It's a well-known fact that right after I moved away from Duluth, the town became hip. Brewpubs and galleries opened; food became artisan and locavore; factories turned into crazy-cool nightlife spaces; artists and writers and musicians appeared. Low happened. So did Trampled by Turtles.

Danielle Sosin moved up there to write about Lake Superior, and stayed. (Her novel, "The Long-Shining Waters," won the Milkweed National Fiction Prize.) Linda LeGarde Grover moved there and won a bunch of prizes for her writing, including the Flannery O'Connor Award and the Janet Heidinger Kafka Prize.

And now, this: A big new fiction award has been established for Midwestern authors, a joint venture of Twin Cities-based Lindquist & Vennum (which also sponsors Milkweed Edition's poetry prize) and Holy Cow Press, the nonprofit press that has been turning out gorgeous books in Duluth for almost 40 years.

The First Fiction Prize is open to writers in the Upper Midwest, and it will award $5,000 and a publishing contract for a first collection of short stories or a novella.

Here are the rules. Read closely!

1. Submissions are open to residents of North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota, Iowa, Michigan, Illinois and Wisconsin.

2. Submissions must be hard copy (no e-mail) and must be accompanied by a $20 reading fee.

3. Manuscripts must be unpublished and no more than 160 pages.

4. Postmark deadline is Dec. 1.

5. The work may not be under consideration by Holy Cow Press, though it may be under consideration elsewhere. (And if it is accepted elsewhere, you must alert Holy Cow Press.)

6. Do not include any identifying information on the manuscript.

7. Do include — on a separate piece of paper — your name, address, e-mail, phone, title of manuscript, number of pages, and brief biographical information.

8. The judge will be Linda LeGarde Grover.

9. Here's the mailing address:

ATTN: First Fiction Prize

c/o Holy Cow Press

P.O. Box 3170, Mount Royal Station

Duluth, MN 55803

10. Further questions? Call Holy Cow at 1-218-724-1653. Or check out its website at

Laurie Hertzel is the Star Tribune's senior editor for books. On Twitter: @StribBooks. On Facebook: