Stories That Need to Be Told: 

The Contest

Deadline: August 9, 2023

(Book Lovers Day)

2023 Grand Prize Winner

​​Gerald: A Memoir by Arlo Z Graves

2023 Merit Prize Winners

LOVE: Music in Absentia by Diane Rudov

and Grass Jelly by Isabel Li

HUMOR: The Rise of MC Menorah by Daniel Sennis

DEPTH: Mayflies by Benjamin Hawley

PASSION: A Man’s Yard by Robert Michael Oliver

BONUS: ​Phantom Pain by Victoria Crane

2023 Honorable Mentions/Contributors

A Story My Mother Will Never Hear by Valentina Gnup
Always Thought My Life as a Documentary/What Would
They Say 
by Demetrius Buckley
Anatomy of a Glacier 
by Cecilia Maddison
​Capturing Mengele 
by Barry R. Ziman
Childhood by Shawn Bell​
Confessions of a Barfly 
by Heather C. Jarvis
Contact High 
by ​Thomas Darlington​
Family Portrait by Maddie Lock
Hoary Homage 
by Mandi “Monster” Hidalgo
​​Intercession by John Arthur Neal
​January Wedding 
by Amy Brunson
Library War
 by Christopher Santiago
​Longs Pass by Doug Emory
love letter to a weed by Jack Giaour
Maps by Faith Shearin
McPherson Kids
 by Logan Rose
Passover by Gina Soo Golden
Puzzle Man
 by Clare Olivares
Recompose by Lee Woodman
Ripe Tomatoes 
by Mario René Padilla
The Commies
 by Doug Bost
The Most Valuable Player by Jeremy Stelzner
What I Did Right by Miriam Murray

2023 Semifinalists

1,304 Words on Divorce by Emily Vitrano
A Body in Pain Is a Wild Thing by Sarah Levine
​A Cowboy’s Desert by Mario René Padilla
​A Keeper of Secrets by Jennifer Donice Lewis
A Man’s Yard by Robert Michael Oliver
​​A New Year by Diane Simkin Demeter
​A Poem for the Grieving Hearts by Carolyn Tara Soria
​A Story My Mother Will Never Hear by Valentina Gnup
​A Vietnam "Dust Off" Helicopter Pilot’s
by Robert B. Robeson
​Accident by E
​Achilles by Matthew Di Paoli
​Always Thought My Life as a Documentary/What Would They Say by Demetrius Buckley
​An Eye for an Eye by Fee Sievers
​Anatomy of a Glacier by Cecilia Maddison
​Anatomy of Grief by Bethan T. Vickers 
Ancestry in El Dorado by Kortney Sebben
And with the Bison Watching? by Kate Easley​​
​April 22nd by B. Rhys Brown
​April 26: Lady at Cape Lookout by Richard Bomstein
Aunt Annie: A Portrait by Ben Dansker
Backward Glances by Linda Benning Rogers
Big Wheels by MaryAnn Schaffer
​​​​bite on this by juley harvey
​Blurring the Lines by Tomra Michelle Vecere
​Borrowed Spaces by Alyssa Martin

