Shannon Page is an author I have worked with off and on for years. She’s a consummate professional and I’m really looking forward to reading this anthology.
On the Crafting of An Anthology
Witches, Stitches & Bitches—A Three Little Words anthology, from Evil Girlfriend Media.
Three little words...three simple, innocent—well, okay, maybe not so innocent—evocative words.
When Evil Girlfriend Media publisher Katie Cord asked me if I wanted to edit one of her “Three Little Words” anthologies, I jumped at the chance. I love editing, and hadn’t had much chance to do it professionally. Better still, she let me choose which of the three I wanted to take on. Now, nothing against zombies or vampires, but I knew at once that the witch book was the one for me.
I’ve always identified with witches. I was born on Halloween night, so people delighted in telling me I was a little witch before I even knew what that meant. Of course, I went through a period (like so many girls) when I’d have much rather been a fairy princess; but I eventually got over that and embraced my intrinsic witchiness. I’m writing a series of novels starring a young witch in San Francisco (the Nightcraft Quartet, which begins publication next year with The Queen and The Tower). Even my LiveJournal handle has the word “witch” in it.
So that was a natural. But stitches and bitches? Not as much of a connection there. That’s okay, I figured; let’s see what stories come in. I imagined needlepoint and revenge fantasies.
But wow! Authors are creative! (I know: not exactly earth-shattering news.) I got such a flood of marvelous stories filled with so much imagination, I looked forward to my email inbox every day. We had knitting and surgery and zombies stitching on new limbs. Devious and clever women; bitchy witches; female dogs. And we even had needlepoint and revenge fantasies—but nothing like what I’d imagined.
I received nearly three times as many stories as I needed to fill out the collection—not bad for the very first offering of a brand-new publishing company, paying nowhere near professional rates. I read every story that came in, even the ones where I could tell from the start that they weren’t a good fit. I wanted to see where each story ultimately ended up. I wanted to be surprised—and, a few times, I was. To me, a good anthology is like the perfect smorgasbord: a little of everything; something for everyone. That’s why I like more open-ended themes; they give the authors room to explore, to show off that marvelous creativity of theirs.
Then came the painful process: winnowing them down. I had to reject some really good stories, including stories from friends...including stories I’d specifically requested from friends. (Fortunately, my friends being good people, they forgave me.) But I knew I wanted to put together the strongest group of stories possible. I selected for length and tone and style and subject matter. I wanted balance, and variety. As I mention in the book’s introduction:
“The sixteen stories collected here range from light to dark, fun to disturbingly spooky, and everything in between. We have retellings of fairy tales, modern edgy fantasies, stories of delicious revenge. We have romance, and some broken hearts. We even have a few tales by male authors, just to be inclusive.”
And when all was said and done...I think we ended up with an awesome book. I hope my readers agree!