Posts Tagged ‘contests’

Lucky Number 7: Seven Flash Fiction Contests for Fall!

FLASH FICTION IS FUN! Requiring the snap of poetry and the arc of narrative, it challenges us to home in on elements of voice and story that will benefit even longer-form writers’ work.

To learn a bit more about flash fiction, check out my Writing Short post, where you’ll find links to some excellent flash resources. Otherwise, just fly your crafty little stories off to the following contests. May the micro force be with you!

Flash fiction contests (with deadlines)

1. October 1st: Stories Out of School Flash Fiction Contest, presented by the Academy for Teachers
This annual contest was created to inspire unsentimental stories about teachers and the complex world of schools. The story’s protagonist or narrator must be a K-12 teacher. Max 749 words. First-prize winner will receive $1000 and publication. The second-prize winner will receive $500.

2. October 15th: SMOKELONG QUARTERLY‘s Flash Fellowship

The SMOKELONG Flash Fellowship for Emerging Writers is an award and year-long virtual residency for new and emerging writers. The winner of the 2020 Fellowship will be considered a virtual “writer in residence” at SMOKELONG for four quarterly issues. The winner will also receive $1000.00.

3. October 31st: CRAFT‘s flash fiction contest
Judged by Benjamin Percy, three winners will be awarded $1000 each. (That’s a buck a word, since CRAFT’s word limit is 1000.)

4. November 2nd: Weird Christmas Flash Fiction Contest
350 word max. $50 first prize, $25 second prize. Stories should be weird or strange or odd: They can be “Haha!” weird or “Oh, Jesus, no!” weird. They can be genre weird or just off-kilter. They  must be related to any winter holiday (Christmas, Hannukha, Kwanza, solstice celebrations, etc.).

5. September 30th and December 31st: FLASH 500 Flash Fiction Competition
This quarterly open-themed competition has closing dates of September 30th and December 31st. The results will be announced within six weeks of each closing date and the three winning entries each quarter will be published on this website. Entry fee: £5 for one story, £8 for two stories. Prizes: £300, £200, £100

6. December 31st: FICTION SOUTHEAST‘s Ernest Hemingway Flash Fiction Prize
Though many writers have helped to shape the history of flash fiction, Ernest Hemingway’s first short-story collection, IN OUR TIME, easily makes him one of the form’s primary pioneers. For this reason, FICTION SOUTHEAST has chosen to honor his accomplishments through the Ernest Hemingway Flash Fiction Prize. Entries should be 1500 words or less. Entry fee is $10. All entries will be considered for publication in FICTION SOUTHEAST. Winner: $200 and publication.

Lucky Number 7. December 31st: RIVER STYX‘s Microfiction contest
500 words maximum. First, second, and third place winners will be published in Issue 104.

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The image of the Eight of Wands is from the ANNA.K TAROT, published by Llewellyn Worldwide and used with Llewellyn’s kind permission.

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A Short (Enough) Story with a Literary Moral (and Horses)

ONCE, AT A HORSE SHOW, I watched a pair of judges assess the relative merits of a ring full of huge, glossy Thoroughbreds, Quarter Horses, and other warm-blood hunter-types in a conformation class. Unlike most skill-based horse-show events, conformation ribbons are awarded to those animals who best meet the standards of excellence for the physical characteristics of their breed. (More like the Westminster Dog Show than a canine agility event, in other words.)

On that afternoon, almost hidden in the forest of sixteen- and seventeen-hand-high bay- and chestnut-colored hunters, a tiny, black-and-white Shetland pony arched its short, chunky pony neck. “How cute,” the spectator closest to me murmured, “but how disappointed its little owner will be. There’s no chance for her to get even a look-in with that sort of competition.”

And yet, twenty minutes later, it was exactly that “little owner,” a six-year old girl dressed in black and white to match her pony, who paraded her Shetland around the perimeter of the ring, blue ribbon oh-so-proudly affixed to its bridle.

No sentimental decision, the judges had weighed the equine contestants’ attributes fairly. The Shetland pony, small and unassuming as it seemed amidst the tall, regal company, was in fact a perfect specimen of its type and well-deserving of the win.

So … what about writing?

