The best free literary contests with deadlines to November 30 |

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 YouTube

Winning Writers Newsletter - October 2019

View Free Contests We found over three dozen excellent free poetry and prose contests with deadlines between October 15-November 30. In this issue, please enjoy "Why Dwell You Among the Summits?", an excerpt from The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran.

Margo Barnes and Barbara Milton

CONGRATULATIONS to the winners of our 27th annual Tom Howard/John H. Reid Fiction & Essay Contest! Margo Barnes submitted the winning essay, "Anointed", and Barbara Milton submitted the winning story, "The Snake". We also awarded ten Honorable Mentions. This contest received 1,895 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 have increased the top prizes to $3,000 each and the Honorable Mentions to $200 each. The $20 entry fee is unchanged. The deadline is April 30, 2020.

View past newsletters in our archives. Need assistance? Let us help. Join our 125,000 followers on Twitter at @WinningWriters. Interested in advertising? Rates are going up on January 1. Lock in our current rates now.

Featured Sponsor: Campfire Pro

Campfire Pro

Campfire Pro is a prewriting software that helps writers organize their stories and keep track of the details in a downloadable desktop app. Its character development tools include character sheets, character arc support, and relationship management. For worldbuilding, Campfire Pro offers location outlining and a powerful map system. Finally, the timeline allows writers to track all their story events, along with which characters and locations are a part of each event. Campfire Pro is what novelists need to go from the seed of an idea to a detailed plan that's ready to be executed. Request your free trial today.

Recent Honors and Publication Credits for Our Subscribers

Congratulations to Robert Paul Blumenstein (featured poems: "Two Haiku from Journey to the Clear Light"), Mark Scheel, Kathleen Lynch, Carol Smallwood, Jeff Walt, David W. Berner, The Poet Spiel, Emily Rose Cole, Bracha Nechama Bomze, and Dean Kostos.

Winning Writers Editor Jendi Reiter was the featured poet for October 2019 at The Raw Art Review. New poems appearing in this feature were "Liars", "What Little Girls Are", "My Accounting", "Rattlesnake vs. Secretary Bird", and "93 Minutes of Darkness". The editors said, "We love the innovative use of language and form, the novel and intriguing ideas, the rich interwoven imagery and the surprising and revealing progression and movement throughout the poems." In other news, Jendi will be teaching a writing workshop on making oracle cards to overcome creative blocks at The Haus of Ollom Experience, a two-day multimedia festival sponsored by Ollom Movement Art on Saturday and Sunday, November 9-10, at Ripley-Grier Studios, 305 West 38th Street (off 8th Avenue), New York City. Jendi's workshop is scheduled for 4-5:45pm on November 9.

Winning Writers contest judge Ellen LaFlèche's book launch for her debut full-length poetry collection, Walking into Lightning (Saddle Road Press), will be held on Saturday, November 16, from 1:30-3:30pm in the community room of Forbes Library, 20 West Street, Northampton, MA. See event details here.

Winning Writers mourns the passing of Paula Trachtman on August 16. With her husband, poetry critic Ed Butscher, Paula co-founded the Amy Award in 1995 in memory of her daughter Amy Elisabeth Rothholtz. Since then, the awards have been given to more than 50 young women poets from the New York metro area and Long Island, including Winning Writers editor Jendi Reiter. The contest is now administered by Poets & Writers, which invites past winners to participate in a memorial reading for Paula on Thursday, October 17 at 6pm at the Center for Fiction, 15 Lafayette Avenue, Brooklyn, NY. Contact Melissa Ford Gradel at to RSVP.

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

Have news? Please email it to

2019 contests at Cutthroat

The Carve Magazine Prose & Poetry Contest

Carve Magazine Prose & Poetry Contest

Deadline: November 15

The Carve Magazine Prose & Poetry Contest accepts submissions in English from all over the world. Prizes: $1,000 each for fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. Length limits: 10,000 words for fiction and nonfiction, 2,000 words for poetry. All three winners published in Spring 2019. Entry fee $17. Guest judges are Lydia Kiesling for fiction, Benjamin Busch for nonfiction, and Analicia Sotelo for poetry. See our complete guidelines and enter online.

Jeff Marks Memorial Poetry Prize

Jeff Marks Memorial Poetry Prize

Deadline: December 1

DECEMBER MAGAZINE seeks submissions for our 2020 Jeff Marks Memorial Poetry Prize.

JudgeAimee Nezhukumatathil is the author of four poetry collections, a collection of illustrated nature essays, and an epistolary nature chapbook (with Ross Gay). She has received a fellowship from the NEA and a Pushcart Prize and has been included in the Best American Poetry series.

