WOW! February Markets

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

Let's Write a Love Story

February 2024 Markets Newsletter

In this issue:

  • "Happy Valentine's Day! Let’s Write a Love Story" by Ashley Memory
  • "In Conversation with Nicole Breit, Award-Winning Writer and Instructor" interview by Angela Mackintosh
  • February Deadlines: Poetry, Fiction, Nonfiction, Multigenre, Just for Fun
  • "On Submission with Ink Sweat & Tears: Publisher Kate Birch" interview by Rosie MacLeod
  • Craft Corner: "Help Your Manuscript Take Off with Primary Sources" by Sue Bradford Edwards
  • Recent WOW Features and Posts from The Muffin

Dear Writer,

The idea of Valentine’s Day is a beautiful one, an occasion to celebrate our romantic partners as well as all the other people in our lives that we love. But let’s get real. Love isn’t easy. In between the joy, there’s often heartache, drama, struggle, and even grief. The good news for writers is that the subject of love is an endless source of inspiration.

As William Shakespeare wrote in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, “the course of true love never did run smooth.” The famous bard built a career drawing from the whole spectrum of love, tragic tales as well as happy ones. And if you’re brave enough to get real about love, your own writing life will also soar. From the reader’s standpoint, a can’t-put-downable love story is more about tension and tightropes than champagne and candlelight.

Below are nine prompts inspired by other masters that might inspire you to pen your own page-turning love stories. 

Heartbreak. My new favorite nonfiction is The Leaving Season, a memoir in essays by Kelly McMasters about the disintegration of her marriage and the life she once dreamed of in rural Pennsylvania. It’s a poignant exploration of what it takes to leave a failed relationship and to start over again, proof that you can survive heartbreak and emerge stronger in the end. Who broke your heart and how did it happen? Tell us about it in either a personal essay or in a short story.

Change. In Jane Austen’s famous novel, Pride and Prejudice, both the main characters Elizabeth Bennett and Fitzwilliam Darcy must abandon their own prejudices to see the virtues in each other. Then and only then do they truly fall in love. The topic of personal change, when explored through the lens of love, can make for a powerful novel, short story or essay. 

Second Chances. Another Jane Austen novel, Persuasion, details the story of Anne Elliot, who breaks off her engagement with Captain Frederick Wentworth because of societal pressure. Eight years later, after a humbling reversal of fortune on the part of the Elliot family, the two lovers reunite for good. Craft your own story in which two lovers break up but pine for each other until they finally get it right.

Be Mine Forever (or Creepy Love).Ligeia,” an early short story by Edgar Allen Poe, proves that true love never dies with a spine-tingling twist of horror. When the narrator’s beloved wife Ligeia dies, he then marries Rowena. But when Rowena also dies, Ligeia slowly comes back to life in the body of Rowena. If you dare, take a traditional love story and give it a creepy twist. For fun, for your first line, tweak these words from Poe: “I cannot, for my soul, remember how, when, or even precisely where, I first became acquainted with X….”

Obsession (Creepy Love II). I was ten when my mother went to college, and I remember secretly poring through her textbooks, hoping for a glimpse of adulthood. Be careful what you wish for. My own sense of love was forever warped when I read William Faulkner’s “A Rose for Miss Emily.” Weave your own story of obsessive love and like Faulkner, leave a little mystery.

Disillusionment (or “All the Signs Were There”). You’re probably familiar with “The Crane Wife,” by the memoirist C.J. Hauser, the unforgettable essay about her doomed love with a man who refused to understand her needs. In Hauser’s collection by the same name, look at “The Second Mrs. de Winter,” an essay that draws eerie parallels between Hauser’s boyfriend and his ex-wife and the novel Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier. Ever been in love with someone who just can’t get over their ex? In a similar vein, pen your own short story or essay.

Hold Me, Thrill Me, Shock Me.The Story of an Hour” by Kate Chopin was published in 1894, but the surprise ending continues to shock (and thrill) audiences to this day. This little masterpiece is primarily a drama of interiority and it turns on the subtlest of movements until wham, that bam of an ending. Write a love flash based on the famous axiom: “nothing is ever as it seems” and leave your reader stunned and amazed.

Find Your Funny Bone. My Date with Neanderthal Woman” by David Galef is a speculative love story across the ages about a man who falls in love with a prehistoric woman. Take a walk on the silly side and write your own improbable love story. After all, love doesn’t have to be serious all the time.

Tell it Tiny. Kate Pearce’s “Our Shared Sense of Wonder” is disillusionment, second chances, poetic prose and ahhh, wait for it, forever, all in 100 words. Take your love experience and whittle it down to 100 words or less. Then submit it to New York Times’ Tiny Love column.

We know you’ll be writing on Valentine’s Day because that’s just what we writers do, but we hope you also spend some time this February savoring our truffle-cious (truffles + delicious) round-up of markets. 

In this issue, we offer a delectable craft article on using primary sources for your manuscript by the brilliant Sue Bradford Edwards, and our own very talented Ang interviews Nicole Breit about the art of teaching creative nonfiction and the ever-evolving world of structures and forms. For our markets interview, Rosie MacLeod chats with Kate Birch, publisher of the UK-based literary journal, Ink Sweat & Tears, about what they are looking for, including Word & Image pieces, Filmpoems, and more.

Q2 2024 CNF Essay Contest

If you have an essay 1,000 words or less, WOW's Q2 Creative Nonfiction Essay Contest is open for submissions until January 31st! We'd love to read your work. And if you're a fiction writer, the Winter Flash Fiction Contest with guest judge literary agent Hannah Andrade with Bradford Literary Agency closes February 28th. There are over $1350 in cash prizes for each contest, and WOW accepts previously published work.

It’s been a tough winter so far and we know many of you have faced record-breaking temperatures and snow. Take heart from the fact that spring is on its way, which brings its own season of inspiration.

Ashley Memory

Ashley Harris lives in southwestern Randolph County, North Carolina, surrounded by the mystical Uwharrie Mountains. She does believe in love but as she writes in Healthline’s Bezzy MS column “How Rejecting the Hollywood Ending Has Helped Me Cope with MS,” she doesn’t expect a glass slipper anymore. Ashley is a regular contributor to Healthline, Women on Writing, and she is currently working on a memoir of linked essays exploring love, faith, and serenity while living with multiple sclerosis. For more, see


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FREE Webinar: How to Write and Publish Your Brilliant Memoir

Free Webinar: How to Write & Publish Your Brilliant Memoir

Do you have a memoir you long to write … but aren’t sure how to go from story idea to published book?

On Wednesday, January 31 join award-winning authors Nicole Breit and Rowan McCandless for a FREE webinar that will help you move past blocks, write your book and share it with the world.

Free Webinar:

How to Write & Publish Your Brilliant Memoir

January 31, 2024

10 am PT / 1 pm ET

Sign up for the free webinar!

Discover the power of kindness with Baby Dragon in Baby Dragon Finds His Family

Baby Dragon Finds His Family by Sherl Bass

Baby Dragon has been living with humans. So he embarks on a quest to find others of his kind. Along the way, he encounters three mythical creatures who need his help: an elf, unicorn and fairy. In turn, Baby Dragon’s new friends provide him with special gifts that help him on the next leg of his journey and teach him valuable lessons about:

  • The power of kindness.
  • The meaning of family.
  • The importance of belonging.

Will stopping to help his new friends take Baby Dragon away from his journey or will he ultimately find the family he seeks? Transport children into a magical world created through the imaginative rhymes of Sheryl Bass and the rich, vibrant illustrations of Remesh Ram.

Order your copy today and join Baby Dragon’s journey of love, friendship, and self-discovery.

Baby Dragon Finds His Family is available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble,, and Be-Kind Publishing.

Reedsy Course: Finish Your Novel Draft in 101 Days!

How to Write a Novel

Your story matters. Join Reedsy for a writing master class and finish your first draft in 101 days. This course is designed for writers of all levels, backgrounds, and genres. Led by author Tom Bromley.

  • 20hrs+ high-quality video master classes
  • 12-month access to Reedsy's forum
  • Weekly webinars with coaches & authors
  • Accountability and critique as you write
  • Support that empowers you to finish writing your first draft in just 3 months

Class Starts February 19th!

Course Details

WOW! Classes Starting Soon

In Tune - Writing About Music in Fiction

In Tune: Writing About Music in Fiction

4 weeks starting February 2

Whether you’re writing a scene or story about a music practice, a novel with a musician or music fan as a protagonist, or just want to know more about how musical fiction works and/or add musical references, vivid characterizations of vocal performance, or music-centered scenes or references to your writing, this course will explore how music culture, sound, setting, POV, and more are portrayed within fiction to enhance and inspire your own rhythmic, compelling prose. Led by Melanie Faith!

Course Details

Reclaiming Memories Using Photographs

Reclaiming Memories Using Photographs

6 weeks starting February 12

Every time we pick an old photograph, there is an inner conversation. There is the time when the photo was taken—frozen by a click of a shutter. And then there is us and the time that has passed since the photo was taken. Every time we pick an old photo, we are not the same, so the inner conversation is forever changing. In this space created by time, stories live. The writing in this class can be varied. Not one specific genre is being emphasized. Students can write personal essays, poetry, and if the muse will take them there, fiction based on true events. Led by Ariela Zucker!

Course Details

Writing is Revising:

How to Become a Better Editor

4 weeks starting February 19

In this four-week class, participants will learn and practice different skills, tips, tricks, and perspectives on the process of revising—which isn’t just about commas and grammar rules you learned (and promptly forgot) way back when. Making revisions is its own type of creative process and it’s where the real writing happens. Anyone can write, but the key to being a successful writer, is being a great editor of your own work. Whether publication is your main goal, or perhaps it’s just figuring out how to best convey what goes on inside your head, editing is what separates piles of word vomit from well-polished (and published!) tidy lines of words. Led by Chelsey Clammer!

Course Details

Editors Seeking Pitches and Submissions

Carefree Magazine - Essays on Life, Love, and Adventure from Black Women 

A weekly publication from Black women around the world on life, love, adventure, and everything in-between. The editors are looking for pitches for personal essays from Black women writers on the following themes: “Blooming Unconventionally” (deadline: Feb 12) - It’s women’s empowerment month and we want to read your unconventional stories on facing fears, and glowing up. “Letting Go” (deadline: Mar 8) - Some ideas: - quitting or leaving an idea/place/person - cutting off toxic friends/family - going cold turkey. “On Beauty” (deadline: Apr 15) - Beauty has become a topic of contention for Black women. Endless debates around conventional beauty standards, beauty isms, and body image have left us wondering: what does beauty even mean? Pay: $100 per piece. Check out their submission guidelines and send pitches to

Country & Town House - Weddings

Deputy editor Amy Wakeham is looking for 800-1200 word pieces for their bridal issue. “Do you have cool, unique, luxurious thoughts on weddings that would be a perfect fit for Country & Town House's discerning readers?” Pay: $0.64 per word. Pitch her at

The Atavist

The Atavist publishes one incredible longform true story every month. Editor-in-chief Seyward Darby said, “If you’ve been laid off and have a longform narrative feature idea you wanna pitch, I’m all ears.” They are looking for stories that need to be longer than a typical magazine feature, anywhere from 8,000 to 30,000 words. Pay: $6,000+ per piece. Check out their submission guidelines and pitch her at

FT Magazine – Food & Drink

Food and drink editor Harriet Fitch Little is seeking your best stories. She suggests finding someone who is totally off radar and explain why they are actually a huge cultural force. Or solve a real-life mystery, like a copywriter’s story that explains how vegan packaging got so weird. She wants experts writing about things they know best, like a story they published on how foreigners got Cantonese food so wrong. The bar for personal essays is high, but they just published an essay, "Wine was my poison. Now it's my sober passion" by Nick Johnstone. There is a way to do trend stories—if you can unearth an untold history/narrative that shifts the lens entirely, like “How Americans ruined tequila—and the true believers saving it.” Pay: $0.50 per word and up. Pitches to

No Bells – Music Pieces, Theme: Originators

No Bells is an independent music blog and monthly radio show. They’re making a print magazine focused on underground music. The theme of the edition is “Originators” and they’re currently accepting pitches for interviews/profiles, lists, reported pieces, photography/visual art, weird essays, games (crosswords, word searches, etc.). Pay: $100+ per piece. Email your pitches/ideas to and with the subject “MAGAZINE PITCH:” followed by a quick headline by Feb 7.

