Contests

Writing contests for writers to submit their work.

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It’s that time again in Minnesota—time to get ready to enter a spring writing contest. This year’s offerings target everyone from fiction writers to poets to students in the great North Star State, so you’d be hard pressed not to find something that suits your style and interests. Check out the list of Spring 2017 writing contests for Minnesota writers below, then gear up to get creative, share your writing, and earn some recognition—and cash—for your work.

2017 GPS (Geek Partnership Society) Writing Contest

Topic: Sci-fi, fantasy, supernatural, graphic, poetry & short fiction pieces, youth and adult.

Deadline: May 1, 2017

Prizes: $50 - $75 Amazon gift cards

Basic guidelines: Submit original, unpublished works on the above topics to open, youth, poetry, and graphic novel (comics) divisions. No entry fee. This contest is not exclusive to Minnesota writers; the organization is simply based in Minneapolis. For more info, click here.

Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis 2016-2017 Student Essay Contest

Topic: Can the U.S. economy still grow the way it once did?

Deadline: March 31, 2017

Prizes: $100 (for 30 finalists) - $500, plus a paid internship for first place winner. Cash prize for teacher of winners, too.

Basic guidelines: Open to high school students in the Ninth Federal Reserve District, which includes Minnesota, North and South Dakota, Montana, northwestern Wisconsin, and Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. For contest rules, check here.

2017 Great American Think-Off

Topic: Has the 2016 election changed our perception of truth?

Deadline: April 1, 2017

Prizes: Four $500 cash prizes and invitation to debate in New York Mills, MN

Basic guidelines: This contest is sponsored by the Cultural Center of New York Mills. Submit an essay of up to 750 words on the topic using personal experience and observations. Enter online, no fee, and all ages welcome. See the website for further details.

Minnesota Christian Writers Guild 2017 Writing Contest

Topic: Everyday people who are making a difference for Jesus.

Deadline: March 13, 2017

Prizes: $25 - $75 cash, plus a mentor session with an editor

Basic guidelines: Submit a personal experience article between 800 and 1,200 words. You must be a member of MCWG to enter, plus pay a $5 entry fee. For more information, click here.

2017 Maria W. Faust Sonnet Contest

Topic: Unpublished sonnet written in Shakespearean, Spenserian, Petrarchan, or Non-traditional rhyme scheme.

Deadline: June 1, 2017

Prizes: Cash totaling over $2,000 in several categories, including Local Area (Winona, MN, and adjacent counties), Best Youth, and Laureate’s Choice.

Basic guidelines: $5 entry fee; free for youth 17 and under. Click here for more info.

2017 LSW (Lake Superior Writers) Writing Contest

Topic: Rivers: mapped and unmapped

Deadline: April 1, 2017

Prizes: $250 per category for winner, plus publication

Basic guidelines: Theme of submissions must be real or metaphorical rivers. Categories include poetry, short-short fiction, creative nonfiction, and short story. Free to LSW members, or you can join and pay a membership fee of $35 to enter. Visit the site for complete rules.

BestPrep and Thomson Reuters High School Essay Contest

Topic: Martin Luther King famously wrote: “Intelligence plus character – that is the goal of true education. Why is it important for students to develop their character alongside academics? How has your educational journey and life experiences developed your character?

Deadline: April 15, 2017

Prizes: MacBook Air, iPads, Beats headphones, Google Home, and Walmart gift cards, plus an invitation to an Education Forum and private reception at the Saint Paul River Centre in October. Visa gift card for teachers of top five winners.

Basic guidelines: Open to Minnesota high school students. Submit an essay of 600-750 words on the above topic. See website to download essay competition packet.

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writing contestWhen it comes to writing contests, Minnesota earns top marks for opportunities for writers of all skill levels, ages, and genres. Just check out this list of offerings for Spring 2016, and you'll get a good glimpse of the North Star State's flourishing writing community. And what better way to do what you love, get noticed, and earn some cash than by entering a writing contest? So go ahead, browse away and find a contest that sparks your interest. No excuses; there’s something for everyone, even out-of-staters.

