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Winning Writers Newsletter - September 2022

View Free Contests

We found over three dozen excellent free poetry and prose contests with deadlines between September 15-October 31. In this issue, please enjoy "Do not go gentle into that good night" by Dylan Thomas, illustrated by Julian Peters. Next month, we'll announce the winners of our 2022 Tom Howard/John H. Reid Fiction & Essay Contest.

Tom Howard/Margaret Reid Poetry Contest - Last Call
It's last call to enter our 20th annual Tom Howard/Margaret Reid Poetry Contest. We will award $3,000 for a poem in any style or genre and $3,000 for a poem that rhymes or has a traditional style. Ten Honorable Mentions will receive $200 each (any style). The top 12 entries will be published online. The top two winners will also receive two-year gift certificates from our co-sponsor, Duotrope (a $100 value). Length limit: 250 lines per poem. Entry fee: $20 for 3 poems. Multiple entries welcome. Final judge: S. Mei Sheng Frazier, assisted by Michal 'MJ' Jones. Deadline: September 30. Submit online here.

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Recent Honors and Publication Credits for Our Subscribers

Congratulations to Tony Keith Jr., Katrina Roberts, Annie Dawid, Robbie Gamble, Garret Keizer, J Brooke, Judy Juanita, Gloria Mindock, Duane L. Herrmann, Rick Lupert, R.T. Castleberry, and Carol D. Marsh.

Winning Writers editor Jendi Reiter will be reading at the Brattleboro Literary Festival with poet Quintin Collins on Saturday, October 15, at 2:30 pm at Epsilon Spires, 190 Main Street, Brattleboro, VT.

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

Have news? Please email it to

Ad: Submit Your Book Manuscript at Atmosphere Press

Atmosphere Press

There are a lot of hybrid publishers out there nowadays, and we know the track record for these can be spotty. Some charge a fortune and provide little in terms of services. Some are dodgy about who is actually on their staff, or have secret escalator clauses in their contracts. Some are owned by hazy corporations whose bottom line is all that matters. It's a lot for an author to sort through!

Amidst all the chaos of choice, we're glad to present Atmosphere Press, the most professional hybrid publisher. They have a well-credentialed team of actual people working for them, and a Publication Timeline that's proven successful for nearly 800 books over the last seven years. Founded by an author and PhD in Literature, and with the most author-favorable contract, Atmosphere Press combines the rights and autonomy of charting your own author destiny with the experience and attention to detail that only a true publisher can offer.

They're reading now in all genres with no submission fee, so please send them your manuscript or query and they'll be in touch!

Ad: Next Generation Indie Book Awards

Early-bird deadline: September 30, 2022

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.

Enter by the early-bird deadline of September 30 and you can pick a second category for your book for free. 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: Sunspot Lit's Inception Contest for Authors and Artists - Send Your Best Opening

Sunspot Lit

Deadline: September 30, 2022

Prize: $250 cash plus publication for the winner; publication offered to runners-up and finalists

Beginnings have the power to spark passion or curiosity. They might immediately connect a specific place and time with an emotional tone. The best openings offer a feeling, atmosphere, action, or image that is gripping, and hints at more to come. Meaning, thoughtfulness, emotions, or tone draw audiences into the moment.

A poem handles this differently than a flash piece, which handles an opening differently than a novel. The first photo, painting or frame presented in a gallery, series, or graphic novel strives for the same intent. Openings contain a spark that promises to burn.

For Sunspot Lit's Inception contest, send your best opening. There are no restrictions on theme, category, or the length of the piece or collection from which the excerpt comes. Word limit is 250 for prose, 25 words for poetry.

Graphic novel and comic book entries should be the first page (unlimited number of panels on that page) with a maximum of 250 words (cut the number of panels in order to meet the word count, if needed).

Visual art entries should be the first in a series, the first in a gallery lineup, the first in a themed collection, etc. Entries are limited to one image.

Enter as many times as you like through Submittable or Duotrope, but only one piece per submission. Entry fee: $8.50. Submission files that contain multiple pieces will be disqualified without review. Simultaneous submissions are accepted, but please withdraw your piece if it is published elsewhere before the winner is selected.

Ad: Erma Bombeck Writers' Workshop - Last Call to Register

Erma Bombeck Writers' Workshop

Registration deadline: October 1, 2022 (or until sold out)

The Erma Bombeck Writers' Workshop has a limited number of seats available for the October 20-22, 2022 gathering.

It's a workshop for writers of all genres and all levels of writing experience. The classes are offered multiple times. Keynote speakers at meals will not only inspire and educate you but entertain you as well. Best of all, it offers time away for you to refuel.

