The Upper Twenty Percent

Short Story Sunday Series

By Michael Recto

When Vilfredo Pareto once observed that 20 percent of the peapods in his garden produced 80 percent of the peas, he painted a tangible picture of how the world truly works.

Equality is an illusion. No amount of idealism can produce equilibrium. A man’s effort can bring him to the pinnacle of success but he can only shift the distribution, not the balance of power. 80 percent of the effects are always brought about by 20 percent of the causes. The movers, the shakers, and the trailblazers, there can only be a handful. Only the upper 20% can move the world.

This is the law of the vital few.

This is the Pareto Principle.

“Cool lecture Doc Gray!” said a massive man with a bony structure and a holstered M16. “So HQ sent us out to a God-forsaken warzone because….?”

“Because we’re the society’s upper 20 percent Branigan. We’re the best of the best!” commented a bespectacled man in an Army uniform who laid a tray of coffee cups near the bonfire.

‘Just the four of us?” asked a red-haired woman in her mid-30’s who sat with them around the bonfire. “It’s not a convincing 20 percent compared to the cowards in the army.” She turned to the bespectacled man and held out a hand. “No offense Doc Gray.”

“None taken Yllana. And you’re right, they are cowards.” Doc Gray reached for a pair of binoculars and stood up to walk a few inches away from the bonfire. He trained the binoculars at a far horizon where masses of tanks, missile turrets, and Armored APV’s lined the shoreline. “As unfair as it might sound, I wager that they’ll launch the coup’ de grace as soon as we incapacitate our target. They’ll take the glory for themselves, and we go back into the shadows.” He trained his binoculars toward the mouth of the volcano, a few miles from the volcano’s base where they set up camp. He watched the flock of ravens which he ordered to perch at the mouth.

“Poor ravens,” said a young man in his early teens who was curled up near the bonfire. “How can they take the heat while perched at the volcano’s mouth?”

“They can’t young one. The ravens are laying down their lives for us so that we can stay safe.” answered Yllana. “Doc Gray ordered them to stay there. If they fly away, it’s an indicator that the monster is about to come out.”

“But they’re dying up there. What’s the use of killing them if we’re supposed to save everyone in the city?”

“Geez Damien. Get a grip!” Branigan lumbered over to the young man and placed a huge hand on his head “Better the ravens than killing people right?”

Damien swiped Branigan’s hand away and stood up. “I’m not a child. You lay a hand on me and I’ll turn your hand into glass.”

“Take it easy Damien, he was just trying to comfort you, in his own clumsy way I guess.” Yllana chuckled while glancing at Branigan who got perturbed at the young man’s stubbornness.

“Fucking emo kid! Now’s not the time to be sorry for fucking ravens when you need to stay fucking alive!”

“You kiss your mother with that mouth Branigan? I left my kids back home because thank God, I’m tired of babysitting and I want to kick some monster butt” Yllana stood up and held a jungle knife at the flabbergasted Branigan. “I’m itching for a target practice so don’t, make me!”

“Why scold me?! He’s the one who’s acting like a brat here!” Branigan scowled at Damien who took a few steps back away from the bonfire.

Doc Gray approached Damien from behind and landed a slap on his back. “He’s just nervous team, isn’t that right young one?” Doc Gray smiled at Damien who shot back with a glare.

“I said I’m not a…”

‘Yes, Damien. You’re a man! And you became a man by coming with us, facing your fear.” Doc Gray smiled at Damien while beating the young man’s chest with a light, open fist. “You’re part of the 20%, the strongest among the mortals out there. This operation will not succeed without you and your powers.”

“That’s right Damien. You are a responsible with us. We have a city to protect and we thank you,” said Yllana as she returned to her spot near the bonfire.

“Y-you’re welcome. I’ll…do my best.” Damien kept his eyes low to hide his bewilderment at the endearment that the two were showing him.

Branigan smirked while poking at the bonfire to keep it lit with its measly charcoal. “Heh! Don’t get cocky now kid. It’s not a successful mission until we get home alive.”

“I think that’s better,” Damien commented while taking back his seat. “I’d rather die here. There’s nothing to for me in the city to go back to.”

