28 Themed Calls for Submissions to Magazines & Websites

There are 28 submission calls for themed non-fiction in the 16 markets listed here. Some of the themes are: cats, dogs, kindness, miracles, the brain & games (and other neuroscience-based themes), puncture, crimes of the famous & infamous, disinformation, climate change, spring, dirt, and the city. While some magazines specify pitch or submission deadlines, some do not. – S. Kalekar

Chicken Soup for the Soul: Eight themes
They accept themed true inspirational stories and poetry. See the end of the section on this publisher for links to theme details, guidelines, and submission portal.
Cats: “We want your true funny stories, your heartwarming stories, and your mindboggling stories about all the simply amazing things that your cat does. What have you learned from your cat? How does your cat improve your life? What crazy things does your cat do? Has your cat ever done anything heroic? How does your cat warm your heart and make you smile? We want to hear all about the absurd antics, funny habits and insightful behavior of your cat.”
Crazy Family: “We all have that certain someone in our own family who, while lovable, sweet, and caring, is also nutty or weird. We love that person but, at the same time, that family member makes us crazy! … We are looking for true stories and poems about those family members. We would like your stories to be silly, outrageous, hilarious, and make us laugh, but they should also show the kindness and caring of your family member too.” Writers must submit the story or poem using real names, but can use pen names and change names of family members if the work is selected for publication.
— Dogs: “
We want your true funny stories, your heartwarming stories, and your mindboggling stories about all the simply amazing things that your dog does. What have you learned from your dog? How does your dog improve your life? What crazy things does your dog do? Has your dog ever done anything heroic? How does your dog warm your heart and make you smile? .. Stories can be serious or humorous.”
Grieving, Loss and Recovery: “Grieving is a personal process with different stages we go through on the way to recovery after we have suffered a loss. … Sometimes the loss feels overwhelming and like the pain will never end. While the hurt and sadness never completely fade, they will ease with time and recovery will happen. This collection of emotional and inspirational stories will provide comfort, support, and peace to those who have lost someone close to them. What helped you the most when you were grieving? Who were the people who helped you and what did they do? When did you know that you had finally “turned the corner” and were on the road to recovery?”
Humorous Stories: “Share your funny stories about something that happened to you in your life – in your relationship with a partner or spouse, a parent or child, a family member or friend, at work or at home – that made you and the people around you laugh out loud. Did you mean for it to be funny? Did the other person mean to make you laugh? Did a situation just get out of control? Did a misunderstanding turn into a comedy of errors?” Writers must submit the story or poem using real names, but can use pen names if the work is selected for publication for this theme.
Kindness: “It is so wonderful and heartwarming to hear stories about people who have gone out of their way to do something kind for someone without being asked. Just because it was the kind thing to do. … Has someone performed an act of kindness for you? How did it feel? Did you pay it forward and do something kind for someone else? … We are looking for true stories about acts of kindness that have happened to you or stories about a kindness that you performed for someone else.”
— Messages from Heaven: “When our loved ones leave this world, our connection with them does not end. Death takes away their physical presence, but not their spirits, and we often sense them after they have gone. Sometimes we see or hear from them after they’ve passed, and they give us signs and a spiritual link from beyond. We want to hear from you if you have experienced communication from the other side or received a sign or signal from a loved one who has passed. Has someone who has died come to you in a dream? Given you counsel or comfort? Have you gone beyond, but returned to life with new knowledge, insight, or awareness? Have you intuitively known the moment someone died?
This book is for everyone who has a story, whether religious or secular.”
Miracles: “Everyone has experienced events in their lives that cause wonder and astonishment. These miraculous happenings are completely and totally unexplainable. Why did these amazing things happen? How did these surprising and bewildering things occur?
We want your true stories, both religious and non-religious, that will awe us with examples of amazing events.”
The deadline for all the above Chicken Soup for the Soul series is 31 August 2021. Stories or poems have to be up to 1,200 words. They pay $200, and contributor copies. Details here (theme details – scroll down), here (guidelines), and here (submission portal).

