Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Anthologies: Collecting the Best of the Best – Part 4

Hi everyone!
This week, we’ll take a final look at anthologies. Although I’ve written three cat care books, two of my stories that appeared in anthologies were about dogs.
The first story, “The Silent Guardian” appeared in Haunted Encounters: True Stories of Departed Pets. This non-fiction anthology contains true stories of ghostly encounters with departed pets. The personal accounts explore the bond that exists between animals and humans—in this world and the next.
My story is about a ghost dog that I saw many years ago. As anyone who knows me will attest, I’m more curious about ghosts than afraid of them, and this intelligent apparition was no exception. Here’s a brief excerpt:
The Silent Guardian
…I picked up my book and resumed reading. A few minutes later, I felt the odd “being watched” sensation again. This time it was even stronger. I glanced up and gasped when I saw Robert’s dog, Chrissy, standing in the family room doorway, staring at me.
I shook my head, thinking this was some kind of an optical illusion, or that I had lost my mind. However, the basement room was well lit, and I could see the dog clearly. Common sense told me that Chrissy shouldn’t have been there. He had been put to sleep in May…
The book is available in paperback from Amazon.com. The link is:
Despite the title, my second dog story, “The Gray Ghost” isn’t about a ghost at all. It’s a tender, heart-warming story about a boy, his loyal dog, and coping with loss. “The Gray Ghost” was published in Joyous Publishing’s At Home and Abroad: Prize-Winning Stories, a collection of fifty-three contest-winning writings from 2007. Here’s an excerpt:
The Gray Ghost
Dwight zipped up his thick winter coat and quietly pushed open the screen door. “Come on Shadow, let’s go,” he whispered.
He didn’t want to wake Grandpa or Mom. His mother wouldn’t want him leaving the house to explore, but he couldn’t sleep. He’d slept most of the way here last night while Mom drove from their house in Cleveland to Grandpa’s farm in Kentucky. Mom had said that she couldn’t bear to stay home this weekend because the house held too many memories. He frowned. If Dad were still alive, they’d be home now. Thinking about his father made him sad, and Mom wouldn’t want to see him crying this weekend. After all, it was Thanksgiving.
Dwight broke from his thoughts as Shadow’s warm wet tongue tickled his fingers. He rubbed the dog’s head. No matter what, he still had Shadow. Since Dad’s death two weeks ago, he had slept with the dog curled next to him at night. He cried into Shadow’s short, gray coat when the sadness and sense of loss took over his heart.
He closed the screen door behind him and stood on the porch. The crisp early-morning air tickled his nose. He knew he shouldn’t walk too far from the house. If he did, Mom would fret that he’d exerted himself and baby him, just because he had asthma. Shadow padded next to him, his pink nose sniffing the air…
The book is available in paperback from Amazon.com. The link is:

These two unrelated dog stories show that writers can branch out in many different directions when it comes to short stories and anthologies. I’ve always said, “Write the story that’s in your head, then submit it. You never know who will buy it.” It’s good advice for any writer.
Next week, I’ll be posting my big end-of-the-year issue of my newsletter, Kelli’s Quill.
After that, look for a few changes to the blog in 2011!
Until next time,

Friday, December 17, 2010

Anthologies: Collecting the Best of the Best – Part 3

Hi everyone!

Today I’m continuing my look at anthologies. When editors/publishers decide to put together an anthology, the first thing they decide on is the theme. Whether it’s a general theme (love, death, happiness), stories that take place in a haunted house, or short stories about rabbits, all the stories in the anthology share a common, connective bond. But what if they all start off with the same first line?

The First Line is an online magazine that publishes short stories in any genre – the catch? – they all must begin with the same first line. Whatever sentence they give you has to be the first line in your story. For instance, if their required first line is “Jimmy saw the UFO land in the cornfield.” That has to be the first line of your story.

I’m pleased to say that my horror story “Guest of Honor” appeared in The Best of the First Line - The First Three Years anthology and was also featured in TFL on Tape (Episode 10) as an audio broadcast. What’s it about? Here’s a brief excerpt:

The party was only the beginning of what would happen tonight. Black candles burned in cast iron candelabras. The scent of musky, earthy incense filled the room. The occult craze was in full force. People were trying to summon Satan for petty things...

