The Quill: Submission Opportunities and the Writing Life

Hi all,

I’m excited to bring The Quill to you in a new format. The newsletter was limiting because it never allowed me to dive into specific topics. I’d want to offer a slew of upcoming events or submission opportunities, but there was so much other information that it just wouldn’t fit. I’ll be sending out more Quill updates, but they’ll be more specific. This week’s topic is submission opportunities.


Many literary journals open in late summer and early fall for submissions, so I wanted to take the opportunity to tell you about some helpful sites which list submissions openings.

  • The Master’s Review is a great organization to get updates from. They’ve got great contests for emerging writers and send out a list of contests and submission opportunities every month.
  • One of my new favorite writer websites is CRAFT. Not only do they accept rolling fiction submissions, they also take articles about the writing craft. The stories they look for showcase an element of craft, whether it’s setting, point of view or structure. They’ve also got some upcoming contests, so check them out.
  • When I’m looking for submissions to send out to you, I also go to New Pages. What I like about New Pages, is that it includes journals that go beyond “literary” writing. For our SCWA members who are writing mystery, fantasy, horror, etc…, New Pages is a great website to search when you’re looking for places to send a finished piece.
  • Literistic offers a free list of places to submit to every month. They also offer a more extensive list to paid members. You can sign up for their monthly “shortlist” to get a taste of what they offer. I like that they offer fellowship and grant opportunities in addition to literary journals.
  • This gargantuan list from Entropy includes presses accepting full-length manuscripts as well as journals, grants, fellowships, etc… It’s pretty exhaustive and takes awhile to go through. I’ve also found some great journals to subscribe to through this list.
  • If you’re a visual person, you might like the submissions calendar provided by Poets and Writers. This shows submissions by deadline.


Some articles I’ve been reading about writing are below.

This short essay in CRAFT says a lot about a hook. When I was just starting to write, I thought a great hook could be encompassed in the opening line of a piece, but it’s so much more than that. Read more here:

Need writing advice? James Baldwin is here to help. There are some major gems here.

Ruminate’s blog this month has a great article about the narrator within us, which becomes the writer.

Member News and Upcoming Events will be posted next week. If you’ve got some news you’d like to share, please let your chapter leader know or email

Until then,


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Journey to SCWA


My journey to becoming a member of the South Carolina Writers Association (formerly South Carolina Writers Workshop), was slightly complicated. The original goal was to find a writer’s refuge which was in the vicinity of my home in Chapin, SC. An on-line search took me down many retreat roads, but none came close to the growing goal of writing unity I was envisioning. The search did eventually lead me to the site advertising the 2012 South Carolina Writers Workshop (SCWW) Conference in Myrtle Beach. Continue reading

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Tick Tock

Tick tock, tick tock. That’s the sound of the days, hours, and minutes until the May 31 deadline for submission to The Petigru Review, the literary journal of the South Carolina Writers’ Association. Sometimes deadlines can be scary and raise the anxiety level. Other times they provide the perfect impetus to give a manuscript once last glance before pressing the send button. And for some writers there’s nothing like a countdown to end procrastination and write something, anything.

The Petigru Review accepts submissions from April 1 through May 31, 2018. On June 1, the challenging and rewarding work of reading and judging the fiction, flash, nonfiction, poetry, and first chapter of a novel pieces begins. Each year SCWA recruits diligent and worthy judges for each category, and this year is no exception.

Being a Board Member precludes me from submitting this year. Otherwise, I’d be reading about the judges, hoping to learn about the background, work, and expectations of each. This year’s lineup includes an Annie Dillard fan who enjoys discovering new research in her reading; a seeker of layers, beauty, and captivating ideas in a story; a flash fiction guru and writer whose novel resulted in an independent film; and a poet who wants to fall in love with poetry that expands her sense of the human condition.

Read on to learn more about four of this year’s judges and their credentials, publications, and awards.

Rebecca Hammond Yager grew up in the bewitching realm of Vermont, has a B.A. in creative writing and a lifelong love of monsters and beasts. Influenced by C.S. Lewis, Tolkien, Terry Brooks, and Alexander Key, Rebecca finds influence and inspiration in nature. Whether reading or listening to a story, Rebecca seeks the same things: Layers. Beauty. Captivating ideas. She loves being dazzled by beauty, breathless from action, smitten with characters, and mesmerized by layers of theme and meaning.  Stories with a solid plot, compelling and well-motivated characters, a vivid sense of place, and stellar dialogue are her favorites.

Rebecca’s publications include Winds Cove, Beauty & the Beast, and A Midsummer Night’s Snow.

Formerly a park ranger, factory worker, and seller of cemetery plots, Joni Tevis is the author of two books of essays, The Wet Collection: A Field Guide to Iridescence and Memory, and The World Is On Fire: Scrap, Treasure, and Songs of Apocalypse, both published by Milkweed Editions. Her essays have appeared in Orion, Oxford American, Poets & Writers, the Pushcart Prize Anthology, and elsewhere. Joni holds an MFA and PhD from the University of Houston’s Creative Writing program and serves as the Bennette E. Geer Associate Professor of English at Furman University in Greenville, South Carolina. An Annie Dillard fan, Joni enjoys tasty sentences and surprising research in essays and looks to learn something new, to see the world through another pair of eyes in what she reads.

