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Thursday
May012014

Announcing Our May Sale!

For the month of May, we’re offering a 15% discount on the WordCraft service of your choice. We’ve put together a list of possible consultation projects below. Price estimates are based on several variables and previous client arrangements.


Feel free to take a look at our testimonials
, and please contact us if you have any questions at all. You can write to our consultants directly or email us all at wordcraft@wordcraftla.com. We hope to work with you soon!

     
  Regular Price 15% Off
Coaching/Tutoring    
     
One-hour consultation meeting $90 $77
(In person or via phone)*    
     
6-session coaching package $500 $425
(Three months of biweekly critiques via email)    
     
12-session coaching package $950 $808
(Six months of biweekly critiques via email)    
     
10-session coaching package $900 $765
(Five email critiques, five meetings via phone or in person)    
     
*Tutoring packages based on distance, subject, etc.    
     
     
Editing    
     
Developmental editing for a 7,500-word story/essay $200 $170
     
Line editing for a 60,000-word manuscript $1,000 $850
     
     
Consultation    
     
Critique for a 60,000-word manuscript $700 $595
     
Submission consultation $150 $128
(Guidance and ten venues for one story/essay)    
     
     
Contact us for your customized estimate.    
Sunday
Apr202014

Submission Sunday 4.20.14


Our consultants can help you edit your drafts, prepare your submissions, and find places to submit! Contact us for customized submission assistance.
 


PEN Center USA Emerging Voices Fellowship (Deadline August 11)

Emerging Voices is a literary fellowship that aims to provide new writers, who lack access, with the tools they will need to launch a professional writing career. During the eight month fellowship, each Emerging Voices Fellow participates in a professional mentorship, hosted Q & A evenings with prominent local authors, a series of master classes focused on genre, a voice class, a volunteer project, and several public readings. The fellowship includes a $1,000 stipend.

The Emerging Voices Fellowship runs from January to July. Participants need not be published, but the fellowship is directed toward poets and writers of fiction and creative nonfiction with clear ideas of what they hope to accomplish through their writing.


Vermont Studio Center Residency Fellowship (Deadline June 15)

Founded by artists in 1984, the Vermont Studio Center is the largest international artists' and writers' Residency Program in the United States, hosting 50 visual artists and writers each month from across the country and around the world. The Studio Center provides 4-12 week studio residencies on an historic 30-building campus along the Gihon River in Johnson, Vermont, a village in the heart of the northern Green Mountains. 

The Vermont Studio Center (VSC) is pleased to announce a major expansion of its core Fellowships program. VSC Fellowships -- open to all visual artists and writers living anywhere in the world -- provide month-long residencies at the Vermont Studio Center and are based entirely on merit. This Fellowships program embodies VSC’s founding commitment to supporting artistic talent worldwide and strengthening its international residency community.


HOOT: A Postcard Review of [Mini] Poetry and Prose Call for Submissions

HOOT is a postcard.  A very nice-looking one.  With writing on it! It is also a little more complicated than that.  It is also a brief, displayable, shareable literary magazine. We accept fiction, non-fiction, memoir, poetry, and book reviews year-round. Graphic fiction/non-fiction also welcome, but it must fit on a postcard. We publish only one (1!) piece in print form each month—we publish 1-4 pieces in our online issue.

We accept work on a rolling basis–you can expect to hear from us within a month to six weeks, if we’re on schedule, which we are about 50% of the time. We do pay for pieces published on postcards (more details on this below).

The idea is:

—to have stories and poems on a postcard, so that they can be displayed and shared easily. Stick it on the fridge! Tuck it in your husband’s/wife’s briefcase or nephew’s bookbag! 

—for people to have a literary magazine that they can both afford to subscribe to and have time to read. Never again will you be able to claim that you don’t have time to read current literature! Each post card will have fewer than two “Tweets.” Except for it’s not digital!

—to have a literary magazine that is excellent in a pure, gimmick-free way.


The Journal of Experimental Fiction 2015 Kenneth Patchen Award (Deadline July 31 – $1000)

A prize of $1,000 and publication by Journal of Experimental Fiction is given annually for an innovative novel. Renowned novelist James Chapman will serve as judge. Submit a manuscript of any length with a $25 entry fee by July 31.

The Journal of Experimental Fiction was founded in 1986 by novelist Eckhard Gerdes in order to gain wider attention for the incredible innovative fiction writing being done at that time.  JEF has been proud to be able to introduce the reading public to many fresh, original voices in the world of literature, and it continues its ongoing quest to find and introduce such material. JEF also acknowledges the great voices of innovative writing of years past and publishes essays about those voices of innovation. We publish a general fiction issue annually, or thereabouts, as well as introducing new novels to the reading public, novels that most likely would find themselves locked out by the larger presses, who have no time or interest in innovation anymore and only care about their bottom lines.


