WOW! Markets Newsletter

WOW! Women On Writing | Workshops | Writing Contests | The Muffin

Getting Curious About Writing Motivation

June 2024 Markets Newsletter

In this issue:

  • "Getting Curious about Writing Motivation" by Chelsey Clammer
  • "In Conversation with Dr. Megan Pillow, Award-winning Writer, Scholar, Teacher, & Author" interview by Ann Kathryn Kelly
  • June Deadlines: Poetry, Fiction, Nonfiction, Multigenre, Just for Fun
  • Breaking In: "How to Become a Health Writer" by Ashley Harris
  • Recent WOW! Features and Posts from The Muffin
  • Success Stories from the WOW! Community


With the approach of June, we’re headed for summer. And I know how distracting summer can be. You have travel plans, pool plans, lake plans, beach plans, holiday plans, and straight-up fun plans, and that doesn’t even include vacation plans. For me, all these plans plans PLANS really distract me from writing. Life gets in the way of the page. Motivation starts to take on an air of “meh.” So in these extended summer heat and splashing around moments, how can we stay motivated to write?

For me and my writing, instead of experiencing life, I start getting curious about it. How exactly do fireworks work? Why does that odd and annoying sign at the lake say, “No humans on the beach”? What’s up with that? More important, why does my aunt insist on putting strawberries on every summer salad when she doesn’t even like strawberries? And why do airports strap down security when arriving, but baggage claim is basically a free-for-all, fair-game, anything-goes scenario at best and a Samsonite version of Braveheart at worst?

These are the things I get curious about. This curiosity sparks my writing. There’s so much out there we could write about if we just start to pay attention to the things that make us go “hmmmm” (cue C + C Music Factory). Although you might not write about the wonders of TSA-absent baggage claim areas, noticing these little life conundrums (or even life’s joys as you experience your continuous festival of summer plans) can spark creative interest. It’s what becomes irresistible about writing—consider each piece of writing an answer to a question. What would that question be?

As you attempt to stay motivated to write this summer, considering these questions and allowing the world to offer you moments of curiosity and inspiration can keep your hand sweating not from the heat, but from the quickness with which it will dance across the page.

By encouraging our curiosity to get piqued, we can stay motivated to write even during the most distracting of summer vacays. Some tips for keeping your motivation going include:

  • Keep a notebook with you or a notes file on your phone of ideas that come to you while experiencing these fun summer moments.
  • Observe your experiences and see them as real-time writing prompts (First line: “I got a lot of baggage.” Now write for 10 minutes.)
  • Start and foster a daily writing routine—just 10 minutes is better than no minutes.
  • READ. Laying out at the beach? Choose a stellar craft book or an inspiring book about power and how it shapes our lives and our communities, such as Megan Pillow and Roxane Gay’s soon-to-be book Do the Work: A Guide to Understanding Power and Creating Change.
  • Challenge yourself to write in a different genre. Imagine what would happen if there weren’t strawberries in the world or dig deep into your experience to see if you can write an essay about how sand feels when squished between your toes.
  • Take an informal writing class to keep you going.

I hope you’re motivated to write this summer because that’s what we writers do, but I also encourage you to plunge into this month’s pool of markets and submit your work!

In this issue, we offer an invigorating “In Conversation With” column. Ann Kathryn Kelly chats with award-winning writer and teacher Dr. Megan Pillow about her forthcoming book she co-authored with Dr. Roxane Gay, Meg’s free year-long intensive writing workshop called Craft Year, her work co-editing the newsletter The Audacity, and more.

In our newest “Breaking In” column, Ashley Harris shares how she became a health writer, and how her health-focused essays not only help other people manage their illnesses but also help support her memoir writing. She provides a sample pitch, some great resources, and chats with Bezzy editor, Laurie Budgar, who says that Bezzy is always looking for writers. Laurie also shares a hot tip!

Spring 2024 Flash Fiction Contest with Guest Judge Literary Agent Emily Williamson

If you have a flash fiction story in need of a home, WOW's Spring 2024 Flash Fiction Contest with literary agent Emily Williamson is seeking submissions! The deadline is May 31st at 11:59 pm PT. Send a story of 750 words or fewer for a chance to win. There is $1350 in cash prizes and twenty winners. We allow 300 entries max, and are around 60% full, so your odds are fantastic! We are one of the few contests that allow previously published work.


So as you head into your summer plans, don’t forget to bring your notebook and a pen with you (or your trusty laptop if you aren’t old school like me). Summer might be distracting, but with all the vacationing going on, you’ll be experiencing plenty of life moments to be inspired by to keep up your writing. Make writing a part of your summer plans by getting curious about what your experiences have to offer your words.

Chelsey Clammer is the award-winning author of the essay collections Human Heartbeat Detected (Red Hen Press, 2022; finalist for the Memoir Magazine Book Awards 2023), Circadian (Red Hen Press, 2017; winner, Red Hen Press Nonfiction Manuscript Award), and BodyHome (Hopewell Publications, 2015). Her work has appeared in Salon, The Rumpus, Brevity, and McSweeney’s, among many others. She was the Fall 2019 Jack Kerouac Writer-In-Residence through the Kerouac Project. Chelsey teaches online writing classes with WOW! Women On Writing and is a freelance editor. Visit her website at:


Facebook  X  Instagram  Pinterest  

Wish You Were Here

giphy image

Kick back this summer and let WOW do your marketing! Advertise in this newsletter that is sent to around 50,000 subscribers. Email us for current ad specials. And if you need help promoting your book, check out WOW's book promotion services.

Walk and Write in Scotland September 20-29!

An invitation to challenge your legs and renew your writing

Scotland Walking Women Writers Retreat

There's a reason writers throughout history have felt the call to travel, get out in nature, and immerse themselves in unfamiliar territory. And doodle!

These activities have been shown to boost creativity, sharpen observational skills, and help move ideas from possibility to page. That's why they are central at Compass Writers

Join us for our Scotland Walking Women Writer's Retreat September 20-29, 2024.

Scotland Walking Women Writer's Retreat

This retreat moves along the breathtaking 70-mile St. Cuthbert's Way, an ancient footpath in the country's lush borderlands. We'll engage in an arts-integrated writing process while stunning landscapes open our hearts and minds. Absolutely no art background is necessary! 

This retreat is grounded in the Amherst Writers & Artists method.  

Amherst Writers & Artists method

Moderate hiking level. Training plan provided.

Space is limited to 6 participants.

Registration closes June 15, 2024. 

Retreat Details

Cheryl Murfin

Led by Cheryl Murfin!

(Read an interview with Cheryl on WOW!)

The most important thing to know about Cheryl Murfin is that she loves to write and to encourage and support other writers. She received a BA in Journalism and worked as a newspaper reporter for six years. She has been a contributor to numerous magazines over the past 35 years and is currently managing editor of Seattle's Child. She co-authored one travel book and contributed to two Fodor's travel guides. She holds a Master's of Integrated Arts in Education. Cheryl has led free writing groups for 20 years and is a certified Amherst Writers & Artists facilitator. She conceived Compass Writers during her thesis work and after walking retreats after walking and writing the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage, Scotland's West Highland Way, and portions of the Via Francigena. 

Compass Writers

Retreat for Women Writers

Book Proposal Course + Pitch Opportunity!

Publishing for the Greater Good Course

Publishing for the Global Good:

Writing a Book that Makes a Difference

This video-based course guides learners through the Why, What, Who, How, When, and Where of writing a book that makes a difference in the world. Combined, these questions formulate a book proposal ready for any publisher, and the course offers strategies for finding a publisher whose values align with your own.

Dr. Angela Yarber

Guided by award-winning author and publisher, Dr. Angela Yarber, learners who complete the course have an opportunity to pitch a book directly to Tehom Center Publishing, a traditional publisher, with a chance to finish the course with a publishing contract!

Tehom Center Publishing is an imprint publishing feminist and queer authors at absolutely no cost to the authors, with a commitment to elevate BIPOC writers.

For WOW Writers: 10% Off the Course

Dr. Angela Yarber is giving WOW writers a special discount! Go to and use code WoW2024 to receive 10% off her course.

Course Details

WOW! Classes Starting Soon

Curiosity and Creative Nonfiction

4 weeks starting June 3

This class will look at the different ways in which being curious about an experience, an event, an object, an anything that catches your attention can fuel your writing and bring a deeper level of meaning to what you write. By combining (fun!) research and personal experience, your writing can take on new meanings. Whether it’s looking up facts about caskets to write about your depression, or finding new forms to use as structures for your essays, this class is all about honing in on our curiosity and research skills to improve, fuel, and inspire our writing.

Class Details

Empower Your Muse, Empower Your Writing Self

4 weeks starting June 3 ($40)

Learn how to tap into the power of your subconscious mind to achieve writing success. Based on the instructor’s book Living Write: The Secret to Bringing Your Craft Into Your Daily Life. Fee includes either a free 10-page critique of any genre, or a 15 minute one-on-one phone consultation with the instructor, Kelly L. Stone, on any topic related to writing.

Class Details

Pitching, Querying, and Submitting Your Work

4 weeks starting June 3

Whether you write essays, short stories or novels, sending your work to an agent, editor or publisher is a daunting task. This course will teach you to assemble submission basics including a pitch and a query letter. These tools will enable you to get your work in front of industry professionals. We will also discuss how to find markets and how to manage rejection. Course materials include successful samples and tips from industry experts. Led by Sue Bradford Edwards, an author with over 600 sales and 50 traditionally published books.

Class Details

Writing Horror and Gothic Fiction with Madeline Dyer

Writing Horror and Gothic Fiction

7 weeks starting June 4

Have you always wanted to write scary fiction but need help fine-tuning your idea? Got an idea for a horror novel, but have no idea where to start with the actual writing of your book? Does writing the Gothic appeal to you? In this seven-week course novelist Madeline Dyer will take you through the steps involved in crafting a horror or Gothic novel.

Class Details

How to Write a Dystopian Novel

How to Write a Dystopian Novel

8 weeks starting June 4

Have you always wanted to write a dystopian novel but need help fine-tuning your idea? Got an idea for a dystopian novel, but have no idea where to start with the actual writing of your book? In this eight-week course dystopian novelist Madeline Dyer will take you through the steps involved in crafting a dystopian novel.

Class Details

Strengthening Your Fiction

Strengthening Your Fiction

4 weeks starting July 8

In this class, we’ll cover story, scene, and chapter beginnings, unnecessary words and actions, deep points of view, inactive vs. active verbs, and the one thing you might be doing to hinder yourself when writing. By the end of this course, you’ll have a clear view of what should be in your novel and what shouldn’t and what makes the difference between a good novel and a great one. Led by Dawn Carrington, editor-in-chief of Vinspire Publishing.

Class Details

Rewriting Zoom Workshops

Get Your Erasers Ready!

It's Rewriting Time

4 week Zoom classes starting July 11

The first draft is a flush of excitement and energy, much like meeting a new romantic interest or an extra glass of something fun. Rewriting is a long-term relationship. It’s time to really meet the characters, get to know them inside and out, and reread that sentence or paragraph over and over, only to cut it for the good of the piece. This class will ask questions and use different techniques to rethink a piece of prose or a chapter that may be fresh or may have been sitting in the computer for a while. Led by Christy O'Callaghan!

Class Details

View More Classes

Calls for Pitches and Submissions, Remote Jobs

Feminist Food Journal - BODY Issue

Feminist Food Journal is seeking pitches for its forthcoming BODY issue! The issue will explore how food relates to our minded-bodies in all their diversity. Ideas for stories include: diet culture, family eating habits and familial expectations of bodies, body feelings, fatness, fatphobia, and fat justice, food allergies, gut issues, pregnancy in relation to food, and more. Stories can come in myriad forms: personal essay, memoir, long-form narrative, recipe, poetry, podcast, video. Pay: $130 per piece. Check out their call guidelines, and send your pitches to by June 12.

New Scientist - Holiday Issue

Features editor Abby Beall is seeking pitches for their holiday issue. Each year, they publish a double-length issue around Christmas and New Year with about 15 features that range from 1,200 to 2,300 words. These are fun and quirky and involve some new science. Examples include animals doing funny things, food stories, drink stories, history, you stories, and more. Pay: £660+ for 1,200 words. Check out their guide for freelancers and send your pitches to by June 14.

