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• The individual attention you so richly deserve

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• Prodding when you lag behind

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Our Goal

To rescue storm tossed lives, one by one, and escort writing students from their present level to their highest potential.

Student Testimonies

* I took two Creative Writing courses at our local college several years ago and made no advancement in creative writing skills. Once I found Creative Writing Institute, and sent a short manuscript for evaluation by Lynn Carroll, I knew this was the most hopeful doorway for me and signed up. After only three lessons of Creative Writing 101, the drive to become a student and writer again was confirmed and on I went.  My tutor, Jo Popek, cheered me every inch of the way. Even the busy CEO, Deborah Owen, took time to write encouraging words. What a great staff. Betty C.

* I just wanted to let you guys know I was assigned to create a newsletter in my technical writing class. We had to write articles based off a fake company we created. I, of course, chose to "own" a used bookstore. So the articles in my newsletter had to be about things people who shop at a used bookstore would read. I wrote several articles, turned them in, and got and 100%! She said my articles were amazing, informative but encouraging, and she absolutely loved them. I wanted to thank both of you and let you know. You really have trained me well! You given me skill that will help me with future jobs, and school! Thanks!! Arial P.

* This is exactly what I've searched for - [Introduction to Poetry] - poetry forms and rules, punctuation and line breaks. I constantly stumble over the latter. I deeply appreciate your comments and suggestions. There is nowhere else for me to turn for help. Thank you for spending your valuable time teaching this class. I've searched hard for a [poetry] class like this one and am excited to find it at CWI. Terri C.

* I have been absorbing more than I ever dreamed. The dynamic non-fiction course is just that. Dynamic. My dearest friend and writing buddy has her master's thesis in the Library of Congress and has been reviewing my assignment analyses with me at the end of each lesson. She can't get over how extensive the material is that is being taught. > Lynn answers all my questions promptly, satisfactorily, and with humor. Thanks for everything. Shirley D.

* The [Creative Writing 101] course provided the kind of detailed comments and suggestions for my writing that I have been craving and have not received in other face-to-face classes.  Diane M.


Enter our Writing Contest! Get Brave!

by Ariel Pakizer

Should you or shouldn’t you enter a writing contest? Most writers would like to, but stifle that desire by convincing themselves they aren't good enough. It’s one thing to analyze your writing and know that you aren’t a Thoreau or Stephen King, but it’s another to think so little of your talent that you won't enter a contest.

Rejection is a fearsome thing – particularly when you're not used to it. Writing clubs can help prepare you for contesting. Check out and The former is a larger site and the latter is much smaller. Both are good. Both will give you opportunities to post your work and receive comments. You should reciprocate by doing the same, but now you may be thinking you’re not good enough to enter a contest AND you aren’t good enough to critique someone else’s work.

These are low self-esteem feelings. Recognize them as such, push them out of the way, and get on with life. Like everybody else, you’ll learn as you go.

Writing groups hold various kinds of contests. Sometimes the prizes are small, but it’s a good place to learn. If you’re ready to venture forth into contesting, GOOD FOR YOU! Search "writing contests" on the net and you’ll find all you want. The trick becomes, how do you sort through them? Which ones should you enter? Use this as a guide:

  • Watch out for contest scams. Some places will ask for a $50 entry fee, and virtually all of the entrants will receive a letter telling them they have won. When the "winner" replies, the scammer will want another $20 for a biography. Later, they'll want you to pay a little more when you win the grand prize. The "winners" are told their work will appear in an anthology (collection of short stories or poetry), but of course, you have to buy it and do your best to sell them to friends and neighbors. If they sell for .99 cents, no problem, but some anthologies are quite expensive. Use common sense.
  • Follow directions to a tee – or be disqualified.
  • Enter smaller contests for a better chance at winning. Larger contests, such as Writer's Digest, may have over 16,000 entries.
  • What you should expect to pay:  your entry and reading fee should be all you have to pay. These fees are what subsidize the awards, and are therefore necessary. Contest fees range from free to $100 per entry. A lot depends on the value of the prizes
  • Winning the lottery is much akin to winning a writing contest. Against all odds, even when you think you don't deserve to win – you may. Winning a contest is better than selling a story. Don’t cheat yourself out of this great learning experience.

