Issue #103

Free Writers' Newsletter

Oct 29, 2011  



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Writers can reach multitudes
By James A. Haught
Editor, The Charleston Gazette

In 2002, elderly Senator Robert Byrd of West Virginia gave fervent Senate floor speeches against the looming US invasion of Iraq. But the Washington press corps ignored him. He drew little coverage nationwide by newspapers, television news or wire services. Byrd's voice was mostly lost.

Then an amazing thing happened. That global marvel, the internet, took command. War opponents began emailing Byrd's speeches to friends, who forwarded them to others. Before long, they had spread to thousands of Americans, plus more thousands overseas. His words blanketed the planet, spontaneously, spread by avid readers. They were posted on many websites for everyone to read. Byrd became an international hero to war-questioners. His speeches were assembled into a book.

There's a lesson here for every writer (not a politics lesson, but one regarding how to deliver your words to the world). It's a new ball game. The internet is the mother of all outlets. Editors (like me) still decide what is printed on paper and broadcast on airwaves, but we don't control the wide-open, gigantic, all-reaching, worldwide conduit in Cyber Land. Traditional channels of information still exist, perhaps still dominate, but they aren't the only route. A brand-new way for writers to find multitudes of readers is available at the click of a mouse.


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There's no money in it. You must be willing to donate your work, just for the satisfaction of communicating with many. But that's immensely rewarding. Let's face it: There's little cash in freelance writing, anyway. In addition to running West Virginia's largest newspaper, I've written nine books and seventy magazine essays. The books have modest sales (9,000 max) and I never got more than $1,500 advance for each. I tell people that my private author career pays ten cents an hour. Thank heaven for my day job. However, like most writers, I have a compulsion that never stops. I can't quit articulating ideas for people to read. And now I'm funnelling part of my output through the internet. Here's how: My private writing is mostly in the sceptic-agnostic-freethought-doubter-anticlerical zone. When I hatch a new essay, I offer it first to specialty magazines in that field: Free Inquiry (where I'm a senior editor), Freethought Today, Skeptic, The Humanist, American Atheist, Secular World, The Freethinker, Secular Humanist Bulletin, UU World, International Humanist News, etc. If none accepts it, I turn to a huge array of websites pushing the same mission. It's almost effortless – just hit "send," no postage required. I email it to fifty, eighty or more. (There are so many I can't count them.) Numerous sites post my pieces, then other sites post "mirror" copies.

My last article, on the rapid rise of Americans who don't attend church, appeared on nearly a hundred websites, plus a couple of printed magazines. My latest, on the baffling enigma of zealots who kill themselves to commit mass murder, has spread to more than thirty sites so far. The essays draw comments, and readers send them to friends via "social networking". The Internet contains hundreds of "online communities". In addition to sceptic sites, there are others for every imaginable interest: parakeet-lovers, human rights crusaders, backpackers, antique car buffs, Latvian-Americans, chess fiends, feminists, cigar aficionados, ex-convicts, Renaissance troubadour experts, spelunkers, the deaf, Pentecostal church members, gays, muzzle-loader gun shooters, archaeology fans, poetry-lovers, families of murder victims, skydivers – you name it.

Whatever your focus in writing, a ready-made outlet awaits. If magazine or book editors don't want your work, just fling it into the brave new digital realm. Search for sites that address your topic, then click the "contact" spot, and offer it to the world. In doing so, you escape the insolence of office, the arrogance of print-on-paper editors who never answer your inquiries or demand endless rewrites.

I'm chiefly absorbed in the nonfiction marketplace of ideas: the eternal tussle of beliefs, ideologies, social causes, worldviews. But the Internet offers just as many opportunities for fiction and feature writers. Hundreds of short story and poetry sites exist, along with all those topical groups – each awaiting submissions.

Moliere said: "Writing is like prostitution. First you do it for the love of it, then you do it for a few friends, and finally you do it for money." If you limit yourself to stages one and two, forgoing stage three, the internet will let you reach multitudes.

About the author
Haught is editor of The Charleston Gazette in West Virginia, and also is a senior editor of Free Inquiry magazine. He has won 20 national newswriting awards and is listed in Who's Who in America and Contemporary Authors. He can be reached by email at, by phone at +1 (304) 348-5199 and by fax at +1 (304) 348-1233. His website is



New literary agencies

Samar Hammam, former director of established London literary agency Toby Eady Associates Ltd, has launched a new literary agency called Rocking Chair Books, handling literary fiction, commercial fiction and general nonfiction. The agency welcomes unsolicited submissions by email. For more details, click here.

