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Current Issue


Supporting the Craft and Business of Excellent Writing
Volume 15, Number 11: December 2018
Editor: Erika Dreifus
Copyright (c) 2018 Erika Dreifus



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1. Editor’s Note: What’s New
2. Article/Lessons Learned
3. Featured Resource
4. Upcoming/Ongoing Contests, Competitions, and Other Opportunities (NO ENTRY/APPLICATION FEES; CASH PRIZES)
5. Submission Alerts!!! (NO READING FEES; CASH PAYMENTS)
6. Blog Notes
7. Newsletter Matters

Greetings, Practicing Writers:

I don’t know about you, but I am finding this to be an *exceptionally* busy time. It’s going to be nice to slow down and catch my breath for at least a little while toward the end of December. In the meantime, there are deadlines, and travels, and projects, and holidays to prepare for and enjoy (or, for some, endure).

And in this newsletter there’s a new edition of our popular end-of-year “reading recommendations” feature and another couple of dozen of competitions and calls for you to consider. And something that means a lot to me that’s tucked into the “featured resource” section, too.

I wish you all a wonderful month.


P.S. I’m delighted to share this success story from another practicing writer:

I keep meaning to write but failing to take the time—thank you so much for your newsletter! I’m a poet who never went through an MFA program, so finding community has been a bit harder for me, and your newsletter helps me to feel like I’m writing among other writers. I’ve also gotten a few poems published in opportunities I’ve seen through the newsletter (PARKS & POINTS and THE BALTIMORE REVIEW), for which help I’m so grateful! Thanks for all you do, and wishing you all the best.

Ann DeVilbiss

End-of-Year Reading Recommendations from and for Practicing Writers

Compiled by Erika Dreifus

It’s now a tradition here that the December newsletter features a compilation of reading recommendations from a particular group of individuals. You see, each year my writing life intersects with the work of other practicing writers in a variety of ways. Toward the end of the year, I return to some of these writers and invite them to participate in a roundup article. I ask them to recommend ONE book that they’ve read this year and explain why other practicing writers, especially, might appreciate it.

I tell the participants that they can spotlight any type of book: fiction, nonfiction, poetry, writing reference, etc. Anything. My only condition is this: They cannot recommend their own books.

I’m grateful for the responses that my query has yielded, and I thank these authors once again for sharing their time and thoughts with us.

Without further ado:

THE RECKONINGS: ESSAYS by Lacy M. Johnson (Scribner, 2018) really bears the name through each essay by Johnson, weaving in topics from gender to privilege to forgiveness to healing to death, and ending with joy. Johnson’s collection left me with a new way to look at the world and I think the best work, in any form, doesn’t only give you something as you’re reading it but allows you to take away so much more when you’re done.

–Jennifer Baker


I’ve been proselytizing about THE GREAT BELIEVERS by Rebecca Makkai (Viking, 2018) since I read it, because it is so rich and gorgeous and hopeful and sad. Touching on Chicago in the 1980s, AIDS, the art world, motherhood, the families we choose, THE GREAT BELIEVERS is so masterfully written that I didn’t want this absolutely captivating novel to end.

–Jennifer S. Brown


STARTING FROM SAN FRANCISCO by Thomas Rain Crowe (Third Mind Books, 2018) is an immersive, interview-style memoir that chronicles the creative expression of the Baby Beat poets and artists of the mid-1970s. The book contains an astonishing array of poems, photos, artwork, and other memorabilia collected by the participant/author that puts you right there in the scene.

–Scott H. Davis


My favorite book of the past year is THE OVERSTORY by Richard Powers (Norton, 2018). Powers somehow manages to tell a gripping story, several interconnected stories, really, which evokes the long, tangled, and ongoing story of trees and us—and when I say “us” I mean it in the broadest and most diverse sense given the panoply of fully imagined characters Powers brings to life on the page.

–Andrew Furman


There is so much range in Anjali Sachdeva’s ALL THE NAMES THEY USED FOR GOD (Spiegel & Grau, 2018), and a nice fabulist edge to nearly all the stories. Sachdeva wields so much confidence and control in her prose and my goodness, what imagination, what passion there is in this work.

