Comps and calls for February 2021

Hello everyone! At last, January’s over! A wet, cold January here in the northern hemisphere, when it snowed just enough to slip on, but not enough to play with. And as for Covid… Anyway, moving on…

The course is going really well! I’ll be honest – the first session was chaotic, due to me underestimating the Facebook gremlins, and also half way through the Capitol Building in America was stormed, which was off-putting. Since, then, however, it’s been fantastic, and my main problem is coping with the fact that pretty much everyone on the course is a better writer than I am!

There’s a bumper load of Comps and Calls this month. I was determined that doing the course wouldn’t mean that you got short-changed, so I’ve made it extra full and exciting. There are so many opportunities! Go on, submit – you know my (successful!) mantra by now: have a go…

Much love,

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.


3rd Feb ‘Spectator Competition No 3185: The state we’re in. Shelley wrote a sonnet entitled ‘England in 1819’. You are invited to compose one called ‘England in 2021’. Please email entries to lucy at by midday on 3 February.’ PAYING

4th Feb ‘This year, for the first time, we’re inviting poetry submissions from all U.S. and international high school students (aged fifteen to eighteen) to participate in our Sixth Annual “Tell Me a Story” High School Contest! We are eager to hear from as many voices as possible.’ Poem on the theme of Escape. PAYING (Cathy’s note: a teacher has to do the submitting.)

5th Feb ‘Stories must be no more than 360 words (including the title) and be by current Years 11, 12 & 13 students, or Higher/Advanced Higher students, aged 15–19 and studying in the UK.’ VOUCHER/OTHER (thanks to for this one)

7th Feb Play suitable for audio recording, with a runtime of 20-50 mins. PAYING (thanks to for this one)

10th Feb ‘Spectator Competition No. 3186: mixed messages. You are invited to supply an acrostic poem praising or dispraising a public figure, in which the word/s spelt out by the first letter of each line directly contradicts what the poem is saying. Email entries of up to 16 lines to lucy at by midday on 10 February.’

12th Feb ‘To enter, all you have to do is submit a short story (for adults) of no more than 2,000 words. And that’s it. Unlike previous years, there’s no theme for you to base your story on; all you have to do is make sure you’re registered with the website, click on the ‘Enter now’ button and complete our online competition form.’ NON-CASH PRIZE (Cathy’s note: the prize is an Arvon Course, but travel costs there and back aren’t included.)

15th Feb ‘Creative nonfiction authors are invited to submit an essay of up to 5,000 words on the subject of their choice to be considered for the Diana Woods Memorial Award in creative nonfiction.’ PAYING. Details of the award: Where to submit:

15th Feb ‘The Randall Kenan Prize for Black LGBTQ Fiction, in memory of the celebrated author Randall Kenan, honors Black LGBTQ writers of fiction. The award will go to a Black LGBTQ writer whose fiction explores themes of Black LGBTQ life, culture, and/or history. To be eligible, the winner of the prize must have published at least one book and show promise in continuing to produce groundbreaking work.’ PAYING

15th Feb ‘Dedicated to the memory of author and journalist Jim Duggins, this prize honors LGBTQ-identified authors who have published multiple novels, built a strong reputation and following, and show promise to continue publishing high quality work for years to come.’ PAYING

15th Feb ‘Lambda Literary’s Jeanne Córdova Prize for Lesbian/Queer Nonfiction, in memory of the beloved activist and author, honors lesbian/queer-identified women and trans/gender non-conforming nonfiction authors. The award will go to a writer committed to nonfiction work that captures the depth and complexity of lesbian/queer life, culture, and/or history. The winner of the prize will have published at least one book and show promise in continuing to produce groundbreaking and challenging work.’ PAYING

15th Feb ‘The Judith A. Markowitz Award for Emerging LGBTQ Writers (formerly the Dr. Betty Berzon Emerging Writer Award) recognizes LGBTQ-identified writers whose work demonstrates their strong potential for promising careers. The award includes a cash prize of $1,000. Two Emerging LGBTQ Writer prizes are awarded annually.’ PAYING

