by Paula Gail Benson
The Bethlehem Writers Group (BWG)—originally begun by writers based in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, known as “Christmas City , USA,” and now having members across the country—is no stranger to holiday stories. Its 2009 anthology, A Christmas Sampler: Sweet, Funny, and Strange Holiday Tales, featured stories about a mall Santa who has forgotten a child’s name (Paul Weifknecht), a woman who believes despite contrary evidence that she is pregnant (Courtney Annicchiarico), a bachelor’s Christmas traditions (Headley Hauser), a small town lawyer resolving a mystery after Santa falls from her roof three weeks before Christmas (Carol L. Wright), a deceased man who refuses to leave his beloved alone for the holiday (Ralph Hieb), and a relationship where partners differ about being ready for marriage (Emily P.W. Murphy) [story descriptions paraphrased from Amazon Kindle listing and authors of the stories indicated in parentheses]. The anthology won the 2010 Next Generation Indie Book Awards for Best Short Fiction and Best Anthology.
Each year, the Bethlehem Writers Group has a short story contest. Here are the details about submitting for the 2024 contest:
“We are seeking never-published (including online or blog posts) short stories of 2,000 words or fewer on the theme: Holiday Tales. We define holiday stories as those that involve any holiday from US Thanksgiving through New Year’s Day, or stories that reference those holidays. (There are many such holidays, so let your imagination fly.) While our theme is broadly interpreted, the holiday must be an important element in the story, not just referred to in passing. (DIE HARD would not be accepted!)”
This year’s celebrity judge is Marlo Berliner, the multi-award-winning, bestselling author of The Ghost Chronicles series.
Why not enjoy the 2009 BWG anthology while working on stories to submit for this year’s BWG’s contest?