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Winning Writers Newsletter - October 2020

View Free Contests We found over two dozen excellent free poetry and prose contests with deadlines between October 15-November 30. In this issue, please enjoy "Those Winter Sundays" by Robert Hayden, illustrated by Julian Peters.

Omer Friedlander and BK Loren

CONGRATULATIONS to the winners of our 28th annual Tom Howard/John H. Reid Fiction & Essay Contest! Omer Friedlander submitted the winning story, "The Sand Collector", and BK Loren submitted the winning essay, "Sir, May I Have a Pack of Marlboros?" They each received $3,000 and a gift certificate from Duotrope. We also awarded ten Honorable Mentions. This contest received 2,495 entries from around the world. Dennis Norris II selected the winners, assisted by Lauren Singer Ledoux. Read all the winning entries. See the press release.

Our new fiction and essay contest is open now. Duotrope rejoins us as a co-sponsor, and we will again award $8,000 in prizes. The deadline is April 30, 2021.

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

Photo of Mr. Friedlander by Yam Traiber.
Photo of Ms. Loren by Annette Taylor.

Recent Honors and Publication Credits for Our Subscribers

Congratulations to John Shore, Judith Cody (featured poem: "Silence. Struggle. Salvation"), Diane Elayne Dees (featured poem: "Heeding Signs"), Ankur Agarwal, Thelma T. Reyna, Maroula Blades, Terri Kirby Erickson (featured poem: "Free Breakfast"), Taylor Byas, B.J. Buckley, Angele Ellis, Scott Piner, Lisa Schantl, Jeanne Foster, Erika Dreifus, David Kherdian, Neil Perry Gordon, Joanie Holzer Schirm, and Sofia Kioroglou.

Tonight (October 15) at 8pm CDT Freddy Niagara Fonseca will premiere a short video about his new book of poetry, The Bomb That Blew up God (and Other Serious Poems).

Winning Writers editor Jendi Reiter was interviewed for Episode #10 of Joshua Corwin's poetry podcast Assiduous Dust. They produced an "On the Spot Collaborative Poem", a format that Joshua invented, which is generated by taking turns sharing phrases from found texts. Read their creation on Jendi's blog.

Carolyn Howard-Johnson, one of our North Street Book Prize partners, had her poetry collection Imperfect Echoes favorably reviewed on Amazon by poet and memoirist Elizabeth Kirschner, herself a past North Street Book Prize winner for creative nonfiction. Kirschner wrote: "A self-proclaimed literary activist, Howard-Johnson wants the slipperiness of history, its tendency to drift into the haze of forgetfulness, to regain traction and agency, to have gravitas as a loci for instruction and an insistence for change."

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

Have news? Please email it to

Deadline Tonight! The 30th Annual Jeffrey E. Smith Editors' Prize

The Missouri Review's 30th Annual Editors'Prize

Deadline extended to October 15, 11:59pm Pacific Time

$5,000 Fiction | $5,000 Nonfiction | $5,000 Poetry

Winners receive a cash prize, publication, promotion, and a virtual event to be determined. Submit one piece of fiction or nonfiction up to 8,500 words or up to 10 pages of poems. Enter online or by mail. All entries considered for publication. Regular entry fee: $25. All-Access entry fee: $30. Winners will be announced in early 2021.

Each entrant receives a one-year subscription to the Missouri Review in digital format (normal price $24) and the digital short story anthology Strange Encounters, forthcoming from Missouri Review Books (normal price $7.95). All-Access entrants receive full access to our ten-year digital archive.

Check out these excerpts from last year's winners, Seth Fried in Fiction, Heather Treseler in Poetry, and Jennifer Anderson in Nonfiction.

Please enjoy these readings and conversations with Heather Treseler and Seth Fried on YouTube.

Questions? Email

Last Call! "Matter" Poetry Contest

Deadline: October 31

Submit 3-40 lines in any style, on any topic. Entry fee $10.

1st Prize –
$200 and Prime Anthology Placement (Back cover of Book) - Free copy of Matter. A featured position for a minimum of one week on Oprelle Publication's Website.

2nd Prize –
$100 and Prime Anthology Placement (First Page) - Free copy of Matter.

