Comps and calls for December 2020

Hello everyone,

It’s the busiest Comps and Calls month of the year! There are always loads of opportunities in December, and fewer people submit or enter because they’re so busy. Do try to find time to write, and to send off some of your writing. Just an hour here and there. Explain to any spouses (spice?!) or children that this is important. Bribe them as necessary.

As usual I’m in a chaotic mess. I was once chatting about this with a therapist, and she said that most people are either overwhelmed with chaos and too many tasks, or don’t have enough to do, and feel that life is passing them by. It’s very hard to find a good balance. Most writers would tell you some simple fixes (“Prioritise!”) at this point. Well, I’ve been working on this, but what I’ve discovered is that I like a chaotic flurry. 🙂 So I’m not going to tell you what to do!

Speaking of activity… My writing and submission course will start in the New Year, and sign-up details will be available on 1st January in the next edition of Comps and Calls. I’ve been preparing some of the material, and it’s very exciting (for me anyway)! The idea is that we’ll have a workshop on two certain themes each week – for poetry and fiction – and that these themes will be from actual submission opportunities or writing competitions. So at the end of the course (five weeks, two hours each week) you should have ten pieces of writing, and ten places to send that writing. You won’t be forced to submit though! You’ll need to be on Facebook and pay via Paypal (including via any debit/credit card), and the cost for the whole course will be £49.

Love to you all, and many thanks especially to those who have got in touch or donated. You’re a very talented lot!

Whatever you celebrate or don’t celebrate at this time of year, lots of love, and I hope you come out the other side feeling happy and well, with plenty of submissions and comp entries in the bag.

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.


2nd Dec Spectator Competition No. 3178: what the dickens. ‘You are invited to submit an extract from a Dickensian novel based around the name of someone in political life. Please email entries of up to 150 words to by midday on 2 December. (Cathy’s note: scroll down to find the comp.)

4th Dec Spectator Competition ‘No. 3179: singular sonnets. You are invited to submit a Christmas hit single (please specify) rewritten as a sonnet. Please email entries to by midday on 4 December.’ PAYING (Cathy’s note: scroll down to find the comp.)

4th Dec ‘The Sunday Times Audible Short Story Award is the richest prize for a single short story in the English language, worth £30,000 to the winner. The award, for a story of 6,000 words or less, is open to any novelist or short story writer from around the world who has been published in the UK or Ireland.’ PAYING (LOTS!)

15th Dec Poem. PAYING

15th Dec Flash fiction inspired by the provided image. PAYING

15th Dec ‘The Roswell Award international short science fiction story competition accepts entries from emerging writers age 16 and older.’ PAYING

15th Dec The Women Hold Up Half the Sky Award. ‘This award recognizes a science fiction story that embraces feminist themes and has a female protagonist. Top entries will exemplify excellence in feminist storytelling, while capturing the complexities of their characters. The winner will receive print publication in Artemis Journal… Additional prizes for the winning story will be announced.’ 500-1500 words. PRIZES (UNKNOWN WHAT)

31st Dec Poem. PAYING

31st Dec Flash fiction. ‘Holiday Season Offer: Entries received within the month of December 2020 will be eligible for submission fee waivers if the designated dialogue prompt (“What a time to be alive!”) is used. Please ignore the payment page during your submission process if your submission is eligible for the Holiday Season Offer.’ ‘We are looking for fiction that will appeal to young readers from age 11 and even to full-on grown-ups.’ PAYING

31st Dec Drabble on the theme of Dead of Winter. PAYING

1st Jan Travel writing up to 500 words. CONTRIBUTOR COPY/COPIES


2nd Dec ‘HASH is a literary journal that regularly publishes new fiction, nonfiction, poetry, interviews, book/movie/record reviews, and original artwork, on the world wide web. We publish pieces that are culturally observant, humorous, and a little offbeat. We look for emotional honesty and unique perspectives.’ (Cathy’s note: I’ve found conflicting deadlines on the website, so I’ve posted the earliest, just to be on the safe side.)

