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a:Fiction Writing Contests Worth Your Time in Spring 2021


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Welcome to another writing contest roundup. How are your 2021 goals and resolutions? I recently crossed over 500 rejections and started the year strong with four publications—a young arson story in Down & Out: The Magazine, a pair of contrasting flash fiction pieces in MacQueen’s Quinterly, and a quiet flash about balconies in the debut issue of Nevermore Journal. Every season is a chance to try something new.

This contest submissions season covers deadlines from March 1, 2021 through May 31, 2021. Spring is a great time to submit to literary journals that read during the academic year or opportunities that take place during the summer. Thanks to Literistic, Poets & Writers, Submittable Discover, and New Pages for many of these contests.

Much like editors are looking for reasons to reject work, I want to focus on opportunities worth my time. Thus, my list of writing contests below includes reasons to submit to that particular writing contest. May you find a promising opportunity among this list and spend less time searching for where to send your exceptional work.

 


March 2021

Hunger Mountain – Howard Frank Mosher Short Fiction Prize – $10 fee

Deadline: March 1, 2021

“One first place winner receives $1,000 & online publication, & one runner-up receives $100 & online publication.” Judged by Trinie Dalton. “Please enter one original, unpublished story under 8,000 words.”

Reasons to submit:

  • Flag-bearer—open to international submissions
  • No hunting for winners—can read past winners online
  • Oh, wordy!—generous word count limit
  • Prestige—#116 in Pushcart ranking
  • Share the wealth—multiple prizes

 

2021-2022 U.S.-Japan Creative Artists Fellowship Program – $0 fee

Deadline: March 1, 2021 (cover sheet) and March 29, 2021 (full application)

“The Japan U.S. Friendship Commission offers up to five leading contemporary and traditional artists from the United States an opportunity to spend three months in Japan in 2021-2022 through the U.S.-Japan Creative Artists Fellowship Program.  Cultural understanding is at the heart of this program. … Artists should have compelling reasons for their residency in Japan, and they should conduct preliminary research to identify contacts there. … $20,000 for a maximum of three months to cover housing, living, and professional expenses. … In the last 10 years writers must have published at least one of the following: Five different short stories in two or more literary journals, anthologies, or publications… A novel or a novella”

Reasons to submit:

  • Eligibility restriction—less competition
  • Friendly to novelists
  • Rebirth—accepts published work
  • Regional restriction—less competition
  • Share the wealth—multiple prizes
  • Wanderluster—prize includes lodging or travel

 

Stella Kupferberg Memorial Short Story Prize 2021 – $25 fee

Deadline: March 5, 2021

“The 2021 Stella Kupferberg Memorial Short Story Prize will be judged by Joshua Ferris. The winning work will be performed and recorded by an actor in spring 2021, and published on Electric Literature. The winning writer will receive $1000 and a free 10-week course with Gotham Writers.” Submit 750 words or less.

Reasons to submit:

 

Writers’ Trust of Canada – Writers’ Trust Mentorship – $0 fee

Deadline: March 8, 2021

“The Writers’ Trust Mentorship program provides support, guidance, and one-on-one instruction to a developing writer from an established writer.” … The fiction mentor “selects one mentee from a pool of applicants to work with over a 5-month period. Beyond instruction, mentees will also receive $2,500.” Only Canadian citizens or permanent residents.

Reasons to submit:

  • Flag-bearer—open to international submissions
  • Friendly to emerging writers
  • Friendly to novelists
  • Oh, wordy!—generous word count limit
  • Regional restriction—less competition

 

National Endowment for the Arts – Literature Fellowship – $0 fee

Deadline: March 10, 2021

“The National Endowment for the Arts Literature Fellowships program offers $25,000 grants in prose … to published creative writers that enable recipients to set aside time for writing, research, travel, and general career advancement. Applications are reviewed through an anonymous process in which the criteria for review are the artistic excellence and artistic merit of the submitted manuscript. Through this program, the Arts Endowment seeks to sustain and nurture a diverse range of creative writers at various stages of their careers and to continue to expand the portfolio of American art.”

Reasons to submit:

  • Blind submissions are fine submissions!
  • Eligibility restriction—less competition
  • Friendly to novelists
  • Oh, wordy!—generous word count limit
  • Rebirth—accepts published work
  • Wanderluster—prize includes lodging or travel

 

Colorado Review – 2021 Nelligan Prize for Short Fiction – $17 fee

Deadline: March 14, 2021

“$2,000 will be awarded for the best short story, which will be published in the fall/winter 2021 issue of Colorado Review. This year’s final judge is T. Geronimo Johnson … There are no theme restrictions, but stories should be at least 10 pages and under 50 pages.”

