A hot tip from new LLLer Laura Brodie, author of the just-released novel The Widow's Season:
Here is a contest that all literary ladies should know about: The Faulkner-Wisdom Competition, sponsored by the Pirate's Alley/Faulkner Society of New Orleans. This annual competition welcomes entries from around the country (and internationally) in seven categories: Novel, Novella, Novel-in-Progress, Short Story, Essay, Poetry, and Short Story by a High School Student.
In the past, prizes have ranged from $7000 for Best Novel, to $1500 for Best Short Story by a High School Student. Winners are flown to New Orleans in November for the society's annual conference, called Words & Music, a Literary Feast in New Orleans, which features panels with famous authors, meals at great restaurants, and brief manuscript consultations with an editor and agent.
The festival is open to all members of the public, and anyone can have a manuscript excerpt read by an agent and/or editor, followed by a consultation (usually about ten-fifteen minutes) for a fee. Each year a few writers sign with agents, often writers who never entered the contest-so it does happen!
I learned about this contest after two VMI English professors, David Rachels and Kurt Ayau, won Best Novel for their jointly-authored manuscript. I won Best Novel-in-Progress in 2005, and that category only requires that you offer 50 pages of a novel, and a synopsis of the rest. Check out the website Faulkner-Wisdom Competition for more information and contest deadlines. Usually the deadline comes in late March or April, but last spring the deadline was extended until June 1. Good luck to all!