Are you excited about the upcoming eclipse on August 21rst? Well you aren’t the only one. And Austin Mystery Writer members, Kathy Waller and Laura Oles, contributed stories to an anthology titled, Day of the Dark. Every story takes place during the eclipse. The idea for the anthology came from the imagination of former AMW member, Kaye George.
Amazon says: A recipe for disaster: take one total solar eclipse, add two dozen spine-chilling mysteries, and shake the reader until the world ends in Day of the Dark!
So if you don’t mind, I’d like to get Kaye George, Laura Oles, and Kathy Waller to tell us more about it.
VP Chandler- Kaye George, where did you get the idea for the anthology?
KG- I got the idea as soon as I heard about the eclipse and how rare they are in any one location. I wanted to write a story on it and thought others might, too.
VPC- Nice! This question is for everyone. How did you choose the location of your story?
KW- I had the idea of using Marva Lu, the protagonist from a previous story. She lives in North Texas, so I had to set the story there. I knew the eclipse would darken the day enough for my purposes. The story hinged on her being on her home ground. Away from there, she would be a different person.
VPC- I remember Marva Lu. Wasn’t she is that awesome and amazing anthology, Murder On Wheels? Pretty sure I’m right. 😉 What about your setting, Kaye?
KG- I chose my own neighborhood because I’m so excited that we’ll see the total eclipse right in my back yard. And my front yard, too.
VPC- How exciting! I’m jealous. What about your story, Laura?
LO- Our family has spent many long summer weekends in Port Aransas, and the island life–the slow pace, the mix of locals and tourists, the pull of the ocean–is something I keep returning to. It has its own special magic.
VPC- Port A is special. The people are just as interesting as the setting.
Now for question #3, in my experience I’ve worked on some projects that came to me right away and flowed easily, and some projects were painful to get onto the page. Which was it for your story in this anthology?
KG- I’d call this one medium. Not too hard, but didn’t flow like a river.
KW- Once I finally started writing, it flowed. With the time I had, it had to.
LO- I knew immediately where the story would take place and I knew the main character. I needed some time to consider how his life would be turned upside down and what role the eclipse would play.
VPC- I know that writers know their characters much better than readers do and they often leave background information out of their stories. Tell us something about your protagonists that the reader doesn’t know.
KW- If the reader has read Hell on Wheels in Murder on Wheels, they probably know as much about the protagonist as I do. Until I wrote I’ll Be a Sunbeam, I didn’t know she sang duets at church, or that she taught Sunday school. I learn things about my characters as I write. I’m sure she likes dogs and cats, but she can’t have a cat because she has a gerbil.
LO- There is more to the story of why he left his life in Denver and moved to the coast.
KG- My protagonist, she’s older than the age she tells people. Her husband doesn’t even know her exact age.
VPC- Here’s a question I like to ask other authors. How much of you is in your antagonist?
KW- Probably a lot more than I want to admit. Our minds are always buzzing, we’re always arguing with ourselves and with everyone else inside our heads, we’re always plotting. And those are the least objectionable qualities we share.
KG- I’m not sure who the antagonist is. Either the young mother or the young father, I think. They aren’t very good parents, so I hope there isn’t too much of me in them.
LO- Not much similarity between me and the antagonist.
VPC- Well, you both like Port Aransas.
Another question, what do you think of the anthology as a whole? Is there one particular story that is your favorite? Is there a story that surprised you?
KG- As the compiler and editor, I can’t play favorites, but I think there are stories here for a lot of varied tastes. I hope everyone finds a favorite!
KW- Cari Dubiel’s Date Night is mind-boggling. Joseph S. Walker’s Awaiting the Hour is rather sad, touching. Debra H. Goldstein’s A Golden Eclipse surprised me–a clever interpretation of the theme. And Katherine Tomlinson’s The Path of Totality is timely; I laughed until the very end, when alt-facts took a scary turn. If I’d read the other twenty-three stories before submitting, I wouldn’t have had the nerve to send Kaye mine.