The workshop will feature celebrated comedians and authors, including "Cathy" cartoonist Cathy Guisewite, "Saturday Night Live" legend Laraine Newman, New York Times bestselling authors W. Bruce Cameron and Adriana Trigiani, screenwriter Cathryn Michon, improviser and comedian Dion Flynn, and award-winning author Katrina Kittle.

The $499 fee includes all meals, keynote talks, choice of dozens of workshops, and a complimentary virtual package of the keynotes and Pitchapalooza. Discover more and register here.

For the virtual option only, the registration fee is $79. From the comfort of your home (think: pajamas!) you can enjoy the keynote talks and Pitchapalooza, participate in a live chat with other writers joining virtually or tap back in later at your convenience. Register here.

For both options, expect to laugh (a lot!), learn and network with a supportive writing community.

Ad: Jeffrey E. Smith Editors' Prize Will Award $5,000 Per Genre

32nd Annual Jeffrey E. Smith Editors' Prize

Deadline: October 1, 2022

The Missouri Review invites entries for the 32nd Annual Jeffrey E. Smith Editors' Prize. Winners receive $5,000, publication in the Spring 2023 issue of TMR, as well as promotion on our website, in our newsletter, and across our social media platforms. Submit one piece of fiction or nonfiction up to 8,500 words or up to 10 pages of poems. Enter online or by mail, following the guidelines here. All entries are considered for publication, whether for the print and digital issues or our online exclusive features, BLAST and Poem of the Week. Regular entry fee: $25. All-Access entry fee: $30. Winners will be announced in early 2023. 

Each entrant receives a one-year digital subscription to the Missouri Review (normal price $24) and a digital copy of the sixth title from our imprint, Missouri Review Books: Hello, I Love You: Stories of Romance, a new anthology of stories that first appeared in TMR (normal price $7.95). All-Access entrants receive access to the last decade of digital issues of TMR, which also offers audio recordings of the stories, poems, and essays featured in each issue.

Past winners have included Alix Christie, Thomas Dodson, Seth Fried, and Amanda Baldenaux in fiction; Jennifer Perrine, Chelsea B. DesAutels, Heather Treseler, and Diane Seuss in poetry; and Matthew Wamser, Robert Stothart, Jennifer Anderson, and Jo Anne Bennet in nonfiction. Check out all the past winners, runners-up, and finalists back to 2006 here. 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. Hear from past entrants what it's like to win here, here, and here.

Ad: Dystopian Short Story Contest

Dystopian Short Story Contest

Deadline: October 31, 2022

  • 1st Place: $250, featured writer in our newsletter, story posted on our blog, certificate
  • 2nd Place: $150, story posted on our blog, certificate
  • 3rd Place: $100, certificate
  • Published and unpublished stories accepted
  • Word range: 600-3,000
  • Entry fee: $10

A genre always eager to be an outlet for our frustration and dissatisfaction is dystopian fiction. Not just for YA readers, powerful titles such as 1984The Handmaid's Tale, and Fahrenheit 451 prove the influence of this kind of work. Often a direct reflection of modern society, dystopian fiction is always relevant, and shows how words can move mountains and challenge corruption.

In Oprelle's first short story contest, When Fiction Comes True, we challenge writers to write short fiction that takes place in a dystopian setting. All subgenres are accepted such as action, romance, mystery, thriller, etc. We're looking for something deeply stirring, with powerful language and allusions that give us goosebumps.

Go to OPRELLE to enter.

Ad: Contests Sponsored by Cutthroat, a Journal of the Arts

Cutthroat 27


$1,300 First Prize, $300 Second Prize, Honorable Mention


GUIDELINES: Go to and submit poems and stories through our online submission manager on the Submissions page. Submit up to 3 poems (one poem per page, up to 100 lines per poem) or one short story or one creative nonfiction piece (5,000-word limit, double spaced) in 12-point font. NO AUTHOR NAME ALLOWED ON ANY MANUSCRIPT. There is a $25 nonrefundable entry fee per submission.

Deadline: November 1, 2022. UNPUBLISHED WORK ONLY! No work that has already won a prize is eligible. No former CUTTHROAT prize-winning author may enter the contest they have previously won. Enter as often as you wish. Simultaneous submissions okay, but we must be informed immediately of acceptances elsewhere. Finalists considered for publication. Winners are published in CUTTHROAT and announced on our website, in POETS & WRITERS, and No relatives of staff members of CUTTHROAT nor close friends, relatives, or students of our judges are eligible to enter our contests. See for more information. WE RECOMMEND YOU READ A COPY OF CUTTHROAT BEFORE ENTERING OUR CONTESTS.


