Nonfiction Writing Contests

Jorge SantiagoWe’re thrilled to announce our first-ever nonfiction contest at Vela!

We’re looking for creative nonfiction, written by women, with a strong voice, a compelling narrative, and/or a powerful driving question. We’re interested in a wide range of essays and stories, including literary journalism, personal essays, memoir, and expository or experimental essays. We are not a “women’s magazine, ” and are not looking for work that is written solely for a female audience.


First place award: $500 and publication.

Two finalists: Publication.


Essays must be previously unpublished and no longer than 6, 500 words. There is no entry fee. We understand that times are tough and we want all women writers, regardless of financial circumstances, to be able to submit. We do suggest a donation of $10 to help cover the costs of running Vela and the contest. Those who donate will receive a snazzy PDF entitled Women We Read This Year, an annotated compilation of the best feature and essay writing by women from 2013, drawn from our weekly Women We Read This Week column.

MichelleOrangePlease submit a cover letter that includes your name, email address, phone number, and mailing address. Do not include your name or any personal information in the body of your submission or in the file name of your document; submissions will be read blind. Please submit no more than one essay. Simultaneous submissions are fine if withdrawn upon acceptance elsewhere. The Vela nonfiction contest is open to women only. All submissions will be considered for publication.


Michelle Orange is the author of This Is Run­ning For Your Life: Essays. Her writing has appeared in Harper’s, McSweeney’s, The Nation, Book­fo­rum, the Vir­ginia Quar­terly Review, the New York Times, Slate, the Vil­lage Voice, and other publications. She lives in New York City.

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