Saturday, January 20, 2018

3 Million Page Views ... and All I Got Was This Lousy Blog

Six years ago (has it really been six years?), someone told me to start a blog. Apparently, I "needed" one. I had no idea why. But I did it, figuring it might be fun.

Then, stuff happened. To my surprise, people began reading my blog. And then quite a few more started to visit, people who weren't directly related to me. (Some of whom, mysteriously, wanted to escort me to Bangladesh.)

After four years, a million people had visited my blog. I published a post somewhat facetiously titled "A Million Page Views ... and All I Got Was This Lousy Blog." (I could afford to be a little snarky back then. After all, it had taken four years to reach a million.)

I had no idea what lay ahead.

A year later this blog hit another million - a four-fold increase in traffic. This was not an accident. I had written a post in which I had waxed enthusiastic about blog promotion. And for once - really, literally for once - I followed my own advice. I promoted my blog.

And now, eight months later, this blog has accumulated another million. What's more, the most popular posts this year fetched four times the number of views of last year's most popular posts.

Should I be frightened?

In a way, it is a little frightening when all at once a lot of people are looking at what I post. It means I'm probably doing something right. And that thought is a little disconcerting. Since when have I done anything right?

Promotion Strategies

After I got over my initial confusion about what a blog was supposed to be (Cynical Observations of Society? Pearls of Wisdom? What My Cat Did Today?), I realized it might be useful as a means of organizing information that I had been storing in files - actual paper files. But the real revelation came when it dawned on me that there were these things called links and that I could put them in my blog, That meant I could use my blog as a tool! I could simply include links to all those sites in convenient blog posts. So, I started to organize all my resources: agents accepting sci-fi and fantasy, magazines that would actually pay me for my short stories, freelance publications, submission calls, everything I had laboriously accumulated. And because I actually needed those posts for my own nefarious purposes, I really put my back into them. Then three million other people found my blog.

If that sounds like a just-so story, it is. It took more than simply posting on my blog to get all that traffic. Just like writing, I had to promote, I had to be "discoverable." After all, there are a couple million blog posts written every day. How was anyone going to find mine?


Stage 1: SEO and guest blogging. Stage 2: Facebook. Stage 3: What is that? I really don't know.
At first I promoted by writing guest blogs, with modest results. Then, I promoted by posting my blog articles on other sites, like LinkedIn and Medium. Also, modest results. I fooled around with SEO meta tags, and found common search terms on Google to include in my titles. None of that had any profound effect.

And then came Facebook.

Facebook is my greatest single source of traffic, with people coming straight off Google coming in second. It terms of marketing platforms, nothing else comes close to Facebook. And the more you use it, the more word gets around.

Lessons Learned

If there is one thing I have learned from this blog, it's that if you want people to read what you have written, you have to promote your work every day. Promotion is like breathing. When you stop doing it, you're in trouble. Whether it's your blog, your short story, your poetry, anything you've put into words and posted - you have to let people know it's there. In the age of the Internet, the online written word has a short lifespan. You can't count on it being seen for more than a day or two at most.

The other lesson learned, and this applies to writing a blog, a book, a short story, poetry, or a personal essay - is write for yourself. The fact that you have an audience can be a little daunting, and it can tempt you to write for them. But the minute you lose track of what's in your heart, and what you are compelled to say, your writing will become hollow.

So, will I become corrupted, now that over a hundred thousand people are visiting each month? Probably not. My blog is just a tool, and one that I still use on a daily basis. And anyone else who wants to use it is more than welcome.


Here are some posts with good information for promoting your blog (and other writing):

10 Simple Ways to Promote Your Blog (For Writers)

Flogging your Blog

How to Get 40,000 Readers Without Guest Blogging

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

3 New Agents Seeking Literary and Commercial Fiction, Memoir, Nonfiction and Kidlit

Here are three new agents actively seeking clients. Julia Livshin (independent agent) is primarily interested in literary fiction and quality commercial fiction, but is also on the lookout for narrative nonfiction, memoir, and children’s literature. She’s particularly excited about cultivating new writers. Meg Davis (Fletcher & Company) is drawn to novels with a deep sense of place. Erin McFadden (Fletcher & Company) wants both fiction and nonfiction.

ALWAYS check the agency website before submitting. Agents may switch agencies or close their lists, and submission requirements may change.

If these agents do not suit your needs, you can find a comprehensive list of new and established agents seeking clients here: Agents Seeking Clients.