22nd Feb Canada only: poetry and fiction. PAYING

26th Feb America only: ‘How do authors wish to enact American cultural change? For the Make A Way Book Award, American Editions will publish a polemical nonfiction book-length essay about changing the United States for the better.’ PAYING

28th Feb The Scottish Mental Health Arts Festival is delighted to launch its 2021 Writing Competition, in partnership with Bipolar Scotland. We are seeking entries which address mental health in all its diversity and explore the theme of ‘Normality?’ Poetry, fiction or CNF. EVENT (Cathy’s note: although there’s no prize mentioned as such, there’s a communal event which is held in high esteem (by me, anyway). These are good people doing a good thing, so I’m supporting them, as there aren’t millions of comps this month.)

28th Feb ‘The Little Tokyo Historical Society (LTHS) seeks fictional short stories for its eighth annual Imagine Little Tokyo short story contest in the categories of English language, Japanese language and youth (18 and younger)… The story has to be fictional and set in a current, past or future Little Tokyo in the City of Los Angeles, California.’ PAYING

28th Feb ‘We invite you to invent a word. Not just any word. A word you think will greatly enhance the English language.’ NON-CASH PRIZE

28th Feb Horror story 3.5k-4.8k words (Not including title) on the theme of Duplicity. The author of the first place story will be invited to write a new story for the 2022 “Autumn Nights Charity Anthology” Series. CONTRIBUTOR COPY/COPIES

1st Mar Poetry. ‘ Entries should address the themes of science fiction/fantasy/horror/science.’ PAYING

1st Mar Poets aged 14-18: poem up to 50 lines on a medical subject. NOT SURE


2nd Feb ‘6 poems or just one if it’s a long poem – not too long please! Short articles of a maximum of two A5 pages – but this is flexible. Artwork or photographs preferably with a few words of description. All of the above should be pertinent to the magazine’s brief: Nature and the Spirit – Unity in Diversity.’

7th Feb Speculative Flash fiction on the theme of Blue. PAYS SOME CONTRIBUTORS (Cathy’s note: contributors are paid if their story is used in an anthology.)

8th Feb Horror story of roughly 2000 words on the theme of Newly Discovered Creatures. PAYING

10th Feb Poems and short poetic prose on the theme of Nurturing Hope.

10th Feb Stories and poems on the theme of Affairs. PAYING

11th Feb Fiction and more on the theme of Loneliness.

14th Feb ‘At Couplet Poetry, we publish two poems per author (a couplet). Send us poems that pair, rhyme (literally or figuratively), complement, hold hands, translate, juxtapose, or otherwise can’t live without each other.’

14th Feb Poetry, fiction and more. ‘miniskirt is a destination for love & romance. we want your flirtations, your short & sweet confections. we adore romcom, but if you’ve got something dramatic, send that our way too!’

14th Feb ‘Ample Remains is a new literary journal fixated on the things that remain and live within us. We want the work inspired from the thoughts that refuse to withdraw from the creases of your brain until you translate them into something legible.’ Poetry, fiction, CNF and more.

15th Feb Although they take submissions from anyone, they’re particularly on the lookout for African undergraduates. Poetry, fiction and more.

15th Feb ‘THE SUBMISSION PERIOD FOR ISSUE 43: FOOD X IDENTITY (SPRING-SUMMER 2021) IS NOW OPEN. This is a special issue earmarked for 2SQ+BIPOC artists ONLY. We invite 2SQ+BIPOC artists to submit work on the theme of food and identity.’ Poetry, fiction and more. PAYING

15th Feb Women over 60 only: ‘Short Takes are usually short pieces, fiction or non-fiction (250-500 words), but can also be topical poetry, sometimes even drawings or photography. We’re especially interested in hearing about your experiences, but you can include your thoughts, dreams, ideas and opinions. Humor and irony are always appreciated!’ Theme: Lights at the End of the Tunnel.

15th Feb Poetry and prose on the theme of Dreamscapes.

