THE PRACTICING WRITER
Supporting the Craft and Business of Excellent Writing
Volume 10, Number 5: June 2013
Editor: Erika Dreifus
Copyright (c) 2013 Erika Dreifus
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IN THIS ISSUE:
1. Editor’s Note: What’s New
2. Article/Lessons Learned
3. Featured Resource
4. Upcoming/Ongoing Contests, Competitions, and Other Opportunities
5. Submission Alerts!!!
6. Blog Notes
7. Newsletter Matters
1. EDITOR’S NOTE: WHAT’S NEW
Greetings, practicing writers:
Oh, what a time it is! As I ready this newsletter for you, I’m having an especially busy week, highlighted by a smart and lively discussion with readers of QUIET AMERICANS at the Museum of Jewish Heritage here in New York on Wednesday evening. The weekend will be just as busy, as I catch the end of Book Expo America with a visit to the annual mega-trade conference on Saturday, “Power Reader” day. I’m looking forward to collecting plenty of galleys and getting a head start on fall and winter reading and reviewing.
But before fall and winter there’s summer to enjoy, and there, I have a happy announcement to share: I’ll be a visiting faculty member for the Whidbey Writers Workshop MFA program in creative writing during the program’s August residency! I’ll explain more about this on the Practicing Writing blog next week. For now, let’s just say that I’m thrilled and grateful for the opportunity. (And I’m available to teach in other programs and conferences, too. Let’s talk! http://www.erikadreifus.com/contact/)
Now, on to the issue. I wish you all a joyful and productive June.
P.S. Delighted to leave you with another success story from one of your fellow subscribers:
Longtime reader, first time writer! Eons ago I purchased your ebook detailing submission ideas for essays. I got a few published, won a few contests, and assembled them into a memoir. Well, I’m thrilled to let you know that memoir, BOOTSTRAPPER, will be published by Alfred A. Knopf in June. Thank you, thank you for all those wonderful resources!
–Mardi Jo Link
2. ARTICLE/LESSONS LEARNED: CRAFTING CONSTRUCTIVE COMMENTS
Critique Counsel: How to Craft Constructive Comments in the Writing Workshop
by Erika Dreifus
Back when I was teaching a lot more often than I do these days, I offered a workshop on “Effective Critiquing Strategies: How to Respond to Others’ Writing.” One participant asked if I’d make public some of the materials I distributed at the class. Hence, this article, which I shared in this newsletter NINE years ago. But I thought that with conference season once again upon us, sharing it again might be useful.
Disclaimer: most of my traditional workshop experiences have occurred in fiction workshops. But many of these principles transfer easily to other genres, other settings. I have certainly been able to use them in the composition classroom, too. (I have also located several online resources on workshop procedures, commenting, and critiquing, and you’ll find then at the end of this article.)
One of the most valuable writing lessons I’ve ever learned unfolded in a writing workshop several years ago (taught by Sands Hall at the Iowa Summer Writing Festival). It concerned the importance of “intelligent criticism.” I learned that not only was the quality of the feedback I gave my colleagues likely to have some impact on the feedback I’d receive from them, but also that the more I applied myself to the practice of careful, thoughtful analysis of others’ work the more clearly I would perceive what was happening in my own writing.
But this isn’t so easy. Critiquing is a skill that needs to be taught, nurtured, developed. Whether an instructor guides a class or a group develops its own procedures, devising some policies and expectations up front helps. A lot. To this end I devised a list of “Ten Commandments” to help my own students.
Essentially I instructed them to treat others’ work with the same respect they’d hope to receive for theirs. To read the manuscript at least twice (the first time, without a pen in hand). To try to keep in mind what the author’s intent for the work may be, and not assume that the story simply “should” be written another way (in other words, as *they* might prefer to write it).
Then I advised them to write at least 500 words, beginning with “Dear So-and-So” and concluding with a Closing and Signature (“Sincerely, So-and-So”) because it’s common courtesy and because it’s always good for the “critiquee” to be able to identify the author of each set of comments. I told them to begin with a short review of “what happened” in the manuscript, since it’s important for the work’s author to know if essential events, character identities, and other points were successfully conveyed. I counseled them to continue by discussing strengths, what “works” for them as unusually attentive readers (again, not as potential co-authors), and to be specific in their comments, quoting from the manuscript whenever possible to support their comments.
I told them to limit their criticisms to the three or four most important points. To remember that it is fine to ask questions in a critique as well as offer statements. And to conclude with a wrap-up line or two.
I admit it. I like guidelines, especially for workshops and critiques. If you want to learn more, here are a few online resources:
Essay Critique Guidelines
Dr. Vickie Hunt’s guidelines for critiquing creative nonfiction, fiction, and poetry
Technically, John Updike’s rules are intended for book critics, not workshop critiquers. But as a good friend recently reminded me, they are worth considering in the workshop context as well.
Guidelines from writing groups
3. FEATURED RESOURCE: “WHERE TO FIND CONTESTS, CONFERENCES, AND RESIDENCIES TO CONSIDER”
So you weren’t able to sit in on “The Grubbie Guide to Writing Contests, Conferences, and Residencies” at Grub Street’s recent conference in Boston? Never fear, the conference handout is here!
