WOW Markets Newsletter April 2024

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

Welcome Spring! A Writing To-Do List Just For You

April 2024 Markets Newsletter

In this issue:

  • "Welcome Spring! A Writing To-Do List Just for You" by Ashley Harris
  • "On Submission with Gold Man Review, Founder and Editor-in-Chief Heather Cuthbertson" interview by Nicole Pyles
  • April Deadlines: Poetry, Fiction, Nonfiction, Multigenre, Just for Fun
  • Craft Corner: "Why Narrative Poetry is the Genre You Should Explore Next" by Melanie Faith
  • Breaking In: "How to Become a Commerce Writer" by Nicole Pyles
  • Recent WOW Features and Posts from The Muffin


While we never had more than snow flurries where I live, it’s been a long winter—wet, gray, and cold. So last week when I brushed away the dead leaves from my hydrangeas, I was thrilled to see new shoots emerging from the roots. 

And since we’ve had a warm spring so far, my strawberry plants and roses have also sprouted new leaves. Hallelujah! It made me wonder—what writing inspiration longs to spring up from my dormant imagination?

With my knees in the dirt, prepping flower, berry, and vegetable beds for another busy year of gardening, I couldn’t help observing even more parallels to writing. Just for you, I’ve compiled a special list of chores to stimulate your own writing “buds” for a productive literary “spring” of your own. But no worries, very little physical labor is required. These are fun chores.

Rake. Clear away the winter detritus and make way for sunshine! If your desk is covered by a blanket of odds and ends—old sticky notes, tattered magazine clippings and unopened junk mail—it’s time to rake them to the recycle bin. Or maybe the files on your laptop need a little organization—consolidation, deletion, or migration to a thumb drive. Whether it’s your physical or virtual space, leave plenty of room for fresh new files to sprout and grow.

Sow. Now the real fun begins! You’ve cleaned your literary “garden” and you’re ready to “sow” your own seeds of inspiration. Look outside the window and observe the natural world. Or better yet, stroll outside. Take a few moments to describe the swelling leaf buds of the trees. Sniff the nascent flowers of fruit blossoms such as peach or plum. Observe the acrobatic feats of the squirrels. Record these impressions as you make them and be sure to note any themes that come to mind—such as rebirth, recovery, new beginnings. Ask yourself how these ideas might influence your own writing—the motivations of yourself (nonfiction) or your characters (fiction).

Fertilize. I look forward to many new blooms this year from my favorite roses, both old and new, such as “Summer Romance,’ “Scepter’d Isle,” and “The Poet’s Wife.” But unless I deliver a healthy dose of food, such as aged cow manure and alfalfa, they’ll be late to flower and they may never truly flourish. The same goes for writers. Are you as healthy as you can be? I’ll admit to indulging in some major comfort food during the winter doldrums, but now it’s time to fortify myself with healthier fare. More greens, less sugar, and more fiber. And in order to energize myself for writing, I need to get more rest. Take some time to set (or recommit to) habits that strengthen your mind and body.

Water. For the first time, I’m planting perennials such as chives, verbena, and armeria. These tender plants will require regular watering to establish firm roots and truly thrive. Humans, like plants, require the most basic element of all to exist—good ole H20. Are you properly hydrated? Last year, I didn’t drink enough water and the brisk winds and sun exposure dehydrated me, leading to a nasty eye infection and the inability to write for two weeks. I’m not letting that happen again! It should go without saying, but since I’m the worst offender, I’ll say it again. While writing, whether you’re thirsty or not, do yourself a favor and keep a tumbler of water nearby and sip frequently.

Nurture. This year I’ve planted more roses than I should, but as you can probably tell, I’m more than a little obsessed with them. Tending these notoriously difficult bushes, which are subject to a host of diseases in the South, will be challenging, but I remind myself that nothing of value comes easy. In terms of writing, I must keep the commitments I make to myself, whether it’s to finish that poem, start that essay, or meet the deadline to write that blog entry! In other words, keep the faith. Believe in yourself. Don’t let the demands of the external world interfere with your writing. 

Share. Last year, I was blessed with so many strawberries that I frequently invited my friends over to pick all the fruit they wanted. Later, I divided the plants, potted them, and shared them with my fellow gardeners. Giving away the bounty of nature made me so happy. This act reminds me of the importance of submission. Nurture the world with your writing and send it out for others to savor. In a similar spirit, comment on the writing of others and encourage them in their work. Just like my strawberries, I promise that the rewards will only continue to multiply!

Repeat. Now that you’ve raked, sowed, fertilized, watered, nurtured and shared, it’s time to repeat all of the above! The first frost is months away, so make the most of the spring (and summer) to cultivate your own “literary” garden. I predict that you’ll enjoy “blooms” for not just months, but for many years to come. Pictured is a Scepter'd Isle trio from last year—a reminder of what hard work can bring!

In this month’s newsletter, we make many steps of this To-Do list easy on you. WOW! team member Nicole Pyles interviews Heather Cuthbertson, founding editor of Gold Man Review, an annual literary journal for writers of fiction, nonfiction, and poetry that helps West Coast writers “nurture” their talents.

In celebration of National Poetry Month, Melanie Faith has written a scintillating article on why narrative poetry is the genre you’ll want to explore next, and one that will inspire your own literary “seeds.”

You’ll also find an in-depth guide by Nicole Pyles on how to “fertilize,” or break into the fun and lucrative market of commerce writing. Nicole shares some insider tips you won’t want to miss!

Q3 2024 Creative Nonfiction Essay Contest

If you are feeling inspired to to “share” your writing, consider submitting to WOW's Q3 2024 Creative Nonfiction Essay Contest, which closes at 11:59 pm PT, April 30. There is $1200+ in cash prizes and twenty winners. Essays should be 1000 words or less, and previously published work is allowed! We’d love to read your work.

And as always, we provide a wheelbarrow full of literary markets just waiting for you. So take your literary “shovel” and dig right in. We wish you all the best with your writing this month, and please keep us posted on your progress because you inspire us.

Ashley Harris

Ashley Harris lives in southwestern Randolph County, North Carolina, surrounded by the mystical Uwharrie Mountains. She is a regular contributor to Healthline’s Bezzy MS column, writing on subjects such as gardening, exercise, self-care, and most recently, ”How Baking Taught Me to Slow Down and Rise Up.” Her essay, ”My Rembrandt Weekend” appeared in the Winter 2024 issue of North Carolina Literary Review. Ashley is currently working on a memoir of linked essays exploring love, faith, and serenity while living with MS. For more, see


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WOW! Classes Starting Soon

Chicken Soup Essays

Write and Receive Feedback

3 weeks starting April 1

Have you ever wanted to see your essay in a Chicken Soup for the Soul book? It might be their book on dogs, angels, grandmas, kids or cats. Chicken Soup always has a rotating list of themes for their next book – and your essay could be included! We will talk about guidelines, tone and voice, and students will write essays to submit to Chicken Soup’s latest upcoming themes. It’s time to go for it! Led by editor Kandace Chapple.

Workshop Details

How to Write a Dystopian Novel

How to Write a Dystopian Novel

8 weeks starting April 2

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, award-winning dystopian novelist Madeline Dyer will take you through the steps involved in crafting a dystopian novel.

Course Details

Narrative Structures

Narrative Structures

6 weeks starting April 2

Have you always wanted to write a novel but don’t know where to start? Or maybe you always eagerly begin a manuscript only to lose momentum a couple of chapters later? Or maybe you want to learn more about traditional three-act frameworks because you still dread writing the sticky middle section? This class is aimed at writers of all levels who want to deepen their understanding of plot, narratives, and structures.

Course Details

Writing Horror and Gothic Fiction with Madeline Dyer

Writing Horror and Gothic Fiction

7 weeks starting April 2

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.

Course Details

An Inside Look at Launching as a Freelance Editor

An Insider's Look at Launching as a Freelance Editor

Live Zoom: April 12, 2024, 1-2 PM ET ($39!)

Have you ever wanted to launch your own freelancing editing business and wondered how in the world to break in? Then this info-packed webinar is the one for you! We’ll cover freelance editing essentials including types of editing that may be your best fit and what it means to offer your services as an editor, from your web presence, finding freelance clients and networking tips, as well as tips on multiple project management. Led by freelance editor Melanie Faith!

Webinar Details

We Can Write About Hard Things

We Can Write About the Hard Things

Live Zoom: April 25, 2024, 2-4 PM ET ($40!)

Glennon Doyle has told us we can “do hard things” but writing about them can help us make meaning from them. This workshop is designed to be interactive and is facilitated to allow writers to take some time to reflect on personal tragedies through writing as a way to explore their own individual paths through difficult times. This is accomplished through writing to specific prompts and sharing the responses (optional). Led by Cindy Eastman!

Workshop Details

The Women Writers' Book Group:

Crazy Good Writing

4 weeks starting April 29

We will be reading Madness by Marya Hornbacher. Reading the memoir as a guide, we will explore how we can write about mental illness in a way that is insanely good! It can be hard to convey an unbalanced mental state to the reader in both a clear and vibrant way. How can we describe what the lethargy and hopelessness of depression that will interest and engage the reader? How to write coherently about a psychotic state? We will look at both the larger aspects of an essay (narrative arc, structure, etc.) and the smaller mechanical aspects of writing (pace, rhythm, etc.) to discover the ways we can creatively and clearly convey what goes on in ours and others’ brains. Led by Chelsey Clammer!

Workshop Details

Calls for Pitches and Submissions

Torch Literary Arts - Black Women Writers for Friday Features

The editors of Torch Literary Arts have put a call out for Friday Features. They welcome submissions of original creative work by Black women writers. Poetry: submit up to five poems totaling no more than eight pages. Fiction and Creative Nonfiction: no more than fifteen pages or 3500 words. Script (plays, screenplays): submit one act or a collection of short scenes no longer than fifteen pages. Pay: $150 per piece. No fee. Submissions are rolling. Submit via Submittable.

Today - Personal Essays

Essays editor Rheana Murray is looking for some fun and juicy relationship stories, as well as first-person bounces on pop culture news. but she's open to anything! Pay: $350 per essay. Pitches to

Cleveland Review of Books

The editors are holding an open call for pitches of essays, reviews, interviews, and experiments in critical writing to appear in Vol. 2.2, their Fall 2024 print issue. Pay: $200 per piece. Check out their writer's guidelines and send your pitch to by April 1.

Wired for Adventure - Guides on Adventuring in the Mountains

Editor Annaliese Smith is looking for pitches on practical guides to adventuring in the mountains for Wired For Adventure. She's after a guide on one specific aspect of mountain life. Eg a guide to mountain refuge etiquette, how to winter camp, how to manage water on a long adventure (but not these, they've already been run!) And no listicles please. It would be great if it's framed by your own experiences but it must be applicable to multiple locations or activities. Strong images are a must. Pay: £250 for 1200-1600 words plus images. Pitches to by April 2.

Horror Press - Pride Month

Is a particular horror movie special to you? Do you think there’s an underrated movie that people should revisit? Maybe there's a horror icon you resonate with? Or perhaps there's a love letter to a special piece of media that needs to be shared. Make it gay, make it spooky, or maybe even make it angry! Horror can be cathartic, and they give you a safe space to share it. Pay: $50 per piece. Pitch via online form by April 12.

Cosmopolitan UK - Love and Sex

Brit Dawson is going to be editing the Love and Sex section at Cosmopolitan until the end of April. She wants pitches on sex, relationships, and dating, especially tied to cultural moments (e.g. tv/film releases). Pay: £150 to £200 per piece. Pitches to by April 30.