Boys Don’t Cry by Sahar Elhallak
​​Bread Land Freedom by Zulma Ortiz-Fuentes
​Bullies by Nancy Garlick
Capturing Mengele by Barry R. Ziman
​Chapel of Love by Lynda Wilde
Checked Out by Annabelle Corrick
​Childhood by Shawn Bell
​Confessions of a Barfly by Heather C. Jarvis
Contact High by ​Thomas Darlington
​Cory—My Third Son by Deborah Solberg
Cottonmouth by Felix K. Deiss
Crayon Portrait by M.T. Solomon
crossing the street by LeonaMae Page
Cutting the Cord by Gaea Bailey  
​​​​Dad’s Homeward Bound on the 531 by Richard Stokes
​Daddy’s Going to Buy You a Diamond Ring by Bonnie Hearn Hill
December Remembered by R. Lee Loveless
​Desert Star by Michelle Lanzoni
​Detours Down Under by John Bliss
​Digital Resonance by Gretchen Ayoub
​Disney Presents “The Lost Weekend” by Gina Soo Golden
​Ditch Diggers by G.R. Kramer
​Dreaming of a Miracle by Brenton V. Nottingham
​Echo Rerun by Patty Mucha
​Ed’s Body by Blair Jockers
Eighty-Plus by Suzanne Morrison
​Equivalent by Jen Knox
​Even a Golden Child Can Rust by A.F. Greene
Excerpt from The Things We Did Not Mention by Susan East Nelson
​Family Dynamic by Liz Kelner Pozen
​Family Portrait by Maddie Lock
fate of motion by Michael Miller
​​Fleshlight by Thomas Darlington Crancer
​For Tu, After Your Husband’s Imprisonment by Jennifer Louvet
​Forewarned Is Forearmed: The Evolution of Women’s Wellness Best Practice by Sherrie Palm
Forget Me Not by Jonathan E. Furneaux
​Friday Night in America by Melanie Bishop
​From Misery to Majesty (An Exercise in
by Robert Brown Butler
​Gerald: A Memoir by Arlo Z Graves
Girl by Suzanne J Chick
Grass Jelly by Isabel Li
Ham Road by Eldon L. Ham
​Heartbreak in the Ozarks by Henry Alley
​Hidden Treasures by Morgan Smith
Hoary Homage by Mandi “Monster” Hidalgo
​​In a Pickle by Michael Cannistraci
In Defense of the “Other Girls” That I Am
Not Like
by Amari Carthron
​​Intercession by John Arthur Neal
​January Wedding by Amy Brunson
​Kissing Blues by Susan Farwell
Know Her Name by Mary E. Cronin
Let Blood by Elizabeth Earley
​​​Library War by Christopher Santiago
​Longs Pass by Doug Emory
love letter to a weed by Jack Giaour
​​​Maps by Faith Shearin
Mayflies by Benjamin Hawley
McPherson Kids by Logan Rose
​​​Music in Absentia by Diane Rudov
​My Pal Sally Rand by Georgann Prochaska
Myrna, in Person by Ross Berger
​​Nina by J. S. Kierland
​No Padding Allowed in the Clinkers by Stan Jay Pisle
​Now You See Me by James A. Foster
The Number Tattoo by Hank Landry 
​On a Cold, Cowboy Night by Richard Stokes
Opening Day by Linda Jenkinson
​Operation Orange Blur by Rachel Bennett Steury
​Out of Babylon by Tehila Lieberman
​Passover by Gina Soo Golden
​Phantom Pain by Victoria Crane
​Puzzle Man by Clare Olivares
Recompose by Lee Woodman
​Refining the Art of Unraveling Fashionably by Amelie L. P.
​Ripe Tomatoes by Mario René Padilla
​Second Place Muffins by Max Langert
​Shattered Cup by Mario René Padilla
Something Taken by C.R. Kiley​
Still Space (Ted) by Kevin Krein
​Stories from the Un-homed by Sheree L. Wingo
​Sweet Smoke Forever by Joseph J. Ridgway
​The Afterlives of Pippi Longstocking by Laura Wright
​The Author’s Chamber by Tim Weed
​The Bad Motherfesto by Jaclyn Eccesso
​The Blood on My Hands by Cailey Scott
​The Checkered Kitchen Floor by Cienna Wills
​The Clinic Off 45 by Irma Everett
The Clock and the Copernicus by Jay McKenzie
​​The Commies by Doug Bost
​The Dagaz Rune by B. Ready
​The Exception by Leeanne R. Hay
The Most Valuable Player by Jeremy Stelzner
The Other America by Jasmine S. Thomas
​The Precipice by Linda Newman
​The Prophet and His God by A.C.S. Bird
  The Rise of MC Menorah by Daniel Sennis
The Sight by Jess Simms
The Tragedy Caused by One Yuan RMB by Tangcheng Daoxiang
​​​​The Turquoise Mountains by Anne-Marie Delaunay-Danizio
​The Visit by Amanda Nyren
​The Wagers by John Bauer
The Wolf-Gray War Bonnet by Robert M. Temple
​​Though Some Have Changed by Jon Shorr
​Topside by Ivan Suazo
Torment by Ashley Wright
Trans Ideology by Ren Wilding
​​Two Georgia Souls: Ahmaud & Me by R. Lee Loveless
​The Ukrainian Story of
Kotygoroshko Reframed
​ by David Allen Sullivan
Vanity, My Shadow by MJ Malleck
Vertigo by Russell Working
Walking the Hall by Carol Lee Saffioti-Hughes
Welcome Home, LLC by Mark Williams
​​​Welcome to Paradise, Savannah Parker by Jessica Mosher
​What I Did Right by Miriam Murray
What I Told My Children About Love by Robyn Michaels
​​Whirring by Mark Lyn Campbell
​White Noise by Anil Classen
Wolf Child by Carolyn Newton



