Get ready for the 2019 contest!

The Lee County Teachers of English and the Southwest Florida Reading Festival are proud to sponsor the annual Aspiring Authors Writing Contest.

The contest has been in existence nearly thirty years. Students in grades K-12 are invited to submit through their teachers original writing in the categories of poetry, fiction, and personal memoir.

Grade level and overall level winners will be recognized at the Reading Festival. First, second and third place winners receive gift cards to Books-A-Million!

General Contest Information

Students of any Lee County-based school, grades K-12, are eligible to enter.

Each grade level is judged separately. There is a 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place winner in each category if there are enough excellent submissions. All winners receive ribbons; this year first, second, and third place winners receive book store gift cards. Five overall level winners will be chosen to receive an additional gift card.

All teachers receive blank participation certificates to complete and distribute to all student writers.

All teachers who enter a total of 6 or more entries receive a certificate of participation.

Winners and instructors are recognized at the Southwest Florida Reading Festival at the Fort Myers Regional Library at 2450 First Street in downtown Fort Myers. Prizes for those unable to attend are distributed through the entering teacher.


Poetry –Each poem is a separate entry – maximum of 24 lines each (one page only).
Fiction – 1700 word limit (Word count must be included on last page for middle/high entries)
Personal Memoir – 1000 word limit. (Note: An expository essay is not a memoir. A memoir is a memory, something the writer has actually experienced and written about in the first person. (Word count must be included on the last page for middle and high entries)

Submission Guidelines

Failure to adhere exactly to these guidelines will result in DISQUALIFICATION.

  1. Each teacher may send up to 3 entries per category, per class. Each student may enter only one entry per category, thus a maximum of 3 per student.
  2. Teachers must submit a completed coversheet listing all entries. This allows judges to double check spellings and access teachers. An Excel file is available. Type into the Excel document provided to you. Teachers are held responsible for any misspellings. This year, we have added a column for you to total the number of entries and then total the number of certificates.
  3. No entries will be accepted that have been previously entered in the LCTE contest.
  4. Elementary entries may be neatly written or typed. NO DICTATION will be accepted from grades K-2; if a K-2 writing is typed by an adult, please attach the child’s original hand-written version. NO ART WORK LARGER THAN 8-1/2 x 11 can accompany writings.
  5. Middle and high school entries MUST be typed in 12 point font (Times New Roman or Arial) and must be double spaced (unless they are poetry, which may be single spaced and doubled between stanzas).
  6. Please be aware all winning entries will be screened for plagiarism using or a similar program to screen. If you use a mentor text to model your writing, please reference the original author. Depending on the grade, this may affect originality and creativity scores. **Teachers, use your best judgement here. Sometimes a mentor text is appropriate at the primary level, but may border on plagiarism in upper grades. When in doubt, always cite the original author.
  7. Every entry must have a UNIQUE title. Class assignments are acceptable, but each entry must have a different title.
  8. Only one entry may be submitted per page; only one writer may submit a given entry.
  9. Entry must not include any profanity.
  10. Papers will NOT be returned. Keep a copy.
  11. An entry ticket including a signed parental consent form must be attached to each entry with ONE staple –no tape. Any illegible entry forms will be disqualified. There should be NO STUDENT, SCHOOL, OR TEACHER NAME on the writing itself.
  12. Teachers must also sign this form. You are stating that is the child’s work and that you have given a minimal amount of help.
  13. Each school entering papers will be asked to provide at least one judge to represent their school. Judging representatives should be based on the number of entries. Dates and times of judging are below.
  14. Entries must be sent to the person in charge of grade level by Friday, February 8 2019. Entries must be put in the mail early to allow time for delivery. No late entries will be judged.
Level Grade Level Chairs and Schools: Please send entries to one of the representatives below in charge of your grade level. Judging Dates Judging Times Judging Locations
K-2 Michelle Molloy, Gulf Elementary & Bridget Amico- Dodig- Edgewood Academy  2/12/19  4 – 7 p.m.  Gulf Elementary Media Center
3-5 Vanessa York, Caloosa Elem. 2/12/19 4 – 7 p.m. Gulf Elementary Media Center
6-8 Jennifer Burrows & Gretchen Tindle, Oak Hammock Middle School 2/13/19 4:30-7:30 p.m. LCPEC
9-12 Jennifer Tomlinson, Fort Myers High School 2/12/19 2:30-5:30 p.m. Fort Myers High School Media Center

Awards will be presented at the Reading Festival as follows:

  • 10 a.m. at Youth B Stage: Aspiring Author Awards Grades 6-8
  • 10:30 a.m. at Youth B Stage: Aspiring Author Awards Grades 9-12
  • Noon at Youth B Stage: Aspiring Author Awards Grades K-2
  • 12:30 p.m. at Youth B Stage: Aspiring Author Awards Grades 3-5

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