One Story Call for Submissions (Deadline May 31)

One Story is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit devoted to promoting short stories and supporting the authors who write them. Our magazines, One Story and One Teen Story, feature one great short story mailed to subscribers every three weeks, allowing readers to experience each story as a stand-alone work of art. Since launching in 2002 we have grown to over 15,000 subscribers.

One Story
 is seeking literary fiction. Because of our format, we can only accept stories between 3,000 and 8,000 words. They can be any style and on any subject as long as they are good. We are looking for stories that leave readers feeling satisfied and are strong enough to stand alone. One Story publishes writers only once, so we are always looking for exciting new voices.

 

Ragdale Residency Program Fellowships (Deadline May 15)

Ragdale is a non-profit artists’ community located onarchitect Howard Van Doren Shaw’s country estate in Lake Forest, 30 miles north of Chicago. In 1976, Shaw’s granddaughter, Alice Judson Hayes, transformed her family’s summer home into an artist’s retreat to provide time and space for artists to create important new work.

Today Ragdale annually hosts more than 150 artists, writers, choreographers and composers at all stages of their careers for 2-6 week residencies, making it one of the largest interdisciplinary artist communities in thecountry. Ragdale offers a retreat setting where at any given time, a dozen creative individuals experience uninterrupted time for dedicated work, a supportive environment, dynamic artist exchanges, 50 acres of idyllic prairie and a family-style dinner each evening.


The Collapsar Call for Submissions 

The Collapsar is a bi-monthly magazine of new writing. We’re here because we’re selfish—we want to personally locate the stuff we want to read, to cut out the middle man.

The Collapsar especially welcomes work that has a strong sense of place: we want to read your stories about Oklahoma during tornado season, blazing cold winter nights in northern Idaho, the streets of Seattle on its eighteenth rainy day in a row. We want the mugginess of the bayou. But also, we want work that has no place at all, believing that place is not simply interchangeable with “setting.” Place is vision. Your story could take place in a spaceship. Or inside of somebody’s left shoe. And above all, great writing gives us new vision.

We want to set the experimental and the traditional side by side, to have a generous aesthetic. We want to bridge the gap between the fertile but oft insular sidecars of “alt-lit” and everybody else. We want great writing from women, men, straight people, GLBTQ people, black people, white people, red people, yellow people, and, if they exist, almost certainly, we want work from purple people. If you are purple, please get in touch with us. We want your boozy writing and your sober writing. We want your atheism. We want your theism. Grandeloquence and minutia. We believe that most comedy is sad. And that most sadness is at least a little funny. We like to laugh.


The New Guard Literary Review Machigonne Fiction Contest and Knightville Poetry Contest (Deadline July 14 – $1000)

MACHIGONNE FICTION CONTEST: $1,000 for an exceptional fiction in any genre. Submit up to 5,000 words: anything from flash to the long story. Novel excerpts are welcome if the excerpt functions as a stand-alone story. We do not publish illustrations. 

KNIGHTVILLE POETRY CONTEST: $1,000 for an exceptional poem in any form. Three poems per entry. Up to 150 lines per poem. 

THE NEW GUARD is an independent literary review based in Maine. We proudly publish in print, with the exception of our online feature, BANG!, a page on this site that publishes three short works by a single writer for a full month at a time. The New Guard is here to showcase newcomers alongside established writers, and to juxtapose tradition with experiment to create a new dialogue. Here at TNG and The Writer's Hotel, we work diligently to support writers. We will stand up and put on the gloves for those good stories and poems. We do all we can to help our fellow writers.

 

