Written by S. Kalekar April 5th, 2021

33 Themed Calls for Submissions for April 2021

There are 33 themed calls for fiction, nonfiction, and poetry, including 13 themed contests. Some of the themes are: generations; climate change; gaslamp fantasy; art; ocean animals; asinine assassins; cryptids emerging; winter wonders; sleep and dreams (as related to fairy tales); and consequences of war. All but one pay cash for submissions.

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


Held: Generations
Held is a Canada-based literary journal. They will publish fiction, nonfiction, experimental prose, poetry, and artwork, and the theme is ‘Generations’. Their guidelines say, “Think about the stories flowing from all the voices in your life. The tale your father told you about the prank he played on his eighth-grade English teacher. Or the secret a stranger told you on the subway. Or a craft tradition passed down from your grandparents. … Stories that have been passed down, overheard, stories that blur the line between fiction and nonfiction, where truth lies in the telling and not in the accumulation of facts.” They want work that “explores the transfer of knowledge from one person to another, from one generation to another.” They will prioritize work by Black, Indigenous, racialised creatives, as well as people who identify as 2SLGBTQ+, and those living with disabilities. They also have a cover art contest on the ‘Generations’ theme, and the deadline for that is later.
Deadline: 6 April 2021
Length: Up to 1,500 words for prose; up to 5 pages for poetry
Pay: CAD50
Details here.

Rock and a Hard Place Magazine
They are reading fiction submissions for Issues 6 and 7, and they also accept artwork. Their tagline says, ‘A lit-noir publisher focusing on stories of the desperate, and what they do next’. Stories can be in any genre, or a mix of genres. Their guidelines say, “stories that detail life at the bottom or at the margins of human society. These can be stories about losers who always make the wrong decisions, or they can be stories about people who always make the right decisions but who still can’t get ahead because of the hand they were dealt in life.” The deadline for issues 6 and 7 is in April, and contributors are paid, except for flash fiction submissions. They are also reading stories for a charity anthology, titled Under the Thumb: Stories of Police Oppression, for which there is no payment, and which has a later deadline.
Deadline: 10 April 2021
Length: 2,000-5,000 words
Pay: $35 for fiction
Details here.

House of Zolo volume 3: The Climate Change Edition
This is a journal of speculative fiction and poetry. They are reading on the ‘Climate Change’ theme. Their guidelines say, “We are looking for radical, forward-thinking fiction and poetry that examines the future of our planet as it relates to Climate Change.
What will the Earth look like in a hundred years, five hundred years? How will cities evolve and humans adapt over the coming decades? The coming centuries?
What part does technology play in our future?
What will happen to the animals? …
Utopias, dystopias, magic realism, horror, science fiction — all speculative genres are welcome.”
Deadline: 15 April 2021
Length: 1,000-6,000 words
Pay: $25 per poem, $50-75 for fiction
Details here.

Extraordinary Visions: Stories Inspired by Jules Verne
The North American Jules Verne Society is seeking short fiction and illustrations for its upcoming anthology. They want short stories inspired by the writings of Jules Verne. Their guidelines say, “Your story may be set in any time or place. You may use characters from Verne’s novels (they’re all in the public domain) or make up your own. You need not write in Verne’s style. The connection between your story and at least one of Verne’s works must be obvious and significant.” They also accept reprints. They pay for artwork, as well.
Deadline: 30 April 2021 (or until filled)
Length: 3,000-5,000 words
Pay: $0.02/word
Details here.

Bronzewood Books: Gaslamp Fantasy Anthology
They want fiction submissions for an anthology that will be “filled with short stories that highlight a magical or haunting Victorian setting. The tentative plan is to release in time for Halloween, so the more spooky you can make the story, the better.
If you’re curious about what Gaslamp Fantasy entails, think about Steampunk but less about tech and more focus on magic.” Gaslamp is a subgenre of both fantasy and historical fiction – see their extensive guidelines for more.
Deadline: 30 April 2021
Length: 2,000-8,000 words
Pay: $0.015/word
Details here.

Silver Shamrock Publishing: Midnight From Beyond the Stars
They want original alien horror stories with a The Thing/Alien/The Blob/Critters/Night of the Creeps kind of vibe.
Deadline: 30 April 2021
Length: 2,500-6,000 words
Pay: $0.06/word
Details here.
(Another horror anthology, Darkness Blooms, touching on at least one of these themes – identity, security, and community – is also open for submissions, with a 31 May deadline; writers can send up to three stories.)

