Book Soup

Book Soup is located on the world famous Sunset Strip in West Hollywood, California. The bookstore has been serving readers, writers, artists, rock and rollers, and celebrities since it was founded by Glenn Goldman in 1975. With over 60,000 titles, specializing in art, film, photography, music, controversial nonfiction, and literary fiction, the shop hosts author events and is open daily.

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Changing Hands Bookstore: Phoenix

Founded in 1974, Changing Hands Bookstore is an independent community bookstore and online bookseller that gives a portion of its proceeds to local schools and over two hundred local, national, and international charities and service organizations. A second location, in Tempe, was opened in 1998. The bookstores host frequent author readings and signings, writing classes and workshops, and other literary events. The Phoenix branch of the bookstore also has the First Draft Book Bar, which serves beer, wine, coffee, and food, and hosts a happy hour book club.

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Main Street Books

Main Street Books has been an independent book provider for over twenty years. In addition to books, patrons can purchase a multitude of gift items, including greeting cards, bookmarks, journals, card games, and children’s toys. Main Street Books also coordinates several author events per month, both at the store and with the St. Charles City-County Library District. They have hosted local favorites as well as national bestseller authors.

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Laguna Woods Village

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Thea Iberall

The Spoken Word Club of Laguna Woods is a place for writers, poets, playwrights, monologuists, and storytellers to read their work and develop new material. In our monthly meetings, members have an opportunity to read and hear others. There is a featured reader every month. Guests are welcomed to listen or read ($2 charge for guests per meeting). Light refreshments at the Redwoods Room in the Community Center on El Toro on the 4th Tuesday of the month at 1pm-3pm.

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Margaret Renkl


“I was writing just about the experience of grief and life amidst dying...then I wanted to tell stories that made my parents alive, that brought them back to life and made it clear why this was such a loss.” In this A Word on Words interview, Margaret Renkl talks about her debut essay collection, Late Migrations: A Natural History of Love and Loss (Milkweed Editions, 2019), which is featured in “5 Over 50” in the November/December issue of Poets & Writers Magazine.

Upcoming Contest Deadlines

October’s final deadlines include contests in poetry, fiction, and nonfiction awarding publication to the winning book or chapbook. Each of these contests has a deadline of October 31 and offers a prize of $1,000 or more in addition to publication. Good luck, writers!

American Poetry Review Honickman First Book Prize: A prize of $3,000 and publication by American Poetry Review is given annually for a first poetry collection. The winning book is distributed by Copper Canyon Press through Consortium. Li-Young Lee will judge. Entry fee: $25.

Cloudbank Books Vern Rutsala Book Prize: A prize of $1,000 and publication by Cloudbank Books is given annually for a collection of poetry, flash fiction, or a combination of the two. Holly Karapetkova will judge. Entry fee: $25.

Comstock Review Jessie Bryce Niles Poetry Chapbook Contest: A prize of $1,000, publication by the Comstock Writers Group, and 50 author copies is given biennially for a poetry chapbook. Kathleen Bryce Niles-Overton will judge. Entry fee: $30.

Finishing Line Press Open Chapbook Competition: A prize of $1,000 and publication by Finishing Line Press is given annually for a poetry chapbook. All entries are considered for publication. Entry fee: $15.

Indiana Review Blue Light Books Prize: A prize of $2,000 and publication by Indiana University Press is given in alternating years for a collection of poetry or a collection of short fiction. The 2020 prize will be awarded in short fiction. The winner will also receive travel expenses to read at the 2020 Blue Light Reading in Bloomington, Indiana. Entry fee: $20.

Omnidawn Publishing Fabulist Fiction Chapbook Contest: A prize of $1,000, publication by Omnidawn Publishing, and 100 author copies is given annually for a work of fabulist fiction. Kellie Wells will judge. Entry fee: $18.

River Teeth Literary Nonfiction Prize: A prize of $1,000 and publication by University of New Mexico Press is given annually for a book of creative nonfiction. Bret Lott will judge. Entry fee: $27.

Persea Books: A prize of $1,000 and publication by Persea Books is given annually for a first poetry collection by a woman who is a U.S. citizen or permanent resident. The winner also receives a six-week, all-expenses-paid residency at the Civitella Ranieri Center in Umbria, Italy. Entry fee: $30.

Tupelo Press Sunken Garden Chapbook Prize: A prize of $1,000, publication by Tupelo Press, and 25 author copies is given annually for a poetry chapbook. Entry fee: $25.

Visit the contest websites for complete guidelines, and check out the Grants & Awards database and Submission Calendar for more contests in poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction.



“John Bonham was the coolest member of Led Zeppelin and getting hit in the auricle region with a wrench thrown by his apparition would be a damn honor,” writes Timothy Cahill in “Five Things I’d Rather Get Hit With Than Have to Hear Led Zeppelin’s ‘All My Love’” on McSweeney’s Internet Tendency. Think of a song that’s gotten stuck in your head, an especially irritating earworm that was just the wrong thing at the wrong time. Write a humorous personal essay about the song and the havoc it wreaked on your life, perhaps using satire or exaggeration for comedic purposes. Does the song have a pop cultural context? Was there a time when you enjoyed it? If so, what changed your outlook?

Writers for Families Together

This past September, the Writers for Migrant Justice campaign readings focused on raising funds for detained and formerly detained migrants on a national level. Here in Houston, we want to continue this effort on a local level. On October 3 the Houston Writers Coalition organized a second reading, Writers for Families Together. The goal was to raise money for two local organizations—Familias Immigrantes y Estudiantes en la Lucha (FIEL) and Kids in Need of Defense (KIND)—which both aid immigrant families facing human rights violations at the Texas–Mexico border.

There were over seventy people in attendance at the reading, which was held at St. Paul’s United Methodist Church in the Museum District. It was a blessed evening as we got to hear from over thirty writers—including poet and teacher Natasha Carrizosa, translator and former Houston poet laureate Robin Davidson, slam poet Loyce Gayo, novelist Daniel Peña, and myself—reading in English and Spanish. It was a truly beautiful night and we hope to continue efforts to support and aid immigrant families in our community.

Flyer for Writers for Families Together Houston reading.
Lupe Mendez is the literary outreach coordinator for Poets & Writers in Houston. Contact him at or on Twitter, @houstonpworg.


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