American Craft - Interior

American Craft editors are seeking pitches for their Winter 2025: Interior issue. This issue reveals craft’s influence on interior spaces, exploring the way handcrafted furnishings, fixtures, and fittings help make our homes our own, and how ideas conceived in creative minds shape the way we live. We share the profoundly personal and the hidden treasures—from the meditation room behind a hand-carved door to the pattern at the bottom of a ceramic vase, from the secret kept in a locket to the way makers think through craft. Stories are generally assigned at 400–2,000 words. Pay: $0.50–$1.00 per word. Check out their writer's guidelines and pitch via the form on that page by May 13.

Jessica Delfino’s Museletter - Personal Stories About Comedy Stand Up Life

A newsletter for insider comedy stories and gossip. Editor Jessica Delfino is seeking pitches with stand up comedy related stories and experiences. All backgrounds are welcome. Example headlines: The Time I Hitchhiked To Canada To Do JFL + Almost Got Arrested; How I Crashed SNL’s 40th Anniversary + Saw Taylor Swift, Prince + Paul McCartney Perform a Few Feet Away; How I Learned An Already Very Famous Comedian Was BTS Sabotaging My + Other Women’s Comedy Opps. Pay: $100-$150 for 300-500 words. Pitches to

The Food Section

They publish culinary stories about the American South twice each week. In terms of topics, the only real limitation is geographical. Just about every story has a food angle. They are actively seeking freelance contributors to add their voices to the newsletter’s mix, with a particular emphasis on reported stories that reflect the diversity of the South. Pay: $1000 for a feature story, which runs about 1200 words. Check out their writer's guidelines and pitch via form

Thrillist - Freelance Writers in US Cities

Thrillist covers food, drinks, regional travel, culture, nightlife, sports, wellness, and entertainment in your city. The editors are seeking to bulk up and diversify their freelance roster. Pay: $300+ per piece. Sign up via online form.

Mashed - Freelance Food and Grocery Writers

Mashed is a site for food lovers, covering news across the grocery and casual dining space, in addition to recipes, practical tips, and reviews. They are currently seeking remote freelance writers. Ideally, you should have at least three years of experience writing content for print or the web with a focus on food, cooking, and grocery shopping content. Pay: $0.08 per word. Apply here


Bustle delivers joyful, inclusive, and relatable stories for real women. They are seeking timely first-person pieces and personal essays, experiments and trials, and interviews and profiles. They’ll also consider reported, conversation-making feature ideas about fashion and beauty, lifestyle, and entertainment/ culture. They do not accept evergreen listicles, market or trend roundups, how-to pieces, watch lists, or news stories pegged to studies or viral trends. Pay: $300+ per piece. For Lifestyle or Wellness:; for Style:; for Entertainment:

Poets & Writers - Debut Fiction and Agents, Writing Education

Poets & Writers is accepting pitches and submissions for their upcoming themes: Debut Fiction and Agents (July/August 2024 issue), and Writing Education (September/October 2024). They publish News & Trends (500 - 1200 words), The Literary Life Essays (1500 - 2500 words), The Practical Writer - how-tos (1500 - 2500 words), and Feature Interviews (2000 - 3000 words). Pay: $0.20 per word. Send a query with two writing samples or a complete article on spec to

The Doe - First-Person, Anonymous Narratives

The Doe publishes anonymous, first-person narratives. They accept pitches for stories from voices across the spectrum, including first time writers. Topics are on sex, money, justice, environment, religion, parenting, love, and science and technology. Stories should be around 500-700 words. Pay: $100-300 per story. Pitch via online form.

Women's Media Center - Women Under Siege

Women's Media Center is a nonprofit organization working to make women and girls more visible and powerful in the media. Editor Frances Nguyen is accepting pitches for Women Under Siege on women and violence around the world. Please make sure they have not recently covered the article you are pitching, and that you are pitching a story, not a topic. They also accept pitches from freelancers who want to write new conflict profiles. Pay: $200+ per piece. Pitches to

Food & Wine - Remote News, Deals, and Commerce Writer

Food & Wine is is looking for a remote writer to cover timely, food-related shopping content, including sale roundups, celebrity-approved items, single product reviews, and customer-loved pieces. They need someone who understands online shopping, affiliate content, and the voices of their food brands. Pay: $25-$32 per hour, 40 hours per week. Apply here.

AllRecipes - Remote Social Media Editor

Allrecipes is seeking a remote Social Media Editor to join its team. The ideal candidate loves data, strategy, content creation, and, most importantly, food! Pay: $53,500 - $77,520 per year. Apply here.

Wealth of Geeks

Do you have a geeky job or side hustle? The editors are looking for freelance writers to produce guides on how to monetize your passions. If you make money with Lego, video games, D&D, cosplay, attending comic cons, or anything else geeky they would love to hear from you. Pay: $450 plus bonus for images. 1500 word min. Pitches to

Oh Reader

The editors are looking for stories about your experiences as a reader, insight into the effect of reading on humans, humorous takes on the world of words, and anything else you as a reader or writer might be interested in sharing. They are seeking nonfiction/essay, humor, and poetry. Pay: $200 for articles, $75 for poetry. Pitch via online form. For poems, send the entire piece to

Verywell Mind

A resource for mental health and wellness.

They're always looking for experienced and qualified writers with expertise and credentials in health, medicine, and wellness. Pay: $200+ per piece. Pitches to


An online directory that connects therapy seekers to clinicians. They publish clear, honest, and actionable mental health articles and prize science-backed information with a minimum of 1 to 2 quotes from licensed experts as well as references to a minimum of 2 peer-reviewed studies. Pay: $500 per article (1,000 to 3,500 words). Check out their writer's guidelines and send your pitches to

Los Angeles Review of Books

Samuel Rutter just became the international literature editor at LA Review of Books. He's seeking pitches from writers/critics on book reviews and essays on forthcoming works in translation from around the world. Publishers can send t catalogues. Pay reports: $100+ per piece. Pitches to

Stylist - First-Person Mental Health Stories

A weekly magazine and a website for smart, successful, and sophisticated women. Deputy digital editor Ellen C Scott is seeking first-person stories on mental health for their Processing series. Pay: £150 for 800 to 1000 words. Pitches:

Layered Butter

Layered Butter is a magazine about art, design, and movies. Each issue is built around a particular abstract theme/ genre/ director/ actor. They are open to other aspects of formal analysis and cultural criticism, interviews, essays, etc. No pitch is too absurd. Their essays and criticism works tend to be between 1000-2000 words. Pay: $100 - $500. Pitch via online form.

On Submission with... Gold Man Review

On Submission with Gold Man Review

By Nicole Pyles

Gold Man Review is a West Coast literary journal that publishes fiction, nonfiction, and poetry from writers in Alaska, California, Hawaii, Oregon, and Washington. I had the opportunity to meet them after my own short story, “The Mannequin of Lot 18,” was published in issue 13 of their journal. The entire process was a refreshing experience when compared to some other literary magazines that had accepted my work. This made me want to interview them to get behind-the-scenes insights about their team and their publication process.

Before we get to our conversation, I wanted to share their mission statement, which really resonates with me, as a writer:

Our mission statement of “Creativity Becomes Community” was inspired by our belief that artists are vital and there is an ongoing need to continue and further education in the arts. Gold Man Review was our advocacy turned into action by offering an additional voice to writers and poets on the West Coast. We strive to recognize all our contributors by submitting their work to the Pushcart Prize, O’Henry Prize Stories, and the Best of American anthologies.

I chatted with Heather Cuthbertson, founder and editor-in-chief of the journal. Now through June 23, 2024, you can submit your poetry, non-fiction, and fiction to their journal for publication. But before you do, be sure to read our discussion.

Gold Man Review issues

WOW: First of all, thank you for taking the time to speak with me today. Tell our readers how Gold Man Review started and why you decided to start the journal.

Heather: It started as my field project for my MFA program. We had to do something writing-related for the community. Some people in my cohort did a writing program for high school kids. Others went to the jail or prisons and did one there. I started Gold Man Review. I had always been interested in the other side of publishing and wanted to experience what that was like. Because it was for my field study it had to be very localized, so the first issue of Gold Man [published in 2011] only had contributors from Salem, Oregon and the Greater Salem area. Also, fun fact, it’s the only issue that has writing from the editors. 

WOW: I love how it grew to include all West Coast writers! How did you come up with the name Gold Man Review?

Heather: The name came about because of the Golden Pioneer on top of the State Capitol Building in Salem, Oregon. I remember when I first moved to Salem and driving downtown, I saw it glinting in the rare sunshine and thinking, “They have a gold man on top of a building.” Years later, when we were trying to come up with a name for the journal (some were doozies, let me tell you), I saw the statue on my drive home and it stuck. 

WOW: I can only imagine what some of those ideas were! Can you tell me about others on your team and their role?

Heather: Since Gold Man Review works on a volunteer basis, I’ve had many editors come and go. Originally, we were all in Salem, Oregon and then after I moved to Redding, California, I started finding people there. We’re in the process of updating our website, but right now there’s Ashley Rich. She’s been with Gold Man since, I believe, 2017. She recently moved to Oklahoma. She used to be my golf buddy, so I’m still bummed that she left. There’s also Eric Halpenny, who’s been an editor with Gold Man since 2022. By day, he’s an engineer and, by night, he writes books in French for an educational company. My most recent addition is Kaitlyn Price. She has her MA in English from Chico State and works as a substitute teacher at the high school. 

Every year, I generally have a reader or two that come on board. This year we have Isabel Streiffer. She’s a recent college graduate and lives in Riverside, California.  

Heather Cuthbertson

“Writing is so isolating that it can feel very lonely at times. When writers come together to talk about writing it creates almost a palatable energy. Things happen. Gold Man Review was one such thing that happened.”

WOW: Everyone’s eclectic backgrounds are so interesting. I really appreciate that you focus on West Coast writers! Why did you narrow your focus to that region?

Heather: It happened sort of gradually. After our first issue, we opened submissions to all of Oregon for a few years and then decided just to go with the whole of the West Coast. That’s where we landed and haven’t moved from since. With so many literary journals out there, I think it gives us a niche and keeps our voice consistent. 

WOW: That's so true! What else makes your journal stand out from others?

Heather: I think it’s our West Coast vibe. We have a unique voice and way of looking at things that sets us apart from the rest of the country. 

WOW: As a lifelong West Coaster-er, I totally see what you mean. I truly support your mission statement of “Creativity Becomes Community.” Why did you choose that as your mission statement?

Heather: It’s because I’m a huge supporter of writers coming together to create a sense of community. Writing is so isolating that it can feel very lonely at times. When writers come together to talk about writing it creates almost a palatable energy. Things happen. Gold Man Review was one such thing that happened. I recruited my entire critique group for that first issue. If it wasn’t for them, I would’ve never gotten it to publication. I only learned how, and did it, because I had their support. 

A writing community can be inspiring to those who need some motivation or invigorating to others who have gotten stuck. Writing, like most art forms, is so layered with many, many moveable parts that it’s impossible to know it all. Every writer has something to bring to the table.  

WOW: Absolutely! How many submissions do you receive each year and what is your acceptance rate? And what is your average response time?

Heather: We’ve been growing steadily over the years. Last year we received about 800 submissions. Of those, our acceptance rate was 5%. The ideal was to get back to submitters within 90 days. We’re trying to get better, but it takes us longer on average. The cutoff though is July. We’ll for sure get back to submitters by then for fiction or nonfiction. For poetry, the cutoff is around August.

WOW: That’s good to know. I think your response time for me was quick based on my overall experience. What do you look for in submissions?

Heather: I’m a huge fan of the odd and unusual. Those stories always catch my eye, especially if it’s done well. I also like humor. It’s really hard for me to say, “No,” when it made me laugh. Otherwise, I think we’re no different than any other journal. We’re looking for great writing matched to a brilliant story idea. 

Heather Cuthbertson

“I’m a huge fan of the odd and unusual. Those stories always catch my eye, especially if it’s done well. I also like humor. It’s really hard for me to say, ‘No,’ when it made me laugh.”

WOW: I really enjoy odd and unusual too. What is the cycle of a submission as it gets read by your volunteer staff?

