Archive for the ‘Submissions’ Category

Submissions Information: March 31st Anthology Deadline and New Voices

anthologyIVbannerhomepageSubmissions for our anthology The Masters Review Volume IV close at the end of the month, so get those stories in pronto. This is one of our favorite projects each year and we’re really looking forward to reading your work. Mark your calendars, set your clock, and polish those stories. The end of the month will be here before you know it.

“The Masters Review is a lovely magazine, in form and content. How awesome it is to see the next generation of writers kicking ass, taking names, and making beautiful art.” –STEVE ALMOND, author and essayist



New Voices Category

From March 5 – March 31, submissions to our New Voices category will be closed. Because reading for the anthology takes so much time, and because our shortlist and finalists announce so quickly, we will be busy reading for the book. The good news is you can submit your stories to the anthology because all stories are considered for publication. We are sorry for any inconvenience and look forward to reading your work this month and after the 31st.

Anthology Judge Kevin Brockmeier’s Fifty Favorite Short Stories

Submissions for our 2015 anthology are now open! Our guest judge Kevin Brockmeier says he is “looking for the kind of stories that result when a writer combines imaginative daring with dynamic, exact, emotionally suggestive prose.” To give you a better idea of the sorts of stories he admires, here is a list of his fifty favorites. And, if you’re looking for still more inspiration, check out this list of Brockmeier’s  favorite fantasy and science fiction in our May interview.


Little Rock Author Kevin Brockmeier
Several Rules: (1) I have listed these stories in alphabetical order by the author’s last name, rather than in order of preference—though I’ve marked my ten current favorites with an asterisk. (2) I have chosen no more than one story (or in a few cases one novella) per author. (3) I have tried to be honest, which is why there are so many contemporary English-language stories on this list, as well as so many stories by science fiction writers, magic realists, and assorted other fantasists.


—Kevin Brockmeier, August 7, 2014

Fifty Favorite Stories

1. “Tickets on Time (Extracts from the diary of Jules Flegmon)” by Marcel Aymé
2. “The Voices of Time” by J.G. Ballard (*)
3. “Gryphon” by Charles Baxter
4. “The Last Song of Sirit Byar” by Peter S. Beagle
5. “The Accordion Player” by John Berger (*)
6. “Three Versions of Judas” by Jorge Luis Borges
7. “The State of Grace” by Harold Brodkey (*)
8. “Bloodchild” by Octavia Butler
9. “The Time Machine” by Dino Buzzati
10. “The Light-Years” by Italo Calvino (*)
11. “American Dreams” by Peter Carey
12. “Sins and Virtues” by Jim Crace
13. “White Angel” by Michael Cunningham
14. “Pet Milk” by Stuart Dybek
15. “The Prophet from Jupiter” by Tony Earley (*)
16. “The Twenty-seventh Man” by Nathan Englander
17. “Grace” by Paula Fox
18. “From the Fifteenth District” by Mavis Gallant
19. “The Torturer’s Wife” by Thomas Glave (*)
20. “Professor Berkowitz Stands on the Threshold” by Theodora Goss (*)
21. “Two Gentle People” by Graham Greene
22. “Monday” by Mark Helprin
23. “It Didn’t Bother Me” by Jeremy Jackson
24. “Emergency” by Denis Johnson
25. “Blumfeld, an Elderly Bachelor” by Franz Kafka
26. “The Joy and Melancholy Baseball Trivia Quiz” by Ken Kalfus
27. “The Dark Princess” by Richard Kennedy
28. “Bobcat” by Rebecca Lee
29. “Catskin” by Kelly Link
30. “A River Runs Through It” by Norman Maclean
31. “The Boat” by Alistair MacLeod
32. “The Briefcase” by Rebecca Makkai
33. “Man in the Drawer” by Bernard Malamud
34. “Sandkings” by George R. R. Martin
35. “Singular Pleasures” by Harry Mathews
36. “The Thistles in Sweden” by William Maxwell (*)
37. “Twins” by Megan Milks
38. “The Next Thing” by Steven Millhauser
39. “Faith and Mountains” by Augusto Monterroso
40. “A Window” by Haruki Murakami
41. “Sugar Among the Chickens” by Lewis Nordan
42. “Reeling for the Empire” by Karen Russell
43. “Akhnilo” by James Salter
44. “Offloading for Mrs. Schwartz” by George Saunders
45. “The Scalehunter’s Beautiful Daughter” by Lucius Shepard
46. “The Death of Ivan Ilych” by Leo Tolstoy (*)
47. “Extracts from Adam’s Diary and Eve’s Diary” by Mark Twain
48. “Escapes” by Joy Williams (*)
49. “The Dreamed” by Robert McLiam Wilson
50. “The Private Lives of Trees” by Alejandro Zambra