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Julia Livshin

Julia Livshin got her start as an intern at The Atlantic, where she later became an editor and worked with writers like John Updike, Joyce Carol Oates, Christopher Buckley, Roxana Robinson, and many others. She has a soft spot for short stories and thinks that discovering a new young writer is one of the greatest thrills. She’s worked as a freelance book editor, as well as a copy editor for Random House and Grove Atlantic, and has reviewed fiction for The New York Times Book Review, The Washington Post Book World, and other publications. She grew up in Chicago, graduated from Duke University, and received a masters degree is Slavic languages and literature from Harvard University.

Whats she is seeking: She is primarily interested in literary fiction and quality commercial fiction, but is also on the lookout for narrative nonfiction, memoir, and children’s literature. She’s particularly excited about cultivating new writers.

How to Submit: Please send queries to jlivshin@gmail.com. Queries should include the first fifty pages of your manuscript, as well as a brief synopsis and a bio.

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Meg Davis of Fletcher & Company

Meg joined Fletcher & Company in 2017 after helping ghostwrite a memoir in the hills of Tennessee. Before that, she spent time backpacking Europe and Southeast Asia and working in journalism. She graduated from the University of Tennessee with a BA in English Literature and Psychology.

What she is looking for: Novels that have a strong character voice and a deep sense of place. "I am drawn to stories that have broken and flawed characters with complicated family structures and histories, but whose voice is honest as they attempt to navigate difficult relationships and circumstances. In non-fiction, I enjoy books that focus on social justice issues, the south, and history-based narratives that deal with women, the Civil Rights era, and cultural movements."

She is not interested in: Romance novels, science and technology oriented books, horror, and pop culture or fads.

How to submit: To query, please send a letter, brief synopsis. and the first 5-10 pages of the manuscript/proposal pasted into the body of the email to info@fletcherandco.com. Please do not include email attachments with your initial query, as they will be deleted.

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Erin McFadden of Fletcher & Company

Erin attended Rutgers University-New Brunswick, and studied English Literature and Economics, with an Art minor.

What she is seeking: Nonfiction and fiction. "Social sciences and narrative/journalistic nonfiction stand next to capital-L Literature on my bookshelves, with some memoir and essays spread throughout to bridge the gaps. For fiction, if the characters & story are suited for it, bring on a challenging structure (think Only Revolutions), epic length (Infinite Jest), and complex intergenerational webs (Homegoing), I'll take them. Striking imagery is my weakness, especially with an emotional punch to match. And in both fiction and fact, books that fully illuminate a world - especially a vivid, unfamiliar one - are the ones that stick to me."

She is not interested in: Police dramas, High Fantasy, romance, picture and middle grade books. "I’ve also read enough dystopia to last me until the next election cycle."

How to submit: To query, please send a letter, brief synopsis. and the first 5-10 pages of the manuscript/proposal pasted into the body of the email to info@fletcherandco.com. Please do not include email attachments with your initial query, as they will be deleted.


Thursday, January 11, 2018

Top 10 Publishing Posts of 2017

In January, I usually take a look at my posts from the previous year, just to see what struck a chord with my readers. As usual, the most popular posts were free writing contests and calls for submissions. These often made it into the tens of thousands of views. (I didn't include them here. It would have made for a repetitive list.)

Some posts were a lot more popular than I had anticipated. The post about writers who published their first novels after the age of 40, for example, got over 4,000 views. (I didn't expect that, but it seems there are a lot of older writers out there. I, of course, am one of them. Hence the post.)

What was also interesting was the fact that for all of these posts, the number of views topped my most popular posts from last year by 400%. In spite of the self-publishing boom, lots of people are interested in getting traditionally published.

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TOP 10 POSTS OF 2017










And my top post was (drum roll) ...




Monday, January 8, 2018

Still Not Shutting Up

Pexels - CC0 license
Like many writers, I am active on Facebook writing groups, where I post links to my blog posts about writing resources. Yesterday, Facebook suddenly deleted every one of the links to my blog. I was thrown in Facebook jail.

I believed it was some kind of glitch, a change in their algorithms. Much to my surprise, it turns out my confinement was not due to some automated Facebook glitch, but to someone reporting my blog as "harmful."

I have to say I find myself incredulous. My blog is completely innocuous. It's about publishing, and how to get published. My posts are not political, not controversial. And I am certainly not famous. Why would anyone report me? But in the blog's description at the top of the page, I have included a statement that in the interests of protecting the First Amendment - which, as a writer, I take very seriously - I did not vote for Trump, who is notoriously anti-free press.

