Spark Takes a Winter Hiatus

What’s happening?

Spark is temporarily closing to new submissions from December 1, 2014 to January 31, 2015.

Why is this happening?

If you’ve been keeping up with our submission statistics at, you’ve seen the new chart we added. Even as the total number of submissions in our queue has grown, we’ve always had more Completed pieces than Active—all while including reader notes in our responses. Here’s what that chart looks like for all submission since September, 2012:

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New Artwork Category for Contest Seven

For the first time, we’re adding an artwork category to our contest! Your participation and feedback will help us decide whether to make this a permanent part of our contests. See the contest listing for full artwork guidelines and details.

Theme: “Monsters and Marvels”

Like darkness and light, Yin and Yang, monsters and marvels are two sides of the same coin. Each entry should include both a monster and a marvel—though “monster” and “marvel” may refer to same element of your entry. For a prose example, see the imaginative short story by Peter Medeiros, Silence Like a Falling Chandelier.

The theme for this contest invites open interpretation: are monsters physical manifestations of evil, or the internal demons that plague us all? Marvels: fantastic bestiary creatures, or symbols of the human spirit’s resilience?

Featured Artwork

This interpretation of our theme was provided by artist Tyler Lamph. Find more of his work at!

Artwork Judges

Up to twenty artwork finalists will be posted October 15 on, and the winner will be selected by popular vote.

Artwork Awards

Grand Prize

  • US$500.00
  • Publication as the cover art of an upcoming volume of Spark: A Creative Anthology
  • One-year print & digital subscription to Spark: A Creative Anthology

An Open Letter to Poets who entered Contest Five (“Fables”)

[Originally sent as an email message to Contest Five entrants on 16 June 2014.]

I know that great poetry is out there and being actively written—and that many of you are writing it.

Even so, we have been consistently challenged in attracting that great poetry to our writing contest. In two different events, we were unable to award prizes for poetry: in Contest Three, because there were too few entries in total, and in Contest Five because there were too few finalists after blind voting by a panel of judges. Both scenarios are described in the “Rules and Restrictions” before each contest starts, but this situation leaves everyone upset—me, poets, and judges—and is understandably seen by many as unfair.

To proactively address this, I am personally reaching out to poets like you to ask for help.

Our next writing contest has opened for entries. To ensure both fairness and transparency, if you are not entering the contest will you please consider volunteering as a staff judge instead?

The duties of the role are fairly simple:

  • Unlike the regular submission queue, detailed notes are not required. Simply vote Yes, Maybe, or No to indicate whether you feel the piece should be considered for the next round of more judging using our contest judging criteria.
  • Later rounds get more discussion and scrutiny as fewer pieces are passed on.
  • About the 3rd weekend of July, staff judges are invited to join the live online chat with the guest judges (Danielle Lazarin and DA Gray). These chats are scheduled to be convenient for the guests, wherever they are in the world, so the time for this contest’s discussion will likely be morning in the U.S.

Here’s what you’ll need to keep in mind:

  • Once you agree to be a staff judge, you can’t enter the contest.
  • Once you enter the contest, you can’t be a staff judge.

If you would be interested in and willing to participate in this way, please contact me directly at I can add up to seven more judges to our panel, and I’d be delighted to have your help.

If you have already entered the contest or are unable to participate as a judge, please consider helping by telling other poets about this opportunity. Contest entry is always free, and I believe that more participation will raise awareness of the great poetry being written and its importance in modern literature.

Thank you for your help,

Brian Lewis, Volunteer Editor-in-Chief
Spark: A Creative Anthology

Jobs at Spark: Marketing & Social Media Coordinator

The permanent link for this job listing is

Spark is seeking an enthusiastic individual to help us promote our anthology. This is an unpaid, volunteer position (as is Editor-in-Chief), but it may be listed on your resume/C.V. In many cases, this volunteer position also qualifies for college internship credit. Marketing experience or a current education focus in marketing is not required, but would be a big plus.


  • Post news and announcements to the Spark website ( approximately once every week or two (or as needed).
  • Post updates about our news and announcements more frequently to social media networks and regularly respond to comments on those sites.
  • Research relevant venues for promoting Spark and our contests, including (but not limited to) writers’ market directories, writing forums and workshops, blogs, sponsorships, and paid advertisement opportunities.
  • Monitor and review listings for Spark in writer’s market directories, reporting incorrect or outdated information to Spark‘s editor.


Ideally, we are looking for an individual or team with a demonstrated ability to use social networking to promote a cause, business, and/or events.

