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The Diverse Writers & Artists of Speculative Fiction

The Five Commandments of Storytelling


Every effective story has five structural components that work together to communicate a CONTROLLING IDEA in a way that bypasses readers’ critical minds to touch their hearts and change their worldviews. These components are the Five Commandments of Storytelling.

When most writers and editors talk about Story structure, they rely on a grab bag of different approaches that capture part of but not the whole of Story’s fundamental structure. In the same way, two wings, two jet engines, and a fuselage don’t make a functioning airplane.

In the Story Grid Universe, we understand that Story structure is about embedding GENRE-specific VALUE SHIFTS within every UNIT OF STORY — from the line-by-line BEATS to TROPES to SCENES to SEQUENCES to QUADRANTS to the full STORY — to communicate the ARTIST’s CONTROLLING IDEA.

The Five Commandments of Storytelling are:

1. Inciting Incident

The inciting incident destabilizes the protagonist by upsetting the balance of their life for good or for ill. Every inciting incident is either causal (the result of an active choice by an AVATAR) or coincidental (something unexpected or random or accidental). In response, the protagonist forms a goal, which they begin to pursue. Read more about Inciting Incidents.

2. Turning Point Progressive Complication

The protagonist goes through a series of actions to restore balance to the world after the inciting incident. As these actions fail, it progressively complicates the story until the protagonist faces a final turning point where everything they have tried fails. This can be brought on by AVATAR action (someone does something that renders the protagonists initial strategies useless) or by revelation (when new information is given to the protagonist that forces them to change). Read more about Turning Point Progressive Complications.

3. Crisis

When the protagonist’s initial strategy to deal with the inciting incident has failed, they face a dilemma. This is the crisis. The crisis poses a real choice between incompatible options with meaningful stakes. It is always a binary “this or that” choice. Every crisis is either a Best Bad Choice (choosing between two horrible things) or an Irreconcilable Goods choice (choosing between two wonderful things). Read more about Crises.

4. Climax

The climax is the active answer to the question raised by the crisis. The climax always reveals the truth about who the AVATAR really is when they enact their choice under pressure. Read more about Climaxes.

5. Resolution

The resolution is what happens as a result of the protagonist’s choice during the climax. Because the crisis had meaningful stakes, when the AVATAR makes a decision, something meaningful will always happen as a result. Read more about Resolutions.

Examples of the Five Commandments of Storytelling

  • Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, Scene 19

    • Inciting Incident: Causal. Mr. Collins proposes marriage to Elizabeth Bennet.

    • Turning Point Progressive Complication: Active. Mr. Collins refuses to accept Elizabeth’s refusal because it doesn’t make sense to him.

    • Crisis: Irreconcilable Goods. If Elizabeth accepts Mr. Collins, she’ll save her sisters after her father’s death, but she’ll sentence herself to a lifetime of misery.

    • Climax: Elizabeth refuses again.

    • Resolution: Mr. Collins calls her charming and Elizabeth realizes the only way Mr. Collins will go away is if her father agrees with her.

  • The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum, full story

    • Inciting Incident: Coincidental. The emergence of an extraordinary external environmental change agent, a Kansas Cyclone.

    • Turning Point Progressive Complication: Revelatory. Dorothy discovers Oz is not a wizard and he is incapable of granting the group’s wishes.

    • Crisis: Best Bad Choice. Should Dorothy quit her quest to return home, remain in the Emerald City, and make the best of things, or should she continue to seek a way home, which looks to be impossible?

    • Climax: Dorothy chooses to continue seeking her own way home.

    • Resolution: Dorothy finds her way back home.

  • The Murder of Roger Ackroyd by Agatha Christie, Chapter 24

    • Inciting Incident: Causal. Poirot calls Sheppard out for hiding a secret.

    • Turning Point Progressive Complication: Revelatory. Sheppard confesses that he convinced Ralph, after the murder, to hide out.

    • Crisis: Best bad choice. Will the killer confess to save Ralph, or will Poirot have to out him or her?

    • Climax: No one speaks up. The smoking gun clue arrives.

    • Resolution: Poirot dismisses the people in the room except Sheppard.

  • Hamilton by Lin-Manuel Miranda, Scene 2 – “Aaron Burr, sir”

    • Inciting Incident: Causal. Hamilton introduces himself to Burr and asks how he graduated from college early.

    • Turning Point Progressive Complication: Active. Burr advises Hamilton to keep his opinions to himself if he wants to get ahead.

    • Crisis: Best bad choice. Following Burr’s advice means Hamilton denies his own instincts and potentially fails in life, but disagreeing with Burr could risk his friendship with someone who could help him.

    • Climax: In the last line of the song, Hamilton openly rejects Burr’s advice by saying, “If you stand for nothing, what will you fall for?”

    • Resolution: The resolution comes at the beginning of the next song, “My Shot,” when Laurens, Lafayette, and Mulligan ask Hamilton who he is and what his plans are. This gives Hamilton a chance to prove his intelligence to them.

Common Mistakes with the Five Commandments

Writers can avoid errors in applying the Five Commandments by focusing on how the commandments function together. Here are several common mistakes drawn from Danielle Kiowski’s The Five Commandments of Storytelling.

