Written by S. Kalekar May 4th, 2020

28 Themed Submissions Calls for Writers – May, 2020

There are 28 themed calls for the 17 paying markets of fiction, nonfiction, and poetry listed here. Some of the themes are: Hope or do we have one; sick cruising; climate change; occult detectives; breezy summer; my family; tales of the sea; a Krampus Carol; omens; personal local lore/oddities; when this is all over; and going viral. There are also themed contests for writers at the end, which do not charge an entry fee.


Contemporary Verse 2: Two themes
This is a Canadian journal of poetry and they are reading work on two themes; the guidelines are below.
–Hope or do we have one – poetry for uncertain times

“We are undoubtedly living in strange and tumultuous times, having to confront what seems like a new crisis each day: climate change, rising inequalities, large-scale conflict, political corruption, and most recently, the COVID-19 pandemic. What role does poetry play in responding to the simultaneously personal and global challenges that we are presented with today? How do our words help us navigate times of uncertainty? CV2 is looking for submissions of poetry, essays (including personal experience essays), and reviews about the contributions that poetry makes in difficult times.” The deadline is 15 May 2020 for this theme.
— 2S + QTBIPOC Bodies
“We are seeking poetry and prose for Volume 43.3 of CV2 on 2S + QTBIPOC Bodies. What does your queer body mean to you as a writer? Regarding relationships with queerness and bodies, what is your landscape to yourself and to others? Does non-human kinship relate back to your two-spirit identity/queerness? What does your skin taste like after being queered up? What is the most sensual part of your body: shoulders, calves, sternum, knees and toes? Show me your ankles and I’ll show you mine! 
Poets–including but not exclusive to–Two-Spirit, Black, Trans, Indigenous, People of Colour, and non-binary writers are particularly encouraged to submit.” The deadline is 15 September 2020 for this theme.
Deadlines: See above
Length: Up to 6 poems; varies for prose
Pay:  $30/poem (Canadian); $50-$100 for interviews and articles; $40-$150 for essays; $50-$80 for reviews
Details here and here.

nphZone: Sick Cruising Anthology
This is a fiction anthology. Their guidelines say, “As a new virus rages on land the richest man in the world has invited over five hundred rich and privileged friends, acquaintances, influences and hangers-on to weather the sickness on his private luxury yacht.
But one of them has brought a guest along. You guessed it! The Red Lungs virus. It starts like a cold, becomes a raging fever, then floods the lungs with blood.” Stories should use their writing prompts (see guidelines).
Deadline: 20 May 2020
Length: At least 2,000 words
Pay: $20
Details here.

Dark Moon Digest: Night Frights
This call is for an annual young adult edition for 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 2020
Length: Up to 3,500 words
Pay: $0.03/word
Details here.

Speculative City: Afrofuturism
This speculative fiction magazine wants afrofuturist fiction, poetry, and essays written by authors who are specifically of Black and/or African descent.
 They seek provocative works that are centered within a cityscape.
Deadline: 1 June 2020
Length: Up to 5,500 words
Pay: $20-55
Details here.

The Bare Life Review: The Climate Issue
They are reading work on the Climate theme. The magazine publishes work by immigrant and refugee authors – from foreign-born authors living in the US, and writers living abroad who currently hold refugee and/or asylum-seeker status. And for this issue only, they have amended the eligibility rules to include non-immigrant writers who have experienced displacement as a result of climate disaster. They accept fiction, nonfiction, and poetry – the work may, but need not, deal explicitly with issues of immigration, exile, or refuge. They welcome translations. American-born translators may submit work by eligible writers, but in such cases payment must be issued to the author.
Deadline: 1 June 2020
Length: Fiction and non-fiction up to 8,000 words for print; 3-5 poems, up to 10 pages in total
Pay: $750 for full-length prose pieces, $300 for accepted poems or shorter prose, $100 for online nonfiction
Details here.

Occult Detective Magazine

This magazine wants stories about occult detectives; they also accept reviews (unpaid), nonfiction, and artwork. Their guidelines say, “We are a magazine of many styles and approaches. We love both old-style and modern, cutting edge weird fiction, and we love folk horror; we embrace unashamed arcane adventure, and we also draw gritty noir mysteries into our domain. At the heart of all these tales are the occult detectives.
Such folk take many guises – they may be a hardened private investigator, or simply a bystander determined to act. They may be a mistress of strange forces, a seasoned psychic, or a burned-out law officer who has nothing left to lose. And they come from every continent, and every walk of life. All we ask is that there is a mystery, there is something strange and dark is on the air – and someone has to buckle up and face it.”  The antecedents of their characters are the psychic investigators, mystics and meddlers who arose in the Victorian and Edwardian periods. See guidelines for extensive details. The magazine, formerly called Occult Detective Quarterly, was relaunched after the editor passed away in 2019.
Deadline: 5 June 2020
Length: 3,000-6,000 words for fiction; 2,000-4,000 words for nonfiction
Pay: $0.01/word (up to $50, up to $30 for nonfiction)
Details here.