"Why the Migrant's Journey is So Hard" by Jeanne Wagner of Kensington, California
Joy Harjo Poetry Prize

"The Same Dream" by Joel Streiker of San Francisco, California
Rick DeMarinis Short Story Prize

"The Book of Bones" by Hannah Hindley of Glen Ellen, California
Barry Lopez Nonfiction Prize

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

WILDER Prize from Two Sylvias Press

Deadline: December 31, 2022

Attention Women Poets:

Two Sylvias Press is looking to publish Full-Length Poetry Manuscripts by Women Over 50
(Open to both established and 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

The Wilder Series Poetry Book Prize is open to women over 50 years of age (born on or before December 31, 1972). 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 of course welcome trans women, genderqueer women, and non-binary people who are female-identified or AFAB.) All manuscripts will be considered for publication. See the complete contest guidelines.

Learn more about the prize and Two Sylvias Press. Previous winners & manuscripts chosen for the Wilder Poetry Book Prize include Gail Griffin, Michelle Bitting, Gail Martin, Kelly Cressio-Moeller, Erica Bodwell, Adrian Blevins, Dana Roeser, Molly Tenenbaum, 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.

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
Arthur Flowers Flash Fiction Prize. Salt Hill, the literary journal of Syracuse University, will award up to $500 and publication for unpublished flash fiction by authors of color who have no published full-length books. Submit one story, maximum 1,000 words. Authors must identify as as Black, Indigenous, and/or a Person of Color. Due October 9.

Intermediate Writers
Michael Marks Awards for Poetry Pamphlets. The Wordsworth Trust and the British Library offer two awards of 5,000 pounds: one for the author of a poetry chapbook published or self-published in the UK between September 18 of the previous year and the contest deadline, and one for an outstanding UK publisher of poetry chapbooks. Winning poet will become Harvard University's Michael Marks Poet in Residence in Greece in the Spring/Summer following the deadline year. Books should be no more than 36 pages. Due September 23.

Advanced Writers
PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction. The PEN/Faulkner Foundation seeks books of fiction (novels, novellas, and short story collections) by US permanent residents published in the current year. Top prize of $15,000, four runners-up of $5,000. 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

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.

Hub City Press: Novel Submission Period
(literary novels by Southern writers - September 30)

Kenyon Review: "Women's Health" and "Food" Issues
(poetry, fiction, essays, drama - September 30)

Green Linden Press: "Essential Queer Voices" Anthology
(poetry from writers outside mainstream sex/gender norms - October 1)

Nimrod International Journal: "Body Language" Issue
(poetry, fiction, personal essays about embodiment - October 1)

Rattle: Irish Poets Issue
(poems by authors who lived in Ireland for a significant time - October 15)

Under a Warm Green Linden: Indigenous Ecopoetry
(Native American writers on the environment - November 15)

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

7.13 Books
(novel and short story manuscripts by debut authors - December 31)

BLF Press: Black Joy Unbound Anthology
(poetry, fiction, essays, hybrid works envisioning a positive Black future - December 31)

Dyskami Publishing: Superhero Fiction Anthology
(stories inspired by the RPG "Absolute Power" - December 31)

Highlights from our Tom Howard/Margaret Reid Poetry Contest Archives

This month, editor Jendi Reiter presents some of our favorite poems from our Tom Howard/Margaret Reid Poetry Contest. There are many more in our Contest Archives.

Gretchen Fletcher

by Gretchen Fletcher

Honorable Mention
2007 Margaret Reid Poetry Contest for Traditional Verse

by Gregory Loselle

Most Highly Commended
2010 Margaret Reid Poetry Contest for Traditional Verse 

by Lois Elaine Heckman

First Prize
2013 Tom Howard/Margaret Reid Poetry Contest (Traditional Verse category)

by F.J. Bergmann

Honorable Mention
2019 Tom Howard/Margaret Reid Poetry Contest

by Fiona Lu

Honorable Mention
2021 Tom Howard/Margaret Reid Poetry Contest

"Do not go gentle into that good night", illustrated by Julian Peters

It's our pleasure to return again to "Do not go gentle into that good night" by Dylan Thomas, illustrated by Julian Peters. You can find more such adaptations in Poems to See By by Mr. Peters, on sale at Plough Publishing and Amazon.

Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night by Dylan Thomas - 1 of 2
Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night by Dylan Thomas - 2 of 2

The Last Word

Jendi ReiterBarbie-Core
What kind of love turns a girl into the opposite of who she was when you met her? There's an important difference, I feel, between a love relationship that gives both partners the security to grow and change, and a romance that eliminates your eccentricities so you can become "desirable" by the other person's standards.

[Read more]

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