Comps and calls for October 2023

Hello Everyone,

It’s Autumn! Do you have a good harvest of poems and stories? I certainly have – due to my wrist operations, I haven’t submitted and entered as much as usual. I’m even missing the rejections! (No, not really!)

Enjoy your writing and have fun with this month’s themes and challenges.

Big thanks to my Patreon People!

Good luck and love to all,

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 Oct ‘Knock, knock. Who’s there? Wanda. Wanda who? Wanda know all about my bad day? Jokes must be about bad days. They don’t have to say the actual words, bad days. But they should be about things that cause bad days, fix bad days, or were bad days. Jokes must not contain any of the Three C Words. No cussing, crass language, or crude references. Also, no sex, drugs, alcohol, of illegal activities. This is a family friendly publication. Let’s keep it clean.’ PAYING

2nd Oct Working-class writers in the UK or ROI: ‘Simply submit a sample of your writing, which must be the beginning of an unpublished work-in-progress no more than 2,000 words in length and a one-page synopsis for the full manuscript.’ PAYING (thanks to

4th Oct Spectator Competition No. 3320: Pleasure Principle

‘You are invited to submit a poem extolling Epicureanism over Stoicism or the other way round. Email entries of up to 16 lines to lucy AT by midday on 4th October.’ (Cathy’s note: scroll down for the comp!)

8th Oct Age 13-19 only: ‘What is that on the corner? A spirit Halloween? Fall is coming and terror is in the air. The Echo is holding its first annual $200-prize short story contest. Send us your nightmares and storie related to the theme: Do Not Disturb.’ PAYING

11th Oct Spectator Competition No. 3321: Setting off ‘You are invited to provide a love scene from a novel set in a location that might not be considered conducive to romance. Please email entries of up to 150 words to lucy AT by midday on 11 October.’ PAYING (Cathy’s note: scroll down for the comp!)

11th Oct ‘This fellowship calls for an early-career writer of fiction who has not yet published a book and is not currently nor has ever been enrolled in an advanced degree program (such as an MA or MFA) in Creative Writing, English, or Literature, and has no plans to attend one in the 2024 calendar year. We are seeking writers whose work speaks to issues and experiences related to inhabiting bodies of difference.’ PAYING

14th Oct ‘Reality Show Madness! We are looking for flash in the vein of these reality shows with a heavy addition of the speculative. We are not looking for fan fiction.’ Theme: Paranormal Investigators/Ghost Hunters PAYING

31st Oct ‘The author must be ordinarily resident in the United Kingdom, Commonwealth or the Republic of Ireland. The author must have had at least one short story published or accepted for publication.’ Short story. PAYING (thanks to this one)

31st Oct ‘This year’s LGBTQ writing contest theme, FIRSTS, is an opportunity to share your own queer travel adventurers with an LGBTQ audience. Your essay just might inspire someone to stretch their comfort zone and try a new activity!’ PAYING (thanks to for this one)

31st Oct ‘If you are aged between 11 and 19 and interested in history and writing, the YWSP is ready to take you on an adventure!  We are the UK’s only creative writing prize specifically for budding historical fiction writers. You could win a £500 travel grant, tickets to one of the UK’s best book festivals, and the chance to see your own work in print in a special anthology.’ PAYING

31st Oct Under 30: ‘The work submitted may be a published or unpublished volume of poetry, drama-poems or belles-lettres.’ POSSIBLE RESIDENCY

31st Oct First novel by an author over 40. PAYING

31st Oct ‘In 2023, we are seeking entries about any aspect of nature and offer prizes for winners in three age groups: 7-11, 12-14, and 15-17 years. There is also a prize in each age group for young writers who live in the East Midlands.’ PAYING

1st Nov ‘The Evaristo Prize for African Poetry is an annual prize of USD $1,500 awarded to ten poems written by an African poet. The Prize is open to African writers. An “African writer” is taken to mean someone who was born in Africa, who is a national or resident of an African country, or whose parents are African. The prize is open to African poets who have not yet had a full-length poetry book published at the time of submission.’ PAYING

1st Nov ‘The prize is free to enter and open to any citizen of a Commonwealth country aged 18 and over. It is awarded for the best piece of unpublished short fiction (2,000–5,000 words).’ PAYING


5th Oct ‘A critical part of the impact of the exhibit is the selected quotations from the general public that accompany each piece of artwork. The quotations give individuals in the larger community a chance to have their voices represented by expressing their thoughts, feelings and ideas.’ Up to 20 words on the theme of “enriching lives through diversity and inclusion.”. PAYING

6th Oct ‘PulpCult by CultureCult invites all fearless writers of the eerie and unsettling to submit their most bone-chilling stories for our upcoming horror fiction anthology, “Memento Mori.” In a world where the darkness often lingers at the periphery of our daily lives, “Memento Mori” serves as a haunting reminder of our mortality.’ Flash and short fiction. CONTRIBUTOR COPY/COPIES (MAY BE PRINT OR DIGITAL)

