Announcing the winners of our 2017 Fiction & Essay Contest |

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Welcome to Our October Newsletter

Joan Corwin and Debbie Weingarten

We found three dozen quality free poetry and prose contests with deadlines between October 15-November 30.
View Free Contests
In this issue: Julian Peters' illustration of "Elegy", a poem from Leonard Cohen's first collection.

CONGRATULATIONS to the winners of our 25th annual Tom Howard/John H. Reid Fiction & Essay Contest! Joan Corwin submitted the winning story, "Length of Days", and Debbie Weingarten submitted the winning essay, "The Mule Deer". 1,138 authors from around the world submitted 1,418 entries. Judy Juanita selected the winning entries, assisted by Lauren Singer. Read all the winning entries. See the press release.

Our new fiction and essay contest is open now. We have increased the top prizes to $2,000 each, for a total prize pool of $5,000. Dennis Norris II joins us as our new final judge.

Want to view past newsletters? See our archives. Need assistance? Let us help. Join our 96,000 followers on Twitter at @WinningWriters.

Recent Honors and Publication Credits for Our Subscribers

Congratulations to Terrance Manning Jr., Scott Winkler, Deborah LeFalle (featured poem: "Family Reunion"), Jim Garrison, Mike Tuohy, Tricia McCallum, Michael Topa (featured poem: "Jerusalem Slim"), Angie Gallion, Ndaba Sibanda (featured poem: "Write Me Letters"), William Huhn, Sofia Kioroglou, John Smistad, Michael Lee Johnson, Paul T. Jackson, Jesse James Doty, and Karin Aurino.

Winning Writers Editor Jendi Reiter won a 2017 Sunshot Finalist Prize for her short story collection An Incomplete List of My Wishes, which will be published by New Millennium Writings in 2018. NMW's Sunshots Prize Series gives awards up to $1,500 and publication for poetry and prose manuscripts; the most recent deadline was May 30. In other news, Jendi's novel Two Natures was a 2017 Book Excellence Award finalist. Winners and finalists receive prize packages with award seals and book marketing guides, plus promotion on social media. The most recent deadline for this contest for small press and self-published books was June 30.

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

Have news? Please email it to

BookBaby - The Book Construction Blueprint

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

Deadline extended to October 16

$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 Gillette's new story collection Trail of the Demon. For complete guidelines and to enter, please visit our website.

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.

Cutthroat Journal's 2017 Contests for Poetry, Nonfiction, and Short Stories

Deadline extended to October 31

2017 Judges

  • Poetry: Cornelius Eady
  • Short Story: Lidia Yuknavitch
  • Nonfiction: Brenda Peterson

Submit up to three unpublished poems, one unpublished short story, or one creative nonfiction piece, any subject, any style. Each poem may have up to 100 lines. Each work of prose may have up to 5,000 words. Fee: $20 per entry. Submit online at Submittable (preferred) or mail to:

     CUTTHROAT Literary Award
     Attn: [Genre]
     P.O. Box 2414
     Durango, CO 81302

When entering by mail, please make your check payable to Raven's Word. Do not staple your entry. All manuscripts must be in 12-point type. MUST include SASE for announcement of winners. Author name must not appear on manuscript. Include cover sheet with name, address, phone, email, genre, and title(s).

When entering online, do not include a cover sheet. Author name must not appear on manuscript. Use 12-point type. Fiction must be double-spaced.

Simultaneous submissions OK. Please notify us if your submission is accepted elsewhere. Submit as often as you wish. Winners will be notified by December 31, 2017.

Want to learn more about Cutthroat and its mission? Read Jendi Reiter's interview with Pamela Uschuk, Editor-in-Chief of Cutthroat.

