22 Themed Submission Calls for January 2020

Written by S. Kalekar

There are 22 themes for the 16 markets listed here. Some of the themes are: super powers, the science of reading, stories about Christmas, the magic of dogs, cat ladies of the apocalypse, the dark side of science, stars, neurodivergence, true crime, romantic ghost stories, and multispecies cities. Most of these markets pay writers, be it token or pro rates. There are some themed contests at the end of this list, too.

Also see this list of themed submissions – some deadlines are coming up.

Cricket Media: Muse Magazine – Three themes
Cricket Media’s Muse Magazine, a discovery (science, non-fiction) magazine for 9-14-year-old readers, is accepting work/pitches for some themes. They publish science fiction or science-focused fiction. They also accept queries for feature articles, and publish profiles and interviews, particularly of underrepresented STEM professionals, activities and experiments, photo essays, and infographics.
— The Science of Reading: Their guidelines say, “What’s going on in the brain during reading—and during the process of learning to read? How does reading affect readers and their community?” Possible topics are: How do people develop this skill, and why does it matter? What happens in the brains of readers? Learning disabilities and evidence-based teaching methods; Reading as social connection; Technology-assisted reading; Libraries over time; How are books made/visit to a book binder. The deadline for queries is 13 January, 2020.
— Super Powers: Their guidelines say, “Where do fictional super powers intersect with real fields of science?” Possible topics are: The magic and science of psychic abilities; Animals’ special senses and amazing abilities; Real inspirations behind fictional comic book characters; Super heroes and genetics; Mutations and startling or unique genetic variations; Technology that gives us “super powers”. The query deadline is 17 February 2020.  
— Kids in Charge: Their guidelines say, “What happens when kids raise their voices and take leadership roles in STEAM organizations?” Possible topics are: Citizen science projects led by kids; High-stakes student elections; Young activists; Advisory boards composed of tweens and teens; Unschooling and free-range kids; Scouts, 4-H, and other youth leadership development orgs. The query deadline is 16 March, 2020.
Deadlines: Various (see above)
Length: 800-1,200 words for science fiction or science-focused fiction; 800–2,000 words for features; 500-800 words for profiles/ interviews, activities, and experiments; 100-300 words for photo essays
Pay: Unspecified
Details here.


Chicken Soup for the Soul: Five themes
They want inspirational, true stories and poems about ordinary people having extraordinary experiences. The anecdotes should be told in the first person, and have a beginning, middle, and end. They have some upcoming themes. 
The Magic of Cats – They want stories about the magic of your cat or the magic of a cat you know. Stories can be serious or humorous, or both. The deadline is extended to 15 January 2020.
The Magic of Dogs – They want work about all the heartwarming, inspirational, and magical stories you have about a dog and the magic that dog brings to your life or the life of your family. The deadline is extended to 15 January 2020. 
Stories About Christmas – They are collecting stories for their Holiday 2020 book and are looking for stories about the entire December holiday season, including Christmas, Hanukah, Kwanzaa, Boxing Day, and New Year’s festivities. Stories should be “Santa safe”. Some suggested topics are: Christmas through the eyes of a child, things that went wrong, funny anecdotes, holiday traditions, holiday humor, memories of the holiday season, and family reunions. The deadline is 30 January 2020.
Be You (Previously You Go, Girl!) – They want work about women’s voices, aspirations, interests, and journeys; “We are looking for your true stories on how you are living your best life, building quality relationships, and living well even while overcoming challenges, to be the best version of YOU. Your story will inspire and encourage women of all ages to be unapologetically themselves!” Some suggested topics are: career/work – starting your own business, working for yourself or climbing corporate ladders; dating/singleness – the good, the bad, and the crazy; physical health – how you are bettering yourself through physical activity; mental health – taking care of your mental health just as much as your body!; self-care – investing time into making yourself feel good, physically and mentally; and managing finances – budgeting and investing for yourself! The deadline is extended to 31 January 2020. 
Listen to Your Dreams They want work on dreams. “Dreams are often the way we tap into our own inner wisdom. Sixth sense, gut feeling, premonitions, instinct. Whatever you call it, sometimes we have no logical reason for knowing something—but still we know it.
We want to know about your dreams. What have you learned from your dreams? Did you listen? Did any of your dreams come true? Did a dream strengthen your faith or help you change the direction your life was headed in? Did some miraculous insight serve as a warning about something that was going to happen?” They don’t want stories about realizing your dreams (as in aspirations) for this issue, but on dreams while sleeping. Some suggested topics are: dreams about finding love; dreams that saved you or a loved one from danger/death; dreams that helped you face your fears; dreams that changed the direction of your life; and dreams in which you communicated with a loved one, either dead or alive. The deadline is 28 February 2020.
Deadlines: Various
Length: Up to 1,200 words
Pay: $200
Details here (book topics) and here (guidelines).