4. UPCOMING/ONGOING CONTESTS, COMPETITIONS, AND OTHER OPPORTUNITIES OF INTEREST
Bard Fiction Prize
Deadline: July 15, 2013 (received)
NO APPLICATION FEE INDICATED
“The Bard Fiction Prize is awarded to a promising, emerging writer who is an American citizen aged 39 years or younger at the time of application. In addition to the monetary award, the winner receives an appointment as writer in residence at Bard College for one semester, without the expectation that he or she teach traditional courses. The recipient gives at least one public lecture and meets informally with students.” NB: “To apply, candidates should write a cover letter explaining the project they plan to work on while at Bard and submit a C.V., along with three copies of the published book they feel best represents their work.”
Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers Program
Deadline for Holiday 2013 season: June 27, 2013 (quarterly deadlines)
NO SUBMISSION FEES
“Barnes & Noble established the Discover Great New Writers program in 1990 to recognize great fiction and non-fiction debuts from authors at the start of their careers. A small group of Barnes & Noble bookseller volunteers convenes year-round to review submissions to the program and handpick titles for our promotion, currently featured at approximately 700 Barnes & Noble bookstores and 100 prominent Barnes & Noble College bookstores, as well as on www.bn.com. Annually, we recognize two of our exceptional writers with the Discover Great New Writers Award (one each for Fiction and Non-Fiction). In addition to a $10,000 prize, we promote the winning titles extensively in our stores and online.” Books must be submitted by publishers ahead of publication. For detailed eligibility guidelines and program benefits, please check the website.
CHA Poetry Contest
Deadline: September 15, 2013
NO ENTRY FEE
Run by CHA: AN ASIAN LITERARY JOURNAL, this contest seeks unpublished poems on the theme of “Void.” Cash prizes (payable via Paypal) and publication in the journal.
Amy Clampitt Residency
Deadline: August 1, 2013 (for the 2015 residency)
NO APPLICATION FEE INDICATED
“The Residency award consists of the use of the Amy Clampitt House free and clear for a six month or twelve month period. Grants for travel to and from the Clampitt House are available in exceptional circumstances. A monthly stipend of $2,500 is paid to the resident fellow. It is expected that the resident fellow reside in the house full-time and focusing exclusively on his/her creative work. This is an opportunity for a person who can take full advantage of unencumbered time with few distractions to bolster his/her writing.”
Maria Pia Forte Prize
Deadline: July 31, 2013
NO ENTRY FEE
“Expatclic Italia is pleased to announce a multilingual literary and photographic competition open to women of all nationalities who live or have lived abroad. The competition commemorates Maria Pia Forte who was a traveller, writer, and journalist, and who valued cross-cultural encounters.” There are three categories: stories and articles (fiction and non-fiction), poems, and photographs. Themes: “life as an expatriate woman, travel, cross-cultural encounters, the value of writing.” Prizes: “There will be a single prize of EUR1,500 in each category.” As always, be sure to check the detailed rules and terms and note that in this case, “copyright will remain with entrants, who agree to have their entries published electronically and in print” and that “by sending their entries, participants authorize and accept their free publication on Expatclic.com website and the publication of the photographs on the Facebook page of Expatclic.”
Richard Margolis Award
Deadline: July 1, 2013
NO APPLICATION FEE
“The Richard J. Margolis Award of Blue Mountain Center combines a one-month residency at Blue Mountain Center with a $5,000 prize. It is awarded annually to a promising new journalist or essayist whose work combines warmth, humor, wisdom and concern with social justice. The award was established in honor of Richard J. Margolis, a journalist, essayist and poet who gave eloquent voice to the hardships of the rural poor, migrant farm workers, the elderly, Native Americans and others whose voices are seldom heard. He was also the author of a number of books for children.”
REVIEW OF ENGLISH STUDIES Essay Prize
Deadline: June 30, 2013
NO ENTRY FEE
“THE REVIEW OF ENGLISH STUDIES is now inviting entries for its 2013 Essay Prize. The RES Essay Prize aims to encourage scholarship amongst postgraduate research students in Britain and abroad. The essay can be on any topic of English literature or the English language from the earliest period to the present.” Winner receives publication, a cash prize of GBP250, GBP250 worth of Oxford University Press books, and a year’s subscription to THE REVIEW OF ENGLISH STUDIES. NB: “The competition is open to anyone studying for a higher degree, or who completed one no earlier than October 2010. The winner’s student status verification will be requested from their academic supervisor or head of department. The entry must not be under consideration for publication elsewhere.”
SPS Studios Biannual Poetry Card Contest
Deadline: June 30, 2013
NO ENTRY FEE
This competition awards cash prizes ($300/$150/$50) plus online publication. “Poems can be rhyming or non-rhyming, although we find that non-rhyming poetry reads better. We suggest that you write about real emotions and feelings and that you have some special person or occasion in mind as you write.
