Undiscovered Voices Fellowship

The Writer’s Center is accepting applications for our Undiscovered Voices Fellowship. With a prize of $1000 toward creative writing workshops at TWC, among other benefits, the Fellowship is designed to support a writer at the early stages of their career, and for whom attending workshops presents a financial hardship.


To apply, please submit

  • A 500-1,000-word Statement of Purpose to Grace.Mott@writer.org. The statement should explain how the Fellowship will benefit you as a writer, personally, professionally, and financially.
  • Contact information for two references who can speak to your creative work and promise
  • A work sample in a single genre:
    • 8 pages of poetry, no more than one poem per page
    • 10 pages of fiction, double-spaced, no more than one work or excerpt
    • 10 pages of nonfiction (essay, memoir, etc), double-spaced, no more than one work or excerpt
    • 15 pages of a script or screenplay

Judges will take into account the writer’s skill, enthusiasm, and publishing experience. The ideal candidate will have a limited publication portfolio.


  • $1000 worth of creative writing workshops (granted in a credit to be used on any amount of workshops in a year equaling $1000).
  • Contribute two essays to The Writer’s Guide (circulation, 11,000)
  • Featured reader at an Open Mic
  • Serve as judge for fellowship, following three years
  • Subscriptions:
    • One-year subscription to Poet Lore
    • One-year subscription to Barrelhouse Magazine
    • One-year subscription to selected literary magazine

Optional benefits

  • Additional readings
  • Volunteer opportunities at TWC, including assisting at events and/or serving as intern
  • We encourage suggestions as to other levels of involvement during the course of the Fellowship


  • Application deadline: October 1, 2019
  • Winner announced: mid-December, 2019
  • Fellowship begins: January 1, 2019; workshops to be completed within 24 months.

Please note that we will expect the Fellow to submit a written evaluation of the Fellowship by 12/31/20.

Terms and conditions are subject to change without notice.

First Novel Prize

Each year, The Writer’s Center awards a $1,000 check to the author of an exceptional first novel published in the previous calendar year. Conceived and funded by former board member Neal P. Gillen, the McLaughlin-Esstman-Stearns Prize honors three dedicated writers and members of The Writer’s Center faculty—the late Ann McLaughlin, Barbara Esstman, and Lynn Stearns—each of whom unselfishly nourish and inspire students and fellow writers.

Previous winners: Kayla Rae Whitaker for The Animators (2018), Sheila Martin for The Coney Island Book of the Dead (2017), Nadine Darling for It Came From Beyond! (2016), Bret Anthony Johnston for Remember Me Like This (2015), Raoul Wientzen for The Assembler of Parts (2014), Karen Thompson for Walker for The Age of Miracles (2013), Ismet Prcic for Shards (2012) Heidi Durrow for The Girl Who Fell From the Sky (2011).


1) All first novels published in print in 2019 are eligible, including those published by major and independent presses. Only American authors publishing in English are eligible. Non-eligible books include: short story collections, flash fiction, memoirs, biographies, and books published solely in electronic format.
2) Publishers (or authors) must submit three copies of their published novel along with a contact cover sheet indicating name, address, phone number, and e-mail address (no cover letter required). No galley proofs will be accepted.
3) Following the judging process, books will not be returned. Writer’s Center staff, board, and workshop leaders may not enter.


The Writer’s Center will solicit a group of 15-20 volunteer judges to serve as first and second-round judges. These volunteers will evaluate books to determine if they meet eligibility requirements, and they will read and evaluate the submissions. Submissions advancing to the third round of judging will be evaluated by a team of three final judges. The winner is chosen at the sole discretion of the final judges.

The Winner:

The winner will receive $1,000 and will be featured in The Writer’s Guide and our blog, First Person Plural. In addition, if feasible, they will be invited to read at The Writer’s Center during a reception to honor their work.

Submissions for the 2020 prize are now open! The submission deadline is June 30th, 2020.

Send entries to:

The Writer’s Center
Attn: Grace Mott
Re: First Novel Prize
4508 Walsh St.
Bethesda MD 20815