October Top Picks: Opportunities for Writers

The October 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 carving of Jack-o-Lanterns to look like your favorite literary heroes. That matters too.



Contests & Awards


Free applications to the Amy Lowell Poetry Traveling Scholarship.

Fee: $0; Award: $59,000; Deadline: Oct 15

Awarded annually to a U.S. poet for a year of travel and study abroad. Submit two copies of up to 40 pages of poetry or a published book and up to 20 pages of poetry and the required entry form.


Free applications to the Adina Talve-Goodman Fellowship.

Fee: $0; Award: Tuition, Stipend, Consultation; Deadline: Nov 15

Year-long mentorship on the craft of fiction writing with One Story magazine. The fellow will receive free tuition for all One Story online classes and programming offered in 2019, a $2,000 travel stipend, tuition to attend One Story’s July 2019 week-long summer writers’ conference, and a manuscript review and consultation with Executive Editor Hannah Tinti.


Fellowships, Conferences & Residencies


Free applications to A Public Space's 2019 Fellowship.
Fee: $0; Award: $1,000 and fellowship; Deadline: Oct 15.
Writers who have not yet contracted to publish a book are invited to apply. Three fellowships will be awarded, which will include six months of editorial support, a $1,000 honorarium, and more.


Free applications for scholarships to the Iceland Writers Retreat.

Fee: $0; Award: Partial or Full Funding, including travel; Deadline: Oct 31.

ICR takes place in Reykjavík, Iceland April, 3-7 2019. Full funding includes accommodation and round-trip flights to Iceland. Partial funding covers the participant fee only.


Free applications for scholarships to the Muse & the Marketplace 2019, GrubStreet's annual writing conference. 

Fee: $0; Award: $250 scholarship or more; Deadline Nov 5.

Three days in April devoted to the intricacies of craft and publishing, the Muse is "the #1 Writing Conference in North America," according to The Writer magazine. Scholarship program includes awards for: writers of color, writers living with a disability, non-traditional writers, writers who identify as LGBTQ+, and writers in need of financial assistance.


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.


Consultant positions at GrubStreet.

GrubStreet is currently looking for writing consultants of all genres. Must have experience teaching and/or consulting with clients in their area of expertise, and at least one of the following: for writers, an MFA or MA in Creative Writing and/or publications in recognized journals, magazines, or online publications; for other literary professionals, experience in the publishing world or their area of consulting. You do not need to have published a full-length work to be considered for a consulting position.


General Submissions


Free submissions to Lost Balloon.
Fee: $0; Award: publication; Deadline: Oct 7.
Submit flash fiction, flash nonfiction, and prose poetry that entertains and challenges, that pushes boundaries and breaks hearts.


Free submissions to Writer's Edit; Talem Press.
Fee: $0; Award: publication; Deadline: Oct 12.
Submit fantasy fiction that empowers its readers. Writer's Edit is particularly passionate about unlikely heroines, mysterious magic, and out-of-this-world storytelling.


Free submissions to Tin House.
Fee: $0; Award: publication; Deadline: Oct 15.
Submit poetry, fiction, and nonfiction of any theme.


$ Hunger Mountain, the VCFA Journal of the Arts.
Fee: $3; Award: $25-50 and publication; Deadline: Oct 15.
Submit high-quality, innovative poetry, fiction, creative nonfiction, YA and children's lit.


Free submissions to Zoetic Press's Nonbinary Review.
Fee: $0; Award: variable cash payment, publication; Deadline: Oct 24.
Submit fiction and creative nonfiction where the connection to the theme is clear (think "literary fanfic"). This issue's theme is Dante's Inferno.


$ Indiana Review.
Fee: $3 for non-subscribers; Award: $5 per page and publication; Deadline: Oct 31.
Submit previously unpublished fiction, nonfiction, poetry, visual arts, and translations. Indiana Review looks for work that is well-crafted, lively, risky and has consequence beyond the world of its speakers or narrators.


$ Submission to Boston-based magazine The Drum.
Fee: $3; Award: $50 and publication; Deadline: Oct 31.
Submit poetry, short stories, and essays that pay close attention to language while never losing sight of the narrative drive.


Free submissions to the Ilanot Review.
Fee: $0; Award: Publication; Deadline: Oct 31.
Submit poetry and creative nonfiction/hybrid on the theme of crisis. Guest Editor: Adriana X. Jacobs.


Free submissions to FIYAH Magazine.
Fee: $0; Award: $50-$300; Deadline: Oct 31.
Submit speculative fiction and poetry by and about Black people of the African Diaspora.


Free submissions to Storyscape Journal.
Fee: $0; Award: Publication; Deadline: Nov 1.
Submit up to 5 poems or 5,000 words of prose. Storyscape Journal seeks to expand the notion of what stories are while shaking up the labels we use to define them.


Free submissions to: A World Without Cages

Fee: $0; Award: Publication & Honorarium; Deadline: Nov 16

The Asian American Writers’ Workshop is looking for creative work about life in jail, prison, and immigrant detention. They are eager for essays, nonfiction, fiction, poetry, and visual storytelling. Submissions should be limited to 3,000 words. If you know writers who are incarcerated or detained, please mail them a copy of the printable one-page call for submissions.


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

Fee: $0; Award: Publication; Deadline: Nov 30

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 the Tell-All Reading Series

Fee: $0; Award: Invitation to read; Deadline: Rolling.

TELL-ALL is a quarterly literary performance series celebrating all things memoir. Co-sponsored by GrubStreet and curated by alumni of GrubStreet’s Memoir Incubator. Submit first-person stories of 1200-1500 words.


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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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