Written by S. Kalekar

38 Themed Calls for Submissions for November 2021

Here is a list of 38 themed submission calls and contests for writers of fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. Some themes are: healers, midwives, and cunning folk; charm; extinction; tales of savagery and slaughter; teenagers; woodland terrors; pirating pups; and shattering the glass slipper. Also see this list for some upcoming themed deadlines.

THEMED SUBMISSION CALLS

Enchanted Conversation: A Fairy Tale Magazine – Healers, Midwives, and Cunning Folk
They publish fairy tale themed fiction and poetry; both of these have to follow the specific theme, while nonfiction can be on any fairy tale subject. They’re open for 72 hours. The theme is ‘Healers, Midwives and Cunning Folk.’ Their guidelines say, “I’m looking for old fashioned herbal healers who served villages way back in the day, midwives also tended to help with a variety of ailments, and “cunning folk,” who used folk magic as well as potions, salves and poultices, etc. Think of regular herbalists, hedge witches, kitchen witches, regular midwives, etc. I am looking for folklore to merge into fairy tales here. What does that mean? It means you should submit works that have at least an element of the theme above. You may retell an existing fairy tale or use a story for a jumping off place for your poem or story. You can mashup two or more fairy tales. The theme may figure into your work in subtle or large ways.” The editor prefers stories that end happily, though that’s not essential. And please keep in mind the classic fairy tale form when writing stories. Reading period: 1-3 November 2021
Length: 750-1,000 words for prose; poetry of any length
Pay: $50
Details here.

If I Die Before I Wake: Tales of Savagery and Slaughter
This is a fiction anthology by Sinister Smiles Press, titled ‘Tales of Savagery and Slaughter’. “Submissions must contain elements of savagery and slaughter, conducted by a person, an animal, a being other than human, or an unknown/original type of perpetrator. We are very much interested in stories with extremely original plots and not the typical “person slaughters a bunch of other people” type stories. Bonus points if the setting of the story is unique.” Writers can send more than one story.
Deadline: 8 November 2021
Length: 4,000-12,000 words
Pay: $30-50
Details here.

Speculative City: Queer AND BIPOC writers
Speculative City “embraces the motivations of speculative fiction and integrates them into a focus of setting: the city.” Also, “We seek provocative fiction, poetry, and essays that are centered within the cityscape—cities are vital spaces of community that act as a welcome ground and place of exploration.” For the upcoming issue, they want submissions only from writers who identify as both, Queer AND BIPOC.
Deadline: 15 November 2021
Length: Up to 5,500 words
Pay: $20-55
Details here.

Apparition Lit: Charm
They accept speculative fiction (fantasy, sci-fi, horror, literary) and poetry and they will open submissions for the ‘Charm’ theme later in November. They may have an extended reading period for BIPOC writers. (They also have a monthly themed flash fiction challenge, usually on various historical figures, which runs from the 1st to the 15th of every month, and pays $30.)
Reading period: 15-30 November 2021 for general submissions on Charm
Length: 1,000-5,000 words for fiction, up to five poems
Pay: $0.03/word for prose, $30/poem
Details here.

Cricket Media: MUSE Magazine – Islands; Extinction
This is Cricket Media’s science and nonfiction magazine for 9-14-year-olds, and they publish other magazines for children, too. They publish feature articles (800–2,000 words, including sidebars), profiles and interviews, particularly of underrepresented STEM professionals (500–800 words), activities and experiments (500–800 words), photo essays (100–300 words), science fiction or science-focused fiction (800–1,200 words), and infographics. They have some upcoming themed deadlines, including these:
— Islands: “Why big animals get small and small animals get big on islands. The fabulous birds of paradise—why living on an island gave them incredible plumage. How delicate are island ecosystems?—explore Hawaii’s struggle with invasive species. How does an island form? The disappearing island—why some islands can simply vanish. Life on an island—would be great if we could talk to a kid who lives on a small island. How do island communities get supplies, weather storms, etc. How to make an artificial island.” The pitch deadline is 15 November 2021.
— Extinction: “Modern-day extinction wave. How many animals on the planet are threatened? How about plants? Danger zones for animals: why certain habitats are disappearing faster than others. Helping threatened animals that aren’t cute and cuddly (why pandas get the big bucks and blobfish don’t). The ugliest animals that need the most help. How does the current extinction wave compare with extinctions of the past? A success story in conservation. Possibly story of conservation that didn’t work, as well. The technology of conservation: how do you replicate delicate ecosystems? Why is cloning NOT the answer?” The pitch deadline is 15 December 2021.
Deadlines: 15 November for Islands; 15 December 2021 for Extinction
Length: Various (see above)
Pay: Unspecified
Details here (click on MUSE).
(Also see guidelines and themes for Cricket Media’s Cobblestone and Faces magazines; details for ASK Magazine are below, in this list.)