Kanstellation Magazine: The Dark Side of Science
This online publication that presents a thematic collage of what it means to be human in the digital age. Their guidelines say, “The theme for the second issue is, broadly, the dark side of science.
In the article “The Slowness of Literature and the Shadow of Knowledge” published on November 6, 2019 by The New Yorker, Karl Ove Knausgaard outlines this “dark side” of science: “With all our technological advances, from the printing press to the airplane and the nuclear-power station, there seems to follow a shadow, unseen and yet perceptible, for the consequences of these advances manifest themselves before our eyes. Karl Benz, who, in 1885, built the first motorcar in a workshop in Mannheim, only eighty kilometres from Frankfurt, could hardly have realized that, in the future, his machine—which would join places and people together, opening cultures to each other and increasing the radius of human life so considerably—would claim the lives of one and a quarter million people each year, in car crashes. Nor could he have known that carbon-dioxide emissions from cars would be a cause of global warming, rising sea levels, burning forests, growing desert areas, and the extinction of animal species.”
We’re looking for writing and art that explores the unintended side effects or consequences of scientific advancement, including but not limited to the areas of biology, physics, chemistry, and geology.” They are accepting experimental/hybrid, traditional, prose poetry, found poetry and poetry written in a non-English language, with the requirement that an English translation accompany the original. They are not considering long form, haiku, micro poetry or erasure poetry for this submission call.
Deadline: 15 January 2020
Length: 1,000-2,500 words for essays (send up to 2 essays); 500-1,000 words for flash fiction/nonfiction (send up to 2 pieces); up to 4 poems
Pay: $120/essay, $100/flash, $60/poem, illustration, or photograph
Details here.


Death’s Head Press: Dark Stars
For this anthology, they want submissions of science fiction horror. Think the Alien movies or Event Horizon or Pandorum. They are not scared away by graphic content, but this is not an erotica or splatterpunk anthology.
Deadline: 15 January 2020
Length: 3,000-8,000 words
Pay: $20
Details here (scroll down).

Camden Park Press: Cat Ladies of the Apocalypse
They want short stories about cats and their women “ – their badass women”, according to guidelines. Also, “It’s time to turn the “man and his dog wandering through a dystopian world” trope on its head, and tell the stories about cats and their women in appropriately dystopian settings. We’re looking for stories that feature a strong woman with at least one cat, in tales that bring hope in the darkest of times.
The “cat lady” in your story can be anyone who identifies as female and loves cats – and we welcome stories featuring older, wiser protagonists. “Hope” can range from a single person reminded that their life can improve to changing the course of the dark, dystopian world. However you tell the tale, we want vivid descriptions, engaging characters, and unique takes on the kinds of missions cats and their women would take on in a broken world.” They accept reprints as well. Writers should be prepared to promote the anthology to their readers. Also see the call for another anthology, Love is Like a Box of Chocolates, which will open for submissions in February.  
Deadline: 15 January 2020
Length: 4,000-8,000 words
Pay: Royalties
Details here.

AE Micro: Stars
AE is a Canadian science fiction magazine (though their interpretation of the genre is broad) and they are open for ‘Stars’ themed submissions for micro fiction. They also publish nonfiction (unpaid), and art.
Deadline: 15 January 2020
Length: Up to 200 words
Pay: CAD0.10/word for fiction; CAD50-300 for art
Details here.


