Written by S. Kalekar April 6th, 2020

30 Themed Submissions Calls for April 2020

These are 30 themed submission calls from 22 markets listed here for writers of fiction, nonfiction and poetry.

Some themes are: Genderful (furry fiction), trench coats, Queer life, ghosts, Christmas, self-care, historic fantasy, time travel, disobedience, rebellious pixies, alcohol-infused horror, vacation horror, murder and machinery, B-movie monsters, vampires, flame, and everything computes.

All pay writers, from token to pro rates. There are also some themed contests for writers at the end which are free to enter.

During these difficult and rapidly-changing times though, writers may want to periodically check deadlines and even terms and conditions for any updates or changes to the submission calls and contests. Also, see this list for emergency funds for writers, which includes resources for writers at the end that are updated periodically.


Hybrid Anthologies: Three themes
They are reading work for three fiction anthologies.
— Genderful is a furry fiction anthology in two parts which aims to explore how furry and gender interact. The revised deadline is 15 April 2020 for this theme.
— Future//Tense: Love is a transfuturistic science fiction anthology which explores the way love, relationship, and identity issues may change over time, from the near future to far, on Earth or other planets, in humans or those from the stars. The deadline is 1 May 2020 for this theme.
— Future//Tense: Sex is a transfuturistic science fiction anthology which explores the way sex, intimacy, and kink may change over time, from the near future to far, on Earth or other planets, in humans or those from the stars. The deadline is 1 June 2020 for this theme.
Deadlines: See above
Length: 2,000-15,000 words
Pay: 2½¢ per word, up to $100
Details here.

Ghost Anthology
The editor is looking for unique characters and situations from previously unpublished works that focus on ghosts and the afterlife for this fiction anthology. They will accept Supernatural, Urban Fantasy, Romance, Noir, Crime, or Horror submissions. See guidelines for various established terminology, including Senate of the Dead, Vapors, and Fog Men.
Deadline: 15 April 2020
Length: 1,000-2,000 words
Pay: $35
Details here (scroll down).

Trench Coat Chronicles
They want murder mystery stories; all stories must include a trench coat. Writers can submit up to three stories.
Deadline: 15 April 2020
Length: 500-3,500 words
Pay: $10
Details here.

Catapult: Three themes
This well-regarded magazine publishes American and international narrative nonfiction. They are reading for three themes now.
On Writing: Writers on writing, up to 4,000 words;
Queer Life: Queer writers examining the experience of what it means to be a queer person in the world today, up to 4,000 words;
15 Minutes: hybrid profile-essays that feature people of interest to the writers and often explore the subjects’ relationships to their communities, cultures—even the writers themselves. 
Deadline: 17 April 2020
Length: Up to 6,000 words
Pay: Unspecified
 Details here.

Chicken Soup for the Soul: Four themes
They accept true inspirational stories and poetry on set themes. Deadlines have been extended.  

— Christmas is in the Air: This was previously titled Stories about Christmas. They want work 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 now 30 April 2020.
— Age is Just a Number: This was previously titled The Golden Years or Second Wind. They want humorous or serious stories of life after 60. Some suggested topics are: time for a new career, trying new things, bucket lists and adventure, the wisdom of age, new passions, and raising grandchildren… or still raising grown children! The deadline for this is now 31 May 2020.

– Miracles & Divine Intervention: This was previously titled Stories of Divine Intervention.They want stories about divine intervention and timing, miracles, angels, miraculous healing, messages and signs from heaven. Stories can be religious or non-religious. The deadline for this is 31 August 2020.
Stories About Self-care and Me Time: They want stories about self care, which is not just about physical health but includes your emotional, mental and spiritual wellbeing. They want stories about how you neglected your self-care and then how you realized its importance and so you now engage in it. The deadline is now 30 September 2020.

Deadlines: Various (see above)
Length: Up to 1,200 words
Pay: $200
Details here and here.

87 Bedford: Historic Fantasy Anthology
They are accepting short fiction for a historic fantasy anthology. They want literary fantasy. Their guidelines say, “We are seeking stories that offer a riveting reimagining of a historic time period imbued with fantasy and magic. As always, we prefer stories with a literary quality built upon strong characters, spellbinding language, and believable world-building.”
Deadline: 30 April 2020
Length: 1,000-5,000 words
Pay: $0.08/word
Details here.