5. SUBMISSION ALERTS!!!
From Salt Publishing: “Salt is actively seeking novel submissions directly from authors. Please carefully read the guidelines [linked below]. We only wish to receive fiction submissions that meet these criteria….All works must be in English. All works must be aimed at a British market. You do not require an agent to submit to Salt. We prefer works of less than 80,000 words. Please note we are not currently accepting submissions of short stories, poetry or memoirs.” http://www.saltpublishing.com/info/proposals.htm
VIRGINIA QUARTERLY REVIEW is open for submissions! They’ll consider fiction, poetry, and nonfiction (and nonfiction pitches) until August 1. Pays: “For poetry, we pay $200 per poem; for poems longer than 50 lines, the payment is higher. For prose, we generally pay approximately 25 cents per word, depending on length. For investigative reporting, we pay at a higher rate, sometimes including pre-approved travel expenses.” http://www.vqronline.org/submission/
From ORION magazine: “The [submission] window will open again on June 1, 2013, at 9 a.m.” The magazine “lies at the nexus of ecology and the human experience” and considers “unsolicited essays, narrative nonfiction, interviews, and short fiction that are resonant with Orion’s focus on nature, culture, and place.” NB: ORION’S submission windows tend to be brief, so be sure to check the website for further information.
Black Lawrence Press will have an open reading period between June 1 and June 30. “Black Lawrence Press seeks to publish intriguing books of literature and creative on-fiction: novels, memoirs, short story collections, poetry, biographies, cultural studies, and translations from the German and French.” http://blacklawrence.homestead.com/Submissions.html
PLOUGHSHARES reopens for submissions on June 1 (closes again January 15). The journal “welcomes unsolicited submissions of fiction, poetry, and a limited amount of nonfiction.” Submit via postal mail or online (there is a $3 fee for online submissions; no fee for postal submissions). Pays: on publication, $25/printed page, $50 minimum/title, $250 minimum/author, plus two copies and a subscription. See http://www.pshares.org/submit/guidelines.cfm for more info.
From SLICE magazine: “Our next reading period, for Issue 14 (Spring/Summer ’14), will run from June 1 – August 1. The theme for this issue is ‘Escape.’” Pays “$100 for stories and essays and $25 for poems.” http://www.slicemagazine.org/submit-your-work/
ROOM, “Canada’s Oldest Literary Journal By and About Women,” plans a spring 2014 issue on “The Fashionable”: “Sometimes we do things because they are fashionable, and sometimes we don’t do them because they are fashionable. But what is fashion? Who decides? And how does fashion figure in our lives?” Deadline for submissions is July 31, 2013, although the magazine also takes “fiction, poetry, and creative non-fiction on any theme at any time throughout the year.” See http://www.roommagazine.com/magazine/371-fashionable for the call, http://www.roommagazine.com/submit for guidelines, and http://www.roommagazine.com/faq-page#n10 for pay rates.
FREEFALL, “Canada’s Magazine of Exquisite Writing,” is open for submissions until August 31. For prose, pays $10/page up to a maximum of $100; for poetry, payment is $25/poem. Will also consider proposals for author interviews and book reviews. http://www.freefallmagazine.ca/subm.html
6. BLOG NOTES
The newsletter is published just once each month, but there’s *always* something new at our Practicing Writing blog: fresh market news, current contest and job listings, links to writing-related articles, newly-discovered craft and business resources, and so much more. Regular blog features include:
–Monday Markets for Writers
–Friday Finds for Writers
Please visit, and comment! http://www.erikadreifus.com/blogs/practicing-writing/
And for those of you practicing writers who are interested in matters of specifically Jewish cultural interest, please also visit My Machberet (http://www.erikadreifus.com/blogs/my-machberet). For the curious, “machberet” is the Hebrew word for “notebook”.
Recent writing-focused posts there include:
–From My Bookshelf: Q&A with Jonathan Kirsch, Author of New Herschel Grynszpan Bio
–Jewish Literary Links for Shabbat
–Anna Davidson Rosenberg Poetry Awards Update
7. NEWSLETTER MATTERS
Information contained in THE PRACTICING WRITER is collected from many sources, with the purpose of providing general references. It is researched to the best of our ability but readers should verify information when necessary and appropriate. THE PRACTICING WRITER and its editor/publisher disclaim any liability for the use of information contained within. Thank you for subscribing.
For updates and additional opportunity listings between newsletters, please check in with our “Practicing Writing” blog, http://www.erikadreifus.com/blogs/practicing-writing.
ABOUT THE EDITOR: Based in New York City, Erika Dreifus is the author of QUIET AMERICANS: STORIES, which is an American Library Association Sophie Brody Medal Honor Title for outstanding achievement in Jewish literature. A member of the advisory board for J JOURNAL: NEW WRITING ON JUSTICE, she has taught for Harvard University, the Cambridge (Mass.) Center for Adult Education, and the low-residency MFA program in creative writing at Lesley University. Please visit http://www.erikadreifus.com to learn more about Erika’s work, and go directly to http://www.erikadreifus.com/quiet-americans/book-clubs/ to arrange for her to visit your book club!
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