I'd love to tell you more about how this collection came about, too. See, it's kind of Dani Greer's fault. Over the summer I threw in a story with several of the BRP bloggers and a few other regulars of the BBT Cafe. The result, The Corner Cafe, continues to garner great reviews and was a really fun experiment for me as a writer, as I decided to set my contribution in the world of my first novel, the best-selling dark fantasy, This Brilliant Darkness. The Corner Cafe was the first of what would become seven anthologies I would contribute to in 2012.
I quickly realized the value of these diverse collections in my fiction-writing resume, and realizing I had no holiday release lined up to boost my brand visibility during what I hoped would be a very busy time of year for book buyers, I inquired as to whether Dani and the BBT Cafe crew wanted to do a holiday collection. When schedules didn't jibe, I dusted off my editor's cap and started hitting up friends with what I hoped was a unique pitch: rather than just writing a holiday story, how about if each of us wrote some sort of holiday story that tied in with one of our own novels? Everyone has a favorite character or setting or fictional world of his/her own creation. I mean, isn't that why we're writers? So we can create and revisit these places we love? I enjoyed it so much when writing my story for The Corner Cafe, I wanted to do it again!
Well, nine of my writer friends jumped at the chance to write holiday stories centered on Christmas, Yule, Chanukah, Solstice, and the Mayan Apocalypse of all things. Remember? The world is ending on 12/20/12, right? Regardless, in the case of writers with fictional worlds that don't have end-of-year religious/cultural holidays, I simply threw out the request “Let your story in some way mention snow, how about that?”
I am so proud of the work that my friends produced in response to this challenge. Jack Wallen, Axel Howerton, Jessica McHugh, Marian Allen, T. Lee Harris, Tim Tash (my husband), Connie Roberts-Huth, Claudia Lefeve, and Mercedes Yardley each sent me stories that drew me into the worlds of their characters. In a few instances, I was familiar with the characters, and reading their holiday stories was a joy. Don't you feel like favorite characters are in a way, old friends? What a privilege to have a first peek at the doings of these characters. In other cases, the characters and settings were totally new to me, and reading the stories really gave me a taste of the worlds these writers were becoming known for. In all cases, the stories were eclectic, unusual, captivating, and entertaining. This was just the holiday magic I was looking for! Santa visited this editor early, for sure!
While I might have been pleased with what was in my stocking, I was nervous about how I would be seen by my writer friends. Would I be “Krampus”ing their style? For some of these professionals, it was their first exposure to me in an editor-in-chief role. I might be a pleasant proofreader and a helpful beta-reader, but having me in charge of deadlines can be... well... to be honest, I've never been super-proud of my control freak, overbearing “task-mistress” reputation, no matter how well-earned! My writers were patient with me, and that was truly another gift in my stocking. It was never my intention to take on a hardcore editorial role with the creation of Let It Snow!, so I still consider myself the “aggregator” of the book, instead of an official editor. We had beta-readers and proofreaders, and the book has been checked for formatting issues—at this point, in our combined century-plus of publishing experience, I'm not sure a Big Six publishing team could have done any better. It might not be perfect, but we are well-pleased with it. I thank the e-book revolution that the process of correcting any mistakes that might have still slipped through the 15+ sets of eyes that proofed the book will be a speedy enough task. (Crossing my fingers that we got them all, anyway.)
Despite my aversion to flying my control freak flag, I did take veto power over the title and the cover. I had no idea what I wanted for the first and a definite vision for the second. Everyone suggested names for the anthology, some ridiculously funny (Fifty Sleighs of Grey, anyone?) and others very creative, just not encompassing enough to justify the inclusion of each story. It was tough, this book naming job! I think I had an easier time naming each of my children! One morning I awoke and “Let It Snow!” declared itself the winner, and I'm so glad it did—frankly I was tearing my hair out waiting for a clear favorite to be born unto us.
As far as the cover went, I knew from the very beginning of this project that it would be red and white. I pictured a white tree—very stylized—against a red background. That was it. I saw it in my mind in thumbnail format. Of course I didn't think there would be room for the author's names on such an image, but then cover designer and contributor Jack Wallen sent me his idea for the tree, and suddenly it clicked. The end result is a sweet, funky, high-contrast, stylized cover that screams “holiday” and “snow” no matter what size you view the cover in. I love it. It fits.
If only all books were this easy to put together! Ironically, now that we're creeping up on Christmas (or Kindlemas, as I've been calling it on the sly) and I know how much time it takes to promote a book of any size and any price point, I'm not sure if I will take on editing an anthology again. Not because it wasn't fun—it was. Not because I didn't love the stories—I sure do. I'm even happy to say all nine of those contributor relationships are firmly intact, and new friendships were formed between them. Whew! That was quite an achievement in itself, for this bossy broad! No, the only reason I might not do it again is because although all the anthos in 2012 were rewarding, I am ready to move on to a new series in my writing life. Another experiment, another story line. I've got more than a full slate of work on my calendar for 2013 and I simply don't know if I have the time. I mean, I have sequels to write, too. Sequels, man. They're not gonna write themselves!
We'll see, though. Ask me around the summer of 2013 if I'm doing a holiday thing next year. You never know. I might be feeling a little Christmasy in July, after all. In the meantime, whether you're a fan of the holidays or not, may I recommend my latest production? Don't worry if you're not a big fan of the holidays. This book will have something for you in it, regardless. That's the great thing about anthologies—like a well-stuffed stocking, Let It Snow! has a little something for everyone.