Luminaire Prose Award

Luminaire Prose Award

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Submission Guidelines for the Luminaire Prose Award

About the Luminaire Prose Award

The Luminaire Award for Best Prose is Alternating Current Press’ annual writing award to recognize the best prose and hybrid work submitted to the press. We’re seeking individual stories. Standalone fiction pieces only. Experimental, flash, short novelettes, long stories, short plays, and hybrid prose considered. We especially want to hear from marginalized and underrepresented authors, and we are an LGBTQUIA+ safe-space.

What Is a Luminaire?

A luminaire is a complete electric light unit (used especially in technical contexts). The word comes from early 20th-century French, and some antique versions even had candles in them before electricity was widespread.

Lu•min•aire: ˌlü-mə-ˈner n. Complete lighting unit, consisting of one or more lamps (bulbs or tubes that emit light), along with the socket and other parts that hold the lamp in place and protect it, wiring that connects the lamp to a power source, and a reflector that helps direct and distribute the light. [Concise Encyclopedia]

We chose the name specifically because it deals not only with electricity and lighting up a room, a home, a place, a world, a mind—but also because it refers to a complete lit unit, which is what we’re seeking: pieces that are complete in themselves from start to finish, pieces that have it all and light up our minds, the whole all-in-one package that outshines the rest.

Reading Period

Submissions open: JUL 1, 2023
Submissions close: OCT 31, 2023
Winner announced: MAY 2024
Publication: 2024/2025

The Prizes

The first-place winner receives $100 (upon publication); publication of the winning piece on The Coil and in our triennial anthology that is printed in paperback, ebook, and audiobook formats; a listing on the Alternating Current Press award page and on a press release on The Coil; complimentary digital copies of the triennial anthology in all digital formats; our virtual gold award medallion for use on book covers, social media profiles, and websites; a certificate; and a press release mailing-list email blast. The triennial anthology is distributed through Ingram and all major online retailers, and publication includes a press kit, a book club reading guide, a press release, multiple mailing-list email blasts, social media, and more.

Second place and third place receive $25 each (upon publication); publication of their pieces on The Coil and in our triennial anthology that is printed in paperback, ebook, and audiobook formats; a listing on the Alternating Current Press award page and on a press release on The Coil; complimentary digital copies of the triennial anthology in all digital formats; our silver virtual medallion for use on book covers, social media profiles, and websites; certificates; and a press release mailing-list email blast.

Fourth and fifth place winners receive a listing on the Alternating Current Press award page; publication of their pieces on The Coil and in our triennial anthology that is printed in paperback, ebook, and audiobook formats; complimentary digital copies of the triennial anthology in all digital formats; and a press release mailing-list email blast.

Seven finalists are published online on The Coil, one per month, with finalist status indicated.

All semifinalists and accepted pieces are published online on The Coil, without award indication. The Coil pays a small token payment for online publication of all pieces.

If we enjoy your entire submission, we may additionally ask to see more work or a full collection from authors whose work we admire.