Shortlist 2014

shortlist_2Congratulations to the authors recognized on this year’s shortlist. The work represented here is among the top 2% of all stories reviewed and each of these pieces deserves applause. At this time our guest judge, Lev Grossman, is reviewing stories and will select the top ten to be published in our anthology. This announcement will be made no later than May 15, 2014. Congratulations again to a wonderful group!

The Masters Review Shortlist, 2014

“Fisherman’s Band-Aid” – Alexander Papoulias; MFA San Jose State University

“Lynx” – Alice Otto; MFA University of Arkansas

“Bury Me” – Allegra Hyde; MFA Arizona State University

“Braids” – Amanda Pauley; MFA Hollins University

“Finders Keepers” – Andrew Cothren; MFA University of Massachusetts Amherst

“The Turk” – Andrew MacDonald; MFA University of Massachusetts Amherst

“Picketers” – Blake Kimzey; MFA University of California Irvine

“Cleaning Lessons” – Cannon Roberts; PhD Oklahoma State University

“Every Thing You Never Said” – Courtney Kersten; MFA University of Idaho

“Someone Else” – Diana Xin; MFA University of Montana

“The Behemoth” – Drew Ciccolo: MFA Rugters-Newark

“Go Down, Diller” – Eric Howerton; PhD University of Houston

“Whit Vickers, The Pitcher Who Lost His Stuff” – Ezra Carlsen; MFA University of Oregon

“Objects in Transit” – Heather Dundas; PhD University of Southern California

“We Welcome All Sorts” – Heather Lefebvre; MFA Texas State University

“Moonshot, 2003” – Jake Wolff; PhD Florida State

“Magicicada” – Jeffrey Otte; MFA Western Michigan University

“County Maps” – Joe Worthen; MFA University of North Carolina Wilmington

“Tiny Little Teeth” – Justine McNulty; MA University of Cincinnati

“dissolving newspaper, fermenting leaves” – Kiik AK; MFA University of California San Diego

“Parade” – Laura Willwerth; MFA University of Massachusetts Amherst

“Lullwater” – Lena Valencia; MFA The New School

“Strange Trajectories” – Lindsay D’Andrea; MFA Iowa State University

“Rivers” – Liz Knight; MFA Brigham Young University

“Contrition” – Mallory McMahon; MFA The New School

“Custody” – Maya Perez; MFA Michener Center for Writers

“Electronic Heads” – Meng Jin; MFA Hunter College

“Birmingham Goddam” – Scott Latta; MFA Oregon State University

“OpFor (Oppositional Force)” – Shane Collins; MFA Stonecoast University of Southern Maine

“Allure of The Sea” – Tatyana Kagamas; MA Texas Tech University

Honorable Mentions

“Space City” – John Kemmick; MFA University of Montana

“Nicodemus” – Justin Lee; MFA University of California Irvine

“Unabomber for President” – Logan Murphy; MFA; University of Tennessee, Knoxville

“The Orchard” – Matthew McKenzie Davis; PhD University of North Texas

“Goose” – Theodora Ziolkowski; MFA University of Alabama



Anthology Submissions Close Soon

don't forget


Mark Your Calendars – 10 Deadlines This Month

We’re back in the saddle. The Holidays are over and it’s time to get serious about your submissions. Here is a worthy list of lit mags and contests with deadlines this month.

Third Coast Fiction Contest – Winners receive $1000 and publication in the Fall of 2014 for up to 9,000 words of fiction. Guest judge Ramona Ausubel. Submit here. DUE DATE: January 15, 2013. $16 Entry Fee.

H.E. Francis Short Story Competition – Winners receive $2000 for a short story up to 5000 words. Submissions are read by an all-volunteer staff of established writers and editors. More details on submissions available on the website. DUE DATE: January 15, 2013. $20 Entry Fee.

