2018 SELTI Writing Contest: Montgomery-The Capital of Dreams

Sponsored by

Southeastern Literary Tourism Initiative
Alabama Tourism Department

Alabama State Capitol in Montgomery

SELTI is once again challenging writers to transform readers into tourists by composing a short story set in or inspired by a real attraction in Montgomery, Alabama. This Southern city is filled with unique historical and cultural attractions that could inspire dozens of short stories. The main idea: set a fictional story in a real place, then at the end invite the readers to visit the actual setting. The winning story will be published here online at SELTI, complete with photos and links to the real attraction. The winner will also receive the 2018 SELTI Tourism Fiction Award, to be presented at the attraction featured in the story. The Alabama Tourism Department is also awarding a $500 prize to the winning story. Good luck!

Official Rules

  • Story must be set in or inspired by a tourism attraction in Montgomery, Alabama
  • Story must use creative angle to encourage readers to visit Montgomery area
  • Maximum word count: 2,000
  • No entry fee
  • Entry deadline: November 15, 2018
  • Projected announcement of winner: December 15, 2018
  • 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 2018 SELTI Tourism Fiction Award in Montgomery
  • All entries must be emailed to literarytourism@aol.com and include the title of the story followed by “Montgomery Tourism Fiction” in the subject line. Also email questions about the contest to the same email address with “Montgomery Contest Question” in the subject line.
  • Stories should be pasted into entry email. No emails with attachments or other unrequested content will be opened. Winning story will be edited and formatted before being published by SELTI.
  • 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
  • Previous SELTI contest winners are not eligible

Tips for entrants

The 2018 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 2018 SELTI Writing Contest. Also, please review the links to Montgomery tourism sites at http://visitingmontgomery.com/ for background. Entrants are also encouraged to review other SELTI tourism short stories and project links below for examples on how different attractions can be promoted through various creative angles, from scary to funny to fantasy.

Keep in mind that the stories below 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 story 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.

The city of Montgomery is filled with unique tourism attractions to inspire fiction writers. Just for example, in the tourism novel Blind Fate, fictional characters enjoyed sipping draft beer while watching a charity baseball game at the Riverwalk Biscuits Stadium, listening to a beautiful performance by the Montgomery Symphony Orchestra at the Alabama Shakespeare Festival, touring the Rosa Parks Museum, participating in an electrifying political rally at the Alabama State Capitol—just to name a few places! There are many more places that fiction can bring to life.

 Morrison-SELTI Tourism Fiction Grading Rubric

2018 SELTI Writing Contest: Montgomery-The Capital of Dreams

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Does the story promote the city of Montgomery? Story focuses on Montgomery location(s) with accurate and thorough descriptive writing. Story focuses on Montgomery locations with accurate (but not thoroughly descriptive) writing. Story focuses on too many Montgomery locations, causing each to lose reader impact. Story has no Montgomery 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 Montgomery? Story causes reader to desire to visit Montgomery and to retell the character’s story to others. Story increases reader’s desire to learn more about Montgomery because of the character’s experiences. Story stirs an emotional connection to the character but not to Montgomery. Story leaves the reader in a negative mood with no inspiration to visit Montgomery.

SELTI Tourism Fiction Short Stories and Projects

Blind Fate was featured in USA Today as the nation’s first interactive tourism novel and was set in Montgomery, highlighting multiple real attractions in the River Region.

“Behind the Mill” by Charisa Hagel, winner of the 2016 SELTI Writing Contest. Featured historic Kenan’s Mill in Selma. Congresswoman Terri Sewell presented Charisa with the 2016 SELTI Tourism Fiction Award during a ceremony at Kenan’s Mill in December of 2016. Representative Sewell praised Charisa’s tourism story on the floor of Congress.

“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. Senator Clay Scofield presented Kathryn with the 2012 SELTI Tourism Fiction Award at the Moundville Native American Festival, where she was interviewed for a feature on Alabama Public Radio.