Newsletter #3: Late Expectations

Dear writers,

This newsletter should come to you every Friday afternoon. Given that it’s Saturday night and you’re reading this sans-weekly-writing-recommendations, it’s safe to say… I’m late. I spent a hefty chunk of my childhood absolutely furious with my mother’s tardiness – we often discuss the best name for her memoir, which is basically a toss between Waiting For Jano and 50 Shades of Beige (owing to how my family is often presented with roughly 50 beige colour palettes when something needs painting, and we have to help ensure our Beige Wall doesn’t clash with our Beige Sofa). Beckett-esque deviation aside, I’m often late and I’m quite sorry. 

 It has been a devastating week for the world. I’m not a relevant voice in the #BlackLivesMatter conversation, so I won’t offer more than a point in the direction of those who are. My friend Ashleigh has succinctly and self-reflectively captured the contours of white allyship, and how important it is to read and learn without placing the burden on people of colour to teach you. If you have the money, consider donating directly to the Black Lives Matter movement in the US, or the UK version. You can also buy from black-owned businesses – here are US, UK and SA businesses to support. If you have the money, it is not difficult to make a positive impact, the resources are there, you just need to make the effort: UK, US and SA. However, if you don’t have money, there are still ways you can help: WATCH THIS, attend protests, sign petitions (here is a comprehensive, constantly updated document, which can be added to by responding to this Tweet). Read books: these and these and these. Learn. Adapt. Feel the shame but then use it for good. Self-pity is worthless. Don’t. Stop. Reading. 

Next up: the writing. 

Tip #3: Get to know your charactersWrite about who your characters are and the world around them in a way that doesn’t necessarily have to be included in your story. Decide what you would find in your character’s fridge, what their favourite book is and which book they pretend to read even though they haven’t and probably never will, what they’d Tweet about, who they’d vote for, how they make their tea (for instance, if your character is a psychopath, they may have a 50/50 ratio of milk to tea). It’s so much easier to develop your story and to write plot and dialogue, if you have a sense of who your character is. If you don’t do this, you run the risk of writing what you would do in a situation, rather than what your character would do. While drawing from your own experience is important, nobody wants their stories to be populated by the same characters every time unless it’s a series. 

I: The Binge-Watching Cure

Any science fiction writers out there? There must be. Especially given that we’re basically living in an ongoing, high-budget episode of Black Mirror right now. There have been two issues of The Binge-Watching Cure to date, and the third is Science Fiction themed and accepting submissions. They’re looking for stories between 100 and 25,000 words. Their Horror edition looked awesome.

Submission fee: Free

Submission deadline: 1 July 2020

Payment: $100

Submit here

II: The Other Stories

I’m all about the themes today – this one is for writers of horror, sci-fi and thriller fiction. The Other Stories is a podcast with 10,000 daily listeners, with each volume taking on a different theme of short stories submitted to them. The next four themes, with deadlines until 14 August, are: Ghost Ships, Immortality, Underwater and The Dark Web. They are not only open to submissions of stories, they are also looking for narrators, artists and encourage you to come forward if you have “other hidden talent that you feel would add value”.

Submission fee: Free

Submission deadline: Ghost Ships; 1st July
Immortality; 14th July
Underwater; 1st August
The Dark Web; 14th August

Payment: $5

Submit here

III: Conium Innovative Short Fiction Contest

This short fiction competition is wonderful, because the brief is “any combination of stories up to 7500 words”. So, you can submit 10 flash fiction pieces, or one weighty short story, it’s up to you. 

Submission fee: $15

Submission deadline: 1 July 2020

Payment: $500, 5 copies of the winning issue, and a copy of the judge’s latest book

Submit here

IV: Oxford Brookes International Poetry Competition

This is a great submission outlet for someone with a few poems stashed away, because the submission fee gets slightly cheaper if you submit more than three entries. The competition has two categories, an open one and also one for second language English speakers.  

Submission fee: £5 per poem (for two or less), £4 per poem (for three or more)

Submission deadline: 14 September 2020

Payment: Winner gets £1000, and both runners up £200

Submit here


CRAFT are constantly looking for whatever you’re good at writing – they are all about the craft of writing. They want fiction, critical pieces on craft, interviews, book annotations, and much more. It’s an online platform, so make sure you read what they publish before submitting.

Submission fee: Free

Submission deadline: Ongoing

Payment: $100 for original flash fiction, and $200 for original short fiction, between $50 and $100 for original craft content

Submit here

This week’s publishers accepting unsolicited manuscripts:

Dancing Star Press are accepting submissions of speculative fiction novellas. If you’re not sure what constitutes as speculative fiction, check their website – they’re pretty clear about what they do and don’t want. 

Fire & Ice publish YA and New Adult fiction from 50,000 words and up. The due date for the following themes in particular is 15 June 2020: Winter Holiday (novels which take place during Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah and New Years), Contemporary Fiction, Contemporary Romance and Fairy Tale Novels.


Of course, 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 donating to one of the charities listed above, rather than my usual.Keep writing, everyone. You got dis.

Read Newsletter #2: 100 Beers Of Solitude