Of course, on my personal Facebook page, I am intensely political. I'm not a big fan of Nazis or the KKK, or of anyone they support. Any movement towards an autocracy or, in this case, a kleptocracy, is something I vigorously oppose. I have always been critical of both political parties, and of our presidents. I reserve my fandom for the Constitution.

A brief stint in Facebook jail is not a big thing. It's just a temporary hitch. But the fact that someone would go out of their way to target my blog - something so small, so innocent, so inconsequential - is an indication of the mentality driving this climate of authoritarianism.

I say this as a writer and as a responsible citizen: Harassment of individuals simply because they are critical of the government, no matter who is currently in power, should not be tolerated. It is a slippery slope, and one that only leads to the bottom. 

I am not going to remove that simple sentence - that short declaration of support for the First Amendment - from my blog description. In spite of more than a few comments ranging from insults ("You are a stupid bitch") to outright threats, that statement will stay right where it is. And no amount of harassment will induce me to remove it. To do so would be a surrender, if only a very small one, to the very forces that are diminishing the principles that lie at the heart of a representative democracy.



UPDATE: Since I posted this article three days ago, this blog has been reported, yet again. Today it was reported for "abusive content." (The "abusive" content was a retrospective of my 2017 blog posts.) First my statement about upholding the First Amendment was "harmful" and now it is "abusive." It is ironic that censorship should be a consequence of supporting free speech, but there you have it.

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

2018 New Year's Resolution for Writers: Finish

Pixabay - Creative Commons License
Every year I write a New Year's Resolution on this blog. Last year I resolved to write what I feared. Writers tend to find a niche for themselves, be it a genre, like science fiction, or a form, like poetry. It's not a bad thing to have an area of expertise, but to truly expand, writers need to venture into unknown territory. Fiction writers need to experiment with nonfiction, poets with essays, memoirists with fiction.

Often these experiments produce godawful results, but just making the attempt to force one's mind into a different form of expression can awaken new areas of creativity.

Not being a hypocrite (well, not much), I embarked valiantly on the form of writing I most feared: the truth. Writing in first person about actual events has always made me squirm, and just as I suspected, writing my memoir proved to be about as entertaining as pulling my own teeth. I got nowhere for months. And then, voila! I realized it was the same as writing fiction! There is a story arc, characters to develop, a whole world to explore.

So, now that I have faced my terror, there is only one more resolution in store for me.

Finish.

How many of us have half-written novels, notes for short stories and essays, books in need of revision, ideas languishing on the backs of envelopes in illegible scrawls? I certainly do. These half-completed projects have begun to haunt me, like pets I have forgotten to feed. They follow me around in my mind, whining pitifully.

My New Year's Resolution is to feed my little darlings, wrap them up in comfy prose, tuck them in with some nice plot structure, put them out of their half-finished misery, even when I am not motivated, inspired, or even thrilled. Finishing is a responsibility.

This year I will finish every one of my stories.

(Oh God, what have I just committed myself to?)

Monday, January 1, 2018

36 Calls for Submissions in January 2018 - Paying Markets

Pixabay - Creative Commons License
There are more than three dozen calls for submissions in January. All of these are paying markets, and none charge submission fees. As always, every genre, style, and form is wanted, from speculative fiction to poetry to personal essays.

NOTE: I post calls for submissions on the first day of every month. But as I am collecting them, I post them on my page, Calls for Submissions. You can get a jump on next month's calls for submissions by checking that page periodically throughout the month. (I only post paying markets.)


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Apex Publications. Apex is open to receiving dark scifi/fantasy/horror novellas and novels during the month of January 2018. They consider novellas of 30,000 to 40,000 words and novels up to 120,000 words. Pays royalties and an advance.

Smoking Pen PressGenre: Romance short stories. Payment: $25. Deadline: January 1, 2018.

Left HooksGenre: Poetry. Payment: $10. Deadline: January 1, 2018.

Ellipsis. Genre: Flash fiction. "Submit no more than 300 words, fiction or non-fiction, in response to the prompt word(s) ‘Two/Too/To."  Payment: Royalties. Deadline: January 5, 2018.

