Comps and calls for January 2021

Hello everyone,

Happy New Year!

I’m very glad to say that! If 2020 had been a submission, I’d have rejected it! Anyway – I hope you’re going into 2021 with your health and happiness as intact as possible. Here at Comps-and-Calls Cottage (it’s not really called that. It’s a bungalow for a start) we’re ok, but fed up of the virus, politics, you name it.

Anyway – on to better things! There are some really interesting calls and comps below. I’m hoping that there’s something for everyone. Also – TADA! The new course is starting on Weds the 6th of Jan. Hurrah!

The basics: There will be five weekday evening workshops during which we’ll work on ten different prompts in total. These prompts all relate to real submission calls or competitions! The idea is that when you’ve written your pieces and worked on them, you can submit them to the appropriate calls. You don’t have to – but I hope you will. So you should ideally end up with ten pieces, written, worked on, and submitted (sadly I can’t guarantee acceptances, but the writing, editing and submitting is the part for learning to write like a professional).

Comps and Calls will always be free, but the course will take a lot of my time, so I have to charge for it.

If you want to sign up, you need to do a few things:

  1. Join Facebook, if you aren’t there already.
  2. Pay £49 to me at the following link, carefully keeping a record of your Transaction number:
  3. Go to and click ‘join’
  4. Confirm youir membership if you receive an email asking you about it.

The next bits are optional:

You’re welcome to add me as a friend on Facebook ( if that makes things easier! It’s also quicker if you if you become a fan of Comps and Calls on Facebook: as then I can add you directly to the group.

  1. If you get some sort of confirmation email (eg Did you mean to join Cathy’s Course Jan/Feb 2021?) then please click ‘yes’ or ‘confirm.
  2. Although I’ll be starting the course on Wednesday 6th Jan, those who want to do it but can’t be there from 7-9pm (GMT) on a Weds, can access the info at any time. They might have to wait for answers to questions or personal feedback – that’s the only drawback. Just pick a two hour slot in your own schedule and do everything then.

Please note: membership is capped at 40 (or thereabouts) so that I can ensure personal attention for each person.

Special admiration goes to those who’ve read this far. That is exactly the type of dedication that will help you to improve your writing and get it out there, whether you take the course or not!

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 Jan United States, the District of Columbia or Canada (excluding Quebec): Mystery novel set in the Southwestern USA. PAYING (LOTS)

4th Jan Poetry, fiction and nonfiction on the theme of Home. PAYING

6th Jan ‘Spectator Competition No. 3181: nay sayers. This year’s Booker Prize winner Shuggie Bain was turned down by 32 publishers. You are invited to submit a publisher’s rejection letter of a well-known literary classic. Please email entries of up to 150 words to by midday on 6 January.’ (Cathy’s note: scroll down for the comp, though I love to read the entries to previous comps – they are always clever and witty.)

13th Jan Spectator Competition No. 3182: over to the dark side. You are invited to rewrite a famous piece of light verse as a poem with a dirge-like, hieratic (ie. solemn and ponderous) tone. Please email entries of up to 16 lines to by midday on 13 January. We are now paying winners by cheque, unless you state on your entry that you would prefer to be paid by bank transfer.’s note: scroll down for the comp, though I love to read the entries to previous comps – they are always clever and witty.)

14th Jan Poetry or fiction on the theme of Festive Fright. PAYING (thanks to for this one)

15th Jan Flash fiction. PAYING’s note: there are free submission slots available if enough people have used the ‘tip jar’ option. At the time of writing this, there are two free submission slots available. Good luck!)

17th Jan ‘Discoveries invites all unpublished women writers aged 18 and up, residing in the UK or Ireland and writing in English, to submit their works of fiction to the Discoveries Prize. The prize doesn’t require writers to have finished a novel – only to have started one.’ PAYING

18th Jan ‘The Nine Dots Prize is a prize for creative thinking that tackles contemporary societal issues. Entrants are asked to respond to a question in 3,000 words, with the winner receiving US$100,000 to write a short book expanding on their ideas. The question for 2020/21 is: What does it mean to be young in an ageing world?’ PAYING (LOTS!)

29th Jan US only: ‘Since 2012, Zócalo has awarded the prize annually to the U.S. poet whose poem best evokes a connection to place. “Place” may be interpreted in many ways, be it of historical, cultural, political, or personal importance; the landscape may also be literal, imaginary, or metaphorical.’ PAYING

31st Jan UK only, over 90 only: writing on the theme of Childhood Memories. PAYING (thanks to for this one)

31st Jan An unpublished piece of prose, plus various other things. PAYING (thanks to for this one)

31st Jan ‘An original, fictional unpublished piece of writing themed around all aspects of the pandemic including “lockdown” and what has become for us all the “new normal”.’ There are four categories this year: fiction and nonfiction; poetry; interviews; art and photography. You must be the author of the submitted entry and must have been born, live or have lived, study or have studied, work or have worked, in the historical or modern county of Cheshire. For the purposes of the Competition, Cheshire is deemed to include the Wirral, as well as Warrington and Halton. PAYING

1st Feb ‘We are looking for the best new novels in crime, mystery, and thriller, and are asking entrants to submit the first 5,000 words of their manuscripts, along with a 150 word ‘elevator pitch’. We will choose the best 20-30 entries, and compile them into the Crucible Chapbook, which will be sent to a list of agents and agencies.’ NON-CASH PRIZE

1st Feb ‘Free to enter, the Prize is open to writers who have yet to publish a full-length work or have a literary agent. To enter the Prize, please send us an unpublished piece of life writing that is up to 5000 words. This can be a stand-alone piece or the beginning extract of a larger piece of writing. For the purposes of this Prize, life writing is ‘intended to be true’, reflects someone’s own life journey or experiences and is not fiction. It is writing from the author’s own personal experience.’ PAYING


Soon! – Poetry, fiction and more. (Cathy’s note: Although the deadline is technically over a month away, they have a quota for submissions. At the time of writing – it’s still 2020 – that quota has already been filled up to 42%. So if you can, get your submission in as soon as possible!)

3rd Jan LGBTQIA+ writers only: ‘The Fallen Gods Anthology is your invitation to explore a world where queer gods tell dramatic stories. We want to read about gods in same-gender relationships where one deity is defeated or bested by some means and the surviving god’s tale results in the loss of their divine grace. Maybe they gave in to anguish and lost their divine spark.’ 10,000-15,000 words. PAYING

3rd Jan ‘We are looking for reviews, interviews, articles, essays, listicles, and short stories focused around Women in Horror, up to 3K words. We will be prioritising #OwnVoices content for this, but are happy to review submissions from allies as well.’

3rd Jan ‘Divination Hollow will be dedicating February 2021 to Black History in Horror, alongside our Women in Horror Month content. We are open to submissions from November 12th 2020 until January 3rd 2021. We are looking for reviews, interviews, articles, essays, listicles, and short stories, up to 3K words. We will be prioritising #OwnVoices content for this, but are happy to review submissions from allies as well.’

3rd Jan ‘The theme for Issue Five is Astrology. We want your pieces that talk about all things astrology and the zodiac signs. If you wrote a piece about your Cancer ex, this is the Issue for you…Send poetry, micro poems, visual poetry, and photography submissions.’ PAYING

3rd Jan ‘We are open for submissions for issue 4 now! Send your work related to the theme of ‘aging’ with a short ready-to-print bio by January 3rd at midnight. It can be aging as a human, the world aging, nature aging etc, this is completely open to the artists (sic) interpretation!’

5th Jan Fiction and more on the theme of Redemption. PAYING

8th Jan 500-1500 words in any Fantasy or Science Fiction style, on the theme of Secret Power.

8th Jan ‘In the Twisted Love Anthology, gothic horror and romance stories take on new depths and terrifying outcomes when happily ever after is no longer an option. Jazz House wants to read your twisted, dark, and despairing stories about romantic and gothic horror and the people who find love to have a bitter aftertaste. This is a Valentine’s Day-themed anthology, so please incorporate this holiday’s themes and aesthetics in your twisted tales.’ 7000-9000 words. PAYING

8th Jan ‘Mae gwasg Arachne Press yn eich gwahodd i gynnig cerddi gwreiddiol sy’n gysylltiedig efo’r A470 ar gyfer blodeugerdd. Ar hyn o bryd nid oes ond angen mynegi diddordeb, er mwyn ein galluogi i wneud cais am nawdd.’ ‘Expressions of interest only at this stage, so that we can make a clear proposal to funders… Arguably the most famous road in Wales, the A470 is 186 miles from shore to shore through the backbone of Wales, linking north to south. Peaceful and picturesque or slow and never-ending, what does the A470 mean to you? …We want unpublished poems from Welsh poets wherever you are, and all other poets living in Wales. We are looking for the unanticipated: sensitive poems, or poems that challenge, in traditional forms and new forms.’

9th Jan Poetry, fiction and more on the theme of mermaids and other merfolk. PAYING

10th Jan ‘…For Planet Scumm #11: Snake Eyes, we’re asking for submissions from cisgender women, transgender women, transgender men, non-binary people, and genderqueer people. We kindly ask authors who don’t identify along those lines to not submit to this call.’ SF, spec/weird fiction. PAYING

10th Jan Speculative flash fiction on the theme of Green. PAYS SOME CONTRIBUTORS (Cathy’s note: contributors are paid if their story is used in an anthology.)

