The Great Novel Contest 2019: Jesse Bethea – Grand Champion Spotlight

Jesse Bethea won a publishing contract from Bellwether and infinite bragging rights for his unpublished manuscript, Fellow Travelers, as the grand champion of the Great Novel Contest 2019.

Learn more about the Great Novel Contest 2020.

Fellow Travelers 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 Travelers is a book about people who happen to be time travelers, their wants, their needs, their feelings, their fears, and their community.

Born and raised in Fairfax, VA, he fell in love with Ohio University’s Media Arts program and the scenic campus during a visit with family, so Jesse moved to Ohio to attend OU in 2010. Jesse loved his time there so much that Alden Library was an important location in his novel Fellow Travelers.

In 2014, Jesse moved to Columbus and immediately started writing for ColumbusUnderground.com. 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. According to Jesse, “any situation where people have had to eat each other, I’m in.”

Jesse was encouraged in his literary abilities at an early age. He came from a family of readers and librarians who didn’t limit his reading or potential, a family who gave him “all the notebooks and pens and pencils” he could ask for.

He found inspiration to write as a child from Maniac Magee by Jerry Spinelli and Hoot by Carl Hiaasen. These books are “both partially about exploring hidden worlds and characters on the fringes of everyday life.” He was also influenced by The Power of Un, a book that led to his “lifelong subconscious obsession with time travel and its implications.”

These early interests in time travel and adventure culminated in Fellow Travelers, a world where moments in time provide a map the mind can travel.

Jesse had a great team in his corner during the writing and editing of Fellow Travelers. “My biggest supporter was definitely my wife Melissa, a voracious fantasy reader who encouraged me to keep going by reading every chapter in about fifteen minutes and then demanding a new one. She even made a hardcover version of the book for my birthday. My dear friends Nikki Lanka and Emily Sirney read early drafts and give some essential feedback. My best friend Haylee Pearl helped immensely by quizzing me on the rules of the time travel world and community.”

When it comes to writing advice, Jesse knows the writing process is different for different people, but he does have a piece of advice for those who listen to music when they write. “If you’re going to listen to music while you’re writing, which I find helps me focus, make sure you don’t listen to music with lyrics. That will, generally speaking, break your focus and defeat the purpose. Listen to instrumental music only. Or music with singing in another language. My go-to playlist on Fellow Travelers was the album “Ball of Fire” by the Skatalites — totally instrumental, very assertive, insistent ska music. It felt like the horn section was scolding me whenever I wasn’t typing.”

Fellow Travelers found a home with Bellwether thanks to Jesse’s superb writing skills and the Ohio Writers’ Association’s novel contest. This wasn’t the first contest Jesse entered with Ohio Writers’ Association. He submitted to the Great Novella Contest in 2018. When he heard about The Great Novel Contest 2019, he took a shot. All his hard work paid off. Jesse’s manuscript is now on its way to being a published novel.

Stay tuned for updates and announcements on publication from Bellwether. Fellow Travelers will hit shelves worldwide in the summer of 2020.


Do you have an unpublished manuscript that deserves recognition?
Check out The Great Novel Contest 2020 and get ready to submit.

The Great Novel Contest 2020

We are pleased to confirm the details for the Great Novel Contest 2020!

Learn more at NovelContest.OhioWriters.org.

This year’s contest (our fifth year!) will revert to our original schedule, and offer the contest during the month of January. Mark your calendar for January 1 and get ready to submit!

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

Bellwether Publishing

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.

All 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.

You can also stay in the loop with news and reminders by joining the event on Facebook and marking yourself “going”: https://www.facebook.com/events/1150335305167637/

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 www.ColumbusPublishingLab.com.

Columbus Publishing Lab

We welcome new sponsors for this contest. If you would like to sponsor this event, please contact us at info@ohiowriters.org.

Polish off your manuscript and get ready! Mark your calendar for January 1, 2020.

Get all of the details at NovelContest.OhioWriters.org.

Winners of The Great Novel Contest 2019

We had so many amazing submissions to The Great Novel Contest 2019. Thank you to everyone who submitted your work.

Find our full list of Finalists here.

With so many great submissions, our judges took their time to pick this year’s winner. In the end, the decision was unanimous:

Fellow Travelers by Jesse Bethea is the Grand Prize Winner of The Great Novel Contest 2019!

