The best free literary contests with deadlines through March 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 February Newsletter

We are thrilled to announce the winners of our third North Street Book Prize competition for self-published books. They are Dr. Paul Thornton (top left), Alesa Lightbourne (bottom left), and Nicole Evelina (bottom right). They each received $1,500, a marketing consultation with Carolyn Howard-Johnson, a $300 credit at BookBaby, and three free ads in this newsletter.

We also commend our seven Honorable Mentions—Cynthia Harris-Allen, Imani Josey, Robbi Pounds, Robin Reardon, Patricia Rohner, D.B. Sieders, and Michael H. Ward, and six Finalists—Arjay Lewis, Susan Harrison Rashid, Steven Schlozman, Vanda, Doug Piotter, and Susan Tereba. Judges Jendi Reiter and Ellen LaFleche reviewed 378 entries, assisted by Lauren Singer and Annie Keithline. We awarded $6,250 in all. Please read excerpts from our winners' outstanding books, with critiques by the judges and advice for future contestants. See the press release about the winners.

Our new competition opens today, with a deadline of June 30. We are increasing the prize pool to $9,250, including a new top prize of $3,000. By popular request, we are adding categories for Poetry and Children's Picture Book. The other categories are Mainstream/Literary Fiction, Genre Fiction, and Creative Nonfiction & Memoir. ENTER HERE.

We found over three dozen high-quality poetry and prose contests that are free to enter with deadlines between February 15-March 31.

View Free Contests

In this issue: Please enjoy "I Have Come To Consume The World", illustrated by Julian Peters.

Join our 104,000 followers on Twitter for timely news about contests and resources for writers. Want to view past newsletters? Visit our archives. Need assistance? Let us help.

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:

5-7-5 Valentine Poetry Contest
Submit a three-line poem with a 5-7-5 syllable pattern. Write about anything that will warm the heart of that special someone or perhaps the opposite approach to that Valentine you'd rather forget. Cash prize. Deadline: February 16 (tomorrow!)

Rhyming Poem Contest
Write a poem of any type, but there must be a rhyme schme. The winner receives a cash prize. Deadline: February 18 (in three days!)

5-7-5 Poetry Contest
These poems follow the structure of haiku (three lines, 5-7-5 syllable pattern) but without any limits on the subject. Win cash. Deadline: February 19 (in four days!)

Share a Story in a Poem
Write a poem that tells a story in rhyme. Winner receives cash. Deadline: February 22.

100-Word Flash Fiction
A drabble is a flash fiction story that uses around 100 words. Write a drabble on any topic using 98-102 words. Cash for the winner. Deadline: February 26.

See all our upcoming contests and find out more.

Recent Honors and Publication Credits for Our Subscribers

Try Literistic

Congratulations to Francine Witte (featured poem: "Charley Says Give Me Your Heart"), Robert Walton, James W. Gaynor, Scott Winkler, Sheryl Clough (featured poem: "Night Fire"), Jill Hoffman, Gary Beck, Mary Freericks, Nancy Louise Lewis, Terry Hynes, Mike Tuohy, J.C. Todd, Kathleen SpivackRick Lupert, and Diane Frank

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

Have news? Please email it to

Your Screenwriting Career Starts Here!

The Launch Pad Competitions are dedicated to giving writers the exposure they need to launch professional Hollywood careers. That's why in just 5 years the Launch Pad has helped over 254 writers land representation with top agents and managers, 81 writers set up projects, 45 writers earn staff writing jobs and sparked 4 bidding wars from major Hollywood studios. Our 2018 pilot competition is currently underway so enter today to have your work seen by companies that include CAA, Verve, Anonymous Content, Chernin Entertainment, and many more.

Creative Nonfiction Seeks Essays on "Intoxication"

Deadline: February 26

Seeking altered states might be one of the oldest human hobbies—for better and for worse—and we're looking for stories that capture the widest possible range of experiences and voices. Whether you (or someone else) were tipsy or wasted, soooooooo drunk or just a little high—on life, or love, or power, or something else—we want to hear your story about being under the influence.

