December 2019 Top Picks: Opportunities for Writers

The December 2019 edition of "Writing Life Essentials," a monthly hand-curated list of contests, grants, scholarships, submissions calls, and awards, with a focus on opportunities that are at least one of the following: local, free to apply, and/or committed to celebrating and supporting writers from historically marginalized communities. We do the research, so you have more time for what matters: the writing. Or, scrambling to find gifts for your family. That matters too.


Contests & Awards 


Crab Orchard Series in Poetry Open Competition

Fee: $25; Prize: $2,500 and publication; Deadline: December 3rd

Two volumes of poems will be selected from an open competition of manuscripts submitted online through Submittable. The winners will each receive a publication contract with Southern Illinois University Press. In addition, both winners will be awarded a $1000 prize and $1500 as an honorarium for a reading at Southern Illinois University Carbondale. Click here for full submission guidelines.


Hurston/Wright Legacy Awards

Fee: $40; Deadline: December 13th

The Hurston/Wright Legacy Awards are open to Black writers in America and across the globe. Full-length books of debut fiction, fiction, nonfiction, and poetry, as well as collections of short stories, and collections of essays by one author. All works must be newly published. For full submission guidelines, visit their website.


F(r)iction Short Story Contest

Fee: $15; Prize: $1,000; Deadline: December 15th

A prize of $1,000 is given three times a year for a short story. Using only the online submission system, submit a story of 1,000 to 7,500 words with a $15 entry fee by December 15th. The winning story and all entries are considered for publication. Visit the website for complete guidelines. 


Willow Books Literature Awards

Fee: $25; Prize: $1,000; Deadline: December 15th

Two prizes of $1,000 each and publication by Willow Books are given annually for a book of fiction and a book of creative nonfiction by writers of color. Using only the online submission system, submit a story collection, novella, novel, essay collection, or memoir of up to 200 pages with a $25 entry fee by December 15th. Click here for more information.


LitMag’s Virginia Woolf Award for Short Fiction

Fee: $25; Prize: $3,500; Deadline: December 15th

A prize of $3,500 and publication in LitMag is given annually for a short story. A second-place prize of $1,000 will also be given. The winners will have their work reviewed by Sobel Weber Associates literary agency. Using only the online submission system, submit a story of 3,000 to 8,000 words with a $20 entry fee by December 15th. All entries are considered for publication. Click here for complete guidelines.


Cabell First Novelist Award

Fee: $0; Prize: $5,000; Deadline: December 30th

A prize of $5,000 is given annually for a first novel published during the previous year. The winner and two additional guest panelists will also receive lodging and travel expenses to attend the First Novelist Award Night at Virginia Commonwealth University in fall 2020. Submit five copies of a book published in 2019 by December 30th. There is no entry fee. For more details click here.


The 2019 Siskiyou Prize for New Environmental Literature

Fee: $25; Prize: $1,000; Deadline: December 31st

The Siskiyou Prize is open to published books and unpublished, full-length prose manuscripts with environmental themes, including novels, memoirs, short story collections, and essay collections. The 2019 Siskiyou Prize winner will receive a cash award of $1,000 and a two-week residency at the Sitka Center for Art and Ecology during the 2020-2021 residency season. 


TWWOA’s 22nd Annual Memoirs Competition

Fee: $25; Deadline: December 31st

Submit a memoir of 5,000 words or less to The Writers' Workshop of Asheville. Pages should be paper clipped, with your name, address, email, phone and title of work on the first page. Double-space, and use 12 point font. The entry fee is $25 per memoir, or $20 for Workshop members. Multiple entries are accepted. Click here for submission guidelines.


River Styx 2020 Microfiction Contest

Fee: $15; Prize: $1,500; Deadline: December 31st

A prize of $1,500 and publication in River Styx is given annually for a short story. Submit up to three stories of no more than 500 words each with a $15 entry fee, which includes a copy of the prize issue (for an additional $5, entrants will receive a subscription to River Styx) by December 31st. All entries are considered for publication. Visit the website for full details.


New Rivers Press Many Voices Project Competition

Fee: $25; Prize: $1,000; Deadline: December 31st

The Many Voices Project is the distinguished annual competition (since 1981) to find full-length manuscripts from new and emerging writers. The winning title will be published in fall the following year by New Rivers Press and distributed nationally by Small Press Distribution. The winning author will receive a $1,000 honorarium, a standard book contract, and fifteen complimentary copies of the final book.


The Anisfield-Wolf Book Awards

Fee: $0; Prize: $10,000; Deadline: December 31st

Three to four prizes of $10,000 each are given annually for a poetry collection, a book of fiction, and a book of nonfiction (including creative nonfiction) published during the previous year that “contributes to our understanding of racism and appreciation of human diversity.” Submit five copies of a book published in 2019 by December 31. Click here for more details.