Prizes — $1,500 & publication (winner); $500 & publication (honorable mention); all finalists will be published in the 2020 Spring/Summer awards issue.

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

Creative Nonfiction Seeks Flash Essays

Deadline: December 2

Creative Nonfiction is currently seeking short nonfiction for our new(ish) Sunday Short Read email, which reaches thousands of readers weekly.

We're open to submissions on any subject, in any style. Surprise us! The only rules are that all work submitted must be short (1,000 words, max), nonfiction and original to the author, and not previously published.

We'll pay $50 on publication, and all work will be considered for inclusion in Creative Nonfiction magazine as well.

Essays must be previously unpublished and no longer than 1,000 words. Multiple submissions are welcome, as are entries from outside the United States.

Subscribers to Creative Nonfiction magazine may submit for free. For others, the fee is just $3. Complete guidelines here.

2020 Hefner Heitz Kansas Book Award (no fee)

2020 Hefner Heitz Kansas Book Award

The Dream Quest One Poetry & Writing Contest

Deadline: December 28

The Dream Quest One Poetry & Writing Contest is open to anyone who expresses their innermost thoughts and feelings as beautiful literary art that's worth telling everyone! We welcome all who dream…Write a poem or short story to compete for cash prizes totaling $1,275. All works must be original.

Prose prizes: $500, $250, $100
Write a short story, 5 pages maximum, on any subject or theme; fiction, nonfiction, or creative nonfiction (including essays, journal entries, and screenwriting). Entry fee: $10 per story.

Poetry prizes: $250, $125, $50
Write a poem with 30 lines or fewer on any subject. All styles and forms accepted. Entry fee: $5 per poem.

All entries must be typed or neatly hand printed. Multiple entries welcome. You may simultaneously submit work to this contest and to other contests. All winners will be published online on February 29, 2020. Read past winning entries.

Enter via email or mail. See details!

Our Mission
The Dream Quest One Poetry & Writing Contest seeks to inspire, motivate and encourage anyone having the desire or love of poetry and writing, to continue doing so without fear of failure or success! Remember, in whatever you do, "it's okay to dream," for dreams do come true…

Two Sylvias Press WILDER POETRY BOOK PRIZE for Women Over 50

Two Sylvias Press Wilder Poetry Book Prize

Attention Women Poets:

Two Sylvias Press is looking to publish Full-Length Poetry Manuscripts by Women Over 50 (established or emerging poets)

Prize: $1,000 and print book publication by Two Sylvias Press, 20 copies of the winning book, and a vintage art nouveau pendant

Deadline: December 31, 2019

The Wilder Series Poetry Book Prize is open to women over 50 years of age (born on or before December 31, 1969). 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. See the complete contest guidelines.

Learn more about the prize and Two Sylvias Press. Previous winners of the Wilder Poetry Prize include Erica Bodwell, Adrian Blevins, Dana Roeser, and Carmen Gillespie.

Simultaneous submissions allowed.

NOTE: Our mission at Two Sylvias Press is to support poets. Your manuscript will NOT be disqualified if it was submitted incorrectly. We will not penalize you for trying and making a mistake. If we have a question or concern about your manuscript format, we will contact you and allow you to resubmit. Please know that we are on your side. Thank you for trusting us with your work.

Next Generation Indie Book Awards

Indie Book Awards

Entries are now being accepted for the 2020 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 2018, 2019 or 2020 or with a 2018, 2019 or 2020 copyright date.

New from Gival Press: Leave Smoke, poems by Jeff Walt

Leave Smoke

Leave Smoke is a personal and down-to-earth collection of poetry that speaks to the ordinary and the ups and downs of life and relationships. Told with vivid language and raw emotion, the reader is easily whirled into the realm of the poetic voice. The poems capture the malaise of a society rarely redeemed by love in a world of hard work, chronic exhaustion, few pleasures: reminders of how we create an easy camaraderie to substitute for deeper connections.

"Rueful songs of praise to the addictions—from cigarettes to lust—that promise self-assertion to working men and women maddened by the press of others' cravings and frustrations, the disappearance of their lives into meaningless jobs. Walt's sympathies are with the chained-up dog, the drunk Santa at the gay bar, the grimy angels he imagines shirking their thankless job of steering our souls where they belong."
—Jendi Reiter, editor, Winning Writers

Learn more about Leave Smoke and buy it now on Amazon.