“Motherf…” Branigan stopped when Yllana glared at him. Branigan wiped away the terrified expression on his face and faced Damien. “Don’t jinx it kid! Not like you, I have a life to go back to!”

“A life of booze, strippers, and gambling I infer,” said Doc Gray while adjusting his glasses.

“Hey Doc, it’s a life! A darn good one! Once the Institute pays up, I’ll be painting the town red, baby! You should join me sometime Doc! Too bad you’re not old enough to drink Damien!”

“No thank you, and don’t drag the young one into your, um, decadent lifestyle Branigan. We don’t need to contaminate our youth further with the dregs of society like you,” said Doc Gray. A cold air hung between the four as they remained silent. Branigan stared at the stoic Doc Gray until little by little, he shook into laughter.

“Good one Doc! Good one!” Branigan slapped his thighs while laughing and the tension around the group melted away.

“Damien, isn’t your family waiting for you?” asked Yllana.

“I don’t have a family,” Damien answered and the group fell silent. He took a deep breath while ignoring the curious eyes on him.

“I…I never knew my parents when the institute took me in. What I know is that they gave me a made-up identity so, I’m not even sure if Damien Shields is my real name.” Damien kept his eyes on the dancing embers of the bonfire. “That city doesn’t know me so why bother protecting it. But I just…want to make her happy. She loves this city, so I’ll protect it for her.”

“Her?” Branigan asked.

‘Well she’s…”

“A friend of yours?” Doc Gray also asked.

“She is but…”

“Your girlfriend?” Yllana’s lips started curling into a smile.

“F-forget I said anything. It’s…” Damien’s cheeks flushed and he tried to break eye contact with the group. Everyone, other than Damien, started chuckling at the flustered young man.

“Ah, love is a worthy reason to protect the city. There’s no need to be embarrassed about it,” said Doc Gray.

“She’s one lucky girl isn’t she?” commented Yllana while smiling at Damien.

“Well fuck me! Somebody here just hit puberty! Come here lover boy!” Branigan wrapped one enormous arm around Damien’s neck and pulled him in to ruffle his hair. Damien tried to pry Branigan’s arms off him while the rest of the group laughed. “Don’t worry kid. I’ll give you pointers. They always work, First you…”

The ground rumbled and the group fell silent. Branigan let go of Damien and followed Doc Grays’s gaze to the top of the volcano. The ravens perched at the mouth flew away and a couple of them tried to escape with burning wings until they plummeted to the nearby sea. A giant reptilian paw with claws that glinted like silver emerged from the mouth. It held on to one side of the opening and created a small crevice that released a thin river of oozing lava. Another gigantic paw rose from the opposite side of the mouth and clamped down on the rock with its sword-like claws. The two paws pushed downward, ripping away a sizeable portion of the volcano’s upper cone, inundating the volcano’s side with a wave of lava, a few meters away from where the four stood. A colossal head of a horned lizard soon emerged from the fiery lake. It shook off the lava that doused its horn and let out a garish roar to the heavens. The group felt the air vibrate as if they were a mere few feet away from an explosion. If it weren’t for Branigan who had the good sense to stand in the way of the shockwave, Yllana, Damien, and Doc Gray would have been blown away.

“Lady and Gentlemen, behold the Basilisk.” Doc Gray walked in front of the group and stood before the Basilisk as if introducing a beautiful wife to his friends.

“W-we’re taking down that thing?” Damien stared at the monster with terrified eyes.

“With a little help from the Army, right?” asked Yllana.

“I’m afraid not, my dear,” answered Doc Gray. “And yes Damien, we are taking it down. The missiles and tanks along the shoreline are for back-up, albeit useless.”

“Sounds fun Doc. So we can kill that thing?” asked Branigan.

“The Institute wants it alive but they are all fools anyway. We kill it if it becomes a threat.” Answered Doc Gray.

“That’s easier for us,” said Yllana.

The Basilisk crawled out of the lava and started to move toward the sea. It kicked splashes of fiery liquid upon every step, hurtling some of them toward the group. Yllana stepped forward and drew her hand across in a diagonal line. An invisible force cut through the blob that sped toward them and it split into two, clearing it away to keep the group safe from being doused with lava.

