Comps and calls for December 2016

This month’s listing update is sponsored by:

Warmest wishes for the winter season! December is the best month of all for writers like us because many people are too busy to submit and enter. Don’t be among them! Find just a little time to send your stuff off, and you stand a much better chance than at any other time of the year. There are loads of opportunities, too.

This month’s update is sponsored by The Mother’s Milk Writing Prize 2016, now in its fourth year. Prizes of £200 are individually available for adult poetry and prose, as well as for poetry by children. Good luck if you decide to enter!

In fact, good luck to all no matter what you submit this month, and see you in 2017!

Cathy x

Here are December 2016’s writing competitions and calls for submission, all with free, electronic entry.

As usual I’m passing these on in good faith but mistakes may be made, so do check all the submission guidelines carefully. Any info in quotes comes from the website itself and any dates at the start are deadlines. Also, I don’t know the sources personally, so do check them out for yourselves.

There are three headings (click to jump straight to them):

If you aren’t a submitter (why not? Nothing to lose! Rejection is something we all share!) then the themes can make great writing prompts/exercises.

Although I mention only fiction or poetry, many publications accept non-fiction, art or other forms, so do check if interested. Good luck and do let me know of successes! The links are in the comments, and any dates at the start are deadlines.

Where possible, I have marked the relevant entries with ‘paying’, ‘contributor copy’ etc. However, you are best off checking the info for yourselves as I am not infallible and the info isn’t always available or clear. Please be aware that a contributor copy may be in print or digital format. Also, some publications offer several things, eg payment as well as a contributor copy. Where this is the case, I have assumed that payment is enough of an incentive, so I haven’t listed everything. It’s a rough guide and should be treated as such.


2nd Dec Story of around 200 words on the theme of Christmas PAYING

2nd Dec ‘Propinquity is such a clumsy and unusual word! For this mini-contest, we dare you to show, tell, or evoke a complete story in no more than 40 words, exactly ONE of which is “propinquity.” Use it well, contestants–no fair writing a story about a spelling bee where someone has to spell it, for instance.’ PAYING

2nd Dec Spectator Comp No. 2978: empty words ‘You are invited to submit a selection of meaningless, pseudo-profound statements, for example, ‘Attention and intention are the mechanics of manifestation.’ Please email up to ten each to by midday on 2 December.’

4th Dec Under 25s only: poem.

4th Dec Your funny Christmas moments. NON-CASH PRIZE

9th Dec ‘For the Literature Residencies applications are invited from established writers across the genres of short and long fiction, memoir, poetry, biography. Writers who cross or combine these genres are also welcome to apply. To be eligible, writers should have published, with a traditional publisher, at least one book.’ (Cathy’s note: transport is not included, so make sure that you can get to Cove Park, UK under your own steam!) PAYING

12th Dec Crime novel. PAYING

15th Dec ‘Be it historical or contemporary, a grand love story or the gripping tale of a torrid affair, through December 15 submit your Romance novel for the chance to win prizes and be read by judges from Macmillan, Penguin Random House, and Hachette Book Group.’ PAYING

15th Dec Digital fiction. ‘Importantly, digital fictions are different to e-books. Rather than existing as a digital version of a print novel, digital fictions are what are known as “born digital” – that is, they would lose something of their form and/or meaning if they were removed from the digital medium. For example, they may contain hyperlinks, moving images, mini-games or sound effects. In many digital fictions, the reader has a role in constructing the narrative, either by selecting hyperlinks or by controlling a character’s journey through the storyworld.’ PAYING

15th Dec Poetry and art on the themes of: ‘Racial Justice; Dismantling Militarism; Universal Healthcare; Disability Rights; Prison Re- form; Climate Justice; Grassroots Green Themes; Confronting US Empire; Cross-cultural Under- standing; Community Building.’ PAYING (thanks to for this one.)

