Category Archives: Contests, Grants and Awards

$100 for 100 Words Contest Results

Hundreds of submissions poured into Sunspot Lit for the first $100 for 100 Words contest. Fiction entries ranged from literary to genre pieces (heavy on sci-fi this time, which always sparks the editor’s personal pleasure). Nonfiction prose offered thoughtful commentary on society and relationships, lyric essays, howls that burned down the houses of power, and bright, compact ideas. Poetry was of course well represented.

Many of the entries ran up to the word count limit. A handful made clever use of the title to enhance the work by setting place, time, tone, or other important elements. A surprising amount used less than half the allowed word count, and some of those shot to the top of the list.

The finalists are, in no particular order:

  • Melinda Winograd for “Suitable Match”
  • A.D. Conner for “Whiskey Mermaid”
  • Thomas Boos for “The Bar at the Bottom of the Hill”
  • Lory Saiz for “In the Dark: A Micro Essay on Black Sails’ James Flint and the Gay Villain Trope”
  • Bob Thurber for “The Shovelers”
  • Judith Ralston Ellison for “Zapped by Electricity”
  • Pamela Sumners for “Love Poem”
  • Jesse Sensibar for “Plow in the Sky”
  • Jodee Stanley for “November”
  • Mary-Chris Hines for “As a God”
  • Claudia Reed for “The End of the World?”
  • Julie Goldberg for “We Can Get Another Balloon”

Generating this list from the hundreds of quality entries was like picking a path through a patch of thorns. Many of the pieces that did not make this list still have their hooks deep in flesh and refuse to let go. We hope that the authors of those works will consider submitting through the regular process so we can scoop up new treasures for our readers.

The first-place winner is Pamela Sumners for “Love Poem.” Her piece used the word-count limit to its fullest extent without pushing the boundary unnecessarily.

Pamela is a constitutional and civil rights attorney from Alabama. Her work has been published or recognized by thirty journals and publishers over the last two years. She was included in Halcyon/Black Mountain Press’ 64 Best Poets and had been nominated for 2019’s 50 Best Poets. She was nominated for a Pushcart prize in 2018. She now lives in St. Louis with her wife, son, and three rescue dogs.

Her slim ninety-four words start warm, pour on a disturbing heat, then spill blood before looping back into a cool, almost arctic end.

Look for the poem in the next edition of Sunspot. Just take care that you don’t get hurt.

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Inception: $250 for the Best Opening

Sunspot Literary Journal wants your best fiction, nonfiction, or poetry opening. No restrictions on theme, category, or length of the piece from which the beginning is excerpted.

Length for the entry: Up to 250 words for prose. Up to 25 words for poetry. 

First place winner and finalists will be published. Enter as many times as you like. One piece per submission. Pieces must be unpublished except on a personal blog or website. Simultaneous submissions accepted. Work can have won other awards without being disqualified.

Cash award of $250 for the winner.

Link here for details and to enter. Good luck!

Sunspot Lit Free Summer Edition Available

Sunspot Lit has a lot to offer for your summer reading list. Check out the image contest winner and runner-up, and read the powerful and unique entries that ranked at the top of the Single Word: C*nt Edition contest.

This quarter, we present a story in the original Italian and in its English translation. Many thanks to author Piero Schiavo-Campo and translator Sarah Jane Webb for working with us to bring this story to light. “The Doll” and “La bambola” approach Vienna’s expressionist period from the viewpoint of an artist to tell a tale of “morbid jealousy and furious rage.”

Sunspot Lit’s C*nt Contest Winners

When Sunspot decided to launch an annual contest focused on a single word that would change every year, they deliberately selected a divisive word. They expected that having “cunt” in the title, even when they replaced the vowel with an asterisk, would create problems publicizing the contest, and that turned out to be correct.
They hoped that the focus on an inflammatory word would generate creative responses from authors and artists worldwide. The role of women in different societies, gender identity and fluidity, and human rights are, in some ways, the defining issues of our times.
The creative community responded with powerful works that blew the staff away. The tone of various pieces ranged from angry to empowered, from jackhammer decibels to whispering calm. In every case, the undercurrent lifted veils and carried all people toward a climactic resolution.
The significant quality of so many entries confounded the final judging process. There simply was no way to choose between the top two entries. The decision, therefore, was to declare two winners. As promised in Sunspot’s guidelines, the cash award was not split; it was doubled.
First place for a poem went to Morrow Dowdle for “To Russia with Love.” First place for artwork went to Valyntina Grenier for “Over His Eye.”
The winning entries will be published for the first time in the next edition of Sunspot Lit. The winners will be featured on the website, as well. They each received a $50 cash prize and the awe of the staff.

$100 for 100 Words Contest Closing Soon

Microfiction, micro essay, micro memoir, short poem, micro script, micro screenplay…if it’s 100 words or less, it might be worth $100. No restrictions on theme or category.
First place winners and finalists in various prose categories will be published in Sunspot Literary Journal. A byline and bio will be included, and select pieces will receive special attention on the website.
Enter as many times as you like. One piece per submission. Pieces must be unpublished except on a personal blog or website. Simultaneous submissions accepted. Work can have won other awards without being disqualified. Cash award of $100. Closing July 30, 2019.

Sunspot Lit Image Contest Winner

Sunspot Literary Journal reached out to the creative community for an image that represented the journal’s mission: Hearing Every Voice, Writing a New World.
The magazine received a number of spectacular entries. The final judging round turned out to be very difficult. The works varied in tone and approach, and each had so much to offer.
Timothy Boardman submitted the winning image. Timothy describes himself as predominantly a fine arts artist and printmaker with some design sensibilities who’s currently a student at UNCG in North Carolina. Here are his thoughts on the image:
“The center of the image is a gradient based sun, very simple, with a series of sunspots placed on the logo. The encircling white around the sun in this design are representative of the light, [Sunspot Lit’s] light, emanating from these sunspots, and giving voice to all. The slogan, ‘It’s Lit’ is a somewhat humorous, witty use of wordplay to represent your literary focus, while also being very straightforward about who you are as a literary journal. … I also noticed your website uses a lot of oranges, yellows, and whites, so I used them as the dominating color choices for the design.”
Timothy received the cash prize of $40 and Sunspot’s undying adoration. The image will appear in newsletters, on SunspotLit.com, and in the journal’s publications.

Sunspot Lit Inaugural Edition Free Download

V1 I1 March 2019 Cover ImageThe inaugural edition of Sunspot Literary Journal is now available. Featuring art, flash fiction, poetry, photos, short stories, and essays from around the world.

Download the PDF free on SunspotLit.com under the Editions tab. Newsletter subscribers get early access, direct delivery of the quarterly editions to their inbox, and a carefully curated selection of news about creativity in the world.

Check back on the website as the journal selects specific artists and authors from the inaugural edition for a Spotlight feature.

Sunspot’s current open call closes May 31, 2019. Don’t miss the $100 for 100 Words contest. This is a paying market.