The Practicing Writer 2.0: January 2021

Latest fee-free, paying opportunities for writers of fiction, poetry, and nonfiction. And a few things more.

Welcome, new readers, and welcome back to the regulars.

For updates and additional opportunity listings between newsletters, please check the “Practicing Writing” blog and follow Erika Dreifus on Twitter (@ErikaDreifus) and/or Facebook.

Please share this newsletter with your writing networks! If you’d like to share a particular competition or submission alert with others, PLEASE CREDIT THE PRACTICING WRITER for the find (preferably with a link back to this newsletter). Thanks for respecting your editor’s volunteer efforts.


  1. Editor’s Note

  2. Success Stories

  3. Featured Resource

  4. Current Contests, Competitions, and Other Opportunities (NO ENTRY OR APPLICATION FEES; PAYING OPPORTUNITIES ONLY)


  6. Blog Notes

  7. Newsletter Matters


A brief list of things that I did not do in 2020:

  • Make sourdough starter.

  • Learn a new language.

  • Read the entirety of War and Peace.

But I did read something so powerful that I wanted to write about it. And just before the year ended, The American Scholar published that writing.

You can read the piece online, and I hope that you will!

I’ve been lucky to experience other encouraging developments in my writing life this year, pandemic notwithstanding. But honestly, this newsletter is intended to be less about my practice and more about contributing to yours. Plus, Substack warns again that I’m running out of space.

So, to conclude: Here’s to good things happening in 2021—for each and every one of us, and for our writing.



I’m delighted to share:

Hi Erika, I look forward enthusiastically to your newsletter each month. It’s informed me of many opportunities I would never hear of otherwise, including consistent reminders to check out calls from Chicken Soup for the Soul. I started to, and they recently had one for stories about self-care. I sent them an essay about quitting smoking in my 30s and they accepted it! I'm thrilled and very grateful that you made me aware of this opportunity. Thanks for your generosity to writers like me.—Laura M. Martin

Thank you for the information about Stonecrop Review. My essay, “An Asphalt County Almanac,” will be published in the next issue.—Sandy Schuman

Editor’s note: I love learning about ways in which the newsletter/blogs/my resources support your writing practice. Keep me posted! You just may find your own work celebrated here.

3. FEATURED RESOURCE: “You Are a Writer”

“In January 2021, join PEN America for a series of free online workshops on the business of writing. Inspired by beloved components of the Emerging Voices Fellowship, the series will provide an introduction to four topics that are foundational to launching a literary career.” The first installment of this “You Are a Writer” series, “The Business of Books: What Writers Need to Know,” is scheduled for Wednesday, January 6. Please note: Registration is limited to 1,000 attendees per session.


    Deadline: January 4, 2021. Program runs February through April 2021. “Candidates may be from any ethnic or religious background, but must have a strong interest in Tablet’s editorial mission, which is to cover Jewish news, religion, and culture. We welcome participants no matter their political leanings, so long as they believe in fair, skeptical journalism.” Remote program, 15-18 hours/week. “The program resembles an internship program in that fellows are paid ($3,000 for the three-month program), but it will share many traits with journalism school: strong mentorship, a cohort or ‘class,’ frequent group exercises, and guest speakers drawn from the top ranks of journalism.”

    Deadline: January 8. For “one writer working in English in any genre who self-identifies as Black, Indigenous, or a Person of Color. The fellowship funds all residency fees for up to four weeks in residence. To apply, simply select the appropriate box on the fellowships question of the Summer/Fall 2021 residency application.”

    Deadline: January 15. Teachers & Writers Collaborative invites “essays describing a virtual creative writing teaching experience, project or activity that demonstrates innovation in creative writing instruction. We are looking for essays that describe a project or activity that got students excited about writing and fostered a vibrant and dynamic culture of literacy in the virtual classroom. We welcome essays about projects that carved a space for students to reflect on the events of the past year (e.g. public health, social distancing, racial justice protests, etc.).” Prize: $1,000 and publication in Teachers & Writers Magazine.

    Deadline: January 15. “This prize was created in honor and memory of Janet Heidinger Kafka, a young editor who was killed in a car accident just as her career was beginning. Those who knew her believed she would do much to further the causes of literature and women….Each year a substantial cash prize is awarded annually to a woman who is a US citizen, and who has written the best book-length work of prose fiction, whether novel, short stories, or experimental writing. We are interested in calling attention to the work of a promising but less established writer.” Entries must be submitted by publishers; cash prize is $8,000.

