39 Themed Submissions Calls for August 2021

Written by S. Kalekar

Here are 39 paying themed submissions calls for fiction, nonfiction, and poetry, as well as fee-free contests for writers. Some of the themes are: queer growth; ghost stories; wonder; strange; currency; eco horror; dirt; moonlighting (for werewolves, vampires, and other agents of mischief); the sea; crime; and grandpa’s deep-space diner. Also see this list for some more upcoming deadlines for themed submissions.

THEMED SUBMISSION CALLS

Speculatively Queer: Xenocultivars – Stories of Queer Growth
This is a fiction anthology. They want speculative stories on the theme of plants and growth, featuring queer characters, and prefer stories that have an uplifting and affirming feel. “We welcome all kinds of speculative fiction including science fiction, fantasy, slipstream, alternate history, stories featuring superheroes or supernatural entities, or even horror if you can make it uplifting.” They welcome representation of all kinds of queer identities. They also accept reprints. Writers can send up to three stories.
Deadline: 7 August 2021
Length: Up to 10,000 words (most acceptances likely under 7,000 words)
Pay: $0.08/word + royalties
Details here and here.
(Also, Lackington’s wants speculative fiction featuring plants; the theme is Botanicals, they pay CAD0.01/word for stories of 1,500-5,000 words, and the deadline is 31 August 2021.)

…ongoing…
This is an online journal of music and prose, and the pieces are prompt-based. Their website says, “At the beginning of each month, we publish a new piece, either by a musician or by a writer. You will then have two weeks to create and submit a response. The goal is to alternate between music and prose — each piece inspired by the one that came before. … We will select one response each month which will become the next prompt.” For written work, they welcome prose in any genre, but it should be inspired by the work that came before it (see their past prompts here). For the current cycle, writers have to send written work inspired by this piece of music.
Deadline: 10 August 2021
Length: 50-1,000 words
Pay: CAD30
Details here.

Flash Frog: Flash Frogtober
This magazine publishes flash fiction. They’re reading for Flash Frogtober, which means they want ghost stories, both traditional and unconventional. After the mid-August deadline for themed submissions, they’ll resume reading unthemed submissions; they read through the year.
Deadline: 15 August 2021 for Flash Frogtober
Length: Up to 1,000 words
Pay: $25
Details here.

Apparition Lit: Wonder
They accept speculative fiction (fantasy, sci-fi, horror, literary) and poetry and they will open submissions for the ‘Wonder’ theme later in August. They also 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: 15-31 August 2021 for general submissions on Wonder; 1-7 September 2021 for BIPOC-only submissions
Length: 1,000-5,000 words for fiction, up to five poems
Pay: $0.03/word for prose, $30/poem
Details here.

European Astrobiology Institute: Life Beyond Us – An Original Anthology of SF Stories and Science Essays
This is a call for science fiction stories. The anthology “explores worlds beyond—and within—ours, with the aim to publish brilliant SF and promote science understanding and critical thinking. The book is connected by the theme of astrobiology: searching for life wherever it might arise in the universe.
We’re looking for original short stories exploring the unknown: life forms we’re not familiar with on Earth (from extreme environments, to those right beneath our noses) and beyond our planet; strange life’s discovery, peculiarities, and the ethical questions arising from these.” They also accept translations. Each story will be accompanied by a companion essay written by scientists about the science behind the world that the authors include. The objective of the anthology is to inspire new generations to pursue STEM and STEAM (art included) careers, science communication; and European Astrobiology Institute will use the anthology in outreach activities at their summer schools and workshops.
Deadline: 20 August 2021
Length: 1,000-5,000 words
Pay: $0.08/word
Details here.

Claw & Blossom: Strange
This is a quarterly online journal of poetry and short literary prose, that touches upon the natural world. They are reading work for issue 10, the September Equinox issue, and the theme is ‘Strange’. 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 August 2021
Length: Up to 1,000 words for prose, one poem
Pay: $25
Details here.