Fiyah: Sound and Color
This magazine publishes speculative fiction, nonfiction, and poetry by writers of the African Diaspora only. For the ‘Sound and Color’ theme their guidelines say, “We want to see to stories and poems about experiencing new worlds with particular emphasis on sensory detail. Magic systems based on color schemes, aural spectres in northern lights, the hearing of mysterious voices, the intoxicating scent of alien flowers luring our heroes to their deaths, etc.” They publish reviews as well, and they’re taking pitches for nonfiction to be published on the web as well as print – see guidelines.
Deadline: 30 April 2021
Length: Up to 1,000 words for poetry; 2,000-15,000 words for fiction; 800-1,200 words for nonfiction
Pay: $50 for poetry, $0.08/word for fiction, $0.10/word for nonfiction
Details here.

Rainbow Dog Books: Shark Week – Ocean Animals
This is a fiction anthology. Their guidelines say, “We’re looking for excellent general audience furry stories that involve the ocean, an ocean dwelling creature, or ocean life in some way. All stories should be PG-13 at most.” This will be their first anthology publication.
Deadline: 30 April 2021
Length: 1,500-12,000 words (query for longer or shorter)
Pay: Half a cent per word
Details here.

Woodhall Press: Nonwhite and Woman – 153 Micro Essays on Being the World
They want true narratives from BIPOC writers who self-identify as women (cis/trans) for their upcoming anthology, which celebrates how women of color live and thrive in the world. Their guidelines say, “How has the color of your skin influenced your life? What did you do to claim yourself and your identity, or how was it challenged? Show us a single moment, a string of vignettes, or literary snapshots of your life. We’re looking for micro essays, micro memoirs or prose poems”. Writers can submit up to three pieces. They also accept reprints. There is no cash payment for contributors.
Deadline: 30 April 2021
Length: Up to 300 words
Pay: Contributor copy (hard copy for US-based addresses, digital copy for others)
Details here.

Smart Rhino Publications: Asinine Assassins
They want stories “involving a character (e.g., assassin, gun for hire) with the (synonyms for asinine) in mind. The “asinine” element must be critical in the plot—we particularly like dark humor, but we’ll also consider anything comedic, zany, or surreal. Stories can be any genre (although the focus is on suspense), but they must fit the anthology’s theme.”
Deadline: 1 May 2021, or until filled
Length: Preferably 3,000-5,000 words
Pay: $20
Details here.
(Also see Mystery Weekly Magazine’s call: the Die Laughing anthology of humorous mystery stories, with a 1 June deadline.)

Improbable Press: Cryptids Emerging – Tales of Dark Cheer
This is a fiction anthology about cryptids (like sea monsters, jackalopes, bigfoot) around the world. They want “contemporary supernatural or historical fantasy about cryptids living with humans, or just at the edge of our vision, stories of what the world would look like if cryptids were real. … Pick a cryptid from legend or make one up, we want a strange, spooky, sweet, sexy, and/or funny story of emerging. Whether that’s your cryptid coming out of hiding, a human being true to themselves, or a cryptid/human pairing falling in love, the heart of your tale is about rising, changing, growing.” They don’t want violence, horror, or pain. They also accept reprints.
Deadline: 1 May 2021
Length: Up to 5,000 words
Pay: $0.05/word
Details here.

Consequence Forum: Consequences and realities of war
This forum addresses the human consequences and realities of war and geopolitical violence through literature, art, and community events. They publish fiction (including flash fiction and story excerpts), nonfiction, poetry, translations, and visual art (including artwork, graphic narratives, video essays, and photo essays). They no longer charge a submission fee.
Deadline: 1 May 2021
Length: Up to 5,000 words for prose; up to 5 poems
Pay: $25 for print poems and print art, $25-75 for print prose; $50 for online reviews, art, and poetry; $100 for online prose
Details here.

Zoetic Press: NonBinary Review — Industrial Revolution
They are reading fiction, creative nonfiction, and poetry on the Industrial Revolution theme. They want writers to “explore each theme in any way that speaks to them: re-write a  familiar story from a new point of view, mash genres together, give us a personal essay about some aspect of our theme that has haunted you all  your life”, according to their guidelines. Each work must have a clear and obvious relation with the theme. They also accept artwork.
Deadline: 1 May 2021
Length: Prose up to 3,000 words; poetry up to three pages
Pay: $10 for poetry; $0.01/word for prose
Details here.
(They are also reading work on the Prohibition theme, with a 1 August deadline.)

Skullgate Media: Winter Wonders
This is a speculative fiction anthology. Their guidelines say, “Do you like to cozy up next to a roaring fire during a snowstorm? Does winter bring out the best in you… or the worst? Do you have a story of narrowly escaping an abominable snow beast, or finding romance during a blizzard in an enchanted cabin? Are snow-covered mountains the scenery of fabulous fables… or nightmares? Living snowmen, magical solstices, ice-crusted alien planets, whatever floats your iceberg. We want your stories that include “winter wonders”: stories of survival, interstellar adventures, or magical nights. Sci-fi, fantasy, weird-fiction, and everything in between—as long as your story has “winter” and “wonder,” we want you to share it with us.”
Deadline: 1 May 2021
Length: 3,000-15,000 words
Pay: $10-15
Details here.

