January 2020 Top Picks: Opportunities for Writers

The January 2020 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, keeping your holiday decorations up until March. That matters too.


Contests & Awards 


Literal Latté Fiction Award

Fee: $10; Award: $1,000; Deadline: January 15th

A prize of $1,000 and publication in Literal Latté is given annually for a short story. Submit a story of up to 10,000 words with a $10 entry fee ($15 for two stories) by January 15th. All entries are considered for publication. Visit the website for complete guidelines.


Andrés Montoya Poetry Prize

Fee: $0; Award: $1,000; Deadline: January 15th

The Andrés Montoya Poetry Prize supports the publication of a first full-length book of poems by a Latinx poet. The winning poet will receive $1000 and a contract from University of Notre Dame Press. Upon publication of the winning book, Letras Latinas will extend an invitation to both the winner and the judge to give a joint reading at Notre Dame. Click here to see full requirements.


Lumina Multilingual Contest for Fiction and Creative Nonfiction

Fee: $10; Award: $150 and publication; Deadline: January 15th

The contest will be judged by Ingrid Rojas Contreras, author of the novel Fruit of the Drunken Tree. Send Lumina your fiction or creative nonfiction pieces influenced by languages other than English. The writing can mix English with other languages, or it can be haunted by them, perhaps written in English but imagined in another language. Winner will receive $150 and publication in Lumina Online; runner-up will receive $50 and publication in Lumina Online. See contest details here.


Sixfold Short Story and Poetry Awards

Fee: $5; Award: $1,000; Deadline: January 24th

Two prizes of $1,000 each and publication in Sixfold are given quarterly for a group of poems and a short story. Submit up to five poems totaling no more than 10 pages or up to 20 pages of prose with a $5 entry fee by January 24th. See full submission requirements here.


William Saroyan International Prize for Writing

Fee: $50; Award: $5,000; Deadline: January 31st

The Stanford Libraries and the William Saroyan Foundation jointly award the William Saroyan International Prize for Writing, a biennial competition for newly-published books. Works of fiction (novels, short story anthologies, or drama) or non-fiction (biography, history, or memoirs) by authors from around the world and first published during 2018-2019 are eligible for consideration for the 2020 Saroyan Prize. For complete information about eligibility requirements, click here.


The Masters Review Winter Short Story Award

Fee: $20; Award: $3,000, Publication, and Agency Review; Deadline: January 31st

The winning story will be awarded $3,000 and publication online. All winners and honorable mentions will receive agency review by: Nat Sobel from Sobel Weber, Victoria Cappello from The Bent Agency, Andrea Morrison from Writers House, Sarah Fuentes from Fletcher & Company and Samantha Fingerhut from Compass Talent. See full application guidelines here.


Fellowships, Conferences & Residencies 


Writers Residency at MASS MoCA

Fee: $0; Deadline: January 8th

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.


Sesame Street Writers’ Room

Fee: $0; Deadline: January 10th

Sesame Workshop Writers’ Room is a writing fellowship from the creators of Sesame Street. They are seeking fresh new writing talent from underrepresented racial backgrounds. Emerging storytellers who are selected to join the Writers’ Room will receive hands-on writing experience guided by Sesame Street veterans and other media industry leaders. Visit their website for more information.

2020 A Public Space Editorial Fellowships

Fee: $0; Compensation: $10,000 stipend (bi-weekly); Deadline: January 15th

The Fellowship will offer a nine-month curriculum that integrates education, experience, mentorship, and the opportunity for innovation. Fellows will receive intensive training in all aspects of editing, from evaluating submissions through to publication of a piece. As part of the program, they will also learn about publishing history, exploring known interactions between editors and writers; archival documents; and the role of the editor in a changing landscape. Candidates outside of New York City are encouraged to apply, but A Public Space cannot fund relocation expenses. Click here to see full application requirements.


National Endowment for the Arts: Translation Fellowships

Fee: $0; Compensation: $12,500 stipend; Deadline: January 15th

Grants of $12,500 and $25,000 each are given annually to translators of poetry and prose from any language into English. Applicants must have published, alone or in collaboration, at least 20 pages of literary translation in digital or print publications or at least one book of translation between January 1, 2005, and January 1, 2020. Visit the website for the required entry form and complete guidelines.


O’Brien Fellowship in Public Service Journalism

Fee: $0; Award: $65,000 stipend; Deadline: January 20th

O’Brien Fellows spend nine months reporting stories with the power to compel change. Backed by Marquette University and the Pulitzer Prize-winning Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, O'Brien helps news professionals dig deep while mentoring student journalists. Applicants should have at least five years of professional experience and produce journalism regularly as an employee or freelancer. Applicants may be connected to print operations, radio, television, websites, podcasts, online publications, wire services, or magazines of general public interest. There are no academic prerequisites. Applications from international journalists are welcome. To see full requirements click here.