Upcoming Deadlines

Nimrod International Journal of Prose and Poetry Literary Awards: Katherine Anne Porter Prize for Fiction & Pablo Neruda Prize for Poetry (Deadline April 30 – $2000)
Lunch Ticket Call for Submissions (Deadline April 30)
Noemi Press 2014 Book Awards for Fiction and Poetry (Deadline April 30 – $1000)
Winning Writers Tom Howard/John H. Reid Fiction and Essay Contest (Deadline April 30 – $1000)
Hotel Amerika Call for Submissions (Deadline May 1)
Lowestoft Chronicle Call for Submissions (Deadline May 1) 
Kindred Magazine Call for Submissions (Theme Issue: Memory – Deadline May 2)
Sonora Review Nonfiction Contest (Deadline May 15 – $1000)
Ploughshares 2014 Emerging Writer's Contest (Deadline May 15 – $1000)
Denver Quarterly Call for Submissions (Deadline May 15)
Ragdale Residency Program Fellowships (Deadline May 15)
Carve Magazine Raymond Carver Short Story Contest (Deadline May 15 – $1500)
New England Review Call for Submissions (Deadline May 31)
Blood Orange Review Call for Submissions (Deadline May 31)
Tin House Call for Submissions (Deadline May 31)
Crazyhorse Call for Submissions (Deadline May 31)
The Threepenny Review Call for Submissions (Deadline May 31)
Graywolf Press Nonfiction Prize (Deadline May 31 – $12,000)
Creative Nonfiction Call for Submissions (The Memoir Issue – Deadline May 31 – $1000)
One Story Call for Submissions (Deadline May 31)
American Short Fiction Short Story Contest (Deadline June 1 – $1000)
Southern Indiana Review Thomas A. Wilhelmus Editors' Award (Deadline June 1 – $1500)
Mid-American Review 2014 Fineline Competition for Prose Poems, Short Shorts and Anything In Between (Deadline June 1 – $1000)
Vermont Studio Center Residency Fellowship (Deadline June 15)
Dzanc Books Nonfiction Prize (Deadline June 30 – $1500)
The Moth Magazine International Short Story Prize (Deadline June 30 – €3000)

Sunday
Mar302014

Submission Sunday 3.30.14

Submission Sunday will be on hiatus until April 20. 


The Moth Magazine
 International Short Story Prize
 (Deadline June 30 – €3000)

Founded in June 2010, The Moth is a quarterly arts & literature magazine featuring poetry, short fiction and art by established and up-and-coming writers and artists from Ireland and abroad. Each issue also features interviews with the likes of Paul Muldoon, Belinda McKeon, Kevin Barry, Donal Ryan and DBC Pierre. The Moth appears in March, June, September and December.

The Prize is open to everyone, as long as the work is original and previously unpublished.  There is a 6,000 word limit. The entry fee is €9 per story and you can enter as many stories as you like. This year’s competition will be judged by Mike McCormack, a recipient of the Rooney Prize for Irish Literature whose debut short story collection was a New York Times Notable Book of the Year. His novel Notes from a Coma was shortlisted for the Irish Book of the Year Award and was described in the Irish Times as ‘the greatest Irish novel of the decade just ended’. The three winning stories will feature in the autumn 2014 issue of The Moth and the winners will be invited to read at a special event at the Winding Stair Bookshop in Dublin in September 2014.  

Click to read more ...

Sunday
Mar232014

Submission Sunday 3.23.14


Our consultants can help you edit your drafts, prepare your submissions, and find places to submit! Contact us for customized submission assistance.
 


Graywolf Press Nonfiction Prize (Deadline May 31 – $12,000)

A $12,000 advance and publication by Graywolf will be awarded to the most promising and innovative literary nonfiction project by a writer not yet established in the genre.

The next prize will be awarded to a manuscript in progress. We request that authors send a long sample from their manuscript, as well as a description of the work, as detailed below. We expect that we will work with the winner of the prize and provide editorial guidance toward the completion of the project. The Graywolf Press Nonfiction Prize emphasizes innovation in form, and we want to see projects that test the boundaries of literary nonfiction. We are less interested in straightforward memoirs, and we turn down a large number of them every year. Before submitting your manuscript for the prize, please look at the books previously published as winners of the prize for examples of the type of work that we are seeking. 

Brigid Hughes, founding editor of A Public Space, will judge the prize. The Graywolf Press Nonfiction Prize seeks to acknowledge—and honor—the great traditions of literary nonfiction. Whether grounded in observation, autobiography, or research, much of the most beautiful, daring, and original writing over the past few decades can be categorized as nonfiction. Submissions to the prize might span memoir, biography, or history.


Winning Writers Tom Howard/John H. Reid Fiction and Essay Contest
(Deadline April 30 – $1000)

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Sunday
Mar162014

Submission Sunday 3.16.14

Our consultants can help you edit your drafts, prepare your submissions, and find places to submit! Contact us for customized submission assistance. 


