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Winning Writers Newsletter - November 2022

View Free Contests

We found five dozen excellent free poetry and prose contests with deadlines between November 15-December 31. In this issue, please enjoy "Caged Bird" by Maya Angelou, illustrated by Julian Peters

Open at Winning Writers, co-sponsored by Duotrope
Free to enter, $3,500 in prizes, including a top award of $2,000.

$9,000 in prizes, including two top awards of $3,000 each. $22 entry fee.

Writer's Digest 101 Best Websites for Writers 2022 Like what we do?
Please nominate us for the next Writer's Digest list of the "101 Best Websites for Writers". We were proud to be named to this list in 2022. Complete the short online nomination form by December 6.

View past newsletters in our archives. Need assistance? Let us help. Join our 140,000 followers on Twitter and find us on Facebook. Advertise with us, starting at $40.

Featured Sponsor
2023 BlueCat Screenplay Competition


Late deadline: December 11

BlueCat is now accepting submissions for our 2023 Competition!
Grand prize: $7,500. Total prizes: $18,500.

For 25 years, BlueCat has sought to discover and develop the storyteller. We're seeking screenplays, tv pilots, and short film scripts.

When you submit to BlueCat, you're guaranteed a complete read of your script, as we provide a written analysis of your submission at no extra fee.

Our Winners and Finalists often find valuable connections within the industry, which help them begin professional careers.

Entry fees: Feature $95, Pilot $90, Short $80. Winners will be announced on May 16, 2023. We look forward to reading your work!

Learn more and submit here. Use this special discount code to save $10: BCWINN23.

Recent Honors and Publication Credits for Our Subscribers

Congratulations to Chris Stark, David Olsen, Judith Barrington, LindaAnn LoSchiavoB.J. Buckley, Jan Harris, Ashley ClineNoah Berlatsky, Helen Leslie Sokolsky (featured poem: "A Gatekeeper’s Vigil"), J. Paul Cooper, Gail Thomas, Eva Tortora, and Victoria Dutu.

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

Have news? Please email it to


Two Sylvias Press Advent Calendar

The Two Sylvias Press Online Poetry Prompt Advent Calendar is filled with surprise prompts to help you write new poems throughout December!

Our online virtual Advent Calendar is easy to use—simply click on the calendar date and a prompt appears. Each prompt is no more than three sentences in length, guiding you with ideas and suggestions for a new poem.

Once you open a prompt, it remains accessible, so no problem if you skip a day or two—the prompts will be waiting for you. The calendar and all of the prompts will be available through the month of January.

Also with each daily Poetry Prompt Advent Calendar click, there are chances to win prizes and Two Sylvias Press publications!

You will receive an access code for the Advent Calendar's web page at the end of November. Your daily surprise prompts will be ready for you to click on December 1st.

And, you can give our Online Poetry Prompt Advent Calendar as a gift (see our website for more details).

To see a sample prompt and order your Advent Calendar, please visit Two Sylvias Press.

Ad: Last Call! LitMag's Anton Chekhov Award for Flash Fiction

LitMag's Anton Chekhov Award for Flash Fiction
Deadline: November 30

First Prize: $1,250, publication in LitMag, and agency review by Nat Sobel of Sobel Weber Associates, Erin Harris and Sonali Chanchani of Folio Literary Management, Jenny Bent of The Bent Agency, David Forrer of Inkwell Management, Monika Woods of Triangle House, and Emily Forland of Brandt & Hochman.

Finalists: Three finalists will receive $100 each. All finalists will be considered for possible agency review and publication.

Entries must be unpublished short stories between 500 and 1,500 words. Enter through Submittable only. Entry fee: $16.

Click for the complete guidelines and enter your flash fiction.

Ad: A Pocket-Sized Fine Arts Program


Deadline to apply to the Winter 2023 cohort: December 15

We invite you to apply today to PocketMFA: a brand new 12-week creative writing program providing graduate-level cohorts, focused on your area of interest, for a fraction of the cost of a traditional MFA.

We are thrilled to be offering Winter 2023 cohorts in Poetry, Fiction, and Creative Nonfiction mentored by an exceptional group of faculty.

