The best free literary contests with deadlines through July 31 |

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Welcome to Our June Newsletter

We found over three dozen quality free poetry and prose contests with deadlines between June 15-July 31.
In this issue: A passage from "Burnt Norton" by T.S. Eliot, illustrated by Julian Peters.

View Free Contests

Last Call!
Deadline: June 30. 3rd year. Co-sponsored by Carolyn Howard-Johnson, author of The Frugal Book Promoter, and BookBaby. $6,000 in prizes, including three top awards of $1,500 each. This year's categories: General Fiction (includes literary and genre fiction), Young Adult Fiction, and Creative Nonfiction & Memoir. Fee: $60 per entry. Jendi Reiter and Ellen LaFleche will judge, assisted by Lauren Singer and Annie Keithline. See last year's winners and enter here.

Also open now, our Tom Howard/Margaret Reid Poetry Contest will award $4,000 in prizes.

Want to view past newsletters? Go to Need assistance? Let us help. Join our 91,000 followers on Twitter at @WinningWriters.

Recent Honors and Publication Credits for Our Subscribers

Congratulations to Anna Scotti (featured poem: "Tanager"), Elizabeth Chesla, Roberta George, Janet Garber, Madeleine McDonald, James Garrison, Leah Angstman (featured poem: "Miles from Standing Rock, tonight,"), Annie Dawid, R.T. Castleberry, and Ellaraine Lockie

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

Have news? Please email it to

Save on Professional Book Editing at BookBaby

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Creative Nonfiction Seeks Essays on “Starting Over”

Deadline: June 19

For an upcoming issue of Creative Nonfiction, we're looking for true stories about starting over. Tell us about a time when you or someone else took a do-over, snuck a mulligan, or hit the reset button, whether by choice or not.

We welcome personal stories as well as profiles, and we're open to a very wide range of experiences and circumstances. 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.

Essays must be previously unpublished and no longer than 4,000 words. All essays must tell true stories and be factually accurate. Everything we publish goes through a rigorous fact-checking process, and editors may ask for sources and citations.

Guidelines at

Creative Nonfiction

The 2017 Autumn House Press Poetry, Fiction, and Nonfiction Contests

Postmark deadline: June 30

Autumn House Press is now accepting full-length manuscripts for our annual Poetry, Fiction, and Nonfiction contests! The winner in each genre will receive book publication, a $1,000 advance against royalties, and a $1,500 travel/publicity grant to promote their book.

Judges for 2017 are:

See our complete contest guidelines.

Congratulations to last year's winners: Jane Satterfield's Apocalypse Mix (poetry), Andrew Bourelle's Heavy Metal (fiction), and Katherine McCord's RUN SCREAM UNBURY SAVE (nonfiction). Enjoy this selection from Apocalypse Mix:

Why I Don't Write Nature Poems
Because I'm always wearing the wrong shoes, I rarely stray from the path. There's recollect, there's tranquility and the way the trains punctuate each hour, shrill the shaken fields. Let's bide a bit here, thinking why we love them—the tracks, the transit, a train's a metaphor for so many things in life. Like me, too busy eyeing up the buffet from the back of the line to consider a phalanx of phlox, the tabby stray cavorting in the hedge. I don't see a cow meadow as any kind of invocation. Am drawn to the satellite dish disrupting the view. To the one swatch of sky where the haze hangs. Because, truly, the one time I tried, the saddled mare extended an answer. The hoof on my foot a fine form. Because the genius of the place can drop a scroll of sycamore bark at my feet, and I still can't translate his tongue. Slow study. What happens in the ditch, the dun. Because a cicada's buzz in the topmost branch is all the intel left to get, trilling, a telling: here, here, I am here.

First Annual Tupelo Broadside Prize

Submit online by June 30
Prize: $350 and broadside publication

The First Annual Tupelo Broadside Prize is an open poetry competition. The editors of Tupelo Press and Tupelo Quarterly will choose three winners who will each receive $350 in addition to broadside publication by Tupelo Press, 20 copies of the winning broadside, and publication in Tupelo Quarterly.

The First Annual Tupelo Broadside Prize 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 published poems. Simultaneous submissions are welcome as long as you notify us immediately at contact (at) tupelopress (dot) org if a poem is placed elsewhere. Employees of Tupelo Press and authors with books previously published by Tupelo Press are not eligible.

Please submit 3-5 poems, maximum of 21 lines each, in one file, with the $22 reading fee, between June 1-June 30. Submissions will be accepted via Submittable only.

Attach all poems in your submission as a single document in .doc, .docx or .pdf form. Be sure that your document is complete and formatted correctly before uploading. Click here to submit:

Results will be announced in early fall and all submitters will be notified via Submittable.

