Pen Tales Short Story Contest

Posted on January 28, 2011


I received notice of a new writing contest open to writers WORLDWIDE in which I thought ya’ll might be interested.

If submitting an article in a foreign language, the contest requires that you include an English translation. Google provides a translation tool that I often use, and many foreigners (non-US speaking friends) tell me that it translates quite accurately.

This contest should be attractive to many, because you get published if you win 1st, 2nd or 3rd place. Getting published is a big deal to some companies looking for reputable writers. It gives you a stamp of credibility if you can reference a published work in which you contributed, regardless of whether you receive monetary compensation.

It’s 500-words or less. I bet most of you can write 500 words or less off the top of their head in just a few minutes if you personally know about a situation that applies to this particular work. What’s a few minutes of work if you get published? Even if you don’t win any prizes, you have a ready-made article sample to submit to potential writing clients.

Some items to note about the contest are as follows:

  • Free entry
  • Submissions for a very short story — 500-words or less (will not consider submissions over 500 words!)
  • Submit in the body of an email  to — NO ATTACHMENTS!
  • Include your name and location in the SUBJECT line
  • Due by March 7, 2011
  • Looking for stories about REVOLT, those who rebel against the norm or fight against oppression and injustice
  • Only one submission per person
  • 1st Prize Submission — receives a signed copy of the book American Uprising: The Untold Story of America’s Largest Slave Revolt, and the winner gets his/her story reviewed by New York Times best-selling author Daniel Rasmussen.
  • First, second and third-prize winners — are interviewed for PenTales, and their stories are shared with the global PenTales community throughout their website, newsletter and social media platforms.

Here’s the exact notification I received with full details:

Open Call for Submissions

Announcing A PenTales Short Story Contest.

PenTales and Dan Rasmussen, New York Times best-selling author of American Uprising: The Untold Story of America’s Largest Slave Revolt, are looking for inspiring stories from around the world on the theme Revolt.

Submission Guidelines: Write us a short story (500 words or less) on the theme of Revolt. This contest is open to anyone, from published writers to budding storytellers. All submissions must be original, unpublished work. If your short story is in a different language, please provide a valid English translation. Writers are invited to send in only one submission to this contest. Please note that we will not consider stories longer than 500 words and stories that clearly do not relate to the topic.

Deadline: March 7, 2011

Judging Criteria: Winning stories will showcase unique voices, perspectives, and original ways of thinking about the theme of Revolt. We are looking for:

  1. Stories that capture the bravery and idealism of men and women who fight against oppression and injustice.
  2. Stories that disinter the wild spirit of man in rebellion.
  3. Stories that remind us of the wild dreams and tremendous risks of complete and total revolt.

While literary qualities (i.e. narrative structure, diction, syntax) will be considered, the main questions our judge will ask are:

  1. Which of these submissions present the most creative and compelling stories?
  2. Which of these stories must be shared with the world?

Prizes: The first prize winner’s story will be reviewed by New York Times best-selling author Daniel Rasmussen. The first prize winner will also receive a signed copy of American Uprising: The Untold Story of America’s Largest Slave Revolt. First, second, and third-prize winners will be interviewed for PenTales and their stories will be shared with the global PenTales community through our website, newsletter, and social media platforms.

How to Submit:

Send your submission to Include in the subject line of your e-mail your name and location. Please copy and paste your short story in the body of the e-mail. No attachments will be opened.

Behind the Story: Dan Rasmussen

Rasmussen: My father early on developed a clever scheme for me and my siblings. My sister would play ice hockey, my older brother and I would figure skate. By entering small niches, we could excel and hopefully stand out among a sea of more standard overachievers. Yet while my older brother and sister trained relentlessly, I used to sneak away into obscure parts of the ice rink and read the Redwall books. My figure skating career ended with a fizzle – as my literary interests and less-than-svelte figure proved insufficient to help me land the daunting and necessary triple salchow. READ ON

Daniel Rasmussen is the New York Times best-selling author of American Uprising: The Untold Story of America’s Largest Slave Revolt, which the Financial Times wrote had “a breadth and sweep reminiscent of The Black Jacobins.” Rasmussen has been described as a “crisp, confident writer” (Wall Street Journal), a “superb stylist” (Kansas City Star), and as “extraordinarily precocious” (Cleveland Plain Dealer). A 2009 graduate of Harvard University, Rasmussen won several prizes for his senior thesis on the 1811 Revolt, including the Thomas Temple Hoopes Prize, Harvard’s top undergraduate academic honor. He grew up in Washington, DC and currently lives in Boston, MA.


At PenTales, we believe that there is no better way for people to get to know one another than through the exchange of stories. Stories inspire our curiosity, our imagination, and our awareness of shared values that reach beyond languages and borders. Indeed, stories – in all forms – have the power to connect people from different backgrounds and create meaningful global dialogues. Our aim is to foster this dialogue by providing creative and inspiring ways for people to contribute and discover original stories on universal themes.

Posted in: Writing Contests