Literal Latte Fiction Awards – Otherwise known as the K. Margaret Grossman Fiction Awards, this prestigious contest awards $1000 for First Prize, and cash prizes for runners up. All entries must be postmarked by January 15, 2014 to the following address: Literal Latté Awards 200 East 10th Street, Suite 240 New York, NY 10003 . Fiction up to 8000 words is acceptable. Details here. DUE DATE: Postmark January 15, 2013. $10 Entry Fee for one story; $15 for two.

Thomas Wolfe Fiction Prize – A prize of $1,000 is given annually for a short story. The winning story is considered for publication in Thomas Wolfe Review. Submit two copies of a story of up to 12 pages. DUE DATE: January 30, 2014. $25 Entry Fee.

The Lamar York Prizes for Fiction and Nonfiction – Sponsored by The Chattahoochee Review, two prizes of $1,000 are awarded to a winning story and essay up to 5,000 words. Winners to be published in the Spring Issue and announced in March. Details here. DUE DATE: January 31, 2014. $15 Entry Fee. (more…)

Submissions Are Open – The Masters Review

2014 Submissions

What We Saw – A Review From Submissions


This year we were thrilled to see some truly exceptional work. Out of hundreds of submissions we saw a pretty wide array of stories and styles from students across the country. We asked the editors and readers who reviewed stories to discuss some of the areas they felt stories could improve, and while the majority of the work was highly publishable, there were some elements worth mentioning. Here  is what they said.

Sloppy Writing

You’ve heard this one before and it falls under the “all you have to do is follow directions” spiel. If you’re submitting to a journal with a New York Times bestselling author as judge, it stands to reason your narrative would have to be pretty damn impressive to pass along if  your work is riddled with punctuation, grammar, and spelling errors. Mistakes happen all the time and a missed plural here and there is no big deal, however, the cleanliness of your work is a testament to how much time you’ve spent with your story, and editors don’t want to feel like they’re reading a first draft. Trust me, we can tell.

Also, and because it must be said, please follow directions.

Point of View

We saw a lot of second-person narratives this year. Second person can be a difficult POV to do well and there were some truly excellent stories that were written from this perspective. However, most of the second-person narratives we saw weren’t flushed through or working properly. In a contest, you want to set yourself up to be successful. Because second-person is a challenge, you probably aren’t achieving it as well as you need to be (or think you are). It’s a great way to practice and push yourself as a writer, but unless it’s shining glimmering perfection, you might want to think again. If you’ve got a good first or third-person narrative you’ve been workshopping, we’d really like to see that. Shoot, our submissions are free. Send us both.

Subject Matter

If there’s anything that convinces me we all share the same set of experiences just seen through different eyes, it’s  reading submissions. Studying abroad, the birth of a child, the death of a loved one, feeling out of place in a new environment, struggling to fit in, the list goes on. As unique as you think you’re being, you’re not. But that doesn’t mean your story’s not worth telling! Find a way to make your story unique. Find a way to make the reader care. The simple ebb and flow of your plot usually isn’t enough to draw the reader in and make them feel like what happens to the protagonist really matters. To me, this is the biggest divide between good writers and really great writers. A great writer can put together a piece about sitting down to breakfast and will make it feel profound — probably because what’s happening beneath the Cheerios and coffee is something profound! By a novice writer, it will feel like another lack-luster breakfast. Think about what you’re trying to say. Think about what your story means to you. Then, make the reader feel it too. It’s the hardest thing in the world to achieve but I saw it time and time again in some of the stories we passed on this year. The story doesn’t matter. Nothing is happening. I want to care. Make me!

Narrative Nonfiction

A good narrative nonfiction piece conveys a real event but through a voice that feels like a fictional narrative. Most of the nonfiction we read didn’t speak to a bigger issue or picture. It was mostly a small glimpse into the life of the writer. While this is fine if done well, I was craving stories that used a single event as a microcosm for a bigger argument. Similarly, I would have loved to have seen a piece of narrative nonfiction that wasn’t about the writer himself. A research piece, a political commentary, or a historical essay about a hometown; each of these can strike home just as powerfully as a writer’s personal journey abroad or through a hard time in his life, for example. My feeling is, some creative nonfiction with some powerful research elements would have really shown through the submission numbers. I don’t think we saw a single one.