Insider – Common and Uncommon Names, Loving Popular Things 

Senior editor Conz Preti is inspired by this essay: “We picked our baby’s name because it wasn’t popular. Now it’s ‘trendy,’ and I’m angry AF.” She’s looking for pitches on: Having a common name and what comes with it; Having an unusual name and what comes with it; Loving something that suddenly became very popular (stanleys maybe? lol jk). Pay: $250 per piece and up. Pitches to

Backstory - Books & Bookshops

Backstory is a biannual magazine that publishes stories for people who love good books and great bookshops. Editor Tom Rowley is seeking pitches for columns, features, and photo essays for issue two. Columns are typically 450-500 words and pay £150. They are looking for punchy columns driven by a single idea. They could be written by novelists, non-fiction writers, journalists or others in the book industry with an interesting story to tell. Features are typically 1,000-1,500 words and pay £500. They are looking for original reported features about emerging trends in books, the business of books (everything from multinational publishers to indie presses through distributors to authors and agents), profiles of the characters in book world and anything and everything about bookshops. Send your pitches to with "issue 2 pitch" in the subject line by Feb 12.

Narratively – Deep Dives, Memoir, Secret Lives

The editors at Narratively are currently seeking pitches and submissions for their three most popular sections: Deep Dives, Memoir, and Secret Lives. Deep Dives are longform pieces that “should feel like watching a great movie.” Memoir stories offer intimate takes on one-of-a-kind personal experiences. Secret Lives, an ongoing series, seeks both reported profiles and personal essays. Pay: $300 first-person; $400 reported pieces. Pitch or submit through Submittable.

My Jewish Learning

My Jewish Learning is all about empowering Jewish discovery for anyone interested in learning more. The editors are currently accepting pitches on the history and culture of Black Jews between 800 and 1200 words. They already have articles on the history and culture of Ethiopian Jewry, the history of Black-Jewish relations in the United States, and a listicle of impactful Black American Jews. They are looking for suggestions of new content. Pay: $150 per piece. Pitches to

Slate - TV & Culture

Senior culture editor Jenny Zhang is always open to pitches for TV and culture. Pay: $350+ per piece. Check out their pitch guide and send pitches to

IGN - Video Games

IGN publishes stories about video games, movies, TV, and comics. Senior features editor Matt Kim is happy to get pitches for video games and video game cultures stories. He’s looking for features relating to either big new releases, or important anniversaries! Tekken 8 and FF7 Rebirth is on his radar! Pay: $300 for around 1,400 words. Pitches to

The Sick Times – Long Covid stories

The editors are accepting pitches for essay/commentary pieces from outside contributors, publishing one article each month starting in February 2024. They’ll prioritize essays from people with Long Covid and related diseases, then will consider pitches from other writers. Pay: $250 for a 1,000-word piece; for reported news stories, the rate is $1,000 for 1,000 words. Send pitches to and You can also ask to be added to their list of potential contributors, to which they will send updates as their capacity increases.

Runtime - Technology

Runtime is a new technology publication written for the people who have to make purchasing decisions about complicated enterprise tech products, services, and strategies inside their own companies. Editor Tom Krazit is seeking freelance pitches involving any of their major coverage areas: cloud infrastructure providers, software-development tool makers and service providers, enterprise hardware, enterprise software, information security, applied generative AI

and emerging technologies. He’s looking for 1,000 to 1,250-word trend stories, technology explainers, and/or stories that surface people, companies, or concepts that go beyond the day-to-day parade of product announcements. Pay is $1 per word. Pitches to

Nylon – Music Pitches

Editor Steffanee is always seeking music pitches for Nylon. Please send your sharp ideas (and hot takes) about new scenes, trends, and offbeat observations. Pay: $300 - $500 for a standard web story. Pitches to

Vox – Climate Stories

Climate editor Paige Vega is looking to assign stories on climate change, wildlife and conservation that help readers better understand and navigate our world. She’s especially interested in stories at the intersection of biodiversity and traditional ecological knowledge; labor, daily life, and housing; coexistence and new frameworks for conservation; the green energy transition; politics; and solutions, adaptation and resilience. For example, this story involving hordes of stray cats and the "managers" who feed them—and, as a result, help fuel Hawaii's extinction crisis. She has an affinity for stories about out-of-control humans messing w/ wildlife. Pay: $1 per word. Check out their pitch guidelines and send your pitches to


Website director Ali Pantony is seeking pitches, and it doesn’t have to be entertainment stories. They are open to international writers as long as the idea works for their UK audience. Pay: £200 for op-eds and £300 for more investigative pieces that involve research, case studies and experts. Pitches to

Washington Post Travel 

By The Way is the The Washington Post’s destination for travel news, tips and guides from local experts, both online and in print. They are seeking pitches on stories that will help readers travel smarter, whether that’s explaining trends in prices or detailing hacks that help trips go off without a hitch. They prioritize service journalism and practicality; their readers fly coach. They also have a sense of humor, explain viral moments and explore the minutia of travel. With very few exceptions, they’re not interested in a first-person travelogue from a place most readers are unlikely to go. The ideal pitch should be summarized in three paragraphs or less while giving them a sense of the tone, reporting requirements, sourcing and experience informing the article. Pay: $350 and up for stories around 600 – 1,200 words. Pitches to By The Way’s editor Amanda Finnegan:

IJNET - Stories from Journalists

Do you know of a journalism tool, app or resource that we haven’t covered? A media innovator who has a fascinating story to tell? Or do you simply want to discuss a current media trend taking place in your country? Pay: $200 per piece. Pitches via Submittable.

In Conversation with... Nicole Breit

In Conversation with Nicole Breit

By Angela Mackintosh

When I think of innovative creative nonfiction forms, Nicole Breit springs to mind, both as a writer and teacher. I relish the creative sparks I get from her imaginative writing prompts and enjoy her warm, personable teaching style. Over the past year, I’ve had the pleasure of sharing her free webinars and writing challenges with the WOW community, and I’ve participated in them all with great enthusiasm. I’m always in awe of Nicole’s generosity in sharing her knowledge with fellow writers, as you’ll see in this interview! Nicole and I chat about the craft of writing creative nonfiction, targeting markets for your work, her Spark Your Story programs, and more.  

Nicole Breit (she/her) is a queer, award-winning essayist + the creator of The Spark Your Story Lab—a 12-month program for writers who want to craft publishable creative nonfiction. Her writing has been widely published in journals + anthologies including Brevity, The Fiddlehead, Room, Hippocampus, Event, Swelling with Pride: Queer Conception and Adoption Stories + Getting to the Truth: The Craft and Practice of Creative Nonfiction. Nicole’s essay about first love and loss, “An Atmospheric Pressure,” was selected as a Notable by the editors of Best American Essays 2017.

Spark Your Story

WOW: Welcome, Nicole! Thank you for joining us today. I always enjoy sharing your fun and inspirational offerings with the WOW community, so it’s a real treat to interview you. You’re an award-winning writer and teacher who helps fellow writers create their own beautiful stories. Can you share with our readers how you got started in teaching? How has your own publishing journey inspired your teaching style? 

Nicole: What a lovely welcome, Angela! I’m so delighted to chat with you about my writing and teaching. 

I think I was born to teach. I remember when I was a kid, my neighbor’s mom was an elementary school teacher and she’d give us extra worksheets, so we could “play school.” Is it weird that I loved playing school? I trained and worked as a primary teacher for a few years after I earned my English degree. Then, almost twenty years later, once my writing started getting recognition, I started teaching creative nonfiction via my online courses. 

I love your question about the relationship between publishing my work and how it might have influenced my teaching style. Recognition of my work gave me the confidence to teach writing to adults. My publishing journey also allowed me some firsthand observations about how the literary market worked. I loved being able to share that info with my students, so they could meet their own publishing goals more quickly. 

I think my teaching style is a mix of my personality, my passion for helping writers, and my training as an educator. I’d describe it as warm, friendly, structured, and story-based. My understanding of pedagogy and different learning styles—as well as my own neurodivergence—has helped me design courses that are easy to digest with tons of extension reading for those looking for a really deep dive. I love it when I hear from other teachers who take my classes that they can tell I have a background in teaching. I really want my lessons to be spirited, engaging, and above all, useful.

WOW: I’m not surprised to hear about your background in teaching! I can picture you “playing school.” You are definitely a warm and friendly teacher, and I simply love your practical, generative courses! Your Spark Your Story Programs focus on form and structure, among other elements. Why are constraints so important for writers, and how did you choose which forms to include in your curriculum?

Nicole: Imposing constraints on your writing, whether that be a word count limit or setting a timer or deciding, up front, how many sections you’re going to work with, is a simple and effective way to enhance creativity and innovation. It also can help avoid that feeling of overwhelm for those of us working with deeply personal material. I can easily feel immobilized when I think of how much info I have to draw on when exploring an experience in writing—memories, thoughts, feelings, impacts, changes. Everything feels important, how do I focus? 

Constraints turn a writing project into a problem we have to solve, and that engages the creative brain and can make the process much more fun. I get lost when I sit down and just start drafting from wherever I think the story began straight through to the end. Then I just have a bunch of sentences I’m not sure what to do with. But beginning with some kind of structure or shape makes the process so much easier and more organized, from the outset, for me.

I teach forms that I love to play with myself, including hybrid structures that blend genres, like the prose poem and visual essay. I wanted to include a broad range of possibilities for storytelling that invite playfulness, exploration, and experimentation that I knew would also be fun to read!

Nicole Breit

“Constraints turn a writing project into a problem we have to solve, and that engages the creative brain and can make the process much more fun.”

WOW: Your courses are so much fun, and your hybrid structures are the most innovative I’ve come across! They aren’t the typical ones you see everywhere, and I can tell you put so much thought into creating them. So, who are your courses for? Are they mostly for creative nonfiction (CNF) and memoir writers? If so, why did you decide to focus on CNF rather than fiction? 

Nicole: My courses are for new, emerging, and seasoned writers who want to experiment with creative nonfiction and want to shorten their learning curve, improve their craft, and submit their work for publication. I came to creative nonfiction from poetry with little experience in fiction writing (although many writers who come to my CNF courses write fiction). What I love about creative nonfiction is that it is a catch-all genre. If you write poetry you have skills to bring to your CNF; if you write fiction, you do, too! Understanding what makes for good storytelling and evocative writing in any genre is going to help you write solid creative nonfiction. I’ve always just been called to personal storytelling. My poetry tends to be narrative, self-exploratory, and sometimes reads like poetic prose. I was so excited to discover creative nonfiction when I took a course on the lyric essay in 2014. I was familiar with the personal essay, but cracking open the lyric essay was when my journey as a CNF writer really began.

WOW: Lyric essays are my very favorite genre to read and write. I appreciate that your courses also encourage writers to submit to journals and contests! Since that’s also the mission of this newsletter, I’d love it if you would share a few tips with our readers. We have a somewhat overwhelming number of markets listed in this newsletter because we’re trying to serve writers in many genres. What are some key elements to look for when targeting a potential market for a piece’s publication?