10th Jan ‘The Ghastling is a biannual magazine publishing literary fiction and illustration devoted to psychological horror, folk horror, ghost stories and the macabre… There is no official theme for this one, however, stories that embrace the Unlucky Number or any aspect of Lucky/Unlucky will find themselves repelled of the jinx. For now…’ PAYING

11th Jan Horror story of roughly 2000 words on the theme of Lost Civilisations. PAYING

11th Jan Fiction and more on the theme of Friendship.

11th Jan Poetry, flash, short fiction and more on the theme of Out of this World.

15th Jan UK BME authors and poets: ‘We have an application for funding in with ACE, so at the moment all we want is an expression of interest – your name and contact details, and any writing credits, whether you are a poet or fiction writer (or both!) and if you want, your idea for what you will write… Arachne Press is hoping to publish an anthology of fiction and poetry from UK resident writers of Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic heritage. We are aiming for publication in Autumn 2021. We will pay royalties. Once published in an Arachne anthology you may be invited to submit a collection/novel.’

15th Jan Poems. ‘THEMES: Racial Justice; Feminism, Dismantling Militarism; Universal Healthcare; Disability Rights; Mass Incarceration; Global Citizenship; Climate Justice; Grassroots Green Themes; Confronting US Empire; Cross-cultural Understanding; Community Building, LGBTQ Liberation, Economic Justice, Workers Rights, Indigenous Sovereignty and more.’ PAYING (Thanks to for this.)

15th Jan ‘Request for Submissions of Art & Poetry by ALL Women and Femmes (LBTQ2IAA) Seeking Inspirational Work that Promotes Activism and/or Healing.’ PAYING

15th Jan Poetry and prose. CONTRIBUTOR COPY/COPIES, PAYS SOME CONTRIBUTORS (Cathy’s note: Payment is available only for American contributors.)

15th Jan Flash, short fiction and poetry on the theme of Unusual Vampires. PAYING

15th Jan ‘We publish new, previously unpublished work that engages with the natural world. We have a particular interest in work which encourages reflection on human interaction with plant and animal life, landscape and the self. Each issue includes a mix of poetry and fiction, alongside a selection of essays which may include creative non-fiction, criticism, and the occasional review of new creative work or of community-based environmental projects.’ PAYING

15th Jan Poetry, prose and more on the theme of Cycle & Circumstance.

15th Jan ‘Emily Dickinson wrote poems on torn-off envelope flaps then used them for bookmarks. In the end, bless her, she saved most of them together in a drawer. Have you ever lost your keys, your way, your faith, your mind, your rent money… and then found them again? Or did you find something else? Send us your best Lost and Found stories of approximately 50 words.’ (Cathy’s note: I can’t find any mention of getting a contributor copy on the website, though I’m fairly sure that they send one. However, I might be wrong! Either way, they’re good, cool people with a really interesting litmag.)

15th Jan ‘Unfettered Hexes: Queer Tales of Insatiable Darkness will be a speculative anthology that explores the boundaries between queer witches, the profane, and infinite darkness. Unfettered Hexes asks you to sling salt in a circle, call the corners, and breathe life into the unutterable cadences that call forth the void. Find your coven, craft new rituals and hex your enemies. For this anthology, we use the term “witch” in the broadest sense, paying homage to ritual practices, razor-sharp intent, and connections to the eldritch, the numinous and the otherworldly.’ PAYING

15th Jan ‘filling Station is calling for submissions from Black, Indigenous, and POC writers and artists from Turtle Island and beyond for Issue 76 which will be guest edited by Canisia Lubrin (author of Voodoo Hypothesis and the The Dyzgraphxst). We invite stories, poems, and art on all themes, but would particularly like to see experimental submissions of celebration in all its forms, stories about the future, innovative creative non-fiction, and experimental and speculative poetry, and artwork.’ PAYING

16th Jan Black women only: ‘I’m Speaking Now: Black Women Share Their Truth in 101 Stories of Love, Courage and Hope…We’re looking for everything from the serious to the silly. There will be 101 stories, so we can go wide and deep, and we’d like to share stories from Black women of all ages, from late teens to women in their nineties.’ PAYING

18th Jan Fiction and more on the theme of Black Lives Matter.

25th Jan Horror story of roughly 2000 words on the theme of Government Experiments. PAYING

26th Jan ‘Who: All writers who call Scotland their home, irrespective of place of birth or ethnicity. All levels welcome (unpublished, published, solo or agented). What to submit: Novellas only, standalone, original and not previously published. Speculative fiction, Science Fiction, Fantasy, Dark Fantasy (and their sub-genres).’

