Comps and calls for September 2020

Hello everyone,

How are things with you? I hope you’re all as well and happy as possible. I haven’t submitted as much as I should this month, which is annoying, as August is always one of the best months to submit. Still – we do our best, muddling on – and that’s fine. What makes you a Proper Writer – and I know that many of you will have Imposter Syndrome and think that you aren’t proper writers – is that you write. Nothing more.

Submitting and entering are fun, though! And they help you to develop as a writer (there are other ways – these are just two of them). You edit and proof your work properly, you think about how it would look to a reader who doesn’t know you at all, and you strengthen yourself by sending your work into the big wide world even though you know it has a good chance of being rejected, through no fault of its own…and you try new things because of themed issues or litmags with peculiar requirements, and you find yourself chatting to other writers and editors and publishers, and the whole thing grows…even if this isn’t happening for you yet, do remember that you aren’t alone. There are lots of us out there, all writing away, and dreaming and hoping and making mistakes and enjoying ourselves. Don’t think of us as the competition, but as fellow travellers.

Good luck, fellow writers!

And many, many thanks to donors and Patreon subscribers, who are so very kind and thoughtful.

Best wishes and stay safe,

Cathy x

Here are some 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/tap 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.


1st-14th Sep or when 300 submissions in each category are received. Flash fiction or flash nonfiction. PAYING (Cathy’s note: don’t delay with this one! I’m expecting the categories to be filled very quickly.)

2nd Sep ‘Spectator Competition No. 3165: between the lines. You are invited to supply a job reference for a well-known public figure, past or present (please specify), that while seemingly positive reveals the failings of the candidate in question. Please email entries of up to 150 words to lucy@ by midday on 2 September.’ PAYING

2nd Sep Black writers only: poetry, flash and more. PAYING

4th Sep ‘OOOOH, THAT SMELL There are few things as evocative as scent. For this contest, write a creative, compelling, well-crafted story between 1,000 and 5,000 words long in which either a specific scent, or the sense of smell in general, is important to the story.’ PAYING

4th Sep Essay up to 3000 words on the theme of ‘Communal solidarity and individual freedom: antagonists or allies?’ PAYING

6th Sep USA only: poem up to 35 lines. ROYALTIES, POSSIBLE CASH PRIZE

6th Sep Texas only: poem up to 35 lines. ROYALTIES, POSSIBLE CASH PRIZE

9th Sep ‘Spectator Competition No. 3166: privates on parade. Philadelphia’s annual naked cycle ride has been cancelled because of Covid-19. You are invited to supply a poem either celebrating or lamenting this turn of events. Please email entries of up to 16 lines to lucy@ by midday on 9 September.’ PAYING

13th Sep Australia only: poem up to 35 lines. ROYALTIES, POSSIBLE CASH PRIZE

13th Sep Caribbean only: poem up to 35 lines. ROYALTIES, POSSIBLE CASH PRIZE

14th Sep ‘We are looking for stories for children that in some way touch upon ideas around building a sustainable society.’ PAYING

15th Sep BLACK WRITERS ONLY ‘All unpublished, original collections of poems written in English by black writers are eligible. Simultaneous submission to other chapbook awards should be noted: immediate notice upon winning such an award is required. Winner agrees to be present in the continental United States at her or his own expense shortly after the book is published in order to participate in O, Miami 2021.’ PAYING

15th Sep Speculative flash fiction inspired by the provided image. PAYING

20th Sep ‘Write and submit a back cover blurb of 100 words or fewer that sets the stage for a novel, establishes the characters, and raises the stakes in a way that makes readers want to find out more.’ PAYING

20th Sep New Zealand only: poem up to 35 lines. ROYALTIES, POSSIBLE CASH PRIZE

20th Sep Socially engaged poetry up to 35 lines. ROYALTIES, POSSIBLE CASH PRIZE

27th Sep Residents of the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland only: poem up to 35 lines. ROYALTIES, POSSIBLE CASH PRIZE

