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Winning Writers Newsletter - June 2023

View Free Contests

We found almost four dozen excellent free poetry and prose contests with deadlines between June 15-July 31. In this issue, please enjoy "I am in Bed with You, too" by Emma Barnes, illustrated by Julian Peters.

Last Call!
Deadline: June 30. 9th year. Prizes increased to $20,400, including a top award of $10,000. This year's categories: Mainstream/Literary Fiction, Genre Fiction, Creative Nonfiction & Memoir, Poetry, Children's Picture Book, Middle Grade (new), Graphic Novel & Memoir, and Art Book. Now accepting hybrid-published as well as self-published books. Fee: $75 per entry. Jendi Reiter and Ellen LaFleche will judge, assisted by Annie Mydla, Sarah Halper, and Lauren Singer. See the previous winners and enter here.

Also open now, our Tom Howard/Margaret Reid Poetry Contest will award $9,000 in prizes, including two top awards of $3,000 each. Submit 1-3 poems for $22. Deadline: September 30.

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

Recent Honors and Publication Credits for Our Subscribers

Congratulations to Lisa Dordal (featured poem: "September 1983"), Sandy Longley (featured poem: "The Crossing"), Alberta Nassi, Norbert Hirschhorn (featured poem: "Letter to My Parents Long Gone from 853 Riverside Drive"), Gary Beck, Judy Juanita, Rick Lupert, Richard Eric Johnson, Samantha Terrell (featured poem: "Escaping Arrogance"), Robin Reardon, Noah Berlatsky, Amy Greenberg, Duane L. Herrmann, and J Brooke.

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: FINAL DAY! The 17th Mudfish Poetry Prize

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.

Stoned by Jill Hoffman Also from Box Turtle Press, we are thrilled to announce the publication of Jill Hoffman's long-overdue EXCITING second novel, STONED! We welcome your orders.

In Jill Hoffman's irresistible Stoned, the poet Maud Diamond not only indulges in reefer madness in her Beresford bathroom, but takes a much younger live-in lover, a handsome Russian (would-be-famous) artist, to the horror of her precocious children. An explosive triangle, by turns hilarious and heartbreaking, brilliantly drawn with outsized characters worthy of Dickens, lavish imagery, and impeccable comedic timing. Hoffman has written a book so poignant and pleasurable, like a Crème Brûlée for the eyes, you'll read it again and again. And yet for all its seeming decadence there is a purity here like a fawn running into the water.

—Stephanie Emily Dickinson, author of Razor Wire Wilderness

Ad: A Supportive and Inspiring 4-Week Online Poetry Retreat Created by Poets for Poets

Two Sylvias Press Online Poetry Retreat

  • July Session: July 3-30 with Guest Critique Poets
  • August Session: August 7-September 4 with Guest Critique Poets
  • October Session: October 2-29 with the Editors of Two Sylvias Press

Our Online Poetry Retreat offers you the opportunity to write new poems and have one of them critiqued by a guest poet: Diane Seuss (July & August), Traci Brimhall (July & August), January Gill O'Neil (July & August), Jennifer Jean (August Only), and Jennifer K. Sweeney (July & August). You can learn about each guest critique poet by clicking here. The editors of Two Sylvias Press (Kelli Russell Agodon & Annette Spaulding-Convy) will critique poems for the October Session. We send you poetry prompts, example poems, creativity suggestions, and reflection questions to inspire your writing—ALL VIA EMAIL.

You can participate in this Online Poetry Retreat at home or on the go! ​This online retreat is private and does not include interaction with the other participants (unless you would like to join an optional and private Facebook group to share poems and your retreat experience).

WHAT YOU NEED: Access to email and a desire to write new poems.

WHAT WE PROVIDE: Poem prompts, sample poems, a Two Sylvias Press print publication (your choice), creativity suggestions, and reflection questions/activities to guide and inspire.

AND—at the end of the retreat, you will receive a professional critique of one of your poems with ideas on where to submit it!

Praise for Two Sylvias Press Online Poetry Retreat
"Thank you so much for your thoughtful and encouraging comments on my poems! I so appreciate your time and insight. I wasn't sure what to expect when I registered for the retreat, not having participated in anything like this before. I was hoping it would nudge me out of a writing lull and push me in new directions, and it absolutely delivered. The prompts introduced me to new and excellent poems, pushed me out of my comfort zone (sometimes way out!) and opened many new pathways for me to explore. I ended the retreat with several promising poems and several prompts I am still working on. The little messages of encouragement always seemed to arrive at just the right time, and the deadline to submit two poems for feedback gave me extra motivation. I would love to participate in future retreats!"
     —Lindsay Rutherford (read other testimonials here)

Click here to learn more and register.

