Announcing Our Second Annual Short Story Contest

May 1, 2019

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’ve decided to make our short story contest an annual event, 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:

  • $100 Amazon gift card
  • Publication on the Story Embers blog

Second Place Winner will receive:

  • $50 Amazon gift card
  • Publication on the Story Embers blog

Three Honorable Mentions will receive:

  • Certificate of achievement
  • Acknowledgement in the announcement post

Official Rules

Please read these 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 must be no shorter than 1,000 and no longer than 5,000.
  • The story must be a work of fiction (not a memoir) written in first or third person point of view. The genre is of your choice, though we will ask you to select a category on the entry form for review purposes. Read our Christian Storytellers Manifesto to see the attributes we want stories to display.
  • The story must be original and unpublished. If it has previously been posted online (on a personal blog or elsewhere), that classifies as published. You may acquire the help of beta readers and critique partners to refine your story, but coauthored pieces are not permitted.
  • Entries must be submitted as Microsoft Word documents. If you don’t have access to that program, you can prepare your text in Google Docs, then click on Share & Export and Save as Word.
  • Type your story’s title at the top of the first page, but do not include your name anywhere in the document (that information will be collected on the entry form). Use 12 pt. Times New Roman, apply double spacing, left-align text, indent paragraphs, insert a trio of centered asterisks for hard scene breaks, and italicize direct thoughts and words of emphasis.
  • Entries must be text only. Images, graphics, or illustrations (whether enclosed in the file or submitted separately) will be rejected.
  • A $10 submission fee must be tendered at the time of entry. This fee is nonrefundable. After you fill out the form and click Submit, you’ll be redirected to PayPal to pay the fee.
  • Patrons who pledged at the $8 tier or above may enter for FREE. Type your name/pseudonym and genre in an email, attach your story, and send it directly to me at brianna@storyembers.org. All other participants must submit their stories via the entry form.
  • 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 upload the correct document.
  • Entrants must be subscribers to our newsletter. If you haven’t signed up yet, you may do so by visiting our Resource Library.
  • The following individuals are ineligible to enter the contest: Story Embers board and staff members, writers, interns, and guild masters, as well as the previous year’s first place winner.
  • Entries that contradict our Statement of Faith or contain objectionable content (such as gratuitous violence, profanity, or sex) will be disqualified.
  • The first and second place stories are subject to our Editorial Policy, and Story Embers retains exclusive use of the winning stories for 3 months after publication. Once that time span has elapsed, authors are free to reprint their pieces elsewhere.

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 three 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. As a professional editor, I’ve worked on a variety of projects for individual clients, publishers, and organizations, including Gilead Publishing, Castle Gate Press, and Kingdom Pen. I love aiding writers in achieving their aspirations to captivate and change the world through fiction. I will 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, 2019. Thanks for your interest! Winners will be announced on or by October 4, 2019. 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. K.M. Small

    Perfectly timed! I just began working on a new short story project only a few days ago. The only challenge will be keeping it under 5k xD

    • K.M. Small

      Question before I get too excited: am I disqualified since I was previously a guildmaster? (I had to stop last October). Totally fine if that’s the case. I just thought I’d ask before I get too attached to the idea of participating in this contest 🙂

    • Brianna Storm Hilvety

      Nope! The ineligibility rule only applies to current staff members, guild masters, interns, etc. So you’re free to enter. 🙂 I look forward to seeing what you whip up!

  2. Sarah Inkdragon

    This sounds awesome! I’ve never written a short story before but I’ve been wanting to try it out, and this sounds like a good way to test my skills and brains to come up with an idea and actually finish it. 😉

    • Brianna Storm Hilvety

      Yay for extra incentives! 😄 Experimenting with short stories can be valuable writing experience. It gives you an opportunity to hone characterization, plot, theme, and style on a smaller scale. 🙂

    • Sarah Inkdragon

      Yes, every time I’ve tried to write a short story or even a novella it turns into a full-out novel! XD Hopefully this time it’ll go better.

  3. eden anderson

    YAY! This is so exciting! I’ll see if I can come up with something…xD

  4. Kassie

    Yes!! Can’t wait! I know exactly what I’m entering!

    • Brianna Storm Hilvety

      So you already have a story up your sleeve, huh? Kudos to you! 😎 I shall await it eagerly.

    • Kassie

      Random question, should I get a confirmation email once I submit my story?

