Friday Find: September Giveaways for Writers (Redux)

The reason I am reminding you about the September Giveaways coordinated by “The Writer Mama” (Christina Katz) is twofold. First, Christina’s energy in maintaining this project over this past week is impressive enough–the idea that she’s going to keep this going another three weeks is almost awe-inspiring.

And second, well, tomorrow is the day that the giveaways will include two of our e-books. So if you want to try to snag free copies of our “Guide to No-Cost Literary Contests and Competitions” AND our “Directory of Paying Essay Markets”, tomorrow you’ll have your chance. Be sure to visit Christina’s blog on Saturday, September 8. Look for the post about the September 8 giveaway (I promise it won’t be hard to find, but I’ll try to post an update here with the link in case that helps). And comment as directed. Good luck! (I would love for one of this blog’s readers to win!)


Monday Morning Markets/Jobs/Opportunities

Attention, New York writers! “Artists’ Fellowships are $7,000 cash awards made to individual originating artists living and working in the state of New York for unrestricted use.” For the current grant cycle, applications are welcome in the fields of fiction, playwriting/screenwriting, and other (visual/performing) art fields. The application deadline is October 3, and there’s no application fee. There are, however, several eligibility criteria (for example, I am not yet eligible to apply because I have not lived in New York long enough). Check the NYFA site for more information and application materials.

And here’s something for writers in Washington, D.C.: “Poets & Writers, Inc. is pleased to invite you to apply for the 2008 Maureen Egen Writers Exchange Award.” This award is open to writers in different states each year. This year Washington D.C. resident poets and fiction writers who have a) never published published a book, or b) have published (self-published books do not count) no more than one full-length book in the genre in which they are applying, and c) have resided in D.C. for at least two years prior to manuscript submission are eligible. Prize in each genre includes $500; a trip to New York City in October 2008 to meet with editors, agents, publishers, and other writers; and an optional one-month residency at the Jentel Artist Residency Program in Wyoming. There’s no application fee. Deadline: December 1, 2007. Details and entry form here.

Crab Orchard Review is looking for submissions (fiction, poetry, and creative nonfiction) for a special issue on “‘The In-Between Age: Writers on Adolescence.'” Pays: $20/published magazine page ($50 minimum for poetry, $100 minimum for prose). Submission deadline: October 31. Guidelines here. (via CRWROPPS)

If you’re planning to pitch Fit Pregnancy, you may find this profile of new Associate Editor Jennifer Carofano helpful.

Thinking of pitching ELDR, a new publication whose tagline is “Celebrate Aging”? Read this column about the magazine for more information about its focus and editorial interests.

Received an announcement last week from A Midsummer Night’s Press about two new annual anthologies: Best Gay Poetry and Best Lesbian Poetry. For the 2008 editions, they’re looking for poetry published during 2007. “Poems can have appeared in print or online magazines, journals, or anthologies; we are also willing to consider poems from books or chapbooks first published in 2007, even if the poem was originally published previously in periodicals, so long as the poet has the right to reprint the poem.” The publisher tells me that compensation will be determined once the final number of contributors is known (dividing up a small budget). Deadline: December 1, 2007. Submission information here.

The University of the Arts (Philadelphia) is looking for an “established poet/teacher…to teach one or two sections of Poetry Writing Workshop at The University of the Arts.” See the announcement at

The State University of New York at Buffalo is searching for an associate/full professor of English. Specifically, they seek a “Prestigious poet committed to the innovative traditions of modernist and contemporary poetry. Candidates must currently hold the rank of associate professor or professor and/or have an extensive and distinguished record of publication. Candidates must demonstrate an ability to teach solid and inventive undergraduate courses, and bring fresh perspectives to the study of poetry and poetics as demonstrated by a record of writing and teaching interests appropriate to seminars in large M.A./Ph.D program.” Application deadline: October 15, 2007. More information at

The Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences (Boston) is calling for adjunct faculty to teach Expository Writing. See the announcement at

No-Cost Contest Update

It wasn’t easy (mostly because of a troublesome technical glitch), but the job is complete: The latest version of our famous Guide to No-Cost Literary Contests and Competitions has been uploaded and is ready for you! As always, “dead” programs have been removed; new opportunities have been added; and all links have been checked (and updated as appropriate). The result of this semi-yearly update: 266 competition possibilities for your writing, not one of which requires entry or processing or application or reading fees. Read more about this fabulous guide (and download a free preview with several sample listings) right here.

From My Bookshelf: Four Seasons in Rome

To be perfectly frank, every day it’s seeming less and less likely that I’ll ever reach the level of literary success of, say, Anthony Doerr. Which means it’s looking less and less likely that I’ll ever win a fellowship at the American Academy in Rome. But this weekend I at least had the privilege of glimpsing that experience through Doerr’s eyes when I read his new (and delightful) book, Four Seasons in Rome. Subtitled “On Twins, Insomnia, and the Biggest Funeral in the History of the World,” the book chronicles Doerr’s Roman holiday (sorry–couldn’t resist that) from his arrival (accompanied by his wife and their six-month-old twin boys) to their departure the summer after Pope John Paul II’s passing. It’s a highly engaging read on many levels, including, for this practicing writer, Doerr’s account of the project he brought with him to Rome (a new novel set in German-occupied France during World War II), and the genesis of a new short story. Magnifico!

