THE PRACTICING WRITER
Supporting the Craft and Business of Excellent Writing
Volume 12, Number 6: July 2015
Editor: Erika Dreifus
Copyright (c) 2015 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!
It has been another jam-packed month. (Does anyone believe that the summer may actually bring a slower pace? One may hope!)
One thing summer certainly does bring: a slew of writing conferences. Many years ago, back in 2006, this newsletter helped introduce readers to the Colrain Poetry Manuscript Conference. I’m delighted that this issue features a dispatch from a Colrain attendee (who happens to be a good friend of mine).
Something else summer will bring: a contract for practicing writer Shawn Proctor, who took the time to thank me for sharing a submission opportunity (on the Practicing Writing blog) that led to a story acceptance: Shawn’s short story, “Sugar,” will be published in CRAB ORCHARD REVIEW. Congratulate Shawn on Twitter (http://twitter.com/ShawnProctor). And if you’re not familiar with the Practicing Writing blog, you’ll find more information about it later in this issue.
Wishing you all a joyous July,
2. ARTICLE/LESSONS LEARNED: SIX LESSONS LEARNED FROM THE COLRAIN CONFERENCE
Colrain Conference Consults: A Spoon Full of Sugar Helps the Medicine Go Down
By Leah Miranda Hughes
The medicine: a straightforward, challenging assessment of a poetry-book manuscript. The sugar: the conference setting in Truchas, New Mexico, replete with large sky and snowcapped peaks. Website testimonials support the assertion that the Colrain Conference – held in Truchas and elsewhere around the country – upholds rigorous, thoughtfully analysis. Brainchild of Joan Houlihan, the conference brings poets from the far reaches together with generous editors from reputable poetry presses.
I attended the Colrain Conference a few weeks ago as a poet seeking to publish a first book of poetry. At Erika’s request, I’m sharing here six “lessons learned” (some, perhaps, re-learned) from my Colrain experience.
1. ASK YOUR MANUSCRIPT SMART QUESTIONS. Colrain editors/writers shared key questions to ask of a manuscript, which I noted and modified to create a personal 15-item list for my own project. An example: “Is the manuscript front-loaded to firmly engage the reader in the whole collection?”
2. CONSIDER THE MANUSCRIPT AS A 78-LP, A JOURNEY; A STORY WITH A MESSAGE. Tracing the arc of an album, from first song to bonus track, is second nature to me. I note the evolution of a message, a tone, a theme, an intention. But before Colrain, I’d never thought to apply a similar exercise to my poetry manuscript.
3. TRUST YOUR READER. At Colrain, I realized that the folks reading my work applied a willing concentration to the words and lines I had composed. Their attentive commentary confirms to me that writers CAN trust their readers to understand poetic attempts.
4. TRUST YOURSELF. Another realization: The person I’ve most distrusted is actually myself. I’ve worried, over-worked, over-thought, and lost clarity as I have written myself sick on this manuscript. If I’m going to trust the reader, I must also have some trust in myself, the writer.
5. BE NICE AND GRACIOUS. Poets come in all varieties, just like fiction writers and essayists and people in general. But when people pay the equivalent of a monthly mortgage/rent and travel across the country (or overseas) to hear what might be wrong with their precious manuscript, rudeness and self-serving attitudes stand out like a sore thumb. Don’t be that writer.
6. YOU CAN’T ALWAYS JUDGE A BOOK BY ITS COVER, BUT YOU CAN OFTEN JUDGE IT BY ITS TITLE. A rose may be a rose by any name, but a poorly titled poem won’t attract the reader. That’s a lesson for individual poems and the collection as a whole. Brainstorm the title of your manuscript, and then sleep on it and try again.
The June 2015 faculty in Truchas featured Richard Greenfield (Apostrophe Books), Rusty Morrison (Omnidawn Publishing), Hilda Raz (Series Editor for Poetry at the University of New Mexico Press / poetry editor for BOSQUE), and Ellen Dore Watson (director of the Poetry Center at Smith College / poetry editor of THE MASSACHUSETTS REVIEW). I consider myself fortunate to have had the opportunity to be among the 19 attendees who, with their guidance, pursued intense work in an intensely beautiful topography.