Submission Guidelines

  • This category is only for INDIVIDUAL standalone fiction (not book-length manuscripts). Submissions can be experimental, flash, short novelettes, long stories, short plays, or hybrid prose. (Hybrid that most closely resembles poetry should be submitted to the Luminaire Poetry Award. Nonfiction pieces (essays, articles, columns, reviews, memoir, journalism, interviews, booklists, literary trends) should be submitted to The Coil categories.)
  • All genres, styles, and subjects considered. A soft upper limit of 5,000 words per piece is suggested.
  • You may submit up to 4 stories in a single document file.
  • Submissions are read incognito. DO NOT PUT YOUR NAME OR ANY IDENTIFYING MARKS INSIDE THE FILE, including headers, footers, cover pages, acknowledgments, and file names. If you do leave your identifying marks inside the file, the submission will be read as-is, but the reader may disqualify the submission if he knows you on any personal level.
  • All work must be in English and must be the author’s own. Single work by multiple authors considered. We do not consider AI-generated works.
  • If you need to adjust a submission, please use the Request to Edit option through Submittable. Please don’t request to edit for minor flaws, however—all accepted work will go through an editing process and will have the chance to be updated before publication, and your work will not be disqualified for a missing comma.
  • All authors must be at least 18 to submit.
  • Simultaneous submissions allowed. You do not have to withdraw a piece that is accepted elsewhere, as long as you still own the reprint rights after first publication.
  • Previously published pieces are considered, as long as you still own the reprint rights. Don’t include acknowledgments in the file.
  • ACP and The Coil staff may submit work for publication consideration, but they are ineligible to win prizes while on our staff (including volunteers).
  • Submit via Submittable only. We do not accept email submissions.
  • There is a $4.99 fee for each submission (up to 4 pieces in a submission). You may submit as many times as you’d like, but each submission must be made separately with a separate fee. The fee helps us with needed administration and journal production costs, but it’s not meant to be too inhibitive. If you are unable to pay, please email us for an alternative submission method.
  • Each paid submission comes with a digital copy of our latest Luminaire Award anthology, The Sky Is a Free Country: The Luminaire Award Anthology, Vol 1, by 23 authors ($7.99 value). There is an additional option to purchase the next triennial Luminaire Award print anthology (publishing in 2026) as an add-on for a discount ($4 off the final cover price, shipped free worldwide).
  • It is highly recommended that you read our past Luminaire Prose Award finalists and winners.
  • We will send a response and notification of the winners to every submission by the end of May. Form response only, unless we are interested in publishing your work. We are regretfully unable to provide feedback.
  • If you’re ready to submit, head on over to Submittable.

Past Luminaire Prose Award Winners

2023 Luminaire Award Winners for Best Prose
We are running a little behind due to the volume of work submitted, but the 2023 semifinalists are currently being read and decided. If you have an unanswered single prose or fiction submission of any kind in the queue, no matter how old it is, it has rolled over to this award year and will be read with the 2023 submissions and decided by the end of July 2023.

2022 Luminaire Award Winners for Best Prose
1st Place: “CMYK” by Kenton Smalley
2nd Place: “Brace for Impact” by Brian Kerg
3rd Place: “Observations of Trans-Neptunian Objects” by Gabriel da Silva-Schicchi
4th Place: “In Limbo” by Melissa Mark
5th Place: “Dreams Where My Father Kills Me” by Meghan E. O’Toole
Finalist: “I Shot Tom Gardener?” by Jonah Marlow Bradenday
Finalist: “The Roof of Heaven” by Gabriel da Silva-Schicchi
Finalist: “The Ballad of Nothing” by David Drury
Finalist: “Rage in the Desert” by Melissa Mark
Finalist: “A Guide to Dinner with Strangers” by Haley Papa
Finalist: “Attachment Style: Anxious” by Michael Sasso
Finalist: “One or the Other” by Adrien Kade Sdao
Finalist: “The Mink” by Kenton Smalley
Finalist: “Taking Leave” by David Somerville

2021 Luminaire Award Winners for Best Prose
1st Place: “The Genius of Gravy Lake” by Shay Galloway
2nd Place: “The Day of the Eggs” by Louise Tondeur
3rd Place: “We Take This Matter Very Seriously” by Miranda McClellan
4th Place: “The Clear Blue Sky” by Evan Morgan Williams
5th Place: “Between Love and Alien Abductions” by Tanya Elizabeth Egeness Epp Schmid
6th Place: “Bloodmeal No. 3” by Taylor Card
7th Place: “Penseé on a Siren” by Taylor Card

2020 Luminaire Award Winners for Best Prose
1st Place: “Parlor Tricks” by Brook McClurg
2nd Place: “Amazing Grace” by Gregory Neil Harris
3rd Place: “Lost Cat” by Josh McCraney
4th Place: “The Sublime Is Difficult to Replifake” by Soramimi Hanarejima
5th Place: “The Common Cold” by Brook McClurg
6th Place: “Halloween” by Mark Putzi
7th Place: “Dream Sequence in Winter up North in Full; or, The Western Cwm” by Gracjan Kraszewski
8th Place: “The Ordeal” by Patrick Macknick

