June 1, 2009


Lacuna is currently closed to submissions. We will reopen as a themed publication in late 2013. Please see this post for more information. Questions may be directed to markenberg at yahoo dot com.

Lacuna is a free online journal of historical fiction, alternate history, and speculative fiction in a historical setting. We publish a new issue each spring on April 15 and each autumn on October 15, each issue containing 9-10 short stories and 1-2 poems. We are also interested in book or movie reviews and nonfiction essays.

Fiction may take place in any historical period. Acceptable genres include historical fiction, alternate history, and fantasy, science fiction, or horror with a conspicuous historical setting. (We do not consider time travel stories to be historical fiction.) We love unusual details, fully developed characters, and stories that take risks with prose style and point-of-view. We will consider fiction of all lengths, but we strongly prefer short stories under 6,000 words.

Poetry should be recognizably historical in theme, along the lines of Hardy’s Convergence of the Twain or Byron’s The Eve of Waterloo. We receive a large volume of war poetry, and not enough on other subjects. We prefer poems with strong images, unique voices, and a tight, specific focus.

Nonfiction along the lines of biographies, informational essays, book or movie reviews, and author interviews is always needed. Generally, articles and essays should be substantially researched and include a works cited page. If you would like Lacuna to interview you or review your novel, please see our review policy.

Lacuna pays $5.00 per accepted piece, or for each segment of a serialized novella. Payments will be made on publication through PayPal. We ask for first web rights exclusive for six months. Authors should be aware that publication on any web site means that they are forfeiting first publication rights, which diminishes a story’s value and limits the number of markets that will consider it. Published work will be archived unless the author requests otherwise.

We will consider reprints; please provide previous publication details in your cover letter. We prefer to accept work that isn’t currently available online. Note that preference will be given to previously unpublished work, but we have accepted exceptional reprints in the past and will continue to do so.

No simultaneous submissions. Please do not send us work that is currently under consideration elsewhere. If for any reason your story becomes unavailable after you’ve submitted to Lacuna, please notify us immediately.

Our response time varies considerably. We try to give you the results of your work’s first reading (either a rejection or a notice that the story will be held for further consideration) within a week. Stories that pass the first reading may be held for up to three months. If you are concerned about the length of a response time, feel free to query the editor at the e-mail address below.

How to Submit

Please send your work in a .doc, .docx, or .rtf document, or pasted in the body of an e-mail, to markenberg at yahoo dot com*. Please include your name, contract information, story title, and word count in your cover letter.

Important: please use the subject line “Lacuna Submission – [Title].” Do not use unspecific subjects like “submission” or “fiction submission.” I also edit the fantasy e-zine Mirror Dance and I must be able to tell at a glance where to direct each submission.

*Please note that Lacuna is edited by M[egan] Arkenberg, not “Mark Enberg.” Apologies for the confusing e-mail address.

Guidelines last modified on September 13, 2011.

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Things I’d love to see more of in Lacuna submissions: Antiquarian Ghost Stories, Weird Tales, and other horror stories in which history plays a role.*Stories about or influenced by great literary figures, including Shakespeare.*Stories influenced by mythology or folklore, including fairy tales.*LGBTQA characters.*Characters of color.*Strong voices, unique prose styles, and stories that experiment with format and narrative structure.*Short stories (under 3,000 words).

Things that I dislike or see too often in Lacuna submissions: Women who only function as symbols of innocence, victims of rape or abuse, art objects, producers of children, or rewards for the hero’s achievements—in short, women who function as anything except fully developed characters.*Stereotypes of American Indians, Africans or African Americans, or any other people of color.*War stories that glorify violence.*Stories that are actually character sketches or lists of historical facts, rather than fully developed plots.* Stories with ambiguous historical settings, and stories that take place in secondary (imaginary) worlds.*Transcribed accents in dialogue.*Stories that vilify, misrepresent, or insult any religion, especially Catholicism, Islam, or any of the numerous American Indian traditions.*Weak, stilted, grammatically questionable, or syntactically tortured prose.*Long stories (over 7,000 words).

Stories We've Seen Too Often, with apologies to Strange Horizons:
  • A young woman runs away from an arranged marriage. She is beautiful, highly intelligent, witty, and either innocently virginal or highly sexually liberated. Her would-be husband is old, obese, and filthy rich.
  • A young boy becomes “a man” by killing a person, or many people, in battle.
  • A white person learns that it is wrong to mistreat people of other races. We are expected to find this white person heroic and enlightened.
  • The South was justified in seceding from the union, should have won the American Civil War, or was otherwise In The Right because…
  • The village Wise Woman is burned as a witch by an Evil Priest.
  • For 7,000 words, the author exhaustively details a Notable Family’s history. In the last 500 words, something eerie, profound, or otherwise significant occurs to the Notable Family’s last scion.
  • Non-western cultures are described through a Western character’s perspective. Similarly, a woman or PoC’s story is told through a white male narrator.
  • There is a twist ending. It in any way involves Hitler.