20 Themed Submission Calls for Writers in March 2021

Written by S. Kalekar


There are 20 themed calls for submissions for the 16 markets listed here, of fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. Some of the themes are: neighbours, chilling crime, lost at sea, omens, magic gone awry, tough times, angels, beyond the stars, distanced, and escape. None of these charge a submission fee, or they have some fee-free submission option, and all pay writers. There are also some themed contest calls at the end of this list – none charge an entry fee, and all of them have cash prizes. Also see this list of themed calls – some deadlines are coming up.

THEMED SUBMISSION CALLS

SubTerrain Magazine: Neighbours
This Canadian magazine welcomes fiction, nonfiction, commentary and poetry from all writers. They open for the ‘Neighbours’ themed issue in March. Their guidelines say, “This issue will explore the world of “neighbours.” Whether we love them or hate them, we all have them. There’s the “Good Neighbour” policy and the unwritten but often spoken of “Bad Neighbour” policy. We welcome essays, fiction, opinion pieces, and poetry that reflects upon this unique designation”. There is no fee for mailed submissions, electronic submissions are $3.00. At the time of writing, the deadline was unspecified.
Opens submissions on: 1 March 2021
Length: Up to 3,000 words for fiction, 4,000 words for other prose
Pay: CAD0.10/word for prose, up to CAD500; CAD50 per poem
Details here.

DreamForge Anvil: Positive SF/F Stories
They publish science fiction and fantasy stories. Their guidelines say, “Positive stories demonstrating the triumph of the human spirit and the power of hope and humane values in overcoming the most daunting challenges.
We are interested in all SF and Fantasy genres, but horror is unlikely to find a home here.”  
Deadline: 13 March 2021
Length: 4,500 words
Pay: $0.04-0.06/word, $25-100 for micro stories and poetry
Details here.

Flame Tree Publishing: Chilling Crime Anthology
They want stories of crime for this anthology. Their guidelines say, “We’ve looked at cosy crime and detective thrillers, now it’s time to turn to the darker side: the cold cases, the grim murders, the desperate villains, and the race against time to solve the crime. We’re seeking up to 20 new stories to join our powerful collection of Chilling Crime Short Stories, new and classic tales reaching back into ancient, medieval, Elizabethan and Victorian fiction.” They also accept reprints.
Deadline: 14 March 2021
Length: 2,000-4,000 words most likely to succeed; will also read slightly outside this range
Pay: $0.08/word
Details here.

The Periodical, Forlorn: Lost at Sea
This magazine publishes fiction “that’s dark, creepy, weird and just a little off-kilter. We’re open to genre fiction, particularly anything related to horror, science-fiction, speculative fiction or weird fiction.” Their guidelines also say, “For this issue, we want tales of maritime disaster. Of shipwrecks and oil spills. Of bones left to decompose on the ocean floor. Of those left behind on land, never to know what’s become of their loved ones. Of lighthouse keepers forced to stand by and witness tragedy unfold.
Elements of the supernatural are welcome, as are stories that utilize elements of horror and science-fiction.”
Deadline: 15 March 2021
Length: Up to 6,000 words
Pay: $15
Details here.

Devil’s Rock Publishing: The Omens Call – A Horror Anthology
This is a horror fiction anthology “exploring the prophetic nature of omens. Bad omens, nightmarish superstitions, ghastly premonitions, we want stories that speak the language that we cannot understand. We’re after atmospheric, moody, grim, dark tales of wonder, woe, death, and the inexplainable.”
Deadline: 28 March 2021
Length: 2,000-7,500 words
Pay: $20-30
Details here.

Cursed Dragon Ship Publishing: Misspelled – Magic Gone Awry
They are looking for short fiction for this anthology, exploring the theme of magic and the mishaps that could happen with its use. The story must center “around an exploration epic in scale.
You must include some sort of adventure, whether real or virtual, that concludes by the end of the story to meet the theme requirements. You cannot write in anyone else’s world”, according to their guidelines.
Deadline: 31 March 2021
Length: Up to 7,000 words
Pay: $50
Details here.

Jolly Horror Press: Fornever After
They want elements of tragic romantic love and horror for this anthology. If you can manage humor too, even better, but that is not necessary.
Deadline: 31 March 2021
Length: 2,000-6,000 words
Pay: Half a cent per word
Details here.

Escape Artists: Escape Pod – Black Future Month
This magazine publishes science fiction stories. For Black Future Month submissions, they are only accepting work from authors of the African diaspora and the African continent. They also accept reprints.
Deadline: 31 March for Black Future Month; resumes reading general submissions from 1 April, until 31 May 2021.
Length: 1,500-5,000 words
Pay: $0.08/word
Details here.
(Escape Artists’ fantasy podcast/magazine, PodCastle, is also open for general submissions in March, according to their schedule, and pay is $0.08/word. And submissions for their young adult podcast/magazine, Cast of Wonders, will tentatively open for submissions in April for Banned Books Week, according to their schedule.)