The Michael Greer Literary Agency is a new literary agency specialising in sports writing, be that covering certain players, or covering certain games and the philosophy of sports. Manuscripts in the young adult / teen fiction category, and in the literary fiction category, are also accepted; particularly literary fiction with an emphasis on work set in a city environment. The agency is actively accepting submissions and accepts both queries and submissions by email. For more details, click here

For over 850 other literary agencies, click here


Click here for great value writing classes!


Crime Writers' Association's Debut Dagger Competition

The Crime Writers' Association's Debut Dagger Competition for 2012 will run from October 22, 2011, to January 21, 2012.

This award is open to all writers who have not had a novel published commercially. Entrants are required to submit the first 3,000 words of their crime-themed novel, plus a 500/1,000 word synopsis. The short-listed entries are not only circulated to all the editors and agents who are members of our Association, but also to an increasing number who contact us asking to see the list. Since its inauguration, over two dozen winners and short-listed authors have obtained publishing contracts. It's a great opportunity for would-be crime writers to jump the slush pile and get their work seen by leading editors and agents. 

Further details can be found on the website at, or go straight to the competition pages (and sign up for the regular fortnightly email bulletins) at 

For over 180 other writing contests, click here



New digital publisher

Michael Wolf, GigaOm’s VP research, has launched his own digital imprint, BSTSLLR. The publisher aims to publish established authors and promising new authors in eBook format across various platforms. Authors interested in working with the new publisher should make contact by email in the first instance. For more information, click here

For over 1,450 other publishers, click here


Producer shares Best in Canada short film award distinction between his two films

The Canadian Short Screenplay Competition’s "Rusted Pyre" written by Daniel Audet and directed by Laurence Cohen and "Minus Lara" (a short film produced for Bravo!FACT) written by Canadian Film Centre student Surita Parmar and directed by Rob King, were co-awarded one of the 2011 Reel Rave International Film Festival’s top honours and distinctions: “Best in Canada”.

The short films played to enthusiastic crowds during the weekend long film festival, which includes the screening of six feature films in addition to the Short Film Festival. There were three awards handed out for the event and festival Director and Curator Griffith Aaron Baker announced on behalf of the Reel Rave Committee and the Mann Art Gallery that both Canadian Short Screenplay Competition short films tied for the “Best in Canada” award.

"Rusted Pyre" was also recently selected by the Young Cuts Film Festival as one of the top 100 films of 2011. The short films’ Producer, David Cormican offered his thanks upon learning of the co-win honour as part of Reel Rave, "This is amazing and I give thanks for the success of these two films, which were made by an incredibly talented bunch of professionals whom, without them, these films would not have been possible. These two films in conjunction with this amazing award, is a great indication of the depth of incredible talent in the film industry in Regina, Saskatchewan (where these shorts were both filmed)".

About The Canadian Short Screenplay Competition (CSSC)
The Canadian Short Screenplay Competition, administered by Year of the Skunk Productions, and established in 2008, is the premiere script contest for short film screenplays. CSSC is the single-most competitive, prestigious, short screenplay festival in Canada, winner of the 2010 Canadian Weblog Award for Literature and Writing, a champion for screenwriters everywhere and a launching pad for writers’ professional careers.


New speculative fiction magazine

The Darkleian Times is a new quarterly ezine publishing tales of speculative fiction, science fiction, fantasy and horror that blur the boundaries of what is and what isn’t. Stories should be between 2,000 and 5,000 words, and unpublished. For more information, click here

For over 1,450 other magazines, click here


La Manzanilla Writer’s Workshop

Looking to start the New Year the “write” way? Want to spend one or two weeks in a tropical paradise, lost in words and far away from worries? If so, you may be interested in participating in a writer’s workshop being planned for January 2012 in the small beach town of La Manzanilla, Jalisco – an artists and writers haven!

This writer’s workshop will be facilitated by author-columnist-poet Dr. Sonna who lived and taught writing in Taos for 11 years, has authored a dozen books, and currently resides in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. You’ll be guided on how to free your muse, develop your voice, create compelling characters, build a plot and create dramatic tension and maybe even get the inspiration and tools to complete that manuscript you are working on. 

Attend one or two sessions (Session 1: January 9–13, 2012; Session 2: January 16–20, 2012). The workshop will be lead in English, but for those wanting to double up on this adventure and also dive into some Spanish classes while in La Manzanilla, La Catalina School ( offers courses for beginners to advanced-level students.

Visit Dr. Sonna’s website for more info on the La Manzanilla Writer’s Workshop and registration instructions at:  


New digital publisher

Michael Wolf, GigaOm’s VP research, has launched his own digital imprint, BSTSLLR. The publisher aims to publish established authors and promising new authors in eBook format across various platforms. Authors interested in working with the new publisher should make contact by email in the first instance. For more information, click here

For over 1,450 other publishers, click here


Resources for writers at

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