The best free literary contests with deadlines to July 31 |

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Winning Writers Newsletter - June 2019

View Free Contests We found over three dozen excellent free poetry and prose contests with deadlines between June 15-July 31. In this issue, please enjoy "Work", an excerpt from The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran.

Last Call!
Deadline: June 30. 5th year. Co-sponsored by Carolyn Howard-Johnson, author of The Frugal Book Promoter, and BookBaby. Prizes increased to $10,500, including a top award of $3,000. This year's categories: Mainstream/Literary Fiction, Genre Fiction, Creative Nonfiction & Memoir, Poetry, Children's Picture Book, and Graphic Narrative (new). Fee: $60 per entry. Jendi Reiter and Ellen LaFleche will judge, assisted by Annie Keithline and Jim DuBois. See last year's winners and enter here.

Also open now, our Tom Howard/Margaret Reid Poetry Contest will award $5,000 in prizes, including two top awards of $2,000 each.

View past newsletters in our archives. Need assistance? Let us help. Join our 119,000 followers on Twitter at @WinningWriters. Interested in advertising? Learn more.

Recent Honors and Publication Credits for Our Subscribers

Congratulations to Charlotte Mandel (featured poem: "September's First Monday"), Peter Justin Newall, Tara Campbell, Jennie MacDonald, Madeline Sharples, Diana Anhalt (featured poem: "Walking Backward"), Bernard Mann, Darrell Lindsey, Trina Porte (featured poem: "Elegy Between Middle Age and Death"), Rick Lupert, and Mary K. O'Melveny.

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

Have news? Please email it to

Last Call! North Street Book Prize for Self-Published Books

North Street Book Prize

Deadline: June 30

Sponsored by Winning Writers, our contest will award $3,000 in cash to the grand prize winner. Six category winners will each receive $1,000. All seven top winners will receive additional benefits from our co-sponsors, BookBaby and Carolyn Howard-Johnson, to help market their books. Everyone who enters will receive a free digital copy of Ms. Howard-Johnson's handy guide, The Great First Impression Book Proposal.

Choose from six categories:

  • Mainstream/Literary Fiction
  • Genre Fiction
  • Creative Nonfiction & Memoir
  • Poetry
  • Children's Picture Book
  • Graphic Narrative (new this year)

This contest is international, and any year of publication is eligible. Entry fee: $60 per book. Multiple entries welcome. Submit online via Submittable or by mail. Click to learn more about our guidelines, past winners, and judges' remarks.

Nimrod International Journal’s Francine Ringold Awards for New Writers

Francine Ringold Awards for New Writers

Deadline: July 15

Submissions are now open for the Francine Ringold Awards for New Writers, which honor the work of writers at the beginning of their careers. The Francine Ringold Awards are open only to writers whose work has not appeared or is not scheduled to appear in more than 2 publications in the genre in which they are submitting. $500 prizes will be awarded in both the fiction and poetry categories, and the winning work will appear in the spring issue of Nimrod. Work by all finalists will also be published, and finalists will be paid at a rate of $10/page.

Established in 1956, Nimrod is dedicated to the discovery of new voices in literature, and the Francine Ringold Awards are a special way to recognize talented new poets and fiction writers.

  • Poetry: Up to 5 pages of poetry (one long poem or several short poems)
  • Fiction: 5,000 words maximum (one short story or a self-contained excerpt from a novel)
  • Fee Per Entry: $12 payable to Nimrod, includes a copy of the spring issue
  • 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. Entries may be mailed to Nimrod or submitted online. Open internationally.

For complete rules, visit Nimrod's website.

The Rattle Poetry Prize Will Award $10,000 for a Poem

Rattle Poetry Prize

Deadline: July 15

The annual Rattle Poetry Prize is once again offering $10,000 for a single poem to be published in the winter issue of the magazine. Ten finalists will also receive $200 each and publication, and be eligible for the $2,000 Readers' Choice Award, to be selected by subscriber and entrant vote.

With the winners judged in a blind review by the editors to ensure a fair and consistent selection, an entry fee that is simply a one-year subscription to the magazine—and a runner-up Readers' Choice Award to be chosen by the writers themselves—the Rattle Poetry Prize aims to be one of the most writer-friendly and popular poetry contests around.

We accept entries online and by mail. See Rattle's website for the complete guidelines and to read all of the past winners.

Please enjoy one of last year's ten finalist poems, "The Way" by Mike White:


The fourth leg
of the dog
with now only three
was the

in-the-way one
he'd lift
in order to pee.

