The best free literary contests with deadlines through May 31 |

Winning Writers - best resources for poets and writers

Having trouble viewing this email? View the web version.

Follow us on TwitterLike us on FacebookFind us on Google Plus

Welcome to Our April Newsletter

Trent Busch and Jeff Shearer

We found nearly three dozen quality free poetry and prose contests with deadlines between April 15-May 31. In this issue: The conclusion of "All Right There, Soldier?", a poem by Vincent O'Sullivan, illustrated by Julian Peters.
View Free Contests

TRENT BUSCH and JEFF SHEARER won the top awards of $1,500 each in our 14th annual Tom Howard/Margaret Reid Poetry Contest. 2,926 entries were received from around the world. We awarded ten Honorable Mentions: Lynn Houston, Laura M. Kaminski, Ellen Girardeau Kempler, Madelaine Caritas Longman, Jed Myers, Jim Nawrocki, Daniel Kincade Renton, Beth Somerford, Ann Struthers, and Gail Thomas. Read today's press release, and read the winning entries selected by Soma Mei Sheng Frazier. Our 15th contest opens today. Ms. Frazier returns as final judge. Enter here.

Last Call!
Deadline: April 30. 25th year. $4,000 in prizes, including two top awards of $1,500 each. Fee: $18 per entry. Final judge: Judy Juanita. Previously published work accepted. See last year's winners and enter here.

Want to view past newsletters? Go to Need assistance? Let us help. Join our 87,000 followers on Twitter at @WinningWriters.

Recent Honors and Publication Credits for Our Subscribers

Congratulations to Judy Kronenfeld (featured poem: "Sleep"), Tim Mayo, Mark Fleisher (featured poem: "The Fallen"), Arnold Jansen op de Haar, Lesléa Newman, Sandra Wiley, David Kherdian, Janet Ruth Heller (featured poem: "The Long Winter of 2014"), Ricardo Hanley Jr., Tony Peyser, R. Bremner, Johnathan Abraham Antelept, R.T. Castleberry, Ruth Hill (featured poem: "Forgotten Child"), and Troy Legette.

Our Tom Howard/Margaret Reid Poetry Contest Honorable Mention Gail Thomas will be reading with Naila Moreira at the Smith College Poetry Center in Northampton, MA on April 20 at 4:00pm. More info.

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

Have news? Please email it to

Joshua Tree Writing Retreat

Please visit for more details about our writing retreat or call 760-327-9759. Register early for only $400, including lodging and all meals.
Joshua Tree Writing Retreat

Save on Professional Book Editing at BookBaby

15% off professional book editing at BookBaby

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

Deadline extended to April 17

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

Nimrod International Journal's Literary Awards for Fiction and Poetry

Deadline: April 30

It's time to enter the 39th annual Nimrod Literary Awards: The Pablo Neruda Prize for Poetry and The Katherine Anne Porter Prize for Fiction. The Awards offer first prizes of $2,000 and publication, and second prizes of $1,000 and publication. Winners will also be brought to Tulsa for the Awards Ceremony and Conference for Readers and Writers in October.

Established in 1956, Nimrod is dedicated to the discovery of new voices in literature, and the Nimrod Literary Awards are a special way to recognize talented new poets and fiction writers.

  • Poetry: 3-10 pages of poetry (one long poem or several short poems)
  • Fiction: 7,500 words maximum (one short story or a self-contained excerpt from a novel)
  • Fee Per Entry: $20 payable to Nimrod, includes a one-year subscription (two issues)

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 at All finalists will be considered for publication.

For complete rules, visit Nimrod's website:

We are proud to present "Grandmother Ruth—Last Day of School", published in our Awards 38 issue.

2017 Berkshire Prize for a First or Second Book of Poetry

Postmark Deadline: April 30
Final judge: Aimee Nezhukumatathil
Prize:  $3,000

The Berkshire Prize for a First or Second Book of Poetry includes a cash award of $3,000 in addition to publication by Tupelo Press, 20 copies of the winning title, a book launch, and national distribution with energetic publicity and promotion. Manuscripts are judged anonymously and all finalists will be considered for publication. Results will be announced in late summer.

We encourage online submission via Submittable. You may also submit via postal mail: Tupelo Press Berkshire Prize, Tupelo Press, P.O. Box 1767, North Adams, MA 01247.

A reading fee of $28 payable by check to Tupelo Press or via Submittable must accompany each submission. Multiple submissions are accepted, each accompanied by a $28 reading fee.

Read the complete guidelines before submitting your manuscript:

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

Please enjoy "Prayer" by 2013 Berkshire Prize winner Amy Munson, from Yes Thorn, published last year by Tupelo Press.

