Comps and calls for March 2021

I hope you’re all well, and looking forward to better things. I’ve had my first vaccination, and I’m feeling very relieved. I just have to wait about 20 days now until there’s a level of protection against the virus. Best wishes to all of you who are still waiting.

I was lucky enough to have a lovely Valentine’s Day and a lovely Pancake Day (Shrove Tuesday)  it’s rare that both go well, but I think we made a special effort to celebrate because of lockdown and not going out.

So for once I’m not complaining!

This month there are some themes that I’m sure all of you could try, and experienced writers will already have worked on: Health, History, Rebirth, Hope, Resilience, Resist, Faith, Spirit. These come up again and again – throw all your writing techniques at ’em! If they don’t get published this time, they might next time the theme comes up.

Have fun in March! The weather is less icy, and social possibilities beckon. Please be careful still, and please don’t forget to do some writing, editing and submitting.

Love to all of you and especially to the heroes who donate to my Patreon, despite getting absolutely nothing at all in return. This is pure generosity, and love for the writing community – a way to give back to all of you, from them, by keeping this website going – as this website is my way of giving back, from me.

Tl,dr? Love to all! xxx

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 Mar Emerging writers only (see link for criteria): ‘In 2020 a once-in-a-century global pandemic affected almost all aspects of life, forcing us to change how we relate to the world and to one another. In this historical moment, in what ways has your connection to the natural world changed–and in what ways has it remained the same?’ Essay. PAYING (Cathy’s note: thanks to for this one)

3rd Mar Spectator Competition No. 3189: Heaven scent. ‘You are invited to submit a poem about a favourite smell. Please email entries of up to 16 lines to by midday on 3 March.’ PAYING

5th Mar UK residents aged 18-30 only: up to two poems. PAYING

10th Mar Spectator Competition No. 3190: first and worst. ‘You are invited to supply the first paragraph of your least favourite type of novel. Please email entries of up to 150 words to by midday on 10 March.’ PAYING

10th Mar US only: Fill in all the necessary forms. You need to have had writing published in order to be eligible. This year is prose: next year will be poetry. PAYING (Cathy’s note: apply a few days early if you can, in case there are administrative issues.)

12th Mar Open to US and Canada (excluding Quebec) only: Poem or story inspired by one of the prompts. PAYING

15th Mar USA only: short fiction collection. ‘Author must not have book of short fiction published at time of entry, though novels are okay. In keeping with Tartt’s biography, we are looking for an author who has yet to publish a fiction collection.’ PAYING

15th Mar Those who have a record of publication in the United Kingdom: short story. PAYING (LOTS)

15th Mar ‘The March Contest theme is “Intelligences”. Stories must be submitted by March 15th. 500-1500 words in any Fantasy or Science Fiction style.’ NON-CASH PRIZE

31st Mar Poetry up to 45 lines. PAYING

31st Mar Nonfiction MS by a first-generation immigrant. PAYING

31st Mar Speculative philosophical flash fiction. PAYING

1st Apr Humor poetry. PAYING! Have a go! They’ve doubled the prize money!)


4th Mar Lesbians only: Poetry, fiction and more on the theme of Snapshots of a Moment (Zoom-in).

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

7th Mar ‘Blood & Bourbon is here to showcase all things hard, gritty, and raw.’ Poetry, fiction and more. Theme: Grace.

7th Mar Poetry, fiction and more on the theme of Health.

7th Mar Story 800-2000 words on the theme of Fools & Sages.

8th Mar BIPOC writers only: Fantasy story 1500-10,000 words. PAYING

8th Mar Poetry, fiction and more on the theme of Rebirth.

10th Mar ‘Step right up, folks, to a show, unlike anything you’ve ever seen before. Circus terrors and frights, sure to delight. Here at Dark Carnival, we’ve got it all. Freaks and clowns, screams and laughter and always, a healthy side of the macabre. So, come one, come all and join us, if you dare.’ 3000-8000 words. PAYING

10th Mar YA and NA stories 1000-1500 words on the theme of Dark Academia. ROYALTIES

12th Mar Poetry, fiction and more on the theme of Ramble.

12th Mar Poetry on the theme of Mundane Joys.

13th Mar Poetry, fiction and more on the theme of Retrospect.

13th Mar ‘Pandemonia is the sustained tremor within our rooms, bodies, thoughts, and structures. It’s an object fallen from the shelf; an absent strum of touch. Bombay Gin Literary Journal is calling for submissions that unveil the pandemic’s hold on everyday life, both global and local to our bodies, the spaces newly empty. Who were you once, who are you now, and what is becoming?’ CONTRIBUTOR COPY/COPIES

14th Mar ‘Unbound Edition Press is now open for submissions to our anthology of new American writing, to be edited by acclaimed poet and critic Peter Campion, with publication in early 2022. This collection will not be simply an anthology of experimental writing; it will be also an experimental anthology.’  PAYING

15th Mar Fantasy story 1500-10,000 words. PAYING

15th Mar ‘This issue will be dedicated to imagining and making the kind of future designated impossible by rulers and their collaborators. We seek analytical articles, news reports, essays, poetry and fiction relating to past, current and future radical alternatives for regenerative rising for life and freedom so vital to countering the current oppressive realities of industrial capitalist civilization.’ Short stories, plays, poetry and articles.