Dark Peninsula Press: Woodland Terrors
The Cellar Door is a biannual digest of dark, speculative fiction. They want horror/thriller stories that take place in or near the woods for their first issue; the theme is ‘Woodland Terrors’. “Creature feature, thriller/suspense, gothic/ghost story, serial killer, cult, cosmic horror. Not looking for fantasy stories, traditional “witch in the woods” stories, or modernized fairy tales.”
Deadline: 15 November 2021
Length: 2,000-7,500 words
Pay: $25
Details here.

Chicken Soup for the Soul: Humorous Stories; Preteens; Teenagers
They publish nonfiction stories and poems, of up to 1,200 words, on specific themes. They have extensive guidelines on each theme, excerpts of which are below.
— Humorous Stories: “Share your funny stories about something that happened to you in your life – in your relationship with a partner or spouse, a parent or child, a family member or friend, at work or at home – that made you and the people around you laugh out loud. Did you mean for it to be funny? Did the other person mean to make you laugh? Did a situation just get out of control? Did a misunderstanding turn into a comedy of errors?” Some suggested themes are: Slips of the tongue; Misunderstandings that led to funny moments; Weird habits; COVID comedy/isolation incidents; Wedding mishaps; Holiday meltdowns; and DIY projects. The deadline is 20 November 2021.
— Preteens: This book is about preteen years (ages 9-12). “Scientific research has proven that being thankful improves your health, your cognitive functions, and your relationships. Young people who see the silver linings, count their blessings, and maintain a positive perspective weather the ups and downs of life much better than those who bemoan their fates and focus on the negative.
We’re looking for your uplifting true stories and poems about how you used the power of gratitude to change your own life while you navigated the preteen and teenage years. You’ll help readers through your examples and your personal tips on how to use thankfulness and appreciation.” They have several suggested topics, including: Learning that less can be more; Realizing that possessions are not as important as other things, like relationships and family; Doing for others – volunteer work, random acts of kindness; Appreciating your family members. The deadline is 20 December 2021.
— Teenagers: This book is about teenage years (ages 13-19). The premise is the same as for the Preteens book, above, except that this one talks about the teen experience. The deadline is 20 December 2021.
They also have other themes listed, with deadlines in 2022: Cats; Counting your blessings; Crazy, eccentric, wacky, lovable, fun families; Dogs; Miracles; Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah and New Year’s; and Messages from heaven.
Deadlines: 20 November for Humorous Stories; 20 December 2021 for both Preteens and Teenagers
Length: Up to 1,200 words
Pay: $200.
Details here (themes), here (guidelines), and here (submission portal).

Claw & Blossom: Glow
This is a quarterly online journal of poetry and short literary prose, that touches upon the natural world. They are reading work for issue 11, the December Solstice issue, and the theme is ‘Glow’. The work must contain elements of the natural world. Regarding poetry, they are partial to free verse, and aren’t keen on traditional forms. They can accept a limited number of fee-free submissions a month, after which there is a submission fee.
Deadline: 22 November 2021
Length: Up to 1,000 words for prose, one poem
Pay: $25
Details here.

Prairie Fire: Uncharted Territory
This Canadian literary journal publishes fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. They’re reading on the ‘Uncharted Territory’ theme. Their guidelines say, “Each person is essentially, a vast uncharted territory just waiting to be explored. Sometimes the changes we create, or are plunged into, are monumental, adventurous and exciting, at other times, they are grueling, painful, and require us to endure until we reach the other side.
Tell us about a time you (or a fictional character) either deliberately threw away the roadmap and set out on a new, uncharted course into the unfamiliar and unexpected, or a time when an external catalyst such as loss, illness, poverty, a social movement, a work of art, or a pandemic changed the way you think, or sent you in a new direction and changed the course of your life.”
Deadline: 24 November 2021
Length: Up to 5,000 words for fiction and nonfiction; up to 3 poems
Pay: $0.10/word for prose; $40/poem; varies for other formats
Details here and here.