Heather: Once it comes in, I check to make sure it meets our demographic requirement. It used to be a bigger problem in year’s past, but not so much anymore. Still, I generally get a few that don’t meet it. Those are rejected at that point. From there, I assign the submissions to everyone, including myself, and we read them together. We kind of go at our own pace, finding gems that we’ll text to each other. Most of our submissions are accepted at the end of the submission period. Not always, but usually. 

WOW: That’s good to know. What qualities make you immediately say to yourself, “I think we want this one.”

Heather: I just read one recently that did that to me. It was several things: the voice, the character, and a story that wove the past and the present in such a lyrical way. It was just beautiful, so I had to say, “Yes.” But other examples are when a story or an essay strikes through my emotional barrier and sort of digs around in there or it’s something that makes me think differently and/or gives me a new perspective. Once, I published a story about two sisters based on a single sentence because it hit so hard I had to keep it.

WOW: I love that! It’s rare to capture a story in a sentence, too. What are aspects of a submission that can lead to its rejection? 

Heather: It’s different with nonfiction, fiction, and poetry, but if I had to say one thing that would connect overall, it would be a lack of story. Even in poetry, there’s a beginning, middle, and end, or one that can be inferred in the reading of it. Then there’s the standard reasons: overuse of passive voice, grammatical issues, overwriting, etc. We’ve rejected work with ideas that we really loved, but the writing just wasn’t there yet and needed a few more rounds of edits.

WOW: Understandable. What do you wish writers knew when they submitted their work?

Heather: We love great literary work like the next journal, but we also like to be entertained. We still want that hook in the beginning, that lure that draws us forward and gives us a reason to keep reading, along with stakes and conflict. While we’re not looking for genre stories, we do like elements of genre in the literary landscape. As far as poetry, we’re not big into nature or medical poems.

Heather Cuthbertson

“I doubt any of the poets know who submit their work to us that we read them aloud at Barnes and Noble, our regular meeting place. We huddle together with our laptops at the café and start reading the ones we like to each other to hear how they sound.”

WOW: Being entertained is so important! I love the care you put into your publishing process. What is the behind the scenes info you can share?

Heather: We do a lot of the same things most publishers do. We talk about submissions, go back and forth on what we liked, what we didn’t like, etc. All accepted work, outside of poetry, is edited by all of us. When one person is done, it goes to the next and then the next until it’s completed. 

Here’s one thing though: I doubt any of the poets know who submit their work to us that we read them aloud at Barnes and Noble, our regular meeting place. We huddle together with our laptops at the café and start reading the ones we like to each other to hear how they sound. Anyone sitting nearby gets an impromptu poetry reading, but the process is very effective. All the poems that have been published in Gold Man have been read aloud several times. 

WOW: That is an incredible reminder to read your own work out loud! That must be a fascinating poetry reading for all who overhear it. Thank you so much for your time today. I hope all the West Coast readers of WOW will submit to your journal. I can’t wait for the next issue!

Submit to Gold Man Review

Many thanks to Gold Man Review’s founding editor-in-chief, Heather Cuthbertson! West Coast writers: if you’d like to submit your poetry, non-fiction, and fiction for consideration in Gold Man Review’s next issue, remember their deadline is June 23, 2024. Fiction and nonfiction submissions should be no longer than 5,000 words. For poetry, you can submit up to either three short poems or longer poems with a three-page maximum. There is no fee to submit:

Nicole Pyles

Nicole Pyles is a writer living in Portland, Oregon. Her writing has appeared in Sky Island Journal, Arlington Literary Journal, The Voices Project, The Ocotillo Review, and Gold Man Review. A poem of hers was also featured in the anthology DEAR LEADERS TALES. Her short story, “The Mannequin of Lot 18,” was nominated for Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy for 2024. Since she’s not active on social media very much, stay in touch by following her writing blog at World of My Imagination.


Wergle Flomp Humor Poetry Contest

Deadline: April 1

Winning Writers is hosting its 23rd annual humor poetry contest. The First Prize is $2,000 plus a two-year gift certificate from their co-sponsor, Duotrope (a $100 value). The Second Prize is $500. The Third Prize is $250. Honorable Mentions are 10 awards of $100 each. The top 13 entries will be published online. One poem only, please. Length limit: 250 lines maximum. No restriction on the age of author. No fee.

The 2024 Love & Eros Prize

Deadline: April 7

Palette Poetry is delighted to bring back the Love & Eros Prize for 2024, awarding $3,000 and publication. There is no page requirement, but your submission must be no more than three poems. "We’re seeking unflinching examinations of our sharpest human sensations—those of desire, longing, devotion, and intimacy." Palette’s editors will choose the ten finalists and any honorable mentions that warrant extra attention. Their judge will then select the winner and runner-ups. Second and third place will receive $300 and $200, respectively. Fee: $20

Berlin Lit

Deadline: April 10

berlin lit is an international online journal for new poetry in English, published quarterly. Submit up to 5 previously unpublished poems in an attachment or in the body of the email. Include a brief third person bio. Pay: 20 euro per poem. No fee.

2024 Omnidawn Broadside Poetry Contest

Deadline: April 12

Submit poems between 8 and 24 lines in length, with blank lines used as stanza breaks, each counting as a line. First prize winner receives $1000 and a publication with 20 printed copies. Fee: $12 (One Poem); $17 (Two Poems); $30 (Three Poems)

Voyage of Verse - Writers in High School

Deadline: April 14

Voyage of Verse welcomes poetry submissions from all writers who are currently in high school, regardless of where you are in your current journey in poetry. Please submit up to three poems. They aim to publish 25-30 poems, with special mentions cited by our guest poets. All published poets will receive a copy of Voyage of Verse, as well as two books of poems, by Paisley Rekdal and Yrsa Daley-Ward. No fee.

BOMB Magazine’s 2024 Poetry Contest 

Deadline: April 15

One winner will receive a $1,000 prize and publication in BOMB’s quarterly magazine. Manuscripts may contain no more than five poems and no more than ten pages. Fee includes a yearlong print subscription to BOMB for US entrants (a $60 value). Fee: $30

Rattle - Tribute to Musicians

Deadline: April 15

The relationship between music and poetry is self-evident, and Rattle wants to explore how music in the air informs poems on the page for their Fall 2024 issue. The poems may be any style or subject, but must be written to those who have been professional musicians at some point in their lives. Submit up to 4 poems. Pay: $200 per poem for the print magazine, plus a one-year subscription. All submissions are automatically considered for the annual Neil Postman Award for Metaphor, a $2,000 prize judged by the editors. No fee. 

Common Ground 2024 Annual Poetry Contest

Deadline: April 15

The poetry contest offers a $500 first prize, $200 second prize, and $100 third prize, in addition to publication. Submit 1-3 brilliant as-yet-unpublished poems (61 lines or under) on any subject. Fee: $15

Passager Journal Poetry Contest - Age 50+

Deadline: April 15

Winner receives $1000 prize plus publication and featured interview. All honorable mentions published. Submit up to 5 poems, 40-line max each. Passager has always been about welcoming new voices and giving readers a broad range of the best work by older writers. You must be turning 50 by September 1 in order to submit. Fee: $20, includes a one-year subscription to Passager.

The Iowa Poetry Prize - Book Length

Deadline: April 30

The Iowa Poetry Prize, open to new as well as established poets, is awarded for a book-length collection of poems written originally in English. Manuscripts should be 50 to 150 pages in length. The winning manuscript will be published by the University of Iowa Press under a standard royalty agreement. Fee: $20

Only Poems Prize

Deadline: April 30

The first ever Only Poems Prize is open. The Grand Prize winner will be named Poet of the Year and receive $3000; two runner-ups will be awarded $300 each. Your submission must be between 5-10 pages. They will publish 3-10 poems of all 3 winners alongside an extensive interview. The winners will also be published in our first end of year print anthology. Fee: $15, which includes a complimentary 2-month Substack subscription. 

Hemorrhaging Flowers: A Collection of 100% Femme Rage

Deadline: April 30

A collection of speculative poetry showcasing the spectrum of femininity and the rage contained within. Submissions must be under 50 lines. Pay: $10 per poem. Submit to No fee. 

Josephine Quarterly

Deadline: April 30

Josephine Quarterly celebrates the resilience and voices of underrepresented poets. Inspired by Mary Josephine Sadre-Orafai, a mother of Mexican descent, a teacher and mentor, and a champion for marginalized voices. Submit up to 5 poems of any length. Pay: $30 per poem. No fee.

Harbor Review: Issue 13 – “Wonderous and Miraculous”

Deadline: April 30

Harbor Review is an online space for poetry and art. They publish two issues a year in the winter and summer, and are interested in work that shocks and inspires. They are interested in strange and beautiful language, image, and metaphor. Send 1-3 poems in one document; include a short bio. Poems with complex form/unusual spacing are welcome. However, if accepted, this work may appear different due to constraints of the online platform. Pay: $10 per poem, and $10 per published art piece. No fee.

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


Go West Magazine: Issue 1

Deadline: March 31

The editors of Go West Magazine are seeking short stories up to 10,000 words. They want stories of action and conflict—gunslingers dueling in saloons, cowboys taking on bandits, Lawmen bringing order to the chaos of the West, bounty hunters going to the ends of the continent to catch their man, a Comanche warrior making his last stand on the open plains, Settlers defending their home from raiders, etc. They also want romantic western tales of love triumphing or dying on the frontier, ghost stories of the lost souls doomed to wander the among western winds, or weird westerns featuring deep ancient horrors revealing themselves to unsuspecting victims. Pay: $0.01 per word. No fee. 

Body Shots: Winter 2024

Deadline: Until filled

Body Shots is a new literary journal debuting from Subtle Body Press in Winter 2024 and is exclusively a journal for fiction. They will consider stories of all types, from Carver-esque to Lynchian, Hemingway-esque to Burroughsian, traditional to postmodern, realist to magical realist, genre to non-genre, and anything and everything in between. In keeping with the publishing traditions of Subtle Body Press, they are open to transgressive or countercultural material of thematic merit, body horror, and bizarro, but that is not exclusively or even mainly the focus of the project, so don't limit yourself to any of that or pass on submitting just because your story doesn't fit in those boxes. Pay: $150 for works between 5000 to 7500 words or longer, $75 for works of 2500 to 5000 words, and $35 for works of 2500 words or less. No fee. 

Havok – Remember When

Deadline: April 5

They are seeking stories on the theme of “Remember When.” Havok author Clarissa Ruth calls it “fictional retellings of real life.” It doesn’t even have to be an autobiographical account, as long as you narrate the story with a strong personal voice. It doesn’t even have to be a human character! So, feel free to share your grandpa’s claims about the time aliens abducted him from Mardi Gras, or transcribe your parrot’s story about the years he served on Blackbeard’s shoulder. No judgement here. Word count: 300 – 1,000 words. Pay: $50 per piece. No fee. 

Stone’s Throw – Workers and Bosses

Deadline: April 7 (Opens April 1)

They’re looking for stories that feature workers and their bosses, the power imbalance between them, and the desperation or demands that can cause people on either side of that divide to make some very poor decisions. Stories should be dark fiction, crime and noir with a target length between 1,000 and 2,000 words. Pay: $25 per story. No fee. 

Moon Falling - Supernatural, Fantasy, Folklore and Myth

Deadline: April 7

This short story collection will bring a potent mix of superstition and belief that reaches back to the gods of Babylon, Ancient Egypt and Greece. There are so many inspirations for the modern storyteller, whether ancient, gothic, fantastical or futuristic, to contribute to this intimate portrait of the seductive, powerful moon. Submissions should be between 2000-4000 words and can explore new interpretations and visions of moon-based fantasy, folklore or supernatural settings. Pay: $0.08 word for original stories; $0.06 per word for reprints. No fee. 

