The Masters Review Blog

Jan 8

Last Week To Submit: Winter Short Story Award For New Writers

It’s a new year, and one of the things we are most looking forward to in 2018 is discovering great fiction from emerging writers. To kick it all off, our Winter Short Story Award for New Writers closes in a week. So, send us your best stories under 7000 words by January 15. The winner receives $3000, publication, and agency review. Second and third place stories will earn publication and $200 and $100 respectively.Winners and honorable mentions will be reviewed by: Nat Sobel from Sobel Weber, Victoria Cappello from The Bent Agency, Andrea Morrison from Writers House, and Mark Gottlieb from Trident Media. Oh, yeah. Read the full guidelines here.


Jan 5

New Voices: “Private Affair” by D.S. Englander

Today, we are thrilled to publish “Private Affair” by New Voices author D.S. Englander. In this quiet and powerful story, a man feels fiercely protective of his wife, who is receiving threatening letters from one of her students. This is complicated by the man’s reflections on his own history with women.

“He had met Ali in his early thirties after a long lonely stretch of years. She had changed his life. He felt only horror at the thought that she could somehow be hurt or taken from him.”

A light breeze played through the windows of the Subaru, and it felt refreshing to Desalt, who was visibly perspiring behind the steering wheel. It was hot, hotter than was normal for May. He tried to inch a little closer to the gearshift, to escape the sun’s glare, but that didn’t do much. The whole parking lot was baking.

He watched the doors to the school, where his wife would appear. Presently, it was mobbed with activity. Teenaged boys were filing out, dressed in khaki pants and oxford shirts. It was a uniform that he thought marked them for future corporate lives. Some wore blazers, and Desalt noticed two boys with white ball caps pulled low on their brows, as if they were a pair of executives about to hit the links. He pulled the lever on his seat back in disgust, and reclined just enough to give the tightness that had been bothering him lately in his lower back some relief. He tried closing his eyes against the sun’s glare, but that didn’t work.

The school was a brick building with little flourishes and buttresses from another century, three, four stories high. From where he sat, Desalt could see the curtains billowing in the high, second-floor windows, perhaps in one of the classrooms where his wife taught. It was a pretty building, capped off with an old-fashioned clock tower, complete with roman numerals and handsome greenish metal. Yet, even in the full bloom of May, there was something a little foreboding about the school. Perhaps it was the generations of students who had passed through its doors, the sum total of old exertions and humiliations.

He watched the students form a loose column to the flat roofed athletic building, at the end of the parking lot. They were hapless as they walked through the parked cars, oblivious to his presence in the driver seat of the Subaru. He imagined they would drift through their lives in a similar fashion, hardly aware: to college, their first jobs, straight up through middle management. Even as he thought this, he knew it wasn’t true either.

Some were probably his wife’s students. While he had listened to Ali describe her students, and even remembered names, he would never be able to match those names up to faces. In any case, he couldn’t think one generous thought about these kids. One of them may be the one threatening his wife, leaving lewd notes and promises of violence.

To read the rest of “Private Affair” click here.

Jan 1

January Deadlines: 15 Lit Mags & Contests with Deadlines This Month

Happy 2018, everyone! Anything could be around the corner—including these contests. Hold on to the promise of a fresh new year, and submit your work for consideration!

FEATURED! Winter Short Story Award for New Writers

This one is our own contest, and it’s featured for so many good reasons! The Masters Review is looking for stories under 7000 words, written by emerging writers who have a way with words and a love for language! The winner receives $3000, publication, and agency review, and the runners-up also receive cash prizes, publication, and review. Don’t let this chance slip by! Details here.
Entry Fee: $20 Deadline: January 15

Poetry and Fiction Prizes

This is a compilation of Bayou Magazine’s two wonderful awards, the James Knudsen Prize for Fiction and the Kay Murphy Prize for Poetry! Fiction entries, judged by Kiese Laymon, should be less than 7500 words, and poetry entries, judged by the titular Kay Murphy (!), may include up to three poems. The winners will both receive $1000, and all entries will be considered for publication. Check it out!
Entry Fee: $20 Deadline: January 1

