25 Themed Submissions Calls for October 2020

***Please note, there has been an uptick in publishers that are not accepting unagented submissions. Too many presses and publishers are getting mass submissions that do not fit their catalogs. DO NOT submit your work if it doesn’t fit the publisher’s guidelines.

There are 25 themed submission calls for fiction, nonfiction, and poetry for October 2020. Some of the themes include fairy tales, foraging, animal love, night terrors, unmasked, tough times, haunted holidays, a postcard from the past, touch, far from home, and derelict.

Apart from these, there are also a few themed contests that offer cash prizes and have no submission fees. Also, don’t forget to check out the themed submissions from September 2020, as some of the deadlines listed last month are coming up in October 2020.

Without further adieu, let’s start submitting!

Themed Submission Calls for October 2020

Ready to dive in? Here are those themed submission calls for October 2020 I’ve been telling you about. They cover a variety of genres and writing styles. Please make sure you read through everyone’s submission guidelines before sending in your work.

Curiosities: Fairy Tales

This is an online magazine of retro-punk audio fiction, and they will soon open a brief submission period for grim fairy-tale theme-related stories. Their guidelines say:

“We want them singularly grim and fractured. No modern settings. Do your worst. […] Manuscripts that do not appear to be related to some kind of fairy tale will be automatically rejected.” 

They do not want variations of certain fairy tales, such as Red Riding Hood, Bluebeard, and Pied Piper. You can find the full details here.

  • Reading period: October 7-14, 2020
  • Length: Up to 7,500 words
  • Pay: $0.04 per word

Wizards in Space: Foraging

Wizards in Space publishes fiction, creative nonfiction, poetry, and artwork. Here’s what they’re looking for as per their guidelines:

“We’re seeking words & art that explore what it means to forage, to gather, to fight tooth and nail for survival.

What have you been collecting? What wild seeds are you cultivating? Give us a peek inside your survival kit; share with us stories of tenderness and of resilience.

Maybe foraging means providing for others in a time of need, or maybe it’s learning to fend for yourself in the wake of a storm. Maybe what you’ve gathered aren’t things at all, but stories and communities that lift you up and carry you forward. We want handfuls of berries and borrowed candles, your grandfather’s stamps and your family’s home cooking.”

Please note that they do not publish “just sci-fi/fantasy, despite our wild affection for wizards and space.” They accept reprints. You can find all the necessary details here.

  • Deadline: October 15, 2020
  • Length: Up to 5,000 words for fiction and creative nonfiction, up to four poems
  • Pay: $40

Shooter Literary Magazine: Animal Love

They want short fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. They want writing to do with:

“[A]ll creatures great and small, wonderful and wild, exotic and beloved. Meaningful, offbeat and/or humorous writing on pets, exotic species, encounters in the wild, veterinarians, equestrian sports, animal shelters, or anything that revolves around humans in relation to other species is welcome.

We’d especially like to see work that concerns animals other than dogs and cats, as those are likely to figure prominently.” 

For more information on what they do want to see from you, click here.

  • Deadline: October 18, 2020
  • Length: 2,000-7,500 words for prose; up to three poem
  • Pay: £25 per story and £5 per poem. Stories containing less than 2,000 words will get poetry rates. Non-UK contributors can opt for either a copy of the magazine or cash payment.

WordFire Press: Unmasked

WordFire wants short stories of unmasking, including a mix of science fictionfantasyhorror, alien, magical, witchcraft, AI, and romance elements. All stories must be appropriate for a PG-13 audience.

Their guidelines have more instructions on what they want to see as well as story ideas. Speaking of guidelines, you can view Wordfire’s here.

  • Deadline: October 31, 2020
  • Length: Up to 5,000 words
  • Pay: $0.06 per word

Scare Street: Night Terrors

They want short horror stories focusing on ghosts, the supernatural, paranormal, monsters, and dark tales. The stories will be published in their ‘Night Terrors’ anthologies.

Here’s what their guidelines say:

“We go for stories that are dark, literary; we are looking for the creepy, the weird, and the unsettling.”

The magazine also accepts reprints. You can find the rest of the information here.

