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Contest Junkie? 2012 Family Circle Fiction Contest deadline nears

annual magazine short story fiction writing contests

William Sydney Porter (O. Henry)

Enter a contest and warm up for NaNoWriMo, too

Can you write a short story in less than twelve days? If so, you can enter this year’s Family Circle Magazine short fiction contest. Start today and get that story written, edited and mailed before or on September 7, 2012 to enter this year’s contest. You can do it. If you’ve participated in the 30-day November writing marathon called NaNoWriMo, then this is chump change for you.

Don’t think you can? Sure you can. Why not give it a try? It’s amazing what happens when you rev yourself up and shoot for what you think is a near-impossible goal. The rewards are many. At the very least you’ll be further along than you are today. Gear up. Put on your writing jacket, clean off your desk or table top, grab a pen and paper or open up a file and let that blood flow. (You know, that whole thing about opening up a vein and letting the words bleed red….)

Read on for more information on this year’s Family Circle fiction contest, past winners, past winning stories, the benefits of contest writing and more.

More benefits or why write for contests

Major magazine writing contests

Lisa Koosis & Taffy – Self-proclaimed contest junkie & Family Circle’s Fiction Contest 2009 grand prize winner

The benefits of contest writing range far beyond the obvious. For many writers, a drop-dead deadline is a huge motivating force that, when harnessed, helps them complete short stories, novels, and essays. Some writers like the carrot dangling in front of them and will write in pursuit of the prize, the win, and the glory–or even the byline, the check, and the publication credit.

The opportunity to get work in front of editorial eyes is often too enticing and too important to dismiss. Others enjoy the sudden discipline and framework, as well as the accompanying bust of energy, offered by a contest, particularly if they have writer friends striving toward the same goal. Whatever the impulse, the result is usually that progress has been made and that’s a good thing.

What about this major magazine contest?

Magazine short story writing contestMajor magazines including Glamour, Goodhousekeeping, and, of course, Family Circle have a history of putting on short fiction or nonfiction contests and offering great prize packages that often include a potential publishing credit. This year, Family Circle’s short story contest not only offers a chance at having them publish your work, but you might receive a rather healthy grand prize valued at approximately $1,500.00. Not bad. I’ve offered a quick overview below but make sure you read the entire page of contest rules before you send off your submission.

Family Circle is seeking short stories up to 2,500 words. Does that mean you have to write a 2,500 word story? Nope. You can submit flash fiction, stories with a wordcount of 1,000 words or less, or you can submit the longer short form up to 2,500. You just need to stop at 2,500 and not go over the wordcount limit. Contest judges are quite sensitive to wordcount issues and you risk being disqualified if you submit anything over 2,500 words.

Ways to prepare for the contest

Family Circle publishes an announcement page of the winners of each year’s fiction contest with links to the published stories. Currently there are nine stories available for you to read and study. In addition, I’d recommend that you pick up a copy of the magazine and read through an issue, or even two, so you can get a feel for the readership.

In addition, the same winner’s page has comments made by the judges about winning entries and comments from the writers about their stories. I’d read those, too. If you’re planning to write a story specifically for the contest, this is a good way to feed info into your creative stream. On the other hand, reading through the material may help you select the perfect story among many you’ve written for submission.

The devil’s in the details — contest details

I can’t stress enough the importance of reading through the complete official contest rules, but here’s the nitty gritty details of this contest.

  • Contest entry deadline: September 7, 2012.
  • Entries must be unpublished.
  • Entries must be postmarked on or before September 7, 2012, and received by September 14, 2012.
  • Entries will not be acknowledged or returned.
  • Limit 2 entries per person

How to submit a short story to Family Circle’s fiction contest

  • Submit an original (written by entrant), fiction short story of no more than 2,500 words, typed, double-spaced and page numbered on 8-1/2x11paper.
  • Entries must be unpublished and may not have won any prize or award.
  • Include your name, address, daytime telephone number and e-mail address (optional) on each page
  • Send manuscript entry to:

Family Circle Fiction Contest,
c/o Family Circle Magazine,
805 Third Avenue, 22nd Floor
New York, NY 10022.

The 2012 Family Circle Fiction Contest prize packages

 The Grand Prize winner’s story may, in the sole discretion of Sponsor, be published in a future issue of Family Circle magazine. Runner up stories may, in the sole discretion of Sponsor, appear on the Family Circle website, currently located at Publication of winning entries is not guaranteed, and has no retail value. — 2012 Family Circle Magazine Short Story Contest Rules

In addition to the possibility of publication in a major magazine, Family Circle is also offering the following prize packages.

  • Grand Prize Winner – 1st Prize Package has a retail value at $1,514.00
    • $750.00 check
    • A gift certificate of one (1) course of his or her choice (value $610.00)
    • one (1) year AvantGuild membership ($55.00)
    • one (1) year How to Video membership ($99.00)
  • 2nd Prize Package has a retail value of $404.00
    • $250.00 check
    • one (1) year AvantGuild membership valued at $55.00, and a
    • one (1) year How-to Video membership valued at $99.00.
  • 3rd Prize Package has a value of $305.00
    • $250.00 check
    •  one (1) year AvantGuild membership valued at $55.00.

Here are the official contest rules. Again, make sure you read them through before you enter.

Past Family Circle magazine short story contest winners

Diana Bletter – 2011 Family Circle Fiction grand prize winner

Last year’s winners of the Family Circle magazine short story contest are available online for you to read, along with comments about the contest and the winning entries by last year’s judges. Those judges were Kristin Hannah, best-selling author of 20 novels, including Home Front (St. Martin’s Press), Jennifer Enderlin, Vice President and Associate Publisher, St. Martin’s Press, Linda Fears, Family Circle Editor-in-Chief, and Darcy Jacobs, Family Circle Executive Editor. In fact, you’ll find contest results, information, commentary from judges, and winning stories for the last three years (2009, 2010, 2011), as well as direct links to last year’s winning short stories.

That’s it from me. The rest is up to you. Share your intentions in the comments below and let us know how you fared. Now, go write–fast!

Books for short story writers


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