–Roxane Gay


LOVE’S LONG LINE by Sophfronia Scott (Mad Creek Books, 2018) is a beautiful and deeply meditative collection of essays touched with grace. With her insights and speculations, Scott offers pathways to help us believe that we can still find goodness in the world.

–Patrice Gopo


I just finished THE SECRET HABIT OF SORROW, a new collection from Victoria Patterson (Counterpoint, 2018). A few years ago, I read Patterson’s novel THIS VACANT PARADISE which put me in mind of a 21st-century Edith Wharton/HOUSE OF MIRTH; these stories are Wharton-esque, while also reminiscent of Denis Johnson or Raymond Carver. The specificity of the worlds Patterson creates for each story is admirable, and even as their endings are deliciously open-ended, the emotions they evoke are myriad. A marvelous read.

–Sands Hall


I recommend Julie Lindahl’s THE PENDULUM, which came out this October from Rowman & Littlefield Publishers. This memoir is brave, important, powerful, unforgettable. Lindahl has the rare courage to look directly at the damage done by her grandfather, who was a member of the SS, and at the reverberations of that damage through generations.

–Rachel Kadish


I’m a horse person, so I’m extra critical of books about equine experiences: Jean Harper’s STILL LIFE WITH HORSES: A MEMOIR (Howling Bird Press/Augsburg University, 2017) shines, with exquisite prose, and a complex layered story extending far beyond the barn door into the lyrical territory of midlife, heartbreak, starting over, and what we can learn from those silent steeds.

–Lisa Romeo


I am a chronic reader with dozens of books under my belt this year but there was a book I enjoyed the most this year–David Grann’s KILLERS OF THE FLOWER MOON (Doubleday, 2017). This 1920s true-history read is about the murders of the Osage tribe who had made money on oil speculation. Grann’s signature is deep research and lively prose, and trust me, reading this book is a master class for the nonfiction writer–no wonder it was a number one bestseller and will be a movie.

–Laurie Gwen Shapiro


In HOLY MOLY, CARRY ME: POEMS (BOA, 2018), Erika Meitner eyes the interpenetration of cultural poverty and the richness of human longing; she’s an urban sensibility embracing a rural landscape of ache and loss, in all its beauty, moral danger, and devastation. Specifically the book is informed by raising one white and one black Jewish boy at the edge of Appalachia.

–Marcela Sulak


A stand-out of Graywolf’s THE ART OF series, Carl Phillips’s seven insightful essays in THE ART OF DARING: RISK, RESTLESSNESS, IMAGINATION (2014) provide a lyrical, persuasive argument for the many ways that writing and living are acts of creative risk requiring daring, authenticity, and great imagination.

–John Sibley Williams


A woman grieving her mother’s death provides the frame story for Lisa Gitlin’s POSTCARDS FROM THE CANYON (Bywater Books, 2017), a vibrant, moving tale of a young Jewish girl coming of age in Cleveland in the 1950s and 60s. It’s Ferrante-esque in its evocation of female friendship, female ferocity and an unapologetic girl’s life in a time of tremendous social change. Gitlin’s voice blasts from the page with refreshing boldness.

–Hilary Zaid

Please forgive the self-focus, but MOMENT magazine has just published a piece that’s important to me. It began as a short presentation at the session that Rachel Kadish and I co-organized for April’s The Muse and the Marketplace conference in Boston, and it expanded into a keynote address that I gave a couple of weeks ago at the 24th Annual Jewish American and Holocaust Literature (JAHLIT) Symposium in Miami.

And now, there’s this text version that can be accessed online.

“On Being a Jewish American Writer in 2018”

It’s a bit of a #longread. But if you’re interested, I hope that you’ll spend some time with it.