Ad: LAST CALL! North Street Book Prize

Deadline: June 30 — Sponsored by Winning Writers

There are lots of contests for indie books. You can find them listed at the Alliance of Independent Authors and BookBub among other places. Here is what makes our North Street Book Prize one of the best:

  • Large cash prizes: $10,000 for the grand prize, $1,000 for each category winner.
  • Bonus awards: Winners receive additional services from BookBaby, Carolyn Howard-Johnson, Book Award Pro, and Winning Writers to help market their books.
  • Free gifts: All contestants receive four free gifts from our co-sponsors.
  • Reasonable entry fee: $75 per book. Many other contests charge $85, $95, even $100+.
  • No need to enter multiple categories: Choose one category for your book. If our judges feel it will do better in another category, they will reassign it.
  • Flexible criteria: Submit books published in any year, on any self-publishing or hybrid-publishing platform.
  • Pro-author attitude: Submit a non-qualifying book by mistake? A duplicate entry? We'll refund your fee.
  • Transparent: We have five judges. Read about them on our guidelines page.
  • Lasting, in-depth publicity: With some contests, it's hard to find out much about past winners beyond the author's name and the book title. At North Street, we publicize our winners through our website, in our newsletter (50,000+ subscribers), and in our social media channels (including 135,000+ Twitter followers and 40,000 Facebook followers). Our contest archives feature critiques of the winning entries, excerpts from the books, purchasing links, and bios of the winners going back to the first contest in 2015.
  • No nickel-and-diming: Some contests charge winners for things like award seals. We provide those for free.
  • Recommended by industry leaders: The North Street Book Prize is recommended by Reedsy and the Alliance of Independent Authors. Winning Writers itself is one of the "101 Best Websites for Writers" (Writer's Digest, 2022).

Submit online via Submittable or by mail. Click to learn more about our contest.

Ad: Mysteries of the Mist by C.A. Rand

Mysteries of the Mist

Ad: DEADLINE EXTENDED! The Blue Lynx Prize for Poetry

The Blue Lynx Prize for Poetry

Deadline extended to July 15

Lynx House Press seeks submissions of full-length poetry manuscripts for the annual Blue Lynx Prize for Poetry. The winner receives $2,000 and publication. Each entrant receives a copy of a book from our back catalog.

The Prize is awarded for an unpublished, full-length volume of poems by a US author, which includes foreign nationals living and writing in the US and US citizens living abroad.

Previous winners include Carolyne Wright, Jim Daniels, Roy Bentley, Arianne Zwartjes, Lynne Burris Butler, Suzanne Lummis, Prartho Sereno, Marc Harshman, and Joe Wilkins. The 2022 winner was Sara Moore Wagner for her collection Lady Wing Shot. Lynx House Press has been publishing fine poetry and prose since 1975.

Poems included in submissions may not have appeared in full-length, single-author collections. Acknowledgments pages and author names may be included. Entries must be at least 48 pages in length. The reading fee for submitting is $28.

Submit via Submittable.

Ad: Nimrod International Journal's Francine Ringold Awards for New Writers: $500 Prizes

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 two 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 honorable mentions will also be published, and honorable mentions will be paid at a rate of $10/page up to $200.

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)
  • Entry fee: $12 per entry (plus $1.70 processing fee if submitted online); 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.

Ad: Two Poetry Contests from Poets & Patrons with Cash Prizes!

Poets & Patrons Poets & Patrons of Chicago is sponsoring two contests offering cash prizes this year:

Helen Schaible International Sonnet Contest (no fee, open to all)
Open now. Deadline: July 15
Two categories (Traditional and Modern). Prizes for both categories: First Prize: $50. Second Prize: $30. Third Prize: $20. Three Honorable Mentions and three Special Merits per category, ranked.

The 67th Chicagoland Poetry Contest
Submission period: July 15-August 31
12 categories (includes free verse, formal verse, humorous, nature, and many more). Categories are open to all except category 12, which is exclusively for poets in the Chicago area. $50, $30, $20, plus three Honorable Mentions in each category. Entry fee is $12 for members, $15 for non-members, and covers one poem per category. If you wish to enter more than one poem in any one category, the fee for those additional poems is $1 per poem for members, and $2 each for non-members.

Visit the Poets & Patrons website for all the details and guidelines for both contests. Electronic entries only.

Ad: Rattle Poetry Prize

Rattle Poetry Prize

Deadline: July 15

The annual Rattle Poetry Prize celebrates its 18th year with a 1st prize of $15,000 for a single poem. Ten finalists will also receive $500 each and publication, and be eligible for the $5,000 Readers' Choice Award, to be selected by subscriber and entrant vote. All of these poems will be published in the winter issue of the magazine.

