Hello, lovely peeps, Doris here with her Tuesday thoughts. I’m going to talk Anthologies today, specifically how to write for them.
Having recently received an acceptance for the next Evernight Anthology—this will be my 10th Evernight Anthology—I’d like to think I learned a thing or two about how to write for them.
So, then exactly how do you do it?
Well, first off read the Anthology call. I can see you rolling your eyes now, but, I mean it, seriously, read it.
Evernight excels at spelling out what they are looking for.
For this Antho call the brief was/is the following:
(for the purposes of this blog post I’m going to stick to the M/F anthology call)
The Alpha lives for the hunt…
Driven by instinct, an Alpha shifter recognizes his fated mate from one scent, one touch. He’ll pursue his woman, regardless of the cost, and anyone else would be smart to get out of his way. He won’t stop until he takes possession of his prize.
Although the hunter doesn’t need convincing, his mate certainly does. The Alpha will have to prove himself as a lover and convince his woman that he plays for keeps.
Stories must have a strong plot, conflict, well-developed characters/dialogue, and a romance to remember. We do not want erotica. We want quality erotic paranormal romance. Original work only.
The Alpha can be any dominant shifter species. The Alpha’s mate can be any shifter species or human.
No rape, infidelity, or incest
So, let’s digest that. They want shifters, that much is clear straight away. They want romance, a well-developed paranormal story line, must be an original work, and the Alpha in question needs to be a dominant species.
So, that means bear, wolf, large cat, etc. not bunny shifters 😉
His mate can be human or shifter, and interestingly enough, can be any species so, hey, she can be a bunny if you like.
Note the term Alpha. That does not mean they want an asshole, overbearing hero. They want an Alpha, a hero responsible for his pack, with a code of honor and a ruthless streak when it comes to pursuing his mate.
She needs to be reluctant, that’s where the conflict comes in.
The guidelines mention a hunt of some sort…interesting. A literal hunt or do they mean the pursuance of the heroine? Open for interpretation. One thing is clear, he recognizes she’s his mate immediately.
With me so far? Good.
If you’re anything like me, ideas are already percolating around in your brain.
Start with the hero. Who is he, what is he? What makes him stand out.
In my story, the hero is a battle-scarred wolf shifter, responsible for bringing peace to the packs in his area of Northumberland in the UK (my stories are always set in the UK!) He is under a certain amount of pressure to find his mate. His pack wants him to settle down, and he is being offered various, far too young in his opinion, she-wolves.
My hero is no angel. He has fucked plenty of females, both shifter and human, but lately, that has gotten old. Besides, he’s busy with his pack and his work in the forestry commission.
The hunt thing in the guidelines spoke to me because I’d found this picture.
That simply screams shifter defending his mate to me.
I got the opening very quickly in my mind. My hero and his pack are hunting, and the heroine literally stumbles into the hunt.
I shan’t tell you more because I don’t want to give away too much of the story, but that was my beginning.
Now onto the heroine. My first idea was that she was human. In fact, my first attempt at the anthology was a bear shifter and his human mate, but it quickly transpired that the story wouldn’t keep to the required word count (it ended up over 50 K in the end!), so the wolf shifter was Antho attempt #2.
A word to the wise here. Don’t be afraid to try several stories for fit in an Anthology. I wasn’t sure whether I’d have the time to write an Antho story after the first attempt veered off as it were, but I did.
In fact, this story practically wrote itself in the end. 🙂
Back to the heroine. I mulled this over for a while, and then it came to me. Would it not add to the conflict if the heroine was a shifter species which would normally be food for the wolves. In the end, I settled on a deer shifter.
My heroine left the deer shifting community because she didn’t exactly fit into what the stags expect of their mates. This deer isn’t meek and gentle. She has backbone and snark in spades, and she is determined to live life the way she wants it, now kowtow to some overbearing male.
So when she meets the hero, sparks fly, as she fights the pull between them. Then there is the small matter of his pack. They will never accept a deer in their midst, right? Such delicious conflict right there. How will it all work out?
Well, you’ll have to read the Anthology when it comes out to find out what exactly happens, but I had oodles of fun writing that story.
And that is how you should approach any writing really, whether it is for an Antho or not. Have fun with it. Don’t be afraid to change things up, but do stick to the guidelines and the general story premise.
Dig deep with the emotion and the conflict. It’s a challenge to get that across, especially in a short story format, but digging deep and bringing that rounded story will be what makes your submission stand out above the rest.
If you haven’t written for an Anthology before, then do check out previous anthologies that publisher has published. Read them, get a feel for what they are looking for in a story. It helps, trust me.
Last but by no means least, if you get a no, or a revise and re-submit for a different line, do not be discouraged.
It doesn’t mean your writing is crap. Well, it might do, if you made a hash out of it, lol, but I’m assuming here that you’ll have done your best and have produced a great story.
What it does mean, is that it isn’t the right fit for this Anthology. There could be a number of reasons as to why. Maybe the publisher feels the story would be better expanded on. Maybe it is too close to other stories they already have in the collection. Maybe it’s too different from the other stories.
Maybe, you didn’t read the guidelines properly and shot way off base with your interpretation of what they’re looking for.
It happens to all of us. I recall one submission, not for an Antho, but a specific line, that I got way wrong. I did get an R&R, but decided to publish the story elsewhere as I loved it the way it was, and my other publisher took it and it’s one of my bestselling series.
See, it swings in roundabouts, this getting accepted to a specific submission call thing.
I know, especially with Anthologies, I never take a yes for granted. Well, I don’t ever take a yes for granted, to be honest with you. To do so would be foolhardy in the extreme, and smack of diva behavior I have no time for.
One last thing on writing for anthologies. You may not hear back about your submission for some time. You may hear right away, if your story is an excellent fit, and the publisher definitely wants it in there. You might have to wait till after the closing time for the submission call to hear.
Do not read too much into that wait. I’ve waited weeks before and I also heard back within days. It all depends on what else is going on. Of course, your paranoid writer self will assume the worst if you kept waiting.
Been there, done that, but look at it this way. What is the worst that could happen? They say no.
Okay, then you fix what they want you to fix to get it up the right standard and submit to whatever line they’re suggesting if it’s an R&R for a different line.
If it’s a straight no, again, pull up your big girl panties and have a good long look at the story, and see where it could be improved, and go from there.
And you know if the answer is yes, well, then, kick back with a glass of bubbly and look forward to having lots of release day buddies. 😀
Anthologies are great for getting your name out there and gaining new readers.
And if you didn’t make it into this call, there will be others. Don’t give up. Try again and again, if need be.
That’s all from me today.
Do stay naughty, folks.