(Originally posted on my old blog 29th July 2014)
So what have I been working on recently? Well it’s a bit of a step away from my forthcoming book and its sequels, but I’m really proud of the result. Here is a bit about this anthology of reflected tales, which will be available from amazon, kobo, barnes & noble, apple, nook, smashwords etc and from createspace as a paperback from 7th August 2014.
‘How can I read the futures if I cannot see your skin?’
Six mysterious swans glide on a holographic pond in a totalitarian capital city. A terrified girl awaits her part in a ritual that could change the future… and the past. A dancer in ancient Jerusalem mourns her maimed sister and prepares for the performance of her life. A sword of legend sends its wielder back through the fiercest battles in history. A freshly qualified vampire hunter experiences the practical side of his vocation. Fourteen intriguing, dramatic, humorous and unsettling tales, inspired by existing stories and reflecting the breadth of storytelling from Greek myth to Hammer Horror, via fairy tales and Arthurian legend.
It’s good stuff…and yeah, maybe I am a little biased, but that doesn’t stop it being 260 pages of quality writing 😉
Wearing the Editor’s Hat
This was a completely new experience for me and to say that it was a little scary would be an understatement. Exhilerating, exciting, fascinating – but definitely a little scary.
My friend and co-editor, Matthew Willis, (author of the fab age of sail historical fantasy,Daedalus and the Deep) came up with the idea, when he noticed how many of our writing group RASSSA) had written stories that were re-tellings of old tales and myths. No sooner had the words ‘we should pull together an anthology’ tripped off his keyboard and onto the group wall and I was all over that like white on rice.
Incidently there is a similarity in how I embrace a project and how I make friends. If you have ever read AA Milne’s Winnie the Pooh – think Tigger…
Luckily Matt was happy or at least resigned to having me on board as co-editor and it’s been quite a learning curve!
Firstly we set a date – approx three months away – when we would want submissions for the anthology in by. We then allowed ourselves two weeks to sift through and decide what to include. Luckily we had fellow author, Shell Bromley, to help or we might just have become hypnotised by the flow of words!
In some ways I think the selection process was the hardest part. I had had short stories published in the past and, while I’d never said anything aloud, had wondered why it took such a long time to get a yay or a nay. The reason is quality. If you have a large proportion of stories that are badly written, unimaginative, poorly spelled, grammatically incorrect or just plain lazy, it’s easy to cut those out. Our problem was that none of the stories were poor. The standard was universally high. In the end the three of us had an online meeting courtesy of google+ chatrooms and picked out the 14 stories that made it into the anthology.
The authors who’d made it in were notified and so were the authors who didn’t. We all agreed on this last as a courtesy – it’s very annoying when you never hear anything back about a submission. We went further and offered feedback and suggestions on where the rejected stories might find a home. In all honesty, if this had been open to more than just The Randoms, we might not have been able to do this. It does allow you to see things through an editor’s eyes – when you get a bog standard form rejection, it really isn’t personal: they’re just really busy. On the other hand a line or two of feedback means you genuinely wowed someone – so be pleased, it’s a partial success.
From there it was a fiddly, complicated process of copyditing the stories and returning the proofs for approval to each author. (Legally no one can make changes to your work without your permission). Formatting the returned proofs into a book – this took a while as it had to be done individually for four different formats (I think I now have the hang of it and can do it a lot quicker though ), proof-reading – by two proof-readers (and thank you so much for all those reverse apostrophes by the way…yes you know who you are lol) and finally getting it all uploaded on various platforms ready for distribution.
Yes, you can find companies that will do all of this for you from £800+ or individuals who will do specific parts for significantly less but we decided from the beginning that we wanted full creative control and moreover, we wanted to out lay as little as possible. This worked fine for us since between us all we had the necessary skills in the group. It did pique my sympathy for go-it-alone authors who can’t afford professional level copyediting, proof-reading, cover design etc – it has to be really tough on your own.
The cover was mostly designed by Matt. He’ll generously say it was a joint effort but really he did the donkey work and I looked at fonts and paint samples. A good cover is deceptive – it looks simple but actually a huge amount of work has gone into it – google ‘the golden mean’ if you don’t believe me.
Anyway we pulled it together and I still get a little choked up looking at it all – the way everyone’s stories enhance the whole, rather than one strong story pulling away or detracting from the others. There’s no jumble here: the standard is universally high. So I’m honoured to be a part of this and really proud of The Random Writers. They rock, one and all.
As a final sidebar, we didn’t just leave our stories there. If you check out the Random Writers website, you’ll find weekly blog posts on being part of the group, individual’s writing processes and a piece of FREE flash fiction to complement the worlds the stories from the anthology encompasses. Take a peek – just to whet your appetite.
And in short, that’s what it’s like being an editor: a tough business.