From one of our judges: “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!”

Congratulations Jesse! You’ve won a publishing contract with Bellwether, the publishing imprint of the Ohio Writers’ Association, as well as $3,000 in author development services from Columbus Publishing Lab.

We can’t wait to see Fellow Travelers 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 www.ColumbusPublishingLab.com.

Columbus Publishing Lab

Becoming Nora by Margaret Kirby is the official Runner-up of The Great Novel Contest 2019!

From one of our judges: “Becoming Nora explores the intricacies and complexities of relationships. Through tight prose and exceptional character development, Margaret Kirby reveals how closely our identities are entwined with those we care about the most.”

Congratulations, Margaret! You’ve won $1,000 of services from Columbus Publishing Lab, to be used as you see fit!

The remaining eight finalists will receive a letter of recommendation for agents and publishers, as well as a publishing consultation from Brad Pauquette.

All submissions were judged “blind”—no names, history, demographics, or identifying information was shared with the judges.

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


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Learn more here:
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Announcing Finalists: The Great Novel Contest 2019

This year’s The Great Novel Contest was inundated with exceptional submissions. After much hand-wringing, we’re pleased to announce The Great Novel Contest 2019 finalists!

This contest was open to manuscripts of 50,000-125,000 words, in all genres except for children’s books and erotica. Learn more about the 2020 Great Novel Contest here and mark your calendars for January 1.

Judges considered a variety of factors when choosing finalists, including organization, style, viability of concept, and prose quality.  All submissions were judged “blind”—no names, history, demographics, or identifying information was shared with the judges.

This contest is sponsored by Columbus Publishing Lab, an outstanding company which provides publication and marketing services to authors and small presses. Learn more at www.ColumbusPublishingLab.com.

Columbus Publishing Lab

These finalists are presented in a randomized order:

White Oaks by Jordan King

Fellow Travelers by Jesse Bethea

The Thin Red Jellies Within by Bill Hughes

Breach of the Covenant by Steven Hiller

Paralith by Mike Sieminski

Museum of an Extinct Race by Jonathan Rosen

Earth 2.0 by Shannon Ferretti

A Principle of Light by Janet Irvin

Unfollowers by Leigh Ann Ruggiero

Becoming Nora by Margaret Kirby

These ten finalists will receive further consideration. One of these manuscripts will win a publishing contract with Bellwether, as well as $3,000 in author development services from Columbus Publishing Lab.  The winner will be a published author with the platform to prove it.

One runner-up will win $1,000 in author development services from Columbus Publishing Lab.

The remaining finalists will receive a publishing consultation, as well as a letter of recommendation to publishers and agents.

While the following four titles were not selected as finalists, our judges felt that they deserve recognition for the quality of their work.

Inherent Lies by Alicia Anthony
The Magdalenes by Jeanne Skartsiaris
Girl on the Edge by Kirby Nielsen
Longshot by Jerina Pieri

Thank you to all of the authors who entered The Great Novel Contest 2019.  While only a limited number of manuscripts could be selected as finalists, we were overwhelmed with the quality of the submissions that we received this year.

Thank you again to Columbus Publishing Lab for sponsoring this contest. Please visit www.ColumbusPublishingLab.com to learn more about their services.

Learn more about The Great Novel Contest at NovelContest.OhioWriters.org. Don’t forget to mark your calendar for next year!


Don’t miss our fall retreats! Learn more here: Retreats.OhioWriters.org

The Great Novel Contest 2019: Judges Be Judgin’

The judging period for The Great Novel Contest is underway!

A special team of handpicked judges is hard at work reading novels. The winning novel could be in front of a judge RIGHT NOW.

We know it’s tempting to email and ask for an update on your submission, but we ask that you respect the time of our volunteers and wait for our official announcement. We will announce the winner, runner-up and finalists soon. No updates will be given before that time.

Thank you to everyone who submitted a manuscript to this contest. So far, we’ve been very pleased by the quality of the books our judges are reviewing.

Grand Champion of The Great Novel Contest 2015 – Zach Boddicker

The Great Novel Contest 2015We are pleased to announce the winners of The Great Novel Contest 2015!  After sorting through a multitude of submissions, our two-tier judging committee has selected the Grand Champion and Runner-Up.  All submissions were judged blind (no names or identifying information).