Chicken Soup for the Soul: Four themes
They accept true inspirational stories and poetry on set themes. See the end of the section on this publisher for links to theme details, guidelines, and submission portal. Apart from cash, they give 10 contributor copies as payment.
— Tough Times: Their guidelines say, “We are looking for stories about how you have been affected and how you and your loved ones are handling the changes in your life. We’re looking for the ups and downs, so share the tough times but also the silver linings, the unexpected blessings, and resilience and gratitude that you have discovered in yourself and the people close to you.
We’re also looking for stories about tough times unrelated to the pandemic. Are you going through other challenges that have nothing to do with the pandemic, such as health crises, loss of loved ones, personal challenges, family issues, job loss and economic upheaval”. The deadline is 31 March 2021.
— Angels: Their guidelines say, “True personal stories about how an angel has touched your life – stories of true wonder and awe from people who have directly encountered or received help from angels. … Have you experienced something otherworldly or celestial? Or had a personal experience with an angel or divine being? How did your angel manifest himself or herself to you? Were you the only person who saw your angel? How did your angel protect or guide you?” The deadline is 31 March 2021 for this theme.

— Counting Your Blessings: Their guidelines say, “Please share your stories about handling challenges in your life, finding the silver linings, and counting your blessings, whether the challenges you are facing are COVID-19 related or other kinds. … Attitude adjustments, finding contentment and gratitude, a new way of handling your daily life, and other great ideas to inspire readers to find their own paths to happiness and to remember to count their blessings every day”. The deadline is 30 April 2021 for this theme.

— Humorous Stories: This is scheduled for publication in 2022, and the call is due to the success of their earlier volume of humorous stories. Their guidelines say, “Share your funny stories about something that happened to you in your life – in your relationship with a partner or spouse, a parent or child, a family member or friend, at work or at home – that made you and the people around you laugh out loud. Did you mean for it to be funny? Did the other person mean to make you laugh? Did a situation just get out of control? Did a misunderstanding turn into a comedy of errors?” For this volume, they also say, “Please submit your story using your real name; we will let you use a pen name if necessary to protect the innocent (or guilty!).” The deadline is 30 August 2021 for this theme.  
Deadlines: 31 March for Tough Times and Angels; 30 April for Counting Your Blessings; 30 August 2021 for Humorous Stories
Length: Up to 1,200 words
Pay: $200
Details here (theme details – scroll down), here (guidelines), and here (submission portal).

From the Farther Trees: Two themes
They have three publications, each focused on a different aspect of SF/Fantasy. Two of their current calls are themed. They are also reading general fantasy fiction and poetry submissions for one of their publications.

— Queer Blades A Queer Sword and Sorcery Romance Anthology: This is a twice-yearly print and ebook publication open to all LGBTQIA+ stories set in adventure fantasy worlds, particularly stories of queer romance. They are reading for their first anthology. Their guidelines say, “Adventure fantasy settings range a spectrum of secondary worlds—not just sword and sorcery, but also heroic fantasy, epic fantasy, historical fantasy, wuxia, “Old Mars” and “Old Venus” settings, fantasy westerns, portal fantasy, and Fae realms of all descriptions. If it’s a setting in which you might readily play a D&D campaign, it will fit right in. … Our preference is for pre-gunpowder, magic-heavy worlds, but run wild with your imagination”. Translations and reprints are welcome.
Deadline: 31 March 2021
Length: 2,000-25,000 words
Pay: $10
Details here.

— The Mesozic Reader – Deep Time: This is a twice-yearly magazine of Deep Time fiction and poetry, and they’re reading for their first issue. Their guidelines say, “Deep Time encompasses all the strange and remote passages of Earth’s geological past, from the fires of Earth’s formation to the very brink of the Anthropocene. We feature only tales of prehistory and its denizens, whether we see humans traveling to the past, ancient creatures brought to the present, or strange futures that mingle the two.” Fiction and poetry in any genre is welcome, so long as dinosaurs or other prehistoric creatures are a central element. They also accept reprints.
Deadline: 30 April 2021
Length: 1,000-15,000 words
Pay: $10
Details here.

Constelación Magazine: Beyond the Stars
This is a bilingual speculative fiction magazine. In mid-March, they will open a short submission window for speculative fiction stories on the theme, ‘Beyond the Stars’. Authors are free to interpret the themes creatively, and they encourage writers to twist and bend the themes, as long as they fit into any of the speculative fiction genres. Submissions can be in English or Spanish, and they also ask for translation rights. They also commission artwork.
Reading period: 15 March 2021 to 1 April 2021
Length: Up to 6,400 words
Pay: $0.08/word for fiction
Details here.