The New Gothic Review: Gothic fiction
They are now open for submissions for their first issue. They aim to “cultivate thought-provoking short fiction that embraces the tradition of gothic literature and reimagines the genre for the 21st century. Aspects of gothic literature are alive and well in various other genres (Horror, Thriller, and Speculative Fiction). However, we believe that modern gothic tales, with their intellectual exploration of the macabre, the unexplainable, and the psychological, deserve a platform of appreciation entirely of their own.” Light science fiction elements are ok, and original, modern fairy tales are welcome – see guidelines for the editors’ likes, and the kind of tropes they are not looking for.
Deadline: 15 January 2020
Length: 2,000-7,500 words
Pay: $15
Details here.

The Best of New True Crime Stories: Small Towns
For this anthology, the editor is looking for “well-developed thoughtful non-fiction content that offers readers more than dry reportage. Known, lesser known and obscure cases are welcome. Add something new to the discussion, a different viewpoint or angle. First-person accounts are especially welcome from writers with some connection to the crimes. Stories can take place anywhere in the world and during any time frame.”  
Deadline: 31 January 2020
Length: 4,000-7,000 words
Pay: $130
Details here


Sub-Terrain Magazine: House Made of Dawn (Visions of the Cultural Ramifications of Current and Future Trends in Digital Technologies)
They welcome essays, creative non-fiction, fiction, and poetry. For the current themetheir guidelines say, “This special issue of subTerrain will code readers into ecstatic dream worlds that are just around the bend of the collective mind. We will be searching for a new cosmological culture amongst the Ones and Zeros of the near and distant future.” There is no fee for mailed submissions.
Deadline: 31 January 2020
Length: Up to 4,000 words for non-fiction; up to 3,000 words for fiction
Pay: $50/poem; $50/page of prose
Details here.

Room Magazine: Neurodivergence
This feminist magazine is currently accepting fiction, creative nonfiction, poetry and art submissions for a ‘Neurodivergence’ themed issue. Their guidelines say, “We invite you to send your neurodivergent tales of torment and triumph in a neurotypical world. Submit your boundary-breaking chronicles of bucking expectations about how to socialize, learn, pay attention, feel, and think. Bring on your best stories about women and non-binary atypical thinkers.
We encourage writing that is critical of how neurotypical norms negotiate class, race, gender, queerness, and disability.” They accept work only from women, transgender men, Two-Spirit and nonbinary people.
Deadline: 31 January 2020
Length: Up to five poems; up to 3,500 words for prose
Pay: CAD50 (for one page) to CAD150 (for five pages and up)
Details here.

Divergents Magazine is also looking for work on neurodivergence; the theme for their first issue is ‘Camoflaging’. They do not pay.

Alpennia: Lesbian Historic Motif Podcast Fiction
They want short stories in the lesbian historic fiction genre, to be produced in audio format for the podcast, as well as published in text on the website. The editors want to see actual historic culture and the plot and characters should be firmly rooted in that time and place. Stories must be set before 1900; the editors would like to see stories that reach beyond the popular settings of 19th century America and England. Romance is optional – meaning story lines focusing on the establishment of a new romantic relationship – and romance stories should have some other strong element in addition to the romance. Stories may include fantastic elements that are appropriate to the historic setting. For example, they can include fantastic or supernatural events or beings that people of that era considered to be real. Or stories may be modeled on the fantastic literature of a specific historic era and culture. No time-travel or past memories, erotica or tragic endings. 
Reading period: 1-31 January 2020
Length: Up to 5,000 words
Pay: $0.08/word
Details here.

Mysterion: Christian speculative fiction
They want science fiction, fantasy and horror stories that engage meaningfully with Christian themes, characters or cosmology. The stories need not teach a moral or be close to an approved theological position. Nor do they need to be pro-Christian – see their detailed guidelines on the kind of work they see too often, and what they would like to see. They are especially interested in stories that show Christians from cultures beyond those of the United States, Canada, and Western Europe. They accept translations and reprints, and art submissions.  
Reading period: 1-31 January 2020
Length: Up to 9,000 words
Pay: $0.08/word
Details here.