Lake Superior Writers Going Coastal Fiction Writing Contest—deadline April 1, 2016

This year, the Lake Superior Writers group is calling on fiction-only entries of 6,500 words maximum for an anthology tentatively titled Going Coastal! The theme is anything about Lake Superior, Minnesota. The contest is free to LSW members, but those living outside the region must pay a $15 entry fee. For more information on entry requirements and rules, click below:

http://lakesuperiorwriters.org/going-coastal-2016-fiction-writing-contest/

2016 Minnesota Christian Writers Guild Annual Writing Contest—deadline April 11, 2016

This contest is open to members of the Minnesota Christian Writers Guild only. The MCWG is calling for “stories that encourage readers to press on through life’s periods of crisis and stress.” You’ll be writing a guest blog for this contest. A $5 entry fee is required.

http://www.mnchristianwriters.com/annual-contest/

Minnesota Middle School Association 2016 Writing Contest—deadline April 15, 2016

Open to Minnesota middle school or junior high school students, the 2016 MMSA writing contest is themed “Ignite!” Submit stories of 200 words or less about a time you were energized by someone or some event.  No entry fee.

http://www.mmsa.info/content/mmsa-writing-contest-theme-ignite

Minnesota State Bar Association Student Writing Competitions—deadline April 3 &15, 2016

Calling all law students, these contests are open to those attending certain law schools in Minnesota and out-of-state law students interested in practicing in Minnesota. Judges are seeking papers and articles on the topic of food, drug, and/or device law as well as health law. Check out the rules here:

http://www.mnbar.org/members/committees-sections/msba-sections/food-drug-device-law-section/writing-competition#.VrqI-PkrKUk

http://www.mnbar.org/members/committees-sections/msba-sections/health-law-section/writing-competition#.Vrto1vkrKUk

Pioneer Public Television PBS Kids Go! Writers Contest—deadline April 15, 2016

Got a kindergarten through third-grader who’s a blossoming writer and illustrator? Have them enter the Pioneer Public Television PBS Kids Go! Contest. Stories can be fact or fiction, prose, or poetry but must include five original illustrations to go along with the story. No fees to enter and no purchase necessary.

http://www.prairiepublic.org/events/pbs-kids-go-writers-contest-3

18th Annual Geek Partnership Society Writing Contest – deadline May 15, 2016

Located in Minneapolis, the Geek Partnership Society (GPS)is a “society celebrating imagination, inspiring creativity, and building our community through service and education.” Multiple divisions will be judged, including open, poetry, youth, and graphic novel. The open category selects an additional winner for the Scott Imes (an honorary member of the Minnesota science fiction writing and reading community who passed away in 2001) Award. No entry fees.

http://www.geekpartnership.org/programs/writing-contest/

Minnesota Genealogical Society Family History Writing Contest

No word yet on this annual writing contest aimed at family history writers, but check the website for updates. Past contest deadlines have been during the summer, but spring is a great time to get started writing. Take a look at Julie’s Genealogy and History Hub for past notices:

http://genealogy.julietarr.com/blog/entries-are-being-accepted-for-minnesota-genealogical-society-2015-family-history-writing-competition/

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sunset beach joyLife is full of joy, sadness, laughter, hardship, surprises—and stories. Why not share your life story in one of these new writing contests? Deadlines are coming soon, so get your creativity flowing and your fingers typing. Your effort may pay off in publication and cash. And what a great way to end the summer and welcome in the fall. Check these out:

Real Simple Magazine – Life Lessons Essay Contest. Did one decision change your life? If so, Real Simple Magazine’s Eighth Annual Life Lessons Essay Contest might be just for you. There is no entry fee for this contest, and essays should be no longer than 1,500 words. First, second, and third prizes of $3,000, $750, and $500 are available, along with publication for winners. Deadline to enter is August 21, 2015. See guidelines for more information.

