Category Archives: Submit

Bye Bye National Poetry Month—For Now

Today is the last day of National Poetry Month 2019. I’ve enjoyed reading a poem (or two) sent to my inbox daily from POEM A DAY, and KNOPF POETRY Poem-A-Day April 2019 (you’ll need to search for Poem a Day to find this and sign up—next year.) I’d feel sad, but there are may places on the internet to find poems. Here’s a couple more addresses:


The Poetry Foundation           Loads of resources

American Verse Project          A collection of American poetry pre-1920

Contemporary American Poetry Archive   Full collections of selected poets

Poetry Society of America      Full of great info, readings and a blog

Most of the sites include audio podcasts and blogs. Every day can be national poetry day!  And if you’re reading this blog post, you probably write poetry as well. Have you searched lately for places to publish? There are many. First go to Poets and Writers for extensive listings for chapbooks, calls for manuscripts, contests and conferences. The organization will send you a weekly prompt for poetry, memoir and fiction. And they’ve got great articles, too.

Here are some other places:

Pallette Poetry

Poetry Foundation

Frontier Poetry

The Sun Magazine


It’s not over! Read and write poetry all year.

Join a group.         Take a class.       Celebrate a poet!

I’m celebrating the poet and book that set me on poetic fire as a teen:

And Let Our Two Selves Speak

For Lawrence Ferlinghetti at 100 years old

 And I am waiting for a rebirth of wonder

A Coney Island of the Mind in one hand

a cone of sugared churros in the other.

Come lie with me and be my love,

clink our glasses, a bubbling prosecco

at the top of this life

while the dog trots freely in the street

And let our two selves speak


a ring dove cooed in a cove

we kiss and take in

all the world offers:

raindrops and firestorms, madmen and kindness,

still deep lakes, and murder, weddings,

hive collapse and high rises, fake news

and novels; farmers and famine; poets

and pundits  and

have you ever stopped to consider

to wonder

the long street

filled with all the people of the world

and all the possibilities of the world

And have enough of kissing me

And have enough of waiting

perpetually and forever

a renaissance of wonder.

We carry it in our hearts.














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Must Enter To Win: Guest Post by Jan M. Flynn


One of the things I love about writing is entering competitions. There’s something about a contest that tickles me pink, sets my jello, and makes my socks roll up and down. Somewhere inside me dwells a coupon-clipping, sweepstakes-entering, percolated-coffee guzzling, curlers-in-her-hair housewife who cannot resist the chance to WIN BIG PRIZES.


 Besides, for an emerging writer like me — and I have learned the term “emerging” is the polite way of saying “newbie” — entering contests can be a great way to start broiling my professional chops. And I honestly find the process fun: researching the competitions, checking out the guidelines, choosing which of my pieces might be a good fit or writing something specifically for that competition. I feel a rush as I complete my submission, polish up my cover letter, and hit “send.”


images-2Yes, my work will be judged. The odds are that it won’t win. But that’s another advantage to the process: it strengthens my I-can-take-the-rejection-no-problem muscle, vital to any working writer. I figure every rejection, including every contest entry that gets a “thank you but nah” response is another notch in my belt, another step toward a big yes.

And hey, you can’t win if you don’t enter, right? I know, I know, that kind of thinking is responsible for mega jackpots in Powerball and we all know our chances of getting hit by lightening while being trapped inside an elevator with George Clooney are way better than winning Powerball.

But a writing competition is not a lottery; at least, the credible ones aren’t. If you follow the submission guidelines carefully, your work will actually be read and evaluated by someone. A built-in win, in my opinion. In a very few cases, you may even get a critique, or at least an opinion, of your piece. Also huge for us emerging types, or, really, any writer.

Having said that, it’s important to exercise good judgment. There are competitions and competitions, you see. Some are legit and some are scams, and writer beware. Some contests charge entry or “reading” fees, anywhere from $5 to $50, and while there are perfectly legitimate and highly-regarded contests that do so (Glimmer Train, one of the most respected and prestigious competitions out there, comes to mind) it’s best to be wary. Do your research before you fork over your work or your money.

How, you ask? Thankfully, there are some very helpful websites and organizations that can point you to legitimate competitions, although the ultimate responsibility always rests with you. I’ve listed three below as a for-instance.

Writer’s Digest Competions — Every writer’s go-to resource, Writer’s Digest sponsors a number of annual contests, with very attractive prizes that can include cash, publication, and even attendance at their annual conference if you really hit the jackpot with a grand prize. Entries do require a fee, but they’re reasonable and sometimes will even come with a bonus such as free attendance in one of their Writer’s Digest University webinars.

wd-popfiction-icon-Copy-Copy1-113x113And this is where I get to brag: my short story Stuffy won First Prize in the Young Adult category of the Writer’s Digest Popular Fiction Awards in December, 2015. I can’t tell you what a boost that’s been to my confidence and what a fabulous antidote it’s proven to be for what I like to call “submission reluctance.”

Poets & Writers — P&W, another mainstay for writers both pro and aspiring, offers an excellently vetted month-by-month calendar of competitions from publishers, literary journals, and magazines. A lot of the contests tend to focus on literary fiction and, of course, poetry rather than genre fiction. A great place to start researching.