On The Premises Short Story Contest (no fee)

On The Premises

OTP's short story contest #34 launched on June 9. Its premise is "Tradition". For this contest, write a creative, compelling, well-crafted story between 1,000 and 5,000 words long in which some kind of tradition(s) play(s) an important role.

DEADLINE: 11:59 PM Eastern Time, Friday, August 30, 2019

One entry per author. There is no fee for entering this contest. Winners receive between US$60 and US$220, and publication.

GENRE RULES: No children's fiction, no exploitative sex, no over-the-top grossout horror, and no stories that are obvious parodies of well-known fictional worlds/characters created by other authors.

Click for details and instructions on submitting your story.

To be informed when new contests are launched, subscribe to our free, short, monthly newsletter. On The Premises magazine is recognized in Duotrope, Writer's Market,, and other short story marketing resources.

Jendi Reiter's An Incomplete List of My Wishes Finalist for LGBTQ Book Award

An Incomplete List of My Wishes

Jendi Reiter's debut story collection, An Incomplete List of My Wishes (Sunshot Press, 2018), was a finalist in the LGBTQ category of the 2019 Next Generation Indie Book Awards. See what Amazon 5-star reviewers are saying:

"It's no surprise that this book won an award for fiction. Jendi Reiter has created a humorous, imaginative, thoughtfully and beautifully written collection of short stories that was impossible to put down until the end—when I found myself wishing for more. A must read."

"Reiter's characters struggle with painful family relationships and sexual secrets they sometimes try to keep secret even from themselves, like the young gay men awakening to their sexual identity against the haunting background of the AIDS crisis. These stories can be brief cameos ('Waiting for the Train to Fort Devens, June 17, 1943') or lengthier dramatic pieces like 'Taking Down the Pear Tree' which depicts with heart-wrenching beauty and power a couple's thwarted attempt to adopt a child."

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

How To Get Great Book Reviews Frugally and Ethically by Carolyn Howard-Johnson

How To Get Great Book Reviews

If you've published a book, you've probably seen all kinds of offers for expensive ads and publicity campaigns. But there's a secret to establishing lasting sales, and it starts with book reviews.

How To Get Great Book Reviews Frugally and Ethically is the culmination of the nearly two decades Carolyn Howard-Johnson spent helping writers avoid pitfalls, misconceptions, and out-and-out scams perpetrated on unsuspecting authors...helping them reach their dreams of great reviews, great book tours, and great launches.

Book reviews form the base for a successful marketing campaign that builds the readership you need for a prosperous writing career.

"Getting well-written and fair reviews is the single biggest block to independent authors and small presses. Carolyn Howard-Johnson takes on the problem head-on in this easy-to-use recipe for book review success. To paraphrase the late great Dan Poynter, your book is your business card so the single best marketing tool you have is to send out copies for review.”
     Victor Volkman, publisher, Loving Healing Press

Learn more about How To Get Great Book Reviews on Carolyn Howard-Johnson's website, or buy it now for $5.99 at Amazon.

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
Winter Tangerine Awards. Prizes of $250 and publication for unpublished poetry and short prose by authors who have not published a novel or a collection of any kind. Winter Tangerine Review is a literary and arts journal that aims to challenge the status quo. Due July 1.

Intermediate Writers
Drue Heinz Literature Prize. An unpublished book-length collection of short fiction (150-300 double-spaced pages) will receive $15,000 and publication by the University of Pittsburgh Press. Open to writers who have published a novel, a book-length collection of fiction, or at least three short stories or novellas in nationally distributed magazines or journals; online and self-publication does not count. Due June 30.

Advanced Writers
Costa Book Awards. Awards a top prize of 30,000 pounds, plus prizes of 5,000 pounds in each genre, for books first published in the UK or Ireland by authors who have lived in the UK or Ireland for at least six months of each of the preceding three years. Awards are given in the genres of poetry, novel, first novel, biography (including autobiography and memoir), and children's literature (written for confident readers ages 9-15). Books must have been published between November 1 of the previous year and October 31 of the current year. Five copies of book and completed entry form must be submitted by publisher. Due June 26.

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

Search for Contests

Calls for Submissions

PSA: Immigrants Learning English in a Time of Anti-Immigrant Sentiment

Adult Literacy Education journal

Adult Literacy Education: The International Journal of Literacy, Language, and Numeracy is a new online, peer-reviewed, themed research journal published by ProLiteracy twice a year. The first issue includes "Immigrants Learning English in a Time of Anti-Immigrant Sentiment", which describes how the current political environment in the US impedes immigrants from learning English.

