Newsletter #2: 100 Beers of Solitude

Dear writers

I don’t know about everyone else, but lockdown has meant a fair few drinks on my part (I trialled using the word “bevs” or “bezzas” there, but felt like a fraud because I genuinely don’t think I’ve ever said those words out loud). For me, it’s been strictly beer and wine – I’ve seen people making very fancy daiquiri’s for their Zoom Cocktail Parties, which I would drink like orange squash and thus far too quickly to entertain the prospect. In South Africa, where I grew up, the purchasing of alcohol has been banned throughout lockdown until Monday. So, I foresee a lot of boozy family dinners next week. 

Some friends from home have started a beer-delivery service in London (as good saffas do), called Lockdown Living. 50% of the profits go to frontline workers, so drinking 100 beers in solitude just got charitable! I swear they’re not paying me to say this – it’s a great initiative and a fine alternative to taking your germy selves to Sainsbury’s. They often run competitions to win beers, and offer discount codes on their Instagram.

So that I never feel compelled to explain my jokes (a cardinal sin, so the comedians say), I’ll just include links to the books from which my puns originate:

100 Years Of Solitude – Gabriel Garcia Marquez

But now onto the important stuff – the writing, that is. Although “Drunkenness” is arguably as hefty a theme for Shakespeare’s comedies as “Betrayal”, so I’ve not strayed too far off topic. 

Tip #2: Write often
The turning point for my writing was my Creative Writing degree, but not because of the lessons. I’m often met with a disdainful, “How do you teach creative writing? Surely you have it or you don’t?” I won’t get into that, because that’s not my point. The degree didn’t teach me how to write, it taught me how to sit down and actually do it, and it introduced me to a group of writers who I’d never be shy to ask for feedback. 

It forced me to write, even when the ever-elusive muse was MIA, or when I just didn’t feel like it. It’s like a muscle, like riding a bike, like rummaging for gems in a pile of pebbles. Maybe you’ll get lucky and write the next best thing every time you sit down with a pen. I’m extremely envious of you happy for you if that’s the case. But if it’s not, don’t be fooled into thinking this is how everyone writes. It’s more likely that one in ten ideas will be brilliant – but best believe it’ll be the tenth one, so you need to write the other nine before you get there. Erase the idea that every single thing you write has to be publishable. You can’t run a 10K without first being able to run around the block – and you’re not going to post your block-run on Facebook once you’re running 10K, either. 

So write often, whether you join a writer’s forum, or just schedule a time where you sit down and write something (anything). It’ll help you find your voice, and there’s no stopping you going back to old pieces and improving them. Sometimes I’ll just pick a prompt, write something continuously for five minutes, and then only read it again the next week. A friend of mine has a prompt page – take a prompt and run with it, or add something to help someone in their writing practice. 

I: Flash Fiction Online

This online and print magazine are an open-genre publication, accepting submissions year-round. They accept original, unpublished flash fiction, as well as reprints. 

Submission fee: None 

Submission deadline: Ongoing

Payment: $80 (or $.02/word for reprints)

Submit here

II: Kalahari Short Story Competition

This is a reasonably specific call-out, but it’s open to everyone regardless of nationality or place of residence. They’re looking for short stories (2500-3000 words) written in English, French or Swahili. They must include the following excerpt from Elnathan John’s novel, “Born On A Tuesday” winner of Prix Les Afriques 2019:

 “I cannot eat or sleep or stop my hands from shaking. As soon as the sun rises I will leave this place.”

Submission fee: None 

Submission deadline: 20 August 2020

Payment: First Prize: €1000

Second Prize: €500

Third Prize: €300

Submission details here

III: Flash Fiction Magazine

Send flashies to Flash Fiction Magazine – don’t worry, I can see that “flashies” doesn’t work. There are three volumes to date, and they’re lovely little anthologies – download the free one if you’re new to flashing (sorry) and want to get a feel for what makes a good’un. Also download it if you’re not new, reading widely is important to creating. A great (although relatively pricey) feature: you can pay $30 for feedback on your story. They’ll refund you if it’s unhelpful – not sure how that’s decided but presumably, by making that promise, they’re confident it’s helpful. I won’t lie, I’m tempted, especially when stories get repeatedly rejected when they’re clearly wonderful…

Submission fee: None

Submission deadline: Ongoing

Payment: $40 (Anthology), $1000 (Editor’s Choice Award)

Submit here

IV: Bethlehem Writers Roundtable

… Named as such due to the writing group’s location in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, rather than a religious group. Bethlehem Writers Group publishes an online journal, Bethlehem Writers Roundtable, and they’re accepting submissions of previously unpublished fiction and memoir. They have a really comprehensive list of what they’re accepting, and a list of the kind of thing they tend to reject (helpful, but remember how subjective this industry is, and you shouldn’t necessarily change what you’re writing to suit others – it’s your baby at the end of the day). The Summer edition is already full, there’s room for short stories for the Autumn edition and the theme is “Migration”, and the 2021 issues are accepting all genres outlined on their website. 

Submission fee: None

Submission deadline: 1 October 2020 (or a full month prior to the release date, but it often fills up before that)

Payment: $20 for published featured author stories, $10 for stories published on the &More page, and $5 for poems we publish

Submit here

V: Occult Detective Magazine

I’m going to quote from the website: “We are a magazine of many styles and approaches. We love both old-style and modern, cutting edge weird fiction, and we love folk horror; we embrace unashamed arcane adventure, and we also draw gritty noir mysteries into our domain. At the heart of all these tales are the occult detectives.” If you’re a supernatural in the world of occult fiction and non-fiction, you’ve found your platform. If you’re not, but you think this sounds as fascinating as I did, then head to the website, because they unpack the genre masterfully. They also accept B&W artwork. 

Submission fee: None

Submission deadline: Late Summer (whatever that means)

Payment: 1c/word for fiction and non-fiction , with a cap of $50 and $30 respectively

Plus a contributor copy in e-format, with a print copy

$25-40 for art

Submit here

I am aware that a lot of what I’ve been sharing in the two newsletters so far have been short fiction. I’ll always try to diversify it, but I also imagine that if you have a full length novel, you’ll have an ear to the ground for agents, submission windows, etc. Instead of going into detail for the ones I’ve heard about, I’ll just a couple of publishers accepting unsolicited manuscripts:

Eraserhead Press are accepting Bizarro Fiction original novellas and novels until 30 June 

Page Street Publishing publish YA, and full color, mostly hardcover books on cooking, sports, science, nature, interior design, crafts, and parenting

As always, I want as many writers to read this as possible. We’re all on the same team, and don’t let the competitive nature of the industry make you feel otherwise. So please: share this with all your writer-friends out there. If you are reading this email because it has been forwarded on to you, please subscribe here to receive future Have You Read This newsletters.

Please don’t reach out to me about further details – everything you could possibly need will be available on the links provided. They’re better equipped to answer your questions, anyway! 

Want to unsubscribe? Please do so by responding to this email, and if you have the time, let me know why. I hope it wasn’t something I said. 

Love and best wishes, 


If I was able to help you get published, or inspire your writing, please consider “buying me a coffee“. I don’t drink coffee, but you need a fancy membership on Ko-Fi to change the wording to “a bag of Percy Pigs”. Keep writing, everyone. You got dis.