Monday, August 6, 2007

Novellas: The Forgotten Step-Child No More

I love novellas: Pale Horse, Pale Rider by Katherine Anne Porter; Ethan Canin’s collection of three novellas, The Palace Thief; The Old Forest by Peter Taylor; The Age of Grief by Jane Smiley; Hunger by Lan Samantha Chang. Sadly, there’s little incentive to write novellas (beyond their own inherent satisfaction) since they’re so hard to get published. That’s why I’m always pleased to see publishers and/or journals step up and offer opportunities like the following. In my opinion, the contest fee is a little steep, but at least you get a copy of the winning novella. Here are the contest guidelines:

The Miami University Novella Contest

The novella form has had a long and distinguished place in American literature, and has triumphed in the hands of Herman Melville, Henry James, Katherine Anne Porter, Stanley Elkin, Cynthia Ozick, Jane Smiley, Toni Morrison, Philip Roth, Saul Bellow, William Gass, John Gardner, Andrea Barrett and Tobias Wolff, to name just a few.

As commercial publishers are driven more and more by marketplace concerns, novellas, by nature of their length, often fall between the cracks of short story collections and novels and wind up being published-if at all-not as individual volumes but as part of a collection of stories. Because the form is such a pleasure for readers and writers alike-short enough to be read at a single sustained sitting, but long enough to allow the writer greater freedom in character and plot development than does the short story-we are happy to present a rare venue for publishing individual novellas as stand-alone volumes.

Manuscripts submitted for the award will be read and evaluated by our creative writing faculty, all of whom are active publishing writers. The manuscripts will be read "blind;" in other words, all identifiers will be stripped from the pages before the manuscripts are read, and the author’s history of previous publication will not be available to readers. Each year a different member of our faculty will serve as the final judge and will decide from among the list of finalists submitted by the other readers. This year’s final judge is fiction writer Brian Ascalon Roley.

Students, former students, faculty, former faculty, or anyone connected to Miami University will not be considered for the award. Though we believe strongly in the talent of those we have worked with and taught, we will do everything we can to assure that this prize is administered impartially, fairly, and without regard to association.

Miami University Press is a non-profit organization. Though we are requiring an entrance fee, we wish to make it clear that this money will be used to pay for the administrative costs of the contest, to help with the costs of publishing a book of high quality, and to allow each entrant to receive a copy of the winning volume. We want that book to be a pleasure to hold in the hands and to read. The winning volume will be distributed nationwide.

Submission Rules and Guidelines:
Winning entry receives $1,000 and book publication.
Postmark by November 1, 2007.
Reading fee $25, payable to MU Press.
All entrants receive copy of winning book.
Submit manuscripts, 40,000 words or less, two title pages, one with author’s name, address and phone number, one without. Author’s name must not appear elsewhere.
The minimum word count is 60 pages times 300 words or 18,000 words.

For more information, click here.

Mail to:
MU Press Novella Prize
English Department
356 Bachelor Hall
Miami University
Oxford, OH 45056


DC-area author Leslie Pietrzyk explores the creative process and all things literary.