Most recently my writing has focused on literary fiction, but that’s not all I’ve written this year! I also participated in a short story contest earlier.
You may remember that for the past couple of years, I’ve had an entire fantasy series slowly building its world in my head. The evolution of an epic tale fascinates me, and I’m enjoying my own journey immensely.
While I was supposed to be focusing on a narrative nonfiction book last year, faeries kept flitting around my head and perching on my shoulder. They whispered names and prophecies and creatures in my ear. They told me the once upon a time of a young girl named Elspeth. And then, they confided in me her story’s end.
In December I decided to turn my full attention to this world and spent an incredible writer’s weekend getaway brainstorming and world-building and prophecy-writing. Once the new year sank in, so did the realization that something as massive as creating mythologies, languages, geographies, histories and so much more would take me many years. That’s when I switched over to focus on literary fiction for most of 2018, with the plan to continue frequent brainstorming sessions for the fantasy series as well.
And then, the faeries sent me a message in the form of a short story contest—the Adventure Sci-Fi & Fantasy Short Story Contest, to be exact. Rachael Ritchey, author of the Chronicles of the Twelve Realms trilogy, dreamed up this exciting venture of creating an anthology of short stories with all proceeds going to Compassion International, and I sure am glad she did!
Back in February, I read and reread and reread again the rules and details of the competition. I sent the details over to my writer friend, Mea Smith, with the subject line “I might do a thing” to which she replied, “DO IT! It sounds just like you!”
So, I took her wise advice.
I wanted to write a part of Elspeth’s story. And, with that focus, I let Rachael’s lovely anthology cover loosely inspire my setting for Elspeth’s initial training. I gave myself a rather last-minute deadline and had a blast writing this story!
Thanks to four incredible critique partners—shoutouts to Tony Rancatore, Kelsey Atkins, Devon Harry and Lizzy Murphy—who agreed to give me feedback with very little time, I was able to quickly edit the story multiple times before the contest’s deadline. When I hit send on “Ealiverel Awakened,” I was honestly more excited than nervous.
When I got the email that I’d earned a spot in the anthology and made it into the TOP TEN, I was ecstatic!
When I got the word that I’d won SECOND PLACE … I cried.
What really affected me about the process was that four people had read it before polishing and deemed it great, then three judges read it and declared it worthy and now it will be read by many, many more.
It was during this process that I discovered just how much I long for readers with whom to share my stories.
Since then, I have gotten to work with Rachael on further edits and now I’m getting to know my fellow writers who will be featured in the anthology. As part of our prizes for winning her short story contest, Rachael is posting interviews with the first, second and third place winners. Being interviewed was one more new experience I’ve enjoyed thanks to this contest. I have interviewed others for two decades now, so finding myself on the other side was strange … in a delightful way!
I cannot wait to share even more about this project with you all as well as more about the evolution of my epic. Until then, please hop on over to Rachael’s blog to read her interview with me!
To top it off, The Crux Anthology is now available to purchase! All profits go to Compassion International; plus you’ll have 16 outstanding stories to read. Check out this special page on Rachael’s site with all the purchase links and much, much more.
What did you think of Rachael’s interview? Do you have any questions about short stories and anthologies or my writing process or anything else? I’ll do my best to answer, and—as usual—I’d love to hear from you! Please subscribe to my weekly newsletter as well to get even more behind-writing-the-scenes details of my life!