Comps and calls for May 2021

Hello everyone,

I have a small wrist injury – not serious, but it’s my mouse arm, and it’s making typing difficult. Apologies if this affects the listings for this month. It should be better in a month, if not healed.

Anyway, I hope you’re all well. Did you do Napowrimo? I wrote my thirty poems, but I’m not sure about the quality! Still, it’s all good exercise of the poetry muscles. I rather like this way of looking at writing exercises, and writing to a prompt and to order: you’re exercising writing muscles, so that when you come to write your masterpieces, you’ll have the stamina to keep going!

I do hope that you’re well, and enjoying the Spring sunshine (or snow! We’ve had every weather imaginable here)!

Massive thanks as always to those who donate to my Patreon or who do one-off donations. I really appreciate it, and it helps to keep the site going. You don’t get anything extra for it – you just do a good, helpful thing.

Love too to those who’d like to donate but can’t. I’ve been there. 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 May ‘Individuals must identify as Black to submit to the publication. The works submitted may include, but are not restricted to topics around Blackness.’ Poetry. PAYING to for this one)

7th May Story 1000-3000 words inspired by the provided prompts, which this month are all about Chiaroscuro. PAYING

9am 5th May ‘The award is intended for unpublished creative writers in the early stage of their career and the successful candidate must be a graduate of any university in the UK, Ireland, the Commonwealth or the USA by the time they take up for post on 1 October 2021. All or part of the tenure should be spent in a country outside the UK.’ PAYING

5th May ‘Spectator Competition No. 3198: now we are rich. You are invited to supply an extract from a children’s book that is designed to explain economics to youngsters. Please email entries of up to 150 words/16 lines to by midday on 5 May.’ PAYING (Cathy’s note: Scroll down for the comp.)

12th May Spectator Competition No. 3199: I spy ‘Are we facing a future in which we are spied on not only by Alexa, Siri and Cortana but also by our mattress, our vacuum cleaner, even our children’s toys? You are invited to supply a poem in which an inanimate object comments on its owner’s behaviour. Please email entries of up to 16 lines to by midday on 12 May.’ PAYING

14th May Poetry. ‘The theme for Mental Health Awareness Week 2021 is nature and the environment and we invite your poems on this theme. Poems may also touch on themes of mental health and wellbeing, but they do not need to. The competition is free to enter and open to all.’ NON-CASH PRIZE

15th May An unpublished work of crime fiction by an emerging writer of colour. PAYING

15th May ‘We’re excited to announce our 2021 Flash Fiction Contest for original (previously unpublished) stories 1,000 words or less. To celebrate our fifth year, the cash prize is our biggest yet – $500.’ PAYING

15th May Speculative flash fiction on the theme of Osh Tisch. PAYING

27th May Poetry up to 40 lines, or story up to 500 words, on the theme of Holiday Romance. Up to 2 entries per entrant. PAYING

31st May ‘We’re excited to announce the seventh annual short fiction writing contest “Healthy Together: Innovations for One Health”… The news today is full of stories of disease and environmental destruction. We ask authors to imagine a world in which technology has improved One Health —  the health of the environment, humans, and all living things.’ 1500-3000 words. PAYING

31st May US and Canada only: story up to 100 words on the provided theme. PAYING

31st May ‘The SLF $1000 Older Writers Grant is awarded annually, since 2004, to a writer who is fifty years of age or older at the time of grant application, and is intended to assist such writers who are just starting to work at a professional level. This grant, as with all SLF grants, is intended to help writers working with speculative literature.’ PAYING

31st May Short fiction. ‘The Jerry Jazz Musician reader has interests in music, social history, literature, politics, art, film and theater, particularly that of the counter-culture of mid-twentieth century America.’ PAYING

1st Jun USA only: ‘Entries must be original works of fiction of no more than 5,000 words that illuminate the role of the law and/or lawyers in modern society.’ PAYING (Cathy’s note: My apologies but I seem to have lost the link for this. I decided to include it anyway as I’m sure some lawyers would be able to find it in a few seconds. Don’t sue me!)


2nd May Black women only: Fiction, speculative fiction and essays. PAYING

2nd May Story 800-2000 words on the theme of Order & Chaos.

3rd May Poetry, flash and short prose on the theme of A Blessing in Disguise.

4th May Poetry and prose on the theme of Homecoming.