There is only one category: the Story. There is truth in any story, and the reason you choose to tell a particular story may be the most important story of all. But, before we get too philosophical, here's the point: submissions should tell a story. It doesn't matter if you consider it fiction, nonfiction, or poetry—if it tells a story, it fits. 

Grand Prize: $1,000 and a 2-year ($100) gift certificate to Duotrope.
Five additional prizes of $200 will be given for stories that excel in the merits of Humor, Passion, Depth, and (any form of) Love. An additional $200 prize will be awarded in a wild card category, to be determined by the entries. We'll call this one the Bonus category. Additionally, winners and Honorable Mentions will be published in and receive a free copy of the annual Stories That Need to Be Told anthology.

Word Limits
Prose: 10,000 words
​Poetry: 5 pages per poem (note: one poem per entry fee)

Entry Fee
$20 per entry. That includes $20 per poem (because every entry has the potential to win the same cash prizes). There is no limit on the number of times you may enter. If you withdraw your entry as noted below, the entry fee is nonrefundable.

August 9, 2023*  (by midnight, Pacific time, or as long as the Submission Fairy puts it under our pillow, er, in our inbox, by morning)


Submissions are accepted all year for the next deadline. Note, however, that all entries are read as a group after the deadline, so only submit early if you are okay with waiting until the deadline to hear back.

​*If you are mailing in your payment, your emailed entry must still be received by the deadline above and your payment must be postmarked by August 9.

Judging Process & Announcing the Winners
Judging takes place in two rounds. The entries are all read once and given a yes or a no. Because we don't have space limits on this round, our first round of yeses (a.k.a. the semifinalists) can be fairly long. (On average, this usually works out to be approximately the top 30%-33% of entries, and approximately the top 10% are selected for publication.) We will notify entrants when the semifinalists have been posted on the website. From the semifinalists, our cash prize winners are selected, as well as the contributors (a.k.a. Honorable Mentions). Contributors are contacted directly to obtain permission before pieces are published. Once the winner and contributors have been confirmed, they will be posted on the website, approximately two weeks before the release date. 

The Anthology
The estimated release date of the Stories That Need to Be Told anthology is October 15, 2023. 

Reprints and Simultaneous Submissions
​​Entries for these contests must be previously unpublished material, including online, and you must own the copyright. Simultaneous submissions are okay, but if your work is accepted elsewhere it is up to you to notify us. In the event you withdraw your submission, the entry fee is nonrefundable. 

Friends, family, and past or current clients of TulipTree's founder are not eligible to enter TulipTree contests.

Legal Stuff
By entering the contest you are stating and agreeing that (1) the work is your own original work, (2) no one else owns the rights to publish said work, and (3) if you are one of the winners of a cash prize, you grant TulipTree Publishing, LLC (TulipTree) the right to publish said work, unless you withdraw your work prior to TulipTree's announcement of winners.  

TulipTree does not retain rights to your work after we publish it.

How to Format Your Entry - Put Your Contact Info on Your Entry!

  • Entries should be in .doc or .docx format (Mac Pages is okay, too, and PDFs are acceptable for poetry only). The title of the document should be the title of your story.

  • Prose entries should be in standard industry format: 12 pt Times New Roman, double-spaced, 1-inch margins.

  • Poetry format should be 12 pt TNR, but line spacing and margins are open style.

  • Please include your name, mailing address, email address, and title on the first pageof your story (no separate cover sheet needed). 

