Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Moundville named as setting for Inaugural SELTI Writing Contest

Interior of Moundville Museum
Moundville, Ala. has been named the target promotional site for the Inaugural SELTI Writing Contest. The contest is co-sponsored by the Southeastern Literary Tourism Initiative (SELTI) and the University of Alabama Museums. Contestants will compete to write the short story that best promotes tourism to the historic Native American archaeological site. Moundville includes impressive mounds that served as the center of one of the largest Native American cities in North America 800 years ago. The site is also now home to a museum and park that recently completed a $5 million renovation, including an expansion of the indoor museum.

“I look forward to the increased exposure that the tourism fiction contest will bring to the Moundville site,” said Bill Bomar, Director of Moundville Archaeological Park. “Moundville is one of the nation’s premier archaeological sites, yet many outside of Alabama have never heard of it. This is such a creative way to make people aware of such an important part of our heritage.”

The winning short story will be published online at the Southeastern Literary Tourism Initiative and will include photos of Moundville and a link to the museum’s website. The winner will likely get national publicity since this will be the first tourism fiction contest ever conducted. The global economic downturn has put increasing pressure on tourism attractions and cultural parks everywhere, many of which rely on shrinking government funding and private donations to stay afloat. Although Moundville has done well over the past few years, the tourism fiction contest could be a model for how many other cultural parks could gain exposure and extra funding.

“Tourism fiction is an innovative tool that can be used by any city or attraction in the world to engage potential tourists in an entirely new way,” said SELTI founder Patrick Miller, who also published the first interactive tourism novel on Kindle, “Blind Fate.”

Miller’s novel was set in real tourism attractions of Montgomery, Alabama, such as the Rosa Parks Museum. The groundbreaking novel includes a tourism guide at the end where readers can click on links from inside the book and instantly browse the many related tourism websites. By downloading a Kindle app, readers can also purchase Kindle novels on a variety of other e-reading devices such as iPads, smart phones, tablet computers, and regular desktop and laptop computers. The new Kindle Fire will also allow readers to browse the tourism websites from the novel with touchscreen color.

The Inaugural SELTI Writing Contest is meant to showcase how public institutions can partner with private writers and publishers for mutual benefit, Miller said. The SELTI project was first introduced to the University of Alabama Museums through a statewide e-newsletter from the Alabama Tourism Department. The newsletter detailed a  USA Today feature story on Miller’s work with interactive tourism novels.

Interested contestants can view the official rules of the contest below.

Contestants can also start researching for a visit to Moundville by clicking on their website here.

Inaugural SELTI Writing Contest

The first national short story contest designed to promote tourism

Sponsored by the Southeastern Literary Tourism Initiative
Co-sponsored by the University of Alabama Museums

Official Rules

The famous carved stone Duck Bowl found at Moundville.
Could the maker of this legendary artifact come alive in a short story?
• story must be set in Moundville, Alabama
• story must use creative angle to encourage readers to visit Moundville
• maximum word count: 3,500
• no entry fee
• entry deadline: April 15, 2012
• projected announcement of winner: May 30, 2012
• Five finalists will be judged by a panel including:
three English professors from the University of Alabama
three Marketing professors from the University of Alabama
editor of the Southeastern Literary Tourism Initiative
• Winning story will be published online at SELTI and include photos and a link to the Moundville museum. Museum will provide the photos
• Winner will receive international publicity from SELTI publication but no cash prize. This contest is meant to showcase how writers and government institutions can work together for mutual publicity
• All entries must be emailed to and include the title of the story followed by “Tourism Fiction Contest” in the subject line. Also email any questions about the contest to this email address.
• Stories should be pasted into entry email. No emails with attachments or other unrequested content will be opened
• Include your name, phone number, physical 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
• Writers are encouraged to visit Moundville for inspiration and research, but understand that the museum staff will not participate in the judging process

The winged serpent played a pivotal role in Moundville mythology and art.
Could it reappear in a short story?
Tips for entrants

• Do your research. Browse the many novel and book excerpts on SELTI using the Stories By Month archive in the top left. These offer excellent free examples of published tourism fiction focused on a variety of unique attractions from all over the South. These examples are written in different genre styles from young adult to adult suspense/mystery to creative nonfiction.
• There are several tourism short stories on SELTI in the archives:
The Last Confession” June 2009 (scary twist on real archaeological state park)
Moccasin Gap” November 2009 (funny twists and turns on a kayaking trip)
Ohme” December 2009 (sentimental twist with a Christmas theme)
• The above examples are just for learning purposes and research. Write in your own style.
• Around 1350 A.D., Native Americans started to abandon the city of Moundville. No one knows why.
• As with any writing competition, many good submissions will not ultimately win. Keep in mind that no matter which story wins, all the entrants will have gained applied early experience in a writing field that is about to explode on the international scene.

(check back for weekly updates)
Winner selected! Click this link to read the winning story of the Inaugural SELTI Writing Contest, Kathryn Lang's "Digging Up Bones"

Deadline Update: A request from the University of Alabama Museums to extend the contest deadline has extended the deadline to April 15, 2012.

Update: April 16, 2012: Final entries are in! Judging is underway. Thanks so much to all who entered. Writers found many different creative angles to promote Moundville through short fiction. An email will be sent to all entrants when a winner is selected, but please be patient.

Alabama Tourism Department announces Moundville contest. in newsletter.
Tuscaloosa Convention and Visitors Bureau announces Moundville contest.
National Novel Writing Month announces Moundville contest.
Auburn University at Montgomery announces University of Alabama Museum contest.

Moundville contest goes international! announces Moundville contest. is the biggest international
literary tourism site out there.  One of the many fun features
of their site: highlighting fan photos of favorite independent bookstores. announces Moundville contest. Have you ever wondered where to find the nearest independent bookstore when traveling somewhere new? is the place to go for great directories and reviews of everything involving literary tourism, from literary landmarks to the best bookstores and literary festivals. This is the most comprehensive site for literary tourism that I've found.