Silver Linings Story Contest – Good Housekeeping. Here’s your chance to tell about a time when your life took a wrong turn but it all worked out in the end. Good Housekeeping Magazine is sponsoring this summer writing contest that offers a $2,000 prize and publication for the lucky winner. Stories should be 1,500 to 2,500 words, and the deadline for entries is September 1, 2015. Click here for more information.

Stage of Life Vacation Contest. Are you in high school? A college student? On your own? Whatever your stage of life, you can enter this fun contest by writing about a specific memory from a vacation. There are no writer’s fees, and essays should be no longer than 500 words. Gift card prizes go to winners. Deadline is August 31, 2015. Stage of Life holds monthly contests, so check back next month for more opportunities to enter.

Fan Story – What’s Your Story Contest. “Everyone has a memoir. Not an autobiography.” Write a story about a piece of your life for this Fan Story contest, and get the chance to take away a $100 cash prize. Stories should be anywhere from 500 to 7,000 words and be submitted by September 28, 2015. Contest is free to enter, and all writers receive feedback on their entries. What’s there to lose?

Everyone has an interesting life story to tell. Take advantage of these four exciting contests, and get the chance to share yours.

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594px-Medieval_ghostHalloween is only 29 days away, but there’s still plenty of time to get into the spirit of this frightfully fun holiday. For writers, what better way to do this than to enter a spooky writing contest? Here are a few Halloween writing competitions worth a peek. They’re intriguing, they’ll inspire some creepy creativity this October, and they just might earn you a nice treat.  Check these out:

Every Writer Magazine’s Halloween Horror Contest. Perfect for the horror writer but also a good way to promote a literary magazine, book, or website, Every Writer’s Halloween Contest is open to the public, for stories under 1,000 words. The first place entry gets published in the magazine and on the website and receives three months of free ads (a $1,000 value). Deadline is October 20, 2014.

Writer’s Digest's Horror Story Contest. This contest falls under Writer’s Digest’s Popular Fiction Story Award Competitions. If you like writing longer stories, of up to 4,000 words, and have a knack for scaring readers, this might be the contest for you. A $2,500 grand prize, $500 first prize, and honorable mentions are all possibilities for contenders. Deadline is October 15, 2014. (Note: This contest has a $25 entry fee.)

Winona Public Library’s Haunted Halloween Writing Competition. Here’s a unique opportunity for Minnesota writers, 16 years and up. The Winona Public Library in Winona, Minnesota, is sponsoring a writing competition that will be voted on by the public. Stories must be 500 words or less and contain no vulgarity. A Target gift card and publication in The Winona Post go to the winner. Deadline: October 17, 2014.

FanStory's Horror Story Writing Contest. Need a little more time to get in the spooky mood? This contest from Fanstory.com doesn’t close until November 21, 2014. That gives you plenty of time to “put your readers on edge or terrorize them” with your horror story of 2,000 to 3,500 words. A cash prize will be awarded to the winner. Contests are free, but you must be a member of FanStory, which requires a minimal monthly fee.

Got a scary tale to tell? Get writing, and see how fruitful your frightfulness can be.

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Sharpened_pencil_next_to_sheet_paperIf you like to write short stories - and I mean really short stories - you might consider entering the Lake Regions Art Council's 2014 Six Word Short Story Contest. This is the Minnesota-based LRAC's second annual contest, and the rules are simple: write a short story using six words. You can use any punctuation you want with your six words. Just be creative, have fun, and keep it short! The grand prize winner will be award $500 plus publication and publicity. A second place winner is also announced.

For more information on this short story contest, check out the website at ShortWritingContest.com. Entry deadline is April 30, 2014. Cost is $10 for up to three stories.

For information on other short story contests in and around Minnesota, see last year's post, Spring 2013 Writing Contests for Minnesota Writers. Many of these same contests renewed this year; however, some deadlines have passed, so be sure to check dates.

Good luck to all contestants. And kudos for getting your writing out there!

