March Newsletter

Spring is a time for cleaning, it's true. But this year we give you full permission to ignore the twelve tubes of almost-finished wrapping Online Classespaper in your closet and the haphazard organization of your family photos. This year, for a change, we encourage you to polish your words.

Starting in April, CNF is offering seven online classes that attack the genre from all angles, including new sessions of Basics in a Nutshell and Writing the Personal Essay.


Classes run for 10 weeks beginning April 4, 2011; sections are limited to 12 students. Visit our website to register and to view complete course details. 


Basics in a Nutshell introduces writers to the basics of creative nonfiction, exploring both the techniques used to gather information and the literary skills needed to turn bare facts into personal and compelling essays.


Writing the Personal Essay takes a close look at the writing and research skills needed to write a memoir or personal essay. We'll discuss how to best use detail, dialogue, structure and description, as well as how to collect information through interviews, research and other methods.  


Writing and Editing Your Blog explores how to write successfully in a genre that is barely a decade old. Writers will learn how to use literary techniques and blogging technology to engage an audience. 


Travel Writing focuses on the fundamental aspects of travel writing--from shaping story ideas to getting published. Participants will learn how to apply interviewing and research techniques, reporting, immersion skills, and the basic elements of narrative writing to create absorbing travel stories. 


Writing the Nonfiction Book Proposal examines how to craft the various sections of a book proposal--combining sales pitch, book outline, manuscript, and marketing strategy--and explains what steps to take afterward to pursue publication.


Advanced Memoir/Personal Essay Writing is designed for those who have already explored the basics of personal writing and wish to move on to a larger project or to more challenging forms. Students can either work on sections of a memoir or on personal essays in a variety of styles, learning how to structure chapters or essays, incorporate research into personal writing, develop character, use descriptive language effectively and more.


Immersion Journalism delves into the genre for which the writer observes, participates, interviews and otherwise intimately explores his or her subject. We'll take an in-depth look at the history and craft of this style of nonfiction writing. Students will learn important fly-on-the-wall techniques such as sharp observation, skillful note taking, laid-back interviewing and how to organize and structure immersion stories. 


Visit our FAQ page for additional information, or if you don't find what you need, direct questions to course instructor Anjali Sachdeva at sachdeva[at]  

In other news, after months of eating our way through more than 600 food blog nominations, we've finally whittled the list down to 16 finalists. Two of these posts will find their way into our upcoming Food issue (#41/Spring 2011), but we figured we'd share the other 14, to hold you over in the meantime:

"A Glutton for Gluten" by Jess Thomson

"An (Almost) All-American Thanksgiving" by Felicia Lee

"Baking Bread, Making a Living" by Karen Coates

"Cooking in Lahore: An American Woman In A Pakistani Kitchen" by Heather Cerreiro

"Cooking in Madagascar" by Marthe Weyandt

"Death and the Table." by Cole Campbell

"Devouring The Monster" by Julie A. Ward

"Duck Hunting: The Born Again" by Michael R. Shea

"In anticipation of frost" by Cole Campbell

"K is for Korean fish Market" by Elizabeth Browne

"Saffron: Spendy Threads" by Jess Thomson

"The Burger of a Lifetime" by Felicia Lee

"The Snail Eaters" by Joyce Hanson

"Tuesday, August 17th" by Anonymous

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  March 16, 2011

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March 31, 2011
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ESSAYS: Jennifer Lunden reads from "The Butterfly Effect," winner of the Robert Fragasso Animal Advocate Award for Best Essay, at KGB Bar in New York City. Essay Daily takes a close look at "Eight Questions You Would Ask Me If I Told You My Name," an essay by Ayse Papatya Bucak published in CNF #39. Geoff Dyer's essay "Reader's Block" previews his book, Otherwise Known as the Human Condition, to be published later this month.


ANSWERS: Gabriel Scala interviews Lee Gutkind about the genre, the magazine, and his daily writing routine. 


