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CRAFT Short Fiction Prize 2024

CRAFT 2024 Short Fiction Prize

Guest Judge: Deesha Philyaw

$2,800 Awarded + Tech Bonus

March 18 – May 19, 2024


Now closed!

Thanks to all who shared their work!


Welcome to the CRAFT 2024 Short Fiction Prize! Since our launch in 2017, CRAFT has been a premier online home for the contemporary short story. We admire self-assured style and unabashed ingenuity, a willingness to explore and expand the form.

For this year’s contest, Guest Judge Deesha Philyaw dares writers to indulge, to be bold and defiant:

For me, a short story succeeds when I see, on the page, the writer indulging their own desires, interests, quirks, and demons; when I see the writer daring to write like themselves, eschewing mimicry and playing it safe. Not being daring for the sake of being daring or performative, but daring because they’re defying the person or rule that told them, “You can’t write about that,” or “You can’t write like that,” or “You can’t write.” I’m looking for fearlessness and audacity. I’m looking for characters making a mess of it all, then putting the pieces of themselves back together (or not). I’m a Virgo, so naturally I want the writer to mind the details—physical, emotional, and spiritual.

The first-place winner will receive a $2,000 award, online publication, a subscription to Journal of the Month, and—new this year—a writerly Tech Bonus worth up to $500! The second- and third-place finalists will receive $500 and $300, respectively, along with online publication. The 2024 Short Fiction Prize opens on March 18 and closes on May 19, 2024. Send us your most audacious short stories!


GUIDELINES:

  • CRAFT submissions are open to all writers.
  • International submissions are allowed.
  • Please submit work primarily written in English, but some code-switching/meshing is warmly welcomed.
  • We seek short fiction only for this contest: 1,000 to 5,000 words in length.
  • We review literary fiction but are open to a variety of genres and styles—our only requirement is that you show excellence in your craft.
  • Submit previously unpublished work only—we do NOT review reprints for contests (including work posted on blogs, personal websites, social media, etc.). Reprints will be automatically disqualified.
  • We allow simultaneous submissions—writers, please notify us and withdraw your piece if your work is accepted for publication elsewhere.
  • We allow multiple submissions—please submit each piece as a separate submission accompanied by an entry fee.
  • This contest requires a $20 entry fee per submission.
  • All entries will also be considered for publication in CRAFT.
  • Please double-space your submission and use Times New Roman 12.
  • Include a brief cover letter with your publication history (if applicable).
  • We do not require anonymous submissions. However, we do anonymize the fifteen shortlisted stories before sending them to the guest judge.
  • Writers from historically marginalized groups will be able to submit for free until we reach fifty free submissions. (This free category is now closed. No additional fee waivers will be granted for this contest.)
  • AI-generated work will be automatically disqualified.
  • Entries that do not adhere to these guidelines will be automatically disqualified.
  • We do not discriminate on the basis of age, ancestry, disability, family status, gender identity or expression, national origin, race, religion, sex or sexual orientation, or for any other reason.
  • Additionally, we do not tolerate discrimination in the writing we consider for publication: work we find discriminatory on any of the bases stated here will be declined without complete review.

AWARDS:

  • Winner receives a $2,000 cash award, a free four-issue subscription from Journal of the Month, and our Tech Bonus: their choice of an iPAD 10th Generation, reMarkable 2, or a Freewrite Traveler (up to $500 value).
  • Second- and third-place finalists receive $500 and $300, respectively.
  • The top three stories will be published in CRAFT, each with an introduction by the guest judge.
  • Each publication will also include an author’s note (craft essay) by the writer.

FINE PRINT:

  • Friends, family, and associates of the guest judge are not eligible for consideration for the award.
  • Our collaboration with editorial professionals in the judging of our contests and the awarding of our prizes does not imply an endorsement or recognition from their agencies, houses, presses, universities, etc.
  • Read our 2023 contest winners for examples of work chosen in the past.
  • As we only consider unpublished writing and will publish the winning pieces in October 2024, anything under contract to publish prior to January 2025 should not be entered.

