Wilkes University

James Jones Fellowship Contest

James Jones First Novel Fellowship 2016

A prize of $10,000 is given annually for a novel-in-progress by a U.S. writer who has not published a novel. Runners-up will receive $1000. A selection from the winning work is published in Provincetown Arts.

Congratulations! This year, the James Jones Fellowship had a total of 634 submissions.

Below are the top three novels as decided by the judges.

Winner ($10,000):

  • Alison Murphy, Cambridge, MA, is the winner of the James Jones First Novel Fellowship with her manuscript titled Balagan, a novel.

Runners-Up ($1,000):

  •  Joel Freiburger, Chicago, IL is the first runner-up winner with his manuscript titled The Mapmaker's Daughter. 
  • Gemma Cooper-Novack, Syracuse, NY, is the second runner-up winner with her manuscript titled Watch You Disappear.

Thank you to everyone who participated.

2016 Judges: Barbara Taylor, novelist and author of Sing In The Morning, Cry At Night; and Taylor Polites, novelist and author of The Rebel Wife, and Louise Wareham Leonard, novelist and past winner of the James Jones First Novel Fellowship, with her novel Since You Ask.


The 26th Annual James Jones First Novel Fellowship will be awarded to an American author of a first novel-in-progress, in 2017, by the James Jones Literary Society.

The award is intended to honor the spirit of unblinking honesty, determination, and insight into cultural and social issues exemplified by the late James Jones, author of From Here to Eternity and other prose narratives of distinction. Jones himself was the recipient of aid from many supporters as a young writer and his family, friends, and admirers have established this award of $10,000 to continue the tradition in his name. Two runners up awards of $1000 each may be given by the Jones Literary Society. All selections are at the discretion of the judges.

Eligible writers

  • Have never published a novel
  • Are U.S. citizens
  • May have published any other type of work including non-fiction articles and short stories

Non eligible writers

  • Officers of the James Jones Literary Society
  • Writers who have published previous novels

Eligible submissions

  • Unpublished novels
  • Novels in which one or more chapters have been published

Non eligible submissions

  • Collections of short stories
  • Linked short stories
  • Self-published novels

Note: Manuscripts may be simultaneously submitted for the First Novel Contest and to a publisher for publication. If the work is accepted by a publisher at any time up to the announcement of the First Novel winner, the Society must be notified and the selection will be withdrawn from the contest.

Entry Fee: A $30 check/money order, payable to Wilkes University, not to James Jones First Novel Fellowship, must accompany each entry. For online submissions there is an additional $3.00 processing fee.

Manuscript Guidelines: A two-page (maximum) outline or synopsis of the entire novel and the first 50 pages of the novel-in-progress are to be submitted. A specific format for the outline or synopsis is not required.

The manuscript must be typed and double-spaced; outline may be single-spaced. Entrants should include their name, address, telephone number and e-mail address (if available) ONLY on the cover letter, but nowhere else on the manuscript. Pages should be numbered. For online entries put your cover letter in the cover letter box, and attach you outline/synopsis and the first 50 pages of you novel as one document.

If a manuscript is selected for the final round, the author will be asked to send a hard copy of the original first 50 pages. Submissions will be acknowledged only if accompanied by a self-addressed, stamped postcard. No manuscripts will be returned. Failure to comply with manuscript guidelines may disqualify entries.

For a copy of the press release on the winners, please submit a SASE (to the address listed in the next paragraph) marked "Winners 2017 Contest." The press release will be available in late Fall 2017.

Entries for the 2017 contest will be accepted after October 1, 2016.

DEADLINES: Entries can be mailed via SNAILMAIL or our ONLINE SUBMISSION FORM. Hard Copy entries should be sent to the James Jones First Novel Fellowship, c/o M.A./M.F.A. in Creative Writing, Wilkes University, 84 West South Street, Wilkes-Barre, PA 18766, and postmarked no later than March 15, 2017 midnight Eastern Standard time.

ONLINE SUBMISSION FORM entries should be sent to jamesjones.submittable.com/submit ELECTRONIC ENTRIES should be sent no later than midnight, March 15, 2017 Eastern Standard time.

The winner will be notified in September 2017. An excerpt from the winning manuscript will be published in Provincetown Arts (July 2018.)

For more information, please contact us via e-mail.

Frequently Asked Questions

A: We usually receive close to 600 manuscripts. 623 manuscripts were submitted to the 2015 contest.

A: Yes, multiple entries from the same author are allowed, but each submission must be mailed separately along with a $30.00 entry fee and $33 for each online entry which includes a processing fee.

A: No. Please keep a copy of the original version you submitted to the contest. All of the judges have to read the same version.
A: Yes. We do not accept entries from authors who have self-published.