Announcement: Yad Vashem Book Prize for Holocaust Research

The International Institute for Holocaust Research at Yad Vashem is pleased to announce the establishment of the Yad Vashem Book Prize for Holocaust Research in recognition of high scholarly research and writing on the Holocaust and invites submissions for consideration. This prize is endowed through the generosity of Sabina Schwartzbaum in memory of her father, Meir Schwartzbaum, whose family was murdered in the Holocaust.

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 2009 and 31 December 2010 are eligible for the prize. The prize recipient will be announced in October 2011.

In addition to the monetary prize, the recipients will be asked to present a paper at the award ceremony in December 2011.

The value of each prize is $8,000.

Entry applications must include the following:

  • Three copies of each book submitted (entries will not be returned)
  • A completed entry form (in Hebrew, English, German, or French);
  • A copy of the author’s Curriculum Vitae (in Hebrew, English, German, or French)
  • Two recommendation letters (in Hebrew, English, German, or French) from reputable academics who are familiar with the book’s specific topic

Books submitted must be in the original published language. Translations are not eligible.

Books not published in either Hebrew, English, German, or French must include a 500-word abstract and a translation of the table of contents into one of the four above mentioned languages.

Entries must be received by 1 May 2011.

For questions or concerns, please contact the office of the International Institute for Holocaust Research at 972-2-6443-480 or

Mail submissions to:

Eliot Nidam Orvieto
The International Institute for Holocaust Research
Yad Vashem
P.O. Box 3477 (Mount of Remembrance)
Jerusalem 91034

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Edna Staebler Personal Essay Contest: $1,000.00

Edna Staebler was a pioneer in the field of literary journalism. Her first article, “Duellists of the Deep”, a story about swordfishing with Neil’s Harbour fishermen, was published in MacLean’s when she was in her mid-40s and won the Canadian Womens Press Club Memorial Award. From there, she went on to write many more articles for MacLean’s, Chatelaine, Saturday Night, and others in the decades to come, as well as Cape Breton Harbour, a book about the time she spent there. And, of course, many readers know her best as the engaging voice of Food that Really Schmecks, a series of cookbooks so entertaining that people read them in bed.

Edna opened the door for generations of personal essayists, not just with her example but with her generosity, founding many awards, scholarships, bursaries. In 1981, she helped to found The New Quarterly, and in 2005, we were one of many lucky organizations and individuals to receive a gift from her completely out of the blue, a cheque for $25K.

In the spirit of Edna’s contributions to the genre, we are interested in essays of any length, on any topic, in which the writer’s personal engagement with the topic provides the frame or through-line. Our only restrictions are that the work be previously unpublished and the writer Canadian.

We offer a $1,000 prize for the winning essay; all submissions will be considered for paid publication in the magazine.

Entry fee: $40 per submission. Each submission includes a one-year Canadian subscription (or subscription extension) to The New Quarterly.

Eligiblity: Entrants must be Canadian or currently residing in Canada. Entries may not be previously published, accepted, or submitted for publication elsewhere. There are no restrictions on length or number of entries, so long as the appropriate fees are paid. Entrants anonymity will be carefully preserved throughout the judging process. Every entrant will receive notification via email that his or her entry has been received. The decisions will by made by August 31; winner(s) and finalists will receive notification by letter.

Deadline: Postmarked March 28, 2011

Details on how to enter here.

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Canada: Writers’ Symposium

The Writers’ Union of Canada (TWUC) is offering the Professional Development Symposium “Secure Footing in a Changing Literary Landscape” in Toronto, St. John’s, Montreal, Ottawa, Regina, Calgary, Vancouver and Victoria, in February and March of 2011. The symposiums take place from 9:30 am to 4:30 pm.

Authors Betsy Warland and Ross Laird will illuminate the new landscape of digital literature and publishing and discuss its impact on traditional modes of creation. Kelly Duffin, the Union’s executive director, will discuss authors’ contracts in the digital age.

This full-day event is designed to address the creative and financial questions that arise as writers navigate print-based and digital literary landscapes. The symposium also explores the importance of community and the need for writers to develop their own writing community.

The price of this symposium is $75.00 and covers costs, including lunch. For registration information on the city and date closest to you please go to www.writersunion.registration.pdf.

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Places for Writers: Calls for Submissions

If you don’t know Places for Writers, do take a look. It’s a Canadian site that links to publishers and writers’ resources. It also lists calls for submissions by journals, magazines, and other publications. Some pay, some don’t. Some are prestigious, some are emerging. But visiting the site might give you hope on a day when you feel like you’re writing for no one and for no purpose. It may remind you that, even in your solitude in front of your notebook or computer screen, you are still part of a literary community.

Here’s a sampling of recent calls (with upcoming deadlines) for essays and creative nonfiction:

CALYX A Journal of Art and Literature by Women (US) is accepting submissions of poetry, short fiction, and creative non-fiction. Deadline: December 31, 2010.

Paragon, Memorial University’s student-run literary press, is accepting submissions for their fourth issue. Publishes poetry (max 3) and fiction/creative nonfiction (2000 words max). Deadline: January 1, 2011.

Vox Humana Literary Journal, an international literary venue, is accepting short fiction, poetry, and critical essay submissions for its Spring 2011 issue. Favours work related to the Middle-East — particularly Israel and Palestine.

Happy writing, happy submitting.

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Five things I learned from writing an essay that got rejected over and over until it finally found its home

Since my most recent essay, “Pregnant Pause” came out in print, I’ve been reflecting on what I learned from the journey to its publication.

