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G&A: The Contest Blog

At a ceremony in London, the BBC announced the winner of the fourth annual National Short Story Award, a fifteen-thousand-pound prize (approximately $24,700) given for a single piece of short fiction by a U.K. writer. Kate Clanchy took the prize for "The Not-Dead and the Saved," which was selected from nearly seven hundred entries. Sara Maitland was honored as runner up, receiving three thousand pounds (approximately $4,900), for her story "Moss Witch."

The finalists were Naomi Alderman, winner of the 2006 Orange Award for New Writers, for "Other People's Gods"; Jane Rogers for "Hitting Trees With Sticks"; and Orange Prize winner Lionel Shriver for "Exchange Rates." All of the shortlisted stories were presented last week on BBC's Radio Four, where "the short story continues to hold its own," according to the BBC Web site. Podcasts of the readings are available on the site.

Novelist Dame Margaret Drabble, journalist Tom Sutcliffe, and singer Will Young were the judges.

For writers looking to submit to story competitions on this side of the pond, here's a rundown of this month's contests, all open for entries:
Crazyhorse
's Fiction Prize
Submit a story of up to 25 pages by December 15.

White Eagle Coffee Store Press's A. E. Coppard Prize
Submit a story of eight-thousand to fourteen-thousand words by December 15.

North Carolina Writers Network's Thomas Wolfe Fiction Prize
Submit a story of up to twelve pages by December 20.

Boulevard's Short Fiction Contest for Emerging Writers
Submit a story of any length by December 31.

Glimmer Train Press's Fiction Open
Submit a story of two-thousand to twenty-thousand words by December 31.

Ruth Hindman Foundation's H. E. Francis Short Story Competition
Submit a story of up to five thousand words by December 31.

In the video below, the Radio Four recording of Kate Clanchy's story is excerpted: 

Carpe Articulum, a seven-year-old literary review that "embraces all of the peripheral literary arts, including nonfiction, poetry, screenwriting, novellas, short fiction, scientific papers, interviews with accomplished writers, and even photography" has opened its contest for a novella. The winning work will be published in the magazine, and the writer will receive a prize of one thousand dollars.

Novellas of 26 to 150 pages are eligible for submission before January 7. A twenty-five dollar entry fee includes a three-month digital subscription to the journal.

Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni, a poet and fiction writer, will be the judge. According to her Web site, the author of the novel The Palace of Illusions (Anchor, 2009) and the short story collection Arranged Marriage (Anchor, 1996) often writes on "women, immigration, the South Asian experience, history, myth, magic and celebrating diversity." She teaches writing at the University of Houston.

In the video below, Divakaruni talks about the risks she took in writing her novel The Mistress of Spices (Anchor, 1997).

Three poets have been selected as recipients of the first Poetry Series awards from Mississippi Review. They are Martha Greenwald of Louisville, Kentucky; Liana Quill of Falls Church, Virginia; and Christopher Salerno of Raleigh, North Carolina, who each received one thousand dollars, publication of their winning works by Mississippi Review, and one hundred author copies.

Dara Wier judged the competition, choosing Greenwald's Other Prohibited Items, Quill's Fifty Poems, and Salerno's Minimum Heroic for publication. Salerno is the author of one previous book, Whirligig (Spuyten Duyvil Publishing House, 2006). The Poetry Series books, to be released in January, will be debut collections for both Greenwald and Quill.

The award finalists were Jeannine Hall Gailey for her manuscript "The Robot Scientist's Daughter," Ian Ganassi for "mean numbers," Jonathan Musgrove for "A Hand in Place of a Hand," Jason Schneiderman for "Striking Surface," Andrew Sofer for "Wave," Liz Waldner for "Homeseeker's Paradise," and Theodore Worozbyt for "Tuesday Marriage Death."

A poem by finalist Jason Schneiderman is brought to life in the video below. 

Writer's Digest has announced that it will now accept entries for its Short Short Story Contest until December 10. The competition is accepting fiction entries of no more than fifteen hundred words, which can be submitted online or via postal mail. The winner will receive three thousand dollars, and the second-place finalist fifteen hundred dollars, and both of their winning stories will be published in the 10th Annual Writer's Digest Short Short Story Competition Collection.

Last year's winner was Lee Hubbard for his story "We Sat in the Darkness," and Richard Cass received the second-place nod for "A Fisherman's Wife." J. A. Konrath, Debby Mayne, and Gina Ochsner were the judges.