As always, we're interested in stories that are more than mere anecdotes, and we love work that incorporates an element of research and/or makes a connection to a larger story or theme. We welcome personal stories as well as profiles, and 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.

If we're being honest, we're also especially hoping for some happy (or at least lighthearted, if not downright funny) stories—a mix of uppers and downers, as it were.

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

See our complete guidelines.

Creative Nonfiction

Tupelo Press Snowbound Chapbook Award

Deadline: February 28 (postmark or online submission-date)
Final Judge: Eduardo C. Corral

The Snowbound Chapbook Award includes a cash award of $1,000, publication by Tupelo Press, 25 copies of your book, a book launch, and national distribution with energetic publicity and promotion. All finalists will be considered for publication. Results announced in late spring 2018.

The Snowbound Chapbook Award is open to anyone writing in the English language, whether living in the United States or abroad. Translations are not eligible for this prize, nor are previously self-published books. The contest is competitive. Simultaneous submissions to other publishers or contests are permitted; notify Tupelo Press promptly if your manuscript is accepted elsewhere.

Submit a previously unpublished, chapbook-length poetry manuscript (20-36 pages) with a table of contents and, if applicable, an acknowledgments page for poems previously published in periodicals. We encourage online submission via our Submittable system. You may also submit via postal mail:

Tupelo Press Snowbound Prize
PO Box 1767
North Adams, MA 01247

For mailed manuscripts, request notification of receipt by including a SASP. For notification of the winner, enclose a SASE. Manuscripts will not be returned.

A reading fee of $25 payable by check to Tupelo Press or via Submittable must accompany each submission. Multiple submissions are accepted, each accompanied by a $25 reading fee.

Read the complete guidelines before submitting your manuscript.

Read about past winners and more information about all Tupelo contests.

Please enjoy this selection by Allan Peterson, author of Other Than They Seem (Tupelo Press, 2016) and winner of the 2014 Snowbound Chapbook Award, selected by Ruth Ellen Kocher.

by Allan Peterson

Point to the longing they said and I touched a map

of the whole body

the ulnar   radial   that which draws tears

from fingers after touch

the words soothing and lying at the same time

cloudburst   sunrise

a whiteness like a bone and then your picture

Tupelo Press Snowbound Chapbook Award

Last Call for the WNBA Writing Contest

Essay Contest: "What Would Life Be Like Without the Arts & Entertainment?"

Deadline: March 30

We want to receive your freshly-inspired, thought-provoking, and compelling essay describing what life would be like if we didn't have the arts & entertainment. 100 words minimum. 500 words maximum.

Prizes: 1st Place $500 and publication on our website along with winner's photo and bio; 2nd Place $100 and name listed on our website; 3rd Place $50 and name listed on our website; Honorable Mentions will have their names listed on our website.

View our complete rules and enter.

$8 entry fee. Sponsored by Divine Connections Special Events. Contest open to all writers 18 years and older who are legal residents of the United States of America. Void where prohibited.

COG Page to Screen Awards

"I like to listen. I'm much more interested in listening than speaking, for sure."
—Final Judge Gish Jen, whom Junot Diaz calls "the Great American Novelist we're always hearing about..."

Deadline: March 31. Submit unpublished short stories and creative nonfiction pieces no longer than 7,000 words. Entry fee: $17.

Winner receives:

  • $1,000 prize
  • Publication online and in the print issue of COG
  • A blurb about your short story by Gish Jen
  • Your story adapted as an animated short film, 2D animation, graphic novel, or series of interpretive illustrations by students in Cogswell College's celebrated Digital Art & Animation and Digital Audio Technology programs.

Learn more and enter here.

Gish Jen

Wergle Flomp Humor Poetry Contest (no fee)

Dancing Poetry Festival Contest

Deadline: April 15

Now in its 25th year, all Dancing Poetry Festival prize winners will receive a prize certificate suitable for framing, a ticket to the 2018 Dancing Poetry Festival in the Florence Gould Theater at the California Palace of the Legion of Honor, San Francisco, and an invitation to read their prizewinning poem at the festival.

