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The 2019 Adrift Short Story Contest


​We are excited to announce Alan Sincic's "The Smile Contest" as the winner of our second Adrift Short Story Contest! Here's what our guest judge, Dale Ray Phillips, had to say...

“The Smile Contest” is a fresh and quirky love story in which the usual crush on the teacher is submerged under a more adult crush/courtship between Ms. Connor and Mr. Sammy. I admired this quite professional doubling-down on plot lines and the effortless use of a retrospective third person omniscient voice. Also, I loved the multiple hand references in the story—especially the line "the hand is not a magnet"; these interconnections create theme.

Ultimately, “The Smile Contest” seems an impressionistic story about the mysteries of sex and things not yet known; it beautifully shows how hard it is to grip slippery feelings.   

In addition, the Driftwood editors have decided to publish two runner-ups, "Purple" by Megan Swenson and "Taxidermist" by Seth Tucker. We would also like to congratulate finalist Allie Mariano for her story, "On Earth."

Lastly, we want to extend our warmest gratitude to everyone who submitted to the contest, including the fourteen semi-finalists and an additional thirty quarter-finalists. There were hundreds of wonderful short stories sent in, and many of them deserve—and will find—publication. We are ecstatic to continue to publish works of literary fiction that forefront language and take narrative, structural, and thematic risks, and the support of our community of readers and submitters is continually cherished and appreciated. 


  • Submissions will be open from February 1st 2019 to June 15th 2019.

  • Stories are considered by Driftwood editing staff (no outside readers); guest judge reads finalists.

  • Winner will be announced in September 2019.

  • The winning short story will be published in volume seven (2020).



  • Fiction only.

  • 1,000-6,000 word limit.

  • A standard, 12-point font is preferred. 

  • The work must not have been previously published.

  • Simultaneous submissions are accepted, but
    please withdraw the work if the story has been
    accepted elsewhere.

  • Submit works written in English only, no translations.

  • Please submit your manuscript in a .doc, .docx, or PDF format.

  • We read submissions blind, so please do not include your name, email, or any identifying characteristics on the manuscript itself.

  • Base submission cost is $10. Additionally, we are offering a $23 dollar submission option that will include a print copy of the issue in which the winning story is published.

Past Contest Winners

[2018 Contest]


  • The winner will receive $350 dollars and 10 copies of the issue in which the story appears. The winner will also have the opportunity to be interviewed about their work; the interview will be published alongside the story.

  • If a runner-up is chosen, their work will be offered publication, an accompanying interview, $100, and five copies of the issue in which their work appears.

Guest Judge

Dale Ray Phillips’ stories have appeared in Harper’s, The Atlantic, GQ, The Best American Short Stories, and literary quarterlies. His short story collection, My People’s Waltz, was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize.

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