Nicholas Schaffner

The Nicholas Schaffner Award for Music in Literature celebrates the life of the publisher's brother Nicholas Schaffner, poet, musician, biographer and esteemed music critic, author of several books, including THE BEATLES FOREVER, THE BRITISH INVASION, and SAUCERFUL OF SECRETS: The Pink Floyd Odyssey. Nicholas, who devoted his life to music and literature about music, died at the age of thirty-eight. We have created this award to celebrate his legacy in order to encourage emerging writers whose lives and writing have been profoundly influenced by music. The Nicholas Schaffner Award for Music in Literature will be given to the writer of an unpublished manuscript who submits a literary work in the English language, either fiction, poetry or non-fiction (ie. memoir, autobiography, or essay collection) that deals in some way with the subject of music (of any genre and period) and its influence.

The 2024 Nicholas Schaffner Awards are now closed to submissions.

Qualifying work

Complete book-length manuscripts in the English language are welcome. The winner will be offered a contract and advance of $1,000 for the book’s publication the following year in a format or formats to be determined by the publisher. Only works in English are accepted (including skilled translations provided they have the original author's approval). Entrants must be 18 years or older to apply. Original book-length manuscripts (75K-100K words for fiction and non-fiction, 60+ pages for poetry collections) may be submitted as electronic/digital files via this website, or you can submit them as hard copies to:

Attention: Awards, Schaffner Press, Inc.
PO Box 41567
Tucson, AZ 85717

Hard copy manuscripts must be accompanied by a check or money order for the submission fee and a self-addressed stamped envelope (SASE) with the correct postage if you would like your manuscript returned at the end of the judging period.

Dianne Dugaw, Winner of the 2023 Nicholas Schaffner Award


The 2023 Nicholas Schaffner Award winner is Dianne Dugaw for her memoir California Medieval, which will be published in the Summer of 2024

"In this beautifully written memoir," publisher Tim Schaffner said, "Dugaw draws the reader into the unseen yet vibrant world of a convent and her early years as a novice nun, set against the backdrop of mid-60's San Francisco. With a finely tuned ear for both language and music from her own classical training, she arrives with a banjo to sing hymns at a prison work camp, and plays pop tunes like 'Hang on Sloopy' on the church organ."

Dianne Dugaw is a singer-musician, writer, and scholar who publishes in folklore, music, and literary studies with an emphasis on queer topics. Her childhood on a small Pacific Northwest ranch and her early years as a Catholic nun shape her storytelling and scholarship. Her books, which include Warrior Women & Popular Balladry (University of Chicago Press) and 'Deep Play'—John Gay & the Invention of Modernity (University of Delaware Press), investigate cross-dressing women heroes, ballad origins of musical comedy, and gender and sexuality in history. She has also recorded two CDs, singing traditional British and American folksongs. Professor Emerita at the University of Oregon, Dugaw lives in the Willamette Valley with her wife and wee dog.

Jasmin Attia, Winner of the 2022 Nicholas Schaffner Award


The 2022 Nicholas Schaffner Award winner is Jasmin Attia for her novel The Oud Player of Cairo, which will be published Summer 2023.

Publisher Tim Schaffner said, "Set in Egypt from the period after World War II through the 1960s, this beautifully-written historical novel is a compelling portrayal of that country's shifting cultural and political landscape, while at the same time a portrait of a young woman who breaks from the traditional mores of the colonial world of her parents to forge a new life through music and song."

The Oud Player of Cairo is Attia's first book, which she worked on for ten years. She has an MFA from Bennington College in Vermont and lives in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida.

Bruce Bond, Winner of the 2021 Nicholas Schaffner Award


The 2021 Nicholas Schaffner Award winner is Bruce Bond for his poetry collection Liberation of Dissonance, which will be published Summer 2022.

Publisher Tim Schaffner has this to say about Liberation of Dissonance: "With its finely honed language and interweaving of free-verse couplets, poet and musician Bruce Bond has returned us to the world of structure and form as the framework for this profound exploration of dissonance in music, in art, in our lives and its underlying power to restore meaning and hope in a chaotic world. We are delighted and honored to have his acceptance for the year's Nicholas Schaffner Award for his collection, Liberation of Dissonance, and look forward to publishing this in Summer 2022."

Bruce Bond is the author of twenty-eight books including, most recently, Plurality and the Poetics of Self (Palgrave, 2019), Words Written Against the Walls of the City (LSU, 2019), Scar (Etruscan, 2020), Behemoth (New Criterion Prize, Criterion Books), The Calling (Parlor, 2021), and Patmos (Juniper Prize, UMass, 2021). His work has appeared in numerous journals and anthologies, including seven editions of Best American Poetry. Presently he teaches part-time as a Regents Emeritus Professor of English at the University of North Texas and performs classical and jazz guitar in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

James Gallant, Winner of the 2019 Nicholas Schaffner Award


The 2019 Nicholas Schaffner Award Winner is James Gallant for his story collection La Leona and Other Guitar Stories, which will be published in July, 2020.