Putting Your Contact Info on Your Entry and Using a Pen Name

  • Please put your contact info on your entry. As these are logged manually, help ensure you get credit for your work by including your contact info on your entry. 
  • If you have a pen name, please indicate it on your entry, either with your contact info or as a by-line ("[Title of Story] by [Pen Name]").
  • The name on your entry will be what gets posted online if you are a semifinalist, so a by-line is also helpful if you want your name presented in a different way (middle name/no middle name, initials, etc.).
  • Thank you for putting your contact info on your entry.

How to Enter - Put Your Contact Info on Your Entry!

  1. Purchase your entry fee via PayPal below or mail your payment (cash or money order only) to TulipTree Publishing, PO Box 133, Seymour, MO 65746. Please note in your submission email that you are paying by mail. Note that even if you mail in your payment, you should still email your submission. 

  2. Email your entry as an attachment to You will receive a confirmation email when your entry has been received and logged into our system.* 

 * Two things: (1) Note that these are entered by hand so if you don't get an email confirmation instantly, don't freak out—we're (probably) getting to it. (2) If it's been more than a day or two and you still haven't gotten a confirmation, maybe start freaking out because we either didn't get your entry, our emails are going to your spam folder, or our emails are blocked by your email provider. As we do our crucial communicating through email (i.e., letting you know if you won and confirming your work is still available), you'll want to make sure we're getting through.

Please note that entries must be emailed as attachments (see step 2 above). There will not be an upload page that appears after payment.

Also note there are some compatibility issues with Chrome, so if the fancy buttons on the left do not function properly, you can try the old Buy Now button on the right instead.


GRAND PRIZE:  Liv and Let Liv by Julie Esther Fisher

PASSION:  Midnight by Marissa Tian
​DEPTH:  Dear Dad by Darian Geddis
HUMOR:  Seeing Things by Noah Cohen-Greenberg
LOVE:  Emotional Support Pig: A Love Story by Matt Landig
BONUS: ​​ Do You Remember, Sarah? by Matt Herzfeld 

A Memory by Nicole Van Zandt
A Stone at Bexar by ​James Harmon Clinton
Between Living and Dreaming by Morgan Smith
Burnt Sienna: A Love Story by Hazel Hitchins
Firefight by Kelly Skaggs
​​Kleiner in the Woods by Ross Berger
Kochma by Diane Allerdyce
On Wings of Song by Mel Konner
(op)pressed by Yennie Jun
Pam Is Freezing by Ryan Murphy
Pennsylvania by Stevie doCarmo
Pretty Fingers by Laurel DiGangi​
Surface-to-Surface, Surface-to-Air by Bill Glose
The End of Something by J.C. Scott​
​The Flying Bicycle Guy by Clynne Morgan Tilton
The Man Side of the Bed by Teresa Burns Gunther​
The Old Man by the Side of the Road by J. Stephen Rush
​​The Sedan of Existence by Andrew Ellis
There’s No Place Like Home by Yolanda G. Wysocki
To (President) IKE by Mary Ann Crowe
Walk It Off by Don Carter


GRAND PRIZE: Don’t You Sweetheart Me by Heather Debling

HUMOR:  ​Smooth as Silk by Don Carter
LOVE: The Daughter by Monic Ductan
PASSION: The Door by Christianna Soumakis
DEPTH: ​The Other Woman by Tristan Marajh
BONUS: Evie A.I. by Ross Berger

An Affable Man by Dustin Grinnell
A Requiem in Orange by Nina Marceny
Conka by John Briscoe
Fat-Pickers by Richard Levine
​Fishing by Mary Hutchings Reed
Functionally Fine by Jimi Johnson
Gary the Lion by H.N. Wood
​Intangible Effects by Lynne Ruelaine Stokes
​my body is by Alysa Levi-D’Ancona
My Father’s Sex Doll by Hillary Flynn
My Year as a Chemical Eunuch by Hal Ackerman
Never Forget by Ruth Mota
Obit of a Stranger by Jill Cunningham
​​On My Way to Coffee at 7:00 AM During
Covid-19 by Elaine Zimmerman
​Orange Slices by Eileen Zhang
Origins by Janet Gotkin​
Recycled by K. Di Prima​
Red Light/Black Zone by Renée Ozburn​
Requiem for Five Trees by A.M. Riddle​
September 10. The Danish by Bernard Horn
​Sleep by Liz Kelner Pozen
The Boy and the Cat by Jane Yi
​The New Northwestern Personality and Aptitude
Test by Shawn Soward Bell​
The Prisoner by Lynette Benton
The Third Rule of Fight Club by Brook van der Linde
Time for Love by Joseph J. Ridgway
​Tornado by Carrie Vestal Gilman
​Wilma Tells About Louie by Marjorie Saiser

