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I am a writer, editor and reviewer based in Perth, Western Australia: my first novel, The Dagger of Dresnia (Book 1 of The Talismans) is published by Satalyte and available from their website as well as Amazon.com and other online outlets. As both writer and editor, I specialise in historical and high or epic fantasy. If you have a manuscript in preparation, don't waste money on editing too early. Instead, let me help with a mini-assessment of your work, based on careful reading of your synopsis and first 20 pages. Then, when you've worked on the manuscript in line with our discussions, I will be happy to do a full edit before you send it off into the big wide world. My fees are very reasonable - for more about my editing work, CLICK HERE

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Sunday, 11 December 2011

Mythic Resonance


It's been a busy year: one in which I've bitten off more than I can comfortably chew. A bad habit of mine, but I can't seem to help myself - I get all fired up with enthusiasm whenever someone suggests a new project, and I wade in, boots and all, without testing the waters for depth.

So at the end of last year, when Stephen Thompson, our Editor-in-Chief at The Specusphere, decided to publish an anthology, I cheerfully volunteered my services. 'Wow, that'll be fun!' I told myself.

Well, yes. A qualified yes, because producing an anthology is not easy. Slush reading, negotiating with authors, editing, proofreading - it's taken a year to get there, but our destination, that magical place where we shall be rewarded with a Real Live book full of stories, is just around the next curve of what's been a long and winding bit of wayfaring.

When we first called for submissions, they were slow in coming and we started to panic a bit - what if we couldn't make up the quota? But gradually they started to trickle in, and the trickle eventually became a deluge! Some of the submissions were not within the guidelines - some not even close - and those were rejected at once. But the slow business of reading the fifty-odd that remained was angst-making.

It wasn't easy to pick the right content. There were seven of us reading, and most of us read all the submissions. We wanted stories based, however loosely, on traditional material: stories about the archetypal characters that we all know - the valiant hero, the boy on a quest, the trapped princess, the femme fatale, the monster from the deep ... the fabled beings we'd known and loved since childhood.

There were no truly awful stories, so it was a matter of choosing those that best fitted the guidelines and collectively provided a good sampling of the myths and legends of the world, presented with a twist that gave us something new and fresh rather than just a rewrite. And above all, of course, most of us had to at least like, and preferably love, the selected stories.

Reading the different reactions of the slush readers to the same stories was an eye-opener! We didn't quite come to blows, although I think we might have come close, once or twice, had we not been separated by a lot of kilometres. But being spread across the country from Brisbane to Perth, we were able to negotiate until we had a shortlist of about twenty stories.

At that point, Stephen had us list our ten favourites, and promised us that each of the list-toppers would be included. (Except for Stephen, we read 'blind', so none of us knew who'd written what until the final list was in place.) We breathed a sigh of relief to find that our lists were not as different from each other as we'd feared, and I was delighted that one reader put my story, 'La Belle Dame', at the top of her list!

'La Belle Dame' has a long history. I first wrote it back in about 2005 for submission to an anthology that never went ahead. That's not an uncommon occurrence, so I just sighed and put my handiwork away. Every now and then, I would take it out, edit it again and send if off to a possible market, but while it always got shortlisted, it never made the final cut.

Then last year, I decided to enter it for the Katharine Susannah Prichard Writers Centre SF award. This is a well-respected competition, many of whose winners have gone on to become successful in the profession. I um-ed and ah-ed a bit, because I'd always felt there was something not quite right about 'La Belle Dame', but couldn't put my finger on what it was.

Finally, I showed it to a well-published friend, and she made a suggestion for the ending that I thought was a good idea but felt I wasn't skilled enough to do. 'Give it a try,' my friend advised, and to my surprise it wasn't as hard as I'd thought. I was delighted when 'La Belle Dame' was selected from a field of about 120 stories for the award's shortlist of eight. But again, no banana.

So I only offered it for the Specusphere's anthology somewhat diffidently, during that early phase when entries were slow and I thought maybe we'd have trouble making up the numbers. You can imagine how delighted I was when one of the readers actually preferred it to all the others! So at last 'La Belle Dame' (a take on the Keats poem, of course) has found a home. And a very nice home it is, nestled under a truly lovely cover designed by the Specusphere's graphic designer, Amanda Greenslade, and in the company of other lovely mythic tales, many of them by well-known and well-published authors.

So now it's getting exciting! Mythic Resonance goes to press early in the new year. (Watch this space!) And yes, we are already talking about doing it again next year. A new anthology, with a different theme! I can already feel that enthusiasm coming on again...

4 comments:

Jo said...

I'll be interested to see what turns up from all this enthusiasm.

Satima Flavell said...

So will I, Jo!

Sue Bursztynski said...

Ooh, so that's the cover! And my name is right there on the front! ;-) The only advantage of having a name early in the alphabet is that it turns up on the top of the list on a book cover. [g]

Fascinating account of the process. It's similar to, but not quite the same as putting together an issue of ASIM. We've got another multi-editor issue coming up, but I only have to do my own story, whichI grabbed from the slushpile before someone else could get it. We read blind too, of course, as you know, being an ASIM slusher.

Satima Flavell said...

Yes, publishing opens one's eyes, doesn't it, Sue? I've enjoyed the process and the stories I've edited. Mythic Resonance is going to be a great little book!

Some people say it's lucky to have your name start with A-G because those author names tend to be shelved at eye-level, thus gaining an advatage over XY and Z:-)!

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