Dilettante Army: Mission Accomplished
They publish pieces that involve visual analysis, critical theory, and close text reading. Their preferred topics center around issues of social justice, politics, the art world, and quirky historical stuff. They also promote imaginative pieces, poetry, and visual essays. They have extensive guidelines for the current theme, including: The issue “will focus on George W. Bush’s 2003 speech/stunt/sight gag announcing the end of major combat operations in Iraq: preening on a tricked-out aircraft carrier in front of an enormous banner trumpeting “Mission Accomplished.” This fall, President Biden is looking to accomplish a similar feat by removing the last US troops from Afghanistan by September 11. The US economy is also predicted to be “back to normal,” with schools and theaters reopening and the virus vanquished. We want to use this issue to explore ways we declare a triumph, especially when doing so is premature or impossible. What makes an ending (of history or anything else)? This issue will explore hollow victories, final acts, and political stunts. … Dilettante Army seeks scholarly submissions on “Mission Accomplished.” Topics might include but are not limited to: endings, stunts, theater, mesmerism, Romantic irony, conspiracy, dog whistles, jingoism, satire, slapstick, bombed jokes, confidence games, transitions that never complete, self-talk (affirmations, positive thinking), fake it till you make it, and Pyrrhic victory.” Submissions are generally 3,000-4,000 words and pay $500; visual essays and poetry are considered separately. The pitch deadline for this theme is 23 July 2021. Details here (theme details) and here (submission guidelines).

School Library Connection: Money; Science
This is a resource for school library professionals. Their website says, “School Library Connection is a publication of Libraries Unlimited, a publisher in the field of academic, public, school, and special libraries since 1964. Libraries Unlimited’s mission—to cultivate and maintain a supportive community where librarians, archivists, and information specialists can learn about and discuss leading-edge trends and acquire new skills through every phase of their careers”. Two of their upcoming themes are: Money (October 2021); and Science (November 2021). They have other themes listed, as well. Details here (themes; download submission guidelines).

The Victorian Writer: Transformation
Writers Victoria is an Australian not-for-profit charity that supports and advocates for writers, illustrators, editors and literary-sector workers to be paid for the work that they do. They are accepting pitches of their in-house magazine, The Victorian Writer. For their December 2021/January/February 2022 issue, the theme is ‘Transformation’. “We publish poems ($70), and articles of 600 words ($100) and 1200 words ($200) in the print edition with particular interest in the craft of writing and the writing life.” Pay is in Australian dollars. Submissions for this theme close on 2 September 2021. Details here.
(Also see their Deborah Cass Prize for early-career writers of a migrant background from anywhere in Australia; the prize is AUD3,000 and mentorship, and the deadline is 13 August 2021.)

Our State – Celebrating North Carolina: Annual Holiday Issue
This is a general-interest magazine on North Carolina, and they cover its people, places, culture, and history. They work 6-8 months in advance, and want pitches, not completed articles. Features are 1,200 words, and departments are 500-800 words. They do not cover on-time events or news stories. According to their editorial calendar, the December 2021 issue is their Annual Holiday Issue. Payment is upon publication. Details here.

New York Times: Solver Stories
The Tweet from NYTimes Wordplay says, “We’ve updated our submission guidelines for our solver stories. If you have a story you’d like to share about your relationship to puzzles. we’d love to hear it” Their guidelines are extensive, and include this: “The most important thing is that the writing be emotionally honest and for the story to be freshly and compellingly told.” The articles have to be 800-1,300 words, and pay is $200. Details here (Tweet) and here (guidelines).

Experience Life: Bring It Home
This is a health/fitness/quality-of-life magazine. Apart from three in-depth features (2,500-3,500 words), they have departments that need shorter pieces: Front of Book, Real Fitness, Real Food, Feature Well, and Real Life. According to their editorial calendar, the theme for December 2021 is ‘Bring It Home’: “As 2021 comes to a close, spend time with the people you love most, celebrate all that you’ve accomplished, and take an honest look at what your heart truly desires. These ideas will help you wrap up the year on a high note.” See their extensive guidelines for more. Details here (guidelines) and here (editorial calendar).

The Suburban Review: Puncture
They want creative non-fiction (500-2,500 words), fiction, poetry, and comics on the Puncture theme. Their guidelines say, “Are you pulled over on the side of the road with a flat? Got a particularly fine piece of embroidery? Or maybe you just spent three hours stapling documents on a Friday afternoon, only to have to pull them all out again. Perhaps this led to a few mildly frustrated texts, punctuated with hard full stops that almost put holes in your phone screen. However you interpret it, we’re looking for piercingly sharp literature and artworks that play with the theme of PUNCTURE (carefully, of course).” Pay is $75-150 for fiction, non-fiction, and poetry, and $75-200 for comics and art. The deadline is 1 August 2021. Details here.

