The best free literary contests with deadlines through October 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 September Newsletter

S. Mei Sheng Frazier

We found over two dozen quality free poetry and prose contests with deadlines between September 15-October 31.
View Free Contests
In this issue: "The World Is Too Much With Us" by William Wordsworth, illustrated by Julian Peters.

Last Call!
15th 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). The top 12 entries will be published online. Length limit: 250 lines per poem. Entry fee: $12 per poem. 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 96,000 followers on Twitter at @WinningWriters.

Coming in our October 15 newsletter: We'll announce the winners of our 25th annual Tom Howard/John H. Reid Fiction & Essay Contest.

Featured Sponsor: Get Feedback for Your Writing and Enter Writing Contests at


Sign up today and you'll...

  • Learn from feedback that will be written on everything you write. Share your poetry, stories and book chapters.
  • Enter fun writing contests with cash prizes. Over $5,000 in cash prizes this year. View our contest listing.
  • Be a part of a community for writers of all skill levels. Make connections and friends.

Find Out More | How It Works Video

Upcoming contest deadlines:

100-Word Flash Fiction Contest
Write a story that has 100 words (excluding the title). Any subject. $100 cash prize. Deadline: September 17 (two days!)

Haiku Poetry Contest
Write a three-line poem that paints an image in the reader's mind. A 5-7-5 syllable count is popular but not required. The winner takes away $100. Deadline: September 22.

Sonnet Poetry Contest
Write a sonnet in iambic pentameter. Win $100. Deadline: September 27.

Sudden Flash Fiction Contest
Write a story using 750 words (excluding the title). Any subject. Winner receives $100. Deadline: September 30.

ABAB Poetry Contest
Write a poem where each group of four lines rhymes a-b-a-b. $100 cash for the winner. Deadline: October 4.

See all our upcoming contests and find out more.

Recent Honors and Publication Credits for Our Subscribers

Congratulations to Ellen Girardeau Kempler, Terry Severhill (featured poem: "V.A."), Kathleen McCoy (featured poem: "Keening"), Bruce Golden, Jessica Ellis Laine, Robert Walton, Laine Cunningham, Tish Davidson, David R. Altman (featured poem: "Wake Up Call"), Charlie Bondhus, Rick Lupert, Jesse James Doty, Yvonne Fein, Annie Dawid, R.T. Castleberry, and Ann Christine Tabaka.

Winning Writers contest judge Ellen LaFleche won the Moon Prize for the full moon of June 9 from Beate Sigriddaughter's blog Writing in a Woman's Voice, for her poem "After".

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

Have news? Please email it to

The Missouri Review’s 27th Annual Jeffrey E. Smith Editors’ Prize

Deadline: October 2

$5,000 for the winner of each category! Send our editorial staff your best fiction, poetry, or creative nonfiction. Winners and select runners-up will be published in the Missouri Review. Your entry fee includes a one-year digital subscription to the Missouri Review and a paperback copy of Jane Gillett's new story collection Trail of the Demon. For complete guidelines and to enter, please visit

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.

Announcing the Writing Pittsburgh Book Prize

Deadline: October 23

The Writing Pittsburgh Book Prize will recognize one book focusing on a subject of regional and national significance, by a writer with a meaningful Pittsburgh connection. The author of the winning manuscript will receive a $10,000 honorarium; publication of their book by the Creative Nonfiction Foundation's independent book imprint, In Fact Books (IFB); national distribution; and a marketing and publicity campaign.

Manuscripts will be judged on originality; the subject's broad appeal and resonance with a national readership; interpretation of the "Writing Pittsburgh" theme; and literary quality and strength of prose. The selected book might be an in-depth reporting project focusing on one organization, individual, or event; alternatively, it might be a more personal writing project—for example, a memoir. All submissions will be judged by CNF's editorial staff.

The winning author will work with CNF/IFB's editorial staff to refine and polish the manuscript.

Guidelines at

Creative Nonfiction

The Frugal Book Promoter

Give your book the best possible start in life with The Frugal Book Promoter, available as an ebook for $5.99. It's full of nitty-gritty how-tos for getting nearly free publicity. Carolyn Howard-Johnson, former publicist, journalist, and instructor for UCLA's Writers' Program for nearly a decade, shares her professional experience and practical tips gleaned from the successes of her own book campaigns. She tells authors how to do what their publishers can't or won't and why authors can often do their own promotion better than a PR professional. The first edition was a multi-award winner. The second edition, updated and expanded by more than 100 pages, is a USA Book News winner.

