MWA Midwest
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2019 Hugh Holton Award Competition

Beginning October 1st, any unpublished writer living within MWA’s Midwest Chapter region is eligible to submit the first 25 pages of their novel to the annual Hugh Holton Award Competition.

Entry fees are $25 for MWA members and $50 for nonmembers. Entry fees are waived for manuscripts submitted to 2019’s Critique program. All submissions materials, including payments, must be received by 11:59pm on Tuesday, October 15th.

Terri Bischoff, Senior Acquisitions Editor for Crooked Lane Books, returns as the judge for our Member entries! The winner of that category will receive $250. The winner of the non-member category will receive a year’s membership to MWA (a $115 value.) All winners and runners up will receive certificates of accomplishment.

Hugh Holton was a Chicago mystery writer and a pioneer African American writer of crime fiction. He wrote eight books about Chicago Police Detective Larry Cole, all of which drew on his experiences as a Chicago police officer. The Hugh Holton Award was launched after his death in 2001 to memorialize his contributions to the midwestern mystery community.

Mystery Writers of America is the premier organization for mystery writers, professionals allied to the crime writing field, aspiring crime writers, and those who are devoted to the genre. For more information, please see the national organization’s web site at

Please read and follow all submission guidelines below.

Questions? Contact


• Submitting writers must not have any novels commercially published (this includes self-published.) Entrants can have published short stories or other short pieces.

* Writer must reside in one of the following states: (IA, IL, IN, KS, KY, MI, MN, MO, NE, ND, OH, SD, & WI)

• Only one entry per writer; previous Holton grand prize winners are not eligible.

• Manuscripts that were submitted for this year’s Critique Program do not pay the entry fee to submit to the Holton Contest.

• One winner and up to two runners-up will be selected for each category. Nonmember submissions will be judged by a committee of published Midwest Chapter members; Terri Bischoff will judge the member submissions.


• Submission must be unpublished, original, and the work of the submitting author.

• Only 25 pages of a crime/mystery/thriller/suspense novel manuscript may be entered. Do not send full manuscripts.

• Manuscripts must use standard 1-inch margins, and 12-point Times New Roman or similar font. Double-space all paragraphs.

• Submit manuscripts in an attached Word file or PDF without your name anywhere on the manuscript via email to

-       In your email, please include your name, MS title, method of payment.

-       The release form may be submitted as an email attachment or printed and sent via mail to PO Box 3142, Oak Park IL 60303.

-       Payment may be made via PayPal to or by check made payable to MWA Midwest and sent to the PO Box (above.) Please include the title of your MS in the memo line on the check or in the notes section in PayPal.

• Manuscripts, release forms, and payments must all be received by 11:59pm on Tuesday, October 15th to be eligible for the contest. Partial and late submissions will not be considered.

• Entries that were submitted to this year’s Critique Program are not required to have made specific changes suggested during that program, but do need to resubmit the manuscript for this contest.

• Submissions do NOT receive feedback in this contest.