GRAND PRIZE: Red Bluff by Michael Pearce

LOVE:  Bruised by Ron L. Dowell
HUMOR:  My Life of Crime by Jim Gish
DEPTH:  Muzzles by Doug Marrin
PASSION:  Scales by Mario René Padilla
BONUS: ​ Wilful Damages by Alan Whelan

​​A Midsummer 2020 Night’s Dream by Laura Holman
Blue Boy by Theo Johnston
​​​Bolsonaro Eats Too Much Cheese by Andrew W. Jones
​Fearful Child by Kimberly A. Werner
Football with Leatherman by Ross Berger
Green in My Face by Oak Morse
Learning to Count by Elizabeth Argelia Leonard
Like the Sun in Winter by Lesley Bannatyne
Lost and Found by Arthur M. Doweyko
On Sawyer Mountain by Erica G. Craig
Required Debauchery by Thomas Darlington
Short Synopsis of a Life by Marina Datthyn
Stuck on a Stranded Dog by Howard Isaac Williams
Synchronicity by Geoffrey K. Graves
Tarzan in Decline by Richard D. Key
​Test Flight by Emily Nichol
The Bells of St. James by Holly C. Tabor
​​The Brown Bag by Karen Gregory
​The Dog Days of College by ​Jacob Wratten
The Dog in the Desert by Stephanie Anderson
​The Glass Blower by R.C. Goodwin
​​The Whole Artichoke, Stem and All by Sharon E. Svendsen
​The Whole Story of the Girl Who Talked to Fish by Meli Broderick Eaton
Yusuf’s Wedding Celebration by Rosie Cohan

GRAND PRIZE:  Messenger of God by Morgan Smith

HUMOR:  Now I Can Do Anything I Have to Do by William Snyder Jr.
LOVE:  Penelope for His Thoughts by Lorraine Devon Wilke
DEPTH:  Neanderthals by Michael Keane
PASSION:  Ask and Ye Shall Receive by Michele E. Reisinger
BONUS:  Whistle Stop ​by KT Sparks

​A Mix Tape Odyssey by Doug Bost
About Apples by Margarite Landry
Angels in the Dark by Jane Shoenfeld
Arranged Love by Joseph Ridgway
Assisted Living by Benjamin Keyworth
Curtainwall by Brenna Williams
Fire by Faith Shearin
Frog Hunt by Mario René Padilla
My Body Is 2 Bodies by Jay Eddy
My Mother’s Lesson by Karen Gregory
Old Time Religion by Mark Chesnut
Seven by Lisa M. Novak
Shock Treatment by Malcolm R. Campbell
Sundowning by Audrey DiPlacido
The Detective by Olivia Nalder
The Good Samaritan by Doug Hagley
The Spider God by Cailyn Brown
Tourists by Lyle Stiles
Underdogs by Robert J. Begiebing
Vestiges by Morell E.  Mullins


GRAND PRIZE:  Just So by Lish Troha

PASSION:  Pablo Neruda and the Caffeinated Madness of Love by Chris Morgan
DEPTH:  Jimmy's Fish Market by Pearly D. Keller
HUMOR:   Eunice Buys a Doll by Jim Gish
LOVE:  A Good and Simple Meal by M. B. McLatchey
BONUS:  A Thousand Kisses Deep by Deborah L. Levine

