Please welcome with me today our Guest Author — Nancy Fraser
What I Learned From Being Part of an Anthology
When my novella, Erin’s Gift, was chosen to be part of the anthology, A Very Scandalous Holiday, from Entangled Publishing, I was over the moon. Let’s face it … there are few rewards in a writer’s life greater than a sale. I shared my good news with family, friends, and … finally … my writing partner. Here we were in the middle of our seven-book series, and I’d had the audacity to sell a novella of my own. It almost felt as if I was being unfaithful.
Once I’d jumped past that hurdle, the panic of edits set in. What if the changes were extensive? What if I disagreed with the editor’s request? A thousand different problems ran helter-skelter through my head … as if just writing the darned thing wasn’t enough drama!
With the final edits done, it was time for the final galley read-through and the first time I’d seen the other three author’s stories in print. If I’d thought edits were going to scare my down the rabbit hole, seeing three other author’s work right there alongside mine was daunting! What if mine couldn’t stack up against the other three? It’s bad enough being judged against other books in the same genre and wondering whose book the reader will buy. Being judged side-by-side with three mega-talented authors nearly had me hyperventilating. Twice, I thought about reading the other three stories but then decided to wait until after we had the final version. I’d found a couple of nits and boo-boos in mine and I wanted to give the other three ladies the benefit of fixing any they might find in theirs as well.
So, while I waited for the final copy to come through, I sat down at my desk and made myself a list of what I’d learned from the experience. It helped me wait out that final copy.
First, and foremost, rejoice in the sale! Whether it’s a group effort, or a solo project, a sale is the only way to get your work in front of the reader. Share the joy of your sale … not only does it make it more real but it lifts your spirits. Writers lead a fairly solitary life so we have to raise our heads and crow as often as possible. It also helps to have a reward list … some treat you will give yourself for meeting milestones in the process. Most of mine revolve around coffee and chocolate!
Second, learn something from the book you’re writing. I try to learn something new from everything I write. In creating Erin’s Gift, I found an appreciation for the 1920’s time period and am currently working on a follow up novella featuring the heroine’s best friend. I also learned a lot of cool new phrases that are just the bee’s knees!
Third, take the edits with a grain of salt. Obviously, if the editor bought your book in the first place, he/she already thinks highly of it … so their suggestions are only intended to make it better. I’ve been fortunate enough to work with some very talented and understanding editors and have been able to work my way through all of their suggestions without losing my already-fragile writer’s mind. (NOTE: Gwen Hayes is an AWESOME editor and she did NOT pay me to say that!)
Fourth, accept that fact that there are going to be other authors sharing the book with you. If the editor has done their job, each story should bring something unique to the anthology so you don’t want to compare your work to theirs. My story is set in Chicago during the Roaring 20s, another in Regency England, another in the late 1800s England, and the last is a wonderful Hanukkah story set during the Battle of the Bulge. No comparison is wanted or necessary.
And, lastly, each author in the anthology will have their own way of doing promotion. What works for one, might not work for the others. The most important thing to remember is to be supportive of each other, encourage your fans, media followers, friends and family to traipse around and follow you from blog to blog, even if it’s one of the other authors turn to shine!
“Well, well, well, what have we here?” The desk sergeant stared down over the huge wooden barrier, his thick Irish brogue filled with amusement. “Miss Harrison, Mr. Packard.” Glancing in Erin’s direction, he added, “Don’t tell me these two have roped another of their Hyde Park friends into skirting the law?” He shook his head and rubbed a meaty hand across his whiskers. “What’s your name, girlie?”
“Erin. Erin O’Mara.”
“Saints be, they’ve drawn a fine Irish lass such as yourself into their sordid business.” The officer turned his attention to Abby.
“I suppose you’ll be wanting to call that shyster brother of yours, now won’t you?”
Abby nodded. “Yes, Officer O’Malley, if you wouldn’t mind.”
O’Malley motioned toward the single phone on the table opposite the desk. “You can give him a call, but you’re going into the tank with the rest of lawbreakers until he gets here. No more special treatment just ‘cause your father’s a councilman. Understood?”
“Yes, sir,” Abby said. She started toward the desk and then turned back to ask, “Did Mrs. O’Malley have that baby yet, Sergeant?”
“Not yet,” the man acknowledged, shaking his head. “You’d think after ten, they’d just walk out on their own.”
The “tank” as Officer O’Malley had called it was made up of three jail cells, side by side. Women were housed in the first, the middle one sat empty, and the men were placed in the third. The young officer in charge of escorting them to their cells opened the door and motioned them forward. “Miss Abby,” the man said, “I’m surprised to see you back so soon.”
Abby laid her hand against the officer’s smooth cheek. “Oh, Tommy, you know I couldn’t possibly go more than a week or two without seeing your handsome face.”
The cell door had barely shut behind them when two women of questionable virtue began whistling and making wild moaning noises. The older of the two laughed heartily, her amusement ending in a rough-edged cough. “Oh, Tommy,” she whimpered, “I missed you so much.”
“Leave it alone, Kitty,” Officer Tommy warned. “And don’t you be trying to steal anything from these two young ladies.”
The woman called Kitty shook her head. “Don’t want nothing from these swells, Tommy-boy, ‘cept maybe a ciggy if they’ve got one.”
“Not us,” Erin said, shaking her head. “We don’t smoke.”
“Well, la-de-da, aren’t you a couple a good girlies.”
Like most authors, Nancy began writing at an early age, usually on the walls and with crayons or, heaven forbid, permanent markers. Her love of writing often made her the English teacher’s pet, which, of course, resulted in a whole lot of teasing. Still, it was worth it.
In addition to being part of this wonderful anthology, Nancy also has a co-authored historical romance, The Lawman’s Agreement, coming out on November 11, as well as a contemporary novella, Having Santa’s Baby, releasing in December. The fourth novella in her Golden Decade of Rock and Roll vintage historical series, April Love, will be released worldwide in February.
When not writing (which is almost never), Nancy dotes on her five beautiful grandchildren and enjoys traveling and reading. She invites you to visit her website (www.nancyfraser.ca) or follow her on Twitter (@nfraserauthor). Or, more importantly, just enjoy what she writes.