Don’t miss out on your chance to win $1,000 and a publishing contract with Bellwether. We can’t think of a better way to start off the new decade than with cash in my pocket and a published book on the way.
You’ll also be featured in the OWA Contest Winner article to showcase your writing talents and promote your upcoming book.
The runner up will receive $500 and a publishing consultation with OWA President and publishing expert Brad Paquette. Ten finalists will receive a $50 voucher for OWA classes and be featured in a Finalist Spotlight post.
Steven graduated with his bachelor’s from Urbana University and earned his Master of Arts in Creative Writing and English degree from Southern New Hampshire University in 2014. Now he works as an English Professor at the University of Northwestern Ohio. When he’s not grading papers or jotting down the next chapter of his story, he’s often found playing a relaxing game of chess.
The Breach of the Covenant takes an imaginative spin on the story of Adam and Eve, where the Forbidden Fruit didn’t just make them intelligent: it gave them access to all of God’s knowledge. In the wake of the chaos that followed, a small species was created by mistake. Now, this race must limit humanity’s knowledge and prevent humans from learning what they already know.
Some of Steven’s favorite books include The Chocolate War, Arrow in the Sun, and works by Dr. Suess, Steinbeck, and Shakespeare. If you’re interested in learning craft, he swears by The Elements of Style by Strunk and White and East of Eden by Steinbeck.
A good support group is key to writing, and Steven has his wife and son to encourage him. After Steven was announced as a finalist “more people have started to believe in [his] writing.”
Observation and persistence are two other qualities that Steven recommends to anyone who has a hard time finishing their novel. He also suggests that “you must pay attention to what is around you…writing is not something done on occasion; it is a laborious task like a marathon.”
Steven discovered Ohio Writers’ Association and The Great Novel Contest 2020 through Facebook. As someone who’s entered multiple writing contests in the past, he knows that it’s worth submitting. “The worst answer is no, and I hear that often enough,” he said.
Steven hopes to be published by a traditional publishing house someday, and he continues to be a prolific writer. His psychological drama Screaming in Silence was shortlisted for the 2016 William Wise-William Faulkner Contest, and he’s already completed a sequel to Breach of the Covenant.
Do you have an unpublished manuscript that deserves recognition?
a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in English from Ohio State, and he currently lives
in the Columbus area with his wife and son. During
his free time, he enjoys reading nineteenth-century novels, Samuel Beckett,
pulp crime fiction, and watching cheap horror movies.
published multiple stories in a variety of magazines such as The Edge, The
Pedestal, Byzarium, and Page and Spine. After being an editor for the small-press
magazine Dread, he took a fifteen-year hiatus from the writing and
publishing world, and he feels like he’s “starting from scratch.” The Thin
Red Jellies Within is his first novel-length project and marks his return
The Thin Red Jellies Within walks the line between genres as a man tries his best to handle the bizarre new life he’s handed after his wife disappears. She’s eventually finally found, but something feels off about her. Is this really the person he fell in love with?
The Thin Red Jellies Within is a mystery, one that questions identity and the limits of reason viewed through the prism of historic Ohio.
One of Bill’s earliest writing inspirations was the Hardy Boys series, and he wrote a story about them in the fourth grade. Now he’s influenced by works such as Sister Carrie and American Tragedy by Theodore Dreiser, Huck Finn, Joe R. Lansdale’s A fine Dark Line, Gifune’s Deep Night, Little Girl Lost and Songs of Innocence by Richard Aleas, and Tremblay’s The Cabin at the End of the World. He also recommends reading the works of Henry James, Jim Thompson, and any of Richard Wright’s works — especially American Hunger.
Persistence was key to finishing The Thin Red Jellies Within, and Bill believes that persistence is most important for anyone struggling to finish a novel. After his long hiatus, Bill is building up his writing support group. “I’m just starting to share work with people and build new relationships.”
Bill is a long-standing member of OWA, and he spotted The Great Novel Contest 2019’s announcement on the website. At first, he felt unsure about submitting, but then he thought: “What the heck. OWA is a very supportive organization, and I’ve always gotten good feedback when I’ve participated in their workshops. I felt that something positive would come of it.”
To Bill, the ideal situation would be finding a good editor who enjoys his writing style and building a relationship with them. He will continue submitting The Thin Red Jellies Within to small-press editors in hopes that the manuscript will find a good home in the future.
Do you have an unpublished manuscript that deserves recognition?
Unfollowers follows Barb Matheson, who doesn’t
fit in: not on the Standing Rock Reservation where her mother was born; not on
the Ethiopian mission where she grew up; not at the Midwestern college where
she studies literature; and not at the church in Bethel, Pennsylvania, where
her husband preaches. While celebrating her fifth anniversary, she stumbles
upon Declan, her first love, the one who whispered his dark secret into her ear
so many years ago. And now he’s invited her and her husband to visit Ethiopia
Unfollowers is a tale of religious angst,
unrequited love, and the upheaval of racial and economic privilege.
Leigh Ann studied under Maud Casey at the University of Maryland where earned
an MFA in fiction. She obtained her BA in English from Wheaton College, which
is “best known as the school from which Billy Graham graduated and Wes Craven
Now she teaches college courses herself as a professor of literature and writing at a school “smack in the middle of Montana.” Most days, she can be found musing on story structure, music theory, and a variety of fandoms of which she is “alternately proud and embarrassed to be a member.” Whenever she’s not buckling down on grading “which is awful” or writing “which is wonderful,” she often watches theater with her partner.
To Leigh Ann, her partner “is by far the most important cheerleader,
not to mention person, in my life.” Several important phrases and terms made it
into Unfollowers “only at [my partner’s]
suggestion.”Leigh Ann’s parents,
friends, and colleagues also support her, sometimes in person and other times through
online group chats.
