Announcing Our Inaugural Short Story Contest

May 1, 2018

Do you have a story burning inside you? Are you up for a challenge? Do you like prizes?


If so, you’re in for a thrill, because we’re hosting our first short story contest, and we hope you’ll grab your pen (or laptop) to compete!


But first I’m sure you’d like to hear about all the prestige and loot you could gain as a result of your literary genius.



First Place Winner will receive:
• $75 Amazon gift card
Theme Mastery: How to Write Meaningful Stories without Being Preachy, a course taught by Josiah DeGraaf (worth $147)
• Publication on the Story Embers website


Second Place Winner will receive:
• $30 Amazon gift card
• Two minicourses from Ink Slinger Academy (worth $20)
• Publication on the Story Embers website


Runner up will receive:
• $20 Amazon gift card
• Acknowledgement in the announcement post


Official Rules

Please read our guidelines carefully and refer back to the list before entering. We reserve the right to disqualify entrants for not following our criteria, and our decisions as judges are final.


• Word count (excluding the title and byline) must be no shorter than 1,000 and no longer than 8,000. The genre is up to you, though we will ask you to select a category for review purposes when you enter.
• The story must be a work of fiction (not a memoir) and seek to teach as well as delight. We aren’t interested in sermons, but we also don’t want stories that have no purpose except to entertain.
• The story must be original and unpublished. If the piece has previously been posted online (on a personal blog or elsewhere), that classifies as published. Story Embers retains exclusive use of the winning stories for three months after publication, but once that time span has elapsed, the rights revert back to the authors.
• Entries must be submitted as Microsoft Word documents. Type your story’s title at the top of the page with your name below it, skip a space, and begin your material. Use 12 pt. Times New Roman, left-align text, and italicize words of emphasis. Do not indent paragraphs. Apply single spacing between sentences and double spacing between paragraphs.
• A $5 submission fee must be tendered at the time of entry. This fee is nonrefundable.
• Only one entry is allowed per person. Once a story has been submitted, we will not accept edits or exchanges, so be sure to polish your work thoroughly and attach the correct document.
• Entrants must be subscribers to our newsletter. If you haven’t subscribed yet, you may do so by taking the writing rank score and signing up for our free resources (link in the sidebar).
• Entries that contradict our statement of faith or contain objectionable content will be disqualified.


Judging Process

Stories will be evaluated on the basis of style/mechanics, theme, characters, and overall uniqueness. Josiah and I will be serving as judges. We’ve been working together for two years in various capacities, and our different but complementary skill sets make us a dynamic editorial duo.


Josiah is the summit & marketing director at Story Embers, the program director of The Young Writer, and a literature nerd who fell in love with stories at an early age. Because he’s fascinated by human motivations, he enjoys putting normal people in crazy situations (did he mention he writes fantasy?) and forcing them to make difficult choices. He will be zeroing in on themes, the motivations behind characters’ actions, and the events that push the protagonists toward the climax. He’s eager to be enthralled by your stories!


I’m the blog and graphics director here at Story Embers. Although I began as a writer, my penchant for noticing typos and obsession with syntax compelled me to wield a red pen rather than a black one. I’m proudly a gold member of The Christian PEN: Proofreaders & Editors Network and have been certified by the Christian Editor Connection. Over the years, I’ve worked on a variety of projects for individual clients, publishers, and organizations. I love aiding writers in achieving their aspirations to captivate and change the world through fiction. I’ll be focusing on the nitty-gritty details of storytelling—from grammar to showing vs. telling to breathtaking prose. I can’t wait to see the magic you weave with your words!


How to Enter

This year’s contest closed at 11:59 p.m. EDT on June 30, 2018. Thanks for your interest! Winners will be announced on or by August 24, 2018. If you place in the contest, we’ll contact you a few weeks prior to that. Otherwise, due to the volume of submissions we receive, we won’t be able to follow up with you on the status of your entry.


Have a question about the contest? Email brianna@storyembers.org or drop a comment below.