Three Grand Prizes will receive $100 each plus their poems will be danced and filmed. Many smaller prizes. Each Grand Prize winner will be invited onstage for photo ops with the dancers and a bow in the limelight.

Please look at photos of our Dancing Poetry Festivals to see the vast diversity of poetry and dance we present each year. For poetry, we look for something new and different including new twists to old themes, different looks at common situations, and innovative concepts for dynamic, thought-provoking entertainment. We look forward to reading your submissions. See the complete contest rules and please enjoy "How To Come Full Circle in Five Steps, More Or Less" by Claudine Nash, a 2017 Grand Prize winner.

Tom Howard/John H. Reid Fiction & Essay Contest

Creative Nonfiction Seeks Essays on "Home"

Deadline: May 21

They say it's where you hang your hat; it's where the heart is; it's where they have to take you in. But what does home mean for communities and individuals facing rising temperatures and extreme weather; wealth disparity and resource scarcity; and the forces of globalization and nationalism? What does it mean to belong somewhere? For the winter 2019 issue of Creative Nonfiction magazine, we're looking for true stories about finding—or, perhaps, coming to terms with losing—your place in the world.

As always, we're interested in stories that are more than mere anecdotes, and we love work that incorporates an element of research and/or makes a connection to a larger story or theme. We welcome personal stories as well as profiles, and 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.

See our complete guidelines.

Creative Nonfiction

Creative Nonfiction Seeks Essays for "Let's Talk About Sex" Issue

Deadline: July 16

For the spring 2019 issue of Creative Nonfiction magazine, we're looking for true stories about doing it. Whether you're straight, gay, or other; alone, in a couple, or in a crowd; doing it for the first time or the last, or not doing it at all, we want to hear your story.

As always, we're interested in stories that are more than mere anecdotes, and we love work that incorporates an element of research and/or makes a connection to a larger story or theme. We welcome personal stories as well as profiles, and 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.

Please note: for this issue, we are interested primarily (and perhaps even exclusively) in stories of consensual and/or victimless sex. Also note, we are not seeking erotica. No photos, please.

Creative Nonfiction editors will award $1,000 for Best Essay and $500 for runner-up. All essays will be considered for publication.

See our complete guidelines.

Creative Nonfiction

Jendi Reiter's Two Natures Finalist for 2018 EPIC eBook Award

Two Natures by Jendi Reiter

Jendi Reiter's debut novel Two Natures (Saddle Road Press, 2016) is a finalist for the 2018 EPIC eBook Awards in the Contemporary Fiction category. Winners will be announced in March. Since 1998, EPIC, the Electronic Publishing Industry Coalition, has supported independent authors and publishing professionals through workshops, conferences, and annual competitions for the best e-books in a variety of fiction and nonfiction genres.

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
  • 2017 Book Excellence Awards Finalist

"Jendi Reiter has delivered a complex, nuanced, heartbreaking, and intellectually engaging novel about life in the 90s for the gay man, along with a wittily scathing putdown of the fashion industry and its fragile pretentious foibles."
—Goodreads 5-star review by Sandra Hunter, author of Trip Wires (Leapfrog Press, 2018)

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
Restless Books Prize for New Immigrant Writing. $10,000 advance and publication in print and ebook editions for literary fiction, 45,000 words minimum, by a first-generation immigrant of their country who has not previously published a book in that particular genre with a US publisher. "First-generation" can refer either to people born in another country who relocated, or to residents of a country whose parents were born elsewhere. Due February 28.

Intermediate Writers
Judith A. Markowitz Award for Emerging LGBTQ Writers. Two prizes of $1,000 each for LGBTQ authors who have published 1-2 books of fiction, nonfiction, or poetry. Candidates' contributions to the LGBTQ literary field beyond their writings and publications will also be considered. Due February 20.