Smoking Pen Press: Time Travel
They have issued a submission call for a short story anthology for their Read on the Run series. The theme is Time Travel. They welcome stories involving all types and aspects of time travel, and are open to work in any genre, including sci-fi, romance, comedy, fantasy, and adventure. They also accept simultaneous and multiple submissions, and reprints.
Deadline: 30 April 2020
Length: 1,200-6,000 words
Pay: $20, or copies (see guidelines)
Details here.

Unidentified Funny Objects
This is an annual anthology of humorous science fiction/fantasy stories. They are seeking all styles and sub-genres of speculative humor for Issue 8.
Deadline: 30 April 2020
Length: 500-5,000 words
Pay: $0.10/word
Details here.

Dark Ink Books: The Half That You See – Nightmares, Deliriums, and Illusions
They want literary horror stories that contain major plot elements of nightmares, illusions, hallucinations, delusions, or waking dreams. Quality of writing, adherence to call parameters, originality, and alignment with other stories selected for publication are the determining factors in selection or rejection for this anthology.
Deadline: 30 April 2020
Length: 1,500-6,500 words
Pay: $0.01/word, up to 7,000 words
Details here.

Sub-Terrain Magazine: Disobedience
They accept fiction, creative non-fiction, commentary, social or otherwise, and poetry. For the Disobedience theme their guidelines say, “subTerrain has always prided itself on its rejection of the status quo, and in this issue we will feature work that explores disobedience as progress, as chaos, or as morality. Or perhaps the works will be an act of disobedience themselves, in that they flout the so-called rules of genre.” Online submissions are charged, but there is no fee for mailed submissions.
Deadline: end April 2020
Length: Up to 3,000 words for fiction, up 4,000 words for creative non-fiction and social commentary
Pay: CAD0.10/word for prose up to CAD500, CAD50/poem
Details here

What I Thought Of Ain’t Funny: An Anthology of Short Fiction Based On the Jokes of Mitch Hedberg
They are looking for fiction submissions based on Mitch Hedberg’s jokes. Their guidelines say, “We are looking for short fiction that “yes ands” a Mitch Hedberg joke, that uses the joke as a prompt, that cracks the joke against a table, sticks a finger in its shell, pulls it open, and shows us the world inside. Let the material take you where it will. The pieces should be “based” on a specific Mitch Hedberg joke, but that does not mean they can’t wander, doesn’t mean they have to be instantly recognizable.
We are not looking for pieces that emulate or mimic the style of Mitch Hedberg with no connection to his actual existing material.”
Deadline: 30 April 2020
Length: Up to 3,000 words
Pay: $50
Details here.

Decoded: a SFFH story for every day of Pride month
This is a story-a-day anthology of queer science fiction, fantasy, and horror by queer authors. They will feature writing and comics released to subscribers every day of Pride month. Their guidelines say, “we welcome a wide array of subject matter. Everything from experimental comics to thinly-veiled fanfiction to good old formulaic genre is right up our alley, so don’t disqualify yourself – submit! Our only rule for the month is that you’re a queer creator”.
Deadline: 30 April 2020
Length: Up to 7,500 words for fiction
Pay: $25-200 for fiction; $75 for comics
Details here.

Corrugated Sky Publishing: Pixies, Fae and Sprites – A Mythical Rebellion
They want short stories that deal with the theme of rebellious pixies and fae. Their guidelines say, “Please limit your topic to the mythical beings commonly described as fae (do not submit stories of mermaids, trolls, werewolves, vampires, zombies, unicorns, dragons, or other legendary creatures).”
Deadline: 30 April 2020
Length: Up to 10,000 words
Pay: $25
Details here.

The Evil Cookie: Brewtality – Alcohol Infused Extreme Horror
They want extreme horror fiction for this anthology. Their guidelines say, “Some call it courage in a bottle while others perceive it as the devil’s cocktail. Alcohol comes in all shapes and sizes, bringing along with it the temptation of sin, the eagerness of confusion and the psychological bombardment on the mind and senses forcing us to play a game between life and death.
Brewtality will dive deep in the subconscious where the demons swim, blinding our judgment and guiding us to make bad decisions without revealing the consequences.”
Deadline: 1 May 2020
Length: Up to 3,000 words
Pay: $0.03/word
Details here.

