Ever wonder what it’s like to put an anthology together? Well, today’s your lucky day. Today is Beaten Track promo day where I interview, Debbie McGowan, the editor of BTP’s soon to be released anthology, Seasons of Love. July 31st, is the magical release date for the anthology so keep your eyes open. I’ll post the information about the book after the interview. In the meantime, I’ll let Debbie, or as I like to call her, Deb, tell you about the anthology and all the work involved in bringing one to publication.
KC: Please tell us a little about ‘Seasons of Love’, and also how you came up with the anthology’s theme?
Deb: It all began with Ofelia Gränd (as it usually does):
Ofelia: Oh, what’s this year’s anthology theme? There will be one, right?? 😀
Deb: I think we could do something in summer. I know it’s super short notice, but it could be fun, throwaway, a bit mad. Theme…anything goes? I’ve given this no thought whatsoever – you can probably tell! 😀
Bear in mind it was the end of March by that point, and I thought… We could do a ‘summer’ anthology, but we might not be ready by then. Should we go for an autumn theme instead? It was only a small leap from that to an anthology for all seasons, and the title, thanks to the song of the same name which has been stuck in my head for about five years, was a given.
The stories – I told the authors as long as they incorporated the theme of ‘seasons of love’, they could write whatever they were inspired to write. I also didn’t set a word limit as this can really sap creativity.
The result is ten stories ranging in length from 6k to 42k words (around 190k words in total) and of various genres, including: young adult, contemporary, fantasy, romance and humour.
KC: How do you decide what stories go into any of Beaten Track Publishing’s (BTP) anthologies? Are there any specific rules you have for the submissions?
Deb: With Seasons of Love (and some of the other anthologies), it was a closed call for submissions (existing BTP authors only), which usually results in all of the submitted stories being included. We’re only small, and authors join our family because it’s right for them and us, so it’s unlikely anyone will write something that isn’t up to scratch. There are no formal rules beyond sticking to the theme. Having said that, Boughs of Evergreen stories had to be suitable for young adult readers, so there’s no explicit sex/violence.
KC: Can you give us a little behind the scenes look at what goes into creating an anthology?
Deb: For Seasons of Love, I posted the submission call on March 27th, with a submission deadline of May 31st and tentative publication date of August 1st (I had to look it up to check – we’re ahead of schedule! Woohoo!). Initially, there is some discussion back and forth as authors ‘brainstorm’ ideas and check those are acceptable. After that point, it generally goes quiet until the first submission comes in (on this occasion, April 22nd), and from then on, the rest come in dribs and drabs – only two late submissions this time, one of which was mine. :p
BTP is a team, and anthology time is when we really shine. While I do most of the editing, other editors help out too. Once we (author and editor) have agreed edits, the story is proofread by at least three people, first and foremost Jor Barrie, our resident proofreader, and by those authors who are confident enough/have time to proofread. (Huge thanks to Andrea, Amy, Alexis, A., Phetra, Roe, Neptune, Ofelia, KC and Nige.)
It’s pretty intense for a few weeks before release, although we’ve definitely improved with experience. I recall ‘fondly’ Jonathan Penn (proofreading) and I (formatting) working twelve hours solid (through the night for me) before the Boughs of Evergreen final version had to be uploaded for pre-release. Thankfully, it’s never been so last-minute since or we’d have only put out two anthologies instead of six.
KC: What do you love about your work being an editor and running BTP?
Deb: Everything! Actually, that’s not true. I hate collating sales figures because all the vendors provide the information in a different format. But that wasn’t what you asked.
I love working with brilliant authors and getting to read their stories first, although, it dawned on me earlier today, when I had to tear myself away from formatting the Seasons of Love ebook to do something else, that I get a deep sense of satisfaction and achievement out of seeing the finished product. There is something wonderful about holding something in my hand (or on my Kindle) and saying ‘We made this!’ Again. J
KC: What are some of the difficult aspects about running BTP?
Deb: The most difficult is time. There’s never enough of it, and it almost always take me longer to complete edits than I think it will. Luckily, I’m not the kind of person who can sit and do nothing. I’m…introvert, asocial, intellectual…don’t like going out and doing stuff. I don’t watch much TV, and Nige works strange hours, so I can work all of the day if I wish (and I do).
KC: Let’s talk about your own writing. What can readers look forward from you, that doesn’t include the anthology?
Deb: I’m waaaay behind on my own writing (see above re. time), but I’m going to try to fit in the final Checking Him Out book before this year’s over, and I’ve definitely got a novel coming out at the end of October, which is Goth of Christmas Past. It’s the first novel featuring the younger characters from the Hiding Behind The Couch universe – I say ‘younger’; they’re in their mid-twenties, so it’s contemporary New Adult fiction, I guess, and, like the rest of HBTC, it’s about a group of friends, central to which are Krissi and Jay.
Jay is a ‘goth’ and runs a community trust, mostly working in the trust’s recording studio. Krissi is (or used to be) a ‘scene kid’ and is starting a new job managing the trust’s milk bar, but she and Jay have been friends since high school, so there’s a lot of history there, and they’ve supported each other through some fairly significant events. That’s really what the novel is about – how they came to be BFFs. It’s stand-alone, but readers of the other HBTC books will recognise most of the characters and references to past events.
KC: Does BTP plan to release another anthology any time soon, possibly for the holidays?