The 6,999 Word Submission

Our word count limit was 7,000 words. We saw an enormous number of pieces just below 7k and just above 6900 words. I’m not saying your work didn’t truly come in under the word limit. But there were times where the trimming felt forced. Do the contest justice and submit a piece that stands up to the word count. If it’s an excerpt or part of a larger string of short stories, that’s great. But try to send us something that feels like it stands on its own. There’s just something irksome about a 6,999 word submission. Call me the devil, but there just is.


I want to end by saying I was overall truly impressed with the caliber of work and the creativity in the stories this year. I felt like writers were taking chances, jumping off cliffs, baring their souls. It was wonderfully refreshing and I applaud everyone who submitted. I hope writers who submitted and who are reading the above can take the feedback graciously. For the most part, we saw some damn fine short stories. The process of submitting and waiting and then hearing back is daunting for authors at every level. I want to thank each and every one of you for the work you put into your submissions this year and for providing me and the staff at The Masters Review the opportunity to read them. There are so many of you I want to shake and kiss and buy brunch for and whose pet’s birthday parties I’d like to attend. I am rooting for you. Keep writing. Please, please, keep writing.

By. Kim Winternheimer, Fiction Editor.

Masters Review 2013 Shortlist

swOur shortlist is announced! Congratulations to the authors selected and thank you to everyone who submitted. It was a tough decision as we had so many wonderful stories to choose from. The shortlist is being sent to our guest judge AM Homes for final selection and those results will announce in May. In the meantime keep your fingers crossed for your favorite stories!

Here is the official list:

Set of Four Short Stories BY KIIK AK

UC San Diego, MFA


Queens University of Charlotte, MFA

“Sunshiny Days and Mostly Clear Nights” BY LAURIE ANN CEDILNIK

Western Michigan University, PhD


George Mason University in Fairfax, MFA

“Dancing at the Zoo” BY JENNIFER DUPREE

Stonecoast, MFA


Anglia Ruskin University, PhD


Lesley University, MFA

“Almost Touching, Almost Free” BY DUSTIN M. HOFFMAN

Western Michigan University, PhD

“American Girls are Easy” BY NICOLE KELLY

UC Irvine, MFA

“The Boy and The Bear” BY BLAKE KIMZEY

UC Irvine, MFA

“The Brackish” BY DREW KREPP

University of North Carolina Wilmington, MFA


Antioch University, MFA


Iowa State University, MFA

“Peaceful Village” BY JANE SUMMER

Goddard College, MFA

“Coffee for Dead Children” BY ZOE VANDEVEER

UC Irvine, MFA


A Word on Simultaneous Submissions


The issue of simultaneous submissions came up quite a bit during our submissions process this year. (Shortlist announces SOON by the way. Hold on to your hats!) In our opinion, simultaneous submissions are a courtesy from journals. We realize, and recognize, the time and energy you’ve put into your stories and we want that hard work to be rewarded whether it’s with our journal or not. However, there are some magazines who don’t allow for simultaneous submissions. Usually, it’s because they don’t want the time their staff has spent with a story to be wasted because of a withdrawal due to acceptance by another journal. Both points of view are valid considering the time the submissions process takes, and the fact of the matter remains that the process of submitting and landing a publication… and then seeing that story published is a very slow one. To me it speaks to the quality of work journals are trying to produce in publishing stories, but it certainly doesn’t make the timeline any less frustrating for writers.

But what’s the point of bringing up the issue if not to take a stance? The Masters Review clearly states that we accept simultaneous submissions as long as we’re informed IMMEDIATELY if the piece is picked up elsewhere. This probably sounds familiar and in our opinion, it’s only fair. Our beef comes from those journals who suggest that it’s okay to keep stories for weeks — even months at a time! — without allowing for simultaneous submissions. We found an incredible number of journals in the speculative fiction and science fiction genre that abide by this policy and in our opinion, it’s just flat wrong. To suggest that a writer wait up to eight months to hear back about a story but ask them not to submit that story elsewhere is ludicrous. And look, we don’t want to start a fight by naming names, but we can’t help but feel that when writers begin ignoring submission guidelines it might be because they don’t feel like their work is being treated fairly within the submissions process. Perhaps if more journals allowed for sim-subs or were able to expedite their submissions process in some way and still retain the quality within that process we might all see an improvement.