3rd Prize –
$50 and Prime Anthology Placement (Last Page) - Free copy of Matter.

Finalists (Up to 150) will receive publication in the Matter anthology. Finally, really great writers can be published in something of substance! All finalists will receive a free digital copy of Matter on or before February 14, 2021.

Any topic or style is acceptable. Even though this anthology will be called Matter, all that is expected is that your poetry reflects emotions and thoughts coming from the depths of you. You need not write about a particular word. We just want you to know that your talent with words can matter to others. The winners will be announced on November 11, 2020.

See the complete guidelines.

Oprelle Publications enjoys finding "diamonds in the rough". O.P. wants to recognize hidden talent by giving unknown writers a chance to be published. Matter is our current book project. Shakespeare's Queen Gertrude once requested "more matter with less art…" Meaning, give me something of substance.

Carve Prose & Poetry Contest

Carve Prose & Poetry Contest

Carve Magazine's Prose & Poetry Contest is open October 1 - November 15. Accepting submissions from all over the world, but work must be in English. Max 10,000 words for fiction and nonfiction; 2,000 words for poetry. Prizes: $1,000 each for fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. All 3 winners published in Spring 2021. Entry fee $17 online only. Guest judges are Shruti Swamy for fiction, Kendra Allen for nonfiction, and Roy G. Guzmán for poetry.

Learn more and submit.

Jeff Marks Memorial Poetry Prize

Jeff Marks Memorial Poetry Prize

Deadline: December 1

DECEMBER MAGAZINE seeks unpublished submissions for our 2021 Jeff Marks Memorial Poetry Prize.

Judge Carl Phillips is the author of 14 books of poetry, most recently Pale Colors in a Tall Field. Since 2010, he has been the judge of the Yale Series of Younger Poets. In 2011, he was appointed to the judging panel for The Kingsley and Kate Tufts Poetry Awards. His collection of poetry, Double Shadow, was a finalist for the 2011 National Book Award for poetry. Double Shadow won the 2011 Los Angeles Book Prize for Poetry. Carl is currently a professor of English at Washington University in St. Louis, and he also teaches creative writing.

Prizes — $1,500 & publication (winner); $500 & publication (honorable mention); all finalists will be published in the Spring/Summer 2021 awards issue and paid at regular contributor rates.

Submit up to 3 poems per entry. Enter online or by mail. $20 entry fee includes copy of the awards issue. For complete guidelines, please visit our website.

Hefner Heitz Kansas Book Award (no fee)

Deadline: December 15

Kansas writers of literary nonfiction with book-length memoirs, essays, or journalistic writing published in the past three years (2018/19/20) are eligible to win the $1,000 2021 Hefner Heitz Kansas Book Award in Literary Nonfiction. The annual award, rotating between poetry, fiction, and literary nonfiction, is sponsored by the Thomas Fox Averill Kansas Studies Collection at Washburn University in Topeka. There is no fee to enter.

This year's judge will be 2018 Literary Nonfiction winner Louise Krug, who is assistant professor of English at Washburn University and a graduate of the Master of Fine Arts and Doctoral programs at the University of Kansas. Her prize-winning book was Tilted: The Post Brain-Surgery Journals.

See the complete guidelines.

Fiction and Poetry Contests from Snake Nation Press

Serena McDonald Kennedy Award
Deadline: December 31, 2020
This award was created by Barbara Passmore, friend of Snake Nation Press, to honor her grandmother. Barbara passed away this year at the age of 92 and we continue her wishes. Submit a novella (up to 50,000 words) or a collection of short stories (up to 200 pages). Previously published works may be entered. Entry fee: $25. Winner receives $1,000 and publication. We congratulate our 2018 winner Carol Roan for A Change in the Air.


Violet Reed Haas Prize for Poetry Award
Deadline: March 1, 2021
Submit a poetry manuscript of 50-75 pages. Entry fee: $25. Winner receives $1,000 and publication. We congratulate our 2018 winner Sara Claytor for Keeping Company With Ghosts.




To enter electronically, please email your entry to, then choose a link below to make your payment:

You may also mail your entry and fee (payable to Snake Nation Press) to:
Snake Nation Press
P.O. Box 98
Ray City, GA 31645

If you submitted an entry to either contest in 2019, it will be included in the contests above.

