2012 Guggenheim Fellows Announced

guggenheim interior 1 by ricoeurian

Ah, the Guggenheims

Other than the MacArthur “genius” grants (which you can’t apply for), these are the most coveted awards among artists, writers, and researchers. Congratulations to this year’s winners, and especially to Ruth Franklin of The New Republic, whose pieces I’ve been reading with great interest ever since we got connected on Facebook.

You can find a complete list of the 2012 fellows here.

[Photo: ricoeurian]

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Mira Bartók Wins National Book Critics Circle Award

Congratulations to Mira Bartók on winning the National Book Critics Circle Award for Autobiography for The Memory Palace. The Circle says The Memory Palace “rose to the formal challenge of blending her mother’s journals, reflections on her mother’s mental illness and subsequent homelessness, and thoughts on her own recovery from a head injury to create a heartfelt yet respectful work of art.”

A while ago, I had the pleasure of interviewing Mira about her book. It was a great conversation You can find it here.

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Yad Vashem International Book Prize for Holocaust Research 2012

Margin by Ian Koh

Established in 2011, this prize in memory of Abraham Meir Schwartzbaum, Holocaust Survivor, and his Family who was murdered in the Holocaust is awarded annually in recognition of high scholarly research and writing on the Holocaust.  Last year’s prize was awarded to:  Prof. Christopher R. Browning, for his book Remembering Survival:  Inside a Nazi Slave-Labor Camp, and to Prof. Daniel Blatman, for his book, The Death Marches:  1944-1945.

Only books containing new research on the Holocaust, or its antecedents and aftermath, will be considered. Research accuracy, scholarship, methodology, originality, importance of the research topic, and literary merit are important factors.

Books, either hardcover or original paperback, published between 1 January 2010 and 31 December 2011 are eligible for the prize.

Five copies of the published book together with the application form, a copy of the author’s Curriculum Vitae, and two letters of recommendation should be sent to the International Institute for Holocaust Research, Yad Vashem.  Entries must be received by 1 June 2012.  Entries will not be returned.

In addition to the monetary prize, the recipients will be asked to present a paper at the award ceremony.

This prize is endowed through the generosity of Sabina Schwartzbaum in memory of her father.

The Prize

1. The prize is named in memory of Holocaust survivor Abraham Meir Schwartzbaum, and those of his family who were murdered in the Holocaust.

2.  The Yad Vashem Prize for Holocaust Research is awarded annually.  It recognizes research on the Holocaust published in the two years proceeding the year in which the prize is awarded.

3.  The prize aims to encourage excellent and new research on the Holocaust, or its antecedents and aftermath.

4. Research accuracy, scholarship, methodology, originality, importance of the research topic, and literary merit are important factors.

5. A monetary sum will be awarded to the winner/s.

6.  Recipients from abroad will be invited to Israel to present a paper at the award ceremony. Flights and hotel accommodations will be covered by the Research Institute.

7. A group of Holocaust historians chosen by the International Institute for Holocaust Research make up the panel of judges for the prize.  Judges, including their family members, may not enter the prize in any year in which they judge.

More details here.

Application form here.

[Photo: Margin by Ian Koh]

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Show Me the Money: Where to Find Writers’ Grants

Platita para la micro, y una moneda de....?? 細かいお金 by * Cati Kaoe *

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: I couldn’t have written Epistolophilia without writers’ grants and research fellowships. A number of different arts agencies and institutions — these are listed in the Acknowledgements to my book — helped me pay for plane tickets, get paper for printing, buy time for writing, and (perhaps most importantly) they confirmed that my writerly hunch might be a good one.

I’ve applied for hundreds of grants over the years — so many that it’s now become part of my creative process. Entering grant competitions is one more way for me to work out ideas, test the waters, and see if a project has legs. I’ve had a lot of success partly because I’ve learned how to talk about my work in a way that makes sense to granting agencies; and in part because of the numbers — the more grants I apply for, the better my chances.

I’ve had a few queries regarding grants recently: how to find them; what they fund; how the system works. So, I thought I’d give an overview here.

By far the best resource for grant, fellowship and residency announcements I’ve come across is Mira’s List, a blog kept by the extraordinary writer Mira Bartok (soon I’ll be interviewing her about her new book The Memory Palace, so stay tuned). I recommend signing up for her mailing list or checking her site frequently.

