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Start Thinking about the 2020 LHMPodcast Fiction Series!

Sunday, June 30, 2019 - 12:07

I'm trying two new things for next year's fiction series: a longer lead-time to publicize the Call For Submissions, and an expansion of the thematic scope. In keeping with the LHMPodcast's coverage of historic fantasy as well as strictly historical fiction, the 2020 fiction series will also be open to stories with certain types of fantastic elements. (See the CFS for details.) In keeping with my basic principles, I'm also increasing the pay rate to $0.08 per word, in keeping with the standard set by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA).**

So what do I mean by "certain types of fantastic elements"? The two examples I use in the CFS are:

  • Stories set in a specific time/place/culture that include fantastic or supernatural events or beings that people of that era considered to be real
  • Stories modeled on the fantastic literature of a specific historic era and culture

Using my own fiction as an example, my story "Hoywverch" is based on the themes and settings of the medieval Welsh Mabinogi, but includes a romantic relationshp between two women. It tries to address how such a relationship might be understood and treated within the context of that mythos (though not necessarily within the context of historic medieval Welsh society itself). Another example might be alternate histories in the steampunk or clockpunk genres, as long as the cultural setting itself reflects an actual historic context (as opposed to being functionally a secondary world setting). 

And, of course, I still like stories that are just plain history with no fantastic elements! The idea is to loosen the edges a bit to see what people might be inspired to write, but also to align the fiction series with the scope of the rest of the podcast, given how many of the author interviews and new release listings cross over into historic fantasy.

**Note: this is not meant to imply that the Lesbian Historic Motif Podcast is a qualifying market for eligibility to SFWA. Only that, as a member of SWFA, I'm using their requirements as a benchmark.

Major category: 

The Lesbian Historic Motif Podcast will be open for submissions in January 2020 for short stories in the lesbian historic fiction genre, to be produced in audio format for the podcast, as well as published in text on the website.

Technical Details

  • We will accept short fiction of any length up to 5000 words, which is a hard limit. We will be buying a total of four  five stories. (If we get some really great flash fiction, there’s the possibility of more.) [Adjusted to "five" because I realized that January 2021 has 5 shows and therefore will be a fiction month.]
  • We will be paying professional rates: $0.08/word.
  • The contract will be for first publication rights in audio and print (i.e., the story must not have appeared in either format previously) with an exclusive one year license. (Exceptions can be arranged by mutual consent for “best of” collections within that term.)
  • Instructions on how to submit are given below. NO SUBMISSIONS WILL BE ACCEPTED OUTSIDE THE SUBMISSION PERIOD OF JANUARY 2020.

What We’re Looking For

  • Stories must be set in an actual historic culture--i.e., a specific time and place in history--and the plot and characters should be firmly rooted in that time and place. (No time-travel or past memories, please.)
  • NEW THIS YEAR: Stories may include fantastic elements that are appropriate to the historic setting. For example, they can include fantastic or supernatural events or beings that people of that era considered to be real. Or stories may be modeled on the fantastic literature of a specific historic era and culture. The limits to this will necessarily be subjective.
  • Stories must be set before 1900. We’d love to see stories that reach beyond the popular settings of 19th century America and England unless you do something new and interesting in them. [Also: see sensitivity note below.]
  • Romance is optional, and romance stories should have some other significant plot element in addition to the romance.
  • We are not looking for erotica. Sex may be implied but not described. (It’s difficult to include both erotic content and a substantial non-romantic plot in short fiction. I’d rather that stories focus on the plot and characters.)
  • Stories should feature lesbian-relevant themes. What do I mean by that, especially given the emphasis the LHMP puts on how people in history understood sexuality differently than we do? This is where we get into “I know it when I see it” territory. The story should feature female protagonist(s) whose primary emotional orientation within the scope of the story is toward other women. This is not meant to exclude characters who might identify today as bisexual or who have had relationships with men outside the scope of the story. But the story should focus on same-sex relations. Stories that involve cross-gender motifs (e.g., "passing women," "female husbands") should respect trans possibilities [see sensitivity note below].
  • Stories need not be all rainbows and unicorns, but should not be tragic. Angst and peril are ok as long as they don’t end in tragedy.
  • Authors of all genders and orientations are welcome to submit. Authors from traditionally marginalized cultures are strongly encouraged to submit, regardless of whether you are writing about your own cultural background.

Please feel free to publicize this call for submissions.

Submission Information

  • Do not send submissions before January 1, 2020 or after January 31, 2020. Submissions sent outside this window will not be considered (with allowance for time zones).
  • Send submissions to alpennia@heatherrosejones.com
  • Submit your story as an rtf or doc(x) file attached to your email
  • The file name should be “[last name] - [story title, truncated if long]”
  • The subject line of your email should be “LHMP Submissions - [last name] - [story title]”
  • There is no need to provide a synopsis or biographical information in the cover letter.
  • By submitting your story, you are verifying that the material is your own original work and that it has not been previously published in any form in a publicly accessible context.
  • Submissions will be acknowledged within 2 days of receipt. If you haven’t received an acknowledgment within 5 days, please query.
  • I may begin responding to submissions during January as I read them, but final decisions will not be made until after the submission period is complete. If I haven’t responded by mid-February, please query as the response may have gone astray.

Formatting

Use your favorite standard manuscript format for short fiction with the following additions:

  • In addition to word count, please provide the date/era of your setting and the location/culture it is set in. (These can be in general terms, but it helps for putting the story in context, especially if it uses a very tight point of view where the time/place are not specifically mentioned in the story.) If you are including fantasy elements and think I might not be familiar with the historic background for those elements, a very brief note in the cover e-mail is ok.

If you don’t have a favorite manuscript format, here are the minimum essential elements it should have:

  • Use courier or a similar monospaced serif font, 12-point size
  • Lines should be double-spaced with paragraphs indented. (Use your word processor’s formatting for this, do not use tabs or manual carriage returns.)
  • Do not justify the text, leave a ragged right margin.
  • Margins should be at least 1-inch or equivalent all around
  • On the first page, provide the following information:
  • Your name (legal name, the name I’ll be putting on the contract)
  • email address
  • (standard formats generally require a mailing address but I don’t need one at this point)
  • word count (please use your word processor’s word count function, rounded to the nearest 100)
  • date/era of story
  • location/culture of story
  • Centered above the start of the story, include the title, and on the next line “by [name to appear in publication]”. This is where you may use a pen name, if you choose.
  • Please use actual italics rather than underlining for material meant to appear in italics.
  • Please indicate the end of your story with the word “end” centered below the final line.

As I will be reading stories electronically, there is no need to include page numbers or a header on each page. (If this is part of your standard format, you don’t need to remove them.)

Notes on Sensitivity

I strongly welcome settings that fall outside the "white English-speaking default". But stories should avoid "exoticizing" the cultural setting or relying on sterotypes or colonial cultural dynamics. What does that mean? A good guideline is to ask, "If someone whose roots are in this culture read the story, would they feel represented or objectified?"

What do I mean by "stories that involve cross-gender motifs should respect trans possibilities"? I mean that if the story includes an assigned-female character who is presenting publicly as male, I should have confidence that you, as the author, have thought about the complexities of gender and sexuality (both in history and for the expected audience). It should be implied that the character would identify as a woman if she had access to modern gender theory, and the way the character is treated should not erase the possibility of other people in the same setting identifying as trans men if they had access to modern gender theory. This is a bit of a long-winded explanation, but I simultaneously want to welcome stories that include cross-gender motifs and avoid stories that could make some of the potential audience feel erased or mislabeled.