We are no longer accepting entries for the short story contest.

18th Annual Short Story Contest

September 1 October 31, 2018


Contest Rules

Multiple entries welcomed.  All must be family friendly, original and previously unpublished. Published means appearing in any newspaper, magazine, or book, whether or not the author received compensation. Self-published and e-published works are prohibited.  Entrants may receive only one cash prize.  First place winners from the last three years are not eligible.


Format & Presentation

Word Limit: 2,500 words (approximately ten double-spaced pages) or fewer.

  • Save the document as a Microsoft Word or PDF file.
  • Page size: 8.5 inches x 11 inches. Margins: 1 inch, top, bottom, and sides.
  • Font style and size: Times New Roman or Courier, 12 point.
  • Title and number each page at the top right corner.
  • Double space. Indent the first line of each paragraph.
  • No illustrations or photographs.
  • To ensure anonymous judging, do not put the author’s name anywhere within the manuscript.  The author’s name, contact information, and a brief bio are required as part of Submittable’s registration.  This information is accessible only to the contest administrator.   Finalists will be asked to provide a publicity head shot.
  • IMPORTANT: The most frequent reason for disqualification is a name appearing on the actual manuscript.
  • Please tell us how you learned of our contest. 



  • On-line entries only through user-friendly submittable.com.
  • Enter September 1, 2018 – October 31, 2018, midnight PST. We strongly encourage uploading your story before Friday, October 26, at 6:00 p.m. to take advantage of Submittable email support.
  • Fees per story: Adult VCWC members, $18 U.S.; Adult non-members, $30 U.S.; and high school students, $12. PayPal, credit or debit cards are accepted.

Please note that by entering our contest, you grant the Ventura County Writers Club one-time, nonexclusive publication rights to your winning entry to be published in our biannual anthology and in our newsletter The Write Stuff, as well as temporary hosting or linking on VCWC’s website, www.venturacountywriters.com,


Judging Criteria

  • Audience appropriateness, plot, character development, intent/focus, reader interest, style/voice, grammar/ punctuation, presentation, and title.
  • All decisions are final. No submissions will be returned.
  • Entries not conforming to contest rules will not be judged.


Cash Prizes:


 First – $500

Second – $250

Third – $125


High School

First – $100

Second – $75

Third – $50


Winners will be notified in early January 2019. Award Ceremony will be held on January 15, 2019.


Winning stories will be published in the upcoming VCWC Anthology.


More Questions?   


  Email Chair at  shortstorycontest@venturacountywriters.com

To encourage the craft, VCWC sponsors an annual short story contest. Listed below are our past winners. We are looking for information about our 2005 contest about the order of the winners, as well as any Honorable Mentions for past contests. If you have any information, please contact website@venturacountywriters.com.




First Place: Odessa, 1910 by Vic Prushan

Second Place: Chirps by Wendell Liljedahl

Third Place: The Birthday Story by Mikko Cook

HM: Real Love by Dallas Woodburn

HM: Invasion by Rob Loewe

HM: Un-Miracle by Philip Brown



First Place: Completely Perfect by Sydney Edgecomb

Second Place: Morning Offering by Jack Stein

HM: Neverest by Ziv Carmi




First Place: Coming Clean by Lee Wade

Second Place: Beyond Measure by Karen Gorback

Third Place: Slaying Dragons by Barbara Piszczek

HM: Stuck Together by Louisa Angeli

HM: The Mother Lode by David Panaro

HM: Going Home by Glenn Rowe

HM: Sound and Motion, Motion and Sound by William Stermer


The New Generation by Noah Sletten




First Place: Water’s Edge by Jan Richman Schulman

Second Place: Paper Dragon by Antony Villalobos

Third Place: The Vault by Sofia Diana Gabel

HM: Presumption by Patricia Caloia

HM: Melanie’s Madness by Carol Malone

HM: Under The Bed by Douglas Peyton


First Place: Taken Over by Megan Ragone

Second Place: His January by Gabrielle Genhart

Third Place: Almost Done by Naomi Stoodley




First Place: The Loose Rack by Terry Tallent

Second Place: When Life Gives You Lemmings by Carol Fogel

Third Place: Had to Be You by Joe Vandenberg

HM: Is this the World? by Mal King


First Place: Funeral by Zoe Appleby

Second Place: When the Morning Comes by Carolyn Richards

Third Place: Paring Ritual by Erin Stoodley




First Place: Slowly, Slowly, Without Much Notice by Dallas Woodburn

Second Place: Dancing with Dreams by Karen Gorback

Third Place: Message from Sharon by Shlomo Kreitzer

HM: Weathering the Storm by Mal King

HM: Revenge by Patricia Caloia

HM: Truth or Dare by Giselle Lumas


First Place: Colorblind by Grace O’Toole

Second Place: Inherently Human by Angelina Martin

Third Place:  A Journey Through Shades of Grey by Sarah Redner

HM: Max Morales won all three HMs for The Date, Constellation, and The Last Look in Their Eyes



First Place: The Last Speed Run by Bill Stermer

Second Place: Holding Onto Hawaii by Roni Hooper

Third Place: Lynchburg Correctional, 1845 by Sheli Ellsworth

HM: At Sea by Carol Fogel

HM: Ben by Frank Leupp



First Place: The Man Who Talks with Birds by Robert Sanders

Second Place: Rosie Sees the Light by Carol Fogel

Third Place: The Runner by Greg Elliot

HM: The Right Time by Brenda Tzipore

HM: My Punishment by Brenda-Lee Riker

HM: Kathryn’s Turn by Shlomo Kreitzer



First Place: Rendezvous with the Boatman by Kathleen Auth and Claudette Young

Second Place: Love in the Time of Nixon by Susan Brown,

Third Place: A Lesson, A Test, A Gift? by Shlomo Kreitzer



First Place: The Last Dime by Mal King

Second Place: Quest by Jim Seerden

Third Place: The Drive Home by Tammy Delatorre



First Place: Leaf by Leaf by Lori Anaya

Second Place: Nacho’s Nopales by Matthew Demaria

Third Place: The Ticket by Sheli Ellsworth



First Place: Movin’ by Lee Wade

Second Place: New Names and Old Brisket by Dallas Woodburn

Third Place: The Abandoned House by Gordon Twa



The Concrete is Always Greener by Wendy Dager

To Hold Harmless by Sharon Patterson

Pas De Deux by Lucille Sutton

The Scent of Honeysuckle by Carol Pond

Divine Wind by Bruce Henderson

The Mudslinger by LeeAnne Clark

A Butterfly for Bernice by Susan Brown

The Curative Powers of Chocolate by Karen Gorback

What Really Happened to Helen Fork by Liz Gollen