Aliens in the Barn

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

The Science Fiction Romance Brigade Anthology

Tales From the SFR Brigade 
The Stranger by Kyndra Hatch

I am happy to announce my debut publication! It is a very late announcement since the publication came out in late June, but I was moving right as the book came out and things have only just now slowed down enough for me to blog about the good news. 

So much has happened since January that I don't know where to start, so I'll try starting at the beginning:

I am a member of the Science Fiction Romance Brigade. It is a fantastic group of authors, readers, and SFR enthusiasts who help each other with writing questions, book promotion, and even book production. Late last year, sometime around November, a submission call was sent out for group members to send in short stories for an anthology. It was an experiment to get a free publication out for SFR awareness and promotion. 

But it wasn't just any 'ol experiment. They weren't looking for random half-hearted stories. They wanted good, professional, works and put together a stellar team of editors to decide which stories were publication worthy. 

Something about this submission call really spoke to me. I didn't have anything out at the time and the same self-doubt that kept me from writing before was trying to creep into my subconscious. They were asking for professional stories. They never straight up worded it that way, but I knew that's what they were looking for. I knew it had to be good. Was my work professional enough? Did I know the right formula for writing a SFR story? Was there a formula?

I already knew I could write, having gained that confidence through writing fan fiction. I just didn't know what it takes to write a publication worthy story. I'm still not entirely sure what it takes, but it's a learning process that I'm enjoying.

Writing a short story felt doable and I wanted to submit something so bad that I simply went for it. I spend a couple of weeks thinking about what I would write. Ideas are always bombarding my brain, but nothing was coming through that would be short enough. I started out with the thought that I could write a flash fiction, but quickly realized just how hard it is to write flash fiction. Seriously, sit down and try to write a story with only 1,000 words. Obviously, people can do it, but I think it might be more difficult than writing a full on novel.

I took numerous breaks, reading flash fiction to hopefully get the right frame of mind to write it. Unfortunately, I can't remember what I read since I was reading so much, but something about a couple being trapped in a cave sparked my imagination. I immediately stopped reading and started writing. I'm not even sure how that cave story ended because I haven't been able to find it again (I was perusing a lot of free sites on the web).

As Christmas holidays set in, I began to lose heart because it didn't look like I would make the beginning of January deadline. Then, the deadline date was moved to the end of January, so I continued the story with renewed vigor and was able to submit it on time. 

Then came the inevitable waiting game I hear so many authors talking about. Thank goodness I didn't have to wait as long as most of those discussions imply. I received an email in March. Knowing what it would be about, I put off opening it for a day, too nervous about the shortcomings I knew my story had. 

When I finally opened the email, I wasn't surprised that it was a rejection letter. I had researched and learned several things about points of view, voice, and showing versus telling after the story submission and I knew my story had all those issues.

However, with the rejection letter came a surprising second chance. It turned out that they really liked the story idea and gave me suggestions on how to bring it up to speed. If I was willing to revise it based on their suggestions, then I had another deadline. If I wasn't willing to revise, then they wished me luck in submitting the story elsewhere.

Now, I'm not proud and certainly not too proud to take direction. I'm an amateur and these folks were the professionals. Flattered that they liked the story idea and a more than willing student to improve my writing skills, I went through each suggestion with the enthusiasm of a preschooler with a new box of crayons. The best part about it was that I understood each and every issue they were addressing. All I needed was that little extra advice, because the story simply popped after that. 

Of course, the second chance wasn't a guarantee that the story would be accepted, but that part no longer mattered to me. What mattered was that I was getting help from proven authors. What mattered was that I was improving my writing skills. What mattered was that I would be more prepared for the next time I submitted a story for publication.

They said to submit the revised story to Diane Dooley, which make me even more excited because I had read and liked her works. She was also the person that helped me get more involved in the group and, therefore, indirectly responsible for all the stuff I had learned about writing through the group discussions. The thing I love about being a part of the SFR Brigade is how accessible and helpful all the authors are.

It wasn't two days after I submitted the revised edition that Ms. Diane Dooley forwarded it on for acceptance, that it was exactly what they were looking for. I was so excited, I couldn't stand it!

Naively, I thought that would be it, that the story would be published in the summer and that my job was done. I had no idea about the editing process...Since that is where I admit I am such a noob that I had no idea who the famous SFR authors were either, that is another story. 

For now, enjoy "Tales From the SFR Brigade" and my short story within, 'The Stranger,' as well as the fabulous short stories by Linnea Sinclair, Marcella Burnard, Erica Hayes, Liana Brooks, Pippa Jay, Berinn Rae, and Amy Laurens!

Website: Tales from the SFR Brigade Anthology

Like the SFR Brigade Facebook Fanpage: Science-Fiction-Romance-Brigade-Fanpage