  • Deadline: October 26, 2020
  • Length: 3,000 to 7,000 words
  • Pay: “$10 per 1,000 words” ($0.01 per word)

FurPlanet Productions: Reclamation Project – Year Two

This shared-planet anthology features furry characters as the protagonists. The project’s tagline is “Casablanca Meets Thundarr: The Barbarian … With a touch of Studio Ghibli.”

Their website says:

“Reclamation Project – Year One was the first foray into shared-world tales of future fantasy and solarpunk from some of the brightest stars of anthropomorphic literature. Year Two hits the ground running as the healing world of Ambara Down deals with catastrophe, assassination, and betrayal. As their flying cities begin to fail, humans must find a home on this new Earth, among the sentient animals that are its inhabitants. Love and danger, power and promise, and a world to win or lose in the balance!”

Themes and aesthetics include rebirth, regrowth, integration, transformation, adventure, and building a new world from the old bones. Hope in the face of difficult challenges. They also have a Reclamation Project Wiki, and writers can mail to request an anthology bible.

The editors do not want erotica or extreme violence. They also accept some reprints. You can (and should) check out the submission guidelines, which you can find here.

  • Deadline: October 31, 2020
  • Length: 3,000 to 15,000 words
  • Pay: Half a cent per word

Chicken Soup for the Soul: Tough Times

Chicken Soup for the Soul accepts true inspirational stories and poetry on set themes. They are reading on Tough Times for October, but there are many more themes with later due dates.

For the Tough Times theme, their guidelines say:

“We are looking for stories about how you have been affected and how you and your loved ones 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 in yourself and the people close to you.

We’re also looking for stories about tough times unrelated to the pandemic. Are you going through other challenges that have nothing to do with the pandemic, such as health crises, loss of loved ones, personal challenges, family issues, job loss and economic upheaval.”

Other themes with later deadlines are Angels, Cats, Counting Your Blessings, and Eldercare. Please check out the theme criteria here, submissions guidelines here, and their submission portal here to learn more or submit.

  • Deadlines: October 31, 2020
  • Length: Up to 1,200 words
  • Pay: $200

Lonely Cryptid Media: Resist with every inch and every breath

They want fiction, nonfiction, and poetry on the theme. They have extensive guidelines about what they want, including:

“Stories of resistance and rebellion, but also of the steps in between and the change that comes after. […] Tell us about resistance big and small; real and imagined; rooted in reality or fantastical in nature; science fictional or science factual; historical, contemporary, or in the future. The everyday resistance of women. The power of youth and children’s rebellions. Resistance in the streets. The dismantling of white supremacy. Overthrowing colonial states. Empowering workers and undoing capitalism itself.”

They have two submission windows, one for marginalized authors only, and the second one is for all authors. They also accept reprints. You can find their submission criteria here.

  • Deadlines/reading periods: Historically marginalized authors have until October 31, 2020. All other authors may submit between November 1, 2020, and December 31, 2020.
  • Length: Up to 15,000 words for prose; up to 300 lines for poetry
  • Pay: $25

The Periodical, Forlorn: Haunted Holidays

This new literary magazine is reading for their first issue, themed Haunted Holidays. They accept short-form fiction in any of these formats: flash fiction, poetry, or short stories.

Their guidelines say:

“For this issue, we don’t want tales of peace on earth and goodwill to men. We don’t want to hear about the warmth of family gatherings or how the Christmas spirit inspires a new outlook on life for those once thought irredeemable. We want to know how misfits and outcasts approach the holiday season, [and] how ghouls and goblins and all manner of pagan creatures mark the season.”

They want work that is dark, creepy, weird, and just a little off-kilter.

“We’re open to genre fiction, particularly anything related to horror, science-fiction, speculative fiction or weird fiction. But we’re also interested in anything that twists or subverts these genres in some unexpected way.”

You can find out more by clicking here.

  • Deadline: November 1, 2020
  • Length: Up to 6,000 words
  • Pay: $15

Bouchercon: Second Time Around

This project aims to raise money for the New Orleans public library. For this fiction anthology, their guidelines say:

“The theme of this anthology is second chances, redemption, second try, play it again. Since this is the second Bouchercon in New Orleans, we may call it Second Time Around.”

The story does not have to be set in New Orleans. You can find the full details here.