Tales From The Magician’s Skull: Sword-and-sorcery, etc.
Tales From The Magician’s Skull is a sword-and-sorcery magazine from Goodman Publications, and their goal is to publish twice-yearly. From their ‘What we love’ section: “Sword-and-sorcery, heroic fiction, sword-and-soul, swashbucklers, and the like. Tales of adventure shot through with elements of horror and magic. Give us interesting people doing interesting things for interesting reasons in fascinating places.” See guidelines for further details on story preferences and tropes to avoid. Stories have to be PG-13. They have limited tolerance for flash fiction. 
Deadline: 1 April 2021
Length: Up to 10,000 words
Pay: $0.04/word
Details here.


Ninth Letter: Distanced
This literary magazine is open for fiction, nonfiction, and poetry for its online edition. They want work on the theme of Distanced. Their guidelines say, “What forces push us apart? What choices made, or not, put distance between us and our loved ones and places? Send us your distanced pandemic stories, poetry and essays, but also those pieces that deal with other separations. We want the topical as well as the unexpected, and distances both great and small: the strained conversations of both mask wearers and exes; families seen weekly on video calls and long-lost relations; digital art gallery tours and moon rovers; dogs on leads and dogs in head cones. What keeps things distanced, no matter the distance?” Apart from cash payment, they also offer a two-year subscription to the magazine.   
Deadline: 5 April 2021
Length: Up to 3,500 words, 3 poems
Pay: $75 for prose, $25 per poem for online edition
Details here.

Shooter Literary Magazine: Escape
They are looking for work on the ‘Escape’ theme. Their guidelines say, “We’re looking for stories, essays, memoir and poetry to do with any kind of escape: evading capture, pursuing something better, avoiding peril, taking off on adventure. After a period of isolation for many around the world, we want to be transported to exotic locales and away from the everyday. Whether it’s breaking out of prison, fleeing a bad relationship, or leaving Earth altogether – get us out! Imaginative sci-fi or fantasy are welcome, but please ensure writing adheres to a high literary standard.”
Deadline: 25 April 2021
Length: Up to three poems, prose of 2,000-6,000 words
Pay: £25 per prose piece, £5 per poem
Details here.
(Moonflake Press is also looking for work on a similar theme – Escapism – and has a later deadline, of 1 September 2021.)

Timeless Tales Magazine: Tales of the Arabian Nights
The tagline for this magazine is ‘Breathing new life into classic fairy tales & myths’. They want poetry and fiction submissions – of retelling of tales of the Arabian Nights. They’ll also accept original stories/poems featuring the creatures of Arabian/Islamic folklore, Djinn/jinn, Ifrits/efreets, the type of ghoul found in Arabic folklore, or another creature the editor is not familiar with (please send an explanation in your cover letter). Also see the special notes on the guidelines page, for the things the editor does/does not want. While they don’t want work intended for children, stories should be PG-13.

Deadline: 30 April 2021
Length: Up to 2,000 words for fiction, up to 1,500 preferred; up to 1,500 words total for poetry/series of poems
Pay: $30
Details here.

The First Line
They want stories that begin with a pre-set first line; they are open to all genres. They also sometimes publish poetry, and these too have to begin with the first lines provided. For nonfiction, they want critical essays about your favorite first line from a literary work. For Summer, the first line is: “Lena was raised on violin lessons and minimal parental supervision.”
Deadline: 1 May 2021
Length: 300-5,000 words for fiction; 500-800 words for non-fiction
Pay: $25-50 for fiction, $25 for non-fiction, $5-10 for poetry
Details here (first lines) and here (guidelines).

THEMED CONTESTS

On the Premises: Repairs

This is a fiction contest and the theme is ‘Repairs’. Their guidelines say, “For this contest, write a creative, compelling, well-crafted story between 1,000 and 5,000 words long in which one or more characters try to repair something. The “something” can be tangible (e.g., a smartphone, a bad haircut, a broken leg) or intangible (e.g., a relationship). The judges don’t care whether the characters succeed in their repair efforts, so long as they try.” They do not want children’s fiction, exploitative sex, over-the-top grossout horror, or stories that are obvious parodies of existing fictional worlds/characters created by other authors. 
Value: $250, $200, $150, $75
Deadline: 5 March 2021
Open for: All writers
Details here and here.