Deadline: January 31, 2019

“The Chicago Tribune’s Nelson Algren Literary Awards is a nationally recognized contest for original short fiction, named in honor of the Chicago literary great Nelson Algren. The contest has been held annually since 1981….There will be one grand prize winner ($3,500) and five finalists ($750).”
Deadline: January 10, 2019

“A collaboration between Dzanc Books and the Luso-American Development Foundation (FLAD) has made possible four full fellowships for writers of Luso descent from North America to attend DISQUIET in Lisbon in 2019. To be eligible for the fellowship, entrants must be residents of the United States or Canada who have a genealogical link to a Lusophone country. The four winners will receive airfare stipend, accommodations, and full tuition to the 2019 DISQUIET Program in Lisbon and a place in our multi-genre workshop ‘Writing the Luso Experience’ with other writers from Portugal and North America. Runners-up will be offered partial tuition scholarships.” NB: “This prize is contingent on funding allotments from FLAD and, while unlikely, it is possible that the number or the amount of individual awards may be reduced. In this eventuality winners will be notified in advance.”
Deadline: January 1, 2019

From FOURTEEN HILLS: “We are now accepting submissions for the Stacy Doris Memorial Poetry Award. The winning poet will receive $500 and publication in the Spring 2019 issue of Fourteen Hills.” Submissions of a single poem must run three to 10 pages. “Poems not chosen for the award will be considered for publication in Fourteen Hills.”
Deadline: December 31, 2018

Open to “poets of color who have not previously published a book-length volume of poetry….Winner must be available for a reading in Chicago in January of 2020.” Award includes “$350 prize money, publication by Northwestern University Press in Fall 2018, 15 copies of the book, and a featured reading at The Poetry Foundation.”
Deadline: January 30, 2019

“The Hillman Prizes honor investigative journalism and commentary in service of the common good. Winners exemplify reportorial excellence, storytelling skill, and social justice impact….The contest is open to journalists and subjects globally, although work must have been intended for and be widely accessible to a U.S. audience. You may nominate your own work or someone else’s….Winners are awarded travel to New York City to receive a $5,000 prize and a certificate at our awards ceremony to be held Tuesday May 7, 2019.” NB: There is also a Canadian Hillman Prize with a January 15, 2019 deadline.
Deadline: December 31, 2018

“The Hooks Institute’s National Book Award is presented annually to a non-fiction book that best furthers understanding of the American Civil Rights Movement and its legacy.” Confers a prize of $1,000 and an invitation to lecture at the University of Memphis.
Deadline: January 15, 2019

“The Ellen Meloy Fund for Desert Writers grants one $5,000 award in the spring of each year. Only literary or creative nonfiction proposals will be considered. No fiction or poetry proposals will be reviewed. The Fund supports writing that combines an engaging individual voice, literary sensibility, imagination and intellectual rigor to bring new perspectives and deeper meaning to the body of desert literature. All applications will be reviewed through a peer-panel process.”
Deadline: January 31, 2019

“There’s nothing common about common ravens. They play tricks and outsmart humans. They hide in plain sight, inventing new escape routes. From Poe to Norse mythology, the raven has ignited the imagination. It is in this spirit of wily agility, magic within the mundane, and killer insight that Franklin Pierce University hosts the NORTHERN NEW ENGLAND REVIEW Raven Prize in Creative Nonfiction, celebrating true stories imaginatively told. The first-place winning author will receive a $500 award for one outstanding original work of creative nonfiction. The wining story will be published in NORTHERN NEW ENGLAND REVIEW.”
Deadline: January 25, 2019

“The Lillian E. Smith Center sponsors the annual Writer-in-Service Award, which includes a two-week residency at the Center, a $500 honorarium, and a $500 travel allowance. Applications are usually accepted from November through mid-January, with the winner named in late February. The Award is open to U.S. residents working to advance writing through public service careers or volunteer work. Eligible activities include, but are not limited to, arts education, literacy instruction, prison arts and education, English as a second language instruction, art-related therapies, etc. While the work of writing instructors and volunteers is vital to the community, the demands often limit personal writing time. This award provides an opportunity for those writers who, like Lillian E. Smith, recognize ‘the power of the arts to transform the lives of all human beings.'”
Deadline: January 15, 2019