Insider - Parents with Kids at Summer Camp

Senior editor Conz Preti is looking for pitches from parents who send their kids on loooong (say 8 weeks?) sleep away camps in the summer. She's interested in what it does to your relationship with your partner/spouse and with your kids. Pay: $220+ per essay. Pitches to

Talking Travel Writing

A newsletter by travel writers Lottie Gross and Steph Dyson for travel writers. They are taking July off and are seeking pitches, so pitch asap! They'd love to commission op-eds about the little-discussed issues facing travel writers today, expert insight into a particular aspect of travel writing, and tips or hacks-based articles that are relevant to travel writers. Pay: £125 for 500 words. Pitches to

The Sun - Strangest Tips for Saving Money

Summer Raemason is seeking pitches for the furthest/ strangest/most inventive ways you have tried to save money amid the cost of living crisis. Pay reports £250+ per piece. Pitches to

Inverse - Video Games

Editor Shannon Liao is seeking video game pitches, especially around Elden Ring DLC and fun new titles you've been playing lately. She loves a strong angle. Pay: $150+ per piece. Pitches to

Telegraph Travel - Forest Bathing

Emilee Tombs is the new commissioning editor at Telegraph Travel and she's looking for a travel journalist with experience of forest bathing. Pay: $0.45 per word. Pitches to

Buzzfeed Tasty - Remote Recipe Editor

Buzzfeed Tasty is looking for a detail-oriented recipe editor to support their teams. The role is responsible for copyediting recipes and social captions submitted by their culinary team, creators and external talent. The ideal candidate should have deep culinary knowledge with an understanding of Tasty’s unique POV. Pay: $1,400 per week. Apply via form.

Truly* Adventurous - Longform, Character-driven Nonfiction

A digital magazine built with reckless faith in the power of true storytelling. They commission original works from nonfiction writers and distribute them in partnership with great publications. They are seeking pitches for longform, character-driven nonfiction work, and respond to pitches within ten business days. Pitches can be historical or current and span topics including crime, adventure, sports, and more. Pay: $1,000 per piece. Check out their pitch guidelines and pitch one of their editors.

The Wildlife Society - Remote Writer

The internal affairs writer is responsible for generating articles for the Society's website, their membership magazine, and digital channels. Pay: $40,000 - $60,000 annually. Check out their job description and submit your resume, contact info for three references, and a cover letter to Kristi Confortin at by June 9.

Slate - Business Stories

Senior biz editor Katie Krzaczek is seeking pitches for the business section of Slate. Send your smart ideas on the products we use, the money we spend, the trends we love (and hate!), the weird thing you can’t stop thinking about (especially this pls). Pay: $750 for short reported features. Pitches to

Strange Matters - Essays, Reportage, Interviews, Poetry

A new cooperative magazine published in print and digital formats. They are looking for pieces on political economy, social and intellectual history, criticism of all sorts (cultural, social, literary; of museum art, of novels, of video games, of films, etc), reportage, memoir, short fiction, poetry, and more. Online pieces are roughly 2,000 words, and print pieces are 3,000 - 10,000 words. The "Futon" section is reserved for pieces 1,000 words. Pay: $0.11 - $0.26 per word; Interviews: $150 (online), $300 (print); Poetry: 1 short poem, $75; multiple poems or 1 long poem $150 (online); $300 poetry budget per issue (print). Check out their submission guidelines, FAQ rate page, and send your pitch and/or writing samples to

GayCities - POC, Trans, and Women Travel Writers

They cover LGBTQ+ friendly destinations. Travel editor Bil Browning is looking for travel writers who are people of color, trans, or women. "Let's bring more representation to the industry!" This is an ongoing call. They often get offers for press trips to locations, which would be included if appropriate. Pay: $100 - $250 per piece. Pitches to

Polyester - Pop Culture, Essays, Internet Trends

An intersectional feminist fashion and culture zine. Editor Gina Tonic is looking for pitches, particularly pop culture deep dives, niche personal essays, and analysis on internet trends. Pay: £65 per piece. Check out their pitch guide and pitch her at

Nylon - Freelance Music Writer

Nylon is seeking an experienced writer with an interest in music culture to create and publish 3-4 stories per day (a mix of breaking news, service, profiles, and reported features). Pay: $75 per story. Apply via form.

The London Magazine - Argumentative Essays that Examine Literature

Managing editor Jamie Cameron is looking for argumentative essays that examine literature and the places it intersects with wider culture. Don’t be afraid to match high culture w/low, to be funny, iconoclastic, and have an authorial voice. Pay: £150 for essays or stories in print, £80 for 1 poem, £120 for 2, £150 for 3. This is a rolling pitch call. Check out their submission guidelines and send your essay pitches to

Nylon - Remote Fact Checker

Bustle Digital Group is seeking an experienced fact-checker to work on culture, style, beauty, and lifestyle stories, as well as interviews, profiles, and Q&As, for Nylon’s print issues during print production and on their website. Pay: $30.50 per hour. Apply via form.

The Sick Times - Reported Stories and Essays

The Sick Times is accepting pitches for reported news stories and essays/ commentary pieces. They prioritize pitches from people with Long Covid and related diseases. Pay: $1,200 for news features of 1,200-1,400 words and $400 for essays of 1,000-1,200 words. Check out their writer's guidelines and send your pitches to

STAT - Health, Medicine, Scientific Discovery

The editors are looking for original reporting that takes readers inside the world of health, medicine, and scientific discovery. That can translate to all sorts of stories: pieces that bring readers inside hospitals; that scrutinize new findings or industry business strategies; that chronicle patient experiences or shed light on disparities; or that dive deep into ideas or individuals that are changing the way we think about science and medicine. Pay: $1+ per word. Check out their pitch guidelines and pitch an editor listed on that page.

Sixty Inches From Center - Responses to Art Picks

A nonprofit arts publication promoting art in the Midwest. They are always seeking pitches for responses to any of their Art Picks. In addition, they are looking for interviews, essays and reviews of exhibitions, performances, talks, screenings, conferences, public art, artist books, and more. Pay: $150 per piece. Check out their writer's guidelines and submit a pitch via the form on that page.

Real Simple - Freelance Commerce Writers

Commerce editorial director Nicole Lund is looking for freelancers to write well-researched evergreen commerce content for Real Simple, specifically those with experience covering cleaning & organizing, bedding & bath, or vacuums & home appliances. Pay reports: $2 per word. Email her at

Insider - Divorce Essays

Senior reporter Frank Olito is looking to commission first-person essays. What have you learned after your divorce? What are your views on dating after divorce? Any advice for other divorcees? Pay: $220+ per essay. Pitches to

Writer's Digest - The Cozy Issue

Writer's Digest is accepting pitches and submissions for their November/December 2024 theme, "The Cozy Issue." They're seeking articles that take a deep dive into cozy mysteries, holiday romances, why familiar tropes work, comfort reads, tips for hunkering down to write, and other topics that create a warm-and-fuzzy feeling. Pay: $0.50 per word. Check out their writer's guidelines and pitch or submit via email to

UploadVR - Reviews & Previews

They publish VR and AR news, reviews, and industry analysis. Henry Stockdale is the new Reviews Editor at UploadVR, and he's looking to commission reviews and previews. Pay: $140 for previews, $225 for reviews. Pitch him at

Low Season Traveller

Low Season Traveller highlights destinations during their low seasons to show you how much better the experience can be without the crowds. Editor Ryan Maley is seeking pitches for the magazine on aspects of low season travel, including destination guides, low season experiences, sustainable hotels, food and drink, industry insights, extraordinary people. Pitches to

Written in Air - Non-English Audio Essays

Written In Air is full-scale audio production studio for creative sound and storytelling. Founder Dennis Funk is taking pitches for non-English language audio pieces that are 10-15 minutes long. It should be a narrative doc (but he's open to oddities or sound forward essays). He would love it to be from outside of NA or EU. Pay: $700 - $1500. Pitches to


Narratively & Wilson Quarterly - The Great Population Shakeup

As the global population surpasses 8 billion, the world is facing a critical demographic moment. The summer 2024 issue of the Wilson Quarterly goes beyond the “too many” or “too few” arguments of China’s latest policies that the media latches onto, to examine the power and limits of population as it relates to foreign policy. They are seeking pitches on this theme. Article length will be 1500 - 2000 words. Pay: $2,000 per article. Pitch via form by June 3.

Nonprofit Quarterly Magazine - Climate Justice Issue

They are seeking articles that describe the current state of youth climate justice work, concerns of youth, and new visions for the planet. Articles by climate writers should be between 800-3000 words, and creative writing from youth (essays, fiction, poetry) up to 1000 words. Pay: $200 - $500 per piece. Check out their call, and submit to with “Climate 2024 Submission” as the subject line by June 30.

In Conversation With ... Dr. Megan Pillow

In Conversation with Dr Megan Pillow

By Ann Kathryn Kelly

I read a short story several years ago, and upon finishing it, looked up the writer and followed her on Twitter. “We All Know About Margo” is tightly written, full of vivid descriptions, and leaves as much unsaid as said. It showcases a skilled writer at work, and makes for a memorable read. The short story earned nominations for a Pushcart Prize and Best Small Fictions, and a place in the Wigleaf Top 50 list for short fiction in 2019. 

Please give a warm welcome to Dr. Megan Pillow: writer, editor, scholar, teacher, author, and our guest this month! While reading about Margo in 2018, I could not have anticipated that I would come to know the piece’s writer, Meg, one-to-one after I was selected to work with her and a small cohort during a year-long intensive writing workshop, called Craft Year. I’m looking forward to sharing with our WOW! readers some of Meg’s writing philosophies, and to discuss her debut book, Do The Work, co-authored with The New York Times bestselling author, Dr. Roxane Gay. 

Meg is a graduate of the University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop in fiction, and holds a Ph.D. in English from the University of Kentucky. She is project manager for Dr. Gay, and co-edits The Audacity. Meg’s work has appeared in Electric Literature, SmokeLong Quarterly, Catapult, Brevity, The Believer, TriQuarterly, Guernica, and Gay Magazine, among others. Her stories have been featured in the Wigleaf Top 50, an essay was honored as notable in The Best American Essays 2019, another story received a distinguished honor in The Best American Short Stories 2020, and one was featured in The Best American Mystery and Suspense 2022. Meg received fellowships from Pen Parentis and the Martha’s Vineyard Institute of Creative Writing, and she completed a residency with the Ragdale Foundation. She is represented by Alyssa Jennette with the literary agency, Stonesong, and lives in Louisville, Kentucky, with her two children. 

WOW: Welcome, Meg! Thanks for joining us!

Meg: Thanks so much for the invitation!  

WOW: You have a lot of exciting irons in the fire, one of the biggest being your soon-to-be-released debut book in just a few weeks! We’ll get to that, but let’s start off with your Craft Year program, which holds special meaning for me. You describe Craft Year as “a free, year-long, intensive online writing workshop for people without MFAs.” What made you want to launch this free program, such a generous offering of your time and knowledge? What do you hope writers without MFAs will take away from the experience?

Meg: I’ve been lucky enough to be the recipient of a lot of kindnesses from established writers. My long-time writing mentor, Frank X Walker, for example, has been supportive of my writing since he was my first creative writing teacher when I was 16, and Roxane Gay, who I obviously work for now, has been encouraging me since I met her when I was a graduate student in 2018. When you see how generous some established writers are, you realize that what makes the writing community work are people who aren’t transactional—it’s folks who share their time without expecting repayment, because they have been the recipient of kindnesses too and who simply want you to pass the kindness you receive on to an emerging writer when you have the chance. I have received so much from other writers. I wanted to do my best to make sure I’m passing it on. 

For the writers in this first year of Craft Year, I hope you’ll see this as a space where you learn a bit more about craft, gain some workshop experience, and establish a community, and I hope you’ll take what you’ve learned and build on it in other spaces. Writing is lifelong, so I hope you’ll see the program as one of many that helps you grow a bit more as a writer. 

WOW: I was thrilled when I received your email last spring, letting me know I was selected to join you for the inaugural 2023-2024 Craft Year cohort. You published a post on your blog, mentioning that you received nearly 250 applications for 10 spots. I learned about the open application call from your post on Twitter/X, but did you also promote it elsewhere? What surprised you about this strong response? What did it tell you about writers’ interests in joining a program like this?

Meg: I only promoted it on social media, and I was a little surprised by the strong response. I thought I’d get a few dozen applications, because I know there are lots of program opportunities out there for writers, and I figured working with me might not be everyone’s cup of tea. But I think much of the response was driven by the fact that writers are eager for community spaces, especially those that are free, and there are so few of those available. I’ve spent much of my time in the past year thinking about how to better cultivate those spaces, and I have a few ideas, but it’s a huge challenge. So many elite writing spaces, from fellowships to residencies to workshops, either require capital or are funded by organizations and individuals whose values and beliefs don’t always align with our own. I think a lot more writers would like communal spaces where they can interact with and learn from established writers without money being such a barrier or such an ethical quandary. And that says nothing about the challenges we face with too many writing environments still being homogenous, and sometimes homogenizing, spaces.  

