Cover Reveal: Fellow Travellers

Jesse Bethea was the 2019 Great Novel Contest grand champion with his winning manuscript, Fellow Travellers. Jesse accepted a traditional publishing contract from Bellwether, the publishing imprint of The Ohio Writers’ Association, and his book is slated to be released later this month. The Bellwether team has been working hard on the publication of Fellow Travellers, and we’re thrilled to host a formal cover reveal here!

Fellow Travellers follows the journey of Bindra Dhar, a young woman who, after being welcomed into the global community of professional time travelers, finds herself targeted by an enigmatic time criminal named Thurmond. As she discovers new allies and adversaries on her mission to stop Thurmond’s agenda — and to survive it — she learns that time travel is more dangerous and morally fraught than she ever could’ve expected. Fellow Travellers is a book about people who happen to be time travelers, their wants, their needs, their feelings, their fears, and their community.

Advance praise for Fellow Travellers:

A whirlwind adventure, fantastical and intriguing, Jesse Bethea has reenvisioned time travel into a force of nature in Fellow Travellers.  When Bindra Dhar meets a mysterious American in her small village in India, she eagerly embraces the wisdom and danger of time traveling. Sci-fi and fantasy readers alike will be swept up in Bindra’s tale.

–Reina Cruz, author of Daughter of Isis

Fellow Travellers adroitly balances the logic of time travel with its fantasy and mystique, and does so with understated depth that leaves me wanting more stories from this universe — and surely it could support as many as you could fit in the whole of time. Add a vibrant, diverse cast (to make the road less lonely) and a gripping, genre-blending plot and you’ve got a stellar debut novel. I can’t wait to see what Bethea does next.”

— AC Stuart, cartoonist, creator of Awoo!

Fellow Travelers is a fast-paced trip through time and into a world where everything has happened, is happening, and will happen. This science fiction tale combines world building and clever characters to craft a story that will keep readers engaged until the end. Amazing manuscript!”

–Great Novel Contest judge feedback

About the author:

Jesse is a journalist, author, videographer, and the winner of the 2019 Great Novel Contest. Born and raised in Fairfax, VA, he moved to Ohio in 2010. 

In 2014, Jesse moved to Columbus and immediately started writing for, where his work has been recognized several times by the Ohio Society of Professional Journalists. By 2015, he was working for The Ohio Channel (Ohio’s version of C-SPAN) as an assistant producer.

On the rare occasions when Jesse gives himself a break from writing, he enjoys hiking, true crime podcasts, and reading, specifically non-fiction disaster/survival narratives. If there’s a situation where people have had to eat each other, he’s interested in reading more about it.

Jesse currently lives in Columbus, Ohio, with his wife Melissa.

Look for a Fellow Travellers release at the end of this month. We also have a very special second Fellow Travellers announcement coming at the end of next week, so stay tuned to the Ohio Writers’ Association Facebook and Twitter accounts so you don’t miss it!

Winners of The Great Novel Contest 2020

We received a great pool of submissions for The Great Novel Contest 2020. Thank you to everyone who submitted work!

Find our full list of Finalists here.

Our judges carefully considered this year’s winner. In the end, the decision was clear:

Threshing of Straw by Kim Catron is the Grand Prize Winner of The Great Novel Contest 2020!

From one of our judges: “Threshing from Straw is a work of historical fiction with excellent dialogue and characters that ring true. It’s obvious that the author has done extensive research, and this contributes to the realistic world she builds and the compelling conflicts her characters face. A must-read manuscript!”

Congratulations, Kim! You’ve won a publishing contract with Bellwether, the publishing imprint of the Ohio Writers’ Association, as well as $1,000.

We can’t wait to see Threshing of Straw in print!

Thank you to Columbus Publishing Lab for sponsoring this contest and making it possible. Columbus Publishing Lab provides publication and marketing services for authors and small presses. They help self-publishers make smart decisions and see a return on their investment. Learn more at

Columbus Publishing Lab

Words Will Never Hurt Me by Toni Wilbarger is the official Runner-up of The Great Novel Contest 2020!

From one of our judges: “Words Will Never Hurt Me is a mystery that shines through its strong writing. The pace is well metered and it’s clear that the author has put in the work to make sure the characters’ motivations read impactfully. She leaves the reader with a deeper message through the vehicle of an entertaining read.”

