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MacQueen’s Quinterly: Knock-your-socks-off Art and Literature
News: 24 May 2020

The MacQ “Quink” Writing Challenge

[Updated July 2020: Now closed]


NOTE: Entries must incorporate at least one case of the word “quink,” as described in the guidelines below.

Entry Fee:
Opening Date:
Closing Date:
$4 (USD) per piece (4 entries max)
16 June 2020
30 June 2020
To be announced, end of July 2020

For a chance to win $200 (USD) and publication online in Issue 4 of MacQueen’s Quinterly: Submit unpublished work(s), no longer than one thousand words each, including title and any author footnotes. Up to four separate entries will be considered from each person, and each entry must be accompanied by a separate entry fee of $4 (USD).

In addition, three Finalists will receive $100 (USD) each, plus publication online in Issue 4 of MacQ (aka, MacQ-4).

Only one cash prize will be awarded per person.

All entries will be considered for publication. Several semi-finalists will also be acknowledged and published in Issue 4.

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

Guidelines for The MacQ “Quink” Challenge

Submission period is open for only 15 days: from 16 June 2020 through 30 June 2020. No entries can be uploaded after 11:59 p.m. Pacific Standard Time on the 30th of June.

Electronic Submissions Only: Entries in the English language will be considered from writers worldwide, via Submittable. (Link follows below these guidelines.)

Entry Fee: $4 (four USD) for one piece, uploaded in a single file. If more than one piece is included within a single file, only the first one will be considered. Additional pieces should be entered separately.

Up to four separate entries will be considered from each person, and each entry must be uploaded in a separate file and must include a separate entry fee.

Submission files will be accepted in .doc or .docx format. Visual artworks such as haiga, taiga, and photo-poems may be embedded within a Word document, only one per entry.

Submission documents must be “anonymous.” Do not include your name, address, and other identifying info within your document(s).

The same is true for the name of your file(s): No author info. Instead, please name individual files with the title of the piece in the entry. This will help ensure that all entries will be considered “blind” and as impartially as possible.

Author name, contact info, and bio should be entered in the boxes provided at Submittable. And Submittable will assign a unique 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, but would also impact our publisher’s crazy-busy schedule (she’s a one-person production army), as well as skew our submission stats. Huge thanks for your understanding!

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 (and any 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.

All entries must incorporate at least one case of the word “quink,” as defined in the list below. The plural form of the word may also be used.

Intrepid contestants are encouraged to try their hand at artfully weaving into a single piece all six “quinks.” (Keeping in mind, of course, the max word count of one thousand per piece, and that polished entries have the best chance of winning.) Can it be done? No one knows—it remains to be seen!

“Quink” Definitions:

  1. A portmanteau from “quick” and “ink,” Quink® is an ink for dip and fountain pens developed by the Parker Pen Company. Introduced in 1931, it has remained in production ever since (source: Wikipedia). Parker Quink Ink is also used to create paintings and illustrations.

  2. A portmanteau from “quick” and “drink,” referring to a libation after a long day (work or otherwise).

  3. A kind of goose, variously identified as the Brant goose (Brent goose in Europe) and the greylag.

  4. A whimsical variation on the “quack” sound that ducks make.

  5. In physics, a hypothetical fundamental particle; aka, preon, a sub-component of quarks.

  6. A slang term for nerd.

Entries may be serious, humorous, or both (and anywhere in-between). Themes are open and diverse; to get a feel for our editorial focus, please see previous issues of MacQ.

Multiple Genres Considered: 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-fiction (up to 500 words)

  3. Flash fiction (501–1,000 words)

  4. Poetic hybrids: haibun, haibun stories, tanka prose, tanka tales; and haiga, taiga, and photo-poems

  5. Nonfiction (creative nonfiction, essays, memoir)

  6. Lineated poetry

    Just a tip: For this writing challenge, individual micro-poems are 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, the semi-finalists in the MacQ Magician Ekphrastic Challenge included a sequence of six cherita.)

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 sites such as Fictionaut, are considered published and thus not eligible for this contest.

Please, no simultaneous submissions. Our publisher is committed to announcing results as soon as possible, which will be about four weeks beyond the closing date of the contest.

No cover letters, since we have very little time to read or respond to them. Folks with specific questions or concerns that are not addressed in these guidelines are welcome to leave us a brief note at Submittable.

Restrictions: For this “Quink” 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 we will consider fables or fairy tales for adults.

  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.

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.

By entering this contest, you certify that: the work(s) you’re submitting are your own original writings, they have never been published in print or electronically (including on social media), they have not been submitted nor accepted for publication elsewhere, and they are not in the public domain.

Results will be announced by 31 July, with the publication of MacQ-4 online. Clare MacQueen, founding editor and publisher of MacQ, will select the Winner and Finalists, who will be notified by email just before results are announced officially. All decisions by the judge(s) are final.

Payment of Prizes:

  1. Winners and Finalists will receive electronic payment via PayPal in USD (United States Dollars).

  2. Only one cash prize per person.

  3. If a collaborative artwork such as haiga, taiga, or photo-poem is selected as a Winner or Finalist, then the cash prize will be split evenly between the writer(s) and artist(s).

  4. Any taxes due on contest winnings are the sole responsibility of the prize winners.

This competition is void where prohibited by law.

A world of thanks for accepting our “Quink” Challenge—we hope you have fun with it! We look forward to reading your entries, and to presenting the results in MacQ-4.

[Previously linked to Submittable here. For results, see About the Quink Writing Challenge in Issue 4 of MacQ.]

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