The 2018 MR Prize

Awarded through Mississippi Review, this prize is available to prose writers and poets alike! Winners receive $1000 and publication for the categories of poetry, fiction, and nonfiction. Prose entries should be 1000-8000 words, and poetry should be less than 10 pages, but there is no limit on the number of entries! Learn more here.
Entry Fee: $16 Deadline: January 1

Christopher Doheny Award

As a memorial to Chris Doheny, this contest is looking for excellence in fiction or creative nonfiction on the topic of serious medical illness. The award includes $10,000, production of the book in an audio edition, and promotion. Entries need to include a bibliography of previously published work, a personal statement, a synopsis, and the full manuscript. Get started here.
Entry Fee: FREE Deadline: January 2

Glimmer Train Family Matters Contest

This is the annual installment of Glimmer Train’s Family Matters contest! It’s open to all writers, writing about families of all configurations, and entries can run from 1000 to 12,000 words. The winner receives $2500, the runner-up receives $700, and both are published in Glimmer Train Stories. Authors receive 10 copies of that issue. Submission guidelines here.
Entry Fee: $18 Deadline: January 2

Glimmer Train Very Short Fiction Contest

Don’t worry, this isn’t déjà vu! Glimmer Train currently has two contests open, and this one is specifically for short fiction! The contest is open to all writers, but entries must be between 300 and 3000 words. First place is $2000 and publication, as well as 10 copies of that issue. Submit here!
Entry Fee: $16 Deadline: January 2

Steinbeck Fellowships in Creative Writing

The Steinbeck Fellows Program of San José State University, endowed by Martha Heasley Cox, is looking for emerging writers of any age and background! Their creative writing fellowship accepts work in fiction, drama, creative nonfiction, and biography (but not in poetry). Accepted fellows will receive a $10,000 stipend, interaction with other writers and faculty, and monthly readings. Each application needs to include a prospectus, resumé, three letters of recommendation, and a writing sample. Learn more here!
Entry Fee: FREE Deadline: January 2

Tony Hillerman Prize

If you’ve ever wondered what to do with your unpublished murder mystery manuscript, there couldn’t be a more perfect contest than this! Sponsored by St. Martin’s Press and Western Writers of America, this annual prize awards $10,000 and publication to the winning author’s entry. The story’s central theme needs to be the solution for a serious crime, it must be set in the American Southwest, and it must be longer than 220 pages. What are you waiting for? Submit here!
Entry Fee: FREE Deadline: January 2

Desert Writers Award

Established to honor the memory of Ellen Meloy, the Ellen Meloy Fund for Desert Writers is devoted to creative nonfiction work about the desert. The Fund provides support to writers whose work brings deeper meaning to the body of desert literature, awarding $5000 every spring! To be considered, entrants must include the completed application form, a biographical statement, a project proposal, and a 10-page writing sample. More details here!
Entry Fee: FREE Deadline: January 15


Dec 22

Happy Holidays!

Wishing you all a happy and healthy holiday season! We are currently reading stories for our Fall Fiction Contest, which will announce on or before January 12, 2018, and don’t forget our current submissions opportunities, which you can find here. And lastly, stay tuned for the return of our regular blog schedule, beginning after the New Year. Until then, Happy Holidays!

Dec 15

New Voices: “Demonman” by Julialicia Case

Today, we are proud to present “Demonman” by Julialicia Case, the winner of our Summer Short Story Award for New Writers. We have never read a story quite like this powerful piece. It takes a few moments to recalibrate to the world in this story, but its horrors address some very real issues. In “Demonman” our eleven-year-old narrator corresponds with her teenage sister, who was the victim of a serial rapist, through a series of emojis. This is a story that will stay with you.

“Was Laura here? Did he really bring her all the way down here? Laura is beautiful the way a knife is beautiful, with thin sharpness and fierce edges. We’re too old now for wrestling, but I remember trying to hold her, fighting that muscle, losing to her strength. The old Laura would bite and twist forever. At what point in the forest did the old Laura become the new one? I search the rhododendrons for dark strands of her hair.”