20th Dec Essays 600-800 words on one of the provided themes. PAYING

31st Dec Story up to 2000 words on the theme of Murder. PAYING

31st Dec Studies of the Holocaust, 7000-10,000 words. PAYING

31st Dec US only: Stories of various types. Multiple entries allowed. PAYING

31st Dec ‘Nightlight Reading is requesting submissions for our 2016 Nightlight Reading Short Story Contest. This contest is geared to encouraging professional and amateur writers to write stories for at-risk boys in the 10- to 12-year-old age group who often stop reading for pleasure because of a lack of engaging literature for their age group.’ Theme: Mystery. PAYING (thanks to for this one.)

31st Dec ‘After a tough year where overall writing goals were not met and new challenges arose, your office supplies, including your computer, pens, paperclips, stapler, three-hole-punch, desk lamp— and anything else that could be used to support your writing efforts, have lost some faith in you. You’ve decided to rally the troops by giving a State of the Union to them. Deliver your speech, and then, include a brief reaction from the supplies. You must include at least six different types of supplies in your story, with reactions.’ 5000-10,000 words. VOUCHER/OTHER

31st Dec Story up to 2000 words. NON-CASH PRIZE

31st Dec Poems on the provided themes. PAYING

31st Dec Up to 2500 character story about your most memorable travel experience. VOUCHER/OTHER

31st Dec or until filled: drabble on the theme of Dear Abby in the 24th Century. PAYING

31st Dec ‘Whole Terrain, the nationally renowned literary journal of Antioch University New England, has established an annual award for outstanding undergraduate writers. We’re seeking environmental writing — poetry, fiction or non-fiction — from current undergraduates for this year’s volume on the theme of About Time.’ (Cathy’s note: there’s also a call for submissions on the same theme, that isn’t just for undergraduates. I don’t think that pays though!) PAYING

31st Dec Essay 1500-2500 words on the theme of I am an Immigrant. PAYING (thanks to for this one.)

31st Dec Fiction up to 10,000 words. PAYING

31st Dec Speculative fiction up to 17,000 words. Entrants may not have professionally published a novel or short novel, or more than one novelette, or more than three short stories, in any medium. PAYING

31st Dec Poems. PAYING

31st Dec ‘You are invited to enter a monograph of not more than 2000 words for The John Pickard Essay Prize. The monograph may be on any individual related to the Pre-Raphaelite circle.’

1st Jan Poetry or prose chapbooks (Cathy’s note: the first entry in each category is free, but if you want to enter any more, there’s a fee). PAYING

1st Jan Poetry and fiction on the theme of Fathers. PAYING


2nd Dec ‘Scary Dairy Press is seeking short story submissions of 3000-7000 words max for the anthology: Mother’s Revenge! This is a passionate anthology about Mother Earth taking her world back from the humans and teaching us a lesson. Mother Earth can partner with humans to stop the destroyers, animals can be heroes, or they may need saving. Any aspect of an ecological disaster or climate change problem can be created or considered.’ PAYING

5th Dec Poetry, fiction and more on the theme of Drunken (Cathy’s note: the deadline at the top of the page says 31st Dec, but the one at the bottom of the page says 5th Dec. I suggest playing it safe!). CONTRIBUTOR COPY/COPIES

5th Dec Women only: ‘Guilty’. ‘Stories up to 2,200 words and poems up to 40 lines about the commission, planning and/or consequences of a heinous or illegal act. Appal yourself, or simply have fun, exploring the darker impulses of the human psyche.’ PAYING

6th Dec Six tips on anything at all.

10th Dec ‘Winter is the season’s finale. It’s a time of books and page-turners, snowflakes and fireplaces, gifts and Christmas sentiments. Whether you submit poetry, haiku, fiction, nonfiction, or recipes, show me specifics. Fill the submission with the season’s senses.’

10th Dec Flash fiction on the theme of Inane.

