The best free literary contests with deadlines through March 31 |

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Welcome to Our February Newsletter

We are thrilled to announce the winners of our second North Street Book Prize competition for self-published books. They are Winfred Cook (top left), L.S. Johnson (bottom left), and Linda Baer (bottom right). They each received $1,500, a marketing consultation with Carolyn Howard-Johnson, a $300 credit at BookBaby, and three free ads in this newsletter. This year we awarded a special Second Prize of $500 to Mary Ellen Sanger. We also commend our six Honorable Mentions—Jordan Cosmo, Mary J. Koral, Jeff Ingber, Lee Wicks, April Kelly, and William Alan Thomas, and six Finalists—Michael Pronko, Bette Lee Crosby, Stephen Davenport, Annie Dawid, Delfy Hall, and Kathleen Jowitt. Judges Jendi Reiter and Ellen LaFleche reviewed 473 entries, assisted by Lauren Singer and Annie Keithline. We awarded $6,500 in all. Please read excerpts from our winners' outstanding books, with critiques by the judges and advice for future contestants. See the press release about the winners. Our new competition opens today, with a deadline of June 30. ENTER HERE.

We found nearly five dozen quality free poetry and prose contests with deadlines between February 15-March 31.

View Free Contests

In this newsletter: Please enjoy "Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night" by Dylan Thomas, illustrated by Julian Peters.

Don't forget! Our no-fee Wergle Flomp Humor Poetry Contest deadline is April 1. Our Tom Howard/John H. Reid Fiction & Essay Contest deadline is April 30.

Want to view past newsletters? Go to Need assistance? Let us help. Join our 83,000 followers on Twitter at @WinningWriters.

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Upcoming contest deadlines:

Tanka Poetry Contest
Tanka poems contain five unrhymed lines of five, seven, five, seven, and seven syllables. (5, 7, 5, 7, 7). This format is not required but a helpful guide. Winner receives $100 cash. Deadline: February 16 (tomorrow!)

Valentines Writing Contest
Submit a story, essay, letter, or other form of prose where Valentines Day plays a clear role, up to 7,000 words. No poetry. Deadline: February 17.

Four-Line Poem Contest
Write a poem where the first line has 1 syllable, the second line has 5 syllables, the third line has 5 syllables, and the last line has 9 syllables. The winner takes away $100. Deadline: February 21.

Antonym Poetry Contest
Submit a four-line poem where the first line is only one word. The second and third lines may be formatted as you wish. The last line is the antonym of the word on the first line. Deadline: February 26.

Three-Line Poem Contest
Submit an unrhymed poem of three lines with these syllable counts: 5/7/5 or 5/7/7. Winner receives $100. Deadline: March 3.

See all our upcoming contests and find out more.

Recent Honors and Publication Credits for Our Subscribers

Congratulations to Linda Heuring, Ricky Rapoport Friesem (featured poem, "Director's Notes: Holocaust Memorial Day, Tel Aviv"), Carol Smallwood (featured poem, "Clumping"), Roberta Beary, Sandy Longley (featured poem, "Solace at the P.O."), Madeleine McDonald, Rick Lupert, Ruth Hill, Annie Dawid, Sofia Kioroglou, Pamela Uschuk, and Ellaraine Lockie.

We are especially proud to note that Jocelyn Pihlaja's essay "Family, Edited" was selected by Sundress Publications for Best of the Net 2016, honoring the top poems, stories, and essays published in online journals last year. This piece won an honorable mention in the 2015 Tom Howard/John H. Reid Fiction & Essay Contest.

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

Have news? Please email it to

Blog Book Tour and Sale for Two Natures by Jendi Reiter

Two Natures by Jendi Reiter

2016 Rainbow Awards: First Prize, Best Gay Contemporary Fiction; First Runner-Up, Debut Gay Book

Named one of QSpirit's Top LGBTQ Christian Books of 2016

Jendi Reiter's debut novel, Two Natures (Saddle Road Press), is available from AmazonBarnes & Noble, and iBooks. This genre-bending work couples the ambitious political analysis of literary fiction with the pleasures of an unconventional love story.

Two Natures will tour two dozen book review and M/M fan blogs this spring, thanks to Embrace the Rainbow, a blog book tour site specializing in LGBTQ authors.

