The popular Rehoboth Beach Reads Short Story Contest is now accepting submissions. The contest, in its fifth year, invites writers to submit short (500-3,500 word) “beach reads,” the kinds of stories people enjoy reading while on vacation. Each story must incorporate the year’s theme and have a connection to Rehoboth Beach (the writer does not have to live in Rehoboth). This year’s theme is “Beach Life.” Browseabout Books in Rehoboth Beach is the sponsor for the contest, which offers a $500 cash prize for first place, $250 for second place, and $100 for third place. The top 20-25 stories chosen by a panel of judges will be included in the book Beach Life, which will be published by Cat & Mouse Press by the end of the year. Contest guidelines and entry information are available at www.catandmousepress.com.
“We chose the theme ‘Beach Life’ to give writers plenty of flexibility,” says contest organizer Nancy Sakaduski of Lewes-based Cat & Mouse Press. “It’s a wide-open theme that could evoke memories, romance, mystery, humor, family intrigue, or just about anything,” she says, clarifying that the only genres that are off limits are poetry, erotica, religious material, and stories for children. Every year the winners include several writers who have never been published before as well as some accomplished authors with many publication credits and awards.
The varied nature of the stories in the Rehoboth Beach Reads books is part of their appeal. Previous books have included stories involving Sherlock Holmes, ghosts, a noir-style hired killer, a “magical” bathing suit, elderly outlaws, and a murder mystery involving the short story contest itself. The book containing last year’s winners, Beach Nights, opens with “Good Vibrations,” a funny and romantic story involving a high school prom, and continues through tales that involve a mermaid’s moon, a “Vampire Surf Club,” senior disco queens, a seemingly haunted Funland ride, murder at a Rehoboth hotel, a moonlit sea turtle rescue, and a kid who sneaks into a James Brown concert and meets the man himself. Despite the wide variety of styles and content, all the stories are set in and around the Rehoboth area and many mention local hotels, restaurants, shops, and events.
Stories submitted to the contest can take place in any time period, include any location (although there should be a connection to Rehoboth), and be fiction or nonfiction. “The contest is a great way for beginning writers to get published,” says Sakaduski. “It’s a relatively small pool of contestants and the judges don’t know whether the entrant has a long list of published books or has never published before, so it’s a level playing field. And for published writers, it’s great visibility and an additional writing credential.”
“The Rehoboth Beach Reads books are hugely popular,” says Susan Kehoe, manager of Browseabout Books, the contest’s sponsor. “Residents and visitors alike love the clever stories, high-quality writing, and local settings. The books just fly off the shelves from the moment they are published— and are among our top-selling books each year. It’s a great project and we always have lots of fun at the launch events—I can certainly see why writers want to be part of it.”
A panel of judges selects the stories for the top prizes and also choose stories they feel deserve special merit for individual judge’s awards. This year’s judges are Stephanie Fowler, Barbara Lockhart, Laurel Marshfield, William Peak, Mary Pauer, and Judith Reveal.
The contest deadline is July 1. The fee to enter is $10, and each writer can submit up to three stories. Entries are judged on creativity, quality of writing, suitability as a beach read, and fit with the theme. The complete contest guidelines and additional tips are posted on the Cat & Mouse Press website. Potential entrants are encouraged to read How to Write Winning Short Stories (available at local bookstores and online) and look at the previous books in the series (The Beach House, The Boardwalk, Beach Days, and Beach Nights) to see the kinds of stories that were selected in previous years. Contest information is posted on the Cat & Mouse Press website (www.catandmousepress.com) and on the contest Facebook page: www.facebook.com/RehobothBeachReads.
Cat & Mouse Press was established to produce books and other materials that are fun, entertaining, and of particular interest to residents and visitors to the Delmarva region. The company publishes a free weekly newspaper for writers, Writing is a Shore Thing (www.writingisashorething.com). For more information, visit the company’s website at www.catandmousepress.com or its Facebook page, www.facebook.com/catandmousepress.
Cat & Mouse Press
18508 Belle Grove Rd. #5
Lewes, DE 19958
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