Reasons to submit:

  • Blind submissions are fine submissions!
  • Flag-bearer—open to international submissions
  • Oh, wordy!—generous word count limit
  • Prestige—#36 in Pushcart ranking
  • Prestigious judge

 

Bellingham Review – 2021 Tobias Wolff Award for Fiction – $20-$30 fee

Deadline: March 15, 2021

$1,000-dollar first-place prize. “Dedicated to forming a community of writers, Bellingham Review also offers continual support to our authors through interviews, book reviews, social media promotion, and endless words of encouragement. Winners of the 2021 contests will be notified in June 2021. Winning entries and many runners up will be published in the Spring 2022 print edition, Issue 84. … The cost to enter is $20. International entries are $30 to cover increased shipping costs. An entry consists of … one story [or] up to three pieces of flash… Please limit prose to 4,000 words. For prose that is 1,500 words or fewer, submit up to three in one entry. (These flash prose pieces will be considered individually, unless they are connected.)”

Reasons to submit:

  • Blind submissions are fine submissions!
  • Flag-bearer—open to international submissions

 

Permafrost Magazine – Permafrost Book Prize in Fiction – $20 fee

Deadline: March 16, 2021

“The Permafrost Book Prize in Fiction offers publication of a book length work of fiction (novel, novella, or short story collection), $1000, and distribution through University of Alaska Press. … We prefer manuscripts that are a minimum of 150 pages. All entries will be read anonymously. … The Permafrost Book Prize in Fiction welcomes manuscripts from any writer, including non-US citizens, writing in English. Simultaneous submissions are accepted.”

Reasons to submit:

  • Blind submissions are fine submissions!
  • Flag-bearer—open to international submissions
  • Friendly to novelists
  • Oh, wordy!—generous word count limit
  • Rebirth—accepts published work (possibly for short story collections)

 

2021 PEN America Emerging Voices Fellowship – $25 fee

Deadline: March 17, 2021

“The Emerging Voices Fellowship provides a five-month immersive mentorship program for early-career writers from communities that are traditionally underrepresented in the publishing world. The program is committed to cultivating the careers of Black writers, and serves writers who identify as Indigenous, persons of color, LGBTQIA+, immigrants, writers with disabilities, and those living outside of urban centers. Through curated one-on-one mentorship and introductions to editors, agents, and publishers, in addition to workshops on editing, marketing, and creating a platform, the five-month fellowship nurtures creative community, provides a professional skill-set, and demystifies the path to publication—with the ultimate goal of diversifying the publishing and media industries. Twelve fellows will be chosen in 2021, each awarded an honorarium of $1,000.”

Reasons to submit:

  • Eligibility restriction—less competition
  • Friendly to emerging writers
  • Friendly to novelists
  • Rebirth—accepts published work
  • Share the wealth—multiple prizes

 

The Pinch – 2021 Pinch Literary Awards – $20 fee

Deadline: March 31, 2021

“Fiction First Prize: $2,000.00. Judged by Dianca London Potts. … All entries are considered for publication. First, second, and third place winners will be selected … The first place winners will be published in the Spring issue following announcement. Second and third place winners will be given high-priority consideration for publication, but because of space, cannot be guaranteed.”

Reasons to submit:

 


April 2021

The Tusculum Review – 2021 Fiction Prize – $15 fee

Deadline: April 1, 2021

“A prize of $1,000, publication in The Tusculum Review, and creation of a limited edition chapbook is awarded for the winning story. … Entry fees include a one-year subscription to The Tusculum Review (an annual publication) and consideration for publication.” Submit 2,000-6,500 words.

Reasons to submit:

  • Blind submissions are fine submissions!
  • Oh, wordy!—generous word count limit
  • Read on—entry fee includes one-year subscription

 

Nimrod International Journal – 2021 Nimrod Literary Awards Entry: Fiction – $20-$23 fee

Deadline: April 2, 2021

  • First Prize: $2,000 and publication; Second Prize: $1,000 and publication
  • In addition to publication and the prize moneys, winners will also be brought to Tulsa for the Awards Ceremony in October 2021 if global health circumstances allow. If not, winners will participate in a virtual Awards Ceremony.
  • All finalists will be considered for publication
  • 7,500 words maximum (one short story or a self-contained excerpt from a novel)

Reasons to submit:

  • Blind submissions are fine submissions!
  • Friendly to novelists
  • Oh, wordy!—generous word count limit
  • Prestige—#116 in Pushcart ranking
  • Read on—entry fee includes one-year subscription
  • Share the wealth—multiple prizes
  • Wanderluster—prize includes lodging or travel

 

New Ohio Review – 2021 Fiction Contest – $22 fee

Deadline: April 15, 2021

“$1,500 Prize and publication in New Ohio Review 30. Stories that are not selected will still be considered for publication. Entry fee comes with 1-year subscription (issues 29 and 30).” Submit up to 20 pages. Judged by Anthony Marra.

