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People are incarcerated in time of peace and in war. We also trap ourselves in situations, relationships, and ways of thought from which it may seem impossible to escape. Submissions for this theme may be on any of these topics—or other ways in which people find themselves imprisoned, literally or figuratively—and need not be on the military experience.

Contributors must be active duty, Reserve, Guard, veterans, or military family members. Please indicate your military connection in your cover letter to avoid processing delays, and indicate that your submission is for the August themed issue.

For additional important submission information, please see our complete submission guidelines for all issues, below.


This is a journal of writing by veterans, service members, and their adult family members. We seek quality, literary writing on any topic.

We have two sections. The first, The Report, is our core. It is a rolling scroll of stories by our friends and readers. Think of this as a sort of reverse blog: instead of coming here to see what we’re thinking about and writing, come here to see what other people are thinking about and writing–in fiction, creative non-fiction, and poetry. These works will receive only the lightest of review by our staff, mostly for content (some subject matter isn’t appropriate for all readers) but occasionally for spelling or grammar, etc.

The second is our quarterly literary journal, called The Review. All works submitted to O-Dark-Thirty will be considered for publication in The Review. Works accepted will undergo a rigorous review process by our editorial board and may require some back and forth between the editors and the author.

Our editorial style is more curatorial than judgmental. Our editors curate the works submitted to this site. Works that really knock our socks off might be placed in the quarterly review alongside works that we think best support a theme or other goal for that edition. But the same work might go to The Report simply because we want to get it out as soon as possible or because it just didn’t fit with other pieces in The Review.

We accept submissions year round of fiction, poetry, and non-fiction. If you want to write for us you should be a veteran, a service member (active or reserve), or a service member or veteran’s family member. Your submissions should be previously unpublished (see below for our definition of exactly what “published” means) and should conform to these standards:

  • Fiction: works under 2500 words are more likely to be published. We won’t consider anything over 5000;
  • Non-fiction, should be true and around 2500 words are more likely to be published;
  • Poetry, three poems per submission.

Please only send one submission at a time: one piece of fiction or non-fiction, or one batch of three poems.

The VWP acquires first-time North American rights. After publication, all rights revert to the author and may be reprinted as long as appropriate acknowledgement to O-Dark-Thirty is made.

We will consider simultaneous submissions, but request that you inform us immediately if your work is accepted elsewhere.

We cannot provide payment for publishing your work. If your work is selected for The Review we’ll send you a copy of that and you can purchase additional copies at a reduced rate. It is also our goal to print an anthology of our best works. If your work is selected, you will receive a copy of that.

For us “published” means published in print in North America, or published on the Internet in electronic journals, e-zines, academic websites, and other “public” or “official” websites. Posting on a personal blog or website is usually not considered published. If you have questions, ask.

What we mean when we say “should be true.” Call us old fashioned, but we divide the world of prose into fiction and fact. If your story is non-fiction, you are bound by pesky things known as facts. If you weren’t there, don’t say you were. Tell the truth.

What we mean by family member.  Family for us mean spouse or partner, child or grandchild, parent or grandparent, sibling. Please don’t make us play six degrees of separation.

We use Submittable as our submissions manager. Click the link below to go to our Submittable site. Please include in your cover letter some contact information, your connection to the military community, and anything else you think we might want to know about you and the work.

Submit to Veterans Writing Project

If you do not have access to a computer–because you are incarcerated for example–you may submit submit hard copy. Please send one copy of your submission, printed on one side only in 12 point font and double spaced. Include in the package  a cover letter that includes contact information, your connection to the military, and anything else you think we might want to know about you and the work.

Send to: Veterans Writing Project, 8653 16th St #8206 Silver Spring MD 20910

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