Recently, I judged a short story contest. In four days, I read fifty-one stories that spanned a myriad of genres. Not Thoroughbreds and Shetlands, but fantasy, suspense, sci-fi, romance, and contemporary/realistic—as well as a single picture-book entry.

As a whole, the stories were competently constructed and smooth-surfaced. No doubt, these were writers who had studied their craft.

Yet, as I read through the three-thousand-words-or-less stories, I noticed some failed to engage my interest because they lacked a distinctive voice. Some delivered a strong voice, but the stories were so predictable I could tell where they were headed before they’d even left the barn. And those that did find a fresh approach did not, for the most part, make it all the way around the course to create a satisfying narrative arc.

But the picture book?!

In a quick, bright voice, the PB writer created an engaging pair of characters—a grandmother and her six-year-old granddaughter—who found themselves in an exciting and unexpected muddle over the destruction of the grandmother’s Sunday-best real-human-hair wig. Together, the characters struggled, they lost, they struggled some more—and then they triumphed!

In less than five hundred words, the lone PB writer managed to incorporate three elements vital for the success of even the shortest of narrative forms: a distinctive voice, a fresh, unexpected story element, and a complete narrative arc.

While the other competitors’ stories—like those big, beautiful Thoroughbreds I admired so many years ago—might have had size on their side, might have boasted weightier topics or more sophisticated story structures than the unassuming little picture book, not one of them made it to the finish line with all of three of those important elements in place.

If this were a horse show, make no mistake, Grandma’s real-hair wig would be sporting a brand-new, bright blue, First Place ribbon the next time she hoisted it atop her head and tottered up the aisle to her favorite pew.

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This post was first published on a former blog, THOSE DARNED RUBY SLIPPERS, in which I wrote about the magic I saw around me—and about writing, a magical craft of its own.

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Summer Writing Contests and Other Calls for Submission (aka: In the Court of Editorial Opinion)

WE SAY JUSTICE IS BLIND, and we hope that’s true. We also hope justice is at play when we send our writing to an agent or contest or journal. But who the heck knows? The person who gets first crack at our query or short story may well be an intern, someone whose job it is to sort the wheat from the chaff—before passing along what they deem the good stuff to the editor in charge.

But even if our best work does make it to the editor’s desk (wheat! wheat! wheat!), there’s no telling what sort of mood she’ll be in when she sets eyes on it. Did she have coffee that morning? Is she worried about her kid’s stomach flu? Is her boss on her ass about readership numbers? Frustratingly, such things—things completely out of our control—can sway the delicate balance of the scales of editorial opinion.

But here’s a short list of things that are in our control which can tip the scales in our favor:

  • Do your research: Be sure you’re submitting work that matches what your potential agent, editor, or publisher is seeking.
  • Follow their guidelines to the letter.
  • Send squeaky-clean copy. Every writer needs a proofreader. Beg, borrow, barter or buy the services of a good one to make your work look its best!
  • Create a strong opening line, followed by a strong first paragraph, followed by the rest of a strong first page. Often that’s all you get to catch an editor’s interest.
  • Finally, read this article: What Editors Want,” by Lynne Barrett, for The Review Review. 

Summer writing contests and other calls for submission

Once you’ve nailed the stuff in the list above, you’ll be all set to dig in to these resources:

New Pages is news, information, and guides to literary magazines, independent publishers, creative writing programs, alternative periodicals, indie bookstores, writing contests, and more. Visit their calls for submissions page.

Writer Unboxed publishes empowering, positive, and provocative ideas about the craft and business of fiction. Their contributors include bestselling authors and industry professionals. They also have a list of fiction writing contests for summer 2019!

Freewrite’s 2019 Writing Contests: The Complete Guide compiles what they consider the best essay, poetry, novel, and short story writing competitions for fiction and non-fiction writers.

Okay, now GO! Get published!

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Thanks to U.S. Games Systems, Inc., for kind permission to use the image of Justice from the AQUARIAN TAROT.

