Opportunities: February 2020

A curated roundup for February 2020 of submission opportunities for short stories, poetry, and non-fiction writing.

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Have your exercise clothes been banished to the back of your wardrobe yet? Now that it is February, most of our new year’s resolutions are a distant memory, but I hope that your writing resolutions haven’t fallen by the wayside as well. After all, it is much easier to sit at home on a miserable February day with your words than it is to face the pluvial jog from the car to the gym.

Before I start February’s monthly roundup of opportunities, I am going to take a quick moment to tell you where some of them come from. Submittable is a resource of which every writer should be aware, posting hundreds of calls for submissions in all genres and forms each month. It is free to sign up and get an account, and you can keep track of what, when, and where you have sent work. Every writer serious about building a reputation or submitting their work should have an account, so if you haven’t already make sure you sign up and have a look to see what grabs your attention; although beware, you may find that you spend hours lost in the vortex of opportunity.

Before you get too carried away compiling lists of places to send your work, don’t forget that Thanet Writers also pay to publish and 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 tempting you will be paid £10 for UK print rights for any piece that is accepted. You just need to have a link to Thanet in order to submit. Considering thanetwriters.com received 160,000 visitors in 2019, and currently gets around 20,000 visitors a month, there are some significant benefits to being published on this site!

If you feel that your work needs a little polish before submitting it, and you find yourself in the Thanet area, then come along to the Thanet Writers-hosted Thursday Writers’ Group in Broadstairs. The group takes place every Thursday evening in the Chapel Bar and Bookshop from 7:30pm and you will get effective and useful feedback on your writing. If you do not feel confident to show your work straight away then that is fine, just pop along and meet everyone, read some of the other writers’ contributions, relax, and enjoy the time surrounded by like-minded individuals. When you feel ready, the group will be happy to look at what you bring along.

If instead you’d like a little support without needing to share your work, then Writers’ Gremlins could be for you. This is a monthly support group for writers, which can be very helpful to remind you that you are not alone.

Perhaps you would prefer some prompting, in which case Dead Hoarse Writers might be more up your street. A writers’ group with a difference, here you will write during the session and go away with a host of new ideas in mind.

Maybe you just want to get your words flowing, and there is nowhere better for freewriting than Julie’s Journaling. An inspirational wellbeing group, here you will be able to write in response to prompts and express your subconscious.

All of these groups are supported and endorsed by Thanet Writers, and all are free to attend. Just show up and join in, you will always be welcome.

Now that you’ve got inspired, and possibly sent some work to your local publisher, you might want to think about looking further afield—especially now you’ve signed up to Submittable! Here are my picks of submission opportunities for February 2020.

Short Stories

As the daylight hours are still short-lived, now is the ideal time to let the imagination run free and the topic of ‘Not After Midnight’ seems to fit the bill perfectly. This is the theme of the du Maurier Festival Adult Short Story Prize, as part of the Fowey Festival, and is now open for submissions until 16th March. There is a £100 prize for first place and £75 for second. Successful entries will be published on the Fowey Festival of Arts website. Stories can be in any style but must not exceed 1,500 words. All work must be original, previously unpublished and double spaced. Only one entry is allowed per person and there is a £5 fee, with profits going to supporting the running of the festival, which is a registered charity. The competition is open to everyone and as it is judged anonymously any identifying features such as name and contact details should only be shown on the entry form.

The award-winning Tartarus Press is looking for short story submissions. This small British independent press specialises in collectable hardbacks and is celebrating their 30th year by publishing a volume of contemporary literary tales. This is where you come in. They want submissions to be 2,000 to 6,000 words long, and on the theme of strange, horror, or the supernatural. Work must be previously unpublished and original. Payment is a share of the profits and the closing date is 10th April. This would look great on your bookshelf, especially if it has your name in.


The world-renowned Massachusetts Review has now opened their reading period until September. You can enter a maximum of six poems within this period, though they should be in the same document with each poem on a new page. There is no theme, no set length per se, but poems tend to be under 100 lines. All submissions should include a name and contact information, preferably on either a header or footer, on each page. There is a $3 reading fee, but they do pay $50 plus two contributor copies for published work. However, the prestige of featuring in this publication would be greater than the payment. You will need to set up an account in order to submit work, any submissions sent to a Massachusetts Review email address will be deleted without reading. There is a two to six-month response time.

Another magazine that currently has an open submission period is the bi-annual The Winnow Magazine. They are looking for poems for the summer issue on the theme of ‘mood board,’ and say that they “strongly believe that everyone has something important to say. From the marginalized, to the disillusioned, to the unpublished, we want to hear your voice.” They are open to ideas but are “particularly interested in works grounded by personal experience” as they want to “go somewhere unexpected, somewhere wanting, somewhere unheard.” Work should be original, and they do accept simultaneous submissions but request that you inform them if your work is published elsewhere first. Poems should be in Times New Roman size 12 and contained in either a Word document or PDF with the title on the top of each page. They will accept up to three poems per reading period. To accompany your work, they require a cover letter including a brief third-person bio and some interesting facts about yourself. There is no mention of payment or submission fee. The deadline on this opportunity is 15th February so get in quick.


Old age, disability and mobility issues are likely to affect us all at some stage in our lives. We all have ideas on how society could be improved to help us overcome these problems, and if you want to share your thoughts then you could enter Habinteg’s 2020 Prize: An Essay Competition and have the opportunity to win £2,500 for your views. They say:

“To mark Habinteg’s half century of leadership in accessible and adaptable housing, we are launching an anniversary essay competition to consider what they next 50 years of accessible and inclusive homes and neighbourhoods might be like.”

You do not have to have any academic qualifications to enter and the competition is open to everyone. First prize is £2,500 and second prize is £500. The winners will be announced at a celebration reception at the Palace of Westminster in June. To enter, you need to register for an entry pack and then you will be sent all the information that you need. The closing date is 27th April 2020.


My opportunity highlight of the month is courtesy of the Shore Scripts Short Film Fund Competition which offers the life-changing first prize of $10,000-$15,000 production costs, camera rental, and full production support for emerging screenwriters and filmmakers.

Your produced film will then be sent out to over 120 Production Companies, Agents, Managers and 70+ Directors. The judging panel consists of 47 OSCAR, BAFTA, EMMY, and Golden Globe winners, so your script will be in good hands.

The top five entries will also receive feedback and tips from one of the judges, have their script read by the judges and directors, and will be given a free enrolment into the Ultimate Screenwriting Course.

Scripts should be in size 12 Courier on a PDF document, 2-30 pages long, and set anywhere in the world. It must be your own original work or you must own the copyright. All ages are welcome to enter but you must not have earned over £24,000 in screenwriting fees since 2017 because they are trying to find new talent. Standard submission fee is $40 but all entries receive an 18-page booklet on how to get your screenplay published.

Good luck with anything that you submit this month. Remember that writing is the best thing to do on a cold February day, so keep going with those writing resolutions, and remember that unless you send your work off, you will never know what you could have achieved with it. If this all fails to brighten a dull day, then remind yourself that spring is just around the corner.

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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