Craft Year

WOW: Our cohort has spent months learning from you, through craft discussions, close readings of well-known fiction and nonfiction pieces, and our own workshop critiques. Can you share what you may have learned from us, in return? Has anything surprised you?

Meg: One of the reasons I still teach when I can is because I always learn something from my students. And you all are such a brilliant group—not just book smart, although that’s patently obvious, but also so astute about the state of the world and so emotionally intelligent, particularly with the ways in which you grapple with your own emotions and the emotions of your characters on the page. 

What I’m most impressed by is how quickly you all have taken to generative critique. I mean, I tried to model some approaches, but all of you took that model and made it your own, often coming up with questions, critiques, and insights that are both compassionate and insightful before I even stepped in to offer feedback. Workshop has too often functioned as a space where people tear each other down, and you all have easily made it a space where people’s work is treated with rigor but also respect. I admire that so much, because I rarely experienced that in environments where my own work was being workshopped. I love seeing writers tear down antiquated and harmful practices in our artistic field and build new ones that reinforce the reality that writers are people, and that critique can and should treat them and their work with dignity. 

Meg Pillow

“The point of workshop and feedback isn’t to shape a piece into something that’s more like what you would write or what you like to read. The point is to help the writer achieve their own goals. If critique isn’t seeing the vision and aim of the work and offering specific feedback to help it get there, it’s a good sign that it’s not effective.”

WOW: I agree, wholeheartedly, that irresponsible workshop critiques can go sideways fast and devastate a writer. I’m grateful my experience in Craft Year has been so supportive. I’ll also take a moment here to plug our own fantastic team at WOW! I’ve taken several WOW! Workshops through the years, and each has been a wonderful experience where my writing has improved and I’ve maintained strong friendships long after the class has ended. 

What expectations did you start out with when Craft Year began, and—now that we’re more than halfway through it—what might you change or enhance for a follow-up program?

Meg: Honestly, I tried not to start out with expectations, because I’ve learned that in many cases, having expectations of a group of people is a recipe for disaster. I try to have benchmarks and goals to work toward instead. But my biggest goals were to try to establish community, to give everyone a chance to share their work and get feedback, and to have consistent meetings. I think we’ve done well at establishing community and giving folks a chance to share their work, although we still have a few months left, and I think we can still cultivate more space for that. I think consistent meetings have been trickier because of my own family obligations and because we have a group from all over the world in varied time zones. I’ll definitely establish a set time for meetings beforehand the next time I do this, so that folks who apply will know whether it will work with their schedule. And I’m hoping to have more of a presence on Discord next time, too.

WOW: I thought it might be fun to invite our readers into the Craft Year classroom, as proverbial flies on the wall. One of your teaching philosophies is that in order for our workshop critiques to be helpful to one another, the feedback we give needs to be actionable. Otherwise, it’s just a preference. Can you expand on that?

Meg: We are all readers, and we have characters, plots, language, and stylistic features we prefer to see on the page. We often gravitate toward those features in what we read and in our own work. And that is totally fine as personal craft and reading guide, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s something that other people need to implement in their own work. One of the things I ask writers to think about when they’re reading someone else’s work is: “What is the goal of this piece?” Not, “What do I think the piece should do?” but “What is it doing, and what is the writer trying to accomplish?” 

Your first goal as a reader is to figure that out. Your second is to ask yourself realistically whether you can help the writer reach that goal without changing the work to make it more like your own. Because the point of workshop and feedback isn’t to shape a piece into something that’s more like what you would write or what you like to read. The point is to help the writer achieve their own goals. 

We have to be able to separate our preferences from what is best for someone else’s work. And we have to be specific with our feedback—that’s what I mean by actionable. You can’t tell someone, “I don’t think this works” without telling them why. For critique to be effective, it has to say: “I think this is what you’re trying to do, but I don’t think it’s working yet, and here’s what you might try instead.” If critique isn’t seeing the vision and aim of the work and offering specific feedback to help it get there, it’s a good sign that it’s not effective. 

WOW: Such great points, Meg. Our tendency is to want to color the world according to our own views. You also encourage us to advocate for our decisions; to be prepared to back up our choices for why we wrote and edited a piece of work, or even just a passage, the way we did. Why is this self-advocacy important? How does it protect our work? How does it help us balance the editing process?

Meg: Self-advocacy is something I was never taught as a writer, and it took me years to understand how important it is. So many of the craft guidelines and rules we’re taught about what makes good writing were developed by and for white male writers (even though we well know that important, innovative work has been created by writers outside of those categories for as long as writing has existed). 

I’ve seen so many writers who are not white and male get bullied into removing the heart from their work because it doesn’t adhere to writing standards stamped with the approval of a singular, historically powerful demographic of people. And that shouldn’t be happening. Writers, whatever their background and perspective, have always had something meaningful to add to the writing landscape that makes it a bigger, more welcoming place for all of us, and people should be encouraged to understand and cultivate what makes their style or perspective or narrative unique. That doesn’t mean we throw away all the lessons from the white male writers. It simply means we disrupt their hold on literary power: we learn their lessons, we evaluate their efficacy and usefulness, and we apply the ones we wish to apply to our work and discard the others. But in order to do that, we have to invigorate our own sources of knowledge and power, and understand why we are making the decisions we’re making on the page. 

I ask writers to think carefully about why they’ve made the choices they have, in part to learn to defend their decisions and in part so they can better understand the intimacies and patterns of their own writing practice. If you know why you’re making the decisions you are, over time it becomes easier to see which decisions are serving your work well and which ones are not. And if you’re learning that you shouldn’t simply attempt to fit your work like a puzzle piece into the larger framework of the history of literature, but that your job is to help explode that framework, to expand it, it helps you become more thoughtful, discriminating, and compassionate—not only with your work, but with the work of others, especially those who are taking risks. 

WOW: On the flip side, can you share when it might sometimes be appropriate for a writer to rethink or change a piece of writing, based on collective workshop feedback?

Meg: I think when a trusted writer or group of writers, folks who understand your vision, tell you something isn’t working and may not work, it’s a good idea to at least entertain their advice. I also think when you’re struggling with something and feel like you’re hitting a wall, it’s a good idea to step away and to seriously consider new perspectives that might lead you in a different direction. The great thing about writing is you can always save and return to the old draft—just copy the whole piece into a new document and play around with it to see if it’s fruitful, and if not? You can always go back. 

I also think it’s really important to listen if someone says that something in your work is feeding a harmful stereotype or demeaning a group of people. We have to come to terms with the fact that no matter our intentions, sometimes we make mistakes in our work, just as in our lives, and we hurt people. That’s not a sign that we’re evil or malicious. It means we’re human. And one of the best things we can do as writers is understand critique as a form of love: listen to legitimate, evidence-based critique, to understand the work and thought that someone put in to bring that to us, and to consider the impact of our work, not just the intent. 

There is no shame in saying you were wrong, to apologize, and to rethink something. We need to be more receptive to, and understanding of, those moments—both when we’re the person doing the calling in and when we’re being called in. It’s pretty embarrassing, however, to watch grown adults dig in their heels and deny it when they’re presented with evidence that they’ve done something wrong. It’s especially important in artistic fields that we learn how to meet these moments with grace and humility because growth in our fields only comes from taking risks, making mistakes, and learning from them. 

WOW: Taking it outside a workshop setting, how might writers balance self-advocacy if an editor asks them to change a piece? Each writer’s goal is publication, after all, so if we stand our ground with an editor, do we risk our chance at publication? What does a happy medium look like to you?

Meg: It’s tricky when you’re standing your ground with an editor or publication. It’s also usually not realistic to refuse any changes. Chances are if you do, you’re going to miss out on a publication opportunity. A happy medium would be evaluating an editor’s feedback, prioritizing which changes you feel the most strongly about, and making sure your reason for asking to hold your ground is sound. Have an open conversation with an editor that respects their expertise, while also asking for a compromise in a few places and explaining why you feel strongly about those changes. In many cases, editors will respect that and will work with you. If they don’t, you should evaluate whether or not that publication is actually a good fit for you if its editing practices are so firmly dictatorial. 

Publication is often our goal, but we have to balance that desire with our integrity as writers and also understand we will not win every battle. But we should also begin to set goals beyond publication alone. We should set goals to write and publish work that aligns with our principles, and to be one more person pushing editing practices in traditional publishing markets more towards functioning as conversations between people with different kinds of expertise and less as hierarchies where one person calls all the shots. 

Meg Pillow

“We have to believe in the urgency and value of our own work—not that it necessarily will change the world all on its own, but that it will reach someone, change someone, make them feel like they have something worth sharing, too.”

WOW: You recently spoke to our class about writing from catharsis vs. writing from craft. I think our readers would benefit from your take on this. Can you share what you mean?

Meg: In short, I think writers often feel like they have to do one or the other: write from catharsis or write from craft. But I really think you can and should do both, and we should remove our assumptions about rigor from the craft category alone. You can write something that adheres to all craft guidelines and it can be shallow as hell, and you can write something purely from catharsis that is a masterpiece of craft. You can start from catharsis to produce your draft, then move to a more craft-focused revision, or you can do the reverse. 

When we tell ourselves that one of these is more valuable than the other, however, we’re again falling prey to stereotypes about what kind of writing is most important. It places our writing in a hierarchy, and I think that’s a narrow-minded and unproductive way of thinking about our work. 

WOW: You also encourage us, continually, to “be more generous on the page.” What do you mean by that, and how can writers put it into practice? Does this mean something different for fiction writers, vs. nonfiction?

Meg: I tend to think of generosity on the page twofold: both more generous with ourselves and generous with the critique we offer others, which I’ve already spoken about. Too many people approach writing with the expectation that they need to produce a Great Work of Art. Not enough people approach their work with a desire to share something meaningful, or accurate, or spellbinding, or simply really good fun. But it is in those moments of being true to ourselves and our impulses that we have the opportunity to produce something deeply moving and inspiring to others. I think generosity means really believing that your work, whatever it is, has value, that you have something to say. I also think that we would be better served thinking more about the process of our work, than the final product. 

I often think of writing as problem solving: I’m posing a problem for myself, a what if, and attempting to solve it. When I’m being generous, I remember that the way I’m solving that problem might be meaningful to someone other than myself, and that sharing that work is also a way of passing along what I’ve learned from other people. We have to believe in the urgency and value of our own work—not that it necessarily will change the world all on its own, but that it will reach someone, change someone, make them feel like they have something worth sharing, too. 

WOW: A great practice to internalize: to be generous to ourselves in the writing process, as well as to our readers. Let’s turn now to your work with Dr. Gay. How did you uncover the opportunity to become her project manager? You co-edit The Audacity, a newsletter I read beginning to end every time it hits my inbox. Each is packed with current events. I chuckle at some links (pop culture) but find many tragic, where I share the outrage. Given the breadth of current events, how long does each newsletter take to pull together? How does the team decide what to research and include?

Meg: My job is thanks to Dr. Gay’s generosity. I met her in 2018 when she agreed to speak to the Women’s Literature class I was teaching while I was completing my Ph.D. at the University of Kentucky. After the class, we stayed in touch. She shared some of my writing on Twitter, and eventually she asked me to write an essay for her former magazine, Gay Magazine. After that, I kept applying to positions she had available, and I kept getting rejected, but I received encouraging messages from her with each application. Finally, I applied to co-edit The Audacity a few months after I completed my Ph.D., and she offered me the job. It was freelance work at first, but after about a year, she asked me to join her full-time as project manager. 

As for the newsletter, we are a pretty small team. I do most of the editing for the Emerging Writer Series, and I contribute to some of the writing for the book club. Dr. Gay and her personal assistant, Kaitlyn, handle most of the gathering of links for her Roundup, although I send her some to consider. Dr. Gay reads widely, so I know much of what she includes comes from her own reading, but also from friends and colleagues who share things with her that she might find of interest. I know the Roundup is in part a peek at what she’s regularly reading, and in part a gathering of disparate things she thinks her subscribers will find interesting. I read it every week because I know she’s going to share something that I’ve likely missed.  

WOW: Staying with Dr. Gay, you recently co-authored a book with her: Do The Work: A Guide To Understanding Power and Creating Change. It will be published in just a few weeks, on June 18, by Leaping Hare Press. I love this summary: “Challenge your biases and broaden your understanding of power and how we wield it.” Why is this book the right message for society, right now?

