third order

winter 08

Submission guidelines.

Religion is personal and societal; it changes single souls and entire worlds. The ways of God are not always easy or explainable. The way faith tells us to go is not always the way we expected. At Third Order Magazine, we're interested in exploring those dynamics. We're less DaVinci Code and more Flannery O'Connor -- with, of course, the occasional extraterrestrial.

We plan to publish, on a quarterly basis, mainstream/traditional, experimental and speculative short fiction that deals with faith and religion. There are no other requirements concerning plot, characterization, or genre, save a few of the editor's personal preferences, which are listed below.

1/21/10: RESPONSE TIME is RUNNING BEHIND by FOUR MONTHS or MORE. I hope this number changes soon, but I am absolutely overwhelmed with submissions (and life) and response time has suffered greatly. Please do not query unless absolutely necessary, as I answer each query personally as well as read every story myself. I am looking into getting one of those automated submissions engines and a few good beta-readers, but until then, it's human-powered. I truly cannot wait to read your stories, and to put out some seriously good fiction about faith and religion, but I hope you understand that as Third Order becomes more popular with writers (which is thrilling!) I still have only the same amount of time. In the meantime, I am allowing simultaneous submissions.
We are not accepting poetry at the moment.
We are now accepting artists' portfolio references.

We are interested in:
-- well-written, strong stories that display a sensitivity to and knowledge of the moral / theological concepts of the faith you are dealing with.
-- stories about all faiths, including those you dream up.
-- strong characterizations.
-- science fiction, fantasy, and realistic stories.
-- everyday life and extraordinary events.
-- stories that respect both dogma and grey areas.
-- stories that exhibit the maxim "show, don't tell" and a depth of thought, but not necessarily anything "boring."

We are not particularly interested in:
-- red, snarling demons, angels with 'luminescent' wings, and stories that use popular religious mythology for window-dressing.
-- atheist, nihilist, and anti-religious fiction; that's not why we're here.
-- stories that exist only to advance an agenda, preach, or sermonize.
-- simple good vs. evil stories; huge conflicts between angels and devils, etc. If you have one of these that you think I'd be interested in, feel free to send it, but make sure it knocks my socks off.
-- badly-written stories. Mind your grammar, word usage, and sentence structure.
-- pulp fiction, stories with overwhelming, gruesome violence or material considered purely "horror." Also, stories containing excessive or unnecessary profanity are highly discouraged.
-- stories where religion and faith are tangential to the plot. For example, it's not science fiction without the science; likewise, it's not a Third Order story without those questions.

We do not publish poetry.


Third Order is soliciting references to illustrators' portfolios. To be considered, simply drop me a line and give me the address to your online gallery. You won't hear from me unless I wish to hire you for a particular illustration job.

Artist contributors to Third Order are paid on a similar scale to writers: $20-$30.

Payment and Rights

Third Order will pay $20 for stories under 4,000 words and $30 for stories between 4,000 and 10,000 words. 

We fully intend to someday operate as a monthly web / quarterly print model paying pro-level rates in the future.  

Currently: we purchase first-printing exclusive rights for a period of three months, during which you may not publish the work in any other medium. Afterward, you are free to republish the story elsewhere and keep all other rights. We certainly hope that you will allow us to keep your work on the Third Order website after that period for as long as the magazine exists, but that's your call.

How to Submit

Send a .doc or .rtf file in standard manuscript format. Use this link if you are unfamiliar with how to do this. If you are using Office 2007 and save your documents in .docx format, please convert them to an earlier Word format before submitting.
Multiple submissions are not allowed. Simultaneous submissions are absolutely allowed, but only if you let me know in your cover letter that it's been submitted elsewhere and inform me if you sell it to another magazine immediately. If it's in consideration at another magazine, I don't mind seeing it, too.

No reprints yet.

Send an e-mail to with your submission in the attachment. Title the e-mail SUB: "Your Title" by Your Name. This is very important; although Gmail has a great spam filter, I still have to set up filters to avoid being swarmed by unwanted advertisements. If you do not title your e-mail "SUB:" I may never see it.

Response Time

When you submit to Third Order, you will receive a response within one week. If I like your story and wish to keep it for further consideration, I might need to keep it for up to eight weeks, depending on where I am in the production schedule of the next issue. During this period of time, I allow simultaneous submissions to other markets, if you do me the courtesy of letting me know the story is up for consideration elsewhere. I'm a writer, too, and I know what it's like to have to wait.

I no longer give feedback in rejection notices for many reasons. If your story is not accepted for publication by Third Order, you may write for a short paragraph of feedback.

Feel free to query. It's not a hardship for me to give you an update on where your work is in the queue. Also, my spam filter has been known to swallow even the hardiest of e-mails. Alas!

On Staff

Karen Osborne will be serving as your editor. She has a website at

site info

© 2007 Karen Osborne. Design by Andreas Viklund.