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MacQueen’s Quinterly: Knock-your-socks-off Art and Literature
News: 18 October 2021

MacQ’s “Triple-Q” Writing Challenge

[Updated January 2022: Challenge is closed. See Results in Issue 11.]


NOTE: Each entry must incorporate at least three “Q” words from our list of prompts that follows in the guidelines below.

Prize: $200 (USD) to Winner, plus publication
  (several finalists will also be published)
Entry Fee: $5 (USD) for one piece, or
$10 (USD) for up to three pieces
Entry Period: 14 days
Opening Date: 22 November 2021
Closing Date: 5 December 2021
Results: Announced by New Year’s Day 2022

For a chance to win $200 (USD) and publication online in Issue 11 of MacQueen’s Quinterly (aka MacQ-11): Submit original, unpublished literary work(s), no longer than one thousand words each, including title, epigraph, and any author footnotes.

Depending on the entry category chosen, up to three pieces will be considered from each person. Two entry categories are available: (1) Submit one piece with an entry fee of $5 (USD), or (2) submit up to three pieces for $10 (USD).

All entries will be considered for publication: Depending on the number and quality of entries received, we hope to publish at least a dozen finalists along with the Winner in MacQ-11.

Multiple genres will be happily considered, including fiction, nonfiction, poetry, prose poetry, short-form sequences, and hybrid forms such as haibun, haibun stories, tanka prose, tanka tales, etc.

Entries may be serious, humorous, or both (and anywhere in-between), although they should also be polished literary works.

Themes are open and diverse; to get a feel for our editorial focus, please see previous issues of MacQ—keeping in mind that each entry in this writing challenge must include at least three “Q” words as defined on our list of prompts later in these guidelines.

No simultaneous submissions: Our publisher is committed to announcing results as soon as possible, which will be just under four weeks beyond the closing date of this contest.

(Note: MacQ Contributing Editors are not eligible to enter this challenge.)

(For folks who are curious about such things, this is our eighth contest in six years. For a list of links to winners and finalists of our previous writing challenges, please visit MacQ’s Contest Portal.)

Full Guidelines for MacQ’s “Triple-Q” Challenge

Electronic Submissions Only, Via Submittable: Entries in the English language will be considered from writers 18 years of age and older, from countries worldwide. (Our link to Submittable follows below these guidelines.)

Submission period is open for only 14 days: from 22 November 2021 through 5 December 2021. No entries can be uploaded via our Submittable portal after 11:59 p.m. Eastern Standard Time on the fifth of December.

Entry Fee: $5 (five USD) for one piece, uploaded within a single file; or $10 (ten USD) for up to three pieces, uploaded within a single file

Entry fees cannot be refunded, so please read the guidelines before selecting your entry category at Submittable.

Submission files will be accepted in .doc or .docx format.

Submissions must be “anonymous.” Please do NOT include your name, address, and other identifying info within your document.

The same is true for the name of your file: No author info. Instead, please name your file with the title of the piece (or one of the pieces) in your entry. This will help ensure that all entries will be considered as impartially as possible.

Author’s name, contact info, and bio should be entered in the boxes provided at Submittable. And Submittable keeps things nicely organized by assigning a number to each entry.

Requests to Edit Entries: If you discover a typo, factual error, etc. in your work after uploading your file, please send us a note thru Submittable and request an edit. Please do NOT withdraw your entry just to resubmit an updated version. Doing so would not only waste your time and money (in part because entry fees cannot be refunded), but also would negatively impact our publisher’s crazy-busy schedule, as well as skew our submission stats. Huge thanks for your understanding and co-operation!

Basic Formatting: 11- or 12-point, easy-to-read-onscreen font such as Verdana. At least one-inch margins. Double space most prose works; but poetic hybrids like prose poems, haibun stories, and tanka prose may be single-spaced. Please single space lineated poems, with line and stanza breaks as you wish them to appear on-screen.

Word Count: No more than 1,000 words per piece, including a mandatory title at least one word in length. (Total word counts also include any epigraphs and author footnotes). The thousand-word max per piece applies to all genres, including hybrids and poetic works, since we do not count lines and line breaks.

