A guest post from Donna Balon, the founder and editor of Midlife Collage:
Midlife Collage is a one-of-a-kind website. We sponsor weekly writing contests with five short stories, typically 500 to 1,300 words. Entry is free and the first-place winner is awarded a $50 cash prize. The winners of the $50 contest are eligible for a quarterly $100 contest. Writers must be at least age 40 to enter, and the stories must occur during midlife, which we consider to be ages 40 to 65.
Every Monday morning a new contest begins and continues until Sunday at noon. The first-place story is announced on the Winner’s Circle page Monday morning.
The judging is based upon visitor participation: the number of Facebook thumbs up (“likes”), reader comments and opinions. Good writing lingers. It makes us think; it makes us talk about our experiences. This is why comments are part of the judging. And writers love comments.
Before each contest, we post a short video promoting the stories and the writers. During the contest week, we promote the stories on our Facebook page, Twitter and Google+. This creates excitement and gives the writers exposure.
Our copyright is non-exclusive, which means writers agree their story will be posted on our website during a contest and in our archives, but writers can otherwise do what they want with their story.
We are building a community of 40-something and 50-something women, although we’re delighted to have men writers and some older people who share a midlife story.
What People Are Saying
Winning Contest Writer from California: “I’m always flabbergasted when I read comments from strangers; I’m so happy for every reaction that someone dares to share! It’s nice to see a few of my friends in the mix of course, but somehow more meaningful to hear what strangers think. You’ve certainly developed an intimate community of people who regularly post comments. Bravo!”
Writer from Illinois: “Well, I am happy to say that not long after sending you my pieces, I landed a job as a regular columnist at a [local] newspaper. I wanted to thank you for encouraging me with your writing contests. I gained confidence and motivation and am very excited to be writing weekly for my current publication. Although I never won your contest, I truly appreciated the experience.”
Winning Contest Writer from Florida: “I received the following e-mail, ‘I saw your writings on Midlife Collage and immediately took to your stories. You are an exceptional writer. I’m a big fan of yours! I just love reading your work. You’re the real deal.’. . . A stranger contacted me to let me know my writing inspired her. . . I contacted the wonderful lady and I’m glad I did. What a warm, uplifting woman she is, and I have no doubt we will become amazing friends. . .”
Commenter: “It was my pleasure to participate by reading and commenting on last week’s submissions. I found Midlife Collage to be an entertaining and well-organized writing competition.”
How It Started
I retired early from my hectic thirty-year professional career; the idea of creating a website and working from home was appealing. My husband thought of a writing contest. Once he put out the idea, I liked the structure. The contest is a challenge, which adds drama and incentive for visitors to come to the website.
I had to think of a name. While I could no longer call myself a corporate executive, in middle age, I was not an empty canvas. I was still a wife, sister, friend . . . I had many roles. Then it hit me: Canvas, roles, pieces, collage. So while I’m living my midlife collage, I’m developing the website, our Midlife Collage. Six months later, we sponsored our first contest.
Thank you for this opportunity to talk about Midlife Collage! Send us your stories! Click here for our online submission form.
Donna Balon was a lifelong Jersey girl until she moved with her husband to Las Vegas in 2008 with plans on retiring early in the warm, dry climate of Nevada. She is a former practicing tax attorney and CPA. Her 30-year business career, which included drafting legal and tax documents, became the foundation for her venture into social entrepreneurship. She is the founder and editor of MidlifeCollage.com, which sponsors free weekly writing contests.