Nutshell Narratives - 2019-04 (CLOSED)

All the winning stories have now been selected and posted!

NEW CONTEST! is excited to bring you a new addition to our ongoing Flash Fiction contests.  This new contest is inspired by a single picture!  Each Photo Flora contest will feature a photograph that contains some reference to gardens, flowers, flower pots, or the like.  

Winners will be decided by public voting, rather than by a judge.  We want to hear which stories you like!

Click here for the new contest: Photo Flora 2019-01

August 14, 2019:  5 pm:
You all outdid yourselves this time!  Beautiful, creative, unique stories have been pouring in over the past few weeks, and today brought a veritable flood of great writing.  It will take our staff a few days to review the most recent stories and send them to our judge.  She will then give all your stories the time and focus they deserve, and make her selections.  The shortlisted stories and the top winners will be announced on this page.
Stay tuned for updates and announcements, and thanks for all your fabulous entries. 

While We're Waiting ...

While we are all waiting for the fourth contest short lists and winners to be announced, we thought you might enjoy reading some staff favorites from previous contests! We’ll add a featured story every day or so while our judge reads all the latest stories and makes her decisions. 
This one, from Contest #3, brought a lot of smiles and chuckles from our staff.  It’s great fun!
Last, Best Hope in a Shade of Yellow – by Taria Karillion
Here is a beautifully written, moving story from Contest #2:
The Long Goodbye – by Eric Ryan
Here’s one of our staff favorites, also from Contest #2, written by a talented writer from Zambia:
Five Springs – by Ox the Fox
Keep checking back for more great stories!

Countdown to entry deadline


Our Nutshell Narratives contests have become very popular with writers from all over the world!  You can learn about the winners and read all the shortlisted stories here:

Nutshell Narratives – 2019-01 (66 entries)

Nutshell Narratives – 2019-02 (196 entries)

Nutshell Narratives – 2019-03 (179 entries)

We have a wonderful set of new prompts for our fourth international contest!  Scroll down for more treasures.

We invite  you to create a short short story – 350 words or less – that fits the “nutshell narrative” of any prompt on this page.  Use your imagination, and see what stories you see in these few words!

Deadline: Wednesday, August 14 , 2019  5 pm ET.  Please read the guidelines below before entering!

We are happy to announce that Dr. Regina Higgins is returning as a judge for this fourth contest.  Her impeccable credentials include a Ph.D. in English from Indiana University, publication by Simon & Schuster, and more than thirty years of experience working with writers, publishers, universities, and nonprofits.  As a master storyteller, she totally relates to the stories, and delights in discovering so much new talent.  Regina is currently working on a historical fiction novel set in the American Wild West, told from the differing points of view of a varied cast of characters.  Thank you for your dedication to ZenGarden, Regina – and we look forward to reading your new novel!

Guidelines for entering:

  • Pick one of the four prompts, and write a short story about it in 350 words or less. 
  • All entries must be family-friendly.
  • You must be a Member to enter – Membership is free and easy!  Free Registration
  • Write your story, then fill out the entry form in the link below.
  • You may enter as many times as you like, but each entry requires a separate entry form.
  • Accepting entries until Wednesday August 14, 2019 5 pm ET
  • Check this page for contest updates.

Helpful Hints:

  • Title does not count toward total word count
  • Hyphenated words count as one word
  • Creative, unique titles help differentiate stories with the same flower prompt

Contest judges and prizes:

  • Each entry will be previewed by a ZenGarden reader. Entries will be disqualified if they a) are not related to the prompt; b) contain excessive spelling, grammar, or punctuation errors; c) if they contain any element that is not family-friendly or d) they contain more than 350 words. 
  • All reviewed entries that qualify will be sent to the contest judge, who will determine all winners.
  • There will be no identifying information sent to the judge – only the title, age group and story.
  • 1st, 2nd and 3rd place winners will be chosen for each flower prompt.
  • A grand prize winner will be chosen from among the four 1st place winners.
  • Grand prize – $50.00 plus free life-time subscription to and permanent publication on the site
  • The other three first place winners – free life-time subscription to and permanent publication on the site
Here are the four prompts for our newest contest. Pick your favorite and start imagining!
The current number of entries is posted above each prompt.
Daylily“: 37

How lovely you are
These few, brief, magical hours-
Daylily, don’t go!


Prompt by Staff

“”Lilac“: 39

Faded crown of lilac
Years erode a lifetime
Wishing for lost youth.


Prompt by Devan Herron

Sunflower“: 48

Promises woven
Into a sunflower wreath –
The sun bears witness..


Prompt by Zantal Siah

“Gardenia“: 36

Delicate white blooms,
Perfectly simple and pure.
Gardenia dreams.


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