Talking Stick Submission Guidelines


Celebrating the short form again with a Creative Twist!
Wanted: SHORT Poetry, Fiction, Creative Nonfiction.
THE TALKING STICK is a locally published and nationally recognized publication.

1. Writers must be from Minnesota or have some connection to this area. ALL ENTRIES MUST BE VERY SHORT. Focus on short forms, cutting all unnecessary words. Create an elegant moment that hints of a longer, more complex story. Think of these as compressed creations.

2. DEADLINE: March 1, 2024. This year we will offer monetary prizes in each of 4 categories. Writers may submit in more than one category. Our Editorial Board will select the poetry and prose to be published in TS33. A published Minnesota author will judge for the monetary prizes from the selected submissions, with authors’ names removed. Writers will be invited to our Release Party in September 2024. Tentative date for a writers’ workshop and book party is September 14, 2024. PLEASE READ SUBMISSION GUIDELINES COMPLETELY.

3. Prizes are $200 for first place and $100 for second place in each of the 4 categories. Works must be UNPUBLISHED. This includes Websites and Blogs. We want new writings, unseen by the public. No simultaneous submissions, please. Submit manuscripts with name, address, email address, and phone number in upper right corner of each page. THIS MUST BE THE WAY YOU WANT YOUR NAME IN THE BOOK. Clearly mark the genre for which you are submitting: POETRY, CREATIVE NONFICTION, or FICTION. We would prefer that you do NOT start out your written piece with “inspirational” or “referenced” quotes from other literary works because of possible copyright issues, etc. We accept no political or religious rants and no children’s writings.

POETRY—Limit TWO poems per writer, either a Prose Poem no longer than ½ page or a poem with line breaks but either one no longer than 35 LINES total (and this must include counting the blank lines), typed single-spaced. We have 35 lines available on each book page, whether you use them as blank lines or lines of words. Note also that our books are small. Long lines will wrap and take up an extra line. No word count necessary. See other requirements under #3 above.

CREATIVE NON-FICTION—Limit TWO entries of 650 words or less each, typed single-spaced. Number the pages and include word count on last page. See other requirements under #3 above.

FICTION—Limit TWO short stories of 900 words or less each, typed single-spaced. Number the pages and include word count on last page. See other requirements under #3 above.
CREATIVE TWIST—Limit TWO entries, each using the attached word list. We only have ONE word list this year. See rules for this new genre on a separate page but they must also follow the rules for poetry or stories line length as listed above.

5. Send only ONE copy of each submission along with SHORT bio (50 word limit). If you have a pen name, you MUST stress in a cover letter what your real name is (for the contract and mailing) and the name you want in the book (on the submission page, in the table of contents, and back of book). PERHAPS PUT BOTH NAMES ON THE PAGE(S) OF SUBMITTED WORK. If you do not make this clear, we cannot promise that we will catch the different name. PLEASE SEND ALL OF YOUR WORK AT THE SAME TIME.

6. Send ONE SASE so we can send an acceptance letter and contract to you. All contracts MUST be signed and returned, but in the event a contract is not returned, submission implies permission to publish. FORMAL NOTIFICATION is required if you wish to withdraw your submission or if it is published elsewhere during this time period. After May 1, 2024, submissions cannot be withdrawn. SUBMISSIONS WILL NOT BE RETURNED. Decision of the editorial board and judges is final. Editors and editorial board of the JWB and JWB board members are eligible for publication in TS33, but not for the monetary prizes in this contest.

7. Send hard copy to: Sharon Harris, TS SUBMISSIONS, 13320 149th Ave, Menahga, MN 56464. Send ALL your submissions for ALL categories in ONE 9×12 ENVELOPE—do not fold or staple sheets. Submission guidelines are also on our website: We are accepting submissions in electronic format again this year. Check the website for details at We will NOT accept submissions in the body of an email—only with our electronic form, either pdf or Word document. Do NOT send docx files—we cannot guarantee format to be correct. A SASE is not required but would be greatly appreciated.

8. Contributors who have one or more pieces selected for publication in TS33 will receive ONE free copy of TS33. Your copy may be picked up at our Book Release Party in September 2024. Any books not picked up will be mailed later—we appreciate receiving $4.00 for postage. JWB requires first publication rights only. Books will be on sale at Amazon later.


CREATIVE TWIST—For several years the members of The Jackpine Writers’ Bloc have been stretching their creativity with a monthly writing exercise. Sharon emails a list of seven to nine words to the active members of the writing group. Each member is encouraged, but not required, to create a poem or a short fiction or short creative nonfiction piece that includes each of those words.

Writers’ group members have been amazed at the creative work that has come out of this exercise. The list of words often forms a theme or a pattern in the writer’s mind and the end result is a creative piece that never would have happened without the stimulation. Many of these works have later been published in The Talking Stick.

To add to the fun and encourage creativity, we have created a separate category for writings that come from these word lists. Please submit only ONE or TWO writings from this ONE list of words, any genre. If you send two, try to make them quite different. THESE MUST BE LABELED CREATIVE TWIST. It is very important to UNDERLINE the special words in each of your submissions. One first place prize for this genre and one second place prize will be awarded for this category, no matter the genre (poetry, creative nonfiction, or fiction).

Here is the list of words. Try it! You might be surprised at the results. Any form of the word may be used.

TWIST LIST: haunt, long, water, dream, waste, back, push, breathe.

If you have questions on these rules, please email