BIO: Leah Miranda Hughes earned her MFA in Creative Writing – Poetry from Queens University of Charlotte, and has studied with Denise Levertov, Galway Kinnell, James Dickey, Forrest Gander, Olga Broumas, and other excellent writers and teachers. A Southern poet who teaches and writes in Atlanta, Georgia, she is currently revising a poetry manuscript on fear and risk titled JAYWALKING.
3. FEATURED RESOURCE(S): ON ORGANIZING POETRY MANUSCRIPTS
I’m not yet close to having a full-length poetry-book manuscript ready, but already I am wondering how I will organize it when the time comes. With that in mind, I’m bookmarking Nancy Chen Long’s post on “Poetry Manuscripts: Resources for Organizing a Manuscript,” which links to a number of promising guides:
I’m also making a note to locate a copy of an essay I’ve seen cited numerous times: Natasha Saje’s “Dynamic Design: The Structure of Books of Poems,” first published in THE IOWA REVIEW, fall 2005.
4. UPCOMING/ONGOING CONTESTS, COMPETITIONS, AND OTHER OPPORTUNITIES OF INTEREST
BINDERCON NYC “OUT OF THE BINDERS” SCHOLARSHIPS
Deadline: July 31, 2015
NO APPLICATION FEE INDICATED
Bindercon, “a professional development conference to empower women and gender non‑conforming writers with tools, connections, and strategies to advance their careers,” offers the Out of the Binders Scholarship Program. This program “is designed to increase diversity by offering free admission to up to 50 promising writers who might not otherwise be able to attend due to financial hardship. Diversity includes but is not limited to: age; racial, ethnic, and cultural backgrounds; sexual orientation; gender identity; marital and parental status; disability. The scholarships include free attendance to all the events on Saturday, November 7, and Sunday, November 8, networking opportunities to meet agents and editors, and a ticket to the VIP party, but do not include airfare and/or accommodations, or food (some meals may be provided as part of the conference programming). Additionally, we are thrilled to offer stipends to two groups of applicants: parents who require financial assistance with childcare and, thanks to the generosity of the Esmond Harmsworth Foundation, select trans/gender non-conforming participants. Please indicate if you would like to be considered for either of these stipends.”
CAN SERRAT WRITERS FULL STIPEND
Applications: July 1-31, 2015
NO APPLICATION FEE
“Each year, Can Serrat offers a limited number of grants to visual artists and writers. Selected artists are invited for a two-month residency at Can Serrat, including accommodation, workshop spaces, food [the grant does not include travel costs].”
DOGFISH HEAD POETRY PRIZE
Deadline: September 7, 2015 (received)
NO ENTRY FEE
“The thirteenth annual Dogfish Head Poetry Prize for the winning book-length manuscript by a poet residing in the Mid-Atlantic states (DE, MD, VA, PA, NJ, NY, WVA, NC and District of Columbia) will consist of $500, two cases of Dogfish Head Craft Brewed Beer*, manuscript publication by Broadkill River Press, and 10 copies of the book (in lieu of royalties).”
LINDA FLOWERS LITERARY AWARD
Deadline: July 15, 2015
NO ENTRY FEE
“The Humanities Council invites original entries of fiction, nonfiction, or poetry for the Linda Flowers Literary Award. Submissions should detail examinations of intimate, provocative, and inspiring portraiture of North Carolina, its people and cultures, bringing to light real men and women having to make their way in the face of change, loss, triumph, and disappointments. While authors do not have to be North Carolinians, entries are expected to draw on particular North Carolina connections and/or memories. Above all, entries should celebrate excellence in the humanities and reflect the experience of people who, like Linda Flowers, not only identify with the state, but also explore the promises, the problems, the experiences, and the meanings of lives that have been shaped by North Carolina and its many cultures.” The award confers “a cash prize of $500 and a stipend for a writer’s residency at Weymouth Center for the Arts and Humanities in Southern Pines, North Carolina.”
Deadline: September 14, 2015
NO APPLICATION FEE (NB: There has been no application fee in past years; since full guidelines for this year’s application cycle were not yet posted when I last checked, I can’t guarantee that that will hold. But I’m optimistic.)
“The Hodder Fellowship will be given to writers and non-literary artists of exceptional promise to pursue independent projects at Princeton University during the academic year. Potential Hodder Fellows are writers, composers, choreographers, visual artists, performance artists, or other kinds of artists or humanists who have ‘much more than ordinary intellectual and literary gifts'; they are selected more ‘for promise than for performance.’ Given the strength of the applicant pool, most successful Fellows have published a first book or have similar achievements in their own fields; the Hodder is designed to provide Fellows with the ‘studious leisure’ to undertake significant new work.” NB: “The application cycle for the 2016-2017 round of Fellows will begin in July 2015 with a submission deadline of September 14, 2015, 11:59 p.m. EST.”