“I’ll stay around to protect Damien! Branigan! Doc! Keep that thing distracted!” Yllana slashed her hands across her again to cut a clump of rocks that was crashing toward them.

“I don’t like taking orders missy but I’m on it!” Branigan squatted with his muscled legs and jumped with enormous force, creating a small crater of igneous rock from where he once stood. He

“Damien! I need 10 spears. Just use the rocks around you. Just holler if you’re done. Alright, sweety?”

“R-right!” Damien confirmed. He ran to a nearby clump of rocks and held one on each hand. He summoned an invisible force that sent currents of electricity toward the rocks until they glowed. When he was certain that the current was enough, he slammed the two rocks together until they melded into a silver slush. He held the viscous material and pulled it apart like it was clay. The silvery goo crystallized until it took the form of a blade with strings of electricity running around its glimmering edges.

“That’s one.” Daniel whispered under his breath and then dropped the electrified blade behind him.

“Good work son. Such a fine blade.” Doc Gray smiled at Damien and then took off his eye glasses. “Will you hold this for me?” asked Doc Gray while handing over his glasses to Damien.

Damien took the glasses and his eyes went wide when looked up. Doc Gray’s eyes turned lacquer black and jet black feathers started protruding around his body. Three avian claws burst out from each of his feet and blankets of black feathers grew from under his arms. The man’s body expanded until his clothes laid tattered beneath him. The painful transformation continued until a giant red beak shot out of what was once Doc Gray’s old face. A 5-story high raven stood before Damien, ruffling its feathers to shed some of the cloth that clung in between the spaces of its wings.

“All that pain for the liberating feeling of flight. It’s worth it,” boomed Doc Gray’s groaning voice from above. “Branigan needs help. Stay alive young one. Your girl and your city need you.”

“Doc! Wait!” Damian shouted when Doc Gray was about to turn to take flight. Doc Gray eyed Damien with pearl black eyes, his head doing the small, jerky, twitching that was characteristic of a bird.

“Doc! Why are we here?” asked Damien “Why of all people, we…”

“Why of all people, we are the ones who are burdened with these, talents, you mean?” Doc Gray interrupted. Damien nodded and waited for an answer.

“Because of the Pareto Principle young one. Nature has dictated that we are the upper 20%,” answered Doc Gray. He lowered his head until Damien saw his own reflection on the giant raven’s eyes. “It’s not a law but more of an observation. As much as Man strives to make everything equal, Nature will always see to it that the distribution is uneven. Man’s existence on Earth is a contamination as long as he delves deeper into the secrets of the Universe with his knowledge and technology.”

“But I didn’t want this. No one can protect her so I’m forced to do this! I’m here because no one can!” shouted Damien.

“And that is your answer young one. As part of the upper 20 percent, your duty is to serve the remaining 80 percent. The Law of the vital few. Nature needs it but humans keep disrupting it. I am here to teach the fools we are protecting that Nature will always conquer us. Nature is the perpetual 20 percent. Man’s persistence to lord over Nature will bring about disease and destruction to us all but they will learn their errors, long before we’re gone.”

Doc Gray raised his head and began flapping his immense wings. “You and I are among the gifted Damien. Thus, we are no longer human. Nature has invited us to be part of her, among the upper 20 percent who need to decide the fate of the remaining 80 percent. She is just after all. She still lets us handle our own fates.”

The air around Damien and Yllana swirled as Doc Gray lifted himself up with the current. He glided toward the rampaging Basilisk who was locked into a battle with Branigan. The Basilisk squirmed around the lava as it desperately tried to catch Branigan who was jumping from one side to another, sending haymakers at each of its legs and pounding its fists on the beasts head. Doc Gray, as a giant raven, buried its enormous claws on the Basilisk back, sending the beast writhing in pain. Damien and Yllana watched the battle from the distance as they prepared 10 spears to act as sharp missiles for the monster.

When he was done with his 8th spear, Damien glanced over at the horizon where the mass of tanks and missile launchers lined the shore. “Cowards, all of them. They’re not worth protecting,” he whispered. “I don’t trust them. Once this is over, I’ll follow Nature’s law. I’ll finish them all.”