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Tarot Writing Prompt: Ace(s) Up Your Sleeve

TAROT ACES ARE CONCENTRATED UNITS OF PSYCHIC ROCKET FUEL! The Ace of Wands, for instance, blazes with a fire that impels action. The Ace of Cups drips with the sweet honey of love. The Ace of Swords slices swiftly to the truth, and the Ace of Pentacles fills our bags with the gold of family, health, and financial well being.

And then there’s flash fiction. This super-concentrated form of story-telling could easily be called the “Ace of Drama.” Typically between fifty and a thousand words (depending on your definition), flash fiction propels readers through dramatic situations at warp speed. To do so, it challenges its writers to create characters, setting, conflict, and some sort of resolution all within its super-tight framework.

Want to give this literary form of nitroglycerin a try? Check out the prompt below, inspired by my flash-fiction-writing tarot pal Bonnie Cehovet!

Tarot writing prompt

Pick a card, any card
First, choose your Ace.

If you chose the Ace of Wands, write a hundred-word action/adventure story.
If you chose the Ace of Cups, write a hundred-word romance.
If you chose the Ace of Swords, write a hundred-word story of double-dealing or deceit.
If you chose the Ace of Pentacles, write a hundred-word family drama (add an inheritance to the mix for extra credit!).

I’ll go first. I picked the Ace of Swords.

Thomas watched his brother’s fiancée from the perimeter of a dozen parties. Her gleaming hair. Her ridiculously long neck. The maw of her mouth issuing dark laughter. Whenever he got close enough, he wondered, was she laughing at him? He’d redden, unsure. Then his brother’s brakes failed. And his airbag. (Tragic, right?) When the fiancée was released, Thomas swooped in. Who better? She’d recover. They’d circle those same parties. They’d laugh. And, later, they would wrestle in sweaty pleasure, reviling their evening’s casualties. He woke from dreams of it, dark laughter in his mouth. If only she would stop crying.

My Swords-y idea was that Thomas tampered with his brother’s car. Is that clear? I dunno. Anyway, it’s a hundred words. So there’s that.

Flash fiction inspiration

Need more information or inspiration? Click on the links below for further guidelines and places to “flash” your short-short work.

FLASH FICTION ONLINE offers a ton of resources, from excellent examples, to how-to tips, to submission guidelines. Once you’ve tried this exercise, you might consider submitting the results to them!

NYC Midnight has an annual short story challenge that proceeds in heats: from a 2500-word story, to a 2000-word story, to a 1500-word story (aka, flash fiction!).

For more about writing flash fiction, check out this post: “Writing Short.” 

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Thanks to U.S. Games Systems, Inc., for kind permission to use the image of the Ace of Rods (aka Wands) from the MORGAN GREER TAROT

Thanks also to book shepherd Tia Levings—who placed third in her first heat this year!—for the 4-1-1 on NYC Midnight.

Tarot Prompts You to Submit Your Writing: Contests and Calls for Submission

SWIFTNESS, CHANGE, OPPORTUNITY, MESSAGES ON THE WIND. Tarot’s Eight of Wands speaks to all of these. It’s a communicative card. It can signal the sudden appearance of new connections, information, or direction.

If you got the Eight of Wands in a tarot reading, the turbaned, hoop-earringed Gypsy turning your cards might say, “Favorable circumstances are flying toward you! Avail yourself of them, and positive changes are likely to occur.”

I’m not (currently) wearing a turban—or even my hoop earrings—but accept this message as if I were. Because, with this post, the Eight of Wands is delivering a quiverful of opportunities: It’s time to send your writing soaring out on the winds of literary chance!

Writing contests

Forthwith, in the spirit of the Eight of Wands, I present to you eight (and a half) writing contests—in order of deadline.

1) The Roswell Award, presented by the Light Bringer Project

The Roswell Award for short science fiction is an international competition. Finalists are read by celebrity guests at LitFest Pasadena. Submission closes January 28, 2019.

2) The Masters Review Winter Short Story Award for New Writers

This prize recognizes the best fiction from today’s emerging writers. In addition to cash prizes, winning stories and any notable Honorable Mentions will receive agency review. Submissions close January 31, 2019.

3) New Beginnings Short Story Competition

Accepting short stories in English from anywhere in the world in any genre. 2500 word maximum. Submissions close January 31, 2019.