31st Jan UK Deaf poets, authors, editors: ‘At the moment all we want is an expression of interest – your name and contact details, any writing credits or performance of your own work. If you have an idea for a theme for the anthology please make suggestions… Arachne Press is hoping to publish an anthology of d/Deaf fiction and poetry in Autumn 2021. We will pay royalties. Lisa Kelly (co-editor of Magma 69, The Deaf Issue; co-Chair of Magma Poetry, first collection A Map Towards Fluency published by Carcanet) will be one of the editors, and we are looking for another Deaf editor who is fluent in BSL, ideally someone who writes fiction rather than poetry.’

31st Jan ‘At 34 Orchard, we like dark, intense pieces that speak to a deeper truth. We’re not genre-specific; we just like scary, disturbing, unsettling, and sad.’ PAYING

31st Jan Writing and artwork created in 2020.

31st Jan Poetry. ‘We’ve made the decision to extend the deadline for submissions to our inaugural Poetry Anthology, Spheres and Canticles, from the end of this month to January 31, 2021. The anthology will be released in April, during National Poetry Month.’ Theme: Wholeness. CONTRIBUTOR COPY+ ROYALTIES

31st Jan Fiction 5000-15,000 on the theme of Valiance. ‘With no limitation on genre, the only special requirement for this anthology is that an East Asian female warrior be the main character in each of these stories.’ ROYALTIES

31st Jan ‘We look for imagistic, suggestive poems, following the idea of ‘less is more’ and publish vivid poems that avoid cliché and have subtlety. We recommend that you read our previous editions before submitting and also read up on imagism. Narrative poems are rarely published here. The poems should not exceed ten lines long.’

31st Jan Poetry, prose and more.

31st Jan Poetry, fiction and more. In hopes of combatting some of the isolation caused by the pandemic, Detour Ahead is offering a platform where we can learn, listen and be inspired by one another.

31st Jan 500 word story on the theme of Hell. CONTRIBUTOR COPY/COPIES

31st Jan ‘Monsters are many things. They come in all forms, shapes and sizes: from to the tiny to the titanic; from amorphous blobs to many limbed (or tentacled) monstrosities; from supernatural demons to man-made terrors. This is a loosely themed anthology. Just use that word – monster – and run with it.’ 3000-6000 words. PAYING

31st Jan Poetry, fiction and more on the theme of Pandemic. CONTRIBUTOR COPY/COPIES

31st Jan Mythology fiction 4000-15,000 words on the theme of Extraordinary. PROFIT/REVENUE SHARING MODEL

31st Jan poetry, prose and more on the theme of March.

31st Jan Poetry on the theme of Kerouac’s Highway Gone Wrong. CONTRIBUTOR COPY/COPIES

1st feb Theme: Every Mother is a Futurist. ‘For our fourth issue, Raising Mothers is seeking poetry, short fiction, essays, art, multimedia, and hybrid work by Black, Indigenous, or POC and colonized people of color that speak to the layered intricacies of parenthood from the perspective of the parent or the (now adult) child.’

1st Feb Prose and poetry.

1st Feb Writing on the theme of Lovers.

1st Feb Story 2000-4000 words on the theme of Wraith. CONTRIBUTOR COPY/COPIES

1st Feb Poetry, fiction and nonfiction on the theme of For Sale.

1st Feb Fiction (and occasionally poetry) 300-5000 words starting with the line: ‘Darryl slid three quarters into the vending machine and weighed his options.’ PAYING

1st Feb Poetry, prose and more on the theme of Apocalypse. ‘What we don’t want: mushroom clouds, zombies, dystopian futures, or anything else we’ve already seen in countless books, movies, and television shows.’ PAYING


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

‘Justice Involved Mothers is a Raising Mothers’ column devoted to the authentic personal narratives of Black, Indigenous and POC mothers who were and/or are incarcerated, under parole, or under probation. Curated and edited by counter-storyteller and felon Nicole Shawan Junior, Justice-Involved Mothers is authored by the spectrum of mothers affected by the criminal justice system.’ PAYING

‘We are interested in hearing about new projects, and would be happy to read brief pitches for finished novels and for historical narratives aimed at general readers.’

Fiction and poetry. (Cathy’s note: there’s a competition too, but that has an entry fee. It’s free to submit normally, though.)

Romance and Adult Fantasy, and Short Story Anthology submissions.

Open until filled: ‘ We are looking for stories and poetry about Summer, Autumn, Winter and Spring and the folklore surrounding them along with all other associated correspondence.’ CONTRIBUTOR COPY/COPIES

Open until filled: ‘We are looking for Fantasy stories from all fantasy sub genres except Sci-fi. Authors can have 7 acceptances.’ CONTRIBUTOR COPY/COPIES


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