Contest One ran from January 1 to March 1, 2013. Check out our full list of quarterly contests for past winners and current or upcoming themes!
The winners, selected by a panel of six judges, are:
Michelle Soudier – “Perspective”
Mary Hedengren – “A Trans-Atlantic Occurrence”
Deborah Miller-Collins – “Call, Talk, Lock”
(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”
Kate Raynes – “Oh, how we lived and died there”
Scott Skrabal – “The horse race for existence”
Lisa Reeves – “Google Earth: Madison County”
(in no particular order)
Kaye Spivey – “Villanelle de Vive”
Candice Conner – “The Divine Spark of Wine Dancing”
Tom Vredenburg – “Predators”
Elinor Gale – “Star Bright?”
We will award one Grand Prize for poetry, and one for prose. Each of the two Grand Prize winners will receive:
We will award one Second Place prize for poetry, and one for prose. Each of the two Second Place winners will receive:
We will award one Third Place prize for poetry, and one for prose. Each of the two Third Place winners will receive:
A fee of US$10 must accompany each entry.
Your writing prompt for this contest is the single word spark. The word is not required to appear within the text of your contest entry, but you will need to include a 90-word-or-less description on the entry form explaining how the word spark inspired or influenced your work. There are no age or genre restrictions for this contest, and content guidelines are similar to our standard submission guidelines, including what we are not accepting.
Contest One 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
- Prose must be less than 12,000 words. This is a limit, not a challenge; we are looking for excellent writing and storytelling, not length. A compelling and well-written “flash fiction” piece has equal chance against a novelette.
- Poetry must be less than 150 lines. This is a limit, not a challenge; 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.
- 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.
- There are no age limits for this contest other than legal restrictions imposed by your local jurisdiction. In the event that a younger winner is ineligible for any non-cash prize because of age, an equivalent cash prize will be substituted.
- Spark: A Creative Anthology staff, contest judges, and their immediate families are not eligible.
- Authors and poets whose work has already been accepted for publication in Spark: A Creative Anthology, Volumes I or II are not eligible.
- 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 were made.
- Contest entry fees are non-refundable.
- All proceeds after prizes are awarded will be applied toward publication costs of Spark: A Creative Anthology at the sole discretion of Empire & Great Jones Creative Arts Foundation, a registered non-profit corporation.
- Because this contest is judged blindly—that is, the author’s name is withheld from the judges—please omit personal information from the manuscript. Your name and contact information will be attached to the entry form.
- Judges will be unable to provide feedback on specific pieces.
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. However, we were able to purchase these subscriptions at a discount.
The one-year subscription to Poets & Writers Magazine was donated by Poets & Writers.
The Lifetime and one-year Scribophile Premium Memberships were donated by Scribophile.
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Your guidelines suggest stories that are closer to 12,000 words, and poems that are closer to 150 lines, will receive stronger consideration than shorter pieces, regardless of relative merits.
If you have a suggestion for how we might revise the wording, we’d be happy to hear it. Our tongue-in-cheek note of “this is a limit, not a challenge” was meant to imply the opposite: we are not challenging you to reach for 12,000 words (or 150 lines), we are challenging you to enter an excellent piece, and the absolute maximum length we will consider is 12,000 words (or 150 lines).
Hello, I have a quick question. Do the winners receive a print or digital copy of the anthology, or do they have to purchase/receive as a donation thankyou regardless?
I think a complimentary print copy for the winners is reasonable. I will add that to the list above to make it official.
I have added the complimentary copies to the prize list above. Thanks for the suggestion!
Thanks for being so generous!
My muse and I will have to get to work. 🙂
A “spark” may just be what I’ve needed to move me to action! Thanks!
THANKS TO ALL OF YOU PERFORMING DIVINE DUTY TO SERVE AND SAVE THE DIGINITY OF THE WORDS———-AN UNIVERSAL UNIFORM..
Afterthought: OMG! I submitted my poem and no where did I leave my name. My poem is an orphan floating out there in the vast sea of cyberspace. Then I went back to the submission form and there on the header was a big WELCOME MARY BURKE MOCKLER. I felt just like I had entered a surprise party,
pleased and spooked. The big clue was the credit card but I am relieved. Now I like to know how to get a copy of your anthology–just in case I don’t win one.
Mary, thanks for your interest and the contest!
Check https://sparkanthology.org/faq/where-to-buy/ and watch for updates; we’ll have direct links to purchase Volume I as soon as it launches.
If the word ‘spark’ does appear in the piece, do you still need to include a 90-word-or-less description on the entry form explaining how the word ‘spark’ inspired or influenced your work?
Yes, please—but you can certainly say something like, “The word ‘spark’ appears in this piece, so I thought it was perfect for this contest.”
Thanks for your interest and for the great question!
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I was oh so happy with your 12,000 words so often I have to pare so much of my stories away to make them 1,500 or 2,000 that I ‘m not even happy sending them in for any contest because they have lost half their meaning.
I have a couple of questions for you today!
First, I noticed that in your guidelines, you state, “Your writing prompt for this contest is the single word spark. The word is not required to appear within the text of your contest entry, but you will need to include a 90-word-or-less description on the entry form explaining how the word spark inspired or influenced your work.”
Does that mean that if the word appears in our short story, we don’t need to write a 90-word-or-less description? I assume not, but I figured it better to ask than to assume.
Secondly, in your “Submission Guidelines” you categorize flash fiction as being 500-750 words. Does that mean you will not accept anything below 500 words?
Thanks in advance for your help!
Amanda, you’ll still need to put something in the submission form, but you could always get around it with something cheeky, like, “The word ‘spark’ appears in this piece, so I thought it was perfect for this contest.”
For word length restrictions: the most important thing, to us, is the presence of story: it’s what separates “flash fiction” from “vignette.” It’s very difficult to tell a full story in fewer than 500 words (apocryphal references to the famed “For sale, baby shoes, never worn” 6-word story notwithstanding). However, unlike the upper limit of 12,000 words, our reference to an “ideal length of 500 to 750 words” is more a suggestion; if you can tell a good story in fewer than 500 words, we’ll be doubly impressed: once for the good story, and once for your verbal economy.
Good luck, and thanks for your interest!
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Will the winners be announced here on this site tomorrow?
Yes, they sure will! The link to the page will be https://sparkanthology.org/contests/one/winners/, and the announcement will be made before 12:00 Noon U.S. Pacific Time.