Nicole: The best advice I can offer to writers who are looking for that first acceptance is to write and submit short-form CNF to contests and journals (e.g., a 100-word story or flash-length CNF). You can generate short-form memoir quickly, and strong CNF is more likely to get picked up by a journal than strong work in other genres, simply based on numbers. Creative nonfiction is the fastest growing genre with more online journals popping up all the time, and editors I’ve spoken to in Canada and the US tell me they receive far fewer CNF submissions than in fiction or poetry for regular calls as well as contests. Your odds are just better for standing out when the pool of entries is significantly smaller.

WOW: You’re so right about the submission rate. One of my favorite journals just shared their submission numbers from 2023, and they received somewhere around one thousand submissions, and only seventy of those were creative nonfiction. That’s a huge advantage! Here at WOW, we typically have an equal number of submissions split between our fiction and CNF contests, but I bet that’s only because we limit our submissions to three hundred each contest. It’s so great you encourage submitting through your programs. You offer three Spark Your Story Programs—the Bundle, Lab, and Intensive. What are the key differences between them, and which one is the most popular?

Nicole: In the last year, I’ve noticed more interest in my Spark Your Story Intensive, which is my high-ticket twelve-week program that includes 1:1 coaching and feedback. I think that speaks to a growing interest, post-pandemic, in personalized instruction and guidance over a self-guided program with little instructor interaction. 

The goal of each of my programs is to give creative nonfiction writers meaningful instruction on story form, process, and craft, so they can quickly develop as writers, empowered with key knowledge often left out of professional writing programs.

The key differences in my three programs are laid out nicely here:

Nicole Breit

“Creative nonfiction is the fastest growing genre with more online journals popping up all the time, and editors I’ve spoken to in Canada and the US tell me they receive far fewer CNF submissions than in fiction or poetry for regular calls as well as contests.”

WOW: Thank you for sharing that! I agree, personalized feedback is so valuable. Many of our writers know you from your 555 Story Challenge, where you provide a daily lesson, writing prompt, community forum, and a chance for writers to win prizes. I’ve participated in this challenge, and it’s a blast! How did you come up with this amazing idea, and what has been the response? Do you plan to run another challenge in 2024?

Nicole: I’d been wanting to host a challenge for a few years that aligned with the themes in my Spark Your Story Lab and could help writers accomplish an exciting goal while really honing their skills. I’ve been writing 100-word stories for several years, and the idea just came together, bit by bit, in my mind: Let’s write five 100-word stories in five days on five themes! One of the brilliant minds on my marketing team suggested we call it the 555 Story Challenge. I just heard from a writer the other day who wanted me to know the challenge completely changed her writing life. She just received her first publication. I love emails like that!

I’m considering whether to run the challenge again this spring. If writers are interested the best way to stay in the loop is to subscribe to my mailing list: 

WOW: Oh Nicole, that’s heartwarming to hear feedback like that. You put so much care into the challenge, and it really can change lives. I think that’s because you’re also a writer and get why writers have blocks. I read you started writing because you had a big story to tell, one about grief. I also started writing at a young age because of grief and have written many essays about my mother’s passing when I was thirteen, but I still haven’t worked through my grief narrative yet because it keeps changing. So, during NaNoWriMo, I used that time to work on a grief story about caregiving my father and took your workshop, How to Write About Trauma, Grief, and Loss. I found it powerful and nurturing! It’s a workshop I’ll return to again and again when I need to work past blocks. In your experience, what are the most common blocks writers face when writing about grief, and what is one tool they can take away and use right now?

Nicole: That’s interesting what you say about your grief continually changing. I know that my perspective on loss changes with time, as I age and experience life at different stages. I’m so glad you found my workshop on how to write about trauma, grief, and loss helpful and empowering. 

One of the most common blocks that come up for writers delving into a grief narrative is emotional overwhelm—trying to avoid reliving difficult emotions. That desire is directly in conflict with wanting their readers to understand and empathize with the emotions they experienced.

My approach to writing into difficult material starts with experimenting with form and structure. It helps break the thought patterns we have around a loss and creates that puzzle for us to solve that I mentioned earlier around constraints and creativity. 

Write your story in the form of a crossword puzzle or how-to article or Yelp review. It might sound silly, but it won’t diminish the seriousness of your story. It can be devastatingly beautiful, and unforgettable, to take something that feels ordinary and banal, like a to-do list, and turn it into a mirror that reflects back how loss has changed you. Often this approach liberates a writer who is stuck and inspires a piece that just couldn’t have been written or expressed as well in a straightforward narrative.

Nicole Breit

“Write your story in the form of a crossword puzzle or how-to article or Yelp review ... Often this approach liberates a writer who is stuck and inspires a piece that just couldn’t have been written or expressed as well in a straightforward narrative.”

WOW: The Yelp review is giving me great ideas! I can see that format applied to trauma and grief narratives. One thing I worry about when writing memoir of long-ago events is getting the details right. Do you have any excavation tips for writers like me who don’t have the best memory or ways to work around those missing parts? Or do you think it’s okay if we can’t fully retrieve the entire story? 

Nicole: I also worry about getting as many of the details right as I can and have diaries I can check back on. It can be pretty humbling, though, to realize how I’ve misremembered something; often there is more to a situation than I remember. The complicating factors—the finer details—are what disappear from memory over time. 

I do think it’s absolutely fine, and to be expected, that our memories just aren’t always wholly accessible to us. Memory is fallible; our readers know that. We can only do our best to tell the truth of our story, checking the facts and capturing the details we remember as best we can. Perhaps in the end it’s the emotional truth that matters above all, anyway? You might misremember the facts, but no one can argue with you about the truth of your emotions. 

To fill in missing parts, I like to time travel in my imagination. What was the number one song on the radio? What season was it? What was my favorite item of clothing? Who was I spending time with? What touch points can I bring in to recreate a clear picture of a point in time? 

I also like visiting places that might help me bring back memory when possible. I spent a lot of time walking the trails and parks around my childhood home when I was writing the essays and poems around the loss of my first love. Social media was helpful because I was able to reconnect with people I’d lost touch with who could help me retrieve forgotten memories from decades earlier when the story took place. Creative nonfiction writers might feel they have to rely entirely on their own memory of events, but second-hand observations can be really useful to fill in the details that make a story come alive. 

WOW: That’s such a great idea to listen to music from the time and reach out to people you’ve lost touch with from your story’s timeline. Speaking of an essay you wrote about your first love and loss, I adore your dynamic CNF, “An Atmospheric Pressure,” which won Room Magazine’s CNF award and was selected as a Best American Essays Notable. I love the swirling timeline and how you wrote it in third person. Your sharp, evocative prose (“See the girl...”) reminds me a bit of Cormac McCarthy’s Blood Meridian. The segments have such great flow, and the ending is powerful. I’d love to hear about your process of creation and revision. How long did it take to write that piece, and how did you come up with the structure? Did you spend a lot of time arranging the various fragments? Were there any authors who influenced or helped you with this piece?

Nicole: Thank you so much for your kind words about my essay. I don’t know that another author’s work influenced or inspired “An Atmospheric Pressure,” but I’m curious now to read Blood Meridian. The process for creating this piece was very collage-like. I had a bunch of disconnected memories and had no idea how they could come together to tell a cohesive story. I decided not to try to tell a story in the usual way and allowed each scene to tell its own small story. When read together, the piece offers an impressionistic view of the experience of falling in love and then processing the loss of that love when he died. After I wrote the scenes, I ordered them chronologically at first, then reordered them so the piece proceeds in an unending grief loop. Chelene Knight, Room magazine’s managing editor when “An Atmospheric Pressure” was selected as the CNF contest winner, called my invented structure a “mixed time lapse essay.” I like that categorization of form. 

As for how long it took, I think it was assembled over a month or two. I did spend a fair bit of time deciding which scenes were essential to tell the story; I think I left out a handful of scenes that felt repetitive or touched on an emotion I’d already captured. Once I came upon the idea of moving forward and backward in time, it was easy to figure out the final order.

WOW: “Mixed time lapse essay” is a perfect description! Oh yes, if you haven’t read Blood Meridian, take a sample read on Amazon. The prose is mind-blowing and sharp! Like yours. I’m often influenced by other authors. In one of your webinars, you mentioned writing pieces “After” another author. Recently, we’ve had a few questions from writers about this, but I couldn’t find much about it online, except for poems written after another poet and plenty of CNF pieces written after Jamaica Kincaid’s “Girl.” I’ve heard that using “After” is like having a conversation with another writer or a piece that’s in discussion with another piece. Is that correct? What are the “rules,” if any, for writing a piece “After” another author?

Nicole: Yes, I think “After” acknowledges that a literary work is influenced by or in conversation with another creative piece. I spoke about the use of “After” in a workshop to encourage writers to borrow another writer’s form or style as a way of getting started, then to make a piece their own, acknowledging the inspiration, so it isn’t cheating—or perceived as cheating. I think if you read a lot and love writing it’s likely unavoidable to borrow from other writers unconsciously. I don’t know that there are rules around using “After,” but I do think it’s a respectful and elegant way to acknowledge a writer’s influence.

WOW: That’s so helpful, and it’s great to acknowledge another writer’s work. I’m glad you talk about that in your workshops. What about teaching brings you the most joy?

Nicole: I love seeing writers recognize the beauty in their work—the moment of illumination and excitement and possibility when they understand they are in the process of transforming lived experience into art. Writers are so filled with doubt, and I love proving to writers who are struggling with imposter syndrome that they can do what they believed was impossible.

Nicole Breit

“I love seeing writers recognize the beauty in their work—the moment of illumination and excitement and possibility when they understand they are in the process of transforming lived experience into art.”

WOW: That’s such a great answer! Here at WOW, we talk about imposter syndrome a lot, so it’s important to celebrate your own work. In one of our back and forth emails, you mentioned going on a writing retreat! That sounds wonderful and refreshing. Do you have any writing projects in the works? Are you a solitary writer, or do you have a critique group?

Nicole: Yes! I created a five-day retreat for myself last fall and hired a writer I admire to help me make progress on a book I’ve had in the works for ages. It was very productive to be away from home and my regular responsibilities (thank you, wife!) to just empty my head and make room for my writing. I’m working on a memoir in essays and am quite solitary with my practice. I don’t belong to a writing or critique group. I know a lot of writers say they want critique, but I’m not sure it’s the most helpful way to develop a work-in-progress, especially with creative nonfiction, which is such vulnerable, truth-telling work. The conversation in any writing group has to be focused on craft to be useful and not cause harm, but not every critique group understands this. 

In my Spark Your Story programs, I encourage writers to share what they see working well in a piece. Writers often can’t see what is working or what they’re already doing right! I hear again and again how unhelpful feedback, especially given too early in the process, can stifle a project or shut a writer down for years. What I know I need more than critique is space to just get things down, so I know what I’ve got—then figure out what I need to do to shape it into something polished. Having said that, I think writing groups are great when they provide accountability and fun. It’s always healthy and nourishing to connect with kindred spirits!

WOW: I agree! I’m so grateful to connect with you today, Nicole, and you are definitely a kindred spirit! I appreciate you sharing about both your writing and teaching process. Okay, our interviews always end with a fun, random question. Since we’re in the midst of a chilly winter, what is your favorite hot beverage, and what do you enjoy watching or reading while drinking it?

Nicole: I’m drinking hot chocolate right now! I love good chocolate in any form. As for what I enjoy watching while drinking it, I’m currently deeply immersed in The Morning Show streaming on AppleTV. My wife and I haven’t fallen under a show’s spell like this one in quite a long time and binge a few episodes every night.