I am eleven the spring Demonman comes, first to the alley behind the Kroger, where the dumpsters reek like fermented orange juice, then to the train tracks by the boarded-up video store, then to the Harding mansion, still for sale, then to a snot-colored van with flattened tires. He comes to our nightmares, our whispered worries, to newspapers and televisions and notices in the post office. He’s called something else, a different name, although, of course, he is still Demonman. Since the shootings upstate, the police struggle with the race riots, but they claim to be searching for him, following the leads.

“We are confident,” police say on the news. “We are narrowing in.” But everyone has seen cell phone videos of crazy police shootings. They are as afraid and angry as we are.

“The world is ending,” my mother says. She hangs raspberry leaves for drying, and looks to my father who dreams of robots.

“I’m wondering,” he says, “whether self-driving cars let you sit in the driver’s seat.” He spins a micro-screwdriver around his thumb.

Then Demonman comes to our bike path and our forest, to the white pines with the biggest pinecones, between the first bridge and the second one. He comes to the place where my sister, Laura, and I learned to rollerblade, where our mother gathers red clover for sunspot salve, and where our father pretends to go with his recumbent on Saturdays. Demonman comes when Laura is running, practicing for cross-country, when the sun is out and the glint of other people’s windows shines through the trees. The laughter at the duck pond is loud enough she can hear it, and she screams and claws and throws up on her shirt. Demonman wins. Of course he wins.

“Were you wearing headphones?” the policewoman asks her. “Were you by yourself?”

Laura goes into the room with the metal door. She gives them her sports bra and her fingernails. Then she doesn’t speak again. Demonman keeps her voice, and my parents buy me a phone.

“At all times,” my mother says. “I want it with you at all times.”

All the girls have phones like mine, now, sudden gifts from our parents. We have two kinds of hearts: fire hearts and water hearts. The water girls stay inside with their computers and magazines. They write in their journals and read us their poems. They want to walk us home, want to whisper in suffocating groups. They get flooded up and take turns crying. The fire girls cannot sit still. We wriggle at our desks. We fingernail our pencil erasers into scraps of rubber. We break bottles and rip paper, spend satisfying hours demolishing bubble wrap. Our bicycles call to us. Surely our meadows and pastures would not turn against us. We feel Demonman watching in the late spring thunderstorms. His eyes flicker and flash with the lightning. He doesn’t care what’s inside our hearts.

To continue reading “Demonman” click here.

Dec 12

Editors’ Favorite Books To Give as Gifts

Still looking for the perfect gift for your various in-laws, your significant other, your best friend, your niece—anyone, really? Well, we asked the editors of some of our favorite literary magazines to share some of their favorite books to give as gifts. We ended up with an eclectic and awesome list. We are tempted to go out and get these all for ourselves, but that wouldn’t quite be in the spirit of the season. Enjoy this list and thanks to all the awesome editors who contributed.

Emma Komlos-Hrobsky, Tin House: My Life in France by Julia Child & The Egypt Game by Zilpha Keatley Snyder

Julia Child’s My Life in France is both my most re-read and most gifted book. From its opening pages, as Child narrates her 1948 arrival at the port of Le Havre—her beloved station wagon the Blue Flash dangles from her ship’s freight crane—and her first tastes of sole meuniereMy Life in France is pure pleasure. It’s impossible to read the book without Child’s warbly falsetto in one’s head, cooing and trilling her descriptions of her surly French ladyladies, her early culinary forays, and most of all her beloved Paul. Their marriage is one for the ages, one of devotion and mutual support that radiates through Child’s account. (It’s also interesting to get Julia’s side of the story on the erosion of her relationship with her Mastering the Art of French Cooking co-authors; one senses more ego on her part than I might’ve otherwise thought.) Perfect reading for those who love cooking or love Julia, but just as much for anyone in search of a dose of joie de vivre. And for grade- or middle- school-aged readers, I can’t recommend Zilpha Keatley Snyder’s under-read classic The Egypt Game highly enough; it’s got compelling mystery, a savvy (and diverse) cast of kid protagonists, and a darkness and complexity that takes its young audience seriously. Perfect for Harriet the Spy fans searching for their next fix.