InsigniaGenre: Speculative fiction, short stories. Theme: "Stories for this anthology may be set in any Asian country (real or imagined), and main characters should be natives also. The ‘birds and beasts’ concept is open to include any type of animal (real or mythical), and that animal must be important to the story. Animal-shifters are great, as well as stories of people encountering mythical beasts.  Your animal could be a hero or a villain, just entertain us with your unique idea."  Payment: 0-2000 words = US$5 / 2001-6000 words = US$10. Deadline: January 7, 2018.  Reprints accepted.

Black RabbitGenres: Poetry, fiction (900 words max) and personal essays (250 words max).  Payment: $25 per piece. Deadline: January 8, 2018.

Alien DimensionsGenreSpeculative fiction. "ProxiBee 2118.” Payment: $10. Deadline: January 10, 2018.

Chicken Soup for the Soul: Holiday CollectionGenre: True stories and poems. "People love reading about the winter holidays – from Thanksgiving all the way through New Year’s Day. We want to hear about your traditions and how they came to be. We want to hear about your holiday memories and the rituals that create the foundation of your life. We love to hear about the funny things too: the ugly holiday sweaters, the gingerbread house that kept falling down, the re-gifting embarrassments and the fruit cake disasters. Please be sure your stories are “Santa safe” so we don’t spoil the magic for any precocious young readers." Payment: $200. Deadline: January 10, 2018.

Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Empowered WomanGenre: True stories and poems. "Whether you are single or married, working or retired, widowed or divorced, working or stay-at-home, you are in-charge of your life and the decisions you make. A woman doesn’t have to lose her femininity or become a bully to be empowered. A woman doesn’t have to be single, divorced or widowed to be looked upon as independent. Married women and women in relationships are independent too. We are looking for your true stories on how you are running your life, how you became empowered and achieved independence. Your story will help women of all ages feel stronger, more capable, and more confident… more empowered." Payment: $200. Deadline: January 10, 2018.

The Stinging FlyGenre: Poetry and short stories. Payment: "Token." Deadline: January 11, 2018.

Outlook SpringsGenre: Poetry and short fiction. "Send us your weird, wobbly wordwork: fiction, nonfiction, and poetry." Payment: $10 for poems, $25 for prose. Deadline: January 11, 2018.

Splickety: Dystopian DisasterGenre: Flash fiction, between 300 and 1,000 words long. "The future is here, and it’s worse than we imagined. Societal collapse, cruel government, anarchy, famine, plague—send us a story that wrecks our world. We want teenage characters who struggle through the wreckage for justice, freedom, or life itself. When nightmare is reality, who will survive?" Payment: 2 cents/word. Deadline: January 12, 2018.

The Journal of Compressed Creative ArtsGenre: Fiction, creative nonfiction, poetry, mixed media, visual arts, "and even kitchen sinks, if they are compressed in some way." Payment: $50. Deadline: January 15, 2018. (?)

Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Miracle of LoveGenre: True stories. "We’re looking for stories about how you found love. And how you kept it fresh over the years. New love, old love, please warm our hearts with your stories and poems." Payment: $200. Deadline: January 15, 2018.

Mind Candy 2.0Genre: Speculative fiction. Payment: 6 cents/word. Deadline: January 15, 2018.

RuminateGenre: Poetry. Payment: $17/page with a max of $68 a poem. Deadline: January 15, 2018.

Great Weather for MEDIAGenre: Poetry, flash fiction, short stories, dramatic monologues, and creative nonfiction. Payment: $10. DeadlineJanuary 15, 2018.

QUGenre: Fiction, essays, script excerpts, poetry. Payment: $100 per prose piece, $50 per poem. DeadlineJanuary 15, 2018

Rattle: Athlete PoetsGenre: Poetry. Payment: $100. Deadline: January 15, 2018.

LiminalGenre: Speculative fiction and poetry. "We like stories that are strange and unsettling, sharp-edged and evocative. Although we will consider any genre, we have a soft spot for weird fiction, magical realism, soft science fiction, and those uncategorizable stories that straddle the line between genres." Payment: 6 cents/word/fiction. $50/poem. Deadline: January 15, 2018.

Helios MagazineTHEME: “Exquisite Corpse” Genres: Fiction, poetry, nonfiction, and art. Payment:$0.03 USD per word for the first 1,500 words and $0.01 USD after for short stories, and $0.25 USD a line for poetry. Deadline: January 15, 2018.

Electric Lit. Genre: Short stories about Love. 300 words, max. Payment: $25. Deadline: January 15, 2018.