SUGGESTIONS: Cathy Day offers six ways to become an effective literary citizen, and Dinty Moore sets six guidelines for respectable self-promotion


REBUTTALS: Last month the New York Times published "The Problem With Memoirs," a rather
dismissive review of the genre's direction. In response, Brevity's Liz Stephens defends her interest in stories she can relate to, and the Colorado Review's R.B. Moreno notes the consequences of convincing writers that their stories have already been told. 



Two Days Left! 

Postmark Deadline: March 16, 2011


For an upcoming issue, Creative Nonfiction is seeking new essays about anger and revenge, true tales of frustration and retribution, long-buried memories of outrage and reprisal--or the absence of either. We're looking for stories that explore the lost art of the thoughtful diatribe, illustrate the beauty of the lyrical barb, invent elaborate secret plots, and generally don't play well with others.


Essays must be vivid and dramatic; they should combine a strong and compelling narrative with a significant element of research or information, and reach for some universal or deeper meaning in personal experiences. We're looking for well-written prose, rich with detail and a distinctive voice.


Creative Nonfiction editors will award $1,000 for Best Essay and $500 for runner-up.




Pittsburgh-based Artists Only 

Application Deadline: March 31, 2011 


Creative Nonfiction is currently seeking Pittsburgh-based artists to illustrate its summer issue, #42. The application period is currently open through March 31, 2011.


We will consider various media (e.g. line drawings, watercolor, collage) and welcome all styles of interpretation, providing they're well suited to a print format. The chosen artist will work closely with CNF editorial and design staff to create 8 to 10 original designs to be featured on the cover and interior of the magazine.


Interested artists should email a resume and three low-resolution jpeg samples of their best work to information[at] no later than March 31, 2011; a link to an electronic portfolio is also preferred. Selections will be made by April 15, with work taking place between April 15 and June 1



Accepted Year-Round


We are always on the lookout for true stories, well told, about any subject. For complete guidelines and to view other upcoming CNF issues and contests, please visit us online.



Accepted Year-Round


Have an idea for a literary timeline? An opinion on essential texts for readers and/or writers? An in-depth working knowledge of a specific type of nonfiction? Pitch us your ideas; Creative Nonfiction is now accepting query letters for several sections of the magazine. Learn more here. 



The CNF Daily Twitter Contest is one more way to get your work into CNF. Check out the ten top tweets in #40 and participate daily for the chance to be published in an upcoming issue!


Still not sure what we're looking for? Here are a few recent winners, to serve as examples and inspiration:



kmwalsh The Marines said, Too thin; the Navy, Too flat-footed. But Frank Buckles, faking 18 at 16, died at 110, the last doughboy of WWI. #cnftweet   



karriehiggins "If you learn only one thing," my art history professor said, "let it be this: still-life hams are never just still-life hams." #cnftweet 



JDeurbrouck She draped an old lover's gift about my neck. I gave her my handmade sweater. Age has taught us to hold loosely to lovely things. #cnftweet   



gruntleme After the blizzard time settles heavy as air. But in the trees, an unelected woodpecker tick-tocks--the city's timekeeper pro tem. #cnftweet   


All of the past winners are available on our profile page under the "Favorites" tab. 

Flexible schedule. One-on-one interaction. Customized courses.

We understand that not everyone wants or needs a degree to become a better writer. We also understand that in economic times such as these, there aren't a lot of people with the funds to invest in a two to three year MFA program, or even a summer conference.

CNF's mentoring programs offer writers of all levels one-on-one access to accomplished mentors (who, by the way, aren't just great writers, but experienced teachers and editors, too).

So this year, save the money you'd be spending on travel, lodging, and tuition and get the personalized attention you want and deserve.

Work with the experts, and make an investment in your writing career now!

For more information, click here or email the mentoring director, Stephen Knezovich, at knezovich[at]
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