OUR GUEST JUDGE:

DEESHA PHILYAW is the author of the debut short story collection, The Secret Lives of Church Ladies, which won the 2021 PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction, the 2020/2021 Story Prize, the 2020 Los Angeles Times Book Prize: The Art Seidenbaum Award for First Fiction, and was a finalist for the 2020 National Book Award for Fiction. The Secret Lives of Church Ladies focuses on Black women, sex, and the Black church, and is being adapted for television by HBO Max with Tessa Thompson executive producing. Deesha is also a Kimbilio Fiction Fellow and a Baldwin for the Arts Fellow. Her debut novel, The True Confessions of First Lady Freeman, is forthcoming from Mariner Books, an imprint of HarperCollins, in 2025. Find her on Twitter @DeeshaPhilyaw.


OUR CONTEST PARTNER:

Image is the green-and-white logo for Journal of the Month.

JOURNAL OF THE MONTH sends a new print literary magazine to your mailbox on a regular basis. Which one? What you receive changes month to month, but every participating magazine is a highly regarded actor in the contemporary literary scene that publishes exciting fiction, creative nonfiction, and poetry from new and established voices.


OPTIONAL EDITORIAL FEEDBACK:

You may choose to receive editorial feedback on your piece directly through the contest submission form. We will provide line-level marginal notes, as well as a two-page global letter discussing the strengths of the writing and the recommended focus for revision. While editorial feedback is inherently subjective, our suggestions are always actionable and encouraging. We aim to have feedback completed within twelve weeks from the close of the contest. Should your story win, no feedback will be offered and your fee will be refunded. Please note that work we critique is not eligible for future CRAFT contests.

Editorial Feedback Team:

JOANNA ACEVEDO (she/they) is the Pushcart-nominated author of three books and two chapbooks. Her work has been seen across the web and in print, including Free State Review, The Rumpus, and The Adroit Journal. She received her MFA in fiction from New York University in 2021 and also holds degrees from Bard College and The New School. Find her on Twitter at @jo_avocado.

MELISSA BENTON BARKER is the flash fiction section editor at CRAFT. A graduate of the MFA program at Antioch University Los Angeles, her writing appears in Longleaf Review, Moon City Review, Wigleaf, SmokeLong Quarterly, and Best Small Fictions 2021. She has received Pushcart and Best of the Net nominations. She lives in Yellow Springs, Ohio.

ALYSE BURNSIDE is a writer and editor living in Brooklyn. She holds an MFA from University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Her work has appeared in The Atlantic, The Nation, The Believer, and elsewhere. She’s working on a book.

KYLE COCHRUN (he/him) is a writer living in Seattle, Washington. He is a contributing writer for PopMatters, where he writes features, interviews, and album reviews. His essays and creative nonfiction have appeared in The Akron AnthologyWatershed Review, Echo, and CRAFT. He received an MFA in creative writing from the Northeast Ohio Master of Fine Arts graduate program.

ALEXA DORAN recently completed her PhD in poetry at Florida State University. Her full-length collection DM Me, Mother Darling won the 2020 May Sarton New Hampshire Poetry Prize and was published in April 2021 (Bauhan). She is also the author of the chapbook Nightsink, Faucet Me a Lullaby (Bottlecap Press 2019). Look for work from Doran in recent or upcoming issues of PleiadesWitness, Salt Hill Journal, and Gigantic Sequins, among others.

BRANDON DUDLEY is the  author of Hazards of Nature: Stories, selected by Sigrid Nunez as the winner of the 2020 Maine Writers and Publishers Alliance Chapbook Contest. His writing, interviews, and criticism have appeared in New South, The Millions, The Forge, Fiction Writers Review, North by Northeast 2, and others. He holds an MFA from the University of Nevada, Reno at Lake Tahoe. He lives in Maine with his wife and two sons. Find him on Twitter @brandondudley8.

ROSS FEELER’s fiction has appeared in Electric Literature‘s “Recommended Reading,” The Common, New South, Potomac Review, Story | Houston, Hypertext, and others. His novel-in-progress received the Marianne Russo Award from the Key West Literary Seminar and was a finalist for James Jones First Novel Award. He teaches English at Texas State University.

B. B. GARIN is a writer living in Buffalo, New York. Her echapbook, New Songs for Old Radios, is available from Wordrunner Press. Her work has appeared in Hawaii Pacific Review, Luna Station Quarterly, Palooka, 3rd Wednesday, Crack the Spine, and more. She is currently a prose reader and blog contributor for The Masters Review. She continues to improve her craft at GrubStreet Writing Center, where she has developed several short fiction pieces, as well as two novels. Connect with her online @bb_garin.

