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Welcome to Our September Newsletter

Adam Cohen

We found almost three dozen free poetry and prose contests with deadlines between September 15-October 31. View their profiles now!

See below for contests we especially recommend for writers at the beginning, intermediate, and advanced stages of their careers.

Jeremy Kamps and Courtney Campbell won top honors in our 22nd annual Tom Howard/John H. Reid Fiction & Essay Contest. 1,028 writers participated from around the world. We awarded $3,000 in prizes. Read the 12 winning entries with remarks from judge Arthur Powers. 35 finalists are also recognized. Read the press release. Enter the new contest.

In this issue:
"Should I Write a Sonnet?"


Tom Howard/Margaret Reid Poetry Contest - Last Call!
Deadline: September 30
Our 12th annual open-theme poetry contest will award $3,000 in prizes. The Tom Howard Prize of $1,000 will go to the best poem in any style or genre. The Margaret Reid Prize of $1,000 will go to the best poem that rhymes or has a traditional style. Ellaraine Lockie will judge. The fee for each submission of 1-2 poems is $16. Your poems may have any length. Published and unpublished work welcome. Submit online.

Want to view past newsletters? Go to Need assistance? Let us help. Follow us on Twitter at @WinningWriters.

Featured Sponsor: Enter Writing Contests at

Over 50 writing contests are available at That includes the Naani Poetry Contest (deadline just four days away).

Participate in FanStory's active online writing community. Improve your writing and get motivated. Get detailed feedback for every poem, short story, and book chapter that you write. See how your rank compares to other writers. Over 50 new contests every month. Always free to paid members. Participate for cash prizes. Click here for more information.

Contests open now: Naani Poetry Contest, ABAB Poetry Contest, Love Poem Poetry Contest, Desperate, Minute Poem. See all our upcoming contests...


Recent Honors and Publication Credits for Our Subscribers

Congratulations to Robin Coste Lewis, Tricia McCallum (featured poem, "Thirst"), Linda Simone, Roberta Beary (featured poem, "Last Rites"), Lesléa Newman, Ruth Thompson, Ginny Lowe Connors, A.M. ThompsonJoan Gelfand, and Shirani Rajapakse.

Our Tom Howard/John H. Reid Fiction & Essay Contest judge Arthur Powers received an honor for his short story collection, A Hero for the People. It won the 2014 Catholic Arts and Letters Award from the Catholic Writers Guild. Read a sample story.

Learn more about their achievements.

BookBaby: Free Guide

Free guide from BookBaby

At Author Salon We Train Future Commercial Authors

Author Salon

Whether you need to write or rewrite your yet-to-breakout novel, the primary goal at Author Salon is to make your novel manuscript as realistically competitive as possible for publication by a major New York house.

Our secondary goal is to represent your work to major publishers, or find someone who will. To make it clear, this intensive program is only for serious writers who wish to become career authors who enjoy advances, multi-book deals, foreign rights sales, film deals, reviews in major media, and more.

See our Author Salon news and contracts page, our home page FAQ, and syllabus for more information. - Calls for Submissions

We are a free online resource to help you find paying markets for your poetry, fiction, and nonfiction. Updated daily, we report on editors and publishers who are actively seeking submissions, pay standard or competitive rates, and do not charge reading fees. Founded in 2001, is edited by freelance writer Brian Scott (@busyguru). Learn more... – we'll put you in front of a global audience

Scriggler—the first content platform focused on helping authors maximize their outreach—is now live in public beta

Scriggler is a hub for writers, poets, thinkers, scientists, activists—anyone looking to share their writing on any topic, in any genre, in any level of detail.

Join our friendly and supportive community today and as an early adopter enjoy all the perks of premium membership free, for life.

Contributors keep the rights to their work. The content placed on the platform is easily sharable, authors get access to analytics on audience engagement and there are a number of tools and algorithms for readers to discover content relevant to them.

We run a monthly writing contest to further highlight our talent pool—curated by our audience.

Scriggler aims to democratize the information flow and make it easy to connect authors with the right audience and readers with the right content. Visit us now.


A Hero for the People—less than $1 in October

A Hero for the People

Arthur Powers will again be judging the Tom Howard/John H. Reid Fiction & Essay Contest in 2015. His award-winning collection of short stories, A Hero for the People, will be available on Amazon Kindle for only $0.99 during the month of October. Click to buy!

