JCU Professor Elizabeth Geoghegan Wins Two Solas Awards for Best Travel Writing

Professor Elizabeth Geoghegan

Professor Elizabeth Geoghegan

John Cabot University Professor Elizabeth Geoghegan, author the bestselling Amazon e-book The Marco Chronicles, has been named a recipient of two of the 9th Annual Solas Awards for Best Travel Writing in the categories of Travel Memoir and Women’s Travel.

Awards in each category are divided by gold, silver and bronze. Geoghegan’s The Marco Chronicles received the Gold Award in Travel Memoir, while Things You Can Learn from Nuns and Other Tales received the Bronze Award in Women’s Travel. 

Congratulations to Professor Geoghegan!


Article | Author Elizabeth Gilbert Shares Her “Thoughts on Writing”

Author Elizabeth Gilbert. Image from her Official Website. Click to visit.

Writing can be challenging business. There are moments when you write and feel on top of the world.  There are moments  when even thinking about writing makes you wish you never even began your writer’s journey.

It is in those latter moment that we must find courage to continue on our path.  Luckily, as young writers, we can look to those who have traveled ahead of us to provide us with encouragement and wisdom.  Eat, Pray, Love author Elizabeth Gilbert shares her story on how she came to writing and took steps to develop her craft.

Excerpt from Elizabeth Gilbert “Thoughts on Writing”

I believe that – if you are serious about a life of writing, or indeed about any creative form of expression – that you should take on this work like a holy calling…I built my entire life around writing. I didn’t know how else to do this. I didn’t know anyone who had ever become a writer. I had no, as they say, connections. I had no clues. I just began. Click here to continue reading.

14 Feb 2015| We Said Go Travel Winter Travel Writing Contest

Image from We Said Go Travel.

We Said Go Travel has begun its winter travel writing contest with a first place prize award of $500 (USD).  The genre is nonfiction. Please, visit their site for further details.  Below is an excerpt from their site:

We are looking for an article about a place that inspires you to be brave and save the day. In Chris Brogan‘s, It’s Not About the Tights: An Owners Manual on Bravery, he shares his definition of bravery as “not being afraid of yourself.” He says: “You’ve got to use whatever past you came from as part of the origin story that shapes the hero you will become. Welcome to day one. You are the superhero you’ve been waiting for.”

Enter from Jan 2, 2015 to Feb 14, 2015.

  • THEME: Inspiration: A place that inspires you to be brave
  • DEADLINE: Enter by midnight PST on February 14, 2015 
  • PRIZES: 1st Prize – $500 usd cash 2nd Prize – $100 usd cash 3rd Prize – $50 usd cash


We wish you the best of luck!

Happy Writing!

22 Sept 2014 | Submissions Deadline: Creative Nonfiction Magazine Contest

Note: This contest does have an entry fee. However, the prizes may be considered worthwhile enough for the contest to be given your consideration. 

Creative Nonfiction is seeking submissions for its latest contest, dealing with the theme of “WAITING“.  The magazine is  a part of the Creative Nonfiction Foundation that seeks to promote the genre of literary nonfiction through education and publication.

The contest deadline is September 22, 2014.  The prizes: 1st place, $1000; 2nd place, $500. The contest’s theme is open to interpretation, but the expectation is that essays will focus on “stories of delays, postponements, and pauses that explore and examine our relationship with time.”

Submissions must be fewer that 4,000 words, and can be sent online or by post. There is a reading fee of $20 per submission; for an additional $5, entrants can receive a 4-issue subscription (US only).

International submissions are welcomed.


Article | Irish Times: “Creative writing: what’s the point of an MA?”

Image Found: http://this.org. “Can creative writing be taught? It’s complicated”. Illustration by Dave Donald.

Fran Mulhern, a current creative writing MA student in a university in the northwestern parts of Ireland, recently wrote an article for the Irish Times about his impression (and reservations) of embarking upon the graduate school journey.  His question:  what’s the point of an MA/MFA?

After all, he is spending £6,000 for his degree.

The question arose from the doubts expressed by “current and past MA and MFA students (from different institutions at home and abroad).”

Mulhern argues that he is capable of independent study, and whatever publishing connections that could be made, he doubts would be no more important that the ones that he could make through his friendships.

So, what has he decided to do?  Well, Mulhern has decided to try online courses with the New York-based Gotham Writers (£300 per course) before making a final decision about withdrawing from his MA program.

Maybe Mulhern is correct and MA/MFA programs may be unnecessary for the disciplined student, and that they “breed certain arrogance in favour of literary fiction.”

Although there may be some drawbacks to MA/MFA programs in creative writing, there are also some benefits.  As noted here in previous posts, there are graduate programs in creative writing that offer full and partial scholarships.

Moreover, the MFA degree is considered a terminal degree that allows for its bearer to pursue a career within academia, which is something that Gotham Writers and other such offerings cannot provide.

Whether or not to pursue graduate studies is, of course, a personal choice.  Whatever the decision made, there will always be both benefits and drawbacks–that is nature of the choices we make.  However, Mulhern makes great points about literary fiction and place that it occupies in the world of academia, that that place ought to be shared with that of the academically disregarded mainstream fiction.