Mythulu Magazine: Steam vs Substance
They want fiction and nonfiction for their next issue, as well as graphic stories/cartoon strips. Their guidelines say, “Come debate two sides of the world’s hottest-selling genre. How spicy can relationships get without taking clothes off? On the other hand, what gives erotica purpose?
Pick a side. Prove explicit moments can be both ethical and important… or demonstrate why platonic gestures demonstrate superior love.
On the business/non-fiction side, discuss how codependency impacts authors, especially the tug-of-war between personal expression and the need for acceptance. Consider the romance business, the genre’s relationship with censorship, or another related topic you’re passionate about.” This will be extremely competitive, as they are looking for three stories across the spectrum – one PG-level romance, one mass-appeal romance, and one erotic story (see guidelines).
Deadline: 28 November 2021
Length: 500 – 2,800 words for fiction; 200 – 1,200 words for nonfiction
Pay: $0.04/word for creative works, capped at $75; $0.08/word for nonfiction
Details here.

Pirating Pups anthology
This is an anthology about pirating dogs. The editor says, “I am looking for adventure-loving dogs, puns, water and fun. I’m looking for sailors, submariners, explorers, Vikings and more. Fun stories filled with excitement, drama, treasure-seeking, sword fights, discovering new worlds and dogs, dogs, dogs! … I’m a sucker for a great setting, three-dimensional characters and high stakes, and if your story elicits real emotion from me—laughter, tears or anything in between—you will have increased your chances of acceptance significantly.” Stories should have a strong plot and detailed characters.
Deadline: 30 November 2021
Length: Up to 7,500 words
Pay: CAD50
Details here.

Fly on the Wall Magazine: Power
They want fiction (including flash of up to 500 words), poetry, book reviews, and art. They are reading submissions on the ‘Power’ theme. “What comes to your mind when we say: ‘Power’?
Think internal/external, physical/emotional. Think relationships, power and governmental structures, influence, class. What empowers us/what oppresses us?
We want personal interpretations of power, from the light-hearted to pieces of art and writing which shout from the rooftops; from the physical to the abstract.”
Deadline: 30 November 2021
Length: Up to 4 poems; stories up to 2,000 words
Pay:  £20
Details here.

Smoking Pen Press: Another Dimension anthology
This is a call for their Read on the Run anthology, and the theme is Another Dimension.  “We’re looking for stories about time travel, multiverse/parallel universes, or both.” Contributors can opt for cash payment or a copy/copies of the anthology.
Deadline: 30 November 2021
Length: 1,200-7,000 words
Pay: $20
Details here.

Black Coffee & Vinyl: The City
Submissions are open for Black Coffee & Vinyl’s visual art and multimedia project that incorporates literature – fiction, non-fiction, and poetry, on ‘The City’ theme. “We are seeking art, words, and sounds that explore, critique, celebrate and interrogate the urban landscape, culture and environment. The city, a place, should play a central role in the work and should be a central character or focus. We are seeking a diverse range of city representation from large cities to small, from real to imagined.”
Deadline: 30 November 2021 (extended)
Length: Up to 2,000 words for prose; up to 3 poems
Pay: $50
Details here.

Cricket Media: ASK Magazine – Wild in the City; Facing Fear
This is a science and nonfiction magazine from Cricket Media, and they run other children’s magazines as well. They welcome queries for articles, for ASK Magazine. They publish feature articles (400–1200 words, with sidebars); photo essays (400–800 words); humor pieces (200–400 words); profiles/interviews of scientists, inventors, engineers, artists (200–1000 words); theme-appropriate experiments; science panel cartoons (2–6 pages). They have some upcoming pitch deadlines, including for:
— Wild in the City: Their guidelines say, “Can wild plants and animals survive in a city?
Wild animals adapting to urban places; what makes a survivor; problem neighbors.” The pitch deadline is 30 November 2021.
— Facing Fear:
Their guidelines say, What are you scared of? And why?
What is fear and what is it good for? Why do people fear different things? And how can we tame it?” The pitch deadline is 30 January 2022.
Deadlines: 30 November 2021 for Wild in the City; 30 January 2022 for Facing Fear
Length: Various (see above)
Pay: Unspecified
Details here (click on ASK).

