Fee-Free Contests

Writing contests. You see them advertised everywhere. And they can sound so promising.

The trouble is, many, if not most of them, charge fees to participate. And those fees sure can add up fast.

But there are lots of “no-cost” competitions–awarding cash, publication, residencies, and conference attendance, among other plums–for writers in every genre. They don’t charge fees. The Winter 2006 edition of The Practicing Writer’s Guide to No-Cost Literary Contests and Competitions profiles 221 such opportunities. And the complimentary preview includes several sample listings. Check out this great resource for your writing practice today (it’s updated semiannually to remove “dead” programs and revise links as needed while adding new opportunities).

Boot Camp for Journalists

Writing about public health? “The six-day CDC Knight Public Health Journalism Boot Camp offers a crash course in the basics of public health and biostatistics.” This year’s Boot Camp will take place June 25-June 30, 2006, in Decatur, Georgia. “Approximately 15 journalists will be selected for the Boot Camp, which is made possible through lead funding from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. The camp will provide housing, breakfast and a per diem stipend of $25 for other meals. Participants are required to finance their own transportation to and from the camp.” The application deadline is March 15; there is no application fee. I checked over the list of past participants, and among them are several freelancers/book authors. You’ll find much more information, and the application form, right here.

More Resources for Hurricane-Affected Writers

Just a quick note to remind you about our blog page listing emergency resources for writers. This page began in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. It was updated this past weekend to include two more programs:

1) Louisiana Cultural Economy Foundation Program
Post Office Box 44202
Baton Rouge, LA 70804
Tel. 225.342.8196
(Deadline: April 3, 2006)

“In an effort to defray the costs related to physical loss or property damage, relocation, or other specific economic harm suffered as a result of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, the Foundation has earmarked designated relief funds to aid Louisiana’s cultural economy in its recovery.” Grants funds may support individual artists; cultural economy small business; and galleries, museums, collectives and nonprofit cultural organizations. Grants to individual artists may not exceed $5,000; grants to artist businesses and small/medium-size organizations generally may not exceed $10,000; and grants to nonprofit cultural organizations may not exceed $25,000. Download the application/full guidelines at the website, and/or contact the Foundation for complete information.

2) A Studio in the Woods Restoration Residencies
13401 River Road
New Orleans, LA 701131-3204
info (at) astudiointhewoods.org
(application fee on a sliding scale, $5-$20)

“As our response to the devastating effects of Hurricane Katrina, A Studio in the Woods has created eight four-week residencies during February 2006-January 2007…for New Orleans visual artists, musicians, composers, writers and performing artists who have lost their homes in the hurricane and are displaced into other cities and communities.” In addition to food, lodging, and studio space, the residency awards include transportation costs to and from New Orleans and within the city (up to $1350), a $2000 stipend, and assistance from staff members. Visit the website for full guidelines/an application. Note that applications must be postmarked (or received by e-mail) “on the 25th day of the second month preceding the residency you want.” (As an example, January 25, 2006 for a March 2006 residency. However, the deadline for February residency applications has been extended to January 22, 2006.)

An Assignment for an Adventurous Writer

This sounds fun–and a little scary. To me, at any rate. I am not brave enough to try to take this on, but maybe you are.

Here’s the deal. Scuba Diving magazine seeks “a talented writer to become a certified recreational diver—at our expense—and then tell the world all about the experience in a ‘great read` feature. Your article will be the centerpiece of a newsstand special designed to introduce non-divers to the sport.”

They’ll pay to send you to a resort, they’ll pay for the training, and they’ll pay for the piece.

“We want a great—make that insanely great—personal narrative writer. Someone who can tell the story of their transformation from an absolute novice to a certified diver with a funny and insightful feature-length piece that will inspire others to take up the sport.”

You must apply for this assignment by January 27. Full details posted over at JournalismJobs.com.

L’Affaire James Frey

A few people have asked me what I think about the current literary scandals, particularly the memoir-oriented James Frey case. Actually, a few of those who asked did so admitting they could already guess my take on it. They know I’ve never had much patience for what I consider nontruth in nonfiction. And by the way, I still consider memoir a sub-genre of nonfiction, with all nonfiction’s attendant characteristics, rewards, and responsibilities.

Maybe that explains, in part, why I really haven’t wanted to take on l’Affaire Frey myself. And maybe today’s Publishers Lunch summarizes even more clearly why I haven’t focused on the subject here: “It would be an understatement to say there is an abundance of stories on James Frey, his Larry King appearance last night, and Oprah’s dramatic last-minute blessing of the ’emotional truth’ of however it is that he told his tale. We presume that if you’re interested, there’s little new we can tell you, just as our subjective assumption is that you’ve probably already formed a firm opinion on the matter.”

Yes. Which isn’t to say that I won’t comment later, once I’ve had more time to think about all this. Maybe I’ll decide I have something original/potentially new and interesting and enlightening to contribute. I’m also looking forward to Mary Karr’s editorial on the subject, which, according to today’s PW Daily, is in the works.

But for the moment, I’m confident that you’re following the news yourself. In the unlikely event that you aren’t, here are just a few recommended readings:

A transcript of last night’s Larry King Live Interview with James Frey;

An editorial published in the Los Angeles Times;

And though it’s dated (from 2003), this article, “Memoirs: The Novel Approach to Facts”, published in The Age, is also highly relevant.


Here are two articles/commentaries from today’s New York Times with which wholly agree. You’ll need to register to read the full pieces; registration is free.

1) Randy Kennedy’s “My True Story, More or Less, and Maybe Not at All,” which appears on the cover page of the “Week in Review” section.

2) Mary Karr’s op-ed, “His So-Called Life”.

New Travel E-zine Seeks Published Authors

Another market lead from Jen Leo at WrittenRoad.com. This time Ms. Leo spreads the word about Perceptive Travel. According to its writer’s guidelines, this e-zine “will be published bi-monthly, with four to six articles per issue, plus at least one travel-related book review and a few world music reviews.” Note that the editor is seeking submissions only from published book authors/anthology editors. Pay, for now, is $50 per article, on acceptance.