Coastal Shelf: Two contests
They are open for two contests with cash prizes, and writers are allowed one fee-free submission for each (see guidelines).
The FuPo Poetry Contest is for “funny and poignant” poems under 60 lines.
The Ceiling 200 Contest is for very short fiction or prose poetry under 200 words long.
Value: $250, $100, and $50 for each contest
Deadline: 5 March 2021
Open for: All writers
Details here and here.

John Carter Brown Library Fellowship
This fellowship at Providence and Chestertown supports work by academics, independent scholars and writers working on significant projects relating to the literature, history, culture, or art of the Americas before 1830. Candidates with a US history topic are strongly encouraged to concentrate on the period prior to 1801. The fellowship is also open to filmmakers, novelists, creative and performing artists, and others working on projects that draw on this period of history. Candidates are encouraged to consult the John Carter Brown Library’s collections online prior to submitting an application.
Value: $5,000/month (total $20,000), housing and university privileges
Deadline: 15 March 2021
Open for: Unspecified
Details here.

America Media: Two contests
They have two contests open currently, one for unpublished poetry, and another for published fiction and drama. They are also open for general submissions.
— The Foley Poetry Contest: They want an unpublished poem of 45 lines or fewer.
Value: $1,000
Deadline: 31 March 2021
Open for: Unspecified
Details here (America Media’s Submittable) and here (poetry contest).
— The George W. Hunt, S.J., Prize for Excellence in Journalism, Arts & Letters: For this cycle it is for published (not self-published) works of fiction of up to 10,000 words – including from published collections – and published/produced drama. Writers of novels, novellas, short stories, flash fiction, plays and screenplays whose work engages with one or more of the following broad topical areas are welcome to apply: religion (which includes spirituality and ultimate questions of human existence), the arts, politics, economics, sports and/or public affairs on the national or international level. Short stories and flash fiction pieces that are as yet uncollected in book form must appear in a major journal and/or magazine, in digital or in hard copy. 
Value: $20,000
Deadline: 31 March 2021
Open for: Unspecified
Details here (America Media’s Submittable) and here (published fiction and drama).

The Restless Book Prize for New Immigrant Writing
This is a prize for a debut literary work by a first-generation immigrant. The prize alternates between fiction and non-fiction. For this cycle, they are reading non-fiction manuscripts. Non-fiction submissions can take the form of a memoir, a collection of essays, or a book-length work of narrative non-fiction. The submission should address some combination of identity, the meeting of cultures and communities, immigration and migration, and today’s globalized society. Non-fiction submissions must consist of either a complete manuscript, or a sample of at least 25,000 words and a detailed proposal that includes a synopsis and an annotated table of contents. All submissions must be in English (translations welcome). Candidates must not have previously published a book of non-fiction in English. Apart from the cash prize, the winner also gets publication.
Value: $10,000
Deadline: 31 March 2021
Open for: First-generation residents of their country
Details here.

Alpine Fellowship Prizes: Untamed – On Wildness and Civilization
Apart from themed Writing and Theatre prizes detailed below, the Alpine Fellowship also has a Visual Arts Prize, and an Academic Writing Prize.
— Writing Prize: This international prize is awarded for the best piece of writing on the theme of ‘Untamed: On Wildness and Civilization’ (up to 2,500 words of prose, poetry, and non-academic essays), which is the theme of the 2021 Alpine Fellowship Annual Symposium. The winner and two runners-up are invited to attend the Fjällnäs (Sweden) symposium. The award will be presented by poet John Burnside, who is also the head judge.
Value: £10,000, £3,000, £2,000
Deadline: 1 April 2021
Open for: All writers
Details here.

— Theatre Prize: This prize is awarded for the best play on the theme of ‘Untamed: On Wildness and Civilization’ aimed at encouraging theatre writers at the start of their careers to explore and challenge philosophical ideas using the dramatic form. Apart from the cash prize, the winner also gets a rehearsed reading at the Fellowship’s annual Symposium to which they will be invited to attend. Runners up will be invited to attend the Fjällnäs symposium to exhibit their work. To apply, applicants must send: 1) A treatment of your idea in response to the theme; up to 500 words; 2) A sample of previous work of at least 10 pages; and 3) A 3-4 sample pages of your proposed script or a 1-2 detailed page synopsis of your story. The final piece must be 45 minutes in length and require no more than 4 actors.
Value: £3,000
Deadline: 1 April 2021
Open for: All playwrights
Details here.


Wergle Flomp Humor Poetry Contest
This prize is for humor poetry. Submit a poem of up to 250 lines. 
Value: $1,000 and a subscription to Duotrope; second prize of $500; 10 prizes of $100 each
Deadline: 1 April 2021
Open for: All poets
Details here.


Bio: S. Kalekar is the pseudonym of a regular contributor to this magazine. She is the author of 182 Short Fiction Publishers. She can be reached here.

 

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