Written by S. Kalekar July 5th, 2021

38 Themed Calls for Submissions for July 2021

There are 38 themed submission calls and contests for writers of fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. Some of the themes are: joyful imaginations; deadly love; the dead inside (identity horror); untethered (magic horses); monsters; apocalypse; us/them; love, death, and androids; spirit machine; escapism; urban fantasy; fantastic fall; legendary kids; not the fellowship (Tolkien); and ancient worlds. Most calls are paying ones, and none of the contests charge an entry fee. Also see this list of themed calls – a few deadlines are coming up.


Augur Magazine: Joyful Imaginations
Augur Magazine has announced a short submission window for two issues, one themed, and the other unthemed. They want dream-touched realism, slipstream, fabulism, and literary speculative fiction, as well as rich realism, high fantasy, and science fiction. They also publish poetry. The submission calls are for Issue 4.2, the Fall/Winter issue (unthemed), and Issue 5.1, themed ‘Joyful Imaginations’ – “For 5.1, we’re looking for pieces that invoke delight, contentment, transformation, dreaminess, & beauty—especially from marginalized creators.” They have two reading periods (see below).
Deadline: until 7 July — Open to BIPOC, trans, and/or disabled creators living in/from Canada; reading period July 8-31 — Open to everyone.
Length: Up to 5,000 words for short fiction, up to five poems
Pay: CAD0.11/word for short fiction, CAD60 for poetry
Details here

Dark Dispatch: Deadly Love; The Dead Inside
They are reading submissions for two anthologies.
Deadly Love: “romantic horror in all its forms. Open to dark fantasy, sci-fi, horror, and crime subs featuring a romantic horror plot.” They want fiction only. Stories should focus on love gone wrong.
The Dead Inside: This is an anthology of identity horror – fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. Their guidelines say, “Explorations of what happens when our core identities are stripped, altered, suppressed, or denied to us, whether by choice or not. The way parenthood turns you into a different person. How toxic masculinity shapes us and robs boys of their childhoods. Suppression of race, culture, or ethnicity to stay safe, get the job, or grab that publishing contract. Being forced to stay closeted for safety, acceptance, or love. How does a lifetime of suppression and self-hatred affect us? What might our lives have been like if we’d been able to break free? Who do we become when we perpetuate the same patterns? And who are we, really, when we strip down the outer skin of what we are?”
Deadlines: 9 July 2021 for Deadly Love; 2 August 2021 for The Dead Inside
Length: Varies (see guidelines for each)
Pay: $10-50 for Dark Dispatch; $25-50 for Deadly Love
Details here.

Constelación Magazine: Love Needs No Translation
This is a bilingual speculative fiction magazine, and they will open for their fourth issue, on the theme ‘Love Needs No Translation’ in mid-June. At the time of writing, there were no details on the theme on the website. Authors are free to interpret their themes creatively, and they encourage writers to twist and bend the theme, as long as they fit into any of the speculative fiction genres. Submissions can be in English or Spanish, and they also ask for translation rights. They also commission artwork from BIPOC creators months in advance based on the issue’s theme. Do not submit before the start of the reading period.
Reading period: 15 July-1 August 2021 (These are new dates; the submission call was postponed – see their Tweet).
Length: Up to 6,400 words
Pay: $0.08/word for fiction, $1,000 for artwork
Details 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.

Apex Magazine: Indigenous Futurists
Apex publishes speculative fiction. For the Indigenous Futurists issue, they want fiction from Indigenous writers anywhere in the world. Deadline: 15 July 2021
Length: Up to 7,500 words
Pay: $0.08/word
Details here.
(Also see Inclusive Future Magazine; they’re reading speculative prose and poetry for their first issue, from trans, non-binary, and genderqueer writers about a future where gender equality is achieved. They pay $0.08/word, and the deadline is 15 July 2021.)

Untethered Anthology
This is a fiction anthology. Their guidelines say, “Untethered will be filled with fun stories about horses, magic, and magic horses—unicorns, winged horses, horses, donkeys, zebras… basically anything in the Equus genus will do. And, as the name suggests, I want the stories to be a little untamed, a little wild. I’m looking for whacky, whimsical, funny or feisty stories to bring a little levity to some tricky times.” All stories should have happy endings.
Deadline: 15 July 2021
Length: Up to 7,500 words
Pay: $25
Details here.
(This page also has details of a future submission call, for a Pirating Pups anthology, starting October – do not send submissions now).