There are a few things to keep in mind when applying for grants. First, grants beget grants. That’s to say that every grant you receive increases your chances of getting another one. Second, granting agencies want to feel confident that they’re backing a winner, so be prolific. Finish your projects and publish them!

So what kind of funding is there to be had?

Of course, there are the big and prestigious awards like: the Guggenheim Foundation, Canada Council for the Arts, and the National Endowment for the Arts. These awards are generally for established writers and artists, and even to oft-published authors, applying for them can feel like a lottery. Unless you’re very senior indeed, it’s best to treat them as long-shots, and expect to be turned down so you can be pleasantly surprised (or ecstatic) when you win an award.

Easier to win are geographically determined awards, like the New York Foundation for the Arts, the CALQ (Conseil des Arts et Lettres du Quebec or Quebec Arts Council), and the Ontario Arts Council. Most states and provinces have their own granting agencies, so check out yours. Many cities (Toronto and Kansas City are two examples ) have artists’ grants available to their residents, so check those out too, and mark deadlines on your calendar. Obviously, the smaller the geographic area defining the competition, the better your odds.

Don’t forget to check out the Fulbright Program if you’re a US citizen, have a scholarly affiliation, and need to do research abroad.

Artists’ Residencies are a good way to go for short periods (weeks or months) of uninterrupted work away from home. Some cover all costs; others ask artists to kick in a share of the cost. Sometimes there are small application fees, which annoys me, but perhaps it won’t bother you. There are well-known colonies like Yaddo, the Vermont Studio Center, and the Banff Centre for the Arts. (Here’s a good resource to check out for more artist residencies.) Universities, like McGill University in Montreal, often have writers-in-residence, so keep an eye out for those too.

Library grants can be very useful for those of us doing research. Many public and specialized libraries offer fellowships to writers. A few examples include the New York Public Library Fellowships, Chicago’s Newberry Library Fellowships, and the Laman Library Writers Fellowship in Arkansas. Around Montreal, where I live, public libraries offer fellowships to local writers. See if this is the case in your community.

Other aspects to consider are subject matter and genre. There may be grants available to fund work in a specific genre or on a particular subject area: Yiddish culture, the Holocaust, biographyAmerican history, and poetry are just a few examples of areas in which targeted funding is available.

Finally, don’t sniff at small grants like the awards of between $500 and $1,500 offered by Money for Women/Barbara Deming Memorial Foundation. I won this one just as I was finishing my book, and it paid for the daycare I needed to get the final version of my manuscript ready for review at the press. Remember, grants beget grants, so the very fact of winning a small award improves your position in the next round of competitions.

When writing grant proposals, be as specific as you can. If you can give chapter breakdowns, do so. If you’ve written half the book already, then say so. If you have a publisher interested, underline that. Demonstrate how your project is new, innovative, and important. Show that it contributes to knowledge or culture. Point to your past accomplishments to underscore the fact that you finish what you start.

Above all, don’t despair. The grants system can be capricious and unjust. Brilliant projects can get rejected and duds occasionally get funded. Write the application, put it in the mail, then forget about it and get back to your work.

Which is, after all, the whole point.

[Photo: Cati Kaoe]

This post is part of a weekly series called “Countdown to Publication” on SheWrites.com, the premier social network for women writers.

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If You Build It, They Will Come: On Blogging, Service and Platform-Building

Shoeless Joe Jackson by John McNab

I started my blog almost two years ago after attending a writers’ workshop on publishing in the digital age. There wasn’t much talk of e-books or self-publishing from the presenters. Instead, they hammered a single message into us all day: you, as writers, need an electronic presence . . . preferably a blog. It’s how you control the message of who you are and what you do. Your site is Google’s gateway to you and your work.

Like many writers, I long resisted self-promotion, finding the very idea distasteful and embarrassing. But I’d learned from the experience of publishing my first (mostly overlooked) book, Silence is Death (oh! the irony of that title in this context…), that if you don’t advocate for your own work, no one will. I knew that this time around, I had to swallow pride and do things differently. So, in preparation for the publication of my second book, Epistolophilia, I decided to take the workshop’s advice. I bought a domain name (my own name as well as my books’ titles), and started a blog.

Despite my initial reticence, blogging quickly brought unexpected rewards. From the very beginning, I enjoyed the discipline regular posting required, and the way the site grew slowly, like a garden or a manuscript. I’m obsessed with archives, so I love the way blogs are keepers of their own histories. Finally, I have been delighted by the community-building opportunities that a blog creates.