  • The inciting incident does not tie to the climax. The inciting incident must promise the climactic action. In turn, the climax must mirror the inciting incident to show how the protagonist has changed.

  • The inciting incident is unresolved at the end of the story. Stories are about processing unexpected change, so if the inciting incident is unresolved, the protagonist has failed to metabolize the invisible phere gorilla.

  • The turning point does not complicate from the inciting incident. The turning point illustrates the failure of the protagonist’s initial strategy, so it should arise naturally from a series of complications caused by the gradual breakdown of the procedures the protagonist relies on. A drop-in of an unexpected event undermines this dynamic, even if it prevents the protagonist from following the initial strategy.

  • The link between the turning point and the ensuing crisis decision is weak. The crisis must come directly from the turning point. Ensure the turning point is strong enough to force the protagonist to decide, and the options available in the crisis come from the turning point.

  • The turning point, crisis, and climax do not follow a consistent protagonist. Switching protagonists breaks the arc and interrupts the construction of the controlling idea. Ensure the same character facing the turning point and grappling with the crisis is the one enacting the climax.

  • The resolution does not tie back to the stakes established in the crisis. The crisis makes it clear that the protagonist must suffer some consequence. If they enact the climax and everything goes well, with no cost, this breaks the connection between the resolution and the crisis, undermining the controlling idea by invalidating the stakes.

Additional Resources

Strap in and enter worlds of wonder in Chosen Realities: Summer 2020. The Journal contains a dazzling array of short stories, scripts, interviews, and more! Stroll through fantastical universes, rocket through science fiction landscapes, and muse on poetry in this jam-packed introductory volume of the Journal of Diverse Writers and Artists of Speculative Fiction. Entertainment and enlightenment await!

You may be looking for some Afrofuturistic art for your project. Click the links to the artist and contact them on Deviant Art to collaborate!

SF/F Markets

34 Publishers Seeking Young Adult Novel Manuscripts

One of my favorite genres to read now is young adult (YA) fiction, even though when I was a teenager, I struggled to find good books. These days the YA genre is profitable, diverse, and covers a wide variety of genres, from science fiction to romance and everything in between. A lot of YA publishers are open to submissions without an agent. Some of these publishers exclusively publish YA novels, others publish children’s books as well, while others are open to a wider variety of genres and age groups.

Not all of the publishers are currently open to submissions, but the majority of them are. If you click on the name of the publisher it will link to our full review of them or to their website. All our full reviews contain links to the various publishers’ submission pages. The list is in no particular order.

Allen & Unwin

Allen & Unwin is a large independent Australian Press that is open to submissions on a wide range of topics, including children’s and YA. They have won a number of Australian publisher awards. They accept based on pitches, and have a system known as the “Friday Pitch” which insures that at least one editor reviews each unsolicited pitch.

Boroughs Publishing Group

Boroughs Publishing Group is an e-publisher that focuses on publishing romance novels, novellas, and short stories. Within the romance genre they are interested in publishing a large number of sub genres including contemporary romance, young adult, historical fiction, paranormal, urban fantasy, multicultural, erotic, thrillers, and fantasy novels.

Jolly Fish Press

Jolly Fish Press was started in 2012. They are based out of Provo, Utah. Jolly Fish has a major distributor and a large staff for a relatively new press. Their authors have won numerous awards. They publish middle grade and young adult fiction.

Page Street Publishing

Page Street Publishing is a YA and children’s publisher. They have excellent distribution.

Shadow Mountain

Shadow Mountain is an imprint of Deseret Book. Both publishers are Mormon, but Deseret Book focuses more on producing faith-based content. Shadow Mountain publishes primarily fiction and they have published a number of New York Times bestselling books. Because the company is Mormon run, books have to be approved by in-house censors in order to be published. They are very firm about publishing “clean books only”. However the authors need not be Mormon. They only have four short reading periods a year now.

Charlesbridge Publishing

Charlesbridge publishes high quality books for children and young adults with the goal of creating lifelong readers and lifelong learners. They have good distribution.

Quirk Books

This Philadelphia-based press publishes just 25 books a year in a whole range of genres, from children’s books to nonfiction to science fiction. Unlike most publishers that tackle a large range of topics, Quirk Books has a clear marketing plan and to a certain degree their books have a cohesive feel, because they all are quirky. They have published a wide variety of bestsellers and they have excellent distribution. Some of their bestsellers include The Last Policeman, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, and Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. At the time of this update they are not open to submissions.

Holiday House

The books they publish tend to be on the younger end of the young adult genre (think thirteen-year-old readers primarily). They are an established and respected publisher.

Arsenal Pulp Press

Arsenal Pulp Press is a Canadian small press based out of Vancouver. They have won the Jim Douglas Publisher of the Year Award (from the Association of Book Publishers of British Columbia), and they have been a finalist for Small Press Publisher of the Year (awarded by the Canadian Booksellers Association) five times. They have good distribution in Canada and on the West Coast. I’ve seen a number of their books in stores in the Pacific Northwest. They also regularly host and promote events for their authors, and that is a good sign as well.