American Short Fiction
 Short Story Contest
 (Deadline June 1 – $1000)

American Short Fiction was founded by Laura Furman at the University of Texas Press and in cooperation with the Texas Center for Writers and “The Sound of Writing” broadcast on National Public Radio. It quickly gained a national reputation for first-rate fiction. During its initial run, from 1991 to 1998, the magazine was a two-time finalist for the National Magazine Award for Fiction. In 2006, American Short Fiction resumed publication under the guidance of the good people at Badgerdog Literary Publishing, Inc., where it continued its award-winning record, most recently in the hands of the talented Jill Meyers. Issued triannually, American Short Fiction publishes work by emerging and established voices: stories that dive into the wreck, that stretch the reader between recognition and surprise, that conjure a particular world with delicate expertise—stories that take a different way home. 

We are excited to announce that the ASF Short Story Contest opened for submissions on February 26th. This year we are honored to have Amy Hempel as our guest judge. Submissions will be accepted through the end of May. The first place winner will receive a $1,000 prize and publication in our Fall issue. One runner-up will receive $500 and all entries will be considered for publication.


A Public Space
Emerging Writer Fellowships
(Deadline April 15 – $1000 plus mentorship and publication)

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Sunday
Mar092014

Submission Sunday 3.9.14


Our consultants can help you edit your drafts, prepare your submissions, and find places to submit! Contact us for customized submission assistance.


#AmtrakResidency is happening! What began as a line in Alexander Chee's interview in PEN Ten and was fueled by Twitter is now an official Amtrak program.

As many of you may know by now, our test-run for Amtrak Residency was done by Manhattan-based writer Jessica Gross, whose piece "Writing The Lakeshore Limited" was published in February by The Paris Review. What followed was overwhelming support on Twitter and in the media with #AmtrakResidency being featured in The Wire, The New Yorker, and Huffington Post among others.

Today we are happy to announce that #AmtrakResidency will allow for up to 24 writers to take long-distance trains to work on their projects. Each writer's round-trip journey will include accommodations on board a sleeper car equipped with a bed, a desk and outlets. We hope this experience will inspire creativity and most importantly fuel your sense of adventure!


McSweeney's Quarterly Concern Call for Submissions 

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Sunday
Mar022014

Submission Sunday 3.2.14

Our consultants can help you edit your drafts, prepare your submissions, and find places to submit! Contact us for customized submission assistance.


Ploughshares 2014 Emerging Writer's Contest (Deadline May 15 – $1000)

Since 1971, Ploughshares has been committed to promoting the work of up-and-coming writers. In the spirit of the magazine’s founding mission, the Ploughshares Emerging Writer's Contest will recognize work by an emerging writer in each of three genres: fiction, nonfiction, and poetry.

Literary work first published in Ploughshares has been cited in the Pushcart Prize volumes more frequently than any other literary journal and is regularly featured in Best American anthologies. The magazine has an international readership and is widely distributed throughout the United States.

We define an “emerging writer” as someone who has yet to publish a book, including chapbooks, eBooks, and self-published works, in any of the content genres: creative nonfiction, poetry, or fiction. No book should be forthcoming before April 15th, 2015, the date when the Winter issue will be off the stands.


Gulf Stream Literary Magazine Call for Submissions (Extended Deadline March 8)

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Sunday
Feb162014

Submission Sunday 2.16.14

Our consultants can help you edit your drafts, prepare your submissions, and find places to submit! Contact us for customized submission assistance.
 

Salt Cay (Bahamas) Writers Retreat Merit Scholarship Contest (Deadline April 1 – Program tuition and fees)

Did you know that William Styron put the finishing touches on Sophie’s Choice while vacationing on Salt Cay, Bahamas? Or that Anne Morrow Lindbergh worked on Gift From The Sea on Salt Cay as well?

Now you too can practice your craft on this beautiful private Bahamian island. While the Salt Cay Writers Retreat curriculum is particularly suited for advanced fiction writers, memorists, and narrative non-fiction writers, any author who wishes to take their writing to the next level is welcome to join us for a memorable week of writing and instruction October 20-25.

The winner of the Salt Cay Writers Retreat Merit Scholarship Contest will be invited to attend the Salt Cay Writers Retreat with all program and tuition fees covered (travel and retreat hotel accommodations are not included).


The HerStories Project Anthology—"My Other Ex: Women’s Stories of Friendship Burnouts, Betrayals, and Breakups"—Call for Submissions (Deadline March 1)

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Sunday
Feb092014

Submission Sunday 2.9.14

Our consultants can help you edit your drafts, prepare your submissions, and find places to submit! Contact us for customized submission assistance.
 

Association of Writers and Writing Programs (AWP) WC&C Scholarship Competition (Deadline March 30)

AWP offers two annual scholarships of $500 each to emerging writers who wish to attend a writers’ conference, center, retreat, festival, or residency. The scholarships are applied to fees for winners who attend one of the member programs in AWP’s Directory of Conferences & Centers. Winners and four finalists also receive a one-year individual membership in AWP. 