7th May SF and SF poetry. PAYING

7th May ‘From Fae Folk to Folk Tales, Folklore and a sense of belonging, the word ‘folk’ conjures fantasy, togetherness. How do we see the ‘Folk’ in our lives? Homely collectives of family and friends? A breath of the fantastic helps us unlock the best meanings of ‘Folk’. Open for speculative poetry, prose (fiction & non-fiction), comics & art.’ ROYALTIES

8th May Writing on the theme of Social Media.

9th May ‘This issue of the London Reader is calling for stories, poems, or art that reflect on, gaze upon, or feel the pull of the moon in any way. From myth or history, through our torn present, or gazing forward to a radically different future.’ CONTRIBUTOR COPY AND/OR ROYALTIES

13th May Transgender, Nonbinary & gender-nonconforming writers’ edition. ‘We are looking for an engaging science fiction or fantasy story, something that gives reality a tweak on the nose – an idea that makes us stop and think.’ PAYING

14th May Poetry and fiction.

14th May Theme: Ephemeral. ‘We especially welcome flash fiction and creative nonfiction, one-line poems, and graphics that might just disappear…We welcome your previously unpublished stories, essays, poetry, graphic art, and genres that have no name.’ (Cathy’s note: although you can submit after this date, there’ll be a fee to pay if you do.)

15th May ‘We are a biannual literary zine focused on women’s embodied experiences of perimenopause, menopause, and croning—minus the patriarchy.’ Theme: Roles.

15th May Poems on the theme of Eggshells.

15th May Poems, stories and more on the theme of Pride in Horror.

15th May ‘We are looking for stories about the entire holiday season, including Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Boxing Day, and New Year’s. Please make sure that they are “Santa safe” so that we don’t spoil the magic for precocious readers!’ PAYING

15th May Writing on the theme of Waging Peace by finding common ground.

15th May Poetry, flash and more. ‘For Issue 3, “Technicolor Sunrise,” we will only be accepting submissions from LGBTQIA+ creators.’

15th May Poetry, fiction and more on the theme of Rest & Recovery. PAYING

15th May Drabble on the theme of Pestilence. CONTRIBUTOR COPY/COPIES

15th May Poems on the theme of Hair. CHARITY/GOOD CAUSE

15th May or when filled:  Poetry on the theme of Love. PAYING

15th May or when full: drabble on the theme of Festival of Fear. CONTRIBUTOR COPY/COPIES

15th May Short horror story 4000-8000 words on the theme of L is for Lycanthropes. PAYING

15th May Poetry, fiction and more on the theme of Preserves.

16th May Poetry, flash and more on the theme of Indulge. PAYING

20th May Poetry, essays and more on the theme of Re-aligning with Earth Wisdom.

22nd May Speculative fiction on the theme of Strange Religion or Strange Wars. PAYING

23rd May Women/non-binary writers only: writing on the theme of Disrupt.

23rd May Theme: Screens. ‘Claw & Blossom is an online seasonal journal of short literary prose and poems that touch upon the natural world.’ PAYING  (Cathy’s note: they have a monthly quota of free submissions, so submit as soon as you can!)

28th May ‘Send in poems, short stories, articles, art and other forms of writing exploring the theme of ancestry, especially African ancestry. Any length is welcome.’

29th May What One Wouldn’t Do. ‘I’m looking for sacrifices, risky wagers, high stakes, and especially—if you’re familiar with my own writing—the unintended consequences and fallout of said things. I’m interested in the lengths characters would go to “fill-in-the-blank-here.” I’m open to anything in the dark speculative fiction realm.’ Stories and poetry. PAYING

30th May ‘Yes, we are looking for stories, essays, experiences of the Covid-19 pandemic. No, we will not let this catastrophic event go down in History without being documented. The papers are doing their part, but we would like a more personal approach – A HUMAN STORY BEHIND THE NUMBERS AND HEADLINES.’

30th May ‘We’re looking for dark, scary stories featuring a classic monster or monsters (think famous creatures from pre-1960 horror movies).’ There’s a list of characters/monsters to choose from. 1500-5000 words. PAYING

31st May Poetry or fiction on the theme of Water.

31st May Fiction 3000-8000 words. PAYING

31st May Three fiction anthologies open: Strange Wars, Strange Religion and Wight Christmas. PAYING

31st May ‘We invite writers with disabilities, perceived or hidden, to submit their poetry, prose, and hybrid works for this issue. We especially encourage writers with disabilities who also identify as writers of color and/or as part of the LGBTQ++ community.’ Theme: Ownership. 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 May BIPOC women/non-binary writers: ‘Raising Mothers is currently accepting submissions for our column, Promises for You. We want to give voice and space to those who have experienced infertility, miscarriage, and child loss at any age. Each essay should include a promise to offer other parents living similar experiences. Photo essays are also considered for the column.’ PAYING (Cathy’s note: It’s free to submit poetry.)