COURTNEY HARLER (she/her) is a queer writer, editor, and educator based in Las Vegas, Nevada. She holds an MFA in Creative Writing (Fiction) from the University of Nevada, Reno at Lake Tahoe (2017) and an MA in English (Literature) from Eastern Washington University (2013). Courtney is currently editor in chief of CRAFT and editorial director for Discover New Art, and has read and written for UNT’s Katherine Anne Porter Prize, The Masters Review, Funicular Magazine, Reflex Fiction, and Chicago Literati in recent years. She also hosts the literary podcast PWN’s Debut Review, as well as teaches and edits for Project Write Now, a nonprofit writing studio in New Jersey. For her creative work, Courtney has been honored by support from Key West Literary Seminar, Writing By Writers, Community of Writers, Napa Valley Writers’ Conference, and Nevada Arts Council. Courtney’s work has been published in multiple genres in literary magazines around the world. Find her on Instagram @CourtneyHarler.

KATELYN KEATING (she/her) was the editor in chief of CRAFT from 2018 to 2021 and now serves as editor at large. She was a 2017 fellow of the LA Review of Books Publishing Workshop and has been on their faculty since 2018, overseeing PubLab, leading the magazine track as a program manager, and serving as the publisher coordinator for LITLIT: The Little Literary Fair. She is a production manager with Berrett-Koehler Publishers, and was the production and operations manager at Prospect Park Books until it left California in 2021. Her essays appear in Crab Orchard ReviewFlywayLunch TicketTahoma Literary Review, and elsewhere. Katelyn has an MFA from Antioch University Los Angeles, where she worked for two years on Lunch Ticket, serving as editor in chief for issues 11 and 12. Find her on Twitter @katelyn_keating.

JILL KOLONGOWSKI writes the Substack Tiny True Stories and is also the author of the essay collection Life Lessons Harry Potter Taught Me (Ulysses Press, 2017). Her work also appears in Electric Lit, Insider, the Los Angeles Review of BooksBrevityRiver Teeth, and elsewhere. Her essays have won Sundog Lit’s First Annual Contest series and the Diana Woods Memorial Prize in Creative Nonfiction at Lunch Ticket, and she earned her MFA from St. Mary’s College of California. Jill teaches writing at the College of San Mateo, and lives in Northern California with her husband and daughter. Find her on Twitter @jillkolongowski.

VAL M. MATHEWS is a big-hearted, fun-loving editor who teaches courses in developmental editing for the University of California Berkeley Extension, Queen’s University in Ontario, Canada, and the Editorial Freelancers Association in New York City. Val also freelances on the side and works as an editorial consultant for CRAFT and The Masters Review. Previously, she was an editor for The Wild Rose Press, a small traditional publishing house in New York. She earned an MA in Professional Writing from Kennesaw State University and a BFA from the University of Georgia. Fun fact about Val: She’s been an FAA-certified flight instructor for over twenty-five years, and in the past, she flew Lear jets for a living.

GABRIEL MOSELEY is a writer and editor from Seattle, Washington. His work has appeared in The Masters ReviewNordic KulturStratus, and Alaska Airlines’ Alaska Beyond Magazine. He received an MFA from the University of North Carolina Wilmington and certificates in both editing and literary fiction from the University of Washington. He has been a finalist for the Made at Hugo House Writing Fellowship, LitMag’s Virginia Woolf Award for Short Fiction, and the Haleakalā National Park Residency. He is a guest editor for The Masters Review. 

GAGE SAYLOR is the assistant director of creative writing at Oklahoma State University. His fiction and poetry have appeared in Passages NorthTampa ReviewCrab Creek ReviewIron Horse, and elsewhere. He has won the Katherine Anne Porter Prize at Nimrod and is a previous semifinalist for the Kurt Vonnegut Speculative Fiction Prize at North American Review. He received his MFA at McNeese State University, where he was awarded the Robert Olen Butler Prize for Fiction.

After retiring from full-time work, DAVID K. SLAY completed a two-year program of short fiction writing workshops in the University of California, Los Angeles, Writers’ Program. His short stories, flash fiction, and microfiction can be found in a group of diverse literary journals, including Door Is A Jar, Gold Man Review, ImageOutWrite, The Magnolia Review, Random Sample Review, Ginosko Literary Journal, American Writers Review, and others. Nonfiction craft articles are in CRAFT and Submittable’s “Content for Creatives,” and he has served as a guest editor for Vestal Review. He has been a submissions reader for CRAFT since 2019, and is currently an associate editor for the short fiction section.
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