Twelfth Planet Press: Rebuilding Tomorrow
This is a followup anthology to ‘Defying Doomsday’, which was an anthology of apocalypse-survival fiction with a focus on disabled characters. Their guidelines say, “Rebuilding Tomorrow will again focus on disabled and/or chronically ill protagonists but, rather than focussing on survival in the immediate aftermath of an apocalypse, we want stories set a significant time after an apocalyptic disaster. We want stories that show society getting back on its feet and people who have moved past (or are in the process of moving past) subsistence-level existence into a new, sustainable world, even though it’s one that has been irrevocably changed by an apocalypse.

… If you have an apocalypse story featuring a character with a disability, we would love to read it.” See guidelines for details about the kind of disabilities, apocalypses, and other details specified in the call. Although this is an Australia-based press, the payment is in US dollars.
Deadline: 31 January 2020
Length: 2,000-6,000 words
Pay: $0.08/word
Details here.

Quommunicate Publishing: Hashtag Queer – LGBTQ+ Creative Anthology, Vol 4
This is the annual collection of creative literary work by and/or about LGBTQ+. It includes fiction, creative nonfiction, poetry and scripts. Work should be by/about LGBTQ+ themes. They do not want erotica or work for children. Also see their other submission calls with deadlines later in the year. They accept artwork and standalone books, as well.
Deadline: 31 January 2020
Length: Up to 7,500 words for fiction and creative nonfiction, up to five poems, and scripts up to 10 pages
Pay: $5/page (They have moved to a royalty split model for all their anthologies – see guidelines)
Details here.

World Weaver Press: Multispecies Cities
This is a science fiction anthology in partnership with the Research Institute for Humanity and Nature in Kyoto, Japan. Their guidelines say, “we want to see more-than-human stories that investigate humanity’s relationship with the rest of the natural world. We’re looking for stories that acknowledge humans as part of a larger ecosystem, for characters who strive for balance with (rather than dominance over) the creatures surrounding them, for settings that depict an optimistic balance of nature and technology.
Authors may wish to envision futuristic cities where people and wildlife can thrive together, or urban landscapes re-designed to heal past ecological destruction. Characters might need to make tough decisions to maintain the multispecies ecosystem of a city, struggle to negotiate coexistence between human and non-human residents, or fight back against a project that would threaten the balance of that ecosystem. Stories could focus on conservation efforts for currently living species, or explore de-extinction processes for species lost due to human impact. Or perhaps an encounter with an extraterrestrial species could serve as a metaphor for how humans interact with the non-human species of Earth.
Because this project is inspired by the solarpunk movement, we prefer stories to end on a positive or hopeful note.” They encourage writers to set their stories in the Asia-Pacific region, or at least include some thematic tie to that part of the world. Also see their Steampunk and Gaslamp Fairy Tales themed call (on the same guidelines page), which will open for submissions in February.
Reading period: 1 January-1 February, 2020
Length: 500-5,000 words
Pay: $0.03/word
Details here.


Once Upon a Hallowed Eve: An Anthology of Romantic Ghost Stories
This is a romantic ghost story themed fiction anthology. Their guidelines say, “The end of October marks the final shift into darkness, also known as the liminal time of Samhain. During this period of time, the veil between our physical world and the spiritual world comes down, allowing more communication with the citizens of the Otherworld than at any other time of the year.