Tales From The Cyber Salon Event #2: The High Street
This is a science fiction project. Throughout 2021, Cybersalon will host ‘Tales of the Cybersalon’, a series of interdisciplinary technology and policy investigations through science-fiction storytelling; apart from publishing, for selected writers, this involves a reading of their story, and discussion with panel experts to finesse the technological aspects of their fiction (see guidelines). They are currently reading fiction on the High Street theme. They are not looking for the post-apocalyptic or utopias on other planets; the stories need to be plausible enough for their experts and audience to engage with them meaningfully. The theme guidelines say, “One thing is certain. The high street landscape has now irrevocably changed and there is no point clinging on to a sentimental vision of the past. … In 2013 and 2018 the High Street Tasks Force’s Grimsey Reviews attempted to offer alternative futures for our high streets and town centres. The accelerated digital transformation brought about by Covid-19 has made their challenge to, “start planning for a bold new world,” all the more urgent. Retail has left the buildings! We invite you to offer new visions of the high street and to reimagine the centres of our towns and cities.”
Deadline: 2 May 2021
Length: Up to 1,000 words
Pay: £50
Details here.

WolfSinger Publications: Crunchy  With Ketchup
This is a fiction anthology featuring dragons. Their guidelines say, “What we are looking for are stories that feature really badass dragons – they can be evil or good – or somewhere in between. The point is they need to live up to the power and strength we picture when we imagine a dragon.
If your dragon is able to be defeated by a human knight – it should be because…well, I’m not sure what it should be because of – but it needs to be believable to someone who knows beyond all doubt dragons are the biggest, baddest predators out there.
Show us why you should never meddle in the affairs of dragons as they may consider you crunchy and taste good with ketchup. Break the story-writing rules if you want. If you use a tried and true plotline, twist it in an original and interesting way.” They will accept all speculative fiction genre stories; humour is a plus. Stories should be PG-13.
Deadline: 31 May 2021
Length: Up to 15,000 words
Pay: $15 and royalties
Details here.

Sliced Up Press: Bodies Full of Burning – An Anthology of Menopause-Themed Horror
They want fiction for this horror anthology, and stories must involve menopause as a main plot point. Their guidelines say, “Menopause can be hell – so show us your demons, your darkest dreams, bloodiest crimes or scariest transformations. It’s called the change of life, but transitions can be deadly.”
Deadline: 1 June 2021, or until filled
Length: 1,000-4,000 words
Pay: $0.01/word
Details here.

Fairy Tale Review: The Lilac Issue – Sleep and Dreams
They publish work around fairy tales – short fiction, essays, lyric nonfiction, scholarship, poetry (in received and nonce forms), translations, graphic novels, comics, drama, and artwork.
The Lilac Issue is themed around “sleep and dreams: the forgotten language of fairy tales.” For the first time, they will be paying contributors.
Deadline: 6 July 2021
Length: Up to 1,000 words for fiction and nonfiction; up to 4 pages for poetry, graphic novels, comics, drama
Pay: $50
Details here.

The Savage Realms
This is a new monthly magazine and they want to bring back the golden days of sword-and-sorcery pulp fiction. They want “heroic tales of savage barbarians, evil wizards, and beautiful maidens.”
Deadline: Open now
Length: Up to 10,000 words
Pay: $25
Details here.


Grist: Imagine 2020 – Climate fiction for future ancestors
This is a climate fiction contest; stories have to be 3,000-5,000 words. They have extensive guidelines, including: “Envision the next 180 years of equitable climate progress. What will the world look like in the year 2200 — or anywhere between then and now? How will we move around the cities of the future? What will we eat, drink, wear, use, and live in? How will we hold our relationships to land, resources, and one another? What kind of a world do you, a future ancestor, want to build? … Stories should be set anywhere between the present day and the year 2200, and should show our path to a clean, green, and just future.” They will be reading for the following core elements: hope; intersectionality; resilience; a society that is radically different from the one we live in today, and how we got there; a focus on climate, with creative and clearly articulated solutions that put people and planet first. Also see guidelines for details of the inspirations and genres the contest is rooted in.
Value: $3,000; $2,000; $1,000; and honorarium of $300 each for nine finalists
Deadline: 12 April 2021
Open for: All writers
Details here and here.

