In August of 2015, while wandering around in one of Facebook’s Open Call groups, I discovered The Future Chronicles, a collection of anthologies curated by Samuel Peralta. He had some pretty prestigious folks either writing for him, or praising him. Within FC, I noticed an Open Call for something called Chronicle Worlds: Paradisi. Simply put, a group of authors had collaborated in creating a future history with timelines, events, and characters. They had written seven novels, and Samuel wanted to anthologize a series of short stories set in that universe. Did I want in? Heck, yeah!
The process involved understanding a timeline, understanding the settings (it involves the migration of ten plutocrats and 100,000 of their closest friends through a wormhole to Andromeda and the Paradisi star system), and coming up with something compelling. It was, in a sense, a competition, but one unlike the usual markets that I haunted.
First off, it was indie run. Samuel publishes these anthologies via Amazon, and not through a press. CW:P is something like his seventeenth, so funding like author compensation is already baked in. He hires professional editors, cover artists, and such. This is the big time. His anthologies hit the Top Ten in the SFF category in Amazon within a few days of launch, so yeah, it’s a big viable market.
I wrote a story, “Nuking the Noomies”. There is a large back-story behind that, but you’ll have to get the anthology to read about it, as I put it in the Author Notes. I finished the story on October 16th and sent it off to the Canon Keepers. This step was required to ensure that my story didn’t violate any of the novels that have already been published, and any of the stories that were planned for the anthology.
Then my younger brother, John, died suddenly, two days later. I got comments back the next week, but I was in no state to work on the piece. However, I did manage to address the Canon Keeper’s concerns and in before the December 15th deadline. There was a LOT of editing at this phase, so by the time the story ended up on Samuel’s desk, it was pretty polished. Sam sent it off to the anthology editor, so I was happy that he accepted it.
By this time, I had befriended a few of the other authors in the anthology. They all got comments from the editor on their work. For me, nothing. I didn’t know what to think. Finally, I got the email. There was exactly one question, some stray punctuation adjustments, and the editor seemed to like contractions. I was happy that I didn’t have a lot to do, but it felt a lot like I was trying to climb a step that wasn’t there.
I got a call from my mother that evening, and raced down to her place (~200 miles south of me) to get her to the emergency room, then to rehab. I let the editor know about the family emergency, and she reassured me that a small delay was OK. Five days later, I was able to get back to Noomies, perform the changes, and send it back. Then the weird stuff started happening. OK, weirder stuff.
The editor told me how much she liked the story. Then Samuel sent me this: “Bill Patterson – I kid you not, I am already getting fan mail about YOUR upcoming story from readers.” What readers? Maybe Samuel has a bunch of beta readers he sends stuff to. Then, last night, I got this: https://www.facebook.com/groups/futurechronicles/permalink/1111605112267390/?comment_id=1115231275238107
Translated: based solely on the strength of Noomies, the anthologist has invited me to write a story in a new anthology! The only requirement is that history has changed from what we know. I have already sent him two ideas. Samuel has 175 authors on his list, yet he reached out to me. I’m (obviously) fit to burst. Then I look around at all of the other authors who have been invited. Oh, dayam–now I’ve got to deliver!
Lesson: You never know when your big break is going to come. Just keep pounding the keys, going to events, exploring those Open Calls. Someday, something’s going to give you that big break you’re seeking. It’s The Thin Edge in practice. If I had blown off Facebook as mere fluff, I’d never be where I am now.
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