Submissions of multiple genres as well as hybrid forms are welcomed. We’re looking for polished and evocative literary works that balance “music and meaning” (to borrow from poet Richard Hugo) within a max of 1,000 words and using forms such as these:

  1. Prose poetry

  2. Micro and flash fiction

  3. Poetic hybrids such as haibun, haibun stories, tanka prose, tanka tales, etc.

  4. Nonfiction (creative nonfiction, essays, memoir)

  5. Lineated poetry

    Just a tip: For this writing challenge, individual micro-poems are pretty much a long shot. Sequences and hybrid combinations of multiple micro-poems such as haiku, senryu, tanka, kyoka, and cherita will have a better chance. (For example, this sequence of six cherita was a semi-finalist in the MacQ Magician Ekphrastic Challenge.)

No matter the genre, each piece entered must include at least three “Q” words as defined in the list below.

Beyond the required minimum of three, you’re free to incorporate additional “Q” words from our list below if you would like—so long as the result is a seamless, well written piece of literature, whatever the genre: fiction, nonfiction, poetry, prose poetry, and/or hybrid form.

For the sake of convenience, these “Q” words are listed alphabetically; of course, those used in entries can appear in any order the author wishes.

  1. quadrivial (adjective): leading in four directions (related to four-way junction)

  2. quahog (noun): a kind of edible clam with a hard shell; often called “chowder clams” since they’re commonly used to make clam chowder

  3. quandary (noun): a situation from which extrication is challenging

  4. querl (verb): to twirl; to turn or wind round; to coil; as in, to querl a cord or rope

  5. querulous (adjective): continually complaining

  6. quesadilla (noun): a tortilla spread with cheese, and sometimes with a savory mixture of meat and vegetables, that’s often fried lightly and then folded before serving

  7. quibble (verb): argue or raise objections about a trivial matter

  8. quiddity (noun): essential nature; the essence

  9. quinzie (noun): snow cave

  10. quobbled (adjective): wrinkled fingers after being in water too long

Use of variations is limited. For instance, plural forms of the nouns may be used, such as “quandaries.” In addition, verb variations such as “querled,” “querling,” and “querls” also may be used.

Original Works Only: Entries must be unpublished, and must not have been chosen as a winner, finalist, or honorable mention in another contest. Works that have appeared on an author’s website or blog, and/or on social media like Facebook and Twitter and sites such as Fictionaut, are considered published and thus not eligible for this contest.

(And yes, in fairness to all contestants and to our readers, publisher Clare MacQueen makes the effort to research histories of entries submitted to MacQ contests. Previously published works will be disqualified.)

Please, NO simultaneous submissions. Clare promises that your work will not be “held in limbo” for long. She’s committed to announcing contest results as soon as possible, i.e., no later than New Year’s Day, which is only four weeks beyond the closing date of this contest.

No cover letters necessary: As a one-person production army, Clare has very little time to read or respond to letters. Folks with specific questions or concerns that are not addressed in these guidelines are welcome to leave her a brief note at Submittable.

Restrictions: For this “Triple-Q” Challenge, works in translation and visual artworks like paintings, photographs, and sculpture cannot be considered.

Other restrictions:

  1. No gratuitous violence; remember, less is more.

  2. No gratuitous obscenities; judicious usage is okay.

  3. No children’s stories, but fables or fairy tales for adults will be happily considered.

  4. No pornography, although literary erotica and works containing sexual themes and related explicit language will be considered.

  5. No political screeds and/or religious rants—however, literary works from all spiritual traditions are welcomed.

To see winners and finalists of our seven previous writing challenges, please visit MacQ’s Contest Portal.

Publication Rights: Authors whose works are selected will be asked to approve an agreement which grants exclusive first-time worldwide publication rights to MacQueen’s Quinterly. (For more information, see Contract: Publishing Rights.)

By entering this contest, you certify that:

  1. the work(s) you’re submitting are your own original writing(s);

  2. they have never been published in print or electronically (including on social media);

  3. they have not been submitted nor accepted for publication elsewhere; and

  4. they are not in the public domain.

Results will be announced by the first of January 2022, with the publication of MacQ-11 online (i.e., Issue 11 of MacQueen’s Quinterly). Clare MacQueen, founding editor and publisher of MacQ, will select the Winner and (she hopes) at least a dozen finalists, whom she will notify by email just before announcing results officially. Judge’s decisions are final.

Payment of Prizes:

  1. A cash prize totaling $200 (United States Dollars) will be awarded.

  2. Winning writer will receive payment via PayPal.

  3. If a collaborative work is selected as Winner, then the $200 will be split evenly between the writers.

  4. Any taxes due on contest winnings are the sole responsibility of the prize winner(s).

This competition is void where prohibited by law.

A world of thanks for accepting MacQ’s “Triple-Q” Writing Challenge—we hope you have fun with it, and we look forward to reading your work soon!

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