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Welcome to Our October Newsletter

Lisa Suhair Majaj and Dave Edgerton

We found almost three dozen quality free poetry and prose contests with deadlines between October 15-November 30.
View Free Contests
In this issue: Julian Peters' adaptation of the poem "Impression Du Matin" (1881) by Oscar Wilde.

CONGRATULATIONS to the winners of our 24th annual Tom Howard/John H. Reid Fiction & Essay Contest! Dave Edgerton submitted the winning story, "The Death of Betty Boop", and Lisa Suhair Majaj submitted the winning essay, "Journeys to Jerusalem". 1,177 authors from around the world submitted 1,453 entries. Read all the winning entries and the roll of finalists. See the press release.

Our new fiction and essay contest is open now, with $4,000 in prizes.

Want to view past newsletters? Go to Need assistance? Let us help. Join our 77,000 followers on Twitter at @WinningWriters.

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Upcoming contest deadlines:

Palindrome Poetry Contest
A palindrome is a word (or sentence) that reads the same backwards as forwards. Write a poem that uses this technique as liberally or conservatively as necessary. Winner receives $100 cash. Deadline: October 18 (three days from today!)

Lune Poetry Contest
Lunes have 5 syllables in the first line, 3 syllables in the second line, and 5 syllables in the final line. Rhymes are fine but not required. $100 for the winner. Deadline: October 24.

Newbie 5-7-5
Create a poem with three lines. The first line has 5 syllables. The second line has 7 syllables. The third line has 5 syllables again. Only writers new to FanStory may enter. The winner takes away $100. Deadline: October 31.

Halloween Poetry Contest
Enter a poem that captures the fun, horror or excitement of this time of the year. Cash prize of $100 for the winner. Deadline: October 31.

Halloween Horror
Write a horror or thriller story for our Halloween writing contest. The story can have a Halloween theme or you can use your imagination to create a story that will put your readers on edge. Creative approaches are welcomed. Recommended length is 2,000-3,500 words, 7,000 maximum. Winner receives $100. Deadline: October 31.

See all our upcoming contests and
find out more.


Recent Honors and Publication Credits for Our Subscribers

Congratulations to Reena Ribalow (featured poem: "Domestic Enchantment"), Scott Winkler, Roberta Beary, Carmine Dandrea (featured poem: "Geraniums"), Laine CunninghamBracha Nechama Bomze, R.T. Castleberry, Bob Van LaerhovenEllaraine Lockie, Cheryl Denise Chandler, and Diane Frank.

Winning Writers Editor Jendi Reiter won the 2016 New Letters Prize for Fiction for her short story "Taking Down the Pear Tree". Read an excerpt on her blog. Final judge Hilma Wolitzer said, "I anticipated the ending of this sharp and shapely rendering of the quest for parenthood. The pleasure was in getting there, in its aching details and its final sting of truth."

Do you live near Western Massachusetts? Jendi will read from her just-published novel, Two Natures (Saddle Road Press, 2016), on Wednesday, October 19, at 7pm at Broadside Bookshop, 247 Main Street, Northampton, MA; and on Saturday, October 22, at 2pm at World Eye Bookshop, 156 Main Street, Greenfield, MA.

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

Have news? Please email it to

Beneath the Coyote Hills by William Luvaas

Beneath the Coyote Hills by Williams Luvaas

Beneath The Coyote Hills enters the bizarre world of Tommy Aristophanos, a homeless epileptic visionary who lives in a hut he has built in an abandoned olive grove in California's high desert. Tommy is tormented by spells that leave him unconscious or stumbling through dark fogs that blur the line between reality and illusion. Demons from his spell visions materialize in the flesh to torment him, including his dead father and predaceous Lizard Man.

A hapless, though enterprising, freegan, Tommy survives on his wits and society's leavings, while his fictional creation, V.C. Hoffstatter (Volt), is the rich and successful architect of a financial empire. He materializes in the flesh from pages of Tommy's novel, and author and character face off in a battle of wills in a limbo between fiction and reality. Along the way, Tommy endures attacks by vigilante thugs, by marauding coyotes, and by a criminal organ transplant ring in Kosovo that steals one of his kidneys.

"Beneath The Coyote Hills has cost me a sleepless night that I can scarcely afford, and has left me cold with awe at the unwavering skill and subtlety of the narrative. The sheer scope of the author's imagination, and the almost impossibly delicate poetic weight of his prose, has made the discovery of William Luvaas' writing one of the genuine joys of my reading-year. He is a remarkable writer, comfortably among the finest at work in America today, and this novel is a towering and maybe career-defining achievement, art of the highest order."
– Billy O'Callaghan, Irish Book Award-winning author of The Things We Lose, The Things We Leave Behind

"Master storyteller William Luvaas demonstrates once again his remarkable talent for creating over-the-top characters and tragic lives that feel entirely true and believable."
– Clare MacQueen, Publisher of KYSO Flash

On sale now at Amazon. Download Chapter 1 for free.