27th Sep Light-hearted poetry up to 35 lines. ROYALTIES, POSSIBLE CASH PRIZE

30th Sep ‘This call for submissions accepts literary (poetry; essays and short stories under 3000 words); video; music; or visual work around the theme: “Never again: Remembering to heal and overcome.”  All pieces must be previously unpublished. The most important hallmark of Holocaust remembrance and education is the phrase ‘never again.’  Unfortunately, tribal divisions, ethnic cleansing and genocides continue in the 21st Century. We are looking for submissions in any creative media (which can be exhibited online), and which highlight aspects of human unity, and positive cross-pollination between groups, ethnicities, religions and/or nations.’ PAYING

30th Sep Fiction up to 3000 words. PAYING

30th Sep All submissions (poetry, fiction and more) are considered for the ‘Best in the Land’ $1000 prize. CONTRIBUTOR COPY/COPIES, PAYING


‘Free submissions are open until early September’: fiction set in urban areas. ‘…preferred stories are fast paced, have a beginning hook, and are short enough to finish in a session but long enough for character development. Focus on a person or two, their key memories, their motives. Genre varies but all have a lot of events happening in a few words to the backdrop of a city, any city of your imagination. Bonus if mentioning climate change!’ PAYING

4th Sep Poetry on the theme of Together and Apart.

6th Sep Fiction 800-2000 words on the theme of Hide & Seek.

7th Sep Speculative flash fiction on the theme of Smell. PAYS SOME CONTRIBUTORS (Cathy’s note: they pay if they include your piece in one of their anthologies.)

7th Sep ‘Montana Mouthful seeks short fiction/nonfiction, poetry, and artwork/photography submissions for its 8th issue, and the theme is “Quarantine.”’

8th Sep Writing on the theme of Mixtape.

9th Sep Fiction 800-3000 words on the theme of Before and After.

10th Sep Poetry, fiction and art on the theme of Synthesis. CONTRIBUTOR COPY/COPIES

10th Sep ‘Our eighth zine will be a collection of non-fiction, creative non-fiction and memoir, of no more than 1,000 words.’ CONTRIBUTOR COPY/COPIES

10th Sep Poetry, fiction and more on the theme of Harvest. PAYING

10th Sep Poetry, fiction and more on the theme of Hair.

13th Sep ‘We want to publish stories that make us forget where we are, stories that introduce us to people, places and things we’ve never seen before and stories that stick with us long after we leave them.’ Fiction up to 1000 words.

15th Sep Black writers only: chapbooks. PROFIT/REVENUE SHARING MODEL

15th Sep Writing on the theme of Truth, Fair Play, and Other Myths We Live By, or another anthology: Spot Cleaning Our Dirty Laundry.  CONTRIBUTOR COPY/COPIES

15th Sep ‘Chipper Press is looking for short stories about Unicorns. Tell our middle-grade readers about how the unicorn came into being, and if they still exist. If they are now extinct, what happened? Is their horn magical? If so, what magic does it do? Where did they come from? How do you tame one? Do they talk? What is/was their life like?’ 4500-17,000 words. CONTRIBUTOR COPY/COPIES

15th Sep Poetry, fiction and more by writers aged 50 or more.

15th Sep ‘A blue light tells you something special is about to happen in these modern-day folktales about the LGBTQ experience.  It might be ghostly, or romantic, or spiritual, but we guarantee you won’t see it coming. Our anthology will consist of folktales set in the modern world.  A traditional tale will inspire our stories, but our authors will re-imagine the original to illuminate the lives of LGBTQ people in today’s world.’ 1000-5000 words. PAYING

15th Sep Fiction on the theme of It Calls from the Sea. ‘As with all our “It Calls From” Series this one is HORROR, so I want to be scared. Be it real or mythological creatures of lore that attacks, make our hearts race and our nightmares come alive. We also want it to be within our reality, so please keep your stories on our earth.’ PAYING

15th Sep Writers under 22: ‘Why reopen? Since Flexible Press launched this project a pandemic  has broken out and George Floyd was murdered. Therefore, given how the world has changed, we can’t imagine putting 22 Under 22 out without some work addressing the state of the world midway through 2020. Therefore, we are reopening for submissions specifically on the topics of George Floyd and the resulting reckoning and the pandemic only.’