5th Dec ‘Defenestration is a humor magazine. We don’t worry about the particulars of genre, style, or form as long as the work is funny. What exactly constitutes as “funny” varies from person to person, but we try to publish a wide range of humor, from the ridiculous to the satirical, and everything in between.’ (Cathy’s note: there’s also a really good list here of plots that they’ve seen too often. I’m not saying that you shouldn’t write these things – I have a story about someone trying to elude Death that is unaccountably (ahem) unpublished – but be aware that there are loads of them out there.)

5th Dec ‘Adventure Fiction places emphasis on protagonists with agency, feats of daring, and the sense of discovery. These traits are not necessarily confined by time or place, though we are interested in fiction grounded to Earth as a setting.’ 5000-7000 words. PAYING

6th Dec ‘Project#6 is all about that intricate emotion called Love. Yes, this is going to be an anthology of romance and it will be released on… you guessed it, February 14, 2021. Here are some guidelines to get you started. Word limit: 1500 to 3000 words. Please stay within the word limit. Any story exceeding the word limit will be summarily rejected.’

7th Dec Horror story of roughly 2000 words on the theme of Secret Messages. PAYING

7th Dec Writing on the theme of Cycles.

12th Dec ‘We want to hear love stories that are outside of the conventional narrative: the ones that don’t get told.’

13th Dec Poetry on the theme of Christmas. ‘It can be anything to do with Christmas in the country or region in which you are based, or about Christmases you have experienced in the past. However, this is a feel-good publication through these bleak and challenging times, so only positive contributions please – nothing negative about this celebration!’ CONTRIBUTOR COPY/COPIES

13th Dec Writers aged 13-19 only: story on the theme of Change the World. PAYING

14th Dec ‘TL;DR Press is proud to announce the call for submissions for Hope, a collection of forward-looking, positive short stories and poetry, to benefit Action Against Hunger.’ CHARITY/GOOD CAUSE, CONTRIBUTOR COPY/COPIES (Cathy’s note: remember that contributor copies are sometimes print, or, as in this case, electronic.)

14th Dec Poetry, fiction and more on the theme of States of Mind. PAYING

15th Dec Submissions open today: themed poetry, fiction and CNF.

15th Dec Anthology for Preteens: ‘We’re collecting up-to-date stories written by preteens, teens, and men and women under age 35. We want these stories to represent how the world is today for preteens, and we’re hoping for stories about the pandemic, technology, social media, and other modern-day concerns.’ Poems and stories. PAYING

15th Dec Anthology for Teenagers: ‘We’re collecting up-to-date stories written by teens and men and women under age 35. We want these stories to represent how the world is today for teenagers, and we’re hoping for stories about the pandemic, technology, social media, and other modern-day concerns.’ Poems and stories. PAYING

15th Dec or until filled:  Horror 600-2000 words. CHARITY/GOOD CAUSE

15th Dec Poetry and prose on the theme of Wretched Citizens. PAYING

15th Dec ‘We want to zero in on the individual stories, zoom in on the quiet day to day. Press pause on the news cycle and the reel of horror. What are you learning about yourself? What are you seeing in the world? What losses have gripped you? What does 2020 look like from your own kitchen window?’

15th Dec Speculative poetry on the theme of Travel. PAYING

15th Dec  ‘Our Capsule Stories Spring 2021 Edition theme is In Bloom. We’re looking for stories, poems, and essays that feel spring-y and burst with life.’

15th Dec Poetry and short stories on the theme of Chance.

15th Dec ‘This book is seeking dark fiction short stories about haunted buildings (excluding houses) around the globe.’ 1500-4500 words. PAYING (Cathy’s note: there’s a list of countries excluded, as stories set in those countries are already provided. Make sure that your story is set somewhere else!)

15th Dec ‘Ancient Paths publishes poetry, flash fiction, photography, and artwork. We do not publish articles or devotions. We welcome works by contributors of all religions, but you should be comfortable with having your work appear in a predominantly Christian publication.’ Christmas and Epiphany Themes. PAYING

18th Dec ‘Issue 1 is due in early 2021, and we are calling for submissions of art, poetry, prose, and essays. The magazine will be published for a limited physical run and online. In place of a theme we have decided to use a scent, for issue one this will be ‘liquorice’. We are looking for strange works that make you feel dizzy, out of place, or out of time.’ CONTRIBUTOR COPY/COPIES

20th Dec ‘The Ethicist accepts all written/creative work regardless of genre including but not limited to: creative nonfiction, essays, op-eds, fiction of all genres, poetry, and experimental or genre bending work. The only requirement for consideration of publication is that the writing have some connection to one’s faith/belief tradition or lack thereof (including interfaith activity).’