To coincide with the tour, the Amazon Kindle and iBooks editions of Two Natures will be on sale for $0.99 from February 20-March 17.

See the tour dates on

The playbook to your first big book launch:
a free eBook courtesy of BookBaby

Tupelo Press Snowbound Chapbook Award

Postmark Deadline: February 28

The Snowbound Chapbook Award includes a cash award of $1,000, publication by Tupelo Press, 25 copies of your book, a book launch, and national distribution with energetic publicity and promotion. The final judge for this year's contest is Lawrence Raab. All finalists will be considered for publication. Results announced in late spring 2017. 

Submit a previously unpublished, chapbook-length poetry manuscript (20-36 pages) with a table of contents and, if applicable, an acknowledgments page for poems previously published in periodicals. We encourage online submission via our Submittable system. You may also submit via postal mail:

Tupelo Press Snowbound Prize
PO Box 1767
North Adams, MA 01247

A reading fee of $25 payable by check to Tupelo Press or via Submittable must accompany each submission.

Multiple submissions are accepted, each accompanied by a $25 reading fee. 

Read the complete guidelines before submitting your manuscript:

Read about past winners and more information about all Tupelo contests at:

Please enjoy this poem by Deborah Flanagan, author of Or, Gone (Tupelo Press, 2015), winner of the 2012 Snowbound Chapbook Award.

Tupelo Press Snowbound Chapbook Award

42 Miles Press Poetry Award

David Dodd Lee

Deadline: March 1
Judge: David Dodd Lee, Series Editor

The 42 Miles Press Poetry Award was created in an effort to bring fresh and original voices to the poetry reading public. The prize is offered annually to any poet writing in English, including poets who have never published a full-length book as well as poets who have published several. New and Selected collections of poems are also welcome.

Manuscripts submitted for the 42 Miles Press Poetry Award should exhibit an awareness of the contemporary "voice" in American poetry, an awareness of our moment in time as poets. We are excited to receive poetry that is experimental as well as work of a more formalist bent, as long as it reflects a complexity and sophistication of thought and language.

Urgency, yes; melodrama, not so much.

The winning poet will receive $1,000, publication of his or her book, and 50 author copies. The winner will also be invited to give a reading at Indiana University South Bend as part of the release of the book. The final selection will be made by the Series Editor. Current or former students or employees of Indiana University South Bend, as well as friends of the Series Editor, are not eligible for the prize.

Winners will be announced via our website in the summer of 2017. We will also announce the winner in major magazines such as Poets & Writers. The winning book will be published in September 2018 and be available to purchase on SPD and Amazon. Previous 42 Miles Press publications include books by Allan Peterson, Betsy Andrews, Bill Rasmovicz, Carrie Oeding, Erica Bernheim, Kimberly Lambright, Nate Pritts, Tracey Knapp, and Christine Garren.

See the complete guidelines and submit by mail or email.
Read "Sonnet No. 44" by Nate Pritts, winner of our 2016 contest.

Creative Nonfiction Seeks Essays on "Dangerous Creations: Real-life Frankenstein Stories"

Deadline: March 20

In the summer of 1816, in response to a challenge from friends to write the most terrifying possible ghost story, the young Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley dreamed up the story of a young scientist and his monstrous creation. The "Frankenstein monster" has fascinated the imagination ever since.

In conjunction with the ASU Frankenstein Bicentennial Project, Creative Nonfiction magazine is daring writers (as Mary Shelley was dared in Geneva) to write original and groundbreaking stories in the spirit of Frankenstein—but nonfiction. That is to say, we're looking for true stories that explore humans' efforts to control and redirect nature, the evolving relationships between humanity and science/technology, and contemporary interpretations of monstrosity.

Essays must be vivid and dramatic; they should combine a strong and compelling narrative with an informative or reflective element and reach beyond a strictly personal experience for some universal or deeper meaning. We're open to a broad range of interpretations of the "Frankenstein" theme, with the understanding that all works submitted must tell true stories and be factually accurate. Above all, we're looking for well-written prose, rich with detail and a distinctive voice.

Submissions must be 4,000 words or fewer.

$10,000 for Best Essay and two $2,500 prizes for runners-up.

