize must be used for "activities related to crime fiction writing and career development". Winner is required to submit a report about how the prize was spent and serve as a member of next year's award selection committee. Send short story or first chapter(s) of a manuscript-in-progress, resume, and cover letter describing how the applicant is emerging in the genre and how the grant money would be used. Due March 31.

Advanced Writers
Natan Notable Books Award. Natan and the Jewish Book Council will award $5,000 and marketing support for a recen­t­­ly-pub­­lished or about-to-be pub­lished nonfic­­tion title that will catalyze con­ver­sa­tions aligned with the themes of Natan's grant­mak­ing: rein­vent­ing Jew­ish life and com­mu­ni­ty for the twen­­ty-first cen­tu­ry, shift­ing notions of indi­vid­ual and col­lec­tive Jew­ish iden­ti­ty, the his­to­ry and future of Israel, and the evolv­ing rela­tion­ship between Israel and world Jewry. There are two sub­mis­sion dead­lines per year: March for the Passover/​Spring award, and October for the High Holidays/​Fall award. The sub­mis­sion dead­line for the Spring 2023 award is March 31, 2023, for books pub­lished for the first time between September 1, 2022 and August 31, 2023.

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

Search for Contests

We'll Critique Your Entire Book or Manuscript for Just $180, Shorter Work for $90—Satisfaction Guaranteed!

Winning Writers Critique Service

Compare to book and manuscript critique services charging $600 and up. For $180, Annie Mydla will provide a professional critique that's 1,500-3,000 words long. You may also submit up to 3 specific questions to be answered within your critique. Optional Zoom session if you'd like a real-time dialogue with Annie. We guarantee your satisfaction. View a sample critique. Learn more and place your order.

We also offer critiques of poems, stories, and essays and children's picture books for just $90.

Calls for Submissions

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

20.35 Africa Anthology VI
(African-born or resident poets aged 20-35 - March 24)

Mother Knows Best: Tales of Homemade Horror
(horror stories by women about bad mothers - March 31)

Tiger Bark Press: BIPOC Poets Reading Period
(free submissions for full-length manuscripts - March 31)

Gordon Square Review
(Cleveland-oriented journal seeks poetry and prose - April 1)

Ninth Letter: "Invisibility" Issue
(poetry, fiction, essays - April 1)

West Branch
(poetry, fiction, essays, translations - April 1)

Ouch! Collective
(creative writing and art by LGBTQ creators - April 5)

Aplomb Gallery: Trauma Survival Poetry
(poems to accompany survivor portraits in art show and anthology - April 11)

About Place Journal: "On Rivers" Issue
(poetry, prose, art, and hybrid work - April 15)

Sundress Publications: Transmasculine Poetics Anthology
(published or unpublished poems by transmasculine authors - April 30)

Sunflowers at Midnight: "Bodies" Issue
(poetry, fiction, flash fiction - May 1)

Award-Winning Fiction & Nonfiction from Around the Web

This month, editor Jendi Reiter highlights fiction and nonfiction that have won recent prizes. To see more winning prose and poetry, visit our online collection.

P. Jo Anne Burgh

by P. Jo Anne Burgh
Winner of the 2022 Gemini Magazine Short Story Contest
Entries must be received by March 31
This long-running contest gives prizes up to $1,000 and publication in an online journal that is welcoming toward emerging writers. Burgh's heart-wrenching story slowly reveals what this group of mothers has in common, and how one family struggles with the limits of loyalty.

by Jeannie Tseng
Winner of the Fall 2021 Narrative Magazine Story Contest
Entries must be received by March 31
Narrative Magazine offers several contests each year, with prizes up to $2,500 and web publication for literary short fiction and essays. The Winter 2023 contest is open through March 31. Tseng's story is set in a rural Chinese household where surplus daughters and disabled children have to fend for themselves from an early age.

by Lauren St. George
Winner of the April 2022 Tadpole Press 100-Word Writing Contest
Entries must be received by April 30
This twice-yearly contest gives $1,000 and website publication for a work of flash poetry or prose, 100 words maximum. The 2023 theme is "using humor as healing". Scroll down the winners' page for the most recent results. St. George's short-short story captures a moment of welcome for a refugee.

by Treanor Wooten Baring
Winner of the Spring 2022 Ghost Story Supernatural Fiction Award
Entries must be received by April 30
This twice-yearly contest gives $1,500 and web and anthology publication for a story with a supernatural or magical-realism theme. In Baring's atmospheric tale, a Mississippi debutante's tryst with her boyfriend is interrupted by apparitions from her family's slave-owning past, alerting her to inequalities that continue to bleed into the present.

An excerpt from "Birches" by Rober Frost, illustrated by Julian Peters

Poems to See By features 24 classic poems with visual interpretations by comic artist Julian Peters. Mr. Peters has graciously allowed us to reprint "Birches" from the book. This comic was commissioned by and originally appeared in Plough Quarterly.

Birches, illustrated by Julian Peters

Birches, illustrated by Julian Peters

Birches, illustrated by Julian Peters

Birches, illustrated by Julian Peters

Birches, illustrated by Julian Peters

Birches, illustrated by Julian Peters

The Last Word

Jendi ReiterKlaus Nomi Transition Goals
I discovered the late great Nomi via Kristine Langley Mahler's March Fadness essay on Taco's cover of "Puttin' on the Ritz". Nomi was a gay German countertenor who fused electronica and opera with space-age vaudeville effects. Sadly, he was one of the first known figures from the arts community to die of AIDS, in 1983.

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