Contest Four: “Winter” (Winners Announced!)

Contest Four: “Winter” ran from November 1, 2013 to December 1, 2013.



Grand Prize: Moneta Goldsmith for “Chicago Without Any Shoes On”
Second Place: Carolyn Martin for “Storm Advisory”
Third Place: Beatriz Fernandez for “Letter From Lara, Yuriatin, 1920”

Honorable Mention (in no particular order)

Kaz Sussman for “If This Poem Were a Book”
Dwight Gray for “Keeping Time”

Special Mention by Guest Judge

Ae-hee Lee for “Yuki”



Grand Prize: Richard Claycomb for “Kraken’s Pond”
Second Place: Katie Stephens for “Home”
Third Place: Ian Thibodeau for “To Walk Backwards”

Honorable Mention (in no particular order)

Ryu Ando for “A Taste of Ash & Mad Pomegranates”
(If we had a prize for “best title”, this piece would surely win it!)
Shweta Sundararajan for “Demons On A Winter Night”
Patricia McTiernan for “In Winter”


The theme for this contest is the single word “Winter.” There are no genre or style restrictions.

Guest Judges


No fee is required for this contest. You will have an opportunity to make an optional donation once your entry is submitted.

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.


We will award one prize at each level for poetry, and one for prose.

Grand Prize

  • US$500.00
  • Publication in Spark: A Creative Anthology, Volume V
  • 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
  • Complimentary print & digital copies of Spark: A Creative Anthology, Volumes I through IV

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
  • Lifetime Premium Membership at Scribophile
  • One-year digital subscription to American Poetry Review
  • Complimentary digital copies of Spark: A Creative Anthology, Volumes I through IV
  • Complimentary print copy of Spark: A Creative Anthology, Volume I

Third Place

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

  • US$20.00
  • One-year Premium Membership at Scribophile
  • Complimentary digital copy of Spark: A Creative Anthology Volumes I through IV
  • One-year digital subscription to American Poetry Review


Contest entries will be accepted until the stroke of midnight, U.S. Pacific Time, on December 2, 2013. (In other words, make sure your entries are in before 11:59 pm on December 1).
There are no genre restrictions for this contest, and content guidelines are similar to our standard submission guidelines, including what we are not accepting.
Contest Three 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 to purchase 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 entries are blindly judged, 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 V, 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.
  • 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.
  • Because this contest is judged blindly—that is, the author’s name is withheld from the judges—please omit personal information (such as author name or contact details) from the manuscript.
  • Judges will be unable to provide feedback on specific pieces.

About the Guest Judges

Ken Liu’s fiction has appeared in F&SF, Asimov’s, Analog, Strange Horizons, Lightspeed, and Clarkesworld, among other places. He has won a Nebula, two Hugos, a World Fantasy Award, and a Science Fiction & Fantasy Translation Award, and been nominated for the Sturgeon and the Locus Awards. He lives near Boston with his family.

Liu’s short story The Paper Menagerie is the first work of fiction, of any length, to have swept the Nebula, Hugo, and World Fantasy Awards. His short story, Mono no aware won the 2013 Hugo Award, and his novella The Man Who Ended History: A Documentary was also nominated for a Hugo. (From Wikipedia.)

Bryan Thomas Schmidt is an author and editor of adult and children’s speculative fiction. His debut novel, The Worker Prince, received Honorable Mention on Barnes & Noble Book Club’s Year’s Best Science Fiction Releases for 2011 and was soon followed by additional novels and children’s books. His short stories have appeared in Digital Dragon Magazine, Space Battles: Full Throttle Space Tales 6, and many other magazines and anthologies. As editor, he has worked with many established authors and edited [multiple anthologies], including the forthcoming Raygun Chronicles, expected this month.

Schmidt hosts the weekly #sffwrtcht (Science Fiction and Fantasy Writer’s Chat) Wednesdays at 9 pm ET on Twitter.

