As many of you know, the CALEB is the brainchild of former Omega Writers President Anne Hamilton. She envisaged an annual writing award to support and inspire our Australasian Christian writers to excellence.
I’m sure we all know the Biblical Caleb, one of only two spies to go into the land of Israel and bring back a good report. Caleb said there were giants in the land, but that the (relatively) small band of Israelites would be able to defeat them, because God was with them.
There are parallels between Caleb and our writing. Omega Writers is a (relatively) small band of Christian writers seeking to change the world through our words. As Christian writers, we’re also part of the larger Christian writing world, a world that’s currently dominated by the US publishing giants.
But that’s not the reason we have the CALEB Award.
CALEB stands for Christian Authors Lifting Each other’s Books. The CALEB Award recognises the best in Australasian Christian writing, published and unpublished.
Omega Writers want the CALEB Award to be one way we educate, support, and inspire our unpublished and published writers, by recognising and encouraging excellence.
As the new coordinator, I have proposed some changes to the CALEB Award. Some of these go into effect with the 2019 contest. Others we will introduce later, subject to getting willing volunteers to help with contest coordination and judging.
First, we are making a few changes to the contest timeline—a necessity, as the 2019 Omega Writers Conference is being held two weeks earlier than normal, in order to accommodate our guest speaker, Steve Laube.
The main date you need to be aware of right now is that the contest opens for entries on 1 April 2019, and entries will close on 30 April.
The other change is to our entry fees. These have not yet been approved, but we want the contest entry fees to be a positive benefit of membership by offering more of a discount for members.
Yes, we want entrants to join Omega Writers (membership is AUD 60 for the year, and you can sign up at the same time as you enter).
There has been some confusion in previous years over who could enter the Unpublished contest—was it for unpublished manuscripts, or unpublished authors? What if you’d previously published a non-fiction book, and this was a novel? What if you hadn’t published fiction in years?
We want the CALEB Unpublished contest to support and encourage unpublished Australasian writers towards excellence.
Therefore, in line with most other reputable writing contests, the 2019 CALEB Unpublished Award will only be open to authors who have not previously been published in fiction. This includes any fiction genre, for any age group, however published (traditionally published through a large trade publisher or small press, self-published, or published through a vanity press or pay-to-publish operation).
Entrants will submit their first 10,000 words for first-round judging. Finalists will submit their full manuscript. For this reason, we do restrict entries to 120,000 words, which should cover most manuscripts. In my experience as a contest judge and freelance editor, longer manuscripts are generally trying to achieve too much—they’re either too wordy for the plot, or they’re actually two books crammed into one.
The 2019 Unpublished Award will be open to fiction manuscripts for an adult audience (i.e. not Young Adult, as has been the case for the last two years). The 2020 contest will again consider Young Adult manuscripts (and maybe even non-fiction, if we have volunteers to judge).
The main change in the Published contest this year is that we will be accepting electronic entries for all categories except children’s picture books.
This makes it easier and cheaper for us to manage the contest (as we’re not posting books to judges). It also makes it cheaper for entrants, as they no longer have to provide hard copies of their books. Entrants can email us a pdf file which will be forwarded to judges. Alternatively, entrants can provide us with free download codes from BookFunnel, Draft2Digital, or Smashwords, or they can gift Kindle copies via Amazon.
Our categories this year (and other odd years) will be:
- Picture books
- YA fiction
- Fiction (excluding romance)*
*The 2018 contest included romance but not Women’s fiction, so we’re including Women’s fiction this year so it’s not three years before our Women’s fiction authors can enter.
In even years, the Published contest will be open to:
- Fiction (romance and women’s fiction)
- Children’s fiction (early reader to middle grade)
- Non-fiction excluding memoir/biography