Laura Spence-Ash, CRAFT: Bright Dead Things by Ada Limón

Bright Dead Things by Ada Limón. I love Ada Limón’s poems. There’s something so honest, so fresh, and so alive about her work. Each poem tells a story, usually with an unexpected turn towards the end. This is a book of poetry that’s a wonderful gift for those who love poetry but also for those who aren’t so sure. By the time they’ve read this book, they’ll be hooked.

Tara Laskowski, SmokeLong Quarterly: The Gift of Fear by Gavin de Becker

This is an odd one, but the first thing that came to mind is The Gift of Fear by Gavin de Becker. I first read this book in college and it has stuck with me for many years. His advice about trusting your instincts and learning how to take care of yourself is spot-on. This book discusses how to fend off creepy advances, break off ties with exes, deal with stalkers, and how to act in scary or vulnerable situations. I’ve given this book to many friends over the years. Sadly, it’s especially timely now—but then again, it’s always been especially timely.

Ashley Farmer, Juked: Fever Dogs by Kim O’Neil

Right now, Fever Dogs, the debut collection by Kim O’Neil, is at the top of my list. This stunning, evocative book about three generations of women will appeal to a wide audience (and writer-friends will admire the wholly unique voice and the dazzling sentence-level dynamics).

Lena Valencia, One Story: The Driver’s Seat by Muriel Spark

The Driver’s Seat opens with Lise, the slightly unhinged protagonist, berating a salesgirl in a dress shop for attempting to sell her a dress with stainless fabric (“Do you think I spill things on my clothes?”). From there, we follow Lise on her doomed vacation, which we learn, early on in the book, will be where she spends the last days of her life. This slim little thriller isn’t for everyone, but those with a flair for the morbid will appreciate Muriel Spark’s black humor, sharp dialogue, and the clever way she uses Lise’s character to explore ideas of victimhood and agency.

Josh Roark, Frontier Poetry: Calling a Wolf a Wolf by Kaveh Akbar

People have an easy conception of poetry as overly-dense, opaque, elite—but Akbar blows that up. His fresh body imagery in Calling a Wolf a Wolf abuts a raw commentary on addiction and self-loss that anyone can connect to, especially younger people. If I were to give poetry to any of my friends who don’t care about poetry, I’d give them Calling.

Sadye Teiser, The Masters Review: My Mother She Killed Me, My Father He Ate Me: Forty New Fairy Tales edited by Kate Bernheimer

I love to give this thick, magical anthology as a gift. Kate Bernheimer has collected and edited forty contemporary takes on the classic fairy tale form. There is just about no grownup who doesn’t appreciate a good fairy tale, be it whimsical, gruesome, or both. This anthology features stories by authors such as Aimee Bender, Kevin Brockmeier, and Kelly Link. Plus, it makes an excellent coffee table book.

Dec 8

The Masters Review: A Year In Stories

Oh, the holidays. This is a time to look back and reflect on the year that is (mostly) behind us. Well, especially this year, our favorite way to do that is by rereading the wonderful stories we have published by (mostly) emerging writers. Today, we present all of the fiction and nonfiction that debuted on the site in 2017. From a story about a mysterious string of drownings afflicting the teenagers of a town, to a contribution from the great Lydia Davis, to an essay about smoking and the effects it has on one woman’s family—we’re proud of the varied and accomplished collection of writing we have published this year. We can’t wait to see what these authors do in the years to come. So join us for a look back through the 2017 archives.

The Devil is a Liar by Nana Nkweti (December 2017 – Summer Short Story Award Winner!)

Iron Boy Kills the Devil by Sheldon Costa (November 2017 – Summer Short Story Award Winner!)

A Pack a Day by Betty Jo Buro (November 2017)

Katie Flew Again Tonight by Trent England (October 2017)

Hunt and Catch by Jac Jemc (October 2017 – Featured Fiction)

Out and Out by Latifa Ayad (September 2017 – Flash Fiction Contest Winner!)

