Opportunities: December 2019

A curated roundup for December 2019 of submission opportunities for short stories, poetry, and non-fiction writing.

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With the seasonal festivities creeping ever closer, I find myself wondering how it is December already. I would assume, if it wasn’t for packed car parks and Christmas music blaring from every shop, that I had turned over too many pages on my calendar.

Thanet has plenty to tempt us away from our words this month, with delights ranging from sweet-smelling Christmas markets to the glittering charms of an illuminated harbour. However, if you are looking for a writing goal to take your mind off the horrors of having to fight your trusty tree out of a tiny loft hatch, then here are some December opportunities.

What better place is there to hide from hanging the outside lights in the cold than in a nice cosy pub? If you can combine this with the excuse of meeting your friendly writers’ group and getting constructive feedback on your work, then even better. Plus, there are other groups meeting this December: Julie’s Journaling to help mine the subconscious, Writers’ Gremlins for support tackling writer-facing issues, and Dead Hoarse Writers for prompts and inspiration. Of course, it wouldn’t be truly festive without a social gathering, where all these groups will be mingling and mixing. The Thanet Writers Festive Shindig is going to be held on Sunday 15th December, and is a great chance to meet a wide variety of local writers, along with the staff that run Thanet Writers. Come along!

If that isn’t enough to tempt you away from the mince pies, then this might be: Thanet Writers are open for submissions of short stories, poetry, essays, and book reviews. There is no charge for submissions, previously published items are accepted, and—to make it even more appealing—you will be paid £10 for any piece that is accepted, so get submitting!

Short Stories

As it is the time of year for giving, I thought that the first fiction opportunity outside of Thanet Writers should have a charitable element. Words Magazine is an online publication which donates the proceeds from their sales of eBooks to a chosen charity, and this year it is supporting the RNLI Lifeboats. They are now open for submissions for their short story competition on the subject of ‘murder.’ Stories must be no longer than 2,000 words and not currently entered into any other competitions. Previously published materials are accepted but this must be mentioned, and you can enter as many times as you like. Each piece must have the authors name, an approximate word count and full postal address on the first page. Entry is free of charge and there is a first prize of £50 and a second prize of £25. All entries will be considered for publication in either Words Magazine, in their online library, or in an anthology which will be sold as an ebook. The deadline is 31st December and entries should be made via email.

The next open call for submissions is by Upstreet Magazine for their award-winning annual literary anthology. There is no theme, but all fiction must be 5,000 words or under and previously unpublished. They request that you inform them if you have sent your work elsewhere, and they expect to be told immediately if it is accepted by another publication. All entries must be accompanied by a Submissions Manager entry form, which should be completed with the author’s name, address, phone number, and email, along with a brief bio and any further information. You may enter up to twice, but each entry must be separate. Payment ranges from $50-$250, as well as a complimentary copy of the anthology and any additional copies at a reduced price. The deadline is 1st March 2020 but check the guidelines before submitting.


Kent and Sussex Poetry Society are now open for submissions for their competition, and with a first prize of £1,000 it would give a post-Christmas boost to the pocket. There is also a second prize of £300, a third of £100, and then four runners up will each receive £50. There is no theme for the competition. Poems must be no longer than 40 lines and each poem must be typed on a separate sheet of A4 paper. As entries are judged anonymously, they should not bear your name or any other form of identification. You should include a separate sheet of A4 paper on which you should give your name and address, a list of poems submitted, and say where you heard about the competition. You can either enter online or by post. There is an entry fee of £5 for each the first and second poem and then £4 per poem after that, and the deadline for entry is 31st January 2020.

Writing Magazine is also running their annual poetry competition at the moment (as well as several other competitions). This is one of the bestselling magazines for writers on the market, so having a win in this competition would be an accolade that any poet would love to add to their repertoire. Entries need to be “carefully thought through, original, imaginative, flawlessly executed, with flashes of brilliance to touch the heart and mind of the reader.” There is no theme, but poems must be no longer than 40 lines. Entries must be on single sides of A4 paper, single-spaced but with double spacing between stanzas. You should include a separate sheet of A4 paper showing your name, address, telephone number, and email address. In addition to bragging rights, they have a prize of £100 for the winner and £50 for the runner up. There is an entry fee of £6 (or £4 for subscribers). The deadline is 15th January 2020. To enter the competition, you must complete an entry form.


To celebrate the invaluable efforts of the Red Cross, Hektoen International Journal of Medical Humanities is running an essay competition. Essays can be up to 1,600 words long and on anything blood related. There is an extensive list of possible ideas on their website, but to give you an idea of how wide the topic is, the suggestions range from the history of venesection, vampires, the work of the Red Cross, and barber surgeons. Each submission should be in Times New Roman size 12 and double spaced. I would recommend reading the guidelines and rules thoroughly before entering. There is a $3,000 prize for the winner and $800 for the runner up. Entry is free. The deadline is 15th January 2020.


If you are a poet looking for your way into the spotlight, the Moth Poetry Prize is one of the biggest prizes in the world for a single unpublished poem. Due to this, it attracts entries from new and established poets from over fifty countries, procuring a wide audience. It would be a prodigious way in which to get your work noticed.

There is no theme or line limit, but all poems must be previously unpublished, and entries must be from writers over 16 years of age. You name should not be shown anywhere on the poem as the marking is blind.

Although there is a €15 entry fee per poem, there is a large—and life-changing—first prize of €10,000 and three runners up prizes of €1,000. All shortlisted poems will be published in the Spring 2020 issue of The Moth.

Entry is online or via post with a cover letter, and entries close on 31st December 2019. The prestige of being shortlisted, placed, or winning should make this a must for all poets.

Having always been an avid reader, Zoe now writes fiction and poetry to relax and escape into her own reality for a while.

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