Our Last Six Months, Grand Prize Winner, North Street Book Prize

Our Last Six Months

When independent single dad Aubrey reveals that he has stage 4 cancer, "normal life" goes out the window for his ex-wife and their thirteen-year-old son. They and others witness his brave efforts to heal himself in his final months of life as he struggles to come to terms with his mortality. The family learns on their feet as they encounter each new situation. The narrative shares an unsentimental description of the patient's experiences with hospitals and nursing care, the end-of-life decisions he encounters, the activities of his caregivers, the responsibilities of his health-care advocates, and the role of professional helpers such as Social Workers and Hospice.

"Emily Bracale of Bar Harbor, Maine won this year's Grand Prize across all genres for her graphic narrative, Our Last Six Months, a tender, homespun, and informative memoir of how her blended family came together to nurse her ex-husband through terminal cancer…Despite the heavy topic, the artwork has an intimate, humorous flavor, almost like The New Yorker's Roz Chast…We were so impressed with the potential of this format that we are adding a Graphic Narrative category for the 2019 prize."
—Jendi Reiter, awarding the Grand Prize to Our Last Six Months

"This is more than a memoir—it is an essential guidebook for others in similar difficult situations. The author gives us a direct and true account in an honest and openhearted way, never maudlin or sentimental. Illustrations help to tell this story with warmth and humor. This is a gem of a book."
—Jeanie Smith, Board President, The Whole Health Center

Learn more and buy Our Last Six Months.

A Friendship Forever by Five Paths Publishing, Winner of the North Street Book Prize

Ayo and Neo, best of friends, grow up together in the African rainforest. The two chimpanzees spend their days swinging through the trees, exploring, eating delicious figs in the canopy, and grooming one another. They have formed an everlasting bond, but things are beginning to change in the forest. Human development is causing disease and destruction, and one day, Neo doesn't come back home. Left to deal with the absence of his friend, Ayo experiences grief and loss.

With the help of a wise old chimp, Ayo learns that although Neo is no longer physically with him, he is in the rainbows, the wind, and the ground on which Ayo runs. The story ends with a message of hope: that Ayo can honor his friend by doing the things he loved to do.

This heartwarming story of friendship and the life of chimpanzees helps children understand and cope with loss, change, and emotions. Beautiful illustrations and an engaging Seek and Find are sure to help open the lines of communication around loss. A Chimpanzee Fact Page offers insight into chimpanzees and the African rainforest.

"A Friendship Forever is a beautiful story that will help children cope with loss, whether it be a pet, friend, or family member. Written in rhyme, the story engages the reader and ends with a hopeful message."
—Dr. Sheryl Ziegler, family psychologist and author of Mommy Burnout.

"Jeannine has done a magnificent job putting all the emotions spurred from loss into perspective—in ways many adults cannot. A Friendship Forever is an extraordinary, loving, and powerful work!"
—William Summer, success coach and neural psychologist

Learn more and purchase A Friendship Forever.

Bullies in Love by Jendi Reiter

Bullies in Love

Jendi Reiter's second full-length collection, with fine art photography by Toni Pepe, is available from Little Red Tree Publishing. Nancy White, administrator of The Word Works Washington Prize, says of this book, "How can one voice be so raw and so refined?...The electrifying paradoxes of art and life snap from every page here as Reiter names the driving forces of [their] life—our lives."

Please enjoy this sample poem and purchase Bullies in Love on Amazon.

October Creed

On Halloween there are no lies in the stores.
Not yet the turkeys in buckled hats thankfully
hopping toward the national fork
and knife, the feathered braves fading
with silent footfalls into history's woods,
erased from the cardboard pageants and football turf.
Not yet the wax apple cheeks and cotton beard
of the confessional franchise in every toy town,
the daddy actor sneaking kisses and milk
while children dream as they've been told.

On Halloween there is death on the calendar,
at last, the old lady taking a front-room chair,
unsung timekeeper of every holiday choir.
This is her one day to pull down the album
and coo over her resemblance to the grandchildren,
who learn too soon to be ashamed
to wear a crone's face on any regular morning.

On Halloween there is no loneliness
for motherless Frankenstein, no required bouquet
on the pine lid of Dracula's single bed,
his satisfied heart an empty chocolate box.
No witches circle the airports, caught
in snow delay en route to a dutiful dinner with parents
who kicked them out when their skin turned green.

On Halloween there is nothing to salute.
The flags of Pharaoh and Transylvania
contribute no colors to the explosions in the sky.
No one hands a man a harp instead of a potato
and asks for a sad joke song of the old country.
The oldest country is still ahead,
where twig fingers snap and beckon
to the bonfire's uniting dance.

