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Tadpole Press 100-Word Writing Contest

November 2023 Winners

In the 7th iteration of our contest, the first-place prize doubled, bestowing our top winner with $2,000 USD for the first time in history. We also began offering community write-ins to provide an opportunity to connect and write in community.

We were delighted to welcome Taylor Morris, an editor and author with twenty years of experience in the publishing industry, as our special guest judge. Taylor's middle grade novels have been published by both Simon & Schuster and Penguin Random House, and she has also written extensively in the women’s romance genre with seventeen novels published under a top secret pseudonym.

We left the theme open this time and judged the pieces on creativity and how the story captures a new angle, breaks through stereotypes, and expands our beliefs about what's possible. In addition, we were looking for writing that is clever or unique, inspires us, and crafts a compelling story.

We received 1,547 entries from 68 different countries. After careful consideration, we are pleased to announce the following winners:​

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First Place: $2,000 USD goes to Autumn Bettinger from the United States.


I met Ducky when he was already stage four. He was dangling out a broken window, one emaciated arm wrapped around a drainpipe, the other spraying bricks. Ducky’s graffiti was always a masterclass; a thousand lifelike birds flocking train cars, alighting on crumbling walls. The birds faded by June, a migration of erosion. In winter, looking for a new place to paint, I found half a mallard tucked under a highway overpass. Ducky’s last tag before the cancer ate him whole.

I shook my can—a thin, rattling eulogy—and released the mallard into flight.



Second Place: $450 writing coaching package goes to Hayden Niemeyer from the United States.

If I could
I’d build an observatory
And fill it
With the sound
Of your voice
And the smell
Of your skin  
I’d cover the walls
In visions of you
Paint them tones
Of yellow  
Like the vibrancy
Of your soul
Because you
Are a solar system
Bound by gravity
Always holding
My unsteady feet
In place
Always filling
My shaded soul
With the light
Of the moon
And the heat
Of the sun
For you
I’d build an observatory
And I’d forever
Call it



Third Place: $250 developmental or diversity editing package goes to Sarah Lisenbe from the United States.

“Want some sweet tea?” Lilly asked.
It was the kind of day that called for sweet tea. The kind where you wore the air and the mosquitoes were too beat to nip at you.
I hadn’t had sweet tea since memaw died. Memaw was the only one who called me by my name once I told everyone it was Michael and not Mary. Memaw made the best sweet tea. We’d been drinking some when I told her.
I hadn’t told Lilly about that.
“Yeah, I’ll take some.”
I took a sip. It was as sweet as I remembered.

Congratulations, Autumn, Hayden, and Sarah! And congratulations to everyone who dared to dream and created a little bit of inspiration in this world. You matter. Your dreams matter. Keep writing.

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Curious how you can create a winning entry? Request feedback on your entry and we'll tell you what we love about your piece as well as ways to make it even better.

You get tips right from the source custom-tailored to meet our judges' expectations, help you hone your craft, and create the kind of entry that's selected as a winner in the Tadpole Press 100-Word Writing Contest.

Thank You

Congratulations and thank you to everyone who has dared to dream and share your words, story, and heart with us. You matter. Your dreams matter. Keep writing.

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