15th Sep Dark fantasy drabbles. CONTRIBUTOR COPY/COPIES

15th Sep ‘Our goal is to build literary culture in New Mexico outside the typical centers.’ Poetry, prose and art on the theme of Chiaroscuro.

15th Sep Speculative poetry on the theme of Cat People. PAYING

15th Sep Poetic Response to the news/current events. ‘We would love it if you can use any of these forms:  Ballad, Pantoum, Bop, Golden Shovel, Villanelle. But it’s not a requirement.’

15th Sep Poetry on the theme of Journey.

18th Sep ‘Gutter is a magazine of new Scottish and international writing. We look for work that challenges, re-imagines or undermines the status quo; that pushes at the boundaries of form and function; that is striking and beautiful.’ PAYING (SUBJECT TO FUNDRAISER/FUNDING)

21st Sep Black writers only:  ‘We are delighted to announce a new call for submissions which is now open! We are looking for twelve to twenty short stories by black contemporary writers to complement a selection of core classic tales by early black writers of speculative fiction.’ 2000-4000 words. PAYING

24th Sep 500 word story on the theme of Reign. CONTRIBUTOR COPY/COPIES

27th Sep Poems on the theme of Greenhouse. ‘We especially encourage BIPOC and QT poets to submit — your work will take priority in our consideration. However, we still welcome all work however you identify.’

27th Sep Poetry, fiction and more on the theme of Life in Limbo.

30th Sep ‘What’s different about this “Strange Mysteries” collection is that you writers choose which holiday on which you wish to base your story. As Associate Editor Arthur Sanchez says, “It doesn’t have to be a major holiday. If your favorite is National Taco Day, go with it!” ‘ Like most of our “Strange Mysteries” series, it will contain some 20 stories, each 3000 words.’  PAYING

30th Sep or until free subs cap is reached: ‘We are seeking retellings and rewritings of classic fairytales that FEATURE People of Color or different ethnic or cultural backgrounds (non-white) as the characters and that are WRITTEN by People of Color or different ethnic or cultural backgrounds (non-white).’ PAYING (Cathy’s note: they already have stories based on a number of fairytales, so make sure that your story is based on a different one. Check the guidelines!)

30th Sep Canadian residents and landed immigrants only: poetry and short fiction MSS.

30th Sep ‘Speculative fiction/horror. Dark bias. Can include comedy and romance elements.’ Theme: Wrath. CONTRIBUTOR COPY/COPIES

30th Sep ‘For this anthology, we’re looking for stories that depict a (near) future Earth that’s somehow better than this one. Show us a world post-climate change, where we made peace with the planet. Or a world where we moved past racism and into a broader understanding of the connectedness of all the races of humanity. How about one where gender no longer matters? Or where borders are no more.’ 5000-15,000 words. PAYING

30th Sep ‘You can submit up to SIX pieces (but please do not submit more than six), on the theme of: A NEW WORLD: Rethinking our lives post pandemic.’ Poetry. CONTRIBUTOR COPY/COPIES

1st Oct Poetry, fiction and more. PAYING

1st Oct ‘We are looking for art, photography, essays, poetry, and other creative works to explore the racism, injustices and soul-killing aspects of this problem. We want artists to cry out in this anthology and demand justice.

1st Oct ‘Think deep ocean creatures, lore of sea-folk and forgotten cities, ships lost at sea and beach side vacations. Anything that can happen on or near a body of water is acceptable.’ 1000-10,000 words. CONTRIBUTOR COPY+ ROYALTIES

1st Oct Cthulhu Mythos stories set in the Arthurian world. PROFIT/REVENUE SHARING MODEL

1st Oct ‘Patients, students, family members, caregivers, nurses, physicians, healthcare consumers, artists, mental health providers, physical therapists, writers, clergy—all of us will be patients one day and all are welcome to submit work. We are especially looking for content that connects us, make us feel something, or helps us see illness, wellness, health, or the healthcare environment differently.’ Theme: Bias.

