2018 Short Story Contest

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The 2018 Texas Observer Short Story Contest is now closed.

This year’s guest judge is Natalia Sylvester. Born in Lima, Peru, Natalia came to the US at age 4 and grew up in Florida and the Rio Grande Valley. She’s a faculty member of the low-residency MFA program at Regis University and works as a freelance writer in Austin. Her work has appeared in BustleCatapultElectric LiteratureLatina magazine and the Austin American-Statesman. Natalia’s first novel, Chasing the Sun, was named the Best Debut Book of 2014 by Latinidad. Her latest novel, Everyone Knows You Go Home, has been named a Best Book of 2018 by Real Simple magazine and is a finalist for the International Latino Book Awards.

Eric Sylvester

GRAND PRIZE: $1,000 and publication in the Observer’s October 2018 Issue
GUEST JUDGE: Natalia Sylvester
DEADLINE: Monday, August 6, 1:00 pm (CST)


  • Finalists may be eligible for publication online at texasobserver.org.
  • Contest is open to any and all participants regardless of location.
  • No restrictions on genre or theme; Texas settings encouraged but not required.
  • Stories must not exceed 2,500 words.
  • Entry fee is $25 per submission.
  • All stories must be submitted via this online form. No hard copies, please.

Rules and regulations

  • All entries must be unpublished. Simultaneous submissions are welcome, but stories must be withdrawn from the contest immediately upon acceptance elsewhere. The entry fee will not be refunded. (Note: If your story is posted on a personal blog, please remove it before submitting.)
  • While multiple entries are welcome, each story requires the entry fee. There is no limit on the number of times you may enter.
  • Please attach your story in Microsoft Word format (PDF also acceptable, but not preferred). Your name must not appear anywhere on the manuscript itself, as the contest is judged anonymously.
  • Entries exceeding 2,500 words will be disqualified. The entry fee will not be refunded.
  • Students, former students and current professional colleagues of guest judge Natalia Sylvester are ineligible.
  • Previous contest winners and finalists are not eligible; current and former employees of The Texas Observer and their family members are not eligible. Freelancers who have contributed more than one bylined article to The Texas Observer since June 2017 are not eligible. Previous contest honorable mention authors are free to submit.
  • Address all questions to Observer fiction editor David Duhr: [email protected]. No phone calls, please.