Tell-Tale Publishing

Tell-Tale Publishing is a small press founded in 2009. They seem to focus primarily on eBooks but also they have print options (largely print on demand). They publish six imprints which include Dahlia (romance, and various romance subgenres), Stargazer (fantasy, steampunk), Nightshade (horror), Casablanca (mystery), Thistle (middle school, YA, new adult), and Déjà Vu (reprints for all genres).

The Parliament House

The Parliament House is a small eBook and print press started in 2016. They specialize in fantasy, including paranormal, contemporary, and urban. Their website is well-designed, and the covers too are well-designed and market-appropriate. They seem active on social media and more focused on recruiting readers than writers. The fantasy novels they tend to list as favorites are aimed at young adults.

Santa Monica Press

An established niche publisher, they started an imprint focused on teens in 2020. They are actively looking for young adult fiction proposals in the historical fiction category only, particularly 20th-century historical fiction. They are also open to young adult narrative nonfiction proposals.

CamCat Books

CamCat Books is a small independent publisher that was founded in 2019. Since then they have acquired and published a large number of novels, both through unsolicited submissions and agents.

Brother Mockingbird Publishing

Brother Mockingbird Publishing is a small independent press committed to discovering writers from the American South, but they are also open to good fiction, regardless of where the author is based.


GemmaMedia focuses largely on literacy, and improving reading, which includes publishing work for Hi-Lo readers.

Persea Books

Persea Books is an independent book publisher based out of New York that was established in the 1970s. Since then they have gained a reputation for publishing thoughtful books in a variety of literary genres, including YA.

Albert Whitman & Company

Albert Whitman & Company has been around since 1919. I grew up reading a series, the best-known series that they have published, The Boxcar Children. Over the past few years they have started to focus on publishing a larger number of books each year. They launched a teen imprint in 2011, and it still appears to be going strong.

Entangled Teen

Entangled Teen is the YA imprint of the romance publisher Entangled Publishing. Entangled Publishing is a newer company but they have had a lot of success in the genre of romance and they have sold a lot of books. They primarily operate on a digital first model, which usually means print runs only happen if/when the digital book has been successful. Also look at their Teen Crave (paranormal/scifi/fantasy YA category romance) and Teen Crush (contemporary YA category romance) imprints. Make sure to read our full review, as we do have concerns about this publisher.

Polis Books

Polis Books is an independent publisher of fiction and nonfiction, founded in 2013. Their focus is on publishing new voices. They are a technologically driven company. They publish print and digital books. Polis Books was founded by Jason Pinter. Mr. Pinter had over a decade of experience in editorial, marketing and publicity for a variety of publishers including Random House, St. Martin’s Press, and The Mysterious Press.

Owl Canyon Press

Owl Canyon Press is an independent publisher based out of Boulder, Colorado. They were founded in 2011. They publish fiction, nonfiction, young adult fiction, and works in translation.


Flux is an imprint of North Star Editions that publishes exclusively young adult fiction. Their motto is “Where Young Adult is a Point of View, not a Reading Level”. Most of the books they publish focus on the older end of the young adult market. They publish edgier, darker stuff than other young adult publishers. They publish all sub genres of young adult, from realistic life stories to sci fi. They are established, have good distribution, and have published many books that have sold well.

AM Ink

AM Ink is a Western Massachusetts based press that publishes quality biographies, children’s books, novels, and short story collections. Some of their imprints are open to YA fiction.

Tiny Fox Press

They publish primarily science fiction, fantasy books, as well as YA. They offer an advance and they say they offer competitive royalties, but the details are sparse and mentioned here. They don’t mention a distributor, so I assume if they have one it is Ingram.

Young Dragons

Young Dragons is a division of Oghma Creative Media. It is a traditional independent publisher with three imprints. Little Dragons (Lee Press) focuses on publishing picture books and middle grade readers. Fledgling Dragons (Fife Press) focuses on young adult fiction. Inquisitive Dragons (Arbroath Abbey) focuses on publishing nonfiction resources for parents and educators.

BHC Press

BHC publishes young adult and adult fiction in most genres. They have published many debut books. They publish between 16-20 books a year. All books are published in print and eBook formats, and they are starting to release more audiobook versions as well. You can get a feel for what they publish here.

City of Light

City of Light Publishing is a small press with many imprints, based out of Buffalo, New York. Their Cross Your Heart Imprint focuses on YA.

Sky Pony Press

Sky Pony is a division of Skyhorse Publishing. This division focuses on publishing work for children, and are also open to publishing Young Adult work as long as it intersects with other areas of interest for the publisher such as ecology, farm living, wilderness living, recycling, and other “green” topics.

The following publishers are seeking YA work, but are open to limited demographics and/or topics.

Amble Press

Amble Press publishes fiction and narrative nonfiction from people who identify as a writer of color, as well as “those writing across the broader queer spectrum.” So far they have published eight books, including two by the managing Editor and Lambda Literary Award-winning author Michael Nava. They are interested in young adult and new adult books, as well as a wide range of other genres.

Deep Hearts YA

Deep Hearts YA is a new publisher of fiction for young adults. They focus on publishing LBGTQ+ stories, in all genres and sub-genres, including aro and ace lead characters. They are primary a romance publisher, but romance does not have to be the main focus of the manuscript if self-empowerment or self-realization plays a central role.

