Archive for the ‘Writing Resources’ Category

Our Five Favorite Things from #AWP16

We’re back from AWP—the Association of Writers & Writing Programs Conference—feeling exhausted, exhilarated, and grateful to work in such an amazing industry. Here’s a list of some of our favorite things that happened during the conference. 

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Hugo House Literary Series All-Stars

Event organizers take note: the equation for Best Reading Ever = time management + booze + Jennine Capó Crucet + Natalie Diaz + Roxane Gay + Jess Walter. Any one of those authors at your reading would be a stellar night, but Seattle-based Hugo House knocked it out of the park with one of the best readings of the conference. Diverse in tone and genre, the readers were biting, intelligent, and funny all at once (Crucet read from her piece, “Facts About Neil deGrasse Tyson”). Each reader was asked to choose a piece they were prompted to write, and the result was one of our most memorable readings (fiction, essays, and poetry!) of AWP.

Claudia Rankine

Poet and critic Claudia Rankine brought the house down with her keynote speech. Her talk touched on “what keeps us uncomfortable in each other’s presence,” namely the continued marginalization of faculty and students of color at MFA programs. Rankine shared necessary and hard truths about calls for diversity and inclusion. She made it clear that while some administrators profess difficulty in building diverse writing programs, it takes just as much effort to maintain the status quo: “The investment in whiteness takes work. A white majority faculty takes work. The inability to hire and retain diverse faculty takes work.” Rankine’s talk was an eloquent call to action for those in MFA administrations and workshops, and the answer is not mere tokenization. Rankine, whose 2014 book Citizen: An American Lyric garnered numerous accolades, read an unpublished poem called “Sound and Fury” in which she grapples with the disenfranchisement she imagines many supporters of Donald Trump feel. (more…)

#AWP16 Panels for the Emerging Writer

Are you an emerging writer or first-time attendee at AWP? We custom picked twelve panels especially for you. 

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We’ve packed our sunglasses, business cards, and bags of candy for AWP, the Association of Writers & Writing Programs that’s happening this week in Los Angeles. If you read “The Official Masters Review Survival Guide to #AWP16,”  you know the conference can be daunting for first timers. The schedule of panels and presenters can be especially overwhelming. You’ll find everything from war stories to SoCal poetry, but finding exactly the right panel for emerging writers can be a big task. That’s why we combed through the many stellar panels and handpicked twelve panels especially for writers getting started in the field. Check them out below, then come tell us about them at booth #959.

The Basics

Hey, we all need to start somewhere. The following panels are a great introduction for writers navigating the submissions and editing process. From submitting your work to journals, to facing the business end of a red pen, to landing—or not landing—an agent, these panels should give you the confidence (and insider tips) you need to get your work out there.

You Sent Us What?
The gist:
What happens to your piece once you hand it over to Submittable? Perhaps a better question is what your piece should look like before you send it. This panel will let you know what submission editors look for when your piece lands in their lap.
The deets:  Room 518, LA Convention Center, Meeting Room Level | Friday, April 1, 2016 | 9:00 am to 10:15 am

The Other Side of the Slushpile: Agents on Agenting
The gist: With an extended question-and-answer period, this panel aims to desmystify the literary agent. What do they do? How do you meet one? And hey, will you read my manuscript
The deets: Room 502 B, LA Convention Center, Meeting Room Level | Saturday, April 2, 2016 | 9:00 am to 10:15 am

Without Representation: Authors Who Sold Their Literary Debuts Without an Agent
The gist: On the flip side, many debut authors have landed a book deal by going their own way. Carl Luna, Wendy C. Ortiz, Will Chancellor, and Chelsea Hodson will share their journey toward publication.
The deets: Room 518, LA Convention Center, Meeting Room Level | Saturday, April 2, 2016 | 9:00 am to 10:15 am

What to Expect When You’re Expecting a Redline
The gist: Okay, full disclosure, TMR web editor Kjerstin Johnson is on this panel designed for writers intimidated by the editor’s quill. Fear not—these expert editors will assuage your fear of receiving notes.
The deets: Room 512, LA Convention Center, Meeting Room Level | Thursday, March 31, 2016 | 1:30 pm to 2:45 pm (more…)

The Official Masters Review Survival Guide to #AWP16

We’ll be at the 2016 Association of Writers and Writing Programs Conference this week in Los Angeles! Will we see you there? 