Choose the contest that best suits you and your pocketbook and go for it! Contests usually come out in the spring and fall, so plan to gamble on yourself twice a year, if only to challenge yourself. You’re worth it!And by the way, Creative Writing Institute is having a Short Story Contest now. NO FEE. CASH PRIZES! TEN WINNERS!



Connect with our CEO

Twitter: DeborahOwen




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Chris Lotts

Brief bio: His agency’s clients include Stephen King, George R. R. Martin, and Robin Hobb.

Works for Lotts Agency

Looking for sci-fi and fantasy.

Contact Information: Query via and first 5-10 pages of story, no attachments.

Ginger Clark

Brief bio: She has worked with Curtis Brown since 2005. She currently lives in Brooklyn and graduated from Bryn Mawr College.

Works for Curtis Brown Ltd.

Looking for Juvenile (young adult and middle grade) science fiction, horror, romance, and fantasy.

Contact information: send query letter, synopsis of work, sample chapter, and brief resume to

Sarah LaPolla

Brief bio: Sarah earned her MFA in Creative Writing from The New York School, and has worked with Bradford Literary Agency since May of 2013.

Works for Bradford Literary Agency.

Looking for young adult and adult fiction. On the adult side, she is looking for literary fiction, science fiction, magical realism, dark/psychological mystery, and upmarket commercial and/or women’s fiction. For YA, she is interested in contemporary/realistic fiction that doesn’t shy away from the darker side of adolescence. YA sci-fi, horror, mystery, and magical realism are also welcome; and she would love to find a modern Judy Blume for the MG market.”

Contact Information: Send a query, first chapter, and synopsis to

Pooja Menon

Brief bio: Pooja graduated from Nottingham Trent University with a BA and later received her MFA from The Otis School of Art & Design. She’s worked with Kimberly Cameron & Associates since 2011.

Works for Kimberley Cameron & Associates

Looking for fantasy novels that are original and layered, with worlds as real and alive as the ones created by Philip Pullman and J.K. Rowling. In YA, she’s eagerly looking for submissions across all genres (contemporary, adventure, realist, paranormal romance, gothic, horror, historical, steampunk, dystopian, magical realism, urban fantasy, and new age). Pooja is also acquiring nonfiction adventure and travel memoirs, journalism and human interest stories, and self-help books addressing relationships and the human psychology from a fresh perspective.

Contact Information: Send query letter, one page synopsis and 50 pages as an attachment to



Getting Started in Writing

What would you give to be a good writer? Would you be willing to study hard? Would you be willing to start at the bottom? Would you be willing to invest in yourself? That’s what learning the writing trade is all about, and you can learn it in two years or less.











Creative Writing Institute's

International Short Story Contest Now Open

No Entry Fee

DIRECTIONS: Read all guidelines (rules) carefully.


First place: $200 USD or a free writing course with a personal tutor, valued at $260, + publication in our anthology and eBook.

Second place: $100 USD or a credit of $150 toward a writing course with a personal tutor, valued at $260, + publication in our anthology and eBook.

Third place: $50 USD or a credit of $100 toward a writing course with a personal tutor, valued at $260, + publication in our anthology and eBook.

Plus: seven additional Judge's Choice stories will receive publication in our anthology & Ebook, entitled "What Could Possibly go Wrong?"

ONE submission per person

  • When you're ready to submit, scroll to the bottom of the page at and click on SUBMIT. Entries will only be accepted on that form. Fill out your name and address, and follow the prompts to a space where you can copy and paste your document into it.  Do NOT send attachments or emailed entries as these will NOT be accepted.
  • Especially note our requirements for G-rated literature. Please see #1 below for further definition.
  • By entering this contest, you are saying this story has not been previously published, you grant minor editing rights for publication, and Creative Writing Institute has first, non-exclusive, electronic rights and First North American Print Rights to publish the winners and Judge's Choice stories in our anthology, "What Could Possibly go Wrong?" All Rights return to the author upon publication.