Brink: Currency
They’re reading fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and hybrid submissions for their second issue, and the theme is ‘Currency’. Their guidelines (via Submittable) say, “We often think of currency as a token, a medium used as part of an exchange. Currency is money but it is about so much more than transaction. It signifies acceptance. It proclaims agreement.
How has our cultural understanding of currency changed over time? Are NFT’s really the future of money? What happens when currency is used as a means of destruction or satisfaction? Write about currency as a barrier to need. Other than money, what circulates and is accepted? Tell us stories of when you lacked currency. Tell us stories about value and worth and work.
We are interested in work that focuses on the edge, the brink, of currency. What surrounds currency? What are the images, sounds, ideas, people, movements, and opportunities?” This is a print journal.
Deadline: 31 August 2021
Length: Unspecified
Pay: $25 for poems, $50 for fiction up to 1,500 words, $100 for fiction of above 1,501 words
Details here.

Tyche Books: The Astronaut Always Rings Twice
They want noir crime fiction crossed with SF for this anthology, titled ‘The Astronaut Always Rings Twice’. Their guidelines say, “Crime is out there, finding hiding places in the folds of the universe. Laws are being broken by all manner of beings. Murder is sometimes the outcome of shady deals. Order needs to be brought to the chaos by beings who have the wit and nerve to do it.” They “invite you to delve into the mash up world of the hard-boiled detective and science fiction… We are looking for stories that have the themes, characters and plot twists of noir crime fiction crossed with all the elements of science fiction.”
Deadline: 31 August 2021
Length: 5,000-7,500 preferred
Pay: CAD50
Details here.

Ghost Orchid Press: Chlorophobia – An Eco-Horror Anthology
The tagline of this publisher is ‘Eye-catching horror, gothic & supernatural fiction’. For this flash fiction and poetry anthology their guidelines say, “A group of explorers stumble upon a new species of plant in the depths of the rainforest. A fracking operation unwittingly releases a malevolent force from underground. A tainted water supply leads to bizarre behaviour in a small town. We’re looking for punchy, eye-catching flash fiction and poetry that tackles the subject of eco-horror. Plants, animals, weather phenomena… It’s time for Mother Nature to fight back.”
Deadline: 31 August 2021
Length: Up to 1,500 words for fiction; up to 50 lines for poetry
Pay: $5
Details here.

Neon Door: Emotional Nudity
This is an immersive literary exhibit. “The name is derived from the founder’s favorite childhood manga Doraemon, in which exists a pink door that allows you to travel anywhere instantaneously simply by stepping across its threshold, from your bedroom to the classroom, or from the closet to outer space, as long as you are able to imagine the other side. At Neon Door, we believe in art’s power to open doors, manifest worlds, transport and transcend.” The theme for this issue is ‘Emotional Nudity’. They want fiction, nonfiction, poetry, visual art, music, and video.
Deadline: 1 September 2021
Length: Up to 7,000 words for prose, up to five poems
Pay: $25/image, $50/poem, $75 for prose
Details here.

Guernica: Dirt
Guernica is accepting submissions of short and longform nonfiction, poetry, fiction, art, and hybrid work for a special issue, ‘Dirt’. They have extensive guidelines on the theme, including: they “want to examine dirt at the intersection of the societal, the personal, and the ecological—dirt as metaphor and dirt as substance. We are looking for submissions—essays, journalism, poetry, fiction, illustration, and beyond—that explore the emotional, interpersonal, and political meanings that hide inside our ideas about uncleanness and hygiene. Long before this pandemic year, the notion of dirt has been used to signal feelings of fear or disgust for other people: to enshrine class, caste, and colonial systems, to enact racism and misogyny, to express our everyday amorphous discomfort with each other. At the same time, dirt is exalted for its life-sustaining properties, and often sentimentalized.” They’re also accepting unthemed work.
Deadline: 1 September 2021 for Dirt theme; unspecified for unthemed
Length: Varies (see guidelines)
Pay: $150 for fiction and reportage, $100 for essays, $50 for poetry
Details here.