Blood Bath Literary Zine: Vampires
They want short fiction, poetry, and visual art on the Vampires theme. Their guidelines say, “Successful submissions will put a new spin on an existing idea, try out a new and unexpected medium or tell the story from an unexplored perspective.
For this issue, we are interested in pieces that push the boundaries of what a vampire can be, what vampirism can teach us about ourselves. We want queer vampires, vampires struggling to understand their gender identity, depressed vampires, reluctant vampires, vampires dealing with racism across the vastness of time. We want to hear human stories told through a horror lens. And as usual, we want to be disturbed, unnerved and generally made to feel very uncomfortable.
Vampire stories are one of the most interesting avenues in horror for self-examination and self-perception. We are looking for searing, emotional, striking work that aims to challenge and dislodge traditional ideas around this most iconic horror mainstay.”  They will not accept work from cis white men for this issue (though this doesn’t apply to disabled persons). They will accept up to two fiction and four poetry submissions per person, and artwork. Their production schedule is subject to change because of Covid-19.   
Deadline: 1 May 2020
Length: Up to 2,000 words for fiction, up to 30 lines of poetry
Pay:  £30
Details here.

New Smut Project: Erato
They want sensual flash fiction and prose poetry for this anthology. Their guidelines say, “Any genre or setting–contemporary, historical, other worlds, time travel… And no limits on the gender or number of participants. Whether your characters find satisfaction through BDSM, fetish, or vanilla encounters, in long-term romances or one-night stands, it’s all good.” Writers can be blunt or as oblique, straightforward or experimental as they wish. All characters must be of legal age and express their consent. Their website says their project name is “kind of funny…for people very serious about quality, diverse erotica”. They will read up to three stories per author.
Deadline: 1 May 2020
Length: 50-2,000 words
Pay: $30
Details here.

Rogue Blades Entertainment: We Who Are About to Die
They want heroic adventure stories on the theme. The submission form consists of two sections: the Initial Submission and the Full Submission. The Initial Submission section requires you insert the first 500 words of your tale. They will read the full submission only if they like the initial 500 words. This theme is titled ‘We Who are About to Die: A Heroic Anthology of Sacrifice’. Their guidelines say, “Not every hero survives. All heroes pay a cost, some the ultimate sacrifice. We’re examining that theme of ultimate sacrifice as key to heroism. Not only the willingness to sacrifice all, but the act of sacrifice for the greater ’cause,’ whatever that may be. These are tales of loss.” They will read all types of ‘Sword &’ stories; Sword & Sorcery, Sword & Planet, Sword & Sandal, Sword & Soul, as well as Sword & Six-gun. Their guidelines also say, “NO modern settings, vernacular, weapons, or concepts are sought for this title. Keep everything set on Earth or anything resembling it at least 100 years back, preferably not too much past 1901 and the closer to the post-Civil War/Old American West the better. Sword & Sorcery like REH’s Kull; Sword & Planet like Leigh Brackett; Sword & Sandal like Ben-Hur; Sword & Soul like Charles Saunders’ Imaro; Sword & Six-gun like H. Rider Haggard and Rafael Sabatini and Zorro.” They have extensive guidelines on the theme and formatting. Their other anthology, ‘No Ordinary Mortals: A Heroic Anthology of Supers’ is scheduled to open in mid-May.
Deadline: 15 May 2020
Length: 500 words initially, 2,000-9,000 words for full submissions
Pay: $30
Details here.

Grindhouse Books: Worst Laid Plans – An Anthology of Vacation Horror
This is a horror anthology about summer vacations gone wrong. Their guidelines say, “Summer vacation is often romanticized as a time of joy, but sometimes even the best laid plans go awry. Send in your horrifying tales for consideration in Grindhouse Press’s first-ever horror anthology.”
Deadline: 15 May 2020, or until filled
Length: 2,000-6,000 words
Pay: $0.01/word
Details here.

Black Beacon Books: Murder and Machinery
They want short fiction on the theme. Their guidelines say, “Send us your terrifying tales of machinery old or new used as a means of murder or menace. We’re looking for suspense, technological horror, even a little sci-fi or steampunk for this one. No supernatural fiction accepted; circuits instead of spirits, wires and switches instead of witches, cogs and spools instead of curses and ghouls.”Also, “We strongly recommend you read the classics in this vein to get a feel for the theme: The Lord of the Dynamos – H.G. Wells, The Pit and the Pendulum – Edgar Allan Poe, In the Penal Colony – Franz Kafka, The Lift – Arthur Conan Doyle, Moxon’s Master – Ambrose Bierce, for example.” They also accept reprints.
Deadline: Until filled
Length: 2,500-7,000 words
Pay: £40
Details here.

