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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Basic guidelines: Submit original, unpublished works on the above topics to open, youth, poetry, and graphic novel (comics) divisions.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Topic: Unpublished sonnet written in Shakespearean, Spenserian, Petrarchan, or Non-traditional rhyme scheme.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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kids writingIf you're a young Minnesota writer looking for ways to cultivate your craft this summer, listen up. The Twin Cities has some great opportunities for blossoming student writers. Summer writing camps and workshops are an ideal way to learn because they’re laid back, pressure-free, and centered on fun. Besides that, they’re a productive use of your time and a chance to meet new friends. What have you got to lose?

Check out these six writing opportunities for youth living in the Twin Cities area. But don’t wait too long to enroll; many start soon and space is limited.

Minneapolis Young Writer’s Workshop. North Central University in downtown Minneapolis hosts this creative writing workshop for young writers aged 13-19. You’ll get one-on-one critiques, open-mic opportunities, and evening sessions with keynote speakers, including Jay Asher and Jonathan Friesen. The workshop runs June 14-16, 2016, and costs $300.

Writing Magic – The Art of Creative Writing. Targeted at grades 3 through 8, this four-day Edina Summer Computer Camp runs from June 7-10, 2016, and is an opportunity for students to explore different genres of writing and gain confidence in their skills. You’ll also learn about digital writing, including blogging and self-publishing. The fee is $135, and the camp is held at South View Middle School in Edina.

Hamline University’s Young Writer’s Workshop. This is a great opportunity for high school students to prepare for college and connect with other writers in the area, including the Hamline staff and published authors. Besides in-depth instruction, you’ll get to tour the literary Twin Cities. Cost for this workshop is $400 for four full days, from June 20-23, 2016.

Bethel University’s Journalism Mini-Camp. Have an interest in the media? This camp might be just the ticket. It’s a three-day minicamp for students in grades 9 through 12 who want to learn more about reporting and other forms of media work. You’ll also get to hear from top Twin Cities journalists. The camp runs July 22-24, 2016, and costs $75. Find the details here.

Intermedia Art’s Writing Circle for Teens. If you're a teen who loves to write and you’re looking for a peer group to learn and workshop with, this Intermedia Arts-sponsored program fits the bill. The Writing Circle for Teens meets every other week to share prompts, set goals, and get feedback. The best part is, it’s free! Check the website for times and dates.

The Loft Literary Center Summer Enrichment Classes. Minneapolis’s well-known literary center, The Loft, has an array of classes for youth ages 6-17 this summer. There's everything from writing fan fiction to fantasy to college essays. Dates and fees vary, although discounts apply for Loft members. Online classes are available too. You can see the full listing of summer youth programs here.

Know of any other summer writing camps or workshops for youth in Minnesota? Please share them below.

Happy summer writing!

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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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book-92771_640Fall is back-to-school time for many young people, but you don’t have to be young or a student to take a class. In fact, anyone can benefit from classes, no matter what the subject. That’s especially true for writers. Taking a class on art or health or business can give writers new knowledge on a topic they may have never before explored. And that new knowledge can lead to valuable expertise—and a new avenue for their writing. No matter where you live, there are plenty of places that offer classes—libraries, writing centers, universities, historical societies, and many other private and nonprofit organizations. Minnesota writers have a slew of opportunities available statewide. Here are a few worthy options to consider:

  1. University of Minnesota’s LearningLife Program. The Learning Life Program at the University of Minnesota’s Department of Continuing Education offers learning opportunities that include short classes, weekly seminars, and one-day immersions. Class subjects range from art and design to to science and the environment. There is usually a course fee, but prices are reasonable—from $15 to $160.
  2. Whole foods co-op classes.  Check with your local whole foods co-op for a listing of classes on a variety of health, cooking, and nutrition courses. These courses provide insight into healthy living and offer many hands-on opportunities for learning. Valley Natural Foods in Burnsville, for example, has a variety of courses for both members and nonmembers, from gardening classes to gluten-free eating. Class size is usually limited, so be sure to enroll early.
  3. Hennepin County Library courses. Any county library will likely have a range of classes for adults on many topics, but the Hennepin County Library has an extensive listing. Depending on which library within the Hennepin County Library system you choose, classes cover everything from art to languages to knitting. Most library classes are free and open to the public.
  4. Science Museum of Minnesota’s Computer Education Center. The Science Museum of Minnesota offers over 200 courses in 80+ computer-related subjects through its Computer Education Center. If you want to learn basic computer skills, how to be effective with social media, or something more specific or complex, like JavaScript or PhotoShop, check out this listing of learning possibilities.