Fractured Lit Chapbook Prize

Deadline: April 14

The winner will receive a $2,000 cash prize, along with manuscript publication and fifty contributor copies. Fractured Lit chapbooks are distributed internationally via drop-shipping through, Barnes & Noble, and other outlets, with 50% royalties. A digital version of the chapbook will be made available to their newsletter subscribers six months to a year after the print publication. All submissions must be single-author prose manuscripts of twenty-five to forty-five pages. Fee: $25

Anthony Grooms Short Fiction Prize

Deadline: April 15

Winning entry will receive $250 and 25 copies of their story (5.5" x7.5", saddle-stitch binding). Runners-up will be offered publication in The Headlight Review. The winner and runners-up will also receive a signed copy of Grooms' book, The Vain Conversation. Stories must be 5000 words or less. Fee: $10

Vault of Shadows: Issue 1

Deadline: April 15 (Opens April 1)

Do you love old-school horror comics? Think Tales from the Crypt, Haunt of Fear, Vault of Horror, etc. They want to work with you to adapt your short story (original stories and reprints welcome) into a comic with artwork by the incredible Christopher Castillo Díaz. They want short horror, weird, dark fiction between 3000 and 7500 words. Pay: $35 per page of the adapted script, up to 12 pages, and a print copy of the issue. No fee. 

The Bath Short Story Awards

Deadline: April 15

Submit short stories up to 2200 words. The first prize is £1200. The second prize is £300. The third prize is £100. The Acorn Award for an unpublished writer is £100. The local writer prize is £50 in book vouchers donated by Mr. B’s Emporium of Books, Bath. Fee: £9

Hemingway Shorts

Deadline: April 15

First published in 2016, the series of journals titled, "Hemingway Shorts," recognizes an overall winner who will receive a $1,000 award plus an additional ten finalists of the short story contest, giving established and emerging writers the opportunity to see their work published. The story should be no longer than 2,000 words in English only. F

Super Canucks: An anthology of small-town Canadian superheroes - Canadian Writers

Deadline: April 21

Latitude 46 Publishing is looking for stories from across Canada that push the usual superhero tropes while shining a spotlight on unique corners of Canada. They want stories set in and around the nation’s more often overlooked locales—isolated small towns, remote reservations, bedroom communities, and other underrepresented areas of Canada. Give them rural superheroes, backwater supervillains, and tales of characters/communities at a crossroads. How does place impact your character? Are they unable to reconcile their superpowers with their residence or is it the people who pose the problem? Does your hero struggle to maintain a secret identity where everyone knows everyone or do they find that familiarity weirdly comforting given the challenges of being superpowered? Word count: 500-3500 words. Pay: $200 per story. No fee. 

Flash Fiction Online – Special Issue: Weird Horror

Deadline: April 21

Weird horror is all about stories that engage with the unexplained and the unexpected, often through an esoteric lens of mysticism and metaphysics. Weird horror is not just scary or terrifying, it is wrong in some way that’s not easily identifiable. Something or someone exists or comes into this world and doesn’t belong. A misshape piece of a puzzle that will never be complete. What you know about reality is now somehow broken, a lie. When you read this kind of story and then take a look at the reality around you, you feel a deep sense of unease. You feel uncomfortable because now you can see what lies beneath. Word count: 500-1000 words. Pay: $100 per story. No fee. 

FFF Competition Twenty One – Micro Flash Fiction

Deadline: April 23

FFF Competition Twenty One is the latest competition organized and run via the Free Flash Fiction website. Submit a flash fiction piece of between 100 and 300 words, on any theme. Prizes: Top prize is £150 and publication; 2 winners will receive £40 and publication; 3 shortlisted will receive £30 and publication. Fee: £3.85 per entry/story. 


Al Blanchard Award of 2024

Deadline: April 30

Submit a story for the Al Blanchard Award of 2024. Story must be a crime story by a New England author or have a New England setting if the author is not from New England. FYI: The six New England states are Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Rhode Island. Winner will receive $100 cash award, publication in 2024’s Best New England Crime Stories anthology, free admission to the Crime Bake Conference, and a handsome plaque. Story must not be more than 5,000 words in length. No fee.

Devil's Snare: Best New England Crime Stories 2024

Deadline: April 30

The anthology is open to all writers who currently live in the six New England states, but the stories do not need to be set in New England. Stories may be written in the following genres: mystery, thriller, suspense, caper, historical, and horror. Word count: 1000-5000 words. Pay: $25 per story. No fee. 

Baen Fantasy Adventure Award

Deadline: April 30

Write and submit a short story of no more than 8,000 words. It must be a work of fantasy, though all fantasy genres are open, e.g. epic fantasy, heroic fantasy, sword and sorcery, contemporary fantasy, etc. The grand prize winner will be published as the featured story on the Baen Books main website and paid at industry-standard rates for professional story submittals. The author will also receive a handsome engraved award and a prize package containing $500 of free Baen Books. Second place winner will receive a prize package containing $500 of free Baen Books. Third place winner will receive a prize package containing $300 of free Baen Books. No fee.

The Creative Writing NZ Short Story Prize 2024

Deadline: April 30

The Creative Writing NZ Short Story Prize 2024 is an international competition open to entrants worldwide. The winner will receive $1,000. Two runner-up prizes – $200 each. The winner and runners-up will also receive a free online course and publication on their site. Submit a maximum of 3,000 words (no minimum). Fee: $9

The Ghost Story Supernatural Fiction Award

Deadline: April 30

Twice each year TGS awards $1,500 and both online and print publication to the winner of our short story competition. Two other writers receive Honorable Mention awards that include publication and cash prizes of $300. Ghost stories are welcome, of course—but your submission may involve any paranormal or supernatural theme, as well as magic realism. What they're looking for is fine writing, fresh perspectives, and maybe a few surprises in the field of supernatural fiction. Story length should run between 1,500 and 10,000 words. Fee: $20

Othered – Novella Submissions

Deadline: April 30

A Coup of Owls Press is seeking novella submissions for their Othered series. They’re looking for stories that explore what it is to be other and/or different, whether as an individual, group, community or society. Word Count: 17,000 minimum, 25,000 word maximum. Genre: Although the majority of their submissions are often speculative they publish romance, historical fiction, contemporary fiction, and more; and they strongly encourage submissions of all genres. No reprints, simultaneous submissions, or multiple submissions. Pay: £200 per accepted novella plus royalties, and six author copies. No fee.

Book Worms Horror Zine: Issue 5 – Rock n Roll

Deadline: April 30

They are seeking short fiction for their Rock n Roll Issue! From hair-raising riffs to head-banging oblivion, horror and rock n roll are a match made in Hell! They generally enjoy “fun,” “80s style” horror reminiscent of the zine’s old-school vibe, but they’ve also been blown away by fresh voices that take the genre in a new direction. Word count: 1500 words or less. Pay: $0.08 per word and one contributor copy. No fee. 

The Mo Siewcharran Prize – UK BIPOC Writers

Deadline: April 30

Hachette UK’s The Future Bookshelf is running the Mo Siewcharran Prize for its fifth year to help discover unpublished fiction writers from Black, Asian, mixed heritage and minority ethnic backgrounds writing in the fantasy genre. The winner will receive £2,500, plus editor feedback, meetings with literary agents, a meeting with the Hodder & Stoughton team, a ticket to the London Book Fair 2025, and more. The runner up will receive £1,500 and editor feedback; and a second runner up will receive £750. Must be a UK resident. Submit the first 10,000 words of the novel and a synopsis of the full plot of no more than 700 words. No fee. 

I’m Here - YA Canadian Writers

Deadline: April 30

Red Deer Press will be compiling a young adult short story anthology called I’M HERE for publication in the fall of 2025. Stories can be any YA genre (realistic fiction, speculative fiction, historical fiction, etc.) with the limit of 4,000 words. Stories should be connected to the theme of “identity” in some way. Pay: $250 CAD. No fee. 

Inner Worlds

Deadline: April 30

Inner Worlds is a quarterly digital zine of speculative stories about our inner lives; our thoughts, our emotions, our perceptions, our dreams. They have a specific interest in sharing stories of neurodiversity, experiences of psychological struggle or distress, madness, and extreme states, and the voices and perspectives of marginalized groups. They aim to publish works which use elements from science fiction, fantasy, or horror to illuminate the different ways that we experience our selves and our world. Stories in English, between 500 and 2,500 words. Pay: £0.02 per word for each piece accepted, with a minimum £20 payment. No fee.


Nonfiction Editor Position for Bellevue Literary Review

Deadline: April 1

BLR is seeking a Nonfiction Editor. Candidates must have significant nonfiction editing experience—either at a journal or in a teaching position. This is not a junior position, as the Nonfiction Editor will be leading a team of assistant editors. BLR offers a modest yearly honorarium, and also helps promote editors’ writings with social media, newsletters, and events. 

Beautiful Things

Deadline: April 1

Submissions to River Teeth’s magazine of micro essays, Beautiful Things, must be 250 words or fewer. Please note your word count in your cover letter and submit one beautiful thing at a time. Fee: $3 

Harpur Palate Award for Creative Nonfiction

Deadline: April 1

Creative non-fiction submissions should be previously unpublished, original work shorter than 5,000 words. All submissions will be considered for publication. The annual winner receives a $500 prize and publication in the following issue of Harpur Palate. Fee: $19 

Streetlight Magazine 2024 Essay/Memoir Contest

Deadline: April 1

They are seeking strong and stirring personal stories between 800 and 2,400 words. First place: $125; Second place: $75; Third place: $50. Winners will be chosen by a committee of Streetlight staff led by Susan Shafarzek, our Essay/Memoir editor. Fee: $15 

Center for Health Journalism National Fellowship

Deadline: April 10

The fellowship helps journalists pursue health-centered stories with reporting grants, five months of professional mentorship, and an all-expenses-paid week of intensive training at the USC campus in Los Angeles. Reporting grants are $2,000-$10,000. No fee. 

Cleaver Nonfiction Contest – Duality

Deadline: April 20

Guest judge: Clifford Thompson. They invite short works of nonfiction (up to 1,000 words) that show where the truth can both unite and divide. Far from singular or simple, the world around us glistens with contradictions. First prize: $500; Second: $250; Third: $100. Winners will be published in the September 2024 Issue of Cleaver. Finalists may be offered publication. Fee: $20 

Island Nonfiction Prize 2024 – Australian Writers

Deadline: April 21

The winning writer will receive $3,000 and their work will be published in Island issue 171, due out July 2024. Entries must be under 4,000 words. They want to read about what fascinates, excites or enrages you. The judging panel will be chaired by Island's Nonfiction Editor, Keely Jobe, with Erin Riley and Daniel Nour. Fee: $16.50 AUD 

Telling True Stories Fellowship

Deadline: April 22

Writers of narrative nonfiction are invited to apply for this fellowship. It must be historically accurate, and it must tell a compelling story, but it can take a variety of forms, including memoirs, autobiography, biography, history, journalism, and even drama and poetry. The fellowship winner will receive a two-week residency at Writers’ Colony at Dairy Hollow in Eureka Spring, Arkansas to focus completely on their writing. Each writer’s suite has a bedroom, private bathroom, separate writing space, and wireless internet. They provide uninterrupted writing time, a European-style gourmet dinner prepared five nights a week and served in their community dining room, the camaraderie of other professional writers when desired, and a community kitchen stocked with the basics for other meals. Only one writing project may be proposed per application. Fee: $35 

Whiting Foundation: Creative Nonfiction Grant

Deadline: April 23

The Whiting Creative Nonfiction Grant of $40,000 will be awarded to as many as ten writers in the process of completing a book-length work of deeply researched and imaginatively composed nonfiction for a general readership. Projects must be under contract with a publisher in the US, UK, or Canada to be eligible. Contracts with self-publishing companies are not eligible. The subjects are history, cultural or political reportage, biography, memoir, the sciences, philosophy, criticism, food or travel writing, graphic nonfiction, and personal essays, among other categories. It is intended for multi-year book projects requiring large amounts of deep and focused research, thinking, and writing, after significant work has been accomplished. The work should be intended for general, not academic, audiences. One of the application requirements is sample chapters, up to 25,000 words. No fee. 