This is a themed contest. Your story must be original and unpublished (except on personal blogs, critique groups, or personal web pages) and must be between 1,000 and 2,000 words.

Your story may be any genre, but these exact sentences must appear together in the story:

I have a list and a map. What could possibly go wrong?

Accepting submissions until midnight, August 9, 2014, USA Eastern Standard Time.

  • Entries will only be accepted through the submission form. As you go through the submission process, there will be a space for you to copy and paste your document into. Do NOT send attachments or emailed entries as these will NOT be accepted.


1. Any genre: Horror, Fantasy, Sci-Fi, Humor, Romance, Children, etc., No erotica, profanity, swearing, or gore. (Swearing includes but is not limited to the following: hell, damn, bitch, taking God's name in vain, and other similar words.) This is a "G" rated contest. One swear word will disqualify your entry. Good writers can make their point by showing the character's attitudes. Questions? Query the head judge at

2. Entries must be 1,000 to 2,000 words. (This is a strict word count, but don't count the title or personal information in the word count.) Place the word count at the top of page 1 before submitting.

3. One entry per person, please.

4.By entering this contest, you are stating that the story is your own copyright. You are stating that it has NOT been previously published by a professional or semi-professional publication. You are stating that you grant minor editing rights for publication, and if chosen, Creative Writing Institute has first, non-exclusive, electronic rights and First North American Print Rights to publish the winners and Judge's Choice stories in our anthology, "What Could Possibly go Wrong?" All Rights return to the author upon publication.

5. Entries will be judged on originality, creativity, style, and technique.

6. Be sure that your entry has been proofread and edited. Points will be deducted for poorly structured sentences, spelling mistakes, and grammatical errors. Your entry should reflect your commitment to writing.

7. Read tips and tricks on how to win a contest on this page.

Winners will be notified by email on or before September 12, 2014.

Judging Panel

The competition will be judged by three judges, experienced in short story writing and editing. Direct your questions to Ms. Jo Popek, head judge, at

Many thanks to our Competition Co-Coordinator, Jianna Higgins.

Sign up for The Writer's Choice Newsletter. Get the latest, hottest tips on writing!

Good Luck with your entries!

Deborah Owen

CEO, Creative Writing Institute



CWI Sponsors Cancer Patients in Writing Courses

Creative Writing Institute is a 501(c)3 nonprofit charity that sponsors cancer patients in free writing courses. As a nonprofit organization, we can provide extremely competitive prices for the public. We go the extra mile that others only talk about. Get your private tutor here. No extra charge!

This is "Charlie Faye," who has graciously consented to be our cancer poster lady. Donations (left column) are tax deductible. If you're a cancer survivor and wish to apply for a scholarship, see


Get your Free Writing Evaluation!

Learn the truth about your writing skills in this 20-point evaluation. If you don't know what your problems are, how can you correct them? Directions: send a 1,500-word short story written in past tense, 3rd person (he, she, it). Write EVALUATION in the subject line. Material must be G-rated (no swearing, graphic scenes, etc.). For the best evaluation, use dialogue. Submit to our CEO, Allow two weeks. One evaluation per person, please. Follow directions. That's the first mark of a real writer. See evaluation testimonies below.


Testimonies from Free Evaluations

I'm happy to have found your writing site as your cause is dear to me. I am a many-time cancer survivor and love the opportunity you have taken to help cancer patients. At age 23, I was diagnosed with thyroid cancer that had metastasized to ten lymph nodes. In 1997 I was diagnosed with malignant melanoma. I have also had 3 squamous cell and 2 basal cell carcinomas removed. Yet, here I am at age 72, happy, healthy, cancer-free and writing. Anonymous __________

The CWI is a great organization that fosters the love of creative writing in everyone. Kudos! Paul T.___________

The evaluation helped me because I had no idea what my strong points were. It showed what parts of my story was weak and that I should focus on those areas until they become strong points. Annette T.___________

