First Things, First...
Pantheon’s Magazine’s Gaia: Shadow and Breath has been published and I couldn’t be more pleased. It’s a collection of fantasy, magical realism, and dark fantasy stories.
Obviously, I’m a little biased because I have a story in it, but I can honestly say the anthology is a beauty.
The cover art by Carrion House is gorgeous and the interior illustrations in the print version are too. The floral dividing pages are very nice, but I have to admit that I was most keen on seeing the illustrations attached to each piece. They were all quite clever and captured a key element of the story.
I love the one next to mine. It’s perfect.
I finished reading the collection yesterday. I liked them all and appreciated the variety in subjects, genres, and styles. It was a tough choice, but I finally picked my top three.
The list is currently: “Love at the Dawn of the Elephant Apocalypse” by Sean Silleck, “Old Bart and The Cougar Woman” by Lindsay Morgan Lockhart, and “Berries in the Briars” by Rhoads Brazos. The list may change with a second reading-- and that’s a good sign.
I just noticed that most of my picks were in the last half and I remember being struck by the opening stories "Casa de Perros" by Michael J. Riser and "Endless Summer" by Jessica Meddows.
See what I did there? I cheated. Shamelessly. Now it's a Top Five List.
My contribution, “Around the Bones, Tender Leaves Unfurl” started with coffee.
I’d written a short story to submit to an anthology with a coffee theme. It didn’t get in, but I had a lot of fun with it--it was lighthearted and fun to write. One of the lines in the submission guidelines for the collection contained a bit about the possibility for stories about tea.
I started to think about tea. I drink tea, anyway, so it wasn’t hard.
I wanted to see if I could think up a horrifying tea story. The next leap was to tea parties. Wrestling with that took up some time and took me down all sorts of rabbit holes. The one constant was the sock monkey. Those little suckers can be seriously creepy.
The ideas finally made it into a draft while I was taking a LitReactor class with John Skipp. It was my second class with him and it was a blast. Skipp is a generous and enthusiastic teacher. It was a class about editing your work—getting it into fighting condition, I guess—so the prompt was pretty open and we had a lot of freedom. I knew exactly what I wanted to write: the tea story.
Feedback from Skipp and my excellent classmates pushed the story through the first rocky bits into something I was pleased with. From there it was the usual grind—revise, polish, submit, get rejections, repeat until….it found a place in the Gaia anthology.
There was wooting and happy dancing upon acceptance. There was another round when I got a copy.
I like to celebrate—especially when I’m particularly fond of the story and when I have a fun story about the story.
This was the piece that necessitated a new guideline in the Hammer household.
My husband doesn’t require, but would appreciate, at least an indication of what genre a story is before he reads it. He’s not delicate, but…you know…sometimes a story takes an unexpected turn.
I’ve been there too. I get it.
In other news, I’m in the middle of both my summer LitReactor classes. I’m learning and drafting and getting critiques. It’s been a busy and productive few weeks.
I’ve also managed to read and critique fiction for my classmates and a member of my writing group. Good stuff.
And then there’s the Hugo reading. So far it’s been filled with amazing stories—writing to aspire to.
It’s been a lovely summer so far and there are more very cool things to come. I’m anxious to share them.
Until then—keep being awesome, everyone.
Thanks for stopping by!