Skills we believe you should have in order to be effective include:

  • Familiarity with social networking sites. Be prepared to list those you use regularly, and give some concrete examples of how you would promote Spark on at least two of them.
  • The ability to perform self-guided online research seek out writing forums and marketing opportunities to get more exposure for Spark and promote upcoming contests.
  • The ability to interact with others online in a consistently professional manner.
  • Creativity in finding marketing opportunities, with an awareness of budget limitations. “Free” is great, but something really worthwhile that has an associated cost will be considered, in discussion with the Editor in Chief.
  • Depending on the number of applicants and their qualifications, one to three volunteers will be selected. Therefore, an ability to communicate and collaborate with others who have similar tasks delegated is essential.

A nice-to-have bonus skill is familiarity with HTML. This may come in handy for directly editing listings on some sites and advanced formatting of posts and announcements on

To Apply

To apply, send a cover letter and resume to In your cover letter:

  • Briefly describe your background and any marketing campaigns or opportunities you have participated in.
  • Explain your familiarity with various social networks and give concrete high-level examples of how you would promote Spark and interact with other network members on two of them.
  • Excluding and the source where you learned about this opportunity, list at least two sites or online sources where you can find mention of Spark.

Contest One Winners Announced!

This contest ran from January 1 to March 1, 2013. The winners, selected by a panel of six judges, are:


Grand Prize

Michelle Soudier – “Perspective”

Second Place

Mary Hedengren – “A Trans-Atlantic Occurrence”

Third Place

Deborah Miller-Collins – “Call, Talk, Lock”

Honorable Mention

(in no particular order)
Mike Donoghue – “Stuck in the Past”
Caroline Zarlengo Sposto – “Chivalry”
Jennifer Racek – “The Library At The Center Of The World”
Maude Larke – “The Tishbite”


Grand Prize

Kate Raynes – “Oh, how we lived and died there”

Second Place

Scott Skrabal – “The horse race for existence”

Third Place

Lisa Reeves – “Google Earth: Madison County”

Honorable Mention

(in no particular order)
Sarah Ernenwein – “Villanelle de Vive”
Candice Conner – “The Divine Spark of Wine Dancing”
Tom Vredenburg – “Predators”
Elinor Gale – “Star Bright?”

Follow-up Interview with Tina Pollick

Back in December, I joined Tina Pollick as a guest on her blog for a three-part interview series about Spark: A Creative Anthology. Today, Tina invited me back for a follow-up to that series. Read the whole interview on!

Tina Pollick: Where do you see Spark a year from now? In two years? In five years?

Brian Lewis: In a year, Spark: A Creative Anthology will have four volumes in print, and we’ll be working on the fifth. I’ll have proof to someone besides myself that my vision is realistic and truly beneficial to writers! I have already spent hundreds of hours and thousands of dollars believing in this project, and the payoff for me will be to have others truly believe in it, too. I expect that I will always be covering costs and contributing financially to make Spark work, but in a year I hope to be moving toward the possibility of breaking even. (read more…)

Tina Pollick: What have you learned about the publishing industry, and what have you learned about getting an anthology off the ground?

Brian Lewis: One of the most amazing things I’ve learned is that outside of the “Big Publishing Houses,” the writing and publishing industries are much more collaborative and much less competitive than I believed. I’ve had great and very supportive conversations with staff at Writer’s Digest and Poets & Writers Magazine, telephone chats with executives at The Office of Letters and Light (the organization that hosts NaNoWriMo each year), and friendly interactions with dozens of professional authors who turn out to just be normal, good people. I have received support, encouragement, and even cross-promotion from the staff of Shadow Road Quarterly and Unstuck, both of which are publications I mentioned in our last interview.  (read more…)

Read full interview at!

Announcing Contest One: “Spark”

See the contest page for full details or to learn how to enter!



Your writing prompt for this contest is the single word spark. Contest One awards prizes for poetry and prose.

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.

Poetry includes all styles, meters, and rhyme schemes, or may be free-form.


Volume II Mockup

Grand Prize

We will award one Grand Prize for poetry, and one for prose. Each of the two Grand Prize winners will receive:

Second Place

We will award one Second Place prize for poetry, and one for prose. Each of the two Second Place winners will receive:

  • US$100.00
  • One-year subscription to Duotrope
  • Lifetime Premium Membership at Scribophile

Third Place

We will award one Third Place prize for poetry, and one for prose. Each of the two Third Place winners will receive:

  • One-year subscription to Duotrope
  • One-year Premium Membership at Scribophile


This contest is not endorsed, sponsored by, or affiliated with Duotrope. This prize was selected by Spark as a tool we admire and feel would be useful to contest winners, as it has been to us.

The Lifetime and One-year Scribophile Premium Memberships were donated by Scribophile.