The Essential Carl Mahogany by Zach Boddicker is the Grand Champion of The Great Novel Contest 2015!  Congratulations Zach!

Mr. Boddicker will take home the $1,000 grand prize.  His manuscript will also receive priority consideration from four esteemed publishers – Columbus Press, Elephant Rock Books, PageSpring Publishing and Raw Dog Screaming Press.

Zach Boddicker is a Colorado-based writer and musician. His most-recent publication is a short story in A Decade of Country Hits: Art on the Rural Frontier (Jap Sam Books, 2014). A general sense of his current path can be found at zachboddicker.wordpress.com.

Our Runner-Up is The Galvanized Man by David L. Day!  Congratuations David!

Mr. Day will be awarded the $500 prize, and his manuscript will receive the same priority consideration from these four great publishers.

David L. Day is a dark fantasy novelist living in the Columbus, OH, area. When not reading, writing, or spending time with his wife and sons, David can usually be found watching a horror movie, playing video games, or training for his black belt in Taekwondo. Sometimes he can even be found attempting to skateboard or snowboard, although not as often as he’d like (but probably more often than he should at his age). David holds a BA in English and an MBA from Ohio University, as well as an MA in Writing Popular Fiction from Seton Hill University. His first novel, TEARSTONE, was published by Belfire Press in March 2013. His snazzy but woefully neglected website can be found at
www.davidlday.com.

The judging committee would also like to make note of The Tell-Tale Art by Richard Novotney, which was the undisputed next choice. While Mr. Novotney will not receive a prize, we are pleased to recognize the excellence of his work.

Find a complete list of The Great Novel Contest 2015 Finalists here.

Thank you to everyone who submitted a novel manuscript to this year’s contest.  As always, we were completely blown away by the talented pool of submissions that we received, and 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.

Thank you to all of our volunteers, from the crew who helped publicize and promote the contest, to those who helped us organize and facilitate the submissions, to those who served as part of our judging committee, you folks are fantastic, thank you!  Our group is a product of its outstanding members, and you guys are the cream of the crop!

A special huge thanks goes to our Contest Coordinator, Mr. Todd Metcalf, as well as Deputy Director Emily Hitchcock and Director Brad Pauquette, for their tireless efforts, without which this contest would never be sustainable.

Congratulations to Mr. Zach Boddicker and Mr. David L. Day for their tremendous accomplishments.  Keep an eye out for these novels from a publisher soon.

Don’t forget that we will be opening submissions for our next anthology, Best of Ohio Short Stories: Volume II on June 1!  Find the details here.

The Great Novel Contest 2015 Finalists!

The Great Novel Contest 2015Our judges have officially selected The Great Novel Contest 2015 finalists!

We are pleased to carefully consider every manuscript submitted. Every submission received the attention of a live, qualified human being. All judging was conducted “blind” — only the merits of the manuscript were considered, with no knowledge of or consideration of the author’s name or qualifications.

These ten finalists will now be considered by a second group of judges, who will select the winner and the runner-up.

Without further ado, here are the ten finalists, listed in alphabetical order of author’s last name:

The Essential Carl Mahogany by Zach Boddicker

The Galvanized Man by David Day

Murder in G Major by Alexia Gordon

Thirst by Jennifer Kelly

Streets of the Lost and Found by Kip Langello

The Tell-Tale Art by Richard Novotney

Blameless by Lee Reilly

Turning the Bones by Sam Scott

The Aroma of Coffee by Judith Weiss-Rivera

Horror Nights by Paul Yoder

Thank you to everyone who submitted a manuscript to The Great Novel Contest 2015. As always, choosing just ten novels to move on as finalists was no easy task. We’re privileged and honored to be trusted with such a tremendous pool of talent.

The winner and runner-up of The Great Novel Contest 2015 will both receive priority consideration from four publishers, as well as cash prizes of $1,000 and $500 respectively.

Thank you to our participating publishers: Columbus Press, Elephant Rock Books, PageSpring Publishing and Raw Dog Screaming Press. Please support great independent literature and check out some of the amazing titles that these publishing houses are producing.

