Importance of Opening Lines in Prose and Poetry Contests!

We are on schedule to announce the winning and commended entries for the 2009 Tom Howard Poetry Contest on February 15. The cash winners will be announced in this Newsletter and a full list of winners will be posted on and
The Annual $5,550 Margaret Reid Poetry Prize for Traditional Verse is open! The annual $5,550 Tom Howard Short Story, Essay and Prose Contest is also now open for entries, but will close on March 31, so now is the time to lodge your story or essay before the judges are swamped by the last-month rush! And also open of course is the current $5,550 Tom Howard Poetry Contest for Verse in All Styles and Genres.
As you know, these Newsletters are issued only twice a month (usually on the first and fifteenth days). Sometimes it’s necessary to get information across more quickly, so I’ve started a blog, One of its purposes is to provide news of my own poetic endeavors (currently “A Salute to Spanish Verse”), but it will also be used to provide Contest help and information.
For example, in my last Newsletter, I mentioned the importance of an eye-catching title to rivet the judges’ attention to your entry right from the start, and I listed some of the titles from the Tom Howard collection, Escape to Paradise and Other Poetic Fancies.
But almost equally important are your first lines and your first stanza. On the current blog,, I’ve provided some good examples from the above book.
The website for the Tom Howard Poetry Contest is
The latest Margaret Reid anthology is Love & City Dreaming: Poems by Margaret Havill Reid. Margaret’s range and versatility in this book provide an excellent guide to the verse we are seeking for the Margaret Reid Prize.
You’ll also find plenty of rousing titles and attention-getting opening lines in our previous anthologies of winning entries such as SAILING IN THE MIST OF TIME: Award-Winning Poems in which 108 award-winning and commended poems are gathered together in a large-format, 196-page book!
For more information, I recommend my Write Ways to WIN WRITING CONTESTS: How To Join the Winners’ Circle for Prose and Poetry Awards, If you’ve been wasting your time and money sending great stories or magnificent poems to Contests that immediately place them in the reject basket, here’s a book to set you on the right path.
This year, the prize pool for our prose and poetry contests has been increased to $5,550 (including a First Prize of $3,000). Entry fees have not been raised. The entry fee for the prose contest remains at $15 for each short story or essay up to 5,000 words in length. There are ten cash prizes in all, but the judges do reserve the right to award extra cash prizes if they so desire. For the last prose contest, the judges awarded no less than $500 in additional prizes, bringing the total prize pool up to $5,850 instead of the advertised $5,350!
To enter your poems in our current poetry contests, you will find full information at OR You will note that although the prize-money has been increased, entry fees do remain at $7 for every 25 lines.
Unlike almost all other poetry contests, we impose no limits on the number of lines or number of poems you may submit.
You can also visit the home page of and click on the contests at the top left of the screen.
As stated above, the Tom Howard Short Story, Essay & Prose Contest is open. Entries will close on March 31, 2010. Again, let me make it clear at once that we are seeking entries in ALL categories, including “literary” fiction, but most particularly we would like to award prizes to popular, everyday, mainstream stories, essays and prose, as even a casual glance at our anthologies of winning and commended entries such as Keep Watching the Skies! An Anthology of Prize-Winning Short Stories will soon make plain. You’ll find full details at
One of the key recommendations in my Write Ways to WIN WRITING CONTESTS is that you take a look at some of the entries that have won prizes in previous contests. This will give you some idea of the types and varieties of stories and prose pieces that have won prizes in the past. The books I recommend here are the two “Watching” books: “Watching the Skies” above, and WATCHING TIME: Anthology of Prizewinning Essays & Short Stories.
And finally I notice Amazon are still selling the new, expanded edition of “Write Ways…” for only $11.25 (which is considerably less than the original edition, even though the new edition has more pages and lots more valuable information): Write Ways to WIN WRITING CONTESTS: How To Join the Winners’ Circle for Prose and Poetry Awards, NEW EXPANDED EDITION
Keep writing on!
All my very best wishes!

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