Crone Girls Press: Stories We Tell After Midnight Volume 3
They want submissions of horror fiction, from flash to novella length, of unthemed horror for Volume 3 of ‘Stories We Tell After Midnight’. Their guidelines say, “chilling horror, your stories that are set firmly in the genre, tagging the tropes and atmospherics of things that will cause you to have nightmares and not be able to escape the dark, even when you pull the covers over your head and sleep with the light on.” They’re also reading work for their ‘Midnight Bites’ anthology (open until filled).
Deadline: 17 July 2021
Length: 500-25,000 words
Pay: $0.02/word or $25/story, whichever is greater
Details here.
(Another horror anthology accepting submissions is Scare Street for its Night Terrors anthology, featuring ghosts, the supernatural, paranormal, and monsters; they pay up to $70. The deadline is 30 July 2021.)

Eerie River Publishing: Of Fire and Stars
This is a fiction anthology featuring LGBTQIA+ characters; they want dark fantasy about dark fae and the fairy world. Their guidelines say, “Bring us your foolish humans, your dark flesh-eating fae. Entice us with your magic and let us feast on the carnage you create. We are looking for unique character-driven stories with a strong fantasy storyline. Happy endings not required. Rated R stories welcome.” All writers can contribute to this anthology.
Deadline: 30 July 2021
Length: 2,000-8,000 words
Pay: $10-20
Details here.

Oddity Prodigy Productions: Beneath the Yellow Lights
They are reading for their second fiction anthology, and they want urban fantasy stories. Their guidelines say, “Imagine your favorite coffee shop is run by elves, or the band playing speed metal at the club is made up entirely of orcs. That graffiti on the side of the building that seems too high for humans to have reached? Maybe it was painted by wizards? Beneath the Yellow Lights is the place to explore the urban fantasy landscape! Finding the places where magic and modern day meet is our goal.
We are looking for urban fantasy stories that feature fantasy elements such as magic and mythical creatures in urban environments.”
Deadline: 31 July 2021
Length: 2,000-5,000 words
Pay: $10
Details here.

Fiyah: Love, Death, and Androids
They publish speculative fiction, nonfiction, reviews, and poetry by Black writers of the African Diaspora, and they’re also accepting pitches for their blog. For this theme, the guidelines say, “Fantastical futures and mechanical pasts. Androids taking over the world and magic that proves that humans are survivors. Inspired by an animated series of a similar name, we’re looking for work that gets weird, that examines the construct of humanity, the relationship between humans and their machines or which blurs the lines between them.”
Deadline: 31 July 2021
Length: 2,000-15,000 words for fiction; 800-1,200 words for nonfiction, poetry of up to 1,000 words
Pay: $0.08/word for fiction, $0.10/word for nonfiction, $50 for poetry
Details here.
(They’ll also be open for the LeVar Burton Reads contest for US-based writers during August, and the theme is ‘Origins & Encounters’. Prizes range from $100 to $500 – details here. Do not send submissions now.)

khōréō: Food
This is a magazine of speculative fiction and migration, and they accept work only from those who identify as an immigrant or member of a Diaspora in the broadest definitions of the terms (see guidelines). They are especially interested in writing and art that explores the impact of human or cultural migration, whether voluntary or forced, like themes of immigration, Diaspora, and anti-colonialism. They also accept speculative nonfiction (including non-fiction reprints) and art. For this submission call, they want speculative fiction, and non-fiction – “stories/essays exploring food (and drink) in all its forms, through any lens of migration/identity”, according to their Tweet.
Deadline: 31 July 2021
Length: Fiction of up to 5,000 words, nonfiction of up to 3,000 words
Pay: $0.08/word
Details here.

Air and Nothingness Press: Spirit Machine
They want seance fiction – “A mashup of Spiritualism (seances, ouiji/spirit boards, kirlian auras, discarnated entities, ghost talking) and Science Fiction and/or Steampunk genres. … Stories must combine elements of both Spiritualism and Science Fiction/Steampunk SF. No fantasy stories, no standalone ghost stories, no SF without aspects of Spiritualism.” They do not want stories about spirituality or religion.
Deadline: 31 July 2021
Length: 1,500-3,500 words
Pay: $0.08/word
Details here.