Sometimes anthologies set a broad standard for submissions and let the writers’ imaginations go wild. That was the case with the What If… science fiction anthology. The guidelines were simple. Submit a sci-fi story based on the premise of “what if…” Almost all fiction (for the most part), starts with “what if…” and writing a sci-fi tale with that as a premise can lead writers into many different directions.

In December 2009, my humorous short story “Not Your Ordinary Little Green Men” was chosen for inclusion in ReadMe Publishing’s What If?: Collection of Science Fiction Short Stories. Here’s an excerpt:

A young couple moves into an old Victorian house and quickly discovers they’re not alone.

…Sam grabbed a handful of yellowed “Not of This World” newsletters and dumped them into a trashbag. Everywhere he looked, he found books and pulp magazines about UFOs, aliens, and mystical creatures.

“No wonder everyone thought the old lady was a wacko,” he muttered. He glanced at the cover of a sci fi magazine. The poorly drawn illustration showed three little green men standing next to a rocket. He frowned. Maybe these magazines had given Margie the idea about the pixies, or maybe she’d been hearing the strange noises at night, too.

Anthologies are a great way for writers to get their short stories published. If you have an old story lying around that fits an anthology theme, why not submit it? You never know where it will lead. (And if you have a story that sort of fits – tweak it and submit anyway!)

Next week, we’ll look at two more anthologies – both involving dogs.

Until next time!


Saturday, December 4, 2010

Anthologies: Collecting the Best of the Best – Part 1

Hi everyone,
This month, I’m writing about anthologies. Several of my short stories have recently appeared in anthologies, so I thought I’d make this the subject of my December blogs.
When I was in grade school, I used to read anthologies of horror stories. (Yes, sixth grade to be exact.) Looking back I wonder why these Alfred Hitchcock Presents-type stories were in the school because most of them had black and white illustrations that could scare the pants off you.
The best (and most disturbing) short story was “Wendigo’s Child” by Thomas F. Monteleone that appeared in Monster Tales: Vampires, Werewolves, and Things. If anyone’s ever read it (and seen the line art drawing) you know exactly what I’m talking about. The last line still sticks with me decades later. “It was looking up at him.”
You can’t get much better than that. (And if anyone out there has a copy of the story, please let me know!! I don’t have one!)
In high school, I was hooked on horror anthologies. It seemed that every week another collection of spine-tingling tales would be released, and I would devour each book. The collections usually had titles like Horrors, Terrors, Fears, Nightmares, and featured a dozen or more stories. Every so often the anthology included a story by a famous author (Clive Barker, Robert Bloch, Stephen King) and the rest of the stories were written by… I don’t even remember.
But what I do remember was delving into the world of horror fiction and becoming addicted to the art of storytelling. Some of the stories came across as dull, others were okay, none of them kept me awake at night, but a few were memorable. Each story showed me how different writers handled the same genre, wrote in a specific voice, and created characters and plots in their own unique way. In reading these stories I learned what worked and what didn’t, I developed a sense for great openings and even greater endings, and I kept telling myself “one day, one of my stories will be in a book.” I was right!
In 2010 two of my horror stories were published in anthologies. “The Ape” was featured in The Four Horsemen: An Anthology of Conquest, War, Famine & Death. Published by Pill Hill Press, this collection of twenty-five short stories is based on The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.
“Whispers from the Past” appeared in the Pill Hill Press anthology, Haunted. This book is a collection of forty-two tales about haunted places.
How did I get my stories published? I answered the call for submissions and sent in my highly polished manuscripts. I was pleased to discover that the editors liked what they read and chose the stories for publication.
Anthologies are a great way for writers to get their stories published and read by the masses. If you’re just starting out, it’s an impressive writing credit, and if you’ve already been published, it’s always nice to have your story included in a collection with other talented writers.
To read excerpts and learn more about “The Ape” and “Whispers from the Past” visit the Anthologies section (or Horror section) of my website: www.KelliWilkins.com
Next week, we’ll chat about my romance anthology, Naughty Nobles!
Happy reading,