MWA Writing Contest Announcements 

About Maryland Writers’ Association Annual Writing Contests

Over the last several years, MWA has established a contest schedule rotating through novels, short fiction/creative non-fiction, and poetry. Our intention is to maintain this schedule going forward. 

For the 2019 MWA contest, we asked writers to tell us about Maryland using short fiction and creative non-fiction. The results were collected in the anthology 30 Ways to Love Maryland. MWA’s 2020 Contest was devoted to poetry about Maryland, with selections published in the anthology Maryland in Poetry.

MWA 2021 Writing Contest – Novel: “Keeping it short”

Calling all MWA novelists. If you have published (or will publish) a book between October 1, 2017- December 31, 2020, we welcome you to enter our novel competition. MWA members can submit up to 10 pages of their finished work in one of five categories:

  • Romance / Historical
  • Mystery / Suspense / Thriller / Action / Adventure
  • Science Fiction / Fantasy / Speculative
  • Mainstream / Literary Fiction
  • Young Adult

The top winners in each of the five categories will receive a cash prize of $100 and will be acknowledged at Maryland Writers’ Association's annual meeting in June, 2021. Critiques of submissions will not be provided. Submission deadline is January 31, 2021. Contest open to MWA members only. Click here to find out more about MWA members benefits.

Submission Rules

  • Submitter must be an MWA member. One submission per member.
  • The submission must be from a novel published between October 1, 2017- December 31, 2020.
  • Submissions must have an ISBN number.
  • Submissions must include up to 10 pages of your published novel. Your file must be a .pdf. (Word documents can be 'saved as' a .pdf. There are many resources on the internet as to how to do this.)
  • Submitted books must be published under adult or young adult genres.
  • No graphic sexual scenes, pornography, or extreme violence accepted.


If you have any questions, please email [email protected] 

The Judges

Charlie N. Holmberg is the award-winning author of the Numina series, The Fifth Doll, and many others. Her Wall Street Journal Bestselling Paper Magician series, which includes The Paper Magician, The Glass Magician, and The Master Magician, has been optioned by the Walt Disney Company. Charlie’s stand-alone novel, Followed by Frost, was nominated for a 2016 RITA Award for Best Young Adult Romance. Born in Salt Lake City, Charlie was raised a Trekkie alongside three sisters, who also have boy names. She is a proud BYU alumna, plays the ukulele, owns too many pairs of glasses, and finally adopted a dog. She currently lives with her family in Utah. Visit her at


Angela Johnson has a love of literature and all things Regency. Her debut novel The Earl of Arundel released in June 2020.Angela received a BS in English from Utah Valley University, a MPC, master of Professional Communications from Weber State University, an MA in publishing and is working on an MFA in creative writing at Western Colorado University. Traveling and reading are favorite pastimes and help her form ideas for writing. As a native of Utah, Angela loves the mountains and despises snow. Visit her at


Kate Surles is a Young Adult fiction writer from Accokeek, Maryland. She obtained her Bachelor’s in English from Towson University and went on to earn her Master of Fine Arts in Writing Popular Fiction at Seton Hill University. Her poems have appeared in both Connections Magazine and Grub Street Magazine under the pseudonym “Margo Fitch.” She teaches English at the College of Southern Maryland by day and is a cat mom of four by night.


LaTonya T. Holland is an educator, mentor and counselor.  She currently serves as an Adjunct College Professor at the College of Southern Maryland in La Plata, and at Prince George’s Community College in Largo, MD where she teaches Speech Communication and Developmental English courses.  She has also taught Basic English at The Academy of Hope in Washington, DC to assist adults with completing their high school diploma; and has worked as an English teacher and tutor online for kids in China to assist them with learning English.  


Previous MWA Writing Contests

2020 MWA Poetry Contest

  • First Place: John O’Dell, After Defibrillation
  • Second Place: Marc Drexler, Baltimore 1977
  • Third Place: John O’Dell, For Tom Who Says He’s Slipping
  • Honorable Mention: Meg Kuyatt, Gambrills Elegy
  • Honorable Mention: Michael Ratcliffe, After Sterling

The winning poems and additional selctions are published in the MWA anthology, Maryland in Poetry, available on

The 2019 MWA 30th Anniversary Short Fiction & Creative Non-Fiction Contest:

2018 MWA Novel Contest:

  • Winners: 
    • Historical Fiction: The Eagle and the Dragon by Lewis McIntyre
    • Mainstream/Literary: Hawke's Return by Mark Willen
    • Mystery/Thriller: Abandoned Homes: Vietnam Revenge Murders by Frank Hopkins
    • Science Fiction/Fantasy/Speculative Fiction: The House on Moss Swamp Road by M.J. Patrick

The 2017 MWA Novel Contest:

The MWA Short Works Contest: