Book coach Rochelle Melander offers workshops, consultations, and critique groups through her website Write Now! Coach. Her published books include Write-A-Thon: Write Your Book in 26 Days (And Live to Tell About It), a 2011 ForeWord Book of the Year finalist.
A witty and practical guide to finding the best contests for your work. Topics include identifying the judges' tastes, "popular" versus "literary" styles of writing, preparing a professional-looking manuscript and avoiding scam contests. Though his examples are drawn from fiction, poets will also find this guide indispensable. John Reid is the founder of the Tom Howard poetry and prose contests, now sponsored by Winning Writers.
Online publisher and writers' resource site offers a selection of well-crafted short fiction and nonfiction by emerging and established writers, including the winners of Writecorner's E.M. Koeppel Short Fiction Award. The site seems to have ceased being updated in 2014 but the archives are worth reading.
Writer Advice is a resource site managed by B. Lynn Goodwin, author of Talent and You Want Me to Do WHAT? Journaling for Caregivers. The site includes links to markets and contests, craft essays, and quotes from famous authors. They also offer contests with modest prizes and fees.
Authors/scam hunters Victoria Strauss and A.C. Crispin give advice on avoiding scam contests, working with editors and agents, and understanding your legal rights. Writer Beware is a project of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America's Committee on Writing Scams.
This page from the Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America's advice site offers a comprehensive look at the varieties and pitfalls of POD publishing.
Victoria Strauss's Writer Beware site is a comprehensive and up-to-date resource for investigating deceptive literary marketing schemes. This article teaches you to watch out for solicitations from con artists masquerading as well-known agencies or publishers. Common scams include false claims of affiliation with legitimate companies (even going so far as to copy their logo) and emails using the names of real literary agents (who did not actually write them).
Writer Beware, a project of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA), shares detailed guidelines for evaluating the credibility and experience of literary agents, plus warnings about common scams in this field.
Invaluable literary watchdog site Writer Beware lists the signs of a literary agency scam and the top 20 offenders.
This annual directory from Writer's Digest lists over 1,000 agents who represent writers and their books.
Writer's Digest Editor Robert Lee Brewer first compiled this list of 50 poetic forms in 2015, updated to 168 in 2021. Each item on the alphabetized list links to a definition and example.
AJ Wells, a judge for the self-published book competitions at Writer's Digest, breaks down the key ingredients of a successful entry. Professional cover design is a must, as is editing to eliminate extraneous details that slow down the story. Don't rush the book into print without making it as polished as possible.
Basic advice on contest etiquette, record-keeping, proofreading, and making your submission look professional.
Created by Hiveword, the Writer's Knowledge Base search engine indexes over 40,000 online articles on the craft and business of writing. Search by keyword or browse by category.
From Writer's Digest, with "...thousands of publishing opportunities for writers, listings for book publishers, consumer and trade magazines, contests and awards, and literary agents—as well as new playwriting and screenwriting sections, along with contact and submission information.
"Beyond the listings, you'll find articles devoted to the business and promotion of writing. Discover 20 literary agents actively seeking writers and their writing, how to develop an author brand, and overlooked funds for writers. This 100th edition also includes the ever-popular pay-rate chart and book publisher subject index."
At the online portal for Maryville University, a Catholic college in St. Louis, MO, this article reviews a number of popular software programs for authors and explains their purpose. Included are website blockers to filter out distractions, programs for keeping track of your drafts, and plotting and editing tools for fiction writers.
Compiled in March 2012, this list features 20 literary journals with a focus on women's writing. Writer's Relief is an authors' submission service.
Writers Online, a British writing site, posts listings of writing competitions, workshops, and book publishing services in the UK. Their directories are searchable by keyword and by geographic region within the UK and Ireland.
Writers' HQ is a UK-based writers' resource site with listings for workshops, retreats, and publication opportunities. Their policy is to list only those markets that are free or financially accessible, which they define as having reasonable costs and prize-fee ratios. This page on their site features UK and US submission calls with deadlines in the next few months.
The Writers' Workshop of Asheville, NC, offers weekend classes and contests for emerging and experienced writers. Financial assistance is available for low-income writers in exchange for volunteering. The prize in their contests is generally a choice between a stay at their Mountain Muse B&B, free workshops, or a free manuscript edit.
Contact information for thousands of editors and agents. Search by keyword and category. Monthly access is $2.99. Annual access is $29.95, with a 30-day money back guarantee. Includes advice on improving your query letters and answers to common questions. Daily industry updates.
Names publishers and organizations that writers have had disputes with.
By Amy S. Pacini
Writing always finds me...
In the clustered cells of my restlessly racing mind
In the lonely longings and aching apprehensions of my heart
Weaving a whirling web of whimsical words and a wishful well of wisdom.
Fancily floating like a carefree cardinal red feather in the blissful breezes
On a spring Sunday afternoon looking up at the cloudless robin's egg blue sky
Pondering the purpose and meaning of life and how I fit in to the universal master plan.
Through streaming sensations, trickled thoughts, and cascading cares
Of woodland creeks, mountain lakes, and rainforest waterfalls
It percolates the perceptions, ignites burning passions, and unleashes my chambered creativity.
Writing always finds me...
In the radiant rays of sultry summer days and the witching hour of harvest moonlit nights
It never lets me down and is always there for me no matter the day or hour
It doesn't have to check its daily planner book for an opening or need to pencil me in.
It silently waits for me to open my artistic arms
To euphorically embrace its literary lines with artistic agility
When I am mentally blocked or drained, it journalistically jolts my linguistic lightning.
It allows me to completely and wholeheartedly be myself
And clearly sees the transparent totality of my intricate individuality
With its strongest sensibilities and weakest witherings.
Writing always finds me...
It speaks to me through the daily interactions of the people I meet and greet
While taking a relaxing drive through the country or exploring a new city
On cemetery epitaphs of those who are remembered for their final inspirational inscriptions.
While reading breaking news articles and controversially edgy editorials
Reading romantic love stories, suspense thriller novels, and farcical comic strips
Through biblical scripture, devotional divinity, and prayerful penitence.
It does not mock or snicker at the silly, stupid or strange things I say
It does not unjustly judge or bluntly criticize my opinions, actions, mistakes, and failures
But alternatively offers me a safe sanctuary of solitude and serenity.
Writing always finds me...
In the chaotic chasms, majestic moments, and sacred spaces of each morning sunrise
In the surreal subconsciousness of castle cloud dreams
And monster chasing nightmares of every nightfall's repose.
Between the sidewalk cracks, cobwebbed corners, masquerading mirrors and open doorways
Down familiarly traveled roads, unforeseeable twists and turns, and uncharted territories
Through rivuleted rumination, meadowed meanderings, and oceanic odysseys.
Recurrently roaming like an apparitional abstraction
In the echoing halls of home and the unoccupied rooms of chimerical childhood
Yearning for love and acceptance, understanding and respect.
Writing always finds me...
It quietly whispers in the silhouetted shadows of my melancholic moods
And patiently listens to me unveil my deepest and darkest desires, shameful and sinful secrets
On the unfilled pages of personal pain, anguish, and sorrow.
In trying times of dire desperation when I feel hopelessly hollow and forlornly fractured
It brings me to a much better place than where I originally came from
It uplifts my sinking soul and transcendentally transforms my being into a liberated literate.
Like a lost dog fervently finding his way back home again because that is what writing feels like
A pleasant place to call home and that is where I always retreat when I want to find
Calming peace, cozy comfort, Hallmark happiness, lively laughter and lavishing love.
Writing always finds me...
This poem was originally published by the TL Publishing Group in Torrid Literature Journal, Volume XII – Tension (October 2014).
Cheryl Morgan is a science fiction critic, radio presenter, and owner of Wizard's Tower Press. In this 2015 article from speculative fiction magazine Strange Horizons, she discusses tropes in transgender and genderqueer character representation and how to create gender-diverse worlds in a respectful and accurate way.
The Writer is a monthly magazine with craft articles and publication opportunities for creative writers. Their website includes an up-to-date list of links to contests with upcoming deadlines, searchable by genre: poetry, fiction, nonfiction, drama, journalism, and more.
The Writing It Real site is a portal for writing tools and writing instruction developed by master teacher, poet and author Sheila Bender. Her e-newsletter and online courses offer writing exercises, discussion and instruction to sharpen your use of the craft in memoir, personal essays and poetry. WIR also offers a personalized critique service and an annual conference in Port Townsend, WA.
Writing Maps are illustrated fold-out posters with creative writing prompts. The story and memoir ideas on the posters can be used in writing workshops or on your own. The site offers monthly themed contests, with two winners each month. Prize is publication in the Writing Maps Journal plus free copies and posters. Entries may be prose, poems, graphic stories, or any hybrid thereof.
Updated for 2021 by poet Randal A. Burd Jr. (Memoirs of a Witness Tree, Kelsay Books) at the blog Writing Matters, this list originally compiled by formalist poet Annie Finch features reputable journals for emerging and established writers to send poetry in traditional styles. Some are general-interest and others have a specialty such as light verse, Christian, horror, or LGBTQ.
The Iowa Review, a prestigious literary journal, has compiled a list of writing resources for military veterans. These include articles on how to run a veterans' writing workshop; journals and contests specializing in military-affiliated writers and themes; and links to workshops around the US.
Wall Street Journal feature tracks some of the pitfalls of self-publishing. Some tips: arrange a distributor before printing; don't order too many copies; pick a title with the widest possible appeal.
In this essay on the Tor Books website, widely published fantasy and science fiction novelist Kate Elliott discusses two-dimensional stereotypes and sexist tropes to avoid in fiction writing.
Concise tips and essays for writers of all kinds. Now offering a searchable contest database. Essays in the poetry section explore such themes as cowboy poetry, tips on translations, and the form of the triolet. Also provides selected links to poetry resources.
Well-stocked page of links to Christian writing resources.
The good news: You're a winner. The bad news: It's costing you fifty bucks...For a struggling poet, it can be painful to admit that a letter from a poetry contest or publisher is nothing more than a sales hustle. But what's worse: being honest with yourself or being the victim of a company that exploits the vanity of aspiring poets?
BBC-sponsored forum where users can read and contribute personal stories of their experiences in World War II, either battlefield or homefront. Also includes lesson plans, historical resources, timelines and maps, and tips for researching your family history.
This short fiction anthology from Main Street Rag celebrates the creativity and perseverance of women who don't play by normal rules. The eclectic cast of characters includes an HIV-positive senior citizen, a spunky lesbian drama teacher fighting her school's bureaucracy, and a teenage girl with a crush on Abe Lincoln.
Founded in 2011, YeahWrite is an online writing community that offers weekly themed challenges in the genres of fiction, poetry, personal essay, and micro-story. The YeahWrite Coffeehouse is a discussion forum where members can share inspiration, ask questions, find out about publishing opportunities, and post their successes. There are also quarterly fiction and essay contests with modest prizes.
Founded in 2007, Yellow Medicine Review is a twice-yearly print journal devoted to Indigenous literature, art, and thought. It is named for a river in Minnesota where people of the Dakota tribe would gather healing plants. See website for special themes for each submission period.
YesYes Books publishes books of innovative contemporary poetry, prose, and visual art, as well as the online journal Vinyl Poetry. See website for their Pamet River Prize, for a first or second full-length book of poetry or prose by a female-identified or genderqueer author. Writers in their catalog include Rebecca Hazelton, Danez Smith, and Ocean Vuong.
YOU ARE by Prasenjit Maiti
there and you are not
like the dizzy sorrows that are mine
lining my shirt, frosting my drink
as I walk across downtown Calcutta
my beloved misery
where your smiles light up the stairs
and my cigarettes endless
like your days and ways
that are my sorrows, my ins and outs
because you are there and you are not
Copyright 2010 by Prasenjit Maiti
THE SECOND MILLION TIMES by Larry Pontius
How do you say I love you
The second million times
After you've used up all the special looks
Unexpected flowers and quotes from favorite books
I can't think of any more places to walk alone together
That we haven't walked along before
And the only way I can surprise you with a visit on the phone
Is to call someday when I know you're not at home
There isn't another place on your soft skin
That I can give a loving touch
We covered all of that long ago
When our lips learned every loving kiss
And our passions every loving way to go
Is it possible that love only has a million signs
I guess that's what I'm trying to say
That, and how'd you like to start over
Like we just met yesterday
Copyright 2010 by Larry Pontius
Critique by Tracy Koretsky
Love poems—they're been with us at least 4,000 years. Type the single word "poem" into Google and the first item you are offered is a link to love poems. No single subject rushes the poet more breathlessly to his desk, drunk with overpowering emotion, a-tingle with vivid imagery. But given both the love poem's long history and arguable surfeit, however is our poet to find anything new enough, fresh enough, not only to be worthy of his exquisite condition, but of its precious object? And, more importantly to us, as readers and contesters, how is it possible to write a love poem that a third party might be interested to read? The answer, perhaps, has something to do with strategy, because, let's face it, the love poem is a poem on a mission. Its objective: seduction.
This month, in celebration of Valentine's Day, I'll take an appreciative look at two very successful love poems that could not possibly be more different, from authors writing from locales that—beside their heat—could not be more different either, with a particular focus on their strategy. The first, "You Are", is a brief, intense lyric by Dr. Prasenjit Maiti from Calcutta, India, who calls himself "a political scientist by occupation and a writer by compulsion". "The Second Million Times", a superbly crafted light-rhyme, was sent in by Larry Pontius of Florida, who has had a long and distinguished career in advertising.
Maiti's strategy is the simplest and the perhaps the wisest: the most important word in a seduction is "you". As a poet, he recognizes that overusing his most important word would diminish its potency. Look where he places it: the first word of the title, and the first line and their echo in the last two lines, giving this poem both shape and the sense that the poem will continue on as the poet walks in the hot night.
Between these lines Maiti pulls the reader along with multiple sound repetitions. He begins by grounding us in physicality. This poem is between the object "you" and the poet's body; as readers, we are just eavesdropping. With "my beloved misery" the poem pivots elegantly. Maiti has chosen to use no end punctuation enabling just this sort of ambiguous enjambment. Does the phrase refer to Calcutta? Or to the object of his love? Or neither—is it parenthetical, or voiced as if within a sigh?
The thread of sound repetition continues as the referent opens out: we see the lamps in the stairwells, the ember end of his cigarette, made so poignant by the reversal of the adjective and noun. What the eighth and ninth lines lack in specific or sensory image, they make up for in sonority. The heavy rhymes work almost like a pendulum through them. In tone, they almost whine.
All this, the result of too much exquisite pining. Oh, what could be more romantic than that? I feel certain that his beloved will want to race to him. Mission accomplished.
Pining is not, however, the position Larry Pontius finds himself in. The opposite. His long-time sweetheart is still happily by his side. How to tell her he loves her in a new way? Oh, what could be more romantic than that?
For his strategy, Pontius relies far more on design and what is probably the clue to sustaining love: gentle humor. Though as a humorous poem, this one is full of surprises.
It does not scan, for one thing—these lines defy a metered reading. Pontius chooses "alone together/along before" and "every loving way to go" and all the superfluous syntax of lines seven and eight because they complicate his rhymes, undermining expected rhythms and waking up the ear.
The lines break down as four sentences, which the poet packs with rhymes, though choosing to end with them only in lines three through eight. In other words, as soon as the reader comes to expect rhyme, the poet gives them something else. Line nine begins the third sentence, as in a popular song, and is the one sentence that takes five lines to contain. He gives us a new rhyme pattern in the last four lines anchoring the poem not only with the hard rhyme of "say" and "yesterday", but also with "million signs" and "million times"—connecting the last four lines to the beginning of the poem.
The other thing that the first and last four lines have in common is that they are both questions. Only two sentences are: the first and the last. Rather than have all four sentences ask questions, Pontius holds our interest by taking us through a list of increasing value.
Notice how almost every noun has an adjective in this piece. Notice how these adjectives increase the importance or intensity of the noun. Yet, even with the adjectives they are not specific. The poet allows the reader to supply detail, in a sense, making his poem more generally applicable—a desirable quality in a commercial poem.
Look how with "any more", and "only way", and "isn't another", Pontius completely forecloses any prospects for our hero to achieve his desired goal. He "raises the stakes" as the fiction writers say. But before all hope is lost, proffers an invitation—my dear, shall we fall in love again?
Who could help but smile, and be touched, and for a moment, love the poet for writing it. Mission accomplished once again. Ah, the love poem, may we write them always.
Where could a poem like "You Are" be submitted? The following contests may be of interest:
National Federation of State Poetry Societies Awards
Postmark Deadline: March 15
Wide array of prizes up to $1,500 for poems in various styles and themes; some categories are members-only; no simultaneous submissions
Postmark Deadline: March 15
Missouri literary society offers prizes up to $100 for unpublished poems
JBWB Poetry Competition
Entries must be received by March 31
British writer Jacqui Bennett's website offers quarterly contests with prizes up to 100 pounds; enter and pay by mail or email
Where could a poem like "The Second Million Times" be submitted?