15th Feb ‘We are looking for poems that speak to ideas around home and body in personal, experimental, and/or topical ways. The poems can range in metaphorical and embodied complexity. For example, the body in question can be the personal/individual body, the communal/community body, the body politic, and/or the synecdochal body.’ PAYING

15th Feb Poetry, essays and more on the theme of Yellow.

15th Feb Short horror story 4000-8000 words on the theme of J is for Jack-o’-Lantern. PAYING

15th Feb Poetry, fiction and more. PAYING

15th Feb Poetry on the theme of Circles. PAYING

20th Feb Lyric essays and prose poetry on the theme of Winter. PAYS ONE CONTRIBUTOR (Cathy’s note: the Editor’s Choice each issue gets $50.)

21st Feb ‘We publish fiction OwnVoices stories in all genres. All works including common triggers will be prefaced by a trigger warning. How we define OwnVoices: an author from a marginalized, persecuted, or under-represented group writing about their own experiences/from their own perspective, rather than someone from an outside perspective writing as a character from an underrepresented group.’

21st Feb Short prose and poems that touch upon the natural world. Theme: Water. PAYING

21st Feb Poetry, fiction and more on the theme of Still Life.

22nd Feb ‘Friends Journal welcomes articles, poetry, art, photographs, and letters from our readers.’ Theme: Generations.

24th Feb ‘Speculative City publishes provocative works that are centered within a cityscape. We are looking for fiction, poetry, and essays within the theme of the magazine’s upcoming issue: sound.’ PAYING

25th Feb ‘For our very first anthology, we’re seeking dread-inspiring stories that take place in 1986—either the 1986 of our reality (Stranger Things) or an alternate version (Tales From the Loop). Bring us back to a simpler, scarier time. Let’s make something radical together.’ 3000-10,000 words. PAYING

27th Feb ‘We are looking for completed speculative stories about positive queer possibility, written in English, which do not use intellectual property currently under copyright by someone other than the author.’ PAYING

28th Feb Theme: Counting Your Blessings. ‘Gratitude is one of the keys to happiness… Stories can be serious or funny, but definitely should be inspirational and heartwarming.’ Stories and poems. PAYING

28th Feb Poetry, fiction and more. (Cathy’s note: Submissions are capped, so submit as early as possible!)

28th Feb Organic Ink vol. 4: poetry.

28th Feb ‘The Storyteller Series is a podcast bringing back classic radio theatre featuring engaging storytelling delivered to you monthly. Full cast productions of original short stories in an audio drama style. All will bring you on an audible journey.’ Story 7000-10,000 words. PAYING

28th Feb ‘Decoded is a story-a-day anthology of queer science fiction, fantasy, and horror by queer authors. We feature speculative writing and comics released to subscribers every day of Pride month.’ PAYING

28th Feb ‘If instruments could speak, what would they say? Join us for our first poetic and collaborative jam session!’ Send poetry between 20-27 lines that includes the provided refrain.

28th Feb 500 word story on the theme of Dragon. CONTRIBUTOR COPY/COPIES

28th Feb Poems and stories on the theme of Cats. PAYING

28th Feb ‘We value vulnerability & intensity in writing, above all else.’ Poetry, flash and more.

28th Feb Poetry and fiction on the theme of Mystery.

28th Feb ‘Between now and February 28, send us art and writing with an underlying social justice theme, or any kind of activist work that you’d like an eclectic audience for. We’ll take submissions of stories, essays, Bandcamp links, visual art, artist talks, performances, instructional videos, comics, poems, and anything else that we can reasonably put into this format.’ PAYING

28th SF, F and H poetry and fiction on the theme of Habitats. PAYING

28th Feb Poetry on the theme of Love.

28th Feb Poetry, fiction and more on the theme of Locus Delicti (the scene of the crime).

28th Feb Poetry, fiction and more including the three elements: chamber, nightshade, confetti.

28th Feb Spec fic on the theme of Battles. PAYING

1st Mar Poetry, fiction and more. PAYING (Cathy’s note: free submissions are capped at 200, so get in early if you can!)

