The Practicing Writer 2.0: July 2020

Latest fee-free, paying opportunities—plus some re-upped author interviews.

Supporting the Craft & Business of Excellent Writing

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  1. Editor’s Note: What’s New

  2. Article/Lessons Learned

  3. Featured Resource

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


  6. Blog Notes

  7. Newsletter Matters


Hello again, practicing writers:

I don’t have all that much to report from my own HQ right now (but somehow, there’s usually enough to fuel updates in my Midweek Notes posts). Frankly, I’m more enthusiastic about other people’s recent work/achievements, so those will be my focus here.

This one came to my attention through a comment on a recent blog post, where Jane Hammons shared: “Just a short thank you for your newsletter. A couple of weeks ago, I saw the post about Conium Review’s call for stories with the theme of renewal as they prepared to launch their new website. I submitted my story Creature Creator, which was chosen for this launch and is also this month’s online story.”

More good news came in through Twitter (link to the screenshot).

And just the other day this message arrived from Yvonne (aka Yvonne Chism-Peace): “As a reader of your newsletter for years, I have followed up on many of your leads. Often I am already familiar with a journal, but your newsletter gives me a timely prod to submit work. Such was the case with RATTLE: POETS RESPOND. On Sunday, June 21, 2020, my poem ‘Malcolm X Park’ was the winner.”

Well done, all!

Please recall that I love learning about ways in which the newsletter/my resources assist with your writing practice. Keep me posted! You just may find your own work celebrated here.

As we proceed into all that our collective future holds, I’m wishing all the best to all of you—and to your writing practices.




Image description: letters “Q” and “A,” each followed by lines representing text.

If you’re new to these newsletters, you may not know that for a number of years, this “article” space has occasionally featured “Interviews with Practicing Writers.” (I had to dig to locate the most recent example, which was published nearly a year ago, several months before the newsletter relaunched in “2.0” format here on Substack this past January.)

Typically presented to coincide with the release of an author or editor’s new book, these Q&A pieces have addressed both craft and business topics. They live on, discretely, in archived form on my website. And, following examples that I’ve lately seen elsewhere, I’m going to use this month’s “lessons learned” space to re-up and amplify the voices of some Black practicing writers who have spoken here before.

In alphabetical order:

  • Jennifer Baker, in conjunction with the release of the 2018 short-fiction anthology Everyday People: The Color of Life, which she edited for Atria Books.

  • Roxane Gay, discussing An Untamed State, the novel she published with Grove Atlantic in 2014.

  • Major Jackson, focusing on his 2015 poetry collection Roll Deep (Norton).

  • Tayari Jones, addressing one of her pre-An American Marriage novels: Silver Sparrow (Algonquin, 2011).

  • Elizabeth Nunez, responding to questions about her 2014 memoir Not for Everyday Use (Akashic Books).

  • Sophfronia Scott, discussing her 2017 novel Unforgivable Love (HarperCollins), a retelling of Les Liaisons Dangereuses.

If you missed these interviews when they first appeared, there’s perhaps no better time than the present to read them.


Want to check out all of the aforementioned archived interviews? You’ll find them collected at

4. UPCOMING/ONGOING CONTESTS, COMPETITIONS, AND OTHER OPPORTUNITIES OF INTEREST (now listed by deadline, with earliest deadline first)

    Deadline: Not yet indicated. [UPDATE: Deadline is August 31.] “We will publish the submission URL and information in our July 1st edition.” [UPDATE: Check] “3 WINNERS will receive $250 each, plus publication. 6 FINALISTS will receive $75 each, plus publication.” (Thanks to Trish Hopkinson for the assist in updating this listing.)

    Deadline: July 15, 2020 (for books published during the first half of the calendar year). This is a $20,000 prize awarded “to the author of the short story collection named best of the year by three independent judges.” NB: “Because of the coronavirus and its financial impact on writers and publishers, for 2020, we are temporarily waiving the $75 entry fee. In addition, if conditions are such that it isn’t possible to send printed books, we will accept e-book only submissions.”

    Deadline: July 19, 2020. “The Eyewitness Photojournalism Grant is a series of reporting grants for freelance photojournalists, to support underreported stories told by journalists historically underrepresented in the American press….In light of the coronavirus pandemic, the grant will prioritize stories told locally, with minimal travel required. Stories should cover the systemic, underreported issues of our time, including police brutality, the impact of COVID-19 on vulnerable communities, environmental racism, food insecurity, the opioid crisis, and beyond. Grants will be awarded at $1,000 each.” Jurors include Danese Kenon, Zun Lee, and Akili Ramsess.