Enchanted ConversationGenre: Fairy tale. ThemeUn rêve d'amour (A Dream of Love). Payment: Story pay: $30, Poem pay: $10. US dollars only. Deadline: January 20, 2018.

ZathomGenre: Poetry, short stories, musings. Payment: $10. DeadlineJanuary 26, 2018.

Carrion Blue 555: “The Garden of Earthly Delights” AnthologyGenre: Fiction, poetry, plays, and pretty much any other formats you can think of. (Creative non-fiction is encouraged but pitch your concept beforehand.) We are seeking new and original work inspired by the famed Bosch triptych, “The Garden of Earthly Delights.” Pieces can be accounts of scenes occurring within the painting; further adventures of the denizens of the painting; bizarre odes to the painting itself; some conglomerate of the above; or something entirely different. Length: 7K words max: if your submission is longer (or is expected to be), pitch them the concept beforehand. Payment: Half cent a word with a $5.00 minimum. No simultaneous submissions. Deadline: January 31st, 2018.

Room MagazineGenre: Feminist fiction, poetry, creative nonfiction, art, interviews, and book reviews. "Room magazine invites women and genderqueer folks who identify as part of the LGBTTQIA+ spectrum to submit their best poetry, fiction, CNF, and art to our first queer-themed issue. We especially encourage submissions from writers affected by multiple intersections of oppression, such as racism, classism, ableism, fatphobia, ageism, and transphobia." Payment: $50 CAD for one page, $60 for two pages, $90 for three pages, $120 for four pages, $150 for five or more pages. Deadline: January 31, 2018.

Fiyah: Issue 6 Theme: Big Mama NatureGenre: Short fiction, poetry. "We’re looking for stories of Nature and her swift backhand when folks get out of line. Give us your stories of ecological wastelands, futures full of solar powered punks, or natural disasters. Climate fiction is the name of the game, and Big Mama don’t play." Payment: Short stories (2,000 – 7,000 words): $150 USD; Novelettes (<15,000 words): $300 USD; Poetry: $50 USD. Deadline: January 31, 2018.

Barking SycamoresGenre: Poetry, short fiction, hybrid genre, creative nonfiction, book reviews, and artwork submissions. Theme: The Undiscovered Country. "Barking Sycamores is a literary journal entirely edited and operated by queer, neurodivergent people of color. We also welcome and publish essays about neurodivergence and the creation of literature." Payment: Unspecified.  Deadline: January 31, 2018.

Prairie Fire "Love Issue." Genre: Short stories, creative nonfiction, poetry on theme of "Love."  Payment: 10 cents/word for prose, $40 per poem. Deadline: January 31, 2018.

SharkpackGenre: Poetry, art, short fiction. Payment: Visual artists will be paid a small honorarium for their work; contributors of letters will receive a minimum $25 per published piece. Deadline: January 31, 2018.

Twyckenham NotesGenre: Poetry. Payment: $10. Deadline: January 31, 2018.

Monologue BankGenre: Monologues, plays. Payment: Writers receive 80% per download (monologue or play). Deadline: January 31, 2018.

NonBinary Review. Genre: poetry, fiction, essays, and art on theme of "The Little Prince." Payment: 1 cent per word for fiction and nonfiction, and a flat fee of $10 for poetry (singular poems or a suite)  and $25 per piece of visual art. Deadline: January 31, 2018.

Hyperion and TheiaGenre: Fiction, poetry, and art on theme of Rebus. Payment: 2 - 3 cents/word. Deadline: January 31, 2018.

Strange Economics. Genre: Speculative fiction about economics. Payment: CDN 1.5 c/word.  Deadline: January 31, 2018.

Nashville Review. Genre: Fiction, poetry, and nonfiction. Payment: $25 per poem & song selection; $100 per selection for all other categories, including featured artwork. Translators receive $25 per poem & $100 for prose selections. Deadline: January 31, 2018.

Thursday, December 28, 2017

40 Writing Contests in January 2018 - No entry fees

There are more than three dozen free writing contests in January 2018. As always, every form and genre is represented. There are prizes for novel manuscripts, poetry, short stories, essays, works of nonfiction, political writing, translations and more. Some of these contests have age and regional restrictions, so be sure to check submission guidelines before submitting.

Many contests are offered annually, so if you miss your ideal contest this year,  you can always enter next year. For a month-by-month list of free contests see: Writing Contests
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Small But Mighty. Restrictions: Children ages 7-11 and 12-15. Genre: Fiction and poetry. Prize: Writing supplies, certificate, and publication on website. Deadline: January 1, 2018.

