Written by S. Kalekar May 3rd, 2021

27 Themed Submissions Calls for May 2021

There are 27 themed submission calls and contests listed here, for writers of fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. Most of the calls pay writers, and none of the contests charge a fee. Some of the themes are: the hero’s journey; love; humans are the problem (a monsters anthology); Wight Christmas; night frights; fire; humorous mysteries; partners in crime; and escapism. One of the anthologies will open for submissions later in the month.


Tor.com: Africa Risen
This is a speculative fiction anthology open to writers of African descent only. Their guidelines say, “Africa Risen will take readers on a fantastical Pan-African journey inspired by indigenous African lore, and the richness found in immigrant and Diasporan narratives, gathering new tales of alien entities, scientists, spiritual guides, priests, and deities.
Ideal contributors will craft tales that reveal all the rich cultural diversity found on the African continent and every corner of our world, for Africa’s reach is wide and expansive, revealing that Africa is not rising; it’s already here.”
Tor.com also accepts pitches for unthemed non-fiction (do not send unsolicited submissions); pay is unspecified, and submissions are ongoing for those – see this link for details.
Deadline: 14 May 2021
Length: Up to 5,000 words
Pay: $0.08/word
Details here and here.

Heroic: The Hero’s Journey
Heroic is a fantasy fiction publisher. They want submissions for ‘The Hero’s Journey’ fantasy anthology. Their guidelines say, “We are looking for short stories with the theme of ‘The Hero’s Journey’ at their core. Whilst we’re not averse to traditional interpretations, we’re especially interested in explorations that take us into ‘unusual’ territories and subversions that give new life to this classic narrative.”
Deadline: 14 May 2021
Length: 750-5,000 words
Pay: £50
Details here.

Women Slaying Modern Gothic Horror
This horror anthology is open to women writers only – trans, cis, femme-identifying, all are welcome. They want fiction that explores “the grand traditions and tropes of Gothic Horror, reimagined and contemporized for this generation and beyond. … We’re not interested in rewrites of the classics; rather, stories inspired by Gothic moods, subtexts and themes. Take your breast-beating, ghost-plagued protagonists out of the Victorian manor and inject them into outer space; the plague-soaked, paranoiac world outside your window; under the sea; into a splatterpunk meta-fiction; or better yet, surprise us!” Submit shorter stories and poems; query for long stories. They will also consider poetry, especially if it comes with a strong horror narrative. While this is a Kickstarter-funded anthology, writers will be paid, whether or not the Kickstarter funds; writers will be paid a $25 holding fee, and the rest after the Kickstarter campaign.
Deadline: 15 May 2021
Length: 1,000-15,000 words
Pay: $0.04/word
Details here.

Weird Little Worlds: Humans Are The Problem
This is a horror fiction anthology. Their guidelines say, “Monsters are losing their place in a world flooded with technology and false movie representation. Their hunting grounds are diminishing in an “always-on” world. These are the stories of how monsters are adapting to the 21st century and fighting back to regain their place of power.
Bring us your tired tropes reimagined for the new world. Tell us the story that no one has told from the monster that we all think we know. Funny, smart, sad…but always scary.” Also, “All of the stories will have a supernatural element. They might be psychological horror, eldritch, gothic, and more. They will not be slasher/splatter horror, erotic horror, or anything that contains gratuitous violent and/or sexual elements.” This is a Kickstarter-funded anthology, and at the time of writing, the first stretch goal has been met; they will pay more if the second stretch goal is met.
Deadline: 15 May 2021
Length: 1,000-3,500 words
Pay: $0.06/word
Details here.

All Worlds Wayfarer: Prismatic Dreams
This is a speculative fiction anthology featuring LGBTQIA+ characters. Stories can be fantasy, SF, horror, magical realism, fabulist, slipstream, paranormal, surrealism, weird fiction, or any other style with speculative elements.
Deadline: 15 May 2021 (may be open for longer – see guidelines)
Length: 1,500-5,000 words
Pay: $20
Details here.

Claw & Blossom: Screens
This is a quarterly online journal of poetry and short literary prose, that touches upon the natural world. They are reading work for issue 9 (the June Solstice issue), and the theme is ‘Screens’. Their guidelines say, “The editor hopes to see explorations that relate meaningful personal struggles not only to a larger picture of humanity but beyond, to the context of other species and the state of the planet. The editor is partial to work that is layered and shows reflective complexity, and they are particularly fond of pieces that utilize emotional movement or narrative tension. Portraits and odes are unlikely to be a good fit.”  The work must contain elements of the natural world – this need not be the main focus, but it should have a distinct and relevant narrative presence. Regarding poetry, they are partial to free verse, and aren’t keen on traditional forms.
Deadline: 23 May 2021
Length: Up to 1,000 words for prose, one poem
Pay: $25
Details here.