HOLLAND PARK PRESS SHORT STORY COMPETITION
Deadline: August 31, 2015
NO ENTRY FEE
“For this new competition we’re taking inspiration from Arthur Rimbaud’s famous declaration ‘Je est un autre’ – ‘I is another’…. We would like you to write a story in the first person about someone who is not you but which is about a subject close to [your] heart. Therefore the storyline will really matter to you but the story should not be autobiographical. It should have a strong theme such as betrayal, sorrow, lust, jealousy or revenge and be under 2000 words.” Open to stories “from anywhere around the word,” but story must be in English (no translations). Prize: GBP 200; winning story and runners-up will be published in the press’s online magazine; winner and runners-up will be announced at an awards ceremony in central London.
THE PAYTON PRIZE (PAYTON JAMES FREEMAN ESSAY PRIZE)
Deadline: September 1, 2015
NO ENTRY FEE
“The Freeman Family and the Drake University Department of English invite you to submit outstanding unpublished non-fiction essays of up to 3500 words on the subject [[ THE STUPID LITTLE THING THAT SAVED ME ]]. Students and faculty of Drake University will read all entries and choose the finalists. The winner will be selected by final judge Emily Rapp. The winner will be awarded $500, published in THE RUMPUS and brought to Drake University in February 2016 to read from the winning essay and speak at a public event.” Open to U.S. citizens only.
HELEN SCHAIBLE INTERNATIONAL SHAKESPEAREAN/PETRARCHAN SONNET CONTEST
Deadline: September 1, 2015
NO ENTRY FEE
“Open to all. Submit only one entry of either a Shakespearean or Petrarchan sonnet. The entry must be original and unpublished. Prizes: First Prize $50. Second Prize $35. Third Prize $15. Three Honorable Mentions Unranked. Three Special Recognitions Unranked.” Check web listing for full guidelines.
I MUST BE OFF! TRAVEL ESSAY CONTEST
Deadline: July 15, 2015
NO ENTRY FEE
Judge: Catherine Sweeney
“It’s that time of year again: time to type up those travel articles, travel anecdotes and travel reflections. If it’s about travel, we want to read it. We want to read about that place that changed you.We want to read about the experiences you can’t wait to share with other travelers. Whether your work is humorous, informative, quirky or profound–we want to read it.” Prizes: First prize: $200; second prize: $50; “readers’ choice” award: $50 “based on unique hits and comments tallied on September 30.” The contest is open to entrants worldwide, “but you need a PayPal account.” NB: “The Top essays will be published at I Must Be Off!”
SUSTAINABLE ARTS FOUNDATION AWARDS
Online application available July 20, 2015; deadline: September 4, 2015, 5 p.m., Pacific time
NO APPLICATION FEE
“Our program focuses on awards to individual artists and writers with families. Specifically, the applicant must have at least one child under the age of 18. There are no geographic restrictions on our applicants.” Multiple winners will be awarded $6,000. “Additionally, we will be awarding a number of smaller Promise Awards to those applicants whose work may not qualify for the main awards, but nonetheless demonstrates both skill and potential.” NB: “We seek to reward excellence. Your portfolio will assist us greatly in evaluating your work which may, but need not, refer to your parenting. We’re also interested in hearing what your plans are, and how this award might assist you in attaining your goals.”
5. SUBMISSION ALERTS!!!
Big news from FIG TREE BOOKS (which, you’ll recall, employs me): The Company is “now accepting memoirs and young-adult and graphic-novel manuscripts in addition to literary novels that are concerned with the American Jewish Experience (AJE).” See http://figtreebooks.net/news/expand/ for the full announcement.
“Each year since 2005, thanks to the continued generosity of Linda Bruckheimer, SARABANDE BOOKS selects and publishes one work of Kentucky literature. Manuscripts are accepted during the month of July with no entry fee.” Visit http://www.sarabandebooks.org/bruckheimer for eligibility requirements and submission instructions.
