The best free literary contests with deadlines through October 31 |

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Welcome to Our September Newsletter

S. Mei Sheng Frazier

We found over two dozen excellent free poetry and prose contests with deadlines between September 15-October 31.
View Free Contests
In this issue: "El camino es fatal como la flecha" by Jorge Luis Borges, translated and illustrated by Julian Peters.

Last Call!
16th year. We will award the Tom Howard Prize of $1,500 for a poem in any style or genre, and the Margaret Reid Prize of $1,500 for a poem that rhymes or has a traditional style. Ten Honorable Mentions will receive $100 each (any style). DuotropeThe top 12 entries will be published online. Our co-sponsor Duotrope will also award one-year gift certificates to our top two winners (a $50 value). Length limit: 250 lines per poem. Entry fee: $12 per poem. Enter as many poems as you like. Both published and unpublished work accepted. Final judge: S. Mei Sheng Frazier, assisted by Jim DuBois. Deadline: September 30. Submit online or by mail.

Want to view past newsletters? Go to Need assistance? Let us help. Join our 108,000 followers on Twitter at @WinningWriters.

Coming in our October 15 newsletter: We'll announce the winners of our 26th annual Tom Howard/John H. Reid Fiction & Essay Contest.


2018 Launch Pad Feature Competition

Year six is here, and the competition that has led to more signings, success stories and careers than any other writing competition in the world is now underway. With more than 371 signings, 127 projects set up, 59 writers staffed, 134 appearances on annual best of lists such as the Black List, Blood List, Hit List, and the Young & Hungry List, as well as 6 bidding wars, the Launch Pad Competition has become the premiere hub for Hollywood discovering new talent.

Featuring Guaranteed Options from exclusive partners that have included Ridley Scott, Michael De Luca, Roy Lee and Endgame Entertainment, as well as Guaranteed Signings from partners such as UTA, Verve, Energy Entertainment and Echo Lake Entertainment, this is the only screenwriting competition Hollywood's A-List Level executives, producers, agents and managers are actively a part of. 

In addition, this year sees the return of our Launch Pad Mentorship Program (featuring professional writers as 1-on-1 mentors) and our Feedback Notes Program (Notes directly from our professional readers).

And exclusively in partnership with Winning Writers, the first 100 people who enter using promo code WINNINGWRITERS will receive $15 off their entry!

To take advantage of this promotion click here to enter today!

Recent Honors and Publication Credits for Our Subscribers

Try Literistic

Congratulations to Sarah Kornfeld, Charlie Bondhus (featured poem: "Bloody Mary"), Barbara de la Cuesta, Ken Allan Dronsfield, Geoffrey Heptonstall, Gary Beck, William Luvaas, Annie Dawid, Donna Baier Stein, Gail Thomas, Tom Knemeyer, R.T. Castleberry, Fred "Mickey" Finn, and Mary Lou Taylor

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

Have news? Please email it to

Two Sylvias Press: Online Poetry Writing Retreat for October

Two Sylvias Press Fall Online Poetry Writing Retreat

WHAT YOU NEED: Access to email and a desire to write new poems.

WHAT WE PROVIDE: Poem prompts, sample poems, a Two Sylvias Press publication, a PDF of Fire On Her Tongue: An Anthology of Contemporary Women's Poetry (a 377-page resource of some of the best poets writing today), as well as reflection questions/activities to guide and inspire. All prompts, writing exercises, and inspiration sent daily or weekly to your email (your choice!)

And at the end of the retreat, the editors at Two Sylvias Press will critique two of your poems and offer ideas on where to submit them!

Praise for Two Sylvias Press Online Poetry Retreat
"The Two Sylvias Press Online Poetry Retreat was an absolute delight. Two Sylvias Press provided fresh, engaging prompts accompanied by captivating sample poems. In addition, they kept a steady stream of encouragement going for the duration of the retreat, which helped me move confidently into my manuscript feeling supported, connected, and valued. Their end-of-retreat critiques were insightful, specific, and thought-provoking. I highly recommend this workshop to anyone looking to approach writing with greater depth and joy."
     —Catherine K.

Space is limited! Click here to register today to write poems with Two Sylvias Press in October.

Earn $1,000 for your story in the 2018 JuxtaProse Fiction Prize

2018 JuxtaProse Fiction Prize

Deadline: September 30

The 2018 JuxtaProse Fiction Prize is now accepting submissions. The Grand Prize is $1,000 and publication in JuxtaProse Literary Magazine. Up to three entries will receive "Honorable Mention" status, which includes $100 and publication. All entries will be considered for publication, regardless of contest placement. Submit online via Submittable.

