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Little Red Bird Literary Presents:

Dark Speculations: Tales of Various Shapes and Shadows

**Call for Submissions**

Dark speculative fiction anthology series

We Are Currently OPEN For Submissions!

Read our submission guidelines below and submit to us

Dark Speculations is a digital and print anthology series published by Little Red Bird Publishing’s literary branch. We currently plan to publish a volume per year (every October) containing about twenty-five or so pieces of your beautifully crafted dark tales. We accept short stories and flash pieces.

We appreciate your interest in the Dark Speculations anthology series and hope the information on this page answers all your questions. If anything is unclear, please drop us a note at to let us know.

Don’t forget to follow us on Facebook and Instagram and subscribe to our YouTube channel to keep up with publishing updates!

A mesmerizing collection offering a haunting tapestry of tales that defy categorization and transcend mere entertainment, delving deep into the recesses of human nature and morality – what it means to be human in the face of the unknown.
With stories by Robert Allen, S.J. Walker, Shaurya Gupta, J.L. Royce, Lane Oliver, Ayman Kole, Casey Kelley, Tom Coombe, Alex Herod, Frank J. Broussard, Michael Paige, Paul Lee, M.L. Clock, Christopher T. Dabrowski, Brandon Cook, Barlow Crassmont, Michael Staniforth, Christopher Miguel Flakus, Chris A. Smith, P.L. McMillan, Rose Marry, Rodney Cardenas Luster, Marco Etheridge, Paul Radcliffe, Dylan James, Jacek Wilkos, Theresa Jacobs, Mike Sullivan.
Anchored in familiar settings, this anthology brings together fantastical and scientific elements, reminiscent of the captivating works of Stephen King, Edgar Allan Poe, and Lovecraftian horror.
Our authors yearn to ensnare your senses and lead you onto a memorable journey that you will relish long after the final page has been turned.


Submission windows

**Dark Speculations is accepting submissions only during particular submission windows. Make sure you are submitting your work during a window or you risk your submission being deleted unread!**

OPEN for submissions (submission window): November to July OR until filled*
CLOSED for submissions (publishing window): August to October

*We suggest submitting as early in the window as possible, as we read and accept submissions on a rolling basis and will be closing submissions when all the slots are filled.

We just recently released Volume 1. Check it out here!

We are currently OPEN for submissions for:

Volume 2, set to publish October 31, 2024 (water-themed stories preferred**)
Volume 3, set to publish October 31, 2025 (all other non-water related stories)

**Though we don’t outright have themed issues, we are looking to group our stories by water-themed vs. non-water themed stories; if you submit a story that includes water in it in any way, your story is more likely to be accepted into Volume 2, while all other stories are more likely to be accepted into Volume 3.

What we publish

As our anthology title suggests, we seek dark speculative tales. We are open to almost all genres as long as they are in line with dark themes (eg. dark sci-fi, dark adventure, dark fantasy, and so on). Our category is broad because we aim to publish stories in a wide variety of horror, sci-fi, adventure, and fantasy subgenres. We accept these works in the form of both short stories and flash pieces. We don’t know what we like until we see it.

**Tip: The best way to describe what we are looking for is: unique and creative “hopeful dark” psychological stories that makes us think differently about humanity as a whole.**

In general, we welcome stories that make us think and tell us something about the human condition. Bonus points if your writing shows you challenge yourself and your readers to think deeply about your and their own mortality and morality. Psychological mixed in with speculative is more than welcome. Feel free to throw some creatures our way as well: werewolves, shapeshifters, zombies, and other such beasts. Keep us up at night, especially on full moons; we’ll love you for it. Explore various well-known or underrated spirits (eg. Wendigo, hauntings). We tend to favor fantastical and sci-fi elements set in realistic and familiar settings (think Stephen King, Edgar Allan Poe, or Lovecraftian horror), but these are just ideas. Feel free to surprise us, we love to be surprised.

The best way to become familiar with what we publish is to read our previous volumes, which you will find here.