2019 Luminaire Award Winners for Best Prose
1st Place: “The NIEMS Method” by James McAdams
2nd Place: “Thematic Cartography” by Chloe Clark
3rd Place: “Isabella, Collated” by Sophia Denney
4th Place: “Phagocyte” by James McAdams
5th Place: “Imperfect Numbers” by Kristina Gaddy

2018 Luminaire Award Winners for Best Prose
1st Place: “Rabbit Pie” by Hayden Ira May
2nd Place: “At the Seams” by Chloe Seim
3rd Place: “How the Lonesome Engine Drivers Pine” by Sean Madden
4th Place: “Knitting” by Carla Scarano D’Antonio
5th Place: “Why Jamaicans Do Not Exist in Fairytales” by Morgan Christie
6th Place: “Spring Cleaning” by Chloe Seim

2017 Luminaire Award Winners for Best Prose
1st Place: “Ephemeral Girls” by L. L. Madrid
2nd Place: “Sharon’s Lover Is Dissipating” by James R. Gapinski
3rd Place: “Entanglement” by Joel Wachman
4th Place: “The Necessary Emptying” by Christine Ann Olivas
5th Place: “We went to Polonnaruwa to find history” by Subashini Navaratnam
6th Place: “What Little Boys Are Made Of” by Joel Wachman
7th Place: “Monsters in the Agapanthus” by Jessica Barksdale

2016 Luminaire Award Winners for Best Prose
1st Place: “For the Man after Me” by Eric Shonkwiler
2nd Place: “Kinda Sorta American Dream” by Steve Karas
3rd Place: “What World We Build after All That’s Burned Away” by Justin Lawrence Daugherty
4th Place: “Sculpting Sand” by Steve Karas
5th Place: “Tennessee” by Constance Sayers
6th Place: “The Jewel Fish” by Charles Bane, Jr.
7th Place: “LinkedIn Thought You Might Be Interested in This Post-Climate Impact Job: Environmental Migrant Management and Soil-Free Solutions” by Ashley Shelby
8th Place: “Re-Up” by Eric Shonkwiler
9th Place: “Summer of the Horseshoe Crab” by Charles Bane, Jr.
10th Place: “Walking” by Diane Payne
11th Place: “Riders on the Storm” by Vic Sizemore
12th Place: “Furthermore” by Josh Wardrip

2015 Luminaire Award Winners for Best Prose
1st Place: “Chindi” by Eric Shonkwiler
2nd Place: “A Hindershot of Calion” by Schuler Benson
3rd Place: “Inheritance” by Stephanie Liden
4th Place: “An American Seeker” by Kevin Catalano
5th Place: “The Poor Man’s Guide to an Affordable, Painless Suicide” by Schuler Benson
6th Place: “The Photographer” by Andrei Guruianu
7th Place: “Any Similarities between the Characters in this Purely Fictional Story and Actual Individuals Are Purely Coincidental” by Phill Arensberg
8th Place: “Ole Hazel” by Schuler Benson
9th Place: “It Won’t Always Be Like This” by Seth Clabough
10th Place: “Tatau” by Jennifer Leeper
11th Place: “Mama Was a Breeder, and I Was Born a Son of a Bitch” by Schuler Benson
12th Place: “Frequencies Between” by Eric Shonkwiler