New! Nimrod International Journal's Francine Ringold Awards for New Writers

Deadline: July 15

Nimrod Journal is proud to announce the first-ever Francine Ringold Awards for New Writers, which honor the work of writers at the beginning of their careers. The Francine Ringold Awards are open only to writers whose work has not appeared or is not scheduled to appear in more than 2 publications. $500 prizes will be awarded in both the fiction and poetry categories, and the winning work will appear in the spring issue of Nimrod.

Established in 1956, Nimrod is dedicated to the discovery of new voices in literature, and the Francine Ringold Awards are a special way to recognize talented new poets and fiction writers.

• Poetry: Up to 5 pages of poetry (one long poem or several short poems)
• Fiction: 5,000 words maximum (one short story or a self-contained excerpt from a novel)
• Fee Per Entry: $12, payable to Nimrod, includes a copy of the spring issue

No previously published works or works accepted for publication elsewhere. Author's name must not appear on the manuscript. Include a cover sheet containing major title(s), author's name, full address, phone, and email. Entries may be mailed to Nimrod or submitted online at All finalists will be considered for publication. Open internationally.

For complete rules, visit Nimrod's website:

Francine Ringold Awards for New Writers

Rattle Poetry Prize

Rattle Poetry Prize

Deadline: July 15

The annual Rattle Poetry Prize is once again offering $10,000 for a single poem to be published in the winter issue of the magazine. Ten finalists will also receive $200 each and publication, and be eligible for the $2,000 Readers' Choice Award, to be selected by subscriber and entrant vote.

With the winners judged in a blind review by the editors to ensure a fair and consistent selection, an entry fee that is simply a one-year subscription to the magazine—and a runner-up Readers' Choice Award to be chosen by the writers themselves—the Rattle Poetry Prize aims to be one of the most writer-friendly and popular poetry contests around.

We accept entries online and by mail. See for the complete guidelines and to read all of the past winners.

Enjoy "Conspiracy" by Sophia Rivkin, winner of the first Rattle Poetry Prize in 2006:

The husband calls from two hundred miles away
to say he cannot stand it, his wife is dying
in a rented hospital bed in their living room…


The Violet Reed Haas Prize for Poetry and the Serena McDonald Kennedy Fiction Award

Sponsored by Snake Nation Press. Deadline: August 31. Submit electronically or by mail.

Violet Reed Haas Prize for Poetry

  • $1,000 award and publication
  • Entry fee: $25
  • Submit a manuscript of up to 75-100 pages
  • Previously published works may be entered

Serena McDonald Kennedy Fiction Award

  • $1,000 award and publication
  • Entry fee: $25
  • Submit a novella of up to 50,000 words or a manuscript of short stories of up to 200 pages
  • Any well-written manuscript on any topic will be considered
  • Previously published works may be entered

The 2016 contest finalists have just been announced. More news coming soon!

On The Premises Short Story Contest (no fee)

On The Premises

The premise for short story contest #30 is "Community". They say it takes a village to raise a child, but that's just one example of a kind of community and just one way a community can affect your life. There are plenty of others—good, bad, and otherwise. So for this contest, write a creative, compelling, well-crafted story between 1,000 and 5,000 words long in which community (or some kind of community) plays an important role.

Deadline: Friday, September 1, 2017, 11:59 PM Eastern Time.

Winners receive between US$60 and US$220, and publication. There is no fee to enter our contest.

GENRE NOTE: Any genre except children's fiction, exploitative sex, or over-the-top gross-out horror is fine. We will also never accept parodies of another author's specific fictional character(s) or world(s). No exceptions!

Click for details and instructions on submitting your story. To be informed when new contests are launched, subscribe to our free, short, monthly newsletter. On The Premises magazine is recognized in Duotrope, Writer's Market,, and other short story marketing resources.

Creative Nonfiction Seeks Experimental Essays

Deadline: September 11

Creative Nonfiction is currently seeking experimental nonfiction for the "Exploring the Boundaries" section ("experimental," "boundaries" ... yes, we know these can be loaded terms). We're looking for writing that is ambitious, pushes against the conventional boundaries of the genre, plays with style and form, and makes its own rules. As always, we have only one absolute rule: nonfiction must be based in fact.

Please note that this is NOT a call for an entire "Exploring the Boundaries" issue of the magazine; accepted pieces will be published one per issue, and the earliest possible publication will be in Issue #67 (Spring 2018).

All essays submitted will be considered for publication; this is a paying market.

Essays must be previously unpublished and no longer than 4,500 words. All essays must tell true stories and be factually accurate. Everything we publish goes through a rigorous fact-checking process, and editors may ask for sources and citations.

Guidelines at

Creative Nonfiction

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.