Contest Announcements

This months contest had 52 submissions. The top ten are listed below:


Rob Burton — The Storyteller: A man who walks the Earth in perpetuity chronicling the lifetimes of those he touches. Rob was born in Birmingham, UK and currently lives in Nanjing, Jiangsu Province, China. Rob’s story will be published in IP’s Annual Anthology of Thought, along with the other monthly contest winners. Congratulations Rob!


These authors will have their stories featured in our quarterly e-Zine MOTIF.

Deanna Mc Neil — The Sexual History of America: an exquisite poem about the genetic history of the world.

H.J. Ross — Jazzie: The story of children of different races dealing with the signs of racial prejudice in their neighborhood.

Becky Kapjon — The Circle of Love: A family experiencing the phenomenon of birth and adoption, and all that goes with it emotionally.

Lance Corbett Feyh — Old Folks Home: A grandson visiting his grandfather in an old folks home finds love while his grandfather has a curious relationship of his own.

Steve Pool — Old Tommy: A man in a retirement home reminisces with an old friend about wartime and their life in their twilight years.


These authors will have their stories published in our Sunday Short Story blog series.

Michael Recto — The Upper Twenty Percent: Four humanoids contemplate their role as the Upper Twenty Percent charged with protecting humanity.

Laura DiNovis — Hunting: A young girl, being trained to hunt, contemplates her feelings and the animals she hunts.

Megan Russ — Light to Lead: A woman, trapped in her depressive world, finds a reason for her light to shine once again.

J.B. Talyor — A Dragon Unbound:

Open Call for Short Story Submission

Introvert Press is now accepting submissions for its monthly short story contest. Submissions must be between 1500 and 10,000 words. The theme for February is Dark Romance. Let your gothic, twisted, unsettling pens write the darkest of hearts! We accept all genres, including poetry. We have no prohibition about profanity, but please understand we want your words to transport us to somewhere interesting – not just be gratuitous for shock value. Please make sure your submissions are fully edited.

Each month there is a new theme, so stay in touch with the Introvert Press blog or the Twitter feed @IntrovertPress. There is no submission fee. As with all Introvert Press submissions, you retain rights to all of your content. The winner will be included in the Annual Anthology printed by Introvert Press. All runner-up entries are eligible to be printed in MOTIF, the quarterly newsletter published by Introvert Press as well as Short Story Sunday.

Best of luck!

Introvert Press, LLC: Open for Short Story Submissions

Introvert Press, LLC is now accepting submissions for its annual short story contest. Submissions must be between 1500 and 10,000 words. The theme for January is HUMANITY / DIVERSITY. You may interpret this theme however you desire. We accept all genres, including poetry. We have no prohibition about profanity, but please understand we want your words to transport us to somewhere interesting – not just be gratuitous for shock value. Please make sure your submissions are fully edited.

Each month there is a new theme, so stay in touch with the Introvert Press blog or the Twitter feed @IntrovertPress. There is no submission fee. As with all Introvert Press submissions, you retain rights to all of your content. The winner will be included in the Annual Anthology printed by Introvert Press. All entries are eligible to be printed in MOTIF, the quarterly newsletter published by Introvert Press. Best of luck!

New Years’ Eve 24-Hour Flash Fiction Horror Contest

While most of the world raise glasses of champagne, we writers are at home putting words to the page. I.P. hosts a flash fiction contest in honor of Mary Shelley and her classic novel Frankenstein. Her novel, written in 1818 London, was the result of a friendly competition in an old castle during a fierce storm. The competition is what inspired I.P.s New Year’s Eve contest. The theme for the contest will be posted on the I.P. website at 9:00 pm on New Year’s Eve. The contest will end at 9:00 pm on New Year’s Day.  Follow our Facebook page or our blog to get updates and theme.

Writing Contests for 2018

As Introvert PRESS becomes a publishing entity we are working on several projects. One project is putting our writers in touch with contests and award programs. Here are a few to research for 2018. Please re-post and re-blog to spread the information.