Grinning Skull Press: ATTACK! of the B-Movie Monsters – Hellacious Hybrids
They want B-movie monster stories for this anthology. Their guidelines say, “We’ve all seen those God-awful SyFy movies. You know the ones we’re talking about. Sharktopus, Piranhaconda, Pteracuda. Ever think you could do better? Well, now’s your chance. Presenting ATTACK! of the B-Movie Monsters: Hellacious Hybrids! Let your imagination run wild, but make them believable.” Also see their website for details about submissions to Deathlehem, a charity anthology about Christmas baddies, with no happy endings (unless it’s for the bad guy).  
Deadline: Until filled
Length: 2,500-10,000 words (query for shorter or longer)
Pay: One-fourth cent a word (subject to increase)
Details here (scroll down).

Claw & Blossom Solstice Issue: Flame
This is a quarterly online journal of short prose and poems that touch upon the natural world. They are reading work for issue 5 (the Solstice issue), and the theme is ‘Flame’. 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: Unspecified
Length: Up to 1,000 words for prose, one poem
Pay: $25
Details here.

Amazing Stories: Two themes
This science fiction magazine is looking for submissions on two themes. They are also reading unthemed stories.
— Home Sweet Solar System.
 “In the relatively near future (less than five hundred years), humanity has colonized the solar system. What would the practical challenges of trying to live in the solar system’s harsh environments be? What sorts of politics would develop between the center (Earth) and the periphery (everywhere else)? What sorts of adventures are possible?” according to their guidelines. Examples include The Expanse series of novels/TV and Allen Steele’s Near Space series.

– Everything Computes. “In the relatively near future (less than five hundred years), computation has escaped the bounds of computers and now exists in all matter throughout the solar system. Thank you, Gordon Moore! When the environment is completely programmable, the only limit to what can happen is the human imagination. Is your imagination up for it?” according to their guidelines. Examples include Hannu Rajianimi’s Jean le Flambeur trilogy, Karl Schroeder’s Lady of Mazes and Ian M. Banks’ Culture stories.
They also pay for positive/optimistic speculative poetry and artwork. Their submission form requires a Login (see top right).
Deadline: Unspecified for fiction; year-round for poetry (15 May 2020 for Fall issue)
Length: 1,000-10,000 words for fiction, normally 3-30 lines for poems, up to 60 lines
Pay: $0.06/word for fiction; $1/line of poetry, minimum $25  
Details here.


Queer Sci Fi: Innovation

They want to see science fiction, fantasy, paranormal, or horror LGBTQIA stories of up to 300 words on the theme of Innovation – which could be a new idea, method, or device, or the introduction of something new, or the action or process of innovating. Their guidelines say, “We live in an age of innovation – new websites, apps, and disruption abound. Often this innovation has a dark side, destroying old industries, eroding privacy and enabling climate change.
But innovation can have a bright side – solving problems instead of creating them. Look at how medicine has helped extend life and cure ailments that were once deadly scourges. The same social media sites that are causing such chaos have also brought people together on groups like ours, creating new communities. And innovation might just hold the key to saving the planet.
Tell us about either side – how innovation will destroy us, or how it might save us. Whether your innovation is scientific, paranormal, horrific or magical, we want to see it.”
Value: $75, $50, $25
Deadline: 10 April 2019
Open for: All writers
Details here.

24th Annual Parsec Ink Short Story Contest: Forging
This is a contest for a science fiction, fantasy or horror short story (up to 3,500 words) on the theme ‘Forging’ – which can be used in the setting, plot, characters, or dialogue – the winning story will be one which uses the contest theme as a key element. Entrants must be non-professional writers (those who have not met eligibility requirements for Science Fiction Writers of America or equivalent: sale of a novel or sale of 3 stories to a large-circulation publication). Read the terms carefully – one of these is, “Submission to the contest implies consent for publication, but all rights revert immediately to the author upon publication.” A maximum of two submissions is allowed.
Value: $200, $100, $50
Deadline: 15 April 2020
Open for: Non-professional writers (see guidelines)
Details here.

