Contests and Stuff

Personal Essay Contest 2022 – Final Words



Hello Women Writers!

Welcome to my 2022 Personal Essay Contest. (No ENTRY FEE)

FINAL WORDS – An Epitaph.

Not to be morbid, but my husband Glenn and I were sitting around at the beginning of this year and talking about life and beauty and our experiences, good and bad, and what it all means to us now.

How could we sum it up?

We discussed our exit and what each of us will leave behind.

No details.

Those are still in the stratosphere, waiting to rain down on us one day. We both, like most people, probably, just want to close our eyes and drift into forever slumber. Our preference is to be cremated and have our energy return to the cosmos. But we’d like to be marked with a niche.

For myself, after all the angst and lessons and pitfalls, I ended up exactly where I should be and am happier than I ever expected. That is a much better turnout than years in the past when I just wanted to end it all.

I want my life to be celebrated in San Miguel de Allende, my adopted home. I’d like my wonderful friends to arrive on a terrace at sunset with raised glasses. Glenn needs to commission a bunch of the lovely chairs that a local artist paints and send me off with a big ass party and chair dancing to lively music. I want no sad faces. Everyone should give expansive hugs, sing riotously and badly. Take a chair home to have remembrance of a woman who finally said, “turn up the tunes and let’s rock this place.”

Glenn and I have many, many years left, but you never know, now do you? I feel too happy to want anyone to feel down.

I am writing my memoirs. I know I need my elevator pitch, those few words, and sentences that encapsulate what it is all about. That is difficult to do, I keep trying. One day it will just pop into my head and I will think “of course.”

In the end, my life too needs an elevator pitch. An epitaph. What the hell will it be, I wonder? Short, to the point. A wrap-up.

I want people to smile when they go by my niche in the San Antonio cemetery in San Miguel. Something that will have them guffaw and say “that is so Ria, I couldn’t have said it better.”

Each Dia de Los Muertos, we head over to this cemetery. I need to start at one end of the row of niches in the gringo section and read every epitaph. Those hints make me want to know more about the people that mark their spot.

A favorite is “I Finally Found My Niche – One Day At A Time.” I saw that one, one Dia de Los Muertos, and grinned.

PROMPT  — What will your epitaph be? And why is it perfect for you? How does it reflect your life and how you lived it? 

We realize that all of you are not in the same place in your life or health as I am now. If I had written my epitaph years ago it would have been for an entirely different me, and not a happy person. So don’t think that we want to only see funny or happy essays. Your essay can reflect any part of your life you would like to write about. Your own wrap-up.

We can’t wait to read what this year’s entries will be.



After reading through the submissions received so far, I want to reiterate what an Epitaph is. It is not a Eulogy or a long tribute. These can certainly be the essay, but in order to participate in the contest, you must have a clear and noted EPITAPH somewhere (preferably at the beginning or the end) in the essay. It would be wonderful if you could highlight it with a BOLD print.

AN EPITAPH IS – “a phrase or form of words written in memory of a person who has died, especially as an inscription on a tombstone.” and – “a short text honoring a deceased person. Strictly speaking, it refers to text that is inscribed on a tombstone or plaque, but it may also be used in a figurative sense.”


Please read carefully. 

What do you need to do?

  • Be a Subscriber to this blog (subscribe in the sidebar). You must be a subscriber to enter an essay and to take part in the voting.
  • Write an essay with a maximum of 600 words from the writing prompt.

PRIZE *** $200USD into your PayPal account.

I need a minimum of ten essays to be submitted in order for the prize to be awarded. 



Open to all women writers over the age of 18.

All entries are via email to:

Put EPITAPH– WRITING CONTEST in the subject line. And attach a Word document. (an entry not in WORD will not be considered)

You must include your Name, Birth Year, and Contact Information.

You must have a PayPal account for us to deposit the prize (USD) into. (details needed only after prize awarded)

One entry per person. Make yours count.

Judging a contest like this is, of course, subjective, especially with the styles of writing. We are so excited to read what all of you will come up with.


Deadline March 8, 2022 (International Women’s Day).   CLOSED FOR SUBMISSIONS

Congratulations to all our entrants! Please know that your participation is valued.

Note – we have not read through the essays after submitting – we have made sure that each entrant has subscribed to the blog and that the word count is correct and under 600 words. I will take each essay and drop it into another document with a number attached. Those are the essays we will read through as we try to make this as unbiased as possible on our end.

I will announce five semi-finalists on April 1, 2022, and post their essays – ANONYMOUSLY – THEY WILL HAVE A NUMBER ATTACHED

You will vote for your favorite one from April 1 – 5. Only one vote is allowed.

I will announce the winner on April 9, 2022

Winning Essay receives $200USD and will be highlighted by a separate blog post on Ria Talken Writes, along with a bio and social media links to the author.

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  • Reply
    Kelly Jeanne
    February 3, 2022 at 1:02 pm

    I’m working on my essay as we speak!

    • Reply
      Danielle Anderson
      February 5, 2022 at 8:52 pm

      Me too! 🙂 Can’t wait to read yours, Kelly!

      • Reply
        Kelly Jeanne
        February 25, 2022 at 5:07 am

        Thank you, Danielle! I’m so excited to read yours as well! Wouldn’t it be great if everyone who entered won?

        • Reply
          Nicole Caissie
          March 4, 2022 at 2:41 pm

          Danielle and Kelly, I think mine actually is done. Can’t wait to read the five semi-finalist entries!

        • Reply
          Nicole Caissie
          March 4, 2022 at 2:43 pm

          Danielle and Kelly, I will be throwing my hat into the ring with yours. i cant wait to read the 5 chosen entries.

      • Reply
        Kelly Jeanne
        March 8, 2022 at 5:16 am

        Danielle and Nicole, I just submitted it! Crossing my fingers. May the best woman win!

  • Reply
    Marie E LaConte
    February 3, 2022 at 6:12 am

    What an interesting project! I’m a new subscriber, and will be writing my epitaph entry soon. Will you accept an entry written in Pages, not Word? I use Apple computers these days.

    • Reply
      Ria Talken
      February 3, 2022 at 8:56 pm

      Wonderful to hear you will be entering the contest!! I use Apple too, there is a way to save it as a word document and I would prefer that, but if you aren’t able to do so then send it along as Pages and I will work with that.

    • Reply
      February 3, 2022 at 11:33 pm

      Marie, it is simple to make a Word document from Pages on a Mac. With your Pages document open, look at the menu across top of the screen, then click on “File” (next to “Pages”). Go down the menu that pops out, and click “Export to >”. Another menu pops out that gives you “Word”, among other choices. Click on that and follow directions, eventually choosing to save it as a docx. You will end up with a word document, and your original is still there, too.

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