Parabola: Wonder
This is a quarterly journal that explores the quest for meaning as it is expressed in the world’s myths, symbols, and religious traditions, with particular emphasis on the relationship between this store of wisdom and our modern life. They accept original essays and translations. Their guidelines say, “We look for lively, penetrating material unencumbered by jargon or academic argument. We prefer well-researched, objective, and unsentimental pieces that are grounded in one or more religious or cultural tradition; articles that focus on dreams, visions, or other very personal experiences are unlikely to be accepted.” They publish articles (1,000-3,000 words), book reviews (500 words), retellings of traditional stories (500-1,500 words), forum contributions (up to 500 words), and poetry (up to 5 poems). They have a call a Wonder-themed issue.
Deadline: 1 December 2021.
Length: Various; see above
Pay: Unspecified
Details here.

The Antihumanist: Anti-human narratives
This magazine publishes anti-human work. For fiction, “We want fiction that challenges human centred narratives, that forces us to confront our place in the universe, that makes us question: Who are we? Why are we here? Is there a purpose? Historically, weird fiction has best captured this goal. However, we are willing to accept submissions from speculative, horror, and literary writers that meet the above criteria.” They also publish translations. They want nonfiction and letters on the anti-human theme, as well.
Deadline: 1 December 2021
Length: Up to 1,000 words for fiction, 750-1,500 words for essays, up to 350 words for letters
Pay: $0.05/word
Details here.

Scary Dairy Press: Bloody Rock anthology
This is a horror fiction anthology that combines a rock song theme and creepy horror. It draws inspiration from the terrifying tunes of the 1950s, 60s, and 70s. Stories must not use the original song lyrics, however the song inspiring the tale should be clear. “We are looking for stories that channel deathly waves on the air! Bonus points if tales champion animals or animal rights …, focus on human rights, climate change, gender issues, and other important social issues.”

Deadline: 1 December 2021
Length: 2,000-5,000 words
Pay: $0.03/word
Details here.

The Quiet Ones: True Love Never Dies
The Quiet Ones is a tri-annual e-zine that centers LGBTQIAP+ and women’s voices in the subgenres of quiet horror and intimate dystopian fiction, both for YA and Adult audiences; they accept submissions from all writers. For the ‘True Love Never Dies’ issue, they want fiction, micro-fiction, and poetry on the theme.
Deadline: 1 December 2021
Length: Up to 3,000 words
Pay: $25
Details here and here.

Archive of the Odd
“Archive of the Odd is a zine of uncanny occurrences, told in even stranger ways.” They want speculative fiction, with horror being preferred. They’d like a variety of time periods. Stories can be in any format, except traditional prose. Some of the suggested formats are: forum messages; police blotters; academic papers; technical writing; medication warning sheets; sales papers; newspaper articles; recipes; knitting/crochet/weaving/what-have-you guides; care guides (plant, animal, rock garden, etc); or any other unusual format. Submissions do not have to be entirely in text (see guidelines). They are reading now for their first issue.
Deadline: 1 December 2021
Length: 500-5,000 words
Pay: $15-25
Details here.

Three Time Travelers Walk Into…
This is a fiction anthology. Their guidelines say, “Take any three famous people from history, toss them together, and have an adventure.
How they got together is up to you – you could do an origin story of how they first met or you could write the story as if they had been adventuring for years. You can use a time machine or a rip in space/time or quantum magic or whatever. You could have some sort of universal translator or you can have the language barrier be part of your plotline.
And these three people should be really separate if possible, from different cultures and times. “ Also, “I’m looking for real people or people who are so ingrained in mythology that they could be real (Robin Hood, King Arthur, Mulan, etc.). Obviously, do not use any copyrighted characters or clearly fictional characters even if they are in the public domain”.
Deadline: 9 December 2021
Length: Prefers up to 4,000, can accept up to 5,000 words
Pay: $0.05/word
Details here.

