Writing contests are a fine way to send your work into the world. Most of them charge a nominal fee; $10-15 is pretty average. Even if you don’t win, you experience the thrill of thinking your story might be chosen, because you’ve done the work to polish it up and submit it in MS format.

(That’s double-spaced, one-inch margins, page numbers with your name included. Pick a simple font like Times.)

A few contests have nearby deadlines, if you have a story ready. The first is a fiction contest, the other a much broader one with multiple categories. There’s a fine summary of even more in Poets & Writers magazine.

The $1,100 E.M. Koeppel 2006 Short Fiction Award has an April 30 postmark deadline. It’s an award for unpublished fiction in any style, any theme Awards: First place – $1,100. Editors’ Choices – $100 each. Maximum Length – 3,000 words. Stories must be unpublished.

Winning story and Editors’ Choices will be published on the literary Web site www.writecorner.com. After publication, writer retains all rights. Any number of unpublished stories may be entered by any writer. $15 fee for one story, $10 for each additional story. Mail submissions to Writecorner Press, PO Box 140310, Gainesville, FL 32614.

Writecorner has complete guidelines and winning stories from previous years at writecorner.com/award.html

Writer’s Digest has a much bigger competition, with lots more entries expected, that has a May 15 deadline. It’s the competition’s 75th year, and giving giving away more than $30,000 in cash and prizes! You enter at their Web site.

Grand Prize is $3,000 cash and an all-expense paid trip to New York City. The magazine flies you and a guest to The Big Apple, where you’ll share your winning work with four editors or agents. 1,001 winners will be chosen. If you’re one of them, great. If not, well, at least you got that writing out there. And it’s now ready to be submitted to the journals and literary mags that are just looking for good writing — and don’t charge an entry fee.