Senior Writers Submit Your Entries Thru March 31

Guidelines for our 2019 Ageless Authors Writing Contest


Ginnie Bivona (left) congratulates Dallas writer Sherry Mills for her winning poem in a past contest.

Think you have a great story in the back of your mind that’s worthy of growing into a novella, novel or screenplay? Many senior storytellers have one or many works in progress that have interested them for a long time but just haven’t seen the light of day.

We want you to hit us with your best shot, your favorite stories or poems brought to life and written just for this contest from now through March 31, 2019.

The emphasis is on content, competing with your fellow senior writers age 65 and older. At stake are cash prizes and the honor of having your work in our 2020 anthology in four categories of stories and one of poetry.

Categories and Rules

The writing categories and buttons for submission are below. All entries must be made through Submittable.com. But before you submit an entry to this contest, be sure to read and absorb all the information on this page. Especially read the Do’s and Don’t’s near the bottom. A good writer begins as a good reader. Please read and follow the rules. A well organized submission is a step ahead of the others when judging starts.

Entries previously accepted for contest judging or publication are acceptable in this contest. Our only restriction is, if you enter a piece of work it must be available for publishing should our judges select it for use in our annual anthology. Some organizations do not allow previous publication, making later publication difficult. In that case, your work would not be available for our publishing.


This writing genre is a personal account of someone’s own life that is focused on a specific theme, event, or time period. Looking back at incidents in your life is one of the major amusements of getting older. Test your memory, especially for detail. These personal essays are often not just about chronicling events, but also get at the emotional experiences and feelings of the writer as well. Maximum length 3,500 words.

Q: What’s the difference between publishers and terrorists? A: You can negotiate with terrorists. Writing humor is often considered one of the most difficult forms available. Try your hand at it, though. It can be a fictional account or the telling of a true story. Maximum length 3,500 words.

Most people like to hear or read a good adventure story well constructed. This can be fiction or nonfiction. A good storyteller can make an adventure story come to life. Maximum length 3,500 words.

Romance is the #1 selling genre in mass-market fiction with readers clamoring for more! Try your hand at romance writing. Who knows? Our judges may offer suggestions to improve your overall writing. Your romance writing could start out as a story and could grow into a much-loved romance novel. Maximum length 3,500 words.

This category is open to the imaginations of our many fine poets. Compose about any subject matter you like. Maximum length 50 lines.

We wish you all Good Writing!


Anyone Age 65 and Older Can Enter

Senior writers who are 65 years of age or will be by March 31, 2019 are eligible to enter. Submissions to our contests come from every state, Canada and countries around the world. The quality of this year’s submissions was extraordinary.


Every submission is read by at least two of our outstanding judges. Submissions that make final judging are read by three or four different literature lovers. A major difference in the judging this year is that those who read your material will be asked to suggest one or two ways entrants can improve their works. Remember, not every suggestion is guaranteed to propel you to a bestseller. All suggestions are highly subjective.


In each of the five categories, winning submissions will receive cash prizes

First prize, a certificate and $100
Second prize, a certificate and $75
Third prize, a certificate and $50.
Honorable mentions will receive certificates

This year, we will inaugurate a new award — the Bivona Prize — for the entry best described as bold, inventive and audacious. This prize is awarded in memory of our late founder, Ginnie Siena Bivona, who was known for writing and editing in an audacious manner. She died earlier this year.

Winner of the Bivona Prize will receive a certificate and $250.


Some of the most outstanding stories will be reprinted on this website or on our Facebook or LinkedIn pages. These and other worthy submissions will be included in our next anthology due for publication in the fall of 2019.

Stories that make this list are finely crafted works, but that doesn’t mean only professional writers can expect to win prizes and be published. A few acclaimed writers have entered their works, but many winners have never made their careers in writing. They are simply talented seniors armed with experience.




Do’s and Don’t’s of Entering the 2019 Ageless Authors Writing Contest


Make all contest submissions on Submittable.com, preferably through this website.

Submit poetry of no more than 50 lines.

Make sure fiction or nonfiction entries are no more than 3,500 words.