The Gournay Nonfiction Book Prize for Essays

Deadline: April 30

The Gournay Prize will select one book length collection of essays each year to receive a cash prize of $1,000 and publication in the 21st Century Essays series on Mad Creek Books, an imprint of The Ohio State University Press. Please note that all manuscripts submitted to the prize will also be considered for the 21st Century Essays series. The award is open to all writers for first books of essays. (writers may have published books previously in other genres.) They publish manuscripts that range from 40,000-85,000 words. Fee: $25 

Brick Magazine

Deadline: April 30 (Opens April 1)

Brick is an international literary journal published twice a year out of Toronto. With a focus on literary non-fiction—and a willingness to stray when our hearts are taken—the magazine prizes the personal voice and celebrates life, art, and the written word with the most invigorating and challenging essays, interviews, translations, memoirs, belles lettres, and unusual musings we can get our hands on. They don’t have a set word count limit, but they tend towards a range of 1,000 – 5,000 words. Pay: $65–$720, depending on the length of accepted work, plus two copies of the issue the work appears in and a one-year subscription to the magazine. No fee.


Deadline: April 30

Brevity publishes flash nonfiction: crisp, concise essays of 750 words or fewer. The editors are looking for essays with vivid detail, strong voice, and no wasted words. Pay: $45 per piece. Fee: $3 

Herstry – Coming of Age

Deadline: April 30

We often can only see our coming-of-age stories in retrospect, not as they are happening to us. Those moments that flung us over the line from childhood to adulthood. Some of them were gentle, love-filled moments, and others caused us deep, maybe still resonating pain. For their June issue, they want those coming of age moments, that step out of childhood. Word count: 500– 3,000 words. Pay: $20 per essay. Fee: $3 

Chicken Soup for the Soul – Holidays and Funny Stories

Deadline: April 30

Chicken Soup is seeking first-person true stories up to 1,200 words on the themes of holidays (Christmas, Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, New Year’s), and funny stories about something that happened to you in your life that made you and the people around you laugh out loud. Pay: $250 per piece and 10 copies of the book. No fee.

Q3 2024 Creative Nonfiction Essay Contest


Judy Magazine

Deadline: Rolling

Judy Magazine is a new literary journal inspired in name and in spirit by the editor’s grandmother—Judy. “The quiet and humble grit at the heart of my grandmother's personality, her penchant for humor, her love of family and community, instinct toward service and feminism that is modest and never performative, and her unyielding warmth is what will guide the editorial scope of this magazine.” They accept fiction, nonfiction, prose poems, and anything that can conceivably be called “prose” up to 5,000 words. Recipes: they want real family recipes that hold meaning to you as a person that you can use as inspiration as an artist. Old family photos: they are looking for old family photographs, images that make us nostalgic for times and places we may have never known. No fee. 


Deadline: Rolling

Witcraft publishes daily and is dedicated to skillful writing that is brief, humorous and engaging. They are looking for fiction, nonfiction and poetry that is founded on wit, humour, puns, absurdity and irony. Put away the sledgehammer, the cliches, the tired tropes and the nastiness. Submissions are limited to between 200 and 1000 words of fiction, nonfiction or poetry. Reprints are acceptable provided any rights have reverted to you. Pay: All submissions accepted for publication are automatically eligible for one of 3 prizes for the month submitted. First prize AUD$50, second prize AUD$20, third prize UDA$10. No fee.

Canthius: Issue 14 - TRASH

Deadline: April 1

Canthius is an intersectional feminist magazine that publishes poetry and prose. They are seeking submissions on the theme of TRASH for their 14th issue. Whether you write about the things you throw away, ignore, discard, or scavenge for, they want to read your poems, prose, and hybrid works. Poetry: up to 3 poems. Prose: up to 2,500 words. They accept short fiction, creative non-fiction, and other forms of experimental prose. Pay: $50 for one page, $75 for two pages, $100 for three, $125 for four pages, and $150 for five pages or more, regardless of genre. Contributors will also receive a complimentary a copy of the issue. No fee. 

Write or Die

Deadline: April 1

They accept short stories, essays, and author interviews. Fiction: character-driven stories up to 4,000 words. Nonfiction: essays that focus on the writing life and they especially love work where the personal intersects with the critical. Up to 3,000 words. Author Interviews: they accept pitches from interviewers interested in covering authors with a forthcoming or recently published book. Pay: $200 for fiction; $50 for nonfiction; $25 for interviews. No fee. 

The Ex-Puritan: Spring 2024

Deadline: April 1

The Ex-Puritan is a Canadian publication seeking submissions from anywhere in the world. Fiction: up to 10,000 words. Feel encouraged to push boundaries, play with form, and explore genre elements. Poetry: any length and style; send up to 4 poems. Essays: essays should compel us with daring ideas and urgent, captivating writing. Submissions should not exceed 5,000 words. Reviews: they publish reviews of CanLit books, especially by marginalized & debut authors. Interviews: they are looking for long-form interviews in the 3,500 range that deeply engage readers, examine literary works, ask compelling questions, and challenge the boundaries of literature. Pay in CAD: $150 for fiction; $200 for essays; $100 for reviews and interviews; $50 per poem or $100 per poet if multiple poems are accepted; $50 for experimental/hybrid work. No fee. 

The 46th Nimrod Literary Awards

Deadline: April 1

The Katherine Anne Porter Prize for Fiction & The Pablo Neruda Prize for Poetry. First Prize: $2,000 and publication. Second Prize: $1,000 and publication. Submit 3-10 pages of poetry (one long poem or several short poems). For fiction, submit 7,500 words maximum (one short story or a self-contained excerpt from a novel). Fee: $20

The Orison Prizes in Poetry & Fiction – Book Length

Deadline: April 1

Orison Books is accepting submissions of full-length poetry (50-100 pp.) and fiction (30,000 word minimum) manuscripts. The winning entry in each genre will be awarded publication and a $1,500 cash prize, in addition to a standard royalties contract. Poetry manuscripts must be 50-100 pages of poems (each poem beginning on a new page; page count does not include front- and back-matter). Fiction manuscripts must have a minimum word count of 30,000. Fee: $25

Blood Orange Review 

Deadline: April 1

Blood Orange Review publishes writers of fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. Please limit fiction and nonfiction submissions to 5,000 words. Please send no more than 5 poems per submission. Fee: $3

Bacopa Literary Review

Deadline: April 4

Bacopa Literary Review is an annual international print journal published by the Writers Alliance of Gainesville. $200 Award and $100 Honorable Mention in each of six categories. Fiction and creative nonfiction, submit up to 2,500 words. Submit flash fiction up to 1,000 words. Formal poetry, submit up to 3 poems. Free verse poetry, submit up to 2 poems. No fee.

The Tomahawk Creek Review

Deadline: April 4

Please submit your best poetry, fiction, and nonfiction for consideration. This is an online literary journal based in Bedford, Virginia, USA. All are welcome to submit. Please submit one nonfiction or fiction piece of 10,000 words or less on any topic or theme. Please submit up to five poems in a single file on any topic or theme. No fee.

Bare Hill Review

Deadline: April 5

Bare Hill Review is accepting submissions. Please submit one fiction piece or creative nonfiction piece that is up to 5000 words. Please submit up to three poems in a single file. No fee.

In Parentheses

Deadline: April 5

Poetry: IP is looking for interesting, creative, and unique poetry of all forms and styles. There is no limit to the number of poems submitted but please note the following: No documents longer than five (5) pages will be accepted. Creative Writing: IP is looking for pieces that extend the contours of the human imagination. The word limit is strictly 1000 words and please note the following: No pieces exceeding the 1000 word count will be accepted. No fee.

Mslexia Magazine

Deadline: April 8

There are 17 ways to submit, from a four-line poem to a 3,000-word lead article, from a 300-word bedtime story to a 700-word memoir performance piece. Mslexia was set up to support women writers and to showcase their work. They pay for everything they publish in Mslexia, aside from some uncommissioned pieces in the ‘forum’ section of the magazine. Payments start at £30, and all our contributors receive a complimentary copy of the magazine. No fee.

Solum Literary Press: Volume V – Legacy 

Deadline: April 8

Solum Literary Press is a Christian small press publishing poetry chapbooks and collections, short story collections, novellas, and novels. Their biannual literary journal, Solum Journal, features poetry, short stories, and homilies. Issue Volume V centers around the theme of legacy: what goes before us and what we leave behind. Writers are invited to consider this theme through stories of up to 40 pages and through any genre. Writers are also invited to consider this theme through homilies that examine a Scriptural passage or theological topic. Limit homilies to 2,000 words. Poets are invited to consider this theme through any length and poetic style. Limit seven poems per submission. Fee: $3

Grim & Gilded

Deadline: April 10

Accepted works will fall into the categories of short stories, flash fiction, or poetry. They appreciate pieces that contain elements or exist fully within the realms of fantasy, horror, high fantasy, magical realism, science fiction, urban fantasy, horror, contemporary fantasy, fairy tales, gothic, steampunk, and thriller. Submissions should be no longer than 6,000 words for short stories, 1,000 words for flash fiction. Grim & Gilded accepts up to five poems per submission. If submitting multiple poems, please submit all in one document. Fee: $2.99

2024 First Pages Prize

Deadline: April 10

Enter your first pages (maximum of 1,250 words) from a longer work of fiction or creative nonfiction. The top three winners in each category of Fiction and Creative Nonfiction receive: cash award (1st - $2,000, 2nd - $1,500, 3rd - $1000), developmental mentorship, and an agent consultation. Fee: $20 

Griffith Review: Issue 85 – Status Anxiety

Deadline: April 14

This edition of Griffith Review grapples with the fallout of our status anxiety and explores what happens when we don’t measure up. Like the answer to a riddle, status is all around us, but it can’t always be seen or heard. The silent switchboard behind our professional and personal interactions, status dictates our place on the guest list, in the room, at the table; through its connections to class, race and gender, it affords some of us power and wealth and others empty promises. Fiction and nonfiction: up to 4,000 words. Pay: AUD $0.75 per word. No fee. 

Saving Daylight Magazine: Issue 4 – New Beginnings

Deadline: April 14

Saving Daylight was founded in 2019 to honor work from artists around the world who deal with seasonal depression. They are seeking submissions for their next print issue with the theme “New Beginnings.” This issue is all about starting fresh, turning over new leaves, and coming out of hibernation. How do you shake off your seasonal sadness? What helps you turn your winter blues into spring fever? Fiction and nonfiction: under 3500 words. Poetry: submit up to two pieces, 100 lines. They are also open to photography, visual art, comics, playlists, and dreams, secrets, and diary entries. Pay: $15 per piece. No fee. 

The Kerouac Project Writers-in-Residence Program

Deadline: April 14

The Kerouac Project provides six residencies a year to writers of any stripe or age, living anywhere in the world. Each residency consists of approximately a two-month stay in the cottage where Jack Kerouac wrote his novel The Dharma Bums. While at the Kerouac House, each writer stays free with their utilities covered and a $600 food and supplies stipend to use during their residency. Open to writers in five categories: Poetry, Play, Screenplay, Fiction/Short Story, and Nonfiction. For prose, you will submit 10 pages in length maximum. Fee: $50

Meet Me There, Another Time Anthology

Deadline: April 15

Queer and trans people invited to write a letter to a place you had to leave behind to preserve your own safety or parts of yourself. Nobody's pieces will be turned away. Brought to you by the same editor and publisher behind Lambda Literary Finalist, Written on the Body. Write a letter to a place you've had to leave to preserve your own sense of safety. Letters can take the form of a traditional letter, as well as a poem, an ode, an email, text messages, a music sheet of your composition, a black and white image or postcard with your original artwork, etc. You can be from anywhere in the world. Written letters can be between three words or five pages. No fee. 