Thanks so much for the conversation, Angela. I always love talking to you!

Spark Your Story

It’s been such a treat to chat with CNF instructor, Nicole Breit! Writers, you don’t want to miss Nicole’s fantastic FREE 75-minute webinar co-hosted with multi-award winning essayist, Rowan McCandless, on January 31st at 10 a.m. PT / 1 p.m. ET: How to Write Your Brilliant Memoir (minus the fear, doubt + overwhelm)

You will learn:

  • The most common mistake writers make when starting a memoir
  • An approach to completing your manuscript that will save you hours of time + unnecessary stress
  • How Rowan overcame blocks like fear + resistance when drafting her award-winning memoir
  • Key takeaways to streamline your journey from story idea to finished manuscript.
  • Details about the Spark Your Story Intensive, a 12-week program for writers who want 1:1 personalized support on their memoir-in-progress

Find out more about the Spark Your Story Programs here, and if you want to stay up to date with the latest news from Nicole, sign up for her newsletter here.

Angela Mackintosh

Angela Miyuki Mackintosh is a writer and illustrator living on a ranch in the Sequoia National Forest, California that she’s renovating into an artist retreat. Her writing has been published in Writer’s Digest, Under the Sun, Exposition Review, Harpur Palate, Eastern Iowa Review, X-R-A-Y Literary Review, Permafrost, and elsewhere. Most recently, her essay about sex trafficking, “The Recruit” (2023, Exposition Review) was nominated for Best of Net and Best American Essays. Angela is editor-in-chief at WOW! Women on Writing. When she’s not writing or editing, she enjoys oil painting, trail running, off-roading, watching horror flicks, visiting old cemeteries, and snuggling with her three rescue cats.


2024 Rick Campbell Chapbook Prize

Deadline: February 1

Open to all poets writing in English. Please submit 18-24 pages of original poetry. Individual poems may have been previously published. Winner receives $200 and 25 copies of their chapbook. Fee: $15

Dorset Prize - Book Length

Deadline: February 1

The Dorset Prize is open to anyone writing in the English language, whether living in the United States or abroad. Translations are not eligible for this prize, nor are previously self-published books. Submit a previously unpublished, full-length poetry manuscript with a table of contents. There is no mandatory page count. They suggest in the area of 48 to 88 pages of poems. A cash prize and a 2 week-long residency in Port Angeles, WA, worth $1,500 in addition to publication by Tupelo Press, 25 copies of the winning title, a book launch, and national and international distribution through University of Chicago Press with energetic publicity and promotion. Fee: $30

2024 Yeats Poetry Prize

Deadline: February 1

The WB Yeats Society of NY is pleased to offer this annual competition in honor of our namesake, and to recognize the valuable contributions poets and poetry make to human consciousness and enlightenment. The prize is open to anyone from anywhere in the world, regardless of age. First prize is $1,000, second prize is $500. There are honorable mentions, as well, at the judge's discretion. Winners are recognized at a public event in New York City in April, National Poetry Month. One or more poems on any topic up to 60 lines are eligible. Fee: $15

Allen Ginsberg Poetry Award

Deadline: February 1 (postmarked)

Honoring Allen Ginsberg’s contribution to American literature and his Paterson upbringing, this annual poetry competition awards the first prize of $2000, the second prize of $1000, and the third prize of $500 for a single poem. Up to five unpublished poems per person will be accepted for consideration. Three copies of each poem should be submitted for distribution to the judges. Each poem should be no longer than two manuscript pages. Fee: $18

Michael Waters Poetry Prize - Book Length

Deadline: February 1

A prize of $6,000 and publication by SIR Press is awarded annually for a collection of poetry written in English. All entries are considered for publication. Submissions consist of at least 40 and no more than 100 pages of poetry. Fee: $35

Golden Haiku Poetry Contest – Theme: Transforming Paths

Deadline: February 4

Poets are invited to submit up to two original, self-authored haiku. The 2024 theme is “Transforming Paths.” Prizes: Adult: 1st $500, 2nd $200, 3rd $100, Regional/DC $200; Youth: High School $150, Elementary/Middle School $75, Regional/DC High School $150, Regional/DC Elementary/Middle School $75. Winning haiku—along with a selection of judges’ choices—are displayed in hundreds of tree boxes along some of Washington DC’s most iconic streets from March through early May. The colorful haiku signs brighten the winter landscape for all passersby to enjoy, reminding them during those late winter months that spring is just around the corner. No fee.

Only Poems – Poet of the Week

Deadline: February 7 (free submissions opens February 1)

Poets are welcome from all over the world. They love prose poems, traditional forms (ghazals, villanelles, sestinas), love poems, sex poems, speculative poems, and experimental questionnaires, but they are not married to a style or genre. Send up to 10 pages of poetry. They only accept previously uncurated work. They are open to translations as long as you have the rights from the author/publisher. Pay: $55 per poet. No fee. 

The Ambroggio Prize - Book Length Spanish with an English Translation

Deadline: February 15

The Ambroggio Prize is a $1,000 publication prize given for a book-length poetry manuscript originally written in Spanish and with an English translation. To be eligible for the prize, the manuscript must be originally written in Spanish and accompanied by a translation in English. Poets may translate their own work or collaborate with a translator who may or may not be a poet. The poet and translator must share the $1,000 prize. The original manuscript in Spanish must be between 48 and 100 pages, typed single-spaced, unless the poems are meant to be presented using nonstandard spacing. Multiple poems may not appear on a single page. No fee.

The Kathryn A. Morton Prize in Poetry - Book Length

Deadline: February 15

Kathryn A. Morton was a published author and devotee of fine literature, especially poetry. The prize includes $3,000, publication of a full-length collection of poetry, and a standard royalty contract. Minimum length 48 pages. Sarabande Books considers all finalists for publication. Fee: $29

2024 CAAPP Book Prize - Writer of African Descent

Deadline: February 15

Founded in 2020, the CAAPP Book Prize is a publishing partnership between the University of Pittsburgh’s Center for African American Poetry and Poetics and Autumn House Press with the goal of publishing and promoting a writer of African descent. The prize is awarded annually to a first or second book by a writer of African descent and is open to the full range of writers embodying African American, African, or African diasporic experiences. The book can be of any genre that is, or intersects with, poetry, including poetry, hybrid work, speculative prose, and/or translation. The winning manuscript will be published by Autumn House Press and its author will be awarded $3,000. Submit a manuscript between 48 – 168 pages. Final judge is aracelis girmay. No fee. 

The Bill Hickok Humor Award for Poetry

Deadline: February 28

I-70 Review offers the Bill Hickok Humor Award for a single unpublished poem. Alice Friman will judge. Winner will receive $1,000. Winning poem will appear in the 2024 issue of I-70 Review. Submit one to three unpublished poems. Fee: $15

bath magg Literary Magazine

Deadline: February 29

Please send no more than three poems. They must be unpublished. They have no restriction on theme or length but for long poems or sequences they suggest no more than three A4 pages. No fee.


Deadline: February 29

Southword: New International Writing is a print literary journal published twice a year by the Munster Literature Centre. Poems must be previously unpublished. Submit up to 4 poems per person in a single file. Simultaneous submissions are allowed. Open internationally. Pay: €50 per poem. No fee. 

Winter 2024 Flash Fiction Contest with literary agent Hannah Andrade


$1000 for 1000 Words Creative Writing Contest - Students Grades 6-12

Deadline: February 1

Bluefire is looking for an outstanding piece of short fiction that consists of exactly 1000 words. While there are no specific guidelines beyond that, they encourage you to tell a story that matters. As long as you do so in precisely 1000 words! It's open to all students enrolled in grades 6-12. Two $1,000 cash grand prizes will be awarded, one for grades 6-8 and one for grades 9-12. Seven $100 cash prizes will also be awarded for winning entries, one per grade level. No fee.

American Short(er) Fiction

Deadline: February 1

The prize recognizes extraordinary short fiction under 1,000 words. The first-place winner will receive a $1,000 prize and publication. Previous winners of the Short(er) Fiction Prize have gone on to be anthologized in places such as The Pushcart Prize: Best of the Small Presses. All entries will be considered for publication. Stories must be 1,000 words or fewer. You are allowed to include up to three stories per entry. Fee: $18

Young Adults Write YA Contest

Deadline: February 1

If you’re a writer of young adult literature and age twenty-four or younger, Voyage invites you to submit your original, unpublished YA writing for the chance to win the first-place prize of $1,000. Second- and third-place winners will receive $600 and $400, respectively. All three winners will be published by Voyage YA by Uncharted and their work will be considered by an agent. Submit a short story less than 5,000 words. Fee: $20

Writers' & Artists' Short Story Competition 2024 - Theme: Risk

Deadline: February 12

Enter Writers & Artists free annual short story competition and be in with a chance of winning a place on an Arvon Residential Writing Week (worth £850) as well as seeing your story published on their site. To enter, all you have to do is submit a short story (for adults) of no more than 2,000 words on the theme of risk via their online competition form. No fee.

The Mary McCarthy Prize in Short Fiction - Short Story Collection, Novellas, Short Novel

Deadline: February 15

The prize includes $3,000, publication of the full-length collection, and a standard royalty contract. Submissions may include a collection of short stories, one or more novellas, or a short novel. Works that have previously appeared in magazines or in anthologies may be included. Manuscript must be between 100-250 pages. The guest judge is author Lauren Groff. Fee: $29

2024 Montana Prize for Fiction

Deadline: February 15

The first-place Montana Prize for Fiction winner will receive $1,000 and be published in issue #30 to be released in fall 2024. All submissions will be considered for publication, but only one story will be awarded the prize. Submit one previously unpublished story under 7000 words per entry. Fee: $22

2024 Jacob Zilber Prize for Short Fiction

Deadline: February 17

PRISM International publishes contemporary writing from Canada and the world. They are hosting a contest in honor of Jacob Zilber, who was a renowned writer, teacher, and mentor. He also co-founded PRISM and was a longtime editor of the magazine. $1,500 Grand Prize, $600 Runner-Up, $400 Second Runner-Up. Maximum word count: 4,000 words. Please submit only one piece per submission. Fee: $35 for Canadian, $40 for US, $45 for International; all entries include one-year subscription. 

Stringybark Open Short Story Awards 2024 - Link to Australia

Deadline: February 25

This is the literary magazine's flagship short story award and they are excited to read your entries. The theme is completely open, however there must be a link, no matter how small, to Australia. It could be a reference to a vegemite sambo or democracy sausage. The story must be 1500 words or fewer in length, have a link to Australia, and be written for an audience aged 16 and above. They have an award pool of over $1350 in cash and books to encourage you in this endeavour. Fee: $15

Harper’s Bazaar Short-Story Competition – UK residents, Theme: “The Experiment”

Deadline: February 25

Open to UK residents or nationals, aged 18 or over. Prize: publication in the magazine and a two-night stay at Chewton Glen in Hampshire – an elegant, atmospheric hotel in the house where Captain Marryat wrote The Children of the New Forest. This year, the judges are author Maggie O’Farrell and literary agent Kaliane Bradley, alongside contributing editor Erica Wagner, acting deputy editor Helena Lee and Lydia Slater, Bazaar’s editor-in-chief. They invite published and non-published authors to submit an original story of up to 2,000 words on the theme of ‘The experiment’ to No fee. 