A long time ago, I sat on an academic board that organized a biannual conference whose participants’ median age was going up and up. Board members worried constantly about the organization’s impending death and wondered how to attract younger attendees. “Offer them something,” I suggested. “An opportunity to win a book prize or a shot at a fellowship. Offer them something, and they will come.” So, that’s what we did. Once the association started a modest fellowship program and book prize, youthful scholars began returning to the association (and the financial investment quickly paid for itself).

The same principle works for a blog: offer something, and readers will come.

Blogs need not be navel-gazing, self-aggrandizing, or mean-spirited. When setting up the parameters of my blog, I asked myself how I could serve fellow writers. I decided on a ratio of 1:2. For every post about myself or my work, I featured at least 2 items about someone or something else: a review of a book or essay; a funding announcement or call for submissions; an author interview with a fellow writer of creative nonfiction.

By shining the spotlight (small as mine may be) on another writer, or by giving her a platform to talk about her work, I not only gain traffic on the blog (for every other writer brings friends and fans with her), I also gain insight, contacts, friends, knowledge and the occasional free book.

The more I extend myself to other writers, the more they reach back.

Writers are also readers. We are each other’s colleagues, but also each other’s audiences. Serving writers means reaching readers.

Be brave, be bold, and build. Then open yourself up to others and share.

[Photo: Shoeless Joe Jackson, by John McNab]

This post is part of a weekly series called “Countdown to Publication” on SheWrites.com, the premier social network for women writers.

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Countdown to Publication: The Work of Promoting a Book

My new book, Epistolophilia: Writing the Life of Ona Šimaitė (cover seen above) will appear in four months.

A few nights ago, I had a great conversation with my press’s publicist. Cara told me how she sat down on the couch to leaf through my book and was so drawn in that she ended up reading the whole thing in a matter of days.

Now, if you’re a writer, you’ll know how great it is to hear anyone say this. To hear it from the person who is tasked with promoting your work — in my case, a book that took me about a decade to complete — is like salve to the soul.

The publicist and I agreed to take a collaborative approach to promoting Epistolophilia. She and one other person are responsible for the University of Nebraska’s entire list, so the publicity department is stretched thin. Cara will therefore take care of getting the book to reviewers, talking it up, and submitting it for prizes; I will research and set up readings and lectures. Once I’ve got gigs lined up, she’ll step in to support me with books for sale and signing, posters, leaflets and the like.

Knocking cold on people’s doors and asking them to give you and your book a chance can be humiliating. I’m learning this, but trying not to let the process get me down. Having studied how writer-friends of mine have gotten their books noticed, I’m now doing my best to emulate their processes in a way that makes sense for Epistolophilia.

More than anything, I’m trying to be brave.

Lucky for me, I’ve made friends over the years of researching and writing this book, and have great supporters at libraries and cultural institutions that serve my readership. These are the doors I knocked on first, and I haven’t been disappointed.

Slowly, but surely this do-it-myself book tour is starting to take shape. It will start with a spring launch at Paragraphe Bookstore in Montreal, and then carry on through the fall with appearances at the Library of Congress, the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars (Washington DC), and the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research in New York City.

I’ll keep you posted as to appearances and interviews as things progress.

Update: There’s now a tentative Toronto date as well. Details to follow, closer to the event.

If you’d like me to come to your town, library, university, bookstore or other venue to read or talk about the life and writing of the Holocaust rescuer, Ona Šimaitė, write me a note via the Contact page!

Click here for a description of the book.

Wish me luck!

As always: happy writing; happy reading.

This post is part of a weekly series called “Countdown to Publication” on SheWrites.com, the premier social network for women writers.

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“Narrative” Fall Contest

Fountain by ecstaticist

NARRATIVE : A Nonprofit Organization Dedicated to Storytelling in the Digital Age

Contest Deadline: November 30.

NARRATIVE IS LOOKING FOR short stories, short shorts, essays, memoirs, photo essays, graphic stories, all forms of literary nonfiction, one-act plays, and excerpts from longer works of both fiction and nonfiction. Our one criterion is excellence.

Prior winners and finalists in Narrative contests have gone on to win other contests and to be published in prize collections, including the Pushcart Prize, Best New Stories from the South, an Atlantic prize, and others. View some recent awards won by our writers.