1st Oct Theme: Bees. ‘Length of the work: our sweet spot is between 150 to 300 words. Anything over or under, we’ll be less psyched on. Poems? Let’s try to keep it under 25 lines, bbz.’

1st Oct ‘The November 2020 issue of Glass: A Journal of Poetry will be a special Poets Resist edition focusing on the 2020 election. For this 2020 Election Edition of Glass/Poets Resist, we will gather a series of poems that look back on the past four years and/or look toward the upcoming four years.’


(Publishers might not give out their pay rates on their submission pages, so make sure to find them out before signing a contract!)

‘Here at One Hand Clapping we are not fond of submission guidelines. Just send us your best work in the format that shows it off to its best advantage. (Our one request is that, if you’re a writer, you send it in Word. But even that isn’t a hard and fast rule.)’

‘We are seeking personal essays, poetry, fiction, artwork, interviews, how-to guides, reviews, thought pieces and listicles relating to: the esoteric and liminal, weird and wyrd…’ Also magical practice, inclusive feminism, mental health and more.

Poetry on the theme of epidemics and pandemics, from ancient to Covid.

Dystopian/political poetry, fiction and more. CONTRIBUTOR COPY/COPIES, POSSIBLE PAYMENT

‘We’re looking for your scariest short fiction and terrifying true stories.’ 1000-6000 words. PAYING

‘Prose, poetry, creative non-fiction, essays, and visual art.’

‘Please make us smirk.  Or say to ourselves, “Clever.  Clever.”  Or open our mouths at the surreality of your world. Or make us lose our spleen in disemboweling, howling hahahaha!  Ha!’ PAYING

Short speculative work. ‘Octavos is a venue for speculative poetry 8 lines or under. We define a line as containing at least one character. White space doesn’t add to the line count. Constraint 280 is a venue for narrative speculative work up to 280 characters long. This usually means microfiction and poetry, but things like Twitter bots that generate tweets are also welcome. Experimental and interactive forms are very much welcome. Code may exceed 280 characters if the printed output is 280 characters or under.’ PAYING

‘Submissions are currently invited for unpublished works and translations that deal with undiscovered territories and blur boundaries. Experimental works are strongly encouraged.’

‘We are looking for writing and art that intertwines the marvelous with the mundane and uses it to convey a message. Tell us about the magic that lives at the dinner table; the creatures that walk alongside us unseen; the power that takes hold of individuals when they fight for what they care about.’ Poetry, fiction and more.  PAYING

‘Stinger Stories focuses on small, promising bits of prose. Most of our published work is in the science fiction or fantasy genres. We will consider any work that is well written and unusual/experimental in nature.’

‘We are looking for thought-provoking poetry that leaves you wanting more. We love works that bring light to the stigma of mental health issues, damaged hearts, and souls and all those in between.’

Poetry, flash fiction and more.

‘We’re always hunting for books that are thoughtful, unusual, and captivating. This is why Mango Publishing accepts unsolicited manuscripts and reviews all proposals. However, given the volume of proposals we receive, we are not able to personally respond to all unsolicited proposals unless we are interested in pursuing the project. Also, while we do publish the occasional fiction book, the majority of our focus is on nonfiction.’ ROYALTIES

Deadline TBC: Poetry on the theme of Waterloo. ‘Wine Cellar Press: a poetry press dedicated to publishing formal and free verse in equal measure.’

‘What do I like? –> formal poems, free verse, alliteration, metaphor, personification, and all the other things that make poetry an art form. What don’t I like? –> non-thoughtful line breaks, tortured meter, clichés, bad sonics, and all the other things that make poetry unpleasant to read.’

‘We are looking for poetry and prose that engages with any aspect of the COVID-19 situation: political, personal, media, family, shopping, self care, food, routine, isolation, community, worries and hopes.’

‘We are particularly looking for poetry, short stories and flash fiction. Any genre will be accepted, although we are looking to publish strong storytelling. For our first set of pieces, we would love to see work that can help our readers to make sense of the world right now. We are not currently expecting to restrict the themes of work although we would like it to reflect the world around its writer, whether that be an internal world or the seasons outside of your window.’ Poetry, fiction and more. PAYING


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