Meg: I’ve mentioned this in other places, including on social media, but we’re constantly talking these days about culture and justice and politics. Too frequently, those discussions don’t utilize any kind of analysis of power. I think that’s in part because we’re living in a world in crisis, and we’re constantly dysregulated and under stress because of those crises, so it makes productive conversation, particularly about how to best identify and show up for the people who are most vulnerable, really difficult. But I also think in part it is because collectively, we don’t have either the tools or the vocabulary to talk about power effectively. We’re taught to respect and defer to narrow categories of power, but only rarely are we taught to analyze it, challenge it, or reframe it. 

We’re hoping this book will be one tool that can help facilitate that. I’m borrowing a little from what I’ve written elsewhere about this book, but our goal is to give readers a framework for better understanding power and how it shapes our lives and communities. We wrote this first for readers who are looking to improve their knowledge and understanding of power dynamics and their relationship with social justice issues. We also wrote it for people who are interested in becoming involved with local organizing efforts in their community, but who aren’t sure where to start. So many of us have good intentions when we enter organizing spaces, but success in those spaces requires a certain level of self-awareness, a shared social justice framework, and a community mindset rather than one that’s hyper-individualized. 

I also want to stress that there are a lot of great books out there that talk about organizing and power. We mention some of them in our bibliography and resource section. We hope our book will be a contribution to that body of literature, and we hope it will also be one that’s an approachable resource for people who may be new to thinking about power and to organizing, especially the individual work that you have to do before you’re ready to work effectively with other people. 

Do the Work

WOW: Do The Work: a simple, yet powerful title. Why was it chosen?

Meg: I honestly don’t know! The title was chosen before I was invited to be part of the project. But my best guess is because “do the work” is common communal lingo right now, a phrase that lots of folks are familiar with and which has meaning that’s significant both to activism and the work of improving self-awareness. Whoever chose it probably felt like it would resonate with lots of readers. 

WOW: How did you and Dr. Gay determine what research to include? How did you divide the research and writing, as co-authors? 

Meg: For this project, Dr. Gay gave me a rough outline of where she thought it might go, and I took that outline and fleshed it out with ideas and research. I returned it to her, and she fleshed it out with more ideas and research. She asked me to tackle the first rough draft using the outline, and then she did a heavy revision of that draft. Once we sent it to the publisher, we of course did several more rounds of revision. It was a relatively streamlined process, to be honest, but I think that’s because Dr. Gay and I have worked together for a few years now, so we have some solid workflow practices that rely on trust and a lot of give and take.

WOW: What do you want readers to take away?

Meg: I hope they’ll have a better vocabulary for talking about power. I hope they’ll be more aware of their own sources of power and of how power works at societal, institutional, and governmental levels. And I hope they’ll have a better idea of some tactics they can use individually and collectively to disrupt power, so that it can better benefit the many instead of the few. 

Meg Pillow

I think writers often feel like they have to do one or the other: write from catharsis or write from craft. But I really think you can and should do both. You can write something that adheres to all craft guidelines and it can be shallow as hell, and you can write something purely from catharsis that is a masterpiece of craft.

WOW: You’re represented by Alyssa Jennette with the literary agency, Stonesong, and I know you’re working on a fiction manuscript. Can you share with our readers what it’s about? Are you on submission, and if so, how’s that going? 

Meg: I’d love to! I’m working on a mosaic novel, a term I borrowed from Sequoia Nagamatsu’s beautiful novel How High We Go In The Dark, one of my favorite fiction reads of recent years. 

My novel is comprised of a series of related stories, all set in the same world with similar characters. The anchor story is “Long Live The Girl Detective”—a story I published a couple of years ago in Electric Lit. The story was born out of a comic that was meant to celebrate Nancy Drew’s 90th anniversary and supposedly killed off Nancy Drew and had the Hardy Boys solve her murder. It was a premise I hated, so I wrote a story where a dead Girl Detective solves her own murder. The novel moves beyond that original premise, delving more into Nancy’s relationship with her children and her father, the secrets behind her mother’s life and death, and the complications and connections she navigates with other people, mainly women, as she tries to help them solve their problems and mysteries while managing her own life. I also try to tackle a bit more about the tension between Nancy as a character and Nancy as a cultural totem and legend, and how that informs so much of her life in the book. 

It’s in part an homage to Nancy Drew, who I was a massive fan of as a kid, and an homage to the work of people like Kelly Link, Pauline Hopkins, Carmen Machado, and Octavia Butler, all of whom have opened my mind to what fiction is capable of. I’m currently working on my second manuscript revision, based on my agent’s feedback. I hope to have it back to her in the next couple of months. So I’m not on submission yet, but I hope to be out there soon. 

WOW: Love your book’s premise, Meg! Your writing has been included in The Best American Essays 2019, The Best American Short Stories 2020, The Best American Mystery and Suspense 2022, the Wigleaf Top 50, and in some of the finest literary journals. As we prepare to wrap, I’d love to hear about your first publication, as those are always memorable. Tell us about it, and please share a link if you have it! 

Meg: My first publication was so long ago! I believe it was a piece in my local indie magazine, the Louisville Eccentric Observer (we call it the LEO), somewhere around 2000 or 2001. I won their fiction contest with a very overwrought story about Italy and longing and art and lost love. I had just read Graham Greene’s The End of the Affair and was overwhelmed with fantasies of tortured romantic love. My piece is unfortunately—or perhaps very fortunately!—not online, only available in print. In retrospect, it wasn’t very good, but it was very passionate and earnest, and the language was lovely. I remember getting a lot of compliments about that. I very much appreciated that the staff believed in the piece, and I’m glad I published it because I like seeing my evolution as a writer. I like that the evidence of it is out there. And it will always mean something to me that someone believed in my early work. 

WOW: You write essays, you write fiction, you write flash. Even reportage, and commentary. Which is your favorite, and why? Each is challenging, but which is most challenging for you, and why?

Meg: I’m honestly not sure I have a favorite—I love writing in all of these genres. But as for challenging, I think they are all really damn difficult in their own ways. The most challenging, for me, is probably personal essays. It is very difficult to be vulnerable enough to do a personal essay really well and to offer a perspective on an experience that’s both deeply individualized but also in some way universal. It’s even more difficult to be willing to use the essay to identify and recount your own flaws as clearly as you can identify, and recount the flaws of other people on the page. That’s something I think the most powerful personal essays and memoirs do, and I’m still working on it. I think I’m still likely to give myself too much grace and to be too hard on other people. But I’m going to keep trying. 

My thanks to Dr. Megan Pillow for chatting with us today—and, for personally supporting me this past year through Craft Year. Her generous classroom guidance, along with the time she has given me in our one-to-one Office Hours, always renews my energy and confidence, sparking insights I can immediately apply to my writing.

Despite Twitter’s implosion and strange morph into a single letter, Meg still drops in from time to time on X. You can also find her on Instagram and at her website

Be sure to get your copy of Do The Work, available for pre-order now! Until next time …

Ann Kathryn Kelly

Ann Kathryn Kelly writes from New Hampshire’s Seacoast region. She’s an editor with Barren Magazine, a columnist with WOW! Women on Writing, and she works in the technology sector. Ann leads writing workshops for a nonprofit that offers therapeutic arts programming to people living with brain injury. Her writing has appeared in a number of literary journals.


Boulevard Poetry Contest

Deadline: June 1

You can win $1,000 and publication awarded for the winning group of three poems by a poet who has not yet published a book with a nationally distributed press. Fee includes a one-year subscription. Fee: $18

The Pedestal Magazine

Deadline: June 2

For Pedestal 94, editors will be accepting submissions of poetry. No restrictions on theme, style, length, or genre. Please submit up to 5 poems and include all work in a single file. Pay: $50 per poem. Fee: $3 

Oprelle Matter Contest

Deadline: June 2

Even though this anthology will be called Matter, all that is expected is that your poetry reflects emotions and thoughts coming from the depths of you. Submit 3-40 lines in any style, on any topic. First Place: $400 and publication. Second Place: $200 and publication. Third Place: $100 and publication. Top three winners will be published with a headshot and biography in the Matter - Award Winning Poetry XXIV anthology. Fee: $20

Poet Lore: Summer/Fall 2024 Issue – Ekphrastic Poems

Deadline: June 5

Your approach to ekphrasis can work in many different ways to illuminate aspects of the artwork itself, respond to the artist, and create new meaning. They are particularly interested in poems responding to works in movement, including media, movies, music videos, etc. but also encourage poems grounded in “traditional” forms of ekphrasis such as visual art, photography, and sculpture. Please be sure to note, either in an epigraph or footnote, the work you are responding to in each poem. Submit up to 3 poems (8 pages max). Pay: $50 per poem and a copy of their issue. No fee. 

The Margins

Deadline: June 6

Every Tuesday, The Margins publishes the work of emerging and established Asian American and diasporic poets. They publish English-language poems and translations of poems. Submissions should be no longer than 5 pages total. They are open to all styles, forms, and subjects, but are drawn to poetry that transforms the mundane into magical with unexpected imagery and reflects on personal and/or cultural history. Pay: $50 to $90 USD for original and translated poetry. No fee. 

Underblong: Issue 8

Deadline: June 15

Underblong is a poetry journal of the not-quite-so, of unfinished thoughts, of unresolved anger, of unforgotten macaroni art. Underblong is the coatroom of your secret’s secrets, a boiling pot of kit-kats becoming your favorite soup. Send a poem that cuts through the crap. Send them your dinner chicken. Poems made by a soul. Submit up to 4 poems. Pay: $20. No fee. 

Eye to the Telescope: Issue 53: Strange Mixology

Deadline: June 15

A journal of speculative poetry. Issue 53, “Strange Mixology” will be edited by Gretchen Tessmer. Feel free to interpret the theme broadly, but make sure there’s a spec element. Submit 1 - 3 unpublished poems in English and include a short bio. Pay: 4¢/word rounded up to nearest dollar; minimum US $4, maximum $25. No fee. 

2024 Akron Poetry Prize - Full Length

Deadline: June 15

Each year, the University of Akron Press offers the Akron Poetry Prize, a competition open to all poets writing in English. The winning poet receives $1,500 and publication of their book as part of the Akron Series in Poetry. The final selection will be made by a nationally prominent poet. Other manuscripts may also be considered for publication in the series. Manuscripts must be a total length of at least 48 pages and no longer than 90 pages. Fee: $25

2024 Blue Lynx Prize for Poetry - Full Length

Deadline: June 15

The annual Blue Lynx Prize for Poetry awards $2000 plus publication for a full-length poetry collection. The Prize is awarded for an unpublished, full-length volume of poems by a U.S. author, which includes foreign nationals living and writing in the U.S. and U.S. citizens living abroad. Entries must be at least 48 pages in length. Fee: $28

New Measure Poetry Prize - Full Length

Deadline: June 15

Parlor Press's poetry series, Free Verse Editions, is pleased to announce the eleventh annual New Measure Poetry Prize, which will carry a cash award of $1,000 and publication of an original, unpublished manuscript of poems. Up to three other manuscripts may be accepted for publication by Free Verse Editions editors. Submit a manuscript of at least 54 pages. The judge for the 2024 competition is Jon Thompson. Fee: $28

The Bitter Oleander Press Library of Poetry Award - Full Length

Deadline: June 15

An award of $1500 plus book publication of the winning manuscript is open to anyone writing in the English language. Translations are not eligible. Manuscripts must be typed and range between 48 and 80 pages. Fee: $28

The 23rd Annual Gival Press Oscar Wilde Award

Deadline: June 27

This award will be given to the best previously unpublished (self-publications and publications online are considered "published work") original poem written in English (of any length, in any style, typed, single spaced but with breaks for stanzas on one side only), which best relates LGBTQ+ life by a poet who is 18 or older. Entrants are asked to submit up to 3 of their poems. The winner will receive $500 (USD), and the poem, along with information about the poet, will be published on the websites of Gival Press. Fee: $20

Poetry London Prize 2024

Deadline: June 30

The Poetry London Prize is a major, internationally renowned award for a single outstanding poem. First Prize is £5,000, Second Prize is £2,000 and Third Prize is £1,000. The judge of the 2024 Prize is Hannah Sullivan. Entries must be written in English, can be on any subject and can be written in any style or form. Each poem should be uploaded in a separate document. Entries are welcome from poets based anywhere in the world and there are no restrictions on themes, subjects or styles. Fee: £10 per poem

2024 May Sarton New Hampshire Poetry Prize - Full Length

Deadline: June 30

Bauhan Publishing is accepting submissions for the 2024 May Sarton New Hampshire Poetry Prize. Manuscripts must be typed and paginated, and roughly 50 to 80 pages in length. The winner receives $1,000, book publication, and 50 copies of the published book, as well as distribution with other spring titles through their distributor (Casemate IPM). Fee: $30

Last Stanza Poetry Journal: Issue 17 - A Table of Wilderness

Deadline: June 30

A single $100 award will be given for an outstanding poem. Poems can be any style, but preferably non-rhyming. Submit up to three poems, each no longer than 64 lines, to as a single Word document or within the body of your email. Published poems will be considered for a Pushcart Prize nomination. No fee.