1st Mar Poetry, flash, short fiction and more on the theme of A Postcard from the Past. PAYING (Cathy’s note: those of us outside the USA may submit electronically.)

1st Mar ‘OUT THERE will feature stories written by queer YA authors, about queer teen protagonists! Set in the future (1 day, 1 million years, who knows?!), these stories will explore the last (or next, as the case may be) moment in time.’ PAYING

1st Mar Letters from the Self to the World. ‘How do we reconcile our hopes for peace with our inner turmoil? Shouldn’t we be the first beneficiaries of our peaceful activism efforts?… it is my hope that you accept this invitation, open your heart, and write your unspoken truths. Send us a letter you never thought you’d write, you know, the one you’ve been toying with for years, or sit down and get that “thing” off your chest that can only start with a cathartic ‘Dear X’.

1st Mar Poetry, fiction and more. PAYING

1st Mar Essays, ‘Funny Women’ and more. PAYING

1st Mar ‘Verse of April invites writers and artists of all media to submit to this year’s digital anthology of homage to the poets under the theme Hymn for the Living Poet. A curated selection of poems and visual pieces will be chosen by the editors and re-printed in a limited-edition anthology, set to release in late 2021 from Bouilloire Presse.  The 2021 manifestation of the annual Verse of April installations aims to celebrate the work of contemporary poets, those risking their hours to show us our reflection, those wielding the wisdom of our ancestors to give us today, those conspiring with the future to let us fuse with our greater potential. ‘


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

Rolling deadline: ‘Hindsight is a snapshot of 2020, written by people just like you. We’re soliciting stories from people around the world that capture the lives we lived this year. Stories of grief, pain, isolation, empowerment, and — if you can find it — hope.’

Crime fiction on a variety of themes. PAYING (Cathy’s note: It says that submissions are accepted on a rolling basis, though they include various dates ‘for those who prefer deadlines’!)

‘We seek material that is clear, crisp, clean, and striking in any genre: poetry, short fiction, novel excerpts, essay.’

‘We want: socially engaged cultural criticism; class-sensitive analysis; pieces that point out what’s being avoided or talked around in politics, media, arts, or even academia; upbeat cynicism; un-self-serious screeds; generous takedowns; entries from the margins; fiction; poetry; 1-3 sentence book/ movie/ TV/ art reviews.’

‘The mission of Moving Words is to keep the art of the prose chapbook alive. We are interested in publishing prose in the form of fiction, nonfiction, and hybrid/experimental narratives including long stories and/or illustrated zines (from 15 to 45 pages) and will consider serializing.’ CONTRIBUTOR COPY/COPIES

Poetry and more.

‘Aloka is a volunteer-run online literary magazine for non-native English speakers and all those experimenting with language. Your submissions will brighten our screens and days.’

Crime fiction. ROYALTIES

‘The Post Grad Journal focuses mainly on poetry, but will also consider exceptional works of creative prose or short essays.’ (Cathy’s note: you don’t have to be a postgraduate, or a graduate, to submit!)

‘As a minority-owned, independent publishing company, duopress aims to publish books and gifts that matter. Always looking to create books with a fun spirit and contemporary style, duopress books and gifts are innovative, of high quality, and affordable. We are publishers of children’s books and gift books for all ages, as well as puzzles, flashcards, and games for kids.’

‘We want the poems that don’t really fit elsewhere, those about waking up and walking and how clouds look strange. Even a thought that just bopped across your mind. We accept all variations of poetry.’

‘Because there is, at the moment, only one little blue marble for all of us, our goal is to bring greater awareness of the consequences and potential solutions to anthropogenic climate change. We do this by linking to great content from around the web, and publishing original articles and works of speculative fiction.’ Essays and poetry too. PAYING

‘Off Grid Ink is looking for poetry and short prose from the Women’s Off Grid Community. By ‘off grid’ we mean women who live in vans, sheds, homemade houses or who are rough sleepers, maybe you have a solar panel or perhaps you charge up at the local community centre, some of us are couch surfers or squatters but we have one thing in common that we make our own power.’