Advanced Writers
Lewis Galantiere Award. The American Translators Association awards $1,000 for a distinguished book-length literary translation from any language, except German, into English. Entries must have been published in the US in the past two years (in 2016 or 2017 for the 2018 contest), and authors should be US citizens or permanent residents. Due March 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: 7 Unseen Problems Low-Literate Adults Experience When They Hide Their Secret


Ben Davis from ProLiteracy writes:

There are 36 million adults in the United States who can't read above a third-grade level. That means the likelihood of meeting someone who struggles to read is truly staggering.

And while one in seven American adults struggle to read, you wouldn't know it. Most of these adults find creative ways to hide their reading issues because of their own embarrassment. For example, someone might ask for help reading something saying they "forgot their glasses". Or at a restaurant, unable to read the menu, they might ask the waitress what she recommends. And contrary to popular belief, the majority of these people are very smart. I have met a successful business owner who went through most of his life without being functionally literate. I have heard stories about a truck driver making deliveries by following landmarks, business owners having their spouse sign documents, and parents pretending to read to their children by making up stories from the pictures in a book.

Here are just some of the issues people who are unable to read deal with on a daily basis:

  1. Worrying if they are giving their children the right dose of medicine.
  2. Unable to fill out a job application.
  3. Hiding their low literacy from their employer.
  4. Not being able to help their children with homework.
  5. Memorizing products so they can find them at the store.
  6. Making excuses to avoid activities that might involve reading.
  7. The constant stress of hiding your secret.

ProLiteracy promotes adult literacy through content development, programs, and advocacy. Our goal is to help literacy programs increase the quantity and quality of services provided. Learn more.

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 104,000 Twitter followers for just $40 per tweet or less.

Buy Advertising

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

"I Have Come To Consume The World", illustrated by Julian Peters


In Chapter 11 of the Hindu scripture the Bhagavad Gita, Krishna reveals himself to the warrior hero Arjuna in his full nature as the transcendent and immanent Lord of the Universe. This watercolour painting is inspired by the portion of this cosmic vision in which Arjuna describes the God's terrifying appearance in the role of destroyer (being all things, Krishna is also the destruction of all things):

"O Vishnu [Krishna is the avatar or embodiment of Vishnu], I can see your eyes shining; with open mouth, you glitter in an array of colours, and your body touches the sky. I look at you and my heart trembles; I have lost all courage and all peace of mind.

"When I see your mouths with their fearful teeth, mouths burning like the fires at the end of time, I forget where I am and I have no place to go. O Lord, you are the support of the universe; have mercy on me!

"I see all the sons of Dritarashtra; I see Bhishma, Drona, and Karna; I see our warriors and all the kings who are here to fight. All are rushing into your awful jaws; I see some of them crushed by your teeth. As rivers flow into the ocean, all the warriors of this world are passing into your fiery jaws; all creatures rush to their destruction like moths into a flame.

"You lap the worlds into your burning mouths and swallow them. Filled with your terrible radiance, O Vishnu, the whole of creation bursts into flames.

"Tell me who you are, O Lord of terrible form. I bow before you; have mercy! I want to know who you are, you who existed before all creation. Your nature and workings confound me."

To this Krishna gives the hair-raising reply:

"I am time, the destroyer of all; I have come to consume the world."

The cited passages are from the translation of the Bhagavad Gita by Eknath Easwaran (Nilgiri Press, 1985). Artwork by Julian Peters. See more at Mr. Peters' website.

The Last Word

Decolonizing With My Polish Jewish Ancestors
Polish indigenous magic and folk traditions come from the land where my ancestors lived, but do they come from my people?... Judaism, meanwhile, defined itself from the beginning as opposing all forms of folk magic or worship of local spirits. Tearing down pagan altars was a full-time job for the Hebrew prophets. I feel a stronger connection to Jewish material culture and traditions–folk tales, family rituals, recipes, Yiddish songs, immigrant narratives–than to anything Polish. This is the actual heritage of my biological relatives. To the extent that I have any experience of inter-generational oral tradition, this is it. However, the religion is inherently contrary to the witchy project into which I would pour these memories. [read more]

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

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