Ylva Publishing

Ylva Publishing is the home of lesbian fiction and fiction about women-loving-women, and not surprisingly given the context, they only publish women. They mainly publish romance genre, but they are open to other genres, including historical fiction, crime, action, mystery, young adult, and erotica.

Source Books

This established publisher allows YA submissions without an agent but only “of works that directly promote diversity, equality and inclusion.”

Scholastic Canada

They are open to direct submissions from Canadian authors or focusing on Canadian content, who are from underrepresented communities, including Black writers, Indigenous writers, writers of colour, writers with disabilities, LGBTQIA2S+ writers and writers who identify with other marginalized groups.


An imprint of HarperCollins Children’s Books, which is edited by Cynthia Leitich Smith, and is in partnership with We Need Diverse Books. Native and First Nations writers and writer-illustrators are welcome to query her directly via a form on her website. Native and First Nations illustrators are also invited to reach out. They publish YA and children’s books.

Tundra Books, Puffin Canada, Penguin Teen Canada

These children and teen focused Canadian imprints are open to direct submissions by underrepresented authors and illustrators only. Authors need not be Canadian.

Emily Harstone is the author of many popular books, including The Authors Publish Guide to Manuscript Submissions, Submit, Publish, Repeat, and The 2021 Guide to Manuscript Publishers.

38 Themed Submission Calls and Contests for November 2022

These are themed submission calls and contests for fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. Some of the themed calls are: disabled superheroes; Sherlock Holmes (in the realms of Lovecraft); on the body; beer; this world belongs to us (horror about bugs); empire of beasts (societies of anthropomorphic creatures); die by the sword; the devil who loves me; holiday hauntings; transform the world (hopepunk); phantom thieves & sagacious scoundrels; and miracles. Also see this list for a few more themed calls – some deadlines are coming up.


Mighty – An Anthology of Disabled Superheroes

This is a project by Renaissance Press. They want stories about and by people at the intersection of disability and other identities traditionally excluded from publishing. This includes but is not limited to people of color, LGBTQ+ folks, religious minorities, women, older adults. “All too often in popular media, disability is used as shorthand to say a character is helpless or weak. A victim. And if that character is a superpowered person, their disability becomes something for them to overcome or cure in order for them to become a hero.

We want to challenge those tropes and celebrate characters who are disabled and still save the day, whose abilities and disabilities are equally important aspects of their lives and identities.” They welcome any genre of speculative fiction, and cross-genre stories.

Deadline: 14 November 2022

Length: 500-3,500 words

Pay: CAD0.08/word

Details here

word west revue

This is a new journal; they want fiction, nonfiction, poetry, video submissions, and photography. Their website says, “word west revue is a home for western-y writing and art and a whole lot more. a place to reimagine ‘the west’ and ‘westerns’ from new angles, overlooked perspectives, in both analogue + digital. we’re into subversion and surprise. we’re into road trips and weird americana, ufos and cosmic country—from the mountains to the deserts to the beaches to the plains. go west-ish.” Their guidelines say, “we’re looking for writing and art and whatever else you’ve got that engages with and reimagines the ‘west.’ ideally you or your work will have some connection to the western usa, but this theme is wide open to your interpretation (though our print issues will be more focused and western-y than online, which will be more free-wheeling). we like intersections and echoes, mythos and symbolism, and perspectives not as often seen.” There is also a word west radio, and videos. Pitches for online content (reviews, interviews, etc.) will always be accepted, and they plan to have two annual reading periods for the print magazine. They also have a press.

Deadline: 15 November 2022

Length: Up to 5,000 words for prose, up to 5 poems

Pay: $25 for online, $100 for print, $50 for videos

Details here (guidelines) and here (Submittable)

Sherlock Holmes: Adventures in the Realms of H.P. Lovecraft

This is a fiction anthology. “The stories must feel like traditional Holmes and Lovecraft stories. The stories should have the traditional Holmes and Watson working with the traditional characters, creatures, and/or gods of H.P. Lovecraft.” Also, “Imagine Holmes investigating the disappearance of a college student in the mysterious town of Innsmouth, matching wits with a man who can reanimate the dead, or using his deductive skills to help fight creatures from beyond the realm of time and space. These are just some of the stories which could be included in the new anthology”.

Deadline: 15 November 2022

Length: 5,000-10,000 words

Pay: $100 OR $50 plus a percentage of the Kickstarter project profits (whichever is greater)

Details here (scroll down).

The Rialto: 100th issue – Machine

The Rialto is a UK-based poetry magazine, and they’re reading for their 100th issue. They want poems on the ‘Machine’ theme, broadly interpreted.

Deadline: 15 November 2022

Length: Up to 6 poems

Pay: £20 per poem

Details here (theme), here (general submission guidelines), and here (Submittable).

Shooter Literary Magazine: On the Body

This literary magazine wants fiction, nonfiction (essays, memoir), and poetry “on anything to do with the body and physicality: competitive sports, endurance, sexual attraction, body image, beauty, the sense of touch, ageing, pregnancy and childbirth. Whatever might literally be on the body also makes for welcome subjects, such as tattoo art, jewellery, clothing and fashion. In addition to thematic relevance”.