Note that dark fiction is not necessarily synonymous with horror. Some books and films fall under the category of dark fiction though not necessarily horror. To name a few: The Joker, Requiem for a Dream, Gone Girl, Black Swan, American History X, Zodiac, You, Dark Knight, Once Upon A Time In Hollywood.

Check out our inspiration prompt video on how to unlock your mind to write dark speculative fiction.
Check out our other books for an idea of what we tend to publish.
Here is an article about what exactly dark fiction is.
Here is an article about what exactly speculative fiction is.

Check out this great infographic to get a better idea of the genres and sub-genres of horror—though we favor psychological, feel free to mix & match and bend genres in ways that surprise us and make us think!

Find the original of this infographic here.

If in doubt, please don’t self-reject. You never know, we might just love that story you weren’t so sure about. If you are truly stumped, drop us a note and we will gladly help you out.

What we don’t publish

We don’t publish splatter or slasher fiction, or senseless violence without a deeper motive. There are plenty of other great publications out there for that. We prefer depth of thought behind any act of violence. Violence is acceptable, but it should be secondary to the point of your piece.

Simultaneous submissions

Yes, but please email us to let us know if your story has been accepted elsewhere.

Multiple submissions

We do allow multiple submissions. You can submit up to one (1) short story and three (3) flash pieces at once, but make sure the short story is in a separate email from the flash piece(s). You can then submit again once you hear back from us, and there is no delay or limit on how many times you can submit (just make sure you wait until you hear back from us first about your previously submitted pieces).

If your story has been accepted into a volume already, you can still submit for any other volume (e.g. If you submitted a story that was accepted into Volume 3, you can still submit again for Volume 2).

Content warnings

Use your best judgment as to whether it fits your story, but don’t self-reject because you assume we’ll find it excessive.

Short Stories (Fiction)

You may submit one (1) short story at a time between 1,000 to 12,000 words (query for longer; anything less than 1,000 words should be submitted as a flash piece).

Flash Pieces (Fiction)

You may submit up to three (3) flash pieces per submission all in one document—up to 1,000 words each (max 3,000 words total).


We do accept reprints as long as the piece isn’t publicly available online (so this excludes pieces published on blogs, Medium, or other websites). Pieces that have been published in other print or electronic magazines or anthologies, or behind a Patreon paywall are all fair game. Please let us know if the piece has been published elsewhere in your cover letter. If we accept the piece, we will need confirmation that any exclusivity periods have lapsed.


We request non-exclusive electronic and print rights for all written work, and the right to publish your piece in our current anthology volume. If the piece is a reprint, we will indicate its original publication within the anthology; please make sure you have non-exclusive rights to the reprint from the original publication.


All contributors receive a digital copy of the anthology upon its publication. We also promote our contributors on our website and social media. This is how we can afford to pay our contributors at this time. We hope to offer more payment as we expand and grow.

Submission guidelines

Please submit your written work in a DOCX, DOC, or RTF document and in Shunn manuscript format but REMOVE your name and other personal identifying info directly from the document itself. Please also avoid including personal identifying info in your document name. Our editors are only given the document itself during the first round of edits and they read blind.

Email all submissions here with the subject line “DARK SPECULATIONS – [Name of Your Piece] – [Your Name]”

Include a cover letter and short bio in the body of your email, and include your submission as an email attachment. The name of your attachment should just be the name of your piece. Let us know in the cover letter whether your piece is a reprint and its approximate word count. Don’t try to summarize your story or explain why it’s a good fit for our publication (if it’s a good fit, we should be able to tell by reading it). Please also include a list of any previous publications (if any) either in your cover letter or bio, and any pertinent biographical details only if they are related to your piece (for example, tell us you live beside a cemetery if your piece is set in a cemetery). Please avoid including any political statements in your bio. Feel free to include a link to your website, social media, etc.; if your piece is selected, the bio you provide will be published alongside your piece.

