SCWA Contests


Carrie McCray Memorial Literary Awards

The contest is open to anyone, from any country, anywhere in the world. However, entries must be written in English.

Winning entries receive:

  • $200—First Place
  • $100—Second Place
  • $50—Third Place
  • Publication in The Petigru Review
  • One (1) contributor copy

Honorable Mentions will be given for exceptional work and publication may be offered for those pieces the judges deemed of high quality. No cash prizes for honorable mention pieces. However, we offer publication and one (1) contributor copy.

History of the Award

The Carrie McCray Award seeks to honor the life of one of the South Carolina Writers Association’s (formerly the South Carolina Writer’s Workshop) founders and first board member: Carrie Allen McCray. Her published works include Ajös Means Goodbye (1966), The Black Woman and Family Rules (1980), and a memoir she wrote about her mother that remains largely her story as well, Freedom’s Child: The life of a Confederate General’s Black Daughter (1998). Her poetry has appeared in such magazines as Ms. and The River Styx. She died on July 25, 2008, at the age of 94, but continues to live on in our memory through this award.

Carrie McCray Awards – Submission Guidelines

Submission taken: April 1 through May 31 each year.

Reading fee :

$15 for Nonmembers.
$10 for Members.

The Carrie McCray Awards will feature four (4) genres:

  • First Chapter of a Novel – 3,500 word limit.
  • Fiction – word count limit 3,000 word limit.
  • Creative Nonfiction – word count limit 3,000 word limit.
  • Poetry – submit up to three (3) poems, not to exceed 80 lines in total.

Manuscript Formatting:

  • The author’s name, address, email, or any identifying features must not appear anywhere on the manuscript(s), including in the body of the work.
  • All submissions must follow standard manuscript formatting: 12 point font, Times New Roman font, auto-indents to paragraphs, be double spaced.
  • The title and page number must appear on every page of the submission.

Please include an author biography of up to 100 words in your cover letter.

All submissions must be previously un-published. If you work has appeared in any capacity in print or online (such as self-publishing to blogs, message boards, and/or Facebook or any other place where it can be viewed publicly) we will not be able to accept it.

Contestants are free to enter as many categories as he/she chooses. However, a reading fee must be submitted for each genre entered. Submissions that exceed the length limit in any category/genre or in total will be disqualified. So pay strict attention to line/word count. 

Multiple submissions per category are allowed. However each submission needs to be submitted separately along with the appropriate reading fee.

Simultaneous submissions are encouraged. If the work is accepted elsewhere, simply email us to let us know. And congratulations!

SCWA retains first-time print publication rights until the anthology is published, after which the rights revert back to the author. The Petigru Review also reserves e-book rights for the anthology only. SCWA solicits authors’ non-exclusive first internet archival rights for online archiving.

While we reserve the right to edit a submission, any revisions will be communicated to the author and the author can choose to either accept or reject them. Be aware that refusal to accept edits may result in being denied publication.

Anyone winning or placing in a category cannot enter that same category the following year; anyone winning or placing in the Carrie McCray Memorial Awards for two (2) consecutive years is not eligible for one (1) year in any category.

Nonmembers: We encourage you to enter. The contest is open to anyone, anywhere in the world. If interested in becoming a member of SCWA, go to our “Join Us” page. New members are always welcome. However, if you become a member after paying the nonmember rate for your submission you will not be refunded the difference in reading fees.

Members: The contest is open only to SCWA members whose membership dues are paid and in good standing. 

Editors of the The Petigru Review or SCWA Board of Directors are not eligible for the contest.

Any entry that fails to comply with any of the guidelines mentioned above or adhere to our manuscript formatting guidelines will be disqualified. If any submission is disqualified then the author forfeits their entry fee to SCWA.


All entries will be read blind. Judges or anyone associated with the judge should not enter to avoid any appearance of favoritism. Moreover, judges are expressly prohibited from commenting on works they might have seen in any capacity previously or for authors for which work(s) they may recognize. If this happens, the judge will be forced to disqualify that submission regardless of the quality of the piece. 

Each entry will be scored in the areas listed below:

  1. Formatting—basic writing stuff here (Did you pay attention to the guidelines?)
  2. Content—genre, tone, style, content. Do things fit nicely?
  3. Grammar and word choice—spelling, punctuation, syntax.
  4. Structure and aesthetics—sequencing, plot lines, interruption(s), flow, back story. Suspense and intrigue often come into play here as well.
  5. Character development—does your character fit your story? Is your protagonist believable? Do they fit their goals, aspirations, personality, background, etc.?  Are your characters complex?
  6. Freshness—have we heard this before? Is it too “preechy?” Is there a hidden (or obvious) agenda to the piece? Does it open up something new to the reader?
  7. Tension—every story needs it. Is there enough: action, change, conflict, tension. Keep in mind that tension can also be acquired through thought-provoking content. We don’t always need sex and emotion to pull a reader into a story.
  8. Craft—we will leave this up to the judge. In a nutshell it comes down to this question: How well do you write?

Scoring will consist of one (1) through five (5) and pieces are scored as follows:

  1. One = Poor
  2. Two = Fair
  3. Three = Good
  4. Four = Very Good
  5. Five = Excellent

Only those entries with the highest score will be chosen for publication.

Best of luck! 



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