2014 Luminaire Award Winners for Best Prose
1st Place: “A Slow Dance in the Afternoon” by Mia Eaker
2nd Place: “Sunrise Special” by John Vicary
3rd Place: “The Spirit of Shackleton” by Gavin Broom
4th Place: “The Elephant in the Bathtub” by J. Lewis Fleming
5th Place: “Stoop” by Alexa Mergen
6th Place: “The Peculiar Incident at Otter Creek” by Gavin Broom
7th Place: “The Deathbed Confessions of Christopher Walken” by Paul Corman-Roberts
8th Place: “Telling the Sampo” by Kevin Catalano
9th Place: “The Blue Diamond” by Steph Post
10th Place: “If Only Her Husband Were a Member of the Brotherhood of Flying Things” by Elizabeth P. Glixman
11th Place: “This Love Story Has a Zombie in It” by Daniel Crocker
12th Place: “On Coyotes and Hay Bales” by Ronnie K. Stephens

2013 Luminaire Award Winners for Best Prose
1st Place: “Vandals” by Nathan Graziano
2nd Place: “Near to Him” by Charles P. Ries
3rd Place: “Our Place” by Neil Serven
4th Place: “An Inheritance” by Janette Schafer
5th Place: “Die Vögel” by Patrick Kindig
6th Place: “To Kill Them to Break Them” by Robert James Russell
7th Place: “Pea Soup” by Christina Elaine Collins
8th Place: “Dear River” by Misti Rainwater-Lites
9th Place: “Mutha’s Boy” by Travis Turner

Selection & Judging Process

We subscribe to the Council of Literary Magazines and Presses (CLMP) Contest Code of Ethics: “CLMP’s community of independent literary publishers believes that ethical contests serve our shared goal: to connect writers and readers by publishing exceptional writing. We believe that intent to act ethically, clarity of guidelines, and transparency of process form the foundation of an ethical contest. To that end, we agree to 1.) conduct our contests as ethically as possible and to address any unethical behavior on the part of our readers, judges, or editors; 2.) to provide clear and specific contest guidelines—defining conflict of interest for all parties involved; and 3.) to make the mechanics of our selection process available to the public. This Code recognizes that different contest models produce different results, but that each model can be run ethically. We have adopted this Code to reinforce our integrity and dedication as a publishing community and to ensure that our contests contribute to a vibrant literary heritage.”

  1. We take submissions through Submittable and use its tools and our own to accept incognito submissions. The editor-in-chief has access to the information, but she does not read or accept submissions. While the editor-in-chief determines what is published on our press, she does not make judging decisions for awards.
  2. We ask submitters not to include their names, contact information, or any identifying marks within the documents, titles, and file names of submissions.
  3. Staff members of Alternating Current may have pieces published on The Coil or submit pieces for incognito submission consideration, but staff members are not eligible to win award prizes while serving on our staff. This includes volunteers while they are volunteering for our staff.
  4. For all awards, the editor-in-chief compiles a spreadsheet of all the eligible pieces, makes sure everything is stripped of any contact information, and sends that spreadsheet to the award editor. The award editor ranks the selections to choose the top finalists. The incognito judging decisions are final.
  5. While the manuscripts are read incognito, the editors are asked to recuse themselves from judging if there are any submissions that they may recognize as posing a personal conflict of interest. Once selected, we will reveal the winner’s name privately to the readers before announcement to clarify that there is no conflict of interest. Should there be a conflict, the next finalist in line without conflict shall become the winner, or judges shall recuse themselves from the ranking tallies. Conflicts of interest are defined as: close friends, relatives, students, and former students of the judges. We do not consider workshops to be disqualifying factors, unless the judge personally feels there is a conflict there. We leave the discretion of conflict identification up to the judges. Submissions that pose a conflict of interest may still be eligible for publication, even if they are ineligible for prizes.
  6. The winner is notified prior to announcement. The results are publicly posted online at The Coil and on the press website.

Medallion Designers

Special thanks and acknowledgment to Devin Byrnes and SuA Kang of Hardly Square, for their creativity in designing our annual medallion imprint. Hardly Square is a strategy, branding, and design-based boutique located in Baltimore, Maryland, that specializes in graphic design, web design, and eLearning courses. Their invaluable design expertise has made our annual awards come to life.