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The long-awaited Cheerios New Author Contest for 2013 has just been announced. This is a contest for unpublished children's story writers. Stories should be original and written for kids between the ages of 2 and 8 and their parents. The grand prize winner receives $5,000 and a potential book deal with Simon & Schuster. The first two runners up receive $1,000 each. Grand prize and runner up stories also appear on www.spoonfulsofstories.com.

If you have an idea for a good children's story, now's the time to get started. The 2013 contest runs from May 1 to July 31. Get the rules here.

 

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Crosley Contest Banner

If you like contests and you're good at making up words, especially wacky words, you're in luck. I’ve been invited to share information about a fun new contest from the author of the Night Buddies adventure series for kids. Interested word crafters, young and old, can read more about it at the Stories for Children/Family Matters blog. Top Five Winners will receive prizes. Deadline: June 15, 2013.

Check out the contest flyer below:

http://web.mail.comcast.net/service/home/~/Crosley%20contest%20flyer.pdf?auth=co&loc=en_US&id=410040&part=2

Good luck!

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800px-LadysslipperOnce again, spring is right around the corner—and so are some important deadlines for 2013 writing contests in Minnesota. Whether you’re a fan of writing contests or not, there's plenty here to spark any writer's interest. This list is a bit more extensive than the one I posted last spring, and it mainly applies to Minnesota writers (although a few contests are open to writers everywhere). So get your creativity flowing and get browsing. Many of the following deadlines are fast approaching!

  1. Support the U—Essay Contest for College Affordability. This student-organized essay contest seeks essays highlighting college affordability and why the University of Minnesota is a good investment for Minnesota. U of M students are invited to submit appropriate essays of between 250 and 500 words. Multiple cash prizes are available, including $300 for the first place winner. Deadline: March 1, 2013.
  2. Rolfzen Memorial Writing Contest for Poetry and Short Fiction. Sponsored by the organization honoring Bob Dylan in his hometown of Hibbing, Minnesota, this international contest is open to poets and fiction writers for poems of no more than 1,000 words and stories under 4,000 words. Adult and student poets as well as adult fiction writers are eligible. Prizes include publication in Talkin' Blues journal. Deadline: March 3, 2013.
  3. Minnesota Journal Writing Contest—Citizens League. For this debut contest by the Citizens League of St. Paul, you can write an 800-word journal article answering the question: What common assumption in today's public policy world is completely unfounded, and why? Prize is publication in the spring edition of the Minnesota Journal. Deadline: March 4, 2013.
  4. Minnesota Emerging Writer’s Grant. Though not a writing contest, this grant is worth competing for. It provides financial and professional support to writers for their artistic endeavors. Sponsored by The Loft Literary Center in Minneapolis, the Emerging Writer's Grant may be awarded to several emerging Minnesota writers (non-K-12 students, who have published fewer than three books) in amounts up to $10,000. Deadline for applications: March 27, 2103.
  5. student writingMinnesota Historical Society Dear President Lincoln Student Writing Contest. All Minnesota students in grades 6-12 are invited to write a response to Lincoln's Gettysburg Address in 300 words or less. Winners receive a trip to the Pennsylvania Battlefield in July 2013, an iPad, and the opportunity to blog about the experience.
  6. Lake Superior Writers— 2013 Writing Contest. This is an open-theme writing contest in the areas of poetry (up to three poems), fiction (up to 500 words), and creative nonfiction (up to 1,500 words). Only members of the Lake Superior Writers group are eligible. Membership to the group is available for $35. First place winners receive $100, plus a $50 gift card. Deadline: April 1, 2013.
  7. Rochester Public Library’s 2013 Youth Writing Contest. Both poetry and short stories will be judged in this teen writing contest sponsored by the public library of  Rochester, Minnesota. Winners receive Barnes & Noble gift cards, publication, and an awards program in May. Deadline: April 14, 2013.
  8. Minnesota Christian Writers Guild—2013 Writing Contest. Members of the MCWG are eligible to enter this travel writing contest for cash prizes. Membership is available for $40 ($20 for students). Articles must be between 700 and 1,200 words. Deadline: April 15, 2013.
  9. Minnesota Medicine ‘s 10th Annual Medical Musings Writing Contest. Minnesota medical school students or Minnesota physicians can enter a piece of writing on any aspect of medical practice or the study of medicine. Submissions must be unpublished. Winners will be published in the July 2013 issue of Minnesota Medicine magazine. Deadline: May 3, 2013.
  10. Geek Partnership Society’s Annual Writing Contest. The GPS honors science fiction writing, fantasy, horror, supernatural, and alternate history fiction. For this writing contest, five contest divisions are available: open (which includes the premier Scott Imes Award), poetry, youth (two divisions), and graphic novel. The Scott Imes Award will go to a local contest entrant. All submissions must be unpublished and written by amateurs (nonprofessional writers). Prizes include gift cards and publication. Deadline: May 15, 2013.

