2023 Force Majeure Flash Contest Open Now

Subscribers make our ❤️ pound

Check out the latest issue & download the ebook 

Full guidelines & FAQ

☛ Seeking unpublished, amazing writing and art — we'd love to see more photos, paintings, drawings, diagrams, graphic narratives, &c. Artists/photographers may email thumbs or portfolio links if the Art category is closed.

☛ We are actively prioritizing work by under-represented people: Indigenous, Black, people of color, lgbtqia+, gender nonbinary, disabled, fat, poor, border-straddling, neuroatypical, and more. For real. You can put demographic info right in the cover letter if you choose. (We are not seeking performances of suffering aimed at a middle-class, cis-het, white audience.)

☛ Our taste is best gauged by reading an issue or at least our archive. This is a journal of safety and danger, in every sense. We want what we have not seen before

One submission at a time, except contests. Up to four (4) free subs per year per author.

☛ Be respectful of other writers and do not withdraw/resubmit to correct typos, cover letters, make revisions to one paragraph, etc. We can receive only a limited number of free submissions each month. 

☛ By submitting you agree to join our (very infrequent) mailing list.

Storm Cellar requires first serial rights and nonexclusive, ongoing electronic rights, per our guidelines. Serial rights revert to author upon publication. Contributors receive $10 honorarium by PP or Venmo, the ebook, two complimentary copies of the print edition, and a discount on further print copies; plus, we love you forever ❤️

Force Majeure: a great and unexpected power. We're looking for the best small things, any form, any content, any fine and wonderful creation. Enter from January through April.


Top prize for a single flash $300; two runners-up $100 each.

DEADLINE: 11:59 p.m. CDT, 30th April 2023.

Two ways to enter:

  1. Upload 1 flash (you'll receive an ebook of the prize issue) - $5
  2. Upload 1–3 flashes in a single file (receive a print copy and an ebook) - $12

Enter as many times as you wish. Simultaneous submissions are fine; if a flash is accepted elsewhere, please notify us via a note on the submission within Submittable, or withdraw the submission. Winning flash must not be (scheduled to be) published in print, ebook, or internet before September 2023.

All entries considered for publication in Storm Cellar. Entries in any number do not count toward our regular submissions limits. No entries by agents on clients' behalf.

What is a flash?

  • Shorter than 1000 words
  • Not more than 5 pages
  • May contain fiction, nonfiction, hybrids, marks, or images, in any combination*
  • May bend genre, form, brains

We encourage entries by Indigenous, Black, and POC, trans, enby, and women, LGBQA+, morphologically atypical, disabled, and neurodivergent, migrant and border-straddling, and poor authors, as well as members of other under-represented groups. Authors who cannot pay the entry fee, because of financial hardship or lack of access to online payment in their country, should email the editors with the brief statement that they have need (explanation not requested), from the email address associated with their Submittable account, and attach one flash as a .docx or .pdf file; our email: stormcellar [dot] editor [at] gmail [dot] com. Incarcerated authors, only, may mail an entry and short author bio, postmarked by the deadline, to Contest c/o Storm Cellar, 601 E. Washington St. #4, Greencastle, IN 46135; no entry fee required (include SASE/postcard for reply, include someone's email address if you desire ebook delivery).

Contest will be decided by the editors. Close friends, family, employers, and students within the last four years of the editors may not enter.

All prizes will be awarded. Contest fees go to prizes and production costs. No fees may be refunded. "Extra" flashes within entries will not be read. We may disqualify an entrant for any reason. Entrants will be notified of their contest outcome by email, on or before June 30 in the contest year.

Handy link to examples of flash we've printed. Surprise us!

* (The magazine prints at journal size in grayscale.)

Response time 7 days or fewer.

Don't want to wait? Send anything, all in one file.* Use the cover letter space to note mixed-, no-, and other-genre submissions.

Artists may email thumbnails or a link to a portfolio site/dropbox/wetransfer/etc. — stormcellar.editor@gmail.com — but when doing so, tell us in the cover letter field! If you prefer, drop your images into a PDF or .docx and upload them here.


* We're unlikely to print more than 20 magazine pages (6000 wd./600 ll.) of anything.

You're awesome. The cabbage you're sending will keep us in pencils and rubber for another year.

Also, if you want, upload anything* and we'll consider it for publication.

Add-on purchases include a year's print subscription beginning with the next issue. If you prefer PDF-only, EPUB-only, or no subscription, write your preference in the "Notes" field. 

Tips are anonymous by default. Friendship gifts may be credited in the next issue; gifts at the Uplifting, Sustaining, and Sponsor levels may be credited for one year. Gifts to Storm Cellar are not tax-deductible, but they are charitable donations that help cover our production, distribution, and web hosting costs, allowing us to bring this magazine into the world.