Diversity of all forms remains a challenge within academics, and especially so within literature. Mulhern speaks a world of truth when he says:

Literature is the ultimate democratic practice – you can write what you want without fear, and some people will like it and some won’t, and that’s ok. 

 Click on the link below to read the article.

Creative writing: what’s the point of an MA?


There are many contests available for aspiring writers to enter.  Many of these contests, however, require that entrants pay a fee to participate.  The fees typically have a range between $10 – $30, depending on the genre and length of submission.

Unfortunately, not every aspiring writer, especially students, is in a position to spend $10 or more for every contest that he or she would like to enter.

Fortunately, there are also many contests that do not require an entry fee or the entry fee is significantly lower than the average.

So, here are three upcoming contests for the end of July and during August.  Hopefully, one will spark your interest!

  • Blue Earth Review – Flash Fiction Contest 
    Deadline: Friday, August 1, 2014
    Entry Fee: $2
    Prizes: $500 (1st), $250 (2nd), and $100 (3rd)
    Submission Maximum: Two pieces of flash fiction, each of 750 words or fewer. Online.


Wishing You Luck and Happy Writing!



Marguerite Duras (Image linked from WomenInEuropeahHistory.org)

Article | Writing A Memoir: “Jan Cornall on Memory, Memoir and Marguerite Duras”

“Truth is stranger than fiction, but it is because Fiction is obliged to stick to possibilities; Truth isn’t.”― Mark Twain

If you share an interest in memoir writing, then the links provided in this post will be of interest to you.  The linked article above is from the Universal Heart Book Club Blog, hosted by writers Stephanie Dorwick and Walter Mason.  In the article, poet and memoirist Jan Cornall discusses, in-depth, the process by which author and film director Marguerite Duras came to write her award-winning memoir/novella The Lover.

Beyond the article, this year marked the centennial anniversary of Duras’ birthday (April 4th) and what better way to continue the celebration than by sharing with you a secondary link below with some tips from Creative Writing Now on what a memoir is and how to begin writing your own.

Article | Creative Writing Now: “How To Write A Memoir” 

Seriously, forget about fiction for a moment.  Real life is, usually, far more interesting—Yes, indeed, I do mean yours.


1 July 2014 | Guess What?? Camp NaNoWriMo Starts Today! So, Sign-up!!

In previous articles (even today), the National Novel Writing Month challenge has been mentioned on this blog.  For those, who are unaware, November is the National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo).

For some years now, NaNoWriMo.org has brought together hundreds of thousands of aspiring and professional writers from all over the world to challenge themselves in producing a 50,000-word draft over the course of November.  NaNoWriMo.org provides multiple resources and opportunities to discuss works with others, but most importantly it provides methods of tracking your progress towards your goal.

Still, November is pretty far away.  Right? And perhaps NaNoWriWeekend is just a bit too much pressure for you.  Do not despair. There is a solution:  Camp NaNoWriMo!

That’s right, starting today NaNoWriMo.org’s Camp opens up its digital gates to welcome writer-campers to participate in a more open-ended version of their usual November challenge.  The Camp happens in April and July.  So, again, starting today you can sign-up and participate in the challenge. 

What is the challenge this time around?  Thinking 50,000 words might is crazy when you prefer to be on the beach?  Well, not to worry.  There is more flexibility.

During camp, writers are expected to choose a word-count goal between 10,000 and 50,000.  Also, if novel-writing isn’t your thing, you can work on whatever project of your choosing; or if you have a novel underway, continue working on it.  The key thing is accomplishing your goal.

So, why not take a chance?

Camp NaNoWriMo – July


4 July 2014| Travel Writing Contest by WeSaidGoTravel.com

WeSaidGoTravel is a travel website devoted to creating global awareness through sharing written and visual travel experiences by people worldwide.  Lisa Niver Rajna and George Rajna, founders of WeSaidGoTravel.com, are inviting writers to submit entries to their Travel Writing Contest.   

The Contest’s theme is “Independence: A Place that Allows You to Feel Free.”

The contest opened on May 27, 2014 and entries are accepted until July 4, 2014 (midnight PST).  There is no entry fee and the prizes are as follows:  1st Prize – $500, 2nd Prize – $100, and 3rd Prize – $50.  

Entries can be written in any language, but must include an English translation.  Up to five entries are allowed, of which the length should be between 500-800 words, and may be accompanied by one photo.  There is no age or nationality restriction.  Anyone from anywhere can enter.  So, no excuses!  

John Cabot University Students, degree-seeking and study-abroad, this contest was seemingly made for you!  Write about your experiences of living and studying in Rome, or simply of being a part of an international community.  

Either way, share how your decision to open yourselves to a broader world has helped you to achieve a sense of independence or has been an act of freedom.  Visit the top link for more information about WeSaidGoTravel.com and the Contest.

Good Luck!  



Article | Shebooks: Elizabeth Geoghegan, “For better or worse, the city of Rome is my muse”

Professor Geoghegan’s interview with Shebooks:

Elizabeth Geoghegan is the author of the immensely popular Shebook The Marco Chronicles: To Rome, without love. Her second e-book, Natural Disasters, is on the way. In this fun Q&A session, Geoghegan tells how she fell for Rome, the Eternal City, and why fiction is sometimes more personal than memoir.” (From the article).