Save your entry (or entries) on a Windows-based computer or MAC as a .docx or .txt file.

Enter as many submissions as you like, but each story or poem must be a separate entry with a separate entry fee.

Submit all entries in Microsoft Word, double spaced if possible.

Pay the $20 entry fee for each story or poem. Every short story, essay or poem represents a separate entry that must be entered and paid for separately.

Make sure the title of the entry is the same at the top of the first page of the file and when submitting. Don’t change titles in midstream.

Make sure the name of entrant is the same throughout. You may be known under more than one name, but we only want one name.

Use nicknames or pseudonyms if you like, but use the same name throughout.

Provide a title page that includes:

Title of the entry
Word count of the entry
Name of entrant
Mailing address of entrant
Email address of entrant
Phone number of entrant
Bio of entrant

Make sure your bio is publication quality, no more than 100 words and written in third person.

Tell us about the entrant, not about the entry.

Pay attention to details, which are easily misplaced. In one story submitted to our first contest, five people were in a room. One by one, three of them left the room. What happened to the other two? We’ll never know. This was otherwise a very fine story that failed the test of detail.

Check your spelling before you submit your entry. All word processing programs, including every version of Word, contains a spell check. 

Check your grammar. Most programs have this built in.

Reread your dialogue to make sure it’s how people actually talk.

Understand that by submitting an entry, you permit us to reprint and publish entry to promote you and/or the work of Ageless Authors in anthologies, news stories or critical reviews. We will coordinate those kinds of uses with you.

Don’t… submit directly to Ageless Authors by email or regular mail.

Don’t… provide page numbers. No footers or headers, no endnotes and especially no footnotes. We just want your creative writing, not sources or explanations of your writing. This makes editing easier if we select the work for publishing.

Don’t… enter with the idea that you can continue to work on your entry. Judging will be done throughout the contest, so writing cannot.

All contact information supplied with submissions can be used to inform entrants about future contests, anthologies or any other activity of Ageless Authors. We will never sell your contact info to a third party.

If you have any trouble submitting, ask your kids or grandkids. After all, you taught them how to use a spoon.


A Lament from Executive Director Larry Upshaw:

Most people who participate in Ageless Authors writing contests understand the requirements and limitations of our effort. They are, for the most part, grateful that we are able to make the offerings we do. But occasionally I receive an email like the following:

“Interesting. You have one of the highest entry fees for submissions/contests. And we are seniors. Most on fixed incomes. Jeez. What a shame.”

This one time, admittedly frustrated, I replied with this:

“And I have created Ageless Authors without the aid of a larger organization, which most other contest groups have. Our efforts are aimed at a relatively small group of writers age 65 and older ONLY. As far as we know, we are the only contests which operate exclusively for this group. I personally subsidize the workings of Ageless Authors each month. I hope some day to at least break even, but after three years of contests we still lose money because of costs of publicizing our efforts and of publishing.

“Everyone who helps our efforts is a volunteer, including my own many hundreds of hours on a continuing basis. We have recruited a stellar group of contest judges who read and evaluate the work. Most are writers, editors, teachers and experienced judges of other contests. We reward cash prizes, certificates and publishing to those who present the best work. Each contestant receives comments on his or her story or poem. We encourage each judge, if they are so inclined, to suggest ways that each submitter could improve their work. We look at each piece as a work in progress. We would like nothing better than to see that first-draft short story fleshed out into a novel or screenplay or a poem inspire the poet to produce an entire book of them.

“Constructive criticism and a pathway forward is something not every contest offers. In fact, you can get that kind of critique from other organizations, and that kind of service often costs $100 or more. And our research indicates that many who offer these services are very young and inexperienced, so we know that what we offer is worth the money.

“We average more than 300 entries from all over the world in each contest, so those who take part in this effort don’t believe this is “a shame.” We get comments all the time about how wonderful this is and how grateful people are to have this available.

Would you prefer we just not do it?

Larry Upshaw

Within a few minutes of sending this email, I received an apology and a request that I continue this “labor of love.”