Cricket Media: Eight themes

They have announced several new themes for their children’s literary magazines:
Beep-Beep, Vroom-Vroom! “poetry, action rhymes, finger plays, and simple stories about all kinds of vehicles. For inspiration, you might think of little ones who are fascinated with construction sites or sailboat-filled harbors, or those who love watching bicycles, trains, buses, and garbage trucks” – for Babybug, deadline 15 June 2020.
Breezy Summer: “poetry, action rhymes, finger plays, and very short stories that celebrate summertime. Your work might explore sunny outings to the park or beach, the season’s special games, sights, and sounds, or some other interesting aspect of summer.” –for BabyBug, deadline 15 June 2020.
Making Make Believe: “short stories, poetry, rebus stories, and songs to fuel the young child’s imagination. We’re interested in work with an imaginative or magical twist, whether it’s a contemporary story of children at play, a gentle fantasy, a retelling of a folk or fairy tale, or an exaggerated story told by a narrator who might not be entirely reliable.” – for Ladybug, deadline 15 June 2020.
My Family “short stories, nonfiction, poetry, rebus stories, and songs about family life. Send us stories about the personal or cultural traditions that make each family special: celebrating holidays, passing down jokes and stories, annual scavenger hunts, favorite trips, and more. “ – for LadyBug, deadline 15 June 2020.
Wordplay: “word games, language activities, riddles, puzzles, and more. Games and activities should be 1-2 pages long and appropriate for our newly independent readers.” Also wants stories that incorporate wordplay. – for Spider, deadline 15 June 2020.
Get a Move On! “stories, poems, nonfiction, and activities on the theme of movement and activity, from the great outdoors to the basketball court behind school. We’re interested in the excitement, challenge, and joy of getting up, out, and moving!” – for Spider, deadline 15 June 2020.
Best Friends Forever? “contemporary and historical fiction, science fiction and fantasy, folk tales, myths and legends, and poetry touching on the theme of friendship. Whether you focus on the happy times, like planning a friend’s surprise birthday party, or sad times, like moving away, a friend in need is a friend indeed.” – for Cricket, deadline 15 June 2020.
Tales of the Sea “seaworthy fiction, nonfiction, and poetry for the theme of tales of the sea. Time and tide wait for no one, so shiver your timbers and send us your best stories of pirate raids and stowaways, mythical monsters of the deep, scientific expeditions, tragic shipwrecks, and daring rescues.” – for Cricket, deadline 15 July 2020.
Non-themed submissions are open too. These magazines also accept other genres, like nonfiction and poetry, craft, and recipes. 
Deadlines: See above
Length: Up to 1,800 words for fiction in Cricket, their flagship magazine (can serialize longer works); varies for others
Pay: Up to 0.25/word
Details here.

And Lately, The Sun: Climate change anthology
This is a fiction anthology about climate change. Their guidelines say, “Bushland is burning. The Arctic may soon be ice-free in the summer. Oceans are swelling with the run-off, heaving with endocrine disruptors and plastics, and where corals once thrived there is bleaching and dying. The knock-on effects have barely begun.
Climate change is here. Now what are we going to do about it?
Do we help the environment change as fast as the climate? Release chemical mutagens into the ecosystem to drive natural selection at a hundred miles an hour so we can see what survives on the other side?
Is it time to reinvent our social, political, and economic systems from the top down – or the bottom up? Our current lifestyles could become as alien to the next generation as the Aztec civilisation now is to us. In a world of guerrilla-style eco warriors, or digitised barter economies, or robot socialism, or ageographical nation states, what are the threads we’ll we weave forward?” Stories must explore functional solutions, and not simply highlight problems. 
Deadline: 30 June 2020
Length: 2,000-8,000 words; can read exceptional stories outside this range
Pay: AUD$80; one story will receive an editor’s pick payment of AUD$500. 
Details here.