With the winners judged in a masked 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 "Conduction" by Francesca Bell, one of last year's finalists published in the Winter 2022 issue:


The man drives as closely to my car
as he can without making contact.
His truck window is down.
He is taking my right of way,
and I’m driving home, already crying,
from the audiologist’s office.
I’ve turned on the music
and have just been thinking
that somewhere in Denmark,
an engineer lays her head
on a pillow filled, perhaps,
with eiderdown, her mind stuffed
with equations she mastered
in order to write the code
for the music setting on my
new hearing aids. They cost me
as much as a used car
and will not rejuvenate
my cilia, cannot rebuild
this foundation that gradually
crumbles, but they have
resurrected, for this moment,
the voice of the trumpet
and polished its bright tones.
I cannot conceive
of how the years she bent
to her math books resulted
in this flashing beauty,
but I lean on it
the way a person leans
on a crutch when her knee
has given out, the way
I lean on Telemann who wrote
this concerto almost 300 years ago,
each note big enough
to compensate—across time—for loss,
for the man passing slowly by,
menace blaring from his eyes,
as, triumphant, he raises
his middle finger like a baton.

Ad: On The Premises Short Story Contest (no fee)

On The Premises Short Story Contest

Deadline: Friday, September 1, 2023, 11:59pm Eastern US Time

Last time we checked, 77% of web-based fiction magazines pay their fiction writers nothing.

So did 60% of print-only fiction magazines!

If you'd like to try getting paid for your fiction, why not consider us? Since 2006, On The Premises magazine has aimed to promote newer and/or relatively unknown writers who can write creative, compelling stories told in effective, uncluttered, and evocative prose. We've never charged a reading fee or publication fee, and we pay between $75 and $250 for short stories that fit each issue's broad story premise. We publish stories in nearly every genre (literary/realist, mystery, light/dark fantasy, light/hard sci-fi, slipstream) aimed at readers older than 12 (no children's fiction).

The premise of our 42nd short story contest is "Picture This".

For this contest, write a creative, compelling, well-crafted story between 1,000 and 5,000 words long based on the photograph above. For instance, specific details about the picture can inspire your story. A second approach is to have this photo represent a location where at least part of your story takes place. A third possibility is, one or more of your characters see a digital display, printout, painting, drawing, or other representation of the contents of this photo, and the image itself is somehow important to your story. Any of these approaches will work fine, as long as the judges can tell how the photo relates to your story.

Any genre except children's fiction, exploitative sex, or over-the-top gross-out horror is fine. We will not accept parodies of another author's specific fictional characters or world(s), and we do not accept fan fiction for the same reason. We will accept serious literary drama, crazy farces, and any variation of science fiction and fantasy you can imagine. Read our past issues and see!

You can find details and instructions for submitting your story here. 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,, the Short Story and Novel Writers guidebooks, and other short story marketing resources.

Ad: Endemic by Robert Chazz Chute


When civilization falls, what's a nerdy book editor to do?

Rise to rule all as queen, of course.

"Endemic is an adventure novel with plenty of innovative survival strategies and high-stakes battles to keep those pages turning. But even more than that, it's about a misunderstood woman's journey out of isolation and cynicism."
~ Jendi Reiter, North Street Book Prize judge

A cruel neurological virus erases everything we know. As marauders take over New York, Ovid Fairweather must evolve from introverted book editor to urban farmer. Fate will demand she carve out a brave destiny for herself and the children she protects.

This riveting novel won first place in Genre Fiction from the North Street Book Prize, and first place in Science Fiction at both the New York Book Festival and the Hollywood Book Festival.

Read an excerpt from Endemic (PDF)

Click here to buy this book

Ad: Celebrate Pride Month with Jendi Reiter's Two Natures

Two Natures by Jendi Reiter

Winner of the Rainbow Award for Best Contemporary Gay Fiction

Jendi Reiter's debut novel, Two Natures, is the spiritual coming-of-age story of a fashion photographer during the 1990s AIDS crisis in New York City.

Gay Spirituality author Toby Johnson says of this book, "Southern boy Julian Selkirk brings an outsider's wry and engaging sense of humor to his quest to make it in the New York City fashion world. His romp through gay men's urban culture also holds suffering, grief, pathos, and an ongoing struggle with the God of his childhood, as he comes of age during the height of the AIDS crisis. Though he gets distracted along the way—with politicians, preachers, drag queens, activists, Ironman gym buddies and sex, lots of sex—he never stops looking for real love to redeem him. An entertaining novel and a pleasure to read."

Read an excerpt from Two Natures.

Buy on Amazon Kindle, $7.99.

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
Dan Veach Prize for Younger Poets. The Atlanta Review will award $100 and publication for poems by college-age students, aged 18-23, on any subject or style. The sponsor is particularly interested in "poems with an international focus". Due July 1.

