Cross a name off the list

Publisher Written Backwards has been responsible for some of my all-time favourite anthologies. Which makes me all the more amazed to be included in the next one…!

A short story happened one day, a strange little piece indeed. Inspired by reading about cutting edge medical breakthroughs in cancer treatment, at the same time as ancient Greek medical theories, and finding myself in a strange overlapping territory – “dyscrasia” being both the old Greek term of health imbalance, and now used in naming plasma cell cancer.

The music I happened to be listening to topped off the whole event. Somehow, I had a complete story on my hands, without being sure what to do with it.

I determined after sitting, reading, editing the whole thing that it was probably cyberpunk, a sub-genre of science fiction. And then I waited, and read, and re-read, still uncertain. What was this piece? What would I do with it? There was something very appealing in the story for me, but I don’t normally write sci-fi, and I spent a lot of time glaring at my computer screen. I edited a touch more here and there before throwing Dyscrasia at my beta readers. They got back to me, expressing opposite opinions. Add in another beta reader. Another day. Another reaction.

A new thought tickling at the back of my mind.

Editor Michael Bailey had mentioned his next anthology, Qualia Nous, was not entirely invite-only. The door might still be unlocked for those willing to knock. A great coming together of sci-fi and horror, guaranteed to be as epic as the previous Written Backwards anthologies, and here I figured, why not submit? I don’t know what else to do with Dyscrasia. Almost as if… I was passing the time. So submission goes off, I sleep, then head out for work, life goes on.

I get home again, see an email in my inbox.

It hasn’t even been 24 hours.

I’ve been formally accepted into Qualia Nous.

Dyscrasia is exactly what the editor was waiting for.

That weird cyberpunk story which bubbled up on its own accord, truthfully when I was procrastinating away from writing other novels, had landed me a place beside some amazing authors in one of the most exciting new markets out there. I can’t wait to hold a copy of Qualia Nous in my hands and see how this anthology has come together, with me, somehow, a part of it.

~A

And so, it starts

My husband brings me the envelope. It’s black, a non-standard size, somehow matte and shiny at the same time. The word “Typo” is embossed ever-so faintly on the little closure flap. I notice this as I carefully peel it open. I know what this is, but I won’t react until I’ve seen the words.

Inside are three sheets of paper, folded twice. I somehow unfold them, hands turning unresponsive as I see the publisher’s logo through the paper. Printed in the top left corner, dark black ink. Fitting.

There it is. My contract. My first writing contract. I read the top line three times, trying not to let my eyes blur with tears. There’s my name, and the name of my story. I’ve been accepted.

My first run through the contract details makes no sense. I don’t know what words are anymore. I cry a little, silently, trying to puzzle through the text on these few pieces of paper. I give up and hug my husband, and he is warm and very soft. I love polar fleece. It makes soft hugs softer, and warmer.

I can finally remember how to slow my brain down enough to read each word individually. One at a time, putting the sentences together. I read through the contract carefully, once, twice, making sure I definitely understand what it says. It’s straight-forward. It’s both what I expected a publication agreement to be, and yet so much simpler.

The third page is where I sign. I’m not shaking, so my signature looks exactly like the usual mess it is. I’ve never thought of it as a “real” signature. I’m going to have to practice something more suitable, for signing my books. Somehow, I’ve forgotten the date. I ask my husband, and he laughs gently. He was born in the US, and it’s the Fourth of July. Now we will add to our vague Independence Day celebrations, because it will also be my first publication acceptance anniversary.

I fill in the rest of the details on my contract. I’ve agreed. I’m accepted. As long as everything goes according to plan, I’ll be able to hold a real book in my hands, containing my story, in under a year. Wow.

My short story is called “Harvest”, and will be published in the Dark Prints Press “Surviving the End” post-apocalyptic horror anthology. I’ll keep you all informed with pre-orders and release dates as soon as I know specifics!

I want to thank Dark Prints Press for accepting my submission. I’m looking forward to working with you now, and again down the road.

With even greater thanks to my beta readers/editors. M, T and L. You three made me realise the absolute fullest potential of my story. I’ll be coming to you again soon enough.

And of course, thank you to all my friends, family and new-found internet buddies, who have all shaped me in some way. You are ALL special to me. Thank you for joining me, no matter which part of my journey you hop in on.

~A