Classic Monsters Unleashed
This is a fiction anthology. Their guidelines say, “We’re looking for dark, scary stories featuring a classic monster or monsters (think famous creatures from pre-1960 horror movies). While we prefer new angles that subvert or re-imagine the monster, we are also interested in really good traditional monster stories. Stories can also star secondary characters, such as a well-known sidekick, assistant or love interest, from the classic monster universe.” They do not want general monster types, such as a Cyclops, Bigfoot, Dragon or Zombie. Nor are they necessarily looking for mythological monsters or old monsters, or for obscure characters. See guidelines for character suggestions; also, do not send Dracula stories.
Deadline: 30 May 2021
Length: 1,000-5,000 words
Pay: $0.08/word
Details here.

TDotSpec: Wight Christmas, and other themes
This is an anthology of holiday horror, and in particular stories that subvert Christmas tropes and seasonal clichés. “We are seeking dark reinterpretations of seasonal traditions, and stories that reimagine holiday characters as ghosts, demons, spirits, supernatural entities, or other paranormal phenomena.
Fantasy and science fiction genres are both okay, but in all cases, submissions are more likely to be successful if they are dark and subversive.
No Krampus.” They also accept reprints. They will also publish poetry, and poetry reprints.
Deadline: 31 May 2021
Length: Up to 5,000 words
Pay: Half a cent per word (Canadian) for fiction
Details here (scroll down).
(They are also reading for two other fiction anthologies: Strange Religion – speculative fiction of spirituality, belief, and practice; and Strange Wars – speculative fiction of coalitions in conflict. These are Kickstarter-funded, and at the time of writing, more than 75% of the goal had been reached; the submission deadline for writers is 31 May 2021, and if the Kickstarter funds, writers will be paid CAD0.02/word for stories up to 7,500 words; they’ll also accept reprints.)The Dread Machine: Darkness Blooms
The Dread Machine is a magazine, publishing house, and community of writers and fans of dread-inspiring fiction, according to their website. For the ‘Darkness Blooms’ fiction anthology their guidelines say, “Identity, security, and community are inexorably entwined.

We’re looking for stories touching on at least one of these themes. We want you to explore the boundaries of who we are, what makes us feel safe (and at what cost), with whom we choose to surround ourselves, and our darkest secrets.” All submissions must inspire dread. See their extensive guidelines for details, including their wish list, hard sells, and hard passes. Writers can submit up to three stories.

Deadline: 31 May 2021
Length: 2,000-10,000 words
Pay: $0.08/word
Details here.

Dark Moon Digest: Night Frights Issue #2
This call is for the annual young adult edition of horror fiction, titled Night Frights. Their guidelines say, “We want to introduce young minds to the fabulous world of horror fiction. … We want stories with complex characters and new ideas. Scare us. But also, inspire young readers into a lifelong obsession with the genre.
Cool it on the profanities, no sexual situations, nothing too graphic.”
Deadline: 31 May 2021
Length: Up to 3,500 words
Pay: $0.03/word
Details here.

The Antihumanist
Their tagline is ‘Flash Fiction and Philosophy’. They publish fiction and essays on the antihuman theme, and also commission artwork. Their guidelines say, “We want fiction that challenges human centred narratives, that forces us to confront our place in the universe, that makes us question: Who are we? Why are we here? Is there a purpose? Historically, weird fiction has best captured this goal. However, we are willing to accept submissions from speculative, horror, and literary writers that meet the above criteria.” For nonfiction, “We want essays and letters that challenge human centred narratives, that force us to confront our place in the universe, that make us question: Who are we? Why are we here? Is there a purpose?
Equally, we are willing to accept essays that challenge the antihumanist project and explicitly refute antihumanist assumptions and presuppositions.”
Deadline: Open now
Length: Up to 1,000 words for fiction, 750-1,500 words for essays, up to 350 words for letters
Pay: $0.05/word for prose; $150 for cover art
Details here (fiction guidelines) and here (essay guidelines).

Mystery Weekly Magazine: Die Laughing – An Anthology of Humorous Mysteries
This magazine publishes mystery stories, and they are reading work for mysteries with a humour element for an anthology. They want “stories with off-beat characters, bungling detectives, or funny premises. Be creative, but make it about a mystery/crime, and make us laugh!” They want fiction and B&W comics. They also accept general mystery stories (unthemed).
Deadline: 1 June 2021
Length: 1,000-8,000 words
Pay: $0.02/word for fiction, $25 for black and white comics
Details here.

