Readers play favorites, you know. Everybody has their favorite genres and our season themes are here to assemble story collections that readers will love. These themes function as story prompts for our author base, suggesting fun mashups and settings for the most creative, hard-hitting fiction. We only accept stories that fit these themes, and we wish you much Havok as you craft your best work!
Season Four: Sensational
This season we’ll take a journey of the senses, and immerse our readers in everything that’s possible for a human to experience—and beyond.
NOTE: Themes open for submissions about two months before the deadline.
CLOSED | Deadline: May 3, 2020
Caress, deep pressure, temperature, vibration, pain—they’re the first sensations we develop, and they connect us on an almost spiritual level to each other and to the world around us. Can an android truly be afraid if he can’t feel the chill crawling across his titanium exoskeleton? What is the source of Earth’s increasing barometric pressure, and can it be stopped before it’s too late? Can a young peasant boy withstand the burning love of a fire elemental? There’s no end to the depth of human feeling, so get creative and deliver touching story that we can’t wait to get our hands on! (Publishes in July, so think heat of summer, cool creek water, and summer love. But no erotica, please!)
OPEN | Deadline: June 7, 2020
Closely tied to smell and textural touch, taste stands apart in its unique ability to keep us alive. Poison is bitter. Rotten foods are sour. Nutrient-rich foods are salty or sweet. Protein-rich foods are savory. And, as we know, variety is the spice of life. So imagine the joy of a dragon that experiences a medium rare sheep for the first time. Or the fear of a hated dictator’s taste-tester as he takes his first sip of tomato soup. Or the confusion of a celebrity food critic who wakes up with all her taste buds reversed. Or the suspicion of a virtual reality programmer when he notices the flavor of chicken in the “real world” is a little… off. Make your stories so tasty that they leave us salivating or so bitter that we cringe. Ideally, leave a good taste in our mouths so we come back for seconds. (Publishes in August, so don’t forget the BBQ sauce and fresh summer harvests.)
OPEN | Deadline: July 5, 2020
March to the beat of your own eardrum in this theme that celebrates the sense of sound. From the deepest bass to the highest ultrasonic waves, we’re bombarded by noise every second of the day. Raindrops on a tin roof can remind us where to find the murder weapon. An amplified dog whistle can drive us to madness without us ever knowing. The thrumming of cosmic frequencies can lead us to intelligent life among the stars. A near-forgotten chant can open magical doors to untold treasures. And a viral pop song can completely ruin our day. So whether these ideas ring true or strike a note of the impossible, don’t miss the chance to let your story be heard! (Publishes in September, so consider the sounds of changing weather and the cacophony of school hallways.)
OPEN | Deadline: August 3, 2020
What if a detective could see sound or taste light? Give us some synesthesia, a perceptual phenomenon in which stimulation of one sense elicits a response from a different sense. Or how about proprioception? That’s the sense responsible for letting you close your eyes and touch your finger to your nose. Imagine a ninja with superhuman proprioception! Go classic with extra-sensory perception. Do your characters see dead people, sense the past of objects when they touch them, or wake up with premonitions of alien invasions? Then there’s the heightened senses of the animal kingdom—sensitivity to electricity, magnetism, x-rays, and sonar! Show us what life could be like beyond the five senses. We’re only human, but we’re capable of imagining so much more. (Publishes in October, so this is your chance for ghost stories and other supernatural encounters.)
Deadline: September 7, 2020
Smell is closely tied to memory. And with our nose’s ability to smell over one trillion scents, it only makes sense (ha!) that the stories that could sprout from this outrageous olfactory organ are endless. Confused bloodhounds on the trail of a scent-specializing chemical engineer. A time traveler who follows the scent of honeysuckle to find the buried treasure. A young prankster who has to find his stink bomb before someone accidentally sets it off. A crowded pub with a thousand familiar smells, one of which may just be tied to an ancient curse. A giant who can’t smell the blood of an Englishman because he’s got a stuffy nose. Get your nose out of a book and don’t be afraid to write a story that smells fishy or stinks to high heaven, as long as you take a deep breath and put your words where your nose is. (Publishes in November, so remember the aroma of pumpkin spice lattes and the Thanksgiving meal!)
Deadline: October 5, 2020
Light in a relatively narrow window of wavelengths bounces off the back of our eyeball to create color and motion, foreground and background, orientation and shadow—the world as we see it, for better or worse. But sometimes, not all is as it seems. Optical illusions, sight-related disabilities, hallucinations, or even visions from beyond this reality can all alter our perception. A beloved painting is suddenly missing a key element that’s always been there. A bat tries to raise money for Lasik eye surgery. An imploding star flares from blinding supernova to bewildering black hole. A beautiful Hawaiian wedding ceremony is watched through a sniper’s scope. Can you see where we’re going with this? Show us your talent by letting your vision become a reality. (Publishes in December, so we’d love to see Christmas lights, the sparkle of ice and snow, and the sight of a loved one arriving for the holidays.)
Now Go Write!
Using the season theme above for ideas, go write and then send us your best story that fits any of our Accepted Genres. Be sure to download and use our Manuscript Formatting template and follow the Submission Guidelines!