40 Writing Contests in January 2018 - No entry fees
Many contests are offered annually, so if you miss your ideal contest this year, you can always enter next year. For a month-by-month list of free contests see: Writing Contests
Small But Mighty. Restrictions: Children ages 7-11 and 12-15. Genre: Fiction and poetry. Prize: Writing supplies, certificate, and publication on website. Deadline: January 1, 2018.
Tony Hillerman Prize. Sponsored by St. Martin's Press. Genre: Debut mystery novel set in Southwest. Prize: $10,000 advance against royalties and publication, Deadline: January 2, 2018.
Texas Institute of Letters Literary Awards. Restrictions: Entrants must have resided in Texas for at least 2 consecutive years, or have been born in Texas. Genre: Book (published). 11 different categories. Prize: $6,000. Deadline: January 2, 2018.
Christopher Doheny Award. The award recognizes excellence in fiction or creative nonfiction on the topic of serious physical illness. The award is presented annually for a completed manuscript that has not yet been published. Prize: $10,000. Deadline: January 2, 2018.
Best Villain Fairy Tale Competition. Genre: Short story. "Are you tired of only reading about the “good guys”? Well, here is your chance to turn the spotlight on the villains of fairy tales and folk tales. Fairytalez wants to hear the other side of the story, the villains behind a so-called “happily ever after”! After all, as they say, even the villain is the hero in their own story. Let’s hear it for the “bad” guys! You may either write a new fairy tale or folk tale with a new original villain character or take one of the classics and write the untold story from the villain’s point of view." Prize: Active promotion across all Fairytalez’s social networks. A digital winner badge published with your story and on your profile page. A digital winner badge for your blog or website. A $200 gift certificate to Amazon.com Deadline: January 3, 2018.
John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Essay Contest is sponsored by the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation. Restrictions: The contest is open to United States high school students in grades nine through twelve attending public, private, parochial, or home schools; US students under the age of twenty enrolled in a high school correspondence/GED program; and US citizens attending schools overseas. Genre: Essay on an act of political courage by a US elected official who served during or after 1956. Prize: The first-place winner receives $10,000 comprised of a $5,000 cash award and $5,000 from John Hancock. The second-place winner receives $1,000. Up to five finalists receive $500 each. Deadline: January 4, 2018.
Stop the Hate: Youth Speak Out Essay Contest Grades. Stop the Hate® is designed to create an appreciation and understanding among people of differing religions, races, cultures and socioeconomic backgrounds. Genre: Essay, 500 words. Restrictions: Northeast Ohio 6-12th Graders. Prize: $40,000. Deadline: January 5, 2018 for Grades 6-10, January 19, 2018 for Grades 11-12.
The Maureen Egen Writers Exchange Award introduces emerging writers to the New York City literary community. The prestigious award aims to provide promising writers a network for professional advancement. Since Poets & Writers began the Writers Exchange in 1984, 85 writers from 33 states and the District of Columbia have been selected to participate. Restrictions: Open to Arkansas residents. Genre: Poetry and Fiction. Prize: A $500 honorarium; A trip to New York City to meet with editors, agents, publishers, and other writers. All related travel/lodgings expenses and a per diem stipend are covered by Poets & Writers. Winners will also give a public reading of their work; and One-month residency at the Jentel Artist Residency Program in Wyoming. Deadline: January 8, 2018.
Leah Ryan's FEWW Playwriting Prize. Restrictions: Open to women. Genre: Completed full-length work for theater. Prize: $2,500, a workshop at the Vassar Powerhouse Theater, and a reading in New York City. Deadline: January 8, 2018.
Japan Center-Canon Essay Competition. The aim of the Japan Center Essay Competition is to promote awareness and understanding of Japan in the United States and to help young Americans broaden their international horizons. Genre: Essay. Contestants should write, in English, one or more aspects of Japan including art, culture, tradition, values, philosophy, history, society, politics, business, and technology in relation to their personal views, experiences, and/or future goals. (Contestants do not need to have any experience in visiting Japan or studying Japanese. Prize: Best Essay Award in the High School Division: 1st Place: $3,000 and a Canon camera, 2nd Place: $1,500 and a Canon camera, 3rd Place: $750 and a Canon camera; Best Essay Award in the College Division: $3,000 and a Canon camera; Uchida Memorial Award: $1,000 and a Canon camera; Merit Award: $200 (each) for up to five awards. Deadline: January 8, 2018.