Parabola: Fire
This is a quarterly journal that explores the quest for meaning as it is expressed in the world’s myths, symbols, and religious traditions, with particular emphasis on the relationship between this store of wisdom and our modern life. They are open for work on the ‘Fire’ theme. Apart from poetry, and retellings of traditional stories (they do not publish original fiction, only retellings), they publish articles/essays (including translations), book reviews, and forum contributions. Their guidelines say, “We look for lively, penetrating material unencumbered by jargon or academic argument. We prefer well-researched, objective, and unsentimental pieces that are grounded in one or more religious or cultural tradition; articles that focus on dreams, visions, or other very personal experiences are unlikely to be accepted.”
Deadline: 1 June 2021
Length: 500-1,500 words for retellings of traditional stories, up to 5 poems, 1,000-3,000 words for articles, up to 500 words for book reviews and forum contributions
Pay: Unspecified
Details here.

The Best of New True Crime Stories: Two anthologies
They are looking for submissions for two non-fiction, true crime anthologies. Send a pitch first. The editor selects material on an on-going basis; writers who submit work in advance often have a better chance of acceptance.
— Partners in Crime: Their guidelines say, “Nonfiction, true crime accounts featuring lawbreaking couples who have joined forces to commit crime. These couples can be married, domestic partners, or lovers. Stories can take place anywhere in the world and be from any time period. I’m interested in material covering a wide range of criminal activity. First-person accounts are especially welcome from writers with a connection to their cases. Add something new to the story, a different viewpoint or angle.”
— Unsolved Crimes & Mysteries: Their guidelines say, “Seeking nonfiction, true crime accounts of unsolved criminal cases and mysteries that can take place anywhere in the world and be from any time period. Material can cover a wide range of criminal activity. First-person accounts are especially welcome from writers with a connection to their cases. Add something new to the story, a different viewpoint or angle.”
Final submission deadlines: 1 June 2021, or until filled, for Partners in Crime; 1 September 2021, or until filled, for Unsolved Crimes and Mysteries; query first
Length: 4,000-7,000 words
Pay: $130 for both anthologies
Details here.

Apparition Lit: Contamination
They accept speculative fiction (fantasy, sci-fi, horror, literary) and poetry and they will open submissions for the ‘Contamination’ theme during mid-May. They have extended their reading period by a week for BIPOC writers only. Their next reading period is in August, for another theme. (They also have a monthly themed flash fiction challenge, which runs from the 1st to the 15th of every month, and pays $30.)
Reading period: 15-31 May 2021 for general submissions; 1-7 June 2021 for BIPOC-only submissions
Length: 1,000-5,000 words for fiction, up to five poems
Pay: $0.03/word for prose, $30/poem
Details here.

Mslexia: Roots
This magazine accepts poetry, short stories, and plays by female-identifying authors and they are reading on the ‘Roots’ theme. “Our Issue 91 theme is about hidden depths and ancestry, about what nourishes and anchors plants and humans alike.” They accept up to 4 poems, 2 short stories, and 2 scripts per entrant. They have also posted some exercises to get you started on the theme. They also accept unthemed work in many genres. Earlier there used to be payment information on their website, but now it’s unclear whether submissions are paid.
Deadline: 7 June 2021 for the themed issue
Length: 2,200 words for stories, up to 40 lines for poetry, scripts of up to 1,000 words
Details here and here.


Writer Shed Press: Second Thoughts
They publish fiction, creative nonfiction, personal essays, and poetry that is directly or loosely linked to the theme of ‘Second Thoughts’.
Deadline: 15 July 2021
Length: Up to 2,000 words
Pay: $20 (they can only pay through the Venmo app)
Details here.

Moonflake Press: Escapism
They are looking for fiction and poetry for their next print issue, on the ‘Escapism’ theme. “This can be escaping worlds, cities, identities or however else you interpret it.”
Deadline: 1 September 2021
Length: 100-2,500 words for prose, up to two poems
Pay: £25
Details here.

The Deadlands: Death
This is a new magazine and they accept speculative fiction and essays. Their guidelines say, “We are looking for speculative fiction that concerns itself with death–but also everything death may involve. A ghost in a shadowed wood. An afterlife discovered through a rusted door. An abandoned house in the middle of a haunted field. A skeletal figure moving with intent toward something unseen. Death personified. Burials in troubled lands. A raised scythe against a clouded sky. Memento mori. The rivers of the dead. The sprawling underworlds beneath our feet.” See guidelines for the hard sells. They also accept fiction reprints. They are looking for critical, academic, and personal essays, as well, that “explore the relationship between humanity and death. We are looking for a wide range of subjects, including but not limited to: cultural funerary practices, rituals of remembrance, historical explorations of death imagery, death imagery used in art and by artists, death imagery found in graveyards and on tombstones.”
Deadline: Open now
Length: Up to 5,000 words for fiction; 1,000-4,000 words for essays
Pay: $0.10/word for fiction; $100 for essays
Details here.