Publisher Tim Schaffner has this to say about La Leona: "James Gallant's highly imaginative story collection provides a kaleidoscopic journey through the evolution of the classical guitar as backdrop to the hurly-burly of western cultural history that includes cameos of such historical characters as Shakespeare, Walt Whitman and Jean-Paul Marat. Along the way, readers discover the origins of the troubadours, the evolution of the guitar, and the secrets of the luthier's craft. In a style that is reminiscent of Jorge Luis Borges, Italo Calvino and Peter Cameron, these fictions make twists and turns as surprising and delightful as the music Mr. Gallant celebrates."

James is an Ohio native and has lived in the South for over thirty years. He plays classical guitar and is the author of Verisimilitudes: essays and approximations, The Big Bust at Tyrone’s Rooming House: A Novel of Atlanta, and Whatever Happened to Ohio?

Joe Sackstedeer, Winner of the 2018 Nicholas Schaffner Award


The 2018 Nicholas Schaffner Award Winner is Joe Sacksteder for his debut novel Driftless Quintet, which will be published in November, 2019.

The judges found Driftless Quintet "An ominous, genre-bending novel set in hockey country that blends elements of horror, suspense, and experimental and traditional storytelling to make a uniquely gratifying reading experience."

Joe is the author of a previous story collection, Make/Shift, and was recently named Director of Creative Writing at Interlochen Center for the Arts.

Margaret Broucek, Winner of the 2017 Nicholas Schaffner Award


The 2017 Nicholas Schaffner Award Winner is Margaret Broucek of Portland, Maine for her debut novel The Futility Experts. The Futility Experts deftly combines keen insight and deadpan wit in an examination of how not to age gracefully, as a failed tuba player and a beleaguered college professor navigate their mid-life crises one wrong choice after another. Featuring a decrepit Sasquatch, a Romanian adoptee hell-bent on destruction, and the world’s most incompetent piano tuner, The Futility Experts will appeal to anyone who likes their comedy with a little chaos.

Sylvia Torti, Winner of the 2016 Nicholas Schaffner Award


The 2016 Nicholas Schaffner Award Winner is Sylvia Torti of Salt Lake City, Utah for her novel, Cages. Set in and around a research laboratory in which two scientists are experimenting on birds to discover the origins of memory and birdsong, Cages is a complex interweaving of biological, philosophical and mystical themes. It is also a story of love, loss and memory as the two scientists vie for the heart of a young research assistant, yet like the birds whose songs they have muted, are unable to express their true feelings for her; and she in turn refuses to be "caged." The themes of music and birdsong resonate throughout this examination of human and animal relationships, and make Cages an ideal winner for this year's award.

Glenn Berger, Winner of the 2015 Nicholas Schaffner Award


The 2015 Nicholas Schaffner Award Winner is Glenn Berger of Ossining, NY for his colorful and lively memoir, NEVER SAY NO TO A ROCK STAR: In The Studio with Dylan, Sinatra, Jagger, and be released in July, 2016. Glenn, now a psychotherapist specializing in creativity coaching, was apprentice to and later engineer for Phil Ramone at A&R Studios where he took part in legendary recording sessions with Bob Dylan, Paul Simon, Frank Sinatra, and Mick Jagger, to name a few. The judges for the award have selected "Never Say No" for its rich evocation of a time and zeitgeist in the 70s and 80s that was unique in the history of popular music. According to publisher Tim Schaffner, "This is the perfect continuation of the Nicholas Schaffner Award in capturing the essence of how music moves us, influences us, and changes our lives."

Alice Fogel of NH, Winner of the 2014 Nicholas Schaffner Award


The 2014 award winner is Alice B. Fogel Poet Laureate of New Hampshire for her poetry collection titled INTERVAL: Poems Based on Bach's "Goldberg Variations" (April, 2015). Ms. Fogel's collection fulfilled all the criteria of the award in that her poetry captured not only the spirit within Bach’s music, but transformed it into a celebration of life itself, much as the “Variations” do upon the listener’s ear. Our congratulations to her for this bold and beautiful intermarriage of music and verse! We greatly look forward to publishing her work next year!

Submission Information

Entry Fee

We require an entry fee of $25 payable by check or money order (Paid to Awards/Schaffner Press) or by Paypal via our dedicated website

Submission Style and Format

75,000-100,000 words in length, double-spaced Short Fiction Collection: Only a collection of stories between 50,000-80,000 words will be considered. Do not send one or two individual stories as these will be disqualified.
A Poetry manuscript of at least 60 pages will be considered.                                                                                 
An Essay collection or personal narrative/memoir may be considered between 75,000-100,000 words in similar format as novels.
Academic texts or theses
Academic texts or theses are not acceptable for this award. Biographies and autobiographies may be accepted for consideration on a case by case basis.

Judging Criteria

All works will be judged* in terms of their originality, quality of language, level of engagement with the reader, and interpretation of the award’s theme: music and its influence on us, in us, and around us. This can be approached in a myriad of ways and the creative license as to how you as the writer perceive this is entirely up to you, in whatever voice, voices, time frame, location, genre you choose.

*Judges to be determined at Publisher's discretion.


The first place winner will receive a contract with Schaffner Press and a $1,000 advance for publication of his/her work as a print and digital release the following publishing year.* Conversely, Schaffner Press reserves the right to choose not to select a winner for the year’s award should none of the submissions meet the award critieria in the opinion of the judge or judges.

*within 18 months of date of contract