Magazines with themes or prompts fascinate me, as they expose the many, many ways our minds work differently to produce so many stories from one kernel of an idea. Here's a list of theme magazines, if you want to read some good stories or take on their writing challenge. All listings are paying markets.
-THEMA Literary Journal—This print magazine publishes quarterly. Upcoming themes:
"Who keeps it tidy?" (Due November 1, 2011),
"White wine chilling" (March 1, 2012).
-The First Line—Each story submitted to this print magazine must begin with the same line. Next first lines:
"Edwin spotted them the moment he stepped off the train."
(Due August 1, 2011)
"It had been a long year." (Due November 1, 2011)
-Enchanted Conversation: A Fairytale Magazine—Each online issue explores a single fairytale in the form of poetry or short stories (less than 1500 words preferred).
"Little Red Riding Hood" (Sept 30, 2011)
-10 Flash Quarterly— As a speculative flash fiction e-journal, they only accept submissions between 800 and 1000 words, in the genres of science fiction, fantasy, horror, and suspense.
"It's the end of the world as we know it." (October 1, 2011)
-Wily Writers—Another speculative magazine, posting short stories (up to 5000 words) in text and audio format. Submissions must fall into specific subgenres
Halloween Horror. (July 31, 2011)
Mythpunk (August 31, 2011)
Lovecraftian Horror (September 30, 2011)
Young Adult Post-Apocalyptic (October 31, 2011)
High Fantasy Adventure (November 31, 2011)
Easystreetprompts.com posts video and photography prompts, as well as random words to get you thinking. Click here for my favorite picture.
Nanowrimo.org has amazing forums. The site is most active in November, which is National Novel Writing Month, 30 days in which thousands of participants try to write an entire novel of at least 50,000 words. The forums, however, get traffic all year round. You can find everything from plot doctoring to hilariously bad mock science fiction story lines to questions—and answers—about how many giraffes you could fit in a submarine, or what the term for "food fight" is in Greek. On the "word wars, prompts, and sprints" forum, you can read and contribute to various threads where people leave creative premises or first lines, and pose intriguing "what if" questions.