It’s time for our annual look back at the 1980s, to see whether the bestselling novels of the era have stood the test of time, or if they were starting to show their age (and their shoulder pads). In between watching Back to the Future and trying out New Coke, here’s what American readers were enjoying in 1985.

10. The Class by Erich Segal

The Class by Eric Segal

Readers of the 1980s loved a multi-decade saga and The Class well and truly fitted the genre. Written by Erich Segal, the author of Love Story, The Class follows the intertwined fates of five fictional members of the Harvard Class of 1958, culminating with their class reunion in 1983. Described by Publisher’s Weekly as “an absorbing  page-turner” The Class is filled with all the tragedies, turmoil and dramatic turning points one might expect from a popular fictional novel of this era.


9. Family Album by Danielle Steel

Family Album by Danielle Steel

Danielle Steel’s recipe of romance, suspense and high drama has made her one of the world’s bestselling authors, with current estimates indicating her novels have sold well over 650 million copies around the world. In Family Album, her 18th novel in 12 years, Steel tells the story of Faye Price, from World War II to the present day. Writing in Christian Science Monitor, reviewer Jaye Wilson said “like the heroines in earlier Danielle Steel books, Faye Thayer embodies the ‘fantasy, recovery, escape, and consolation” which Tolkien describes as necessary constituents of a good fairy tale. Victorious in her new challenge, Faye seems as well to represent an updated, flip side of the old Horatio Alger characters who inspired the pre-Yuppie generation of men in gray flannel suits (whose sisters were still being silver-spoon fed on the old version of Cinderella’s tale).”

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Granta is Accepting Unsolicited Submissions

After a six-month hiatus Granta, one of the world’s most prestigious literary magazines, is again accepting unsolicited submissions.

Granta’s history can be traced back to 1889 when a student politics and literature magazine called The Granta was founded at Cambridge University. Since its relaunch 35 years ago, Granta has been a quarterly literary journal, with the aim of publishing the best new writing.

Granta publishes fiction, non-fiction and poetry. There are no strict word limits, though most prose submissions are between 3000 and 6000 words and the editors advise they are unlikely to read more than 10,000 words of any submission.

Alongside the print edition, the online new writing program publishes stories, poems, essays, interviews, animations and more from established Granta alumni as well as new voices.

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Win a Writers Retreat in Iceland

Reykjavik from above by Johannes Martin via Creative Commons

Iceland Writers Retreat is offering one talented writer plane tickets to Iceland and a free delegate’s ticket to its April program.

In addition to a round-trip airfare, the winner will receive a full retreat package including accommodation, tours, most meals and all workshops for the duration of the retreat which runs from 13 to 17 April 2016. The flights must be from a direct destination and the package does not include airport transfers, travel insurance or visas (if required).

The successful candidate must demonstrate that he or she does not have the financial means to attend the conference without this award. Candidates do not need to be professional writers, but should be serious about the craft and interested in developing their skills and contacts.

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AL Kennedy's Ten Rules for Writing Fiction

A.L.Kennedy was born in Scotland in 1965. She is the author of six literary novels, one science fiction novel, seven short story collections and three works of non-fiction including the wonderful writer’s resource On Writing. In 2010 Kennedy shared the following advice with readers of The Guardian, published as part of a series  inspired to Elmore Leonard’s Ten Rules of Writing.

1. Have humility. Older/more ­experienced/more convincing writers may offer rules and varieties of advice. ­Consider what they say. However, don’t automatically give them charge of your brain, or anything else – they might be bitter, twisted, burned-out, manipulative, or just not very like you.

2. Have more humility. Remember you don’t know the limits of your own abilities. Successful or not, if you keep pushing beyond yourself, you will enrich your own life – and maybe even please a few strangers.

3. Defend others. You can, of course, steal stories and attributes from family and friends, fill in filecards after lovemaking and so forth. It might be better to celebrate those you love – and love itself – by writing in such a way that everyone keeps their privacy and dignity intact.

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The Morland Scholarship for African Writers 2016

Applications are now open the Morland Writing Scholarship for 2016. Three scholarships of £18,000 (US $28,000) each will be awarded to fiction writers and one prize of £27,000 (US$42,000) will be awarded to a writer of non-fiction. The scholarship is open to writers who were born in Africa or whose parents were born in Africa.

About the Scholarship
This scholarship is sponsored by the Miles Morland Foundation. The foundation’s focus is culture and education with a particular interest in writing. Other projects supported by the foundation include literary festivals in Kenya, Nigeria, Uganda and Somaliland, and the Caine Prize for African Writing.

The three successful fiction applicants will each receive a grant of £18,000, paid monthly over the course of the 2016 calendar year. The successful non-fiction applicant’s scholarship will be paid over a period of 18 months. All of the scholarship recipients will also have the opportunity to be mentored by an established author or publisher.

The scholarship is intended for writers who want to write a full-length book of 80,000 words or more. To this end, the writers will be asked to submit via email 10,000 new words every month until they have finished their book. The scholarship will terminate if a writer fails to submit the required work on time without prior authorisation.

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15 Short Story Competitions to Enter Before the Year of the Year

Boston Review’s Aura Estrada Short Story Contest
is one of three contests run each year by the literary magazine.The winner of the contest will receive US$1500 and have his or her work published in the July/August 2016 issue of Boston Review. The runners-up stories may also be published. Entries close 1 October.

Calvino Prize
is an annual fiction competition sponsored by the Creative Writing Program at the University of Louisville. The prize is awarded for writing in the fabulist experimentalist style of Italo Calvino. First prize is US$1500 and publication in Salt Hill Journal. Stories must be less than 25 pages in length. Entries close 14 October.

Margaret River Short Story Writing Competition
is open to all authors of any age or nationality. Winning and shortlisted stories will be selected for publication. First prize is valued at AUD$1000 and includes $500 cash and $500 contribution towards an airfare to attend the Margaret River Readers and Writers Festival in Western Australia plus a two-week residency in Margaret River to be taken up at any time .Entries close 14 October.

London Magazine
is England’s oldest literary periodical, with a history stretching back to 1732. Entries for the magazine’s prestigious short story competition are welcomed from writers around the world. The winner will receive £500 and publication. Entries close 31 October.

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What We Look for in Unsolicted Submissions

A guest post by Kim Winternheimer, editor of The Masters Review

The Masters Review is a publication that focuses entirely on new and emerging writers, offering a quality platform for readers, agents, and editors to discover new voices. In addition to our printed anthology, we have submission opportunities year round including a short story award for new writers, workshops, and a fiction contest running throughout September and October with guest judge Jeff VanderMeer. Nearly all the stories we publish are unsolicited, which means most of our work comes from the slush pile. So how do you make your story stand out? Here’s what we look for when reading stories.

1. Clarity 

Especially at the beginning of a piece. Assume any story you submit is being read by editors who are also reading many other stories that week, day, or even hour. A difficult beginning is disastrous because it informs the reader’s opinion on the rest of the story, making her less forgiving of small errors or lulls later. The start of your story should read clearly on the sentence level and avoid too much exposition or throat clearing. Our favorite pieces show intention, finesse, and clarity from the start, and introduce the story in a way that is easy to understand, even if the piece is experimenting with structure or other style.

2. A Good Hook 

The opening line in this year’s anthology is: “Almost everyone agreed that the death of Rodrigo Bradley had been an accident.” This is a great example of a piece that begins in the action of the story. When reading a large number of submissions, it helps to begin with a plot element that immediately draws readers into the world and has them wondering: “What will happen next?”

3. Productive Ambiguity 

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