14th Dec Poetry and more. ‘A word about our faith perspective: The Ruminate editors are seekers and people of faith from the Judeo-Christian tradition. We are often asked if we only publish “religious” work. The answer to that is no. We believe that a good word, a real story, or a perfect brushstroke can be spiritual acts expressing the beauty, creativity, and ironies of the human experience.’ PAYING

15th Dec Fiction 2000-10,000 words. PAYING

15th Dec Poetry, prose and more by teens.

15th Dec Stories up to 8000 words on the theme of Enter the Rebirth. PAYING

15th Dec Poetry on the theme of Hair. PAYING

15th Dec ‘The GNU seeks to provide an inclusive literary journal with an appreciation of all genres. Traditional literary works, short plays, young adult fiction, poetry, literary fiction, new adult, children’s literature, horror, comedy, western, mystery, historical fiction, memoir, personal essay, short fiction – even comics…you name it, we accept it.’

15th Dec BULL Magazine currently seeks fiction submissions for our upcoming pulp-themed print issue. We’re on the lookout for the gritty and noir-ish.

15th Dec Poetry on the theme of Robots. PAYING

15th Dec Poetry, fiction and more on the theme of Panic. PAYING

15th Dec David Bowie-themed poetry, prose and more.

15th Dec ‘We are currently seeking stories for a new anthology. Stories must fall into the category of science fiction (hard or soft), and must feature a transgender male protagonist. Given the nature of speculative fiction, however, we are willing to consider stories that feature non-binary, intersex or genderfluid characters, but for this project, any non-binary character should either identify strongly as male, or the story should deal with themes of what it means to be “masculine” or a “man” in terms of the world setting in which the story takes place.’ PAYING

16th Dec ‘Meet Cute: A Collection of First Encounters is a collaborative anthology of micro fiction stories. A “meet cute” is a scene in which two characters meet in a way that is amusing, unusual, or otherwise entertaining.’ PAYING

17th Dec ‘For cahoodaloodaling’s winter 2017 issue, give us literary and visual art about what isolates you from other people. Give us burned bridges, diaspora, visa stamps, i-miss-yous, anxiety meds, awkward frustrations, and ugly-crying loneliness.’

18th Dec ‘In ‘Jane Eyre’ Mr Rochester kept his mad first wife locked away in his attic. Inspired by this, ‘Mrs Rochester’s Attic’ will be an anthology of gothic-tinted tales about mad love and terrible secrets. What awful things do your characters keep hidden away?’ PAYING

19th Dec Poetry, fiction and more on the theme of Body and Sex. PAYING

19th Dec flash, short fiction and more on the theme of First Dates.

20th Dec ‘For this issue of Poetry Is Dead, we are interested in the poem that comes out of bodily experience that is difficult. The poem that does not eliminate the effort or labour from the writing. That makes difficulty visible. The untidy poem. The apparently struggling poem.’

20th Dec ‘We are looking for intriguing stories centered on animals that at some point were used in animal testing. We prefer stories that end in a rescue. So put on those thinking caps, and don’t be afraid to think outside the box. Genre is open: horror, sci-fi, speculative, literary, even comedy or romance. If it’s well-crafted and follows the theme, we’d love to consider it.’ 5000-20,000 words PAYING

21st Dec ‘Use one of these four windows as inspiration: 0 The Fool, XII The Hanged Man, XX Judgement, and XXI The World. Create your own image for these cards. Tell a story about the characters you see. Provide an in depth interpretation from one of your favorite decks. These are basic suggestions to get you going, but take this theme and create what you will.’ Poetry, fiction and more. CONTRIBUTOR COPY/COPIES

21st Dec Writing on the theme of Other Worlds.

23rd Dec ‘This magazine was founded to promote new writers. We have done a lot of reading and discovered many new voices. The idea of the folio is to pair four pieces from a new author with four pieces from a more published author. This means we still welcome submissions from everyone!’

30th Dec Poetry, flash, short fiction and more by women and genderqueer writers. CONTRIBUTOR COPY/COPIES

30th Dec Protest poetry on the theme of Beauty.

