Upcoming Writers Contests!

23 Jan

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The ACFW Genesis Contest is for unpublished Christian fiction writers. With ten categories to enter, Genesis provides the opportunity for unbiased feedback on writers’ work by published authors and experienced judges, and the chance for finalists to have their work read by Christian publishing house editors and literary agents.


1. Any author whose work has not been previously published in novella or book-length fiction (in ANY print or online form) is eligible to enter Genesis.

2. Authors who are published in non-fiction, children’s, and short story are eligible to enter an unpublished fiction manuscript.

3. There is no limit to the number of entries AN AUTHOR may submit, however, a single manuscript may not be entered into multiple categories.

4. Contest is open to ACFW members and non-members.

5. Any author contracted for publication before March 15, 2015 is not eligible to enter Genesis. If an entrant receives a contract on a manuscript entered in the contest after March 15, 2015, that manuscript may remain in the contest.

6. Co-authored entries are allowed to enter. If one of the authors is a current ACFW member, then the entry can be submitted for the member entry fee. Both authors must be unpublished in fiction.

7. In any category, if fewer than seven (7) entries are received, the category shall be dissolved and the entrant’s alternate choice category on their submission will be used. The author is responsible for choosing the appropriate category for their entry.

8. Previous winning entries of the Genesis are not eligible to be entered in this year’s contest. Previous finalist (not winning) entries may be entered again. First Impressions entries are eligible as long as they meet all other eligibility requirements as stated.

9. The manuscript should not contain profanity, graphic sex, gratuitous violence or other objectionable material, and must otherwise conform to generally accepted standards of the CBA. The ACFW Executive Board may order the disqualification of submissions not meeting this requirement.

10. Manuscripts must be complete in order to enter Genesis.

FIRST ROUND: During the first round, three judges (published authors or experienced writers trained in judging the Genesis) will score each entry, up to a maximum of 100 points per entry. All three scores will be averaged.

SEMI-FINAL ROUND: The top 10 entries from each category will then move on to the semi-final round. The semi-final judges will be published authors who will use the same scoresheet as the first round. All three judges’ scores are averaged to determine the entry’s standing.

FINAL ROUND: The top three semi-final round entries in each category–category finalists–will continue to the final round. In the event of a tie, the previous round scores of the tied entries will be used to break the tie. Finalists will be allowed 48 HOURS ONLY to review the judge’s scores from the previous rounds and polish and resubmit their entries before the entries are sent to the final round judges. If you are unable to polish and resubmit, then your original entry will be sent to the final round judges.

During the final round, three final round judges will score each entry, and the three scores will be averaged. Discrepancy judges will NOT be used. In each category, the entry receiving the top final round score becomes the category winner. The final round scores alone determine the category winners. If any category winner is disqualified or withdraws for any reason, the next highest-scoring finalist will be moved up to become category winner.

For the final round, the final round judges (editors and agents) will not utilize the scoresheet used in the first and second rounds of judging. Instead, final round judges will simply give a numerical score of up to 100 points for each final round entry. Final round judges have the option of giving comments on the final round entries, but are not required to do so. All three scores will be averaged.

All judging is blind. Entrants’ names are only known by the coordinator.


For all the stories, one or more characters’ Christian beliefs are blended with and form a part of the story. However, the presence of a Christian character or the use of Christian phrases and scripture are not the indicators of the spiritual content in the stories. For Speculative Fiction, the traditional Christian terms are often replaced by other words more suited to the fictional setting.

Contemporary: Novels or sagas set in any location, in contemporary setting. This category includes literary fiction, women’s fiction, and mainstream fiction. The stories in this category can be dramatic or comedic.

Historical (through Vietnam era): Novels or sagas set in any location, in which the time frame of the majority of the story is a historical context rather than a contemporary one. The time period can be up to and including the Vietnam era.

Historical Romance (through Vietnam era): Novels or sagas set in any location, but in which the time frame of the majority of the story is a historical context rather than a contemporary one. The time period can be up to and including the Vietnam era. The love story is the main focus of the novel, and the end of the story is emotionally satisfying. The stories in this category can be dramatic or comedic.

Mystery/Suspense/Thriller: Novels set in any location in which the suspense or mystery is the primary plot. In suspense, “often the reader learns very early in the story who did what, and how, and even why, so that the tension results from the manner in which an expected conclusion is achieved” (Jessica Mann). In thrillers, “tough, resourceful . . . heroes are pitted against villains determined to destroy them, their country, or the stability of the free world” (Steve Bennett). “The detective novel, or mystery, is generally driven by a single protagonist and follows the process of detection, functioning like a puzzle” (Ginny Wiehardt).