7th Oct Extended submission window exclusively for LGBTQIA+, BIPOC, and marginalized writers ‘We want the stories you love the most, that you wrote in a fit of fury, passion, grief, or worry. Anywhere between 1000 and 2000. Too big for flash, too small for a short story. Horror only, though we count dark fantasy and gruesome or heart-wrenching literary in there too.’ PAYING

7th Oct ‘We accept proposals from Australian writers only, for general, literary and commercial non-fiction – including history, current affairs, memoir and biography.’ (Cathy’s note: they’re open for the first week of every month.)

9th Oct ‘At Fathom we publish articles, personal essays, profiles, interviews, book reviews, Bible exposition, theological and/or historical analysis, poetry, and short stories. The work we prefer often utilizes personal narrative to communicate the deeper aspects of the Christian faith and to draw our readers into the nuance surrounding an idea. Our standard articles fall between 1,000 and 1,600 words. Short stories should be at least 3,000 words. Poems vary in length and style.’ Theme: Gentleness.

10th Oct Poetry.

11th Oct UK/RoI only: ‘Arachne Press has long been a champion of LGBTQ+ writers, but we’ve never before published an anthology of LGBTQ+ poetry. That is all about to change. The title of our forthcoming book is Joy//Us, because we want to publish your joyful poems, ones that celebrate all that is best about our community/ies and lives. This is not an ‘explain it to the straights’ book, this is for us. We want LGBTQ+ readers to be able to open the book at random and find a moment of poetic queer joy for themselves, however big or small.’ Send us your unpublished poems, in English (or Welsh, with a translation*). *The poet must submit their work, not the translator, so if you have not translated your own work, the translator must give permission, and must be credited.’

12th Oct  ‘I am only accepting single 5 line poems from individual poets. No sequences, sets or collaborative pieces will be accepted. Send no more than 5 poems.’ Theme: Childhood Memories.

13th Oct Romantic flash fiction 700-1000 words on the theme of Love in a Small Town.

14th Oct Theme: Crime II. Stories must be 2,000 (10% tolerance +/-)  PAYING

15th Oct ‘Family farm * Family tree *Family jewels * Family finances * Family fortune* Family feud * Family plot * Family dinner * Family resemblance * Family vacation * Family reunion * Family  photos * Family traditions * Family heirlooms * Family friends * Family album * Family values * Family ties * Family practice * Family business * Family trip * Family problems * Family picnic * Family atomics * and Family dog. What else? Send us your best  unpublished stories of approximately 50 words, about Family.’ CONTRIBUTOR COPY/COPIES (MAY BE PRINT OR DIGITAL)

15th Oct ‘Obsidian cultivates, through publication and critical inquiry, Black imagination, innovation, and excellence—supporting Black, African, and African Diaspora creatives globally. Obsidian celebrates nearly fifty years of continuous publication and is dedicated to publishing contemporary poetry, fiction, drama/performance, visual and media art biannually in print and year round online.’ CONTRIBUTOR COPY/COPIES (MAY BE PRINT OR DIGITAL)

15th Oct ‘In honor of Hispanic Heritage Month, no-fee submissions are open for all Hispanic/Latino/a/e/x creators, not limited to those in the US.’ Poetry, fiction, and more. PAYING

15th Oct Indigenous people only: ‘For the upcoming Fall 2023 issue of Yellow Medicine Review, we want to see stories, poems, and essays that dwell on these concepts: Defining Moments, Bildungsroman / Coming of Age Experiences, Epiphanies, Pivot Points in Life, Etc.  These can apply to the individual, a family, a tribe, a community, an organization, or entity.’

15th Oct Authors 40 and over: ‘ISSUE 3 COOOLD TURKEY: In which your work deals with the broad idea of things that go wrong in funny ways in the cold, around winter holidays, etc. We’re always looking for a LAUGH at the end of the year.’

15th Oct ‘‘Embodied Exegesis: Transfeminine Speculative Futures is open to submissions. This anthology, edited by Ann LeBlanc, will feature cyberpunk stories written by transfem authors…What we want to see: Augmented bodies. Uploaded minds. Cybernetics, real cities, and virtual worlds. Putting the trans in transhumanism. We’re looking for stories that push characters’ bodies and minds to their limits.’ PAYING

15th Oct ‘Our Spring 2024 issue will be dedicated to poems written as collaborations. The poems may be any subject, style, or length, but must have been written by two or more co-authors.’ PAYING

15th Oct Poetry, fiction and more on the theme of Prosperity Magic. PAYING

15th Oct Theme: Forage. ‘We are looking for beautiful works exploring foraging and finding abundance in nature; searching for the familiar, hidden (natural) treasure and the idea of taking or using only what you need are all specific secondary interpretations we’d also like to see.’

