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Release Day–Under the Mistletoe!

Happy Release Day!

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Today marks the publication of Coming Together Under the Mistletoe! I’m over at Delilah Devlin’s page talking about the inspiration for the anthology, Project Linus, and sharing one of my favorite poems from the anthology–Frosty by Corbin Grace.

With my daughter’s permission, I’m also sharing a picture of her. She knows about the anthology, that all proceeds go to Project Linus, and that it’s for grownups. This was my very sick as a baby but today healthy daughter, Turtle. (obviously not her real name)

Turtle
If you’d like a chance to win a free pdf of Under the Mistletoe, go check out my post on Delilah Devlin’s blog.

My first experience as the editor of an anthology

typewriter

Part of why I went radio silent for so long was that I was genuinely overwhelmed this fall. I hadn’t originally planned on being so busy, but between campaigning for Hillary Clinton by phone banking fellow Democrats in Asia, helping my daughter study for exams that counted for 50% of her grade for the year (the second grader, for the record—thanks, Singapore public schools), and editing I was buried in work for about ten weeks straight.

As a first-time editor with a firm deadline in mind, I felt like I was trying to harness lightning in a bottle. Back in September, I posted that I was reading the entries and that I’d stumbled upon an embarrassment of riches. After sorting through all the entries, I came up with the final list of acceptances that alternated poems and stories. This meant I also came up with a list of “no’s.” I can honestly say that doing the rejecting sucks, although not quite as hard as being rejected.

I set nine deadlines with a week of buffer space in case something came up–and my daughters’ joint birthday party took up all of my time for several days, so I ended up pushing things back a few days–within that margin of error. They were

  • Contracts Out
  • Contracts In
  • Edits Out
  • Editing Period
  • Edits In
  • Compile Book Into 1 Document
  • Book to Authors for Typo Review
  • Book back from Authors
  • Book to Publisher

I had three giant charts on my wall. One was the bullets above with the deadlines. The second was for my poets and the third was for my prose authors. Each title had a horizontal line with boxes for contract in, editing, final edit, typo review. This allowed me to see who was in what phase of the process.

Over the course of those nine deadlines several unplanned things happened. People didn’t return their contracts, a “sweet romance” story was pulled by the author–I think because she second guessed having her story featured in an erotica anthology–leaving a gaping hole in my anthology at the last minute, and so on. That put me in an awkward position as it was late enough that I couldn’t pull up a rejected story and start the editing process from scratch–or write something brand new myself at that point–so I ended up recycling one of my older stories, “Baby It’s Hot Outside,” a version of which was in Summer Loving. I’m still a bit uncomfortable with that solution, but without it we wouldn’t have hit the 50k word minimum to get a print run.

Every editor has their own style. Depending on the author and the story, the amount of communication and revision varied from one/two emails to many. I wanted to ensure that the authors retained as much creative control as possible, as that has been my preference as a writer. I’m certain that my authors’ opinion of whether I achieved that goal will vary, much as my experience has varied over the years.

Will I do another anthology? Maybe. Not immediately. The process was exhausting.

I have a few anthologies I want to submit to as an author. I need to focus on writing the next draft of Plunder. And my daughters, who know I write books but that they’re not old enough to read them have asked me to write them books. So my plate is pretty full.

Perhaps after submitting Plunder.

In the meantime, you can pre-order the digital version of Under the Mistletoe and the paperback edition is already on sale at Amazon!

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This charity anthology will benefit Project Linus, which provides hand-made blankets to children in crisis.

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Under the Mistletoe is available for pre-order and a sneak peek at “Kid Comet”

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Great news! You can pre-order Under the Mistletoe at the following shops!

Santas reindeerI have something of an annual tradition–writing one of my North Pole Series short stories.

It all began with a story called New on the Naughty List, about Lucy the Elf who investigates if Matthew is Naughty or merely a Nice guy on the wrong list. (read it for free here) By the end of writing that story, though, I was in love with sarcastic, nerdy Blitzen the Reindeer. Last year I wrote A Reindeer by Any Other Name, which tells the story of who what Blitzen was doing during the events of Lucy’s story. (read it for free here) Each story works as a stand-alone story as well as part of the larger on-going series.

I knew I wanted to write another story in this universe for Under the Mistletoe, and the result is my new f/f story, Kid Comet, set one year after A Reindeer by Any Other Name.  (Disclaimer—Kid Comet is a comic book reference–there are no underage characters)

Claudia was drafted to cover Comet’s emergency maternity leave with only twenty-three days instead of months to prepare. When she visits New York to get a crash course, she falls head over hooves for Jillian, the elf in charge of the region.

If you’re a fan of the reindeer, you’ll want to read the next chapter. (Blitzen fans–he makes a cameo.)

Here’s a sneak peek.

I took notes on a tablet as Jillian’s staff ran me through the buildings we were scheduled to visit throughout the region and where I should land the sleigh. I fiddled with my stylus, sneaking glances at Jillian, who sat opposite me. I hoped no one noticed my nipples pointing directly at the object of my desire.

The afternoon was spent on regional geography. Meteorologists walked me through typical weather patterns and the biggest outliers. My notes grew frantic, my handwriting deteriorating.

I can’t do this.

Memorize every building in the territory, every flight pattern through it, the name of every elf in it? Plan a path through the region? Pull the sled? Put up with being called Kid Comet? That I could do.

Make decisions in the air where the entire team and Santa would defer to me? The room was going in and out of focus. My pulse thundered in my ears.

“Sorry all,” Jillian interrupted the meeting. Her voice sounded far away. “I’ve got an urgent incoming call for Comet. Clear the room!” A second later, paper pushed against my lips. “Claudia, breathe into this! You’re going to be okay. Breathe in. Hold it. Now out.”

She breathed in and out with me until I was no longer gasping for air.

“Tell me what happened.”

I shook my head. “All I’ve ever wanted was to join the team, but I can’t do this. Not with less than a month to prepare. I can’t!”

“Yes, you can,” she took my face between her hands. Her eyes glowed with intensity.

“What if I make the wrong call?” I whispered.

“Then you’ll figure it out. The team will help you. You’ll be yoked next to Blitzen in part because this is his home territory. He’s abrasive, he can be a jerk, but he won’t let you fail. No one else will, either. The nine of you are a team, Claudia. They’ll trust you, they’ll let you take charge, but they won’t let you send them into the ocean or approach a snowstorm the wrong way. I promise.”

Jillian stood, and returned with cold water. I gulped it gladly.

“I’m canceling the rest of the day. Rest, then we’ll go to the show.”

I nodded. I retreated to my bedroom, where I buried my face in my hands in shame.

What kind of reindeer has panic attacks?

“She won’t let me fail,” I whispered to the room over and over.

I have FIVE copies of the anthology to give away in exchange for an honest review. Please email me at delilahnight at gmail dot com or leave a comment on this post if you are interested.