LO- What I love about this anthology is the variation. While they all have the eclipse as an important element, each story is different from the others–I’m grateful to be Included with so many other talented authors.
VPC- How many of you are planning on seeing the eclipse?
LO- We have the eclipse on the calendar but aren’t sure where we will be yet. The whole family plans on getting together to experience it.
KW- I’m going to Blue Springs, Missouri, near Kansas City, for the event. I have family there. It was my husband’s idea. Fortunately, he arranged for airline and hotel months ago.
VPC- And I know Kaye will see it from her home. Kaye, I think I heard that the profits will be donated to charity? What is the charity?
KG- Fourteen of the 24 authors have picked personal charities. Mine is Earth and Sky. Four other authors, including Laura, are donating to that one, too.
VPC- I love Earth and Sky!
KW- Mine will go to Texas Museum of Science and Technology (TXMOST) in Cedar Park.
VPC- That all sounds good to me. Thanks for your time. I can’t wait to get my copy.
That’s what experienced writers tell the wannabes.
For a long time, I thought business applied to action alone: Write every day, attend classes, network, become familiar with various routes to publication, learn the market, read submission guidelines, stay in good physical shape, and on and on… Items on a list, they could be checked off at the end of each day.
Recently, I discovered another aspect of writing as business that I can’t quite fit onto a list.
Last winter, Kaye George put out a call for submissions of stories for DAY OF THE DARK, an anthology to celebrate the total solar eclipse that will be visible from parts of the United States this summer. Each story would contain an element of mystery and would be related to an eclipse. Kaye would edit, and Wildside Press would have the book out before the August 21 eclipse.
I’ve known Kaye for a number of years, ever since I joined Austin Mystery Writers, which she was facilitating. I watched as her career took off–a contract for one mystery series soon turned into contracts for three more series. At the same time, she wrote and published short stories and articles, and appeared on panels, and made it look easy.
Periodically, I said, “I don’t know how she gets it all done.”
And someone would respond, “Now, you mustn’t compare yourself to Kaye.”
And I would say, “I’m not comparing myself to her. I just don’t know how she gets it all done.”
I knew, of course, that she did it by checking tasks off that list. What I wanted to know was–where did she get the energy? (I still want to know.)
When I read her call for submissions, I didn’t consider sending a story. As usual, my mind was blank. My mind is always blank–what could I write about an eclipse?–until the last minute. As usual, at the last minute, I came up with an idea for a story.
I don’t like to work for friends. I don’t mix the personal and the professional. If I sent Kaye a story and she rejected it, I wouldn’t be hurt, I wouldn’t be angry, I wouldn’t be devastated–but I would be embarrassed, not by rejection, but by the knowledge that I’d had the audacity to submit an inferior product, a story I should have known wasn’t worthy–
Here’s where the epiphany comes in:
It dawned on me that–what a concept!–Kaye is a businesswoman. She intended to put out the best book possible. She would choose only stories that fit her purpose.
And epiphany, part 2:
I was a businesswoman. I would submit a story. It it was accepted, I would be pleased. If it was rejected, I would accept that as part of doing business, set the story aside, tweak it, submit it elsewhere. Or, if I discovered it wasn’t tweakable, I would set it aside and leave it there.
Write, submit, be accepted/rejected, get on with life.
So I wrote a story titled “I’ll Be a Sunbeam,” submitted, was accepted, and, after dancing
around the room for a while–dancing is also part of the writing business–I saw another call for submissions, wrote, submitted…
Today, July 21, a month before the coming eclipse, DAY OF THE DARK is being released. It will be available in print and for Kindle.
I’m thrilled my story was accepted for DAY OF THE DARK. I’m thrilled to be in the company of the twenty-three other writers whose stories appear there.
And I’m thrilled to finally understand that the writing business is really a state of mind.