21st Dec Poetry, flash, short fiction and more on the theme of Inner Spaces. PAYING

21st Dec ‘Friends Journal welcomes articles, poetry, art, photographs, and letters from our readers.’ Theme: Pandemic at one year.

24th Dec 500 word fiction on the theme of Haunt. CONTRIBUTOR COPY/COPIES

25th Dec ‘The idea of resurrection or reincarnation exists in many cultures around the world. In this anthology, we will focus on the ideas and concepts of reincarnation or resurrection and the complications that may or may not occur with it.’ 1000-7000 words. PAYING

30th Dec ‘We are seeking morally ambiguous stories with the fantasy, horror, sci-fi, and contemporary fiction genres surrounding the theme of survival.’ Up to 12,000 words. PAYING

30th Dec Poetry, fiction and more on the theme of LGBTQ+.


31st Dec LGBTQ+ romance over 12,000 words on the theme of Sports. ROYALTIES

31st Dec ‘There are so many ways you can explore “LOST CONTACT”. Go wild with it. And, since this is the final entry of our LOST trilogy — Lost Signal and Lost Films being the previous two entries — it would be to your benefit to include TECHNOLOGY of some kind in the submission you write, whatever that might mean to you. The stories need to be deeply rooted in the horror genre, but if it also contains flavors of weird science fiction, that would be pretty fuckin’ radical.’ 1000-7000 words. PAYING

31st Dec Theme: Resist with every inch and every breath. ‘Stories of resistance and rebellion, but also of the steps in between and the change that comes after.’ Up to 15,000 words. PAYING

31st Dec Nonfiction poetry on the theme of Asia.

31st Dec Poetry of Iran and its diaspora.

31st Dec Poetry on the theme of Explore.

31st Dec ‘Military ACTION-BASED horror, themed around religion and/or religious-based conflict. Think the Crusades, Europe’s Thirty Years War, The Troubles in Northern Ireland (but with unnatural monsters)… anything that can be considered a high-action monster story based around a conflict (overt or covert) of religion. For level of unnatural creature we will give priority to, think Dog Soldiers or Aliens. We want lots of monster goodness.’

31st Dec ‘Irreantum publishes literary work of high quality that resonates with Mormon experience.’ Poetry, fiction, drama and more on the theme of Hope & Healing.

31st Dec “Volume 2: Covid-19 Edition is a collection of essays about the human spirit looking unflinchingly at death. It’s about doctors and nurses who risked infection to care for the dying gasping for air. It’s about patients battling for their lives. And it’s about ordinary people discovering extraordinary pockets of light in a time of darkness. If you have a Covid-19 story that involves discovering unexpected joy, radiance, or light…please send your submission.” CONTRIBUTOR COPY/COPIES

31st Dec Essay about Modern Love. PAYING

31st Dec Short horror story 4000-8000 words on the theme of I is for Internet. PAYING

31st Dec Poetry on the theme of Nostalgia.’Funny, sad, uplifting, insightful, or just general observations, you can write about anything to do with CHILDHOOD; your own experiences of childhood and growing up, or those of your loved ones and the children around you.’ CONTRIBUTOR COPY/COPIES

31st Dec ‘We are interested in work that shows collaboration among multiple individuals or entities. This could be what you’d most expect–work between writers, artists, or musicians–but could also be a “collaboration” with elements of nature, other literature or art, or beyond. Your imagination is limitless as to how this particular call may be interpreted.’ CONTRIBUTOR COPY/COPIES

31st Dec Poetry. PAYING

31st Dec Poetry on the theme of Glimmer.

31st Dec Fiction on the theme of Creature Lore Swap. (Cathy’s note: although it’s described as a contest, this doesn’t qualify as a comp under comps and calls rules, as the prize is publication and royalties. It’s a perfectly good call though!)