Deadline: 20 November 2022

Length: 2,000-6,000 words, up to 3 poems

Pay: £5-25

Details here.

(And Rough Cut Press, which publishes work from LGBTQ+ writers and their allies, wants submissions on the Body theme. Pay is $25 and the deadline is 27 November 2022. Details here.)

Flame Tree Fiction: Two themes

They are reading for three fiction anthologies now. Two of these are themed, and the third is an unthemed horror one titled Darkness Beckons, deadline 14 November 2022 (see guidelines). The themed calls are:

— Lost Atlantis Short Stories: This is a folklore, fantasy, and sci-fi anthology. “We’re looking for tales of lost civilisations, perfect societies that withdraw from the world, from the plains of Saharan Africa, to the India of the Indus, from subterranean coastlines to narrow mountain ravines, hidden by vistas of cloud, but enchanting the minds of those yearning for something better, something beyond. They can be utopias in the style of Samuel Butler, or Charlotte Perkins Gilman, or walled cities in the deserts of Robert E. Howard.” They will also accept reprints.

Deadline: 27 November 2022

Length: 2,000-4,000 words most likely to be successful, but will read slightly outside this range

Pay: $0.08/word

Details here.

— Spirits & Ghouls Ghost Stories: This is a themed horror anthology. “We’re looking for explorations of spirits, ghosts and ghouls, from every corner of the world. The spirits of the mountainside, the ghouls of the deserts, the abandoned ghosts of pirate ships, the spirits who linger to protect, the apparitions who thirst for revenge, and the ghouls who simply lust for the taste of flesh.

From cemeteries and abandoned mansions, battered tenement buildings and ice-cold chambers to the desert wastelands of Arabia, this new collection gathers stories from open submissions and surrounds them with the ghastly emanations of H.P. Lovecraft, M.R. James, Mary Elizabeth Braddon, Amelia Edwards and the frightful tales of Le Fanu, Charlotte Riddell and Elizabeth Gaskell.” They will also accept reprints.

Deadline: 27 November 2022

Length: 2,000-4,000 words most likely to be successful, but will read slightly outside this range

Pay: $0.08/word

Details here.

Apparition Lit: Dread

This is a quarterly speculative fiction and poetry magazine. They will be reading submissions on the Dread theme, starting mid-November. As part of their equity initiative, they have a one-week extra reading period for writers who self-identify as BIPOC in their cover letters.

Reading period: 15-30 November 2022 for general submissions; will extend by a week for BIPOC writers (see guidelines)

Length: 1,000-5,000 words for fiction, up to 5 poems

Pay: $0.05/word for stories, $50/poem

Details here.

From Beyond Press: This World Belongs to Us – Horror Stories about Bugs

This is a horror fiction anthology. “Bugs as ill omens, bugs burrowing into bodies or thoughts, bugs taking over your town, giant bugs eating your friends, bugs giving you the side-eye at the supermarket—terrify us with your best stories about the creepy-crawlies that outnumber us, outweigh us, and scare the bejesus out of us. A little humor is OK, but first and foremost we want to be frightened. Bugs don’t have to be the main characters, but they have to have some influence on the plot.”

Deadline: 30 November 2022

Length: 500-5,000 words

Pay: $0.05/word

Details here.

Lost Boys Press: Empire of Beasts

They want stories about new societies and cultures populated by anthropomorphized creatures, in all genres, for this anthology. “What do you think, say, a society of cats would look like if they could walk and talk as humans do? What would their religion be? What would their world look like? What societal standards would they have? What would their homes be made of? Their favorite foods? You don’t have to use cats, you are free to use any creature you wish!” Also, they encourage “gender fluidity, gender-bending, LGBTQIA+ retellings, and whatever else feels appropriate to YOU for the story you want to tell”.

Deadline: 1 December 2022

Length: 3,000-9,000 words

Pay: $40

Details here.

Outcast Press: Diner Crime/Noir/Neo-Noir Anthology

Outcast Press is a publisher of transgressive fiction, and they want submissions for a diner crime/noir/neo noir anthology. They want stories in which a diner-like venue (broadly interpreted – bar, waffle house, greasy spoon, truck stop, etc.) plays a major role in the narrative. Speculative and fantastical elements will be a hard sell.

Deadline: 1 December 2022

Length: 2,000-7,000 words

Pay: $25-100

Details here.

Toxic Workplaces Anthology

They plan to publish anthologies by women writers, starting 2023. The theme of the first creative nonfiction anthology is Toxic Workplaces. “This series is intended to amplify women’s voices, but writers need not necessarily confront issues of gender, sexual harassment, patriarchy, etc. Essays may be politically conscious, but please avoid didactic writing and polemics. Successful pieces will include a strong, relatable voice, engaging narrative, rich sensory detail, and thoughtful reflection.”

Deadline: 1 December 2022

Length: Up to 5,000 words

Pay: $0.02/word for original essays; no cash payment for reprints

Details here and here.

Hawk and Cleaver: The Other Stories – three themes

They publish horror, sci-fi, and thriller fiction on their podcast, The Other Stories. They want tales that terrify, scar and haunt. They have three themed call deadlines coming up: Tunnels (deadline 1 December 2022); Strange Weather (deadline 1 January 2022); and Imaginary Friends (deadline 15 January 2022).