The PocketMFA is 100% free to apply to and we welcome those from all backgrounds to explore a new form of higher education in the creative space. For questions or to set up a personal info session, please reach out to our Program Director, Josh:

Ad: The 2022 Holiday "Coming Home" Poetry Contest

Coming Home Poetry Contest

What does home look like to you? Is it an old farmhouse, a certain person, a childhood bedroom, a river you run to? Think about when you feel most rooted. Where in that world do you feel most at peace, most yourself? Write a poem that takes us there.

A home doesn't have to be a building with four walls. It can be a state of being. We want to know exactly what "home" means to you!

This contest is open to anyone aged 14 and up who writes poetry. Parents or guardians can submit on behalf of their children who are aged 14-17. Entry fee: $15.

• 1st: $200, certificate, and online publication at Oprelle
• 2nd: $100 and certificate
• 3rd: $50 and certificate

Submit now through December 20 at Oprelle.

Ad: Virginia Woolf Award for Short Fiction

First Prize: $2,500, publication in LitMag, and agency review by Nat Sobel of Sobel Weber Associates, Lisa Bankoff of Bankoff Collaborative, Erin Harris and Sonali Chanchani of Folio Literary Management, Jenny Bent of The Bent Agency, David Forrer of Inkwell Management, Monika Woods of Triangle House, and Emily Forland of Brandt & Hochman.

Finalists: Three finalists will receive $100 each. All finalists will be considered possible agency review and publication.

Deadline: December 31

Contest Fee: $20. Entries must be unpublished short stories between 3,000 and 8,000 words. Submit through Submittable only. See the results of previous contests.

Ad: Submit Today—92NY Discovery Poetry Contest

Discovery Poetry Contest

Ad: Rattle Chapbook Prize

Deadline: January 15, 2023

The annual Rattle Chapbook Prize gives poets something truly special. Every year, three winners will each receive: $5,000 cash, 500 contributor copies, and distribution to Rattle's ~8,000 subscribers. In a world where a successful full-length poetry book might sell 1,000 copies, the winning book will reach an audience eight times as large on its release day alone—an audience that includes many other literary magazines, presses, and well-known poets. This will be a chapbook to launch a career.

And maybe the best part is this: The $25 entry fee is just a standard subscription to Rattle, which includes four issues of the magazine and three winning chapbooks, even if one of them isn't yours. Rattle is one of the most-read literary journals in the world—find out why just by entering! For more information, visit our website.

We congratulate our three winners from our 2022 contest:

Please enjoy this poem from Michael Mark's winning chapbook:

Watching the Golden Gate Bridge Disappear

Mom, I'm in San Francisco
   and the bridge
is being taken away.

The east tower
    is completely gone.
All morning

the pillars resisted the fog
   until they were exhausted.       
Was it like that for you

when you didn't know how
    to make your famous
tuna the way I liked it

    and you kept calling me
the mean tailor? I needed

to take in your housedress.
    (You'd gotten so thin.)
The suspension cables

barely peek out now
    and the cars are creeping
into the invisible.

It's getting hard to remember
    how it was.
The locals tell me to just wait.   

In a moment the whole bridge
    will return with the cars,
the boats, the bay, the sun.

Ad: Next Generation Indie Book Awards

Deadline: February 10, 2023

Entries are now being accepted for the 2023 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 2021, 2022, or 2023 or with a 2021, 2022, or 2023 copyright date. The Next Generation Indie Book Awards are presented by Independent Book Publishing Professionals Group.

There are 80+ categories to choose from, so take advantage of this exciting opportunity to have your book considered for cash prizes, awards, exposure, possible representation by a leading literary agent, and recognition as one of the top independently published books of the year!

Ad: Refugee, poems by Pamela Uschuk from Red Hen Press


Refugee deals with refugees of many kinds—political refugees, refugees from racism, from domestic violence, from environmental destruction and disease, specifically cancer—and their stories of cruelty and courage, hardship, and hope to overcome the most daunting of circumstances.

