Home Is…Short Fiction Contest, Proceeds Benefit Homeless


$100 1st place, $75 2nd place, $50 third place

Open February 19, 2016, our Home Is…short fiction contest will highlight great writing on the theme of Home and benefit charities serving the homeless.

12 winners will be published in an upcoming Iron Twine Press fiction anthology. Anthology sales will benefit homelessness charities for as long as the book remains in print.

Click the submit button enter your work.


Welcome! We are accepting submissions to the Iron Twine Press Home Is…Short Fiction Contest from February 19, 2016 – May 1, 2016.

$225 in Prizes!

There is a humanitarian crisis growing in our own backyard. We look around our cities and see need huddled on freeway off-ramps, tent communities of the displaced growing under overpasses; we see piles of blankets on city benches, in alleyways, in doorways covering men and women who, too often, we choose to look past because we don’t know how to help. In the face of an epidemic of need, it is hard to know what to do. We can only start with what we can do.

This writing contest is our start: together, let’s do something good with your great writing!

Robert Frost famously wrote: “Home is the place where, when you have to go there, they have to take you in.” What is home to you? Submit your previously unpublished work of short fiction (up to 5,000 words) that addresses the theme of Home. What home is…what home isn’t…searching for home…losing home…living without a home…returning home…leaving home. It’s really up to you. If you think your story says something about the idea of Home, we want to read it.

Awards will be given for 1st, 2nd and 3rd place in the contest. $100 for 1st place, $75 for 2nd place, $50 for third place.

The three prize winners and 9 other entrants (12 writers total) will be published in an upcoming Iron Twine Press anthology. Winners may list this anthology as a professional publishing credit. Iron Twine Press will obtain listing for this anthology in leading distribution catalogs worldwide to maximize exposure for winning authors and will promote the book through traditional and social media and place the book for sale through major book retailers. Authors chosen for inclusion will receive a complimentary copy of the anthology and will be listed by name in press and marketing materials promoting the anthology.

Submission Guidelines

  • Contest open from February 19, 2016 to May 1, 2016
  • $10 reading fee
    • Fee supports our ability to produce and promote a quality anthology and to increase exposure for winning authors
    • A portion of reading fee proceeds will be donated to charities serving the homeless
    • Anthology sales will benefit homelessness charities for as long as the book remains in print
  • One submission per reading fee
    • No more than two submissions per author
  • $100 1st place, $75 second place, $50 third place
    • 12 contest entrants will be included in the anthology
  • All entries must be received via our Submittable page
    • Only entries via Submittable will be considered
  • Microsoft Word .doc or .docx file format only
  • DO NOT include name, address or any other personally identifiable information in the manuscript document itself
  • Submitted work must be original and previously unpublished
  • No simultaneous submissions
  • By submitting, you grant Iron Twine Press publication rights to your work if selected and you verify that you have the necessary authority to grant us that rightSubmission Guidelines:
  • Authors retain copyright for all work submitted whether selected or not

We look forward to helping the world discover your work.


Editing Is a Service Position

editorI’ve been at work on preliminary edits to a novel. The author had submitted his work to other publishers before bringing it to Iron Twine Press and one of the others had expressed a srong interest in publishing it. So we’re Publisher B. The book came to us because the author didn’t like the conditions put upon him by Publisher A.

His book is an adventure tale set primarily in a wilderness environment that is being threatened by human activities. That’s vague, I know. But we don’t have rights to the book yet and I want to respect the author’s ownership of his own work. What I’m telling you about the story doesn’t give anything away.

So, Publisher A liked the story a lot–it’s exciting and though-provoking, a really good read. But they wanted one change before they would agree to publish it: they wanted the author to make the characters in the book overtly supportive of the idea that human activity is the root cause of climate change.

Putting aside the fact that I believe that to be a fact supported by the preponderance of scientific evidence, I strongly disagree with Publisher A’s demand in this case. The book isn’t about the climate change debate. It mentions the existence of previous ice ages and warming periods, but not in the context of taking any position on what is happening to the climate today. Publisher A, in my opinion, brought an agenda into the experience of reading the book and was trying to change the book to support that agenda.

That raises a fundamental question for me about the proper role of an editor. Is it the editor’s role to view a book as raw material they can turn into something they imagine, or is it to imagine ways to turn the book into the best possible version of what it is already trying to be?

I believe it is the latter. As a writer myself, I’ve been through too many writing workshops of my work and others’ that devolve into imagination frenzies where everyone stops suggesting ways the author could make more clearly the points he or she is trying to make and just starts re-writing the story with their own ideas. “What if, instead of a bank robber in New York, you made this about a livestock rustler in Amish country? Then, in the getaway chase, instead of a car, you could have him riding a sheep. That would be funny.”

It’s a subtle distinction, maybe, but it’s an important one. Editors should suggest changes to details if the existing details are at odds with the truth and clarity of the story. Editors should resist the urge to change details if the only problem is that the existing details lead readers to a different truth than the truth the editor holds. If you want the story to deliver a different truth, write a new story. If you want to be a helpful editor, help the story clarify the communication of it’s own truths. Editing is a service position; the editor should exist in service to the story.

Neal, I Love You!

celestine_2In honor of the new year: Found this on the flyleaf of a used copy of The Celestine Prophecy at Half Price Books in Bellevue, WA. I haven’t read the book. I doubt it could be more interesting than the stories this inscription is inspiring…Happy New Year 2017, Neal and Jo!! And all the rest of you too!

Bookstores Are Not Dead, or Are They?

Two conflicting reports this week about the state of book sales. Today, we have author Ann Patchett introducing us to the neighborhood bookstore she has opened in Nashville, TN and that she says is doing quite well.