Along with the changing leaves, fall is a great time to switch gears. Take a class, and learn something new. You may not become an expert on the subject with just one class, but you will gain valuable knowledge that you can apply to your writing. And who knows? It may open up a whole new chapter in your writing life.

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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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There’s a lot to love about the state of Minnesota, but if you’re a writer living here, there’s even more to appreciate—all the great writing-related organizations. Whether you’re looking for an editor, a place to meet and network with other writers, or a writing class, the six listed below offer invaluable help, resources, and support. Take a look:

  • Professional Editors Network (PEN). An organization for editors and others who work with words, PEN offers many benefits to its members, including monthly meetings, resources for writers and editors, and a place to network with other writing professionals. PEN’s website includes a directory of mostly local editors. Yearly dues: $35.
  • The MidTown Writers Meetup Group. For a fun, no pressure morning of writing, you can join the MidTown Writers Meetup Group Saturday mornings at A La Salsa restaurant in Minneapolis. The group is given a prompt to begin the writing session. No critiquing is done, but you have the option to share your writing with the group.
  • The Loft Literary Center. This well-known literary center in the Open Book building on Washington Avenue in Minneapolis offers writing classes, contests, conferences, resources, readings, and more. You do not need to become a member to use The Loft, but a membership contribution provides you with discounts to Loft events.

loft

  • MN Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators.The local chapter of the Society of Children’s Book Writer’s & Illustrators, the MN SCBWI is a great resource for those interested in networking with other children’s writers in the area. This group hosts “monthly mixers,” workshops, and conferences at various locations around the Twin Cities. Free with national SCBWI annual membership.
  • Midwest Fiction Writers. According to its website, the MFW is a “professional writing organization that includes approximately 100 published or aspiring writers. Under the broad umbrella of romance, our members write historical, contemporaries, time travels, suspense, erotic, women’s fiction – to name just a few.” The MFW meets every second Saturday at the Edina Community Center. Annual dues: $35.
  • Minnesota Center for Book Arts. A place for anyone interested in celebrating book arts, from papermaking to book binding to self-publishing techniques. The MCBA is located in the Open Book building, along with The Loft, and offers a variety of workshops, artists programs, and events. Membership includes discounts and invitations to MCBA-sponsored events. Individual membership: $40.

If you’ve joined or heard of any other Minnesota writing organizations that have helped you or inspired your writing life, please share them here!

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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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Duluth_Skyline_-cOne of the greatest things about living in Minnesota is the endless writing ideas the state has to offer. Now I don’t consider myself a travel writer by any means, but I do write about regional topics more often than not – and maybe even more than I realize.

You know that age-old advice, write what you know? Basically every writer who follows that advice writes about their region. And it isn’t necessarily in the form of nonfiction. In fact, writers often set their fictional stories in their town or region. Or, they create a character that comes from their geographic area or travels there. Sometimes, it’s as simple as using memories of growing up in a specific place and incorporating those memories of time and place into a story.

 

Here’s a bonus for writing about a region: one piece of writing often leads to another. For example, I wrote an article on the Chippewa Indians and how they brought wild rice, a classic Minnesota food item, to the region. That led to two more articles on wild rice, how to cook with it and its health benefits. Those articles made me think about other Minnesota history and native food topics.

So whenever I think I’ve run out of writing ideas, I think of my region. I can write the obvious travel pieces about the fabulous Minnesota lake vacation spots or the great golf getaways or the phenomenal bed-and-breakfasts. But those topics just skim the surface. Minnesota’s rich history and culture, interesting people, ever-changing climate, incredible shopping, and varied industries contain hundreds of ideas to research and write about.

Certainly Minnesota isn’t unique. Every region contains a wealth of ideas for writers. A visit (online or in person) to the local history center, the Chamber of Commerce, the public library, or the state tourism website will prove it. On the other hand, so will a simple journey down memory lane.

(Image: Duluth, Minnesota, by Derek Bakken)