Acad Lit 2021 Christmas
Writing Contest

Sponsored by The Academy of Inventive Literature
for Homeschooling and Autodidactic
Adults and Children


November 20th, 2021

Midnight, Your Time

Calling All Students and Writers
Pursuing Traditional Learning

This is a contest for a specific population of people, and its aim is publication in our special Christmas issue, The Life of Children. If you are not part of the population targeted by this contest, you are still invited to submit work for inclusion in the issue. Any work on a Christmas/Holiday or childhood theme will be considered. Please see our submissions page for more details.

We are looking for stories, poems, and fiction sketches written by writers associated with alternative learning. Examples include students, former students, parents, and teachers associated with the following alternative learning communities:






Classical Education


These stories, poems, and sketches must have a theme of traditional end-of-year holidays, childhood, or both. "Traditional" means that it was celebrated in ancient and/or medieval times, and continues to be celebrated today.

There are contest categories for 8 age groups, from kiddos just learning to write, to formerly homeschooled and/or autodidactic adults, to parents and teachers alternatively educating children. You may enter as an individual, a household, or a class. 


Your submission must qualify as "Inventive Literature." That means it must contain made-up people, places, objects, animals, and/or situations which you have invented for the delight of the reader.  In other words, it must be imaginative fiction, imaginative sketch, or imaginative poetry.  We also encourage unconventional syntax, plotting, and word-play devised for delight.

If you are an adult, please make sure to read our page on Inventive Literature before entering the contest. If you are responsible for young persons wishing to enter, please make sure they understand the general idea of inventive literature contained on that page.

The contest will end on November 20th, 2021 at midnight, your local time. The timestamp on your submission email will be used to determine the time of your entry.


Winning submissions may be published in the Christmas Issue of the AJIL, to be entitled Life of Children.

Each single entry requires an entry fee of  $8 per individual or $20 per household or class. If your household or class pays, each member may submit up to one entry per fee. Please submit each member's entry in a separate email.

There will be a first place winner, and may be second and third place winners, for each age group. There will also be a Grand Prize, chosen from all teen and adult groups.


Age groups are as follows:

1. Nine and under/4th grade and under (adult help permitted)

2. Ten and Eleven/5th grade and 6th grade (adult help permitted)

3. Twelve and Thirteen/7th grade and 8th grade (adult help permitted)

4. Fourteen to Eighteen/High School

5. Eighteen to Twenty-Two/College

6. Previously Alt-schooled Adults (any writers 18 and over may choose to enter this category if they wish.)

7. Adults Associated With Alternative Schooling (parents, grandparents, alternative education-associated organizers, alternative schooling activists, etc.) If you aren't sure whether you qualify, drop us a line at
alana.k.asby @vulgarismedia.com

For the purposes of this contest, alternative learning is any kind of education or learning that does not primarily depend upon sitting in classrooms for the greater part of the school day, listening to lectures, taking tests, and being still and quiet. If you normally describe your learning experience in a way that indicates it is not the usual school experience, you probably qualify. We will not be checking your qualifications unless you win a prize.

2nd and 3rd place winners will receive a certificate of accomplishment and honorable mention in the Christmas Issue of the AJIL. Entries will also be published on the Vulgaris Media website so that readers of the AJIL may go to the website and read the entries.

1st Prize in each category will receive $10 and 1 print issue of AJIL Issue V. If the quality of any winning entry is high enough, it will be published in that issue. Free editing help may be offered to reach this goal.

The Grand Prize winner will receive 25% of all entry fees, publication in Life of Children, and two writer copies. The more people enter, the larger the cash Grand Prize will be!

The second 25% of all entry fees will go to The Home School Legal Defense Association.

Remaining entry fees may be used to hire readers for the contest, to defray the costs of the contest and the Christmas Issue, and to support the work of The Academy of Inventive Literature.

No religious affiliation is necessary to enter. The Academy is not religiously affiliated, but does pursue an artistic philosophy that is harmonious with traditional religion and morality.

Send submissions to ajil.submissions@acadlit.org. Type CONTEST in the subject line. In your email, please indicate which age group you want to be considered in. You may enter according to your age, or according to your grade/grade-equivalent. 

In your submission email, please include a transaction number from your entry fee and label it "ENTRY TRANSACT FEE:" and indicate FAMILY or CLASS or INDIVIDUAL entry fee. You may pay your entry fee through PayPal, using the following link:



If you need to use a different method, contact us and we will set something up for you.

Please include your submission in an attachment. Formatting and font should be neat and legible. We prefer single-spaced manuscripts, with no extra spaces between paragraphs. The word-count upper limit is 8,000 words for high-school and older, and 4,000 words for younger age categories. Do not include your name in the attachment file. Instead, indicate a made-up 8-digit code with no consecutive repeated digits in your email, and type that same 8-digit code at the top of your submission document. The first number of your made-up 8-digit ID code should be your age category number (options include numbers 1-7; see list above.)

If you get something wrong in the submission email, don't worry. We'll contact you if it's important, or you can re-send the email with CORRECTION added in the subject line.

No one on staff at Acad Lit or Vulgaris Media LLC, or their immediate families, may enter the contest.



Read some of the pages on this website to get an idea of what we are about and what kind of writing we like. Above all, we are eager to see imaginative, inventive writing that shows unusual, exciting, interesting, or pathos-laden situations. We are not interested in bland, overly-realistic scenarios (although we do want to see some relevance to the human condition.) We are also not interested in mundane, conversational language - especially in poetry. We want to see special uses of language.

You may order a copy of The Author's Journal of Inventive Literature. No purchase is necessary to enter the contest, but it will give you a better idea of what we like to publish and what our values are. Additionally, by purchasing copies you will be supporting our writers, since they are payed royalties in perpetuity.

If you are submitting poetry, please make sure your poem includes at least two musical elements. These include Rhyme, Alliteration, Meter, Rhythm, Syllable-Counted Lines, and Matching the words of your poem to the melody or rhythm of a piece of music. In your entry email, please indicate which musical elements you have attempted.

If you are submitting a sketch, don't make it a non-fiction narrative with commentary. Instead, write as if you were writing a poem, but in sentences instead of poetic lines. Make sure you content is imaginative and fictional. The book Sketches By Boz, written by Charles Dickens in his youth, is a good model.

Regardless of which genre you are entering, avoid a polemical, or message-first, approach. A good model for the delight-first approach is The Chronicles of Narnia. Although C. S. Lewis, the author, infused his entire series with Christian thought, he respected the nature of children's adventure stories and didn't burden the story with sermonizing or explanations of theology. He prioritized the story, the characters, the beauty, and the enjoyment. Yet his stories are more edifying than many sermons!

The above notwithstanding, it is entirely permissible to include tragic and sad elements in your work. The judges will look for sensitive handling of all subject matter, appropriate to the age group. However, parents and teachers may wish to guide younger children toward an entirely positive approach. For the purpose of this contest it is not necessary for writers to directly address tragic or negative themes.

Fair Fortune and Wise Writing!