Orwell Prize. Genre: Political writing published between 1st January and 31st January 2017. All entries must have a clear British link. Journalism and ‘exposing Britain’s social evils’. Prize: £3,000.00. Deadline: January 11, 2018. (Their website is impossible to figure out, which is ironic.)
Minotaur Books/Mystery Writers of America Best First Crime Novel Competition. Restrictions: The Competition is open to any writer, regardless of nationality, aged 18 or older, who has never been the author of any published novel (except that authors of self-published works only may enter, as long as the manuscript submitted is not the self-published work) and is not under contract with a publisher for publication of a novel. Genre: Murder or another serious crime or crimes is at the heart of the story. Prize: $10,000. Deadline: January 12, 2018.
Moving Words Poetry Contest. Restrictions: People who live within the DC Metro transit area (the Northern Virginia counties Arlington, Fairfax, and Loudoun and the cities Alexandria, Fairfax, and Falls Church; the District of Columbia; and the Maryland counties Montgomery and Prince George's) and who are over 18. Genre: Poetry on theme: “Ripped from the Headlines.” Prize: $250 honorarium. Deadline: January 12, 2018.
VCU Cabell First Novelist Award. Genre: First novel published July–December 2017. No self-published books. Prize: $5,000. Deadline: January 14, 2018.
Hektoen Grand Prix Essay Competition. Genre: Essay relating to art, history, literature, education, personal narratives, and music as they relate to medicine, as well reports on famous physicians or hospitals. Length: 1600 words max. Prizes: $3000 to a top finalist and (2) awards of $800 to two runners-up. Deadline: January 14, 2018.
The Ellen Meloy Fund for Desert Writers was established in 2005 to honor the memory of Ellen Meloy. The Fund provides support to writers whose work reflects the spirit and passions embodied in Ellen’s writing and her commitment to a “deep map of place.” Ellen’s own map-in-progress was of the desert country she called home. Genre: Only literary or creative nonfiction proposals will be considered. No fiction or poetry proposals will be reviewed. Prize: $3,000. Deadline: January 15, 2018.
The Andrés Montoya Poetry Prize. Genre: First full-length book of poems by a Latinx poet. Prize: $1000 and a contract from University of Notre Dame Press. Upon publication of the winning book, Letras Latinas will extend an invitation to both the winner and the judge to give a joint reading at Notre Dame. Deadline: January 15, 2018.
Joan Swift Memorial Prize. Restrictions: Open to women over age 65 now living and writing in the Pacific NW - Washington, Oregon, Idaho, northern California, western Montana, British Columbia, and Alaska. Genre: Poetry. Prize: $500 and publication in Poetry Northwest. Deadline: January 15, 2018.
Women Artists Datebook. Restrictions: Women. Genre: 4 poems. Peace and Justice. Prize: $70. Deadline: January 15, 2018. Read details HERE.
Stacy Doris Memorial Poetry Award. Genre: Poem, 3-10 pages long, that demonstrates a "truly inventive spirit." Prize: $500. Deadline: January 15, 2018.
Janet Heidinger Kafka Prize. Restrictions: Open to women, US citizens only. Genre: Novel. All entries must be submitted by publishers who wish to have the work of their authors that were published in the year 2017 considered. No self-published works or works from vanity presses will be accepted. Prize: $7,500. Deadline: January 15, 2018.
Bethesda Literary Festival Essay and Short Story Contest. The Bethesda Urban Partnership & Bethesda Magazine have partnered to honor local writers at the Bethesda Literary Festival held April. Genres: Essays and short stories. Restrictions: Residents of Washington, D.C., Maryland and Virginia are eligible. Prizes: First Place: $500 and published in Bethesda Magazine. Second Place: $250. Third Place: $150. Honorable Mention: $75. Deadline: January 19, 2018.
Poetry Society of Virginia - Student Contest. Restrictions: Open to students in Virginia, grades 3 - 12. Prize: $10 - $25. Deadline: January 19, 2018.