Reasons to submit:

  • Blind submissions are fine submissions!
  • Prestige—#78 in Pushcart ranking
  • Prestigious judge
  • Read on—entry fee includes one-year subscription

 

Geist – Postcard Story Contest – $20 fee

Deadline: April 15, 2021

“Send us a story and a postcard—the relationship can be as strong or as tangential as you like, so long as there is a clear connection between the story and the image.” Up to 500 words. “First Prize: $500. Second Prize: $250. Third Prize: $150. All winning entries will be published in Geist and on geist.com”

Reasons to submit:

  • Blind submissions are fine submissions!
  • Eligibility restriction—less competition
  • Flag-bearer—open to international submissions
  • No hunting for winners—can read past winners online
  • Read on—entry fee includes one-year subscription
  • Share the wealth—multiple prizes

 

F(r)iction – Short Story Contest, Spring 2021 – $15 fee

Deadline: April 29, 2021

“1st prize receives $1,000.00 and will be considered for publication in F(r)iction, our triannual print collection or through our online blog F(r)iction Log. Up to five finalists will be considered for publication too. … If your work takes risks, we want to read it.” Submit 1,001 – 7,500 words.

Reasons to submit:

  • Blind submissions are fine submissions!
  • Flag-bearer—open to international submissions
  • No hunting for winners—can read past winners online
  • Oh, wordy!—generous word count limit

 

F(r)iction – Flash Fiction Contest, Spring 2021 – $10-$12 fee

Deadline: April 29, 2021

“1st prize receives $300.00 and will be considered for publication in F(r)iction, our triannual print collection or through our online blog F(r)iction Log. Up to five finalists will be considered for publication too. … If your work takes risks, we want to read it.” Submit up to 1,000 words per piece. $10 for one flash submission or $12 for three.

Reasons to submit:

  • Blind submissions are fine submissions!
  • Flag-bearer—open to international submissions
  • No hunting for winners—can read past winners online

 

Harpur Palate – John Gardner Memorial Prize in Fiction – $18 fee

Deadline: April 30, 2021

“$500 and publication in the summer/fall issue … Short stories in any style, form, or genre are welcome, provided that they are no more than 8,000 words long and previously unpublished. The fee … includes a one-year subscription to Harpur Palate. … Your name should appear only on the cover letter and nowhere else on the manuscript.”

Reasons to submit:

  • Blind submissions are fine submissions!
  • Oh, wordy!—generous word count limit
  • Read on—entry fee includes one-year subscription

 


 

May 2021

The Malahat Review – Far Horizons Award for Short Fiction – $25-$35 CAD fee

Deadline: May 1, 2021

“The Malahat Review invites emerging short-story writers to enter the Far Horizons Award for Short Fiction, for which one prize of $CAN 1,000 is awarded. Eligible authors have yet to publish their fiction in book form (a book is defined to have a length of 48 pages or more). Publication in literary magazines is acceptable. The contest is open to Canadian and international writers anywhere in the world, … All entries are judged anonymously, and the winning story will be published in the magazine’s fall 2019 issue. … The story must not exceed 3,500 words.”

Reasons to submit:

  • Blind submissions are fine submissions!
  • Eligibility restriction—less competition
  • Flag-bearer—open to international submissions
  • Prestige—#171 in Pushcart ranking

 

New Letters – Robert Day Award for Fiction – $24 fee

Deadline: May 18, 2021

$2,500 prize. “All entries will be considered for publication in New Letters. Fiction entries may not exceed 8,000 words. … A one-year subscription or subscription renewal to New Letters, shipped to any address within the United States, is included in the price of the first entry.  (Subscriptions mailed outside the U.S. require a $20 postal surcharge.)”

Reasons to submit:

  • Blind submissions are fine submissions!
  • Flag-bearer—open to international submissions
  • Oh, wordy!—generous word count limit
  • Prestige—#38 in Pushcart ranking
  • Read on—entry fee includes one-year subscription

 

CutBank – Chapbook Contest (Prose) – $20 fee

Deadline: May 31, 2021

“Award: The winning author receives a $1000 honorarium plus 25 copies of the published book. Two runners-up will be chosen for publication as well. … While previously published stand-alone pieces or excerpts may be included in a manuscript, the manuscript as a whole must be an unpublished work. Translations and previously self-published collections are ineligible. … We’re interested in both prose and poetry – and particularly work that straddles the lines between genres, in a fresh, powerful manuscript. … Manuscripts should be cohesive and coherent; in other words, your manuscript should resonate and make sense as a book.” Submit 25-40 typed pages.

Reasons to submit:

  • Flag-bearer—open to international submissions
  • Oh, wordy!—generous word count limit
  • Prestige—#171 in Pushcart ranking
  • Read on—entry fee includes one copy of CutBank 95 (Spring/Summer 2021)
  • Rebirth—accepts published work
  • Share the wealth—multiple prizes

 


 

Have I missed a great writing contest? Please leave a comment and let me know where you found it.

 

Happy submitting!

 

You can also read my story “A Damn Fine Town” in The Best American Mystery Stories 2019:

e0dd308addd97f4ec72186b24cdfad8e?s=100&d

About Arthur Klepchukov

Arthur Klepchukov was born between Black Seas, Virginian Beaches, and San Franciscan waves. He adores trains, swing sets, and music that tears him outta time. Read Art’s words in Glimmer Train, The Best American Mystery Stories 2019, The Common, Necessary Fiction, and more at ArsenalOfWords.com

http://feeds.feedburner.com/~r/WriterUnboxed/~4/aySfnm7cPE4

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