Monday Morning Markets/Jobs

Newbury College (Brookline, Mass.) is looking for part-time composition faculty. See the announcement at


“Yoga is seeking a locally-connected yogi/yogini-writer to cover the local yoga scene in the form of a weekly blog. Candidates must be Chicago residents, experienced yoga practitioners, and professional writers. Yoga junkies and yoga teachers are encouraged to apply.” See the craigslist announcement here.


If you’re considering pitching Merge magazine you’ll doubtless find this profile of the publication helpful.


INTHEFRAY magazine is planning an issue that will “explore religion in contemporary society” and is open to relevant submissions. See the announcement here. (Note that this magazine pays only for selected sections.)

========== pays $10 for stories 450-600 words long. “First and foremost we aim to celebrate world travel by promoting its many fantastic destinations and to appreciate and accept all of its unique cultures. We present positive stories about our real travel experience. The stuff we loved and the things we want you to know before hitting the road. Please note, we are not investigative journalists. If a destination is not to our liking then we simply will not write about it.” More information here.


“The publishers of Providence Monthly [Rhode Island] are starting a new monthly lifestyle magazine in South County this fall. We are looking for freelance writers to cover all subjects. Please email a writing sample and area of interest by July 15.” See the craigslist announcement here.


Attention, Virginia poets! The application deadline for fellowships from the Virginia Commission of the Arts is August 1. You’ll find the application here.

From My Bookshelf: An Insider’s Guide to Creative Writing Programs

This review originally appeared in the January 2007 issue of The Writer magazine.

Help for Choosing a Writing Program

An Insider’s Guide to Creative Writing Programs: Choosing the Right MFA or MA Program, Colony, Residency, Grant, or Fellowship
by Amy Holman, Prentice-Hall Press/Penguin, 208 pages plus CD-ROM. Paperback, $18.95

Review by Erika Dreifus

If you’re tired of Googling for online lists of MFA programs or writing grants or residencies, and if you’re not interested in seeking separate print volumes dedicated to each of the same, Amy Holman’s new book, An Insider’s Guide to Creative Writing Programs will make you very happy. A published poet and literary consultant who indeed demonstrates an insider’s knowledge of the field, Holman has assembled a no-nonsense guide to several key aspects of writers’ professional development. Both beginners and more advanced writers should be grateful.

Holman defines “creative writing programs” broadly; she wants to “open your minds to possibilities you might have overlooked, thought were closed to you, or worried were too hard to pursue, and to change your mind about them.” So she doesn’t limit herself to academic (MA or MFA) programs in creative writing–although she profiles 60 such programs, including some administered through the popular low-residency option, in the book, and lists another 93 on the accompanying CD-ROM. She covers residencies, colonies, grants, and fellowships, too.

The book’s first sections introduce you to this vocabulary and offer advice on “choosing the right program at the right time” and preparing an application. Holman provides the context, background and guidance for you to proceed on your own, because, as she rightly notes, “How you become encouraged about your writing ability, how you improve, hone, or perfect it depends largely on your personality and also on your personal engagement to the literary community to date.” She wants to help you identify the “right environments” for your own development as a writer; she understands that that will be a personal process.

Program profiles fill most of the book. Those covering graduate schools (presented alphabetically, as Holman has wisely avoided ranking them) stand out for the way they highlight distinguishing features/program “perks” while following an economical and easy-to-follow template: For each program, Holman tells you what kind of degree it offers, a “nutshell” summary, a faculty list, and information on “defraying the cost.” Non-academic program descriptions are similarly highly individualized. Holman also does the reader a favor by signaling when colonies or grants are truly open to early-career writers and when they’re really looking for very experienced, very published people. Holman complements the listings with informative quotations throughout.

Since Holman limited the number of profiles printed in the book (which keeps the text both readable and portable), one of An Insider’s Guide to Creative Writing Programs‘s selling points is its accompanying CD-ROM, “with listings and links for 300 programs.” This bonus sounds fantastic, and in many ways it is (especially in listing and linking programs located outside the United States). But take note of my experience:

*I could not initially access the promised searchable database on my Mac; when I tried the disc on a library PC, that problem seemed to disappear.

*The desktop left me confused. I didn’t know which file/icon to click; I would have appreciated a file labeled “Read me first.” When I did find the database, I learned that I could search only one category at a time (type of program, state, or subject of program).

*Although I searched successfully for “low-residency MA programs,” an attempt to identify “low-residency MFA programs” yielded what seemed to be a list of residency and low-residency programs combined.

*Similarly, the 300 promised programs are divided among multiple categories (Resident MA; Resident MFA; Low-Residency MFA; Low-Residency MA; Artist Colonies and Writers Colonies; Artist-in-Residence Programs in National Parks and Community; Academic Writer-in-Residence Programs; Grants and Fellowships; and Paid Writing Spaces). Holman provides an excellent introduction, but to identify additional programs you’ll still need to make use of other resources (including those helpfully linked in a “Resources” section).

*If you’re hoping that the CD-ROM will contain program descriptions similar to those Holman provides in the book, be forewarned that it offers program links only. In other words, you won’t find another 93 MA/MFA program descriptions there.

Those observations notwithstanding, Holman has done something exceedingly useful here. “No matter at what stage–beginning, emerging, or established–you are in your writing career, you have goals,” Holman writes. An Insider’s Guide to Creative Writing Programs will help you meet them.