JuxtaProse welcomes established and emerging writers alike, and regularly features the work of Pulitzer Prize winners, Poet Laureates, and other distinguished writers side-by-side with previously unpublished voices. Recent contributors include Pulitzer Prize winners Stephen Dunn and Rae Armantrout, National Book Award finalist Alberto Rios, and previously unpublished writer Kimberly Ence.

Founded in 2015, JuxtaProse is an online literary journal that publishes fiction, creative nonfiction, poetry, art, and photography from around the world. We pride ourselves on providing a venue where emerging writers can find a voice alongside some of the most respected names in world literature. JuxtaProse currently reaches over 5,000 readers each month.

Short Story Competition 2018, sponsored by The Short Story Project

Short Story Competition 2018

Last Call! Tom Howard/Margaret Reid Poetry Contest

In addition to cash prizes and online publication, this year's top Tom Howard and Margaret Reid prizewinners will also receive one-year gift certificates from our new co-sponsor, Duotrope (a $50 value).

Tom Howard/Margaret Reid Poetry Contest

28th Annual Jeffrey E. Smith Editors’ Prize

Deadline: October 1

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

Winners receive publication, invitation to a reception and reading in their honor, and a cash prize. Submit one piece of fiction or nonfiction up to 8,500 words or any number of poems up to 10 pages. Enter online or by mail. Entry fee: $25. Winners will be announced in early 2019.

Each entrant receives a one-year subscription to The Missouri Review in digital format (normal price $24) and a paperback copy of the second title in our new imprint, Missouri Review Books, Trouble in Mind: The Short Story and Conflict, an anthology of our very favorite Editors' Prize fiction winners and runners-up from the past twenty-eight years (normal price $14.95).

Questions? Email

Read a prizewinning story by Melissa Yancy, an essay by Peter Selgin, and a selection from poetry winners Katie Bickham, Kai Carlson-Wee, and Alexandra Teague.

The Steve Kowit Poetry Prize

The Steve Kowit Poetry Prize

You can read the 2017-18 San Diego Poetry Annual for free! Click here

$750 New Letters Publication Award in Fiction

New Letters Publication Award in Fiction

Deadline: October 28

New Letters invites you to submit a short story on the topic of children to the New Letters Publication Award in Fiction. The winner receives a cash prize of $750 and publication in New Letters. Stories must concern this year's topic of children in some way, whether implicitly or explicitly through title, setting, plot, theme, conflict, or the minds of the characters.

All entries are considered for publication and must be unpublished. Multiple entries are welcome with appropriate fees. Entries may only be submitted through Submittable. Postal entries will not be considered. Winners will be announced in March 2019. For complete guidelines, visit our website.

Call for Submissions: Contemporary Chicanx Writing

For this anthology we are looking for Chicanx writers

Cutthroat Prizes: Poetry, Short Story, Nonfiction

Cutthroat Prizes

Creative Nonfiction Seeks Essays for "Games" Issue

Deadline: November 19

Creative Nonfiction, in partnership with the Center for Games & Impact at Arizona State University, is looking for new work about the role of games and play in our everyday lives. For this special issue, we're seeking true stories that explore the ways our society integrates games, and especially games whose impact transcends entertainment and changes us in ways outside of the gaming context.

We're looking for stories that illuminate the great variety of ways in which games have affected the lives of diverse individuals and communities—offering opportunities to fail forward within a safe context, play with possible selves and futures, collaborate with people from different backgrounds, develop professional or other skills, become protagonists in simulated worlds, or collaborate with others on solutions to real-world problems.

Above all, we are looking for vivid narratives—illuminative stories, rich with scene, character, detail, and a distinctive voice—that offer unique insights into the subject. We want evocative narratives that allow readers to step into ideas, and stories should be grounded in factual occurrences and true events. All essays submitted will be considered for publication; this is a paying market.

See our complete guidelines.

Creative Nonfiction

40 Short Poems by Jim DuBois

40 Short Poems by Jim DuBois

From long-time poet Jim DuBois comes a volume called "relentlessly dramatic" by one reader and "perfectly put together" by another.

"A short poem doesn't leave room for error. You must condense everything down to one point, and economically yet dramatically aim for it. You either make it, or you miss it." —Jim DuBois

 all it takes
 the cool air
   the bridge

Buy 40 Short Poems now from Lulu.