"The Frugal Book Promoter is excellent...It has given me ideas that would never have occurred to me before and has changed the way I think about book promotion."
Carolyn Howard-Johnson —Mark Logie, poet and short-story writer, winner of the "most promising author" prize from

Learn more about The Frugal Book Promoter on Carolyn Howard-Johnson's website, or buy it now at Amazon.

Meet Carolyn when she presents at BookBaby's Independent Authors Conference in Philadelphia, Nov 3-5. Register now and use code Carolyn for a discount.

New! The Best of FundsforWriters, Vol. 1

FundsforWriters is internationally known for its level-headed yet tough-love advice to writers, both emerging and seasoned. Recognized by Writer's Digest for its 101 Best Websites for Writers for over 15 years, the site serves up plates full of motivation also delivered in the weekly newsletter to 35,000 readers. The Best of FundsforWriters, Vol. 1 offers 32 essays and how-to strategies that struck positive chords with readers around the globe.

"FundsforWriters helps writers achieve more success with their writing by finding and sharing the information that writers need to fund their writing."
—Robert Lee Brewer, Editor, Writer's Market

"FFW is quite simply the best online resource for writers. I get dozens of writers' newsletters in my inbox every week, but FFW is the only one I read right away, from top to bottom, and save for future reference. Hope Clark rocks."
—Glenn Walker, Editor-in-chief of the pop culture website,

"No matter what kind of writer you want to be, FundsforWriters gives you the resources, guidance and inspiration we all need to hone our craft. All writers need hope, and C. Hope Clark's FundsforWriters brings you the tools, resources and real world knowledge that will make you a better writer."
—Mark Lund, award-winning magazine publisher, screenwriter and filmmaker

Well known throughout the writing industry, C. Hope Clark founded FundsforWriters two decades ago when she could not find what she wanted for her own writing career. Today, she is editor of FundsforWriters, an award-winning author of two mystery series, and an active freelance entrepreneur. She and her motivational voice and writer support message appear often at conferences, nonprofit galas, book clubs, libraries, and writers' groups across the country.

Buy The Best of FundsforWriters now at Amazon

Creative Nonfiction Seeks Essays on "Risk"

Deadline: November 6

Every decision we make, whether as individuals or as a society, involves some risk—whether physical or emotional, economic or legal, social or spiritual. Our comfort level with uncertainty defines not only our choices in any given situation, but how we live.

For a special issue of Creative Nonfiction magazine, we're seeking true stories illustrating the ways we balance the threat of loss against the promise of gain.

Possible subjects could be big or small, personal or public. We're interested in intersections between deeply personal decisions and those that affect larger communities.

  • How is risk intertwined with life decisions like entering relationships, starting or ending a pregnancy, or revealing a sexual or gender preference?
  • How do the risks associated with social interactions, whether online or in person, affect people's behavior or speech?
  • How does risk relate to deeply held religious and/or political beliefs, especially within a pluralistic society?
  • Why do some people actively seek risk, and how does this affect their quality of life?
  • How are emerging technologies such as gene editing and artificial intelligence changing the nature of the risks we face?
  • How do we think about and approach potentially catastrophic risks such as a large asteroid colliding with the earth, nuclear war, or the possibility of artificial intelligence superseding human intelligence?

Above all, we are looking for vivid narratives—true stories, rich with scene, character, detail, and a distinctive voice—with unique insights into these questions.

Creative Nonfiction editors will award $1,000 for best essay and $500 for runner-up, and all essays submitted will be considered for publication.

Guidelines at

Creative Nonfiction

Announcing: The 2018 Hefner Heitz Kansas Book Award for Best Work of Literary Nonfiction (no fee)

Deadline: December 31

Prize of $1,000 for best Creative Nonfiction published in the past three years: 2015/2016/2017. The Kansas Book Award is open to those living in Kansas and those with ties to Kansas. There's no fee to enter. This year's judge will be essayist, commentator, poet, playwright and memoirist Mary Swander, recently the Poet Laureate of Iowa.

This competition is sponsored by Washburn University of Topeka, Mabee Library, and its Thomas Fox Averill Kansas Studies Collection. For complete guidelines, visit:

The winner and the judge will be invited to Washburn University's Mabee Library in the Spring of 2018 for a reading and presentation ceremony.

Please join us in congratulating our 2016 award winner for poetry, Amy Fleury, and our 2017 award winner for fiction, Andrew Malan Milward!