Questions? Please call 970-903-7914 or email

Tupelo Press Sunken Garden Chapbook Poetry Prize

Deadline: October 31 (postmark or online submission date)
Final Judge: Major Jackson

The Sunken Garden Poetry Prize is a prestigious national poetry prize for adult writers. Established in 2002, the Prize has drawn submissions from around the country that have been judged by renowned poets such as Martha Collins, Patricia Smith, and Tony Hoagland. The winner receives a cash prize, an introductory reading at the Sunken Garden Poetry Festival, and publication of a chapbook. Hill-Stead began partnering with Tupelo Press for the publication of the chapbook in 2013.

The Tupelo Press Sunken Garden Poetry Prize includes a cash award of $1,000, publication by Tupelo Press, a book launch, and national distribution with energetic publicity and promotion. Results announced in winter 2017.

Submit a previously unpublished, chapbook-length poetry manuscript with a table of contents and an acknowledgements page (if applicable). There is no mandatory page count, but we suggest in the area of 20 to 36 pages. All manuscripts will be read and considered with full respect, regardless of length, and no manuscript will be rejected simply because it's shorter or longer. We encourage online submission via our Submittable system. You may also submit via postal mail:

Tupelo Press
Sunken Garden Chapbook Poetry Prize
P.O. 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.

Read about the Sunken Garden Festival.

Read about all Tupelo Press contests and open reading opportunities.

Please enjoy this selection by Suzanne Parker, author of Feed (Tupelo Press, 2016), winner of the 2016 Sunken Garden Poetry Prize:

Small Oranges on a Platter
by Suzanne Parker

You do not need to say desire–
laid out in daylight
on a sideboard
as if there
they will be harmless
as if peel stripped
won't leave a scent
beneath the nails as if,
later, you will not
raise your fingers,
think of separating
the body, section
by section. Use
the word swallow.
Notice the lips' position–
without restraint,
in the middle,
how they open.

Coal Hill Review 2017 Annual Poetry Chapbook Contest

Herald by Roberta P. Feins, 2016 winner of the Coal Hill Chapbook Contest

Deadline: November 1

Coal Hill Review is accepting submissions for its annual poetry chapbook contest. The winner will receive publication and $1,000.

All submitted manuscripts should be between 12 and 20 pages in length and include a cover letter, table of contents, acknowledgements page for previous publications, and SASE.

Electronic submissions can be sent through Submittable and hard copy submissions can be sent to:

     Autumn House Press

     Coal Hill Review Chapbook Contest

     P.O. Box 5486

     Pittsburgh, PA 15206

Full submission guidelines can be found on our website.

The final judge of the competition is poet Heather McNaugher. Those who submit will be considered for publication in the online winter issue. All finalists will be notified in November, and the winner will be posted on the Coal Hill Review website in December. We congratulate our 2016 winner, Roberta P. Feins, for Herald.

Red Blood, Yellow Skin by Linda L.T. Baer

Winner of the 2016 North Street Book Prize for creative nonfiction & memoir

Red Blood, Yellow Skin is the story of a young girl's survival in war-torn Vietnam during the First Indochina War between France and Vietnam, the civil war between North and South Vietnam, and the later American involvement in the Vietnam War. Linda Baer was born Nguyen Thi Loan, in the village of Tao Xa, Thai Binh Province, in North Vietnam in 1947. When she was four years old, the Viet Minh attacked her village and killed her father, leaving Loan and her mother to fend for themselves. Seeking escape from impoverishment, her mother married a rich and dominating widower who was cruel to his free-spirited and mischievous stepdaughter. Loan found solace in the company of animals and insects and escaped into the branches of trees.

In 1954, her family chose to relocate to South Vietnam, rather than live under the yoke of communist North Vietnam. When Loan was thirteen, she ran away to Saigon to flee the cruelty of her stepfather and worked at menial jobs to help her family. At seventeen, she was introduced to bars, nightclubs, and Saigon Tea. At eighteen, she dated and lived with a young American airman. Two months after their baby was born, the airman returned to America, and Loan never heard from him again. She raised their son by herself. However, time healed her heart, and she eventually found true love in a young Air Force Officer, whom she married and accompanied to America.