Little Tokyo Historical Society Short Story Contest

Deadline: February 29

The Litte Tokyo Historical Society (LTHS) seeks fictional short stories for its 11th annual Imagine Little Tokyo short story contest in the categories of English language, Japanese language and youth (18 and younger). The purpose of the contest is to raise awareness of Little Tokyo through a creative story that takes place in Little Tokyo. The story has to be fictional and set in a current, past or future Little Tokyo in the City of Los Angeles, California. The short story committee will be specifically looking for stories that capture the spirit and sense of Little Tokyo. Each category winner will be awarded $500 in cash with their short story being published in The Rafu Shimpo, Discover Nikkei and Little Tokyo Historical Society website. A hybrid (in-person and virtual) award ceremony and dramatic readings of the winning stories are also being planned for 2024 at the Japanese American National Museum. No fee. 

The Big Bang! Black Spring Prize - Opening for a Crime-Mystery-Thriller Novel

Deadline: February 29

The competition is open to anyone 18 OR OVER who wants to write in the English-language and has an interest in crime, thriller or mystery novels. Writers can enter as many times as they want. They are looking for the best 50-200 words of an ‘opening’ for a crime-mystery-thriller novel. Lee Child will read and judge the best final 50 entries, and leading crime writer Luca Veste will be the sifting judge for the first stage of the competition. The winner will receive £200, a one-off, hour-long online mentoring session with Luca Veste and be offered a publishing contract if they ever decide to complete the novel. Fee: £10

The 2024 Stella Kupferberg Memorial Short Story Prize

Deadline: March 1

The contest will be judged by Carmen Maria Machado (In the Dream House, Her Body and Other Parties). The winning work will be performed by an actor in spring 2024 and published on Electric Literature. The winning writer will receive $1000 and a free 10-week course with Gotham Writers. Stories should be 750 words or less and can be on any theme. Fee: $25 


True Magazine: Craft Essays, Interviews, and Book Reviews

Deadline: February 1

True Magazine is seeking submissions of craft essays, interviews, and book reviews related nonfiction in its many forms, including writing, video documentary, photography, and podcasts. Topics ranging from technique, to experimentation, to research, to language, to ethics, to any writing complications are encouraged. They will consider pitches or completed pieces. They are not particular about word limits. They do not consider academic papers. They are interested in previously unpublished work. No fee. 

The Sarabande Prize in the Essay - Full-Length Essay Collections

Deadline: February 15

Selected by author Alexander Chee, the prize includes $3,000, publication of the full-length collection, and a standard royalty contract. This contest is open to any nonfiction writing in English. Agented manuscripts are not eligible. Individual essays from the manuscript may have been published previously in magazines, chapbooks of less than 48 pages, or anthologies, but the collection as a whole must be unpublished. Translations and previously published collections are not eligible. Manuscripts must be anonymous, and between 100 - 250 pages. Fee: $29 

Another Chicago Magazine Residency for Nonfiction Writers

Deadline: February 19

Another Chicago Magazine will award a free multi-week residency in Belfast, Maine. The Shannaghe Residency is a solo experience in a fully renovated stable, with a full kitchen and open living room, large lofted bedroom, laundry facilities, newly installed AC/heater, internet access. The stable sits on land that extends to the Penobscot River, and is within walking distance of three bookstores, two farmer’s markets, and the bay, via a rail trail. The resident can choose a two- or three-week stay, and is responsible for travel to Bangor. The kitchen is stocked with cooking basics. Shannaghe will provide a few meals. S.L. Wisenberg, ACMeditor and author of the Juniper prizewinner The Wandering Womb, is the final judge. The recipient will be a nonfiction writer whose work brings uncommon insight, incisive language, and strong storytelling to the subject at hand, which could be anything that blends the political and personal, or summons justice, or dives deep into individual experience, but always with larger contexts in mind. As for tone, ACM continues to encourage play and rage and courage. ACM will consider all submissions for publication. Submit an unpublished writing sample of up to 3600 words. Fee: $20, waived for BIPOC writers. 

The Reporting Award 2024 for Journalism

Deadline: February 22

Launched in 2010, The Reporting Award award provides up to $12,500 for a significant work of journalism, in any medium, on an under-reported subject in the public interest. Over the last ten years, Reporting Award winners have covered Haitian earthquake victims; a shelter for homeless pregnant women; and membership disputes within Native American tribes. Writers will apply with a provisional title and a full article proposal, keeping in mind that the subject of the article and the depth of treatment must warrant the major financial support that the Reporting Award offers. Please be sure to tell how you will develop a narrative for your story. No fee.

Chicken Soup for the Soul - Themes: Miracles, Messages from Heaven, Angels, and The Power of Positive Thinking

Deadline: February 28

Chicken Soup for the Soul has two book topics with a Feb 28th deadline. They are looking for true stories on the themes of "Miracles, messages from heaven, angels," those events in our lives that are completely unexplainable. Stories about miracles, angels, messages from heaven, premonitions, amazing coincidences and other unexplainable but good events! "The Power of Positive Thinking," how our attitudes can help us achieve our goals and lead to happier lives. See theme details here. Pay is $250 for work up to 1,200 words, as well as 10 contributor copies. No fee.

Diana Woods Memorial Prize in Creative Nonfiction

Deadline: February 28 (Opens February 1)

Diana Woods Memorial Award serves as a special opportunity for authors worldwide to be published in the literary journal Lunch Ticket. The reading period for the award is the month of February for the issue that publishes in June. Creative nonfiction authors are invited to submit an essay of up to 3,500 words on the subject of their choice. Winners will receive $250 and their work will be featured in the next issue of Lunch Ticket. No fee.

2024 Sue William Silverman Prize for Creative Nonfiction - Book Length

Deadline: February 28

Prize: $2,500 and publication by the University of Georgia Press. Judge: Chloé Cooper Jones. Manuscript Length: 150–300 pages. Your name must not appear anywhere on the manuscript, otherwise it will be disqualified. Acknowledgements should not appear anywhere on the manuscript, otherwise it will be disqualified. The cover letter field can contain this information, or anything else you choose. Please also include a brief (roughly one hundred words) synopsis in the designated field, as this will help our screeners more easily categorize and review the submissions they read. Fee: $20 AWP members; $30 nonmembers. 

The Rumpus - Essays

Deadline: February 29

They welcome essay submissions up to 4,000 words in length. In addition to personal narrative-driven essays they are interested in non-traditional forms of nonfiction. Essays should explore issues and ideas with depth and breadth, illuminating a larger cultural context or human struggle. Regardless of topic, they are looking for well-crafted sentences, a clear voice, vivid scenes, dramatic arc, reflection, thematic build, and attention to the musicality of prose. Pay: They set aside $400 a month to be split between contributors. Payments average $20-40 per writer each month. No fee.

Spring 2024 Nonfiction Contest

Deadline: February 29

Blue Mesa Review is accepting submissions for its 2024 spring nonfiction contest, judged by Sarah Gerard. First place will be awarded $500 and publication in their Spring 2024 issue. Second place will be awarded $100 and publication. Third place winners will receive our standard honorarium of $25 and publication. Stories should be no more than 6,000 words. Fee: $15 

The Graywolf Press Nonfiction Prize – Book Length

Deadline: February 29 (Opens February 1)

Open to US residents, a $20,000 advance and publication by Graywolf Press will be awarded to the most promising and innovative literary nonfiction project by a writer not yet established in the genre. The winning author will also receive a $2,000 stipend intended to support the completion of their project. The Graywolf Press Nonfiction Prize emphasizes innovation in form and content, and they want to see projects that push the boundaries of literary nonfiction. They are interested in new approaches to the personal essay, cultural and literary criticism, creative scholarship, and books exploring complex ideas from unexpected angles. Please note that they are not interested in straightforward memoirs or journalistic reporting. Submit a one-page cover letter, a list of previous publications, a two to ten-page overview of the project, and a minimum of 100 pages (roughly 25,000 words). No fee.

The Hazel Rowley Prize for Best Proposal from a First-time Biographer

Deadline: March 1

The Hazel Rowley Prize rewards a first-time biographer with: funding (the $5,000 award); a careful reading from an established agent; a year’s membership in BIO (along with registration to the annual Biographers International [BIO] conference); and publicity for the author and project through the BIO website, The Biographer’s Craft newsletter, etc. The prize is open to all first-time biographers anywhere in the world who are writing in English, who are working on a biography that has not been commissioned, contracted, or self-published, and who have never published a book-length biography, autobiography, history, or work of narrative nonfiction. Biography as defined for this prize is a narrative of an individual’s life or the story of a group of lives. Innovative ways of treating a life (or lives) will be considered at the committee’s discretion. Memoirs, however, are not eligible. Upload a proposal, writing sample, and resume in one document totaling no more than 20 pages. Fee: $25


Border Crossing

Deadline: February 1

They are especially interested in writing that crosses boundaries in genre or geography, and voices that aren’t often heard in mainstream publications. Submit no more than two flashes or micros, up to 1000 words total, in one single document. Submit 3-5 poems in one document up to 10 pages; do not submit poems separately. Prose poems are also welcome. No fee.

Slippery Elm Prize

Deadline: February 1

Submit up to 3 poems (no line/length limit) or one essay or story (5000 words maximum). Multiple entries are fine. All contest entries will be considered for publication in Slippery Elm’s print issue. $1000 prizes in Poetry & Prose. Fee: $15

The Emerson Review

Deadline: February 1

Emerson College is accepting entries for its next issue. Fiction: They accept all kinds of fiction, including genre fiction (i.e., romance, sci-fi, fantasy, etc.), though they are particular fans of literary fiction with evocative prose. They also accept flash fiction (fiction pieces that are 300 words or shorter). Submit no more than one story of a max of 3,500 words or three flash fiction pieces at one time. Nonfiction: Submit no more than one personal essay and/or memoir at one time of 3,500 words or less. They do not accept academic essays or research papers. Poetry: They accept all kinds of poems but have a special place in their hearts for narrative poetry and form poetry with a contemporary twist. Submit a maximum of 3 poems. No fee.

Soundings East

Deadline: February 1

Soundings East is the annual literary journal of Salem State University, published with support from the Center for Creative and Performing Arts. Submit: Creative Nonfiction: Previously unpublished creative nonfiction works of up to 3,500 words. Fiction: Previously unpublished fiction works of up to 3,500 words. Poetry: Please submit up to three previously unpublished poems in a single file. Poetry submissions are reviewed blindly. No fee.

Humana Obscura 

Deadline: February 1

Humana Obscura is now accepting submissions of poetry, prose, and art for its next issue! "We’re looking for work that is nuanced, raw, and imagistic with strong elements of the natural world or hints to the human-nature relationship. We tend to favor work that is unexpected, evocative, yet subtle, with a strong sense of place and strong imagery." Poetry – Up to 5 poems (or up to 10 haiku, tanka, or micropoetry 5 lines or less). Please include all poems in one document. Prose – No more than 2 pieces, 500 words maximum per piece. No fee.

The Amistad Literary Magazine

Deadline: February 5

The Amistad is Howard University’s literary arts journal. Their goal is to elevate the creative voices of the Black diaspora through poetry, fiction, interviews, and art. They strive to publish the best up-and-coming voices in conjunction with local and established writers to create a journal that speaks directly to the black community. Submit poetry of 3-5 poems (more more than seven pages), fiction of 5,000 words, maximum, flash Fiction of 1000 words, and essays: 2000 words. No fee.

Penumbra Literary Magazine Spring Edition

Deadline: February 7

This literary magazine is currently open for submissions for our spring edition of Penumbra! They are accepting submissions in the following forms: poetry, fiction and non-fiction short stories, art, and hybrid art/literature. Submitted poems are limited to 500 words maximum; works of fiction limited to 1500 words maximum. No fee.

