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….


Peer Groups are Da Best!


Back in December, Mrs. Axe was going through some emails and found a flier for a local community center.  On the list of upcoming events, she noticed a series of writing seminars being given by a local author.  The idea was to give some opening lessons to aspiring writers and help them get started.  Mrs. Axe said, “Hey you should check this out.”

So I did.  I figured, Hey, what have I got to lose?  Might meet some people, might learn something. The author running the class, Paula Winskye, turned out to be a very nice woman.  She’s published a number of books – lots of mysteries.  (Her Amazon page is here.)  Mystery isn’t my normal slice of bread but still, it’s nice to be exposed to other styles and fresh insight about writing.

There are 10-ish other folks in the classes, varying from people who have never put pen to paper to those who have been dabbling for a while and want to make a go of it.  A couple of them have raw talent, as evidenced by their early submissions.  Some are going to have to work at it.  Maybe it is arrogant of me to be judging based on their first efforts but then, not everyone can succeed at this business.

(Muse:  You sure haven’t).

Quiet, you.

At the end of the course, Paula is going to talk about publishing, which is what really sparks my interest.  So we’ll see how that goes.

The second helpful thing that has come of this is my introduction to my local town’s writers group.  My community is small; there are only a little more than 100K people in the whole county – so I didn’t even know such an animal existed.  Apparently, there are several!  I should have looked harder.

Anyway, the local group is made up of a handful of women.  I was the only guy present.  During the first meeting, I had a stray thought, wondering how they would feel if I made a joke about having a harem.

(Muse:  Too soon, idiot.)

Agreed, and thankfully, I kept my mouth shut.  The evening with the lady writers actually turned out to be quite enjoyable.  Let me caveat by saying I love Mrs. Axe and she is precious to me.  She always displays an interest in my writing but it is a polite interest, you know?  She’s more interested in me than she is in writing, so she talks to me about it and absorbs it because she knows it’s important to me – not because she has any love for it herself.  So it is gratifying to talk to folks who have the same desire burning in their hearts.  The ladies were a joy and we we talked, discussed one member’s submission, and generally did writer stuff.  I was even asked to submit something for next time.  Score.  And if they savage it – well, then I still have some work to do on it, right?

So I think I became a probationary member of the Lit Chix (Chicks).  Since I am now aboard – and not a chick – should I ask them to change the name?