Black Cat Magazine: Apocalypse
This magazine publishes speculative fiction, poetry, and art, and they’re reading for their second issue. “In so much of the popular imagination, an apocalypse is the end of the world as we know it, the end of everything. For Indigenous peoples worldwide, it’s the end of the world(s) before colonization. Or, maybe, it’s a revelation, an uncovering of something hidden, new, and maybe even better…” They want fantasy, science fiction, slipstream, magical realism, dystopian fiction, steampunk, cyberpunk and all the other punks. “For this issue in particular, we are looking for both the dystopian as well as the utopian, hopepunk and solarpunk. But we are also always open to publishing anything that moves us. So if your work fits the theme, but isn’t so much on the speculative genre side, that’s okay.” They accept multiple submissions and reprints. Also, “We do accept submissions of stories where talking cats are the main character. We’d be huge hypocrites if we didn’t.”
Deadline: 31 July 2021, or until filled
Length: Up to 3,000 words for fiction, up to 5 poems (see guidelines)
Pay: $30
Details here.

HellBound Books Publishing: Monsters, Monsters, Monsters, Monsters
This indie publisher has a few projects with upcoming deadlines, and the next deadline is for ‘Monsters, Monsters, Monsters, Monsters’, a fiction anthology. Their guidelines say, “We are looking for monsters, of course, be it werewolves, vampires, unspeakable creatures from the darkest depths of space or the innermost circles of hell, and any manner of earthly animals running amok. And, don’t forget the most heinous monster of them all, who just may be the sweet, unassuming neighbor who lives in the house next to yours…”
Deadline: 31 July 2021
Length: 4,000-10,000 words
Pay: $5
Details here.

WolfSinger Publications: Us/Them Anthology
This is a fiction anthology. Their guidelines say, “Propaganda. Dehumanizing those that you disagree with. Using labels to identify people as being evil. … These tactics are very common in warfare and becoming more and more common in politics. They divide people, they can tear families, friends and countries apart.
What we’re looking for are stories that revolve around the process of creating an US / THEM situation and what happens to both sides because of it. Stories can have a happy ending where both sides are to see past the differences that have been magnified to find the similarities that can join them. They can have tragic endings where one or both sides are destroyed by the hate mongering. Or, they can be somewhere in between.” Stories have to be PG-13.
Deadline: 31 July 2021
Length: 2,000-7,500 words
Pay: $15 + royalties
Details here.

Zoetic Press: NonBinary Review – Prohibition; Person of Interest
They are reading fiction, creative nonfiction, and poetry on two themes: Prohibition, and Person of Interest. 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.
— Prohibition: For this theme, their guidelines say, “We know — the United States during Prohibition, which lasted from January 17, 1920 through December 5, 1933, was tough. We’ve heard all the stories about the bootleggers and the rum runners and the speakeasies. We’ve read all about Carrie Nation, the American Temperance Union, and Eliot Ness. We’d like to see what else you’ve got. Have you got a story about what life would look like if orange juice had been prohibited, rather than alcohol? How about a story of someone from another country coming to the US during Prohibition? How about a story about things that were invented during Prohibition specifically because alcohol wasn’t available?”
–Person of Interest:  Their guidelines say, “What happens when someone finds a skeleton and nothing else? Who was that person? How old were they? How did they end up where you found them? Where had they been before? In a new experiment, we are starting with nothing but a name and a skeleton. The name is Lee. Or is it Leigh? Or Li? We’re not sure. We also don’t know whether it’s a first name or a last name. We need you to tell us who this person was — How old were they? What was their childhood like? Who loved them? Who hated them? What hopes and dreams did they have for themselves? Did they have a secret identity? … Give us their vignettes, their anecdotes, the page ripped from their journal and tossed beneath the bed. When read together in the issue, your collective creation will come to life, animated and imagined from the bones up.”
Deadlines: 31 July for Prohibition; 31 October 2021 for Person of Interest
Length: Prose up to 3,000 words; poetry up to three pages
Pay: $10 for poetry; $0.01/word for prose
Details here.

Moonflake Press: Lush; Escapism
They are reading fiction, nonfiction (micro-essays, personal essays, memoirs, travel writing, diary entries, anecdotes and your own literary take on true, factual stories), and poetry for their online issue, and the theme is ‘Lush’ – “prose that’s gorgeous and your deep details; stories we can sink into and words that will bite back”; the deadline for that is in August, and there appears to be no payment for online issues.
They also want fiction, nonfiction, 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 August for Lush; 1 September 2021 for Escapism
Length: Varies
Pay: £25 for the print issue
Details here.

Perennial Press: Arthropoda
They want speculative fiction and poetry for an anthology featuring insects, crustaceans, arachnids, or myriapods. They want submissions on monstrous, mythical, or mechanical arthropods. They center narratives of womxn, people of color, and queer folks. They also accept reprints.
Deadline: 7 August 2021
Length: Up to 45 lines for poetry; up to 7,500 words for fiction
Pay: $20
Details here.