AWP provides support, advocacy, resources, and community to nearly 50,000 writers, 500 college and university creative writing programs, and 125 writers’ conferences and centers. Our mission is to foster literary achievement, advance the art of writing as essential to a good education, and serve the makers, teachers, students, and readers of contemporary writing.


Sewanee Writers' Conference (Deadline April 15)

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Sunday
Feb022014

Submission Sunday 2.2.14


Our consultants can help you edit your drafts, prepare your submissions, and find places to submit! Contact us for customized submission assistance.


Bread Loaf Writers' Conference Financial Aid and Fellowships (Deadline March 1)

The Bread Loaf Writers' Conference is one of America's most valuable literary institutions. For the past 89 years, the workshops, lectures, and classes, held in the shadow of the Green Mountains, have introduced generations of participants to rigorous practical and theoretical approaches to the craft of writing, and given America itself proven models of literary instruction. 

Thanks to the generous support of Middlebury College and to an endowment fund established by past Bread Loafers and other donors, we are able to offer financial aid in several categories. Financial aid is awarded in recognition of published work or literary promise; financial need has no bearing on our decisions. Awards must be used in the year they are granted. Fellowships are awarded to applicants who have published their first or second book in English within the last four years in the genre in which they are applying.  At Bread Loaf, fellows are assigned to a workshop where they generally are asked to assist the faculty member. Fellows give a public reading from their own work and are invited to submit a proposal for a one-hour class on some aspect of the craft of writing. 


33 1/3 Series Open Call for Proposals (Deadline March 3)

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Sunday
Jan262014

Submission Sunday 1.26.14


Our consultants can help you edit your drafts, prepare your submissions, and find places to submit! Contact us for customized submission assistance.


Summer Literary Seminars (SLS) Contests
(Deadline February 28 – All-expenses-paid trip to attend one of SLS’s writing programs in Kenya, Lithuania, or Montreal)

Summer Literary Seminars is very excited to announce our 2014 Literary Contest! It will be held this year in affiliation with 
Fence Magazine. We are also thrilled to continue our three contest partnerships, with prizes sponsored by the Los Angeles Review of Books, The Center for FictionSt. Petersburg Review, and the esteemed Graywolf Press. Judging the contest are award-winning writers Aimee Bender (fiction), Dorothea Lasky (poetry), and Phillip Lopate (non fiction). The Arkadii Dragomoshchenko Prize for Innovative Poetry will be judged by Eugene Ostashevsky, the Sutzkever Prize will be judged by André Aciman, and the Los Angeles Review of Books Prize in Outstanding Criticism will be judged by Josip Novakovich and Mikhail Iossel.


Contest winners in the categories of fiction and poetry will have their work published in print in Fence Magazine. Additionally, they will have the choice of attending (airfare, tuition, and housing included) any one of the 2014 SLS two-week programs – in Vilnius, Lithuania (July 13 - 26, 2014); or Nairobi-Lamu, Kenya (December 2014). (Note that prizes and fellowhips cannot be applied to the 4-day SLS MTL workshop in March.) Second-place winners will receive a full tuition waiver for the program of their choice, and publication in an online magazine. Third-place winners will receive a 50% tuition discount and publication in an online magazine. The contest winner in the category of nonfiction will have the choice of attending (airfare, tuition, and housing included) any one of the 2014 SLS programs.

 

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Sunday
Jan192014

Submission Sunday 1.19.14


Our consultants can help you edit your drafts, prepare your submissions, and find places to submit! Contact us for customized submission assistance.


Vermont Studio Center Fellowships for Artists and Writers (Deadline February 15)

The Vermont Studio Center hosts 50 artists and writers each month who participate in 4 to 12 week independent studio Residencies. VSC Residents represent a mix of mediums, cultures, experience, and ages, for a diverse and vibrant community. VSC accepts 12 writers each month for poetry, fiction, and nonfiction Residencies. Writers working in journalism, screen and playwriting, children's literature, or translation may also apply, but are not eligible for Full Fellowship awards.

VSC is committed to preserve and evolve its campus in keeping with rural Northern Vermont traditions of environmental efficiency, modest comfort, privacy, beauty and an unhurried way of life.
 
VSC is a non-competitive community of working artists, writers, and staff, who honor their relationship and responsibility to the Center as well as to the community of Johnson and the world beyond.


LACMA Art + Technology Program
(Deadline January 27)

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Sunday
Jan122014

Submission Sunday 1.12.14


It's not too late to join us for our first month-long Writers’ Resolution Virtual Boot Camp. 

