So I've got this story. It's called "A Spirit of Vengeance" and it's a ghost story, and I think it's one of my best. I was thinking about making it my next submission to Torquere, but as I was browsing through their guidelines I saw a bit that says they don't take stories which "contain rape or other gratuitous violence."
That gave me pause because the way the character in "Spirit" became a ghost was by being raped and murdered in a hate crime while his lover was out of town. One might think that this would nix it so far as Torquere's concerned, but that "other" gave me some hope. If what they object to is gratuitous rape, then maybe I still have hope for this, because I don't consider the rape in "Spirit" to be at all gratuitous. And besides, it's all over and done with before the story begins -- it opens with the dead guy's lover leaving the funeral. And I really like this story; it's very deeply emotional and it's gotten some great comments from readers.
I suppose I could've just submitted it and let them decide, but I didn't want word to go around the office about how that Angie chick's too dumb to read guidelines, you know? :P So I sent a query to the editor who worked with me on my first story, described this one and explained why I didn't think the rape was gratuitous, and asked if it were something Torquere might be interested in. She wrote back and said it was, and that I should submit it. Yay!
Now, I wouldn't say it never hurts to ask, because despite what we're told in elementary school, there really are stupid questions. If I'd asked whether they'd like to see my het romance, or my children's adventure book, or my survey of southern California gardens, any of those would've been stupid questions because Torquere doesn't publish anything close to those areas. In this case, though, I had reason to believe that my story might not come under the stated ban, and I made it clear in my letter that I had read their guidelines and was just asking for some clarification. It was a reasonable question from someone who'd been paying attention rather than a shot in the dark from someone who hadn't bothered to do any market research.
And in this case I'm glad I asked.
Epilogue: I submitted the story Monday night, got a receipt acknowledgement yesterday, and a contract offer this morning. O_O I have to say I was completely blown away by how fast this happened. I was expecting it to take a couple of weeks at least to hear back but this was, like, instant. They are really on the ball over there and the more I work with Torquere the more I want to keep working with them.