31st May (or when full) Drabble on the theme of Reaper Man. CONTRIBUTOR COPY/COPIES

31st May Dark speculative fiction 2000-10,000 words on the theme of Identity, Security, and Community.  ‘Identity, security, and community are inexorably entwined. We’re looking for stories touching on at least one of these themes. We want you to explore the boundaries of who we are, what makes us feel safe (and at what cost), with whom we choose to surround ourselves, and our darkest secrets.’ PAYING

31st May Poetry, stories and more on the theme of Dancing with Ghosts. CONTRIBUTOR COPY/COPIES

31st May ‘Have you seen a dragon – they are truly badass m*****f*****s. Armor plated, huge, breathe fire, huge teeth and claws. Yeah, right, a single knight with a sword is going to defeat that. What we are looking for are stories that feature really badass dragons – they can be evil or good – or somewhere in between. The point is they need to live up to the power and strength we picture when we imagine a dragon.’ PAYING

31st May ‘Let’s look on the bright side: a semi-normal summer may be possible; what’s happening on the beach? Ship us your tales of surf and sun. Send your poetry, fiction, essays, illustrations and photography.’

1st Jun ‘Let’s talk about Faery Places. This anthology is all about the places. The dark sppoky (sic) forest, or the undersea cove… the story must feature a place for the fae to play in. This anthology is not limited by genre, any will do. We are looking for the location to shine through the story the most.’

1st Jun ‘This summer we will be publishing our first hardcover anthology. We’re looking for original 1k-8k word stories with off-beat characters, bungling detectives, or funny premises. Be creative, but make it about a mystery/crime, and make us laugh!’ PAYING

1st Jun Poetry, fiction and more on the theme of States of Play. PAYING

1st Jun or until full: Drabble on the theme of Circus of the Damned. CONTRIBUTOR COPY/COPIES

1st Jun Poetry, stories and more on the theme of The Mind at Play.

1st Jun ‘Sliced Up Press is looking for short stories involving menopause for its latest horror fiction anthology. Menopause can be hell – so show us your demons, your darkest dreams, bloodiest crimes or scariest transformations. It’s called the change of life, but transitions can be deadly.’ 1000-4000 words. PAYING

1st Jun Poems and stories on the theme of Hotter than Sin. PAYING

1st Jun Poetry, fiction, CNF and more on the theme of Unmasking.

1st Jun ‘EHS is an ezine dedicated to 1) original poetry and 2) short fiction (Cathy’s note: and more!) about the Gods and Goddesses and heroes of the world’s many Pagan traditions.’ Theme: The Written Word. PAYING

1st Jun Poetry, prose and more on the theme of The Virgin Mary, Venus and Hestia. ‘A literary journal about embracing the wild feminine.  Pulling from classical stories and myths, each issue will be themed around womxn who have embraced the dark and seductive. Around the cauldron womxn have moved as keepers of the house, guardians of future generations, lovers and wives, storytellers, and seers. Womxn hold a secret magic.’


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

‘SFK seeks book-length fiction and non-fiction by fearless authors.’


Erotic romance novels.

‘Thank you for your interest in becoming a Page Street author. We publish young adult (YA) fiction (for ages 12 and up), in all genres, and a variety of nonfiction books in such categories as cooking, sports, science, nature, interior design, crafts, and parenting. We also publish picture books in all genres for ages 4-8 with particular focus on new talent, artist-led narratives, engaging story arcs, and visually driven concepts. We do not publish board books, early readers, chapter books, or middle grade at this time.’

‘MacroMicroCosm is open for essays (500 – 4500 words) on personal philosophy & worldview, as part of a continued discussion on coexistence, community and tolerance. We want to give voice to the philosophical views around us, to debate and inspect them. Through inspection, to discover the commonalities which can bring beauty and compassion to this world on fire. The throne is empty. Long Live the Perilous Thought’s Throne.’  ROYALTIES

Poetry, flash, short fiction and more. PAYING

Poetry and more.


‘We are always open to submissions of poetry, prose, and visual art that explore questions of ecology and spirituality from within and outside all religious traditions. We are delighted by thoughtful art, compelling stories, bewitching poems that reflect our values of curiosity, justice, and community.’

Poetry and prose.

Open until filled: Drabbles on any of these themes: Once Upon a Fairytale, Hallowe’en Frights, Winter Shocks or Classic Monsters.


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