The Threepenny Review

Deadline: April 15

Submit stories and memoirs 4,000 words or less, Table Talk items 1,000 words or less, and poetry 100 lines or less. At present The Threepenny Review is paying $400 per story or article, $200 per poem or Table Talk piece. No fee.

Consequence Forum Contest

Deadline: April 15

All submissions need to address in some manner the human consequences and realities of war or geopolitical violence. Fiction: Short story (up to 5,000 words), Flash (up to 3 pieces or 1,000 words), and Excerpts (up to 5,000 words). Nonfiction: Interviews, Essays, and Narrative Nonfiction (all up to 4,000 words). Poetry: Up to three poems of any form. Print Poetry: $20 per piece. Print Prose: (1-4 pps) $30 | (5-10 pps) $40 | (11+ pps) $50. Online Prose: $60. Online Poetry: $40. Online Art: $40. No fee.

New Ohio Review Contest

Deadline: April 15

Fiction, poetry, and nonfiction prize winners each receive $1,500 Prize and publication in New Ohio Review 35 or 36. Submit fiction and nonfiction no longer than 20 pages. You may submit up to 6 single-spaced pages of poetry per submission entry. Fee: $22

Passages North Contest

Deadline: April 15

The winner in each category receives a $1000 prize and publication in the print issue of Passages North. For their fiction prize, send your best fiction up to 10,000 words. For their short-short prize, send your best short-shorts (1000 words maximum). They are open to any genre: stories, nonfiction, prose poems, hybrids, etc. Submit up to 3 short-shorts in a single document. Fee: $15

The Florida Review 2024 Editors' Award

Deadline: April 15

Winner of each category receives publication and $1,000 prize. All entries considered for publication. Winners will be announced in early fall and will be published the following spring. Entry fee includes one-year subscription that begins with the issue in which the winning works will appear. Fiction and nonfiction, please limit each submission to 9,000 words. Poetry, submit up to 5 poems. Fee: $25

The Write Launch

Deadline: April 15

The Write Launch is an online literary magazine publishing creative works of poetry, short story, long short story, novel excerpt, essay, art, and creative nonfiction. Submit up to three previously unpublished poems in a single document. Submit 1 unpublished short story per issue, 1,500 - 7,500 words. Submit 1 unpublished creative nonfiction, maximum 3,500 words. Fee: $5

The Healing Muse

Deadline: April 15

The Healing Muse welcomes fiction, poetry, narratives, memoirs, drawings, photography, and graphic art, particularly but not exclusively focusing on themes of medicine and healing. Poetry: Limit up to five poems, with no more than 10 pages total. Word counts are not necessary for poetry submissions. Prose: Limit of one essay. Identify piece as fiction or nonfiction, type double-spaced, and put word count on the first page (2,500 word max). Pieces that exceed the 2,500 word limit will not be reviewed. Contributors receive two complimentary copies of the issue in which their work appears; additional copies are available at a reduced rate. No fee.

Pangyrus – Left Unsaid 

Deadline: April 15

Pangyrus publishes well-crafted, thought-provoking essays, poems, stories, and comics online and in two print editions each year (one anthology and one specialty book). Along with general submissions—on the theme of “Left unsaid” or not—they are interested in a few specific categories: Zest! (food writing); In Sickness and In Health (health, the body, and society); Field Notes (science and the environment); Schooled (education); Generations (family life, parenting, relationships); and The Sounding Board (artful takes on politics and international affairs). Pay: $20 per piece. Fee: $3

Syncopation Literary Journal: Volume 3, Issue 2 – Paris 

Deadline: April 16

Syncopation Literary is a journal dedicated to music. The theme of Volume 3, Issue 2 is PARIS. Paris never fails to capture the imagination of artists, writers, musicians, and other dreamers. Paris has played host to legendary musical expats including Josephine Baker and Jim Morrison. They want your music-themed poetry, creative nonfiction, flash fiction, and short stories that pertain to Paris. Short stories: 7500 words or less. Flash fiction: 1000 words or less. Creative nonfiction: 5000 words or less. Writers may submit up to 3 poems sent as 1 document. Please submit only 1 piece to each genre per submission period. No fee. 

Grimm Retold – Fairy Tales

Deadline: April 19

Grimm Retold is a horror and dark fantasy collection of Dark Grimm Fairy Tales, retold in new and horrific ways. Stories should be based on specific Grimm Fairy Tales and recognizable to their source material, even if they drastically diverge from them. They want voice-y weird and terrifying. Stories: 2,000 - 8,000 words. Poems: 1-4 pages. Pay: $25 for stories 2000 - 5000 words (after edits); $35 for stories 5000 - 8000 words (after edits); $15 for poems; $10 for reprints. No fee. 


Deadline: April 20

Astrolabe is looking for work about how we seek out, discover, and grasp onto connection. Into the woods. Across a line. Beneath the ocean. Along a seam. Into the branches of an alternate present or the crevasse of an alternate future. Across the rifts between one another. They’re open to work of all genres, with a particular fondness for anything that moves beyond realism in form or content or spirit. Fiction and Creative Nonfiction: send up to three pieces, no more than 3,000 words. They’ll happily consider fiction and CNF in all prose forms—prose poetry, micro, flash, and beyond—but they’re not considering lineated poetry at the moment. Pay: $50 per piece. No fee. 


Force Majeure Flash Contest

Deadline: April 30

Force Majeure is looking for the best small things, any form, any content, any fine and wonderful creation. Submit work that is shorter than 1000 words and not more than 5 pages. It may contain fiction, nonfiction, hybrids, marks, or images, in any combination. Prizes, for a single flash: 1st place $300; two runners-up $100 each. Honorable mentions receive a small honorarium. Fee: $6

F(r)iction Contests

Deadline: April 30

Submit to the F(r)icton writing contests. Up to $2,100 in prizes! Short stories: 1,001 – 7,500 words. Flash fiction: up to 1,000 words per piece. Poetry: up the three pages per poem. Creative Nonfiction: up to 6,500 words. Short story first place winner will receive $1,000 and will be considered for publication in F(r)iction, their triannual print collection or through our online blog F(r)iction Log. Flash fiction and poetry first place winner each receives $300 and will be considered for publication in F(r)iction, our triannual print collection or through their online blog F(r)iction Log. Creative nonfiction first place winner receives $500.00 and will be considered for publication in F(r)iction, their triannual print collection or through our online blog F(r)iction Log. Up to five finalists per category will be considered for publication too. Fee: $15 (Short Story & Creative Nonfiction); $10 (Flash Fiction & Poetry)

The Letter Review Prize for Short Fiction, Nonfiction, Poetry, and Unpublished Books

Deadline: April 30

Letter Review is offering $1000 as a prize in each category: short fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and unpublished books. The prize is open to anyone from anywhere in the world. Short fiction: up to 5,000 words in any genre. Poetry: up to 70 lines on any subject. Nonfiction: up to 5,000 words on any subject. Unpublished books: for fiction and nonfiction, submit the first 5,000 words of your unpublished book; for poetry, send your first 15 pages. The judges will be Dr. Ol James and Kita Das. Fee: No fee for short fiction, poetry, and unpublished books; for nonfiction: $2 for this round. 

The /tƐmz/ Review: Issue 27

Deadline: April 30

A literary journal based in London, Ontario that publishes fiction, poetry, and reviews four times a year. Fiction and Creative Nonfiction: They publish prose (fiction and creative non-fiction) up to 10,000 words. If your piece is under 1000 words, feel free to submit several pieces at once. They are looking for innovative short fiction from diverse voices. Their preference is for the strange, the experimental and the boundary-pushing. Poems: submit 1-8 poems. Pay: $20 for prose piece and per batch of poems. No fee. 

Plentitude Magazine

Deadline: April 30

Plenitude Magazine is Canada’s only queer literary magazine. They are open to Canadian and US writers. Each genre has a cap, so enter early. Poetry: up to five pages of poetry, single-spaced in 12-point font. Fiction: one story per submission, up to 5,000 words. Creative nonfiction: one piece per submission, up to 5,000 words. Pitch book reviews (up to 1000 words) and articles (up to 3000 words). Pay: $50 CAD per poem and $100 CAD per prose contribution. No fee. 

The Other Side of Hope: Journeys in Refugee and Immigrant Literature

Deadline: April 30

The other side of hope exists to serve, bring together, and celebrate the refugee and immigrant communities worldwide. Fiction (open to refugees, asylum seekers, and immigrants only): There is no theme; send up to two short stories or stand-alone chapters from unpublished novels (1,000 to 8,000 words) are welcome. Or you can send us up to four pieces of flash fiction. Poetry (open to refugees, asylum seekers, and immigrants only): no theme; send up to four poems in a single Word file. Nonfiction (open to everyone; theme: migration): they accept narrative non-fiction, short essays, creative ethnography, memoir, criticism, reportage, and travelogue. Suggested word count: 1,000 to 5,000 words. Book reviews and author interviews (open to everyone; theme: migration): they accept book reviews on novels, collections of short stories, poetry and non-fiction books (no academic books please), preferably between 500 to 1,000 words. Interviews with authors (up to around 2,000 words) do not have to be about a specific book; they could also be discussions around the writing process. Pay: £100 per published author; £100 online gift card for those seeking asylum. No fee. 

Cursed Cooking – Recipes and Food Horror Fiction

Deadline: April 30

Cursed Cooking features both real-world recipes and food horror fiction. This hybrid publication aims to feed not only your body with frighteningly good food, but also your imagination with cleverly crafted horror stories. Send them your tales of haunted hamburgers, killer chocolate chip cookies, monstrous manicotti, world-ending wontons, and everything in between. But also, send them the recipes that you love, recipes that make your mouth water and have people screaming for seconds (and thirds and fourths). Appetizer recipes and drabbles (100-word stories) to introduce readers to Cursed Cooking in bite-sized portions. Entrée recipes and short stories (1,501–4,000 words) will serve as the book’s main course. Dessert recipes and flash fiction (500–1,500 words) will round out the book—they’ll be short and oh so sweet. Pay: $0.05 per word for original fiction, and $0.01 per word for reprints; recipes $5. No fee.

Geek Partnership Writing Contest

Deadline: April 30

This contest provides a forum for new talent of any age and gives them a chance to learn about the publication process and its requirements. Entries must be science fiction, fantasy, horror, supernatural, and alternate history in short fiction, poetry, or graphic stories (comic). Short Fiction: Open to writers of any age. There may be TWO (2) winners chosen from this category. The Open Division winner will be chosen from all entries. The general winner of the Open Division will receive a $75 Amazon gift certificate. An additional local writer may be chosen from contestants residing within 200 miles of Geek Partnership Society to receive the Scott Imes Award. The Scott Imes Award winner will receive a $100 gift certificate. Poetry: Poems only. Open to writers of any age. The Poetry Division winner will receive a $50 Amazon gift certificate. Youth 1: Short fiction only. Open to writers 13 years of age or younger. Youth 2: Short fiction only. Open to writers 14-16 years of age. The winner of each Youth Division will receive a $50 Amazon gift certificate. Graphic Novel (Comics): Short comics only. Open to writers of any age. The Graphic Novel (Comics) Division winner will receive a $50 Amazon gift certificate. No fee. 

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

Deadlines: April 30 (nonfiction) and May 31 (fiction). 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 W Literary Agency. Fee: $10 (Flash Fiction) and $12 (Nonfiction).