    • Brianna Storm Hilvety

      Our system doesn’t send automatic email responses, but I did receive your story and have added it to our stack, so you’re good to go. 🙂

  5. Coralie

    Wow! It’s crazy to think it’s been a year since the first contest!

  6. E.B. Raulands

    If a writer’s story doesn’t win, can he still submit the story for publication on the blog through the normal submission process?

    • Brianna Storm Hilvety

      We wouldn’t necessarily be opposed to considering your story for publication at a later date if it received an honorable mention. Otherwise, we’d generally discourage this to avoid getting flooded with unchosen stories once the winners are announced. 😅

  7. T.Young

    If at first you don’t succeed, try try again.

    Year two. 🙂

    • Coralie

      YAS! “Rejection is God’s redirection.” 😀 I feel you!

  8. A.N. Parker

    Hi there! This sounds pretty awesome, but I’m just curious if there’s an age limit? Thanks so much! 🙂

    • Brianna Storm Hilvety

      We don’t have an age limit, although I wouldn’t recommend that elementary schoolers enter since the competition would probably be tough for their age level. 😅

  9. Myriah Grabish

    Perfect motivation for an idea that’s been cooking in my brain for awhile to finally spill onto the pages!

  10. JennytheFaun

    Is it possible to pay the entry fee if I don’t have a PayPal account?

    Also just YESTERDAY I got a really exciting idea for a short story! And I missed the contest last year…so I’m really excited! Thanks for putting this on!

    • Brianna Storm Hilvety

      You can use a credit card to pay through PayPal even if you don’t have an account, so in a way, yes, you can. 🙂

      I love when brainstorms happen at opportune moments. 😉 I can’t wait to see the words you rain onto paper!

  11. Onika

    In my submission I’m supposed to enter my name. If my story IS published, and I want it under my pen name, should I put my pen name in the name bar on the entry form?

    • Brianna Storm Hilvety

      If you want your byline to be a pen name, enter it in the form like this: Rachel Jones (Pen Name: Violet Nelson). We’ll contact the winners before their stories are published, though, so you could potentially specify then that you’d prefer to use a pen name. 🙂

  12. Edmund Lloyd Fletcher

    Had an interesting idea and started writing. Now I’m at *only* 5,230 words.

    Um, oops. Guess I need to go on a little diet there. 🙂

    Anyway, what I wanted to ask is: do you have a link where we can read the stories that have won last year? It would be really helpful to have the inspiration and/or examples.

    -E.L. Fletcher

  13. Kate Lamb

    HEY! I have a short story I’ve been working on and it might actually work!!
    *zooms off to finish polishing*

  14. Serenity

    HI! So, i had seen that there was a free entry for those who are supporting StoryEmbers, but i didnt see an entry fee for if you arent…. little help? (=

    • Brianna Storm Hilvety

      The entry fee is mentioned right above the note about our supporters getting in for free: “A $10 submission fee must be tendered at the time of entry. This fee is nonrefundable. After you fill out the form and click Submit, you’ll be redirected to PayPal to pay the fee.”

  15. Keturah Lamb

    It took me a few weeks to shop off 600 words, but I think I have a story that’ll work ;D

  16. Bella Putt

    The short story I’m writing for the contest goes back and forth between two POVs. Am I allowed to add a heading (the name of the character whose POV it’s in) to each scene as a way to show whose POV the scene’s in?? I wasn’t sure, since the rules say to use *** for scene breaks, but I want to be sure to clarify whose POV I’m writing in. Thanks! 🙂

    • Brianna Storm Hilvety

      Did you write your story in first- or third-person POV? If it’s the former, I can see why you might want to add headings, but in third person, the narrative would probably indicate that you’ve switched POVs since the character’s name would change. So, in short, it’s fine to do that; I’m just not sure it’s necessary. 🙂

  17. Coralie

    Question! Can it be a story previously entered in a contest? It didn’t win and it was an informal contest among friends on Goodreads.

    • Coralie

      Thank you!

  18. Abby

    My story includes an author’s note that makes the rest of the story more deep. I would really like to include it as the story would lose some of its depth if I deleted it. Is that ok to include?

    • Brianna Storm Hilvety

      Your story needs to carry its own power without an authorial overture, so no. That’s why author notes are always placed at the back of books. The additional information may be intriguing, but it’s not essential to understanding or being emotionally moved by the story.

  19. Abby

    Ok, thanks. Totally understand. Sooooooo EXCITED to be part of this competition 🙂


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