Big Wing Review - Theme: Relationships

Deadline: February 7

Big Wing Review is currently accepting literary submissions for their next issue. They accept essays, prose, flash fiction, poetry, spoken word, and visual art works. They will be accepting work that explores relationships - one-to-one, groups, families, romances, friendships; challenges, highs, lows, patterns, and parallels. Flash fiction: Less than 1,000 words. Max 2 per submission. Prose/Essay: Less than 4,000 words. Max 1 per submission. Poetry: Max 3 poems per submission. Payment is $5 per published poem, artwork, or spoken word piece. $10 per fiction, essay, or prose work. No fee.

Eastern Iowa Review – Issue 17: Nature

Deadline: February 10

Eastern Iowa Review is seeking lyrical work having to do with nature. In these uncertain times, nature can be a healing balm, a beautiful distraction, and a way through, a path. Nonfiction: up to 5000 words. Prose poetry: any number of lines, up to 2 pieces. Fiction: up to 1000 words. Artwork: up to 3 pieces. No fee. 

The Downtime Review

Deadline: February 15

The Downtime Review is a new literary journal that publishes “works of impressive creative expression from folks who don’t have the time to make creative work their day-to-day ... Subvert the ingrained belief that you must choose between creative work and a career by spotlighting the work done by those making both happen. They are seeking creative nonfiction (500 – 2,000 words), short fiction (500 – 2,000 words), and long fiction (up to 7,000 words). You can submit up to two pieces during the same reading period. No fee. 

After Happy Hour 2023 Contest Entry - Theme: Animals

Deadline: February 15

"We want submitters to go wild—or domesticated, or sentient, or whatever other form of beastly you're feeling. In other words: we're seeking work from any and all genres that involves non-human living creatures in some way, shape, or form." Submissions that fit the theme will include some kind of animal. Note that this doesn't need to be a real animal. It can be a cryptid like a chupacabra, a hybrid made via genetic engineering, a robot pet, or some new species that you've made up. Submit one prose work of 1,000 words or longer, one suite of up to 5 linked pieces, up to 3 individual poems sent in a single document, and up to 3 flash or micro prose pieces in a single document. The winners and honorable mentions for this contest will receive a percentage of the total entry fees paid. Up to 3 “ranked winners” will split 30%. Up to 3 honorable mentions will split 15%. Fee: $10

Hodson Trust-John Carter Brown Library Fellowship

Deadline: February 15

The Hodson Trust - John Carter Brown Fellowship supports work by academics, independent scholars and writers working on significant projects relating to the literature, history, culture, or art of the Americas before 1830. Candidates with a U.S. history topic are strongly encouraged to concentrate on the period prior to 1801. The fellowship is also open to filmmakers, novelists, creative and performing artists, and others working on projects that draw on this period of history. The fellowship award supports two months of research and two months of writing. The stipend is $5,000 per month for a total of $20,000, plus housing and university privileges. The application includes a cover letter and one sample of the candidate’s writing of no more than 50 pages (published or unpublished) or other past work. No fee.

The Freshwater Review

Deadline: February 16

The Freshwater Review has been a long-running student-lead publication featuring over 60 pages of literary and visual art submitted by artists and writers nationwide. Please, submit up to 4 poems in a single document. Please submit up to 2 stories in a single document. The stories must not exceed 2000 words. All submissions will be considered for the 2024 Rose Warner Prize for Prose. No fee.

Lambda Literary 2024 Special Prizes

Deadline: February 16

Lambda Literary hosts a number of special prizes recognizing the outstanding contributions made by individuals to LGBTQ+ literature, culture, and community. The special prizes being offered in 2024 are: Randall Kenan Prize for Black LGBTQ Fiction ($3,000 prize); Jeanne Córdova Prize for Lesbian/Queer Nonfiction ($2,500 prize); Judith A. Markowitz Award for Exceptional New LGBTQ Writers ($1,500 prize); Jim Duggins, PhD Outstanding Mid-Career Novelist Prize ($5,000 prize); The J. Michael Samuel Prize for Emerging Writers Over 50 ($5,000 prize); The Denneny Award for Editorial Excellence ($2,500 prize); and The Pat Holt Prize for Critical Arts Writing ($4,000 prize). View the individual guidelines for more details. Applications are through Submittable. No fee. 

Furrow Literary Magazine

Deadline: February 20

Furrow Literary Magazine accepts unpublished poetry, fiction, nonfiction, art, and comics by undergraduate students. To be eligible for publication in their next issue (May 2024), you must be enrolled as an undergraduate at any U.S. college or university during the 2023-2024 academic year. (If you graduate in December, you’re still eligible.) Submit one short story (up to 5,000 words, double-spaced), one work of creative nonfiction (up to 5,000 words, double-spaced), up to 5 poems, up to 5 works of art, and up to 10 pages of comics. No fee.

Subnivean’s Awards

Deadline: February 21

The Subnivean Awards offer writers the chance to have their work read and blurbed by one of their luminary final judges, and to read at a hallmark virtual event that will be promoted to thousands at SUNY and beyond. Five finalists' work will be forwarded on to a final judge, and published in the summer issue — where our two winners (one in fiction, one in poetry) will also be announced. Winners will receive blurbs about their writing by the final judge who selected it, as well as $150 each. For the Subnivean Awards in fiction, please submit an original, unpublished story up to 6,000 words. For the Subnivean Awards in poetry, please submit up to six original, unpublished poems, in a single document. Fee: $7

The Heduan Review - Narratives of healing, reflection, and rebirth

Deadline: February 25

The Heduan Review is a new literary journal that seeks “to uplift the voices of every kind of writer and make literary fiction writing more approachable.” They look for authentic pieces of short fiction, poetry, and prose poetry, as well as nonfiction personal essays, that examine our unique identities as they manifest and complicate our lives. Short fiction: up to 3 pieces may be submitted at a time with a 7,500 maximum word count per piece. Prose poems: up to 3 pieces may be submitted at a time with a 7,500 maximum word count per piece. Book and film reviews: up to 5 pieces may be submitted at a time, anywhere from 300 to 1,000 words per piece. Personal essays: up to 3 pieces may be submitted at a time with a 3,500 maximum word count per piece. Pay: $0.05 per word. No fee. 

Red Hen Press Women's Prose Prize

Deadline: February 28

The Women's Prose Prize is for a previously unpublished (including self-published works), original work of prose. Novels, short story collections, memoirs, essay collections, and all other forms of prose writing are eligible for consideration. Award is $1,000 and publication by Red Hen Press. 25,000 word minimum, 80,000 word maximum. Fee: $25

New Myths

Deadline: February 28

New Myths is seeking submissions for its quarterly issue. They like to balance each issue between science fiction and fantasy, dark and light, serious and humorous, hard and soft science fiction, and longer and shorter works. Their readers are not fixated on a single style or tone or genre, but prefer a quality sample of the field. Think tapas or dim sum. Maximum length is 10,000 words. Please keep submissions PG or cleaner. They are also seeking book reviews: reviews should be between 500-1,000 words. They prefer reviews of novels published within the past year but also consider reviews of older works, and reviews of poetry collections, anthologies, and nonfiction works related to fantasy and science fiction. Pay: 3 cents/word with a minimum payment of $50 for all submissions, fiction, flash fiction, nonfiction and poetry. Book reviews pay $50. Art pays $80. No fee.

Ninth Letter Literary Magazine - Spring/Summer Print Edition

Deadline: February 28

Ninth Letter is accepting fiction and poetry submissions for their Spring/Summer 2024 print edition. Submit 3-5 poems (max. 8 pages) at a time. Submit one essay up to 8,000 words at a time. Submit one story up to 8,000 words at a time. For flash fiction, you may submit up to 3 pieces with a total word count totaling no more than 4,000 words. Ninth Letter pays $25 per poem and $100 for prose upon publication and two complementary copies of the issue in which the work appears. Fee: $3

Hemingway-Pfeiffer Museum and Educational Center: Writer in Residence

Deadline: February 28

The residency will be for June 1-30, 2024, and includes lodging at a beautiful loft apartment on the downtown square in Piggott over the City Market coffee shop. The writer-in-residence will also have the opportunity to work in the studio where Ernest Hemingway worked on A Farewell to Arms during an extended stay with his wife’s family in 1928. The residency includes a $1000 stipend to help cover food and transportation. Candidates with an MA or MFA in a relevant field are preferred. Submission requirements include a writing sample of roughly 20 pages (in any genre). No fee. 

Apparition Lit – Spec Fic, Theme: Mercurial 

Deadline: February 28 (Opens February 15)

They are open to unpublished speculative fiction stories and spec fic poems. Speculative fiction is weird, almost unclassifiable. It’s fantasy, sci-fi, horror, and literary. Send them your strange, misshapen stories with enough emotional heft to break a heart, with prose that’s as clear and delicious as broth. They love proactive characters and settings that feel lived in and real enough to touch. Stories with style, stories with emotion, stories with character. Poems: up to five poems per submission. Poems should be no longer than 2 pages in length. Stories: between 1k and 5k. Flash: under 1000 words. Pay: $0.05 per word, minimum of $50.00 dollars for short stories and a flat fee of $50 per poem. No fee.

AWP Award Series 2024 – Book Length

Deadline: February 28, 2024

The AWP Award Series is an annual competition for the publication of excellent new book-length works. Poetry: 48 pages minimum text; Short story collection or creative nonfiction: 150–300 manuscript pages; and Novel: at least 60,000 and no more than 110,000 words. Poems, stories, and essays previously published in periodicals are eligible for inclusion in submissions, but manuscripts previously published in their entirety, including self-published manuscripts, are not eligible. As the series is judged anonymously, no list of acknowledgments should accompany your manuscript. Sue William Silverman Prize for Creative Nonfiction: $2,500 and publication by the University of Georgia Press; James Alan McPherson Prize for the Novel: $5,500 and publication by the University of Nebraska Press; Donald Hall Prize for Poetry: $5,500 and publication by the University of Pittsburgh Press; Grace Paley Prize for Short Fiction: $5,500 and publication by Mad Creek Books, an imprint of The Ohio State University Press. Fee: $20 for members, $30 for nonmembers. 

Levitate Literary Magazine - Theme: Insomnia

Deadline: February 29

Levitate accepts all genres of fiction, poetry, creative nonfiction, and visual art, and is also accepting work under the theme “Insomnia” for their Issue 8 themed dossier. Please upload one prose piece, up to three poems, or up to five artworks per submission. Fiction should be no longer than 5,000 words. They welcome flash fiction, which we define as anything less than 1,000 words. Creative Nonfiction should be no longer than 4,000 words. Poetry submissions should include no more than 3 poems, with no poem longer than 2 pages (no more than 6 pages total). No fee.

Triangulation – Theme: Hospitium

Deadline: February 29

Hospitium is a Greco-Roman concept of hospitality, where both the guest and host have an obligation to treat the other with kindness and respect, regardless of external quarrels. They’re looking for outstanding fantasy, science fiction, weird fiction, and speculative horror from both new and established writers. What would the Red Wedding look like between allied planets vying for domination of the solar system? Perhaps a journey into Lovecraftian territory… Eat, Pray, Sacrifice? A parlay between the Elves and Orcs? Who is the Anthony Bourdain of outer space? How does a dragon with a gluten allergy react when a sentient mushroom offers their finest fermented ale? Dazzle them with interactions we have yet to dream of. Fiction: up to 5,000 words. Poetry: no minimum or maximum number of lines, but poems of more than 100 lines will have to be extraordinary to find a place in the anthology. Pay: $0.03 per word for prose; $0.25 per line for poetry. No fee.