Rattle Chapbook Prize

Rattle Chapbook Prize

Deadline: January 15, 2021

The annual Rattle Chapbook Prize gives poets something truly special. Every year, three winners will receive: $5,000 cash, 500 contributor copies, and distribution to Rattle's ~8,000 subscribers. In a world where a successful full-length poetry book might sell 1,000 copies, the winning book will reach an audience eight times as large on its release day alone—an audience that includes many other literary magazines, presses, and well-known poets. This will be a chapbook to launch a career.

And maybe the best part is this: The $25 entry fee is just a standard subscription to Rattle, which includes four issues of the magazine and the winning chapbook, even if it isn't yours. Rattle is one of the most-read literary journals in the world—find out why just by entering! For more information, visit our website.

We congratulate our three winners from our 2020 contest:

  • Kathleen McClung, A Juror Must Fold in on Herself (September 2020)
  • Tom C. Hunley, Adjusting to the Lights (December 2020)
  • Jessy Bertron, A Plumber's Guide to the Light (March 2021)

Please enjoy this excerpt from "The Gray Man" by Jimmy Pappas, published in his 2019 Rattle Chapbook Prize book, Falling Off the Empire State Building:

Part 1: The Visit

I visited my father one Saturday at the nursing home
where we had put him against his will because he had
become too much work for us, he who had worked hard
all of his life, worked hard to make other people rich,
richer than he could ever hope to be. He was a gray man
now like a character in an Ingmar Bergman movie, so I
looked for the translation of what this all meant, but it
got lost in the white sheets; and I tried to figure it all
out by myself, but I too got lost in the white sheets that
covered his sleeping body. I decided not to wake him,
this gray man who had once been a stark man, who had
once been a man filled with action and life, and I sat in
a chair by his side, sat and looked down at my gray man,
my gray child, I who had become the father and he who had
become the child, our role reversals making the movie even
more complex, more difficult to translate, and I looked again
at the white sheets and saw only white sheets that smelled
of shit and piss. There were no English words, words that
I could understand, words that could explain all of this,
words that could explain him, words that could explain me,
words that could explain all of the things that have happened
between us, words that could explain why we behaved the way
we did. Even Bergman was never fully understandable,
even his words got lost in white shirts and a white background,
but at least he had words, at least there was an attempt at
translation. Here there was nothing, only my gray man, my gray
child, lying there sleeping on his back, waiting for my arrival.

[read the complete poem]

Enter the Indie Book Awards - Over 70 Categories to Choose From

Indie Book Awards

Deadline: February 12, 2021

Entries are now being accepted for the 2021 Next Generation Indie Book Awards, the most exciting and rewarding book awards program open to independent publishers and authors worldwide who have a book written in English and released in 2019, 2020 or 2021 or with a 2019, 2020 or 2021 copyright date. The Next Generation Indie Book Awards is presented by Independent Book Publishing Professionals Group.

With over 70 categories to choose from, enter to take advantage of this exciting opportunity to have your book considered for cash prizes, awards, exposure, possible representation by a leading literary agent, and recognition as one of the top independently published books of the year!

Jendi Reiter's Two Natures: "An Enlightening and Challenging Novel"

Two Natures

Jendi Reiter's debut novel Two Natures (Saddle Road Press) is the spiritual coming-of-age story of a NYC fashion photographer during the 1990s AIDS crisis. Two Natures won the Rainbow Award for Best Gay Contemporary Fiction and was a finalist for the Book Excellence Awards, the Lascaux Prize for Fiction, and the EPIC e-Books Awards.

British literary critic and fiction writer Jack Messenger says:

"Jendi Reiter's wise and ambitious novel Two Natures is the story of young gay man Julian Selkirk who, Crusoe-like, finds himself washed ashore in New York in 1991 and 'dependent on the kindness of strangers'. Julian is an aspiring fashion photographer whose career lows and highs quickly alternate, mirroring his personal exploration of the gay scene and his search for love. The spiritual and the carnal, the beautiful and the sordid, interweave in complex patterns, overshadowed by the gathering AIDS crisis, as the years to 1996 become increasingly hostile to difference. The intensely personal is the politically fraught, and Julian has to cope with the vagaries of love and ambition while mourning friends and lovers.