Aeon Award

The Aeon Award is a prestigious fiction writing competition for short stories in any speculative fiction genre, i.e. fantasyscience fictionhorror or anything in-between or unclassifiable. The Aeon Award short fiction contest has been running since 2004 and has a Grand Prize of €1000 and publication in Albedo One! Second and third place contest prizes are €200 and €100 as well as guaranteed publication in Albedo One, the leading Irish magazine of science fiction, fantasy and horror. The contest opens January 1st and ends on November 30th.

The American Gem Literary Festival

American Literary Review Contests

Three prizes of $1,000 each and publication in the Spring online issue of the American Literary Review will be given for a poem, a short story, and an essay. Please submit your work using our online submission manager. We do not accept submissions via snail mail or email. Contest entries must be submitted between June 1 and October 1. There is a $15.00 reading fee. Multiple entries are acceptable, but each entry must be accompanied by a reading fee. Entries without a reading fee will not be read or considered.

AWP Award Series

AWP sponsors six contests, and also provides an extensive listing of literary grants, awards, and publication opportunities available from organizations and publishers throughout North America. Our own contests include the AWP Award Series, the George Garrett Award, the Small Press Publisher Award, the Intro Journals Project, and the Kurt Brown Prizes. Click on link above to research deadlines and submission criteria for each contest.

Bard Fiction Prize

The Bard Fiction Prize is awarded to a promising emerging writer who is an American citizen aged 39 years or younger at the time of application. In addition to a $30,000 cash award, the winner receives an appointment as writer-in-residence at Bard College for one semester, without the expectation that he or she teach traditional courses. The recipient gives at least one public lecture and meets informally with students.

James Tait Black Memorial Prizes

The James Tait Black Prizes for Fiction and Biography are awarded annually for the best works in each genre published in the previous year. The two awards, each of £10,000, are the only prizes of their kind to be presented by a university and they have acquired an international reputation for recognizing excellence in biography and fiction. The prizes are Britain’s oldest literary awards. Founded in 1919 by Janet Coats, the widow of publisher James Tait Black, the prizes commemorate her husband’s love of good books.

The Briar Cliff Review

We are looking for quality poetry, fiction, nonfiction and Siouxland essays. Previously published work is not acceptable. Simultaneous submissions are accepted but please notify us by email immediately upon acceptance elsewhere.

The Peggy Chapman-Andrews First Novel Award

Canadian Authors Association Emerging Writer Award

Canadian Authors Association Award for Fiction. Established: 1975. For: full-length English language literature for adults by a Canadian writer. Prize: $1000
Canadian Authors Association Award for Canadian History. Established: 1997. For: historical nonfiction on Canadian topics by a Canadian writer. Prize: $1000
Canadian Authors Association Award for PoetryEstablished: 1975. For: full-length English-language book of poems for adults, by a Canadian writer. Prize: $1000
Canadian Authors Association Emerging Writer Award — Established: 2006. For: a writer under 30 years of age deemed to show exceptional promise in the field of literary creation. Prize: $500

Dead of Winter

Dead of Winter is open October 1 – December 21 annually. Stories MUST be based on the theme provided. Stories MUST be set in winter. Stories MUST fall in the horror genre. The word count range varies each year Any horror subgenre is welcome. Note that the judges prefer gothic, dark fantasy, erotic horror (PG-13 max), noir, psychological horror, quiet/soft horror, and suspense horror. The judges tend not to like sci-fi horror, extreme/splatter horror, Lovecraftian, etc. but, as always, the quality and creativeness of the writing come first.

James Jones First Novel Fellowship

The award is intended to honor the spirit of unblinking honesty, determination, and insight into modern culture exemplified by the late James Jones, author of From Here to Eternity and other prose narratives of distinction. Jones himself was the recipient of aid from many supporters as a young writer and his family, friends, and admirers have established this award of $10,000 to continue the tradition in his name. Two runners-up awards of $1000 each will also be given by the Society. All decisions to award or not award prizes annually are at the discretion of the national judges; their decisions are final.


