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2023 Writers Contests

$$ Win Cash Prizes $$


The Hal Bernard Memorial Award for Novel (sponsored by Buzz Bernard)

The first 10 pages (double-spaced); 1-page synopsis 1-paragraph “elevator pitch:” Any genre, literary or mainstream.

The Vega Award for Speculative Short Fiction (sponsored by Sandra Giles)

Complete manuscript not over 4,000 words’; Short fiction in any of the fantastical genres: science fiction, fantasy, horror, weird, magical, supernatural, superhero, utopian or dystopian, apocalyptic or post-apocalyptic, alternate history. Short story or flash; Stand-alone novel chapters also accepted.

The Humor Award (sponsored by Cappy Hall Rearick)

Complete manuscript not over 1,000 HILARIOUS words. Any subject suitable for all ages.

Microcosm Award (sponsored by Charlotte Babb)

Fiction, any genre, no poetry, slice of life, or vignette. A complete story with beginning, middle and end: a complete story which is character driven and has a resolution. Less than 1000 words: up to 999 words, not counting the title. 

The Lowcountry Award for Excellence in Southern Writing (sponsored by Dana Ridenour)
Award for best complete manuscript limited to 2,500 words set in the American South. Author may live anywhere however the story must be set in the American South. 

Young Reader Fiction (sponsored by Eye on the Page, LLC- Jim Furry)
2000- word work of fiction; about a coming-of-age story where the protagonist is between 10 and 16 years old -1.) A key component to the story must include "Grandfather's Watch" and 2) the location must be in a low-income project in Newark, NJ. 

Crime/Police Procedural (sponsored by Lynn Hesse)

12 font. Double space. Do not use tab indentions—use the paragraph formatting option to set paragraph indentions. File name should include Crime Novel Contest SWA, your title. Submit the first 30 pages or the first 3 chapters of their crime novels. A one-page synopsis recommended. 

RomComHenLit Award (Sponsored by Muriel Pritchett) Romantic comedy for older women

(protagonist 55+) First 10 pages (double-spaced) + one-page synopsis + elevator pitch.

Herbert Shippey Award for Excellence in Southern Poetry. (sponsored by Jeff Newberry)
A single poem of no fewer than ten lines and no more than 50 lines addressing the Southeast in some broad way, either through subject matter or through style or through homage. 

Lighthouse Writing Prompt Award (sponsored by Amy Wethington)  

The story can be fictional or (auto)biographical. It can be set in the past, present, or future. Entries can be of any genre for any age group [picture books – text only]. Entries can be flash fiction, self-contained story, or chapter of a larger work. Constraints: It must involve the following writing prompt: A Tough Choice. Entries should not exceed 6,000 words as counted by Word. Use Shunn format:

2023 SWA Contest Guidelines
Entry Instructions

Please read with CARE


  1. Conference attendees may submit to ALL contests, but MAY NOT submit same manuscript. Only ONE manuscript per contest attend at least one day of conference to qualify. (NO Exceptions) YOU MUST INDICATE A PAYPAL # OR A TRANSACTION # AS PROOF OF PAYMENT.

  2. Manuscripts will be accepted ONLY BY E-MAIL:

  3. Manuscript contest runs from January - MAY 1, 2024.

  4. Manuscript must be previously UNPUBLISHED. If your manuscript has been critiqued online, in a blog, or article directory website, it is considered PUBLISHED and not eligible.


  1. Manuscripts should have standard 1-inch margins all around, must be doubled- spaced and in 12-point Times New Roman font. IF SPONSOR INDICATES MORE THAN ONE ITEM FOR ENTRY – PUT ALL ITEMS IN ONE FILE. (NOVEL- CASE IN POINT) (only one file with all items required) The entire submission should be included in one attachment. For example: A book chapter and synopsis should be submitted in ONE FILE with NO contact information on any of the pages.

  2. Entry must be “blind.” NO CONTACT OR IDENTIFYING AUTHOR INFORMATION. Manuscript title and page number MUST appear in the header of each page.

  3. 3Manuscripts should be attached to E-MAIL as Microsoft Word files (doc or docx format).

How to Submit

  1. The SUBJECT LINE of the E-MAIL must include “Manuscript Title + Contest Award Name.” For example: “My Great Novel – The Hal Bernard Memorial Award for Novel.”

  2. Author’s name, address, telephone #, and payment received information must appear in the body of the E-MAIL. Your PayPal receipt of payment or the text from the E-MAIL you received from the Registrar is proof of registration.

  3. The manuscript title, word count, and contest award must be included in the body of the E-MAIL.

  4. Email manuscript contest entries to:

  • All submissions require a PayPal receipt (transaction ID)  or text copied from your Registrar's email for 2023 Conference registration.

  • Conference Registration covers ALL contests, but each contest requires a separate email submission.

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