    Deadline: July 31, 2020. “The brief is broad: send us a piece of writing, up to 1000 words, which may include images, that explores any arts-related subject, written from a journalistic or critical perspective. We invite to you to review a local gallery exhibit, investigate a particular method of vocal training, compare two pieces of theatre – anything about which you have compelling ideas, a passionate interest and some sharp insight.” Confers a first prize of “£200, publication on our website, and a notebook of your choice [presumably from their own inventory]” and a second prize of “£100, publication on our website, and a notebook of your choice.” Note: “We may publish other entries on our website in exchange for a reward of £50 each.” Open to writers worldwide.

    Deadline: July 31, 2020. “Writing from your own life takes courage. Many people journal in private, but refining a piece of life writing so that it conveys a snippet of your reality is a real art….Send us a short piece of your best life writing, which we define as any creative prose with the essence of truth and a focus on the author’s personal experience.” Confers a first prize of “£200, publication on our website, and a notebook of your choice” and a second prize of £100, publication on our website, and a notebook of your choice. Note: “We may publish other entries on our website in exchange for a reward of £50 each.” Open to writers worldwide.

    Deadline: July 31, 2020. Open to women 18 years of age and older, who may submit “previously unpublished nonfiction essays of 1,200 words or less.” Essays “should focus on the theme ‘What has changed for you in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, the ongoing racism in the USA, and the recent public response to police violence?’ We invite submissions that consider this theme in a variety of ways. What has changed for you? How are you responding? What have you lost or abandoned? What has sustained you during this time?” Prizes: “$300 for first place, $200 second, and $100 third. The winning essay will be published in the RCWMS newsletter, South of the Garden, in September or December 2020.”

    Deadline: August 1, 2020. Recognizes a literary work of nonfiction “that uses oral history to illuminate an event, individual, place, or movement. We’re pleased to announce that beginning with the 2021 grant conferral, we will confer two PEN/Jean Stein Grants for Literary Oral History with increased cash prizes of $15,000 each.” For unpublished work-in-progress; not for scholarly/academic writing.

    Deadline: August 1, 2020 (received, by postal mail). “Milwaukee Irish Fest offers two poetry prizes annually; each award is $100. Winners will be announced at Irish Fest during the poetry events on Sunday afternoon, August 16, in the Hedge School in the Cultural Village on the south end of the grounds….The poetry awards will be given to the entries best reflecting Irish or Irish-American poetry traditions. Although the poems do not necessarily need to have direct Irish or Irish-American themes, the winning entries should have a culture/literary relation to either Ireland, Irish-America, or to Irish poetry.” NB: The Donn Goodwin Prize is open to all; the other poetry prize, the Joseph Gahagan Prize, is open to Wisconsin residents only.

    Deadline: August 15, 2020. For “the winning book-length manuscript by a poet residing in the Mid-Atlantic states (DE, MD, VA, PA, NJ, NY, WVA, NC and District of Columbia).” Prize includes “$500, two cases of Dogfish Head Craft Brewed Beer, manuscript publication by Broadkill River Press, and 10 copies of the book (in lieu of royalties).” Final judge: Edgar Kunz. NB: “The award will be presented to the winner on Saturday evening, December 12, 2020 at the Dogfish Inn in Lewes, Delaware. The winner must agree to attend this event and to read from their winning book at a reception honoring the winner….The winner agrees to travel to Delaware at the winner’s expense for awarding of the prize. Dogfish Head will provide the winner two nights lodging at the Dogfish Inn.”

    Deadline: August 15, 2020. The topic of this year’s contest is “snakes and other reptiles.” Prizes: “The author of the first-prize story will win $50, second prize $25, and third prize $15. Three Honorable Mentions will also be awarded. They will not receive cash prizes but will be published and read aloud with the other winners. All six stories will be copyedited by a professional editor. The authors of all six winning entries will also receive a one-year complimentary membership in Ligonier Valley Writers, valued at $30. If possible, winning entries will be read at various venues during the Halloween season of 2020. Winning writers will be invited to read their stories at those locations. Winning entries will also be published on the Ligonier Valley Writers website.”

REMINDER! As of today, the following opportunities, listed in last month’s newsletter, remain open for entries/applications.


  • TINDERBOX EDITIONS will be open for fee-free submissions (“Prose & Prose-like Manuscripts”) from July 1-July 7. Note that fee-free submissions may close early if they reach a cap of 300 submissions.

  • A PUBLIC SPACE has posted a call for submissions for a special portfolio to be edited by inaugural Editorial Fellow Taylor Michael, for which submissions will be accepted between July 6 and July 20. From the call: “Memory is a tricky thing. Whether it’s obsessing over our failures, surveying the tokens that trigger us, or considering our past and where we come from, our memories, collective and individual, can tell us about ourselves. Why do we hold onto certain things—failures, archival materials, family trauma—and not others?” You may submit “prose, fiction, or nonfiction, that thinks about inheritance or legacy, broadly considers memory, or incorporates archival history.” Pays: “an honorarium.” 