Lions in the House by Beejay Silcox (September 2017 – Flash Fiction Contest Winner!)

The Wheelchair by Mahreen Sohail (September 2017 – Flash Fiction Contest Winner!)

The Cock in Cadwalader Heights by Ariel Delgado Dixon (August 2017)

Balter Cafe by Elle Flythe (August 2017)

Road Trip by Rachel Attias (July 2017)

For Danny, Twelve Years Old by Lucas Loredo (June 2017)

Longshore Drift by Scott Broker (June 2017)

The Visitor by Lydia Davis (June 2017 – Featured Fiction)

Operation by Scott Gloden (May 2017 – Winter Short Story Award Winner!)

White Out by Caitlin O’Neil (May 2017 – Winter Short Story Award Winner!)

Malheur Refuge by Rick Attig (May 2017 – Winter Short Story Award Winner!)

Everything is Fine by Alissa Johnson (April 2017)

According to Their Kinds by Kit Haggard (April 2017)

Night Beast by Ruth Joffre (March 2017 – Fall Fiction Contest Winner!)

Family, Family by Jeannine Ouellette (March 2017 – Fall Fiction Contest Winner!)

Good Creatures, Small Things by Cate Fricke (February 2017 – Fall Fiction Contest Winner!)

My Sam and I by Nick Fuller Googins (February 2017)

The Drownings by Brenda Peynado (January 2017)

Babyland by Steve Edwards (January 2017)

Dec 5

The Masters Review Volume VI Is Here!

Happy December, everyone. We could not be more thrilled to have The Masters Review Volume VI with stories selected by Roxane Gay in hand this month. Physical copies have found their homes with readers, and there is nothing more rewarding than getting positive feedback on these ten stories by incredible emerging writers. If you’re interested in ordering a copy of your own, you can do so here. We are so excited that we wanted to share the collection’s first story, “A Man Stands Tall” by Gabriel Moseley, with you here.

Roxane Gay had this to say about Gabriel’s story: “And the audacity of the ending, the fierceness of it, made me put the stack of stories and essays down and just stare out the window at the clouds. A few minutes later I read the story again, and again and my goodness, my appreciation for the work only grew. If I could put into words how that story has made me feel since I first read it, that is what I would say every time I am asked what I am looking for.”

“A Man Stands Tall” by Gabriel Moseley



By the time the boy neared home, the sun was already sinking toward the snow-dusted ridge of the Bitterroot Mountains. He walked through the meadow slowly, cradling his right hand with his left. The cameraman, dressed all in black, followed the boy like a distant shadow—always present, but unobtrusive. The sound of wood chopping echoed through the valley. When he got closer to the log cabin, the boy paused. He rubbed away the last trace of tears from his eyes and slid his injured hand beneath his sleeve.

As the boy approached, Tom raised and swung his axe in one smooth motion, splitting the log below into two even chunks. The boy stood there, waiting, but Tom said nothing. He set another log on the chopping block, without looking at his son. He had already chopped more than enough wood for the day, but he wanted to teach his son a lesson.

“Sorry I’m late,” Ajay said.

“Sorry doesn’t chop wood.”

The cameraman circled around them with soft, measured steps, adjusting the angle of his shot. They did not pay attention to his movements. After three months of being on the show, of living under near constant observation, they had gotten better at pretending that the cameramen were no more remarkable than dirt.

“I’ll chop twice my share tomorrow,” Ajay said, keeping his arm behind him.

“Where were you?”

“Playing in the foothills. We lost track of time.”

“Don’t let it happen again,” Tom said. He lifted the axe over his shoulder, resting the wooden haft against his neck. “You understand me?”

Ajay nodded.

“Good. Go help your mother with dinner.”