Tony Hillerman Prize. Sponsored by St. Martin's Press. Genre: Debut mystery novel set in Southwest. Prize: $10,000 advance against royalties and publication, Deadline: January 2, 2018.

Texas Institute of Letters Literary AwardsRestrictions: Entrants must have resided in Texas for at least 2 consecutive years, or have been born in Texas. Genre: Book (published). 11 different categories. Prize: $6,000. Deadline: January 2, 2018.

Christopher Doheny Award. The award recognizes excellence in fiction or creative nonfiction on the topic of serious physical illness. The award is presented annually for a completed manuscript that has not yet been published. Prize: $10,000. Deadline: January 2, 2018.

Best Villain Fairy Tale CompetitionGenre: Short story. "Are you tired of only reading about the “good guys”? Well, here is your chance to turn the spotlight on the villains of fairy tales and folk tales. Fairytalez wants to hear the other side of the story, the villains behind a so-called “happily ever after”! After all, as they say, even the villain is the hero in their own story. Let’s hear it for the “bad” guys! You may either write a new fairy tale or folk tale with a new original villain character or take one of the classics and write the untold story from the villain’s point of view." Prize: Active promotion across all Fairytalez’s social networks. A digital winner badge published with your story and on your profile page. A digital winner badge for your blog or website. A $200 gift certificate to Amazon.com Deadline: January 3, 2018.

John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Essay Contest is sponsored by the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation. Restrictions: The contest is open to United States high school students in grades nine through twelve attending public, private, parochial, or home schools; US students under the age of twenty enrolled in a high school correspondence/GED program; and US citizens attending schools overseas. Genre: Essay on an act of political courage by a US elected official who served during or after 1956. Prize: The first-place winner receives $10,000 comprised of a $5,000 cash award and $5,000 from John Hancock. The second-place winner receives $1,000. Up to five finalists receive $500 each. Deadline: January 4, 2018.

Stop the Hate: Youth Speak Out Essay Contest Grades. Stop the Hate® is designed to create an appreciation and understanding among people of differing religions, races, cultures and socioeconomic backgrounds. Genre: Essay, 500 words. Restrictions: Northeast Ohio 6-12th Graders. Prize: $40,000. Deadline: January 5, 2018 for Grades 6-10, January 19, 2018 for Grades 11-12.

The Maureen Egen Writers Exchange Award introduces emerging writers to the New York City literary community. The prestigious award aims to provide promising writers a network for professional advancement. Since Poets & Writers began the Writers Exchange in 1984, 85 writers from 33 states and the District of Columbia have been selected to participate. Restrictions: Open to Arkansas residents. Genre: Poetry and Fiction. Prize: A $500 honorarium; A trip to New York City to meet with editors, agents, publishers, and other writers. All related travel/lodgings expenses and a per diem stipend are covered by Poets & Writers. Winners will also give a public reading of their work; and One-month residency at the Jentel Artist Residency Program in Wyoming. Deadline: January 8, 2018.

Leah Ryan's FEWW Playwriting Prize. Restrictions: Open to women. Genre: Completed full-length work for theater.  Prize: $2,500, a workshop at the Vassar Powerhouse Theater, and a reading in New York City. Deadline: January 8, 2018.

Japan Center-Canon Essay Competition. The aim of the Japan Center Essay Competition is to promote awareness and understanding of Japan in the United States and to help young Americans broaden their international horizons. Genre: Essay. Contestants should write, in English, one or more aspects of Japan including art, culture, tradition, values, philosophy, history, society, politics, business, and technology in relation to their personal views, experiences, and/or future goals. (Contestants do not need to have any experience in visiting Japan or studying Japanese. Prize: Best Essay Award in the High School Division: 1st Place: $3,000 and a Canon camera, 2nd Place: $1,500 and a Canon camera, 3rd Place: $750 and a Canon camera; Best Essay Award in the College Division: $3,000 and a Canon camera; Uchida Memorial Award: $1,000 and a Canon camera; Merit Award: $200 (each) for up to five awards. Deadline: January 8, 2018.

Orwell PrizeGenre: Political writing published between 1st January and 31st January 2017. All entries must have a clear British link. Journalism and ‘exposing Britain’s social evils’. Prize: £3,000.00. Deadline: January 11, 2018. (Their website is impossible to figure out, which is ironic.)

