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Winning Writers Newsletter - February 2023

View Free Contests

We found five dozen excellent free poetry and prose contests with deadlines between February 15-March 31. In this issue, please enjoy a vidiette of "When You Are Old" by William Butler Yeats, illustrated by Julian Peters.

One More Day by Diane Chiddister

We are thrilled to announce the results from our eighth annual North Street Book Prize for self-published books. We read 1,946 entries in seven categories!

Diane Chiddister of Yellow Springs, Ohio won this year's Grand Prize across all genres for her literary novel, One More Day. This exquisite story delves into the inner lives of four denizens of an old-age home: a playful woman with dementia and a penchant for escape attempts, an anthropologist who must rely on strengths other than his mind as he approaches death, a nurse who's better at giving than receiving love, and a dedicated administrator whose authority is challenged. Ms. Chiddister received $8,000, 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 $525 value).

We further congratulate our category winners, Tonia Shimin (Art Book), Kayla Marie Pierre (Children's Picture Book), Robert Chazz Chute (Genre Fiction), Alicia Czechowski (Graphic Novel & Memoir), Wendy Sibbison (Mainstream/Literary Fiction), Lorelei Kay (Creative Nonfiction & Memoir), and Gayle Lauradunn (Poetry). L. Sue Baugh, William Guion, Cathy Kreutter, Monica Canlas Tuy & Eric Tuy, Peggy Ann Barnett, E.G. Radcliff, Danny Gorny, Cameron Beach, Lucien Agosta, and Thomas Sheehan earned Honorable Mentions. We awarded extra Honorable Mentions in the categories of Art Book, Children's Picture Book, and Genre Fiction.

Final judges Jendi Reiter and Ellen LaFleche were assisted by Annie Mydla and Sarah Halper. Read excerpts from all the winning entries and the judges' remarks. Read the press release.

$17,500 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. The grand prize is increasing to $10,000, and the entry fee is now $75 per book. We are expanding the contest to include hybrid-published as well as self-published books, and we have opened a new category for Middle Grade books. ENTER HERE.

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.

Recent Honors and Publication Credits for Our Subscribers

Congratulations to Valerie Nieman, Angela Cleland, Cathy Davis, Marvin J. Lurie, F.J. Bergmann, D.K. Coutant, Joan Gelfand, Ellaraine Lockie, The Poet Spiel, and Jessica Pegis.

Winning Writers assistant judge Dare Williams's poem "In My Dreams I am Carried Inside" was published in December in Frontier Poetry. Dare is one of our new screeners for the 2023 Tom Howard/Margaret Reid Poetry Contest.

Winning Writers judge Michal 'MJ' Jones wrote a column for the "Writers Recommend" feature at Poets & Writers in February, about listening to music as inspiration for your writing.

Winning Writers editor Jendi Reiter was the featured poet on Samantha Terrell's blog for the week of January 27. The post included two poems from Jendi's latest book, Made Man (Little Red Tree, 2022).

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

Have news? Please email it to

Ad: Now on sale! The Third Edition of The Frugal Editor

The Frugal Editor - Third EditionWhy 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).

Ad: Tennessee Williams Museum Short Story & Poetry Contests

Tennessee Williams Museum Short Story & Poetry Contests

Deadline: March 11

In commemorating Tennessee Williams's 112th Birthday, the Tennessee Williams Museum in Key West is convening short story and poetry contests. Submissions must in some way reference Williams and must not have been written before 2022. Authors may choose to write a poem or short story referencing Williams, his family, one of his characters, or one of the actors/actresses who played a role in his plays or films. Cash prize of $200 for 1st place and $100 for 2nd place in each competition. Entry fee: $10. Learn more and enter here.

The winners will be announced on March 26, 2023 at a special Birthday Party at the Tennessee Williams Museum and published online.


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: $6,000 in Prizes: Nimrod International Journal's Literary Awards for Fiction and Poetry

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

Wergle Flomp Humor Poetry Contest

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

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: Our Fiction & Essay Contest

Tom Howard/John H. Reid Fiction & Essay Contest

Ad: Subscribe to Ploughshares and Enter Our Emerging Writer's Contest for Free

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. Subscribe today to see why the New York Times calls Ploughshares the "triton among minnows".

Ploughshares subscribers not only gain access to 50+ years of archive content from our newly discovered authors, but also guaranteed delivery of our quarterly issues. Subscribers can also submit for free to our Emerging Writer's Contest, which opens March 1st at noon EST.

