2018: Anthology 15

For authors, love gives us a vehicle we can use to drive our readers to new emotional heights. We get to (if we’re successful) bring the readers on our character’s strong emotional journey. In a short story or flash fiction or poem, this is necessarily a short, focused thing, perhaps as short as a single scene.

Contemporary does not mean conventional. There are no formulas for how you express your journey.

We’re looking for all emotions that tie into love:

  • Fear for one you love
  • Fear of losing love
  • Joy on love fulfilled
  • Excitement on finding love
  • Heartbreak from love ending
  • Loneliness being away from one you love
  • Jealousy of a loved one
  • etc.

Sign up to participate in this year’s short story anthology!

Title: to be determined – maybe something like: The Many Splendored Thing

Description: An exploration of love: the emotions in human relationships in short stories and poems

Genre: Contemporary


  • It contains characters that behave the way most readers would. The characters must be believable.
  • The story is set in the present.
  • The setting is a real place or at least seems like a real place.
  • The events are events that could happen in real life.
  • Dialogue is informal and conversational and often includes regional dialects.

Sub-genre: Romance

Sub-genre flavor: Up to you (e.g., mystery, humor, etc.), but it is just a flavor, not a true sub-genre (i.e. not historical romance, sci-fi romance, etc.)

Rating: PG-13 (like all Journey anthologies)

Story lengths: 700 words flash fiction,  5000 words short story

Poetry?: Contemporary poems are encouraged.

Romance: while many stories will focus on romantic love, the anthology will be open to other kinds (e.g., the normal love a parent has for his/her child). We are looking for evoking the strong emotional response in the reader.

Sex/Eroticism: Hey, this is a PG-13 anthology. Nothing explicit is allowed or encouraged.

What is love? You can have love between

  • Two teenagers who suddenly notice each other
  • An older married couple
  • Adults trying to make love work in their busy lives
  • A parent and their children
  • Two dear friends
  • Etc

Love inspires

  • Crazy choices
  • Sacrifice
  • Devotion
  • Fevered imagination
  • Etc.



20 January Google+ hangout kick-off meeting 1-2 pm CST
10 February First drafts due 10 February
24 February Critiques due 24 February
17 March Second drafts due 10 17 March
31 March Critiques due 31 March
21 April Third drafts due 21 April
20 May Critiques due 20 May
10 Jun Final drafts due 10 June

The Swampy Middle

Two NaNoWriMos ago, I generated the first draft of a story. I was so impressed with myself and the complexity of my story. It was the best thing I’d ever written. Now, after more than a year of fighting with the revision, I’m not sure I’ve made it structurally any better, but the quality of writing in the chapters I have edited is much, much, better.

In general, I’m stuck. Something sucks and I don’t know how to massage the text into a workable piece of art. Forcing myself to work on the book ends on Facebook or Netflix. I’ve complained to my closest confidants, receiving little sympathy in return because we all know writing is hard and perseverance is the key to finishing that book. “Butt in chair” should be the only advice required, but it hasn’t broken through my block.

My search for resolution, for answers, turned to educational resources. The first idea that resonated with me and it took a couple weeks to understand it, came from the DIY MFA author. She was discussing writer’s voice. She stated that she doesn’t revise sections, but rewrites them when incorporating her changes. In doing this, you avoid editing your voice out of the writing.

Take what you wrote before, set it aside, and start again with a blank page.

In the story “Martian Strain” that I’d published in Voices From the Dark anthology, I now feel confident that I edited all voice out of that horror story. It’s got horror and suspense, but the “voice”, the words I string together uniquely in a way no one else would, became something flat. Publishing the story was worth the experience toward learning the process, but should it have been published? I don’t know.

My current novel, the one I can’t quite make myself edit, doesn’t have the over edited voice problem yet. I’ve been revising and making things cleaner, but still not clean enough to send out for feedback. The want of feedback might be my second problem, however. Lately, I’ve been asking questions of other writers and finding that I already know the answers. All the words I’ve been rearranging, polishing and crafting have been so that I could send it to someone else for answers. Writers need input from others to improve and grow, but the kind of answers I’m looking for are really the meat of what it is to craft a novel.

Writers need input from others to improve and grow, but the kind of answers I’m looking for are really the meat of what it is to craft a novel. It’s my job to provide those answers and I’ve been fighting with myself.

Until I talked to my mother. She is not a writer, nor has it ever been her passion. She cut through all of my whinings with a clarity only a parent can provide.

“Rewrite it. Stop revising and editing. It’s all in your head. You already know the story. The words might come out different, but it will be better.”

And she’s right.  I’ve been stuck in the Swampy Middle for too long with this story, trying to fix it, trying to make the words better.

When I put the DIY MFA author’s advice together with my mother’s, it’s so straightforward. I know the middle doesn’t work. I know something needs to change, but massaging the text hasn’t been bringing forward the ideas. The blank page spurs my imagination better than a framework of existing words. The fix is in the creativity. The beginning isn’t horrible, the end is usable, but the Swampy Middle is like a giant game of connect the dots. Right now, I have a collection of dots that don’t form a usable picture, so by setting them aside, I open up my options to take my three-legged dog and turn it into a stallion.

I’ll keep working on my purple prose problem.

Nebula Reading Time!

What the Nebula Award looked like in 2015
It’s that time of year. The Oscars are over, and weren’t they interesting this year!?!

The Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America have announced the finalists for the 51st Annual Nebula, the Ray Bradbury Award for an Outstanding Dramatic Presentation, and the Andre Norton Award for Outstanding Young Adult Science Fiction or Fantasy Book.

You can see the whole list here.

Possibly for the first time ever, I’m slightly ahead of the game, having acquired Borderline by Mishell Baker and Everfair by Nisi Shawl the minute(s) they were available. They were both incredible!

I’m now listening to the Audible release of All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders, and enjoying the hell out of it.

That leaves only two novels still to read: The Obelisk Gate by N.K. Jemisin, and Ninefox Gambit by Yoon Ha Lee. I’m looking forward to them!

I’ve also seen all the Bradbury nominees except the Westworld episode. I don’t do HBO. I may have to see if Cookie will let me come over and watch.

I’ve probably read some of the shorter fiction, but  I usually have to refresh my memory before voting; l usually can’t match a title to a story until I’ve read a paragraph or so. And this year I haven’t read any of the nominated YA titles, so I’d better get on that.

SFWA members have from March 1 – March 30 to vote, so I’d better read (or listen) fast!

Which of the nominated works have you read? What would you vote for?