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First Things First! Writing Contest

Writers, make 2009 your year to shine by entering our "First Things First!" writing competition.

Compete for cash and other prizes: 

  • 1st Place: $100
  • 2nd Place: $50
  • 3rd Place: $25

Plus, the top three all get a CWA T-shirt and a Comfort and Joy gift basket. Not to mention bragging rights, and of course, your “15 minutes of fame!”

Here's how: Wow us with your words! Make us laugh, make us cry, make us notice. In 500 words or less, use one of the following first lines to create an original poem, essay, or short story.


  • Eligibility---Contest open to U.S. residents, 18 years of age and older.
  • Format---All submissions must be sent via snail mail, prepared in standard format on 8 1/2x 11 paper, double spaced. Or by Email to: SHEWRITES4U@YAHOO.COM, embedded in the message. No attachments.
  • Deadline---July 1, 2009
  • Entry fee---$5.00 per entry

Notification---Winners will be notified by Email and posted to the CWA Website (www.chicagowrites.org) and blog (www.windycitywriters.com).


  • It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.
  • How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
  • In the beginning, God created the heaven and the earth.
  • I think that I shall never see a poem as lovely as a tree.
  • I, too, sing America.
  • There was no possibility of taking a walk that day.
  • We real cool. We left school.
  • Hold fast to your dreams.
  • Once upon a time...
  • Now, what I want is facts.

Our illustrious panel of judges includes: Dan Case, author and editor of Writingfordollars.comWendy Burt, columnist, veteran freelance writer and author of The Writers Digest Guide to Query Letters; Shoshauna Shy, award winning poet and creator of Bookthatpoet.com, and Hurley Green III, photographer and managing editor of Chicago Independent Bulletin.

Email entries to: SHEWRITES4U@YAHOO.COM

No attachments. Please embed entry in Email. Along with your entry include your name, address, phone number and email address.

Pay online with PayPal:

Snail mail entries should be sent to: Chicago Writers Association, P.O. Box 6505, Chicago, IL 60204-6505

Please make checks or money orders payable to Chicago Writers Association. Along with your entry include your name, address, phone number and email address.


Bios of the Judges:

Wendy Burt-Thomas is a full-time freelance writer, editor and PR consultant. Her credentials include more than 1,000 published pieces and three books. Her new book, "The Writer's Digest Guide to Query Letters" (January 2009, (Writer's Digest Books) is now available in most bookstores. Wendy features author interviews, writing contests and Q&As for writers on her blog, "Ask Wendy - The Query Queen."

Shoshauna Shy's poems have been published in numerous journals and magazines which include The Seattle Review, Cimarron Review, The Briar Cliff Review, Rattle, Rosebud and Poetry Northwest. One of her poems was selected for the Poetry 180 Library of Congress program launched by Billy Collins.  She is the author of four collections of poetry, the most recent one titled What the Postcard Didn’t Say was a recipient of an Outstanding Achievement Award from the Wisconsin Library Association in 2008.  Shoshauna works for the Wisconsin Humanities Council in Madison, Wisconsin and has helped create, coordinate and facilitate poetry programs for the annual Wisconsin Book Festival in downtown Madison each October.

Dan Case is the owner of AWOC.COM Publishing and is the editor of their flagship publication, Writing for DOLLARS! He is the co-author of The Complete Guide to Writing and Selling Magazine Articles and author of numerous articles, essays and writes regularly for the “How to Promote Your Book blog” at promote.blogspot.com. His cartoons have appeared in books, magazines, newsletters and in syndication both online and in newspapers. In 2007, He went on a four thousand mile “search for Sasquatch” trip with author Charles W. Sasser to do research for a book on Bigfoot. Dan lives on a “hobby” farm in Era, Texas (population 124) where he has his office in an old barn. 

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Reader Comments (2)

Is there a way to pay via Paypal? Just asking if we were to submit electronically, would love to pay the same way. :-) I know. I'm a technology geek.

April 27, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterBethany

Bethany, I agree it would be easier for all involved to pay via PayPal. I won't make any promises but I'll see if I can set it up.

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