Digging for Words

One writer's quest to bring the past to life through imagination


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Contest Opportunities for Young and Old

Here are a couple of contests that should be of interest to all The Writers Circle.

First, for adults, the latest round of NPR’s Three Minute Fiction contest has begun. The judge this time is Pulitzer Prize-winning author Michael Cunningham. The rules are simple: write a story of no more than 600 words that opens with the line: “Some people swore that the house was haunted,” and ends with the line: “Nothing was ever the same again after that.” Complete information and a submission form are available online. The deadline for submission midnight on September 26, 2010.

For children under 14, here’s an opportunity a little closer to home. I’m judging an essay contest hosted by Words Bookstore to benefit a local charity, the Interfaith Hospitality Network of Essex County. Here’s the full information.

Young aspiring writers ages 14 and under living in Essex County, New Jersey, are invited to participate in a celebratory contest this fall in honor of families. In appreciation of the importance of family life, young adults should submit an essay entitled, “A Picture of My Family Illustrated in Words” by October 15th to Words Bookstore, 179 Maplewood Avenue, Maplewood, NJ to be reviewed by published author and creative writing teacher, Judith Lindbergh, Director of The Writers Circle Creative Writing Workshops.

Three essays will be honored at Words Bookstore at a reception at their store at an upcoming event this fall. The authors of the essays will receive gift certificates to Words Bookstore.

Additionally, the winning essays will be shared at this year’s fundraising breakfast for Interfaith Hospitality Network. Scheduled for November 11th from 8-9 AM at Mayfair Farms in West Orange, this breakfast will highlight the important work that IHN of Essex County does to keep families together. The theme of this year’s breakfast is “Picture the Family”. We invite residents to attend the breakfast and share the words written by a young adult expressing the importance of their family life.

The charity of honor, Interfaith Hospitality Network began in 1988, when one woman recognized the need to preserve the family unit by providing emergency food and shelter through a network of local congregations. IHN of Essex County continues this mission of keeping homeless families together by helping parents secure permanent housing and achieve lasting independence. Please visit the web site: IHNEssexNJ.org for more information about this essential organization. A (suggested) contribution of IHN of $5.00 with each essay is appreciated.

Hope to see many of you submit your work. Good luck!

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Three-Minute Fiction

While we’re at it, check out NPR’s Three-Minute Fiction contest. Here are the basics:

“We want you to tell us a story about this photo:
Three Minute Fiction

“The premise of our contest is simple: Send in your original short story that can be read in three minutes or less. That’s no more than 600 words. Your essay must be inspired by the photo provided, and we must receive it by 11:59 p.m. ET on Feb. 28, 2010. We’ll read the winning story on-air as well as post some of our favorites right here on NPR.org.”

Give it a shot! You never know…


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The South Orange-Maplewood Adult School Short Story Contest

In the past few years, The Writers Circle has been honored to see several of its writers win or place in the annual South Orange-Maplewood Adult School Short Story Contest. Our first winner was Ross Minichiello back in 2007: and Mary Mann placed second last spring. 2009’s winner was Jim McHugh who is in our circle now. Though he wrote his winning story before he joined us, we’re fascinated by the new work he shares with us each week.

So here’s your chance to make it happen again. Details on the contest are below. I encourage everyone to enter. And since we have some time before the submission deadline, feel free to bring your work into the group to get it ready.

The South Orange-Maplewood Adult School is accepting short stories to be honored at Celebrity Readings, the school’s annual literary showcase featuring theater actors performing selections of short fiction. The winning story will be published in Matters Magazine.

The deadline for submissions is Feb. 5, 2010.

The contest is open to any adult (18 or older). Manuscripts must be submitted by email only to schoolinfo AT somadultschool.org. One entry per person. Entries must be 4,000 words or fewer, double spaced. Your name, address and phone number must appear at top of the first page. Place your name at the top of each subsequent page. Type exact word count at the top of manuscript.

The first-prize winner will receive $200 and will be honored on Monday, March 22 at Celebrity Readings.

Good luck, everyone!


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Writing Contests and Opportunities – Addendum

Just a quick note as some of you have asked about paying fees for entering literary contests.

Yes, in the old days, paying fees to enter would’ve been a sure sign of a scam. (And it’s still absolutely verboten for a legitimate literary agent to require a reading fee!) But in the contest world, things have changed a bit. Check out this article Literary Contests — Facts and Fakes by Victoria Strauss for some sound advice. I’m also adding her very useful website Writers Beware to the Writers Circle Resources list.

Especially with all the new media and print-on-demand opportunities out there, it’s better to approach the business of publishing well informed.


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Writing Contests and Opportunities

I came across several writing contests that look really intriguing:

Narratives Fall Contest Narrative’s FALL CONTEST is open to all fiction and nonfiction writers. They’re looking for short shorts, short stories, essays, memoirs, photo essays, graphic stories, all forms of literary nonfiction, and excerpts from longer works of both fiction and nonfiction.

Narrative is a high quality literary magazine looking for works with a strong narrative drive, characters that affect us as human beings, and with language, situation, and insight that are intense and total. They look for works that have the ambition of enlarging our view of ourselves and the world.

• $3,250 First Prize
• $1,500 Second Prize
• $750 Third Prize
• Ten finalists receive $100 each.
• All entries will be considered for publication.

There is a submission Fee of $20 for each entry, but with your entry, you’ll receive three months of complimentary access to Narrative Backstage.

The contest deadline is November 30, 2009.

Glimmer Train regularly holds contests in a number of categories. Right now, the Fiction Open and Best Start competitions are accepting submissions until September 30.

Fiction Open (2,000-20,000 words)
Prizes:
1st place—$2,000 and publication in Glimmer Train Stories.
2nd-place—$1,000 and possible publication.
3rd-place—$600 and possible publication.

Reading fee is $20 per story. Open to all writers.

Results post November 30, winning story publishes in issue 77.

Best Start (not to exceed 1,000 words)
Prizes: The 50 most engaging pieces will each win $50 and make Glimmer Train’s Best Start list, which will be announced in our December bulletin as well as on other major blogs for writers.

Reading fee is $10 per piece. Open only to new writers whose fiction has not appeared in a nationally distributed print publication with a
circulation over 3,000.

Also upcoming are their Family Matters and Standard contests. Check out their site for full details.

* * *

Finally, for anyone who knows an ambitious young writer or two, one of my favorite local bookstores, Watchung Booksellers, is publishing its FIRST EVER LITERARY ZINE. They’re accepting written works from 4th to 12th graders for a Fall Literary Zine as well as suggestions for a creative and catchy title.

The Watchung Booksellers’ staff will choose works based on content, organization of ideas and mechanics, creativity, and originality. This FIRST EVER Literary Zine will be unveiled at an author signing party on the evening of Friday, October 23rd for family and friends. Copies of the Zine will be sold at the store – all proceeds will go to IMANI, Improving Montclair Achievement Network Initiative.

CATEGORIES:
Poem (up to 2 pages long)
Short Story (no more than 1000 words)
Essay (no more than 1000 words)

DETAILS:
* for 4th – 12th graders
* entries must be received by September 25, 2009
* winners will be notified by October 9, 2009
* all work must be original and done without adult help
* entries must contain appropriate language
* two entries can be submitted per person
* all entries must be typed in 12 point font and double spaced
* fill out an entry form and attach it to your work
* DO NOT write your name on your piece, so we can judge it fairly

I wish my own sons were old enough to participate!

Good luck, everyone. Keep us posted if you submit. We’re rooting for you.