The Antihumanist
Their tagline is ‘Flash Fiction and Philosophy’. They publish fiction – weird, speculative, horror, and literary – and essays on the antihuman theme, which challenges human-centered themes, and also commission artwork. They have extensive guidelines, and are reading submissions for their second issue.
Deadline: 1 September 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 for prose, $150 for cover art
Details here (deadline details) here (fiction guidelines) and here (essay guidelines).

The New Lesbian Pulp: An Anthology of Short Fiction
They want pulp fiction from queer women-identifying writers. In this political climate, the co-editors “believe that lesbian pulp, if revived properly, could serve as a Trojan Horse for greater empathy, compassion, and mend some of the hairline fractures that have appeared between women’s and trans communities, queer young adults and their elders, and build upon these existing bonds to create work that, on and off the page, envisions a more galvanized queer women’s community.” They have extensive guidelines, and list the qualities that the stories must contain. They also accept reprints.
Deadline: 1 September 2021
Length: 1,500-10,000 words (query in advance if submission exceeds 5,000 words)
Pay: $500-1,000 (see guidelines)
Details here.

Input/Output Enterprises: Three themes
They are reading fiction (also poetry) for the next issue of The Periodical, Forlorn magazine, and for two anthologies – one is on vampires, and the other is a shared-world anthology. For all of these, they want work that’s dark, creepy, weird and just a little off-kilter. They’re open to genre fiction, particularly anything related to horror, science-fiction, speculative fiction or weird fiction, but also anything that twists or subverts these genres in an unexpected way. Apart from these three themes, they are also looking for serialized stories to be published on Amazon’s Vella service, for which they pay $25 per monthly instalment of 6,000 words – see here (scroll down).
And the Walls Came Crashing Down Anthology: This is a themed, conceptual anthology. The editors provided a setting (a fictional sprawling country mansion in Boston – see guidelines) and the main characters. They want works of short fiction featuring those characters that are set in a particular location in the mansion or the grounds – some of these are the library, the carriage house, the wine cellar, the kitchen, the drawing room, and the hunting lodge. The deadline is 1 September 2021.
The Periodical, Forlorn – Moonlighting: They want fiction and poetry on the ‘Moonlighting’ theme. Their guidelines say, “They say crime doesn’t pay, but does evil? Do vampires, werewolves and other agents of mischief have to take on odd jobs to pay the bills? What about those who serve them?​
For this issue, we’re looking for stories about agents of evil and their minions whose employment situation is something other than we might expect.” The deadline is 2 September 2021.
And the Dead Shall Sleep No More Anthology: Vampires are their favorite horror monster, and this is an anthology series about vampires. They are reading fiction and poetry for the first issue. There is no deadline given.
Deadlines: 1 September for And the Walls Came Crashing Down anthology; 2 September 2021 for The Periodical, Forlorn magazine; ongoing for And the Dead Shall Sleep No More anthology
Length: Up to 6,000 words
Pay: $15
Details here.

 

The Best New True Crime Stories: Two themes
This is a submission call for two anthologies on true crime. They want pitches; and it is best to pitch early, as these are accepted on a rolling basis, and submissions may close earlier than the final submission deadlines if the anthology is filled. First-person accounts are especially welcome from writers with a connection to their cases.
— Unsolved Crimes & Mysteries: “Seeking nonfiction, true crime accounts of unsolved criminal cases and mysteries that can take place anywhere in the world and be from any time period.”
— Crimes of the Famous & Infamous: “Nonfiction, true crime accounts of the “famous and infamous.” Criminal subjects can be from the performing and literary arts (including actors, musicians and composers, radio and TV personalities, authors, journalists, artists, etc.), politicians, sports figures, members of royalty, business entrepreneurs, philanthropists, and so forth. Criminal subjects must already be in the public eye when committing their crimes, not made famous after the fact. Stories can take place anywhere in the world and can cover a wide range of criminal activity/historical time frames.” Apart from cash payment, authors will also get two print copies of the book.
Deadlines: 1 September 2021 (or until filled) for Unsolved Crimes & Mysteries, and 1 January 2022 (or until filled) for Crimes of the Famous & Infamous
Length: 4,000-7,000 words
Pay: $130
Details here.