Zombies Need Brains: Three anthologies
They are reading submissions for three science fiction and fantasy anthologies – Noir, Shattering the Glass Slipper, and Brave New Worlds. They want a range of stories, from humorous to dark.
— Noir “is to feature science fiction, fantasy, or urban fantasy stories with a detective/private investigator set-up and a noir atmosphere.  We would like a wide variety of genre settings for this anthology, specifically SF and second world fantasy settings.”
— Shattering the Glass Slipper “is to feature stories of known fairy tales that have been upended, gender-bent, or twisted around in some way.  Stories featuring less famous fairy tales, especially those from non-European cultures, will have a better chance of catching our eye.” See guidelines for which stories the anchor authors will use; they’re unlikely to use two stories featuring the same fairy tale.
— Brave New Worlds “is to feature science fiction stories set along the pathway of us leaving Earth for the stars.  Stories can be set during our departure from Earth, on the long journey to reach a new planet, or upon arrival at said planet. Generation ship or colony ship stories are allowed, as well as terraforming stories once the new planet is reached.  Stories featuring the human element to these types of journeys will receive more attention than strictly plot-based stories.”
Deadline: 31 December 2021
Length: Up to 7,500 words
Pay: At least $0.08/word + royalties
Details here.

Cast of Wonders: CatsCast
They want submissions of speculative cat stories, to publish on their website in electronic and audio format.  “CatsCast is looking for fun speculative cat stories! A CatsCast story should leave cat-loving listeners a little happier after listening than they were before.
Specifically, we’re looking for speculative fiction stories about cats. “Cats” in this context are, well, cats — but since this is a speculative fiction podcast, they don’t have to be exactly the same species as the housecats we have here on Earth. The stories should have happy, or at least hopeful, endings for all featured cats. Humor is strongly encouraged but not required.” They also accept reprints.
Deadline: 1 February 2022
Length: Up to 6,000 words
Pay: $0.08/word
Details here.
(Two magazines from the Cast of Wonders suite will be open during November; PodCastle is open for general fantasy fiction submissions during 1-30 November; and Cast of Wonders will be open during 15 November-20 December 2021, according to this schedule. Both of these pay $0.08/word.)

New York Times: Solver Stories
These are nonfiction pieces for the Solver Stories column of New York Times – personal essays about your relationship with puzzles. Their guidelines say, “Solver Stories, a feature of Wordplay, welcomes submissions of personal essays on a variety of topics, such as: An issue the writer has faced in life, and how solving puzzles (of any kind) has helped them resolve that issue; A feel-good story or good news from the worlds of puzzles and games…; How solving puzzles has affected a relationship in the writer’s life; How puzzles, games or use of language have been agents of cultural change.
The most important thing is that the writing be emotionally honest and for the story to be freshly and compellingly told.” They have examples of Solver Stories essays within the guidelines.
Deadline: Ongoing
Length: 800-1.300 words
Pay: $200
Details here.

THEMED CONTEST CALLS

The Rain Short Story Contest: Ghosts of the Past
Their website says, “The Rain is an atmospheric podcast that aims to realize the vision of the lesser-known authors and writers in the world by creating a one-of-a-kind audio experience to fully immerse listeners in the world of the fiction.” This is the inaugural short fiction contest for their podcast. Their guidelines say, “Submit a short story about a character who is re-confronted with an artifact from a past that they thought was long gone—buried, forgotten, outgrown—that requires them to face a past that they never thought they would have to face again. Maybe they are running from a terrible secret, or hiding from an old fear, but just as they were beginning to feel as though they had escaped their past, it shows up again at their doorstep.  How does being confronted by a past they thought dead-and-gone change their present, and how will they face it?” Send stories of 1,800-2,200 words.
Value: $50
Deadline: 7 November 2021
Open for: All writers
Details here.

