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53rd Annual Ozark Creative Writing Contests


This year we are offering two submission options: Traditional Mail or Electronic Submission (Email with attachments).

Submit electronically and your name will be submitted into a contest to win free registration and banquet tickets for the 2020 OCW Conference!

Email your entries to: contests@ozarkcreativewriters.com. You will receive an automatic reply telling you this email address is for contests only and within 24-48 hours an email saying we received your entries.

Choose one method only, either Traditional Mail OR Electronic Submission!

Please do not combine methods when entering contests!


Showcase Awards 

For more information regarding rules and submission requirements, please visit the contest guidelines page here.

For a printable version of this page, click here.


1.) Showcase Award - 3 Prizes ($300/$100/$50)

  • Short story or essay.

  • Limit 2500 words.

  • Sponsor: Ozark Creative Writers Board of Directors


2.) Oxbow Award in Memory of Dusty & Pat Richards - 3 Prizes ($200/$100/$50)

  • Western short story.

  • Limit: 3000 words. 

  • Sponsor: OGHMA Creative Media


3.) Founding Member Award in Memory of Arkansas Poet Laureate Peggy Vining - 1 Prize ($150)

  • Poem about nature, any style.

  • Limit: 24 lines.

  • Sponsor: Ozark Creative Writers Board of Directors.


4.) Mike Willis Memorial Award - 1 Prize ($150)

  • Tell me a funny story about family life in America, past or present. It can be true, or it can be embellished just make me laugh!

  • Limit: 2000 words.

  • Sponsor: Chrissy Willis in memory of her late husband, Mike Willis


Grand Conference Awards


5.) Jim Richardson Memorial Award - 3 Prizes ($50/$30/$20)

  • Short story, any genre.

  • Limit: 3000 words. 

  • Sponsor: Delois McGrew, in memory of her son, Jim Richardson


6.) Search for Excellence Award - 3 Prizes ($50/$30/$20)

  • Nonfiction memoir or essay.

  • Limit: 2500 words.

  • Sponsor: Leon Combs


7.) Get Your Romance on Contest - 3 Prizes ($50/$30/$20)

  • Write a short romance where the protagonists are stranded alone in an elevator.

  • Limit: 1500-2000 words.

  • Sponsor: Ozarks Romance Authors, Springfield, MO


8.) Writing is a Blast! - 3 Prizes ($50/$30/$20)

  • Spark our interest. Thrill us with suspense. Light a fire and runaway with our imagination. Fiction.

  • Limit: 2000 words.

  • Sponsors: Jane & Mitch Hale (Hale Fireworks)


9.) War Stories - 3 Prizes ($50/$30/$20)

  • Write a short story about being in the trenches, as in: Examples: a military battleground, a relationship conflict, warring factions on an elementary school playground, a face-off between alley cats. Be creative. Dazzle with sharp, emotional writing.

  • Limit: 2000 words.

  • Sponsor: Micki Fuhrman


10.) She Did It - 3 Prizes ($50/$30/$20)

  • The story must have a female villain and must involve a crime.

  • Limit 750 – 1200 words.

  • Sponsor: Sleuths’ Ink


Conference Awards


11.) Sisterhood Story Challenge - 3 Prizes ($25/$15/$10)

  • Write a story, any genre, including all five of the following words: penguin, Volkswagen, jalapeno, walnut, & brassiere.

  • Limit: 1000 words.

  • Sponsor: Sisterhood of the Traveling Pen


12.) Garage Sale Tale - 3 Prizes ($25/$15/$10)

  • Write a creative short story where a fictional character has an unexpected encounter or makes an exciting discovery at a garage sale. Edit and proof read carefully. Include your word count on the first page of the manuscript. Short stories only, no essays.

  • Limit: 500 words.

  • Sponsor: Coffee and Critique Writers of O’Fallon, Missouri


13.) Hightower Award - 3 Prizes ($25/$15/$10)

  • Write a romantic short story with a hint of suspense, suitable for the Hallmark Channel.

  • Limit: 3000 words.

  • Sponsor: Chrissy Willis in memory or her mother Clarice Hightower


14.) Give Us the Best of Friends - 3 Prizes ($25/$15/$10)

  • Short story, any genre, about best friends. Must include the words Arkansas and Tennessee.

  • Limit: 1500 words.

  • Sponsors: Joni Cogbill & Betsy Gray


15.) It Was a Dark and Stormy Night - 3 Prizes ($25/$15/$10)

  • Short story words of your best melodramatic prose using the opening sentence It was a dark and stormy night. For once a reward will come for clichéd overwriting.

  • Limit: 500-1000 words.

  • Sponsor: Lonnie Whitaker


16.) Paint to Pen - 3 Prizes ($25/$15/$10)

  • Choose a famous painting of a human subject and write what you imagine they may be thinking. Title your entry and include the title of the painting as your sub-title.

  • Limit: 150 words. (Titles do not count in the word limit.

  • Sponsor: Marcia Gaye


17.) Middle Grade Fiction for Boys Ages 9-12 - 3 Prizes ($25/$15/$10)

  • Fiction.

  • Limit: 1500-2500 words.

  • Sponsor: Reneé LaViness


18.) Flash Fiction - 3 Prizes ($25/$15/$10)

  • Must have beginning, middle, end.

  • Limit: 99 words.

  • Sponsor: David Kirkland


19.) Inspirational Essay - 3 Prizes ($25/$15/$10)

  • Inspirational essay.

  • Limit: 500 words.

  • Sponsor: Clouse Literary Arts and Theater


20.) Space Journey - 3 Prizes ($25/$15/$10)

  • Science fiction genre in the style of 50’s Sci-Fi movies.

  • Limit: 2000 words.

  • Sponsor: Tahlequah Writers


21.) Traditions Contest - 3 Prizes ($25/$15/$10)

  • Creative non-fiction essay on your favorite family traditions.

  • Limit: 300 words.

  • Sponsor: Linda Apple


22.) Travel Article - 3 Prizes ($25/$15/$10)

  • Write it as if you were sending it to a reputable magazine. No photos, please.

  • Limit: 1500 words.

  • Sponsor: Johnny D. Boggs


23.) My Favorite Day in Nature - 3 Prizes ($25/$15/$10)

  • Essay or short story. No hunting stories please.

  • Limit: 2000 words.

  • Sponsor: Linda Sartin in memory of her husband Gary


24.) Things That Go Bump In The Night! - 3 Prizes ($25/$15/$10)

  • Night! - Paranormal Short Story

  • Limit: 3000 words.

  • Sponsor: Ruth Weeks


25.) The House That Writing Built - 3 Prizes ($25/$15/$10)

  • We’re looking for stories themed around a room of the house or the yard/garden. The story does not have to be set in the selected room per se but must touch on or mention the room. Creativity and originality are important to the judges.

  • Limit: 2019 words.

  • Sponsor: Saturday Writers of St. Charles, Missouri


26.) In Memory of Sherrie Akers - 3 Prizes ($25/$15/$10)

  • Short story about Bigfoot

  • Limit: 2000 words

  • Sponsor: Midsouth Writers Group Cassville, Missouri