A banner image that says #AWP16 Part I Survival Guide over an image of a large and bustling conference center

“The key to surviving AWP is to understand that some aspects of it are ludicrous,” Barrelhouse editor Tom McAllister told Ploughshares in 2013. “It’s impossible to do everything and talk to everyone.”

Embracing the absurd is certainly a good place to start when it comes to the annual Association of Writers and Writing Programs Conference, which is happening next week, Thursday March 31–Saturday, April 2, 2016, in Los Angeles, California. Thousands of literary professionals will descend to the LA Convention Center to talk MFAs, writing craft, and industry realities, not to mention the author talks, caucuses and network events, and off-site parties. It’s a jam-packed four days, even for seasoned professionals, but it can be especially daunting if it’s your first time. We compiled a survival guide if you’re attending for the first time. (And don’t forget, there’s always a friendly face at our booth, #959.)

Keep your logistics handy.
Sometimes writing your room number on your hand just won’t cut it. Take the time to type or write out some key logistics all in one place: your flight number, the Bookfair tables you don’t want to miss, the phone number of your friend who’s local, your bus stop. It’s a little tedious, but you’ll be grateful it’s all in one place when you can’t locate that must-see panel in the conference schedule or—god forbid—the wifi cuts out. 

Have a spiel ready.
Networking is one of the main reasons to attend AWP. Whether you’re meeting a lit journal face-to-face or approaching an Internet pen pal, get ready to leave your comfort zone and put yourself out there. Arrive with your own personal elevator pitch. Why are you here? What should people know about you? How will they remember you after the conference? This isn’t just to avoid getting tongue-tied (but that, too), there’s a ton of folks meeting and greeting at AWP and if you truly want to be remembered you need to have the most salient and meaningful information at hand. Don’t forget, they need to find you after the conference, so whether you have a business card, a chapbook, or simply an email address—make sure to have your contact information handy.

Be respectful of other people’s time.
That being said, everyone at AWP is just as overwhelmed as you. When you do meet a fellow emerging writer or your favorite essayist, be aware of how much of their time and energy you’re taking up. Sometimes it feels like we know authors intimately because of their work—and, in a way, we do. But they’re also human and you are one of many faces they will encounter this week. Be polite, respectful, and brief. (See above.)


5 Online Writing Workshops for Emerging Writers

Do you lack the time to complete a writing degree or the funds to travel to an in-person writing workshop? These online workshops, taught by experienced faculty and populated by students who are serious about their writing, might be the solution.

 Online writing workshops

1. Gotham Writer’s Workshop

At the Gotham Writer’s Workshop, their philosophy is that writing is a skill that can be taught. Although they have many in-person courses at their Manhattan headquarters, they also teach online courses. Whether you’re writing a screenplay, a novel, a personal essay, or even need some career guidance, there’s a course for you. In addition, they also host the exclusive online writing workshop of the literary journal Zoetrope: All-Story.  To get a feel for what their online courses are like, they offer an online tour.

These courses are structured like in-person workshops, with limited class sizes and feedback from instructors. However, they are not held in real-time (with the exception of an optional weekly chat session), so you can work through the material when it fits your schedule. Plus, they hold several contests throughout the year that reward writers with free classes!

Registration Deadline: Year-round, varies by workshop.
Price: $125–$400
Duration: 3–10 weeks
Instructors: View a full list of faculty here.

2. 24PearlStreet

24PearlStreet is a series of online workshops hosted by the Provincetown-based Fine Arts Work Center, a nonprofit that supports the development of new writers and artists. The workshops cover poetry, fiction, nonfiction, and craft, offering courses like “Staying True: Authenticity and Voice” and “Translation as a Creative Practice.” Courses are offered at different experience levels, and time commitment can vary depending on whether you take a one, four, or eight-week course. Each course is capped at fifteen students and is eligible for continuing education credits.

Registration Deadline: Year-round, varies by workshop.
Price: $500 (see here for potential discounts)
Duration: 1, 4, or 8 weeks
Instructors: View a full list of 24PearlStreet faculty here.

3. UCLA Extension

One of the oldest continuing education programs, UCLA Extension offers several online writing workshops through their Writers’ Program, and should definitely be on your list if you’re interested in TV writing and screenwriting. 