Mass Cultural Council Artist Fellowship

Fee: $0; Award: $15,000; Deadline: January 27th

Mass Cultural Council's Artist Fellowships are direct grants to artists to recognize exceptional original work. They consider the work of individual artists to be an essential part of our vital communities, and hope the awards will foster the creation of new art in the Commonwealth. Apply to the Fiction/Creative Nonfiction category by January 27th. See full criteria, requirements, and guidelines here.


The NESCBWI Windows and Mirrors Scholarship

Fee: $0; Deadline: January 31st

The 2020 New England SCBWI Regional Conference will be held on May 1-3, 2020 at the Sheraton Monarch Place in Springfield, MA. This year’s theme is “Finding Joy in the Journey.” The two Windows & Mirrors Diversity Scholarships will cover the cost of conference registration for one illustrator and one writer. The two New Member scholarships include a one-year membership to SCBWI as well as conference registration for a writer and an illustrator who are not currently SCBWI members. To see full submission requirements visit their website.


Money for Women / Barbara Deming Memorial Fund: Individual Artist Grants for Women

Fee: $25; Award: $1,500; Deadline: January 31st

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 fiction writers and mixed genre writers working in text and image. Visit their website for more details.


GrubStreet’s Emerging Writer Fellowship

Fee: $0; Award: Tuition-free access to GrubStreet classes and Muse & the Marketplace conferences; Deadline: February 10th

The Emerging Writer Fellowship aims to develop new, exciting voices by providing two writers per year tuition-free access to GrubStreet’s classes and Muse & the Marketplace conferences. The application deadline is Monday, February 10th. Applications submitted after the deadline will not be reviewed. To see full application guidelines click here.


Jobs & Work Experience 


Producing Editor of WBUR's Arts and Culture Vertical, The ARTery

Boston University, Boston

This job requires a thorough understanding of how to promote interactivity and audience engagement with a web user and an understanding of the mission of public radio. This person will be responsible for overall editing , including working with the writers on the shape of the posts, copy editing, embedding photos and video. To see full job listing visit their website.


Freelance Writer for The Root


The Root is looking for freelance writers to cover nights and weekends. They are looking for sharp writers with strong voices and keen eyes for great stories that speak to the intersection of blackness and culture, politics, entertainment, and sports, among other pertinent issues. If you have a passion for “the culture” and want to write meaningful stories that move the needle on issues surrounding race, we want to hear from you.


Executive Director

The Vermont Studio Center

The Vermont Studio Center seeks a visionary, passionate, leader who is committed to fostering opportunities through the residency experience, someone who is devoted to visual artists and writers, and someone who intimately understands the creative and artistic practice. Click here to view the full job description.


General Submissions 


Submissions to Evocations

Fee: $0; Deadline: January 15th

Evocations is an online literary and art review that is looking for the best fiction, non-fiction/essays, poetry, and visual art out there. Whether you're a seasoned artist or a new voice your work will be well received here. Evocations carefully considers all submissions, however, the journal is especially interested in creative expressions and perspectives on: feminism, queer topics, pop-culture, politics, environmentalism, mindfulness, and millennials. See full submission guidelines here.


Submissions to Carina Press

Fee: $0; Deadline: Rolling

Carina Press is committed to inclusion and representation in its publishing program. They are interested in seeing not just manuscripts that feature characters from a range of backgrounds and experiences, but most especially books by authors from traditionally marginalized or underrepresented groups, including (but not limited to) Black authors, authors of color, disabled authors, and LGBTQIA+ authors. Want to know what each individual editor is looking for? Visit this What the Editors Want post, updated twice a year.


Submissions to Lumina

Fee: $2; Deadline: Rolling

Lumina is looking for the unexpected prose, poetry, hybrid, and multimedia pieces with rules replaced by something better. Looking for risk and reward. Reinvention. Voices that haven't been heard that must be heard. Investigate possibilities with urgency. Authenticity. Show us how less is more for you in 2,500 words or less. Students currently or formerly (within four years) affiliated with Sarah Lawrence College are ineligible for consideration or publication. Click here to see their full submission guidelines.


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.


Submissions to Asian American Writers' Workshop: The Margins

Fee: $0; Deadline: Rolling

Every Tuesday, the Margins publishes the work of emerging and established Asian American poets. They are currently accepting submissions for their Poetry Tuesday feature. Visit their website for full submission guidelines and information.

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