Trust Me, I'm a Storyteller

December 24, 2008

Compliments of the Season & competitions of the season

Filed under: Uncategorized — roundtablewriting @ 5:40 am

Compliments of the Season to one and all.

This season means different things to different people, for some it is the ‘silly season’, for others a celebration and a time to catch up with family and friends; or for prayer and contemplation; and for many a time when they do their best to carry on through a difficult time.

I’ve celebrated Christmas and New Year in many parts of the world, in different climates, with various friends and family – from Africa, to Asia to Australasia. I still find Christmas in summer somewhat disconcerting but it does have its advantages. Thankfully this Christmas the weather is mild, no soaring temperatures threatening to reduce me to a puddle on the floor.

Fortunately for most of us in Australia, the holiday brings an opportunity to suspend normal daily life and indulge in festive food among good company, a chance to relax and read the pile of books that has been beckoning; and for writers – a chance to think, create and write down on paper that story, play, poem or outline for a novel or key it into the PC.

There are numerous writing and literary competitions and awards running throughout 2009, so make this the year you submit your work to competitions and publications. It is competitive, so you need to edit and polish your work before you try it out in the marketplace.

It’s becoming more difficult to publish longer works of fiction in Australia. The mergers of publishing houses, the downturn in the economy all have impact on the book industry. With more manuscripts being written than ever and fewer opportunities for publishing, competition is fierce. Nevertheless most publishers are open to a brilliant idea and a well written, professionally edited manuscript. Every year a ‘new’ novelist is published, though most have worked very hard and practised their craft for years before being discovered.

If it’s your dream to publish your stories then start to make your dream a reality. Spend time thinking creatively, grow to know your characters intimately, write your ideas down, develop your ideas and write a raw draft. Then begin to craft your narrative, be prepared to spend as long as it takes to draft and redraft until the manuscript is the best you can make it. Then put it away for at least a month. Next, begin the editing process: make every word pull its weight, make every word count. Pare the story down to its essential elements. Polish your story by choosing exactly the right adjective, metaphor or simile, vary sentence structure, and use a wide vocabulary to select the word that exactly fits your meaning. Give your narrative a final edit and proofread. Read it aloud to a select audience (the cat or dog will do if necessary). Check the rhythm and flow of the narrative. When you are satisfied that your story is ready for an audience, check the internet, writers’ centre websites, writers’ magazines and/or The Australian Writers’ Marketplace for bona fide competitions and publications seeking submissions. Some are listed below. Make sure you check the guidelines carefully. Send your work off with a Stamped Self-Addressed Envelope (or email if the guidelines permit it) and be prepared to wait for a response. It may sound daunting but if you really want to see your work published, the only way is to produce the best work that you can and send it off. 2009 could be the year you are ‘discovered’.

My thanks to all who have generously assisted me this year in myriad ways: My co-editor, friend and colleague Meenakshi Bharat; Shruti Debi, our publisher; my SOI partner, friend and colleague Helen Whitehouse; David Malouf; Brian Dibble; Jeremy Fisher; Anita Heiss; Susanne Gervay; Elizabeth Webby; Sujata Sankranti; Emma Dallas; Chrissa Favaloro; Adrian Sellaro; Chris Broadribb, all of the writers who contributed to the Writers’ Connect ‘Writers on Writing’ series; Season Of Inspiration writers for sharing their narratives and poems; Rosanna Jones not only for her proofreading skills but for too many acts of kindness over too many years to possibly list here; and my long-time best and always-there friends Carol Mara, Carol Frost; close and long-time friends Jules Simpson and Helen Harwood; my ‘old’ and treasured school friend, Sue Holland; and last but never least caring friends Barbara Hunter and John Caska. My thanks also to my family for another year of their love, laughter and support.

Today’s Writing Tip

Research competitions and publications seeking submissions; edit and polish your work and submit it to a competition (or more than one if guidelines allow) or to suitable publications. Good luck.

The Tasmanian Writers Centre

lists details of a variety of literary competitions.

ACT Writers Centre

a list of Australian writing competitions in chronological order by closing date. Go to the respective websites for guidelines and to double-check deadlines.

Duotrope’s Digest

For information about international writing competitions and awards, see Duotrope’s Digest, a database of over 2200 current markets for short fiction, poetry, and novels/collections.

Modern Language Association

Annual Prizes and Competitions for 2009 for MLA Publication Awards

There are a number of awards listed. For detailed announcements of these awards, click on the prize name.

Writing contests

More writing competitions for poets, playwrights, story writers.

Australian Writers’ Marketplace Online
provides information on competitions, agents, publishers and mentorship programs

International opportunities for writers of various genres

UK magazines

Some British magazines accept short stories.


For details on how to submit contributions to Granta magazine


A journal in Algeria seeks submissions.

Publishing older women writers
For women over 60.

Magazine opportunity
North Queensland women’s magazine is looking to buy entertaining, relationship-based lifestyle stories. They are happy to purchase second rights. Email:

Wet Ink seeks submissions
Wet Ink is a quarterly magazine that focuses on publishing fiction, poetry and non-fiction by new and emerging writers. As well as poetry, non-fiction and literary-style fiction, Wet Ink is interested in high-quality work in all genres. There are no word count restrictions and all published work receives payment.


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