Guidelines at

Creative Nonfiction

Dancing Poetry Festival Contest

New Deadline: April 15

Now in its 24th year, all Dancing Poetry Festival prize winners will receive a prize certificate suitable for framing, a ticket to the Dancing Poetry Festival, September 16, 2017, in the Florence Gould Theater at the California Palace of the Legion of Honor, San Francisco, and an invitation to read their prizewinning poem at the festival.

Three Grand Prizes will receive $100 each plus their poems will be danced and filmed. Many smaller prizes. Each Grand Prize winner will be invited onstage for photo ops with the dancers and a bow in the limelight.

Please look at photos of our Dancing Poetry Festivals to see 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. We look forward to reading your submissions. See the complete contest rules.

Please enjoy "In Case You Have Not Visited Before" by Tanya Joyce, a 2016 Grand Prize winner.

Gulf Coast Prizes in Fiction, Nonfiction, and Poetry

Deadline: April 15

Gulf Coast is now accepting entries for the 2017 Gulf Coast Prizes in Fiction, Nonfiction, and Poetry. Cate Marvin, Chinelo Okparanta, and Diane Roberts will judge. The contest awards $1,500 and publication in Gulf Coast to the winner in each genre. Two honorable mentions in each genre will be awarded $250. All entries will be considered for publication and the entry fee includes a one-year subscription to Gulf Coast. Check out for full guidelines.

C. Hope Clark: Echoes of Edisto

Echoes of Edisto

From award winning author C. Hope Clark comes ECHOES OF EDISTO, the third installment in her Edisto Island Mysteries series.

Callie Jean Morgan is finally beginning to get her footing as Edisto's new Police Chief. That is, until all hell breaks loose and one of her officers loses his life while attempting to free a car from the marsh, where it has crashed. On the face of things this looks like a freak accident but Callie's instincts say otherwise. ​As usual, Ms. Clark delivers a riveting ride, with her irrepressible characters set squarely in the driver's seat. If it wasn't so much fun to be re-united with Callie Jean Morgan and the rest of the Edisto gang I might have to scold Clark for keeping me up way past my bedtime.  But lucky for her, this read is worth every lost wink. ~Rachel Gladstone, Dish Magazine

Buy Echoes of Edisto now at Amazon.

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
Restless Books Prize for New Immigrant Writing. $10,000 advance and publication in print and e-book editions for a manuscript of literary fiction by a first-generation US immigrant who has not previously published a book in that genre with a US publisher. Due February 28.

Intermediate Writers
Madeline P. Plonsker Emerging Writer's Residency Prize. Writers under 40 with no major book publication compete for a 3-week residency at Lake Forest College in Illinois, with $10,000 stipend, to complete a manuscript, followed by possible publication by &NOW Books, with distribution by Northwestern University Press. Poetry is the genre for 2017. Due March 1.

Advanced Writers
George W. Hunt, S.J., Prize. Awards $25,000 fellowship to a writer aged 22-49, whose work reflects engagement with Catholic thought and culture. Genre changes annually and rotates on a 4-year schedule between journalism, fiction or drama, cultural or historical criticism, and poetry. For 2017, the selection committee is considering original works of fiction or drama. Nominees should be familiar with the Roman Catholic tradition and should have some appreciation for the intersection of faith and journalism and/or the literary arts. Due March 31.

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

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"Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night" by Dylan Thomas, illustrated by Julian Peters

This comic originally appeared in the October 2016 issue of the Italian poetry magazine Atelier. Reprinted by kind permission of Julian Peters. Visit his website.

The Last Word

Beyond Visibility
I still have qualms about my post-Christian workaround for enjoying church. The way I tell it to myself, in my youth I recognized the sacred energy in Christian rituals, art, music, and buildings, but felt it would be dishonest to participate when I didn't believe the words I was singing or saying. Then I was able to convince myself of enough doctrine to take part with a clean conscience...and then I wasn't. Now I believe that we're allowed to greet the sacred wherever we find it, and that it isn't the exclusive property of one religious system. But how respectful is this, really? Am I misappropriating the church experience by redefining it in terms that its adherents wouldn't recognize? [read more]

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

Jendi Reiter
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