Spring 2024 Flash Fiction Contest with Literary Agent Emily Williamson


Bard Fiction Prize

Deadline: June 1

A prize of $30,000 and a one-semester appointment as writer-in-residence at Bard College is given annually to a fiction writer under the age of 40. The winner must give at least one public lecture and meet informally with students but is not expected to teach traditional courses. Submit a cover letter explaining the project you plan to work on while at Bard and submit a CV, along with three copies of the published book you feel best represents your work. No fee.

Chicken House Children’s Fiction Competition - Full-Length

Deadline: June 1

The main prize is a worldwide publishing contract with Chicken House with a £10,000 advance (subject to contract). Their panel of judges will select the overall winner, who will also receive an offer of representation from a top literary agent, Lydia Silver. The winner will be the entrant whose story, in the opinion of the judges, demonstrates the greatest entertainment value, quality, originality and suitability for children. To enter, you must have written a completed full-length novel suitable for children/young adults aged somewhere between 7 and 18 years. By full-length they suggest a minimum of 30,000 words and a maximum of 80,000 words. Fee: £20

Halifax Ranch Prize for Fiction 

Deadline: June 1

American Short Fiction's Halifax Ranch Prize for Fiction is now open for submissions. Daniel Mason will guest judge. The winner will receive a $2,500 prize and publication in an upcoming issue of American Short Fiction. In addition, the winner will receive a week-long all-expenses-paid writing retreat (optional—dates TBD) at the Tasajillo Residency, which neighbors the Halifax Ranch just outside of Austin in Kyle, Texas. The residency must be scheduled within a year after the winner is announced. All US-based submitters will receive a complimentary copy of the prize issue. The entry fee covers one 6,500-word fiction submission. Fee: $20

Salamander 2024 Fiction Prize

Deadline: June 1

Submit your fiction to the Salamander 2024 Fiction Prize. The First Prize is $1,000, and the Second Prize is $500, and Publication. All entries will be considered for publication. Send no more than one story per entry. Each story must not exceed 30 double-spaced pages. Fee: $15

Bath Flash Fiction Award

Deadline: June 2

Submit a flash fiction with 300 word limit. Prize: £1000 prize for the winner, £300 second and £100 third. Two commendations £30 each. 50 long-listed entrants offered publication in their end of year print and digital anthology. Those accepting receive a free print copy. Flash Award judge, Michelle Elvy, shortlists to 20 and chooses the winning, second, third, and two commended fictions. Fee: £9.00 GBP

New American Fiction Prize - Full Length

Deadline: June 15

The winning manuscript will be published and its author will receive a publication contract including $1,500 and 25 copies. Manuscripts should be at least 100 pages, but there is no maximum length. All forms and styles of full-length fiction manuscripts are welcome, including story collections, novels, novellas, collections of novellas, flash fiction collections, novels in verse, and other hybrid forms. Fee: $25

The Baltimore Science Fiction Society Amateur Writing Contest - Maryland Writers

Deadline: June 15

The Baltimore Science Fiction Society Amateur Writing Contest is open to amateur writers over 18 years old who are residents of Maryland and to students attending any Maryland 2- or 4-year college. Any short story that falls into the speculative fiction genre—science fiction and fantasy in all their forms—is welcome. The Amateur Writing Contest is limited to stories of speculative fiction between 1,000 and 5,500 words that have not have been previously published. Prizes include: 1st place is $250, 2nd place is $100, 3rd place is $50, and Honorable mentions are awarded for Fourth and Fifth place. No fee.

The Hummingbird Flash Fiction Prize

Deadline: June 15

Submit your flash fiction to Pulp Literature's Hummingbird Flash Fiction prize. This contest is for short fiction under 1000 words. Winners published in: Pulp Literature Issue 45, Winter 2025. First Prize: $300. Fee: $25

FFF Competition Twenty-Two: Micro Fiction

Deadline: June 23

Submit a flash fiction piece of between 100 and 300 words, on any theme. Winner will receive £150.00 and publication; 2 Highly Commended will receive £50.00 and publication; 3 Shortlisted will receive £40.00 and publication. Fee: £3.95 

Flame Tree Publishing: Circe

Deadline: June 23

Enchantress, goddess, witch, predatory seductress… Inevitably, Circe has been best-known in these terms, through the male gaze of Homer, Hesiod et al., as interpreted by readers and storytellers until today. Stories submitted for consideration need to explore new or expanded angles to the character: have her follow alternative paths, present different viewpoints, give deeper background, counter the patriarchal narrative and male gaze, or perhaps pursue story lines that are hinted at in the original tales and poetry. Submit stories 3,000 – 4,000 words. Pay: $0.08 per word for original stories, $0.06 per word for reprints. No fee. 

Bardsy 2024 Spring Anthology Contest - Compelling Hooks

Deadline: June 24

Calling all serious writers: test your hook! You know that a solid start is essential in any writing. The key is to grab grabs readers' attention and never let go. They are looking for short stories from 1,500 to 2,000 words. All qualified entrants will receive professional feedback from their editing team before judging, so the earlier you submit, the more time you have to revise. Grand prize: $500 and anthology publication. All finalists will receive $50 and anthology publication. Fee: $20

Drue Heinz Literature Prize – Short Fiction Collection

Deadline: June 30

A prize of $15,000 and publication by University of Pittsburgh Press is given annually for a collection of short fiction. Writers who have published at least one previous book of fiction or a minimum of three short stories or novellas in nationally distributed magazines or literary journals are eligible. No fee.


The Audacity - Emerging Writer Essays

Deadline: Rolling

The Audacity is a newsletter from Dr. Roxane Gay, and co-edited by Dr. Megan Pillow, WOW's feature interview this month! Every two weeks, they publish an essay from an emerging writer (someone with three or fewer publications and no books or book contracts), and share a brief interview with them about their work, who they are, who they hope to become. They want nuanced, thoughtful work where the essayist looks both inward and outward. They are particularly interested in well-researched, voice-driven writing. Personal essays and cultural criticism are warmly welcomed. Essays should be between 1500 - 3000 words. Pay: $1,500 per essay. No fee.

The Fiddlehead 2024 Creative Nonfiction Contest

Deadline: June 3

$2,000 CAD for best creative nonfiction essay. The guest judge is author Lorri Neilsen Glenn. Submit a creative nonfiction piece up to 6,000 words. Fee: If your address is in Canada, then the fee for first entry is $35 CAD. Additional entries after that first contest entry are $10 CAD. If you do not live in Canada, then the fee accounts for the exchange rate and is $50 CAD (approximately $40 USD) for the first entry and $10 CAD for additional entries. Fee includes a one-year subscription. 

V Press Nonfiction Books Contest

Deadline: June 3

V Press will offer one cash prize of $700 US dollars to the top prize along with publication of winning book and royalties. Finalists and runners up are not offered a cash reward. However, they may be offered a book contract. Submit a full manuscript, with 2-3 page synopsis after the title page. Fee: $35

Bright Wall/Dark Room - To the Sea

Deadline: June 10

It's almost summer, and where better to be than on a beach, looking out towards the sea? Watching the waves, seeing what washes up. Dreaming of where else you might go, how you could lose yourself on that vast expanse of ocean. Or maybe wondering: are you already at sea? Awash in the uncertainty of what might be next, trying to steal a few moments in the sun to ground yourself. Maybe you're the girl in the portrait on the wall in Barton Fink. Maybe you're living The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou; or holding on tight to your volleyball, the one object keeping your Cast Away self sane, or being haunted by your dead lover who tried to sail away, like in Atlantique. Whatever your situation, for their July issue they're looking for essays on movies about being drawn to the sea, swallowed up by the sea, in love with the sea, swimming in the sea, living at sea, learning how to let the sea teach you about its depths. Pay: $100 per essay. No fee.

The Offing – Insight

Deadline: June 15

Creative nonfiction (usually personal essay) that centers one’s personal experience against the backdrop of art, literature, and culture. Insight essays generally fuse together two topics that don’t typically belong together, weaving—and investigating—what is perceived versus what is true. Ultimately, these essays explore the ways in which interacting with this aspect of culture or ideology changed you or made a lasting impression. No specific word count limit. Pay: $25 - $100 per piece. No fee. 

The Tusculum Review 2024 Nonfiction Chapbook Prize

Deadline: June 15

First prize is $1,000, publication in The Tusculum Review’s 20th Anniversary Issue (2024), and creation of a limited-edition stand-alone chapbook with original art. Essays may be between 1,500 words (5 manuscript pages) and 17,000 words (55 pages: novelette-length). Editors of The Tusculum Review and contest judge Mary Cappello will determine the winner of the 2024 prize. Fee: $20 

Room Creative Nonfiction Contest

Deadline: June 15

First prize: $1,000 and publication in Room; Second prize: $250 and publication in Room; Third prize: $100 and publication on Room’s website. Submit CNF up to 3,500 words. Do not include your name or personal info on the document, as submissions are judged blindly. Fee: If you reside in Canada, $39. If you reside in the US, $49 CAD. If you reside outside of North America, $59 CAD. 

AAWP/Westerly Magazine Life Writing Prize 2024

Deadline: June 30

The Australasian Association of Writing Programs (AAWP) and Westerly Magazine are offering a prize for Life Writing. They welcome submissions of autobiography, biography, memoir, and essays. "We celebrate Life Writing as a rumination upon memory and experience and encourage creative and hybrid approaches." This competition is open to writers at any stage of their career. Send up to 3,500 words. The winner will receive a $500 cash prize, a one-year subscription to Westerly, and conference fees to attend the annual conference of the AAWP, where they will be invited to read from their work. The winner’s work will be considered for publication by Westerly. Fee: $20 AUD 

My Writing Journey Competition: The Best Writing Tip I've Ever Received

Deadline: June 30

Open internationally. Submit a 600-word essay on the theme: The best writing tip I’ve ever received. They'll publish the best piece in their newsletter and blog, plus the winner receives $200. No fee.

The Fountain Essay Contest 2024 - Home

Deadline: June 30

“Home” holds a special place in our lives. A large, luxurious mansion or a small, decrepit place, our homes are hard to replace with anything. Our earliest memories form inside its walls; we utter our first words and take our first steps there. Does everyone feel the same about home? Is it where you were born or where you earn your bread? Is home a physical place? In a world that moves faster than ever and is confined to small screens, how do perceptions about "home" change? Where is home for people who are forced to leave their homes? Where is your home? Prizes: First: $1,000; Second: $500; Third: $300; Two Honorable Mentions: $150 each. Essays should be 1500 - 2500 words. No fee.

LAR Creative Nonfiction Award

Deadline: June 30

The Los Angeles Review Creative Nonfiction Award is a prize of $1,000 and publication in LAR given annually for an exceptional work of nonfiction. This season's judge is Alyssa Graybeal. Submit a piece no longer than 2,500 words. The winning piece will be published in the new LAR Online and included in the annual best-of print edition. The winner will be selected in fall of 2024 and announced via their website, and a Red Hen press release. Fee: $20 

Vine Leaves Press: 2025 International Voices in Creative Nonfiction Competition - Full Length

Deadline: July 1

The competition is open to writers worldwide with the top prize of $1,000 and book publication by Vine Leaves Press. If your manuscript is narrative in nature (i.e. a memoir) then the length should be between 50,000 - 80,000 words. If your manuscript is experimental in nature (i.e. not straight prose, could be vignettes, poetry, or a mix), it should be at least 100 pages long. They welcome submissions from marginalized voices. Fee: $25

Q4 2024 Creative Nonfiction Essay Contest


The Banshee: Issue 4 - Warnings

Deadline: Until filled

The Banshee is a journal for women who scream. They welcome fiction, non-fiction, poetry, drama, reviews, academic articles, art, comics, and interviews. Gothic and horror-focused short stories are particularly welcome; relationship confessionals less so. They’re also very interested in parodies of traditional magazine features (problem pages, recipes, “from the archives” items, and special interest columns). Pieces should be under 2,000 words. Pay: they pay a small honorarium. No fee. 