Congratulations, Toni! Your prize is $500 cash, a publishing consultation with OWA President and publishing expert Brad Pauquette, and a letter of recommendation for agents and publishers.

The remaining eight finalists will be publicly recognized for their achievement and will receive a voucher to take one free OWA class in 2020, good for up to $50.

Congratulations to all of the finalists, and thank you to everyone who made this another successful contest!

Learn more about The Great Novel Contest here, and mark your calendar for next year!

The Great Novel Contest: Open for Submissions Now!

The Great Novel Contest is officially open for submissions! Submit your manuscript here.

This year’s winner will take home a publishing contract with Bellwether and $1,000 cash!

Our runner-up will receive $500 cash, a publishing consultation with OWA President and publishing expert Brad Pauquette, and a letter of recommendation for agents and publishers.

Ten finalists will receive public recognition for their achievement, as well as a $50 voucher to take an OWA class in 2020.

This contest is open to all previously unpublished manuscripts, with the exception of children’s books and erotica. Manuscripts must be between 50,000 and 125,000 words in length.

Read the contest rules and find instructions for entering here.

This is your chance to be discovered. (And the cash is nice too.) Submit your novel to The Great Novel Contest 2020 here.

May the best novel win!

Questions about the contest? Contact a helpful OWA volunteer at

The Great Novel Contest 2020 is sponsored by Columbus Publishing Lab, which provides production, marketing, and consultation for small presses and self-publishers. Learn more at

Columbus Publishing Lab

The Great Novel Contest 2019: Shannon Ferretti — Finalist

Shannon Ferretti earned her spot as one of the top ten finalists in the Great Novel Contest 2019 for her exceptional manuscript, Earth 2.0.

The Great Novel Contest Returns on January 1, 2020! Get the details here.

Earth 2.0 centers on Kit, a girl who grew up in the City, Earth’s last civilization, surrounded by protective walls after the nuclear fallout from World War III. Believing in a future free of nuclear waste, Kit is willing to give up her life to the City so future generations can safely reclaim Earth and live outside the walls—until she discovers that the City is a lie. Now on the run from the society she grew up in, Kit must escape the City’s grasp and join the rebellion if she has any hope of learning the truth.

Shannon makes time to write “way too early” in the morning before working as a business systems analyst for library software. When she’s not at her day job or writing, you can find her wearing all black, avoiding small talk, spoiling her dogs, and reading in a cozy space filled with lit candles.

After skating through high school, Shannon attended Columbus State Community College and enrolled herself in every offered writing class while finishing her Associate of Arts degree.

She cites The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy as a huge influence on her drive to write. “I read it over and over again during some dark times, and reading even just a few pages always distracted me and brought me away to another place,” she said. “I want to be able to give that back.”

She also looks to the Harry Potter series for inspiration and writing tips, specifically how “J.K. Rowling seamlessly weaves her plotlines and always keeps the story moving, with enough clues for the casual reader to stay with the story over thousands of pages.” For anyone trying to improve their craft, Shannon swears by Stephen King’s On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft.

To keep herself motivated, she connects with fellow writers on Twitter through #WriteFightGIFClub. “They’re just the most supportive, enthusiastic group, full of cheesy inside jokes and well-timed GIFs. They’ve been there for me in times of doubt and kept me going.”

As for writing advice, Shannon knows that there’s no one-size-fits-all approach. “Experiment with your writing process until you find one that works for you. Don’t force yourself to use someone else’s process and tell yourself you suck because it doesn’t work.”

Shannon discovered the Great Novel Contest 2019 through OWA’s email newsletter. She loved the idea of an Ohio-based contest, so she submitted the Earth 2.0 manuscript, which was “just sitting around on an extended rest” at the time.

She dreams of being published by one of the big publishing houses and spotting her name on the shelves at Barnes & Noble. To reach that goal, submitting Earth 2.0 felt like an easy choice. “I truly believe getting an acceptance is a numbers game,” she said. “The more you submit, the better odds you have, so submitting here [OWA] felt like a step along the path to publication.”

Keep an eye out for Shannon Ferretti and her novel, Earth 2.0.

Do you have an unpublished manuscript that deserves recognition?

Check out The Great Novel Contest 2020 and get ready to submit.

Not quite ready to submit a piece?

Check out some of our upcoming events, classes, and workshops!

The Great Novel Contest: Submission Checklist

We’re just eight days away from the start of The Great Novel Contest 2020!

Find prize information, submission guidelines, and our FAQ here.

