Anthology of Interest


(Muse:  You stole that post title from Futurama.)

You know what they say:  if you are going to steal, steal from the best.

So….  I think I have said before, I am members of a couple of writing groups.  About a year ago, one of those writer groups decided that we would put together an anthology of stories set in the local area (Northeastern Arizona) with the idea that we would be appealing to our local readership, for issues, themes, and locations that would be instantly relateable.

So now, a year later, we’re to the point where the “final” drafts of the stories are due in–were due to our format volunteer yesterday–and we are about ready to proceed with this.  It’s been an interesting journey.

I volunteered to critique each member’s submission and provide feedback.  (I still have one kicking around to be reviewed.)  The stories are varied, in length, genre, and execution–and this in turn, gave me a lot of insight to the members of the writers group and what they are really about.

No, I am not going chapter and verse about how this one is better than this one, or this member is more capable than that member.  First of all, at least two of them read this blog and I have no interest in insulting anyone.  They are all good people.  But more than that, not everyone has the same tastes.  The slice-of-life stories that have little interest for me may appeal to others.  So….yeah, that.

What this did though (meaning, reading all the stories set within twenty miles of my house) did bring home to me is that I am about to put my name to something local, to something that people who know me may associate with me.  In one story, I take a tangential pot-shot at local government.  Will they be upset?  Will they even notice?  Hard to say how people react.  Same for local friends.  Might they read it and be offended?

(Muse:  Were you offensive?  Scratch that, I already know the answer.)

Well, one story features cannibals and the hint of sexual assault.  The other paints the forestry service in a less-than-flattering light and is pro-tax-evasion.  Both have some swearing, which my more religious friend will love.

(Muse:  Yeah, you’re asking for trouble.)

But aren’t I always?

I dithered about including some of those elements.  I wondered about the local reaction.  But frankly, by the end, I said, “Hell with it,” and left the elements in.  Some local readers might be offended.  Hell, some of the other anthology authors might be offended.

But I gotta be me.  Sadly, I was too much me.

(Muse:  You procrastinated?)

Bingo.  The due-date was yesterday and I have yet to get my stuff in, since my copy of Word decided to puke and efforts to reinstall on my laptop have proved fruitless…so I haven’t been able to do my final formatting edits.  I’ll get it worked out.

I still owe my discussion on the Tucson Festival of Books.  Damn, I am six weeks behind.  Yeah, that’ll be pertinent at this late date….


Not Worthy of a Response

So, I spent another few weeks off "vacation" with Mrs. Axe – and by vacation, I mean working on my house and traveling to visit ailing relatives.  Not much of a vacation, as I actually had to come back to work to get some rest.

(Muse:  Is there a point in here somewhere?)

Not really.  I got back a few days ago and am now trying to get caught up on status of submissions, etc.  So as I dig into my submissions, I track back to something I submitted to an anthology.  I noticed that my submissions had been in stasis for some time so on a whim, I drifted back to the site to see if there was any news.  I wondered if they had posted on progress of sifting through the submissions.  I also always worry that my story may or may not be received by the publisher; at least if they had completed the project, I might know I hadn't gotten through.

Well, lo and behold, I found an entry on their page from a month ago, stating they had filled the anthology.  In the interest of preventing the site from being found, I won't use the exact verbiage, but the post read something to the effect of: "If you received an email, you are in."  And that was it.

Hmmm.  What if you weren't accepted?  I guess you get no acknowledgement at all.  Someone commented in a snarky fashion on that exact point.  The editor's response was not nasty but basically boiled down to:  "I don't have time to do that."

This is annoying.

Look, I get that editors are busy.  I get that they are the ones making the choices on stories they want to buy, so they have power in the process.  I get that spec-fiction authors have to accept that unless they are named King, Martin, Rowling, Pratchett, Scalzi, or the like, they are going to face a 5-to-1 (and probably worse) rejection to acceptance ratio.  I get all that.

But a form email back to an author you aren't selecting – an author who took the time to format and submit a story to your publication – is just a baseline for good manners.  I know it takes time to respond to 800+ authors you didn't choose.  Well, any kind of publication takes time to run – and what kind of publication would it be if none of those folks submitted to you because they considered you dismissive of their efforts?  A poorer one.  I mean, how long did it take to read all those submissions?  Submission instructions to this anthology were to place the story in the body of the email.  At the end of reading, if it wasn't good enough, hit Reply, cut and paste the standard rejection verbiage, hit Send, and move on.  How hard is that?  And simply stating that people should be monitoring your website to figure out they were not accepted is a poor decision, if you ask me … especially since nowhere in the original instructions was it stated that acceptances would be announced that way.  Courtesy is a two-way street, and I would like to have had the stories back a month ago to resubmit.

Call me bitter for not being accepted.  The publishers are free to run their site and anthology any way they choose.  I am free to label their treatment of the authors they solicited as rude.  I wish them well but won't be submitting there again.

Okay, rant over.  Back to submitting.

Love Affair with Anthologies

I have been on an anthology-writing kick lately.  Not writing entire volumes but writing stories specifically for themed collections.  I've also been reading more anthologies lately; for some reason, the idea of getting a mass-sampling from a number of different authors at once has been super-appealing — a buffet to choose what we really like to eat.  This blog entry summarizes pretty well my thoughts on the subject.

Anyway, any good recommendations on spec-fic anthologies would be appreciated and exciting.