Taking the reader across our country through the landscapes of Colorado, Tennessee, North Carolina, and Arizona, Refugee addresses the nature of seeking shelter. We are all refugees looking for a haven from whatever oppresses our lives. What constitutes a refugee is at the heart of the collection that confronts and explores xenophobia, sexism, gun violence, domestic violence, corporate greed, and their ties to environmental destruction and political and economic tyranny.

An ovarian cancer survivor, the author also writes about her own courageous confrontation with death. These inspiring poems call for a change in consciousness in the forms of action and compassion. They call for the reader to thrive. This collection is steeped in rich, sensual imagery that draws inspiration and healing from the natural world. Truth lies in recognition of the interdependence of all life. Refugee is an odyssey to find grace and unity in a besieged and divided contemporary American society.


"A mordantly tender triumph rich with natural imagery."
— Starred Review in Kirkus Review of Books, November 11, 2022.

"the(se) poems elevate love, companionship, and community as the refuges in which we gather our strength and remember what in this world is so beautiful that it demands we fight for it. In a world where it seems there is nowhere left to run, Uschuk's Refugee offers more than just a vital shelter: it offers the road we need forward."
— Andrew Najberg, North American Review, Fall 2022

"Refugee reveals itself through a tapestry of well-crafted poems of urgency and the hope for meaningful change. Uschuk, winner of an American Book Award, here rejects the assumption that nature poetry is apolitical or unengaged with the social realm, instead asserting that climate crisis is inseparable from human crisis, domestic and international. She also rejects the myth of the solitary poet and draws on community, which she defines as an ecosystem of people, flora, and fauna. Through poems that powerfully render a world where individual action holds value and every life is one that matters, Refugee chronicles the many ways in which environmental and political disaster, cancer, and racism affect our ability to exist, live, and thrive."
Tara Ballard, Rain Taxi, Summer 2022

"There is a position in yoga called 'the shining heart'. This is how Pam Uschuk has approached her poems in Refugee. Pam Uschuk is on fire. She has carried her song and vision across deserts and over mountains. Witness and beauty undivided."
— Luis Alberto Urrea, author of House of Fallen Angels

"With tenderness, expansive compassion, and profound gifts of radiant description, Pamela Uschuk considers so many ways people may be estranged and lost in this precious, difficult world. With brave ferocity, her poems in Refugee navigate new vision and reconnection, so desperately longed for right now and always."
— Naomi Shihab Nye, author of The Tiny Journalist


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
Patricia Grodd Poetry Prize for Young Writers. The Kenyon Review will award free tuition to their two-week summer seminar for writers aged 16-18 from around the world. The winner and runners-up will be published in the highly prestigious journal. Submit one poem online by November 30.

Intermediate Writers
Neil Postman Award for Metaphor. Rattle awards $2,000 annually for the best use of metaphor in a poem published in the journal. Rolling deadline. Wait for a decision on your first entry before submitting more. All poems published in Rattle in a given year are automatically considered for this award.

Advanced Writers
Stowe Prize. The Harriet Beecher Stowe Center will award $10,000 to a US author whose prose work (fiction and nonfiction compete together) "illuminates a critical social justice issue in contemporary society in the United States". Nominated work must have been published in the US within the past 3 years. Entrants may nominate themselves or be nominated by another. Due December 1.

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

Search for Contests

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Winning Writers Critique Service

Compare to book and manuscript critique services charging $600 and up. For $180, we'll provide a professional critique that's 1,500-3,000 words long. You may also submit up to 3 specific questions to be answered within your critique. We guarantee your satisfaction. View a sample critique. Learn more and place your order.

We also offer critiques of poems, stories, and essays and children's picture books for just $90.

Calls for Submissions

Winning Writers finds open submission calls and free contests in a variety of sources, including Erika Dreifus' Practicing Writer newsletter, FundsforWriters, Erica Verrillo's blog, Authors Publish, Lit Mag News Roundup, Poets & Writers, The Writer, Duotrope, Submittable, and literary journals' own newsletters and announcements.