NYSCA/NYFA Artist Fellowships, awarded in fifteen different disciplines over a three-year period, are $7,000 cash awards made to individual originating artists living and working in the state of New York for unrestricted use. These fellowships are not project grants but are intended to fund an artist’s vision or voice, regardless of the level of his or her artistic development. Deadline: January 24, 2018.
Fountain Magazine Essay Contest. Genre: Essay. 1,500 - 2,500 words. "How to face a disaster? A life with no disasters is a fantasy. All of us face them – both personally and globally – sooner or later. Then, how should we face a disaster? Just as we take measures while constructing buildings on a fault line, can we be always prepared? How do we defend our inner peace when facing danger? Tell us how you survive difficult times. Give us your best advice. Share your greatest life lesson" Prize: 1st Place - $1,500, 2nd Place - $750, 3rd Place - $300, Two Honorable Mentions - $200 each. Deadline: January 31, 2018.
Striking 13. Genre: Flash Fiction. Max 513 words on theme of "Greed." Prize: Three Amazon voucher prizes, for the top 3 entries ($25, $15, $10) Deadline: January 31, 2018.
French-American Foundation Translation Prizes. Genre: Book - best English translation of French in both fiction and non-fiction. Prize: $10,000. Deadline: January 31, 2018.
Jerry Jazz Musician Fiction Contest. "The Jerry Jazz Musician reader has interests in music, social history, literature, politics, art, film and theater, particularly that of the counter-culture of mid-twentieth century America." Genre: previously unpublished work of short fiction. Prize: $100.00. Deadline: January 31, 2018.
College Undergraduate Poetry and Florence Kahn Memorial Award. Restrictions: Undergraduates working toward a degree in an accredited U.S. college or university. Genre: Poetry. Prize: $500. Deadline: January 31, 2018.
Helen and Kurt Wolff Translator's Prize. The annual Helen and Kurt Wolff Translator's Prize is awarded each spring to honor an outstanding literary translation from German into English published in the USA the previous year. Genre: Published fiction or non-fiction, may include: novels, novellas, short stories, plays, poetry, biographies, essays and correspondence. Prize: $10,000. Deadline: January 31, 2018.
The Danuta Gleed Literary Award for best first collection of short fiction in the English language was initiated by John Gleed in honour of his late wife to promote and celebrate the genre of short fiction, which she loved. Restrictions: Canadian residents only. Prize: A $10,000 prize will be awarded for the best first collection of published short fiction in the English language. Two finalist will also be awarded $500 each. Deadline: January 31, 2018.
Imagine Little Tokyo. Little Tokyo Historical Society (LTHS) seeks fictional short stories in Japanese or English for its second annual “Imagine Little Tokyo” writing contest. The setting of the story should be in Little Tokyo, Los Angeles, CA– either past, present or future. Prize: $600. The winner of the youth division (18 or younger) will receive $400. Deadline: January 31, 2018.
Caine Prize for African Writing. Restrictions: Open to writers born in Africa, or nationals of an African country, or with a parent who is African by birth or nationality, Genre: Short fiction (published). Prize: £10,000. Deadline: January 31, 2018.
Words and Brushes. Genre: Fiction inspired by artwork. Prize: $300 top prize. Deadline: January 31, 2018. (Submission guidelines say "February." I don't know if that means on February 1st or by February 1st, so I am erring on the safe side.)
Indigenous Voices Award. Restrictions: Open to emerging Indigenous writers in lands claimed by Canada. Genre: Novels, creative non-fiction, short stories, poetry, orality, graphic novels, comics, slam, drama, music lyrics, screenwriting, and other forms. Prize: 5 awards for unpublished work totaling $10,000 and 3 awards for published work totaling $15,000. Deadline: January 31, 2018.
Radiating You. Restrictions: You must be 18 years old or older. Genre: Personal essay. "We all have thoughts and secrets we hold close so no one else will know or judge us. Things we push down so we don’t hurt those we love. Feelings that continue to haunt us because they are never shared. Are you brave enough to share yours? Radiating You is launching a contest to uncover the real and unfiltered side of life." Prize. 1st place $100, 2nd place $75, 3rd place $50. Length: 500 words maximum. Deadline: January 31, 2018. NOTE: By submitting, you’re granting permission for Radiating You to use your submission on their blogs, social media channels, or future book.