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

Advanced Writers
Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award. Claremont Graduate University will award $100,000 for a published book of poetry by a US citizen or legal resident. This award is presented for a full-length work by a poet who is past the very beginning but has not yet reached the acknowledged pinnacle of their career. Books must have been published between July 1 of last year and June 30 of the deadline year. Winner must agree to spend a week in residence at Claremont Graduate University for lectures, workshops, and poetry readings in Claremont, CA and the greater Los Angeles area. Due July 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, Erica Verrillo's blog, Authors Publish, Lit Mag News Roundup, Poets & Writers, The Writer, Duotrope, Submittable, and literary journals' own newsletters and announcements.

Codhill Press Guest Editor Series: Poetry Reading Period
(full-length poetry manuscripts on the theme "Dreams and the Subconscious" - June 30)

The Dawn Review
(poetry, stories, essays, short plays, hybrid work - June 30)

Eerie River Publishing: Pentacles
(Tarot-inspired horror stories - June 30)

Rose Metal Press: Hybrid Manuscripts Reading Period
(cross-genre, hybrid art and text works, poetry and prose - June 30)

Flame Tree Publishing: Learning to Be Human
(speculative short fiction about AI - July 2)

The Ex-Puritan: Indigenous Storytelling Issue
(poetry, prose, mixed-media, and hybrid short works by Indigenous creators - July 10)

Blessing the Boats Selections
(BOA Editions seeks poetry manuscripts by women of color - July 14)

Book of Matches
(poetry, stories, essays - August 11)

Sundress Publications: Poetry Manuscript Reading Period
(full-length poetry collections - August 31)

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.

The Blazing Star

Imani Josey

Honorable Mention, Young Adult Fiction, 2017
Twin sisters are magically transported to ancient Egypt and get caught up in a power struggle between the priestesses of Isis and an evil magician.

Petula Caesar

Honorable Mention, Creative Nonfiction, 2018
In this anecdote-rich memoir, a Black female journalist reflects on the impact of classism and colorism on her family, particularly in her close but difficult relationship with her father.

Joan Alden

Honorable Mention, Creative Nonfiction, 2019
This sensitive and honest bereavement memoir has an innovative structure, presented as a series of letters to her wife after the latter's death.

Caleb Rainey

First Prize, Poetry, 2020
This concise and high-energy poetry collection depicts the hard-won joys of Black childhood against the backdrop of racism and police violence.

Maya Stein

Honorable Mention, Art Book, 2021
During the pandemic lockdown, the author and her partner used ingenious household props to re-create contemporary paintings by women as staged photographs. This art book pairs their work with interviews of the original artists.

"I am in Bed with You, too" by Emma Barnes, illustrated by Julian Peters

Julian Peters writes, "As part of New Zealand's National Poetry Day in 2016, Victoria University of Wellington's Wai-te-ata Press hosted Transpositions, an event celebrating New Zealand women poets and their translators. One of the event's organizers, Francesca Benocci (my 'Partner in Rhyme' in my recent Oscar Wilde poem adaptation), asked me to contribute an image illustrating a passage from the work of one of the featured woman poets that could be projected during some of the presentations. I chose a couple of lines from Emma Barnes's startlingly image-rich poem 'I am in Bed with You, too', which you can read in its entirety here." Read more poems by Ms. Barnes, and visit Mr. Peters' website to learn more.

I am in Bed with You, too

I am in bed with you. I'm always on the left.
I am left of myself. I am creasing up in time.
Folded in two and three. Paper can be folded
in half seven times. I've got the folded creases
of thirty three years worth of nimble fingers in
my skin. I am better than origami. I am better.
I was always trying to reach you. I was calling
by phone, in the old dial style set. I punched
numbers and tapped screens. My finger traversed
the front of the sun. The number is 660-
816. 660-816. I was always calling you to tell
me how to keep myself alive. But none of you
knew. And so I had to invent myself out of a
paper bag without letting anyone know what
I was doing. Walking up the very longest street
in my body alone, knowing it would take forever.
Here's the final brick to slot into the mud house
I've made. It's the brick that tells you I didn't
die just yet. It's the brick that says I slaughtered
myself from the inside out taking each tiny
dead figure that no longer worked then
attaching it to a hook in the sky. Empty as a
golem I woke up next to you. Empty as bed
I walked around until I got here. I have refilled
myself like a pen. I have recalibrated
the frequency at which I vibrate. I have sent
out a search party for myself and they returned
triumphant with the you that's me on their
shoulders. We hugged together alone in a
room for hours. And then debuted ourselves
as one single person. A single person who
is almost 12000 shells inside a bone cage.

The Last Word

Jendi ReiterReflections of a Former Keller Girl
When I realized I was a child abuse survivor... [it] suddenly made a lifetime of theological solutions to self-hatred seem terribly beside the point.

[Read more]

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