It was an incredibly hard road for that essay, for a variety of reasons. First, it’s a hybrid and relatively experimental piece of writing (part literary, and — I must admit — part academic) which makes it hard to place. Second, at 5,000 words, it’s lengthy — longer than many publications are willing to consider. And, finally, it took me ages to figure out what it was about, face what was wrong with it, and determine how to fix it.

So here’s what I learned:

1) Do what comes naturally. If first-person writing, haiku or journalism feel good and seem right, don’t fight it. In my case, I fought the first-person voice (where I feel most at home) for far too long, and wasted a lot of time.

2) Give your text to trusted friends and colleagues to read, and listen to what they say. If they are getting confused by what you’ve written, it’s probably not because they’re stupid, but because there’s something wrong with your text. Accept feedback about what isn’t working, swallow your pride, and fix it. At one point I was told that there were too many names in my piece and that it was hard to follow as a result. At first, I got my back up, then I tried listening, started paring, and things got better.

3) Sometimes, it isn’t you; it’s them. If you can see that the text is really good and it’s still getting rejected, the problem may be that you’ve been knocking on the wrong doors. I finally found a home for my essay when I figured out who its audience was, and which publications catered to those readers. I started to get positive (in some cases overwhelmingly positive) feedback and good advice once it began to land on the right editors’ desks

4) Don’t give up on a text just because it’s taking too long. Writing is a craft, and learning it takes time. My many-times-rejected essay took crazy long to write — as long as the book that grew out of it — but it represents a whole new level of understanding on my part about writing.

5) Shake off rejection as best you can. Don’t talk about it too much, don’t obsess, don’t let it kill your confidence and belief in what you do. Take what lessons you can from the experience, then get back to work.

Happy writing. Be courageous.

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Technological breakthrough! Pregnant Pause essay now up

A few weeks ago, my new essay on mothering, writing, research and on “my” librarian (the subject of my forthcoming book) appeared in Feminist Formations. I’ve finally figured out how to upload PDF files onto the site. So, here’s the essay for anyone who wants to read it. You can also find it under Publications on the right margin.

The essay is called “Pregnant Pause: On Ona Šimaitė, Research, Writing, and Motherhood.” I share it with the journal’s permission.

As the day goes on, I’ll use my new-found skills to link to more publications.

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Revisiting the question of titles

I recently joined a women’s writing network called Shewrites, and have been following a discussion on titles. People post their working titles, and the community reacts. On the one hand, it’s a great opportunity to get a lot of quick feedback. But on the other, it’s made me realize that we’re not all on the page when thinking about what makes a good title. So I wanted to raise the question here again.

There have been objections to titles put forth on the Shewrites list on the grounds that they don’t tell exactly what a book is about. It’s an objection I struggle with a lot, especially since I write non-fiction. But, as I look around my study and at some of my favorite books of non-fiction, here’s what I see:

The Year of Magical Thinking
Algerian White
Autobiography of Red

I, for one, like titles that hint rather than baldly declare what the book is about. I like titles that are evocative and a bit poetic. I like titles that reveal their meanings fully once you’re part-way through a text. But I may be in the minority in this respect.

I’m interested to hear what you think is important in a title. How much does a title have to tell you? How tolerant of the abstract are we when it comes to titles? What are your favorites, and why?

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Summer Literary Seminars Contest: Kenya, Montreal, Lithuania

Summer Literary Seminars is announcing its annual Unified (Kenya, Montreal and Lithuania) Literary Contest, held this year in affiliation with The Walrus Magazine. Jayne Anne Phillips will be judging the fiction, and Matthew Zapruder the poetry.

Contest winners in the categories of fiction and poetry will have their work prominently featured online in Canada’s premiere literary magazine, The Walrus, as well as published in print in a participating literary journal in the United States (TBA). Additionally, they will have the choice of attending (airfare, tuition, and housing included) any one of the SLS 2011 programs – in Montreal, Quebec (June 12 – 25); Vilnius, Lithuania (August); or Nairobi-Lamu, Kenya (December).

Second-place winners will receive a full tuition waiver for the program of their choice, and third-place winners will receive a 50% tuition discount.

A number of select contest participants, based on the overall strength of their work, will be offered tuition scholarships, as well, applicable to the SLS 2011 programs.

Read the full guidelines at:

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New essay on writing and mothering: Pregnant Pause

A while ago I wrote a post on failure and returning to the first-person voice. I told how I’d worked on an essay that got rejected countless times before it found its form and its home.

That essay has now appeared in the journal Feminist Formations, in an issue about the body.

Called “Pregnant Pause: On Ona Šimaitė, Research, Writing, and Motherhood,” my essay explores the riddle of being a writer and a mother. It’s a love story between a writer, her new baby and her biographical subject (a Holocaust rescuer and librarian).

You can read the essay here. 

If you don’t have access to Project Muse and would like a copy of the essay, feel free to send me a note via my Contact page, and I’ll get a PDF version off to you.

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And in other news…second book forthcoming

Though it feels like old news now, I realized this morning that I hadn’t yet posted the fact the my second book, a biography of the Holocaust rescuer, Ona Šimaitė, is now forthcoming. It’s official: the contract has been signed, sealed and delivered.

The University of Nebraska Press will publish my second book (as it did my first). I’m currently still using the working title of Beloved Profession, but can’t promise that it will stick.

September will be a busy month for me, what with whipping the MS into its final shape, but then it’s off to production as of October 1, 2010. Once I have a firm publication date, I’ll let you know.

Thanks to all who supported me while writing this book. There’s a special place for you not only in my heart, but also in the Acknowledgments!

[Photo of Nebraska landscape: viking_79]

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