100-Word Writing Contest
Submissions for our April 2024 contest are now open!
Have you ever wondered what exactly the judges are looking for? Or wanted to know what the judging process looks like? Maybe you're curious about our identities, interests, or what makes a piece stand out to us.
Perhaps you'd like tips about how to create a winning entry. This is your chance to have some face-to-face time with our judges and get your questions answered straight from the source.
Come together at our upcoming community write-ins! We'll share behind-the-scenes insights to help you craft your best piece, saving some quiet writing time to work on your entry.
Community write-ins will be held via Zoom on: Feb 8, Mar 1, Mar 21, and Apr 8. Registration closes 24 hours before the event starts, so snag your spot now. Each registration includes one entry into the current contest.
Word Limit: 100 words or less per entry, including the title if you have one. We use Microsoft Word for the official word count, which treats hyphenated words as one word. We recommend plunking your entry into Word right before submitting it to determine the accurate word count. Just be sure to omit any other info such as your name or the date.
Writers and Pen Names: All ages. All genders. All nationalities. All writers welcome. You may use a pen name, and we will publish the winning entries under that name. If you win, we will have a separate form to fill out the name you'd like to be paid under.
Previously Published Pieces: You may enter pieces that are brand-new or have been previously published elsewhere. We have no restrictions on this, though we suggest abiding by any limitations from anyone else who may have published your piece.
Genre / Theme: Any genre. The theme is creativity.
Prizes: 1st place: $2,000 USD.
2nd place: Writing coaching package valued at $450 USD.
3rd place: Developmental and diversity editing package valued at $250 USD.
Entry Fee and Limit: $15 USD per entry. You may submit as many entries as you'd like. Each entry requires its own entry fee.
Deadline: April 30, 2024.
Winners: Winners will be announced at the Celebration of Words as soon as possible after the contest deadline. Please subscribe to our email list to be the first to hear the results. You may view previous winners here.
Did you know that if you refer someone who submits a winning entry, then you will also win $50 USD? So please share this contest with any friends, colleagues, or neighbors who might be interested.
Not ready to write yet? Sign up for our email list to gain writing tips and inspiration approximately twice a month:
You may have noticed that we don’t buy into the belief that writing all needs to look a certain way. We’re inspired by the individual dance that each of us does when we’re creating. We don’t need anyone’s permission, so go ahead and you do you. What would your words look like if you just created straight from your own heart and imagination?
While creativity is always something we look for, we're highlighting it this contest to really encourage you to think outside of the box, break free from any constraints that might be placed over what you think your writing should be, and sail away to something entirely new.
As always, pieces will be judged on creativity, uniqueness, and how the story captures a new angle, breaks through stereotypes, and expands our beliefs about what's possible or unexpectedly delights us. In addition, we are looking for writing that is clever or unique, inspires us, and crafts a compelling and complete story.
You can write fiction, nonfiction, poetry, memoir, or a mix of everything. You choose the genre. You choose the words. Put them together in any order, any combination.
The winning submissions will be nonviolent. You may deal with tough themes, but you must move on from there. Don’t dwell in misery. Show growth. If you're going to write about something painful, show how someone was transformed by the experience. Go for something that pulls on our heartstrings rather than breaks our heart.
Amber Byers is the founder, CEO, and head judge of the Tadpole Press 100-Word Writing Contest. Her book, Sophie and Spot, won a Gold Medal for Best First Book in the chapter book category from Moonbeam Children's Book Awards in 2019.
Amber has a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Washington, a Juris Doctor in law from the University of Arizona, and a passion for diversifying literature.
Amber started reading at the age of three and is still in love with the power and beauty of words. She especially loves words that surprise, delight, and encourage us to support, love, and inspire one another.
Laurel Twitchell has been our regular co-judge since April 2022. Laurel received their Bachelor’s in Creative Writing, with a focus on linguistics, from Colorado Mesa University.
They were an editor for the Pinyon Literary Review in 2013. They’ve competed in the National Slam Poetry Competition in 2017 and worked as a first reader for Pushcart Prize Nominee, Alana Noël Voth. They have taken writing courses from national and internationally known writers such as Megan Falley, Rachel McKibbens, and others.
They are a writer and artist passionate about ending stigmas around mental health and disability. They love art that speaks to connectivity, the healing of trauma, and finding glimmers of joy in unlikely places.
Vancouver Island author Micki Findlay refers to herself as an ‘artrepreneur,’ as she loves churning the cauldron of creativity.
She is a contributing writer for Chicken Soup for the Soul, Van Isle Poetry Collective, Black Press Media, various magazines, and several anthologies including Back The Way We Came, Grateful, and Crone Rising. She is currently writing a memoir-based, interactive healing journal.
Micki writes her life stories to help others recognize their self-worth, find hope through difficult circumstances, and realize they are not alone in their struggles. She also writes to heal herself. Community, creativity and coffee are her love languages.
Mari Mendoza is a writer, editor, and creative writing coach. Her work has appeared in a number of publications including CommuterLit, Fiction on the Web, 50WordStories, WordCityLit, Fairfield Scribes, Woodlands, and more. Born in Guatemala and immigrating to Canada at the age of six, she has been writing ever since.