BrainFacts.Org: The Brain & Games; Your Brain on Planet Earth; The Happy Brain
They want pitches on stories around the brain and nervous system. They have extensive guidelines, including: BrainFacts.org “tells the story of scientific discoveries, the people behind them, and how it relates to our everyday lives. Knowing about the brain’s inner workings helps paint a better picture of the human experience that explores the universe between our ears. We’re looking for freelance science writers, journalists, and multimedia creators with a strong portfolio in science communication to pitch us story ideas about the brain and nervous system.” They have several themes they are interested in currently, including the following, but also say that they are open to all neuro-related pitches at any time.
— The Brain & Games: “From therapies to learning, what do games, the gamification of activities, and play do for the human brain + what are researchers learning from them?”
— Your Brain on Planet Earth: “Climate change has altered our human experience — even more so the animal models researchers study. Expanding urban cities, drought, land, water, and air pollution touches us all. How does this impact the brain?”
— The Happy Brain: “Are you happy? There are lots more questions than answers when we think about happiness and how we decern if we’re happy and those around us (including our animal friends) are happy, too. What is happy, who is studying it, and why?”
Brainfacts.Org assigns long (1000-1200 words), medium (700-900 words), and short-form (500-800 words) written and multimedia stories. They do consider profiles of experts in neuroscience if you weave the science throughout the story. Commentaries are accepted by invitation only. Pay depends on a number of factors, but is roughly $1/word. Details here (guidelines) and here (themes).

The Best New True Crime Stories: Two themes
This is a submission call for two anthologies on true crime.
— Unsolved Crimes & Mysteries: “Seeking nonfiction, true crime accounts of unsolved criminal cases and mysteries that can take place anywhere in the world and be from any time period. Material can cover a wide range of criminal activity. First-person accounts are especially welcome from writers with a connection to their cases. Add something new to the story, a different viewpoint or angle.”
— Crimes of the Famous & Infamous: “Nonfiction, true crime accounts of the “famous and infamous.” Criminal subjects can be from the performing and literary arts (including actors, musicians and composers, radio and TV personalities, authors, journalists, artists, etc.), politicians, sports figures, members of royalty, business entrepreneurs, philanthropists, and so forth. Criminal subjects must already be in the public eye when committing their crimes, not made famous after the fact. Stories can take place anywhere in the world and can cover a wide range of criminal activity/historical time frames. First-person accounts are especially welcome from writers with a connection to their cases. Add something new to the story, a different viewpoint or angle, particularly if your chosen case has received extensive coverage.”
For each true crime anthology, the final word count has to be 4,000-7,000 words. Pay is $130 for submissions. The final submission deadlines are 1 September 2021 (or until filled) for Unsolved Crimes & Mysteries, and 1 January 2022 (or until filled) for Crimes of the Famous & Infamous. It is best to pitch early, as these are accepted on a rolling basis, and submissions may close early if the anthology is filled. Details here.

Northern Woodlands: Spring
Their audience consists of conservation-minded people with an interest in all aspects of the forests of the Northeast. Their articles and columns range in scope, and may include subjects such as woodlot management, wildlife species, woodworking, and reflections on natural landscapes. They publish book reviews, various columns (see guidelines), poems, and features. Pay is $0.15/word features, for writers new to the magazine. They are not reviewing personal essays currently. For their ‘Spring’ issue, stories are contracted by 15 October May and the copy deadline is 15 November 2021. Details here.