31st Dec ‘So let’s celebrate writers writing about writers. Let’s self-indulge in those characters that are stumbling through publishing life with their anecdotal tales of what writing life is really like—be it erratic, bizarre, and wildly inspirational.’ Poetry, fiction and more.

31st Dec ‘Once again, Grace&Victory is looking for comfy, cozy, low-fi stories for our next anthology. What do we mean by “low-fi”? Stories with low stakes and small rewards, little triumphs, happy chances…We have a strong preference for speculative fiction, however slight the spec-fic elements may be. Off-world, secondary world, alternate history, far-future, they’re all good. We want stories that make you happy—yes, you.’ PAYING

31st Dec Poetry on the theme of Unknown.

31st Dec ‘Themed submissions form for short stories, flash fiction, and poetry. Current Theme: Relationships “I’d love to be the light that finds you.” ‘

31st Dec Poetry, flash and more on the theme of Ending.

1st Jan Poetry. PAYING

1st Jan ‘We accept photography, art, comics, creative nonfiction, fiction, flash fiction, experimental work, and poetry.’ ‘The optional theme for the next issue is: Significant Phone Calls, Texts, and Letters.’’s note: the deadline isn’t clear on the website, but another source gives it as 1st Jan. In this case, as always when there’s doubt, get your work sent as soon as possible!)

1st Jan Writing on the theme of My Deep Love of Place.

1st Jan Fiction on the theme of Lycanthropy. PAYING


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

Three-line poetry on the theme of Holiday. PAYING

SF, F or H novel.

Canada only: feminist MSS. Fiction and nonfiction.

‘FORMA contemplates ancient ideas for contemporary people, both online and in print. Whether we’re reviewing a new mystery novel, sharing new original poetry, or publishing critical essays, we’re trying to determine what classical thought can offer modern mankind. We’re looking back, even if the past seems backward. We publish original essays, reviews, interviews, and poetry.’ PAYING

‘Gill Books welcomes unsolicited proposals from first time and experienced authors alike. Please note that we only accept proposals for works of non-fiction and children’s; we do not publish adult fiction, poetry, short stories or plays. In general we focus on books of Irish interest.’ ROYALTIES

‘We’re looking to publish poetry, essays on the reading and composition of poetry, and interviews with readers and writers of poetry directed at an English-reading audience.’

‘If we put all our diverse and different stories, we can create a knowledgeable and authentic portrayal of our world, creating a beautiful Chaotic Merge.’ Poetry, fiction and more.

Poetry, fiction and more. PAYS ONE CONTRIBUTOR (Cathy’s note: Each month, they pick one contributor to receive $10.)

Draw Down the Moon. ‘We are accepting submissions for the next Short Story Anthology! This collection, that takes its title from a line in Sextus Propertius’s Book I, Love Poems to Cynthia, evokes the mystery and tension of romance. Stories may evolve along a theme of romantic love, in all its rawness, oddity, and power, although this does not have to be the primary focus of the story.’ CONTRIBUTOR COPY+ ROYALTIES (Cathy’s note: they say that they’ll make final decisions by the end of April, so although the Submittablelink shows a deadline of May 1st, I’d get your submissions in much sooner than that, if possible!)

‘”Land Beyond the World” Magazine is a fan-run publication for speculative short  fiction, primarily in the fantasy and science fiction genres.’ PAYING

‘Pollux is open to submissions from all genres, including but not limited to poetry, fiction, creative nonfiction, concrete poetry, and hybrid genre… As a literary journal dedicated to multilinguality, Pollux seeks to be home both to work that are multilingual themselves (written in two or more languages, including English) or centered around multilinguality (work in English that is about being or learning to become multilingual).’

‘We (and our faithful dog, Aggie) are searching for previously unpublished humor pieces in any style (except for fake news/Onion pieces) within 100–700 words.’ PAYING

‘Earth & Altar is a blog/magazine for and by catholic and reformed Christians of all denominations who see an expansively conceived credal orthodoxy as fully compatible with LGBTQ inclusion, gender equality, and racial justice. You will find reflections on theology, history, liturgy, preaching, spirituality, church practice, and the arts that are accessible to the thoughtful non-specialist for the good of the church and God’s mission in the world.’


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