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

Jendi Reiter's Two Natures Honored in National Indie Excellence Awards

Jendi Reiter's debut novel Two Natures (Saddle Road Press, 2016) was one of two finalists in the LGBTQ Fiction category in the 2017 National Indie Excellence Awards.

Two Natures offers a backstage look at the glamour and tragedy of 1990s New York City through the eyes of Julian Selkirk, an aspiring fashion photographer. Coming of age during the height of the AIDS epidemic, Julian worships beauty and romance, however fleeting, as substitutes for the religion that rejected him. His spiritual crisis is one that too many gay youth still face today.

Read Jendi's guest post at Prism Book Alliance: My Top Writing Distractions and How I Deal With Them. An excerpt:

I'm a control freak. I have this fantasy that if I game out every possibility before writing a scene, I'll never reach that dreaded moment when I realize the story has gone in the wrong direction. This. Doesn't. Work.

Did you grow up in a family or peer group where you were humiliated for making mistakes while learning? Those bullies are never going to see your tossed-out first drafts.

I learned from writing Two Natures that there's no substitute for running the experiment in real time—let my characters try the action and see if it's really plausible from their point of view. When the self-doubt gremlins won't leave my head without a fight, I listen to The Eagles: "Maybe someday you will find/That it wasn't really wasted time."

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
Blue Mountain Arts Poetry Card Contest. Awards prizes up to $350 and web publication for poems suitable for a greeting card. Due June 30.

Intermediate Writers
Drue Heinz Literature Prize. Seeks an unpublished book-length collection of short fiction (150-300 double-spaced pages). Winner receives $15,000 and publication by the University of Pittsburgh Press. Open to writers who have published a book-length collection of fiction or at least three short stories or novellas in nationally distributed magazines or journals; online and self-publication does not count. Due June 30.

Advanced Writers
Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award. Awards $100,000 for a published book of poetry by a US citizen or legal resident. Honors a full-length work by a poet who is past the very beginning but has not yet reached the acknowledged pinnacle of their career. Books must have been published between July 1 of last year and June 30 of the deadline year. Winner must agree to spend a week in residence at Claremont Graduate University for lectures, workshops, and poetry readings in Claremont, CA and the greater Los Angeles area. Due July 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: "My daughter saw me reading, and she wanted to do the same thing."

Flor, who read at a second-grade level, was working in a low-wage job in a packing house and was unable to help her struggling daughter in school. After seeking out literacy help at Literacy Services of Indian River County she was able to get a job as a restaurant manager and—most importantly—was able to help her daughter earn advanced placement in her middle school classes. Flor shares her story in her own words:

I am a 34-year-old married mother of a 12-year-old daughter and expecting my second daughter in 2 months. I have lived in Fellsmere, Florida, all my life. I graduated high school, but my reading was about second grade.

The reason I went back to school is my daughter. One day, my daughter's teachers called me. She said that my daughter needed help with reading. I knew I couldn't read well, so I started to look for help. A friend told me about Literacy Services. Then I went to ask for help.

When I started with my tutor, I was working in a packing house, but I wanted out of there and to get a better job. Eight months later, I was able to get work in a pizza restaurant. I was a manager there running the store.

I have taken courses at the community college (to become a) child care aide. I have passed two of the seven tests needed for the certificate. In order to have tutoring, I have had to change from full-time work to part-time. My husband is happy that I am studying.

As a mother, I noticed when I went back to study (that) my daughter saw me reading, and she wanted to do the same thing. I learned reading much better. Now she is in advanced classes in her middle school.

Now I can read letters from the bank and understand them. Now I can call the bank and ask about my house mortgage. I can read letters from my daughter's school and her grade report card easily.

I hope to start my own business someday. I want my daughter to get a better education than I did. I want her to go to college. I want her to take care of herself and depend on herself. My daughter tells me that she plans to go to college.

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A Passage from "Burnt Norton" by T.S. Eliot, illustrated by Julian Peters

Mr. Peters writes, "This is a one-page adaptation of my favourite passage from 'Burnt Norton' (the first of Eliot's Four Quartets). It was published in The Four Quarters Magazine—an India-based publication dedicated to the fostering of creative writing in English—that is sadly defunct now.

"My adaptation of 'Burnt Norton' references some elements of the poem not included in the written extract. You can read the complete text of Eliot's poem here."

This illustration is reprinted by kind permission of Mr. Peters. Visit his website.

The Last Word

Wonder Woman as Holy Spirit
What most affected me was the film's sophisticated theology, which is psychologically integrated where most superhero movies are dualistic. Fantasy/action stories generally locate evil in an individual, an ultimate Big Boss who has to be killed (or neutralized, to leave room for a sequel). Wonder Woman starts out believing this as well, but learns that evil is both systemic and inherent. As Solzhenitsyn wrote, "The line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being." The gods are dead. It's all up to humanity to choose love over war.

[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)