‘We are interested in writing that explores the minutiae of life and society. The longer the piece stays in our minds after reading, the better.’ Flash, short fiction, CNF, and more.

‘We live for anarchy and disruption in our form and content. So, if you have a raging case of the lyric I or a hankering for tightly wound sestinas, unless you are committed to breaking that shit and setting it on fire, this might not be the press for you. Before submitting your work, we highly recommend that you take a stroll through our archive to see what really gets us fired up.’ Poetry chapbooks. CONTRIBUTOR COPY/COPIES

‘Interested in prying some sense from our strange present? Send us what you’ve got! The best way to get a feel for what we’re into is by reading previous issues of the magazine (we know, we know), but: we’re looking for fiction (short stories, coherent novel excerpts, anything that might be deemed “flash”), poetry (just no goddamn footnotes, please), criticism of the feather-ruffling sort, reporting that tells the truth but tells it slant, and personal essays that have sentiment but aren’t sentimental.’ PAYING

Flash fiction.

MSS in a variety of genres.

‘We are a nonprofit site that celebrates travel, poetry, photography, nature, and the earth. With travel limited during the pandemic, we are serving as a virtual tour guide, using poems as portals to locations around the world.’

‘Deep Overstock is now currently accepting manuscript submissions by booksellers to ideally be published in late 2021. We accept poetry collections as well as fictional and non-fictional works.’

SF/F fiction. 5k-25k words. PAYING

Poetry, flash and short fiction, and art. ‘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.’ PAYING

‘Tough is a crime fiction journal publishing short stories and self-contained novel excerpts of between 1500 words and 7500 words, and occasional book reviews and essays of 1500 words or fewer. We are particularly interested in stories with rural settings.’ PAYING (Cathy’s note: save your work as an RTF document! They insist on this!)

Adult nonfiction MSS.

‘At Blue Minaret we aim to promote a sense of identity among Muslims writers and artists by providing a space for showcasing their talent and networking with each other. We also try to do our part in challenging the typical Islamophobic/colonial/minority narrative around Muslims by offering an alternative portrait through fiction, poetry and art.’

Poetry, fiction, reviews, portraits, and various other interesting categories of writing. SOME CONTRIBUTORS GET ROYALTIES

Dark poetry, flash and short fiction.

Speculative flash and short fiction. PAYING

‘Three Rooms Press publishes full-length (word counts of 65,000+) literary novels, young adult novels, and creative nonfiction. NOTE: At this time we are not accepting submissions for collections of poetry, short stories, or essays. We are focused on publishing a range of voices and books that more fully reflect the diverse society in which we live. We are particularly interested in publishing work of writers from underrepresented communities in terms of sexual identity, ethnicity, gender, disability, and social mobility. Our press is inspired by diversity, dada, punk, and passion: please keep this in mind when submitting.’

Poetry, fiction and more. PAYING

‘Canthius celebrates poetry and prose by women, transgender men, nonbinary, Two-Spirit, and genderqueer/gender non-conforming writers… Whose Pleasure is it Anyway? is a collection of essays, interviews, poems, visual art, film, music, and other multimedia/hybrid works that will explore the feminist pleasures that activate or infuriate us.’

‘We accept submissions of poetry, prose, photography, and art, though we will consider any creative works outside of these genres, as well.’ PAYING

‘We are committed to publishing, above all, authentic perspectives which seeks only to democratize our current discourse however possible. This will be neither a safe-house nor a slum; it is simply a journal devoted to the peculiar notion that the reading life should be more engaging and adventurous than other more mainstream publications often allow.’

‘Give me your cottagecore dreams, your encounters with the fae,
your rural experiences, nature-themed pieces, love stories and hopeless romantic musings, magic realism, and adventures. I also welcome lovely queer romps through the country!Works from LGBTQIA+, Black, Indigenous, and similarly marginalized authors are especially encouraged.’

Cadralore poems. (Cathy’s note: the cadralore is a new form of poem – they explain it on the site.)

Poetry and short prose.


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