A Vague Recollection by Erica Stisser
​A Woman of a Certain Hue by Shanteé Felix
At the Falling-Off Point by Roxy Runyan
Bead by Bead by EA Luetkemeyer
Chasing Dragons by Lynette Benton
​Confrontation and Cojones by Mario René  Padilla
Country Poor by Katrina Hawley
​Coven by Samantha Barron
Fetching the Payroll by P. Jo Anne Burgh
Fruit Punch by Jake Teeny
Get Off Track by Timothy Scahill
Hello and Goodbye by Robert Pope
Hope Walker by Jamer
Interview with Kalief Browder by Alex Greenberg
​Life on the Road without Any Brakes by Don Carter
Nonspeaking by Isabelle Jay
One-Eyed in Juarez by Morgan Smith
Pre-Glow of the Neo-Apocalypse by Genevra Levinson
Rubbing the Chips by Pat Anthony
​Soviet Skatepark by Jonan Pilet
Stretch Marks by Simone Martel
Swim by Eric Roe
The Things My Afro Knows by AE Wynter
The Toll by Simone Kern
Toes Touching Sand by Courtney Lee Hall
Turn Right at the Tree House by Avy Harris
Vignette between Now and Morning by Kai Mawougbe
​Where to Be by C. Witzling

GRAND PRIZE:  Mary's Story by Georgia Baddley

PASSION:  Le Château Possoniere by Mario René Padilla
DEPTH:  No Superhero by Lisa Poff
HUMOR:  Beats by Jon Shorr
LOVE:  Annotated Love Letter by Alexander Joseph
BONUS:  Run Amok by Laura Eddy

​A Bus Poem, Cameron Moore
A Monster’s Eulogy, Rekha Rangan
An Inconvenient Death, Gabriella Buckner
Daddy's Tears, Jacob Paul Patchen
Dangerous Fish Days, Robert Hambling Davis
Dear Demeter, Audrey Larkin
Disrupting History, Mariya Taher
Eight Steps Down, Steven Fromm
Freddy, Julie Dearborn
Getting Our Flickers, Nick Swartz
Heroes, Calvin Hennick
I Told You Not to Move, Allison Flom
Jay, Will Schick
Lovers Last Journey, Bob Blake
Naturally, Mika Hunter
Pobrecito, Nina Joy Silver
Strato-Christmas '66, Jimmy Searles
The Corner of My Heart, Victoria Sylvander 

GRAND PRIZE:  Mending by Enid Harlow

HUMOR:  Alumni by Michael Fischer
PASSION:  Mr. Thoughtful by Christopher Spencer
LOVE:  A Very Special Occasion by Ana Maria Owusu
DEPTH:  Ictal Life (A Song for Epilepsy) by Brandon Ellis

A Baseball Lesson by Mark J. Rogovin
A Beer in Bastille by Kenneth John Holt
A Place You Love by Lones Seiber
Alumni by Michael Fischer
An Adulterous Meeting by Jeremy King
Brave by Stephanie L. Harper
Bunny Swung the Axe at Charlie by Harry Beach
Chucky’s in Tucson by Brant Vickers
Closing the Door by Marianna Crane
Confession by Patricia Hawley
Dreams and Other Sleights of Hand by Michelle Perez
How to Live the Rest of Your Life in 100 Days by Elias Renaud
It Seems Like It Should by Kerime B. Toksu
Keeper of the Gate by Mario René Padilla
My Father Wants I Should Know by Jean Ende
Solitary Grace by Beka Tuitasi 
The Cure by Cynthia Walker
The Randall Knife by Morgan Smith
Ties That Bind by Michael Twist
Tumors Humors by Beverley Catlett
When I Find You Close by Amy S. Lerman

1st place: Africa Weeping by Jerry Eckert, posthumous
2nd place: Love Underground by Andrew Jack Foster 
3rd place: These Are the Things by Chris Connolly 


Labor Day by  Darla Klein 
Meant to Be by Monica Vickers 
This Is for Keeps by Molly Steen 
So Many Rivers by Sandra McGarry 
Peas and Queues by Richard Key ​
My Dad, Sandy, and the Tri-Pacer by ​​William J. McIlwain 
​Kinky and Gruen by Diane Simkin 

You can find the 2015 stories in the Winter issue of TulipTree Review.

Enter to be a part of this year's anthology!  The 2017 collection won a CIPA Evvy Award, and the 2016 and 2019 anthologies were 
​finalists for a Colorado Book Award.

Select number of entries.

Stories change us.

Scroll down to see all of our past winners.

This contest is sponsored by Duotrope.