Last night I submitted a story to a Canberra Spec Fiction Guild anthology. It was my second effort to sell the story; Fablecroft didn’t want it, but with 84 submissions something has to miss out, I guess, and this time mine is one of them. 😦 But I think it’s good and if it doesn’t make this anthology I will put it aside for a while and rewrite before submitting somewhere else.
The nice thing about Australian small press is that there is so much of it and someone is always doing an anthology. Sooner or later there will be one that wants your story. I once sold Fablecroft a story that hadn’t made it into Pearson’s Spinouts (but I did sell Spinouts another story, so that was okay). A story I had in Specusphere’s Mythic Resonance didn’t make it into Andromeda Spaceways some years ago.
My main small press publisher is Ford Street, which specialises in books for children and young adults. I sold Ford Street a short story set in the 1960s, about a girl who dreams of playing in a band as a drummer and is passionate about the Beatles, who have just arrived in Australia. I was actually invited to submit that one and asked for historical fiction. The book was called Trust Me Too! and had stories of different kinds – science fiction, crime, romance, humour, historical fiction…
The story I wrote, “Call Him Ringo”, was only 2000 words long, about six pages long, but I had to do a lot of research for it. I went to the State Library of Victoria, where I looked up newspapers published at the time. I didn’t just look up the articles about the Beatles visit, but also what was on TV at the time, letters to the editor, what you could buy in the supermarket and how much it cost, what was on at the movies – I even found an ad for Spotless Dry Cleaners, offering a Beatles beaker with every 30 shillings worth of dry cleaning. That’s about $3.00 in today’s money, but was worth a lot more back then. Trust me, it would have taken a LOT of dry cleaning to get your free Beatles beaker! I couldn’t resist using that in my story.
Most of it I didn’t use; you just can’t use everything in your finished story, but if you know about it, you can write a much better story. You feel a lot more comfortable in the period you’re writing about.
Recently, I did a giveaway of my Ford Street book, Crime Time: Australians Behaving Badly. It’s the only non-fiction book Ford Street has done so far, and has a fabulous cover designed by Grant Gittus, who did the design for Australia’s last World Science Fiction Convention. Grant did a gruesome-looking cover which tells you what the book is about.
It’s aimed at boys and girls from about Grade 5 upwards and I had to look up and write about fifty nasty people in Australia’s history, from 1629, when there was a shipwreck off the coast of WA and the crew took over to the time I was writing the book, 2008. I looked up a lot on the Internet, but also in books and newspapers and in one case, I actually met a nurse who remembered one of my criminals, a dear old lady who poisoned her family members, as she had worked with her in the prison hospital!
It’s amazing how many criminals we’ve had here; the very first crime happened in Australia (apart from the 1629 one) right after the British First Fleet got here in 1788!