As a writing professor, she has some substantial advice to give for
anyone who is struggling to finish a writing project. “You have to give
yourself time,” she says. “Time is the difference between half-baked writing
and writing from which the toothpick comes out clean.”
Leigh Ann grew up reading adventure books, especially the works of Lloyd Alexander.
Now she finds inspiration in Jonathan Franzen, Jonathan Foer, Chelsey Johnson,
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, and Rainbow Rowell. She also loves the poetry of
Tommy Pico and graphic novels by Craig Thompson.
For anyone interested in studying the craft of writing, she recommends several books. For short stories, read the Complete Stories collection of Flannery O’Connor and Amy Hempel’s Collected Stories. For novels, look at the works of Thomas Hardy, especially his underrated book Woodlanders. Regardless of format, Leigh Ann believes everyone should read Claudia Rankine’s Citizen, which is an “exquisitely human” book.
Leigh Ann discovered The Great Novel Contest 2019 through Submittable, a useful
website for writers that collates publishing opportunities and organizes them
by deadline. After growing up near the Ohio border in Pennsylvania, Leigh Ann had
a sense of nostalgia as she looked into the contest.
Leigh Ann believes that ideal publishing involves an honest collaboration between the writer and publisher, and she is happy to see that The Great Novel Contest is “interested in promoting writers, rather than just pitting them against each other.” Leigh Ann won’t give up until she finds the right home for Unfollowers, whether it passes through the hands of an agent or goes straight to a publisher.
Be on the lookout for Unfollowers and more stories by Leigh Ann in the future.
Someone in the world deserves to read the novel that you’ll write. This is your year to invest in yourself and finally write a great novel.
Our novel writing course begins on January 9th. This is a fantastic resource that you don’t want to miss.
Writing a novel as a busy adult is difficult. It’s a giant
undertaking. It’s not something you instinctually know how to do.
This course has helped developing authors, just like you, to
accomplish giant projects.
The novel-writing 4-class series will cover a few important
Development – You have an idea for a novel, how do
you turn that into 50,000+ words? We’ll explore the structure of how stories
work, so that you can include all of the most important elements. With a little
help, you won’t feel like you’re stretching an idea, or like you’re trying to
cram too much in.
Successful books all share some common elements. We’ll show you what they are. Seriously, this will crack your head open. You won’t believe what you’ve been missing.
Organization – Writing a novel is a major project. We’ll
show you the strategies that professional authors use to keep their work in
order, so that they can effectively write large works.
Writing a novel efficiently takes 100 hours. Writing it
haphazardly will take hundreds more. We’ll help you keep the ducks in a row.
Execution – The fact is, you won’t always feel
excited about writing your novel. The project is just too big. But it’s an
important project, and it’s important that you finish it. We’ll provide
techniques and strategies that keep the process manageable, so that you can
make big progress even when you’re not in the mood.
We’re going to cover all of this in just four weeks. You
will leave the class with a completely different perspective on your novel
project, and you’ll be ready to take care of business.
All classes are offered live online on Thursday evening. If you need to miss a class (or all of them), you can also watch the recorded video for up to 7 days following each class.
The cost of this 4-week course is $299 for OWA members ($349 for non-members).
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.
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.
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 Guideto 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.
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.”
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.”
discovered the Great Novel Contest 2019 through OWA’semail 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.
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
Do you have an unpublished
manuscript that deserves recognition?
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: www.NovelContest.OhioWriters.org. Ask any lingering questions to an OWA administrator directly by emailing email@example.com. 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.
Paralith is a coming-of-age story that follows two brothers as they seek a set of powerful stones on an epic quest. Along the way, they’ll encounter new allies, confront old wounds, and start to unravel a long-held family mystery. Paralith combines the fantastical with the growth of a sheltered teenager into a young man.
Mike Sieminksi lives in Westerville, Ohio, with his beautiful wife and wonderful six-year-old twins. He is a licensed dietitian with degrees in medical dietetics and communication from The Ohio State University. Mike knows that life is precious, so he’s always looking for ways to better himself whether it is at his job, with his family, or through his writing.
As a kid, Mike didn’t like to read unless it was a Dungeons and Dragons manual, but he always knew that he wanted to write a book. As an adult, Mike finds inspiration in Harry Potter. He also enjoys classic stories by Isaac Asimov, H. G. Wells, Ray Bradbury, Lovecraft, and Stephen King. He encourages writers to read things that inspire them.
Mike heard about The Great Novel Contest during the Columbus State Writers’ Conference and decided it was a fantastic opportunity to get his writing out into the world. With the support of his wife
Prior to entering The Great Novel Contest, Mike struggled to find someone to read his work and provide objective feedback. Traditional publishing required him to summarize his 74,000-word book in a 200-word query letter, and then hope the agent requests the manuscript. “I liked that the OWA contest guaranteed a reading of each manuscript, giving each one a chance,” Mike said. He also thought it was a great chance to gauge the quality of his writing against other writers.
If you are struggling to complete your novel, Mike has some advice. “Don’t think. Write. Sometimes the brain can interfere with your writing. Let your hands and fingers be the unfiltered translators of your brain’s deep, dark thoughts. Also, enjoy it. If you don’t enjoy what you’re writing, stop.”
Mike is currently querying agents and publishers in hopes of being published. “I’ve always envisioned my book being sold at Barnes & Noble, featured on the bestseller rack as you walk in the store, then made into a blockbuster movie.” He is open to self-publishing and plans to look into it in the future if the traditional publishing route doesn’t work out.
We’d love to read your manuscripts! Submit them to The Great Novel Contest 2020 for a chance to win $1,000 and a publishing contract with Bellwether.