Originally, Samhain marked the beginning of Winter in Gaelic Ireland. It was believed that the Lord of the Underworld walked the earth during Samhain, along with all his cohorts: ghosts, spirits, fairies, and many other creatures. How can you use this pagan holiday in your character’s lives?” They love diversity, strong women with agency, and feminist fiction. They enjoy historical, contemporary, thrillers, YA, and even futuristic tales. Stories do not have to be set in a completely fantastical world. They love seeing the fantastical theme blended with the real world. They definitely want a good romance, so stories should have a Happily Ever After or a Happy for Now ending. No erotica or horror. They welcome translations. They can receive only 50 submissions a month via Submittable.  
Deadline: 1 February 2020 (extended)
Length: 7,000-15,000 words
Pay: $75
Details here

THEMED CONTESTS

Stories of the Nature of Cities Prize for Flash Fiction: City in a Wild Garden
They want short stories of up to 750 words, set in the present or future (near or far) and inspired by the phrase ‘City in a wild garden’. Writers do not have to literally use this phrase in their stories and may interpret liberally any of the words in the phrase: city, wild, and garden. Their guidelines say, “Plot elements must include cities, nature, and people. It has to be fiction (that is, a story, not an essay)—any genre, from science fiction to magical realism—and can be about anything: climate change; food security; utopias; wild nature; a love story; … anything. … we are very interested in imagining cities in which nature and people co-exist, cities in which the relationships between the human-made and the natural are imagined differently.”
Value: $2,000; two prizes of $1,000 each; three prizes of $500 each
Deadline: 1 January 2020
Open for: All writers
Details here.

St. Martin’s Minotaur/ Mystery Writers of America First Crime Novel Competition 
This is an international contest for crime novel manuscripts, for writers who have never been the author of any published novel in any genre. The writing should be no less than 220 pages, or approximately 60,000 words. Minotaur is an imprint of St Martin’s Press, which is part of Macmillan. Also look at The Tony Hillerman Prize for Best First Mystery Set in the Southwest, though this is only for writers in the US and Canada.   
Value: $10,000 advance against royalties
Deadline: 3 January 2020
Open for: Unpublished writers (see guidelines)
Details here.

Nick Kristof Win-a-Trip Contest
There is no cash prize for this contest, but this is a great opportunity for students. Undergraduate and graduate university students in the US are invited to apply for The New York Times 2020 Win-a-Trip contest with two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist Nicholas Kristof. The winner will join him on a reporting trip to a country or region facing development challenges. Their guidelines say, “In no more than 700 words, explain why we should pick you for Win-a-Trip. Tell us about yourself and what you would bring to the reporting and to readers.

You may also suggest where we should go and what you would like to write about for the NYT, and/or discuss your aspirations and what you would like to be doing in 10 years.” 

Value: Reporting trip to a developing country/region
Deadline: 7 January 2020
Open for: US students
Details here and here.

Walter Muir Whitehill Prize in Early American History
This prize is for an essay on early American history (see guidelines), not previously published, with preference being given to New England subjects. Essays should be 40-60 pages, and be mailed.
Value: $2,500
Deadline: 15 January 2020 (postmarked)
Open for: Unspecified
Details here and here.

First Fandom Experience: The Cosmos Prize
Their guidelines say, “Cosmos was an ambitious serial novel orchestrated by the staff of Science Fiction Digest(later Fantasy Magazine) beginning in June, 1933. The story of Cosmos spanned 17 chapters written by 16 different authors. Raymond A. Palmer drafted the plot outline and coordinated the work of the writers. The young fanzine editor was able to convince many of the prominent professionals of the day to participate. … The results — not surprisingly — are a bit of a hash. Still, Cosmos represents an iconic event in the early history of science fiction fandom, and deserves remembering.
Even more than remembering, Cosmos deserves a better ending than it got. … the final chapter utterly failed to capitalize on the potential of the installments that preceded it. Penned by no-less an esteemed professional as Edmond Hamilton, the concluding Chapter 17 — Armageddon in Space — seemed to ignore much of what came before. …. The Cosmos Prize is our attempt to right (or re-write) an historic tragedy.” Read the rules carefully. Successful submissions will fit with the overall narrative of Cosmos, bring the story to a compelling, meaningful, exciting and/or evocative conclusion, capture the style and sensibility of science fiction of the 1930s, show originality, coherence and strong expressive force, and focus on replacing just the last chapter of Cosmos, Chapter 17. Apart from cash prizes, the winners will also get merchandize.
Value: $300; $100; two prizes of $50
Deadline: 15 January 2020
Open for: Unspecified
Details here.

