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Arizona Mystery Writers Jim Martin Memorial Story Contest

Congrats to our 2014 contest winners! Stay tuned for details of our 2015 contest, coming next spring!


Anyone can enter. All you have to do is write a short story in mystery, suspense, or thriller style. Up to 2500 words, which is about 10 double-spaced pages. It’s loads of fun and a good exercise of your writing skills.

Deadline: June 1, 2014. That date will creep up on you, so start sketching your ideas!

Fabulous Prizes: $200 for First, $100 for Second, and $75 for Third. And you get a certificate of acknowledgement from the club, admiring applause at the awards luncheon, your win announced in the newspaper, your winning story posted on the AMW website, and of course, everlasting glory.

How to Enter: See the Requirements Form for the official rules. The entry fee is only $10 per story, and you could submit more than one story if you like. Entries are judged “blind,” that is, without the judges knowing who wrote the stories. Everybody is equal before the panel of judges!

An official Entry Form must accompany each submission. That’s how we connect your name to the title of your story. Your name does not appear on the story itself.  NEW THIS YEAR:  You can submit your story by email!  See the entry form for details.

Publication: With your permission, we will post the winning stories on the AMW web site.  The Board of Directors of AMW has determined that posting a story on the web site does not constitute formal “publication,” so you may submit your story to a traditional publisher as “unpublished” material.

Selection Ratio: In the first three years of the contest, we received 12 or fewer entries each time. Since there are three prizes, you have a 25% chance of being a winner. Give it a shot before the number of entries starts climbing!

Who is Jim Martin?  Jim Martin was a long-time member of Arizona Mystery Writers. The organization deeply enriched his life, he said. His family left a generous contribution to the club and we remember him by dedicating the annual story-writing contest to him.

Download these official forms:  Click on the link below to see the document. To save it on your computer, right click and select Save As…  Some forms are in PDF format.  If you need a PDF reader, get one for free at .

Contest Requirements in PDF format

Official Contest Entry Form in PDF format

Contest Entry Form in .rtf format that you can type on. When you click on this link the file will be downloaded to your computer. Look for it  in your “My downloads” folder.

Past winners: You can read the most recent winning stories by clicking “Winners” under the “Contest” tab on this site.

Cheat Sheet!  Want to know what the judges look for?  Check out this list of guidelines.  Judging Criteria

Not sure if you want to enter the contest?  Here’s why you should.  It can enable you as a writer.  A recent first place winner sent us this note:

Dear Arizona Mystery Writers:

I recently won the  AMW short story contest. Along with the honor, I received a critique from an anonymous judge who said that if I ever published my short stories in a collection, he or she would like to read it. That was enough inspiration for me, so I did. Publish, that is, on Amazon and other booksellers. Enclosed is a copy of the book. Would you forward it to the kind judge whose words got me off my ass and inspired me to publish?  You’ll notice the first of the twenty-eight stories is Rat Baiting, the AMW first place winner.


John J. White

Incidentally, Mr. White entered the contest the year before also, and didn’t win anything. Persistence pays. You have to keep writing, keep trying.  Eventually, the stars align and you are validated as a writer.