    Deadline: January 15. Inaugural contest accepts “both poems and prose from all writers. That said, we particularly encourage emerging writers, as well as those who identify as BIPOC, LGBTQIA, or disabled, to submit to our contest. We seek submissions that have electrifying and inventive narratives, honest and visceral language, and a distinguished sense of craft.” Prizes: “We will choose one winner each for POETRY and PROSE. They will each receive a $100* prize [*possibly greater than $100] and publication in our upcoming issue. We will also be shortlisting a few finalists in each category whose works will also be considered for publication.” Judges: Yanyi, Cathy Linh Che, and Elle Nash. (Thanks to Entropy’s Where to Submit List for the tip about this one.)

  • 2021 PINK POETRY PRIZE (UPDATED, JANUARY 5: In the time since this newsletter was posted last week, the organizers “have run out of free submissions as allotted by our Submittable plan. We must now charge a $2.00 USD submission fee for the remainder of the contest.”)
    Deadline: January 15. From Great River Review. “Each year, we accept free submissions for the Pink Poetry Prize, a $1,000 USD award that’s given for a single poem….We accept all styles of poetry, including visual poetry.” Judge: Adrian Matejka. (Thanks to @Duotrope for leading me to this one.)

    Deadline: January 22. “Undergraduate college students are invited to submit up to three poems and/or up to two short stories” for the Literary Festival Poetry Prize and Fiction Prize, respectively. Each prize awards $100.

    Deadline: January 29. “Since 2012, Zócalo has awarded the prize annually to the U.S. poet whose poem best evokes a connection to place. ‘Place’ may be interpreted in many ways, be it of historical, cultural, political, or personal importance; the landscape may also be literal, imaginary, or metaphorical.” Prize includes $1,000 and the opportunity to deliver the poem at a spring event, plus publication. NB: “The winning poem becomes the property of Zócalo Public Square, but the writer may republish the poem at a later date with Zócalo’s permission.”

    Deadline: January 31 (applications open January 1). “​The aim of these fellowships is to seek out and support writers who embrace risk in their work and their own singular vision. Writers who have not yet contracted to publish a book are invited to apply.” Three fellowships will be awarded. They will include: “six months of editorial support from A Public Space editors to prepare a piece for publication in the magazine; a $1,000 honorarium; the opportunity to meet virtually with members of the publishing community, including agents, editors, and published writers; the opportunity to participate in a public reading and conversation with A Public Space editors and contributors.” Open to international applicants. One fellowship will be reserved for a resident of New York City. Note also that this appears to be a fellowship for prose writers only.

    Deadline: January 31. Accepting applications “from Black poets without a published book or a book under contract. Each recipient will receive $500, $500 for a LOGOS reading, a $500 travel stipend and free lodging to attend the upcoming Wonder in Wyoming conference, a one-on-one consultation with the final judge, and master classes and other opportunities provided by Cave Canem. The poets will also have their work published in the Summer 2021 issue of EcoTheo Review, with proceeds of the sale going to Cave Canem.” Inaugural judge: Gregory Pardlo.

    Deadline: February 1. Located in Ossining, New York, this program encourages applications from individual poets and poet/artist pairs. The seven-day residency runs from April 25 to May 1 and includes “room, board, and $150 stipend.” NB: “In light of current travel restrictions, applications are open only to individuals who reside in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut.”

    Deadline: February 1. “For a book of poems, 48 pages or more in length, selected by our judges as the strongest collection of poems published in 2020. The poet will be expected to participate in an awards ceremony, give a reading, and teach a workshop at The Poetry Center in Paterson, NJ.” Confers a $1,000 award.

    Deadline: February 1. “Named for Bucknell’s renowned literary alumnus and initiated in fall 1993, the Philip Roth Residence in Creative Writing offers up to four months of unfettered writing time for a writer working on a first or second book of fiction or creative nonfiction. The residency provides lodging in Bucknell’s ‘Poets’ Cottage’ and a stipend of $5,000. In the spring semester of 2021, the Stadler Center will accept applications for the 2021–22 Roth Residences (August–December 2021 and January–May 2022).”

    Deadline: February 1. “Launched in 2016 in association with Goldsmiths Writers’ Centre, Spread the Word’s Life Writing Prize was established to celebrate and develop Life Writing in the UK.” Open to UK-resident writers “who have yet to publish a full-length work or have a literary agent.” Prize includes £1500, an Arvon course, a writing mentor, two years’ membership of the Royal Society of Literature, and an optional development meeting with an agent or editor. “Two highly commended writers will each receive £500, a writing mentor and an optional meeting with an agent or editor.” Judges: Damian Barr, Catherine Cho, and Frances Wilson.