Mari lives on the traditional lands of the Chippewa of the Thames First Nation, Oneida Nation of the Thames, and Munsee-Delaware Nation. She loves hiking, reading multiple books at a time, her two Yorkies, her teens (most of the time), and going to bed by 9 p.m.
Grace Slobodzian is an elementary school teacher living and working in Brooklyn, New York. She currently teaches a bridged (mixed-age) class of first and second grade students. She is passionate about exploratory project-based learning and early childhood literacy.
She comes from a family of educators and holds a bachelors in Sociology from the College of New Jersey and a masters in Early Childhood Education. Grace enjoys cooking pasta, running outdoors, reading, and spending time with her family.
Finn O'Sullivan is our special guest judge for the April 2024 contest. Incredibly Unfamous award-winning indie pop-folk artist Finn O’Sullivan got her start performing Taylor Swift concerts in her bedroom while her parents were out. She grew up in a small house with sparkly lights and solstice parties and full moon walks and go-to-sleep guitar serenades and left of center everything. And music was at the heart of all of it. She played piano early and she sang songs in the bathtub and she picked up a guitar when she was twelve and, as Taylor Swift herself once said, “just like clockwork, the dominoes cascaded in a line.”
Former Rolling Stone managing editor John Dioso calls her “the lovechild of Phoebe Bridgers and Taylor Swift.” And that marriage of songstress genius comes out in her lyricism and in her fearlessness in exploring the depths of feeling. To quote another of her musical heroes and influences, Ezra Furman, she is unafraid to “feel all the feelings in the book tonight,” and she writes about the universal themes of love and loss with both humor and compassion.
In one of her songs, she muses about a habit of putting her “faith in things that tend to fall apart, secretly hoping I can turn it into art.” And she’s quite adept at doing just that. Finn’s turns of phrase and sometimes surprising chord progressions evidence a maturity in musicianship and a true poetic gift.
Finn says that songwriting is a way for her to express herself and talk about things that are important to her, which is sometimes hard for her to do in everyday conversation. She is “committed to creating things that other people can relate to,” and her songs are a testament to this commitment. She explores love and heartbreak, patriarchal privilege, the worlds of her favorite fictional characters, and the endless what if’s that keep her up at night.
Lyrics are often where a song begins for Finn. “When I write a song,” she says, “it’s not based on a melodic idea or a chord progression, but on a concept, a lyrical idea.” Her lyrics range from old soul, to millennial quirky, to fresh and bold, and her clever, catchy, and sometimes melancholy tunes simply get stuck in your head.
Finn began working with a producer after she won the 2016 eTown Handmade Songs Competition in Boulder, CO, and she has been recording on her own and with producers since. Her first two EPs, Between the Lies and pitypartythoughts, were released in 2018 and 2019 respectively. She released her first LP, When the Power Comes Back On, in 2020. The title song of that LP won the prestigious Song of the Year award in the John Lennon Songwriting Contest. Her EP These Days was released in April of 2021 and her most recent EP Fine Things, inspired by the show Our Flag Means Death, was released in October of 2023. Look for a new LP, her first to be released on vinyl, in early 2024.
Finn is currently pursuing a singer-songwriter major at the University of Colorado Denver. Finn coined herself “incredibly unfamous” based on a pinback button she found at a secondhand store. Her song of the same name realizes that remaining incredibly unfamous is not the worst thing that could happen. For her, the phrase is primarily about staying true to self amidst pressures to fit someone else’s idea of what it means to be successful in a daunting and challenging industry. Still, though the phrase is relevant, it is also, hopefully, eventually, wrong.
Winners: By keeping the box checked requesting to be added to the Tadpole Press email list on the Entry Submission Form, writers may be automatically added to our mailing list when they submit their entry. Writers may unsubscribe at any time; however, please note that winners will be announced via the newsletter after the contest deadline. Sign up for our newsletter above or contact us with any questions.
Copyright: By entering our contest, the writer declares that they are the creator of the entry; the entry does not infringe upon any copyright, privacy rights, or legal rights of a third party; and the entry does not contain any unlawful material. By submitting an entry, writers allow Tadpole Press to use their entries as follows: The names, locations, and/or ages of the winners and the winning entries may be announced in the Tadpole Press newsletter, published on the Tadpole Press website, shared at the Celebration of Words, and/or used for additional marketing and promotional activities. Tadpole Press shall retain exclusive copyright of the winning entries, though we encourage writers to resubmit and/or republish their entry in other contests and publications at any time before or after this contest.
Refund Policy: All payments are final and nonrefundable. Writers needing financial assistance may apply for a scholarship up to 1 month before the contest deadline.
Prizes: The email address provided at the time of submission will be used to contact the winners and arrange delivery of the prizes. Prize amounts are in USD.
Thank you to everyone who has supported the Tadpole Press 100-Word Writing Contest! We are honored to have been featured by many wonderful organizations dedicated to writing, such as Reedsy, Anne R. Allen, Almond Press, Kindlepreneur, Creative Writing Ink, and Christopher Fielden.