Everything Change Climate Fiction Contest 2020
This is an international short fiction contest. Their guidelines say, “The beating drum of the climate crisis is a constant reminder that our planet is a closed, limited system, and that we’re currently living far beyond its boundaries. We are looking for short stories that help us imagine how humans can live within Earth’s planetary boundaries—at the individual level, yes, but more importantly at the level of organizations, communities, and societies, and at the level of a global human civilization. What would our world look like if we actually respected and lived within planetary boundaries? How would we organize our homes, communities, cities, and nations? How would we live with and relate to each other at the global level? How might politics, culture, relationships, and identities—all of the messiness of human lives—change in a world where we’re grappling seriously with the climate crisis, and perhaps even trying to restore some of the damage we’ve already done to the planet and its ecosystems? What kinds of obstacles, conflicts, and transformations will arise during these humongous shifts? How can we ensure that a sustainable or even climate-positive future is also a just and equitable one?” Submissions (5,000 words) can be in all fiction genres. 
Value: $1,000; nine prizes of $100 each
Deadline: 15 April 2020
Open for: All writers
Details here.

Green Stories Writing Competitions: Screenplay
This full-length film screenplay contest is open to all. All submissions (19-120 pages) must conform to the green stories criteria of showing a positive vision of what a sustainable society might look like or in some way smuggling in green solutions/policies/characters in the context of an otherwise mainstream story. BBC Writers room have agreed to read the top five scripts and follow up with any writers they think have promise. The scripts that are written in standard format (see guidelines) will get a better reception. Also see details of their upcoming contests in other genres, with later deadlines. 
Value: £500, £100, £50; best student submission prize of £50
Deadline: 18 April 2020
Open for: All writers
Details here.

Science Me a Story
The Society of Spanish Researchers in the United Kingdom (SRUK) and the Lilly Foundation are running an international contest which aims to promote the use of short stories as a tool to communicate science to children in a fun and engaging way. This is for anyone willing to write a short story with scientific content for kids up to 12 years old. The contest has two categories: stories in Spanish and stories in English.
Value:  £150, £100 and £50 for each category
Deadline: 20 April 2020
Open for: All writers
Details here.

Holland Park Press: Is Royalty Relevant? A Poetry Competition
This is an international poetry contest on the theme, ‘Is Royalty Relevant?’ Their guidelines say, “We invite you to write a poem about a member or members of royal families from countries around the world.
This is the theme but first and foremost we are looking for outstanding poems, literary and subject wise, we don’t need to agree with your views, but we want to feel your poem comes from the heart and adds something new to our poetic legacy.
You can write about any aspect of royalty: their role, actions, dress sense, sense of duty, scandals, economic relevance, artistic or sporting interests, their dogs and other pets or even their handbag (what’s in it?). You can be a royalist or staunch republican, that’s all fine, as long as, we are moved, excited, amused, annoyed or inspired by your poem.” Poems must not exceed 50 lines.
Value: £200
Deadline: 27 April 2020
Open for: All poets
Details here.

New England Crime Bake: Al Blanchard Award
This is a short story award. Their guidelines say it must be a crime story (up to 5,000 words) by a New England author or have a New England setting if the author is not from New England. The story may include the following genres: mystery, thriller, suspense, caper, and horror. (No torture/killing of children or animals.) Apart from the cash award, the winner also gets publication in Level Best Books’ Crime Fiction anthology, and admission to the Crime Bake Conference (though conference attendance is not a requirement).
Value: $100
Deadline: 30 April 2020
Open for: All writers
Details here.

Ayn Rand Institute Essay Contests
These are international essay contests for students centred around Ayn Rand’s works: Anthem, The Fountainhead, and Atlas Shrugged. All runner-up prizes have more than one winner in each contest and category. 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 Anthem is in April 2020. For this book, there are contests for two sets of grade levels: one for 8th, 9th, and 10th, and another for those in 11th and 12th grade. Submit an essay of 600-1,200 words on one of three specific topics centred around Ayn Rand’s novel, Anthem. See contests with later deadlines around other works: The Fountainhead, and Atlas Shrugged.
Value: $2,000, $250, $100, and $25 in each category
Deadline: 30th April 2020
Open for: All students
Details here.

Remastered Words Contest
This organization creates audio dramatizations of short story submissions and an audio recording. The title of the anthology will be ‘One Last Chance’ and writers must use this image in the story.
Submit a story of up to 5,000 words in any fantasy sub-genre.
Value: £75, £50, £25, and royalties
Deadline: 1 May 2020
Open for: All writers
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

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 2019 (postmarked)
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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