  1. Sam

    Okay, I don’t use Microsoft Word, I use LibreOffice Writer. But I’m pretty sure I can save it as a .doc or a .docx file and send it to you that way.
    So… Which do you want? DOC, or DOCX?
    Or does it matter?

  2. Greg Anderson

    It says no memoirs, but does that count if I wrote my story in a diary form? It’s not a real person, just someone from my own imagination.

    • Brianna Storm Hilvety

      A memoir is a nonfiction narrative of a happening in a person’s life. If your story is fiction written in diary form, then it’s not a memoir, so it qualifies for the contest. 🙂

  3. Sabina B.

    OH NO!!! I just sent it in but the title was in the middle of the page instead of left alignment! Will that make it disqualified?

    • Brianna Storm Hilvety

      Whether the title is centered or left-aligned is not a big deal. 🙂 Like I told someone above, I was trying to make the formatting guidelines as simple as possible, so I didn’t specify certain details (such as whether centering or bolding titles is permissible).

  4. Heather

    Can i use a differemt font for thining as opposed to speaking, or does that have to ne italicized? The rules say to emphasize with italics, but im nit really sure how that applies to what I am doing.

    • Brianna Storm Hilvety

      The entire document needs to be in Times New Roman. Use italics for thoughts.

  5. Nicole

    Hi, there! I just submitted my short story. Thank God it finished before the deadline. I missed some sleep for revising a lot. Haha! But I’m super grateful for this opportunity. I was wondering… Is there a chance that we’ll get an email confirmation that our work was sent? Thank you so much!

    And thank you for this opportunity to write. Attempting to write a short story was such a good exercise on my part. Your site has been full of great tips and insights on writing. God bless your team! 🙂

    • Brianna Storm Hilvety

      Your story has been received. I can’t wait to read it! Sounds like you worked awful hard. 😉

      I’m so happy to hear that Story Embers has been a blessing to you, and that this contest motivated you to challenge yourself! ❤️

  6. Martin Detwiler

    Hi! When I submitted my story last night, I used a different email address than the one with which I’m subscribed to Story Embers. Will this be a problem? Thanks.

  7. Anna Marie

    Sorry that this is so late. Two questions:
    -Should it be double or single spaced?
    -Can a narrator’s thoughts be italicized?
    Thank you so much! 😀

    • Brianna Storm Hilvety

      Stories should be single spaced, with an extra space between paragraphs. And yes, a character’s thoughts can be italicized. 🙂

  8. Kat

    Question: when do we learn who the winners are? is there a set date for that?

    • Brianna Storm Hilvety

      As the post says, winners will be announced on or by August 24, 2018. 🙂

  9. Heather

    I am seriously so nervous about this that my hands are shaking as I type this out. AAAH!
    So the page above says to fill out a form to submit my story, but I can’t find the form…. I’m not really tech savvy…. little help? (=

    • Brianna Storm Hilvety

      The blue text that says “Fill out our entry form and enter your story” is a link. If you click on it, you’ll find the page you need. I’ll add the link here for convenience though. 🙂 https://storyembers.org/spring-short-story-contest/

      Don’t be scared! You got this. 😉 I look forward to reading your entry!

  10. Mairin Atha

    In one of your responses you said we could use whatever tense we wanted (past or present) as long as it was consistent throughout the story… but in mine I change to present tense at the end for effect, like Daeus mentioned doing at http://kingdompen.org/8-ways-to-write-a-perfect-ending/. Until the end it is consistently past tense, and once it changes to present it is consistent too… is that ok? I’m really hoping so since it’s the last day and I’m just now seeing that comment… ;p

    Thank you for your help!

    • Brianna Storm Hilvety

      If you have a scene break before the shift in tense, that should be fine. 🙂 When I said the tense needed to be consistent, I meant that I don’t want people randomly switching back and forth between past and present tense.

  11. Julianne Petersen

    Hey! I filled out the form and my PayPal payment was confirmed. Does that mean I’m good to go?


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