Deb: Hmm. We’ll see (what Ofelia says). 😉 Joking aside, BTP has quite a few releases scheduled between now and Christmas, so probably not, but never say never.
KC: Thanks, Deb for the great interview. It’s always fun for me, and I’m sure many others, to find out what it takes to put a book together.
ABOUT THE BOOK
Published: 31st July, 2018
Length: 193,000 words (approx.)
ISBN: paperback 978-1-78645-232-0; ebook 978-1-78645-233-7
Authors: Deven Balsam, Neptune Flowers, Ofelia Gränd, Paul Iasevoli, A.M. Leibowitz, Debbie McGowan, Dawn Sister, Bob Stone, Alexis Woods, A. Zukowski
Genres: Various, including LGBTQ+, Romance and Relationships, Contemporary, Fantasy, Literary, Young Adult, Adult, Humour
Price: (Varies by retailer)
Ebook Edition: £7.50 (€8.40 / $9.90)
Paperback Edition: £17.99 (€20.15 / $23.75)
Also at Amazon: Seasons of Love
Love follows no rules. Like sun in winter and rain in summer, love can blossom in the most unexpected places. This richly diverse collection of stories proves that love is as universal and as varied as the seasons.
Tourist Season – Deven Balsam
Sometimes the darkness becomes too familiar. Sometimes, love lights the way out.
One of Zeus’s own children has a favorite office, hidden deep beneath the streets of Asheville, NC. Hades’ existence, while satisfying, is due for a surprise when his path converges with that of Korey, a gifted art student.
Machete Betty and the Office Sharks – Neptune Flowers
Tim is in the A team, professionally trained to investigate allegations of the potential mass hypnosis of the nation… But Tim is bored and horny. Who wouldn’t be? The office is full of idiots, and summer just keeps getting hotter and hotter. Reality starts to blur, screensavers come to life, and before he can say jiggyjig, he finds himself cavorting with a chain-smoking foul-mouthed merman.
Tim’s training is forgotten as he becomes immersed in fishy hedonism and office shenanigans. Can he save the day? Or will the team be forever lost in shameful acts of bouncybounce?
Find out in this tail of office boredom and surreal fun.
Warning! This story does not reflect realistic relationships with mermen or sharks.
Once Around Seven – Ofelia Gränd
Oswald Sattle is out of money and out of options. After more than eight months of sleeping in his car, when an acquaintance from his past offers him a job opportunity in the middle of nowhere, he can’t turn it down. No matter how much he’d like to.
Joshua Roth moved to Nortown four years ago, and he has everything he needs—a job, friends, peace and quiet. He’s not interested in a relationship, or anything else that would upset the life he’s built for himself.
But sometimes fate has other plans, and a single glimpse can completely change the course of a life.
In a small town, where everyone knows everyone else’s business, reaching for what you want can feel like a risk. But some risks are worth taking.
Winter Blossoms – Paul Iasevoli
Chris, a naïve twenty-four-year-old, breaks up with the first man he’s ever lived with. In the months that follow, he travels from Queens to The Hamptons, Manhattan to Brooklyn to find love. In the process, he discovers more about himself and realizes the man he hoped to meet has been in front of him the entire time.
Winter Blossoms will take you on a ride through the streets and subways of New York City. Every stop along the way highlights the 1980s’ vibrant, gay nightlife. Part nostalgic romp, part coming-of-age story, Winter Blossoms will delight the reader as it comes into full bloom.
Year of the Guilty Soul – A.M. Leibowitz
Antonia Moskowitz is caught in the middle, always having to pick a side. Whether it’s between her family’s two religions or in her relationships, she has choices to make. But learning who she is has a price, and every decision has consequences. Sometimes it’s hard to choose between being good and being right. Four seasons. Four kisses. One year to figure out what her heart wants.
The Great Village Bun Fight – Debbie McGowan
All’s fair in love and war. But not in baking.
A Springful of Winters – Dawn Sister
Kit is a bit socially awkward. In fact, the rules of social encounters are mostly a bit of a mystery to him, but he gets by, with lots of lists and contingency plans. He doesn’t have any plans in place for when he first meets Stephan, however, and he keeps bumping into the man in the most embarrassing situations. The trouble is, Stephan keeps turning up in unexpected places, arousing suspicion that this gorgeous man might just have some contingency plans of his own where Kit is concerned.
Out of Season – Bob Stone
It’s the old, old story. Demon meets girl, demon falls for girl, demon creates a perfect summer’s day in the middle of winter. What could possibly go wrong?
Seashell Voices – Alexis Woods
Once upon a time, a merboy spied a human child. The merboy, who longed to walk the sandy shore, spent his days watching the human boy grow to become a man who loved the sea. A man he’s admired from afar. The one he wishes he could be.
But how can a merman express his greatest wish when he has no voice with which to speak?
Courting Light – A. Zukowski
Our days were numbered but precious.
Courting Light is the story of Josie, an eighteen-year-old about to leave home to start university in London. She volunteers at a summer camp for disabled children. When Josie is paired with the autistic teenager Lucian, she faces intense experiences that are truly eye-opening. To her surprise, Lucian is not the only one who captures her attention. Over the weeks, Josie develops powerful desires evoked by the camp’s enigmatic young leader with a shaved head and tattoo on her skull.