What we’re saying is this: writers, do your part and simultaneously submit where allowed and PLEASE let journals know when a story has been accepted elsewhere. The journals who allow for sim-subs allow for them because they want you to be successful. If you’re willing to let a piece sit with a prestigious magazine for months at a time and they ask that you don’t submit elsewhere, respect those rules. Perhaps in the process the submissions wheel will eventually and slowly unclog and response times will improve. Either way, we’re in this together, so try to return the courtesy journals are extending you by keeping track of your submissions.

Submissions are Closed


Submissions for our printed anthology are closed. Thank you to all who submitted. The quality of stories we received this year is staggering and putting together our shortlist, which will be announced on April 15, is proving no easy task. Our final ten will be chosen by guest judge A.M. Homes and announced in May. Best of luck to all of you. While you’re waiting, be sure to check out last year’s collection, here.

Masters Review Submission Categories

Currently, both our submission categories are open. Find out a little more about our published anthology and our newest category, New Voices, outlined below.


The Masters Review Anthology

Submissions for our printed anthology, The Masters Review, are now open. Each year we produce a collection of stories written by students in MA, MFA, and PhD creative writing programs. Out of thousands of submissions we select ten for publication. Those ten stories will be chosen by our guest judge, AM Homes, who will select the top ten from our shortlist. This year we hope to expose progressive, diverse, and well-crafted fiction and narrative nonfiction from across the country.

Submissions for this category are currently open. We only accept original works of fiction or narrative nonfiction under 7000 words, and only from writers currently enrolled in an MA, MFA, or PhD creative writing program. We do accept simultaneous and multiple submissions, but please let us know if your work has been picked up elsewhere. To familiarize yourself with the work we like to publish, copies of last year’s book are available here.

Submissions can be made, through our online submissions manager, here.


19th century engraving of a wooly mammoth

New Voices

New Voices is our newest submission category and is open to any writer who has not published a novel-length work. This category is designed to showcase the many talented writers who are not pursuing their MFA, or who have already earned a creative-writing degree. While our printed anthology tends to focus on literary fiction, our New Voices category is open to writers of all styles and genres. We simply want to showcase new and talented work. With that said, our quality standard is very high so we ask that you only send us your best.

New Voices is open all year, and will only be published online. We ask you keep submissions in this category below 5,000 words. In order to submit, please send your original work to: contact (at) mastersreview (dot) com, with a cover letter introducing yourself and your story.

Three Writing Contests Open Now



The first writing contest we’re featuring this week, is PRI’s very own, Selected Shorts. This year, PRI is looking for great works of fiction no more than 750 words that address the theme of, “Complicated Families.” The winning story will be selected by Jim Shepard and will be read as part of the Selected Shorts performance at Symphony Space on June 12, 2013. The winner will also receive $1000 and a 10-week class from Gotham Writers’ Workshop. There are a few stipulations on this contest aside from word count and theme. For example there is an entry fee of $25, and the contest is specific about formatting. Entries are due March 15, 2013. To learn more, check out the full contest rules.



The Kenyon Review needs no introduction. This literary magazine based out of Gabier Ohio has been publishing short stories since 1939. They’re well known for the quality of work that they publish and for publishing early works from highly regarded authors. Their Short Fiction Contest is open for one month (Feb 1 – Feb 28) to all authors who have not yet published a work of novel length. Authors can submit a story on any theme as long as it does not exceed 1200 words. There is no cost to enter and winners will be announced in late spring. For additional information, check out their contest details.



Creative Nonfiction Magazine aims to publish the best narrative nonfiction from writers of all backgrounds. This magazine draws largely from unsolicited submissions, which means many new and emerging authors have had success publishing through them. Right now they’re currently holding a writing competition that awards $10,000 to the best narrative nonfiction essay not to exceed 4,000 words on the subject of “The Human Face of Sustainability.” Their deadline is May 31, 2013 and they do charge a $20 reading fee. For more information on this contest and other open submissions from Creative Nonfiction Magazine, check out their submission details, here.