December Top Picks: Opportunities for Writers

The December 2018 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, the sweater stockpiling. That matters too.






Contests & Awards

Scholastic Art & Writing Youth Awards.

Fee: $5-20; Award: varies; Deadline: Dec 13.

The Scholastic Awards look for work that demonstrates originality, technical skill, and emergence of a personal voice or vision. Public, private, or home-school students enrolled in grades 7–12 (ages 13 and up) are eligible. Fee waivers are available.


Free submissions to the Anisfield-Wolf Book Awards.

Fee: $0; Award: $10,000; Deadline: Dec 31.

The Anisfield-Wolf Book Awards recognizes outstanding works that contribute to our understanding of racism and our appreciation of cultural diversity. Awards are given for fiction, poetry, and nonfiction. 


Free submissions to the Black Caucus of the American Library Association Literary Awards.

Fee: $0; Award: $500; Deadline: Dec 31.

Four Prizes of $500 each are given annually for a poetry collection, a first novel, a book of fiction, and a book of nonfiction (including creative nonfiction) by an African American writer published in the United States in 2018. The awards honor books that depict the “cultural, historical, and sociopolitical aspects of the Black Diaspora.”


Fellowships, Conferences & Residencies

Free applications to The Right of Return Fellowship.

Fee: $0; Award: $20,000; Deadline: Dec 16.

The fellowship will award six formerly incarcerated artists of all creative disciplines a grant of $20,000 each to support a project aimed at reforming our criminal justice system.


Jobs & Work Experience

Reader positions at Boston-based Salamander magazine.

Salamander is seeking experienced students and post-graduates of prose and poetry to act as volunteer submission readers for the 2018-2019 submission period. Read 20-25 submissions per month for six months. All work is done remotely and readers receive credit in the masthead and a free subscription. Please contact [email protected] with your name, genre preference, and past experience.


Lesley University MFA Program Director/Assistant, Associate or Full Professor.

Deadline: Dec 15.

The MFA Low-Residency Program in Creative Writing at Lesley University seeks a creative, innovative individual with significant professional accomplishment to serve as the Director. This is a 12-month permanent faculty appointment, at the Assistant, Associate, or Full Professor rank, with administrative and teaching responsibilities, beginning July 1, 2019.


General Submissions

Free submissions to the Black Women/ Superheroes Issue for Transition Magazine.

Fee: $0; Award: publication; Deadline: Jan 15.

Deadline extended from Nov 30 to Jan 15! Grounded in Black feminist theory, this special issue of Transition Magazine seeks to engage a dynamic conversation on the topic Black Women/Superheroes. This issue will explore the notion of Black women’s persistence within a globalized, racialized, and gendered contemporary world. Writers, poets, artists, designers, musicians, and scientists encouraged to submit.


Free submissions to Sinister Wisdom.

Fee: $0; Award: publication; Deadline: Dec 30.

Sinister Wisdom publishes only work by Lesbians. They are particularly interested in work that reflects the diversity of the Lesbian experience: as Lesbians of color, ethnic Lesbians, Jewish, Arab, old, young, working class, poverty class, disabled, and fat Lesbians.


Free submissions to BLF Press from black women writers.

Fee: $0; Award: publication; Deadline: Dec 30.

BLF Press is an independent Black feminist press dedicated to amplifying the work of women of color. BLF Press is seeking full-length manuscripts (40,000-80,000 words) from Black women writers. Poetry collections should be at least 50 pages. We are especially interested in literary fiction and short story collections. We do not accept erotica, romance, the paranormal, or horror.



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About the Author

Sarah "Rah" Sturman is a senior at The American University of Paris, studying Creative Writing and Italian Studies. She fabricates fiction, toys with translation, and has been published in Paris/Atlantic. In her spare time, she creates languages, takes photographs (Instagram: @sarevel), and travels. Her current missions are to find the best French croissants in Boston and the best New York bagels in Paris.

See other articles by Sarah Sturman

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