For only $31—one dollar a day—WordCraft will take you through each stage of the writing process, from generating ideas to revision and submission. Subscribers will receive daily emails throughout January with craft tips, writing prompts, excerpts from classic and contemporary writers, and links to other resources. We'll be there in your inbox every day to keep your writing on track. Start 2014 with us and discover the tools to keep writing all year. Sign up today!


Inlandia: A Literary Journey Call for Submissions

Inlandia: A Literary Journey, the online literary journal for the Inlandia Institute, reads submissions year-round. We are primarily seeking stories, poems, novel excerpts, memoir, images, etc., by writers and artists whose work is in some way grounded in the Inland Southern California region; works that will give readers around the globe a sense of the region and its people.

To give a clearer picture of where this region is located, it is in the southeastern corner of California and encompasses all of Riverside and San Bernardino counties from the heights of San Gorgonio Mountain to the lows of Death Valley, from the wineries of Temecula to the shuttered citrus packing houses of Riverside, and all points in-between. Above all else we want fresh, compelling writing.


Newtown Literary Call for Submissions (Deadline February 28)

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Sunday
Jan052014

Submission Sunday 1.5.14


It's not too late to join us for our first month-long Writers’ Resolution Virtual Boot Camp. 

For only $31—one dollar a day—WordCraft will take you through each stage of the writing process, from generating ideas to revision and submission. Subscribers will receive daily emails throughout January with craft tips, writing prompts, excerpts from classic and contemporary writers, and links to other resources. We'll be there in your inbox every day to keep your writing on track. Start 2014 with us and discover the tools to keep writing all year. Sign up today!


First Annual Better Prizes in Fiction and Poetry (Deadline February 7 – $1000)

Better is a semi-annual magazine of culture and literature featuring articles, interviews, essays, artwork, stories, poems, and reviews by (and about) some of the best creative-types in the world today. Our goal is not to be the most prestigious, the most experimental, or even necessarily the best—we just want to be better. We think it’s time to raise the bar on what an online magazine can be and do, by featuring audio and video of as many contributors as possible, and by privileging art, writing, and other media that couldn’t be presented as effectively in a traditional paper-magazine format.

Submissions are now open for the first annual Better Prizes in fiction and poetry! One winner in each genre will receive $1,000, plus publication in issue four or five ofBetter. To enter, prepare a single pdf document containing one of the following: (1) up to five previously unpublished poems, totaling no more than fifteen pages in length, (2) one previously unpublished story no more than ten thousand words in length, or (3) up to five previously unpublished works of flash fiction, totaling no more than ten pages in length. Finalists will be judged by Robert Lopez (in fiction) and Srikanth Reddy (in poetry), and winners will be notified no later than March 31, 2014. 


Trop
 Call for Submissions

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Monday
Dec232013

Our Gift to You: A Holiday Sample

Want a free sample of what you’ll be getting every day in January if you sign up for the WordCraft Writers' Resolution Virtual Boot Camp? Check out this post on concision, precision, and rhythm—three elements that focus specifically on improving sentence strength. Like this one, each day’s post is designed to work for fiction or nonfiction. You’ll get inspiration, practical advice, prompts, and links to more information on each day’s topic. Interested? Take a look the whole month’s calendar.


Concision, Precision, and Rhythm
 

Language is more than words. Language is music and rhythm; it is sound, rhyme, and sibilance; it is texture and layers. Art and graffiti. Language is attitude and place, geography and history. Language is family and what you heard at the kitchen table and on the back porch, muffled behind closed doors and shouted up from stairwells. Language is what you do with words and it is the silence between the words. — Judy Reeves 

Plot is important. Characters are important. Yet many writers and critics would say what makes fiction and memoir “literary” is the level of attention paid to the sentence. Concision, precision, and rhythm are three elements that focus specifically on improving sentence strength, although they can be applied to paragraphs and concepts as well. One excellent method for this type of revising is reading aloud and listening to how the writing sounds. 

Concision, otherwise known as brevity, is the technique of making things concise—every word serves a purpose. Einstein once said that you should make things as simple as possible, but no simpler. He was talking about the theory of relativity, but this idea applies to clarity of expression as well. Concision does not mean your work is bland or unadorned; it means you have used your mastery of the language to choose the perfect, most precise, and as a result, most interesting way to express an idea.