* We're unlikely to print more than 20 magazine pages (6000 wd./600 ll.) of anything, but if you're convinced a longer (group of) work(s) is perfect for us, go ahead.

Yes, we can send the issue as a gift!

Submit anything (or nothing).* We'll send you the issue of your choice, print and/or ebook. Choose the appropriate add-on to receive the print edition; check "no ebook" for print-only delivery. ( Current issue info | archive.

  • Ebook arrives by email attachment (up to 10MB) from stormcellar.orders@gmail.com.
  • Artists choosing this option may email us a flickr/portfolio/WeTransfer/Google Docs/etc. link, instead of creating a single file for their submission.

Multiple copies? Our store is over here.

* We're unlikely to print more than 20 magazine pages (6000 wd./600 ll.) of anything, but if you're convinced a longer (group of) work(s) is perfect for us, go ahead.

Yes, we send gift subscriptions!

The print and ebook editions of Storm Cellar delivered anywhere. Print subscribers outside the USA, MEX, and CAN should choose the Overseas fee. Ebook-only subscriptions are delivered via email.

  • Print subscription free add-on: the ebook sent to your inbox.
  • We publish about 2–3 issues per year; subscriptions are by-the-issue.
  • Shipping is included.

Just want to read a back issue after you submit? Click this.

  • Up to 20 images (files), any medium, subject, style.
  • Print edition interior is grayscale on uncoated paper, no larger than 5"x7".
  • Ebook edition is color, and larger where appropriate.

Though we want to see things different from what we've published so far, our main criterion is whether we dig what you're laying down. We tend to prefer striking compositions and contrasty texture. We like, but by no means require, series and projects.

We suggest you use the title of the image (if any) as the filename. We can handle most common file formats, but see below about file types.

Friendly advice about file size: Whatever size/format you upload, we suggest having originals available at 300dpi/1800px wide minimum (we prefer at least 600dpi/3000px wide for covers), in a lossless format like .tiff, uncompressed .png, or .ai. If your originals are smaller or .jpeg, that's fine: don't blow them up unless your Photoshop fu is strong.

• 1 item, up to 5,000 words. We lean toward the swift/compact.

Lyric(-al) and narrative(-ish) essay, form-blending & genre-bending, personal-ized history and memoir-that-expands-to-larger-issues: we're talking creative nonfiction. No academic studies, no lit crit. The internet's filled with short nonfiction, so surprise us.

We'll consider reviews/“reviews” of pretty much anything (including a Sweet Corn Festival or new talking-robot-toilet model), if they're funny, bizarre, and/or actually an essay.

*New for 2023   We cannot overstate how little taste we have for straight anecdote nor performances of suffering in the therapeutic-autobiographical mode. We like when heavy topics (DV, CSA, transphobia, racist abuse, self harm, etc.) are addressed through a highly crafted text—plenty of examples in our archive.* 

Things we've seen too much: cancer specifically, addiction, break-ups, "my coming out story," grampaw's war diary, mi-ma's cookies, "that time kids at school were jerks to me."

Things we've not seen enough: formal invention, adventures, minority perspectives, collective action/mutual aid, things from the Midwest, things outside the USA, truly weird crime, environmental disaster/success, puzzles & labyrinths, signs & portents.

Interpret these suggestions as loosely as you see fit.

• 1 fiction up to 5,000 words. More-compact stories tend to do better (compact =/= short). This is not the category for flash or micro.

We like it hot, we like it cold, we like it hard and fast, we like it slow and gentle, we like it traditional,* we like it experimental.

We like it anonymous, don't care about a title page. We like it 12pt Times New Roman, double spaced.

* Traditional: 1. not experimental; 2. ignorance, thanatos, octopodes, standing stones, sex rites, MRIs, cavaliers, Cadillacs, rude boys, buried toys, gold fever, war fever, bone fever, baby fever, submarines, pipe dreams, cigarettes & rock music, sign vs. signifier, prairie fire, smugglers, dice sharps, kissing cousins, "here there be monsters," border crossing, Amazons, apocalyptics, analytics, riding tigers, tiny islands, hackers, holograms, embezzlement, graffiti, hot zones, outer space….

  • Up to 5 poems, 400 lines/15 pages total.
  • All poems in one document, each beginning a new page.

We're open to anything. We like surprises.

We're not super in love with greeting card sentiments/prosody, nor these topics: cats, coffee, booze, birds. Of course, a poem is its own best case for its awesomeness.

Storm Cellar