Punk Noir - Limbo

Deadline: Until filled at 50 stories (Opens June 1)

Punk Noir Magazine, originally founded in 2017 by the legend and godfather of punk and noir, Paul D. Brazill, looks at the world at its most askew, casting a bloodshot eye over the written word, film, music, television and more. There are interviews, reviews, poetry, fiction and flash fiction. In June they are opening submissions to the theme of "Limbo." Make of that word whatever you will. 200 words max. All genres welcomed. One attempt. One Chance. No multiple submissions. Reprints are allowed if the publication is at least 5 years old. All pieces must be in a Word Doc with a third person bio. Submit to No fee.

The Wild Umbrella

Deadline: June 1

Submit your stories, essays, and poems to this journal that will polish, publish, and energetically promote your work. Fiction: any genre up to 4,000 words. Poetry: 1-5 poems of any length, topic, and structure. Nonfiction: essays on a wide variety of topics, from nature, travel, food, sport, and satirical (they love humor with an edge), up to 4,000 words. Pay: €10 per poem and €25 per story or essay. No fee. 

1000 Below: Flash Prose and Poetry Contest

Deadline: June 1

Submit poetry and prose for a chance to win the $500 grand prize, $250 second prize, or $50 third prize. Poetry: up to 2 poems per entry. Not more than one poem per page. Maximum of 50 words per poem. (Any style/format—even erasure). Prose (Fiction and Nonfiction): 1 piece per entry, up to 1,000 words. Fee: $10

Hypertext Magazine Fiction & Nonfiction

Deadline: June 1

They are seeking fiction and nonfiction which weighs in at about 3,000 words. Pay: $60 to each contributor. Fee: $5

Midway Journal Flash Prose and Poetry Contest

Deadline: June 1

First Prize: $500 + publication in Midway Journal. Second Prize: $250 + publication. Third Prize: $50 + publication. Poetry: up to 2 poems per entry, up to 50 words per poem. No more than one poem per page. Prose (Fiction and Nonfiction): 1 piece per entry, up to 1,000 words per piece. Fee: $10

Solstice Annual Literary Contest

Deadline: June 1

Solstice Magazine is accepting entries for its annual literary contest. Fiction or Nonfiction: 25-page maximum, double-spaced; free-standing excerpts from books also accepted. Poetry: 3-poem maximum. Graphic Lit: Original artwork, multiple panels (no single image pieces), 1-6 pages preferred, maximum 8-10 pages, in JPG/PDF format. You can win: $1,000 Fiction Prize, judge: Marjan Kamali; $500 Michael Steinberg Nonfiction Prize, judge: Rajiv Mohabir; $500 Graphic Lit Prize, judge: Leela Corman; $500 Stephen Dunn Poetry Prize, judge: Andrea Cohen. Winners, finalists, and Editors' Choice in each genre will be published in their Summer Awards Issue due out in August. Fee: $18

4th Annual WCWF Writing Contest

Deadline: June 1

Submit your fiction, nonfiction, and poetry to the 4th Annual Wine Country Writing Festival contest. Category winners and honorable mentions will all receive a complimentary copy of WCWF Writing Contest Anthology. Winners' prizes include: 1st place: $200, entry to next year’s WCWF (accommodations and travel not included), publication in anthology; 2nd place: $100, anthology, publication in anthology; 3rd place: $50, anthology, publication in anthology. This contest is open to writers and poets over the age of 18 worldwide. Fiction short story and nonfiction maximum is 2,000 words. Poetry accepted in any style or structure is welcome. Maximum 40 lines including stanza breaks. Fee $15

Spring Fox Tales Prize - Montage of Misfortunes

Deadline: June 2

Black Fox is accepting submissions for its Spring 2024 Fox Tales writing prize. The theme for this round is “Montage of Misfortunes.” They are open to loose interpretations of the theme in any genre, as always. Submit your strongest fiction, nonfiction, or poetry, and they will choose one winner that interprets the theme best. The prize is $300 and print publication in the Summer 2024 issue. All submissions are considered for publication in the Summer 2024 issue. Submissions should be no more than 5,000 words. For poetry, send up to three poems in the same document. For flash fiction, send up to two stories in the same document. Fee: $12

Master's Review Best Emerging Writers Anthology

Deadline: June 2

Every year, Masters Review has opened submissions to produce their anthology, a print collection of ten stories and essays by emerging writers around the world. For their thirteenth year, they’re taking their favorite project to new heights: The Best Emerging Writers Anthology will showcase a collection of ten writers who are bound for great things. Each of their ten winners will receive a $700 award and a print copy of the book. For this year’s anthology, judge Gina Chung wants stories that leave room for wondering and wandering. Submissions of fiction or creative nonfiction must be under 7,000 words. Fee: $20

805 Literary Magazine

Deadline: June 7 (Opens June 1)

805 Literary Magazine is looking for writing and art that is unexpected, striking, and moving. Submit up to 3 poems for one submission, up to 2 flash fiction stories of 1,000 words or less, or a creative nonfiction piece of 1,500 words or less. No fee.

Anarchist Fictions Journal

Deadline: June 10

Anarchist Fictions is a new print journal of original and reprinted short fiction and poems on themes about, or adjacent to, anarchy. Set to launch in early Winter 2025, the journal will be 150 pages of beautiful art and writing. They are seeking writing from BIPOC writers and people from marginalized genders. They are currently looking for literary, non-genre fiction. Fiction: submit one story 5,000 - 10,000 words. Poetry: 40 lines max per poem, up to 5 poems per submission. Pay: $50 per story, $10 - $35 per poem. No fee. 

Samjoko Magazine – Summer Issue III

Deadline: June 10

Samjoko Magazine is devoted to publishing exemplary work from content creators around the world. Their goal is to publish 10-15 pieces per issue. Fiction: 1,000 - 4,000 words. Nonfiction: 1,000 - 4,000 words. Poetry: 1-5 poems in the same document, and the best three will be selected; 3 - 50 lines per poem. Pay: $20 per piece for fiction and nonfiction; $20 total for up to 3 poems. No fee. 

Carte Blanche: Issue 49 - Play

Deadline: June 15

carte blanche is a Quebec-based online literary magazine that presents eclectic narratives in all forms and supports Canadian and international writers and artists. They publish three issues a year and are seeking submissions for issue 49: “Play.” Sometimes we need to take a break from the seriousness of day-to-day life and binge-watch a favorite Marvel Universe show or indulge in some variation of Cards Against Humanity with our family and friends. They are interested in your narrative and poetic experiments, odd stories, humorous pieces, weird fiction, and the quirky. Fiction: all genres, up to 3,500 words. Creative Nonfiction: memoir, personal essay, and literary journalism up to 3,500 words. Poetry: any form, up to 3 poems; submit early as they have a submission cap. They also accept comics, photography, and translations. Pay: $75 per piece. No fee.

Nat. Brut

June 15

Nat. Brut’s (pr. nat broot) principal mission is to showcase the work of writers and artists who have been historically devalued or pigeonholed by art and literary institutions. They publish work that has been buried, ignored, and disappeared from public consciousness. Equally, they seek work that comes from artists’ buried, ignored, and disappeared impulses and practices—the risky, the exploratory, and the potentially ugly. Fiction: submit one story per submission, any length. Poetry: limit five poems per submission. Nonfiction: long-form essays, literary journalism, and culture criticism up to 5,000 words. Pay: $30. No fee. 

Sequestrum – Themes: “Desire” and “Humor”

Deadline: June 15

Sequestrum has two new themes open. Desire: If writing is all about tension, desire is the fuel. Desire doesn’t pause to contemplate etiquette or question what’s possible. Desire complicates, evolves, produces triumphs and tragedies. Desire moves forward. And that’s the sort of writing they’re after. They want complex, ambitious writing with tension and innovation to spare. Humor: Levity. Irony. Highbrow. Lowbrow. Satire. Hijinks. Jinkies. There are many categories of humor in literature, yet shockingly few short stories, poems, and essays feature so much as a joke. Let’s change that. In short, they’re expecting stories and poetry which make them smile and think. Fiction: Submissions should generally not exceed twelve thousand (12,000) words. Creative Nonfiction: Submissions should generally not exceed twelve thousand (12,000) words. All genres of nonfiction (articles, reviews, memoirs, personal essay, cross-genre, etc.) are acceptable. Poetry: Submissions should be no more than thirty-five (35) lines. Maximum four (4) poems per submission. Pay: $20 per writer and a six-month subscription. Fee: $6.35 

Fourteen Hills Literary Magazine

Deadline: June 15

Fourteen Hills is open for general submissions. They accept up to 3 poems (maximum 7 pages), one short story or novel excerpt (maximum 20 pages or 6000 words) OR 3 pieces of flash fiction (1000 words per piece), and one piece of literary creative nonfiction (maximum 20 pages or 6000 words). Pay: $20 per piece. Fee: $3

A Midsummer Tale Narrative Writing Contest - Summer Olympics

Deadline: June 21

The theme of the 2024 A Midsummer Tale writing contest is: Summer Olympics. Your story must be set during the hot summer months and the theme must play an integral role in the story. Identify your story as fiction or creative nonfiction. For CNF entries, please indicate whether names have been changed. Length: 1,000 words minimum; 5,000 words maximum. If 50 or fewer eligible entries are received, first place receives a $35 Amazon gift card & second a $10 Amazon gift card. If 51 or more eligible entries are received, first place receives a $50 Amazon gift card, second a $15 Amazon gift card & third a $10 Amazon gift card. No fee.

2024 Write By The Sea Writing Competition

Deadline: June 21

The winner of each category will receive a cash prize of €500 and a free weekend pass to Write By The Sea festival 2024. All four winning pieces will be published in the winter issue of The Waxed Lemon Literary Journal. The runners-up in each category will receive €300 and third place will receive €200. There are four competition categories. Fiction Short Story: submit a maximum 2,500 words. Flash Fiction: submit a maximum 700 words. Poetry: submit a maximum 40 lines. Memoir/Personal Essay: submit a maximum 1,000 words. Fee: €10

The Fairy Tale Magazine

Deadline: June 24

The theme for 2024 is Classic Fairy Tales. You can take a lot of license with the work, but there must be a clear connection to a specific old fairy tale in the work. They are also very open to the stories and poems focusing on seasonal holidays, like solstice celebrations, Halloween, Hanukkah, etc. Stories must be PG in terms of content. They prefer “own voices.” Stories: 1,000 – 2,000 words. Poems: no longer than 500 words. Pay: $25 per piece. No fee. 

FAB Prize for Undiscovered Writers and Illustrators of Colour – Picture Books to Young Adult (UK & Ireland)

Deadline: June 28

Writers must be of Black, Asian or non-white minority ethnic background. UK and Ireland writers only. First prize winners each receive a cash prize of £1,500, a place on the Faber Academy writing course (Text), a one-year membership to the AOI (Illustration) and the opportunity to shadow already established authors and illustrators on virtual school visits thanks to the support of BookTrust. Text: submit up to 5,000 words. Send in the complete story if the text is for a picture book (picture books should not be longer than 5,000 words). If your manuscript is longer, submit an excerpt up to 5,000 words. Illustration: submit a portfolio of your work including a minimum of ten sample pieces of artwork OR full layouts and illustrations for a 32-page picture book. Writers must be previously unpublished, with the exception of self-published. Self-published authors and illustrators are encouraged to apply. No fee.