Precision most often refers to word choice. Focusing on precision can mean that you replace two or more words with the one word that conveys their combined meaning. It helps to have a wide vocabulary, but just reading will expand your tool kit of words. For example, instead of writing a “rocky cliff,” you could use the word “crag.” Instead of writing “confused and agitated,” you might write “delirious.” In the first example, I had originally written “instead of saying a ‘rocky cliff’,” but we’re not considering your speaking style, so I changed it to “writing” to be precise. Be most creative with your verbs.

Rhythm is harder to define, but thinking of music can help. Songs don’t hit the same monotonous beat over and over. A song may begin slowly, adding instruments as the momentum builds, hit the bridge with a lot of energy, but then slow down again for the second verse. Using variation in sentence and paragraph length and pacing the delivery of details can create the same effect. Gary Provost makes it clear:

This sentence has five words. Here are five more words. Five-word sentences are fine. But several together become monotonous. Listen to what is happening. The writing is getting boring. The sound of it drones. It’s like a stuck record. The ear demands some variety. Now listen. I vary the sentence length, and I create music. Music. The writing sings. It has a pleasant rhythm, a lilt, a harmony. I use short sentences. And I use sentences of medium length. And sometimes, when I am certain the reader is rested, I will engage him with a sentence of considerable length, a sentence that burns with energy and builds with all the impetus of a crescendo, the roll of the drums, the crash of the cymbals—sounds that say listen to this, it is important.

This excerpt from Vladimir Nabokov’s memoir Speak, Memory may not be the most concise passage, but you can’t deny his precision and rhythm. Note the use of alliteration, how adjacent words echo vowel sounds (bog/caught, cry/snipe, musk/musty), and how varying sentence length adds cadence. Also note the specificity of his word choice.

After making my way through some pine groves and alder scrub I came to the bog. No sooner had my ear caught the hum of diptera around me, the guttural cry of a snipe overhead, the gulping sound of the morass under my foot, than I knew I would find here quite special arctic butterflies, whose pictures, or still better, nonillustrated descriptions I had worshipped for several seasons....Through the smells of the bog, I caught the subtle perfume of butterfly wings on my fingers, a perfume which varies with the species—vanilla, or lemon, or musk, or a musty, sweetish odor difficult to define. Still unsated, I pressed forward. At last I saw I had come to the end of the marsh. The rising ground beyond was a paradise of lupines, columbines, and pentstemons. Mariposa lilies bloomed under Ponderosa pines. In the distance, fleeting cloud shadows dappled the dull green of slopes above timber line, and the gray and white of Longs Peak.

I confess I do not believe in time. I like to fold my magic carpet, after use, in such a way as to superimpose one part of the pattern upon another. Let visitors trip. And the highest enjoyment of timelessness—in a landscape selected at random—is when I stand among rare butterflies and their food plants. This is ecstasy, and behind the ecstasy is something else, which is hard to explain. It is like a momentary vacuum into which rushes all that I love. A sense of oneness with sun and stone. A thrill of gratitude to whom it may concern—to the contrapuntal genius of human fate or to tender ghosts humoring a lucky mortal.

 

Prompt: Each of the following prompts will help you explore these stylistic strategies: 

____Choose a paragraph you’ve written and cut it down to as few words as possible without losing any meaning. Now, without looking at the original, rebuild it with precise words and details.

____Take something you’ve written and combine every two sentences into one. Do not just add “and” between the ideas. Keep only what is necessary. Try to create modifying phrases. Change “A cat slinked into the kitchen. The dog left the room.” to “When the cat slinked into the kitchen, the dog left the room.” or "The antagonistic animals switched rooms."

____Choose a paragraph you’ve written, preferably on the longer side, and count the words. Revise the paragraph by cutting 20%.

 

Consult the following resources for more information on concision, precision, and rhythm:

Amanda Christy Brown and Katherine Schulten, “Writing Rules! Advice from The New York Times on Writing Well”
George Orwell, “Politics and the English Language”
Michelle Seaton, “A Short Course in Line Editing”

 

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Sunday
Dec152013

Submission Sunday Hiatus & Boot Camp Countdown

We'll be taking a hiatus from Submission Sunday until January to work on our Writers' Resolution Virtual Boot Camp.

For only $31—one dollar a day—we will take you through each stage of the writing process, from generating ideas to revision and submission. Subscribers will receive daily emails with craft tips, writing prompts, excerpts from classic and contemporary writers, and links to other resources. We'll be there in your inbox every day to keep your writing on track.

Our WordCraft consultants represent decades of teaching, writing, and editing experience. You'll find two PhDs in English, an Oxford-educated tutor, a lecturer in the English department at UCLA, a PEN Emerging Voices Fellow, a former editor to Hunter S. Thompson, and multi-genre book and journal editors. We bring a wide variety of perspectives, academic training, and knowledge to the table, and we have a lot to say about words that work.