Minotaur Books/Mystery Writers of America Best First Crime Novel CompetitionRestrictions: The Competition is open to any writer, regardless of nationality, aged 18 or older, who has never been the author of any published novel (except that authors of self-published works only may enter, as long as the manuscript submitted is not the self-published work) and is not under contract with a publisher for publication of a novel. Genre: Murder or another serious crime or crimes is at the heart of the story. Prize: $10,000. Deadline: January 12, 2018.

Moving Words Poetry ContestRestrictions: People who live within the DC Metro transit area (the Northern Virginia counties Arlington, Fairfax, and Loudoun and the cities Alexandria, Fairfax, and Falls Church; the District of Columbia; and the Maryland counties Montgomery and Prince George's) and who are over 18. Genre: Poetry on theme: “Ripped from the Headlines.” Prize: $250 honorarium. Deadline: January 12, 2018.

VCU Cabell First Novelist AwardGenre: First novel published July–December 2017. No self-published books. Prize: $5,000. Deadline: January 14, 2018.

Hektoen Grand Prix Essay CompetitionGenre: Essay relating to art, history, literature, education, personal narratives, and music as they relate to medicine, as well reports on famous physicians or hospitals. Length: 1600 words max. Prizes: $3000 to a top finalist and (2) awards of $800 to two runners-up. Deadline: January 14, 2018.

The Ellen Meloy Fund for Desert Writers was established in 2005 to honor the memory of Ellen Meloy. The Fund provides support to writers whose work reflects the spirit and passions embodied in Ellen’s writing and her commitment to a “deep map of place.” Ellen’s own map-in-progress was of the desert country she called home. Genre: Only literary or creative nonfiction proposals will be considered. No fiction or poetry proposals will be reviewed. Prize: $3,000. Deadline: January 15, 2018.

The Andrés Montoya Poetry PrizeGenre: First full-length book of poems by a Latinx poet. Prize: $1000 and a contract from University of Notre Dame Press. Upon publication of the winning book, Letras Latinas will extend an invitation to both the winner and the judge to give a joint reading at Notre Dame. Deadline: January 15, 2018.

Joan Swift Memorial Prize. Restrictions: Open to women over age 65 now living and writing in the Pacific NW - Washington, Oregon, Idaho, northern California, western Montana, British Columbia, and Alaska. Genre: Poetry. Prize: $500 and publication in Poetry Northwest.  Deadline: January 15, 2018.

Women Artists DatebookRestrictions: Women. Genre: 4 poems. Peace and Justice. Prize: $70. Deadline: January 15, 2018. Read details HERE.

Stacy Doris Memorial Poetry AwardGenre: Poem, 3-10 pages long, that demonstrates a "truly inventive spirit." Prize: $500. Deadline: January 15, 2018.

Janet Heidinger Kafka PrizeRestrictions: Open to women, US citizens only. Genre: Novel. All entries must be submitted by publishers who wish to have the work of their authors that were published in the year 2017 considered. No self-published works or works from vanity presses will be accepted. Prize: $7,500. Deadline: January 15, 2018.

Bethesda Literary Festival Essay and Short Story Contest. The Bethesda Urban Partnership & Bethesda Magazine have partnered to honor local writers at the Bethesda Literary Festival held April. Genres: Essays and short stories. Restrictions: Residents of Washington, D.C., Maryland and Virginia are eligible. Prizes: First Place: $500 and published in Bethesda Magazine. Second Place: $250. Third Place: $150. Honorable Mention: $75. Deadline: January 19, 2018.

Poetry Society of Virginia - Student ContestRestrictions: Open to students in Virginia, grades 3 - 12. Prize: $10 - $25. Deadline: January 19, 2018.

NYSCA/NYFA Artist Fellowships, awarded in fifteen different disciplines over a three-year period, are $7,000 cash awards made to individual originating artists living and working in the state of New York for unrestricted use. These fellowships are not project grants but are intended to fund an artist’s vision or voice, regardless of the level of his or her artistic development. Deadline: January 24, 2018.

Fountain Magazine Essay ContestGenre: Essay. 1,500 - 2,500 words. "How to face a disaster? A life with no disasters is a fantasy. All of us face them – both personally and globally – sooner or later. Then, how should we face a disaster? Just as we take measures while constructing buildings on a fault line, can we be always prepared? How do we defend our inner peace when facing danger? Tell us how you survive difficult times. Give us your best advice. Share your greatest life lesson" Prize: 1st Place - $1,500, 2nd Place - $750, 3rd Place - $300, Two Honorable Mentions - $200 each. Deadline: January 31, 2018.