Now Available: The Guinevere's Tale Trilogy (Box Set)

The Guinevere's Tale Trilogy

Guinevere is remembered for her role as King Arthur's wife and for her adulterous affair with Lancelot. But there is so much more to her story…

Priestess. Queen. Warrior. Experience the world of King Arthur through Guinevere's eyes as she matures from a young priestess who never dreamed of becoming queen to the stalwart defender of a nation and a mistress whose sin would go down in history. This compendium of Nicole Evelina's two-time Book of the Year award-winning trilogy—Daughter of Destiny, Camelot's Queen, and Mistress of Legend—gives fresh life to an age-old tale by adding historical context and emotional depth. Spanning more than three decades, it presents Guinevere as an equal to the famous men she is remembered for loving, while providing context for her controversial decisions and visiting little-known aspects of her life before, during, and after her marriage to King Arthur. Order the box set today.

Author Nicole Evelina is a North Street Book Prize winner. Read a free excerpt from Daughter of Destiny.

Jendi Reiter Launches Short Story Collection An Incomplete List of My Wishes

An Incomplete List of My WishesJendi Reiter, editor of Winning Writers, will be the featured reader at the monthly Straw Dog Writers Guild series at 8pm on Tuesday, October 2, at The Basement, 21 Center Street, Northampton, MA. The event starts with an open mic from 7-8pm.

Jendi will also be presenting their debut short story collection, An Incomplete List of My Wishes (Sunshot Press, forthcoming October 2018), at 7pm on Wednesday, October 24, at Broadside Bookshop, 247 Main Street, also in Northampton. See the Facebook event for details. Read a story from the book.

Midwest Book Review says of this collection, "These works offer tightly-written, engrossing inspections that are as diverse in nature as they are connected by the unifying theme of plucking elements of humanity from inhuman conditions and fiery reactions."

Pre-order the Kindle edition for $1.99.


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
Past Loves Day Story Contest. Spruce Mountain Press will award a top prize of $100, plus online and anthology publication, for true stories of past loves and their impact on the author's life. Submit one personal essay, 700 words maximum. Due September 17.

Intermediate Writers
Glenna Luschei Prize for African Poetry. $1,000 will be awarded to the best full-length collection of poetry published in the previous calendar year by an African national, African resident, or poet of African birth or African parentage. Translations are eligible; self-published books are not. Publisher should make submission by October 1.

Advanced Writers
Man Booker International Prize. For fiction translated into English. Awards 25,000 pounds each for author and translator of an English translation of a novel or collection of short stories published in the UK or Ireland between May 1 of the deadline year and April 30 of the following year by an established UK/Ireland imprint. Author and translator need not be UK/Ireland citizens or residents, but entries must be submitted by an established UK/Ireland publisher. E-books and self-translated works welcome, but self-published titles are ineligible. Due October 5.

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

Search for Contests

Calls for Submissions

PSA: ProLiteracy Hero Contest (no fee)

ProLiteracy Hero Contest

Literacy programs and organizations across the country can enter the contest to be a ProLiteracy Hero. The contest will award over $5,000 in New Readers Press education materials split between the top three finalists, ProLiteracy memberships, conference scholarships to the 2019 ProLiteracy Conference on Adult Education, Southwest® Airlines travel vouchers, and cash.


Submissions, which must include a video, photos, and your story are due NO LATER than September 17. There is no fee to enter. A panel of ProLiteracy judges will choose the top 10 national finalists from the submissions. The finalists' submissions will be posted to our website and will be opened up to the public to vote. Each week the finalists will be narrowed down until the first, second, and third place winners are selected on November 16.

Learn more about the ProLiteracy Hero contest.

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"El camino es fatal como la flecha" by Jorge Luis Borges, illustrated by Julian Peters

El camino es fatal como la flecha, illustrated by Julian Peters

For a Version of the I King

The future is as irrevocable
As the rigid yesterday. Nothing exists
That is not a silent letter
In the eternal and indecipherable writing
Whose book is time. Whoever leaves
Home has already returned. Our life
Is the future and the well-travelled path.
Nothing bids us farewell. Nothing forsakes us.
Do not give up. The dungeon is dark,
It is firmly woven from incessant iron,
But at some turn in your confinement
There may be found an oversight, a fissure.
The path is as fatal as an arrow,
But there in the cracks, God is watching.

Reprinted by kind permission of Julian Peters. Translated from Spanish to English by Mr. Peters. Learn more at Mr. Peters' website.

The Last Word

Jendi Reiter

September Links Roundup: Manspread Your Novel
If, like me, you write slowly, perhaps you've heard that self-critical voice in your head. The one that says the book really IS taking a thousand years to get to the point—it doesn't just feel that way because you're squeezing in an hour or two of writing every week, in between washing stinky boy socks and throwing out your saved letters from 2006. The voice that's always nagging you to hold their attention, be more fun, give them what they want.

Well, ask that voice: when was the last time you saw a novel favorably described as "sprawling" that wasn't by a man?

[read more]

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

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