BOA EDITIONS accepts submissions for its American Poets Continuum Series during the month of July. Only poets who have already published a full-length poetry book are eligible to participate. The submitted poetry manuscript should be 48-100 pages. See http://www.boaeditions.org/submissions/american-poets-continuum-series/ for details.
From STORY magazine: “Climate change is one of the most significant issues of our time. How do we tell stories of it? How do its stories inform us? For Issue #4, send your best work in any form that explores the natural and built worlds here on Earth. Glaciers and cityscapes. Flora and fauna and concrete. From the pastoral all the way to Mega City One. Currently 9-12 month response time.” Deadline: July 15, 2015. Pays: “STORY will pay author(s) a minimum of $30 per poem, $20 per page of prose (up to $200), and $100 per interview upon publication of the work(s) in print editions of STORY. Unfortunately we do not currently pay for online publication or for reprints of already-published work. http://www.storymagazine.org/submit/
From BRAIN, CHILD magazine via Twitter: “CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS. Two new blog series – Friendship & Cultural Diversity. Deadline is August 30th, paid opportunity: http://www.brainchildmag.com/about/writers-guidelines/.” BRAIN, CHILD’s tag line is “the magazine for thinking mothers.” (hat tip for this opportunity goes to Lauren Apfel on Twitter, http://twitter.com/laurenapfel)
“Since 1956, WESTERLY has been publishing lively fiction and poetry as well as intelligent articles. The magazine has always sought to provide a Western Australian-based voice, although its contributors and subject matter have never been geographically exclusive. It covers literature and culture throughout the world, but maintains a special emphasis on Australia, particularly Western Australia, and the Asian region.” The magazine publishes twice each year; deadline for its November issue is August 31. Pays (presumably in Australian dollars): $75 for one poetry page or $100 for two or more pages/poems and $150 for stories or articles. Visit http://westerlymag.com.au for more information.
“ANTHOLOGY OF QUITTERS is a selection of opening chapters from novels that were abandoned by their authors. If you started a novel and never finished it, consider submitting it to be published in this anthology.” Pays: “Payment for a chapter published in Anthology of Quitters is $25 by check upon acceptance and a copy of the finished book upon publication, e-book or paperback. You will be selling non-exclusive Anthology Rights for us to publish your chapter and signing a contract to this effect.” Deadline: “Early-September 2015.” Visit https://anthologyofquitters.wordpress.com for more information.
MSLEXIA, a UK-based magazine “for women who write,” is looking for writing for a special issue to be themed “Birds”: “Caged or free, iridescent or dowdy, descended from dinosaurs – and believed to be inhabited by the souls of the dead – let them inspire a poem of up to 40 lines, or a story of up to 2,200 words.” Deadline: September 7, 2015. Pays: “The basic rates for New Writing are GBP 25 per poem, and GBP 15 per thousand words of prose.” https://mslexia.co.uk/submit-your-work/
VOX has announced the decision “to devote a section of Vox.com to thoughtful, in-depth, provocative personal narratives that explain the most important topics in modern life. We’re calling this section First Person.” Pitches now welcome. Pays: “If your pitch gets accepted, we’ll discuss specifics,” but the announcement indicates that there *will* be payment. See http://www.vox.com/2015/6/12/8767221/vox-first-person-explained for more information. (h/t to Judy Bolton-Fasman, whom you can find on Twitter at http://twitter.com/JBoltonFasman)
Received via email: “FREELANCEWRITING.COM is seeking experienced freelance writers to contribute to a new editorial feature called ‘Conversations with Literary Agents.’ The new section will feature 15-20 interview-driven how-to articles that help both published and unpublished book authors obtain representation with a trusted literary agent. Each article will address a distinct topic and incorporate advice, suggestions, and strategies from five to 10 experienced, credentialed literary agents. The new editorial feature is designed to help authors overcome common and uncommon problems as they search for a suitable literary agent. This writing gig is open to U.S.-based part-time or full-time freelance writers who are skilled at writing top-notch, journalistic articles. Word length: between 1500 and 2000 words per article. Payment: $150 per article issued upon acceptance via PayPal. Deadline: TBA. Full submission details: http://www.freelancewriting.com/conversations-literary-agents.php
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
–Midweek Notes from a Practicing Writer (formerly “Wednesday’s Work-in-Progress”)
–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”.
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 programs in creative writing at Lesley University and the Northwest Institute for Literary Arts. In August 2014, Erika joined Fig Tree Books as Media Editor. 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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