  • July 15 is the deadline to respond to a NARRATIVELY call for pitches posted by Julia Métraux, who is “looking for reported stories and memoir pieces that shed a light on labor justice around the world, spotlighting compelling characters with truly unique methods for fighting against gentrification, exploitation and abuse in the workforce.” Pays: “$400 for reported/$300 for memoir.”

  • VIRGINIA QUARTERLY REVIEW receives “unsolicited fiction, poetry, and nonfiction submissions July 1-31 through our Submittable portal.” Pay rates are detailed in the guidelines. 

  • The next reading period for 34 ORCHARD, “a literary journal that takes you dark places” and considers poetry and short fiction, will run from July 1 to July 31. Payment: “$50 on signing of the contract, usually shortly after acceptance,” via Paypal or paper check.

  • Also receiving submissions during the month of July: FERAL CAT PUBLISHERS. “We’re looking for original fiction short stories and poetry in support of an election year theme ‘Dear Leader Tales’ (DLT) anthology. We want stories of a humorous or satirical bent which illustrate or lampoon an emperor’s hubris (and lack of clothing). In that spirit, we don’t want any real life current or past Dear Leaders named directly, but their known foibles are fair game. Examples beyond the political include CEOs who constantly quote Sun Tzu or Machiavelli incorrectly, cats plotting to overthrow their human overlords, in short anywhere clueless oppressors operate.” Payment: “Selected short story authors will receive a one-time payment of $0.03/word of the final, edited version of their story [to maximum of $150]. Selected poetry authors will receive a one-time payment of $25 per piece selected.”

  • Submissions received by July 31 at Canada-based ARC POETRY MAGAZINE will be considered for the Winter issue. Payment: “ARC pays for poetry at the rate of $50 per page. Payment is issued upon pub­li­ca­tion along with one free copy of the issue in which the work appears.” Additional information regarding prose features is available on the website.

  • July 31 is also the deadline to send work to MOJO, the online literary journal of Wichita State University. “We’re dedicated to the revolution of literary spaces—the breaking of conventions, the exploration of provocation, the inclusion of all voices. Established, emerging, or identities often marginalized by our society’s narrative—we want your work….We accept fiction, poetry, and creative nonfiction, published in the Fall and Spring. All selected work is considered for the annual edition of Mikrokosmos—our print journal that has published for over fifty years.” Payment: “$15 USD flat rate per poem, nonfiction piece, fiction piece, or comic,” with an additional $15 if the piece is selected for print publication.

  • Welcoming submissions of fiction and poetry for its next issue until July 31 (and welcoming essays “ongoingly”), CHANNEL is “Ireland’s new environmentalist literary magazine.” Payment: “€15 per poem and €15 per page of prose up to a total maximum fee of €60. Contributors will also receive a copy of whichever issue their work appears within.” 

  • Note from TYPEHOUSE: “Due to the uncertainty of when things will return to a normal schedule, we will be publishing May’s issue combined with September’s in a special jumbo 20th issue.” They’ll continue to receive submissions through July. NB: “We don’t take many current event pieces as with time between acceptance and publication they are often outdated or no longer relevant. But right now we invite Black authors to send us work of any kind, and we will have a section in issue 20 dedicated to amplifying your voices. And, the pieces don’t have to be about current events, or politics (although they can be if that is what you want). Just be a Black author or artist, creating what you love. #blacklivesmatter.” Payment: “We are slowly working our way up to paying professional rates….For Issue 20 we will be paying $18 a submitter.” 

  • MIDNIGHT & INDIGO, “a new literary platform dedicated to publishing short fiction and narrative essays by Black women writers,” is receiving submissions through August 1. Pay rates detailed within the guidelines.

  • August 15 is the deadline for submissions to OUTLOOK SPRINGS. Pays: “$10 per poem, $10 per flash piece (under 1,000 words), $25 for short fiction and essays (over 1,000 words). Payment via PayPal or Venmo.”

  • SPLIT LIP PRESS will open for novel/novella submissions on July 1 (and will remain open through September 1).

  • Posted by editor Brittany Lavery: “Through Sept. 8, 2020, GRAYDON HOUSE is accepting unagented submissions from Black writers. We publish high-concept book club fiction and upmarket women’s fiction, including—but not limited to!—historical, suspense, family dramas, friendship stories, and more.” (As always with opportunities posted on Twitter, be sure to read the full thread.)

  • GORDON SQUARE REVIEW “will reopen for general submissions from writers of all geographic locations on July 15, 2020 and will remain open through October 1, 2020. Writers accepted for publication receive $25 per prose piece and $10 per poem.”


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 state/province/city-specific opportunities that are typically omitted from 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.

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

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 assistant 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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