Here is an article on the best practices when submitting to publications. Please read this if you are unsure about submitting or if you are new to submitting, as it has all the information you need to submit without worrying your piece will be rejected due to not following the guidelines. If you are still unsure about something, feel free to reach out to us at We prefer you reach out to us beforehand than to send us something we will reject due to not following the guidelines.

We aim to respond to all submissions within eight (8) weeks. If you don’t hear from us after this period is up, feel free to query

Don’t forget to follow us on Facebook and Instagram and subscribe to our YouTube channel to keep up with publishing updates!

*NEW* Feedback

For $5 we now offer the option of receiving feedback on your story submission. Please make the payment via our Ko-Fi page here, along with the comment: ‘SUBMISSION FEEDBACK’. Please also confirm somewhere in your submission email that you would like the feedback service. Feedback includes a brief (i.e. under a page) editorial summary about your piece with details about what our editors observed when we read it—this includes what we feel worked and what we feel needs improvement (if you would like more in-depth feedback on your work, please see our story coaching & editing services instead). Please note that the feedback option is only applicable once payment has been made. Fee applies per story submission (for example, if you submit three (3) flash pieces in one email you would need to pay the fee for each story or specify which one you want the feedback service on). Feedback service is available for both flash fiction and short story submissions.

Little Red Bird Publishing | Professional Book & Story Coaching | Publishing Consulting | Professional Editing | Marketing | Full Service Self-Publishing | Submit

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What is dark speculative fiction, and how do you unlock your mind to write it?


Other Dark Speculative Books Published by
Little Red Bird Publishing

Check out our other books
The Boathouse

Dark Slow-Burn Occult Supernatural Suspense

Benny’s Story

Young Adult Dark Fantasy Action-Adventure

Bad Blood

Young Adult Dark Fantasy Action-Adventure

Killing Jar

Young Adult Dark Fantasy Action-Adventure

Human Nature

Young Adult Dark Fantasy Action-Adventure

Dark Speculations Volume 1

Dark Speculations: Tales of Various Shapes & Shadows – Volume I

Volume 1 of the anthology “Dark Speculations: Tales of Various Shapes & Shadows” is a mesmerizing collection offering a haunting tapestry of tales that defy categorization and transcend mere entertainment, delving deep into the recesses of human nature and morality – what it means to be human in the face of the unknown.

Benny’s Story

Benny’s Story

A teenage boy on his quest to prove that the creature he spotted among the dense brush one night as a child was not just a tale brought about from his vivid imagination.
Will Benny be able to let the past fade to fiction? Or will it come alive in the form of his worst fear?

Bad Blood CYOA

Bad Blood: Choose Your Own Story

Before Gabi is thrown into the depths of her chaotic adventure, you are invited to make her choices for her. Guide her in this ‘Choose Your Own Story‘-style teaser for Bad Blood: the first novel in the three-part series of Gabi-Lynne’s tale.

Bad Blood

Bad Blood

A teenage girl and her scientist guardian on their quest to rid the world of a strange blood-born disease that brings humans closer to their animalistic side.

Killing Jar

Killing Jar

As Gabi and Doc continue their quest to cure, they come face-to-face with something even more sinister than beasts who can’t control themselves: beasts who can.

Human Nature

Human Nature

Gabi struggles to keep her humanity as she and Doc continue on their quest, witnessing events that have led others to abandon all hope in winning the fight against this illness.

Scientist & Girl Series

Scientist & Girl Series

A young adult magical realism action-adventure series about a teenage girl and her scientist guardian on their quest to rid the world of a strange disease.

The Boathouse

The Boathouse

A standalone slow-burn psychological and supernatural suspense horror of two siblings descending into a harrowing world of isolation while on a trip to escape the hustle of city life.

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Dark Speculations: Tales of Various Shapes and Shadows

**Calls for Submissions**

Speculative dark fantasy, horror, and sci-fi anthology series

“Reading is the sole means by which we slip, involuntarily, often helplessly, into another’s skin, another’s voice, another’s soul.”

-Joyce Carol Oates

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