Cemetery Gates Media: A Woman Built by Man
This is a horror anthology and they want stories by women and femme-identifying authors. They want stories “that explore the ways in which women are shaped by the men around them. There is no restriction on sub-genre or subject matter, but the story must incorporate how a feminine figure is shaped by male hands through a horror lens. From supernatural creature features to the farthest reaches of space, down to the darkest depths of the sea, what does a woman built by man look like to you?” They also have a short list of what they are not looking for, and this includes straight-up Frankenstein retellings.
Deadline: 5 September 2021
Length: Up to 5,000 words
Pay: $0.05/word
Details here.

Breaking Rules Publishing Europe: Murder! Mystery! Mayhem!
They want detective or crime stories for this anthology. Their guidelines say, “A crime has been committed. The murder of a beloved actor, the theft of a valuable object, a politician is being blackmailed, or an aristocrat has been receiving death threats in the mail. To be sure, something foul is afoot. Give us investigations into seemingly impossible cases. Closed rooms, everyone has a motive, no one has a motive, or has a crime even been committed? You may set them in any time period you like and in any milieu. We want these crimes to be rooted in the real. Human protagonists caught up in dark stories.” Stories can be in any sub-genre of crime – whodunit, thrillers/hard-boiled crime fiction, and police procedurals. They do not want sci-fi or fantasy. They also accept reprints. Writers can send up to two stories.
Deadline: 8 September 2021
Length: 3,500-7,000 words
Pay: $10
Details here.

Sinister Smile Press: Screaming in the Night – Sinister Supernatural Stories
This is a fiction anthology. Submissions should be centered around elements of the supernatural and must be written in the horror genre.
Deadline: 8 September 2021
Length: 5,000-10,000 words
Pay: $40
Details here.

Founders House Publishing: Silence in the City
They are looking to fill two or three slots in a fiction anthology titled ‘Silence in the City’. Their guidelines say, “Sudden disruptions in power and other major services sends a city into chaos. In the blink of an eye, the modern technological world fails. Is it a government plot? Experiment gone wrong? A foreign cyber attack? Alien invasion? A mystical incursion from beings beyond this dimension? Who knows? Now the noise and the bustle of the city has vanished and an eerie silence settles over the urban landscape. Within, there are stories of human violence, depravity, and desperation, but also heroism, selflessness, and sacrifice. Silence in the City is an anthology of speculative tales asking what happens when a city—and all of modern civilization—is plunged into darkness.” (They’re also the publishers of Mythic magazine, which will open for submissions in December.)
Deadline: 15 September 2021
Length: 2,500-5,000 words
Pay: $0.06/word
Details here.

Eye to the Telescope: The Sea
This is a speculative poetry magazine and they’re reading submissions for their next issue, ‘The Sea’. They have extensive guidelines, including “The sea, a place of myth and lore, is the medium from which we are said to have arisen to occupy the lesser dry slivers on this globe. … It is home for our aliens at home—the soft bodied minuscule and the massive, from mammals to arthropods, mollusks to cnidaria. … Whatever else dwells in the depths may or may not be earthborn and our own sea may be full of lessons about alien seas. I am intrigued by merfolk, sirens, aquatic changelings, selkie, the unexplored sentience of sea mammals and other forms; Yemayaah/Yemonja and Nommo origins; whale songs, dolphin telepathy and ray clicks; bioluminescence as communication. The mythic Kraken as gigantic squid or chimeric sea giant dispatched by Neptune (another god figure), also compels, as do the water-warping aliens we’ve met in undersea movies.”
Deadline: 15 September 2021
Length: Up to three poems
Pay: $0.03/word, up to $25
Details here.