Hektoen International Writing Contest: Blood
They want an essay of under 1,600 words on the subject of Blood. The contest honors the achievements of the Red Cross, locally, nationally, and globally. Their guidelines say, “We will consider essays on pioneers in hematology (such as Herrick, Minot, Murphy, Whipple, or Landsteiner), the history of venesection, barber surgeons, the use of leeches, and vampires; as well as historical aspects of blood transfusion, artificial blood, blood groups, blood preservation and blood banks, blood in surgery, blood diseases (such as pernicious anemia, sickle-cell disease, thalassemia, leukemias, and hemophilia), and the history and work of the Red Cross.” Read the guidelines carefully – submission of an article implies consent to publish in HektoenInternational. Entries must also include at least one image.
Value: $3,000; $800
Deadline: 15 January 2020
Open for: All writers
Details here.

The Hillman Prize for Journalism
This is for journalists who pursue investigative reporting and deep storytelling in service of the common good. Recipients exemplify reportorial excellence, storytelling skill, and social justice impact. The categories are: Book (bound volumes and ebooks), Newspaper Journalism (story or series/in print or online), Magazine Journalism (story or series/in print or online), Broadcast Journalism (story/series/documentary at least 20 minutes in total package length that has aired on television or radio), Web Journalism (story/series that did not appear in print) – open to blogs, photojournalism, and other multimedia projects as well as text, and Opinion & Analysis Journalism (any medium)– includes all types of advocacy, opinion, commentary and analysis, normally short-form and/or frequent, regardless of medium; open to newspaper and magazine columnists, TV and radio presenters, podcasters, blogs, and bloggers. There is a Canadian Hillman Prize and a US Hillman Prize – the US prize is open to all journalists and subjects globally but the work must have been primarily accessible to a US audience in 2019.
Value: $5,000 each
Deadline: 15 January for Canadian, 30 January 2020 for US entries
Open for: All journalists and bloggers (see guidelines)
Details here.

The Keats-Shelley Prize and the Young Romantics Prize
This is a contest on Romantic themes. For the Keats-Shelley Essay Prize, adult writers should respond creatively to the work of the Romantics; essays of up to 3,000 words may be on any aspect of the lives of the Romantics and their circles. There is also a poetry prize, which has an entry fee. For the Young Romantics Prize, poets aged 16-18 should submit poetry on the theme of Songbirds. For the Young Romantics essayist prize their guidelines say, “‘The world should listen now as I was listening then.’
PB Shelley (sort of)

How can the poetry of PB Shelley and/or John Keats help us in our current climate crisis?
Your answer can take whatever form you choose: a literary critical essay, a political comment piece, a polemic for your personal blog. But the article should be no shorter than 750 words and no longer than 1000.”
Value: Total prize purse of £5,000
Deadline: 31 January 2020
Open for: All poets and writers (see guidelines)
Details here and here.

Imagine Little Tokyo Short Story Contest
This is a short story contest run by the Little Tokyo Historical Society in Los Angeles. Stories must use Little Tokyo as a cultural setting, capturing the “spirit and sense” of the historical neighbourhood, and can be set in the past, present, or future. Stories can be in Japanese (5,000 ji or fewer) or English (up to 2,500 words). There are three categories: Youth (under 18s), Japanese, and English.
Value: $500 in each category
Deadline: 31 January 2020
Open for: Unspecified
Details here.

Tales from the Moonlit Path: Bloody Valentine’s Challenge
Tales from the Moonlit Path is a horror, dark fiction, and speculative fiction magazine. For their Bloody Valentine’s Challenge, they want fiction of up to 2,000 words on the theme of love gone wrong. Read the guidelines carefully – entry into the challenge signifies consent for publishing, whether or not the entry wins. They also accept work for their regular issues.
Value: $50
Deadline: 1 February 2020
Open for: All writers
Details here.

Author 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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