2016 SELTI Writing Contest: Selma and Dallas County

Sponsored by:

Alabama Tourism Department

Selma and Dallas County Chamber of Commerce

Southeastern Literary Tourism Initiative


Live Oak Cemetery


Update: The winner of the 2016 SELTI Writing Contest was Charisa Hagel

for her short story “Behind the Mill” which can be read by clicking here.

Official Rules

    • Story must be set in the Dallas County (including but not limited to Selma) area
    • Story must use creative angle to encourage readers to visit Dallas County area
    • maximum word count: 2,000
    • No entry fee
    • Entry deadline: October 31, 2016
    • projected announcement of winner: November 30, 2016
    • Winning story will be published online at SELTI and include photos, tourism guide, and a link to the tourism attraction promoted. SELTI receives first time electronic publication rights, and author retains all other rights.
    • First place winner will receive a $500 cash prize and be presented with the 2016 SELTI Tourism Fiction Award in Dallas County.
    • All entries must be emailed to literarytourism@aol.com and include the title of the story followed by “Dallas County Tourism Fiction” in the subject line. Also email questions about the contest to the same email address with “Dallas County Contest Question” in the subject line.
    • Stories should be pasted into entry email. No emails with attachments or other unrequested content will be opened.
    • Include your name, phone number, mailing address, and email address at the top of the story.
    • After winner is selected, a short bio and profile photo will be requested for online publication with the short story on SELTI.
Brown Chapel AME Church

Brown Chapel AME Church, a Civil Rights landmark in Selma.

Tips for entrants

The 2016 SELTI Writing Contest will use the Morrison-SELTI Tourism Fiction Grading Rubric as a guide for writers and judges. This unique rubric was designed by Dr. Renee Morrison from Jacksonville State University while she was working as a judge for the Lookout Alabama SELTI Writing Contest in 2013. This rubric is the first academic standard for tourism fiction as a genre style and can be adapted as a guide for students, teachers, writers, and tourism organizations everywhere.

Please review the rubric below when composing stories for the 2016 SELTI Writing Contest: Selma/Dallas County. Also, please review the links to Selma/Dallas County (http://www.selmaalabama.com/) for background and other SELTI tourism short stories below for examples on how different attractions can be promoted through various creative angles, from scary to funny to fantasy.

 Morrison-SELTI Tourism Fiction Grading Rubric

2016 SELTI Writing Contest: Selma/Dallas County

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Does the story promote Selma/Dallas County(SDC)? Story focuses on SDC locations with accurate and thorough descriptive writing. Story focuses on SDC locations with accurate (but not thoroughly descriptive) writing. Story focuses on too many SDC locations, causing each to lose reader impact. Story has no SDC locations in its content.
Does the story quickly capture reader’s attention?


First paragraph grasps the reader’s attention and pulls the reader to the rest of the story. Reader’s attention connects with story before the end of the first page. Reader has to re-read prior portions of the story to understand the flow. Reader doesn’t connect with the story.
Is the plot easy to grasp? Story contains exposition, rising action, climax, falling action, resolution.
The story is easy to follow.
Story development follows story sequence but some components could be better developed for the reader to follow. Story development needs to be improved or revised. There are pieces missing. Story development does not exist and does not follow sequence.
Is the story well written? Story is filled with creative and descriptive language. The writer engages the reader with an entertaining tale of an event that the audience can relate to. Some creative language is used. Literary devices are used within context but do not allow for the flow of the story to continue on point. Very few creative terms are used. Potentially terms have been used out of context, but writer makes valiant effort to place them in his/her writing. No creative language is used. It is evident that the writer did not put forth any feeling and emotion into the story. The story is not made personal.
How does the story affect reader’s emotional connection to SDC? Story causes reader to desire to visit SDC and to retell the character’s story to others. Story increases reader’s desire to learn more about SDC because of the character’s experiences. Story stirs an emotional connection to the character but not to SDC. Story leaves the reader in a negative mood with no inspiration to visit SDC.
Southern belles

Dallas County also brings to life Civil War history, from battles to belles.

SELTI Tourism Fiction Short Stories

 “The Last Confession” by Patrick Miller. Set in Old Cahawba Archaeology Park and published in the Southern Gothic Shorts anthology. Featured on Troy Public Radio and Alabama Alumni magazine.

“Haunted Identity” by Natalie Cone, winner of the 2015 SELTI Writing Contest. Featured a unique guide to the historic district of Huntsville, Alabama. Natalie was presented with the 2015 SELTI Tourism Fiction Award at the inaugural Rocket City Lit Fest in the Von Braun Conference Center.

“Raisin’ Cain” by Mary S. Palmer, winner of the Mobile Bay SELTI Tourism Writing Contest 2014. Congressman Bradley Byrne presented Mary with the 2014 SELTI Tourism Fiction Award at the Mobile Carnival Museum and honored her on the floor of Congress for her innovative work in promoting tourism fiction in the Mobile area.

“The Totem” by Natalie Cone, winner of the Lookout Alabama SELTI Writing Contest 2013. Natalie’s short story “The Totem” won her the 2013 SELTI Tourism Fiction Award, presented by Senator Clay Scofield at Cook Castle on Lookout Mountain. “The Totem” offered a fantasy twist to introduce readers to Desoto State Park on Lookout Mountain. Her story was also published in Lookout Alabama magazine. The stories of the other four finalists in this competition were also published in quarterly editions of Lookout Alabama magazine

“Digging Up Bones” by Kathryn Lang, winner of the Inaugural SELTI Writing Contest 2012. Kathryn was presented with the 2012 SELTI Tourism Fiction Award at the Moundville Native American Festival, where she was interviewed for a feature on Alabama Public Radio.

Please keep in mind that the stories above are only examples. Writers are strongly encouraged to harness their unique literary voice to promote places they want readers to visit in real life. Tourism fiction stories should not read like a generic tourism brochure; writers should use the powerful flexibility available with fiction to engage readers on a much deeper level. This engagement should be designed to generate enough curiosity in the reader to inspire a real visit. Writers have used many different angles to promote the same attractions in these contests, so feel free to create your own creative angle.

Getting readers to visit the setting of your story will allow them to connect with your writing on an entirely different level than if they just read your work alone; they will literally be stepping inside the setting of your story, allowing the tale to come alive in a way that they have never felt before. Plus, it will help promote the local area’s economy by drawing in new tourists, which will impact real people in very positive ways.