Douglas A. Martin’s Branwell: A Novel of the Brontë Brother, reissued last year by Soft Skull Press, explores the life of the only son in the Brontë family and the brother of Charlotte, Emily, and Anne, who wrote the literary classics Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights, and Agnes Grey. Eclipsed by his early death from alcohol and opium abuse, the genre-bending novel uncovers Branwell’s failed relationships, talent, and possible homosexuality, as well as conjures the moody landscape and milieu of the era through arresting language. Write a story that steps into the life of an overlooked character from fiction or literary history. What do you imagine as their true personality? Does it differ from what has been previously known?
The 27th annual Winter Poetry & Prose Getaway was held online from January 14 to January 18. The program, sponsored by Murphy Writing of Stockton University, offered workshops in poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction, as well as one-on-one tutorials, open mics, and a featured reading by poet Ross Gay. The faculty included poets Dilruba Ahmed and Peter E. Murphy, fiction writers Joe Costal and Jade Jones, and creative nonfiction writers Emma Copley Eisenberg and Paul Lisicky.
Winter Poetry & Prose Getaway, Murphy Writing of Stockton University, 30 Front Street, Hammonton, NJ 08037. (609) 626-3594.
In these uncertain times, set aside a weekend to escape into your writing and submit to contests. With deadlines of January 30 or January 31, these awards include grants for women writers and a prize for a manuscript on the subject of music. All feature a cash prize of $1,000 or more.
AKO Caine Prize for African Writing: A prize of £10,000 (approximately $12,860) is given annually for a previously published short story by an African writer. Shortlisted writers will receive £500 (approximately $643). Writers who were born in Africa, who are African residents, or who have a parent who is African by birth or nationality are eligible. Deadline: January 31. Entry fee: none.
Austin Community College Balcones Prizes: Two prizes of $1,500 each are given annually for a poetry collection and a book of fiction published during the previous year. Deadline: January 31. Entry fee: $25 for poetry and $30 for fiction.
Black Lawrence Press Big Moose Prize: A prize of $1,000, publication by Black Lawrence Press, and 10 author copies is given annually for a novel. The contest is open to traditional novels “as well as novels-in-stories, novels-in-poems, or other hybrid forms that contain within them the spirit of a novel.” The editors will judge. Deadline: January 31. Entry fee: $25.
Crazyhorse Writing Prizes: Three prizes of $2,000 each and publication in Crazyhorse are given annually for a poem, a short story, and an essay. Yona Harvey will judge in poetry, Rumaan Alam will judge in fiction, and Sabrina Orah Mark will judge in nonfiction. All entries are considered for publication. Deadline: January 31. Entry fee: $20 (includes subscription).
Fish Publishing Short Memoir Prize: A prize of €1,000 (approximately $1,170) and publication in the Fish Publishing anthology is given annually for a short memoir. The winner is also invited to give a reading at the West Cork Literary Festival in July 2021. Blake Morrison will judge. Deadline: January 31. Entry fee: €18 (approximately $21) for online entries or €20 (approximately $23) for postal entries.
Ghost Story Screw Turn Flash Fiction Competition: A prize of $1,000 and publication on the Ghost Story website and in the 21st Century Ghost Stories anthology will be given annually for a flash fiction piece with a supernatural or magical realism theme. The editors will judge. Deadline: January 31. Entry fee: $15.
Iowa Review Awards: Three prizes of $1,500 each and publication in Iowa Review are given annually for works of poetry, fiction, and nonfiction. Tracie Morris will judge in poetry, Jamel Brinkley will judge in fiction, and Melissa Febos will judge in nonfiction. All entries are considered for publication. Deadline: January 31. Entry fee: $20.
Main Street Rag Poetry Book Award: A prize of $1,200, publication by Main Street Rag, and 50 author copies is given annually for a poetry collection. The editors and previous winners will judge. All entries are considered for publication. Deadline: January 31. Entry fee: $25 entry fee ($27 for electronic submissions).
Masters Review Short Story Award for New Writers: A prize of $3,000 and publication in Masters Review is given twice yearly for a short story by an emerging writer. The winning story will also be reviewed by a select group of literary agents. Writers who have published a book with a circulation of 5,000 or more copies are ineligible. Helen Oyeyemi will judge. Deadline: January 31. Entry fee: $20.