15th Mar Poetry, fiction and more on the theme of Home Cooking. PAYING

15th Mar ‘Skirting Around is a new online journal focussing on women’s clothing – exploring how it can empower and endanger, enlighten and entrap, oppress and liberate.’ Poetry, prose and more.

15th Mar Poetry, fiction and more.

15th Mar ‘For this issue, we want tales of maritime disaster. Of shipwrecks and oil spills. Of bones left to decompose on the ocean floor. Of those left behind on land, never to know what’s become of their loved ones. Of lighthouse keepers forced to stand by and witness tragedy unfold. Elements of the supernatural are welcome, as are stories that utilize elements of horror and science-fiction.’ ‘We will accept short-form fiction any way you want to write it. This can include poetry, flash fiction or short stories.’ PAYING

15th Mar Poetry and fiction on the theme of Starry Nights. ‘We’re looking for stories, poems, and essays that feel summer-y. Send us writing about camping under the stars in your backyard or as far away in the wilderness as you can go. Taking the long way home at night so you can gaze up at the night sky.’

15th Mar Speculative poetry on the theme of Weird West. PAYING

15th Mar Fiction, poetry and nonfiction on the theme of Resist. PAYS SOME CONTRIBUTORS (Cathy’s note: one contributor to each genre ‘wins’ a cash ‘prize’. I’m not sure how this differs from a normal contributor payment, but maybe it’s a bit more fun.)

15th Mar Theme: Isola. ‘from Camille Wanliss: Isola, when translated to English, means “island.” It’s also the root word for isolation. This month, we’re exploring what it means to be islanded – geographically and metaphorically.’ Poetry, fiction and CNF.

15th Mar Poetry, fiction and more on the theme of Hope.

15th Mar ‘We invite original short stories, poetry, drama, creative nonfiction/essays, scholarship, interviews, multimedia visual and digital art, as well as music and experimental soundscapes, created by people of the African Diaspora affiliated with historically Black colleges and universities for this special issue.’

15th Mar Thriller story 5000-10,000 words on the theme of A Ticking Clock. PROFIT/REVENUE SHARING MODEL

18th Mar Poetry, CNF and more on the theme of Resilience. PAYING

21st Mar ‘Sundamaged is a place for new voices about travelling, celebrating the wonder of nature and cultural discovery, but also exploring the impact of travel. Travelling can be a day trip, it can be a long journey on foot that has no fixed end point, or it can be a destructive force. All these interpretations are welcome here. We are currently open for articles, essays, CNF, fiction and prose poetry!’ PAYING

21st Mar ‘DREAMING THE GODDESS will be a collection of short stories between 2,500 and 20,000 words. Each story must have a Pagan, Heathen, Occult influence that has a spark of truth in regards to the connection with the feminine aspect of the divine.’ ROYALTIES

22nd Mar Poetry and prose that has been previously rejected.

25th Mar ‘Griffith Review 73: Hey, Utopia! asks you to consider other ways the world can be. We’re looking for new work that responds to the theme in the form of essays, reportage, creative non-fiction, fiction, memoir, visual essays and poetry.’ PAYING

25th Mar Story 1500-3000 words on the theme of Djinn/Jinn/Genies. PAYING

30th Mar Poetry, fiction and more on the theme of  ‘… Spring, nature, rebirth, rain, flowers, the cruelest month, etc. broadly interpreted’.

30th Mar ‘Since we’re still on lockdown for the foreseeable future, for Volume 13 we’d love to read your poems and prose about one of our favorite (now forbidden) pastimes—seeing live music. Tell us about your first concert, the time you got to see your favorite band perform at a cozy bar, the worst show you ever attended. Any live music experience is fair game. Though we asked for fiction last time around, for Vol. 13 we’re returning to our roots, so we’re looking for creative nonfiction and poetry.’

31st Mar ‘Legion of Dorks Presents: Misspelled – Magic Gone Awry is searching for short stories no more than 7000 words exploring the theme of magic and the mishaps that could happen with its use.’ PAYING

31st Mar ‘Tough times won’t last but tough people will. We are looking for stories about how you have been affected and how you are handling the changes in your life. We’re looking for the ups and downs, so share the tough times but also the silver linings, the unexpected blessings, and resilience and gratitude that you have discovered. We’re also looking for stories about tough times unrelated to the pandemic.’ Stories or poems. PAYING

31st Mar Original palindromes. PAYING (SUBJECT TO FUNDRAISER/FUNDING)

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

31st Mar Feminist writing on the theme of Hands.