  • Deadline: November 1, 2020
  • Length: Up to 4,000 words
  • Pay: $75

Thema: Three themes

They are currently accepting short stories, poems, essays, photographs, and art on three themes: The Other Virginia; A Postcard from the Past; and Watch the Birdie! 

The premise (target theme) must be an integral part of the plot, not necessarily the central theme but not incidental. They do not accept electronic submissions, except for writers living outside the US.

You can get the full details here.

  • Deadline: November 1, 2020, for The Other Virginia; March 1, 2021, for A Postcard from the Past; and July 1, 2021, for Watch the Birdie!
  • Length: Fewer than 20 pages of prose; up to three poems
  • Pay: $10 to $25 for short fiction and artwork, $10 for poetry

Off Limits Press: Far From Home

This anthology is looking for adventure horror and short horror stories that strongly incorporate adventure. Their guidelines say:

“Adventure is intended to be interpreted broadly and may include, but is certainly not limited to, tales involving mountaineering, cave diving, the open sea, parkour, rafting, treasure hunting, arctic expedition, and caving. We are interested in and welcome most horror sub-genres, so long as the theme is strongly incorporated. Stories may include horror steeped in realism and/or the supernatural.”

You can find out more here.

  • Deadline: November 1, 2020
  • Length: 2,000 to 8,000 words
  • Pay: $0.01 per word

Ninth Letter: Touch

Ninth Letter is accepting essays, fiction, and poetry on the Touch theme for their online edition. Their guidelines say:

“When was your last? The question is particularly evocative (and provocative) at the present moment, when physical and social touch seem so restricted.

With this in mind, the theme is necessarily constellatory. Consider: in touch, out of touch, touchdown, Midas touch, human touch, be in touch, lose touch, touchback, don’t touch, wouldn’t touch, wouldn’t touch with ten foot pole, touch a nerve, touch on, touch up, just a touch, touch and go, touch base, touch pad, lost touch, magic touch, touchy, retouched, I’m touched, truly touched, two-hand-touch, untouched, stay in touch, touchback, touch-less, finishing touch, put me in touch, lose touch, lost touch, untouched, untouched, untouched.”

There are separate guidelines for the print edition, and mailed submissions for the print version are free. To find out more, click here.

  • Deadline: November 3, 2020
  • Length: Up to 3,500 words for prose, up to three poems
  • Pay: $75 for a story or an essay, and $25 per poem

Pinch: GLISH – Variety English Poetry Project

They want poetry written in or regarding variety Englishes. Poems in Singlish, Konglish, Spanglish, AAVE, and other English-associated linguistic forms will be considered. Poets may need to contribute supplementary linguistic information to facilitate publication. 

To find out more, click here.

  • Deadline: November 15, 2020
  • Length: Up to three poems
  • Pay: $150

Cemetery Gates Media: Five themes

They are looking for 500 to 1,000-word horror flash fiction for a “pocket-sized” anthology, and the theme of the collection is horror subgenre medley. Writers can choose a theme to write and submit a story for Cemetery Chillers, Spook Houses, Supernatural Slashers, Witchcraft, Within the Woods.

Writers can submit one story for each theme. You can find the full details here.

  • Deadline: December 26, 2020, or until filled
  • Length: 500 to 1,000 words
  • Pay: $0.08 per word

The New York Times: Modern Love

Submissions for the Modern Love column are open again. Modern Love publishes honest personal essays about contemporary relationships.

They especially encourage BIPOC, those outside of the US, and people who identify as members of LGBTQIA+ communities to submit. Submissions are also open for Tiny Love Stories (of 100 words), which are unpaid.

To find out more, click here.

  • Deadline: December 31, 2020
  • Length: 1,500 to 1,700 for Modern Love
  • Pay: $500 for Modern Love

Zombies Need Brains: Three themes

The editors are reading fiction submissions for three anthologies. They are looking for a range of tones, from humorous to dark. Here are the themes:

  • The Modern Deity’s Guide to Surviving Humanity will feature urban fantasy stories set in the modern-day world with some type of god or deity as the central focus of the story.
  • Derelict will feature stories involving abandoned ships. Half of the anthology will have a science fiction focus and the other fantasy. They are somewhat flexible as to the definition of “ship” for this anthology, but it must be abandoned somehow.
  • When Worlds Collide features science fiction and fantasy stories, including alternate history stories, where two different cultures “collide” somehow, they expect mostly first contact types of collisions. The tale doesn’t need to be a first contact story, and the cultures can be human, alien, technological, fae, etc. They should clash in some significant, meaningful way.