Deadlines: See above

Length: Up to 2,000 words

Pay: £15

Details here (click on submission form for length and payment details).

Crystal Lake Publishing: Never Wake

For this anthology, they want “scary, mind-bending stories featuring dreams, nightmares, hallucinations, messed-up psychedelic experiences, and various elements of phantasmagoria. Think sleep experiments gone awry and Freddy Krueger and “This is bat country!” from Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, but maybe the bats are real and maybe they are vampires? Feel free to bring the weird, the trippy, and the surreal in large doses.”

Deadline: 4 December 2022

Length: 2,500-4,500 words

Pay: $0.08/word

Details here (download the guidelines for the ‘Never Wake’ anthology from here.)

(They’re also open for novel and novella submissions).

Channel Magazine

This Ireland-based magazine accepts submissions from around the world; they want work that engages with the natural world. They are reading submissions for Issue 8. “We have a particular interest in work which encourages reflection on human interaction with plant and animal life, landscape and the self. Each issue includes a mix of poetry and fiction, alongside a selection of essays which may include creative non-fiction, criticism, and the occasional review of new creative work or of community-based environmental projects.” Poetry and fiction have submission deadlines; nonfiction is open through the year. They also accept visual art.

Deadline: 15 December 2022 for fiction and poetry, ongoing for nonfiction

Length: Up to 6,000 words for prose; up to 4 poems

Pay: €50/poem, €50/page of prose, up to €150

Details here.

DMR Books: Die by the Sword

This is a sword and sorcery anthology. “For clarification, sword-and-sorcery is a genre that combines swashbuckling adventure with supernatural elements (usually of a horrific nature) in a pre-industrial setting. The stories can be set in an invented world like Zothique or Nehwon, or in the past of the real world.” Also see the list of what they’re not looking for, including urban fantasy, Tolkien-style epic/high fantasy, and YA/children’s fiction.

Deadline: 31 December 2022

Length: 4,000-8,000 words

Pay: $0.01/word

Details here.

Cutleaf: Beer

They want beer-related writing – short stories, personal essays, poems, or hybrid work. “While reviewing submissions, we delight in the unexpected. However, we’re going to resist sharing specific examples of what this might look like on the page because we want the interpretation of “beer,” and how it figures into your work, to be left up to you, the writer.”

Deadline: 31 December 2022

Length: One prose piece, up to two poems

Pay: $50-200 for poems, $100-300 for prose

Details here.

Grendel Press: Four themes

They are accepting submissions for 4 dark fantasy, dark romance, and horror anthologies. They are reading on these themes currently: – Paramnesia (a condition or phenomenon involving distorted memory or confusions of fact and fantasy, such as confabulation or déjà vu);

— stories with monsters as main characters;

— stories with supernatural elements (ghosts, cults, etc.);

The Devil Who Loves Me – literal devil, figurative devil, questionably the devil, open to interpretation.

Deadline: 1 January 2023

Length: 3,000-7,000 words

Pay: $0.05/word

Details here.

Alienhead Press: Literally Dead – Tales of Holiday Hauntings

This is a fiction anthology. “We’re inviting writers of dark fiction to submit short stories of classic paranormal, poltergeists, ghosts, spirits, haunted places and objects, and the eerily unexplained that take place on or around the winter holidays. #ownvoices, BIPOC, gender-diverse, LGBTQIA, and authors of other marginally represented groups highly encouraged to apply.” They do not want children’s or slasher stories, vampires, werewolves, zombies, extreme, or creature horror.

Deadline: 20 January 2023

Length: 2,000-4,000 words

Pay: $0.06/word

Details here.

(Submissions are also open for The Theatre Phantasmagoria’s December theme, which is Hear the Slay Bells Ring – they want stories about Christmas or set during wintertime. The deadline is 30 November. Pay is £10 for stories up to 2,000 words. Details here.)

The Bureau Dispatch: Wayfinding

They publish fiction and nonfiction. For Volume 5, they say, “We’re open to all kinds of narratives but are particularly interested in ones about WAYFINDING: stories that explore our relationships with physical (and metaphorical) spaces and places, how we orient ourselves within or among them, and how we navigate and find our way.” Also, “We are not a spec fic journal, but our stories often contain a hint of the speculative, a dash of the intriguing. We want fiction that is compelling and beautifully-crafted; narratives that leave the reader breathless and changed.”

Deadline: 31 January 2023

Length: Up to 1,000 words

Pay: $50

Details here.

Other Worlds Ink: Transform the World

They want near-future hopepunk stories. This is the third in the series of Writers Save the World anthologies. “The way we do things now as a society is unsustainable. Garbage is piling up in our landfills and oceans, income inequality is getting worse, and our governments are often paralyzed when it comes to seeking solutions. … we’re focusing on new ways of living and of structuring societies. Stories should be near future (in the next 100 years or so) science fiction with a hopeful tone.

Stories do not need to be hard sci fi, but the chosen solution/adaptation should be plausible, given what we know about human nature and society today. That said, we have accepted a few whimsical stories that tickled our fancy in the past.”