    Submissions: January 1-February 15. For “a first or second book by a writer of African descent,” this prize is “open to the full range of writers embodying African and African diasporic experience. The book can be of any genre that is, or intersects with, poetry, including poetry, hybrid work, speculative prose, and/or translation. The winning manuscript will be published by Autumn House Press in 2022, and its author will be awarded $3,000.” Final judge: Douglas Kearney.

    Deadline: February 15. “This year we invite applications for one fellowship in nonfiction and one in fiction. Writers who have recently completed an MFA, MA, or PhD in creative writing, and who need a year to complete their first book, are encouraged to apply. The selected writers will spend the academic year (late August 2021 to early May 2022) at Colgate University in Hamilton, New York. The fellows will teach one creative writing course each semester and will give a public reading from the work in progress. The fellowship carries a stipend of $42,745 plus travel expenses; health and life insurance are provided.”

    Deadline: February 15. “We invite unpublished, full-length novels or short story collections in manuscript form for consideration. This contest is open to U.S. veterans and active duty personnel in any branch of the U.S. military and their immediate family members. This includes spouses, domestic partners, and children. We encourage women veteran writers and veterans of color to submit. Although work submitted for the contest need not be about direct military experience, we seek original voices and fresh perspectives that will expand and challenge readers’ understanding of the lives of veterans and their families. Finalists will be read by National Book Award-winning author and veteran of the United States Marine Corps Phil Klay and the winning entry will be announced in October of 2021. The award includes a $1,000 cash prize and a publication contract with Syracuse University Press. Manuscripts of high merit not selected for the final award may receive honorable mention.”

REMINDER! A number of opportunities listed in last month’s newsletter close on January 1 or shortly thereafter.


  • From ROXANE GAY: “I am starting a new project, part of which will include publishing an emerging writer twice a month, starting in January 2021. I define emerging writer as someone with fewer than three article/essay/short story publications and no published books or book contracts. Please submit your best nonfiction and nonfiction only. I am interested in literary essays and memoir. Please submit only one essay at a time. Essays should be between 1500 and 3000 words. All essays will be paid a flat fee of $2,000.”

  • Open (to new fiction, poetry, nonfiction, and translation) throughout the month of January: NASHVILLE REVIEW. Pays: $25 per poem and $100 for prose and art.

  • Also open throughout January: TIMEWORN LITERARY JOURNAL, which welcomes “unpublished historical fiction submissions in English under 5,000 words. They should be set before 1996, rooted in history and voice-driven. Stories do not need to necessarily be about a specific historical event, only set within history….We’re looking for ‘Historical Fiction from the fringe.’ Work with a bend toward the surreal, the dream-like, the strange. Speculative elements strongly encouraged.” Pays: $25 plus one print copy. NB: “We now have rolling submissions for #ownvoices short stories only. Submit at any time, just include #ownvoices in your e-mail!”

  • 34 ORCHARD similarly receives submissions during January. “We like dark, intense pieces that speak to a deeper truth. We’re not genre-specific; we just like scary, disturbing, unsettling, and sad….We are an international journal and welcome submissions from everyone, all over the world.” Payment: $50. “You will need to have a PayPal address to receive payment; we don’t use any other form of internet cash transfer service. If this doesn’t work for you, we’re happy to send you a paper check. If you are overseas, please ensure you have a PayPal account.”

  • THE SOUTHAMPTON REVIEW’s next reading period begins January 1 (and ends February 1). “We encourage submissions from unpublished authors. We’re interested in voice-driven writing that takes risks with structure and content.” Payment for prose is “$100+”; for poetry, it’s $75 per poem.

  • Open from January 1-7: COASTAL SHELF, a biannual literary journal publishing in January and July. Payment: “at least a token amount of $20 a piece.”

  • Based in Dublin, THE STINGING FLY is open for fiction submissions until January 8. Pays: €30 per magazine page, plus one copy.

  • MSLEXIA, which describes itself as “the UK’s best-selling magazine for women who write,” has issued a call for pitches (deadline: January 11): “We’re looking to commission features from women who manage to write despite a particular personal challenge, e.g. new baby, long-term illness, English as a second language, depression, no Wi-Fi connection, family ridicule….” Pays: £100. (Thanks to @WeisChoice for the tip about this one.)

  • CHANNEL is open for submissions until January 15. “We publish new, previously unpublished work that engages with the natural world. We have a particular interest in work which encourages reflection on human interaction with plant and animal life, landscape and the self. Each issue includes a mix of poetry and fiction, alongside a selection of essays which may include creative non-fiction, criticism, and the occasional review of new creative work or of community-based environmental projects. We also welcome submissions in translation.” This Ireland-based publication welcomes international submissions and pays “€40 per poem and €40 per page of prose up to a total maximum fee of €120.”