Wow and way wow!! I really didn't expect such a complete job. So kind of you. I feel like I owe you big. I know I have some weaknesses but I never could find them. I can go over other's work - I do it all the time in class - but not my own. I want to communicate my stories to others. I believe it is my one gift that God has given me to share his love. I am a natural storyteller. However, I have always told instead of written. I so appreciate the direction. I have earnestly been praying for this and I feel like this is my first real solid answer. I will be seeking to hone my skills. I will be seeking YOUR HELP in my new mission field. Lavonne C. __________

Lynn was very thorough, thoughtful, encouraging, knowledgeable and motivating. The one-on-one class experience is like no other class I've attended. I believe this promotes the desire to learn and helps with follow-through. Lynn gave me such a confidence boost, all the while being candid about my strengths and weaknesses. He was understanding when I had a crazy couple of weeks and allowed flexibility for homework. I so appreciated Lynn's honesty and heart. You said you enjoyed having me as a student, but you have no idea how the whole class and mentoring system helped me. I'll be forever grateful for all that you, Lynn, and Jo have given me. You are all truly unique. Linda C. __________

[I] received a wonderful and detailed writing evaluation of a fantasy short of mine from @deborahowen ; she's awesome; I highly recommend her. Tracy K._______


Brag Corner

Reader, Student, and Staff Accomplishments

1. Student Jianna Higgins is at it again! ​Her humerous book, Just Wondering, is now a finalist in the Readers' Favorite International Book Awards 2014. Good luck, Jianna! We're rooting for you. I highly recommend this book. It will help you get rid of glum moods.

2. Hi Deborah. I wanted to share the good news with you and Jo Popek about my recent writing successes. I feel I owe it, in large part, to my fantastic experience in Jo's Creative Writing classes. My short story, "Summer Tale" has just been published in the July issue of Still Crazy magazine. A second story, "Dearly Beloved Daughter," was selected in a competition held by the Great Lakes Commonwealth for inclusion in their anthology, Imagine This which will be published this fall. The Oak Park Writers Group has published my memoir piece, "Bombs Bursting in Air" and a poem, "Dark Lover" in their anthology, Keystrokes Volume IV.

And . .  I've made the first cut in a flash fiction contest sponsored by Women on Writing with "The Whole Truth," a piece that grew out of an assignment for one of Jo's classes. Winners will be announced this fall. I've recommended a variety of your classes to numerous writing buddies and will continue to do so in the future. Again . . . thank you, thank you, thank you!
Diane Maciejewski

3. Congratulations to one of our volunteers, Jianna Higgins, who just learned her novel, 'Just Going: Lily's Story' is a top 20 semifinalist in the Kindle Best Indie Book Awards 2014. Woohoo! The top 5 finalists will be announced in September. Today it is featured on the Because Reading Blog

4. CWI writer Zena Shapter has been nominated for a Ditmar Award for Best New Talent! The Ditmar Awards recognise and celebrate achievements by Australians in speculative fiction writing: Zena said: “I’m
seriously chuffed to have received this vote of confidence from a
community of writers I respect so much.” Well done, Zena!

5. Writing for Children's tutor, Diane Robinson, has won another award for Sir Princess Petra in the Reader’s Choice International Book Awards (K – 3rd grade). This is the 3rd award for book one and it is short-listed for another.

Diane said, "I’m very honored and humbled because the writing itself seems to come from a higher power than myself."

Book two released September 24, 2013, and is now available at

6. CWI student and volunteer staff member, Jianna Higgins, is all aglow. Her first book, Just Looking, is a finalist in the Best Indie Books of 2013 in short fiction: Heartwarming and funny, Just Looking also took 1st place this week in the Kindle store. Check the preview at Congratulations, Jianna!

Step right up and be counted. No matter how big or how small your accomplishments, send them to and see them published in this column.


Writing will fulfill you.

Writing will be worth the sacrifice.

Writing will make you more than you are.




Deborah Owen and Creative Writing Institute, Inc., its board and staff make no warranties or guarantees of any kind. Writing success comes from knowledge and persistence. We endeavor to be accurate in every way, but the publishing industry and research material fluctuates almost daily. Therefore, Deborah Owen, Creative Writing Institute, Inc., its board and staff may not be held liable for any kind of damages. Travel the writing road at your own risk. We all do. Direct questions to