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With spring just around the corner, why not try something new and refreshing: enter a writing contest. Spring writing contests abound this year, and the offerings cater to a variety of writers. If you’re wondering why you should enter a contest at all, there are a number of reasons. For one thing, it’ll give you a specific project with a specific deadline. Sounds scary? Not at all. In fact, entering a contest will get you inspired to use your creativity—and you’ll probably have a lot of fun in the process.

Not only that, contests are a great way to get feedback on your work, reaffirm your role as a writer, and give you exposure. Of course, winning a contest brings all kinds of additional perks, like money, publication, personal satisfaction, fans, even fame. So give a contest a try, and get your writing off to a fresh start this spring. Here are some worthwhile options:

  • Writers of the Future Contest. If you’ve never professionally published a novel, short novel, or more than three short stories and you write fantasy or sci-fi (but not for kids), this may be just the contest for you. Cash prizes are large, and the contest runs quarterly. If you miss the March 31 deadline, you can enter the next contest beginning April 1. No entry fee required.
  • Writer’s Weekly 24-hour Short Story Contest. Limited to 500 entrants, this contest begins at noon on April 28, 2012, and runs for 24 hours. The fee is $5 for a day (and night) of fun. (Note: You must be entered before the topic is posted.) Cash and/or other prizes are awarded to winners and honorable mentions.
  • Children’s Writer Contest – Middle Grade Mystery. Think you can come up with a 900-word or less mystery story for 9- to 12-year-olds? If so, you’ll want to check out this contest. The deadline for entries is April 30, 2012. Children’s Writer subscribers pay no entry fee; all others, $15. Cash prizes will be awarded for first through fifth places, with first place earning $500 plus publication.
  • The Writer Short Story Contest. For $10, you can submit your original, unpublished short story of up to 2,000 words. Although the competition will be fierce, the first-prize winner earns $1,000, publication, and a free online creative writing workshop.
  • Writer’s Digest Writing Competition. This is a writing contest in 10 categories, including memoir, feature article, poetry, and children’s fiction. Entry fee is $25 for the first manuscript, $15 for the first poem. First through tenth-place winners receive cash and other prizes. Early bird deadline is May 1, 2012.
  • Fan Story Contests. For some great feedback and a ranking, you can enter any number of writing contests at FanStory.com this spring—for free. Topics cover the gamut, and many contests offer cash prizes, including the acrostic poetry contest, nonfiction contest, and horror story contest. Deadlines vary.
  • Women on Writing (WOW) 2012 Spring Flash Fiction Contest. Any genre and any style of fiction is accepted, as long as the story is between 250 and 750 words. The contest runs till March 31, but the sooner you get your story in the better. Only the first 300 entries will be judged. Entry fee is $10.
  • The Cheerios New Author Contest. To enter this annual contest, you must submit a story for 3- to 8-year-olds and be a nonprofessional writer. Winners get their stories published inside Cheerios boxes, cash, and a possible book deal. The contest is usually announced in March. Check here for updates. For more information, read my interview with former Cheerios New Author winner Laurie Isop.

(Image by Karen Blaha)