As his son climbed up the steps to their log cabin, Tom’s expression softened. One of the main reasons he’d wanted to be on Homesteaders in the first place was to toughen up his son. The idea of the show was simple: three modern families uproot and live for six months like genuine Montana pioneers. No competition, no reality show scripted fakery, no one-on-one confessions to the cameras—just well-documented rustic living. And it was already doing his son good. Instead of staring at screens all day, his son, his chubby, fourteen-year-old, videogame-addicted son, was now exploring the wilderness, with real friends. The Duke boys were polite and they were athletes—they were not digital avatars. Not zeros and ones. Thanks to the show, Ajay’s face was already less soft, his arms less bat-winged, his skin a darker shade of pale.

Tom heaved the axe, pulling force from deep in his legs. He felt the intense yet simple pleasure of the thing as the log cracked apart and the bit of the blade sank deep into the chopping block. At a physical level, it was better than anything from his normal line of work, selling Audis. This was different—something he felt with his bones. With his newly calloused hands. He stared out at the horizon, at the humbling immensity of the distant mountains, and he listened. He listened to the steady hum of crickets, to the quiet rush of the stream cutting through the woods behind his cabin. He could already smell the rabbit stew being cooked inside. Rabbits he had trapped and skinned himself. Vegetables he had grown on his own land.

To continue reading “A Man Stands Tall” click here.

Dec 1

New Voices: “The Devil is a Liar” by Nana Nkweti

Today, we are pleased to share with you the second place winner of our Short Story Award for New Writers: “The Devil is a Liar” by Nana Nkweti. This story is told from the alternating perspectives of a mother and her adult daughter. It examines the differences, and similarities, between how each woman experiences her faith as the daughter is faced with a difficult decision after learning about a possible complication with her pregnancy. 

“After the call ends, Glory begins a catchall, cover-all prayer, infused with every blessing she has ever wanted for her only living child. But above all, she hopes her prayers will fortify her too-strong daughter whose voice—muttering “goodbye”—had been so breathy and fragile, one of wind chimes forlorn and tinkling in an airless room.”

There are hymns, there are hosannas, there are hallelujahs. There are some who are struck dumb in His presence and those who are newborn linguists—speaking in tongues. Eyes roll heavenward, limbs grow palsied, tears—of joy, of penitence, of defiance—are shed. Through this sound, this fury; Sister Glory Ngassa, Minister of Music for the New Africa International Church of the Holy Redeemer, Brooklyn Battalion, is praying fervently. Her voice, once whispery, rises, then rises again as she sways to the unsung chorus moving the faithful, twenty-person flock present for service that Sunday morning. And faithful they are to the fledgling church—its sanctuary, the front room of a dusty, Brooklyn apartment, a donated space still under a slow-going renovation which has spanned from Easter Sunday the year prior into an unknown future—unto the end of days, perhaps.

The congregation is sanguine in their shared burdens. Tried and tested; they will not be found lacking. So one had to watch one’s step on the unfinished floorboards; a mere reminder that Jesus himself was a carpenter, a man who knew the grain of cedar, of poplar, of acacia, and even of the bitterest wormwood. So the single-paned windows were unsealed and unshielding; their translucent tarp coverings fluttered in the draft like a host of angels’ wings. Yes, the congregants of the New Africa International Church of the Holy Redeemer know they are blessed. Their leader, Man of God, Pastor Godlove Akondeng, had journeyed all the way from church headquarters in Cameroon to share his special anointing. That very moment, the good pastor is laying hands on the forehead of Brother William—timbering all six feet of the man into the waiting arms of Sister Anna, chanting, “By the Spirit of Christ. By the Body of Christ. By the Blood of Christ.” Raining down rapid-fire holy fire to break the ancestral curses that had kept the good brother from receiving his promotion, his increase.

Now, Sister Matilda walks up haltingly with her husband. Unequally yoked these two, yet twined and twinned to each other in a Siamese lockstep. She, crutching herself against him in deference to a newly acquired limp. He, clutching her piety to him like a security blanket, eyes darting then downcast, seemingly evincing a sudden bashfulness at the knowledge that Glory, and all those present, know that he was the one who had hobbled his wife, disordered her steps. Pastor Godlove takes hold of the man. He prays, shouts, commands the evil spirit possessing the husband to release him. Release him in the name of God the Father, release him in the name of the Holy Spirit, release him, Jehovah-jireh; thy will be done.