Washington College: Patrick Henry Writing Fellowship
This is a full-time residential writing fellowship, for writing on American history and culture. Applicants should have a book currently in progress. Their guidelines say, “The project should address the history and/or legacy – broadly defined – of the American Revolution and the nation’s founding ideas. It might focus on the founding era itself, or on the myriad ways the questions that preoccupied the nation’s founders have shaped America’s later history. Work that contributes to ongoing national conversations about America’s past and present, with the potential to reach a wide public, is particularly sought.”
Value: $45,000, other allowances, residency
Deadline: 15 November 2021
Open for: Published writers
Details here.

 

Weird Christmas Flash Fiction Contest
This is an annual contest, and the theme is ‘Weird Christmas’; there are also three prompts the writers can choose. Stories have to be about Christmas, and have to be weird in some way. Writers can send multiple entries. Stories have to be up to 350 words.
Value: $75, $50; and $5 for honourable mentions
Deadline: 15 November 2021
Open for: All writers
Details here.

Apex Magazine: Holiday Horrors Flash Fiction Contest
They want stories of 250 words or less, The theme is Halloween. “Tell us tales of trick-or-treating gone wrong, monsters lurking in the darkness to grab kiddies on their way home, or teens who accidentally raise the dead.
Halloween is the scariest holiday of them all, so finding a way to twist it into something new and exciting will be a trick, and will definitely give us all a treat!”
Value: $25 and $10
Deadline: 15 November 2021
Open for: All writers
Details here.
(General speculative fiction submissions are also open for Apex Magazine – pay is $0.08/word for stories up to 7,500 words.)

Dappled Things: The J. F. Powers Prize for Short Fiction
Dappled Things is a space for emerging writers to engage the literary world from a Catholic perspective. For this contest, they want stories of up to 8,000 words “with vivid characters who encounter grace in everyday settings—we want to see who, in the age we live in, might have one foot in this world and one in the next.”
Value: $500, $250
Deadline: 30 November 2021
Open for: All writers
Details here.

Better than Starbucks Sonnet Contest
This contest accepts metrical sonnets. Their guidelines say, “Your sonnet can be shakespearean, petrarchan, spenserian, rhymed, or slant-rhymed. Blank verse is fine, as long as the sonnet form is clearly identifiable. We’ll consider tetrameter, hexameter, etc. as well as pentameter. Some metrical variation is fine, but don’t forget the volta!” They do accept previously published work, as long as the poet holds the rights (see guidelines). Submit up to two sonnets. The first prize is higher this year because of a donation.
Value: $500, $100, $50
Deadline: 30 November 2021
Open for: All poets
Details here.
(Submissions are also open for the Treehouse Climate Action Prize, for poets in the US – the deadline is 15 November 2021, and the first prize is $1,000.)

 

Poets for Human Rights: Two contests
They have two contests, one for adults and another for poets who are 17 years or younger.
— The 2021 Anita McAndrews Award Poetry Contest: For this contest, the theme is Human Rights. Familiarity with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is recommended. Submit up to three poems in any poetic style or form; multilingual poems are welcome (include translation in English).
Value: $250, $100, $50
Deadline: 30 November 2021
Open for: All poets
Details here (scroll down).
— Renee Duke Youth Award poetry contest: This is for poets 17 years or younger. Send up to three poems. The theme is Universal Declaration of Human Rights or any of the 30 articles of the UDHR. Poems can be in any poetic style or form, and multilingual poems are welcome (include translation in English).
Value: $200, $75, $25
Deadline: 30 November 2021
Open for: Poets ages 17 years or younger
Details here (scroll down).

A couple of contests with later deadlines are:
The Tratt Fiction Award for US-based writers, for a debut short story manuscript – it must be the writer’s first collection of short fiction; the prize is $1,000, and the deadline is 31 December 2021.
Submissions are also open for the Steinbeck Fellows Program of San José State University – it awards writers of any age and background a $15,000 fellowship to finish a significant writing project, and residency. Fellowships are currently offered in Creative Writing (excluding poetry) and Steinbeck Studies; Fellows may be appointed in many fields, including literary scholarship, fiction, drama, education, science and the media, and the deadline is 3 January 2022.
And submissions are still open for César Egido Serrano Foundation’s microfiction contest, open to writers over 14 years of age – they have extended an earlier deadline. Their rules say that they will close the contest within five days of announcing a new closing date. Entries have to be up to 100 words, and the prize is $20,000.

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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