Margaret Blair Young has taught literature and creative writing at Brigham Young University since 1984. She has written several novels and short story collections and has won awards including “Best In State” award in the fiction category from the State of Utah, Honorable Mention in the Katherine Anne Porter Short Fiction Contest, and the First Place Utah Arts Council Award for best collected fiction. Her current endeavor is a film to be shot in Zambia called Heart of Africa.

Young is the president of the Association for Mormon Letters.

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

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 were donated by Brian & Amy Lewis.
The Lifetime and one-year Scribophile Premium Memberships were donated by Scribophile, the online writing group for serious writers. Learn more at
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.

23 thoughts on “Contest Four: “Winter” (Winners Announced!)

  1. Question – when you say the cash portion of the prize serves to purchase First Publication Rights, do you mean to say that the author that wins (and decides to publish their piece in the anthology) does not get royalties (I understand the cash portions of the grand prizes are very nice, I was just asking for clarification)?

    • Thanks for the question, Philip. Let me make sure I understand correctly: I think you’re asking whether the cash award completely takes the place of any other payments or royalties if the winner decides to go ahead and publish with Spark. Is that right?

      If so, the answer is “Yes.”

      There is no additional payment or royalty offered above or beyond the cash award of the Grand Prize package. On the other hand, for entries at or under 10,000 words, $500 is the professional rate or better for short stories; if you win with a 3,000-word story, that’s more than three times the minimum pro rate of 5¢ per word!

      Of course, even if the author or poet decides not to publish with Spark, we’d be very disappointed, but the cash prize is still hers or his to keep.

  2. Oh, yeah – I know it is totally a better deal than normal payment for the word count – I just wanted to be 100% sure on the terms 🙂

    Thank-you for the clarity (My entry shall be coming your way shortly)!

  3. Pingback: Contest Four: “Winter” | jennasands2

  4. Pingback: SPARK 4 | jennasands2

  5. I too have a question. Do the winners of second and third place get to have their story published in Volume V as well? I am only seeing that the first place winner gets to have their story published.
    Thank you.

    • Thanks for your interest, Savannah! The second and third place winners are not automatically offered publication, but they are always invited to submit to our regular queue for consideration. And as it happens, we have indeed picked up past second- and third-place winners for publication.

  6. I just entered the contest and I am feeling rather confused. You say that it will be judged blindly so to not include name or contact information on the manuscript… but there was no other place to enter these items. How do you know who wrote what? I’d like to get credit for my work if I am chosen. Thank you for your help!


    • Great question! If you weren’t prompted to enter your name or anything, it means you already have a Submittable account and were signed in when you posted your entry. Your name, address, and email are already associated with your Submittable account, and that’s how we’ll know which entry belongs to which writer when we “take the blinders off” at the end.

    • Ramona, there are no residency restrictions, and the only requirement for the cash reward is you must be able to receive funds drawn from our U.S. bank account.

      The easiest and most preferred award method is PayPal, because it’s immediate and takes care of currency conversion. A second option is an official cashier’s check, which most international banks treat as guaranteed funds, but this option takes longest because a paper cheque has to be sent from the U.S. to your country. Finally, the last and least preferred option is a wire transfer from our bank account to yours; that’s not only the most expensive option, but requires you to give out your bank account information.

  7. Pingback: Spark Anthology – Writing Contest Four | ashley capes

  8. Hello,
    I have a question. Is the announcement on January 2nd intended for everyone, including the winner, or will the winner be notified separately before January 2nd?
    Thank you.

    • The winner(s) will be notified up to a day in advance, but otherwise not significantly sooner than other participants. Thanks!

    • Rules and deadlines will be announced soon, and there will be some fun changes this time like longer lead time before the submissions window and later start and end dates. I want to make sure there’s plenty of time for people to get their very best work ready for the contest!

      This will be another “themed” contest where the genre is wide open but the theme adds an element of challenge. The theme and artist have already been chosen.

      Thanks for your interest!

  9. When I originally commented I appear to have clicked on the -Notify me when new comments are added- checkbox and from now on whenever a
    comment is added I recieve 4 emails with the exact same comment.
    Perhaps there is a means you are able to remove me from that service?
    Appreciate it!

  10. Pingback: Publications | Ryu Ando – 安堵 龍

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