Prospero Prizes. Genre: Poems of philosophical and imaginative heft, haft, and polish. Prize: $150 and feature publication in their digital magazines. Deadline: January 31, 2018.
Walter Rumsey Marvin Grant. Restrictions: Open to authors under 30 years of age who have not had a book published. Applicant must have been born in Ohio or have lived in Ohio for a minimum of five years. Genre: Short fiction and creative non-fiction. Prize: $1,000. Deadline: January 31, 2018.
15th Michael E. DeBakey Medical Student Poetry Awards. Restrictions: Only undergraduates currently enrolled in accredited United States medical schools are eligible. Genre: Poetry. Prize: $1,000 top prize. Deadline: January 31, 2018. Note: Winners do not retain copyright.
Sunburst Awards. Restrictions: Open to Canadians. Genre: Speculative fiction short stories published in 2017. Prize: ? Deadline: January 31, 2018.
The owner of the Center Lovell Inn, who is giving the property away to the winner of an essay contest, received 7,255 entries, which at $125 each yielded her $906,875, according to a Maine State Police investigation.
Janice Sage, who won the inn in an essay contest in 1993, announced at the beginning of the year that she would be holding a similar contest. She had hoped to receive 7,500 entries, with the proceeds paying for her retirement. A 200-word essay would determine who would win ownership of the restaurant and inn, which has seven guest rooms and views of the White Mountains and Kezar Lake.
Prince Adams, who runs a restaurant in the U.S. Virgin Islands, submitted the winning essay. But almost immediately, unsuccessful entrants complained that the contest hadn’t been run properly. They disputed that the winning essay was the best of those submitted and speculated that Sage and Adams may have known each other prior to the contest.
The complaints prompted a week-long state police investigation that concluded this week. The Portland Press Herald filed a Freedom of Access request for a copy of the investigation.
Assistant Attorney General Christopher Parr said the complete investigation, contained in a binder about an inch thick, was considered investigative and intelligence information and that releasing it could constitute an unwarranted invasion of privacy. Therefore it is not considered a public record, he said. Parr did, however, provide a copy of the investigation narrative in which the names of the people involved, including the essay judges, had been redacted.
The investigation, based on interviews with several of the people involved, describes a meticulous competition process that included Sage reading every essay.
“She has the calloused elbows to prove it,” said the investigation narrative, prepared by Barry Hathaway, an inspector with the State Police Special Investigations Unit.
Sage did not open any of the entry envelopes when they arrived, the narrative said. Initially, she had another person open the envelopes, assign each essay a number, enter the author’s name and contact information in a register and send them a receipt. As the contest progressed and more entries arrived, she brought in more help and eventually had five people processing the mail.
The only rule Sage changed over the course of the contest was to extend it for an additional 30 days, which was permissible under the rules.
She chose the top 20 essays, and then selected two judges to pick the first, second and third-place entries. The judges’ names were redacted but they were identified as a man and a woman. They wrote the winning numbers on a slip of paper and gave it to Sage.
At first, she couldn’t find the corresponding name in the registration materials so she had to seek help from the girl who had filed it, the investigation said.
Winner Prince Adams told police that someone else, possibly Adams’ wife, reads the New York Times daily and saw a story about the contest. Adams eventually entered his essay and learned on June 6 that he had won. He told police he had never met or spoken with Sage before then.
Not everyone is satisfied the contest was handled fairly.
Kass Stone, an American living in London, said in an email that Sage did make contact at some point to clear up some confusion with their entry form. Stone said that at the time, it wasn’t clear that contact between Sage and entrants was prohibited, and that Sage wasn’t supposed to know the identities of essay writers.
But the investigation concluded that the contest was conducted legally and that Sage did nothing wrong. The contest was a game of skill and therefore not regulated by state law covering games of chance and it did not violate any consumer protection laws, according to the police narrative. It also wasn’t a game in which the operator controls the outcome.
David Hench can be contacted at 791-6327 or at:
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