  • Also closing January 15: GREAT WEATHER FOR MEDIA, which seeks poetry and prose for its annual print anthology. “Our focus is on edgy, fearless, and experimental subject matter and styles.” Pays (USA-based writers): “one contributor copy, plus $10.” International writers receive one copy.

  • Another January 15 deadline: “Did someone say ‘summertime’? SPLIT LIP MAGAZINE is publishing a special summertime-themed issue for Black Voices, edited by our very own Tyrese Coleman!” Will consider poetry, memoir, flash, fiction, art from Black authors/artists only. Pays: $50/piece.

  • From SHENANDOAH: “We will be open for PROSE–that is novel excerpts, short stories, and essay–from January 15 to January 31, 2021.” Note: “Our submission manager accepts only 800 submissions per month as that is all we can reasonably handle. If submissions are not being accepted during the windows noted, it’s because we’ve already reached 800. We suggest submitting early in the reading period.” Payment: “$100 per 1000 words of prose up to $500.”

  • ONE STORY will re-open for submissions on January 15. They seek literary fiction, “stories between 3,000 and 8,000 words. They can be any style and on any subject as long as they are good. We are looking for stories that leave readers feeling satisfied and are strong enough to stand alone.” Payment: $500 and 25 contributor copies.

  • It appears that ELECTRIC LITERATURE will be open for submissions for both The Commuter and Recommended Reading from January 18-24. Check guidelines for more details on each category, including pay rates.

  • Received via email: “AWAKENED VOICES seeks writers for our first ever un-themed issue. The mission of Awakenings and Awakened Voices is to make visible the artistic expression of survivors of sexual violence. Show us through fiction, creative nonfiction, comics, visual art, or poetry the conversation all of us want and need to engage with around sexual violence.” Deadline: January 31. Payment: “We offer $12 per piece at this time, and we will be strong advocates for your work.”

  • Open until February 1: VOLNEY ROAD REVIEW, “a biannual literary magazine based in Youngstown, Ohio. We have decided to dedicate the magazine to the Youngstown great, Volney Rogers, whose actions led to the creation of Mill Creek Park. VRR is also dedicated to Volney Road, a historical neighborhood in Youngstown, which contains some amazing homes—hidden gems of the city. Our goal is to give a platform to the unpublished gems hidden within the repertoires of established and emerging authors.” Pays: “$10 per accepted piece.”

  • Also closing February 1: BELMONT STORY REVIEW “seeks to publish new and established writers passionate about their craft, fearlessly encountering difficult ideas, seeking to explore human experience in all its broken blessedness. We feature works of fiction, creative nonfiction, and poetry.” Pays: “Honorariums in the form of a check in US dollars ($50 for prose, $25 for poetry).”

  • Reminder: Make it a habit to check the CHICKEN SOUP FOR THE SOUL website, where titles in development are posted. Among projects recently announced is one focused on Eldercare. The deadline for this project is January 31, 2021. Submissions must be true. “If this is your first time, please visit our Story Guidelines page, which will answer many of your questions about subject matter, length, and style.” Pays: $200 plus 10 free copies.

AND ANOTHER REMINDER! If you didn’t catch them last month, you’ll find several still-open calls in the December issue, too.


The newsletter is published just once each month, but there’s always something new on the Practicing Writing blog:

  • (Monday) Markets and Jobs for Writers (including opportunities that don’t make it into the monthly newsletter)

  • Midweek Notes from a Practicing Writer

  • (Friday) Finds for Writers

  • Sunday Sentence

Please visit, and comment! 

Interested in matters of specifically Jewish literary and cultural interest? Please also visit the My Machberet blog (“machberet” is the Hebrew word for “notebook”).


Information contained in The Practicing Writer is collected from many sources, with the purpose of providing general references. It is researched carefully but readers should verify information when necessary and appropriate. The Practicing Writer and its editor disclaim any liability for the use of information contained within. Thank you for subscribing/reading.

We value our subscribers, and we protect their privacy. We keep our subscriber list confidential.

About the editor: Erika Dreifus is a writer, teacher, and literary consultant whose books include Birthright: Poems and Quiet Americans: Stories. A Fellow in the Sami Rohr Jewish Literary Institute and an adjunct associate professor at Baruch College, she lives in New York. Please visit to learn more about her work and follow her on Facebook and/or Twitter, where she tweets “on matters bookish and/or Jewish.”

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