2021 Teen Writing Contest

2021 Teen Writing Contest for N.J. High School Students

The Morristown Festival of Books is proud to celebrate the power of the written word by bringing award-winning authors to the Morristown community each fall. The annual Festival has the power to challenge, transport, and transform individuals of all ages as well as bring the community together in conversation.

To encourage future award-winning writers, MFOB is again sponsoring a Teen Writing Contest. High school students from New Jersey are invited to submit fiction, nonfiction, poetry, or an essay (up to 1,200 words) on the theme:

“Quarantine Chronicles & Pandemic Dreams”

Write a true story, a poem, or a nonfiction essay about what happened during the 2020-21 coronavirus pandemic and how it affected you and others, or write a fictional story of an imaginary pandemic and what might, or might never, have happened.


Up to seven entries will be selected as finalists. Authors will be notified by September 10, 2021, if their story is selected as a finalist. The finalists will have their stories posted on the Morristown Festival of Books website prior to the Festival.

Contest winners will be announced as part of the Festival on October 8 & 9, 2021.

First-place winner will receive $500.

Second-place winner will receive $250.

Third-place winner will receive $100.

Four honorable mentions will each receive $50.

Submission Details

The submission deadline is midnight (EDT), July 1, 2021.

Entries with a word-count limit of 1,200 or less must be submitted electronically as a Word document to teenwritingcontest@morristownbooks.org. Do not include your name in the electronic filename of the document.

The submission must have a cover page that includes:

  • Author’s name
  • Home address
  • Phone number
  • Email address
  • School name with full address and phone number
  • Grade for 2021-22 school year (9, 10, 11, 12)
  • English or writing teacher’s name

The cover page does not count toward the 1,200-word limit.


  • Author must be a high school student (public, private, or homeschooled) in grades 9, 10, 11, or 12 in the 2021-2022 school year.
  • Author must live in New Jersey.
  • Only one submission per author.

Contest Sponsor: The Gunzler Family Memorial

Melissa Curwin and Nicole Oringer are very excited to sponsor the Festival’s teen writing contest in memory of their parents, John and Marianne Gunzler. John was a Holocaust survivor from Hungary who earned a GED when he arrived in the United States. Marianne was a Holocaust survivor from Germany who was educated in the NYC public school system. Voracious readers, our parents would have been thrilled to be part of this event, as they believed in encouraging creativity and curiosity in young people.


Judging will be based on the following criteria:

  • Originality
  • Creativity
  • Writing style
  • Overall writing quality
  • Relevance to contest theme

For additional information, please email teenwritingcontest@morristownbooks.org.

Contest Rules and Regulations

All entries must:

  • Be no more than 1,200 words.
  • Be written in the English language.
  • Be wholly the original work of the entrant, written solely by the entrant.
  • Not be copied from any other source.
  • Not have been previously broadcast or otherwise distributed or disseminated in any media or format.
  • Not be in the public domain.
  • Not be in violation or in conflict with the trademark, copyright, rights of privacy, right of publicity, or any other rights of any kind or nature of any other person or entity.
  • Not include any language or other content that is inappropriate, offensive, pornographic, or otherwise unfit for dissemination or broadcast, as determined by the Morristown Festival of Books in its sole discretion.
  • Be submitted by the stated deadline.

Submissions not satisfying these criteria in any respect will be disqualified. If the Morristown Festival of Books, in its sole discretion, has reason to believe that any entry contains any material that may infringe or violate any law or any rights of a third party, or that the use or broadcast of such entry in the manner described herein may infringe or violate any law or any rights of a third party, the Morristown Festival of Books may immediately disqualify such entry and take any other measures the Morristown Festival of Books may deem appropriate or necessary.

Grant of Rights

By submitting a written entry, the entrant grants to the Morristown Festival of Books:

  1. The right to edit the writing for grammar, spelling, and punctuation; and
  2. A nonexclusive, assignable, perpetual, license to produce, publish, distribute, transmit, exhibit, exploit, and license the written work and any portions thereof in any format (collectively “distribute” or “distribution,” as applicable) by any and all means, uses, and media, whether audio, print, audiovisual or otherwise, now or hereafter known, throughout the universe in all languages without financial compensation.

Not Eligible to Participate

The following, and their family members, are prohibited from participation in this contest:

  1. The Board of the Morristown Festival of Books.
  2. The panel of 2021 judges.

2021 Judges Panel

  • Matt Daly, English Department, Morristown High School
  • Dr. Linnea Hasegawa, Adjunct Instructor of Writing, Drew University
  • Dr. Andrew Lutz, Chair, English Department, Gill St. Bernard’s School
  • Jeff Campbell, Author and Teacher, The Writers Circle


Click here to download a printable version of the contest details (PDF)