Thank you again to all of those who have participated with The Great Novel Contest 2015, both as candidates and our staff of invaluable volunteers.

Congratulations to these ten finalists!

P.S. Information about our next anthology project, Best of Ohio Short Stories Volume II, is now available to members.  Log in and visit the writers’ forum for details.  Information will be released to the public in the coming weeks.

The Great Novel Contest 2015: Judges Be Judgin’

The judging period for The Great Novel Contest is underway! The Great Novel Contest 2015

A special team of handpicked judges is hard at work reading novels. The winning novel could be in front of a judge RIGHT NOW.

We know it’s tempting to email and ask for an update on your submission, but we ask that you respect the time of our volunteers and wait for our official announcement. We will announce the winner, runner-up and finalists on April 15, 2015. No updates will be given before that time.

From there, the two winning manuscripts will be delivered to the four participating publishers for their consideration. Any contract negotiation is between the publisher and the author, but if we’re privy to the publisher’s decision, we’ll let you know.

Thank you to everyone who submitted a manuscript to this contest. So far, we’ve been very pleased by the quality of the books our judges are reviewing.

The Great Novel Contest: Closed for Submissions

The entry period for The Great Novel Contest 2015 is officially over. This year was our The Great Novel Contest 2015greatest year yet! We owe a big thanks to all the folks who helped us spread the word, and to our team of volunteers who put in a lot of hard work.

In the coming weeks our team of judges will be hard at work reading manuscripts. We ask that you do not contact us about your submission in the meantime. We’ll post updates on our blog, but we will not give out individual updates. We get it–the anticipation is killing you! However, we ask that you please be patient and respect the time of our volunteers.

We will announce the contest winners by April 15, 2015. Mark your calendars!

From there, the two winning manuscripts will be delivered to the four participating publishers for their consideration. Any contract negotiation is between the publisher and the author, but if we’re privy to the publisher’s decision, we’ll let you know.

Best of luck to everyone who entered the contest! We have a great pool of manuscripts this year, and our judges are looking forward to diving in.

The Great Novel Contest: Now or Never

You have less than 72 hours to submit a novel to The Great Novel Contest 2015. The contestThe Great Novel Contest 2015 is better than ever this year, and with the entry fee reduced to $25, there’s no reason to let the January 31 deadline pass you by.

Find the contest rules and instructions for entering here. 

The winner of The Great Novel Contest 2015 will receive $1,000 and priority consideration from four publishers. The contest runner-up will receive $500 and consideration from the same four publishers. Ten finalists will receive recognition of their achievement, a letter of reccomendation for potential agents and publishers and a free copy of Columbus: Past, Present and Future. 

Learn more about the four participating publishers below:

Columbus Press is an independent publisher of exceptional fiction and narrative non-fiction.

“One of the advantages of small or mid-size press is that an author can find someone that’s really a good fit. Your book doesn’t just make sense on a spreadsheet, but it’s something the publisher can really get excited about and roll with month after month.”

-Brad Pauquette, Publisher, Columbus Press

Elephant Rock Books is publisher of handsome books, quality fiction and nonfiction that you won’t forget.

“It’s a cliché, but those first few pages should leap off the page. Editors read so many manuscripts, we’re a jaded bunch. That said, I open each submission hoping it is the best book ever written. It’s why I got into this business.”

-Jotham Burrello, Publisher, Elephant Rock Books

Raw Dog Screaming Press is dedicated to putting into print the highest quality literature from the fringe. 

“I start getting excited when I read a page or two, and this is going to sound a little weird, but when the sentences are smooth, not awkward, and the story and the style are working together.”

-Jennifer Barnes, Publisher, Raw Dog Screaming Press

PageSpring Publishing is an independent book publisher specializing in high-quality novels for adults and younger readers. 

“Before we were ever editors or publishers, we were readers. You know that feeling when you pick up a book and find you just have to keep turning pages? Or you identify so fully with a character that you’d swear she was real? As a reader, there’s nothing better than finding a book that speaks to you that way. It’s intensely gratifying when we’re able to give that experience to a fellow reader.”

– Rebecca Seum, Publisher, PageSpring Publishing

What’s the holdup? Submit your novel to The Great Novel Contest before it’s too late. Click here for contest rules and instructions for entering.

May the best manuscript win!