JayHenge Publishing: Three themes
They want fiction for three anthologies.
— Titanic Terastructures: “Ringworlds, Dyson spheres, arcologies, planet cities, space elevators, skyscrapers with populations of entire countries; we’re looking for your speculative stories set in or about megastructures, gigastructures, TERASTRUCTURES!” Deadline: 31 October 2021
— Grandpa’s Deep-Space Diner: “Whether you’re growing your produce in a magical garden, storing your rations in your lunar bunker, or enjoying a delightful picnic in the outer rings of Saturn, we want your speculative fiction food stories!” Deadline: Until filled
— Phantasmical Contraptions & More Errors: “Phantasmical Contraptions take 2! Steampunk, Dieselpunk, Decopunk, Biopunk, Steelpunk, Islandpunk, whatever your favorite flavor of punk, we want your punk stories!” Deadline: Until filled
Deadlines: 31 October 2021 for Titanic Terastructures; until filled for Phantasmical Contraptions & More Errors, and Grandpa’s Deep-Space Diner
Length: Up to 15,000 words
Pay: $5 per 1,000 words
Details here.

The Pomegranate London: Artists, etc.
This is a biannual printed art and literary magazine featuring short stories, flash fiction, novel excerpts, stories in translation, poems, and essays on artists, and was founded in July 2020. It seeks to publish and promote innovative, fresh and experimental new work from established and emerging writers and artists from the UK and internationally. All submissions must feature an artist or an artist’s tool, creation or environment in some way. Artists include, but are not limited to: writers, painters, musicians, dancers, performing artists, actors, filmmakers, artistic directors, fashion designers, sculptors, photographers. At the time of writing, they were seeking submissions for their second issue. They read fiction year-round.
Deadline: Ongoing
Length: Up to 4,000 words for fiction and nonfiction, up to four poems
Pay: £30; each issue will also select a single poem, story, essay or artwork to receive £200
Details here.

THEMED CONTESTS

Cosmic Horror Monthly: Micro Madness
They are starting a monthly micro fiction contest starting August, and entries will be open for the first week of every month. They want flash fiction (up to 500 words) that can be classified as cosmic horror, dark science fiction, or weird. Writers can send up to three entries per month. Do not send submissions before the start of the reading period.
Value: $100, $50, $25
Deadline: 7 August 2021
Open for: All writers
Details here.

Future Folklore
This is a climate fiction contest – a speculative fiction contest that imagines a world where equitable climate change initiatives have been set in motion. The topic is a positive and possible climate future. They have some optional prompts on their page. Submit stories of 1,400-2,000 words.
Value: $400, $275, $150, honourable mentions of $50 each
Deadline: 9 August 2021
Open for: All writers
Details here.

Amazon: Kindle Storyteller Award
This is for writers in any genre, for a book published exclusively through Kindle Direct Publishing in both eBook and print formats between 1 May and 31 August 2021. The paperback version must be at least 24 pages long. Read the terms carefully – readers will play a significant role in forming the shortlist.
Value: £20,000
Deadline: 31 August 2021
Open for: All writers
Details here.

Singapore Unbound Flash Fiction Contest: The Infinite Library
Singapore Unbound is an NYC-based nonprofit, and this is their inaugural flash fiction contest– send up to three pieces. Their guidelines say, “We are looking for flash fiction of 90-100 words about “the infinite library,” interpreted in any imaginative way. What is a library? Must it always be a room filled with books? Can it be a person, an animal, or even a machine? And how is it infinite?”
Value: $100, $50, $30
Deadline: 31 August 2021
Open for: All writers
Details here (scroll down).

The Val Wood Prize 2021: Now & Then
They want an uplifting, feel-good short story on the theme ‘Now & Then’, of up to 2,000 words. Their guidelines say, “The overall theme of this year’s competition has been chosen to mark the end of lockdown and reflect times of positive change. We are looking to receive entries packed with originality and creativity that celebrate societal changes that have made the world a better place for communities or individuals.” The contest is open to anyone over 16 years of age. Their rules also say that entries from already commercially published writers will not be considered. There is a separate prize for Yorkshire residents, as well, and that has a different theme.
Value: £100
Deadline: 31 August 2021
Open for: All writers who haven’t been commercially published
Details here.

