2023 Short Story Award

Congratulations to our 2023 winners!

First Place: “First Thanksgiving” by Sally Milliken, Byfield, MA

Second Place: “On the Road to Bethlehem” by Janice Rodgers, Northampton, PA

Third Place: “The Holiday Parade Princess vs. the Big Chicken” by Pat Remick, Washington, DC

Our 2024 theme: Holiday Tales (US Thanksgiving through New Year’s Day)

We are seeking never-published (including online or blog posts) short stories of 2,000 words or fewer on the theme: Holiday Tales. We define holiday stories as those that involve any holiday from US Thanksgiving through New Year’s Day, or stories that reference those holidays. (There are many such holidays, so let your imagination fly.) While our theme is broadly interpreted, the holiday must be an important element in the story, not just referred to in passing. (DIE HARD would not be accepted!)

Winners will receive:

First Place:
$250 and publication in our upcoming anthology: Season’s Readings: More Sweet, Funny, and Strange Holiday Tales

Second Place:
$100 and publication in Bethlehem Writers Roundtable

Third Place:
$50 and publication in Bethlehem Writers Roundtable

See our submission rules below.


Barb Goffman
Barb Goffman

Barb Goffman is a short story author who has won the Agatha Award twice and the Macavity and Silver Falchion awards once. Additionally, in 2020 she won the Readers Award given out by Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine for her story “Dear Emily Etiquette.” She’s been nominated for major crime-writing short story awards 36 times, including 16 Agatha Award nominations (a category record) and multiple nominations for the Anthony, Derringer, and Macavity awards. 

Barb’s stories have appeared in many anthologies, as well as in her own collection back in 2013, Don’t Get Mad, Get Even, and in several magazines. These include EQMMAlfred Hitchcock’s Mystery MagazineBlack Cat Mystery Magazine, and Sherlock Holmes Mystery Magazine, which earlier this year published her story “Beauty and the Beyotch.”  

When not writing, Barb makes her living as a freelance editor. She focuses on traditional and cozy mysteries, providing developmental, line, and copy editing services, though she does also edit books in other crime subgenres. One of the books she edited took home the Agatha Award for Best First Novel and one was a finalist for the Agatha for Best Contemporary Novel. Short stories she edited have won the Ellery Queen Readers Award and the Derringer Award and have been nominated for the Agatha, Anthony, Macavity, and Shamus awards.  

Barb is also an associate editor of Black Cat Weekly magazine and a co-editor of the Chesapeake Crimes anthology series, every book of which has had at least one story that won or was nominated for a major award. In 2020, the anthology Crime Travel, which she edited, was nominated for the Anthony. She blogs at SleuthSayers.org, and in 2023, she’ll be toastmaster at Malice Domestic. You can learn more at barbgoffman.com.  

2023 Competition Rules

The First-place winner will receive a $250 cash award and publication of the winning story either in the Bethlehem Writers Group’s upcoming anthology of holiday stories tentatively entitled: Season’s Readings: Sweet, Funny, and Strange Tales in the Holiday Spirit or as a featured story in Bethlehem Writers Roundtable.

Entry Requirements:

  • Stories must be submitted using the information below.
  • Entries must be no more than 2,000 words.
  • All entries must be previously unpublished, and adhere to our Terms and Conditions set out below.
  • We welcome excellent writing from diverse voices and experiences regardless of race, gender or gender identity, sexual orientation, nationality, ethnicity, religion, disability, or age (except that authors must be 18 years of age or older). In keeping with our standards of inclusivity, we reserve the right to refuse to publish work that might be harmful to any member of a marginalized group.
  • Submissions open at 12:01 a.m. ET on January 1, 2023, and must be received by 11:59 p.m. EDT, April 30, 2023.
  • Payments are requested within 24 hours of submissions. All payments must be received through PayPal no later than 11:59 p.m. EDT on May 1, 2023.

Entry Fee:

  • $15 per story. 


  • First prize: $250 and consideration for inclusion in the upcoming BWG anthology, tentatively titled Season’s Readings: More Sweet, Funny, and Strange Holiday Tales. If it is not accepted for publication in the print anthology, it will be featured in an upcoming edition of the Bethlehem Writers Roundtable. (While there is no guarantee of print publication, all previous contest winners have been accepted to be published in print.)
  • Second prize: $100 and publication in the Bethlehem Writers Roundtable.
  • Third prize: $50 and publication in the Bethlehem Writers Roundtable.
  • Honorable Mentions: Stories may be selected for Honorable Mention and offered publication in the Bethlehem Writers Roundtable. 


  • Initial blind judging will be done by members of the Bethlehem Writers Group, LLC. Finalists will be notified by June 15, 2023. 
  • Final selection of winners will be done by renowned short story author and editor Barb Goffman. 
  • Contest winners will be announced on the Bethlehem Writers Roundtable website and on the Bethlehem Writers Group website by July 1, 2023.

Our 2021-2022 winners’ stories are in our latest anthology: An Element of Mystery: Sweet, Funny, and Strange Tales of Intrigue.

Our 2019-2020 winners’ stories are in our anthology: Fur, Feathers, and Scales: Sweet, Funny, and Strange Animal Tales which won TWO 2021 Next Generation Indie Book Awards!

Our 2017 and 2018 winners’ stories are in our anthology: Untethered: Sweet, Funny, and Strange Tales of the Paranormal, which was a finalist for the 2019 Killer Nashville Silver Falchion Award.

Our first anthology, A Christmas Sampler: Sweet, Funny, and Strange Holiday Tales (2009), won two Next Generation Indie Book Awards: Best Anthology and Best Short Fiction. 