Novella: Contemporary or historical stories in any of the genre categories in this contest. Word count is 15K – 45K.

Romance: The love story is set in any location in a contemporary setting, and is the main focus of the novel. The end of the book is emotionally satisfying. The stories in this category can be dramatic or comedic.

Romantic Suspense: A suspense plot is blended with a love story, which is the main focus of the novel, and the end of the book is emotionally satisfying. The story can be in any location, but the time frame should be a contemporary setting. Historical romantic suspense stories should be entered in the Historical Romance category.

Short Novel: Contemporary or historical shorter novels 45K-70K in length.

Speculative: Novels in which the science fiction, the future, other planets, a fantasy world, or paranormal happenings are a major element of the plot or setting. This category includes speculative, visionary, science fiction, paranormal, futuristic, allegory, and alternate history fiction. Stories targeted primarily at young adult readers should be entered in the Young Adult category.

Young Adult: Novels targeted toward young adult readers ages 12 through 18. The stories in this category can be dramatic, comedic, romantic, or non-romantic. Science Fiction/Fantasy/Allegory stories targeted primarily at young adult readers can be entered in this category. Stories targeted to Middle Readers are included in this category.


Each category will have one first place winner. The first place entry in each category will receive a winner’s award and a gold Genesis lapel pin. The winners will be announced at the 2015 ACFW Annual Conference in September. The finalists in each category will receive a certificate and silver Genesis pin.


Contest opens: January 2, 2015 at 8:00 AM central time.

Contest closes: March 15, 2015 at 4:00 PM central time.

The top 10 semi-finalists in each category will be announced by May 5, 2015.

The three finalists in each category will be announced by June 15, 2015.

Winners will be announced at the Gala during ACFW’s national conference in September.

For contest fees, rules, further guidelines, and a sample scoresheet, click here for more information.

The 2015 Utmost Poetry Contest is still accepting entries.

For All Christian Poets – Total Prizes: US $3,000.00

Major Prizes:
FIRST PRIZE: 1,000.00
SECOND: $500.00

HONORABLE MENTIONS (10): 100.00 each

Special Prizes:

Entrant can win Special Prizes in addition to Major Prizes.

We award all prizes, regardless of how few entries we receive. Some contests advertise big awards, but in the “fine print” you see that the prizes are only paid if a certain number of poets enter. Utmost is different. We guarantee to pay all prizes in our poetry contests, and we always announce publicly the winners. Entries must be POSTMARKED February 28, 2015 or earlier.


The Carol Awards are ACFW’s recognition for the best Christian fiction published by traditional publishing houses in the previous calendar year.

Note: Beginning with the 2015 Carol Awards program, certain independently published Christian fiction will be eligible. Traditionally published books must still be released by a recognized publisher. Independently published authors must also meet a certain standard to enter the Carols— “Qualified Independently Published” status. For the QIP status, the author must a) be an ACFW member, and b) will need to show proof of earnings of $4000 or more on one independently published Christian novel within a 12-month period.


1. Each title must be the author’s work of original fiction in print or digital form.

2. The title shall be written from a Christian worldview (specifically, the book should not contain profanity, graphic sex, gratuitous violence or other objectionable material, and must otherwise conform to generally accepted standards of the CBA) in any Christian fiction genre through a publisher on ACFW’s Recognized Publishers list* or be Qualified Independently Published.

3. Co-authored entries are allowed. If one of the authors is a current ACFW member, then the title can be submitted for the member entry fee.

4. The title must have an original copyright date (printed on copyright page) between January 2014 and December 2014. In the rare event a book was released in 2014 but has a copyright date of 2013, please provide a) a letter from the publisher and b) a .pdf of the publisher’s catalog reflecting the title and release date to the Carol Award Coordinator, at least two weeks prior to the deadline to be considered for entry.

5.  All entering authors are required to check the “Accept” box on the entry form for the Contest Release, indicating acceptance of terms.

6.  Publishers may not enter for their authors.

7. Entry must be an English edition.

8.  Title may NOT have previously been entered in the Carol Award Contest.

9. Audio books can not be entered.


1. If less than seven (7) entries are received for any one category, it shall be closed and the authors’ alternate choice category will be used. In this event, ACFW will ship the books to the correct judges.