DJ Mag: Two themes
This is a UK-based magazine of music. Their guidelines say, “In 2021, across print and digital, we’re looking to publish longform features that are ideally not centered around one artist. This can be a focus on an emerging sound, a reportage deep-dive into a subject surrounding dance music, culture and technology, or an opinion piece on a timely (and potentially divisive) talking point. For more interview-heavy features, we are keen to hear from labels and collectives that are focused on particular cities, genres, or micro-scenes.
We are open to pitches for topical features, opinion pieces and long-form reportage on how the COVID-19 pandemic continues to profoundly affect the electronic music industry globally, and how Brexit will affect the industry in the UK and Europe.
For digital specifically, we are also open to list-based features if they have an “evergreen” hook to them and speak to a niche interest, so that they can be revisited at later dates and still be relevant.” Also, “We are particularly looking for in-depth coverage on genres such as grime, drill, and emerging leftfield dance genres outside of the 4/4 orthodoxy, and on the sounds and scenes of the Global South — Latin America, Africa, and South and South-east Asia.” Features can be 1,200-3,000 words. Pay is 20p/word. They commission a lot of their articles to regular writers and in-house, but are open to freelance pitches for certain topics. Details here (pitch guide).

Black Coffee & Vinyl: The City
This is a multimedia art project that incorporates literature –including non-fiction (up to 2,000 words), fiction, and poetry – visual art, and music around a theme. For the second of four installments of this project, they will explore the theme of “The City.” “We are seeking art, words, and sounds that explore, critique, celebrate and interrogate the urban landscape, culture and environment. The city, a place, should play a central role in the work and should be a central character or focus. We are seeking a diverse range of city representation from large cities to small, from real to imagined.” Pay is $50, and the deadline is 30 September 2021. Details here.

Singapore Unbound: Climate change
Singapore Unbound is an NYC-based literary nonprofit. Their website says, “To draw attention to climate change and its catastrophic consequences, Singapore Unbound’s SP Blog is devoting the month of October 2021 to the publication of literary works that speak powerfully to the theme.
We seek poetry, fiction, and essays that imaginatively explore the global crisis in local terms. We are especially interested in less well-known stories located in Asia. In accordance with our mission, we welcome submissions by authors of Asian heritage residing anywhere around the world.” Submissions can be up to 5,000 words, and pay is $50 for essays. The deadline is 31 July 2021. Details here (scroll down).
(Also see their two other submission calls – an essay contest for undergraduate writers on Singapore and Other Literatures, with a 31 July deadline; and a flash fiction contest, open to all writers, with a 31 August 2021 deadline.)

Are We Europe: The Disinformation Issue
This is a themed, quarterly publication and they commission articles and photo series from young journalists in Europe on underreported topics. They’re commissioning pitches for feature pieces (1,200-2,000 words), photography, illustration, short stories (scroll to end of guidelines for fiction themes), podcasts and infographics on a rolling basis for their quarterly themes. Their pitching rounds are open for magazine entries as well as pitches for personal, in-depth multimedia stories. They have extensive guidelines on the ‘The Disinformation Issue’ theme, including: “We hear very little about the impact of disinformation technology (troll factories, bots etc.) on our personal lives—on our families and communities, our neighbourhoods, schools and sports clubs. The next print and online edition of Are We Europe magazine will explore the world of conspiracies and alternate truths. We are looking to commission feature articles, fiction and photography that examine how online disinformation affects our offline lives. What are the places, events or communities across Europe that teach us something unexpected about the real-life consequences of disinformation?” The pitch deadline is 30 July 2021 for The Disinformation Issue. Details here.

Guernica: Dirt
Guernica is accepting submissions of short and longform non-fiction, poetry, fiction, art, and hybrid work for a special issue on Dirt. They have extensive guidelines on the theme, including: they “want to examine dirt at the intersection of the societal, the personal, and the ecological—dirt as metaphor and dirt as substance. We are looking for submissions—essays, journalism, poetry, fiction, illustration, and beyond—that explore the emotional, interpersonal, and political meanings that hide inside our ideas about uncleanness and hygiene. Long before this pandemic year, the notion of dirt has been used to signal feelings of fear or disgust for other people: to enshrine class, caste, and colonial systems, to enact racism and misogyny, to express our everyday amorphous discomfort with each other. At the same time, dirt is exalted for its life-sustaining properties, and often sentimentalized. It’s something kids need a chance to play in, it’s something we need contact with to feel ‘grounded’.” They’re also accepting unthemed/general reportage, longform and shortform non-fiction, fiction, and poetry. They pay $100 for essays, $50 for poetry, and $150 for fiction and reportage. Deadline for ‘Dirt’ is 1 September 2021; deadlines are not specified for unthemed calls. Details here.

Bio: S. Kalekar is the pseudonym of a regular contributor to this magazine. She is the author of 182 Short Fiction Publishers. She can be reached here.


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