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Themed Call for Submissions: “(Re)new”

Edited by James R. Gapinski

General Information

This themed call for submission plays off two upcoming projects:

The Conium Review is redesigning its website. The website hasn’t had a major overhaul since 2014. Additionally, we haven’t held a call for website fiction since 2017. Our print projects took priority, but the site is still widely trafficked, and it deserves more direct attention. The new site will be designed to give each story its own fully developed page with a unique aesthetic. We want the digital reading experience to feel new and special. Hence the theme: (re)new.

This call for submissions also celebrates the upcoming June, 2020 release of Fruit Rot (Etchings Press, University of Indianapolis), a short book from Conium Press editor James R. Gapinski. This contemporary fable kicks off with the mysterious appearance of a large tree. One bite of its fruit, and you feel renewed; mind and body are refreshed and reborn.

You may interpret this theme broadly, but a connection to “new” or “renew” should be apparent.

James R. Gapinski will select one piece to go live on the website’s launch day (sometime in mid-June). The selected author will receive a $20 payment, a complimentary signed copy of Fruit Rot, and a copy of The Conium Review: Vol. 8.

The Conium Review (Online) acquires first electronic rights and nonexclusive permission to retain the piece in our online archives. Reprint rights and all other applicable rights revert to the author upon publication.

Submission Deadlines

This theme is open for submissions from May 15th, 2020 through June 1st, 2020. Please submit all work using our Submittable page. Notification of acceptance or rejection will go out around June 15th, 2020.

Submission Guidelines

We’re seeking fiction under 1,000 words on the theme “(Re)new.” The theme editor may occasionally make word-count exceptions for outstanding pieces, but you’ll have much better odds of publication you stay under 1,000 words.

The Conium Review leans toward innovative writing, and themed calls for submissions are no exception. However, keep in-mind that we are a fiction-only publication. Don’t send us a bunch of poems and tell us they are a fresh new type of fiction (and yes, we’ve had that happen). We recommend you explore previous online stories, and consider buying the editor’s novella to get a sense of his style.

You may only submit one piece to this theme, so chose wisely. Multiple submissions will be deleted.

In the “Biography Statement” field, please include a brief third-person bio. If your work is accepted for publication, your bio appears alongside your story in The Conium Review (Online).

You may use the “Notes to Editor” section to explain your take on the “(Re)new” theme (this is optional, so don’t bother if it’s already self-explanatory). For the most part, we recommend submitting work where the theme plays a central role in the story, but the editor is also open to abstract interpretations.

Submissions must be unpublished, original work. Simultaneous submissions are allowed, but you must withdraw your story immediately if it is accepted elsewhere.

If you are a family member, coworker, or student of the theme editor, we ask that you do not submit to this theme. Please consider one of our other submission categories instead.

Thank you for submitting!

About the Editor

James R. Gapinski is the author of the forthcoming chapbook, Fruit Rot (Etchings Press, 2020). His novella Edge of the Known Bus Line (Etchings Press, 2018) was named to Kirkus Reviews’ Best Books of 2018 and was a finalist for the 2019 Montaigne Medal. He is also the author of the flash collection Messiah Tortoise (Red Bird Chapbooks, 2018). James teaches for Southern New Hampshire University’s MFA program, and he’s managing editor of The Conium Review. He lives with his partner in Portland, Oregon.

Advance Praise for Fruit Rot

“Fruit Rot is a satire that complicates its subject rather than parodies it; a fable that shuns moralistic conclusions; a rumination on the hexed miracle of finally getting what you want. It’s humor and pop culture and allegory. It’s so many things wrapped in a tight, delightful package. Throughout, James R. Gapinski shows us one thing most of all: the many shapes villainy can take.”
–Zach Powers, author of 
First Cosmic Velocity and Gravity Changes

“Revelations, speculations, and necessary fears are faced in this all-too-realistic story that hits home in a town facing a plague while our world is left to grapple with our own. What maintains the language, heartbreak, and hard life and death choices in Fruit Rot is everything we hide, bury in the backyard, and keep secret for generations.”
–Hillary Leftwich, author of Ghosts Are Just Strangers Who Know How to Knock 

Fruit Rot is strange fruit, in the best way. This macabre tale offers a brilliant contemporary fable set in a world at once fantastical and too familiar. Using sharp prose and a freshly eccentric voice, Gapinski skillfully illuminates the deep places where pain, fear and injustice live. It’s a darkly funny and imaginative story.”
–Emily Koon, author of We Are Still Here