The Dynamo Verlag Book Contest

Deadline: June 30

The Dynamo Verlag Book Contest invites book-length manuscript submissions in poetry, prose, or any textual combination or reinterpretation of the aforementioned genres. The winning manuscript will be published by Dynamo Verlag in 2025 and its author will receive a $500 advance against book royalties (paid upon and at time of publication), as well as their professional in-house editorial, design, and publicity services (an estimated $3,000 value). Fee: $18

Read at the Fringe Literary Contest

Deadline: June 30

The Eden Mills Writers’ Festival is committed to providing a venue for unpublished or modestly published writers to showcase their work. The Read at the Fringe Literary Contest is a special opportunity for aspiring writers to share their work with their audience in Eden Mills. Throughout the history of The Fringe, several contest winners have returned to the EMWF as published authors. Fiction: 2000 words maximum. Creative Nonfiction: 2000 words maximum. Poetry: Five pages maximum, any number of poems. One winner will be selected in each category and invited to read at the EMWF on Sunday, September 8, 2024. Winners will also receive $150. Both the winner and a guest of their choosing will receive free entry to the festival. Fee: $20

Chapter One AAWP Publication Pathway for Emerging Writers 2024

Deadline: June 30

Have you written a poetry collection, literary novel, short story collection or a hybrid work that crosses genre boundaries? Enter the Australasian Association of Writing Programs’ (AAWP) ‘Chapter One’ competition for your chance to win. If you win you will receive: a written appraisal of your work from an established literary author and a letter of recommendation to the University of Western Australia Publishing (UWAP). You will also receive a $500 cash prize and fully subsidized conference fees to attend the annual conference of the AAWP (November 2024) where you will be invited to read from your work. Poetry: entries should not exceed 50 lines. Prose: up to 5,000 words. An extract from a subsequent chapter is permissible as long as the total submission adheres to the guidelines. Fee: $20 AUD

The Pamet River Prize - Full Length

Deadline: June 30

The Pamet River Prize is a nomination-based contest open to first or second full-length books of poetry or prose by women-identifying writers, gender-queer writers, and native writers. You may nominate your own work or the work of others from March 2 through June 30, 2024 or until Submission Cap of 300 is reached. Provide a cover letter with name, contact information, and a brief bio of the writer whose work is being nominated. Submit a sample consisting of a) 10 poems, b) a single story, or c) a section of a novella, memoir, or short novel. Maximum length of sample: 20 pages. Your manuscript must be a single Word doc, docx, or PDF. Winner will receive the following publication with YesYes Books, 40 author copies, $1,000 prize, 15%-25% royalties, and $500 toward tour expenses. Semi-finalists will be chosen by KMA Sullivan, YesYes Books Publisher, and the YesYes Books Editorial Staff on or about September 1, 2024. Fee: $20

African Diaspora Award 2024

Deadline: June 30

Afro descendants wanted for the African Diaspora Award 2024. Participants submit an original, unpublished work in English, including short stories, flash fiction, nonfiction essays, poetry, or visual art. Prizes up to $1,000 USD for top winners along with publication in Kinsman Quarterly's literary journal and the upcoming anthology, Black Butterfly: Voices of the African Diaspora. Submissions should feature themes related to African culture or subculture; including, but not limited to, a cultural history, past/present family dynamics, customs, spirituality, myths and/or beliefs, cultural art, community challenges, etc. Submit: short stories (1000-5000), flash fiction (up to 1000 words), creative nonfiction (up to 1000 words), or poetry (1 to 5 poems or up to 10 pages). No fee.

58th New Millennium Writing Awards

Deadline: June 30

New Millennium Writings was launched in 1996 with a 15-word classified ad. From those humble beginnings, NMW has exploded into an internationally recognized and highly sought-after literary award and journal. Submit to their 58th New Millennium Writing Award. You can expect $4,000 in awards and publication in print and online. First Place in each category receives a $1,000 cash prize, a certificate to document the success, publication online and in print, in New Millennium Writings, and two complimentary copies. Select Finalists, and all Poetry Finalists, will be published in New Millennium Writings (online and in print) and receive two complimentary copies. Fiction (all types welcome) - 7,499 words or less. Nonfiction (all types welcome) - 7,499 words or less. Flash Fiction (aka: Short-Short Fiction) - 1,000 words or less. Poetry - each entry may include three poems, up to five pages total. Fee: $20

Regeneration Literary Contest

Deadline: June 30

Presented in partnership with I-Regen and the Institute for Sustainability, Energy, and Environment (iSEE), Ninth Letter is hosting the Regeneration Literary Contest. They invite poetry, fiction, and creative non-fiction responding to or exploring the subject of “regeneration,” specifically as it relates to food and food systems. What does regeneration in our lives and communities look like, sound like, feel like, taste like? How does its absence harm us? Prize: $1,000 and publication in the Fall/Winter 2024 print edition of Ninth Letter (with the opportunity to also publish excerpts or full work on and two contributors copies. Please submit one piece of no more than 8,000 words. You may also submit up to three pieces of flash-fiction or flash-nonfiction as long as the total word count of the submission is no more than 8,000 words. Please submit up to 5 poems in a single file of no more than 8 pages. Fee: $7

The Queen Mary Wasafiri New Writing Prize

Deadline: June 30

International in scope, the prize supports writers who have not yet published a book-length work, with no limits on age, gender, nationality, or background. The winners of each category will receive a £1,000 cash prize and publication in Wasafiri magazine. All winners and shortlisted writers will be offered the Chapter and Verse or Free Reads mentoring scheme in partnership with The Literary Consultancy (dependent on eligibility), and a conversation with The Good Literary Agency to discuss their career progression, as well as a one-year print subscription to Wasafiri. Short works up to 3,000 words. A single poetry entry can include up to three poems, which together total no more than 3,000 words. Each poem must each be submitted as a separate document. Fee: £12

The Lost Poetry Club: Episode 3 - All Flowers Keep the Light

Deadline: June 30

An Audible Zine Podcast: In each episode, they choose an intriguing theme and deliver stories, poetry, flashfic and music. They are seeking submissions for their third episode, “All Flowers Keep the Light.” In our world, nature and artifice blur, balancing us between oblivion and salvation. Is it a downtrodden wilderness or captivating beauty? Primal threat or sanctuary? Adversary or ally? Lego flowers. Subway car reefs. Virtual habitats. Immortal pets. Nature has many new faces. Plant stories that embrace nature's paradox; poems that dance between artifice and authenticity. Show them how our existence is intertwined with nature's complexities in this bold new world. Short Stories/Scripts/Non-fiction: Up to 15 mins or 1800-3000 words. Poetry/Flash Fiction: Up to 5 mins or 500 words. Songs/Music/Other: Up to 10 mins. Pay: over 300 words: £0.015 per word; under 300 words: £5 flat rate. No fee. 

WOW! Women on Writing Quarterly Flash Fiction and Creative Nonfiction Contests

Deadlines: May 31 (fiction), and July 31 (creative nonfiction). Our favorite writing community offers quarterly contests judged blindly with multiple cash prizes and more for 20 winners, up to $1,350 (fiction) and $1,175 plus a gift certificate to CreateWriteNow (nonfiction), an affordable critique option, and a 300-entry limit on each contest. Previously published work is accepted! What’s not to love? This season's guest judge is Literary Agent Emily Williamson with William Literary Agency. Fee: $10 (Flash Fiction) and $12 (Nonfiction).

Just for Fun

Almost every grandmother has a famous cookie recipe, and many granddaughters have fond memories of baking cookies with them. In celebration of National Cookie Dough Day, consider submitting to Chicken Soup for the Soul’s special Grandmothers anthology by June 30! What makes this topic so much fun? Well, the moment a grandchild is born, a grandmother is born too. And what an amazing experience it is. Everyone has a great story about the unconditional love between grandmothers and their grandchildren. They are looking for heartwarming, insightful, and humorous stories celebrating grandmothers. Stories can be written by: grandmothers about being a grandmother; grandchildren about their grandmothers; adult children about their mothers or stepmothers or mothers-in-law as grandmothers. Keep your story to 1200 words or less. Your story must be true. No fiction. Pay: $250 and ten copies of the book. Read their call here, and submit here. No fee.

Breaking In

How to Become a Health Writer

By Ashley Harris

Do you pore over essays and articles that cover the health field? Do you have a chronic illness yourself or are you a caregiver for someone who does? If so, consider becoming a health writer. You’ll have the opportunity to help countless people by providing what may be life-saving information, for their physical as well as emotional wellbeing.

The dynamic and growing field of health writing is open to anyone, even if you’ve never had direct experience with the medical sciences. Nor do you have to be a licensed professional or hold a special degree. This is especially welcome for those of us who gravitate more toward the liberal arts than the sciences. All that is required is a basic curiosity and the willingness to learn.

How I Broke In

My journey first began when I retired early from my job as an admissions counselor in 2017. As a long-time warrior of multiple sclerosis (MS), I planned to take better care of my health and pursue more meaningful activities, especially writing. I wrote short stories, essays, and poems for various literary magazines, but at the same time, I dreamed of writing articles and essays for commercial outlets. 

To help, I read The Byline Bible by Susan Shapiro, New York Times’ best-selling author (whom I later interviewed for WOW). I also took several of her excellent Zoom workshops, where I learned the importance of a laser-sharp pitch (shorthand for a request for a writing assignment) to editors based on timeliness and personal experience. This led to my first paid essay, “The Pandemic Helped Me Disclose My Multiple Sclerosis” (Rooted In Rights blog, July 9, 2021). Later, when Christina Applegate announced that she had MS, I seized the opportunity to write my first news-oriented essay, “When Christina Applegate Said MS Was a Strange Journey, I Knew Exactly What She Meant” (The Independent, August 11, 2021).

When Christina Applegate Said MS Was a Stranger Journey I Knew Exactly What She Meant

These two pieces opened a floodgate of opportunities, both in terms of the market and a growth in my confidence. Next, I responded to a call for pitches from an editor at Healthline Media, the number one health information publisher in the U.S., about the connection between sustainability and a healthy lifestyle. “What Growing My Own Food Taught Me About Living Intentionally While Navigating MS” ultimately led to 20 bylines in the Wellness, Real Talk, Sex and Relationships, and Managing MS sections of Bezzy MS, a sister platform to Healthline just for people with MS. 

For almost three years now I’ve worked with Laurie Budgar, a compassionate and talented editor with a knack for those subtle edits that polish my work. Recently, I’ve had the pleasure of working with her on some of the most rewarding essays I’ve ever written, such as “How Rejecting the Hollywood Ending Has Helped Me Cope with MS” (January 2024) and most recently, a humor piece, “Real-Life Hacks for Awkward Social Moments with MS” (April 2024).

What Growing My Own Food Has Taught Me About Living Intentionally While Navigating MS

Depending on the word count and research required, rates for health writing vary. Bezzy currently pays new writers $150 - $175 per piece and Rooted in Rights, the disability blog where I got my first start, now pays $400 for a 500-word blog entry!

While health writing helps supplement my income, the rewards are far more than monetary. I find it enormously healing to write about MS, and it brings purpose to my life to help other people manage their own chronic illnesses. 

Perfecting the Pitch

A pitch is usually sent to a specific editor through email. There are numerous sources of calls for pitches, and I have found many posted on “X” (formerly Twitter, where I follow my favorite editors), on the Freedom with Writing website, and in the WOW newsletter. The April WOW! newsletter included exciting calls for health-related pitches from editors at The Stylist, Monarch, and Verywell Mind for articles paying as much as $500.

Pitch emails should be short and concise. My editors have always appreciated a suggested title, even if it changes later. A proposed title establishes your angle right off the bat. 

Sample pitch:

Dear Ms. Brown,

I enjoy (name of media outlet) very much, and as someone who has lived with X for X years now, I find the collection of articles and essays on this topic to be very helpful.

I write to pitch an essay, “Connecting with a New Doctor: Tips for Building a Bridge,” the story of how I coped with the retirement of my long-term neurologist and learned to trust a new doctor. My essay would be particularly timely because as the New York Times reported on November 15, 2020, an unprecedented number of physicians retired during the pandemic, forcing countless patients such as me to find a new doctor. 

SHORT BIO: I’m a former college admissions counselor in central North Carolina, and I've written for The Independent, Wired, Rooted in Rights, and Real Simple. My health-related pieces include…. (1-3 links to your writing). 

Thank you.



Email address

Timely pitches are particularly effective for pitching an editor that you’ve never worked with before. Not all pitches need a news angle, especially if you’re responding to a specific call. If this is the case, you might simply write: “In response to your recent call, I write to pitch X….” But if you do respond to a call and can offer a timely angle as well, that will likely give your response the edge above others.

PRO TIP: Make the most of the subject line of your email so it catches the attention of an editor right away. “Timely Essay Pitch: Connecting with a New Doctor: Tips for Building a Bridge.”

It may take a few days, or even a week or two, before you hear back from an editor, but in the meantime, go ahead and get started on the piece. Writing the pitch is the hardest part, so don’t let this effort go to waste. Plus, you can always submit the completed piece to someone else in the future.

First-Timer? Don't Sweat It!

Writing experience is important, and published clips can help but they are not required. What’s most important is the quality of the pitch and your enthusiasm for the topic. If you don’t have a published clip yet, write a sample article in the style of the publication you’d like to write for and post it on your blog or Google Drive. You can then share these links in your pitch letter. 

Writing about your own health can be challenging at first. To break the ice, take a class or two. I first began writing about my MS during WOW! classes led by Chelsey Clammer, whose support and stimulating writing prompts served as the genesis for many of my published pieces. 

Get Help

To enhance pieces such as “Feel Safer in a Volatile World: Tips for Self-Defense While Living with Disabilities” (Bezzy MS, November 30, 2023), I sometimes interview credentialed experts, which can easily be found on Connectively, Qwoted, or through searches on LinkedIn, for example. Soliciting advice from experts helps me tighten the angle on my work and lends credibility through the addition of their quotes.  