31st Mar ‘Dystopian Earth. What must ordinary people do to survive?’ 20,000-40,000 words. ROYALTIES

31st Mar SF 5000-15,000 words on the theme of Spacebound. ROYALTIES

31st Mar Poetry, flash, short fiction and more on the theme of History.

31st Mar ‘Our first issue to be published June 2021 will focus on Migration and Movement. Send us your essays, creative nonfiction, short stories, flash fiction, and poems that connect the decolonial project with topics such as migration, immigration, forced removal, the Middle Passage, the Great Migration, Windrush, The Wall, gentrification, etc. Writers may submit writing in more than one genre but may only submit one essay, short story, poem, piece of creative nonfiction or flash fiction.’

31st Mar Poetry and more on the theme of Faith. CONTRIBUTOR COPY/COPIES

31st Mar Flash, short fiction and more on the theme of Lover Boy.

31st Mar ‘Legion of Dorks Presents: Misspelled – Magic Gone Awry is searching for short stories no more than 7000 words exploring the theme of magic and the mishaps that could happen with its use. Your story must be an original, never-before-published creation that centers around magic, a magic user, or a magical world where something unexpected happens or something goes horribly wrong.’ PAYING, CHARITY/GOOD CAUSE

31st Mar Poetry, fiction and more on the theme of Growing Up.

31st Mar ‘We invite writers who identify within the LGBTQ++ umbrella to submit their poetry, prose, and hybrid works for this issue. We especially encourage writers within the QTPOC umbrella.’ Unmaking/Remaking  POSSIBLE PAYMENT (Cathy’s note: From their website: ‘Once our Submittable fees are covered, we will divide any excess funds earned through the tip jar options equally amongst the published contributors.’)

31st Mar ‘Black Cat Mystery Magazine Presents Cozies, a forthcoming special issue of BCMM, will open for submissions March 1 through March 31, 2021. Cozies are a subgenre of crime fiction in which sex and violence occur off stage, the detective is an amateur sleuth, and the crime and detection take place in a small, socially intimate community.’ PAYING

31st Mar Microfic, drabbles, flash and short fiction on the theme of My Job is a Hellhole! ‘Working for demons, imps, devils, and other minions of hell. Your boss is a denizen of the underworld, but the story can take place in any setting. Any setting means: hell, another planet, Modern Earth, Future Earth. Heaven? Sure why not? Maybe there’s an employee exchange program between heaven and hell.’ PAYING

31st Mar Spec flash and spec poetry on the theme of Sight.

31st Mar ‘We are now accepting creative nonfiction submissions of writing, artwork and music to be considered for our Summer Issue (03): ‘Roots’.’ PAYING

1st Apr ‘As editors we are invested in change, and seek to offer our literary platform to hear, heed, and uplift Black voices, as well as those of indigenous writers and all people of color. In the service of this effort, we will be dedicating recurring special issues to underrepresented voices, beginning with a special issue celebrating Black, Indigenous, and Voices of Color.’ PAYING

1st Apr ‘Longship Press is announcing an invitation to submit poetry, short fiction, and art for our 2021 edition of Nostos. The theme of this upcoming issue is “Transition/Metamorphosis.” ‘ CONTRIBUTOR COPY/COPIES

1st Apr ‘Writing submissions (fiction, creative non-fiction, essays, poetry; 5000 words maximum) on the theme The Art of Isolation: Finding a Silver Lining in the Pandemic Response.’

1st Apr Poetry and prose. PAYING

1st Apr Poetry and fiction on the theme of Tales of the Arabian Nights. PAYING


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

High dark fantasy fiction, poetry and more. PAYING

Poetry, fiction and more. CONTRIBUTOR COPY/COPIES

Sherlock Holmes books.

Poetry, fiction and more. PAYING

‘We’re excited to present Mysterium Tremendum, a quarterly chapbook featuring fiction, nonfiction, and poetry exploring the intersection between weird fiction/horror and the holy. Please note that we are a thoroughly secular press.’ PAYING

Poetry, fiction and more.

‘Ancient Paths publishes poetry, flash fiction, photography, and art work. 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. Works published in Ancient Paths explore spiritual themes such as redemption, sin, forgiveness, doubt, faith, gratitude for the ordinary blessings of life, spiritual struggle, and spiritual growth.’ PAYING

‘We accept fiction that is less than 2,000 words, poems that you keep wrapped around your husband’s heart in a jar on your desk (and that are two pages max), diary entries from your attic that you swore to yourself you’d burn, and artistic interpretations of Tarot cards (in pdf form)—you may even invent a new short form of writing and send us that! We don’t care if you want to lean your elbows on the table a little, we’re all sinners here.’

Poetry, fiction and nonfiction for The Rail.

Open until filled: Flash and short fiction on the theme of Curst and Twysted Tarot. PAYING


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