Cathy’s Comps and Calls — A wonderfully useful listing of competitions and calls for submission, all of which can be entered for free online. Whoever Cathy is, she is my new BFF. I think she’s in the UK, and many of the listed opportunities are UK or Europe-based but even so they’re usually open to us Yanks. She posts opportunities in three categories: competitions, submission with deadlines, and submissions without deadlines. And she cautions us to research carefully, as her info may not be up to date. It’s a great resource, and I’ve found lots of submission opportunities by checking out her site.

In fact, that’s how I discovered the Binnacle Short-Short Story Competition. The Binnacle is the literary journal from the University of Maine at Machias, and to the best of my understanding its general submissions are usually only open to students, faculty and alum. This contest, however, is open to all. The challenge is to submit a story of 150 words or less.

A hundred and fifty words? That’s crazy! I couldn’t resist the dare. So I offer you my entry, Toro, which clocks in at 146 words including the title, below:



The bull paused, its sides heaving, blood streaming from its nose. Its head bobbed; the barbed banderillas had shredded its neck muscles.

The crowd hushed. The matador readied his long sword.

The mantilla-draped woman sitting ringside lifted her hand. The matador’s peripheral vision caught the strange gesture: a blessing? He stepped forward, flourishing the scarlet muleta.

The bull charged. The sword flashed, the woman wove her spell, and things changed.

The matador stumbled on all fours, neck and shoulders throbbing, breathing labored. He staggered toward the poised figure. With agonizing effort, he raised his massive head enough to glimpse the suit of lights, to recognize the face as his own.

Except for the eyes. In their liquid depths he saw the bull regarding him as it raised the sword.

The kill was clean. The woman lifted her mantilla, smiling as the crowd roared its approval.

# # #

Win or lose, writing that piece was a great exercise in concision and distilling a story down to its essentials — both challenges for me. So, bon chance to me, and to you too!


   Jan M. Flynn




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Contests: A Career Launch Pad?



Do you know hundreds of writing contests are held every year? Some contests award cash prizes, some publication of your entry and many promote winners through ceremonies, media and social media. And all come with opportunities for winners to network with judges and other writers.

The pros of entering contests:

Confidence:  Winning gives you confidence; winning money makes your day!

Contacts:   Making the short-list puts your work in front of influencers: editors, publishers, and important authors. Glimmer Train publishes the long and short lists from its monthly contests.

Discipline:   Learning to meet deadlines is a plus in the publishing world. Also taking time away from your novel while you research and enter contests gives you fresh eyes for revision when you get back.

Prestige:  If you win a prestigious contest it goes a long way to helping you get noticed in your query letter.

Publication: Having your entry published in a magazine, anthology, blog website or book may be a benefit for finalists and winners.

The Cons of entering contests:

Fees: If your contest isn’t prestigious, the risk may cost too much. The good news, most entry fees are low.

Exclusivity:   Often while the work is being judged, you can’t submit it anywhere else.

No prestige:   Little known contests may pay a small prize but won’t offer you a leg up in your career.

Rejection: Just because your piece didn’t place doesn’t make you a loser! It might have been short-listed and not announced. Believe that the work will eventually win or publish. It’s a numbers game.



I’m all for entering contests. If you’re just starting out writing, shifting to a new genre, or kicking-up a stalled writing career, contests can be a real boon. They’re a place to test the waters of your work. If you do your homework and become familiar with the editorial slants of the contest sponsors and judges, you’ll learn about new journals, new books, new poets, etc., which may benefit you in the future. Think of this strategy as your long game. You’ll never know when you’ll have a win unless you try it.


In a 2015 Poets and Writers article on contests, staff writers interviewed nine popular judges including Dinty W. Moore and the Glimmer Train team: Susan Burmeister-Brown and Linda Swanson-Davies asking what they look for in entries and what advice they had for entrants.

What Judges look for:       

  • Stories that are absorbing—that make the reader want to read them straight through.

  • Work that shines—work that’s had the throat clearing          edited out, as well as the flabby over-inflated sentences—especially in the hook.

  •  A distinctive voice.

  •  Work that catches the reader up into John Gardner’s waking dream.

  •  Original work, not emulations of other writers.

  •  Poetry that doesn’t include cliches, clumsy metaphors or shallow emotional or intellectual engagement.

  • Work that demonstrates the mission of the specific sponsoring press.

  • Work that is error free.

  • Heightened, textural language.

  • Works that are unusual in ambition and execution—fresh


If you plan to enter contests heed the judges’ advice:

 Write good work.

  • Submit only your best, well-edited work.

  • Research your contests. Who is sponsoring and what do they look for? Read several issues of the publications before submitting. You can increase your odds by making sure you know what a magazine or press might take.

  • Get to know the judges for the same reasons. What did they write? While judges’ taste isn’t predictable, you can use the contest to get your work in front of writers you admire and possibly start a longer kind of dialog.

  • Read the work of the prior year winners.

  • Submit work that is written in a typescript easy on the eyes.

  • It isn’t always just about winning—other benefits might surface such as making important connections.

  • Don’t aim too high: work your way up as your writing improves. Literary careers are built in increments.


My advice:

You’re not going to win if you don’t enter.        

Look for contests where judges critique your entry. Learn from your mistakes.

What have you got to lose?


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