31 Writing Contests in September 2017 – No entry fees

Writers in Oxford CompetitionRestrictions: Oxfordshire writers aged 18-30.  Genre: Fiction, nonfiction. “Submissions are invited of a piece of writing ‘Inspired by Oxford.’ The work can be fiction or non-fiction, up to 500 words in length, and can have been previously published.” Prize: Two prizes of £350 and three prizes of £100. Deadline: September 1, 2017.PEN Prison Writing ContestRestrictions: Anyone incarcerated in a federal, state, or county prison in the year before the September 1 deadline is eligible to enter. Genres: Poetry, fiction, drama, creative nonfiction. Prize: $200 top prize per category. Deadline: September 1, 2017.

Cheshire Prize for LiteratureRestrictions: The writer must have been born, live or have lived, study or have studied, work or have worked, in Cheshire, UK. Genre: Original and previously unpublished children’s story or poem. Prize: £2,000. Deadline: September 1, 2017.

Helen Schaible Shakespearean/Petrarchan Sonnet ContestGenre: Poetry. Prize: $50, 2nd Prize $35, 3rd Prize $15, three Honorable Mentions, three Special Recognitions. Deadline: September 1, 2017.

On The Premises Short Story Contest. “For this contest, write a creative, compelling, well-crafted story between 1,000 and 5,000 words long in which the idea of community (or some kind of community) plays an important role.” Prize: Winners receive between US$60 and US$220, and publication. Deadline: September 1, 2017.

Toni Beauchamp Prize in Critical Art WritingGenre: Scholarly essay. All work submitted must have been written or published within the last year. Prize: $3,000. Deadline: September 1, 2017.

Concis Pith of Prose and Poem ContestGenre: Poems, prose poems, visual poems, flash fiction, micro-essays or what-have-you. Prize: First prize $250 and publication. Deadline: September 3, 2017.

Pitch America  is a pitch contest created by Laura Pohl to focus on submissions and books produced by Latino voices. This contest will feature the first 500 words and the 35-word pitch of completed and polished manuscripts written by Latinos. Please keep it in mind that this exclusively for Latino writers. Prize: Chance at representation. Deadline: September 3, 2017

Young Lions Fiction AwardRestrictions: Open to US citizens 35 years of age or younger. Genre: Novel or a collection of short stories published between January 2017 and December 2017. Submissions by publisher only. Authors may not submit their own work. Prize: $10,000.00. Deadline: September 8, 2017.

Solid Essay ContestRestrictions: Open to high school students. Genre: Essay (See site for topics.) Minimum number of words is 600 and maximum is 800. Prize: Scholarship of $1000. Deadline: September 8, 2017.

Michael Marks Awards for Poetry PamphletsRestrictions: Poetry poetry pamphlet must be published in the UK between 1st July 2016 and 31st July 2017. Genre: Poetry. Prize:  £5,000. Deadline: September 13, 2017.

Shaughnessy Cohen Award for Political WritingGenre: Book of literary nonfiction that captures a political subject of relevance to Canadian readers and has the potential to shape or influence thinking on contemporary Canadian political life. Book must be published in Canada. Prize: CAN$25,000.00. Deadline: Books published between July 5 and September 12 must be received by September 13, 2017.

VCU Cabell First Novelist AwardGenre: First novel published January–June 2017. No self-published books. Prize: $5,000. Deadline: September 14, 2017.

PEN/Phyllis Naylor Working Writer FellowshipRestrictions: Candidates must have published one or more novels for children or young adults that have been warmly received by literary critics, but have not generated sufficient income to support the author. Genre: Book-length children’s or young-adult fiction. Prize: $5000. Deadline: September 15, 2017.

Cha International Poetry PrizeGenre: Poetry. Each poem must be a translation (loosely defined) of a text (loosely defined) from/about Hong Kong or China, written originally in English or Chinese, into a poem that is about contemporary Hong Kong. Prize: First Prize US$1501; Second Prize US$800; Third Prize US$400 and five Commended Prizes, each US$100.  Deadline: September 15, 2017.

The PEN/Heim Translation FundGenre: Book-length works of fiction, poetry, creative nonfiction, and drama in translation. Beginning in 2017, under the administering of the PEN/Heim Translation Fund, PEN will also offer the PEN Grant for the English Translation of Italian Literature. From the pool of annual submissions, judges for the PEN/Heim Translation Fund will select one project of narrative prose that has been translated into English from the Italian to receive this award, which will come with a $5,000 prize. Prize: $2000 – $4000. Deadline: September 15, 2017.