All entries will be considered for publication.

$3,250 First Prize
$1,500 Second Prize
$750 Third Prize
Ten finalists receive $100 each.

Click here for details.

[Photo: ecstaticist]

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Call for Submissions: Prose Competition

19th Annual Short Prose Competition for Developing Writers

$2,500 PRIZE

The Writers’ Union of Canada is pleased to announce that submissions are being accepted until November 3, 2011 for the 19th Annual Short Prose Competition for Developing Writers. The winning entry will be the best Canadian work of up to 2,500 words in the English language, fiction or non-fiction, written by an unpublished author.

PRIZE

$2,500 for the winning entry, and the entries of the winner and finalists will be submitted to three Canadian magazines.

JURY

Writers Kevin ChongAnne Emery, and Sylvia Fraser will serve as the jury.

ELIGIBILITY

This competition is open to all Canadian citizens and landed immigrants who have not had a book published by a commercial or university press in any genre and who do not currently have a contract with a book publisher. Original and unpublished (English language) fiction or non-fiction is eligible.

HOW TO SUBMIT ENTRIES:

  • Entries should be typed, double-spaced, in a clear twelve-point font, and the pages numbered on 8.5 x 11 paper, not stapled.
  • Submissions will be accepted in hardcopy only.
  • Include a separate cover letter with title of story, full name, address, phone number, email address, word count, and number of pages of entry.
  • Please type the name of entrant and the title of entry on each numbered page. This is not a blind competition.
  • Make cheque or money order payable to The Writers’ Union of Canada. Multiple entries can be submitted together and fees can be added and paid with one cheque or money order, $29 per entry.
  • Entries must be postmarked by November 3, 2011 to be eligible.
  • Mail entries to: SPC Competition, The Writers’ Union of Canada, 90 Richmond Street East, Suite 200, Toronto, ON M5C 1P1.

Results will be posted at www.writersunion.ca in February 2012. Manuscripts will not be returned.

[Photo: Sarah Ross photography]

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Malahat Review 2011 Creative Nonfiction Prize, $1000

The Malahat Review’s 2011 Creative Nonfiction Prize

Deadline: August 1, 2011 (postmarked)
Prize: $1000 CAD

Entry fee:
$35 CAD for Canadian residents
$40 USD for residents of the US
$45 USD for entries from elsewhere
(entry fee includes a one-year subscription to The Malahat Review)

No restrictions as to subject matter or approach apply. Submit a personal essay, memoir, literary journalism, cultural criticism, nature writing, etc., between 2000 and 3000 words in length. This year’s judge will be Terry Glavin.

More information: http://www.malahatreview.ca/creative_non-fiction_prize/info.html
Queries: malahat@uvic.ca

[Photo: Pink Sherbet Photography]

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Writers’ Trust Hilary Weston Prize, $60,000

The notoriously unrewarding business of writing non-fiction
books in Canada gained a double dose of glamour and money
yesterday with the announcement of the $60,000 Writers’
Trust Hilary Weston Prize. Billed as the richest award for
factual writing in Canada, the prize and the autumn gala at
which it will be announced are intended to do for the craft
what the Giller Prize does for Canadian fiction in the busy
fall season, according to its founding sponsor, the former
Lieutenant-Governor of Ontario.

Citing the work of Northrop Frye, Marshall McLuhan, Jane
Jacobs and Margaret MacMillan while making the announcement
in Toronto at Holt Renfrew, the Weston family’s store,
Hilary Weston said she hoped the prize would help revitalize
a form of writing that is becoming increasingly difficult to
undertake in Canada. “As I get older I really feel
passionate about non-fiction because of its broad reach,”
she said, adding that the prize is intended in part to
underwrite the enormous research the best non-fiction books
require.

Weston’s commitment transforms the unsponsored orphan of
the Writers’ Trust awards program into a sparkling
Cinderella with an appropriately glamorous coming-out next
fall, in the same few weeks when winners of the group’s
own fiction prize, the Scotiabank Giller Prize and the
Governor-General’s Literary Awards are announced. Unlike
the remainder of the Writers’ Trust prizes, which are
typically presented as a group at a low-key ceremony, the
Hilary Weston Prize will get its own gala, potentially to be
televised by CBC.

[Photo: Stephen A. Wolfe]

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