Archives For Fiction

Boulevard Short Fiction Contest for Emerging Writers

Boulevard is accepting entries for its annual short fiction contest for emerging writers. The winner will receive US$1500 and have their story published in the magazine.

Boulevard is an American literary magazine established in 1985 and based at St. Louis University in Missouri. Boulevard aims to publish the finest in fiction, poetry and non-fiction and was described by Poet Laureate Daniel Hoffman as ‘one of the half-dozen best literary journals’. The magazine has been edited throughout its history by Richard Burgin, a five-time Pushcart Prize winner.

Boulevard’s Short Fiction Contest for Emerging Writers is open worldwide to people who have not yet published a book of fiction, poetry or creative non-fiction with a nationally distributed press. Stories may be up to 8000 words and must be previously unpublished.

The 2013 contest was won by Terrance Manning Jr for his story ‘Andretti in El Camino’. The story is available to be read in full here (PDF).

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Geoff Dyer's Top 10 Tips for Writers

Geoff Dyer was described in New York Magazine as being “one of our greatest living critics, not of the arts but of life itself, and one of our most original writers – always out there beyond literary Mach 1, breaking the how-things-usually-sound barrier.” He is the author of four novels, two essay collections, and six genre-defying titles (that generally find themselves shelved among the non-fiction). His most recent book, Another Great Day at Sea: Life Aboard the USS George H.W. Bush, was published in May of this year. In 2010 Dyer shared the following writing tips with the Guardian.

  1. Never worry about the commercial possibilities of a project. That stuff is for agents and editors to fret over—or not. Conversation with my American publisher. Me: “I’m writing a book so boring, of such limited commercial appeal, that if you publish it, it will probably cost you your job.” Publisher: “That’s exactly what makes me want to stay in my job.”
  2. Don’t write in public places. In the early 1990s I went to live in Paris. The usual writerly reasons: back then, if you were caught writing in a pub in England, you could get your head kicked in, whereas in Paris, dans les cafés … Since then I’ve developed an aversion to writing in public. I now think it should be done only in private, like any other lavatorial activity.
  3. Don’t be one of those writers who sentence themselves to a lifetime of sucking up to Nabokov.
  4. If you use a computer, constantly refine and expand your autocorrect settings. The only reason I stay loyal to my piece-of-shit computer is that I have invested so much ingenuity into building one of the great auto-correct files in literary history. Perfectly formed and spelt words emerge from a few brief keystrokes: “Niet” becomes “Nietzsche,” “phoy” becomes “photography” and so on. Genius!
  5. Keep a diary. The biggest regret of my writing life is that I have never kept a journal or a diary.
  6. Have regrets. They are fuel. On the page they flare into desire.
  7. Have more than one idea on the go at any one time. If it’s a choice between writing a book and doing nothing I will always choose the latter. It’s only if I have an idea for two books that I choose one rather than the other. I always have to feel that I’m bunking off from something.
  8. Beware of clichés. Not just the clichés that Martin Amis is at war with. There are clichés of response as well as expression. There are clichés of observation and of thought—even of conception. Many novels, even quite a few adequately written ones, are clichés of form which conform to clichés of expectation.
  9. Do it every day. Make a habit of putting your observations into words and gradually this will become instinct. This is the most important rule of all and, naturally, I don’t follow it.
  10. Never ride a bike with the brakes on. If something is proving too difficult, give up and do something else. Try to live without resort to per­severance. But writing is all about perseverance. You’ve got to stick at it. In my 30s I used to go to the gym even though I hated it. The purpose of going to the gym was to postpone the day when I would stop going. That’s what writing is to me: a way of postponing the day when I won’t do it any more, the day when I will sink into a depression so profound it will be indistinguishable from perfect bliss.

Read more writing tips from Hilary MantelPaulo Coelho, Teju ColeMeg Rosoff, Joss Whedon and Neil Gaiman.

Text via The Paris Review. Photo by Jason Oddy.

Penn State University Writing Residency

Pennsylvania State University‘s Altoona Campus English Program is taking applications for a one-semester teaching residency in fiction and creative nonfiction. The program is targeted at early career writers, preferably without a published book.

The residency is designed to offer an emerging writer substantial time to write and offers a salary of $10,000 in return for teaching one general education level introduction to creative writing workshop during the Fall 2015 semester (24 August to 18 December).

The resident writer will also give a public reading, visit other creative writing courses and work informally with English major students. The hiring committee is looking for a writer with publications of fiction and creative nonfiction in literary magazines. The successful candidate typically lives in the Altoona area during the residency; benefits and housing are not included.

A Master’s degree in Creative Writing or English is required; an MFA or PhD in Creative Writing is preferred. Teaching experience is also preferred. Review of applications will begin on 1 April 1 2015 and will continue until the position is filled.

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On Treating Writing as a Form of PlayA guest post by Eli Glasman, author of The Boy’s Own Manual to Being a Proper Jew

For years before my novel was published, I felt insecure about whether or not I was a ‘real’ writer. I don’t think this is a unique anxiety amongst unpublished authors and I responded to this anxiety in the way I think many people do: I romanticised the act of writing.