Wyldblood Press: Runs Like Clockwork – Steampunk Anthology
This is a steampunk fiction anthology. Their guidelines say, “We love steampunk – zeppelins and pith helmets, clockwork men and steam driven monstrosities. What if the world ran on steam? What if science took a radically different turn around the time of the Age of Empire and crinoline dresses? What if we could unearth new stories about legendary (and hitherto unknown) Victorian adventures? What if there was a new age of adventure – and it ran like clockwork?” They also accept reprints.
Deadline: Until filled
Length: Up to 10,000 words
Pay: £0.01 per word up to £75 (approximately $100)
Details here.


Eleanor Taylor Bland Crime Fiction Writers of Color Award
This international grant is for supporting the recipient in crime fiction writing and career development activities. She or he may choose activities that include workshops, seminars, conferences, and retreats, online courses, and research activities required for completion of the work. This is for an emerging writer (see guidelines). The application process includes a writing sample – an unpublished piece of crime fiction, written with an adult audience in mind. This may be a short story or first chapter(s) of a manuscript in-progress, 2,500 to 5,000 words. Previous writing or publishing experience is not required, but the applicant should include any relevant studies or experience.
Value: $2,000; the winner can choose from a range of activities
Deadline: 15 May 2021
Open for: Writers of color
Details here.

Jerry Jazz Musician Short Fiction Contest
This is an international fiction contest. While the story should appeal to the audience of this magazine, all themes will be considered. Their readers have interests in music, social history, literature, politics, art, film and theater, particularly that of the counter-culture of mid-twentieth century America. Ideally, stories should not exceed 3,000 words, but those up to 5,000 words will be considered.
Value: $100
Deadline: 31 May 2021
Open for: All writers
Details here.

The Black Orchid Novella Award
They want novellas (15,000-20,000 words) that confirm to the tradition of Rex Stout’s Nero Wolfe series. They should focus on the deductive skills of the sleuth. Their guidelines also say, “We need to stress that a novella is not a padded short story. A novella needs to be as tight and fast-paced as a short story or a novel. Authors need to ensure that the story they want to tell is properly sized for whatever format they choose.” They are not looking for derivatives of the Nero Wolfe series, or the milieu. They accept mailed submissions only.
Value: $1,000 and publication in Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine
Deadline: 31 May 2021 (postmarked)
Open for: All writers
Details here.

Sapiens Plurum: Healthy Together – Innovations for One Health
Sapiens Plurum conducts an annual short fiction contest, opening on Earth Day of each year. The purpose of the contest is to entice authors to conceive of the future in terms of desirable outcomes, and imagine how we might get there. The topic of this year’s contest is, ‘Healthy Together: Innovations for One Health’. Their guidelines say, “One Health is an effort by the CDC that recognizes the connection among the health of people, animals and the environment to achieve optimal health outcomes. … The One Health concept is the basis for this year’s contest.
The news today is full of stories of disease and environmental destruction. We ask authors to imagine a world in which technology has improved One Health —  the health of the environment, humans, and all living things.” (See guidelines for further details). Submissions should be 1,500-3,000 words.
Value: $1,000, $500, $300
Deadline: 31 May 2021
Open for: All writers
Details here and here.

The Navayana Dalit History Fellowship 2021
Navayana is an India-based indie publisher that publishes work on the issue of caste, from an anti-caste perspective. They want submissions for non-fiction book proposals on dalit history; the proposals have to up to 3,000 words, and the completed manuscript must be at least 50,000 words. They will award at least two fellowships. They have extensive guidelines, including: “…we welcome histories of movements, campaigns, local struggles, ideological or cultural movements, histories of organisations or periodicals, biographies, or even stories of individual lives. The ambit of dalit history is wide. We leave it to the applicants to surprise us with their interpretations of the term.” Writers can live anywhere in the world, and dalit writers will be given preference; non-dalits must account for their engagement with dalit history. Early-career scholars are encouraged to apply, as are those working on translations pertaining to dalit history.
Value: At least two fellowships of Rs.100,000 (approx. $1,300) each
Deadline: 31 May 2021 for proposals
Open for: All writers engaging with dalit history; preference given to dalit writers
Details here.

CNO Naval History Essay Contest
Their website says, “The Chief of Naval Operations invites entrants to submit an essay that applies lessons from throughout naval history to establishing and maintaining (US) maritime superiority in an era of great power competition.” See guidelines for details on the theme. Essays have to be up to 3,500 words. This contest is open to: US and international professional historians (including history museum curators, archivists, history teachers/professors, persons with history-related doctoral degrees; authors of books on naval history (not including self-published works); civilians who have published articles in an established historical or naval journal or magazine.
Value: $5,000, $2,500
Deadline: 31 May 2021
Open for: See above
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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