Keats-Shelley Prize Memorial Association: Two prizes
These are contests of poems and essays on Romantic themes.
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.
Young Romantics Prize: For the poetry prize, poets aged 16-18 should submit poetry on the theme of ‘Writ in Water’, of up to 30 lines. For the Young Romantics essayist prize their guidelines say, “Essay writers are asked to address this question (preceded by two quotations):
‘Do you not see how necessary a World of Pains and troubles is to school an Intelligence and make it a soul?” — John Keats
‘The sweetest songs are those that tell of saddest thought.’ — PB Shelley, To a Skylark
How can poetry – especially the poetry of John Keats and Percy Shelley – help us cope with adversity? … Your response can take whatever form, mood or tone you choose: literary criticism, political commentary, personal essay, opinion piece, the script for a podcast. You can agree or disagree.” Entries must be 750-1,000 words, including quotations.
Value: Total prize purse of £5,000
Deadline: 12 April 2021
Open for: All writers for the Keats-Shelley essay prize; writers and poets ages 16-18 for the Young Romantics prize
Details here and here.

Science Me a Story
This is 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. The contest has two categories: work in Spanish and in English. The story, real or fictional, must be conceived from the objective of scientific dissemination to primary school children (ages 6-12 years) through the use of the narrative technique, as prose or poem. The topic should be related to science, the scientific method, the research process and scientific discovery, everyday life of a scientist, and others alike. Prose must be 400 to 1, 700 words, and poems, 170 to 1,000 words.
Value:  £200, £150, £100 for each category
Deadline: 18 April 2021
Open for: All writers
Details here.

Ayn Rand Institute: Two 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. 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 deadlines for the contests around Anthem (for 8th to 12th grade) and The Fountainhead (11th and 12th grade) are in April; the deadline for the contest around Atlas Shrugged (for 12th grade, undergraduate, and graduate students) is in September. Writers are to submit an essay on one of three specific topics centred around Ayn Rand’s novels, Anthem and The Fountainhead (click on ‘Topics’ under each for topics, and on ‘Rules’ for length guidelines).
Value: $2,000, $250, $100 for 8th-12th grade/Anthem; $5,000, $1,000, $500 for 11th-12th grade/The Fountainhead
Deadline: 29 April 2021
Open for: All students
Details here.

The Willie Morris Awards: Two awards

There is a poetry award for an unpublished poem (up to three pages), and a fiction award for fiction novels published in 2020 – both are for work that invokes the American South.

Value: $2,500 for poetry; $10,000 for published novels
Deadline: 30 April 2021
Open for: Unspecified
Details here.

Queer Sci Fi: Ink
They want to see science fiction, fantasy, paranormal, or horror LGBTQIA stories of up to 300 words on the theme of Ink. Their guidelines say, “Ink is everywhere. Liquid ink the books and magazines and newspapers we read. Virtual ink in our devices. Tattoos have moved decorative body art ink into the mainstream, and our politicians and celebrities often get more ink in the press than they can handle. And ink can leave an indelible stain.
Tell us about ink (and the stain it leaves) on your characters, the culture, and the world, for better or worse.”
Value: $75, $50, $25
Deadline: 30 April 2021
Open for: All writers
Details here.

Parsec Ink Short Story Contest: Still Waters, Deep Thoughts
This is a contest for a science fiction, fantasy or horror short story (up to 3,500 words) on the theme ‘Still Waters, Deep Thoughts’ – 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”. A maximum of two submissions is allowed.
Value: $200, $100, $50
Deadline: 15 April 2021
Open for: Non-professional writers (see guidelines)
Details here.


Preservation Foundation Contest: Non-fictional Animal Stories
This is an international contest for unpublished writers (see guidelines). Their upcoming deadline is for the non-fiction animal stories category: “Stories should be factual and true accounts of an encounter or encounters by the author with a wild animal or animals. These include, but are not limited to, birds, fish, butterflies, snails, lions, bears, turtles, wombats, etc., as long as it is not a pet.” Entries should be 1,000-10,000 words. They want all entries, regardless of whether or not they win, to be on their website as long as the Foundation exists (see guidelines). Also see contests in other genres, which will open for submissions later in the year.
Value: $200, $100
Deadline: 30 April 2021
Open for: Unpublished writers
Details here.

New England Crime Bake: Al Blanchard Award
This is a short story award. Their guidelines say it must be a crime story, of 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). Writers can send up to two stories.
Value: $100
Deadline: 30 April 2021
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: £1,000 in the 16-21 group, £100 in the 12-15 group, £100 in the under-11 group
Deadline: 30 April 2021
Open for: All writers ages 21 and under
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 more (see guidelines). Participants must currently be attending middle or high school, or be home-schooled, and less than 19 years of age on 1 February 2021. The contest is also open for those for whom English is a second language. Entries can be essays, essays with photos, or videos. They have extensive guidelines.
Value: Total prize purse up to $5,900; individual prizes of up to $500
Deadline: 30 April 2021
Open for: All 14 to 18 year old students
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. Also, “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. Send 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.

 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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