Submission Guidelines - Winter 2019

All submissions must begin with one first line from
Volume 16, Issue 1 to Volume 20, Issue 4:

Vol. 16, Iss. 1: Carlos discovered _______ [fill in the blank] under a pile of shoes in the back of his grandmother's closet.
Vol. 16, Iss. 2: "Please, Sylvia, give me a moment to think."
Vol. 16, Iss. 3: Fifty miles west of Bloomington lies Hillsboro, a monument to middle-class malaise.
Vol. 16, Iss. 4: We went as far as the car would take us.
Vol. 17, Iss. 1: Fairy tales hardly ever come true for quiet girls.
Vol. 17, Iss. 2: Laura liked to think she was honest with herself; it was everyone else she lied to.
Vol. 17, Iss. 3: The old neighborhood was nearly unrecognizable.
Vol. 17, Iss. 4: George pressed the call button and said, "Mrs. Whitfield, you have a visitor.
Vol. 18, Iss. 1: "Unfortunately, there is no mistake," she said, closing the file.
Vol. 18, Iss. 2: By the fifteenth month of the drought, the lake no longer held her secrets.
Vol. 18, Iss. 3: Mrs. Morrison was too busy to die.
Vol. 18, Iss. 4: In the six years I spent tracking David Addley, it never occurred to me that he didn't exist.
Vol. 19, Iss. 1: Eddie tended to drift into whatever jobs were available that would pay the rent.
Vol. 19, Iss. 2: The plan suddenly made sense.
Vol. 19, Iss. 3: Frank Rooney had been the manager of the Shop & Save for thirty-eight years, and he wasn't retiring anytime soon.
Vol. 19, Iss. 4: "I'm tired of trying to see the good in people."
Vol. 20, Iss. 1: Leo massaged the back of his neck, thankful the meeting was finally over.
Vol. 20, Iss. 2: "I wanted you to be the first to know," Rowan tentatively confided in me.
Vol. 20, Iss. 3: The window was open just enough to let in the cool night air.
Vol. 20, Iss. 4: As she trudged down the alley, Cenessa saw a small _________________. [Fill in the blank.]

A few notes:

  1. Don't just resubmit a story we've already rejected. We will know. We have every story submitted to us on file and why we rejected it.
  2. Also, we understand that writers may add our first line to a story they are currently working on or have already completed, and that's cool. But please do not add our first line to a previously published story and submit it to us. We do not accept previously published stories, even if they have been repurposed for our first lines.
  3. However, if you used one of our past first lines for a story that was published in another journal or magazine, write and tell us about it.

Fiction: All stories must be written with the first line provided. The line cannot be altered in any way, unless otherwise noted by the editors. The story should be between 300 and 5,000 words (this is more like a guideline and not a hard-and-fast rule; going over or under the word count won't get your story tossed from the slush pile).

Poetry: All poems must be written with the first line provided. The sentence can be broken across lines, but the punctuation cannot be altered or dropped. Poem length is up to the poet.

All Submissions: Writers should include a two- to three-sentence biography of themselves that will appear in the magazine should their story run.

Multiple Submissions: We don't mind if you want to submit multiple stories or poems for the same issue.

Submissions: We prefer you send manuscripts via e-mail to submission (@) thefirstline (dot) com. We accept stories in MS Word or Word Perfect format (we prefer attachments). Please do not send pdf versions of your story or links to Google docs. Make sure you tell us what issue you are submitting to in the email Subject Line. Make sure your name and contact information, as well as your bio, are part of the attachment. Stories also can be sent to The First Line's post office box. No manuscripts will be returned without an accompanying SASE with sufficient return postage.

Notification: We don't make decisions about stories until after each issue closes. We typically send notices out within three to four weeks after the issue's deadline to everyone who submitted a story. You can also check the home page of the Web site as we will indicate each issue's production status there.

Payment: We pay on publication: $25.00 - $50.00 for fiction, $5.00 - $10.00 for poetry, and $25.00 for nonfiction (all U.S. dollars). We also send you a copy of the issue in which your piece appears. You'll receive your money and issue at the same time.

Note to our international writers: Postage cost for sending author copies overseas is becoming outrageous, so we are reducing international author payment by the amount it would cost to send one author copy overseas. However, if you would like to receive an electronic version of the issue (PDF) instead of a hard copy, author payment will not change.

Copyright 2019 Blue Cubicle Press, LLC