Outlook Springs Creative Nonfiction PrizeGenre: Creative nonfiction between 1,500 and 8,000 words. Prize: $500. Deadline: September 15, 2017.

Past Loves Day Story ContestGenre: Short personal essay. “Nearly everyone has memories of a former sweetheart. Write your true story of an earlier love, in no more than 700 words. Tell us about someone whose memory brings a smile or a tear.” Prize: $100 top prize. Deadline: September 17, 2017.Good Read Essay ContestRestrictions: Open to legal residents of the 50 United States and the District of Columbia, age 19 or older at time of entry. Genre: Personal essay. What was the happiest moment of your life? Prize: $3,000. Deadline: September 18, 2017.2017 Inspiring the World Journalism CompetitionGenre: Journalistic article on an inspiring theme. (See site for list of themes and examples.) Word count: 500 to 1,000 words. Prize:  $5,000. Deadline: September 18, 2017.

Kathy Fish Fellowship for Emerging WritersRestrictions: All writers previously unpublished in SmokeLong Quarterly and who do not have a published chapbook or book-length work in any genre (or are not under contract for such) are eligible to apply. Genre: Flash fiction (1000 words max). Prize: $500. Deadline: September 20, 2017. (The contest is free up until Sept 20, but requires fee after that date.)

Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers ProgramRestrictions: Publishers recommend writers making a strong literary debut. Authors cannot submit their own work to the program; self-published writers and titles published via print-on-demand or available only as NOOK books are also ineligible for submission. Genres: Literary fiction, short story collections and literary non-fiction, such as travel essays, memoirs, or other non-fiction with a strong narrative will be considered. Books should be intended for an adult or a young adult audience. Prize: $35,000 to six writers. Deadline: September 21, 2017.

Sunday Times EFG Short Story AwardRestrictions: The award is open to any novelist or short story writer from around the world who is published in the UK. Genre: Short story. Prize: £30,000.Deadline: September 28, 2017.

Writers Online Picture Book PrizeGenre: Unagented and unpublished picture book up to 800 words. (No illustrations.) Prize: £200 and critique. Deadline: September 29, 2017.

Lilith Magazine Fiction CompetitionGenre: Story of interest to Jewish women. Prize: $250.  Deadline: September 30, 2017.

Lee & Low Books New Voices Award is sponsored by Lee &Low Publishers. Restrictions: The contest is open to writers of color who are residents of the United States and who have not previously had a children’s picture book published. Genre: Children’s books – fiction, nonfiction or poetry. Prize: $1,000 and publication. Deadline: September 30, 2017.

Iowa Short Fiction and John Simmons Short Fiction AwardsGenre: Short story collection. The manuscript must be a collection of short stories in English of at least 150 word-processed, double-spaced pages. Prize: Publication by the University of Iowa Press, royalties. Deadline: September 30, 2017.

L. Ron Hubbard’s Writers of the Future Contest is held four times a year. Restrictions: The Contest is open only to those who have not professionally published a novel or short novel, or more than one novelette, or more than three short stories, in any medium. Professional publication is deemed to be payment of at least six cents per word, and at least 5,000 copies, or 5,000 hits. Genre: Short stories or novelettes of science fiction or fantasy. Prizes: $1,000, $750, $500, Annual Grand Prize: $5,000.  Deadline: September 30, 2017.

Jerry Jazz Musician Fiction ContestGenre: Short fiction. Prize: $100. Deadline: September 30, 2017.

Solution Loans Short Story ContestRestrictions: Open to UK residents 18 years and up. Genre: Short fiction on theme of “Coins.” Prize: £200 and publication on the Solution Loans website. Deadline: September 30, 2017.

Salisbury Story PrizeGenre: Short fiction (500 words) on theme of “City of Stories. Open to ages 4 and up. Prize: £50 for children to be spent at Waterstones. Free online course for adults. Deadline: September 30, 2017.

Reblogged from Published to Death