The Annual $5,550 Tom Howard Short Story, Essay and Prose Contest Is Now Open! The Margaret Reid Poetry Contest will re-open on November 15!
Now the first thing to note is that the word, "literary", in this context simply means a writing contest. You know that. But what you probably don't realize is the big gulf between literary fiction and mainstream fiction. What you have written is most likely popular or mainstream material. Sending your entry to a contest that specializes in literary fiction would just waste your time and money. You know that too. The problem is that such contests don't usually advertise the fact. On the contrary, they usually state they will accept entries "on any theme or subject". So how do you tell the difference? One of the best ways is to read past prizewinning and commended entries.
Of course, this is not always possible. But there are also other ways. For instance, is the Contest sponsored by a college or university? This doesn't necessarily mean that literary fiction is sought, but that would certainly be the case in a majority of such institution-sponsored contests. I deal with this subject, among many others, in my book, Write Ways to WIN WRITING CONTESTS: How To Join the Winners' Circle for Prose and Poetry Awards, If you've been wasting your time and money sending great stories to Contests that immediately place them in the reject basket, you need to read this book.
As headlined above, the Tom Howard Short Story, Essay & Prose Contest is currently open. Let me make it clear at once that we are seeking entries in ALL categories, including "literary" fiction, but most particularly we 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.
Here, for instance, are the opening sentences of Rachel Robertson's entry: "The cold war peaked in our family in 1978, the year I turned 15 and we lived in Seattle for six months. Mum and dad were still talking to each other, but only just, and not very pleasantly." Here are the opening lines of "The Leaper" by John Clanchy: "I've never seen myself as a particularly capricious sort of person. Not the sort who'd just go off and do something strange. Really strange, I mean." Here is "The Queenslander" by Wendy Dartnall: "A few days ago, he was freezing in a Boston winter, now he is sweltering in a Brisbane summer. I'm driving on the left, driving on the left, thinks Jack."
Although the Contest does not close until March 31, 2010, it's a good idea to start thinking of your entries right now instead of leaving them to the last month or so. Statistics show that, most particularly in prose contests, early entries do have an advantage.
In our contests, the judges read entries almost as soon as they are submitted. Unlike most other literary competitions, we don't wait until the contest closes. So early entries enjoy the obvious advantage of allowing the judges more time to read and evaluate your work. It also stands to reason that a prose entry, written and revised when not under any pressure, will possibly have a greater chance of success than one written in haste close to the deadline.
Another factor, of course, is that at this time of the year, the judges are actually eagerly anticipating and really enjoying your entries. Closer to the deadline, it becomes more of a chore.
This year, the prize pool for the prose contest has been increased to $5,550 (including a First Prize of $3,000). The entry fee will remain 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!
You'll find full details at http://shortstorycontest.0catch.com
An alternative site (click on the contest at the left of the screen) is http://www.winningwriters.com
As detailed above. 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 contests. This will give you some idea of the types and varieties of stories and prose pieces that have won prizes in the past. This applies to ALL contests.
For this Contest, there are are, however, two fields the judges would like to encourage: Humorous and comic stories and essays are very much appreciated; and we would very much like to see more genre entries such as mystery and detective stories, science fiction, romance, etc. A science fiction story did win a big cash prize in a recent contest, but we actually receive very few such entries.
So here are our previous anthologies of winning and highly commended entries. WATCHING TIME, our latest short story and essay anthology, has been reprinted, but, alas, only in a limited quantity. However, it is again on sale at Amazon. The price is $12.95, which is good value for a 207-page, trade paperback. The 14 prize-winners include four Firsts, three Seconds, and two Thirds!
WATCHING TIME: Anthology of Prizewinning Essays & Short Stories
Amazon also stock two of our previous collections of winning prose, namely Keep Watching the Skies! An Anthology of Prize-Winning Short Stories as mentioned above, and Mr Christian and the Bag Lady: An Anthology of Prize-Winning Stories
And finally don't forget my own previously mentioned book of tips, hints and other essentials. Amazon are selling the new, expanded edition for only $11.25 (which is considerably less than the original edition, even though the new edition has more pages and lots more valuable information): Write Ways to WIN WRITING CONTESTS: How To Join the Winners' Circle for Prose and Poetry Awards, NEW EXPANDED EDITION