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Just a quickie

Until I started reading romance, I wasn’t familiar with anthologies of anything but poetry. Then for a long time, I avoided these collections of short(er) stories, not sure I saw the point.

Publishers often put them out to promote newer authors, combining their novellas with one or two bestselling authors whose readers will automatically buy anything they put out. Good for the author and the publisher, but also good for the reader.

An anthology is an easy way to get a taste of an author you’ve never read before without a huge commitment of time or money. The only thing to keep in mind is that a 20,000 word story will not have the same depth of character and plot as a full novel.

Finding new authors aside, the reason I’m now an anthology convert is that I can enjoy a complete story without getting sucked in for a whole day. For me, a good book is as addictive as crack. I am pretty much incapable of putting it down unless I absolutely have to.

Short stories are great for reading on the cross-trainer or during lunch. I can start one while waiting at the orthodontist’s office, and if I get sucked back in at home, no biggie. Depending on the length, the whole read is one to two hours tops.

I still crave full-length novels, and give in to them several times a week—after I get my writing done—but for those days when I don’t have time for a full read, one story out of an anthology is just the thing I need.

I’m in the middle of two right now…

1. SEAL of My Dreams: a collection of very short but satisfying Navy SEAL stories written by eighteen romance authors with 100% of proceeds going to the Veterans Research Corporation, a non-profit fundraiser for veterans' medical research.

2. Rescue Me: a romantic suspense anthology with stories by Cherry Adair, Lora Leigh, and Cindy Gerard.

What about you? Ever read any anthologies? Thoughts?

Photo credit: OLD BOOK © Peter Dolinsky | Dreamstime.com

Conference call

I spent last Monday through Saturday in Orlando at RWA's 30th Annual National Conference rubbing elbows and sharing air with some amazing authors. (Commence namedropping.) A few highlights:

  • Suzanne Brockmann (one of my all time faves) gave a great workshop on “Theme” and humbled me with her 80-page outlines and 7-book story arcs.
  • Cindy Gerard assured us that self-doubt never goes away, no matter how successful you are. Jayne Ann Krentz and Susan Elizabeth Phillips concurred. I sat next to Cindy on a tour bus before I realized who she was, and she was very nice. Happily, I had just read one of her books (SHOW NO MERCY) and loved it, and could honestly say so.
  • Laura Griffin sat with me at lunch and on the tour bus, introduced me to her agent, and offered to critique my next query letter. She was super-friendly and supportive. (Even after I initially got her books confused with another author I've also read. *red face* I knew I was a fan, but I've read too much in the last year to keep it all straight sometimes. *sigh*)
  • Über-agent and author Donald Maass got me thinking in a new way about my story and characters, and just generally got us pumped to write.
  • Nora Roberts reminded us that it's always been hard to get published and that we should quit whining and get to work!
  • And the agent I pitched to gave me good feedback on my pitch and storyline, and requested a partial of Slow Burn. *happy dance*

A few things really stuck with me from the conference:

  1. No matter how successful the author, they still have doubts about their next book. For better or worse, that never seems to go away. So while it sucks that I'll probably always be plagued with fear that my writing isn't good enough, it also means that I'm not alone!
  2. Every author has his/her own process, and there's no right way. Suzanne Brockmann is a heavy plotter. Susan Elizabeth Phillips writes into the mist. Both are tops in their subgenres. Experiment until you find what works for you, and then quit worrying about it.
  3. Most published authors are fairly ordinary. Based on my experiences at conference and in chapter meetings, they are friendly and helpful people with the same joys, sorrows, needs, and frustrations we all share. Everyone that I met was incredibly generous with advice and encouragement. The only thing different about them was the paycheck.

Bottom line: we're all people, and we all have to start somewhere. I imagine everyone at the conference as somewhere on a timeline to publication. Some of us will move up the line faster than others, and some will never reach the published mark, but we all have to follow the same basic steps to get there.

Read, improve our craft, and most important of all: write!

Like Nora Roberts says, “You don't find time to write. You make time. It's my job.” Exactly.

For another take on the conference from my roommate, Christine, check out this post.

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