Submissions are CLOSED for Issue 7: Follow Your Joy!
We will open for Issue 8 soon. Check back later or subscribe to the Random newsletter for updates!

“So if there was one thing I could offer about how to keep going is to follow your joys when you can, follow the bright edges, let yourself be drawn to what you love and then make poems from that place.” ­ ­

—Ada Limón, from an interview about her poem “Open Water”

We’re seeking poetry, fiction, nonfiction, hybrids and visual artwork for Issue 7: Follow Your Joy, a special issue that will be selected by guest editor Debra J. Stone.

While Limón’s quote is in the context of writing, we are interested in creating joy both on and off the page. How do you create or follow joy—with intention; through grief; through hardships, pandemics, and natural and political disasters? How do you cultivate hope?

For Stone, camping and nature has been a way to find relief in the overwhelming weight of 2020, as in her poem “the year of stay-in-place”. Other of our favorite joyful writings include the work of Ross Gay (Catalog of Unabashed Gratitude and The Book of Delights: Essays) the poetry of Camille Dungy and Aimee Nezhukumatathil, and Randa Jarrar’s short story “The Lunatics’ Eclipse”.

Our theme is not meant to be simply about escapism. Joy doesn’t mean there are no sharp edges, but there is a transcendence, a rejection or a surprise. What else? You tell us. We look forward to following along with your joy, whatever form it takes.

Debra J. Stone is a writer, advocate for bicyclists of color and a member of Minnesota’s Major Taylor Bicycle Club and Black Girls Who Bike. In the short but beautiful Minnesota summer you can find her glamping with the tear drop trailer along with husband and Ziggy, the German Boxer, in Minnesota state parks and riding her road or cruiser bicycles along the trails. In the too long winter on some of those same trails, she’s cross-country skiing.  After early retirement from a career in education, Debra is enjoying the freedom of living her next chapter in life. When not riding the bicycle paths, cross-country skiing or traveling, she belongs to several writing groups in Minneapolis.

Sundress Publishers awarded her essay, Grandma Essie’s Vanilla Poundcake, Best of the Net, judged by Hanif Abdurraquib in 2019 and 2020 her poem, the year of-stay-in-place, was nominated. The essay and poem submitted for nomination by Random Sample Review.  Her poetry, essays and fiction can be found in Under the Gum Tree, Random Sample Review, Green Mountains Review (GMR), About Place Journal, Saint Paul Almanac, Wild Age Press, Gyroscope, Tidal Basin, and forthcoming in other literary journals.She’s received residencies at the Vermont Studio Center, Callaloo, The Anderson Center for Interdisciplinary Studies, New York Mills Arts Residency and Kimbilio Fellow. In 2019 she was a Loft Fellow for the Minnesota based The Loft Mentor Series in creative nonfiction and was a finalist for The Loft Emerging Writers Grant. She is also a recipient of a Minnesota State Arts Board Cultural Community Partnership Grant and Minnesota Regional Arts Council Grant. Debra is a board member and Chair of the Governance Committee at Graywolf Press in Minneapolis.

General Guidelines

We publish two issues a year. Submissions are accepted year-round, though we read most consistently during the summer and winter months leading up to a new issue. We strive to respond to submissions as soon as possible, but please feel free to email us ( if you haven’t heard from us six months after submitting.

Simultaneous submissions are encouraged, but only one submission at a time, please. Multiple submissions will be deleted unread. We send responses for both acceptances and rejections. Please wait three months after hearing from us before submitting again.

If you need to withdraw your submission or part of your submission, please email us ( to let us know.

While we prefer unpublished work, we will consider work that has been previously published as long as you give us a heads upIf you are submitting something that has been published elsewhere, please let us know when and where it was published in your cover letter.

Random Young Writers Series

We are excited to offer writers in the very beginning stages of their career an opportunity to publish their work. Writers 20 years of age and under are eligible to submit to this series. The authors of accepted pieces will work closely with editors to polish their work, and it will be published in issues alongside both emerging and established writers.


Please note that submission of work to Random Sample gives us the right to publish the work on this website and in future anthologies if we choose. Writers and artists retain copyright over their works and are welcome to publish elsewhere three months after publication on Random Sample as long as Random Sample is cited as the original publisher.

We regret that we are not able to pay writers at this time. We do, however, support our authors with thoughtful editing, promoting their work and other achievements, and by nominating for Best of the Net, the Pushcart Prize, and other literary awards.

How to Submit

When we are open for submissions, they can be sent via Google Forms. For Hybrid work, choose whichever is most applicable.

Note: Submissions are currently closed.

Visual art submissions are accepted on a rolling basis. If you’d like to be considered for a future issue, please email Send up to 10 pieces in a CMYK, 300 dpi, JPEG format. Please include an artist’s statement and third person bio in the body of the email.

If possible, please report Random Sample’s submission data to Duotrope. It is an indispensable tool for writers and publishers alike, and we hope to bring it full circle.

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