I read an email the other day that said students set to enter college this fall are the first who have never lived in a house where the telephone have cords, and think of a pop star—not a princess—when they hear the name Fergie. It went on to name several other things they’re missing out on, but it definitely got me thinking. Then came the news that the daytime soap All My Children would be canceled this fall, prompting my 11 year old son to look at me in confusion and ask “What’s a daytime soap?”
I’m forty something and when I think of my high school days, I remember running home to catch the soaps that came on at three o’clock—General Hospital, Guiding Light, Another World (and in later years, my favorite of all time, Santa Barbara). My friends and I would watch together over the phone --which, yes, was attached to the wall, but years of stretching made the cord juuuuust long enough to reach across the living room to the sofa. There was nothing worse than Friday afternoon at 3:59 p.m. in the soap opera world—the doorbell would ring and our current heroine in distress would be handed a letter, sit down in her beautifully decorated home, slit the envelope open, read it …and clap a well manicured hand over her perfectly painted mouth. Fade to black. Cue the closing credits.
Is it really possible that kids my son’s age will never know the agony—the brutal anguish!!—of not knowing what will happen on your favorite soap until Monday? The wait was interminable! Was it bad news—was it about the husband who had been missing for five years (or at least since the last actor to play him asked for a raise…) Was he dead? Or worse, now that she had found happiness with someone else, was she learning he was still alive and laying in a coma (covered in bandages, naturally, after some very convenient reconstructive surgery)? We would have to wait three entire days (gasp! Practically an eternity!) to find out.
How did we ever survive it?
My son lost interest in my explanation long before I did but the trip down memory lane made me realize… kids his age (and even a decade older) don’t know the simple joy—or heartache—of receiving a letter in the mail (the relatively instant gratification of email just isn’t the same, IMO). Or even the act of gathering your special pen and paper, address book and stamps, actually sitting down and composing a letter, tucking it into the envelope, licking the flap to seal it and walking to the corner mailbox (when was the last time you saw one of those?) and dropping it in the box. Then, depending on who you sent it to and where they lived, you waited anywhere from a few days to a few weeks to hear back. And oh, what excitement when the mailman (I’m quite a ways down Memory Lane, and at that time there were only mail men—I promise I’m not being sexist. *G*) brought you a letter. Sometimes those letters contained life-altering news: a proposal, news of an inheritance, the loss of a loved one, the birth of a new family member, the dreaded “Dear John” letter… the possibilities of what lie inside that innocent-looking white envelope were endless.
Today the historical department of TWRP debuts a new short story series called Love Letters. In this series a character’s life is forever changed by the receipt of a letter. Earlier this year invitations were sent out to a select number of authors to write stories to launch the series. As of today, with the release of the first story in the series (Beth Trissel’s wonderful Into the Lion’s Heart) we’re opening this series to submissions. The guidelines can be found below.
Whether you’re one of our current historical authors, or an author who has always thought about writing historical but has never taken the plunge, I hope you’ll read the guidelines and consider writing a story for this wonderful new series. Let your imagination run wild and consider what life-altering news would be in your hero or heroine’s envelope. Because sometimes… a letter changes everything.
For more information on the Love Letters series, or questions regarding the submission guidelines, please feel free to contact me (or any member of the historical team) at firstname.lastname@example.org We’d love to talk to you about Love Letters!
Love Letters stories can be:
News of an arranged marriage
Dear John letter
Mail order bride
Death of a loved one
...anything you can imagine that would alter someone's life!
Stories must be historical in nature and suited to one of the following lines: American Rose, Cactus Rose, English Tea Rose, Vintage Rose (for more information please visit the individual pages for each of these lines. Story length should range between 20,000-25,000 words. The letter must be within the first three pages of the story.