Blue Mesa Review 2024 Contests

Deadline: February 29

Blue Mesa Review is accepting entries for its 2024 contests. Each category includes the following prizes: First place will be awarded $500 and publication in our Spring 2024 issue. Second place will be awarded $100 and publication. Third place winners will receive our standard honorarium of $25 and publication. Fiction: Please send a story of no more than 6,000 words. Nonfiction: Please send a nonfiction piece of no more than 6,000 words. Poetry: Submissions of up to 3 poems are accepted. Please refer to the general guidelines for full instructions. Fee: $15

Black Caucus of ALA (BCALA) Self-Publishing Literary Awards

Deadline: February 29

Each year, BCALA honors the best self-published eBooks by an African-American author in the United States in the genres of Fiction and Poetry. These awards acknowledge outstanding achievement in the presentation of the cultural, historical, and sociopolitical aspects of the Black Diaspora. Prize: $2,500. No fee. 

Wordrunner eChapbooks – Historical, Theme: Displacement

Deadline: February 29

They are especially interested in historical fiction for their next issue. The theme is: DISPLACEMENT. Submit up to three poems (no longer than a page each) or three flash fictions (500 to 1,000 words each), or one short story, novel or CNF/memoir excerpt, or a personal essay (up to 5,000 words). There are separate categories for each genre (poetry, fiction, nonfiction). Payment for work published in anthologies: $10 for poems, $15 to $25 for stories and essays. Fee: $3

Press 53 Fiction & Poetry Awards

Deadline: February 29

Press 53, located in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, is a publisher of award-winning poetry and short fiction collections, and was founded in October 2005. First Prize in Each Category: $1,000 and publication in Prime Number Magazine, Issue 263, Sept-Dec 2024 (a Press 53 online publication) Poetry: Submit one (and only one) unpublished poem, no more than three pages in length. Short Fiction: Submit one (and only one) unpublished short story of up to 5,300 words. Fee: $15

Yellow Arrow Journal – Women Authors, Theme: Elevate

Deadline: February 29

The guest editor of ELEVATE is Jennifer N. Shannon. They accept creative nonfiction and poetry by authors who identify as women. Creative nonfiction: (1 submission per author per issue) must be between 100 and 2,000 words. Poetry: (up to 2 poems per author per issue, grouped into a single document) may be any length. Pay: $10 per piece. No fee. 

Tulsa Review

Deadline: March 1

Tulsa Review seeks bold, unique voices of emerging and established writers and artists from around the world. They accept submissions of poetry, short prose (short story, flash fiction, personal essay, flash creative nonfiction, one-act play or screenplay, etc.), and visual artwork. Include up to 3 poems (or 2,000 words, whichever comes first) in a single document. Submit any one work of short prose (short story, flash fiction, personal essay, flash creative nonfiction, one-act play or screenplay, etc.) with a word count of 3,000 words or fewer. Fee: $3

Mukoli: The Magazine for Peace

Deadline: March 1

At Mukoli, peacebuilding is central to their exploration of the relationship that humans share with other humans; with social, political, and cultural structures; as well as with nature and the environment. Poetry: Submit a single document with no less than 3—and no more than 5—poems at a time. No length limit. Fiction: Send your short fiction, including flash. Submit up to 3 pieces of fiction under a total of 10,000 words in one document. Nonfiction: Send up to 5000 words of your creative non-fiction. Only one essay at a time. They are also seeking translations, art, graphic narratives, and short films. Pay: $75 per piece. No fee. 

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

Deadlines: January 31 (nonfiction) and February 28 (fiction). Our favorite writing community offers quarterly contests judged blindly with multiple cash prizes and more for 20 winners, up to $1,350 (fiction) and $1,175 plus a gift certificate to CreateWriteNow (nonfiction), an affordable critique option, and a 300-entry limit on each contest. Previously published work is accepted! What’s not to love? This season's guest judge is Literary Agent Hannah Andrade with Bradford Literary Agency. Fee: $10 (Flash Fiction) and $12 (Nonfiction).

Just for Fun

Did you know that February 3rd is National Feed the Birds Day? Celebrate your fine feathered friends by seeding your work to Riddlebird literary journal! Nesting twice yearly, Riddlebird publishes in Jan and July, and they are currently seeking literary fiction and personal essays. Word count: 650 - 5,000 words. Pay: $100 per piece. No fee.

giphy image

February 26th is National Tell a Fairy Tale Day! Get ready to spin your best yarn and submit it to Fractured Lit's Ghost, Fable, and Fractured Fairy Tales Prize! They are looking for stories of ghosts, fables, and fractured fairy tales in 1,000 words or fewer. Guest Judge Aimee Bender will choose three prize winners from a shortlist. The prize is $3,000 and publication, while the second- and third-place place winners will receive publication and $300 and $200, respectively. All entries will be considered for publication. Deadline: February 4. Fee: $20

To celebrate National Black History Month a LBGTQ History Month Lambda Literary is hosting the 2024 Randall Kenan Prize for Black LGBTQ Fiction! The prize is in memory of the celebrated author Randall Kenan, honors Black LGBTQ writers of fiction. The award will go to a Black LGBTQ writer whose fiction explores themes of Black LGBTQ life, culture, and/or history. To be eligible, the winner of the prize must have published at least one book and show promise in continuing to produce groundbreaking work. The award includes a cash prize of $3,000. Submit your resume, published book(s), and a writing sample of up to 20 pages. Deadline: February 16. No fee.

On Submission with... Ink Sweat & Tears

On Submission with Ink Sweat& Tears - Publisher Kate Birch

By Rosie MacLeod

The image “has got different voices,” Kate Birch, publisher and manager of Ink Sweat & Tears (IS&T), said. This matches a similar thought from Vilém Flusser, a twentieth-century philosopher and writer, who saw images as taking on a new life-form with technology. A photograph is not a mere lens on life, but a medium that creates a new reality and is shaped by the technology itself. Think about gifs and memes, which also enable a new creativity that is shaped by the technology they populate.

Ink Sweat & Tears, a UK-based webzine, has Filmpoem and Word & Image submission slots for exploring a poetic image’s more contemporary forms. They also accept the more common genres of prose, written poetry, and reviews. The “magazine, publication, ezine, e-magazine, website, we call it all those things,” Kate explains and continues to describe it as “a repository” for poets and writers at every imaginable career stage. From “people who are up and coming” to “regulars who are print published, but still submit anyway because of their history with us. We have a range of ages and backgrounds and the like.” 

Ink Sweat & Tears

WOW: Welcome, Kate. Thank you for joining me today. Tell me about Ink Sweat & Tears! How did it start? 

Kate: It was started by a man called Charles Christian in 2007. Nobody really had online magazines at this point. He wanted to see what he could do with poetry. If you go back into our archive, you’ll see entries for animations, so image was part of the webzine from the very beginning. Because we had to revamp the website several times, those animations are sadly gone, which is a real shame. Charles ran and funded IS&T himself until about 2010, when poet Helen Ivory came on as a deputy editor. Then Charles decided, in 2011, that he wanted to take his focus elsewhere.

Helen and I had collaborated on other things, namely the Café Writers Pamphlet Commission Competition (now called the Ink Sweat & Tears Pamphlet Commission Competition). She asked me if I wanted to take over. So I became publisher in April 2011 and began supporting and funding IS&T myself. We don’t have Arts Council funding, and the advantage of that is we have greater scope. In 2012, we did the first revamp of the webzine, and I became more involved in the social media side. Helen has remained on as chief editor.

WOW: You’ve just mentioned a Pamphlet Commission Competition. What does that entail? 

Kate: We ask poets to send samples of their work to us and an idea, a theme, for a pamphlet. The winner is given the time and space to develop that theme. In the early years, the competition was held through Café Writers, a spoken word group in Norwich, and the pamphlets published by Lighthouse Press.

We brought the competition in-house after we introduced our first IS&T Press print publication: Twelve Slanted Poems for Christmas (2013). We’ve had two competitions since 2014 with two winners each time. Three of those four winners were shortlisted for significant poetry competitions.

WOW: Nice! That’s exciting. Slanted poem? What do you mean by that?

Kate: We draw on the title of the Emily Dickinson poem, “Tell the truth but tell it slant.” Poetry should show truth but not in an overt, obvious way. That is what we look for.

WOW: And do you receive enough slanted poems to publish frequently? How often do you publish?

Kate: We publish poetry every day, including on Christmas and all the holidays. Very occasionally, we will miss a day because of unforeseen circumstances.

We do a Twelve Days of Christmas feature every year. It originally ran for the proper Twelve Days but had lost its impetus by January 6th. So we now have it from December 21st to January 1st, which works perfectly, running from the beginning of winter to New Year’s Day.  

WOW: If you’re publishing every day, there must be a range of submission opportunities! What are the different slots and the ones you work on? 

Kate: We used to be open for submissions all the time, but it became complicated when we started our editing internship program in 2020. So now the IS&T intern, currently Kayleigh Jayshree, is open from the 1st to the 15th of each month for poetry and prose submissions, and we usually carve out a submission slot for these for Helen Ivory from the 16th onwards. Sometimes, particularly for Helen, we have to close submissions down, limiting these to a certain number, usually one hundred. And that is one hundred submissions, not one hundred poems / short prose works; some people will send three or four poems. It’s an awful lot of work. 

Submissions for Word & Image, Filmpoems, and reviews are open all the time and these go to the IS&T intern. They will look at these and then send them on to Helen and me, and the three of us decide which to accept. We rarely suggest edits to anything, perhaps to reviews occasionally or if there are obvious spelling or grammatical errors.

Kate Birch

“Poetry should show truth but not in an overt, obvious way. That is what we look for.”

WOW: Not suggesting edits to poetry removes a hurdle on the way to publication for poets. It fits in with your mission to “support those who can write poetry” to get published. What motivates you to do this?

Kate: I think poetry has long been dominated by middle-aged white men, and for many years, you could not win an award, you could not get anywhere without having those kinds of connections. And we are very, very egalitarian. The internship program was in response to the underrepresentation of writers of color in UK publishing. Ink Sweat & Tears offers editing internships for up to four months for poets from Black, Asian, Latinx, Mixed, and other global majority backgrounds.

WOW: Is this why your Submissions page is not specific, to enable new and more diverse voices to break through? Or are you looking for poetry that makes you respond in some visceral way, which may be hard to pin down on a Submissions page?

Kate: I am not a poet, and I don’t usually decide on what is published, though I have input on Word & Image and Filmpoems. I know from the editors, I know from hearing the editors chat, it’s something that just gets them. They have written, studied, and read enough poetry. They know enough poetry—they’ve studied work from across the centuries. It’s something that has that catch

WOW: A lot of your poems and uploads are of a “secretive” nature. Is there something about the secretive that just “gets” them? 

Kate: It’s not really secretive. It’s more about looking at things differently. So a poem may seem secretive initially, and then you read it again and again, and your understanding increases with each reading. Sometimes, it’s not about what is said, but about what isn’t said. Poetry can be about the spaces between the words as much as it is the words themselves. That’s why it may seem secretive because you need to—it’s like an unveiling. And it tells the truth in a very different way from what we’re used to.

WOW: An unveiling—I love that! And two outlets for unveiling the truth unconventionally are your Word & Image and Filmpoem categories. Tell us more about them.

Kate: We have been doing Word & Image for a long time, for as long as IS&T has been around.

We are a little more relaxed with Filmpoems, which are a relatively new thing for us and probably around more because of advances in filming technology. It’s not just someone filming themselves reading a poem, however, although that does or can come into it. It has to have something extra; it still has to have that catch. And a great film won’t get a bad poem accepted or vice versa.

Word & Image we’re very strict on. Both the words and the image have to be good. No, they have to be great. And not published anywhere else. We only accept pre-published work for our special features, such as Twelve Days of Christmas or in the Filmpoem category.

Kate Birch

“Sometimes, it’s not about what is said, but about what isn’t said. Poetry can be about the spaces between the words as much as it is the words themselves.”

WOW: But defining good poetry is difficult. “Bad” poetry may comfort people in hospitals or make the commute to work more bearable. So who are we to judge what’s a waste of time?