Prosperity by Jenna Leigh Evans, a North Street Book Prize winner

Prosperity by Jenna Leigh Evans

"Prosperity combines speculative fiction, political protest, and dark humor, in the tradition of George Saunders and Kurt Vonnegut…one of the most original and ambitious books we read this year."
~ Jendi Reiter, judge, North Street Book Prize sponsored by Winning Writers

What readers are saying on Amazon and Goodreads:

  • "…A prescient, scary page-turner…it's also, surprisingly, laugh-out-loud funny in places, as well as suspenseful."
  • "Clever, quotable and thought-provoking…I wish it was a series I could binge watch for weeks on end!!"
  • "…Rarely is a book with a political conscience this warm-hearted, funny, and smart."
  • "…A great mix-up of Beckett and Thelma and Louise."
  • "It reminded me of Kafka on an acid trip."
  • "Exciting, excellent read!"

Buy Prosperity on Amazon.

Return of the Slacker: Original poetry by Jim DuBois

Jim DuBois

To slack:
1. to make loose, or less tense or taut, as a rope; loosen.
2. to become less tense or taut, as a rope; to ease off.

1. an earnest desire for some type of achievement or distinction, as power, honor, fame, or wealth, and the willingness to strive for its attainment.

A slacker:
1. a person without ambition.
2. a person who gives up the idea of ambition in order to become less tense or taut, and to make the world less tense.

Return of the Slacker—read it online now!

New from C. Hope Clark: Echoes of Edisto

Echoes of Edisto by C. Hope Clark is out and reviews are rolling in rich and positive. Like this one:

"As always C. Hope Clark has me at page one! I love her concern for detail. You can feel Callie Jean Morgan's emotions and struggles, and as she enters back into law enforcement you keep pulling for her. As soon as you open the book, you are pulled in by a sudden loss and captivated till the very end. I look forward to anything this author writes! All of her books transport your mind to the center of her books' being. A perfected skill we are all happier for. Keep that magic coming!"

Buy Echoes of Edisto now at Amazon.

Tupelo Press Sunken Garden Chapbook Prize

Postmark Deadline: October 31. The Sunken Garden Poetry Prize is a prestigious national poetry prize for adult writers. Established in 2002, the Prize has drawn submissions from around the country that have been judged by renowned poets such as Martha Collins, Patricia Smith, and Tony Hoagland. The winner receives a cash prize, an introductory reading at the Sunken Garden Poetry Festival, and publication of a chapbook. Hill-Stead began partnering with Tupelo Press for the publication of the chapbook in 2013.

The Tupelo Press Sunken Garden Poetry Prize includes a cash award of $1,000, publication by Tupelo Press, a book launch, and national distribution with energetic publicity and promotion. The final judge for this year's contest is to be Maggie Smith. Results announced in winter 2017. Reading fee: $25 per manuscript. Submit online or by mail.

Read the complete guidelines before submitting your manuscript:

Read about past winners here:

Read about the Sunken Garden Festival here:

Read about all Tupelo Press contests and open reading opportunities at:

Here is a poem by Hadara Bar-Nadav, author of Fountain and Furnace (Tupelo Press, 2015), winner of the 2015 Sunken Garden Poetry Prize:


There's the ark
in minature.

There's the vacant
nest in the basement.

Honey-colored limbs,
a fine skeleton, pine.

The elephant and giraffe
plucked out their eyes.

A monkey gutted
himself of clouds.

Turtles fail to circulate,
battery acid caked
beneath their shells.

The stillness and
the stillness.

The pink blanket
in its plastic wrap.

Scent of honeysuckle
and dust.

Let the egg-filled spiders
have their way

and the night cover you.
Tupelo Press Sunken Garden Chapbook Prize

Coal Hill Review 2016 Annual Poetry Chapbook Contest

English Kills

Deadline: November 1. Coal Hill Review is accepting submissions for its annual poetry chapbook contest. The winner will receive publication and $1,000. All submitted manuscripts should be between 12 and 20 pages in length and include a cover letter, table of contents, acknowledgements page for previous publications, and SASE. Electronic submissions can be sent through Submittable and hard copy submissions can be sent to:

Autumn House Press
Coal Hill Review Chapbook Contest
P.O. Box 60100
Pittsburgh, PA 15211

Full submission guidelines can be found at

The final judge of the competition is poet, critic, and essayist Gerry LaFemina. Those who submit will be considered for publication in the online winter issue. All finalists will be notified by November 2016, and the winner will be posted on the Coal Hill Review website in December.

