Contest guidelines for the Koryta Anthology

Among the great benefits of MWA membership are the contests run every year for their upcoming anthologies.  Here’s the new one, for Michael Koryta’s A Stranger Comes to Town.

(We LOVE seeing NorCal names in these tables of contents!)

Mystery Writers of America presents:

When a Stranger Comes to Town

guest editor, Michael Koryta 

Contest Submission Guidelines

“All great literature is one of two stories:

someone goes on a journey, or a stranger comes to town.”


No matter how or where they appear, strangers are walking mysteries, complete unknowns in once-familiar territories who disrupt our lives and make us uneasy. Even the word itself carries duplicitous meanings; a stranger could be an uninvited guest, or something/someone with which we are unacquainted. “Stranger” could refer to one who does not belong, someone out of their element, or a person who remains completely unaware of a particular act or deed. We’re taught as children not to talk to strangers, to be wary of them when they’re on your street. What is it about strangers that is just so unsettling?

Of course, a stranger can be harmless: “just a friend you haven’t met yet”—but would thriller writer Michael Koryta believe that? So perhaps the stories in a collection edited by him shouldn’t, either…


 Submissions: You MUST be a current member of Mystery Writers of America to be eligible to participate. Submissions must be blind.  We prefer electronic submissions, but if you have difficulty submitting electronically, you may submit by snail mail.

If you submit electronically, we will acknowledge your submission usually with 24-48 hours or the next business day by replying to your email.  The stories will not be returned, so do not send a SASE.

Process: Each story will be assigned a number.  The stories will be read by five panelists, who are active status members of MWA and highly regarded short story writers, selected by the Publications Committee. The top choices of the panel will be sent to the editor for inclusion in the anthology. Judging panelists may not submit a story to an anthology s/he is judging.  Stories must be original – not previously published elsewhere.  Stories should be no longer than 6,000 words. Individuals may only submit ONE story for consideration. Manuscript guidelines printed below are required.

Deadline: Deadline for submission is November 1, 2019.  ­­­­­­­­Manuscripts must be received in our office by that date.

Notification:  All authors will receive a “thank you for submitting” email and will also be notified by email as soon as the final selections have been made. An announcement will be made in The Third Degreeno later than March, 2020 listing the winning stories.

The Publications Committee and Board of Directors are proud to have Michael Korytaserve as the editor for this anthology.  He is unstintingly generous with his valuable time and talents, and we are very grateful for his participation in this exciting project. Please do not contact Michael directly.

If you have questions about the anthologies, please contact the MWA national office:


Mandatory Manuscript GuidelinesNo exceptions whatsoever

1) Use a legible standard font such as Courier or Times New Roman at 12 pt size; no fancy fonts or formatting, please.  Underline words that are to be italicized.  Indent the first line of new paragraphs by five spaces (or one standard tab).

2) Double-space and use at least 1” margins on all sides.

3) Your electronic submission must be sent as a Word document. Please ensure that no information is included in the manuscript that identifies the author. Do not include your name on the title page or in the header of your manuscript, and check your document properties to make sure that your word-processing program has not embedded your name in the owner, last saved by, or last modified by fields. (If you are uncertain how to remove this information, we recommend doing an Internet search on “how to remove personal information hidden in Word documents.”)

4) If you are submitting on paper, please print on only one side of the paper.  You will need to send us 6 copies of your story.  Jumbo Metal Paper clips are preferred(smaller paper clips do not hold a larger amount of paper together).  Do not bind, staple, fold, or put your story in a folder.

5) In the email (for electronic submissions) or on the cover sheet only (for paper submissions), put your real name (the one you want a check made out to), and on new lines each: your story title, the name under which your story should appear (if different from your legal name) your address, phone number, e-mail address, and word count for the story.  A copy of the story will remain in the office with your information attached to it. The panelists will receive numbered stories only.  The cover sheet should not be part of the story file (for electronic submissions) or the printout (for paper submissions, and should not be attached to any copies of a paper submission.)

6) At the middle of the first page of the story, type the full story title in CAPS, go down two lines and begin on the next line (the following is to show formatting only, and is not the mandatory title or opening sentence of your story)

 For example:


          It was a dark and stormy night….


7) Starting with Page 2, put the title of the story and the page number on the top of each page.

8) At the end of your story, type END or ###.

9) To ensure that your stories are promptly routed to the judges: If you are submitting electronically, please use “MWA Anthology Submissions” as the subject line of your email.  If you are sending a paper submission, please put all six copies of the manuscript in an envelope marked “MWA Anthology Submissions.”

 Send all electronic submissions to:


Send all paper submissions to:

Mystery Writers of America

1140 Broadway Rm 1507

New York, NY 10001-7503