15th Oct Flash, short fiction, poetry and more. ‘All submissions need to address in some manner the human consequences and realities of war or geopolitical violence.’

15th Oct Poetry, fiction, and more.

15th Oct ‘The theme is “dark waters” – whatever that means to the writer. Stories do NOT have to be aquatic-themed in any way. Looking for noir, crime, horror, anything that could be considered “dark fiction” (though less interested in high fantasy/sci-fi)’

15th Oct ‘This issue has a sub-theme of When Hell Freezes Over! We want you to tell us what would happen if Hell were to freeze over and the flames that euphemistically burn below were extinguished. … Think mayhem, think madness; think what if Hell froze over? Beyond this issue’s sub-theme, we’re always looking for well-constructed tales and poetry that deliver solid horror and dark fiction. We’ll be accepting short stories, flash fiction, drabbles, and poetry that fit within the horror/dark fiction genre. We welcome reprints as long as you hold the copyright to the piece.’

15th Oct ‘For this anthology, we’re looking for short stories about casual encounters of fictional people with REAL LIFE serial killers, that turned creepy or deadly. Stories can be straight crime/thriller stories or ones with a supernatural bent (haunted objects, ghosts, demons, etc.). Characters and victims, aside from the serial killers, must be fictional—real names of victims or family members can not be used.’ PAYING

15th Oct ‘We’re looking for non-fiction and fiction that addresses the theme: Griffith Review 83: Past Perfect: examining our love affair with recycling our history.’

15th Oct ‘Pleiades is accepting submissions for an upcoming special folio centered around neurodivergence and disability, written for and by disabled and neurodivergent writers and poets. This folio aims to educate and celebrate what it means to navigate this neurotypical, able-bodied world, as someone outside of its perceived standards.’

15th Oct Age 13-19 only: theme: Nightmares. ‘What monsters lurk beneath your bed or claw at the edge of your mind? Is your darkest fear that school project you’ve been procrastinating for weeks or that your brother’s spider will escape in the middle of the night and crawl into your mind, your eyes, your throat? Or maybe it’s finding yourself alone or betrayed by someone close. Whatever it may be. Let us share in your fright and submit to us!’

15th Oct Poetry, fiction and more on the theme of Connection.

15th Oct Theme: Fresh Hell. ‘The phrase “fresh hell” embodies the intersection of humor and despair in the face of life’s twists and turns. We invite you to respond to this theme by responding to the tumultuous and unpredictable facets of human experience—personal, social, cultural, global, or otherwise.’ Poetry, fiction, CNF, and art.

15th Oct ‘In music, a coda serves as the grand finale, bringing together the themes that have danced throughout the composition. Similarly, we seek your fiction, nonfiction, poetry, art, music, and digital media submissions that embody the essence of coda. Whether it’s the final chapter of a story, the last lines of a poem, or the visual punctuation in an artwork, we’re eager to experience your interpretation of this powerful theme.’

15th Oct ‘What happens when cities are stripped of their purpose? We’re looking for stories of the monsters that lurk in the skeletons of brutalist structures. The strange rituals of those who found ways of surviving. Labyrinths of crumbling stone. Spirits inhabiting a dilapidated ballroom. Plants flourishing in abandoned train stations. Chimaeras stalking the ruins of a long forgotten urban landscape…This call is open to original speculative fiction up to 1,000 words.’ PAYING

16th Oct Poetry and more on the theme of Forgiveness, for this Quaker magazine.

21st Oct ‘The theme is cass(ette). We don’t expect you to conform to the familiar definition of the word. Have fun. Note the etymology of cassette.’

22nd Oct Commonwealth citizens: ‘We are inviting submissions of written poetry and, for the first time, video recordings of spoken-word poetry.’ PAYING

25th Oct Poetry, flash and more on the theme of Lights Out.

27th Oct November stories. PAYING

27th Oct ‘The Parliament Literary Journal is a collection of fiction writing and art that accepts short stories, flash fiction, poetry, art, photography, or creative combinations of these works.’ Theme: Secrets.

30th Oct Any member of Scottish PEN, and all persons living in Scotland whose first language is not English, Scots and Gaelic: theme: Arrivals.