Fellowships, Conferences & Residencies


Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown

Fee: $50; Deadline: December 2nd

Fellowships for a seven-month residency at the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, MA, are given annually to four poets and four fiction writers who have not published a full-length book in any genre. Each fellowship includes a private apartment and a monthly stipend of $750. Visit the website for the required entry form and complete guidelines.


La Maison Baldwin Writer-in-Residence Program 

Fee: $0; Deadline: December 31st

This fellowship is open to emerging writers working in the spirit of James Baldwin. Eligible to apply are poets, playwrights, essayists and fiction writers with no more than one published book or staged production. To apply, send a cover letter, a brief bio and writing sample of ten pages to [email protected] with the subject line "residency application." Visit here for more details.



Jobs & Work Experience


Assistant Professor in Fiction Writing  

Emerson College, Boston 

The Department of Writing, Literature and Publishing invites applications for a tenure-track Assistant Professor position in Fiction Writing. The appointment begins August 20, 2020. The Department seeks candidates who can contribute to the excellence and diversity of the academic community through teaching, other forms of engagement with students outside of the classroom, creative work, and service activities.


Content Writer Intern

The Marketing Cartel, Boston 

Do you believe the pen is mightier than the sword? Are you able to conjure up emotionally-driven actions or feeling from copy that you create? The Marketing Cartel seek a highly intellectual team player that has a passion for writing. Your words will be directly used to write short form eCommerce Sales Pages and Customer Journeys.


Arts Administration Internship

White Snake Projects, Boston 

White Snake Projects, an Activist Opera Company, is seeking an arts administration intern for Spring 2020. This Arts Administration Internship with White Snake Projects is an exciting opportunity to learn about the operations of an opera non-profit organization committed to social activism and original new work.


Program Assistant Internship

Mass Poetry, Boston 

Mass Poetry is looking for a Program Assistant Intern for the Spring 2020 semester (January - May) with the possibility to continue on beyond that. The position is 10 - 12 hours/week, and pay is $350/month. Applications are due by December 16th and will be reviewed on a rolling basis until the position is filled. Applicants can submit their materials here.


General Submissions


Submissions to The Ilanot Review

Fee: $0; Deadline: December 15th

The Ilanot Review’s theme for the Winter 2020 edition is Home/Work. Examples include: Work done inside the home, or for the benefit of the home (or homeland); conflict or balance between the home and the workplace; finding a home at work; and more. Only one submission per reading period— multiple submissions will be automatically disqualified. Find out more here.


Submissions to Embark Literary Journal

Fee: $0; Deadline: December 15th

Please note that Embark does NOT accept submissions of memoirs or other nonfiction works. Only the openings of novels (works of fiction 50,000 words or longer) will be considered. The novel in question must be unpublished at the time of submission. It may be partially or completely written, but in either case you should have a firm sense of its overarching themes and structure. Visit their website for full submission guidelines.


Submissions to Third Coast

Fee: $0; Deadline: December 15th

Third Coast Magazine is currently accepting fiction, poetry, essay, and drama submissions until December 15, 2019. The literary magazine accepts simultaneous submissions, but not multiple submissions; please submit no more than one manuscript at a time. They do not accept previously published works. See full submission guidelines here


The Impossible Beast: Poems of Queer Eroticism

Fee: $0; Deadline: December 31st

Damaged Goods Press is seeking poetry by queer & trans poets on queer eroticism for their forthcoming print anthology The Impossible Beast: Poems of Queer Eroticism, edited by Logan February and Caseyrenée Lopez. “We want poetry that is informed by a wide breadth of queer sexualities, this includes ace experience.” The anthology will be published in Summer/Fall 2020. See submission guidelines here.


Submissions to Republic of Camberville Season 2

Fee: $0; Deadline: Rolling

The Republic of Camberville editors invite submissions of radio drama and fiction (no literary criticism or nonfiction). Stories do not have to take place in Cambridge, Somerville or Camberville, BUT they should have significant links. Somerville, MA and Cambridge, MA are real places and stories that take place in these cities should reflect the reality of those communities. Please familiarize yourself with the type of stories produced in Season 1 for context. Visit their website for full submission guidelines and information.


Submissions to SmokeLong Quarterly

Fee: $0; Award: $50; Deadline: Rolling

SmokeLong publishes flash fiction up to 1000 words. They do not consider poetry or non-fiction. The online literary magazine will pay $50/story, upon publication in the quarterly issue. They are not interested in works previously published in online magazines. They are interested in pieces that have only previously appeared in print, but only by solicitation. You can find more information here.

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