Just for Fun

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April 17 is National Haiku Day! Celebrate by submitting your haiku to Moonstone Arts Center. Deadline: April 7. “Haiku poetry is a form of Japanese poetry that is non-rhyming and usually consists of 3 lines with a syllable pattern of 5-7-5. Usually, an element of nature, a season, moment of beauty, or an individual experience inspires haiku poems. Sensory language is used to capture a feeling, image or moment. As one of the world’s oldest and most regularly used forms of poetry, many poets wrote many haiku. While the most well-known is Matsuo Basho, others we may recognize are William Blake, T.S. Eliot, Richard Wright and Maya Angelou. Try capturing an entire moment or emotion in 17 syllables and getting it right. English haiku does not always follow the strict syllable count found in Japanese haiku.” Submit up to 5 haiku. Fee: $5.

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Did you know that April is National Canine Fitness Month (woof woof!)? If you’re a dog lover and have a personal story that tells the tale of outdoor experiences you’ve shared with your dog(s), consider pitching it to Ruffwear. They are always looking for stories that highlight the bond between dogs and their humans in the outdoors. Stand-out stories might include (but are not limited to): something new you discovered about your dog, you, or the places you explore through an outdoor endeavor with your dog; how your working dog changes the way you can experience the outdoors; the first time you tried an outdoor activity with your dog; an account of an outdoor adventure (or misadventure) you shared with your dog. Pay: $500 per story of around 800-1000 words and 8-10 photos. Send your pitches to with subject line: “Freelance Pitch on [your idea].” 

Craft Corner

Narrative Poetry

Why Narrative Poetry is the Genre

You Should Explore Next

By Melanie Faith

Do you like a protagonist you can root for? Or see yourself in? Or wonder about even months later? A juicy conflict or two? Vivid imagery? Intriguing settings? Me, too. Think I’m describing your favorite binge-worthy streaming show or an award-nominated big-screen movie? Nope. It’s all there in narrative poetry, my friend. 

So what is narrative poetry exactly? 

Simply put, it’s poetry that tells a compelling story. Like all poetry, narrative work integrates poetic techniques, such as stanzas, line breaks, rhythm, and similes and/or metaphors. Narrative poetry carries historical significance as well as exciting options for poets in the 21st century.

I love the elasticity of the form. It can be comprised of individual short poems with just a handful of lines each, a series of longer linked poems with sections, or even an epic of several hundred pages. 

You’ve probably encountered narrative poetry without thinking much about it being called that if you’ve ever taken an English, writing, humanities, classics, or history class that assigned literature like Homer’s The Iliad or The Odyssey or Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s The Rime of the Ancient Mariner; if you’ve enjoyed Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Raven” or my favorite, “Annabel Lee;” Robert Browning’s “My Last Duchess;” Langston Hughes’ “Mother to Son,” or Rita Dove’s exquisite collection, Thomas and Beulah. (If you haven’t read some of these, feel free to use these examples and ones below to inspire your reading.)  

While there are clearly plenty of examples of this genre from long ago, narrative poetry is a very open vessel for today’s poetry as well. Ellen Hopkins writes in narrative poetry form in her bestselling YA books, such as Glass, Perfect, and Tilt, which are often called novels in verse, and Colby Cedar Smith’s Call Me Athena: Girl from Detroit is written in verse as well. Whether the poems are written as single, stand-alone poetry from a character’s voice or about a character, as in Edward Arlington Robinson’s “Richard Cory,” or in a chapbook-length collection of around 15 or 20 pages, or in a full collection, narrative poetry has a focused, compelling point-of-view. 

Narrative poetry also covers an exciting breadth and depth of subject matter, from love and lost love, travel, larger-than-life quests of both the outer and inner variety, addiction and recovery, identity, important social issues and social movements, familial heritage (as in Call Me Athena), and, as in my latest narrative poetry collection, Does It Look Like Her?, explorations of topics as diverse as ambition at midlife, finding fulfillment and joy in the artistic process, cultivating community among artists as an educator, and what it means to be an artist in a society not conducive to art-making. 

If you have a topic or theme you’d like to write about, you are on your way to beginning as a narrative poet. 

Does It Look Like Her

What elements do narrative poems utilize to great effect?

I’ll offer tips and tell you a little about my personal writing experience as well.

Create compelling characters, especially a protagonist.

I begin my narrative poems by dreaming up a protagonist. Often, the initial narrative poem is either from the character’s first-person POV or is about the character from third-person POV. My protagonist Alix, a new artist and 40-something teacher and mother of a young son named Sam, started speaking to me on the page about her life experiences, both good and challenging. I realized while writing the first poems that Alix had sat for a successful artist whose portrait of her becomes well known. This raised many compelling questions I couldn’t wait to explore as the poems kept arriving, as I am neither a painter nor a mother, but I am an educator and have spent much of my life practicing arts, including photography (another visual medium) and writing. 

I hadn’t pre-written any information about Alix before writing the initial poems (I’m more of a pantser than a plotter in my first drafts), but some narrative poets prefer to do a quick list of qualities/descriptors, make a vision board, or free-write as pre-writing for their poems, which can also work well. I wrote into the mystery of who Alix was and what she needed, missed, loved, and wanted. It was fun braiding the similarities we share (a passion for art and self-expression, our age, enjoyment in the artistic process, ambition) and the many qualities we don’t. 

Feel free to sprinkle in dialogue or to write dramatic monologues as well. 

Add hot water (aka: antagonists and conflicts) to put your protagonist immediately under pressure.

Dynamic characters need to be in the midst of change. Not thinking about change, but right in medias res, dog-paddling in the pool of hot water, chin barely bobbing above the surface. As when writing fiction, you need conflict. Include a person, place, event, or thing like social expectations (or multiple of these) that push against a protagonist to test her mettle. 

A combination of external and interior conflicts makes an even stronger conflict. 

Alix’s primary antagonist is her ex, James, and his new love, but even more importantly Alix also struggles to find her place as a painter in a world that prefers youth. She also struggles with having the energy to parent her son while figuring out how she feels about being the focus of a famous painting while not yet realizing her own potential as an artist. These antagonists gave the narrative poems multiple levels of momentum, and as the poet they offered me many exciting conflicts and narrative threads to explore. 

Populate their world…with supporting characters and vivid imagery.

As in fiction, your poetic characters will need support. I had a blast writing a coworker friend for Alix named Meghan (with an h, which was a fun detail that popped into my head while drafting) and bringing Alix’s young son, Sam, forward to speak in his own words. Three of the poems explore Sam’s view of the painting of his mom at age eight, then again at age twenty as a college student, and at age thirty-nine. There’s also poetry from the varied points of view of Sam’s dad/Alix’s ex, Sam’s teacher, a stranger who visits the art gallery, and the well-known artist who made the portrait. In narrative poetry, supporting characters can appear in just one poem or two, to shed light on the protagonist’s struggles and eventual growth. 

As with all types of poetry, imagery is key. Adding visual details about painting, the materials used to paint, the scene where Alix visits the painting of herself on display, her birthday breakfast at home that young Sam tries to cook, and clues about what the painting might look like fleshed out Alix’s world. These images also fulfill the resonance and symbolism visual imagery provides within poetry. Simple, direct imagery, such as a bowl of soup and a bowl of sweetened cereal in the poem, “In Which Alix Decides Not to Paint a Thing That Weekend,” underscores her frustration as both an artist striving to grow and also as a newly single mom. 

Explore visual images that symbolize your protagonist’s goals and challenges, contributing to their characterization. 

Play with time(s) and place(s).

Narrative poetry gives the author great freedom for writing scenes in present day, in history, or even to move back and forth through time (offering brief flashbacks or demonstrating cause and effect and character growth), as I did with my poems about Sam at various ages. There are also poems in the book from before and after Alix appeared in the famous painting and before, during, and after finding her vocations as an artist and an educator. 

Narrative poetry might cover one specific event or span decades or even centuries. You could also choose one decade/era/event to write narrative poetry about; I did this with a narrative poetry collection I wrote a few years ago called Catching the Send-Off Train that is set during WWII and in another narrative collection, This Passing Fever, set in a small American town during the 1918 influenza pandemic.

Shake it up!

Order, fabulous reorder—the first poems you draft don’t have to be the opening to a collection at all. In fact, one or two poems I wrote very late in my drafting now appear in the first section of my book. 

Does It Look Like Her

Also, as I wrote more and more poems in Does It Look Like Her?, I realized that two poems from another recent project worked better for this collection, so they were added. I also omitted seven or eight poems from the draft that I intuitively knew were no longer needed for the story; they were just drafts for me to better understand Alix, her family, and her motivations as a creative artist. 

I recommend writing at least three or four poems before sitting down to make notes about developing the protagonist further. Once you have several poems, you’ll get into the groove of the character’s life and the main conflicts the protagonist faces, and writing the poems will show you what you can do to deepen character development as you go. 


As a writer, I appreciate that narrative poetry is a combination of storytelling elements from fiction—character growth, plot, conflict, supporting characters, setting—with the attention to precise language choices and beautiful imagery and development of theme that poetry brings. It’s a poetic genre that affords maximum flexibility while offering both writer and reader a process of discovery. Win-win. 

Consider reading widely in this underutilized genre and then creating your own characters to populate the narrative-poetry universe sometime soon. 

Melanie Faith

Melanie Faith enjoys old-school film cameras, quotes, ASMR videos about

maps and books, that new-shoes feeling, thoughtfulness, and spending

time with fellow writers and her nieces. Does It Look Like Her? (February 2024) is her most recent narrative poetry collection. Melanie loves teaching for Women on Writing. Her next classes for WOW will be an online webinar on launching as a freelance editor on Friday, April 12th as well as a new class, Art Making for Authors, in August 2024. Vine Leaves Press has published six of her writing craft books about such diverse topics as publishing, flash fiction, poetry, photography, teaching online, and writing a research book. She has also written a Regency novella and several other narrative poetry collections. In addition to numerous photography publications, her instructional articles about creative writing techniques have appeared in The Writer and Writers' Journal, among others. To learn more about Melanie’s writing, teaching, editing, and photography, please visit:, X/Twitter: @writer_faith, and Instagram:@frompromisingtopublished99.

Breaking In

How to Become a Commerce Writer

By Nicole Pyles

Are you drawn to articles discussing perfect gifts to buy for your special someone? Or do you love recommending products to family and friends that you are confident will improve their lives somehow? If that sounds familiar, consider becoming a commerce writer. These writers produce articles about shopping guides, deals to consider, and must-have products for a unique need. 

It’s easier than you might think to become that type of writer. I’m now a freelance commerce writer for Better Homes and Gardens, Mental Floss, Bob Vila, and other outlets. However, if you had told me a year or two ago where I’d be today, I’d be completely surprised. I wanted to share with you the steps you can take to become a commerce writer, and maybe one day, very soon, you’ll be sharing your journey with others.

How I Got Started

My true start in commerce writing began as a product review blogger. This was during the time when partnering with review bloggers was one of the most popular marketing and promotional methods. I still maintain my review blog today and love featuring companies

Because of that experience, being a commerce writer wasn’t too far off base for me. When I truly made it my goal, I knew I needed to make samples showcasing my ability to do that type of writing. That’s where you’ll want to begin, too.

Writing Samples

Creating Your Writing Samples

The first step to becoming a commerce writer is preparing samples. You can write and publish an article on your own blog or website. Choose a topic you’d ideally write for another outlet. Generic gift-related posts (i.e., 10 Perfect Gifts for Mother’s Day) are acceptable. My early samples did just that and looked something like this and this.

However, the more niche you can go, the greater your advantage when pursuing opportunities. For example, you may love tech gear, gardening, or pet-related topics. So, instead of being broad in your sample article, focus on those categories. If you are narrowing down to a specific topic, make sure you don't mind writing about it regularly or in extensive detail.

If you want to write about specific niches, write two or three per niche you are interested in. You can’t send an editor your pet product articles if they want a tech writer. So, if you write in multiple categories, you need proof to show to an editor.

Study already published commerce articles to understand the style, format, and approach. You may consider one that’s for a specific time of year. One of my assignments was to write about advent calendars for Better Homes and Gardens and I highlighted some of the best options available in time for the holiday season. I wrote another for Mental Floss about products for people into “van life” and that was seasonal for the summer. Others may be more evergreen with some updates that happen each year as new products are released, such as my article on the best quilts for 2024.