31st Oct ‘We welcome submissions by those who identify with and as any of the following descriptors: trans, two-spirit, disabled, neurodivergent, Mad, queer, crip, nonbinary, genderqueer, intersex. This is a space for the words, works, and worlds of and by those whose bodyminds defy social expectations and invite new ways of thinking and knowing. We do not need to know the specifics of your identity/diagnosis/experience unless you want us to. We invite closeted and questioning people to share their work, as well as those whose experiences fall outside the confines of the language we used above.’ PAYING

31st Oct ‘Open Minds Quarterly is a literary journal that features explorations of life in a mad world. We welcome writing and art from people with lived experience of what is variously called mental health challenges, mental illness, madness, and neurodiversity.’ Theme: Identity. PAYING

31st Oct ‘We are seeking short story submissions (1000-7500 words) for this anthology. The stories must be based upon a regional/cultural legend or tall-tale from any location or culture in the World. “Regional” can be a specific place (Loch Ness) or a larger region (Bigfoot in the Pacific Northwest). We are seeking stories in the horror genre.’ PAYING

31st Oct Horror fiction 3000-6000 words. PAYING

31st Oct Poetry.

31st Oct ‘We currently accept Poetry Prose Creative Non-Fiction and Artwork. We are also open to Music and Hybridwork. Surprise us.’

31st Oct Poetry, fiction, CNF and more. PAYING

31st Oct Speculative poetry, prose and art on the theme of Lies for Children. PAYING

31st Oct ‘For Issue 10, with the theme Healing, Libretto Magazine is pleased to announce its call for submissions. Libretto Magazine seeks unique works with strong sense of empathy, introspection, and courage; works that are evocative and that possess the capacity to redefine perception.’

31st Oct Flash fiction on the theme of Bolero at Breakfast.

1st Nov ‘Send us your poems, stories, and essays that center around unlawful acts: misdemeanors to felonies, war crimes to white collar crimes, perpetrators in the home or at work.  We’ll be especially happy to receive mss about breaking laws that shouldn’t be laws in the first place.’ (Cathy’s note: submissions are free on this day only.)

1st Nov First-person essay on the theme of Friends.

1st Nov Poetry, fiction, creative nonfiction, and book reviews. Theme: Winter.

1st Nov ‘Love Letters to Poe will be open to submissions for original gothic short stories and poems inspired by The Tell-Tale Heart on October 3, 2023 through November 1, 2023.’ PAYING (SUBJECT TO FUNDRAISER/FUNDING)

1st Nov Poetry, fiction and more on the theme of The Missing Piece of the Puzzle. PAYING (Cathy’s note: submitters outside the USA may submit electronically.)

1st Nov Fiction, nonfiction and poetry on the theme of Praise. PAYING

1st Nov ‘The Santa Fe Literary Review invites previously unpublished submissions of creative nonfiction, dramatic writing/screenplay, fiction, and poetry. Our suggested theme for our 2024 issue is “Lovely, Dark and Deep: Journeys Real and Imagined.”’ CONTRIBUTOR COPY/COPIES (MAY BE PRINT OR DIGITAL)

1st Nov Fiction and more starting with the line: ‘It was the farthest north they had ever been.’ PAYING

1st Nov ‘Are you a fan of authors like Robert E. Howard, Michael Moorcock, and Fritz Leiber? Are those the type of stories that you love to write? Then you’re in the right place! We’re looking for tales of Sword and Sorcery / Heroic Fantasy that are influenced by those who established the genre.’  PROFIT/REVENUE SHARING MODEL

1st Nov ‘The theme is Clones, Drones, and Ready Made Meals. The future is here, be afraid, be very afraid. Take it where you want.’ Poetry, flash, short fiction and more. PAYING


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

‘This is a site dedicated to skillfully written stories that are brief, humorous and engaging. The emphasis will be on wit, word play, absurdity and inspired nonsense. Whether your story is designed to raise a smile or a belly laugh, I want stories that are a refuge from the relentless barrage of negativity, angst, war and climate catastrophe that dominates the web.’

‘We’re accepting submissions on a rolling basis. Please send us up to three (3) pages of writing. Up to ten (10) images of artwork/photography. Send us your strange, grotesque, avant-garde, heavily experimental. Send us your manifestoes, dirge, commentary, roasts and prophecies. Send us chattering, ramblings, your hybrid, your we-don’t-even-know-what-the-fuck-to-call-this, send us your revolution.’

‘We accept Poetry Modern and Traditional, book promotion and other advertising. A maximum of 4 poems should be sent at any one time.’

‘We’re in search of remarkable talent and captivating stories that inspire. If you have a story that’s waiting to be told, or if you’re excited about the opportunity to collaborate with Storia, we invite you to submit a story for review.’

‘We are looking for highly imaginative stories with a healthy dose of the odd.  Odd characters, odd experiences, odd realities. We’re looking for genre / speculative stories and are quite partial to slipstream, cross-genre, magic realism, absurdist, and the surreal.’ 2000-7500 words. PAYING

Various romance novel categories. PAYING or ROYALTIES (Cathy’s note – not sure which – sorry!) (thanks to for this one)

‘We are a small press that publishes between 8- 10 books every year. We welcome submissions from both emerging and established writers who are Canadian citizens or permanent residents of Canada.’


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