To find out more and read the submission guidelines, click here.

  • Deadline: December 31, 2020
  • Length: Up to 7,500 words
  • Pay: At least $0.08 per word

Themed Contests for October 2020

The following section contains themed writing contests for fiction, nonfiction, and poetry writers. Each organization pays its contributors.

Transitions Abroad: Expatriate and Work Abroad Writing Contest

This international contest is for professional and freelance writers. The writers will be asked to create a nonfiction inspirational and practical article or mini-guide of 1,200 to 3,000 words that describe their experience living, moving, and working abroad.

You can find the full details here.

  • Value: $500, $150, $100, $50
  • Deadline: October 15, 2020
  • Open for: All professional and freelance writers

Welter 55 Contest

Welter is the University of Baltimore’s literary journal, and their contest guidelines say:

“Something to say? Up for a challenge? Can you get your point across in exactly 55 words, no more, no fewer? Help us celebrate our 55th year of Welter by composing a 55-word story, poem, or piece of creative nonfiction.”

You can find out more by clicking here.

  • Value: $55
  • Deadline: October 19, 2020
  • Open for: Unspecified

Victoria Literary Festival Short Story Contests: Hats Off & Ghost Writer

There are contests on two themes for this Canadian literary festival. They want short stories of at least 1,400 words. For 2020, the themes are Hats Off and Ghost Writer.

Authors can submit stories in each contest. Please read the guidelines carefully as writers must send an email and postal entry. You can find out more here.

  • Value: C$350; C$50 each for runners-up
  • Deadline: October 30, 2020
  • Open for: Unspecified

James Tiptree, Jr Literary Award

This contest is for various disciplines – writers, artists, scholars, media makers, remix artists, performers, musicians, or something else entirely. Here’s what the judges’ say:

“If the applicant’s work is changing the way we think about gender through speculative narrative – maybe in a form recognizable as the science fiction and fantasy genre, maybe in some other way – they are eligible. Writers do not have to be a professional or have an institutional affiliation, as we hope to support emerging creators who do not already have institutional support for their work.”

For more details, click here.

  • Value: $500
  • Deadline: October 31, 2020
  • Open for: All writers

Malice Domestic Grants for Unpublished Writers

This is given to an unpublished writer (see guidelines) in the Malice Domestic genre at each year’s Malice Domestic convention. The grant may be used to offset registration, travel, or other expenses related to attending a writers’ conference or workshop within a year of the award’s date. In the case of nonfiction, the grant may be used to offset research expenses.

The Malice Domestic genre is loosely described as mystery stories of the Agatha Christie type—i.e., traditional mysteries. These works usually feature no excessive gore, gratuitous violence, or explicit sex.

Apart from the cash award, the prize covers registration for the upcoming convention and two nights’ lodging but does not include travel or meals. You can get the full details here.

  • Value: $2,500, and other expenses – see above
  • Deadline: November 1, 2020
  • Open for: Unpublished writers in the Malice Domestic genre

Defenestrationism: 2020 Flash Suite Contest

This contest is looking for at least three flash fiction pieces that co-relate. Finalists will be published daily on the site, followed by at least two weeks of Fan Voting. The winners will be selected by a judging panel, with Fan Voting counting as an additional vote.

You can read all about it here.

  • Value: $75, $60
  • Deadline: November 1, 2020
  • Open for: All writers
Defenestrationism is accepting contest submissions in October 2020.

Good luck to all of you who choose to submit. I’ve got my fingers crossed for you.

And if you are accepted, please let me know! I’d love to read your work and pass it along to a friend.

Stay safe, everyone.

Until next time.



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Danielle Adams

Danielle Adams

Danielle Adams is a writer and editor for a local marketing agency. She has formerly worked as a writer for the Investing News Network and as an editor for Whetstone, a bi-annually published literary magazine. Aside from writing, Danielle has an unabiding love for all marine life and the outdoors. She loves taking long hikes with her husband and cooking delicious meals in the kitchen.


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