"Two Natures is an all-encompassing work that plunges us into New York's rent-controlled apartments, gay bars and nightclubs, and the overlapping world of fashion shoots and glamour magazines, in pursuit of the spirit of the times."

Buy Two Natures on 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
Patricia Grodd Poetry Prize for Young Writers. High school sophomores and juniors throughout the world can win tuition to The Kenyon Review's two-week summer seminar for writers aged 16-18; winner and runners-up also published in the highly prestigious journal. Submit one poem during November 1-30.

Intermediate Writers
Treehouse Climate Action Poem Prize. US poets can win $1,000 for previously unpublished poems of any length that "help make real for readers the gravity of the vulnerable state of our environment at present". The top three poems will be published in the Academy of American Poets' Poem-A-Day digital series, reaching 500,000 readers. Due November 1.

Advanced Writers
Gotham Book Prize. Awards $50,000 for a full-length book of fiction or nonfiction published during the calendar year that either is about New York City or takes place in NYC. Nominate a book by completing the online form. Sponsored by political strategists and New Yorkers Howard Wolfson and Bradley Tusk. Due November 1.

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

Search for Contests

Calls for Submissions

Arc Poetry Magazine: “Polymorphous per Verse” Issue
(poetry by trans and genderqueer writers - October 15)

Rattle "Neurodiversity" Issue
(poems by authors with autism, ADHD, and related conditions - October 15)

Flowers & Vortexes
(previously published poems - October 28)

Glish: Variety English Project
(poems written in or regarding variety Englishes, such as AAVE or Spanglish - November 15)

The Best New True Crime Stories: Partners in Crime
(narrative journalism about lawbreaking couples - February 15, 2021)

PSA: Order Greeting Cards and Support Literacy

Good Cause Greetings will dedicate 20% of its holiday card sales to ProLiteracy for card orders placed in the month of October. ORDER NOW!

Favorite New Resources

Here are some of our favorite resources at Winning Writers added in the first half of the year. For a full list, see our Resource pages.

98 Free Online Writing Courses

98 Free Online Writing Courses
Links to creative and technical writing courses from well-known universities

Author's Guide to Agency Agreements
Advice on standard contract terms for agent representation, from the Authors' Guild

Cartoonists of Color
Database of contemporary POC cartoonists

Duane L. Herrmann
American prairie poet and Baha'i historian

Triannual journal publishes short fiction, creative nonfiction, flash fiction, comics, and poetry, illustrated with custom artwork

MEHPoeting: The Writings of Matthew E. Henry
Poet and educator, author of Teaching While Black

Noname Book Club
Online/IRL book club reads work by writers of color and donates books to prisons

Postcards by Designmodo
Create handsome marketing emails with easy templates

Published to Death
Novelist Erica Verrillo's blog features submission calls and other publishing resources

Send Mail From Desk
Online bulk-mailing program makes it easy to send out promotions

The Blue Mountain Review
Quarterly journal from the Southern Collective publishes original creative writing and interviews with artists

The Racket Journal
San Francisco reading series and online lit mag for poetry and flash prose

Voyage: A Young Adult Literary Journal
Online journal features stories and essays for the YA market

Writer's Online Toolkit
Maryville University Online reviews popular productivity software for authors

"Those Winter Sundays" by Robert Hayden, illustrated by Julian Peters

Poems to See By features 24 classic poems with visual interpretations by comic artist Julian Peters. Mr. Peters has graciously allowed us to reprint "Those Winter Sundays" from the book.

Those Winter Sundays

Those Winter Sundays

Those Winter Sundays

Those Winter Sundays

Those Winter Sundays

The Last Word

Jendi Reiter

My Tran-niversary: One Year on T
I understand "gender euphoria" now because I enjoy being photographed, for the first time since before puberty. A lot of days I walk down the street feeling like John Travolta in the opening scene of "Saturday Night Fever". But dysphoria is also heightened sometimes, since the more I let myself realize what I want, the more I feel the grief of not having had it sooner, and the anticipatory disappointment that I may never fully achieve it.[read more]

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