I told myself that the burden of writing fiction was thrust upon me and I had no choice but to sit each night and delve into the unknown to produce works of genius. Writing like this didn’t flow easily for me. And as a result, it was hard to read. The prose were pretentious and calculated. It was clear that everything I wrote was me begging the reader to think of me as a genius.

I told myself that if it was easy to write it meant that it wasn’t any good. Good fiction needed to be sweat over. If it was hard, it meant I’d worked at it and it was worthy.

This attitude to writing was one I’d been carrying around in my head since I was a kid. On my weekends and days off, I wrote all day. It was all I thought about. I’d obsess over the stories, especially the syntax, running through sentences over and again in my head until I’d memorised them.

I have a habit of over analysing myself, but I think I obsessed over writing as a childish way to simplify things, as I was not in an emotional position to take on the complexities of life.

It felt safer to focus on this alone, as it meant I didn’t need to focus on many of the pressures we all face, such as finding a job and becoming financially independent, or worrying about the things that may have been more specific to me, such as the Crohn’s Disease and my recent decision to no longer remain an orthodox Jew.

As I’ve spoken about previously on my blog, when I started socialising and earning my own money, I found that writing didn’t need to take on the task of carrying my entire sense of self and keeping at bay my anxieties. I felt more comfortable with my life and could relax and have fun with my writing.

As a result, my writing immediately improved, because I was treating it as what it really was, which is a form of play. In not romanticising it, I could allow myself to be crap for a little while and acknowledge that it was something I needed to learn to do, rather than some pure expression that flowed flawlessly through me.

The first short story that I had published was one that I’d ‘let go’ for and allowed myself just to enjoy the writing process. Yet still, even knowing that the healthier approach was to try and enjoy it, I still fell back into old habits.

Shortly after my first short story was accepted for publication, I needed to have a small procedure due to the Crohn’s Disease, which required that I spend a few nights in hospital. Before I began the bowel prep, I received an email from the editor of Voiceworks with the final track changes on my story.

Before I started drinking the solutions, even though I’d been fasting all day, I did the edits on my story. In my head, I marked this as my commitment to writing fiction. It showed how important this was to me, how I would overcome any obstacle to pursue this craft.

In retrospect I see this as deluded and pretentious. I should have just said I was in hospital and asked for a few more weeks on the edits. I’m sure they would have been more than happy to oblige.

I now see that occasion as a lesson in what not to do. I will never force myself to write.

Now I write every few days, while thinking of my stories every day because I want to, not because I feel I have to. If I write until two in the morning it’s because I’m having fun, not because I need to validate that I’m a real writer.

I figure if I want the reader to stay up until two in the morning reading my book, I should be able to enjoy writing it until that time. I realise now that a reader will enjoy reading the novel half as much as I enjoy writing it. I need to glow as I’m writing to know a reader will feel this as they’re reading it.

I find that writing obsessively, telling myself it’s work, a burden that was thrust upon me, snuffs out that sense of fun. And I will produce a novel I wouldn’t even want to read.

More from Eli GlasmanOn How Getting a Novel Published Isn’t Just About Persistence

Eli Glasman is a Melbourne based, Jewish author. His writing has appeared in Voiceworks magazine, the Sleepers Almanac and in 2013 he placed second in the Josephine Ulrick short story competition. His debut novel, The Boy’s Own Manual to Being a Proper Jew (Sleepers Publishing), about a homosexual boy in the Melbourne orthodox Jewish community, is available now from all good Australian bookstores or online 

 


Horation Nelson Fiction Prize 2014

The Horatio Nelson Fiction Prize is awarded each year by Black Balloon Publishing. The winner of the 2014 prize will receive US$5000 and a publishing deal with Black Balloon.

The prize is for a completed, unpublished, original fiction manuscript over 50,000 words. Writers can be from any country and there are no citizenship restrictions. Both novels and short story collections may be entered.

The 2013 Horatio Nelson Fiction Prize was won by Iowan author Mike Meginnis. His novel Fat Man Little Boy was published in this month.

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“Literature deserves its prestige for one reason above all others: because it’s a tool to help us live and die with a little more wisdom, goodness and sanity.”

As writers and book lovers, we know everyone should be reading literature. But there are people who view it as frivolous and who question the value of reading novels and poems when there are so many real problems and issues happening in world. In this video The School of Life, founded by philosopher Alain de Botton and curator Sophie Howarth, explains why we should all be reading literature – and even why we should prescribe it as a cure for life’s many ailments.

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Museum of Words Flash Fiction Contest

The Cesar Egido Serrano Foundation’s fourth ‘Museum of Words’ international flash fiction contest is now accepting entries. The competition is for very short fiction pieces of up to a maximum of 100 words. The winner will receive a prize of $20,000, with three runners-up each receiving $2000.

This contest is open to writers from all countries and entries are accepted in four languages: English, Spanish, Arabic and Hebrew. The slogan for the 2014 contest is  ‘Mandela: Words and Concord’ but there are no subject or genre restrictions. All stories entered must be original and unpublished.

With such a generous prize on offer, the contest is extremely competitive. The last Museum of Words contest attracted 22,571 entries from writers in 119 countries.

The Cesar Egido Serrano Foundation is based in Spain and is a private, not-for-profit foundation. The foundation’s aim is to encourage dialogue between different cultures, ideas, religions and sensibilities.  Continue Reading…