Shooter Literary Magazine: Body Issue
(poetry, fiction, essays on theme "On the Body" - November 20)

Flare: An Anthology of Chronic Illness Flash Narratives
(short fiction or nonfiction about living with chronic illness - November 30)

The Offing: Wit Tea
(literary humor writing - November 30)

Sinister Wisdom: Trans Partners Issue
(creative writing about being a lesbian with a trans partner - November 30)

Tint Journal
(poetry, fiction, and essays by ESL authors - November 30)

Parabola: "Transformation" Issue
(poetry and essays on this theme with a spiritual or mythic bent - December 1)

Channel Magazine
(poetry, fiction, and essays about human engagement with nature - December 15)

Sequestrum: "Reprints" and "Humor" Issues
(previously published or humorous poetry and short prose - December 15)

7.13 Books
(debut literary novel or short story collection manuscripts, especially by women and LGBTQ authors - December 31)

BLF Press: Black Joy Unbound Anthology
(poetry, fiction, and essays celebrating Black life - December 31)

Dyskami Publishing: Superhero Fiction Anthology
(stories inspired by the role-playing game Absolute Power - December 31)

Agape Editions: "The Dying Light" Issue
(noir-themed or melodramatic creative writing - January 1)

Swagger: A Celebration of the Butch Experience
(creative writing and art about the positive side of butch identity - January 1)

Rooted Two: Best Arboreal Nonfiction
(all genres of short nonfiction relating to trees - January 31)

Recommended Books

This month, editor Jendi Reiter presents selected books that deserve your attention. There are many more in our Books resource section. Winning Writers earns a small commission from books sold by Amazon.Belly of the Beast

Da'Shaun Harrison
This concise book combines groundbreaking theory with clear and accessible writing. Harrison surveys and ties together the myriad ways that beauty, health, and human-ness itself have been defined to exclude and shrink the Black body, with special attention to the experiences of fat Black men and trans masculine people.

Dani Jones
This funny, inspirational webcomic, now collected in book form, addresses relatable issues such as mental health, coming out, artist's block, and keeping faith during tough times. Reminiscent of Zen Pencils, the style is cozy yet profound, like a conversation about the meaning of life that ends with a hug from a friend.

Ray Nayler
This compelling hard-science thriller is set in a reshaped geopolitical environment, where humankind's aggressive harvesting of the oceans for protein may have put evolutionary pressure on octopuses to develop a civilization of comparable intelligence as ours. But rather than pitting humans against nature, the multi-layered and well-researched plot comes down to two theories of consciousness: the colonialist quest for knowledge-as-control, or empathy across the mysterious divide of self from other. The stakes are nothing less than human survival on the planet.

GennaRose Nethercott
In this extraordinary work of Jewish magical realism, the American great-great-grandchildren of legendary Eastern European witch Baba Yaga inherit her chicken-legged hut, and find themselves tasked with laying the ghosts of the pogroms to rest. The story is undergirded by a traditionally Jewish vision of death and the afterlife, in which being remembered by your descendants is the most important form of immortality. The Yaga descendants, whose magical powers have their hidden roots in Jewish survival skills, must do battle with the personification of genocidal forces that would erase not only a marginalized people but even the memory of their existence. And there is a traveling puppet show, and a monster-hunting band of queer rock musicians, and a lesbian romance with an animated graveyard statue. What more could you ask for? If you get a chance to see GennaRose read from her book, with live puppetry accompaniment, don't miss it!

"Caged Bird" by Maya Angelou, illustrated by Julian Peters

Poems to See By features 24 classic poems with visual interpretations by comic artist Julian Peters. Mr. Peters has graciously allowed us to reprint "Caged Bird" from the book. For a limited time, order Poems to See By directly from Plough and use the code win30 to get a 30% discount. It's a great holiday gift! The hardcover edition ships to US addresses.

Caged Bird

Caged Bird

Caged Bird

Caged Bird

Caged Bird

Caged Bird

The Last Word

Jendi ReiterBinary Virtue and Transmasculine Confusion
What I'd like, first and foremost, is to decouple the fight against patriarchy from assertions about the relative virtuousness of "women" and "men".

[Read more]

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