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MacQueen’s Quinterly: Knock-your-socks-off Art and Literature
Updated: 18 Sept. 2022

Contest Portal


Intermittently, MacQ runs writing challenges that offer a modest cash prize and publication online to one Winner (and sometimes one or two runners-up), as well as publication online to several Finalists.

General guidelines for each challenge are much the same. Between the end of one writing challenge and the beginning of the next, this page includes a reference template which may be updated periodically. (Scroll down for details.)

Previous Competitions:

  1. “The Question of Questions”: MacQ-15 Ekphrastic Writing Challenge (August 2022):
    Results and Guidelines

  2. MacQ’s Cheribun Challenge (February 2022):
    Results and Guidelines

  3. MacQ’s “Triple-Q” Writing Challenge (December 2021):
    Results and Guidelines

  4. The Chains Ekphrastic Writing Challenge (MacQ, February 2021):
    Results and Guidelines

  5. The MacQ RESQ [aka Qualmish]) Challenge (September 2020):
    Results and Guidelines

  6. The MacQ Quink Challenge (July 2020):
    Results and Guidelines

  7. Magician Ekphrastic Challenge (MacQ, May 2020):
    Results and Guidelines

  8. The DavenTree Ekphrastic Challenge (KYSO Flash, Spring 2019):
    Results and Guidelines

  9. One Life, One Earth (OLOE) Challenge (KYSO Flash, Spring 2017):

  10. KYSO Flash Triple-F Writing Challenge (Spring 2016):

[NOTE: The template below is superseded by the specific guidelines for any competition that MacQ may be running currently.]

Template of General Guidelines:

[Because certain requirements, such as theme and word challenges, are unique to each contest, they are highlighted in green font to make them stand out from the text.]

Entry Fee:
Opening Date:
Closing Date:
[$ USD] and [# of max entries]
To be announced [date]

For a chance to win [$$$ USD] and publication online in [Issue #] of MacQueen’s Quinterly (aka MacQ-#): Submit unpublished work(s), no longer than one thousand words each, including title and any epigraphs and author footnotes.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

All qualifying entries will be considered for publication. Depending on number of entries received, up to [#] Finalists, in addition to the Winner, will be selected to appear in MacQ. online

Submission period is open for only [#] days: from [date] through [date]. No entries can be uploaded after 11:59 p.m. Eastern Standard Time on [date].

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

Entry Fee: [$ 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.

MacQ may also offer a second entry category of up to three pieces for [$ USD], uploaded within a single file.

Up to [#] entries will be considered from each person, and each 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.

Submission files must be “anonymous.” Do not include your name, address, and other identifying info within your file(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.

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 fairly comprehensive guidelines are welcome to leave us a brief note at Submittable.

Requests to Edit Entries: If you discover a typo, factual error, etc. in your work after uploading your file, simply request an edit by messaging us thru Submittable. 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 MacQ submission stats. Huge thanks for your understanding!

Basic Formatting: 11- or 12-point, easy-to-read-onscreen font such as Verdana. Times New Roman 12-point is also acceptable. At least one-inch margins.

Word Count: With the exception of critical essays and reviews, no more than 1,000 words per piece, including a mandatory title at least one word in length. Total word count also includes any epigraphs and author footnotes. The thousand-word max per piece applies to fiction, CNF, personal essays, prose poems, and poetic hybrids, as well as to poems, since we do not count lines.

All entries must include at least one instance of the word []. [Specific requirements re word challenge and theme will appear here, in green text.]

Entries may be serious, humorous, or 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, cheribun, haibun, haibun stories, tanka prose, tanka tales, and chaiga, haiga, taiga, and photo-poems

  5. Nonfiction (creative nonfiction, essays, memoir)

  6. Lineated poetry

    Just a tip: For this writing challenge, individual micro-poems such as haiku 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.)


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

  2. Although the use of explicit language may be appropriate for this particular 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 be considered.

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

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 should be no more than six weeks beyond the closing date of the contest.

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.

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.

Results will be announced no later than [date], with the publication of MacQ-[#] 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. Winner 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, 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 winner(s).

This competition is void where prohibited by law.

A world of thanks for accepting this Challenge—we hope you have fun with it! We look forward to reading your entries and to presenting the results in MacQ.

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