What we want

We want fiction and poetry that is both literary and speculative. Realist work sensitive to the magical and strange. The fantastical. Slipstream. Fabulist. Gothic. Weird tales. Work that unlocks. Work that restocks. We love writers who see familiar things in unexpected ways, and writers who revel in playing with language.

Update 11-27-17:

Due to the abundance of submissions we have received in November, we’ve met our Submittable quota for the month! We have consequently decided to extend our submission deadline to December 15.  Starting December 1, anyone interested will once again have the opportunity to submit fee-free.  For those who would like to submit in the month of November, our Tip Jar option is still available.  Thank you for your interest in submitting to The Golden Key; we wouldn’t be here without you!

This issue’s object

The theme for Issue 8 is revolutionary things.

The past year has thrown into sharp relief the surreal terrain of our contemporary landscape, and here at The Golden Key, we have watched this rising social and political upheaval with a contradictory, heart-rending mixture of despair and awe. While the world is facing unconscionable violence and pervasive attacks on human rights, there has been an extraordinary response to these systematic injustices and abuses of power. People have taken to the streets in defense of the rights of women and immigrants, to protest political corruption, to reject white supremacy. And even in the midst of our rage and grief and heartbreak, there has been such beautiful strangeness and joy. More than anything, this past year has shown us we must create radical change, through our words and through our deeds.

With this in mind, The Golden Key has decided to devote our upcoming issue to the theme of revolutionary things.  We’re looking for stories and poems that subvert, that upend the old order, that wheel and circle, that present novel modes of belief or being.

A revolutionary thing might be an idea that supplants a long-held belief, like the Copernican Model of the universe supplanting the Ptolemaic Model.  Or perhaps Ptolemy himself was a revolutionary, with his theory that celestial bodies produced a heavenly music. The rotation of the planets around each other is a kind of revolution, as is the course of any object around an axis. Engines and records and washing machines can all be measured by revolutions per minute, too. Maybe you’ll find revolution in taking an unknown path, or stepping off the path altogether. You might even argue that the presence of strange or unreal elements in your writing is a revolutionary thing in itself.

Some might explore revolution in the form of an allegorical story, as in George Orwell’s Animal Farm.  Others might prefer to imagine the fantastical experiences of individual people in revolutionary times, as in Salman Rushdie’s Midnight’s Children. You might think of Marsha P. Johnson and Stormé DeLarverie at Stonewall, or Isaac Newton under the apple tree. Whether it’s the mass levitation of the Pentagon or the Ghost Dance of water protectors at Standing Rock, we want you to show us wondrous and revelatory moments of change.

Please note, we are not interested in works that serve solely to espouse political positions. We are first and foremost a journal of speculative literature, and we are interested in fiction and poetry that explores the experience of revolution in its many definitions through a fantastical tense, or using experimental tools. We tend to prefer stories about people to stories of ideas. This is not a forum for propaganda.

Send us revolutions that elate and devastate.  Send us work that upends our thinking, turns us about, and leaves us staring down the barrel of a world of which we could never have conceived.

We will be reading for our Revolutionary Things issue between October 1 and December 15.  Work for Issue 8: Revolutionary Things will be published every week beginning in December 2017.


Flash Fiction Contest

Updated 10-05-17

We are currently closed for flash fiction contest submissions.  Please check back in Summer 2018!


If you’re interested in illustrating an issue of The Golden Key, please feel free to query us with an email—we’d love to hear from you!

— Guidelines updated as of September 6, 2016. —

To submit

Length: We prefer fiction submissions under 3,000 words and poems that are under 100 lines. We especially love flash fiction and prose poems.

Revisions: Please do not send us a revision unless we specifically request one. Please also do not send us the same story for different issue themes, unless we specifically request it.

Multiple submissions: We accept up to three poems in a single document. For fiction, please send only one story submission at a time. We ask you to wait until you hear back from us before you submit more, and we ask that writers submit only twice per reading period.

Simultaneous submissions: We gladly accept simultaneous submissions. Please withdraw your work as soon as your story or poem has found a home elsewhere.

Submissions will be accepted via Submittable. Your work should be previously unpublished. We also ask that previous contributors please wait one year (two issues) after being published with us to submit again.

Response Times: Our usual turn-around time is 6 weeks, though we often respond sooner. However, if you haven’t heard from us after 6 weeks, it means your work has been held over for further consideration, in which case a response may take as long as 12 weeks. If you have not heard back from us after 12 weeks, please query about the status of your submission. You can also follow us on Twitter @GoldenKeyLit, where we do our best to keep followers informed on the state of submissions. Please make sure our submissions email will be clear of your spam filter.

Pay: The Golden Key currently pays all contributors a flat fee of $10.

Rights: The Golden Key acquires first North American serial rights and first Worldwide Electronic rights for six months. After six months, rights revert to the author; however, we do request the right to archive your work in our cabinet of curiosities. If you would like to remove your work from our archive, send us an email.

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