Our submission form will open on January 1, 2020. Submissions will close on January 31, 2020. We reserve the right to close the contest early if we receive more submissions than our team can responsibly judge. Be ready to submit early rather than late!

The winner of this year’s contest will take home $1,000 in cash money, as well as a publishing contract from Bellwether, a publishing imprint of the Ohio Writers’ Association.

One runner-up will receive $500 cash, a publishing consultation with OWA President and publishing expert Brad Pauquette, and a letter of recommendation for agents and publishers.

Whether the contest has been on your radar for months or you’re just now hearing about it, here’s a simple checklist to make sure you’ve got your manuscript ready and your mind right to get that prize money.

  • Edit your manuscript now. This deadline waits for nobody. Take the remaining time before the contest starts to edit, polish, spit-shine, hem up plot holes, beef up your characters–whatever you have to do to get your manuscript ready for the judges. Somewhere, another future entrant is putting in the work. Don’t let procrastination cost you your shot at winning.
  • Review the submission guidelines, frequently asked questions, and prizes on the contest page here: Ask any lingering questions to an OWA administrator directly by emailing When you’ve finished educating yourself, bookmark the page so you can come back and submit your manuscript on January 1.
  • Plan how you’re going to laud your victory over your friends, enemies, and casual Facebook acquaintances. Also plan to spend your prize money on something totally ridiculous. Themed riverboat cruise. Discount taxidermy. A banana taped to a wall (fine art). Have your first draft bronzed. You’re a writer. You’ll think of something wild.

Submissions open January 1. Mark your calendars, or join the Facebook event here to stay in the loop as the submission period gets underway.

This is the fifth year we’ve held this contest, and each year exceptional manuscripts rise from the pool across all genres. Will this be the year you’re discovered? 

Questions about the contest? Contact us directly at

The Great Novel Contest: One Month Away!

The day after Thanksgiving is a recovery day. Sleep off your food coma while you’re “working” from home, have a shopping induced mental breakdown before noon, start looking at leftover turkey smoothie recipes, tape black paper over your windows to avoid your neighbor’s Christmas light display.

Since you’re sitting there in the dark anyway, now’s the perfect time to pull up your word processor and get your novel ready for The Great Novel Contest.

The contest opens in one month on January 1, 2020. Submissions will only be accepted through January 31.

Find contest details and submission guidelines here.

“You have plenty of time,” your Netflix account whispers.  

Procrastinate and you risk missing your shot at a publishing contract with Bellwether and $1,000 in cash—this year’s grand prize. One runner-up will receive $500 in cash, a publishing consultation, and a letter of recommendation for agents and publishers.

Now’s the time to finish writing and tinkering and start editing if you want your manuscript to be contest-ready by January. Every year we have authors who try to finish last-minute what they should have completed before January 1. (If your book ends suddenly with a natural disaster, we WILL know that you ran out of time.) There are no extensions!

Brush those pumpkin pie crumbs off your laptop. Edit like a fiend. Submit a manuscript on January 1. Win the contest. Spend your prize money. Get published.

To stay in the loop about the contest as we gear up for the submission period, join our Facebook event here.

Questions about the contest? Contact us:

Thanks to Columbus Publishing Lab for sponsoring this year’s contest! CPL provides high-quality publishing services to authors and small presses. Learn more about Columbus Publishing Lab here:

Columbus Publishing Lab

The Great Novel Contest: Five-Day Warning

Break out. Get published.

WARNING: Only five days remain before this year’s Great Novel Contest closes forever. The hard and fast submission deadline is this Friday, May 31st at 11:59 p.m.  Someone is going to land a publishing contract, but it won’t be you if you miss this deadline!

Click here to submit your novel, read about the contest, or ask a question.

The Prizes:

One grand prize winner will receive a publishing offer from Bellwether, OWA’s publishing imprint, and $3,000 in credit for author development services from Columbus Publishing Lab. One runner-up will receive $1,000 in credit for author development services from Columbus Publishing Lab, as well as recognition for the achievement!

Ten finalists will be publicly recognized and receive a letter of recommendation from OWA president Brad Pauquette. Talk about a resume booster!

Submit your novel here.

Questions? Get answers before the contest closes. Contact us at

Announcement — The Winner of The Great Novella Contest 2018

We are pleased to announce the winner of The Great Novella Contest 2018!  After our judges sorted through a multitude of submissions, publishing director Emily Hitchcock selected the Grand Champion.  Every manuscript submitted was reviewed by at least one judge.

