2018 Brainerd Writers Alliance writing contest

Deadline for submissions is extended
to August 31, 2018.

Questions about the writing contest? Email us.

BWA Member writing contest entry: $10.00
Non-Member writing contest entry: $15.00

After payment is made, you may submit your entry per guidelines below.
Please read carefully before submitting your work.


Our 2018 Judges

Bruce Eastman. Bruce studied at The University of Iowa, Truman State University, and The University of Arkansas. He taught writing and literature over a thirty-eight-year career, twenty-nine of those years with Central Lakes College in Brainerd. He has an MFA degree in poetry and has had work appear in literary journals and magazines such as The Nation and Threepenny Review.

Niomi Rohn Phillips.
Niomi is a multi-genre writer who lives in Minnesota and Hawaii. She has a Bachelor of Education degree in English and Master of Arts degree in American Literature. Prior to retirement from the University of North Dakota, she published work in Plainswoman and the North Dakota Quarterly, and was awarded a grant for creative nonfiction in the centennial anthology, Day In, Day Out: Women’s Lives in North Dakota.

Her creative nonfiction has been published by Lake’s Alive, Among Women, Online AARP, and Lake Country Journal; short stories and poetry by The Talking Stick, Dust & Fire, and Whistling Shade literary journals; gardening and travel features by Greenprints, Prime Life, and Boomers magazines. In 2015 she published a memoir, Growing Up Catholic.

Her most recent work was published in the spring issue of PersimmonTree.com, an online literary journal. She is presently working on a novel based on the life of writer Mignon Eberhart.

Erin Hart. Erin is our featured speaker this year. She studied at Saint Olaf College and the University of Minnesota. After graduate school, Erin worked as a freelance arts journalist and theater critic, is published in the Saint Paul Pioneer Press, the Minneapolis Star Tribune, Minnesota Monthly, and Skyway News, and for several years she was the regular theater critic for Minnesota Public Radio.

Her short story, “Waterborne,” won the 1996 Glimmer Train Short Story Award for New Writers. Her crime novels set mostly in Ireland, revolve around archaeology, forensics, history, and traditional music and folklore. Haunted Ground was translated into ten foreign languages, as was the second novel in the series, Lake of Sorrows, chosen as a 2004 Minnesota Book Award finalist. False Mermaid (2010) was named one of the Top Ten Crime Novels of 2010 by ALA/Booklist. The fourth novel in the series, The Book of Killowen was a 2013 Minnesota Book Award finalist.

Erin has taught writing at the Loft, History Theatre, and various other venues. She is a member of the Authors’ Guild, Mystery Writers of America, and Twin Cities Sisters in Crime. Erin lives in Minnesota. Please visit her website for more information.



This contest is open to all writers who are residents of Minnesota.

Please note: if you are submitting via postal mail, the address has changed. See below.*


Fiction: 2500 word limit.

Tips: Stories need a strong hook to get the reader into the first scene; good development of character and scene interwoven with action; clear rising action to a turning point and resolution; consistent point of view; theme or story idea is clear by end.

Creative nonfiction2500 word limit.

Memoir stories use fiction guidelines above but are based on actual events.

Essay should concern an issue but still have a hook and be developed using examples, narrative, cause-effect, or comparison-contrast; rising action to a climax – arguments get stronger to the turning point; and come to a clear conclusion.

Poetry: 3 poem limit (each poem limited to maximum 40 lines).

Poems need strong imagery that enhances the theme or emotion. Robert Frost said, “Poems should begin with delight and end with wisdom.”


Nonmember: $15.00       Brainerd Writers Alliance Member: $10.00

You may submit one entry in fiction, one entry in nonfiction, and up to three poems for one entry fee.

*If entering via postal mail: a check made out to Brainerd Writers Alliance, postmarked no later than August 17, 2018. Mail to: BWA Writing Contest, 30795 Rasmussen Rd. Pequot Lakes, MN 56472. 


Contest is open to writers who are residents of Minnesota. Work must be submitter’s original, not previously awarded, and unpublished.


  • Entries must be accompanied with payment no later than August 17, 2018.
  • Winners will be notified by Sept. 30th.


        • Cover letter, separate from entry, must include name, postal address, phone, and email address. List entry titles with category and word count. Example: “Olivia”–creative nonfiction2,455 words.
        • Two (2) typed copies of each entry title (if submitting by postal mail)
          • All postal mail entries must be typed on standard 8 ½ x 11 paper
        • Use 12 pt. Times New Roman font or similar, double-spaced / Poetry may be single- or double-spaced
        • Fiction and creative nonfiction. Include title, category, and word count on top of each page; double-spaced, DO NOT INCLUDE YOUR NAME.
        • Include title at the top of the page, DO NOT INCLUDE YOUR NAME.
        • Submit no later than August 17, 2018. Entries received before the open submission date of June 18, 2018, will be ineligible.
          • SUBMIT via email  – Acceptable files are word.doc, word.docx or pdf.
          • Submit via postal mail: BWA Writing Contest, 30795 Rasmussen Rd., Pequot Lakes, MN 56472

    Prizes are $100 for first place and $75 for second place. Winners also receive free entry to Brainerd Writers Alliance 2018 Conference. (Does not include Book Fair space.)

    Winners will be notified by September 30, 2018, and are invited to read their winning entries during the conference with an introduction by the judge in their category. Prizes will be awarded on conference day or mailed to winners the following day.

Special note: Winners who wish to attend with family members who are not registered for the conference understand that seating is limited. There is a cost of $25 per adult for food, beverages, and gallery seating. Please bring snacks and beverages for children. Thank you.


Winning entries will not be published on our website or published in any way, so that they may be submitted later as “not previously published” in magazines, anthologies, etc.

Our judges are skilled in the writing craft. We encourage them to attend the conference and give comments on the winning entries.

All contest entrants are encouraged to register to attend the Brainerd Writers Alliance 2018 Conference and Book Fair.