Contests

Current / Upcoming Contests

The entry period for Contest Eight: “Bridges” is now closed! Entries were accepted from December 15, 2014 to January 4, 2015. Winners will be announced February 6, 2015. We’ve kept the Artwork category for a second contest since you told us you liked it. See the full contest listing for details.

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Past Contests

Contest One: “Spark” ran from January 1 to March 1, 2013, and winners were announced April 2, 2013 to coincide with the launch of Spark: A Creative Anthology, Volume I. Guest Judges were Kerry Cohen and Kirkus MacGowan.

Contest Two: “Una Mujer” ran from May 2, 2013 to June 1, 2013, and winners were announced July 1, 2013. This contest featured Guest Judges James Bernard Frost and Mark Vanderpool and a diverse panel of staff judges.

Contest Three: “The Fantasy is Here; The Future is Now” ran from August 1, 2013 to September 1, 2013, and winners were announced October 1, 2013. Confirmed Guest Judges included Dave Wolverton (David Farland), E. Catherine Tobler, Chad Morris, Brad R. Torgersen, and Tess Grantham.

Contest Four: “Winter” ran from November 1, 2013 to December 1, 2013, and winners were announced January 2, 2014. Guest judges were Margaret Blair YoungKen Liu, and Bryan Thomas Schmidt.

Contest Five: “Fables” ran from March 15, 2014 through April 1, 2014, with guest judges Helena Bell and Brittani Sonnenberg.

Contest Six: “You Are Here” ran from June 15 to July 1, 2014. Winners were announced August 1, 2014. Guest Judges were Danielle Lazarin and D.A. Gray.

Contest Seven: “Monsters and Marvels” ran from September 15 to October 1, 2014. Winners were announced November 3, 2014. Guest judges were E. Lily Yu and Lisa Mangum.

All Contests

Awards

Grand Prize

  • US$500.00
  • Publication in the next volume of Spark: A Creative Anthology as the first (poem) or second (prose) piece in the collection
  • Lifetime Premium Membership at Scribophile, the online writing group for serious writers
  • One-year subscription to Duotrope
  • One-year print subscription to American Poetry Review or Poets & Writers magazine or The Writer magazine
  • One-year print & digital subscription to Spark: A Creative Anthology

Second Place

  • US$100.00
  • Lifetime Premium Membership at Scribophile
  • One-year digital subscription to American Poetry Review
  • One-year digital subscription to Spark: A Creative Anthology
  • One print copy of Spark: A Creative Anthology, any volume

Third Place

  • US$20.00
  • One-year Premium Membership at Scribophile
  • One-year digital subscription to Spark: A Creative Anthology
  • One-year digital subscription to American Poetry Review

Fees

No fee is required for any contest. You have an opportunity to make an optional donation when your entry is submitted. Your tax-deductible contribution helps keep our contests free.

Spark’s production costs are covered and contributing writers are paid in part through sales of the anthology and in part by generous donations from people like you. Funds for all remaining expenses are donated by Brian & Amy Lewis.

Guidelines

Each contest has a theme, but there are no genre restrictions for any contest.
Content guidelines are similar to our standard submission guidelines, including what we are not accepting.
Each contest awards prizes for poetry and prose according to our contest judging criteria.
Prose includes both fiction and creative nonfiction, but we have not divided the category further because we believe that well-written creative nonfiction should tell a story so well that the result is indistinguishable from fiction. Prose must be less than 12,000 words.
Poetry includes all styles, meters, and rhyme schemes, or may be free-form. Poetry must be less than 150 lines.

Rules & Restrictions

  • Publication Rights remain with the author or poet. Grand Prize winners are not obligated to publish their winning entry in Spark, but if our publication offer is accepted, the cash portion of the prize serves as the purchase payment for First Publication rights as outlined on our Rights & Rates page. All other entrants retain full rights to submit and publish their entries as they wish.
  • Prose limits: We are looking for excellent writing and storytelling, not length. A compelling and well-written “flash fiction” piece has equal chance against a novelette. Prose must be less than 12,000 words.
  • Poetry limits: We are looking for evocative imagery that paints a small story in a poem. A haiku or tanka has equal chance against a sonnet or epic. Poetry must be less than 150 lines.
  • Only previously unpublished works will be considered.
  • You may enter a previously-written piece if you feel that it satisfies the prompt for this contest, so long as it has not been published.
  • There are no age restrictions for this contest other than legal restrictions imposed by your local jurisdiction.
  • In the event that a winner is ineligible for the Scribophile prize because of age or chooses to decline the membership, a three-year print and eBook subscription to Spark: A Creative Anthology will be substituted.
  • Spark: A Creative Anthology contest judges and their immediate families are not eligible.
  • Because this contest uses “blind judging”—that is, the author’s name is withheld from the judges until the contest is complete—please omit personal information (such as author name or contact details) from the manuscript.
  • Because this contest uses “blind judging,” authors and poets who have previously had work accepted for any volume of Spark: A Creative Anthology may enter this contest.
  • In the event that a Grand Prize winner is an author or poet whose work has been accepted for Spark: A Creative Anthology, Volume VII, we may choose to postpone or decline publication of either the previously-accepted work or the winning contest entry.
  • You may enter multiple pieces in this contest, and you may enter both poetry and prose, but each entrant can win at most one prize, no matter how many entries are made.
  • Judges will be unable to provide feedback on specific pieces.
  • Spark: A Creative Anthology reserves the right to post “No Award” for either category in the event that fewer than 30 total entries are received or fewer than three qualified entries can be selected for the final round of judging. This has happened before: in Contest Three (too few total entries) and Contest Five (too few finalists).

About the Awards

Scribophile is the largest online writing workshop and discussion group, boasting over 202,000 peer critiques written by community members ranging from amateur writers to professional authors and editors. Learn more at Scribophile.com.

Duotrope is a subscription-based service for writers that offers an extensive, searchable database of current fiction, poetry, and non-fiction markets, a calendar of upcoming deadlines, submissions trackers, and useful statistics compiled from the millions of data points they’ve gathered on the publishers they list, including Spark.

Cash Prizes are made possible by generous supporters like you. Sign up as a sponsor today and join these contest patrons:

  • Brian & Amy Lewis
  • Alex Cabal
  • Richard S. Rose
  • Loren Block
  • Connemara Morgan

Notes & Disclosures

The Lifetime and one-year Scribophile Premium Memberships were donated by Scribophile, the online writing group for serious writers. Learn more at Scribophile.com.
The one-year Duotrope subscriptions were purchased at a discount by Brian Lewis.
Spark: A Creative Anthology is administered and published by the Empire & Great Jones Creative Arts Foundation, a registered 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation.

14 thoughts on “Contests

  1. Pingback: Spark:Poetry and Prose Writing Contest | Authors' Contests & Competitions

  2. Hello: I saved a boy’s life this past summer and wrote my account of what transpired. Would this short piece of creative non-fiction work for the Monsters and Marvels contest? Please let me know. Thank you. Ronnie Power

    • Hi, Ronnie! The entry period for the Monsters and Marvels contest has closed, but you’re welcome to submit to our regular queue or wait for the next contest.

    • Later today. Sorry it’s late! Results and notifications for Contest Seven are just now being finalized, so I needed to get that done first.

      • Oh it’s fine! I was just curious. Caught wind of the last contest late and had about a day and a half to work on my story. At least now I’ll be able to work on it longer.

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