Red Blood, Yellow Skin is a story of romance, culture, traditions, and family. It describes the pain, struggle, despair, and violence as Loan lived it. The story is hers, but it is also an account of Vietnam—of those who were uprooted, displaced, brutalized, and left homeless. It is about this struggle to survive and her extraordinary triumph over adversity that Baer writes.

A 5-star bestseller on Amazon - buy it here. Read the Winning Writers critique and a free excerpt.

Watch for the sequel coming next month...

Endless Journey by Linda Baer

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.

See our complete guidelines.

Creative Nonfiction

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

Announcing the Writing Pittsburgh Book Prize

Deadline extended to November 20

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.

See our complete guidelines.

Creative Nonfiction

NOW OPEN: Two Sylvias Press WILDER POETRY BOOK PRIZE for Women Over 50

Looking to publish Full-Length Poetry Manuscripts by Women Over 50

Deadline: November 30

Prize: $1,000 and publication by Two Sylvias Press (print book and eBook publication, and a vintage art nouveau pendant)

The Wilder Series Book Prize is open to women over 50 years of age (established or emerging poets) and includes a $1,000 prize, publication by Two Sylvias Press, 20 copies of the winning book, and a vintage, art nouveau pendant. 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.

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

Two Natures by Jendi Reiter: $0.99 offer expires today!

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
  • 2017 Book Excellence Awards Finalist

One-Year Anniversary 99-Cent Sale
Buy Two Natures at Amazon Kindle & iBooks
for $0.99. Sale ends October 15!

"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

Creative Nonfiction Seeks Essays on "Intoxication"

Deadline: February 26, 2018

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

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
Hajja Razia Sharif Sheikh Prizes in Nonfiction and Poetry. US college students can win publication and up to $500 for previously unpublished poems and essays, of any length, on the joys and challenges of being Muslim in America. Authors need not identify as Muslim to enter. Due November 1.

Intermediate Writers
UNT Rilke Prize. University of North Texas will award $10,000 for a published book by a mid-career poet. Prize includes travel expenses for readings at UNT in April of the following year. Entrants must have published at least two previous books of poetry (excluding chapbooks) and be US citizens or legal residents. Eligible books must have been published between November 1 of the preceding year and October 31 of the deadline year. Publisher or author should submit three copies of book and entry form. Due November 30.

Advanced Writers
Frank O'Connor International Short Story Fellowship. The Munster Literature Centre awards a stipend totaling 7,500 euros; a 12-week residency in Cork, Ireland; and various writing, mentoring, and teaching opportunities for an English-speaking writer from outside Ireland who has published at least two full-length works of fiction, of which at least one must be a short story collection. Due November 30.

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

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"Elegy" by Leonard Cohen, illustrated by Julian Peters

Mr. Peters has kindly allowed us to reprint his illustration of "Elegy", the opening poem in Leonard Cohen's very first poetry collection, Let Us Compare Mythologies, from 1956. Visit Mr. Peters' website.


Do not look for him
In brittle mountain streams:
They are too cold for any god;
And do not examine the angry rivers
For shreds of his soft body
Or turn the shore stones for his blood;
But in the warm salt ocean
He is descending through cliffs
Of slow green water
And the hovering coloured fish
Kiss his snow-bruised body
And build their secret nests
In his fluttering winding-sheet.

The Last Word

The Cthulhu Prayer Breakfast and the Death of White Jesus
The Cthulhu Prayer Breakfast was finely balanced on the line between farce and sincere religious-philosophical questioning. The refusal to collapse one mode into the other seemed like a healthy shadow-integration, the Zen paradox that we approach the deepest wisdom through discovering our foolishness.

I wasn't expecting a genuine religious experience at this conference, but I got one. At a couple of points during the weekend, I had this brief and unprecedented feeling of freedom from my constant strivings to cheat death and achieve significance. The Mythos looks mortality and infinity directly in the face and accepts them, even semi-ironically celebrates them, which I found such a relief from the relentless religious-cultural-psychological project of propping up the ego and distracting ourselves from the abyss. [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)