Cricket Media: Eight themes
They have literary magazines for children of various ages, and have announced themed submission calls for each; they also accept unthemed submissions. They publish fiction, nonfiction, and poetry, as well as activities, games, puzzles, crafts, and recipes.
BABYBUG (magazine for ages 6 months-3 years; themes – Let’s Play; and Fantastic Fall)
— Let’s Play: They want poems, stories, finger plays, and action rhymes about little ones’ favorite games. “These might be baby classics like peekaboo  or hide-and-seek, silly personal routines developed with family and friends, or activities with balls, puzzles, or other favorite toys. We’re looking for playful writing that begs to be read aloud again and again.”
— Fantastic Fall: They want poetry, action rhymes, finger plays, and very short stories that celebrate autumn. “Your work might explore trips to the orchard or rainy days spent inside, the season’s special games, sights and sounds, or other appealing aspects of fall. We’re interested in lively writing that the very young will want to hear again and again.”
LADYBUG (for 3-6 years; themes – Exploring Our World; and I Can Help);
— Exploring Our World: They want non-fiction and poetry on compelling explorations of our world written for young  children. “We’re looking for narrative nonfiction (to 800 words), nonfiction and nature writing (to 400 words), and poetry (to 20 lines). You might introduce our readers to a cultural tradition you know well, or share your love of the natural world by introducing them to an intriguing animal or ecosystem.”
— I Can Help: They want short stories, rebus stories, poems, action rhymes, riddles, and songs about young children learning how to think through problems and help themselves and others. “Show us young children’s creativity and determination as they work through the kid-sized difficulties that come up at home or with friends, or find ways to contribute to their communities.”
SPIDER (for 6-9 years; themes – Legendary Kids; and Outside the Box);
— Legendary Kids: They want fresh retellings of folktales, fairytales, tall tales, and myths that cast a child—not an adult—as the clever problem-solver. “Anthropomorphic fables with young animal heroes are also encouraged. We are particularly interested in tales with origins outside of classic European and Western canon.”
— Outside the Box: “We love contemporary stories and poems, but we are excited to read more material that falls outside these popular categories. This might be plays, science fiction, or historical fiction and nonfiction. It might be simple, but inventive, activities like recipes, games, crafts, magic tricks, science experiments, or silly quizzes. It can be anything that defies categorization. We also enjoy stories or poems with accompanying hands-on activities or nonfiction components.”
— CRICKET (for 9-14 years; themes – Ancient Worlds; and Game On!);
— Ancient Worlds:  They want historical fiction, nonfiction, myths and legends, and poetry about ancient cultures, including ancient Greece,  Rome, Egypt, India, China, Africa, the Americas, Pacific Islands, and more. “Submissions might focus on powerful political leaders and crises; legendary heroes; gods and goddesses; engineering and artistic achievements; cultural, religious, and scientific practices; or modern archaeological discoveries. We also welcome historical fiction featuring the everyday dramas and cares of children in the Cricket age range”.
— Game On! They want fiction, nonfiction, and poetry featuring a competition, game, rivalry, or challenge. “Submissions might focus on a school sports team, a kid trying out for the school play or newspaper, even on entering a local flower show or bird-watching competition. You could feature a warm family situation, such as playing checkers with Grandpa or the dreidel game at Hanukkah; or imagine a medieval fantasy about rival knights at a jousting tournament or battling the village dragon.”
Deadline: 15 August 2021 for all themes
Length: Varies for all magazines – see guidelines
Pay: Up to $0.25/word for prose; $3/line for poetry; $75 for games, recipes, etc.
Details here.

Academia Lunare for Speculative Non-Fiction: Not the Fellowship. Dragons Welcome.
Academia Lunare is the Luna Press Publishing academic branch for speculative and general nonfiction. Their Call for Papers include essays from academics, independent researchers, fans and creative writers. The theme for their 2021 call for papers is ‘Not the Fellowship. Dragons Welcome.’ Their guidelines say, “Writers are invited to engage with a fictional character of choice from any of Tolkien’s works who is not part of The Lord of the Rings’ Fellowship. Though they can be characters of LOTR.” Some of the suggested ideas are: characters can be analysed, explored, critiqued, and generally tackled from any angle of your choice; intersectional approaches to a character, through the lens of race, class, and gender; tackling the characters through the lens of adaptation, either in the Jackson films, the animated films, videogames, art, fanart, fanfiction. Also, “Before you start, send us an email with your abstract or simply to let us know what character (pick one focus character) and topic you intend to explore.”
Deadline: 31 August 2021 (send a proposal in advance)
Length: Up to 6,000 words
Pay: Minimum £30
Details here.