31st Dec ‘When African literature is published in the West, it is too often realist, in English, and always in the spirit of Chinua Achebe. But romance, science fiction, fantasy, epic, experimental poetry, satire, political allegory all find expression in Africa, though not necessarily publication. Those who are called to write often have to hustle to get recognition by writing a coming-of-age colonial encounter tale or hustle even harder to have their unique voices heard. In a special issue of New Orleans Review guest edited by Mukoma wa Ngugi and Laura Murphy, we will celebrate (and publish) popular and not-so popular writing from Africa.’

31st Dec Flash and short fiction. PAYING

31st Dec Writing and more by lesbians on the themes of either The Lesbian Body or Black Lesbians: We are the Revolution!

31st Dec Poetry or short prose on the theme of War.

31st Dec ‘If Mom’s Happy (working title) is a collection of stories about erotic mothers. When mom’s happy, everyone’s happy, right? This anthology is open to all women writers, preferably mothers—adoptive, heterosexual, single, married, gay, lesbian, grandparent, trans female, etc. I’m looking for all different kinds of stories, 1500-4500 words, portraying mothers as sexy, horny, and alive with desire; desire for their partner(s), the preschool teacher, the pediatrician, the grocery store clerk, or anyone else.’ 1500-4500 words. PAYING

31st Dec ‘Zombies Need Brains LLC is accepting submissions to its three science fiction and fantasy anthologies SUBMERGED, ALL HAIL OUR ROBOT CONQUERORS!, and THE DEATH OF ALL THINGS.’ Up to 7500 words. PAYING

31st Dec Poetry.

31st Dec Poetry and fiction on the theme of Resurrected Things. PAYING

31st Dec ‘TheatreFest will have a different theme each year with TheatreFest 16’s being ‘Journeys’. This theme is incorporated into the TheatreFest 16 writing initiative which is open not only to writers on the island but also writers from around the world.’

31st Dec ‘While the word “descanso” means simply, rest, in Spanish, it has come to represent all kinds of memorials that mark the place where an intended path came to an unintended end. Descansos take many forms: from crosses festooned with ribbons and pinwheels, to a shattered motorcycle helmet nailed to a tree; from a collection of teddy bears affixed to a roadside fence, to a stone alter filled with photographs, candles, and milagros; to a stark white bicycle anchored in concrete.

Consider the descansos of the heart, the smell, or song, or thought that brings us back for a moment to a time or a person now lost.’ Poetry, fiction and more. ROYALTIES

31st Dec Dada-inspired poetic word art, collage and photography on the theme of EYE FOR A LIE: encompassing artists’ and writers’ exposing a lie within the system of themselves.

31st Dec Poetry on the theme of Dwell.

31st Dec ‘ “Principia Ponderosa” – Weird Western/Steampunk. Dreadnaughts, “Wild West” world, cowboys and aliens, Victorian era, primitive post-Apocalypse, retro-futuristic inventions, and the like. Remember Oscar Wilde’s inspirational visit to Colorado?’ PAYING

31st Dec ‘For our fifth issue of The Poeming Pigeon, we are seeking poems that explore the topic of gardening and our connection with nature. Feel free to use imagery and metaphors from nature and the garden to expand on this theme to take our readers on a journey of discovery.’ CONTRIBUTOR COPY/COPIES

31st Dec Poetry, prose and more on the theme of La Petite Mort (Cathy’s note: the submission call gives the deadline as 31st Dec, though the submissions page has a date of Nov 30th. If you don’t want to chance it, then I suggest contacting them to ask for clarification).

31st Dec Poetry, fiction and more on the theme of Janus. PAYING

31st Dec Poetry, fiction and more on the theme of Individual/Society.

31st Dec Speculative fiction, set in Manchester, on the theme of Revolutions. PAYING

31st Dec Poetry and fiction on the theme of Transition.