The Busker by Brooks Rexroat is the Grand Champion of The Great Novella Contest 2018!  Congratulations, Brooks!

As champion, Brooks Rexroat will receive a publishing contract with Ragged Crow, imprint of the Ohio Writers’ Association.

Brooks Rexroat was raised near Cincinnati, Ohio at the intersection of the Rust Belt and Appalachia: the crossing point of mountain and farm field, boarded mine and shuttered factory, the water that splits north from south. The importance of place has always surrounded him, and it deeply inhabits his characters. His most recent publication is Thrift Store Coats (Orson’s Publishing, 2018).

You can learn more about Brooks’ published work and his travels here:

Thank you to everyone who submitted a novella manuscript to this year’s contest.  We opened this contest on a hunch that there were short manuscripts out there by writers worth publishing, and your submissions proved us right. As always, we are forever grateful that you trust us with your work.  Running a contest with integrity that presents legitimate opportunities is something that we take very seriously, and it wouldn’t be possible without the participation of so many fantastic writers.

A huge special thank you goes to Columbus Publishing Lab for sponsoring Columbus Publishing Labthis contest. Columbus Publishing Lab provides outstanding production and marketing work for small presses like OWA and Columbus Press, as well as individual authors around the country.  Learn more about Columbus Publishing Lab’s books and services here. 

Thank you to everyone who helped publicize and promote the contest, and to those who served as part of our judging committee.

Congratulations to Brooks Rexroat for this tremendous accomplishment.  Keep an eye out for The Busker in 2019.

The Great Novella Contest — Less Than a Month Remains!

Less than a month remains before the submissions period of the Great Novella Contest closes!

Submit your unpublished novella manuscript (15k–35k words) by September 27 for a chance to win a publishing contract with Ragged Crow, an imprint of OWA and publisher of the Columbus Creative Cooperative series of anthologies.

Get all of the details and instructions for entering by clicking here.

Why novellas? 

Too short to shop around to most publishing houses, but too long to find a home in a magazine or collection of short stories, novellas are the proverbial middle child. We have a hunch that there are a wealth of novellas languishing in drawers without good homes. The Great Novella Contest is a mechanism to see what short work is out there, and put one great piece of writing on the map.

Attention spans are shorter, people are busy, and there’s an unmet demand for books that can be consumed quickly. Novellas are the next big (small) thing. Submit yours today!

This contest is sponsored by Columbus Publishing Lab, a provider of exceptional publishing services for authors and small presses. Learn more about Columbus Publishing Lab here.

Best of luck to all of the participating novella authors, and may the best manuscript win!

Problems submitting? Questions about this contest? Contact us at

Best of Ohio Short Stories: Volume 2 — Available Now!

It is with great pride that we present our newest anthology, Best of Ohio Short ebook_coverStories: Volume II, featuring short stories from fifteen Ohio authors. This eclectic collection of literary and popular fiction spans several genres, and is sure to please readers of all types.

A mischievous caretaker monkey, a busted midnight joyride, a holocaust childhood, the goodness of Kentucky wonder beans–this latest volume of the best of Ohio presents all this and more between its covers. These engaging, powerful, sometimes funny, sometimes heartbreaking stories are the best of the best, carefully selected from hundreds of submissions.

Purchase Best of Ohio Short Stories: Volume 2 here as a paperback or e-book.

Below you will find the complete table of contents. Browse it at your leisure, and when your interest is sufficiently piqued, we hope you’ll get yourself a copy and enjoy it as much as we do.

Congratulations to all the authors who were selected for publication!

“Miss Ellen Told Me” by Brooks Rexroat

“Nikos the Barber” by G.L. Mislin

“Hostess of the Dead” by Tonja Matney Reynolds

“Trey” by Scott Geisel

“S. 18th St.” by Emily Hitchcock

“Kentucky Wonder Beans” by Brenda Layman

“Plan J” by Chris Burnside

“The Weight of Indecision” by Michael O’Donnell

“How You Were Born” by Sara Ross Witt

“Pigtail Fatty” by Jennifer Bryan

“Starlit” by Ian Moeckel

“Joe and the Cake” by Charles Derry

“Emergency Candles” by Kathleen Nicklaus

“The Midnight Rambler” by Lawrence Parlier

“Second-Hand Monkey” by Tom Barlow