New Letters Literary Awards

New Letters

Deadline: May 18. New Letters invites you to submit fiction, essays, or poetry to the New Letters Literary Awards. Winners receive $1,500 for best essay, $1,500 for best poetry, and $1,500 for best fiction, and publication in New Letters.

All entries are considered for publication and must be unpublished. Winners will be announced mid-September 2017. Essay and fiction entries may not exceed 8,000 words; poetry entries may contain one to six poems. $20 (postal mail)/ $25 (online) for first entry; $15 (postal mail)/ $20 (online) for each entry after. $20/$25 entry fee includes a one-year subscription to New Letters.

Previous judges have included Philip Levine, Joyce Carol Oates, Rishi Reddi, Mary Jo Salter, Carole Maso, Cornelius Eady, Margot Livsey, Benjamin Percy, Robin Hemley, and Kim Addonizio. For complete guidelines, visit, or send an S.A.S.E. to Ashley Wann, Contest Coordinator, New Letters, 5101 Rockhill Road, Kansas City, MO 64110-2499.

The Sexton Prize for Poetry 2017

The Sexton Prize for Poetry 2017

Creative Nonfiction Seeks Essays on "Starting Over"

Deadline: June 19

For an upcoming issue of Creative Nonfiction, we're looking for true stories about starting over. Tell us about a time when you or someone else took a do-over, snuck a mulligan, or hit the reset button, whether by choice or not.

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 a fresh interpretation or unique insight into the theme.

All essays submitted will be considered for publication; this is a paying market.

Essays must be previously unpublished and no longer than 4,000 words. All essays must tell true stories and be factually accurate. Everything we publish goes through a rigorous fact-checking process, and editors may ask for sources and citations.

Guidelines at

Creative Nonfiction

Lauren Singer: Professional Editing and Proofreading

Finishing up your manuscript? Putting those last touches on your thesis or dissertation? Submitting application essays to your dream school? These writing projects can take a lot out of a person. Sometimes the work is so dense and the topics so subjective that it's difficult to see a clear end in sight.

Don't pull out more hair—give yourself a break! I'll help ease your typing tension so you can show that writer's block who's boss. Email Lauren Singer at or call 347-675-4877 for professional editing, proofreading, and general assistance with your current project. I have many years of experience, a bundle of great references, and am currently a staff judge at Winning Writers. Let's tackle those big ideas together!

"When I needed help with my chapbook manuscript, Lauren was candid, professional, and insightful. She was a pleasure to work with and I will definitely be hiring her for editing in the future."
-Catherine Weiss

"If you need fresh eyes and solid creative insight, Lauren is absolutely the person to call."​
-Stephanie Huey

​"Lauren regularly edited for me. Her comments and corrects were thoughtful, thorough, and holistic. She also frequently went above and beyond and offered style suggestions and additional ways to structure my approach.​"​
-Roxanne Astra Slate

​"​Lauren takes the time while editing, to both consider the one-day reader and the voice of the author.​"​
-Tara Jean Bernier

See Lauren's six quick writing tips.

Lauren Singer

Echoes of Edisto by C. Hope Clark

Book Three in The Edisto Island Mysteries

Edisto Island is a paradise where people escape from the mainstream world. Yet for newly sworn-in Edisto Police Chief Callie Jean Morgan, the trouble has just begun...

When a rookie officer drowns in a freak crash in the marsh, Callie's instincts tell her it wasn't an accident. As suspects and clues mount, Callie's outlandish mother complicates the investigation, and Callie's long-time friendship with Officer Mike Seabrook takes a turn toward something new—but is shadowed by the unsolved mystery of his wife's death. Everyone's past rises to the surface, entangling with death that cuts to the bone.

"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

"A phenomenal read from beginning to end." - Sharon Sala, bestselling author

Buy now at Amazon

Win a Free Review Copy of 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.

How to Win a Free Review Copy
Sign up for Goodreads and request to join the M/M Romance Group, then check the Don't Buy My Love thread. The first 10 people to sign up will receive a free Kindle ebook or PDF of Two Natures. The giveaway starts April 20, with reviews due by May 11.

Praise for Two Natures

"This book was riveting and I couldn't put it down. The author brings us along on Julian's journey, over a 5-year period, from college student to fashion photographer, with such vivid visualizations, I felt transported back in time, like I was witnessing all this happening before my very eyes.

"The story is superbly written and the political climate of the time period well researched. The characters are real, intriguing and likable. This isn't your normal run of the mill gay romance, and while it packs an emotional punch, it's told with Julian's biting humor, which breaks up some of the heaviness of the situations. This was an excellent and enjoyable read. Highly recommended!!"