Please enjoy this poem from English Kills by Monica Wendel, winner of our 2015 contest:


In Lithuania
my roommate made art
about hating Jews—
I escaped to a field
where I watched boys play soccer.
Things were dangerous.
I rode the elevator back up to the apartment
pushed her against the wall
shouting about soldiers
looking for people like me.
She looked surprised
that ideas could have consequences.
I didn't destroy her art.
I woke up instead
and turned off the air conditioner
and took the dog out.
Gray clouds marbled over red brick buildings,
over the old factory we live in.
You were still sleeping.
In darkness, at night, your paintings
become the flags ships use
to signal each other
across wide empty spaces—
this one for civic pride,
this one for genocide.

Vermont Writers' Prize

NOW OPEN: Two Sylvias Press WILDER POETRY BOOK PRIZE for Women Over 50

Wilder Series Book Prize sponsored by Two Sylvias Press

Deadline: November 30. Prize: $1,000 and publication by Two Sylvias Press (print book and eBook publication, and a vintage art nouveau pendant)

The Wilder Series Book Prize is open to women over 50 years of age (established or emerging poets) and includes a $1,000 prize, publication by Two Sylvias Press, 20 copies of the winning book, and a vintage, art nouveau pendant. Women submitting manuscripts may be poets with one or more previously published chapbooks/books or poets without any prior chapbook/book publications. (We use an inclusive definition of "woman" and "female" and we welcome trans women, genderqueer women, and non-binary people who are significantly female-identified.) All manuscripts will be considered for publication.

Learn more about the prize and Two Sylvias Press at twosylviaspress.comRead a sample poem from last year's winning entry, The Blue Black Wet of Wood by Carmen R. Gillespie.

Creative Nonfiction Seeks Essays on "The Dialogue Between Science & Religion"

Deadline: December 12. Science and religion, despite their rich, interwoven history, are too often portrayed as opposites in nearly every way. As part of a larger effort to facilitate dialogue between these two ways of knowing the world, Creative Nonfiction and Issues in Science & Technology magazines are seeking original narratives illustrating and exploring the relationships, tensions, and harmonies between science and religion—the ways these two forces productively challenge each other as well as the ways in which they can work together and strengthen one another.

We welcome personal stories of scientists, religious figures, or (just as important) everyday people seeking to explore or reconcile their own spiritual and scientific beliefs. We also welcome research-based narratives about historical moments in scientific and/or religious discovery; stories by or about contemporary scientists wrestling with the ethical quandaries their work entails; or essays by religious, legal, humanistic, or other experts who have encountered interesting and revealing instances of science-religion dialogue and harmonies.

Above all, we are looking for narratives—true stories, rich with scene, character, detail, and a distinctive voice—that provide a nuanced, thoughtful consideration of the complex interplay and unexplored interdependencies and synergies between science and religion.

Submissions must be 5,000 words or fewer.

$10,000 for best essay; $5,000 for runner-up.

Guidelines at

Creative Nonfiction

Creative Nonfiction Seeks Essays on "Adaptation"

Deadline: January 9, 2017. For the summer 2017 issue, Creative Nonfiction magazine is seeking submissions for a special issue devoted to the theme of "adaptation"—original essays illuminating the ways in which the need to keep up with a rapidly-changing world drives the work of scientists, designers, thinkers, innovators, farmers, soldiers, medical professionals, teachers, and others and affects the lives of prisoners, patients, refugees, students, travelers, and other citizens. As the world changes, so, too, do humans—whether in our approach to building things, developing new technologies (and adapting to the ways those technologies change our society), learning how to eat different kinds of foods, or learning how to dress differently. And of course adaptation is hardly limited to humanity; numerous other species—everything from viruses to plants and animals—have had to adapt to rapid changes in both global and local habitats.

The special issue of Creative Nonfiction will feature new nonfiction narratives by and/or about professionals whose work helps humans adapt to a changing world. The issue may also feature original work focusing on other, less concrete types of adaptation—for example, how changing demographics affect the development of new technologies; the personal and/or social impacts of shifting attitudes towards gender and sexuality; and the implications and possibilities of new types of media.

We welcome personal stories as well as profiles, and we're open to a very wide range of experiences and circumstances. Above all, we are looking for narratives—true stories, rich with scene, character, detail, and a distinctive voice—that offer unique insight into the theme.