That’s welcome news. But it runs counter to a more dire report that came earlier in the week from National Public Radio stating that book sales, even for books that are considered successful, are so low it’s almost impossible for authors to make a living off their writing now.

It’s true most small publishers don’t have huge budgets to pay authors for their work. I hope it’s also true that people are remembering — or rediscovering — the value of neighborhood bookstores. I also think that even if bookstores are struggling at the moment, that doesn’t mean people aren’t reading; it may be that they’re reading material delivered in different ways than in the past.

And about reading here’s something from Ann Patchett that I know is absolutely true:

Books give us empathy; they allow us to go into someone else’s life and step inside their skin and see the world through their eyes. And that’s what makes us more compassionate people….Reading for me has always been the greatest comfort in my life and as long as I had a book–any book–I’m not alone. — Bestselling Author, Ann Patchett



The First Honeymoon — Free Copies to LibraryThing Early Reviewers

LibraryThingDo you know LibraryThing? It’s a community of 1,900,000 booklovers. This month, we’re giving away 15 free copies of Lyn Coffin’s The First Honeymoon: New and Selected Stories through the LibraryThing Early Reviewers program.

Just like in last month’s Goodreads giveaway, you can request a copy and at the end of the month, LibraryThing will draw winners and if one of them is you, we’ll send you a copy of the book. You can see the full list of this month’s books, including The First Honeymoon, right here. Sign up for the Early Reviewers program and put in a bid for the ones that look interesting to you!

25% Discount at CreateSpace.com

Did you try for a free copy of The First Honeymoon through Goodreads but not win in the drawing? Do you want a copy, but not feel like entering the LibraryThing contest? Well, then, you’re in luck. Buy a copy from CreateSpace.com, enter code FTFA78GT at checkout, and you’ll receive 25% off the price!

Thanks for your interest. Keep reading!


For Individual Success, You’ll Need a Team

Have a look at this picture from the acknowledgements page of a book my mother was reading (click the image to get a clearer view):


I think the picture tells you everything you need to know about what it really takes to publish a book. The image of the tortured, solitary writer slaving his or her way toward success is common and romantic, but inaccurate. While the writing process can be a solitary pursuit, to publish your book you need to step out into the world, and enlist the help of many good-natured souls. To publish your book, you need a team. And it’s never too early to start building that team. Look around you: are you surrounded by the people you need to get your book across the finish line? If not, start reaching out now, start telling people about it, start asking for readers, get feedback, talk to experts. Successfully publishing a book requires the same effort at relationship building that is required for success in any other professional pursuit — networking, team building, collaboration!

Best Sentence Saturday — #3

yakimaReporting this week from the road and posting from a phone. Forgive the typos, my thumbs are too big for this “keyboard”. This week something new and some things old. All good though.

We’re big fans of the short story here at Iron Twine Press, so we’re always excited to hear about a new collection. This week we’ve been learning about Nicole Hartounian’s debut collection Speed Dreaming available now. You can read one of the stories, “Youse”, at The Center for Fiction. “Youse” is, on the surface, a gentle and touching coming-of-age story, but there’s a dark sadness beneath the surface. Rae, the main character is still reeling from a tragedy that occurs before the story begins but serves as the inciting incident and leaves her quietly careening like a deflating balloon sputtering in descending circles around a room. We liked the pace and the urgency and the vividness of this sentence:

When a hand touches her shoulder, she screams, her mother screams, the secretary, maybe, screams—it is surround-sound panic until Rae leaps to her feet, turns, sees Joanna standing there, leaves stuck to the side of her hair, but there, in the flesh, screaming, too.

“Surround-sound panic” is a great phrase.

Congratulations to Nicole Hartounian. You can find her on Twitter @NicoleHrtn

Now some older things:

Langston Hughes, Salvation:

I began to wonder what God thought about Westley, who certainly hadn’t seen Jesus either, but who was now sitting proudly on the platform, swinging his knickerbockered legs and grinning down at me, surrounded by deacons and old women on their knees praying. God had not struck Westley dead for taking his name in vain or for lying in the temple. So I decided that maybe to save further trouble, I’d better lie, too, and say that Jesus had come, and get up and be saved.

So I got up.

Suddenly the whole room broke into a sea of shouting, as they saw me rise. Waves of rejoicing swept the place. Women leaped in the air. My aunt threw her arms around me. The minister took me by the hand and led me to the platform.

It’s a comical image, but in the context of the whole piece it reveals how deception has the power to validate and to torture at the same time. Hughes’ prose is, of course, as infused with poetic brilliance as any one of his poems. I’m so glad he’s still being read.

And finally, on this week of the 90th anniversary of the publishing of The Great Gatsby we would be remiss (and embarrassed to call ourselves book people) if we didn’t share our favorite passage from that Great American Novel:

We walked through a high hallway into a bright rosy-colored space, fragilely bound into the house by French windows at either end. The windows were ajar and gleaming white against the fresh grass outside that seemed to grow a little way into the house. A breeze blew through the room, blew curtains in at one end and out the other like pale flags, twisting them up toward the frosted wedding-cake of the ceiling, and then rippled over the wine-colored rug, making a shadow on it as wind does on the sea.

Hard to say what it is about that passage…just the breeze blowing the curtains in at one end and out at the other. You can feel it, smell it, hear the quiet of it….every time I read that passage my breath catches, somehow I feel I have touched the heart of Fitzgerald’s novel in that one simple moment.

Keep on reading! And get ready, in future posts I might ask you to share the best sentences you’ve read in the past week.