"Set in the vast and sometimes violent landscape of contemporary Brazil, this is a gorgeous collection of stories—wise, hopeful, and forgiving, but clear-eyed in its exploration of the toll taken on the human heart by greed, malice, and the lust for land." —Debra Murphy, Publisher, Idylls Press
​"Arthur Powers is more than a totally captivating, adventurous storyteller. He is a wonderfully accomplished writer who enriches the reader's experience of life, and is a mighty skillful reporter who knows the ins and outs of people and places. While his locations are often fascinatingly exotic, more importantly his people are always engagingly real! In short, Powers is in that rare company of authors who are impossible to put down!" —​John Reid, founder of the Tom Howard/John H. Reid Fiction & Essay Contest



FundsforWriters touches 45,000 readers with its calls for submissions from contests, grants, markets, publishers, and agents. Writer's Digest Magazine chose the website for its 101 Best Websites for Writers for the past 14 years. Award-winning editor and author C. Hope Clark brings opportunity to you, so you have more time to write.

"C. Hope Clark searches the net for contests and submission calls and every paying gig for writers there is, so you don't have to...her newsletters are right to the point, without a lot of pointless crap you don't need to read...this is one girl who realizes a writer's time is valuable and she fully respects that...her site truly lives up to its name...I really have nothing but good things to say about both her and her site...really, I hate to use the word "perfect" when describing anything...but sometimes no other word will do...thanks C. Hope Clark...on behalf of writers everywhere."


Connecticut River Review Poetry Contest

Submit: August 1-September 30 (postmark)
Prizes of $400, $100, and $50

  • Send up to 3 unpublished poems, any form, 80-line limit each. 
  • Include two copies of each poem: one with complete contact info and one with NO contact info. Both copies should be marked CRR Contest.
  • Include SASE for results only (no poems will be returned).
  • Send fee of $15 for up to three poems; make check out to Connecticut Poetry Society or CPS. 
  • Send submissions to CRR Poetry Contest, CPS, P.O. Box 270554, West Hartford, CT 06127.
  • Simultaneous submissions are accepted. Please notify us immediately if your work is accepted elsewhere.
  • Prizewinning poems will be published in Connecticut River Review.
  • Poets who won a prize in one of the contests sponsored by CPS last year are not eligible this year.

About the judge: Charles Rafferty's tenth book of poetry is The Unleashable Dog (2014, Steel Toe Books). His poems have appeared in The New Yorker, The Oprah Magazine, Southern Review, and Prairie Schooner. His collection of short fiction is Saturday Night at Magellan's (2013, Fomite Press). Currently he directs the MFA program at Albertus Magnus College. 
Learn more at

Connecticut Poetry Society

$5,000 GrubStreet Book Prize in Fiction


Postmark Deadline: October 1. The $5,000 GrubStreet Book Prize in Fiction is now accepting submissions.

The GrubStreet National Book Prize is awarded once annually to an American writer publishing his or her second, third, fourth (or beyond...) book. First books are not eligible. Each winner receives a cash award of $5,000. The award committee especially encourages writers publishing with small presses, writers of short story collections, and writers of color to apply. We also want the award to benefit writers for whom a trip to Boston will likely expand their readership in a meaningful way.

Eligible books include novels, short story and novella collections, and novels in stories published between January 1, 2014 and May 1, 2015. The author must reside in the United States. The fiction winner will be invited to Boston in May 2015 for the Muse and the Marketplace conference, where s/he will give a public reading and lead a craft class. GrubStreet will also hold a reception in the winner’s honor. Inability to attend this reading/reception and/or lead the craft class may result in forfeiture of the prize. GrubStreet pays all travel and accommodation expenses.

Publishers may submit books on behalf of authors, but applications must include all required materials in order to be eligible. More details at

Brick Road Poetry Book Contest

Deadline: November 1. The first place winner receives a publication contract with Brick Road Poetry Press and a $1,000 prize, publication in both print and ebook formats, and 25 copies of the printed book. We may also offer publication contracts to the top finalists.

Adhere to all the "general submission" manuscript guidelines. Entry fee $25, payable through the online submission manager. If sending hard copy, please include a check or money order payable to "Brick Road Poetry Press, Inc." See the complete guidelines for details.

The poetry we publish is best characterized as entertaining, amusing, edifying, and/or surprising. Some of our favorite poets are Kim Addonizio, Billy Collins, Jane Hirshfield, Jane Kenyon, Ted Kooser, Thomas Lux, and Mark Strand.

Qualities we admire: coherent human voice, sense of humor, narrative mode, playful use of words, surprise twists, personas, spiritual or philosophical ideas illustrated concretely (in imagery or narrative), and intense depictions of a dramatic scene, setting, or experience.

