As you know, these Newsletters are issued only twice a month (usually on the first and fifteenth days). Sometimes it's necessary to get information across more quickly, so I've commenced a blog, http://writing-events.blogspot.com
Starting right now, I'm also posting this Newsletter at http://writeway.exactpages.com for easy reference.
In addition to http://writing-events.blogspot.com, and http://writeway.exactpages.com I've got some other good news, not only to help contestants in all three of our competitions, but to improve writing skills in the community generally. The Searchwarp website has started a page of Advice Columns and I've been appointed the Writing Advice Editor. YOU can send me questions by using the "ask for advice" form at http://SearchWarp.com/Advice-Columns/Prose-and-Poetry-Advice
The annual $5,550 Tom Howard Short Story, Essay & Prose Contest will close on March 31, 2010. What does this mean? It means that all electronic entries must be lodged by Midnight, March 31, Pacific Time. Entries sent by regular post must bear a postmark or date of April 1 or earlier and must reach us by April 21. Entries received after this date will be kept for the NEXT contest opening July 15, 2009.
Again, let me make it clear that we are seeking entries in ALL categories, including "literary" fiction, but most particularly we would like to award prizes to popular, everyday, mainstream stories, essays and prose, as even a casual glance at our anthologies of winning and commended entries, such as Keep Watching the Skies! An Anthology of Prize-Winning Short Stories will soon make plain. Humorous stories and essays are also most welcome. You'll find full details at http://shortstorycontest.0catch.com
Here are some quick last-minute suggestions: 1. Don't try to write a 5,000-word story or essay in 2 weeks. It can be done, sure! But a prizewinning story? Unlikely! 2. Keep your story or essay, simple. It's easy to make mistakes in a complicated MSS and you don't have time to correct them all. The judges deduct points for errors and your entry could just miss out on a prize. 3. Revise your MS carefully for spelling and grammatical errors. Use Spellcheck or some similar program. 4. Present your work attractively. True, we don't have any formatting guidelines for our contests. We rely upon you to make the judges' work a pleasure rather than a task. If you are unsure what size font to use, make it too big, rather than too small. 5. For hard copy entries, put your name on the cover and the title of your entry on every page.
This year, as you know, the prize pool for our prose and poetry contests has been increased to $5,550 (including a First Prize of $3,000). Entry fees have not been raised. The entry fee for the prose contest remains at $15 for each short story or essay up to 5,000 words in length. There are ten cash prizes in all, but the judges do reserve the right to award extra cash prizes if they so desire. For the last prose contest, the judges awarded no less than $500 in additional prizes, bringing the total prize pool up to $5,850 instead of the advertised $5,350!
To enter your poems in our current poetry contests, you will find full information at http://margaretreid.exactpages.com OR http://poetrycontests.exactpages.com. You will also note that although the prize-money has been increased, entry fees do remain at $7 for every 25 lines.
Unlike almost all other poetry contests, we impose no limits on the number of lines or number of poems you may submit. For the prose contest, we do impose a limit of 5,000 words, but there is NO MINIMUM wordage and also NO RESTRICTION ON THE NUMBER OF ENTRIES you may submit.
For full details, you can also visit the home page of http://www.winningwriters.com and click on the contests at the top left of the screen.
The latest Margaret Reid poetry anthology is Love & City Dreaming: Poems by Margaret Havill Reid. Margaret's range and versatility in this book provide an excellent guide to the verse we are seeking for the Margaret Reid Prize.
You'll also find plenty of rousing titles and attention-getting poems in our previous anthologies of winning entries such as SAILING IN THE MIST OF TIME: Award-Winning Poems in which 108 award-winning and commended poems are gathered together in a large-format, 196-page book!
Finally, a plug for my book, Write Ways to WIN WRITING CONTESTS: How To Join the Winners' Circle for Prose and Poetry Awards, NEW EXPANDED EDITION If you've been wasting your time and money sending out great stories and magnificent poems to Contests that immediately place them in the reject basket, here's an essential book to help you select the RIGHT CONTESTS. For example, there are a number of prestigious Poetry Contests that NEVER award prizes to traditional verse, even though they imply in their rules that such forms are acceptable. And there are very few prose or poetry contests that will award prizes to humorous entries, even though this restriction is not so much as hinted at in their rules. So how do you separate a suitable contest for your work from one in which you'll just waste your time and money? One of the key recommendations in my Write Ways to WIN WRITING CONTESTS is that you take a look at some of the entries that have won prizes in previous competitions. This will give you some idea of the types and varieties of stories and prose pieces that have won prizes in the past. For our own prose contest, for example, I recommend the two "Watching" books: "Watching the Skies" above, and WATCHING TIME: Anthology of Prizewinning Essays & Short Stories.