July Top Picks: Opportunities for Writers

The July 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 gazing into the comforting yellow of sunflowers to distract yourself from your trash-fire novel draft. That matters too.


Contests & Awards

Free applications to the PEN/Heim Translation Fund Grants.

Fee: $0; Award: $2,000-$5,000; Deadline: July 20.

This grant aims to promote the publication and reception of translated international literature in English. Translations from underrepresented languages especially encouraged. Translations from Italian are automatically considered for the PEN Grant for the English Translation of Italian Literature ($5,000 prize).


Fee: $0-$25; Award: $1,000; Deadline: July 31.
Stories must not exceed 2,500 words. If you’re a person of color, LGBTQIA+ or a person living with disabilities and would like to enter, email [email protected] for a coupon code for free entry.

Fee: $5; Award: $200 & publication; Deadline July 31.
True stories that explore the theme of the body.Prizes as follows: Personal Essay Prize, deadline: July 31. Narrative Journalism Prize, deadline: July 31. Editors’ Choice Book Prize, deadline: August 15. Proximity encourages the submission of original work from everyone—especially women, writers of color, and marginalized individuals, including gender-nonconforming and LGBTQ writers.


Fee: $0; Award: $10,000; Deadline: Aug 15.

African-American authors (with U.S. citizenship) who are published but not yet widely recognized for their work. Works of fiction (novel or collection of short stories) that will be published in 2018. Self-publication not accepted.


Fee: $0; Award: $10,000; Deadline: Aug 15.
The submitted project must be the work of a single individual, an unpublished work-in-progress of English-language literary nonfiction (no scholarly or academic writing). Oral history must be a significant component of the project and its research.


Fellowships & Residencies

Fee: $0; Location: North Adams, MA; Cost: $650/week; Deadline: July 9.
Self-directed 10-week residency sessions, Oct 10 - April 2. Includes studio space at MASS MoCA, housing, one meal per day, free access to select museums, and one-on-one business counseling. Merit- and need-based financial aid available.


Fee: $0; Deadline: July 30.
The conference takes place Feb 22-23, 2019 at The Virginia G. Piper Center for Creative Writing, Arizona State University. Applicants require a history of literary activity but writers of all backgrounds, genres, and skill levels are encouraged to apply.


Fee: $0; Award: $5,000; Deadline: Aug 15.
Candidates must be writers of children’s or young adult fiction in financial need who have published one or more novels for children or young adults that have not generated sufficient income to support the author. The writer’s previously published book(s) must be published by a U.S. publisher (not self-published). Not eligible: picture books, graphic novels.


General Submissions

Fee: pay what you want; Deadline: July 5.
18-30 pages, single-spaced. Poetry, creative nonfiction, fiction submissions accepted.


Fee: $0; Deadline: July 31. 
VQR accepts submissions of poetry (all types and lengths), short fiction (2,000-8,000 words), and nonfiction (3,500-9,000 words). Work printed in VQR is paid, at varying rates.


Fee: $0; Deadline: July 31.
Submit fiction, poetry, and essays.


Fee: $0; Deadline: July 31.
All three elements given for the submission period must be included in your story or poem for work to be considered. Current submission period elements: Bus Stop, Stained Glass, Canopy. Prose: 3,500 words. Poetry: 2 poems.


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About the Author

Colwill is an instructor and manuscript consultant at GrubStreet, an associate editor at Bat City Review, and an MFA candidate at the University of Texas at Austin. After graduating a scholarship awardee of GrubStreet’s Novel Incubator program, Colwill found representation for her first novel, Before We Tear Our Selves Apart, with Robert Guinsler of Sterling Lord Literistic, which is currently on submission to publishing houses. She is the recipient of the Wellspring House Emerging Writer Fellowship, the Henry Blackwell Essay Prize, and a Crawley-Garwood Research Grant, and has received fellowships and support from Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, The University of Texas at Austin, Boston College, Kansas State University, the Anderson Center for Disciplinary Studies, and GrubStreet. She was a finalist for the 2019 Tennessee Williams Fiction Prize, the 2019 Reynolds Price Award, the 2019 Far Horizons Fiction Award, the 2019 Disquiet International Literary Prize, and the 2019 Lit Fest Emerging Writer Fellowship. Colwill’s fiction is forthcoming in Granta and is anthologized in Everywhere Stories: Short Fiction from a Small Planet (Press 53). She has served on the editorial team for Post Road magazine, The Conium Review,  Solstice Literary Magazine, and Pangyrus magazine. Colwill is a founding member of the  Back Porch Collective, a Boston-based group of writers. With members connected to Cuba, India, Albania, Atlanta, Bosnia, Miami, Jamaica, and the UK, they bonded over a common passion for global narratives and literature’s potential to create empathy and understanding across all geographical, political, and cultural borders. Hailing from Yorkshire, in the north of England, Colwill is determined to introduce the word “sozzard” to the American vernacular. For a full list of publications, projects, and services, please visit

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