Next Chapters Unleashed 2024

Calling all suspense-loving storytellers! Unleash your creativity and submit your gripping tales for the Next Chapters Unleashed 2024 collection of short stories. We’re seeking narratives featuring strong heroines at pivotal turning points in their lives, with a canine companion playing a crucial role in each tale. Whether it’s pure suspense or a hybrid genre, we welcome your unique spin on women’s fiction. Seize this opportunity to showcase your talent, captivate readers, and contribute to a thrilling literary adventure. Don’t wait – submission deadline is October 15, 2023!

Delve into the UtNC Community’s 2022 short story collection, Next Chapters Unleashed: A Beachy Anthology, for inspiration. Using our updated knowledge and expertise, we are crafting a new and enhanced collection.

Stories included in the Next Chapters Unleashed – 2024 anthology will include:

  • Suspense as the genre, subgenre, or hybrid genre
  • Female Heroine who is starting (by choice or circumstances) the “Next Chapter” of her life.
  • Dog (or dog-like creature in spec fiction) that plays a significant and integral part in the inciting incident or the story as a whole. If the story can be told without the dog, then it won’t be accepted.
  • This anthology will be marketed for a broad audience appeal and a fun summer read the equivalent of a PG or PG-13 rating. We will not consider stories…
    • including hot button topics
    • that are sexually graphic in nature
    • that include descriptive violence
  • The Amazon categories for this anthology will be:
  • Accepted stories will incorporate criteria on the Official Rubric.
  • Although the UtNC team will still do read-throughs and editorial work in partnership with the author upon acceptance of a manuscript, it must be as “clean” as possible before UtNC can begin the process of readying the title for publication. Manuscripts that are not “ready for prime time” will not be considered. .
  • Final selection of stories will be at the discretion of the UtNC submissions team.

If your story is accepted for publication:

  • You will be contacted by email on or before November 15, 2023 with the official notice of acceptance..
  • Authors whose story is accepted will be asked to contribute up to $40 for professional marketing expenses.
  • Accepted authors will be required to join the free UtNC Creatives Discord Community (if you aren’t already a member) and must be able to access Google Sheets. All project planning and communication will be done through those platforms.
Creatives Community
  • Signed contracts and marketing contributions must be returned to Kathryn McClatchy by November 30, 2023.
  • For consistency, punctuation and grammar will follow Chicago Manual of Style, 17th Edition, and US spelling and usage is preferred over UK variations. Authors’ preferences will be considered and authorial voice will be preserved, but the UtNC editorial staff has the final say regarding edits and revisions.
  • Authors of accepted stories will be required to help promote the anthology in the month prior to launch/release, and for at least two months following the book’s release. Each author must have at least two of the following active marketing channels with a minimum cumulative audience of at least 1,000 followers/subscribers:
    • Two social media platforms (not owned by the same company)
    • Email list / newsletter that goes out at least 1x / month
    • Blog (at least 2x / month)
    • Podcast (at least 2x / month)
    • YouTube Channel (at least 2x / month)
  • Any royalties earned will be paid directly to the authors through Draft2Digital.
  • By submitting a story for consideration, you signify that you agree to the above terms.

Submission Guidelines

  • Submission DEADLINE: October 15, 2023
  • Submissions must be original works that have not been previously published online or in print.
  • All stories will be 5,000 words or less.
  • Individuals may submit a maximum of three (3) entries.
  • Each entry must be submitted in a separate, individual email. Submission Fee is per story, not author.
  • Submission fee of $10 + PayPal fee/story
    • Please include the story title in the PayPal “what’s this payment for” box
    • In the submission email, please include PayPal Transaction ID.
  • No simultaneous submissions will be accepted; i.e., do not submit stories here and to other journals or publishers at the same time.
  • Regarding Artificial Intelligence: As there is current legal debate and court cases regarding generative AI, predictive AI, and copyright eligibility, and the onus may be on the author to prove originality, please include in the submission email if any generative AI tools were used (for example, Google Bard, ChatGPT, Jasper, Rytr, Saasbook, AI Dungeon, etc.) and for what purpose. Also include predictive AI tools (such as ProWritingAid, Grammarly, Author A.I., etc.) if used at any point in your writing process. If no AI tools were used, please state that your submission is “100% Human.” This info will not be included in the blind selection process, but may be necessary to ensure copyright. NOTE: This guideline may change if laws change prior to publication.
  • Decisions will be made and accepted stories/authors will be notified by November 15, 2023.

Required Format

  • One-inch margins; double-spaced; 12-point Times New Roman font;
  • Title and page number must be in the upper right-hand header;
  • Author name must NOT be on any story page.
  • Story document should be sent as an email attachment in .doc or .docx format, and the email body must include: author’s name, story title, total word count, and PayPal transaction ID.


  • Submissions will be accepted starting July 1, 2023.
  • Stories must be submitted prior to 11:59 pm (Central time) Sunday, October 15, 2023.
  • You will be notified by email if your story is selected on or before November 15, 2023.
  • Signed contracts and marketing contributions for accepted stories must be returned to Kathryn McClatchy by 11:59 PM CST on November 30, 2023.

How to Submit

  • Be sure you have read all of the above guidelines.
  • If applicable, use the the button below to pay your entry fee(s) and be sure to include your *order number* in your submission email.
  • Email submissions to:
  • You will receive confirmation of receipt, usually within 48 hours.