“The residency supports a poet who desires a quiet, beautiful location in which to further his or her work, and it lasts four weeks, from June 15 to July 15.” Further information: “The residency is designed for poets who have at least one full length book (either published or under contract) and no more than two books. Chapbooks are not full length books. Eligible poets are encouraged to apply. The SpiR receives housing, a travel reimbursement, and an honorarium of $3,000 thanks to the generosity of The Department of English, The College of Liberal Arts, and the Division of Outreach and Continuing Education. In addition, the SPiR will receive ten broadsides of his or her work, designed by Jan Murray. The residency is designed to provide ample writing time to the SPiR while also allowing the University of Mississippi’s summer course offerings to be enriched by the presence of a active poet on campus. To this end, the SPiR will be involved in the campus community and the University of Mississippi MFA program by giving a poetry reading and making 1-2 class visits a week. The SpiR will also be invited to serve as judge for the Yalobusha Review’s Yellowwood Poetry Prize. As judge, the SPiR will be given ten finalist poems by the editorial staff and will select the winner and any honorable mentions.”
Deadline: December 31, 2018

“WHOLE TERRAIN, the nationally renowned literary journal of Antioch University New England, has established an annual award for outstanding undergraduate writers. We’re seeking environmental writing–poetry, fiction or non-fiction–from current undergraduates for this year’s volume. The writer of the winning piece will receive the New Terrain Award of $250 and have his or her work published in the upcoming volume….To qualify for the award, you must be an undergraduate student in good academic standing, and your submission must be original, unpublished work. This information will be verified for potential candidates.”
Deadline: January 14, 2019

Each year, the Woodberry Poetry Room at Harvard University “invites poets, writers, multidisciplinary artists, and scholars of contemporary poetry to propose creative projects that would benefit from the resources available in the room and to generate new work that further actualizes the Poetry Room’s collections. The Creative Fellow receives a stipend of $4,000 and a Harvard Library special borrower’s card, as well as in-depth research support from the Poetry Room’s curatorial staff. During certain years, additional WPR Creative Grants have been made available, with a stipend of $1,500. The Fellow is expected to be in residence for at least 7 days during the period from September 2019 through April 2020. If the Poetry Room’s schedule permits, the WPR Creative Fellow will be asked to make a recording for the Poetry Room’s archive and/or to present their work-in-progress during their visit as a part of the WPR’s public programming.”

