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Golden Quill Writing contest


Get your words ready! 

The SLO NightWriters Golden Quill Writing Contest opens May 1st. In the meantime, please subscribe to our mailing list for updates and occasional news and invitations to special events.

The Golden Quill Writing Contest is a tri-genre contest that awards a total of $1,200 in prizes and publication in the debut issue of SLO NightWriters' new literary journal to the first and second place short story, creative nonfiction piece (essays and memoir), and poem engaging with this year's theme: memories. 

DEADLINE: June 30th.

San Luis Obispo NightWriters ("SLO NightWriters") is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization with a mission of nurturing the Central Coast writing community and providing writing education, opportunities, resources, workshops, and scholarships. The goal of the Golden Quill Writing Contest is to discover and amplify voices in fiction, creative nonfiction, and poetry, and is an annual fundraiser for the organization.



Fiction: The final round of this year’s fiction entries will be judged by New York Times bestselling author Tod Goldberg.

Tod Goldberg is the New York Times bestselling author of fourteen books of fiction, including the acclaimed Gangsterland quartet: Gangsterland, Gangster Nation, The Low Desert: Gangster Stories and Gangsters Don’t Die, which were named finalists for the Hammett Prize, the International Thriller of the Year Award, the Strand Critics Award, and The Reading the West Award and have been named an Amazon Best Book of the Year and twice awarded Southwest Book of the Year. He is also the author of the standalone novels The House of Secrets (which he co-authored with Brad Meltzer), Living Dead Girl (a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize), and Fake Liar Cheat; the acclaimed story collections Other Resort Cities and Simplify, which won the Other Voices Book Prize and was a finalist for the Southern California Book Sellers Association Award for Fiction; and five books in the popular Burn Notice series, three times a finalist for the Scribe Award. His books have been published in a dozen languages and around the world.

Creative Nonfiction: The final round of this year's creative nonfiction entries will be judged by award-winning author Anne Janzer.

Anne Janzer is an award-winning author, armchair cognitive science geek, nonfiction author coach, marketing practitioner, and blogger. She’s on a mission to help people spread important ideas through writing. 
As a professional writer, she has worked with more than one hundred technology companies, writing in the voice of countless brands and corporate executives. She is author of the books Get the Word Out,  Writing to Be Understood,  The Writer’s ProcessThe Workplace Writer’s Processand Subscription MarketingHer books have won numerous awards, including the Independent Book Publishers IPPY award, the Foreword Indies Book of the Year, Reader’s Favorite Gold Medal, and the IndieReader Discovery Award. They have been translated into Japanese, Korean, and Russian language editions.

Poetry: The final round of this year's poetry entries will be judged by former SLO County poet laureate Marguerite Costigan.

Marguerite Costigan
is a professional artist, naturalist, and life-long poet. She began writing poetry as a child on her father’s farm in rural Pennsylvania. In high school, her work was included in a national poetry anthology. A 44-year transplant to California, her poems embrace multiple themes: the human condition, the environment, war and love. Her work has appeared in 
Pudding MagazineCafĂ© SoloAsylum, the anthology Poems for Endangered Places, and the international magazine Le Fenetre. She has taught with the California State Poets in the Schools program, has been reading her work live before Central Coast audiences since the 1970’s, and has been proclaimed San Luis Obispo County Poet Laureate 2015-16 by the Board of Supervisors. Marguerite lives in San Luis Obispo, California with her musician/writer husband and one skittery cat.


  • This year's theme is "memories." All submissions must engage with the theme in some way.
  • All submissions must be previously unpublished.
  • The contest is open to writers residing in the United States and Canada.
  • Fiction and creative nonfiction (essays and memoir): up to 5,000 words.
  • Poetry: up to 60 lines of poetry per poem; up to 3 poems per submission.
  • Please use industry standard formatting as applicable to your form: Times New Roman, 12 pt., double-spaced, one-inch margins.
  • First-place winners in each category will receive a $300 cash prize and publication in the debut issue of SLO NightWriters new online and print literary journal.
  • Second-place winners in each category will receive a $100 cash prize and publication in the debut issue of SLO NightWriters new online and print literary journal.
  • All entries will be considered for publication.
  • All submissions will be online through our Duosuma submission portal.
  • Multiple submissions are welcome, but you must pay a separate fee for each entry.
  • Simultaneous submissions are welcome, but please withdraw the piece immediately if accepted elsewhere. 
  • Entry fees are nonrefundable.
  • Current SLO NightWriters Board Members are ineligible.
  • Entry fee: $20 for SLO NightWriters members and $25 for nonmembers.

CONTEST DIRECTOR: Harvey Ardman. Please direct any questions to:


2023 Golden Quill Contest Results


First Place Judythe Guarnera The Disappearing Spouse

Second Place Matthew Green Freezer Burn


First Place (tie) Michelle Turner And Tomorrow

First Place (tie) George Asdel With New Eyes

For questions: email

Mailing Address:
1126 Nipomo Ave
Los Osos, CA 93402

Meeting Address:
11245 Los Osos Valley Rd
San Luis Obispo, CA 93405

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