And now music. Now songs of praise and thanksgiving.

Glory steps forward. She pushes up her +1.5 drugstore reading glasses—perhaps it is time for +2?—and peers down at her hand-assembled hymnal, the photocopied fruit of her labors to harvest gospel songs from back home, from across the continent: Nigeria’s Joe Praize, Cameroon’s Tribute Sisters, the Soweto Gospel Choir.

“Jesus we love you, Lord. You don make my life betta. I go de thank you for evamore, thank you Baba,” sings the congregation, keeping time by the baton of Glory’s pointer finger, tap-tapping notes in the air. She is gratified. There is no instrumental accompaniment to this chorus of warbling voices—Sister Anna is always flat!—yet she knows to her marrow that their voices are pleasing to He who matters utmost.

To read the rest of “The Devil is a Liar” click here.

Nov 29

December Deadlines: 14 Literary Magazines and Contests with Deadlines This Month

If you don’t feel up to braving the weather, you can build your endurance by braving these literary challenges instead! Screw your courage to the sticking place and send in your submissions!

ONGOING! Winter Short Story Award for New Writers

Our own contest isn’t ending anytime soon, but that just gives you more of an opportunity to get started! The Masters Review is looking for stories under 7000 words, written by emerging writers who have a way with words and a love for language! The winner receives $3000, publication, and agency review, and the runners-up also receive cash prizes, publication, and review. Don’t let this chance slip by! Details here.
Entry Fee: $20 Deadline: January 15

Foglifter Submissions

Here is a great opportunity for daring and thoughtful writers, as your work could be published in Foglifter! This is the entry period for the upcoming spring edition, and they’re interested queering form and perspective, with cross-genre, intersectional, marginal, and transgressive works. Include a 50 word bio, and be ready to send in a photo if accepted! Submit here.
Entry Fee: FREE Deadline: December 1

Provincetown Fellowship

Given by the Fine Arts Work Center, this is a seven-month residency for writers in the emerging stages of their careers. The five poets and five fiction authors chosen will receive a monthly $750 stipend, as well as a living/work space. Writers who have published a full-length book are unfortunately not eligible. Applicants must send in a writing sample, a current CV, and an optional personal statement. There is a lot of competition, but there is no great reward without risk! Don’t miss it!
Entry Fee: $50 Deadline: December 1

Stegner Fellowship

This astounding fellowship is offered to ten writers through Stanford University, five in poetry and five in literary fiction, and the winners receive a yearly living stipend of $26,000 for two years, tuition, workshops, and other events. They’re looking for writers who are diverse in experience and style, who have talent and the ability to focus. You’ll need two contacts for recommendations, a statement of plans, and a manuscript up to 9000 words, but this could be your shot! Learn more here.
Entry Fee: $85 Deadline: December 1

W. Y. Boyd Literary Award for Excellence in Military Fiction

There are some very specific contests out there, and this is one of them! Administered by the American Library Association, this award honors the best fiction published in the last year that was set in a time when the United States was at war. It recognizes the service of American veterans and military personnel, although the incidences of war may only function as the setting of the story. All entries are judged on the excellence of writing and attention to detail. The winning entrant will receive $5000 and a gold-framed citation of achievement. More details here.
Entry Fee: FREE Deadline: December 1

Chautauqua Prize

This competition is a daring gauntlet run by the Chautauqua Institute, but the reward at the end is worth the work! A $7500 prize and one-week residency is awarded to an author of a book of original fiction or narrative nonfiction that was published this year. They accept all books published in 2017, from short story collections to memoirs. Could this be you? Do it!
Entry Fee: $75 Deadline: December 15


Nov 28

Our Winter Short Story Award for New Writers Is Open!