Submissions must be 4,000 words or fewer.

$3,500 for best essay.

Guidelines at

Creative Nonfiction

Women's National Book Association Fifth Annual Writing Contest

Women's National Book Association Fifth Annual Writing Contest

Spotlight Contests

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
PEN/Robert J. Dau Short Story Prize for Emerging Writers. PEN American Center will award 12 prizes of $2,000 and anthology publication for the first published short story, 12,000 words maximum, by a US citizen or permanent resident. Entries must be submitted by publisher. Due November 11.

Intermediate Writers
Best Translated Book Awards for Fiction. Two awards of $5,000, one apiece for the author and translator, for the best books of fiction first published in English translation in the US or UK during the contest year. Due November 30.

Advanced Writers
Dylan Thomas Prize. 30,000 pounds, plus 500 pounds for shortlisted authors, for published books of poetry, fiction (novel, novella, or short story collection), radio scripts, or screenplays by authors aged 18-39. Eligible books must have been commercially published for the first time in the English language during the calendar year in which the deadline falls. No restriction on country of author. Due November 4.

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

Search for Contests

Calls for Submissions

PSA: How Literacy Changes Lives

Marty Calanche

Marty Calanche has struggled with reading since he was a child. At first he did well in school, moving right along from first grade to fourth. Then things changed. He started to notice that his reading was bad, but he still kept moving up grades. In the eighth grade he realized that he did not want to go on to the next grade. He was not ready for it and his lack of reading and spelling skills made him feel ashamed.

"I told my teacher and my principal that I wasn't ready to go to high school because I couldn't spell or read," Marty said. "Their reply was that I had to go because they needed the room for the new kids who were coming in." Marty did continue with school, but left after the 11th grade, before he had the chance to graduate.

He had always been able to learn skills on the job, and in the 1980s he worked with the flight safety parts for the Apache helicopter. Marty was laid off in 1992. He moved to Tucson, Arizona, in hopes of finding a job, but employers told him that he would need his G/E/D to apply for a position.

Marty became discouraged and turned to alcohol. He struggled for years. One day he woke up and no longer wanted or needed a drink. It was time to change his life. In 2010, Marty went to Literacy Connects in Tucson, Arizona. The group empowers people of all ages to develop a sustainable culture of literacy and creative expression.

"I was still embarrassed. When you can't read you think that you're the only one like this," Marty said. "But the staff and tutors at Literacy Connects are so kindhearted and very encouraging. I'm excited that I will soon be able to write a letter to my mom, for the first time ever. Someday I will get the G/E/D that I've been wanting since I was a kid."

Since learning to read, Marty has been an ambassador for ProLiteracy's continued efforts to increase access to and awareness of quality literacy services. He has participated as a student, tutor trainer, member of the advocacy committee, and board member. In 2015, Marty was invited to be on the floor of the Arizona House of Representatives as the honored guest of his local representative.

"There is so much to think about now," Marty said. "I'm seeing the future and it looks good! I am surrounded by people who care and who are helping me to improve my life and I love them all. I have always heard that it's not how you start; it's how you finish!"

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Julian Peters: "Impression Du Matin" by Oscar Wilde.

Julian Peters adapts the poem "Impression Du Matin" (1881) by Oscar Wilde:

Reprinted by kind permission of Julian Peters. Visit Julian Peters Comics to learn more.

The Last Word

Release Week Reviews for Two Natures
I'm honored when readers say that I did justice to the real-life experience of gay men and their loved ones during the AIDS crisis. When other people make an emotional connection with characters who previously existed only in my mind, something magical happens. Buy Two Natures now at Amazon.

Goodreads reviewer Nocturnalux
"The novel is almost flawless in how it harnesses highly personal moments to turn into literature. Ultimately, Two Natures questions the very notion of 'either/or' system: perhaps there is a way of sublimating truth into beauty, or vice-versa, and reach an integrated way of feeling in which one can be true to oneself and still find actual love."

Meredith King at the M/M review blog Diverse Reader
"Talk about a debut novel that grabs you, bleeds you, and makes you cry until you're raw. It's one of those books that when it ends you realize you stopped breathing."

Gay novelist Hans M. Hirschi
"I am deeply indebted to Ms. Reiter for writing 'our' story, the story of gay men growing of age in the nineties so honestly, so candidly...Two Natures is an exquisite work of art, beautiful literary writing that enriches the LGBT section of any bookstore and Kindle, and it adds a beautiful facet to the mosaic of LGBT life past."

[read more]

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

Jendi Reiter
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