Ad: Promote your book on the ink & peat podcast (for free)

ink & peat podcast

At ink & peat we believe in the power of story to shape the world.

We help emerging authors promote their books through conversation, shared on the airwaves via the ink & peat podcast. For free.

One listen is worth a thousand words. Check out an episode of ink & peat here.

And imagine it's your voice, spreading the word about your book.

Contact for details about how you can be the featured author on ink & peat.

Ad: New Release of a Winning Writers Classic!

Achilles and the Queen

Based on the winning poem from the 2007 War Poetry Contest sponsored by Winning Writers

What happens when two Greek Demi-Gods meet on the field of battle and fall in love in the most glorious war of all time?

"Achilles and the Queen" is an award-winning poem in rhyming couplets about the doomed and forbidden love between Achilles and Penthesilea, Queen of the Amazons. This new recording features narration by the author, in-line text, sound design, and an entirely original musical score.

Written, narrated, and scored by award-winning poet and voice-over artist Kyle Derek McDonald.

Experience "Achilles and the Queen" now on YouTube.

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
Christopher Tower Poetry Competition. Christ Church in Oxford will award 5,000 pounds for unpublished poems of 48 lines maximum by UK students aged 16-18. Themes change annually. For 2023, the theme is 'The Planets'. No simultaneous submissions. Enter online by February 24.

Intermediate Writers
Judith A. Markowitz Award for Emerging LGBTQ Writers. The Lambda Literary Foundation will award two prizes of $1,500 each for LGBTQ authors who have published 1-2 books of fiction, nonfiction, or poetry. Candidates' contributions to the LGBTQ literary field beyond their writings and publications will also be considered. Submit a writing sample of your strongest representative work (an excerpt of a larger piece or a stand-alone work, 10 pages maximum for poetry and 20 pages maximum for prose). Due February 17.

Advanced Writers
Maya Angelou Book Award. The Kansas City Public Library will award $10,000 to a contemporary US author age 18+ whose published work "demonstrates a commitment to social justice in America and/or the world". Genre alternates between poetry and fiction. 2023 contest is for a work of poetry published the previous year or scheduled for publication by November of this year. Winner will participate in a two-week book tour of Missouri colleges, universities, and libraries. Publisher must complete the online entry form and upload an electronic copy of the book via the submissions portal on the sponsor's guidelines page or mail five hard copies of the book by March 31.

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. 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.

Pink Disco
(poetry, prose, and art with a consensual erotic theme - February 28)

Sundress Publications: Prose Manuscript Reading Period
(novels, memoirs, story and essay collections - February 28)

Fieldstone Review: "Reversals" Issue
(poetry, stories, essays, reviews on theme of turning points - March 1)

The Healing Muse
(poetry, fiction, essays on themes of medicine, disability, and healing - April 15)

Under a Warm Green Linden: America//Being America
(poetry on contemporary policy issues - April 30)

The Heartland Review
(poetry, fiction, essays - May 1)

Highlights from Our Wergle Flomp Poetry Contest Archives

Here are some of our favorite poems from past Wergle Flomp contests. They may not have all won a top prize, but we still remember them fondly. To see more winning poems, visit our Contest Archives.

Nancy Pagh

by Nancy Pagh
Second Prize, 2014 Wergle Flomp Humor Poetry Contest

by Reuben Steenson
Honorable Mention, 2014 Wergle Flomp Humor Poetry Contest

by Michael Forester
Honorable Mention, 2016 Wergle Flomp Humor Poetry Contest

by Mary Somerville
Second Prize, 2017 Wergle Flomp Humor Poetry Contest

by Taryn Parrish
Honorable Mention, 2017 Wergle Flomp Humor Poetry Contest

"When You Are Old" by William Butler Yeats—a vidiette by Jim Avis based on illustrations by Julian Peters

Jim Avis presents this vidiette from Julian Peters' illustrations of "When You Are Old", a poem by William Butler Yeats, with narration provided by Poetry Foundation. More poems illustrated by Mr. Peters appear in his book, Poems to See By.

The Trees

The Last Word

Jendi ReiterHot Oatmeal Man
I really think it's time we talk about our corporate mascot kinks. What housewife or latent homosexual hasn't wanted the Brawny Paper Towel Guy to appear outside their kitchen window? (As of 2017, there's also the lipstick lesbian version, thanks to Georgia-Pacific's #StrengthHasNoGender campaign.)

[Read more]

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