Texas Observer Short Story Contest 2014

Don’t forget to enter the 2014 Observer Short Story Contest! The prize is $1,000 and publication in the most circulated issue of the magazine and online.

This year’s guest judge is Elizabeth McCracken, author of the recent story collection Thunderstruck (Random House) and Fiction Chair at the University of Texas at Austin’s Michener Center for Writers.

What does Elizabeth look for in a short story? “I’ll steal a line from the great William Boyd,” she tells us, “who once wrote, ‘The great modern short stories possess a quality of mystery and beguiling resonance about them—a complexity of afterthought—that cannot be pinned down or analysed.’ That’s what I want in any short story, that complexity of afterthought: when I finish a short story I want to feel as though my brain has been struck like a gong.”

GRAND PRIZE $1,000 and publication in the Observer’s October 2014 Books Issue
GUEST JUDGE Elizabeth McCracken
DEADLINE August 11, 2014


1. The winning author will receive $1,000 and publication in the 2014 Books Issue of The Texas Observer. Finalists may be eligible for publication online at texasobserver.org.
2. Contest is open to any and all participants regardless of location.
3. No restrictions on genre; entries with a Texas setting or theme are encouraged.
4. Stories should not exceed 2,500 words.
5. Entry fee is $25 per submission.
6. All stories must be submitted via email (instructions below). No hard copies, please.


1. All entries must be unpublished. Simultaneous submissions are welcome, but stories must be withdrawn from the contest immediately upon acceptance elsewhere. The entry fee will not be refunded. (Note: If your story is posted on a personal blog, please remove it before submitting.)
2. While multiple entries are welcome, each story requires the entry fee. There is no limit on the number of times you may enter.
3. After paying the entry fee (see form below), please email your story to duhr@texasobserver.org. The body of your email must contain your name, address and phone number, and the story title. Please attach your story in Microsoft Word format (PDF also acceptable, but not preferred.) Your name should not appear anywhere on the manuscript itself, as the contest is judged anonymously.
4. Entries exceeding 2,500 words will be disqualified. The entry fee will not be refunded.
5. Students, former students and current professional colleagues of guest judge Elizabeth McCracken are ineligible.
6. Previous contest winners and finalists are not eligible; current and former employees of The Texas Observer are not eligible. Freelancers who have contributed more than one bylined article to The Texas Observer since August 2012 are not eligible. Previous contest honorable mention authors are free to submit.
7. Address all stories and questions to Observer Books and Fiction editor David Duhr: duhr@texasobserver.org. No phone calls, please.

We look forward to reading YOUR story!


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