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MacQueen’s Quinterly: Knock-your-socks-off Art and Literature
News: 29 Aug 2020

The MacQ “RESQ” Writing Challenge

[Updated October 2020: Now closed]

Results in Issue 5


NOTE: All entries must include the word “qualmish,” as described in green text in the Guidelines section below. Plus, “RESQ” entries must be flash-length literary works which address the Romantic, the Erotic, and/or the Schmexy (the latter referring to sexiness that’s playful, humorous, gently sarcastic, and/or satirical).

Entry Fee:
Opening Date:
Closing Date:
$3 (USD) per piece (3 entries max per person)
16 September 2020
30 September 2020
To be announced, end of October 2020

For a chance to win $100 (USD) and publication online in Issue 5 of MacQueen’s Quinterly (aka MacQ-5): Submit unpublished work(s), no longer than one thousand words each, including title and any author footnotes. Up to three separate entries will be considered from each person, and each entry must be accompanied by a separate entry fee of $3 (USD).

In addition, up to three Finalists will receive $50 (USD) each, plus publication online in MacQ-5.

Only one cash prize will be awarded per person.

All entries will be considered for publication. Several semi-finalists may also be selected for publication in Issue 5.

[To see results from our previous writing competitions, follow these links: The Quink Challenge (July 2020); Magician Ekphrastic Challenge (May 2020); The DavenTree Ekphrastic Challenge (Spring 2019); and One Life, One Earth (OLOE) Challenge (Spring 2017).]

Note: MacQ Contributing Editors may not enter this contest.

Guidelines for the “RESQ” Writing Challenge

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

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

Entry Fee: $3 (three 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 three 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 artwork 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 (entry fees cannot be refunded), 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, tanka prose, etc. may be single-spaced. Please submit 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 include at least one instance of the word “qualmish,” referring to at least one of these three definitions:

  1. a feeling of uneasiness about not following one’s conscience or better judgment

  2. a sudden feeling of disturbing emotion such as doubt or fear

  3. an attack of illness, faintness, or nausea

To reiterate, as mentioned at the top of this page: In addition to including the word “qualmish” as defined in these guidelines, RESQ entries must also address the Romantic, the Erotic, and/or the Schmexy (the latter referring to sexiness that’s playful, humorous, gently sarcastic, and/or satirical).

Entries may be serious, humorous, or both (and anywhere in-between).

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: for example, 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 no more than 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.


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

  2. Although the use of explicit language is appropriate for this contest, no gratuitous obscenities please. Judicious usage is okay.

  3. No children’s stories, but we will consider fables or fairy tales for adults.

  4. No pornography, although literary Romance, Erotica, and works with sexual themes and related explicit language will, of course, 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 no later than 31 October, with the publication of MacQ-5 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 “RESQ” Challenge—we hope you have fun with it! We look forward to reading your entries and to presenting the results in MacQ-5.

[Previously linked to Submittable here. See Issue 5 for the Results of the RESQ Writing Challenge.]

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