The Were-Traveler: People of Color Destroy Lovecraft
This is fiction anthology. The editor says, “Lovecraft wrote some hella scary monsters, on that most horror scholars agree, but he was terribly racist. I would like to see for this issue, POC characters that turn Lovecraft’s racism and monsters on his/their heads. My preference for this issue is to have the majority of stories written by writers of color, if not all. Queer writers of color are especially encouraged to submit. “ They accept reprints, as well. Also watch out for a call which is scheduled to open later in the year, titled Women Destroy (Retro) Science Fiction.
Deadline: 1 July 2020
Length:  Flash/shorts of 750-1500 words; microfics of 350-749 words 
Pay: $10 for shorts, $5 for microfics
Details here.

Burial Day Books: Gothic Blue Book Vol 6 – A Krampus Carol
Gothic Blue Books, short fictions popular in the 18th and 19th centuries, were abridgements of full-length Gothic novels. The subjects of these books fell into one of two categories; the first being set in a monastery or convent and the second being set in a castle. For this short story and poetry anthology their guidelines say, “Original Gothic Blue Books typically took place in either a monastery, convent or castle. In years past we have asked for short stories that take place in one of these locations, or a modern day location such as a morgue, haunted house or cemetery. This year, we have added a new theme – Krampus, Christmas, and ghosts / lore from the globe revolving around a major celebration. Christmas ghost tales have a history stretching back that includes Charles Dickens’ A CHRISTMAS CAROL and more.” See guidelines for further details on what each submission must (and can) contain, and what they do not want to see.
Deadline: 5 July 2020
Length: Up to 3,500 words
Pay: $50
Details here.

Antimony and Elder Lace Press: Two themes
Omens: Their guidelines say, “The idea of seeing the future or having warnings of what is to come is an idea that spans nearly every culture. Whether the omens are good or bad, there is the potential to affect us all.
To be considered, your story must deal with the idea of omens in some fashion.” The deadline is 25 July 2020 for this theme.
To Live Again…: Their guidelines say, “Who doesn’t want to live again? The idea of resurrection and conquering death is something that can be seen in many myths and legends of cultures around the world. This anthology will deal with the idea of resurrection, and of course, it’s aftermath.” The deadline is 25 December 2020 for this theme.
Length: 1,000-7,500 words
Pay: $0.01/word + Royalties
Details here.

Demon’s Dreaming Press: Something Good to Eat
For this anthology, the editor is looking for horror set in or around Halloween, or relates in some way to the holiday and its customs. Stories can be literary horror, pulp, dark fantasy, gore, magical realism – whatever suits the writer. “Give me your Samhain-inflected stories of vampires, witches, werewolves, ghouls, zombies, ghosts, serial killers, aliens, revenge from beyond the grave, mirrors at midnight. Or maybe something more personal, more idiosyncratic”, according to guidelines. They also accept reprints.
Deadline: 1 August 2020
Length: 2,000-10,000 words
Pay: $100
Details here.

Cemetery Gates Media: Personal Local Lore/Oddities Anthology
This is a horror fiction anthology on your personal local lore/oddities. Their guidelines say, “Write something dark into a setting you’ve experienced — it could be a place you’ve lived, or even just somewhere you’ve visited on a vacation. Is there a landmark in your town that you can write a nightmare into? Have you ever legend tripped somewhere and thought, well, that cave, mausoleum, torture tree was neat, but I wish there was more to the story?” Also, “In our fifth year of publishing we’re looking to expand our reach into 21st Century folklore, urban legends, and the space between creepypasta and literary horror.” The submission window may close earlier than expected because they will begin accepting work before the deadline.
Deadline: 1 August 2020, or until filled
Length: 3,000-6,000 words
Pay: $0.05/word
Details here.

Fiyah: Joy
This speculative fiction and poetry magazine accepts work by and about Black writers of the African Diaspora. This definition is globally inclusive (Black anywhere in the world) and also applies to mixed/biracial and Afro-appended people regardless of gender identity or orientation. They started reading work on 1 May 2020 for the Joy themed issue.
Deadline: Unspecified
Length: Short fiction of 2,000-7,000 words, novelettes of up to 15,000 words
Pay: $150 for short stories, $300 for novelettes, $50 for poetry
Details here.