Read the 5-star review at Bayou Book Junkie.

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
Lake Superior State University Short Story Prize for High School Students. $1,000 scholarship to Lake Superior State University or a $500 cash prize for previously unpublished short stories by high school students in the US or Canada. Winning story will be published in LSSU's literary journal, Border Crossing. This year's theme is realistic fiction (i.e., stories that take place in the real world). Due April 30.

Intermediate Writers
James Laughlin Award. Award for US poet's second book of 48-100 pages in length, under contract to a US publisher and forthcoming in 2018. The Academy of American Poets will award the winner $5,000, a weeklong residency in Miami Beach, FL, and buy 1,000 copies of the winning book for distribution to its members. Submission by publishers only. Due May 15.

Advanced Writers
Whiting Foundation Creative Nonfiction Grant. Up to six grants of $40,000 each for US writers completing creative nonfiction books (e.g., biography, memoir, history, cultural or political reportage, the sciences, philosophy, criticism, food or travel writing, personal essays, etc.) that are currently under contract with US publishers. Writers who signed a contract before May 1, 2015 are eligible for the 2017-deadline contest. Due May 1.

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

Search for Contests

Calls for Submissions

PSA: The Case for Investment in Adult Basic Education

Thirty-six million adults in the United States have low-literacy skills, reading at or below a third-grade level. Forty-three percent of adults living in poverty have limited literacy skills. Historically, there has been little research to demonstrate the positive impact on adults, jobs, and future generations, as well as the return on investment that adult literacy skills programs realize. However, research conducted by Dr. Stephen Reder provides a new opportunity to demonstrate for stakeholders the positive outcomes that adult basic skills (ABS) programs can have on an individual's life, career, and income.

Dr. Reder's research examined the correlation between participation in adult basic skills programs and later increases in income, literacy levels, high school equivalency attainment, postsecondary education engagement, and civic participation/voting activity. The study findings showed a positive outcome for individuals in four of these five areas:

  1. Individuals participating in an ABS program showed a dramatic increase in income over time, especially those participating for 100 or more hours
  2. Participants were more likely to go on to obtain a high school equivalency credential, especially those participating for 100 or more hours
  3. Program participants were more likely to pursue secondary education and received more credits than nonparticipants
  4. Program participants were more likely to develop improved literacy proficiency over time, especially those participating for 100 or more hours

This research provides a strong case for an increased investment in adults and adult education. These outcomes directly impact all Americans in that they contribute to a healthy economy, increase employment, reduce public assistance, and lower health care costs.

Learn more about the research results and implications.

Advertise in This Newsletter

We send this newsletter to over 50,000 subscribers. Ads are just $150 each. On a tight budget? Pressed for time? Advertise to our 87,000 Twitter followers for just $40 per tweet or less.

Buy Advertising


Solo mailings and website advertising are available. Inquire with Adam Cohen at

"We were very pleased with the results of our solo blast with Winning Writers. It generated a significant volume of leads for us at a competitive cost."
-Tom Laverty, Business Development Manager, BookBaby

"All Right There, Soldier?" by Vincent O'Sullivan, illustrated by Julian Peters

On the request of the Canadian High Commission to New Zealand, Julian Peters created a comics adaptation of Canada's most iconic poem of the First World War, John McCrae's "In Flanders Fields". He also created this adaptation of a poem by Vincent O'Sullivan, New Zealand's then current Poet Laureate. "All Right There, Soldier?" can be read in part as a response to McCrae's poem. This is the conclusion. Part 1 appeared in our March 15 newsletter.

Hokitika is a town on the West coast of New Zealand's South Island, and Newtown and Aro Street are traditionally working-class areas of Wellington.

Reprinted by kind permission of Julian Peters. Visit his website.

The Last Word

Killing You in My Mind: My Early Notebooks
This thought experiment from March 1993 reminds me of child abuse expert Alice Miller's radical midrash on Genesis in Thou Shalt Not Be Aware:

Anthropologists like to say that God and religion are just projections of things we don't want to admit are really human creations (e.g. norms and taboos that are merely man-made are called God-made). But what if the reverse is true? What could the reverse of that be? …perhaps that we and the rest of the created cosmos are merely projections of things God doesn't want to face about Himself.

It's like Beatrice in [Nathaniel Hawthorne's] "Rappaccini's Daughter"–her poison is made to bear sole responsibility for an evil we all share. Did God cause original sin so He could blame us for it? In other words, evil came from God's character flaws but He made us so we'd bear the blame. I don't actually believe all this but it's an interesting concept.

[read more]

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

Jendi Reiter
One of the 101 Best Websites for Writers (Writer's Digest)