Contest Testimonials

Sheila, your comments and suggestions greatly improved my work. I appreciate the way this competition was structured.

—Rhonda Wiley-Jones

Thank you so very much for your SUPER fast and thoughtful reply. I`ve been stuck with this piece for almost two years and any revising was to no avail. The ending did not seem right, as you suggested. And some of the images did not fit, such as the tear extinguishing the flame – I like your rephrasing for that part. In summary, all your comments were “right on” and will get me out of this rut! Thank you!

—Beth Krueger

I`ve really appreciated your thoughtful responses to my essays… It`s so great to get some solid feedback!

— Kristie McLean


This was a fantastic story. I don`t usually like war stories, but you brought the whole experience to life. A compelling read! Thank you.

— Celia Jones

Thanks so much!I`m thrilled to be honored by Writing It Real and look forward to your comments.

— Jan Burak Schwert

This is a huge thrill for me. Thank you! 

— Lori Stott

As I have mentioned before, your experience, writing and website is so important to me and to so many others. It is as though we have found a united voice for our memories, feelings and ideas to share with others and in turn help us understand who we are, why we write and the importance of having a site like yours to exchange our essays. Thank you so much for my honorable mention award. It means a lot to me.

— Diane Leone-Ferdico

 Reading period ended December 31, 2015

Watch for the Announcement of Winners in February!

New Contest Information Coming in Early Spring!

We are happy to announce our Fall, 2015 writing contest. Poets! Essayists! Memoirists! Fiction Writers! Send us the work  you feel stuck about — up to three poems or 3,000 words of prose (stand alone essays, excerpts, chapters) — and Sheila will respond to your work within a week with guidance as to where to go next. You can then send in your revision by the close of our reading period and those revisions will be entered into the final judging by guest judge Stan Rubin.  

Prizes for three winners are the choice of free tuition for a Writing It Real online class or an hour’s consulting time on up to three poems or 3,000 words of prose. Remember, whether you are a prize winner or not, everyone wins, because as usual Sheila will read your initial entry and give you response to use in revising and resubmitting before the final deadline.

Our Contest Goes Like this:

  1. Submit your entry of 1 to 3 poems or 3,000 words of prose.
  2. Receive Sheila’s comments
  3. Revise your entry (if you’d like to)
  4. Submit revision for final judging by the reading period deadline of 12/15/15; otherwise, we will use the original of the work you entered.

At Writing It Real, we believe the writing is in the revising. In that spirit our contests are about receiving detailed response to a draft and having our entrants send revisions in for consideration by a guest judge, who chooses three place winners.

So again,

  1. Submit your poem and Sheila Bender will respond in detail via email within a week after receiving your entry. When you revise the work it may exceed the initial word limit.
  2. Pay the reading fee of $15, which entitles the entrant to detailed response and a chance to win editing time or a class with Sheila.
  3. There is no additional reading fee for the re-entry. If entrants do not submit a revision, their original entry goes on to final judging. Not a member yet? Please become a member and send in your entry.

Sheila wants everyone to be a winner, and by receiving her detailed response to your submitted writing, you get a jumpstart in making your writing sing.

All (with the author’s permission) winning writing will be published in Writing It Real.

The sooner you enter, the more time you’ll have for revision. Please submit your writing soon.

The Logistics of How to Enter

If you are a member, log into Writing It Real and then click the Buy Now button below. You then pay your entry fee ($15) and submit your entry. If you are not a current Writing It Real member, it’s easy to join and enter the contest in one payment. You’ll receive the many benefits of belonging to Writing It Real, including being able to enter other contests during the year to receive Sheila’s response.

Our online form allows you to pay your fee via Visa or Mastercard. Your entry must be attached as a Microsoft Word or .rft document. We will not be able to read submissions that are in any other file type. NOTE: If you are unable after paying to upload your entry using the form (some browsers have been giving entrants trouble with the form) do send the entry as an attachment to email to with “initial contest entry” in the subject line. Either way, put all the poems into one Word document. If  you want to use the form for re-entry that is good but if you are having trouble, again, use email and mark the re-entry as such in the subject line.

If you’d like to submit hard copy, mail a copy of your entry along with a check to Writing It Real, 394 Colman Drive, Port Townsend, WA 98368. Remember to include your email address.

Again, entrants receive Sheila’s detailed response within a week of receipt of the document. The detailed response is guaranteed to speed you on your way to a finished piece.

And again, our contest reading fee is $15.00 for Writing It Real Members. Click the buy button below and, after making your payment, you will be sent to a page where you can upload your submission or just email it to You can send it as a .doc, .docx or an .rtf file (most word processing programs allow you to save in one or more of these formats).

Do not put your name on the submission. Your name can be in the form/email.

If you are already a member, be sure to login now, then you’ll only pay the $15 reading fee for your contest submission.The contest fee for nonmembers is $50 and includes a $35 Lift Off level year’s membership to Writing It Real, plus the contest reading fee of $15. Please use the buy button below to join now. After you submit your payment, you will be routed to the contest submission form. You can upload it as a .doc, .docx or an .rtf file (most word processing programs allow you to save in one or more of these formats). Do not put your name on the submission. Your name and email is on the form you fill out.

If you have questions, email us. If you prefer, send your double-spaced manuscript and a check to:

Writing It Real Contest
394 Colman Drive
Port Townsend, WA 98368

If you do a paper submission, include a cover letter with your name, address, email address and phone number as well as the name of your submitted pieces. Do not put your name on the submissions themselves.