31st Dec or until filled: ‘Lucky issue thirteen of Workers Write! will be Tales from the Casino and will contain stories and poems from workers in the gambling industry.’ PAYING

1st Jan 16,000-25,000 word stories on the theme of Addiction. PAYING

1st Jan ‘I suspect that there are many writers of literary fiction who read mystery/hardboiled novels and have a work of such savage art in them. We seek to create a venue for that market. Our plan is to have a reading period of thirty days in December. We’ll ask for the first two chapters or up to fifty pages of your crime noir. I like shorter novels (60,000–75,000 words). If we like what we read, we’ll ask for the rest of your book. And from all of our finalists we will select one crime novel to publish the following year. Depending on the level of interest, we plan to publish a crime noir a year under the Gas Station Pulp banner.’

When filled (or 31/1/17): ‘Stories that make us laugh, make our skin crawl and leave us feeling inappropriately aroused. Preferably all three! Combine food, eroticism and horror. Have fun! Any sub-genre sci-fi, western, just keep it interesting and unexpected humor is always encouraged!’

1st Jan Writing on the theme of Environment. ‘We are particularly interested in works which present creative, alternative views that may otherwise fall outside the margins of mainstream narratives. And although we primarily focus on perspectives within the Christian tradition, we invite dialogue with all who are interested in exploring the ongoing role of faith and spirituality in the world.’

1st Jan Speculative fiction on the theme of Spilling Tea by authors from the African diaspora. PAYING


1st Jan Fiction 2000-6000 words on the theme of A Scandal in Gomorrah: Queering Sherlock Holmes. PAYING


NOTE: Publishers sometimes don’t discuss their royalty rate upfront. This doesn’t necessarily mean that they don’t pay! I just haven’t put them as paying/giving royalties whenever I haven’t found details on the website.

Beautiful creative work.

Poetry, fiction and more.

Poetry, and fiction 2-20,000 words (Cathy’s note: only a certain number of submissions are taken each month, so get yours in early before the limit is reached!). PAYING

‘We are looking for writing that demonstrates characteristics found in the work of John Dos Passos, such as an intense and original exploration of specifically American themes; an innovative quality; and a range of literary forms, especially in the genres of fiction and creative non-fiction. We are not interested in genre fiction, or prose that is experiment for the sake of experiment. We are also not interested in nonfiction that is scholarly or critical in nature. Send us your best unpublished literary prose or poetry.’ CONTRIBUTOR COPY/COPIES

Books related to British cinema.

Poems up to 7 lines long. PAYING

‘Our focus is on writing which explores the relationship between people and the natural world. We want to help forge a new literature that is truly responsive to, and that deeply and meaningfully engages with, the global challenges we face. Writing that doesn’t just acknowledge, but that actively embraces all the contradictions and discomforts inherent in our relationship with the natural world – those contradictions which surface in all of our genuine attempts to reconnect.’ CONTRIBUTOR COPY/COPIES

‘We are looking for fiction which is bold and daring. Fiction which is experimental, rebellious and dreamy. We are not interested in therapeutic mood pieces which describe the sea and how it reflects our inner turmoil.’

‘yes: work that opens eyes and minds. work that makes you stop; catches your breath; makes you see the world in a new way. strange/experimental. honest. raw. original. no: anecdotes (drinking, amusing encounters, etc), sex purely for excessive and exaggerated pornography, formal/rhyming poems.’ CONTRIBUTOR COPY/COPIES


‘We encourage thought-provoking works that highlight the personal experiences of women, LGBTQIA individuals, people of color, people with disabilities, and other oppressed creators. We encourage experimental pieces that mix genres and show us something new with structure. If it mixes genres, don’t stress—we’ll figure out where to place it.’

‘While we do not accept fiction manuscript submissions, we are happy to accept illustrated picture-book stories and/or artwork samples via post or email.’

Speculative fiction 1000-6000 words. PAYING

Flash fiction.


Poetry, fiction and more on the theme of Change and Stasis.

Speculative novellas. UNKNOWN PAYMENT

Full-length MSS of various kinds.

Poetry, fiction and more by those aged 14-21.


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