Deadline: 28 February 2022

Length: 2,500-15,000 words

Pay: $50-100

Details here.

(And Solarpunk Magazine is open for nonfiction/essay submissions on solarpunk themes. Essays of 1,000-2,000 words are accepted year-round, and pay $75; fiction and poetry are open periodically, you can see the 2023 schedule on their website. Details here.)

Chicken Soup for the Soul: Miracles

Chicken Soup for the Soul publishes true stories and poetry. They have a few upcoming themes, including Miracles. “All of us have experienced events in our lives that are completely unexplainable: the strange premonition that made you take a different route home causing you to miss an accident; the eerie feeling that you should call home… now, saving someone’s life; the mysterious communication from a loved one who has passed on. Divine timing, miraculous coincidences, answered prayers, premonitions that come true. Good things do happen to good people. Please share your unbelievable and amazing stories about the unexplainable events that have occurred to you. … Writers of all religions or no religion are welcome.” Some of the suggested topics are: coincidences; chance events; a happy accident; meeting the love of your life; everyday miracles and hope; miraculous healing or recovery; holiday miracles; miraculous acts of kindness; and mysterious helpers. Apart from cash payment, writers also get 10 contributor copies.

Deadline: 28 February 2023 for Miracles

Length: Up to 1,200 words

Pay: $250

Details here (themes), here (general guidelines), here (FAQ), and here (submission portal).

(Chicken Soup has other themes listed, too: How stepping outside my comfort zone changed me, deadline 15 December 2022; The power of positive thinking, deadline 15 December 2022; Angels, deadline 28 February 2023. See details on these topics here; they periodically announce new themes, too. Please note, their deadlines sometimes change, so it may be a good idea to re-check before submitting.)

Sinister Smile Press: Dead Hookers in Gas Station Bathrooms

This is a road trip horror anthology. “Road trips can be memorable, the stuff of dreams. Just you and the family or loved ones out on the open road, taking in the breathtaking scenery, and experiencing adventure and mystery while exploring the world. But the thing about dreams is sometimes they quickly turn to nightmares.”

Deadline: Until filled

Length: 4,000-10,000 words

Pay: $30-50

Details here.

JayHenge Publishing: Three themes

They are open for three speculative fiction anthologies.

— Phantom Thieves & Sagacious Scoundrels: “Phantom (or Gentleman/Lady) thieves and lovable and clever rogues like Thomas Crown, Simon Templar, Arsène Lupin, Carmen Sandiego, Danny Ocean, Han Solo and The Stainless Steel Rat have long been characters we root for despite their nefarious deeds. We now want your spec-fic stories of this special class of criminal. Elusive and fantastic thieves and scoundrels of all genders and species who can be long gone before the victim even knows what happened. Show us what admirable trickery your scoundrels and robbers and smugglers have up their sleeves!”

— The Nameless Songs of Zadok Allen & Other Things that Should Not Be: “What lurks in the deep? Who listens from the shadows? What sorts of abominable experiments are taking place at the mysterious ivy-covered university? We want your Lovecraftian tales.”

— The Black Forty: “In the 1860s, the Homestead Acts granted farmers a quarter section; a section was nominally 1 square mile containing 640 acres, a quarter section was 160 acres, and the quarter section was itself subdivided into four quarter-quarter sections of 40 acres each: two front forty and two back forty. It now refers to the most remote part of a farm, or even the most remote or inaccessible part of any place.

In The Back Forty, we are looking for your stories that explore new, lawless frontiers, backwater towns, self-appointed sheriffs, lonesome explorers, bounty hunters, and other Wild West in Outer Space kinds of themes. We are sometimes flexible on themes, so if you have something you think might fit as an edge case, don’t hesitate to give us a holler. We’ll usually have a look at most anything.”

Deadline: Until filled, for all anthologies

Length: Up to 15,000 words

Pay: $5 per 1,000 words

Details here (themes) and here (general guidelines).


Academy of American Poets: Treehouse Climate Action Poem Prize

This prize, for US poets, is given to honor exceptional poems that help make real for readers the gravity of the vulnerable state of our environment at present; poets may submit one poem. In addition to the prize money, all three poems will be published in the popular Poem-a-day series. The Academy of American Poets also has other contests listed; see Submittable.

Value: $1,000, $750, $500

Deadline: 15 November 2022

Open for: US poets (see guidelines)

Details here and here (Submittable)

Brooklyn Film & Arts Festival: Brooklyn Non-Fiction Prize

This prize will be awarded to a Brooklyn-focused nonfiction essay which is set in Brooklyn and is about Brooklyn and/or Brooklyn people/characters. “We are seeking compelling Brooklyn stories from writers with a broad range of backgrounds and ages (minimum age 18 years old) who can render Brooklyn’s rich soul and intangible qualities through the writer’s actual experiences in Brooklyn.” Essays have to be 4-10 pages (up to 2,500 words).

Value: $500

Deadline: 15 November 2022

Open for: Unspecified

Details here.