Dislikes: overemphasis on rhyme, obscurity or riddling, highfalutin vocabulary, didactic expressions of religion, hazy themes or topics, and excessive abstractions.

Please enjoy "Later That Night" by Gary Leising, winner of our 2013 contest.

Brick Road Poetry Book Contest

Little Red Tree: International Poetry Prize

Little Red Tree Anthology

Deadline: December 31. Little Red Tree Publishing is proud to announce its 5th International Poetry Prize, with a first prize of $1,000, runner-up $250, and $50 to five finalists.

The prizewinner, runner-up, and third-place poet will feature prominently, with full biography, in a special collection called The Little Red Tree International Poetry Prize 2015 Anthology. The book will also include a wide selection of poetry from those submitted that did not make the final selection but were considered worthy of publication. The book will be published in the summer of 2015.

A book launch will be scheduled at a suitable venue in New London, CT. All winners and published poets will be invited to read their poems. See the complete contest guidelines at Little Red Tree.

We congratulate our most recent winner, Leland James, who submitted "Spirit Road".

Little Red Tree: Vernice Quebodeaux “Pathways” Poetry Prize for Women

Deadline: December 31. Little Red Tree Publishing is proud to announce the 5th Vernice Quebodeaux "Pathways" Poetry Prize for Women, which includes a $1,000 cash award and offer to publish a full-length collection of poetry with a generous royalty contract. The book will be published in 2015. See the complete contest guidelines at Little Red Tree.

Vernice Quebodeaux, born in Egan, LA (on the banks of the Bayou Plaquemine Brûlé), was a poet who spent a lifetime struggling with the demands of raising children, family feuds, bigotry, apathy, and indifference to her writing aspirations. On her death the beginnings of a book of poetry called Pathways was found by her daughter Tamara Martin and incorporated into a book, Sundays in the South. We are honoring her life and cherished goals by creating this competition to recognize the specific unique voices of women poets.

We congratulate our most recent winner, Cathleen Calbert, who submitted The Afflicted Girls.

Vernice Quebodeaux

Robert Frost Foundation Poetry Award

Robert Frost Foundation

Deadline: February 1, 2015. The Robert Frost Foundation welcomes poems in the spirit of Robert Frost for its Annual Award. The winner will receive $1,000 and the opportunity to read at a Frost Foundation event. Up to ten runners-up will be shortlisted at the discretion of the judge.

Online submissions are now welcome via Submittable. Otherwise, please submit two copies of each poem, one copy with contact information (name, address, phone number, email address) and one copy free of all identifying information. Reading fees are $12 per poem. Make your check payable to The Robert Frost Foundation. Mail your entry to: The Robert Frost Foundation, Attn: Poetry Award, 51 Lawrence Street, Lawrence, MA 01841. Email submissions are accepted at if you send your entry fee by regular mail.

You may submit up to three poems of no more than three pages each. Both published and unpublished works are accepted. See the complete contest guidelines and enjoy the 2014 winning poem by Franklin Zawacki, "Roadsiding Hay".

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
North Carolina State Short Story Contests (short fiction, due October 13)

Intermediate Writers
CONSEQUENCE Prize in Poetry (poem on culture and consequences of war, due October 1)

Advanced Writers
Amy Lowell Poetry Travelling Scholarship (fellowship application due October 15)

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

Spotlight Contests

Calls for Submissions

To ensure consideration, assume that the editors must receive your submission by the date specified, unless a postmark date is indicated.

PSA: Combating Crime Through Literacy

  • Forty-one percent of inmates have not completed high school
  • 1.5 million people with the lowest levels of literacy are incarcerated
  • States that raise high school graduation rates experience significant declines in incarceration rates
  • A one percent increase in the high school completion rate of all men ages 20 to 60 would save the US as much as $1.4 billion per year in reduced costs from crime
  • Those who participate in correctional education classes have lower rates of re-arrest, re-conviction, and re-incarceration than those who do not participate.

Learn more at ProLiteracy

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Comics by Ali Shapiro

Ali Shapiro: Should I Write a Sonnet?

The Last Word

Summer Reads: Some Gay Romances

"The right person will change you" is apparently very deep-rooted in the romance genre, regardless of gender and sexual orientation. While I enjoy these books, I think it's disappointing that gay men (and their female fans) aren't given more role models for relationships between two sexually experienced, mature adults.
...continue at Reiter's Block

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

Jendi Reiter