Striking 13Genre: Flash Fiction. Max 513 words on theme of "Greed." Prize: Three Amazon voucher prizes, for the top 3 entries ($25, $15, $10) Deadline: January 31, 2018.

French-American Foundation Translation PrizesGenre: Book - best English translation of French in both fiction and non-fiction. Prize: $10,000. Deadline: January 31, 2018.

Jerry Jazz Musician Fiction Contest. "The Jerry Jazz Musician reader has interests in music, social history, literature, politics, art, film and theater, particularly that of the counter-culture of mid-twentieth century America." Genre: previously unpublished work of short fiction. Prize: $100.00.  Deadline: January 31, 2018.

College Undergraduate Poetry and Florence Kahn Memorial AwardRestrictions: Undergraduates working toward a degree in an accredited U.S. college or university. Genre: Poetry. Prize: $500. Deadline: January 31, 2018.

Helen and Kurt Wolff Translator's Prize. The annual Helen and Kurt Wolff Translator's Prize is awarded each spring to honor an outstanding literary translation from German into English published in the USA the previous year.  Genre: Published fiction or non-fiction, may include: novels, novellas, short stories, plays, poetry, biographies, essays and correspondence. Prize: $10,000. Deadline: January 31, 2018.

The Danuta Gleed Literary Award for best first collection of short fiction in the English language was initiated by John Gleed in honour of his late wife to promote and celebrate the genre of short fiction, which she loved. Restrictions: Canadian residents only. Prize: A $10,000 prize will be awarded for the best first collection of published short fiction in the English language. Two finalist will also be awarded $500 each. Deadline: January 31, 2018.

Imagine Little Tokyo. Little Tokyo Historical Society (LTHS) seeks fictional short stories in Japanese or English for its second annual “Imagine Little Tokyo” writing contest. The setting of the story should be in Little Tokyo, Los Angeles, CA– either past, present or future. Prize: $600. The winner of the youth division (18 or younger) will receive $400. Deadline: January 31, 2018.

Caine Prize for African WritingRestrictions: Open to writers born in Africa, or nationals of an African country, or with a parent who is African by birth or nationality, Genre: Short fiction (published). Prize: £10,000. Deadline: January 31, 2018.

Words and BrushesGenre: Fiction inspired by artwork. Prize: $300 top prize. Deadline: January 31, 2018. (Submission guidelines say "February." I don't know if that means on February 1st or by February 1st, so I am erring on the safe side.)

Indigenous Voices AwardRestrictions: Open to emerging Indigenous writers in lands claimed by Canada. Genre: Novels, creative non-fiction, short stories, poetry, orality, graphic novels, comics, slam, drama, music lyrics, screenwriting, and other forms. Prize: 5 awards for unpublished work totaling $10,000 and 3 awards for published work totaling $15,000. Deadline: January 31, 2018.

Radiating YouRestrictions: You must be 18 years old or older. Genre: Personal essay. "We all have thoughts and secrets we hold close so no one else will know or judge us. Things we push down so we don’t hurt those we love. Feelings that continue to haunt us because they are never shared. Are you brave enough to share yours? Radiating You is launching a contest to uncover the real and unfiltered side of life." Prize. 1st place $100, 2nd place $75, 3rd place $50. Length: 500 words maximum. Deadline: January 31, 2018. NOTEBy submitting, you’re granting permission for Radiating You to use your submission on their blogs, social media channels, or future book.

Prospero PrizesGenre: Poems of philosophical and imaginative heft, haft, and polish. Prize: $150 and feature publication in their digital magazines. Deadline: January 31, 2018.

Walter Rumsey Marvin GrantRestrictions: Open to authors under 30 years of age who have not had a book published. Applicant must have been born in Ohio or have lived in Ohio for a minimum of five years. Genre: Short fiction and creative non-fiction. Prize: $1,000. Deadline: January 31, 2018.

15th Michael E. DeBakey Medical Student Poetry Awards. Restrictions: Only undergraduates currently enrolled in accredited United States medical schools are eligible. Genre: Poetry. Prize: $1,000 top prize. Deadline: January 31, 2018. Note: Winners do not retain copyright.

Sunburst Awards. Restrictions: Open to Canadians. Genre: Speculative fiction short stories published in 2017. Prize: ? Deadline: January 31, 2018.

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