Luke Whisnant’s fiction, poetry, and nonfiction have been published in over fifty different journals and anthologies in the United States, and overseas in England, France, and Portugal. He is the author of two poetry chapbooks, a collection of stories, and a novel that was optioned by two different film production companies, eventually resulting in an independent film in 2012. His work has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and has won awards from the Academy of American Poets and the Blumenthal Foundation; has three times been listed on the “Distinguished Story List” of the Best American Short Stories; and has been reprinted three times in the annual anthology New Stories from the South: The Year’s Best.

Whisnant earned his MFA at Washington University in St Louis, joined the East Carolina University English Department in 1982, and is a two recipient of the department’s teaching excellence award. Luke has edited Tar River Poetry, a nationally ranked magazine of verse, since 2006 and blogs about TPR at The Editor’s Eye.

Katie Pryor divided her childhood between the #ATL and Las Vegas. She holds an MFA in Poetry from Bennington College and received her BA in Spanish. Her work has appeared in The Rio Review and Prairie Schooner and is forthcoming in North American Review, Southern Indiana Review, and Five Points. She was recently recognized with a 2017 Fall Fellowship at the Kimmel Harding Nelson Center for the Arts.

Currently living and teaching in Lincoln, Nebraska, Katie’s academic interests include borders, gender, race, and love poems. She’s interested in poetry with a clear speaker, poems that aren’t afraid to use our various, ever-changing, and specific identities to get at our need to belong to ourselves and to each other. She wants to fall in love when reading a poem—with the speaker, with the way the poem expands her sense of the human condition.

It’s May 9, twenty-two days and counting, Writers. What are you waiting for? The judges and TPR are looking for your work. Tick Tock.

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James Petigru and Carrie McCray

Written by Jayne Bowers

Thirteen or fourteen years ago, I attended the South Carolina Book Festival in Columbia. What a joy it was to walk up and down the long aisles, gawking at vendors’ wares and talking to “real life” authors, publishers, and book sellers. The atmosphere was abuzz with positive energy, and I was agog with excitement.

At the end of one aisle, I was attracted to a table of lively, friendly people and stopped to see what the excitement was all about. Turns out they represented the South Carolina Writers’ Association (SCWW at that time). Happy to be part of the statewide organization, they told me about its many chapters and the annual conference.

I picked up a book and began leafing through it, and one of the women behind the table stood up, smoothed her skirt, leaned in closer and said, “That’s a book we publish each year.” Titled Catfish Stew, it included a variety of fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. As I recall, the woman showed me her story and then said something like, “We have fun. And we write, too.”

Really? There’s a book published in the Palmetto State each year by a group of writers? I wondered.

I bought a copy and knew I wanted to be part of such an organization in which people wrote and had fun, two of my favorite activities.

Like all organizations, change occurred over the years, and twelve years ago the South Carolina Writers Association (SCWA) changed the name of its annual literary anthology to The Petigru Review. Named after James Louis Petigru, a staunch unionist who once said, “South Carolina is too small for a republic and too large for an insane asylum,” the journal’s contributors believe in their truths like Petigru believed in his. With categories of fiction, creative nonfiction, poetry, flash, and first chapter of a novel, the journal serves as a forum which affords SCWA members the opportunity to publish their best works.

There’s nothing like an award to get those creative juices flowing, and each year there’s a Carrie McCray Memorial Literary Award to do just that. Created to inspire writers and to honor one of the founders of SCWA, Carrie Allen McCray, the contest has first, second, and third place winners in these areas:

  • First Chapter of a Novel – 3,500 word limit.
  • Short Fiction – 3,000 word limit.
  • Creative Nonfiction – 3,000 word limit.
  • Poetry – submit up to three (3) poems, not to exceed 80 lines in total.

Every edition of TPR obtains guest judges who select the most polished submissions for publication and for the award. The quality of writing and the judges’ assessments are perhaps part of the reason the Petigru, as it is fondly referred to, earned a positive and relatively lengthy review from Kirkus Review in 2016. Its summative statement: An impressive, wide-ranging collection of a region’s creative voices.

Although we’re still narrowing the search for a judge for the First Chapter of a Novel submissions, the other four judges have been selected: Fiction – Rebecca Hammond Yager; Nonfiction – Joni Tevas; Flash – Luke Whisnant; Poetry – Katie Pryor.

I’ll be writing more about each of them, but in the meantime you can read about their backgrounds, publications, interests, and influences on the SCWA website. Their bios also reveal just what they’re looking for in the areas in which they’re judging. Hint hint.

For now, polish your prose, tweak your story, and submit your work to this year’s The Petigru Review. It’s open for submissions until May 31.

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