Sympathetic Magic and I Was a Revolutionary

Two Natures by Jendi Reiter: $0.99 for a limited time

Two Natures by Jendi Reiter

Set in New York City in the early 1990s, Two Natures is the coming-of-age story of Julian Selkirk, a fashion photographer who struggles to reconcile his Southern Baptist upbringing with his love for other men.

  • 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
  • 2016 Lascaux Prize in Fiction Finalist
  • 2017 National Indie Excellence Award Finalist

One-Year Anniversary 99-Cent Sale
Now through October 15,
buy Two Natures at Amazon Kindle & iBooks
for $0.99

"Two Natures is a very honest bildungsroman, a coming of age novel, with all the key factors, finding your path, breaking with your parents' traditions, learning to stand independent, with a healthy side of Southern Baptist guilt and a childhood fractured by abuse... Reiter does exactly what I like in a book, she lets me walk as the character. I am Julian as he struggles against the traditions of his family and the calling of his own soul. I feel his turmoil as he moves through this time in his life and I feel his heartbreak, along with his joy."
—Gallion Picks Reviews,

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
Past Loves Day Story Contest. Win $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, by mail or email. Sponsored by Spruce Mountain Press, a small press in Vermont. Due September 17.

Intermediate Writers
Glenna Luschei Prize for African Poetry. Awards $1,000 for 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 send an entry form and 4 copies of each nominated title to the African Poetry Book Fund at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Due October 1.

Advanced Writers
Sunday Times EFG Short Story Award. Top prize of 30,000 pounds for a short story, 6,000 words maximum, by an author aged 18+ who has a prior record of publication in the UK or Ireland. Due September 28.

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

Search for Contests

Calls for Submissions

PSA: Your Free Copy of Voices, the Flagship Publication of ProLiteracy

ProLiteracy Voices Fall 2017 You're invited to read the Fall 2017 edition of Voices, ProLiteracy's flagship publication for members, supporters, and friends. Download the current issue, which features our new advocacy campaign, a number of ProLiteracy milestones, and inspirational student and member stories. Here is one such story...

A Love, and a Leap, for English

WHILE ATTENDING high school in Iran, Shanin Talai fell in love with English—it was her favorite subject to study. After high school, she continued learning English as a hobby, got married, and became a mother.

Four years ago, Talai and her husband came to the United States. Although she had spent many years practicing reading and writing in English, she struggled to understand Americans and everything going on in her community. Friends referred her to ReadWest, Inc. in Rio Rancho, New Mexico. ReadWest, Inc. is a nonprofit adult literacy agency that provides one-to-one tutoring sessions that help adults learn to read, write, and speak English.

Talai enrolled in ReadWest's U.S. Citizenship Preparation Course. With the help of her volunteer course tutor, Lynn Simpson, and the materials supplied by ProLiteracy's National Book Fund, Talai achieved her goals. On June 26, 2017, Talai passed the course at ReadWest. She gained the vocabulary, civics, culture, and literacy skills she needed to prepare her papers for citizenship and pass the interview for the citizenship exam. She was sworn in as an American citizen in August 2017.

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 96,000 Twitter followers for just $40 per tweet or less.

Buy Advertising

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

"The World Is Too Much With Us" by William Wordsworth, illustrated by Julian Peters

Mr. Peters writes, "This is my comics adaptation of William Wordsworth's sonnet 'The World Is Too Much With Us' (composed circa 1802), in which the Romantic poet decries the societal changes brought about by the Industrial Revolution. This comic originally appeared in the January 2017 issue of the Italian poetry magazine Atelier, accompanied by an Italian translation by Francesca Benocci. This collaborative project was part of the exploratory 'Partners in Rhyme' series, in which I adapted some short English-language poems into comics which Francesca would then translate into Italian in such a way as to take into account my accompanying illustrations."

These illustrations are reprinted here by kind permission of Mr. Peters. Visit his website.

The Last Word

Give Me That Old One Religion: Notes from NecronomiCon 2017
Three years ago, coinciding with my survivor-conscious farewell to Christianity as I'd understood it, I heard Cthulhu calling...and found something deeply healing in the Mythos. Cthulhu resembles the evangelicals' God in many ways, except without the bull***t that he loves you. Cthulhu doesn't gaslight anyone. Echoing Calvinism's absolute divine sovereignty, Cthulhu is honestly indifferent, inscrutable, able to destroy the world, and beyond all human ideas of Good and Evil.

[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)