The 2021 Short Story Award
is now open!
Our theme: An Element of Mystery (broadly interpreted)
Our 2021 Guest Judge is bestselling author Charlaine Harris
Charlaine Harris is a true daughter of the South. She was born in Mississippi and has lived in Tennessee, South Carolina, Arkansas, and Texas. After years of dabbling with poetry, plays, and essays, her career as a novelist began when her husband invited her to write full time. Her first book, Sweet and Deadly, appeared in 1981. When Charlaine’s career as a mystery writer began to falter, she decided to write a cross-genre book that would appeal to fans of mystery, science fiction, romance, and suspense. She could not have anticipated the huge surge of reader interest in the adventures of a barmaid in Louisiana, or the fact that Alan Ball would come knocking at her door. Since then, Charlaine’s novels have been adapted for several other television series, with two in development now. Charlaine is a voracious reader. She has one husband, three children, two grandchildren, and two rescue dogs. She leads a busy life. www.charlaineharris.com is her website.
Please use this form to submit your .doc or .docx file entry to the 2021 Short Story Award
We are seeking never-published short stories of 2,000 words or fewer for a chance to win:
$250 and publication in our upcoming anthology: An Element of Mystery: Sweet, Funny, and Strange Tales of Intrigue or in Bethlehem Writers Roundtable.
$100 and publication in An Element of Mystery or in Bethlehem Writers Roundtable
$50 and publication in An Element of Mystery or in Bethlehem Writers Roundtable
See our submission rules below
2021 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 mystery stories: An Element of Mystery: Sweet, Funny, and Strange Tales of Intrigue or as a featured story in Bethlehem Writers Roundtable.
2nd and 3rd prizes are $100 and $50 respectively plus consideration for publication in our upcoming anthology or publication in Bethlehem Writers Roundtable.
- Stories must be submitted using our entry form (available 1/1/21)
- 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- All entries must be previously unpublished, and adhere to our Terms and Conditions set out below
- Submissions open at 12:01 a.m. ET on January 1, 2021, and must be received by 11:59 p.m. EDT, March 31, 2021.
- Payments are requested within 24 hours of submissions. All payments must be received through PayPal no later than 11:59 p.m. EDT on April 1, 2021.
- $15 per story.
- First prize: $250 and consideration for inclusion in the upcoming BWG anthology, tentatively titled An Element of Mystery: Sweet, Funny, and Strange Tales of Intrigue. 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 consideration for inclusion in the upcoming BWG anthology, An Element of Mystery or publication in the Bethlehem Writers Roundtable.
- Third prize: $50 and consideration for inclusion in the upcoming BWG anthology, An Element of Mystery or 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 May 31, 2021.
- Final selection of winners will be done by New York Times best-selling author Charlaine Harris.
- Contest winners will be announced on the Bethlehem Writers Roundtable website and on the Bethlehem Writers Group website (www.bethlehemwritersgroup.com) by July 1, 2021.
Our 2019-2020 winners’ stories are in our forthcoming anthology: Fur, Feathers, and Scales: Sweet, Funny, and Strange Animal Tales.
Our 2017 and 2018 winners’ stories are in our latest 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!
Terms and Conditions:
1. Each story must include a mystery as an important character or element of the story. Our theme will be broadly interpreted.
2. All submissions must be made using the official Short Story Award Entry Form on this page during the contest open period and be a .doc or .docx file.
3. Each story must be the original and unpublished work of the author. Work is considered published if it has appeared in whole or in part anywhere in print or online.
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 does not count toward the word limit.
7. Each story must be attached to the form above. Each paragraph must be separated from the previous paragraph by a line space. Scene breaks can be indicated by using ###.
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, and email address must appear in the appropriate blocks on the submission form.
9. Multiple submissions by the same author are permitted, but each story must be submitted separately. There is a $15 fee required for each story.
10. All entries must be received by 11:59 p.m. (EDT) on March 31, 2021. Submissions received after the deadline will not be opened. We reserve the right to extend this deadline in 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 on this page. 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 April 1, 2021. Payments received after the deadline will be returned minus PayPal fees.
12. If we receive fewer PayPal payments than story submissions from the same author, we will apply the payment(s) received to the first story or stories received.
13. Simultaneous submissions are permitted, but immediate notification 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 more than twice.
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 other electronic or print 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 publishing your submission.
18. Awards are as follows: FIRST PLACE AWARD: $250 USD and consideration for publication in BWG’s upcoming print anthology. If the story that wins the First Place Award is not selected for inclusion in that anthology, it will be offered publication in Bethlehem Writers Roundtable, the magazine of the Bethlehem Writers Group, LLC. SECOND PLACE AWARD: $100 USD and an offer of publication either in our anthology or in Bethlehem Writers Roundtable. THIRD PLACE AWARD: $50 USD and an offer of publication either in our anthology or 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 publication in our print anthology) 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 to this notification, with the author’s certification that he/she meets all eligibility requirements and agrees to the terms of the award, within ten (10) days of the notification. Failure to respond to the email notification may cause the author to lose his/her place in the contest and the prize to 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 (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.