Madness Heart Press: Nafallen University – College Catalog
Madness Heart Press is an indie publisher and their tagline says, “Where Southern Hospitality Meets Mind Shredding Insanity”.
This is a call for an anthology chapbook. “The conceit is that the chapbook is a course catalog for a strange and horrible university in North Texas, (think Miskatonic of the south). Submissions should follow the example (see guidelines), with a department heading followed by course descriptions. Each description can be anywhere from 1-200 words long. They may be written to be funny, bizarre, or horrifying.” The catalog is for the fictional Nafallen University, located outside beautiful and destitute Crisp Texas, where they “offer an advanced education in butchery, beating CSI forensics, the blackest of rituals, swamp husbandry, torture, non-Euclidian mathematics, law, religious studies, sacrificial rites, and of course, business.” Contributors will be listed as Faculty.
Deadline: 31 August 2021, or until filled
Length: 1-200 words
Pay: $0.01/word
Details here.


The H G Wells Short Story Competition: Mask
This is a short story contest on the theme of ‘Mask’, of 1,500-5,000 words. There is no fee for those under 21 years. They also have a prize for adults, with an entry fee.
Value: £1,000 for the Junior Award (under 21)
Deadline: 12 July 2021
Open for: All writers
Details here.

Singapore Unbound: Singapore and other literatures
Singapore unbound is an NYC-based literary nonprofit. They want critical essays on topics in Singapore literature, from undergraduates in any country – see their extensive guidelines for further details and potential essay topics.
Value: Three prizes of $250 each
Deadline: 12 July 2021
Open for: Undergraduates
Details here.
(The contest page also has details of a submission call – the theme is climate crisis, especially the less well-known ones from Asia, and they welcome stories by writers of Asian heritage. Pay is $25-50, and the deadline for that call is 31 July 2021.)

The Helen Schaible International Sonnet Contest
For this contest, they have two categories: a traditional sonnet, which can be Shakespearean or Petrarchan, and a modern sonnet. Poets can enter work in one or both categories.
Value: $50, $35, $15
Deadline: 15 July 2021
Open for: All poets
Details here.

No Contact: Inaugural Summer Poetry Contest
No Contact is an online literary magazine founded in 2020, and this is their first contest. Writers can send up to two poems, of 90 lines or fewer. They strongly encourage submissions from trans, fem, nonbinary, gender-nonconforming, LGBTQIA, disabled, and BIPOC poets. All poems will be considered for publication.
Value: $250; two prizes of $50 each
Deadline: 26 July 2021
Open for: All poets
Details here.

Speculative Literature Foundation: Diverse Writers/Diverse Worlds Grants
The Diverse Writers grant is to support new and emerging writers of speculative fiction from underrepresented groups, including writers of color, disabled, women or working-class writers. The Diverse Worlds grant is for work that best represents a diverse world, irrespective of the writer’s background. Writers may apply for one or both grants. Preference will be given to proposed book-length works (novels, short story collections). Nonfiction, poetry, picture books, and editorial projects are not currently eligible. See their schedule for other grants through the year.
Value: Two grants of $500 each
Deadline: 31 July 2021
Open for: Underrepresented writers, and writers whose work represents a diverse world
Details here (grant details) and here (schedule for all their grants).

Red Hen Press: Ann Petry Award
They want previously unpublished prose, either a novel or a collection of short stories or novellas, with a minimum of 150 pages, by a Black writer.
Deadline: 31 July 2021
Value: $3,000, publication, an opportunity to be in residence for up to four weeks at The Community Library’s Ernest and Mary Hemingway House in Ketchum, Idaho
Open for: Black writers
Details here.

2021 ArabLit Story Prize
This is an award for the best short stories, in any genre, newly translated from Arabic into English, of up to 4,000 words. Translators must have secured rights to the work, and the translations must have been previously unpublished. Stories will be judged primarily on the quality of the translated work as a thing-in-itself, although translators must also submit the Arabic original, as this must be a translation, not a loose adaptation nor a work written originally in English.
Value: $500, split between the author and translator
Deadline: 1 August 2021
Open for: All translators
Details here.
(Their Submittable page also has details of a submission call for a forthcoming ArabLit Quarterly issue: the theme is Folk, around the folk stories and Arabics of the regional and local varieties; they accept pitches and completed works, and pay $20/page. The deadline is mid-August.)

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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