The One Teen Short Story Contest: Stories about the teen experience

This contest is open for short fiction by writers around the world ages 13-19. There are three categories, ages 14-15, 16-17, and 18-19. They want stories about the teen experience. “We are interested in great short stories of any genre about the teen experience—literary, fantasy, sci-fi, love stories, horror, etc. What’s in a great short story? Interesting teen characters, strong writing, and a beginning, middle, and end.” Also, they want “Some examples of stories we look out for are ones that deal with issues of identity, friendship, family, and coming-of-age. Gratuitous profanity, sex, and drug use are best avoided. We’re open to all genres of well-written young adult fiction between 2,000 and 4,500 words. Because of our format, we can only accept stories that are strong enough to stand alone (as opposed to excerpts from novels-in-progress).” They also accept translations (see guidelines). A parent or legal guardian must sign a consent form for writers under 18. Apart from cash prizes, winners get 25 copies of the magazine featuring their work. The contest winners will also have the opportunity to work with a One Teen Story editor prior to publication.

Value: $500

Deadline: 27 November 2022

Open for: All teen writers

Details here and here.

The London Society: Love Letters to London

This is an international, themed contest, about London. “Tell us why you love this city. Write a Love Letter to London of up to 500 words (or poems 40 lines in length) around the theme of ‘making connections’. You can write on any aspect of London’s past, present or future. It might be reportage, an historical essay, a ‘think piece’, a spot of futurology, a work of fiction, a poem. We are open to all forms and styles.” There are 4 categories: Aged 11 and under; 12-18 year olds; Open – all other entrants; and Poetry. Entries can have been published elsewhere but must fit the brief and have been written in 2022.

Value: £500, £250, and £100 each for Open and Poetry categories; £500, and 4 runners up prizes of £150 each for 11 and under, and 12-18 categories

Deadline: 30 November 2022

Open for: All writers

Details here.

Dappled Things: The J. F. Powers Prize for Short Fiction

Dappled Things is a space for emerging writers to engage the literary world from a Catholic perspective. For this contest, they want stories of up to 8,000 words “with vivid characters who encounter grace in everyday settings—we want to see who, in the age we live in, might have one foot in this world and one in the next.”

Value: $500, $250

Deadline: 30 November 2022

Open for: All writers

Details here.

Better than Starbucks Sonnet Contest

This is a contest for metrical sonnets. “Your sonnet can be shakespearean, petrarchan, spenserian, rhymed, or slant-rhymed. Blank verse is eligible, as long as the sonnet form is clearly identifiable. We’ll consider tetrameter, hexameter, etc. as well as pentameter. Some metrical variation is fine, but don’t forget the volta!” They also accept previously published work, as long as the poet holds the rights (see guidelines).

Value: $500, $100, $50

Deadline: 30 November 2022

Open for: All poets

Details here.

Patrick Henry Fellowship: American history and/or legacy

Those working on American history and/or legacy may be interested in the Patrick Henry Fellowship, which supports outstanding work on the subject by both scholars and non-academics in many genres – a book, film, oral history archive, podcast series, museum exhibition, or similar work.

Value: $45,000, residency

Deadline: 15 December 2022

Open for: Unspecified

Details here.

The Philosophy Essay Prize: Emotions

The Philosophy Essay Prize is run by the Royal Institute of Philosophy. The theme this year is Emotions. “We intend this topic to be understood very broadly, so as to include related issues in any area of philosophy and from any philosophical tradition.” Send an essay of up to 8,000 words.

Value: £2,500 and publication in Philosophy magazine; in exceptional circumstances, the prize may be awarded jointly, in which case the financial component will be divided.

Deadline: 20 December 2022

Open for: All writers

Details here.

Deep Wild 2023 Graduate Student Poetry Contest

This is a contest from Deep Wild: Writing from the Backcountry – they want students currently enrolled in graduate studies to submit work for our 2023 Graduate Student Poetry Contest. “We seek work that conjures the experiences, observations, and insights of backcountry journeys. By “backcountry,” we mean away from roads, on journeys undertaken by foot, skis, snowshoes, kayak, canoe, horse, or any other non-motorized means of conveyance.” This is an international contest.

Value: $300, $200, $100

Deadline: 1 February 2023

Details here and here.

(They’re also reading general submissions for 2023 for the magazine on related themes, from all writers, through 30 November 2022.)

(A couple of other prizes are:

— Cave Canem’s Toi Derricotte & Cornelius Eady Chapbook Prize, dedicated to the discovery of exceptional chapbook-length manuscripts by Black poets. Apart from a cash award of $1,000 and publication, the winner also gets a residency at The Writer’s Room at The Betsy Hotel in Miami, and a featured reading at the O, Miami Poetry Festival. The deadline is 14 November 2022, details here and here. Cave Canem also runs other prizes.

— And Thin Air Magazine’s The Bird in Your Hands Prize is a literary contest that centers and celebrates BIPOC voices; send fiction, poetry, or nonfiction of up to 500 words. The prize is $500, the deadline is 20 November 2022, and it is open for BIPOC writers;

Details here and here.

— There’s also the ServiceScape Short Story Award, open for all writers, for fiction or nonfiction. The award is $1,000, and the deadline is 30 November 2022. Details here.)


Bio: S. Kalekar is the pseudonym of a regular contributor to this magazine. She can be reached here.