"To no one's surprise, after his election, President Trump's administration has issued repressive and punitive policies and has encouraged raids performed by the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency (ICE) throughout the country. ICE manages detentions and the removal of people who have already been arrested for immigration violations. However, recently, ICE has targeted community centers, among other places, offering education services to the immigrant community...

"Regardless of the political climate, learning English continues to be a compulsory need of adult immigrants. However, attending ESL classes has become a hazard for some immigrants who feel vulnerable and perceive attending adult education centers as unsafe."

Read more (pages 53-58 in ALE volume 1, number 1)

Highlights from Our North Street Book Prize Archives

This month, editor Jendi Reiter presents some of the best self-published books that have come through our North Street Book Prize competition. There are many more in our Contest Archives.

by Jenna Leigh Evans

First Prize, Genre Fiction
2015 North Street Book Prize
This novel combines speculative fiction, political protest, and dark humor in its depiction of a near-future America where the indebted masses are railroaded by government bureaucracy into a for-profit labor camp in a former shopping mall.

by Mary Ellen Sanger

Second Prize, Memoir
2016 North Street Book Prize
This is an American woman's memoir of her month in a Mexican prison where she was unjustly held as leverage in a land dispute. Her poetic writing captures the lush beauty of Mexico and the dignity of its people.

by Cynthia Harris-Allen

Honorable Mention, Literary Fiction
2017 North Street Book Prize
This powerful historical novel about slavery is set on a large plantation in Macon, Georgia. The linked stories are represented as quilt squares made by an enslaved seamstress who memorializes deceased and escaped slaves by lovingly stitching together snippets of their clothing.

by Juliette Chen

Honorable Mention, Poetry
2018 North Street Book Prize
This elegant and moving collection marries lyric poems with original artwork and magical-realist stories inspired by the author's mixed Vietnamese-Chinese heritage.

by K. Gordon Neufeld

Honorable Mention, Literary Fiction
2018 North Street Book Prize
This slim but intense story collection serves up a montage of characters who are insidiously recruited into various cults, some inspired by the author's experience in the Unification Church of Rev. Sun Myung Moon.

Freedom: An excerpt from The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran

The Prophet

And an orator said, Speak to us of Freedom.

And he answered:

At the city gate and by your fireside I have seen you prostrate yourself and worship your own freedom,

Even as slaves humble themselves before a tyrant and praise him though he slays them.

Ay, in the grove of the temple and in the shadow of the citadel I have seen the freest among you wear their freedom as a yoke and a handcuff.

And my heart bled within me; for you can only be free when even the desire of seeking freedom becomes a harness to you, and when you cease to speak of freedom as a goal and a fulfilment.

You shall be free indeed when your days are not without a care nor your nights without a want and a grief,

But rather when these things girdle your life and yet you rise above them naked and unbound.

And how shall you rise beyond your days and nights unless you break the chains which you at the dawn of your understanding have fastened around your noon hour?

In truth that which you call freedom is the strongest of these chains, though its links glitter in the sun and dazzle the eyes.

And what is it but fragments of your own self you would discard that you may become free?

If it is an unjust law you would abolish, that law was written with your own hand upon your own forehead.

You cannot erase it by burning your law books nor by washing the foreheads of your judges, though you pour the sea upon them.

And if it is a despot you would dethrone, see first that his throne erected within you is destroyed.

For how can a tyrant rule the free and the proud, but for a tyranny in their own freedom and a shame in their won pride?

And if it is a care you would cast off, that care has been chosen by you rather than imposed upon you.

And if it is a fear you would dispel, the seat of that fear is in your heart and not in the hand of the feared.

Verily all things move within your being in constant half embrace, the desired and the dreaded, the repugnant and the cherished, the pursued and that which you would escape.

These things move within you as lights and shadows in pairs that cling.

And when the shadow fades and is no more, the light that lingers becomes a shadow to another light.

And thus your freedom when it loses its fetters becomes itself the fetter of a greater freedom.

Read The Prophet on Wikisource

The Last Word

Jendi ReiterTwo Poems from Garret Keizer's "The World Pushes Back"
Critics often compliment a book by calling it "ambitious", but such an ego-driven word would be untrue to the spirit of this collection—audacious as it is to be a progressive Christian moralist in a culture where hard-hearted reactionaries claim a monopoly on faith...Keizer gently but pointedly warns his fellow American bourgeoisie not to mistake the contentment of privilege for true happiness, the latter requiring the soul-searching and pain of being born again into a humbler interconnectedness to others.

[read more]

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

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