Hysteria Writing Competition 8: Hope and Unity
They want flash fiction (up to 100 words), short fiction (up to 600 words), and poetry (up to 12 lines) on the ‘Hope and Unity’ theme. Do not send horror or erotica. Writers can send more than one entry (see guidelines). Please read the guidelines carefully – entry for the contest implies consent to publish, whether the entry wins or not.
Value: £50 for one winner per category
Deadline: 31 August 2021
Open for: All writers
Details here.

Preservation Foundation Contest: Biographical non-fiction
This is an international contest for unpublished writers (see guidelines). Their upcoming deadline is for the biographical non-fiction category: “A biographical entry must be a true story about the author or an individual(s) known to the author personally–not a fictional or historical character. Or, it could be autobiographical, a true story about the author’s life, the whole or an episode.” 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.
Value: $200, $100
Deadline: 31 August 2021
Open for: Unpublished writers
Details here.

Gulf Coast: The Toni Beauchamp Prize in Critical Art Writing
This is for critical writing on art, of up to 1,500 words. Their guidelines say, “The Beauchamp Prize will consider submissions of work that have been written (or published) within the last year. A variety of creative approaches and formats to writing on the visual arts are encouraged, and can include thematic essays, exhibition reviews, and scholarly essays.”
Value: $3,000; two prizes of $1,000 each
Deadline: 31 August 2021
Open for: All writers
Details here.

Blair: Lee Smith Novel Prize
The indie publishing house, Blair, focuses “on authors and subjects historically neglected by mainstream publishers, including women, people of color, authors with disabilities, and LGBT authors. True to our roots in North Carolina, we look to the many voices of the South—and beyond—as sources of work and inspiration.” The Lee Smith Prize is for literary fiction manuscripts, of at least 25,000 words. They do not want genre fiction.
Value: $1,000 and publication
Deadline: 1 September 2021
Open for: Unspecified
Details here and here.

American-Scandinavian Foundation Translation Awards
The American-Scandinavian Foundation annually awards translation prizes for outstanding translations of poetry, fiction, drama, or literary prose written by a Scandinavian author born after 1900. The Leif and Inger Sjöberg Award is for those whose translations from a Nordic language have not been previously published. There is also the Nadia Christensen Prize, and the Wigeland Prize (this is for the best translation by a Norwegian). The application includes 50 pages of prose or 25 pages of poetry.
Value: $2,500 (Nadia Christensen Prize); $2,000 (Leif and Inger Sjöberg Award); $2,000 (Wigeland Prize)
Deadline: 1 September 2021
Open for: Unspecified
Details here.

The Academy for Teachers: Stories Out of School
They want honest, unsentimental stories, of 6-479 words, about teachers and schools. The story’s protagonist or narrator must be a K-12 teacher. Sentimentality is discouraged and education jargon is forbidden. The stories will be published in the print edition of A Public Space.
Value: $1,000
Deadline: 1 September 2021
Open for: All writers
Details here.

On the Premises: Monster
They want short fiction of 1,000-5,000 words, and the theme is ‘Monster’ – stories “in which someone or something is considered to be a monster… and maybe that’s accurate! Maybe you’re writing a straightforward horror story. Or maybe the “monster” label is terrible and undeserved. Or is the truth somewhere in between?” Famous mythological monsters from history, religion, or folk tales are fine. They do not want children’s fiction, exploitative sex, over-the-top grossout horror, or stories that are obvious parodies of existing fictional worlds/characters created by other authors. Please note, the prize amounts for this contest have increased.
Value: $250, $200, $150, $75
Deadline: 3 September 2021
Open for: All writers
Details here and here.

A couple of other contests with later deadlines are: the The César Egido Serrano Foundation VI International Short Tales Contest (a microfiction contest with a first prize of $20,000 – and though the competition is open under a slogan, writers do not have to send themed entries, and can send two stories per author; the deadline is 30 September 2021), and the PEN/Robert J Dau Short Story Prize for Emerging Writers (for 12 emerging fiction writers for their debut short story published during a given calendar year in a literary magazine or cultural website; the awards are $2,000 each, and the deadline is 15 November 2021.)

 

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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