Money for Women/Barbara Deming Memorial Fund Individual Artists Grants for Women: Grants of up to $1,500 each are given in alternating years to feminist poets, fiction writers, and nonfiction writers who are citizens of the United States or Canada. The current round of grants will be awarded to poets and nonfiction writers. Deadline: January 31. Entry fee: $25.
New Millennium Writings New Millennium Writing Awards: Four prizes of $1,000 each and publication in New Millennium Writings are given twice yearly for a poem, a short story, a work of flash fiction, and a work of creative nonfiction. Previously unpublished works or works that have appeared in a journal with a circulation of under 5,000 are eligible. The editors will judge. Deadline: January 31. Entry fee: $20.
North Carolina Writers’ Network Thomas Wolfe Fiction Prize: A prize of $1,000 is given annually for a short story. The winning story will also be considered for publication in Thomas Wolfe Review. Therese Anne Fowler will judge. Deadline: January 30. Entry fee: $25.
Regal House Publishing Terry J. Cox Poetry Award: A prize of $1,000 and publication by Regal House Publishing is given annually for a poetry collection. Martha Kalin will judge. Deadline: January 31. Entry fee: $25.
Schaffner Press Nicholas Schaffner Award for Music in Literature: A prize of $1,000 and publication by Schaffner Press is given annually for a poetry collection, a novel, a short story collection, an essay collection, or a memoir that “deals in some way with the subject of music and its influence.” Deadline: January 31. Entry fee: $25.
The 2021 National Black Writers Conference Biennial Symposium will be held online on March 27. The symposium features a keynote address, roundtable discussions, and dramatic readings. This year’s theme is “They Cried I Am: The Life and Work of Paule Marshall and John A. Williams.” Participating writers include poets Keith Gilyard and Ishmael Reed; nonfiction writers Carole Boyce-Davies, Maryemma Graham, Lawrence Jackson, Linda Villarosa, and Mary Helen Washington; poet and fiction writer Liza Jessie Peterson; and fiction and nonfiction writer Edwidge Danticat.
National Black Writers Conference Biennial Symposium, Center for Black Literature, Medgar Evers College, City University of New York, 1650 Bedford Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11225.
“The Lit Hub Author Questionnaire” is a monthly interview where five authors with new books are asked the same seven questions, one of which is, “If you could choose a career besides writing (irrespective of schooling requirements and/or talent) what would it be?” Answer this question yourself and then write a story where you imagine a character having this profession. Does your character live out a childhood dream of yours? How does a profession influence the way a character interacts with their surroundings?
“Writing is revision. Period. That’s not glamorous, but it is rewarding.” —Robert Jones Jr., author of The Prophets
“It was a bit of an exorcism.” —Torrey Peters, author of Detransition, Baby
The deadline is approaching for the 2021 Nervous Ghost Press Prizes for poetry and prose. Open to writers living in the United States, each award includes $1,000, publication by Nervous Ghost Press, ten author copies, and the opportunity to complete a reading tour in California. Through the press, the editors seek to “promote writing as a means of art and survival regardless of where someone is from, who they are, or what they write.”
Using only the online submission system, submit a manuscript for either contest with a $24 entry fee by January 31. Poetry manuscripts must be 48 to 128 pages. Fiction manuscripts must be 50,000 to 100,000 words. Michale Graves will judge in poetry and Debra Moore Muñoz will judge in fiction. All finalists will be considered for publication. In case of ongoing travel restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the reading tour may be replaced by a virtual tour. Visit the website for complete guidelines.
Nervous Ghost Press was founded by writers Chad Lutz, Matthew Mejia, and Michael Nicholson and in 2019. The editors aim to publish “writing from the heart” and “strive to be a champion for positivity, growth, and lasting change.”
New Year’s Day is often a time in novels in which tensions erupt or a new life is envisioned for a character facing a transformation, such as in Middlemarch by George Eliot, White Teeth by Zadie Smith, and Bridget Jones’s Diary by Helen Fielding. Write a short story, or a scene in a longer work, where the protagonist reflects on the end of a year and the beginning of a new one. What new life do they embark on? What changes, or doesn’t change, for them and their desires?