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
Frontier New Voices Fellowship. Emerging poets can receive a $500 grant to defray industry submission costs and enjoy multiple publications (original poetry and prose) in the journal Frontier Poetry, participation in their editorial community, and introductions to agents and presses. For the 2020 fellowship, applicants should be poets who are undocumented and residing in the United States. Due October 31.

Intermediate Writers
Eric Gregory Awards. British nationals and those residing in Great Britain and Northern Ireland can win prizes up to 4,000 pounds for a collection of up to 30 poems, drama-poems, or belles-lettres, maximum 50 pages total. Contestants should be under age 30 as of March 31 of the year following the deadline. Due October 31.

Advanced Writers
PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction. Novels, novellas, and short story collections by US citizens published in the current year can win up to $15,000. Recent winners have been well-established writers such as Philip Roth, Sherman Alexie, and John Updike. Due October 31.

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

Search for Contests

Calls for Submissions

PSA: News For You Introduces New Readers to the World

News For You

A note from Winning Writers president Adam Cohen:

As our 7-year-old son Shane develops as a reader, we began to regret the absence of a printed newspaper from our kitchen table. News For You, a publication of New Readers Press, is the perfect solution. Each weekly issue contains seven concise stories covering world and national news, politics, health, sports, arts, environment, science, and human-interest subjects. It's written for beginning readers and includes a crossword puzzle. A teacher's guide is also provided. Print subscriptions start at $32 for 24 weeks, with a discount available for classroom orders. Online subscriptions include additional features and cost $99.95 for 15 weeks. Learn more about News For You.

Favorite New Resources

Here are some of our favorite resources at Winning Writers added over the summer. For a full list, see our Resource pages.

The 1619 Project at The New York Times
Feature series from The New York Times Magazine surveys the 400-year legacy of African-American slavery

A Story Most Queer
Weekly podcast of fiction and creative nonfiction with queer characters and authors

Children's Diversity and Justice Library
Volunteer-run library in Tennessee has searchable online catalog of diverse books for youth

Dark Art Movement
Online archive of classic and contemporary macabre visual art

Furious Flower Poetry Center
The first academic center for Black poetry in America

Hermetically Open Archive
Free online archive from the world's largest occult library

Historical Restaurant Menus at the NYPL
Add accuracy to historical fiction with library archive of menus sorted by decade

Pandemonium Magazine
International literary journal for teen writers

Publishers Marketplace
Subscription site tracks publishing deals, agents, editors, submission calls and more

Queen Mob's Tea House
Online journal publishes innovative literature, satire, music journalism, queer translations and more

The Raw Art Review
Journal of passionate creative writing and modern art

Why Dwell You Among the Summits? An excerpt from The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran

The Prophet

And others among you called unto me, not in words, and they said,

"Stranger, stranger, lover of unreachable heights, why dwell you among the summits where eagles build their nests?

Why seek you the unattainable?

What storms would you trap in your net,

And what vaporous birds do you hunt in the sky?

Come and be one of us.

Descend and appease your hunger with our bread and quench your thirst with our wine."

In the solitude of their souls they said these things;

But were their solitude deeper they would have known that I sought but the secret of your joy and your pain,

And I hunted only your larger selves that walk the sky.

But the hunter was also the hunted:

For many of my arrows left my bow only to seek my own breast.

And the flier was also the creeper;

For when my wings were spread in the sun their shadow upon the earth was a turtle.

And I the believer was also the doubter;

For often have I put my finger in my own wound that I might have the greater belief in you and the greater knowledge of you.

And it is with this belief and this knowledge that I say,

You are not enclosed within your bodies, nor confined to houses or fields.

That which is you dwells above the mountain and roves with the wind.

It is not a thing that crawls into the sun for warmth or digs holes into darkness for safety,

But a thing free, a spirit that envelops the earth and moves in the ether.

If this be vague words, then seek not to clear them.

Vague and nebulous is the beginning of all things, but not their end,

And I fain would have you remember me as a beginning.

Life, and all that lives, is conceived in the mist and not in the crystal.

And who knows but a crystal is mist in decay?

Read The Prophet on Wikisource

The Last Word

Jendi Reiter I Take the Necronomicon Literally But Not Seriously
What really is the difference between NecronomiCon and the Episcopal Church? (Not the outfits, certainly!) Minus the references to "Great Dragons Nug and Yeb", I expect my fellow mainline parishioners would nod enthusiastically at the paeans to liberal open-mindedness. The Innsmouth Choir is merely more explicit about the same story we tell in the Bible readings and 1982 Episcopal Hymnal: the end times are coming, we're all going to die, the earth will be destroyed, and we may go on to a strange new afterlife in transformed bodies if we appease the right wrathful deity.

[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)