The 2009 honorees will be announced in the May/June 2010 issue of Writer's Digest after winners are notified in February.

The Peter Norton Symphony Space in New York City has launched its annual Stella Kupferberg Memorial Short Story Prize for a 750-word piece, this year on the theme of "Apartments and Neighbors." Nathan Englander will choose the winning story, which will be read in the Selected Shorts series at Symphony Space, a program featuring stage and screen actors performing literary fiction. The winner will also receive one thousand dollars and tickets to the staged reading of his or her story on April 7, 2010.

All stories must be titled, and a twenty-five dollar entry fee should accompany each submission. The deadline is January 29, 2010 (the organization emphasizes that this is not a postmark deadline, but that entries must be received by this date). The contest is also open to online entries. Additional submission information is available on the Selected Shorts Web site.

The winner of the 2009 contest is Daniela Maristany for "Swimmers." Her winning story, read by actress Mary Stuart Masterson, aired in November on New York City's public radio station, WNYC—as well as a number of other National Public Radio stations across the country—as part of the station's partnership with Symphony Space, appearing alongside pieces by Amy Hempel and Edna O'Brien.

The Cervantes Prize, considered the most prestigious honor among Spanish-language writers, was awarded this year to José Emilio Pacheco of Mexico. The seventy-year-old poet, fiction writer, and essayist received 125,000 euros (approximately $188,000).

Pacheco's works translated into English include City of Memory and Other Poems (City Lights, 1997),  translated by Cynthia Steele and David Lauer; Battles in the Desert and Other Stories (New Directions, 1987), translated by Katherine Silver; and Don’t Ask Me How the Time Goes By: Poems 1964−1968 (Columbia University Press, 1978), translated by Alastair Reid. He has received a Guggenheim fellowship and numerous awards for Spanish-language literature including the Mexican Literature Prize.

The Cervantes Prize, established in 1976 and given annually by the Spanish Ministry of Culture, has generally been awarded in alternating years to Spanish and Latin American writers. Among the previous recipients are Octavio Paz, Jorge Luis Borges, and Mario Vargas Llosa. 

As part of this blog’s mission to offer you the perspectives of writers who have found success in entering writing contests, we recently caught up with Tricia Springstubb, a fiction writer from Ohio whose name has lately come up as a winner of contests that we list in our Grants & Awards pages. This year Springstubb won the Howard Frank Mosher Short Story Award from Hunger Mountain (she also earned an honorable mention in their young adult writing competition) and the Iowa Review Award in fiction. “It's only very recently that my literary fairy godmother has begun to ROCK,” Springstubb told us, adding that she just found out that her story is among the top twenty-five entries in Glimmer Train’s September Fiction Open. We asked her to share a bit about her experiences as a competition entrant and winner.

How many contests do you estimate you have entered? How many did you enter before winning your first award?
I've probably entered less than ten contests. The Iowa Review Award came on my third or fourth try. The other ones have followed in succession.

What do you look for in a contest?
I try to enter contests where the judge is someone I recognize and respect. I know too well how subjective and even arbitrary these prizes are, so I like the idea that if I should actually win something, a person whose judgment I value made the choice.

How do you select a piece to submit to a competition?
This sounds moronic, but I tend to write long short stories.  So I try to pick one that most closely fits the contest's guidelines, so I have to cut as little as possible.

Do you have an organizational strategy for tracking award deadlines, submissions, and honors received?

I have a folder full of paper with journals and dates scribbled and circled and crossed out. But I plan to initiate a coherent filing system within this lifetime. Just recently a writer friend made me aware of your Grants & Awards Database and I now have it bookmarked. What a useful tool and generous service!

What is the most rewarding aspect of receiving an award? What award has been of the most value to you?

The affirmation of winning an award fires me up. Also, it's nice to no longer have to leave the “awards” section blank when I apply for fellowships or grants. And of course being published and read is always the main thing.

I had a recent weak-in-the-knees experience when Ann Patchett, who judged the Iowa Review Award, read here in Cleveland. Afterwards I spoke with her and she remembered the story and talked about it with me.  It was cool to be a member of her club, even if only for an afternoon.

What piece of advice do you have for writers looking to contests as a way to get their work into the world?

Awards can earn you some traction, but I don't know that I'd recommend them over just plain old submitting. Fifteen minutes of fame! And then you're back to work.

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