Words of Love Writing Contest
Postmark Deadline: February 20
Prizes up to $300 for love poems, stories and love letters, from the Writers' Workshop of Asheville, NC; fee includes critique
Chistell Writing Contest
Entries must be received by February 28
Free contest offers prizes up to $100 for poetry and short fiction by writers aged 16+ who have never been published in a major publication; no simultaneous submissions
Oregon State Poetry Association Contests
Postmark Deadline: March 1
Twice-yearly contest offers prizes up to $100 in categories including traditional verse, humor, open theme
These poems and critique appeared in the February 2010 issue of Winning Writers Newsletter (subscribe free).
Flawless prose captures emotions that are almost too subtle for words. Though his dark themes may seem familiar to readers of literary fiction (several tales feature bereavement and mental illness), these stories shine with moments of wisdom discovered and hard-won love, lifting them far above most examples of the genre.
By Ruth Thompson
In the photograph you are playing with a wolf. You are holding up a towel and the wolf, a cub, a dying cub though you do not know that yet, is reaching up to grab the towel with his mouth. Did he bite people's hands too, the way a mouthy puppy does? You do not remember. He was not troublesome, hardly there at all in your memories, poor stolen orphan cub, sold to a boy who wanted a wolf. And you too saw nothing wrong in it then, so far were you from anything real, so lost in college and books and boyfriends and probably trouble at home.
You knew no more than the wolf about the world, though unlike the cub you pretended to—you with your eyes and face swollen from allergies you didn't know about yet, your narrow waist and full hips, round arm stretching up to hold the towel, the grit of jaw and eyes hidden under pneumatic blonde prettiness, mascara, big hair. Two years later it would be Twiggy, short dresses and skinny legs, but for now you are in the sexual thick of things, sitting in the sunshine, just come from bed or on the way to bed, playing with another baby who is soon to die, alone and far from home.
And you, too, not tomorrow, but soon enough, you too will die, and far from home. Cut off willingly from home. Down, down, down you will fall, and all your prettiness, your innocent seductiveness, your fresh full arms and lips, the emerging strength of jaw and mouth, all will be torn from you and wither away, and you will be a servant, a nothing, drone, unformed and worthless blob. Until, twenty years later, long after all is lost, you will begin to reconstitute yourself—from what? How? Unlike the wolf pup you will be reborn—browbeaten, aching, childless, gray. And you will begin from that.
This growing archive of accessible contemporary and classic poetry will deliver a poem to your email inbox daily, weekly, or monthly. Subscriptions are free. There is also a moderated forum for sharing poems for critique. See website for submission guidelines. Reprints and previously published work accepted.
Everything you need to know about pitching your novel to agents and editors. Includes advice on selecting an agent, plus how to write query letters, synopses and book proposals, with many helpful samples of each.
A leading youth poetry and spoken word program. Offices in San Francisco (its home base), New York and Seattle. Organizes the annual Youth Speaks Teen Poetry Slam and the annual Brave New Voices National Youth Poetry Slam, and many smaller events and projects.
Yuan Yang is a publication of the University of Hong Kong.
Zapsplat offers hundreds of free sound effects and music clips to download, sorted by style, with helpful short descriptions for every clip. The musical tracks are generally 1-3 minutes long, appropriate for a book trailer video.
Zeek publishes both a monthly online journal and a biannual print edition. Unpredictable, thought-provoking and fun.
Zephyr is a nonprofit press committed to cross-cultural exchange. It publishes American, Russian, Slavic and East Asian poetry and prose. Works of translation are a specialty. Zephyr collaborates with Adventures in Poetry, a small press that began as a mimeographed "little magazine" in 1968. AIP has published Frank O'Hara, Allen Ginsberg and Anne Waldman.
In 1998, acclaimed film director Francis Coppola launched a website where writers could submit their short stories to his magazine, Zoetrope: All-Story. A community of writers quickly formed around the website. It became so popular so quickly that a few months later he created sites for novellas and screenplays. The Virtual Studio, which launched in June 2000, brings together the original sites as departments, plus includes new departments for other creative endeavors. Members can workshop a wide-range of film arts, including music, graphics, design, and film & video, as well as access some of the best e-collaboration tools.