Impulsive Walrus Press: Going Viral
They want themed speculative fiction. Their guidelines say, “The COVID-19 quarantine has us all shut up in our homes. Businesses have ground to a halt, the economy is slowed to a snail’s pace, and nobody is entirely certain how long it is going to last.
In the middle of all of this, black market businesses have begun to operate: underground hair salons, photography studios, businesses once completely legitimate and now illegal simply for operating.
If I’d written this call a year ago, it would stop there–but that’s no longer speculative fiction. That’s happening. So instead, Impulsive Walrus is asking for stories about the long haul. What does our world look like if the quarantine just…stays? We’re looking for near-future science fiction stories exploring the comedy, horror, and human drama of a life spent six feet away from each other, and a world where our interaction is done digitally, lest we be ravaged by disease.” The anthology call will open on 5 May and will close when the anthology is filled.
Opens on: 5 May 2020; closes when filled
Length: 2,000-8,000 words
Pay: $0.02/word
Details here.

Pandemic Publications: Three themes
This Canadian publication is accepting poetry, fiction, creative nonfiction, and visual arts, including comics, on three themes:
–All things considered
— On doing nothing
–When this is all over

“While we encourage you to take creative license, we have particular fondness for positive or darkly comedic content”, according to guidelines. They do not accept genre fiction.
Deadline: Open now
Length: Up to five pages of poetry; up to 3,000 words for prose
Pay: $50 (Canadian)/poem; $120 for fiction and nonfiction
Details here.

The Sunlight Press
In this literary journal, they “want to hear the ways people turn toward light and hope, whether it is through the arts, culture, spirituality, or humor, and also how they respond to the darkness and navigate unknown spaces. Epiphanies are born from the ordinary and the extraordinary; whether it’s a reflection unfolding during a morning walk, after the loss of a loved one, or in the middle of unexpected laughter, we want to know about these moments.” Currently, they are especially interested in submissions of personal essays, book reviews, and Artist on Craft pieces (which are interviews/reflections by artists on their process of the art of choice). They also publish fiction, poetry, and photography. Payment is unspecified, though they do pay. 
Deadline: Ongoing
Length: 750-1,000 words for personal essays and reviews; up to 2,000 words for short fiction; up to 1,000 words on Artist on Craft; up to five poems
Pay: Unspecified
Details here.


Wilbur & Niso Smith Foundation: Author of Tomorrow Award
This international contest is designed to find the adventure writers of the future. Writers must enter a piece of short fiction. The work must fall within what can be defined as adventure writing (see guidelines).  There are three categories: for writers ages 16-21, 12-15, and under 11.
Value: £1,500 in the 15-21 group, £1,000 in the 12-15 group, £100 in the under-11 group
Deadline: 5 May 2020
Open for: All writers ages 21 and under
Details here

Fieldstone Review: Plastic Identities
The University of Saskatchewan’s online literary journal, The Fieldstone Review, is now accepting submissions of creative nonfiction, fiction, poetry, and reviews for its 2020 issue. The theme of this year’s edition is Plastic Identities. Topics might include, but are not limited to, identity cards, toys, environmental impacts, production, waste, and the flexibility or inflexibility of identity. Though they welcome all submissions, preference will be given to those works that engage with this theme. There is a cash prize for one submission, chosen by their editorial team. Send up to two fiction or creative nonfiction pieces, or up to five poems.
Value: $100
Deadline: 15 May 2020
Open for: All writers
Details here.

Green Stories Writing Competitions: QuiBi (8-10 minute episodes for new platform)
Their guidelines say, “We are looking for 3 – 15 ten minute episodes of 8-10 minutes each  (suitable for new platform Quibi – designed for mobile phones) that in some way touches upon ideas around building a sustainable society. … We will consider all genres – rom-com, literary fiction, science fiction, mystery, crime etc. – but stories must engage with the idea of environmentally sustainable practices and/or sustainable societies.” Apart from the cash prizes, BBC Writers room have agreed to read the top five scripts and follow up with any writers they think have promise. In addition, Red Production Company have agreed to read the winning script and  consider it for production. 
Value: £500, £100, £50; best student submission prize of £50
Deadline: 23 May 2020
Open for: All writers
Details here.

On the Premises: Limerick for 2020
They want a limerick for 2020. Their guidelines say, “Life isn’t much fun right now, anywhere in the world. The pandemic has touched everybody to some degree. Wrap up how you feel about life today–the good, the bad, the ugly, the inspiring, the awful, the funny, the not funny–and because this is a contest challenge, send it to us in the form of a limerick. The limerick doesn’t have to be funny, but it does have to evoke thoughts and feelings in us like everything else we ask of you. 
For those of you who want to take political themes, please remember our audience is literally world-wide, though it definitely leans Western. Still, jokes requiring a deep understanding of the Hong Kong anti-China protests or some of the subtler points of Brexit might not translate for all of our thousands of readers, so aim for a broad audience.” They regularly run mini-contests with cash prizes of $10-25, but this time they have a larger prize purse.
Value: 10 winners get $40 each
Deadline: 23 May 2020
Open for: All poets
Details here.