While most workshops fall between four and eight weeks of discussion and instruction, there are also four-day intensives and extended master classes that take up to nine months to complete. Additionally, the program offers certificate programs, continuing education credits, and financial aid. Their Writers’ Program also has a YouTube channel of writing tips and readers for potential students to check out. 

Registration Deadline: Depends on the class, but many are coming up in April.
Price: $395–$760
Duration: 4–8 weeks
Instructors: Depends on the course, but you can browse catalog here.


12 Grants for Writers

Whether you’re an emerging or established writer, grants can be the crucial tool you use to finish a project, deep dive into research, or get a helpful leg up. Here are some grants from a range of organizations, including genre organizations, arts foundations, and national trusts.

Business Development Connection Digital Device Concept

PEN/America Heim Translation Fund Grant

The purpose of the PEN/America Heim Translation Fund Grant, which was established in 2003, is to promote the publication and reception of translated book-length world literature in English. Recipients will be awarded between $2,000 and $4,000 for the completion of a translated work. Applications are currently closed, but will open again in mid-2016. PEN/America also has a great list of other translation-related grants, awards, and residencies on their site.

The Speculative Literature Foundation 

The SLF gives several grants each year targeting traditionally underrepresented writers. The Older Writers Grant is for writers over fifty starting out in their careers (two given at $500 each); the Gulliver Travel Research Grant gives $800 for travel coverage for research; the Working Class Writers Grant gives $750 to a working class, blue-collar, poor, and/or homeless spec fic writer. Their latest two grants are the Diverse Writers and Diverse Worlds, which each intend to foster diversity in speculative fiction. Currently, they are accepting applications for the Older Writers Grant—applications are accepted through March 31—but make sure to check their website for all dates and eligibility. 

*Currently accepting!


Eight Bookish Subscription Boxes for Your Literary Valentine

Still looking for the perfect gift for someone you love this Valentine’s Day? Consider one of these eight wonderful bookish subscription boxes, and books and other literary goodies will be delivered to your loved one all year long. From indie book packages to bundles of mystery novels to boxes of vintage wonders, there is something on this list for everyone.

Stack of Used Old Books in the School Library, Toned Cross Processed Image.

Book Riot Quarterly
The popular book blog Book Riot has its own Quarterly box! This is their general book box, but they also offer a Young Adult Quarterly.
What you get: 1-2 books, bookish accessories and artwork, notebooks, and other literary goodies!
How much? $50 per package
How often? Once every 3 months

This recently Kickstarted project just sent out its first subscriptions this year. The curators focus on experimental literature from independent presses and unique writing tools.
What you get: 1-2 indie press books, writing and bookmaking tools, and creative prompts and experiments.
How much? $37 per month, lower monthly rates for longer subscriptions
How often? Once a month

Brilliant Books Monthly
This subscription is a personalized service that chooses books for you based on your preferences. Plus, if you receive a book you don’t like or have already read, they give you the option to exchange it.
What you get: One book selected for you
How much? $185 – $295 per year, depending on format
How often? Once a month

Each month, BookCase sends a box of handpicked books from a certain genre. They offer six themed boxes, including romance, thriller, and young adult.
What you get: 2 books from your chosen genre
How much? $9.99 per month
How often? Once a month

Muse Monthly
The curators behind Muse Monthly believe that nothing beats “an afternoon spent curled up with a good story and a hot cuppa.” Because of this, each month they share their favorite books and teas with their subscribers.
What you get: One book and one box or tin of tea
How much? $21 per month
How often? Once a month

Powell’s Indiespensable
Portland’s favorite indie bookstore offers their own subscription box that often contains signed copies and first editions. They are currently closed to new subscribers, but will soon be offering more opportunities to join.
What you get: One special edition book, and additional related goodies.
How much? $39.95 per package
How often? Once every 6 weeks

Signed First Club
This is the perfect subscription for hardcore collectors. Previous signed first editions have included Donna Tartt’s The Goldfinch and Amy Tan’s The Valley of Amazement.
What you get: One signed first edition of a new release
How much? $420 per year
How often? Once a month

Prudence and the Crow
This subscription specializes in vintage books (at least twenty years old), collected from used bookstores everywhere.
What you get: One vintage book and a selection of bookish curios
How much? £12 (~$17) per month
How often? Once a month

by KM Bezner