From SLICE: “Our next reading period will run from December 1, 2018 – January 1, 2019. All submissions during that time will be considered for Issue 24. The theme for that issue is ‘Birth’ and it will be released spring 2019. We offer contributors $250 for long stories and essays, $75 for flash fiction, and $75 for poems.” Check https://slice.submittable.com/submit for more info.
On the other hand, THE SUNLIGHT PRESS is taking a brief break from receiving submissions for the month of December. “Submissions of all types to The Sunlight Press will close on December 1, 2018 and reopen on January 2, 2019. This will allow us to catch up on work submitted this fall.” This news, and more, in a note from the editors at https://www.thesunlightpress.com/2018/11/11/from-the-editors-desk-november-2018.
Open for submissions until December 15, THE JOURNAL OF COMPRESSED CREATIVE ARTS “is looking for, as you might guess, ‘compressed creative arts.’ We accept fiction, creative nonfiction, poetry, mixed media, visual arts, and even kitchen sinks, if they are compressed in some way. Work is published weekly, without labels, and the labels here only exist to help us determine its best readers.” Pays: “We pay writers $50 per accepted piece and signed contract.” Guidelines: http://matterpress.com/submissions/.
“At CARTE BLANCHE, we believe there is more than one way to tell a story. Our mandate is to provide a venue for narrative of all forms from fiction and nonfiction, to poetry and photo essays.” This Canadian publication will be close its current submissions window on December 31. Pays: “a modest honorarium.” More information is available at http://carte-blanche.org.
Book queries/proposals are welcome at HIPPOCAMPUS MAGAZINE AND PRESS LLC until December 30. Categories include memoirs, essay collections, literary journalism, creativity books, and craft books. Detailed guidelines: https://hippocampusmagazine.submittable.com/submit/64449/book-query-proposal-small-press-division-open-aug-1-dec-31.
“Issue fifteen of WORKERS WRITE will be MORE TALES FROM THE CLASSROOM. That’s right, we’re going back to school. How has teaching changed in the last decade? Tell us through story and poetry. More Tales from the Classroom will contain stories and poems from educational settings. We’re looking for fiction about teachers, counselors, admins, school librarians, principals, janitors – anyone who works in a school or classroom setting. Drop us a line if you have a question. The deadline for submissions is Dec. 31, 2018 (or until the issue is full).” Pays: “Between $5 and $50 (depending on length and rights requested). We will consider previously published material.” Visit http://www.workerswritejournal.com for more info.
Closing January 6, 2019: submissions at JAGGERY, “a DesiLit arts and literature journal,” which “connects South Asian diasporic writers and homeland writers; we also welcome non-South Asians with a deep and thoughtful connection to South Asian countries, who bring their own intersecting perspectives to the conversation. (By South Asia we mean Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, The Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.) Our hope with Jaggery is to create a journal that offers the best writing by and about South Asians and their diaspora. Dark, complex, intense — and totally delicious.” NB: “For this issue we are NOT accepting fiction stories, as we already have a huge backlog and we will be selecting from those only.” Pays: “$25 for nonfiction/poetry/art/reviews.” Website: http://jaggerylit.com.
For an anthology project, FICTION WRITERS IN SEOUL is looking for “unpublished short stories under 6000 words that are set in and/or about the city of Seoul. Writers are encouraged to interpret this broadly and freely; submissions of all genres are welcome. We are looking for stories that 1) provide a fresh and relatable insight into the city and its culture, and 2) are intensely engaging, with all the appeals of a traditional story. As a token of our dedication to quality, we will pay $.05 per word for accepted submissions.” FYI: “Please note that the anthology will also be translated into Korean and pitched to traditional Korean publishers.” Deadline: January 31, 2019. Information: https://www.fictionwritersinseoul.com/2019-anthology-submission.html.
Canadian journal GRAIN “is excited to announce a special issue dedicated to the work of Indigenous writers and storytellers, coming Summer 2019! We invite submissions of unpublished fiction, nonfiction, and poetry from all First Nations, Métis, and Inuit writers. This special issue is being guest edited by Lisa Bird-Wilson (fiction and nonfiction) and Tenille Campbell (poetry). The guest editors encourage submission of exciting, edgy, engaging (all the e’s) contemporary fiction, nonfiction, and poetry that reflect Indigenous lives, concerns, moments, thoughts, dreams, and so on. Whatever you do, don’t play it safe. Be brave! Surprise us!” Deadline: February 28, 2019. Pays: “All contributors, regardless of genre, are paid $50 per page to a maximum of $250, plus two copies of the issue in which their work appears. Visual work published inside the magazine (in black and white) and on the cover (in colour) is paid at the same page rate as text contributions to a maximum of $500.” Consult the announcement at http://www.grainmagazine.ca/indigenous-writers-and-storytellers-issue.
HOT FLASH FICTION (“Lit for Womxn”) “publishes fiction and other versions of the truth. No Hallmark stories. No self-help articles. Just smart, funny, compelling, and interesting writing. Sorry, no poetry.” Pays: “We offer an honorarium equal to your age for each published story. Our stories remain posted on our primary page before finding a home in our archives.” Consult https://hotflashfiction.submittable.com/submit/126228/hot-flash-fiction-submissions for more information.
Reminder: At THE MASTERS REVIEW, the New Voices category “is open year round to any new or emerging author who has not published a work of fiction or narrative nonfiction of novel length. Authors with short story collections are free to submit. We accept simultaneous and multiple submissions but ask that you inform us immediately if your story is accepted elsewhere. We pay New Voices authors $0.10/word up to $200 and do not charge submission fees, but are highly selective.” You’ll find more info at https://mastersreview.com/submissions/.
And, in similar news: a reminder that at FRONTIER POETRY, “submissions for our New Voices poetry category are open year round to any new and emerging poet who has not published more than one full-length collection of poetry. New Voices are published online only and will feature a number of poems from new authors each month.We are thrilled to offer significant payment to our partner poets: $50 per poem, up to $150. We are proud to be paying for published pieces but will be highly selective in our choices for publication.” Visit https://www.frontierpoetry.com/submit/ for more info.

Reminder: 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
–Sunday Sentence

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”.

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 a freelance writer and book publicist. She is the author of QUIET AMERICANS: STORIES, which is an American Library Association Sophie Brody Medal Honor Title for outstanding achievement in Jewish literature. 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, the Northwest Institute for Literary Arts, and Oklahoma City University. From 2014-2017, Erika served as Media Editor for Fig Tree Books LLC. 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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