The price of admission also gets you 15% off one of our consulting services (editing, critique, coaching, submission consultation) at the end of the month. 

Start 2014 with us and discover the tools to keep writing all year. Have you seen our January boot camp schedule? Sign up today!

 

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Friday
Dec132013

What You Get for Your $31

  • Your first completed resolution for 2014
  • Inspiration and motivation 
  • Guidance through each stage of the writing process, from generating ideas to revision and submission 
  • Daily quotes from your favorite writers
  • Tips and commentary on craft from WordCraft’s four experienced consultants, among whom you will find:
    • two PhDs in English
    • an Oxford-educated tutor
    • a lecturer in the English department at UCLA
    • a former editor to Hunter S. Thompson
    • a writing instructor at Caltech
    • a PEN Emerging Voices Fellow
    • years of editing experience at literary journals, publishers, and universities
  • Daily writing prompts designed to work for fiction or nonfiction
  • Links to other resources on the web related to each day’s topic
  • 15% off one of our consulting services (editing, critique, coaching, submission consultation) at the end of the month
  • A discussion forum where you can interact with the WordCraft crew and other boot campers, asking questions and exchanging ideas
  • A kick in the butt every morning
  • The tools to keep writing all year
     
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Click through below to see a complete schedule for January.

Writers' Resolution Virtual Boot Camp Schedule

Monday
Dec092013

Writers' Boot Camp: Here's the Drill

Join us in January for our first month-long Writers’ Resolution Virtual Boot Camp. For only $31—one dollar a day—we will take you through each stage of the writing process, from generating ideas to revision and submission. Subscribers will receive daily emails with craft tips, writing prompts, excerpts from classic and contemporary writers, and links to other resources. We'll be there in your inbox every day to keep your writing on track. Start 2014 with us and discover the tools to keep writing all year.

*Subject to change, substitution, and “what were we thinking?”

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Click through below for a PDF version of the schedule.

Writers' Resolution Virtual Boot Camp

Sunday
Dec082013

Submission Sunday 12.8.13

Join us in January for our first month-long Writers’ Resolution Virtual Boot Camp. 

For only $31—one dollar a day—we will take you through each stage of the writing process, from generating ideas to revision and submission. Subscribers will receive daily emails with craft tips, writing prompts, excerpts from classic and contemporary writers, and links to other resources. We'll be there in your inbox every day to keep your writing on track.


360 Xochi Quetzal: Spring Artist Residency in Central Mexico (Deadline January 18)

The 360 XOCHI QUETZAL Artist and Writers Residency Program is located in Chapala, Mexico on the shores of the largest lake in Mexico where the perfect year-round climate and stunning lake and mountain views have long established the region as an international artist mecca.

Three residents will be chosen for each residency. We encourage applications from visual artists, writers, new media makers and musicians. Residents will be inspired by the natural beauty, history and culture of this special part of central Mexico. Chapala is located 25 minutes from an international airport and 45 minutes from Guadalajara, one of the largest cities in Mexico boasting abundant cultural resources: museums, galleries, theatre and artist supplies. Xochi Quetzal is the Aztec goddess of creativity and fertility and protector of artisans.  She is sure to inspire you during your stay!


2014 December Awards: First Annual Jeff Marks Memorial Poetry Prize and Curt Johnson Prose Awards in Fiction and Creative Nonfiction (Deadline February 1 – $1500)

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Monday
Dec022013

Announcing Our First Writers’ Resolution Virtual Boot Camp!


J
oin us in January for our first month-long Writers’ Resolution Virtual Boot Camp


For only $31—one dollar a day—we will take you through each stage of the writing process, from generating ideas to revision and submission. Subscribers will receive daily emails with craft tips, writing prompts, excerpts from classic and contemporary writers, and links to other resources. We'll be there in your inbox every day to keep your writing on track.

The price of admission also gets you 15% off one of our consulting services (editing, critique, coaching, submission consultation) at the end of the month. 

Our WordCraft consultants represent decades of teaching, writing, and editing experience. You'll find two PhDs in English, an Oxford-educated tutor, a lecturer in the English department at UCLA, a PEN Emerging Voices Fellow, a former editor to Hunter S. Thompson, and multi-genre book and journal editors. We bring a wide variety of perspectives, academic training, and knowledge to the table, and we have a lot to say about words that work.

Start 2014 with us and discover the tools to keep writing all year. 
 

Enter your subscription email