Best Quilts for 2024

There are also buyer’s guides that compare articles and often include expert insights, like my article on ironing boards. Other commerce articles can be more trendy. I wrote one for Mental Floss inspired by the Stanley Cup craze (before we all learned about the whole lead thing). I listed some popular options as an alternative for shoppers to consider.

Whether pursuing the generic sample route or more specific topics, prepare at least three samples you can send to an editor. My best tip, though, is to avoid getting too bogged down by this process. I didn’t, and it’s only now that I’m beginning to discover my own niche in commerce writing.

Choosing Products to Include

Once you land your first opportunity, your editor will give you guidelines and expectations of which products to include in your article. However, I wanted to share some advice for you to remember when preparing your sample articles.

While your article topic will guide your selections, you also want to consider your specific reader when recommending products. When writing articles, ask yourself, “What would that specific type of reader want?” If it’s a tech gear audience, they likely know their stuff about tech stuff, too. So include specs and any details that will spark their interest in products you are reviewing or listing. 

Unless you are reviewing the product yourself, you typically need to select products based on the reviews of others. However, there are other considerations. Keep top brands in mind that are well-known, especially if listing products of a similar type. For example, if you are talking about water bottles, you’ll probably want to list familiar brands like S'well, Hydro Flask, Klean Kanteen, and more. Of course, you don’t need to limit it to that, but that’s something else you want to keep in mind.

Landing Your First Opportunity

Landing your first gig is an easier-said-than-done part of the process. Finding an opportunity takes a blend of patience and tenacity. I found my first commerce writing gig through a Facebook group that shares writing jobs. I'll share it with you now. It's called Binders Full of Writing Jobs.

Of course, finding commerce writing opportunities can be few and far between in Facebook jobs group. So, you need other avenues to find opportunities. There are several newsletters I follow to apply for opportunities:

You can also find countless jobs on Indeed or LinkedIn. You'll want to look for search terms such as "Commerce Writer" or "Shopping Writer." 

However, the opportunities in these newsletters and job boards are shared far and wide. You and hundreds of other freelancers are applying for them. 

So, how do you get your foot in the door?

Pitching Editors

I’ve landed more opportunities cold pitching editors than applying to a job board or responding to a pitch found shared on one of those above newsletters. It’s all about knowing who to pitch. 

Let’s start with finding the right online web magazine for you. Start by hunting down articles similar to the ones you write. If you are going for niche-specific commerce topics, search those topics and see which website is publishing those articles. If you want to start broad, you want to find articles that focus on more generic lifestyle subjects. If you aren’t even sure where to begin, look in the news section of Google and look for “gift guides.” That’s a good start.

You’ll want to find the right editor once you have found an outlet. Here’s my search tip on Google:

Type: Commerce Editor OUTLET NAME

Voila! You have your editor list. Not all editors that assign commerce articles go by that title. Sometimes, you need to pitch a commissioning editor. You’ll want to read their bio closely, though. They usually say they work with freelancers and assign articles. That’s who you want to pitch.

So you have your list of editors and outlets. How do you contact them?

I will share my approach. You may consider attempting a connection request on LinkedIn, but that hasn't been my technique. Here’s what I do:

Once I know their name, I get their email via This is the trick I learned in my past career in public relations. It’s free; you only type in the person’s name. Just make sure you have the right person. Most of the time, the site will give you an email to write, and most of the time, the email ends up being right. 


Here’s my pitch:

Subject: Can I be added to your list of freelance writers?


Hello [Name],

I am an experienced freelance writer looking for possible writing opportunities. I have a background in various niches, including writing commerce articles about [list any specific categories]. I would love to be considered for any work you may have for freelancers.

Here are a few samples of my commerce writing:

[Insert Links to Three Samples]

I'd appreciate it if you would consider me for any assignments. Thank you for reading my email!


I follow up one more time about a couple of weeks later, usually on Tuesdays or Thursdays. One crucial bit of advice: never email an editor on a Monday or too soon after or before a holiday. 

You also don’t follow up more than that. If it’s an outlet I want, I see if there’s someone else I can email. Sometimes, editors are kind enough to forward my message. That’s rare, though. 

The only other thing to do is keep writing, pitching, and applying. Before you know it, you will land the opportunity of your dreams! 

However, I do want to mention rates. My first article rate in this type of writing was a little low. For about 1,200 words, I received $150. As I progressed and gained more experience, I was able to pursue higher-paying opportunities. Some opportunities can now bring in somewhere between $250 and $600 per article, depending on the extent of the research. Rates can vary according to media outlets. 

Those first, low-paying articles were important. I wanted the experience. If you know you are taking something well below what you’d expect or want, don’t hesitate to take it. Having a few published articles under your belt, even if the rate is lower than you’d like, can open doors. That’s what happened to me. Once you get those articles published, keep pitching for new opportunities. Now that you have samples from an outlet that isn’t your blog, you can aim higher.

Nicole Pyles

Nicole Pyles is a commerce writer living in Portland, Oregon. She started her journey reviewing products on her personal blog, Now she is excited to contribute her insights to major publications. Her shopping-focused articles have been published in Better Homes and Gardens, Bob Vila, and Mental Floss. You can read her other publications on her personal writing portfolio.  

The Muffin: Recent Blog Posts

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The Bean Coffee Company Review and Giveaway

By Angela Mackintosh

Writing and coffee are the perfect companions! There’s nothing like a buzzy cup of coffee to get your story wheels churning.

This year, I’ve been focusing on building a daily writing habit, with the goal of finishing a first novel draft by December. Every morning I brew a pot of coffee from my regular drip coffee maker because it’s quick and easy, and get to work. I like dark roasts and drink my coffee black, except for a scoop of collagen powder, so the coffee’s flavor has to be spectacular.

Today, I’m thrilled to share my review of the organic coffee crafted by The Bean Coffee Company, which has just become my favorite coffee brand. We also have a discount code and a giveaway!

Enter to Win a 3-Month Coffee Subscription by April 2

AWP '24: It's a Wrap!

By Ann Kathryn Kelly

Three weeks ago, I attended my first AWP conference. It’s been on my radar for several years, as I’ve watched from afar my writing networks on Instagram and X discuss it, exchanging tips and quips. What they loved. What could have been better. How great the Keynote was. Which craft session they liked best. Which after-hours parties had the coolest vibe. 

It always seemed like a lot of fun. 

I’m no stranger to large events. Having worked in the technology industry for 30 years, I’ve attended some “big boy” conferences, held in cavernous convention centers around the world that should require golf carts to navigate exhibition space. I’m talking big as in, 100,000 attendees. Bigger than many small cities. 

AWP’s 20,000 attendees, therefore? Walk in the park. 


Nicole Breit

5 Tips for Winning Your First (or Next!) Literary Award

By Nicole Breit

When I got serious about getting published, the advice I received from my mentor was game changing. 

Enter writing contests.

An award-winning poet, novelist and former lit mag editor, she had an insider’s perspective on the literary market. I wasn’t sure my work was good enough to enter in a contest, but she convinced me to give it a try.

Even if I didn’t win a contest an award nomination would open doors for me. It could even streamline the publication of my book. Mentioning a literary award in my cover letter would help my manuscript stand out in the slush pile.

I took her advice, entered some contests and hoped I might land on a longlist or two. To my surprise and delight I won three literary awards in 2016.


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Don't Try to Do It All

By Sue Bradford Edwards

Not long ago, Ann Kathryn Kelly shared an article with the rest of our accountability group. We oohed and aahed and that isn’t surprising. “Lived In and Loved: Unique Design Concepts Driven by Art and Psychology” in the March 2024 issue of Portsmouth City Lifestyle has it all. In addition to Ann’s byline and powerful prose, it is full of gorgeous photos. I just want to crawl inside and explore! 

But I’m not going there. Obviously, I can’t literally crawl inside the photos but I’m not going to try to follow Ann’s steps and write a piece for a posh city lifestyles magazine either. As much as I love going to open houses and drooling over photos like these, for the most part I cannot write about home décor. Words escape me. 


My True Crime Notebook

By Renee Roberson

I have one of those journals I got as a gift with a positive affirmation stamped on the front cover in cursive. It tells me how beautiful, smart, and talented I am and says I am going to do amazing things. But if you open the notebook, you might be surprised at what you find jotted down on the pages. 

This journal has become my true crime notebook. 

The first page has a post-it note where I’ve written “NC/SC John and Jane Does,” a note, no doubt, I wrote as it came to me and didn’t have the notebook nearby. The opening pages hold the original outline for my true crime podcast, “Missing in the Carolinas,” along with ideas for the first four episodes. I have domain name ideas for the eventual corresponding website, marketing, surveys, and merchandise items. 


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What Writing System Works?

By Jodi Webb

Writers have dedicated an untold number of words to revealing their writing system to the world. Some writers swear by the daily word count. Others write for a certain amount of time. Set a schedule and stick to it. Start with free writing or journaling to clear your mind. I think there are as many systems to encourage writing as there are writers. Looking back over the years, I feel as if I’ve tried them all. Then this fall I found myself with a lot of free time on my hands – time to unravel what writing system gets the best results.


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Interview with Black Rose Writing Advertising and Marketing Executive, Minna L. Rothe

By Nicole Pyles

At WOW!, we love connecting with publishers and partnering with them to help their writers reach new audiences. Today, we wanted to highlight one of those relationships. You may recognize the name Black Rose Writing from several authors we've had on tour recently, such as What Happens in Montana and Analyzing the Prescotts.

Black Rose Writing is well-known in the indie publishing world, and despite being a small press they have a big impact. One of their authors even hit the news by going viral thanks to a rare encounter from TikTok user. We connected with Minna L. Rothe, the advertising and marketing executive with Black Rose Writing to discuss topics about marketing.


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Review: How to Write a Novel Master Class with Tom Bromley

By Angela Mackintosh

I’ve always wanted to write a novel, but I find the length and process overwhelming. I’ve participated in NaNoWriMo several times and have even “won” twice, writing fifty thousand words in one month. After cutting pages of summary and exposition and plain bad writing, the usable scenes became fodder for pieces that I’ve had published in literary journals. Although I have several half-written book drafts on the cloud, I began to accept the idea that I’d never be a novel writer. Writing short pieces was more my style, and there’s nothing wrong with that.

Then, earlier this year, an idea for a mystery/horror novel grabbed hold of me and wouldn’t let go. I knew that if I wanted to write a solid draft, complete with a riveting plot, multiple POV characters, and a twisty mystery at its core, I needed more than NaNoWriMo and short-term workshops; I needed a complete course on novel writing.

As a fan of Reedsy, I jumped at the chance to take Reedsy’s How to Write a Novel Master Class with author Tom Bromley.


Finding My “Northern” Tribe

By Ann Kathryn Kelly

I wrote a few weeks ago about my experience at the AWP conference, held in Kansas City this past February. While there, I had an opportunity to join an editor at a signing table for an anthology in which one of my essays—taken from my memoir draft—is included. 

Awakenings: Stories of Body & Consciousness was published in October 2023. Several months before publication, editor Diane Gottlieb encouraged all 49 writers in the anthology—spread across the U.S. and around the world—to team up whenever and wherever possible in promoting the book before and after publication. 


Friday Speak Out! The Wednesday Morning Writing Group

By Dena Rueb Romero 

The sun streams in the large windows of Jane’s house. Outside, winter still reigns, but as members of the Wednesday Morning Writing Group, we are oblivious to the weather. We first met in 2009 in a memoir writing class, and when the class ended, decided that writing personal stories was something we needed to do. Of the thirty plus students in the class, fifteen agreed to meet twice a month and to continue writing. 


“The beautiful spring came; and when Nature resumes her loveliness, the human soul is apt to revive also.” —Harriet Jacobs
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