Little Bird Writing Contest

The Little Bird Writing Contest

2017 Little Bird Contest.
This year's contest was judged by Giller Prize-winning author Esi Edugyan.

    Ann Cavlovic with “Stan’s House”

    Sidura Ludwig with “Pufferman”, and
    Carolyn Moore with “What You See When”

Sign up for my letters to be the first to find out about our Spring 2018 competition.



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  • Winner: $1,000
  • First runner-up: $250
  • Second runner-up: $250
Bonus prize won by a draw: a full scholarship to The Story Intensive. It’s a contest inside a contest! Each submission (you can enter as many times as you like) counts as a separate chance to win. As well, the winning stories are published in an annual short fiction anthology: Little Bird Stories.
Here's What To Do:
  1. Are you receiving my prompts? Good. If you haven’t done so already, sign up to have an irresistible daily writing prompt delivered straight to your inbox.
  2. Write. Anticipate the spring deadline and go get your story ready for the contest.
  3. Read “Deep Revision”, my free series of writing tutorials. Do the homework: it will help you rewrite your story draft to make sure it’s the best it can be.
  4. Subscribe to Little Bird Stories to see what past contest winners did with the prompts.
  • be a maximum of 2,500 words
  • be double-spaced with numbered pages and submitted as a .pdf or .doc file (.docx files are not accepted)
  • be submitted anonymously: your name must not appear anywhere on your story to ensure the objectivity of the judge (your name will go on the submission form only)
  • include, at the top of the page, the daily writing prompt that inspired you (this prompt must be used in the story). You can use any of Sarah's writing prompts, whether they are older prompts or newer ones.
  • be accompanied by a $25 entry fee (you may enter as many times as you like).
Important dates:

The contest is now closed.

The winners will be announced in June, alongside the release of the new anthology.

Any questions? Please get in touch with us at [email protected]
About this year's judge
I’m thrilled to announce that the judge for the 2017 Little Bird Writing Contest is none other than Esi Edugyan. Esi's second novel, Half Blood Blues, won the 2011 Scotiabank Giller Prize for Fiction, as well as the Ethel Wilson Award, the US’s Hurston-Wright Legacy Award, and the Anisfield-Wolf Prize for Fiction. It was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize, the Orange Women’s Prize, the Walter Scott Prize for Historical Writing, the Governor-General’s Award, and the Rogers Writers Trust Prize. She has read her work in festivals all over the world, from South Africa to China, and has attended residencies in Scotland, Iceland, Budapest, Germany, and Belgium. In 2014 she published her first nonfiction book, Dreaming of Elsewhere, a meditation on the relationship between home and belonging. She has taught in universities across Canada, and is at work on her next novel, Washington Black, which will be published in September 2017. She lives in British Columbia with her family.

Find out more about Esi Edugyan by clicking here.

On March 31 2017, to kick off our 7th annual Little Bird Writing Contest, Esi Edugyan and I met with the Story Is a State of Mind community to talk about writing, writing contests, and what she looks for in a contest entry. She’s the one who will be reading your contest entries (pretty amazing, I know), so it’s an incredible opportunity to learn from her before you submit your story.

To gain access to the Little Bird Salon conversation between Esi and Sarah, please fill in the form below:

About the contest
When I first went on Twitter, I tweeted daily writing prompts. They worked so well that people wanted to know how to use what they’d written, which is where the idea for The Little Bird Writing Contest came from. It’s now an annual, international contest exclusively for innovative, emerging short fiction writers. The contest opens each spring when the birds come back and showcases the excellent stories (up to 2,500-words) that come from Sarah Selecky Writing School's daily writing prompts. And when we say showcase, we mean it—each year we publish a beautiful anthology that is available to subscribers. Five dollars from every subscription goes to the Pelee Island Bird Observatory, to help protect the real little birds out there. To subscribe, go here. And that’s not all. Each winning story is chosen by a celebrated author who also participates in The Little Bird Salon so that you can benefit from what they have to say (see below).

Little Bird Judges
  • 2017 - Esi Edugyan (read our announcement here)
  • 2016 - Lisa Moore
  • 2015 - Neil Smith
  • 2014 - Rebecca Lee
  • 2013 - Alex Ohlin
  • 2012 - Zsuzsi Gartner
  • 2011 - Matthew Trafford & Jessica Westhead

Little Bird Salon
Each year, since 2013, I’ve spoken to The Little Bird Writing Contest judge about what inspires them, the process of writing, what they think of revision, and more.

In 2013 Alix Ohlin and I spoke on the phone with over 250 writers and readers listening around the world. In 2014, Rebecca Lee and I had a Skype chat from Toronto-Wilmington, NC. In 2015 I spoke with Neil Smith, from Montreal. Last year, I spoke to Lisa Moore about the “tremendous engine of desire” that drives story and why a writer has to use intuition before submitting something for publication. This year, Esi Edugyan and I chatted about this year's contest, and she gives practical advice to writers who want to understand the creative process, especially how to balance research with writing, how to turn first draft scenes into full stories, and what makes a compelling opening paragraph.

We have a secret room in our Sarah Selecky Writing School Classroom to inspire your creative process. All of the Little Bird Salons, along with other free resources, are available for you. Please help yourself! Sign up using the form found above, read, listen, and enjoy.

Become a Little Bird Stories Subscriber
Subscribe to Little Bird Stories, and read what writers who placed in The Little Bird Writing Contest did with our Daily Writing Prompts in previous years! Get all published volumes of Little Bird Stories right now, and receive a new anthology of fresh short fiction every year. A lifetime subscription is $25. A percentage of every subscription goes to the Pelee Island Bird Observatory, to help protect the real little birds out there. When you become a Little Bird Subscriber, you're supporting the study and conservation of wild birds and their habitats! Ready to become a subscriber?

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