I stay informed on my topic by subscribing to Google Alerts, which sends me notifications of articles containing the words “multiple sclerosis” and other terms related to pieces I’m working on. In fact, this is how I first learned of Christina Applegate’s MS diagnosis.

Best of Both Worlds

I enjoy writing for commercial outlets tremendously, but because I’m a poet at heart, I still enjoy experimenting with expressive language and innovative forms. So, I also write creative nonfiction for literary magazines. And because the topic of MS is so close to my heart, I sometimes tackle the same subject in a different way. 

My self-help piece “How I Overcame Compulsive Shopping to Cope with My MS Body Image” (Bezzy MS, June 29, 2022) inspired a deep dive into the subject of my fixation on shoes, a new piece with similar themes. Feedback from my “Memwarriors,” fellow writing sisters Ang and Marilyn, proved invaluable on this longform CNF. “Buy Now: The Summer of My Shoe Obsession” earned Honorable Mention in the 2023 Alex Albright Nonfiction Contest and will be published in the Summer 2024 issue of the North Carolina Literary Review.  

Think Big

Writing short and sharp pieces for commercial outlets will undoubtedly improve your writing and build confidence. You will get faster at both conception and execution, and you’ll soon envision multiple angles from a single topic. You will have a significant body of work before you know it.

Another side benefit of health writing (or any commercial work) is that you can build a valuable platform along the way that may help you promote a book of your published pieces in the future. As I continue to write about MS for commercial media, I am also working on a memoir of literary essays about finding love and happiness while living with a chronic illness. So, think beyond your first article or essay, and look for themes in your work. You may have a book in you too!

Bonus and a Hot Tip

Interested in Writing for the Bezzy Community? 

According to Laurie, “Bezzy is always looking for great writers and pitches in all 10 of our communities, which in addition to Bezzy MS, include Bezzy Breast Cancer, Bezzy COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease), Bezzy Depression, Bezzy IBD (Inflammatory Bowel Disease), Bezzy Migraine, Bezzy Psoriasis, Bezzy Psoriatic Arthritis, Bezzy Rheumatoid Arthritis, and Bezzy T2D (Type 2 Diabetes). As a hot tip, the editor for COPD really needs qualified writers.”

She says that the best way to get started is to fill out the Bezzy Writer Survey and adds: “We’re interested in people’s lived experiences, and reading through some of our existing articles and forums is a great way to get familiar with what we publish. I’d also advise people to pitch story ideas, not topics. In other words, don’t tell me you want to write about ‘parenting with MS’; instead, tell me about a particular challenge you have/had as a parent living with MS and how you approach(ed) it.”

Ashley Harris

Ashley Harris lives in southwestern Randolph County, North Carolina, surrounded by the mystical Uwharrie Mountains. She is a regular contributor to Bezzy MS, writing on subjects such as self-care, exercise, gardening, and faith while living with MS. She’s also working on Cherry Wild, a memoir of linked essays on these topics and more, based on her seven years growing cherries. For more, see

Recent Feature:

Giving Your Book a Second Chance by Dr. Angela Yarber

Giving Your Book a Second Chance: Relaunching with Marketing that Makes a Difference

By Dr. Angela Yarber

Have you ever wished for a book do-over? An opportunity to relaunch your book with a bigger launch team, better marketing plans, and maybe even a new book cover?

That’s how I felt about my eighth book. Like most authors, I had grand plans for Queering the American Dream.

Heeding the wisdom of the venerable Black, queer writer, Pauli Murray, “One person plus one typewriter constitutes a movement,” I committed, not simply to writing and publishing a book, but creating a movement. With my modern-day typewriter in hand, I dreamed of readers throwing off the shackles of an ill-suited dream, galvanizing retreats, coaching to help other marginalized creatives queer their own iterations of the so-called American dream.

I tried learning about book marketing and pitching companion essays and creating a launch team and all those things small-time authors without expensive publicists on retainer do. I tried so hard.

But when this book was first published in hardback in 2022, I was still reeling. Floundering. Struggling with bipolar II, chronic fatigue, parenting two children with disabilities, and having just been released from a residential eating disorder recovery facility that prompted a six thousand mile move across an ocean and a continent, I launched this book into the world, hoping for the best.


The Muffin

Cheryl Murfin

Walk and Write: Cheryl Murfin, Founder of Compass Writers

“Every now and then, as a writer, I find myself stuck, and no amount of staring at the blank page seems to make my fingers budge. But I noticed many years ago that when I take a walk (30 minutes or more), my mind seems to open up. Ideas flow as I stroll, and by the time I get home, something makes its way to the page. The impact on my writing was more profound when I walked in nature.” 


Sue's Feline Overlord

Querying with a Fun Fact

By Sue Bradford Edwards

I’ve been querying and pitching seriously for 5 or 6 months. I’m not sure how many I sent out, but the response was discouraging. There were no positive rejections. No “send me something else.” The only personal rejection told me that they had just signed something very similar to my idea. Sigh. 

Then I retook a class on pitching. The instructor is Amber Petty. Her idea is that you should be able to pull most magazine and website pitches together in a half hour or less. In her list of what should go into a pitch, she includes all of the standard things you see in a query letter (greeting, here’s my idea, here is how I’m going to approach it, here is a bit about me and where my work has sold). 

Then she adds something different. She recommends ending with an interesting fact about yourself. 


A Tale of Two Kindles

By Renee Roberson

I bought my first Kindle, a Paperwhite, in 2012 when I was working for WOW! as a Blog Tour Manager. I needed to be able to read PDFs of the books sent to us by prospective authors, so I purchased one and soon grew to love it. I even bought a cute cover for it from Amazon once I realized having a black cover made it hard for me to find the Kindle when I needed it (too much blending into every other countertop and piece of furniture in our house). That Kindle was well worn, loved and used for years and years. It went back and forth with me to the pool, the beach, on airplanes, and in the past few years, I realized it helped me when I woke up in the middle of the night and had a hard time going back to sleep. I could open my Kindle, read for a few minutes without turning on a light and waking up my husband, and go back to sleep. 


Why Creating Specific Goals is Essential to Your Writing Success

By Nicole Pyles

When it comes to my freelance work, setting goals comes easily to me. I wanted to become a commerce writer. I took specific, actionable steps, from creating my sample to pitching editors. And voila! It happened. I have other goals, too, such as mastering the cold pitch and expanding into other niches. 

Yet, creatively, I lack in creating the same type of reachable and actionable goals. However, over the weekend, I was thinking about my usual approach and knowing the vague goal isn't working. 

You see, what has motivated me with freelance work is knowing exactly what I wanted to achieve. With creative writing, not so much. 


pexels-youssouf-carius-906317932-19862644 image

An Agent Query Checklist

By Renee Roberson

I love to write fiction and create deeply-flawed characters along with plot twists. With every page I edit, I become more skilled and learn what works and what doesn’t. That’s why most of us are here—we want to connect with other writers, learn from the experiences of others, find marketing tips and ways we can perfect our craft. 

What I don’t love is what happens when I’m done with a project. The querying process is something that terrifies me. Nothing brings on imposter syndrome like scrolling through the various lists of available agents and looking to see what they want in their submissions.


You are worth celebrating

Louise Alexandra Erskine: How Vulnerability Builds a Brand

“Much of the time, writers and speakers tend to sell themselves to an algorithm that works beautifully in terms of initial growth but that is detrimental long term. So, if I share something painful, complaining, and it does well, then the tendency is to say, 'the algorithm likes this, so I’ll just keep sharing that content.' You then tunnel vision your way to only having this very one-sided, narrow perspective on content that you are sharing. And you must keep the bigger picture in mind. It is better to grow slowly. And then have a body of work that readers can look back through. Keep the wider picture, don’t niche too far as tempting as it can be.”


The Ever-Evolving Journey of a Writer

By Nicole Pyles

As writers, we are on an ever-evolving journey. I reflected on this today as another writer I follow sent out a newsletter saying they were moving on and planned on walking away from their newsletter. This was a short time after a writer of a popular newsletter sold hers. For the former, it was due to an upcoming divorce and needing to redirect her attention; the latter wanted to devote more of her energy to writing again.


Are Your Writer Senses Tingling?

By Jodi Webb

As a big fan of crosswords and Scrabble, I’m always learning new words. Words like qaid, a tribal leader, but more importantly a word that uses the letter q but doesn’t need a u. But yesterday morning, I learned a new word as I brushed my teeth. The morning news folks were talking about Jenifer Hudson, the multi-hyphenate. The what?


Treat Yourself to a Video Class

Podcast-Webinar-Renee-Roberson image

You Can Start a Podcast!

30-minute pre-recorded webinar with Renee Roberson


Learn the benefits of creating your own podcast, materials you need to get started, how to develop content that will keep listeners coming back for more, and ways your podcast can create supplemental income.


  • Examples of different types of podcasts.
  • Deciding on a format.
  • Ways to handle the technology necessary for creating a podcast.
  • How to develop your first few episodes.
  • Promotion and monetization ideas.
  • Ways you can repurpose your podcast content.

Class Details

Success Stories from the WOW! Community

By Margo L. Dill

Welcome to summer! What images stir in your mind when you think about summer? Longer days. Hot, humid weather. Kids home from school. Cicadas buzzing and flying everywhere. (I’m in the Midwest, and we are currently in Cicadaggedon.) Fun, splashy days at the local pool. Dripping popsicles and sweet snow cones. Baseball, outdoor theater, vacations with the family. What does summer bring for your writing? I find I’m more productive in the summer with abundant sunshine and warm temps.

These writers below all shared recent successes with us about their writing! We hope this summer will bring time for you to meet your goals, submit your work, and celebrate publications or contest wins, so that this column will be filled with your own success in the next couple months. Once again, you will be inspired by these women writers, and I want to just mention a couple. 

She Called Me a Throwaway by Shama Shams

First, Shama Shams (the first story below under Email) and I work together because I published her memoir, She Called Me Throwaway, as the latest release from my publishing company, Editor-911 Books. Angela Mackintosh, WOW!’s executive editor, provided a blurb and stated that Shama’s book was a “riveting memoir of strength and survival. Written in briskly paced, clear prose.” I’m extremely proud of Shama for telling a difficult story and the heartbreaking and rigorous journey she went on for healing. I think this is a fantastic book club book choice. See below how Shama has been successful at promotion of her book. 

Then, under Twitter, Under the Sun stated that Angela had a creative-nonfiction piece about her family and her mother’s suicide published this month on its website. If you want to read excellent nonfiction writing that will make you think about it for days after (and you will also learn a thing or two about this type of writing), check out the link leading to the essay! 

Maybe it will inspire you to go after your dreams, too.

If you have a success to share, we’d love to hear from you. Please email your success stories to Margo at and cc to keep it out of the spam filter.

Happy summer! Here’s to your writing!


Shama Shams wrote, “I recently had my memoir, She Called Me Throwaway, about my childhood abuse in Bangladesh and then recovery as an adult released from Editor-911 Books. I had to send several emails to convince our local bookstore to host a reading of my memoir. I imagined that they didn’t expect there would be a great showing. So many people came that they ran out of chairs, and it was a standing room! Never underestimate the power of a story, especially those that give us hope even in darkness.” 


Terry Montague writes, “I wrote a non-fiction book and sold the film rights four years ago. It was, finally, released and is doing very well. My book is soaring, too.” Book: Mine Angels Round-About

Casey Cline writes, “I reached the 1/2 way point in the manuscript for my second novel.”

Rhett DeVane writes, “My novel Ditch Weed is slated for release mid-June.”

Mary Krakow writes, “I indie-published a collection of quilt-themed flash stories!” 


Edunwriter writes, “As a first time author, I feel very proud to have my book No Way Home on the shelf at Waterstones book shop in UK, Leamington Spa branch.”

alliestories8 writes, “I’m excited to be releasing my first novel this coming Fall. There have been so many generous people involved.”

X (Twitter)

Under the Sun (@undersunonline) writes about WOW!’s Executive Editor Angela Miyuki Mackintosh @womenonwriting, “Angela Miyuki Mackintosh gives us the haunting ‘Sayonara, ai’ ~ ‘The sun warms my neck, and my backpack feels light as I stride out to the parking lot with my new girlfriends. They’re singing ‘Chinese, Japanese, dirty knees, look at these!’” 

giphy image
“If curiosity killed the cat, it was satisfaction that brought it back.” –Holly Black
Facebook  X  Pinterest  Instagram