This edition of the Friday Market Alerts brings good news for everyone who appreciates strong female protagonists in fantasy fiction: The open reading period for Sword and Sorceress XXVIII will begin in April. It would be awesome to see a Colorado author in that table of contents, don’t you think?
Sword and Sorceress I came out in 1984 under DAW’s imprint. It was edited by Marion Zimmer Bradley, who was fed up with the way mainstream fantasy treated its female characters. Typically, women existed in the plot to be rescued by and/or awarded to the (male) hero. They usually didn’t get to be movers and shakers. They didn’t get to wield swords much. If they wove spells, it was generally while wearing the “Evil witch” or “Wise old crone” hat–less like Merlin and more like Morgan Le Fey. Bradley sought to address this problem by bringing more and different stories to the fore, each of them featuring a woman protagonist who darn well protagged.
I remember being blown away by S&S II (1985). There I met Phyllis Ann Karr’s swordswoman and sorceress duo, Frostflower and Thorn, during a memorable “Night at Two Inns”. I met the sword-dancers Tiger and Del in Jennifer Roberson’s neat gotcha! story, “The Lady and the Tiger.” I met too many characters to count who stayed with me for the rest of my life, sometimes recognizably, sometimes as images or snatches of dialogue that would arise randomly in my head and leave me thinking, Where did I read that? I want to read that again.
Bradley also edited Marion Zimmer Bradley’s Fantasy Magazine, and I treasure the personal rejection she sent me in response to my one and only submission to that publication. Bradley didn’t do form letters. She did personal. She did feedback. Sometimes she could be brutal. In her letter to me, she told me the main character wasn’t likeable enough. (She was right.)
When Bradley died, I thought, that was it. No more MZB Fantasy Magazine, no more Sword and Sorceress. An editor I’d hoped one day to sell a story to, and better still, to one day meet and get to know, was gone. We were all the poorer for her loss.
But Sword and Sorceress continues. Published by the Marion Zimmer Bradley Literary Works Trust and, for the last six volumes, edited by Elisabeth Waters, the anthology series is approaching its 28th edition. If that’s a table of contents you want to see yourself in, here are the details you’ll want to know:
Reading period: April 13 to May 11, 2013. Stories received before or after will not be read. Send one story. If it’s rejected, maybe send a second. Do not send a third. Do not submit multiple stories simultaneously. Do not submit same story to other markets simultaneously.
Length: 9,000 words max, preference given to shorter stories.
Subgenre and other matters: Sword and sorcery, high fantasy, epic fantasy, secondary world. Urban fantasies sometimes find a home in S&S, but it’s rare. No poetry. No reprints. No explicit sex, gratuitous violence or profanity. “Must have a strong female protagonist whom the reader will care about.”
Pay and rights purchased: 5 cents per word as an advance against a share of royalties and other sales. First rights, non-exclusive ebook and audio book rights.
Formatting: This is complicated. There are very specific requirements which vary remarkably from the standard manuscript format as we know it. So don’t do that. Instead, go read the full submission guidelines at the MZB Literary Works Trust web site, and follow them to the letter.
Good luck–hope to see you in the TOC!