Ayn Rand Institute Essay Contests
These are international essay contests for students centred around Ayn Rand’s works. All runner-up prizes have more than one winner. One of the contests has a whopping $25,000 prize – the deadline for that is a few months away yet. The guidelines also say, “All entries become the property of the Ayn Rand Institute and will not be returned. Essays may be reproduced on our website and/or shared with third parties for purposes of marketing the contest.” The deadline for the contest around The Fountainhead is in May 2020. For this book, they will accept work by those in 11th and 12th grade. Submit an essay on one of three specific themes centred around Ayn Rand’s novel, The Fountainhead.
Value: $10,000, $2,500, $500, $50
Deadline: 28 May 2020
Open for: All students
Details here.

Humane Education Network: A Voice for Animals
This is an international essay contest for students in two categories: for 14-15-year-olds, and for 16-18-year-olds. The essay themes include mistreatment of one animal species, the preservation of one endangered species, and the history of animal welfare movement (see guidelines). Participants must currently be attending middle or high school, or be home-schooled, and less than 19 years of age on January 22, 2020. The contest is also open for those for whom English is a second language. Entries can be essays (1,400-1,500 words), essays with photos, or videos.
Value: Total prize purse up to $5,900; individual prizes of up to $500
Deadline: 31 May 2020
Open for: All students
Details here.

Sapiens Plurum: Interspecies Interaction
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 ‘Interspecies Interaction’. Their guidelines say, “How can technology increase empathy and connection? The news today is full of examples of technology creating dissension and amplifying differences. We ask authors to imagine ways that technology can improve how we relate to each other and bring us closer, even across species. We welcome stories that view life from another species’ point of view and/or explore empathy between different forms of life.” (See guidelines for extensive details). Submissions should be 1,500-3,000 words.
Value: $1,000, $500, $300
Deadline: 31 May 2020
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 2020 (postmarked)
Open for: All writers
Details here.

Writing For Peace
This is an international contest for young writers (ages 13-19) to expand their empathy skills by researching an unfamiliar culture and writing from the point-of-view of a character within that new world, while exploring social, political, and environmental pressures, and universal themes. They accept fiction, non-fiction, and poetry submissions (see guidelines for themes).
Value: $200
Deadline: 1 June 2020
Open for: All writers aged 13-19
Details here.

Green Stories Writing Competitions: Full-length novel
This is a contest for a full-length novel (for adults – they hope to do a contest for children’s novels later in the year). Their guidelines say, “We are looking for Full-Length Novels for adults that in some way touch upon ideas around building a sustainable society. … We will consider all genres – rom-com, literary fiction, science fiction, mystery, crime etc. – but stories must engage with the idea of environmentally sustainable practices and/or sustainable societies.” Submissions should be 5000 – 10,000 words (of a 50,000-100,000 word novel) that must include the following: the first chapter; another chapter that best showcases how your novel meets the green stories criteria; a third chapter (suggest the final chapter if possible); and a one-page synopsis. Apart from the cash prize, they have agreement from Peter Cox from the literary agency, Redhammer Management, to provide a one to one mentoring session with the winners (at their office in London or virtual meeting).
Value: £500, £100, £50; best student submission prize of £50
Deadline: 2 June 2020
Open for: All writers
Details here.

A Thousand Cranes: an anthology with APHN
This is a poetry anthology for everyone living in the Asia Pacific region who has been touched by the benefits of palliative care (see guidelines for countries and languages eligible). It is not really a contest, but one contributor will be invited to attend the Asia Pacific Hospice Conference in Kobe, Japan between 10–13 November 2021 to share their poetry. Their guidelines say, “Coping with death is not a topic that’s often discussed, and yet it’s an inevitable reality of every human life. Whether you are a patient, family member, friend, or healthcare professional currently dealing with terminal illness, hearing from others who have been through the same experience can be a source of strength and comfort.
With this anthology, Sing Lit Station (SLS) and the Asia Pacific Hospice Palliative Care Network (APHN) aim to increase awareness for the concept of hospice and palliative care, and to facilitate thoughtful discourse surrounding this topic.” Writers can submit up to three poems.
Value: No cash payment, one contributor invited to attend a conference in Japan to read their poetry (see above)
Deadline: 30 June 2020
Open for: Writers living in Asia Pacific (see guidelines for countries and languages eligible)
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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