Kate: Good poetry editors can sense when a poem has been thought about and crafted. They know when it’s gone through many versions; they can also tell when something has been overworked. And they can equally tell when something has literally been thrown down on the page, when it’s a cliché. To your point of: Who is to judge? I agree with that. But when you’re a webzine and print publisher who has previously published poets who are known internationally, you have a responsibility to feature work that has been done professionally. I completely believe in poetry as a personal thing. In that case, I don’t think it matters how well you write. I think that if you want to write for others and be published, you need to work on your craft, no matter how good you think you are. If you’re not getting accepted into magazines, either online or in print, and there are plenty of us out there, then you should perhaps re-examine your work, maybe join a workshop, attend a poetry surgery, take classes, and read more poetry.

WOW: Yes, that all makes perfect sense. Thank you for explaining! Okay, so tell us about some of your deeply thought-out and well-crafted submissions to the Filmpoem or Word & Image slots. How have contributors worked (together) to marry the word with the visual?

Helen Pletts and Romit Berger

Kate: Sometimes you have Word & Image where you have a poet and artist working together collaboratively. We have extensively published work by Helen Pletts and Romit Berger. Helen would write the poems, and Romit would look at them and create amazing digital images to go with these. They actually published a book together—not through us sadly—about a year ago. For us, they were the benchmark of how you could make word and image work and fit together beautifully. Helen is an exceptional poet, has been shortlisted and honorably mentioned for any number of poetry prizes. Romit is a brilliant artist. It’s like looking at the poem in a different way.  

Sometimes, the poet is a poet-artist and effectively collaborates with the self. Helen Ivory herself does collages, and hers are often like that. She sees an image she likes; she takes that image and then she takes words from other, usually Victorian, books and documents, and she puts them together as “found” poetry Word & Image.

Another example was when an artist merged her image with a poem from a friend of hers; he said, “Do what you want with it.” And she almost erased the entire poem, just leaving maybe eight or nine words visible, and he was fine with that. That is a very generous poet. 

WOW: Those sound like interesting endeavors! Are the Word & Image and Filmpoem media homages to the poetic process itself? Showing the images that run through the poet’s mind as that mind constructs the poem? 

Kate: Homage, no. It’s an interpretation, a personal interpretation from the point of view of the artist but that the poet has to approve. Homage? Strictly? No. When you think of homage, I think more of ekphrasis. This is when a poet sees an artist’s word and responds to it with a poem, even if the poet and the artist know each other. It’s usually the poet responding to the art—it’s called ekphrastic poetry. Whereas Word & Image is collaborative. The art responding to the poetry is a working together.  

WOW: Art collaborates with poetry to make Word & Image. Does Ink Sweat & Tears favor the fusion and bending of genres?  

Kate: Absolutely loves it, but we are restricted by our hosting platform, the design, and the bandwidth required. Our Filmpoems are on YouTube because they require bandwidth. We’re restricted more in some ways now than when Charles started in 2007. He was restricted by what he could do online, but he didn’t have to worry about paying for bandwidth. We’re really open to genre bending, but we’re restricted by budget, by being on a standard WordPress site. 

WOW: And speaking of genres that beget other genres, is the Filmpoem a close cousin or sequel to the prose poem? Prose poems are often very filmic in their own right.  


Kate: I’ve never really thought about it that way, but you could be right. Free verse poetry is in Filmpoems as well, and some Filmpoems have come out of the spoken word genre. It could be what you say, but it’s not just that. I like that idea though! I think that’s an interesting way to interpret it. And yes, there’s a flow in prose poetry, perhaps like film, that you don’t always have in a more traditional verse poetry.

WOW: So true! Thanks for speaking with me today and sharing Ink Sweat & Tears with us, Kate. 

Ink Sweat & Tears

Got an idea for a Filmpoem or Word & Image? Inspired to get creative? Ink Sweat & Tears is always open for Word & Image, reviews, and Filmpoems. Contact Kayleigh at She will also be open for general submissions of poetry and prose from February 1st to 15th. For more up-to-date details, go to

Rosie MacLeod

Rosie MacLeod is a London-based translator, interpreter and reporter. She has made reports for Global Radio and regularly reports for ShoutOut UK and East London Radio. She has written for Drunk Monkeys, World Literature Today, Inside Over and the Journal of Austrian Studies. You can listen to her radio work here: She tweets as @RosieMacLeod4. Get in touch via LinkedIn. Website: Instagram: @rosie.macleod.3

Video Class: You Can Start a Podcast!

Podcast-Webinar-Renee-Roberson image

You Can Start a Podcast!

30-minute pre-recorded webinar

Do you enjoy listening to podcasts? Have you ever thought about creating one of your own but are overwhelmed by how to even get started?

Renee Roberson will share the backstory of how she created her own podcast, examples of different formats, what kinds of software, subscriptions, and other tools you may need, finding ideas for creating podcasting content, monetization ideas, and how you can repurpose your materials.


Which includes tpre-recorded webinar, supporting handouts,

and e-mail follow-up with your instructor.

Class Details

Craft Corner

Help Your Manuscript Take Off

with Primary Sources

By Sue Bradford Edwards

When I tell my students primary sources should be a vital part of their research, I’m not just talking about when they are working on a nonfiction project. It is equally important to find accurate material when you are researching fiction. My current work-in-progress is set during the Space Race. Specifically, it takes place in 1969.

If you’ve seen Hidden Figures, you know something about how people in the US felt about the Soviet Union and the importance of reaching the moon first. But there were other things going on in the US at the same time. When Angela Mackintosh and I were discussing this, she mentioned Charles Manson. I know who Manson was, but I don’t remember people talking about him let alone any of the other things that must have been going on at that time. The Space Race was a big deal in our house.

To find out about people’s attitudes, I could read about the time period. After all, there are a lot of books published about the late 1960s. But I’m inclined to look for primary sources. To understand the value of primary sources, you first need to understand what they are.


The simplest definition is that a primary source is a firsthand account. It represents the perspective of an eyewitness. This means that there’s no writer between the observer and the written account. If the text describes a historic event such as an election, it is written by someone who was there. If it is about scientific research, it was written by the scientists themselves.  

There are a wide variety of materials that you can use as primary sources. Here are some of my favorites.

Diaries and Journals

If you are researching a historic event, some of the best primary sources are the diaries and journals written by people who were there. You can find unpublished manuscripts in archives and manuscript collections. Sometimes this will require a trip to where the document is housed such as the Missouri Historical Society Library and Research Center. Other times you can find these materials online or in print. One of my favorite series is the 11-volume Covered Wagon Women.


Correspondence includes not only the letters that people send each other but also emails and texts. Telegraphs and office memos are also correspondence. Correspondence of various kinds, including electronic correspondence, has found its way into archives. Fortunately, more and more of these materials are accessible online. For a perspective on what is available, check out the online offerings of FRASER, the economic archive of the Federal Reserve.

Official Documents

This is an incredibly broad category that includes things like birth certificates, census records, trial transcripts, case law, and other legal documents. I used trial and other legal documents when I researched Black Lives Matter and The Assassination of John F. Kennedy. Other government documents include various departmental reports that range from statistics to the results of official studies. Many official documents can now be accessed online. One place to find these is the Government Publishing Office

Oral Accounts

The spoken word in the form of interviews, speeches, and oral histories is another primary source. An oral history is a recorded interview about a historic event. The topic of an oral history can be as simple as preparing meals for a family in the 1960s. Or it can be about geopolitical events such as reacclimating to civilian life following service in Vietnam. As a writer, you can create your own primary source by conducting an interview. An interview is an especially good way to fill in the blanks when you have access to an expert and are having a hard time finding information about a specific aspect of your topic.

Research Notes and Publications

Data collected by scientists and other researchers is another form of primary research. Sometimes research results can be found in libraries, research centers, or archives. More and more of this information can be found online. But it can also be accessed through published articles in academic journals. These publications are considered primary because they were written by the people who collected the data. There is nothing more rewarding than finding the details that you need in a dense academic article.


Some people don’t realize that maps are primary sources. In part, this is because maps are not reality. They represent the mapmaker’s first-hand interpretation of reality. Boundaries, what is labeled vs. what is left off, and even how things are labeled represent one person’s perspective on a carefully crafted landscape. 

Photographs and Other Recordings

Both photographs and footage of live events are also primary sources. Studio photographs represent crafted, ideal depictions of reality. Snap shots and other casual photographs show how people dressed and celebrated as well as what someone found noteworthy. But photographs come with a warning, which leads us into the next section.


Most research projects benefit from using primary and secondary sources in combination. Using secondary sources means that you don’t have to rediscover every bit of information. These sources are also a good way to compile a mass of background information more quickly than possible if you had to rediscover the primary sources.

Secondary sources can also help check your perception. Recently I was doing some research on Japan and texted my son about finding an image of a raccoon. He quickly texted back. “Not a racdoon.” Because he was at work, I didn’t want to ask him what he meant so I Googled and Googled and Googled some more. Reading a variety of secondary sources, I soon found that among the animals native to Japan is the tanuki. The head and face look a lot like a raccoon, but the feet reveal that it is a canine. Photographs in isolation are easy to misinterpret.

Determining whether or not something is a primary source or a secondary source can be tricky. Take newspapers as an example. Some people try to make it easy. They point out that newspaper advertising and editorials are primary. Other pieces require research and interviews, so they are secondary. And that’s true as far as it goes especially if you are using material found in newspapers to research a contemporary event.

But a newspaper as a cultural artifact is a primary source. So is a magazine, a novel, or a television show, because these forms of media all show how people think. 

What else can we use as a cultural artifact? I once went to an art exhibit about racial depictions. The displays were full of ads, children’s toys, book covers, decorated household goods like cookie jars, and so much more. Each item was an artifact that revealed how its creator and presumably its owner saw specific groups of people.

You may also see debates about whether documents in translation can be considered primary sources. When I first saw this in an online forum, I went to the experts—university libraries and librarians including those at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the Harvard Library. Both sites stated that translations, edited collections, and excerpts are all primary sources.

One final warning, even a primary source can be biased. Bias occurs any time there is a slant for or against something. For example, someone who is biased against the Space Program might state in a letter that they think it is a waste of money. Someone who is biased in favor of the Space Program might write about the importance of pursuing space flight over spending the money on something else. Every source is biased in some way, and it is important to consider potential bias in deciding whether you want to use that source.


It doesn’t matter if it is something historic like the space race or an animal like the tanuki. A combination of sources is the best way to go. Secondary sources can give you breadth and depth. Primary sources reveal a firsthand take on your chosen topic.

Sue Bradford Edwards learned about primary sources when she was a graduate student in history and working in archaeology. In addition to finding archival material, she gathered oral histories on which she based her thesis. Sue has continued to use both primary and secondary materials in writing over 50 books for young readers and numerous articles. She is the instructor for:

Sue Bradford Edwards

Research: Prepping to Write Nonfiction

for Children and Young Adults

4-week class starting February 5th

Nonfiction for children and teens lines the bookshelves of libraries and bookstores, fills magazines and e-zines and is used in classrooms around the world. The first step in taking your place in this market is learning to do the research. That may sound relatively simple, but done right it includes researching markets and possible topics as well as locating accurate source materials. This course will help you develop the skills you need to take on these tasks with confidence.

Course Details

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Libraries Like to Say Yes

Chances are, if you are a free speaker, you will probably be welcomed to the library. You can propose a book reading, a talk about writing or a presentation on something related to your book. Offer several options. Maybe they’ll want multiple events! 

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Visit WOW's Book Promotion Services page or email us at

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“Put your ear down close to your soul and listen hard.” – Anne Sexton
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