Monday, January 13, 2014

Wordcraft -- Writing contests fast and furious

Writing contests aren’t what I expected to blog about today. But while going through my notebooks and inbox, I found a slew of contests with looming deadlines. Readers, you won’t get rich or famous from winning any of these, but they look like great fun and they cost little, sometimes nothing. Besides, I found what has to be the most dramatic picture ever of a writer at work for illustration. Click on the image from wikimedia commons for a look at the whole painting by Ilya Repin.

January 15 -- That’s right, the day after tomorrow. DFW Writers’ Conference “celebrating the classics” query contest. Choose a classic novel (for this purpose, at least twenty-five years old and still in print), write a query letter for it, and email your entry by midnight, January 15 to

No entry fee or membership required. Finalists will get to submit a query letter for their own work for critiques by Donald Maass of the Donald Maass Literary Agency. If you need help finding examples of classics, try the Adventure classics preview at this site (although not all of my examples meet the age and other criteria of the conference). For examples of what to include in a query letter, see

January 15 -- Houston Writers Guild “Judge a Book by Its Cover” contest. This is for romances (in several sub-genres) published in 2013. Fee is $15. Winner gets a full-page ad in the April 2014 Romance Writers Report.

Also from HWG, 2014 manuscript contest for unpublished manuscripts in several genres, including literary fiction and memoir. Fee is $20 for first entry from guild members, $30 for nonmembers. Additional fees for multiple manuscript submissions. Deadline is March 1, 2014. Cash prize and meeting with editor for first place winner in each genre.

And finally from HWG, the Guild is taking submissions for science fiction stories of not more than 8,000 words for an anthology. Top entry receives $50. For information about contests and the anthology, see

February 1 -- The First Line magazine lists the opening sentences for all of its 2014 quarterly editions. The first: “Carlos discovered (fill in the blank) under a pile of shoes in the back of his grandmother’s closet.” Due date is February 1 for the spring edition. No fee to enter. For more information, see

February 21 -- Writers’ League of Texas manuscript contest offers writers in nine different literary categories chances for professional feedback and publication. Fee is $55 for League members, $65 for nonmembers. Entries accepted via

Also from the Writers’ League, entries for the Texas Book Awards (formerly knows as the Violet Crown Awards) are open through April 25. Entry fee is $45 per title for WLT members, $55 per title for nonmember authors, $65 per title from agents and publishers. For online entry form and information, see

February 28 -- The Red Line lists two themes for its remaining editions of 2014, Bodies (February 28) and Escape (April 30). No fee for entry, 50 pound prize for the best in each category. For more information, see Duotrope's Digest or

Finally (for now) Carve magazine editor Matthew Limpede asked me to mention its creative writing workshops in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, offered through the Creative Arts Center of Dallas. Readers made Limpede's discussion, “An editor’s take on short stories” (May 13, 2013) one of this blog’s most popular posts. And yes, Carve will open its annual Raymond Carver short story contest April 1, running through May 15. For information about the magazine, classes and contests, see

There will be more posts later about upcoming summer and fall writing contests. Feel free to let me know about anything else I’ve missed.

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