4a) FanStory 100 Word Writing Contest

Write a flash fiction story on any topic that uses exactly 100 words. $100 first-place prize. Feedback on all stories. Submissions close February 12, 2019.

4b) FanStory 20 Syllable Poetry Contest

Write a poem—any structure, any word count—with exactly 20 syllables. $100 first-place prize. Feedback on all poems. Submissions close February 17, 2019.

5) Snowbound Chapbook Award, presented by Tupelo Press

Includes a cash award of $1,000, publication by Tupelo Press, a book launch, and national distribution. Submissions close February 28, 2019.

6) 2019 Screenwriting Contest, presented by Script Pipeline

Now in its seventeenth year, the Script Pipeline Screenwriting Competition seeks talented writers. They focus on finding writers representation, supporting diverse voices, championing unique storytelling, and pushing more original projects into production. Early submissions close March 1, 2019.

7) Aesthetica Creative Writing Award, presented by Aesthetica Magazine

The award celebrates excellence in poetry and short fiction, supporting new writing talent and presenting writers with a fantastic opportunity to further their involvement in the literary world. Submissions close August 2019.

8) Poets and Writers

And if that weren’t enough, the P&W writing contests, grants, and awards database has details about the creative writing contests—including poetry contests, short story competitions, essay contests, awards for novels, and more—that have been published in the magazine during the past year. They carefully review each contest before including it. Theirs is the most trusted resource for legitimate writing contests available anywhere.

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Consider this a literary public service announcement from the Eight of Wands: Submit your poetry, short stories, flash fiction, chap books, screenplays, personal essays, and novels, now!

Thank you to U.S. Games Systems, Inc. for their kind permission to use the image of the Eight of Wands from the RIDER WAITE SMITH TAROT.

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Congratulations Station

CONGRATULATIONS TO Royal Palm Literary Award-winning author ANNE HAWKINSON on the publication of SCOTLAND’S KNIGHT: The Rose in the Glade. Now available on Amazon, The Rose in the Glade is the first in a new series that Anne is co-authoring with Scottish Book Trust author PAUL V. HUNTER. To Anne and Paul, may the Thistle bloom forever!

Hey, there, RYAN G. VAN CLEAVE! TWO new books out on Oxford UP? Nicely done, sir! Van Cleave fans (and creative types), check out Ryan’s co-authored VISUAL STORYTELLING and his CREATIVITY: A READER FOR WRITERS. See what you think! (Also, thanks, Ryan, for your shout-out to me in your recent THE WRITER magazine article on writing coaching. I’m thrilled to have been at your literary service!)

So happy to report that MARGARITA MCCARTHY’S poem “Cuba ’95” was a finalist in this year’s Royal Palm Literary Award contest, presented by the Florida Writers Association. May this be only the beginning, Margarita!

Finally! Syndicated political cartoonist DANA SUMMERS’ debut novel is available. Winner of the Florida Writers Association’s Royal Palm Award and Mystery Writers of America’s Freddie Award, DRAWN AND BURIED follows cartoonist Tim Ryder, who drew a cartoon series that earned him a Pulitzer, but drove a presidential candidate to put a bullet in his head. When we first meet Tim, local politicians begin turning up dead at murder scenes staged to resemble cartoons he has drawn. Uh-oh. Good luck, Tim!

Congrats, Dana! (And thanks so much for your appreciative note in your acknowledgements.)

Storytellers of Tomorrow

THE STORYTELLERS OF TOMORROW Florida High School Creative Writing Contest

CW_word_0is presented by the Ringling College of Art + Design. The Ringling College BFA in Creative writing was created to support, empower, and honor young writers. Now, the creative writing department of Ringling is inviting Florida high school students to submit unpublished, original stories of up to 2,000 words for this inaugural Storytellers of Tomorrow Contest. The deadline is February 29th, so skateboard those entries right in! Click HERE for the full scoop.

This Public Service Announcement has been brought to you by Ryan G. Van Cleave, Creative Writing BFA Coordinator, Ringling College of Art and Design and author of THE WEEKEND BOOK PROPOSAL (Writers Digest), MEMOIR WRITING FOR DUMMIES (John Wiley & Sons), and more!

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