2. Authors shall understand and agree that all scores are final once submitted by the judge into the contest system. Scores are determined by each judge according to an established guideline/scoresheet. No discrepancy judging or altering of scores shall be permitted. The five (5) scores for each title will be averaged. The three (3) titles with the highest score in each category shall advance to the semi-finals.

3.    Judges’ scores will not be returned to the author.

4. The top three (3) semi-final titles in each category will continue to the final judging round. In the event of a tie, the preliminary round scores will be used to determine the tie-break.

5. Authors who are finalists shall be required to submit three (3) additional copies of their title for the final round judging. Titles shall be be received by the category coordinators no later than July 1, 2015.

6.    Category judges in the final round shall judge all three (3) books. An average of the three (3) scores will determine the winner in each category.


January 2, 2015 – Contest officially opens.

March 15, 2015 – Contest closes at 4:00pm CENTRAL.

June 29, 2015 – Finalists announced at ICRS.

July 1, 2015 – Three additional copies of the finalists’ books must be received by the coordinator.

September 19, 2015 – Winners announced at the ACFW Conference in Dallas, Texas.


Each finalist will receive a certificate and a silver pin.

Each winner will receive the Carol Award and a gold pin.  Winning editors will receive a certificate.

*The decisions about publisher recognition or qualified independently published status are made after careful consideration of ACFW’s goals and the vision. ACFW has the final word on publisher recognition or qualified independently published status.

To find out more information on submission guidelines and fees, click here.

~ Kara Hunt

 Kara loves to read and write supernatural suspense thrillers and is an ACFW Genesis 2013 Finalist in the Mystery/Suspense/Thriller BlogPhoto Resizedcategory. But Kara also loves to share stories about God’s love, mercy and faithfulness. One of Kara’s favorite non-fiction quotes comes from noted author Corrie Ten Boom, “It was at a church service in Munich that I saw him, a former S.S. man who had stood guard at the shower room door in the processing center at Ravensbruck. He was the first of our actual jailers that I had seen since that time. And suddenly it was all there – the roomful of mocking men, the heaps of clothing, Betsie’s pain-blanched face.

He came up to me as the church was emptying, beaming and bowing. “How grateful I am for your message, Fraulein.” He said. “To think that, as you say, He has washed my sins away!” His hand was thrust out to shake mine. And I, who had preached so often to the people in Bloemendaal the need to forgive, kept my hand at my side.

Even as the angry, vengeful thoughts boiled through me, I saw the sin of them. Jesus Christ had died for this man; was I going to ask for more? Lord Jesus, I prayed, forgive me and help me to forgive him. I tried to smile, I struggled to raise my hand. I could not. I felt nothing, not the slightest spark of warmth or charity. And so again I breathed a silent prayer. Jesus, I prayed, I cannot forgive him. Give me Your forgiveness.

As I took his hand the most incredible thing happened. From my shoulder along my arm and through my hand a current seemed to pass from me to him, while into my heart sprang a love for this stranger that almost overwhelmed me. And so I discovered that it is not on our forgiveness any more than on our goodness that the world’s healing hinges, but on His. When He tells us to love our enemies, He gives, along with the command, the love itself.”

Kara will share more books and thoughts about forgiveness, faith and God’s unending mercy in bi-monthly posts on this site.

She’ll also keep you updated on the newest releases in Christian fiction and upcoming writing contests.

To contact Kara, email her at or by choosing one or more of the below links:

To Email Kara –

@KaraHunt2015 on Twitter


Posted by on January 23, 2015 in Kara Hunt, Writing Contests


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6 responses to “Upcoming Writers Contests!

  1. Linda W. Yezak

    January 23, 2015 at 7:43 am

    It’s getting to be that time, isn’t it? Can’t wait to see all the talent this year!


    • Kara (@KaraHunt2015)

      January 23, 2015 at 12:56 pm

      And it seems to come faster and faster every year. Thanks for sharing, Linda!


  2. Jericha Kingston

    January 23, 2015 at 9:43 am

    Great contests, Kara…Thank you!


  3. Pegg Thomas

    January 23, 2015 at 6:50 pm

    I’m not entering anything for a while. Everything is so up-in-the-air here right now. But I hope everyone else does!


  4. jerichakingston

    January 26, 2015 at 12:15 pm

    *Maybe* the poetry contest. But if my great aunt and two cousins enter it, I may as well save my money!



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