It is that time of year again. The days are short, the nights are cold. It is the season to spend time inside with loved ones and good stories. Our Winter Short Story Award for New Writers is open to submissions now through January 15. This is one of our most popular categories. The winner receives $3000, publication on The Masters Review site, and review from multiple agencies. The second and third place stories receive $100 and $200, respectively, publication, and agency review. This is a great opportunity for emerging writers. We have included some guidelines below, but you can find all the details here.

||| SUBMIT NOW |||


  • Winner receives $3000, publication, and agency review
  • Second and third place prizes ($200/$100, publication, and agency review)
  • Stories under 7000 words
  • Previously unpublished stories only
  • Simultaneous and multiple submissions allowed
  • Emerging writers only (We are interested in offering a larger platform to new writers. Self-published writers and writers with story collections and novels with a small circulation are welcome to submit. Writers with works published with a circulation of less than 5000 copies can also submit)
  • International submissions allowed
  • $20 entry fee
  • Deadline: Jan 15, 2018
  • Please no identifying information on your story
  • All stories are considered for publication
Nov 27

Interview: Carmen Maria Machado

We were thrilled to have the chance to interview the talented Carmen Maria Machado. Her debut short story collection, Her Body And Other Parties, has been met with much-deserved acclaim and was recently shortlisted for The National Book Award. In one of her stories, a woman always wears a green ribbon around her neck, with the understanding that others aren’t meant to touch it. In another, a writer meets an otherworldly cast of characters at a residency. Machado’s voice is wholly unique. Here, we talk to her about her influences and what we can look forward to seeing from her next.

“I honestly just wondered if it would be possible to write a short story in the form of episode capsule summaries, where the episodes could function autonomously or as part of a larger narrative.”

First of all, I have to say that I really enjoyed your debut collection. The stories are wholly unique, and they are tinged with all sorts of different genres: fairy tales, ghost stories, horror, dystopian fiction. So I have to ask: Who are your influences? What do you love to read? 

Thank you so much! My influences are pretty wide-ranging. Some are obvious: Kelly Link, Karen Russell, Shirley Jackson, Angela Carter, Helen Oyeyemi. Some are set a little deeper in my past: Ray Bradbury, Lois Duncan, John Bellairs, Louis Sachar, Roald Dahl, Gabriel García Márquez.

I will follow that up with: what are some of your favorite scary stories?

Shirley Jackson’s “The Tooth,” Adam Nevill’s “Where Angels Come In,” Angela Carter’s “The Bloody Chamber,” Victor LaValle’s “The Ballad of Black Tom.”

There are a lot of darker elements to your stories, but one of them is that many of the female protagonists are denied control over their own bodies. The wife in “The Husband Stitch” asks for only one private thing: that her husband not touch the green ribbon that is always tied around her neck. But, her husband cannot accept this. In “Real Women Have Bodies,” women begin to literally fade to nothing, and no one can explain it or help them. In “Eight Bites,” a woman who undergoes bariatric surgery is haunted by the ghost of the parts of herself she has given up (if you would agree with this description). This seems like a very intentional theme of the collection (it is even echoed in the title). Can you tell me more about the process behind it? 

It’s less intentional than you think! The fact is, women are denied control of their own bodies in a horrific number of ways, and so it makes a lot of sense that writing from my own voice, thoughts, and experiences would result in stories where this theme continually resurfaces.

The collection includes a novella in which you reimagine episodes of Law & Order: SVU as a series of short summaries full of an otherworldly cast of characters. The novella works beautifully as a whole, but the individual stories are also complete in themselves. I thought this was really cool! Could you talk about your inspiration for this story and the process of writing it?

I’ve always been interested in writing about TV. One of my favorite short stories is Kelly Link’s “Magic for Beginners,” which is its own surreal, fabulist love letter to fandom and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I honestly just wondered if it would be possible to write a short story in the form of episode capsule summaries, where the episodes could function autonomously or as part of a larger narrative. I used the actual titles from the first twelves seasons, so I had a little flake of inspiration for each one. Eventually, the plots and subplots grew out of there. As I was writing it, I found myself engaging with my complicated feelings about the show on the page. The rest is history.

What are you working on now? What will we see next from you?

My memoir House in Indiana is coming out with Graywolf in 2019, so those edits are the next big thing I’m tackling. I also have a few other things in progress—an essay collection, a novel-in-stories.

Interviewed by Sadye Teiser