Our second anthology, Once Around the Sun: Sweet, Funny, and Strange Tales for All Seasons, came out in 2013, and was a Finalist for Best Anthology in the 2014 Next Generation Indie Book Awards. It contains stories from our 2012 and 2013 contest winners, David Chesney and Katherine Fast.

Our third anthology, A Readable Feast: Sweet, Funny, and Strange Tales for Every Taste (2015), was a Finalist in the 2016 Next Generation Indie Book Awards. It contains stories from our 2014 and 2015 contest winners, Tracy Falenwolfe and C. A. Rowland.

And, Once Upon a  Time: Sweet, Funny, and Strange Tales for All Ages, contains a story from our 2016 contest winner, Eleanor Ingbretson

Your story could be next!

Second-place and third-place winners will receive a cash award ($100 and $50, respectively) and publication in Bethlehem Writers Roundtable.

Terms and  Conditions:

1. Each story must include a holiday element, from Thanksgiving through New Year’s Day.

2. All submissions must be made during the contest open period.

3. Each story must be the original and unpublished work of the author. The use of artificial intelligence can lead to plagiarism for which the author will be held fully and solely responsible. Work is considered published if it has appeared in whole or in part anywhere in print, audio, video, or online, including on any blog, vlog, podcast, website, or social media.

4. Authors must be 18 years of age or older. Proof of eligibility will be required for all prize winners.

5. All entries must be in the English language.

6. Submissions are limited to 2,000 words or fewer. Submissions of over 2,000 words will be disqualified and entry fees will not be refunded. The title and author’s name do not count toward the word limit.

7. Each story must be emailed to the email address listed below.

8. Stories are judged anonymously. The author’s name must not appear anywhere on the manuscript(s). Please include your story’s title in the subject line of the submission form. Your name, full address (including street address, city, state or province, zip or postal code, and country), your phone, and email address must appear in the appropriate blocks on the submission form. You may include your preferred pronouns if you choose.

9. Multiple submissions by the same author are permitted, but each story must be submitted separately. There is a separate $15 fee required for each story.

10. All entries must be received by 11:59 p.m. (EDT) on April 30, 2023. Submissions received after the deadline will not be opened. We reserve the right to extend this deadline if an insufficient number of entries are received by the original deadline.

11. An entry fee of $15 is required for each entry. This fee is payable using the PayPal link below. Your name and email address must be included with your payment to ensure proper credit. You do not need a PayPal account to use PayPal for this purpose. Payment must be received by midnight (EDT) on May 1, 2023. Payments received after the deadline will be returned minus PayPal fees and the story will not be considered.

12. If we receive fewer PayPal payments than story submissions from the same author, we will apply the payment(s) received in the order the story or stories are received.

13. Simultaneous submissions are permitted, but immediate notification to Bethlehem Writers Roundtable is required if your work is accepted elsewhere for publication. Entry fees are not refundable.

14. Authors may submit a revised story from a previous contest so long as it fits the current contest theme. Please do not submit a story to more than two BWR Short Story Award competitions.

15. By entering this competition, the author agrees to abide by these Terms and Conditions. Any violation of these rules will result in disqualification.

16. Members of the Bethlehem Writers Group, the guest judge, and members of any of their immediate families (in the same household) are not eligible to enter. 

17. By submitting to the Short Story Award competition, you certify that the work is solely your own, original work, is unpublished in any electronic, print, audio, or video format, does not encroach on any trademark or copyright, and does not libel or defame any entity living or dead. You will indemnify and hold Bethlehem Writers Group, LLC, harmless from any claims, causes of action, damages, or judgments arising out of our publishing your submission.

18. Awards are as follows: FIRST PLACE AWARD: $250 USD and an offer of publication, solely at BWG’s discretion, either in BWG’s upcoming print anthology or in Bethlehem Writers Roundtable, the literary magazine of the Bethlehem Writers Group, LLC. SECOND PLACE AWARD: $100 USD and an offer of publication in Bethlehem Writers Roundtable. THIRD PLACE AWARD: $50 USD and an offer of publication in Bethlehem Writers Roundtable. HONORABLE MENTIONS (if any) will be listed on the Bethlehem Writers Roundtable website and may be offered publication in Bethlehem Writers Roundtable. 

19. Award winners, including Honorable Mentions, grant the Bethlehem Writers Group, LLC, first serial publication rights to the winning work. The copyright of the work remains the property of the author, who, one year (in the case of the first-place winner) or 90 days (in the case of stories published in Bethlehem Writers Roundtable) following publication of the work by the Bethlehem Writers Group, LLC, is free to publish the work elsewhere. Upon any subsequent publication, the author will ensure that work is accompanied by a statement indicating that the work was originally published by the Bethlehem Writers Roundtable or by the Bethlehem Writers Group, LLC, along with the date of such publication. If it was originally published in a print anthology, the name of the anthology will also appear in said statement.

20. Award winners will be notified at the email address provided with the entry. The winners must respond within ten (10) days to this notification and provide the proper certification of eligibility and/or sign the proffered contract to be eligible for publication within ten (10) days of the notification. Failure to respond to the email notification may cause the author to lose their place in the contest and the prize may be offered to the next highest scoring submission.

21. BWG reserves the right to cancel this contest if there are insufficient entries (in which case, entry fees minus PayPal fees will be refunded), or an insufficient number of entries deemed worthy of awarding a prize and/or publication (in which case, no refunds will be issued).

22. The decisions of the judges are final.

23. This offer is void where prohibited by law.

Information on our 2024 Short Story Award coming soon!

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