Building Wings of Renewal has been an adventure from start to finish, and it all began with the submission period. I wanted to talk a bit about what it’s been like, because these are very new experiences for me, and I enjoyed it thoroughly.
The Submission Period
We had no idea the kind of enthusiasm we’d get with this anthology when we made the Call for Submission public. We picked a period during which we both had other projects, figuring we could make time to read the stories as they came in, then choose + edit in August.
First, we had a lot more excitement than we expected! That was so cool. Watching the notes grow on my tumblr posts and all the exclamation points people added was just plain fun.
Second, that excitement actually translated into submissions!! Yes! So while we managed to be fairly up to date for a while, in the last week of July (and thus the last week for submissions), we got thoroughly overwhelmed. Talk about a beautiful problem! Every time a new story came in, we’d check the first page, the length, and start flailing again!
The truth was, when we put out the call for subs, we thought we’d be lucky to get 60k-80k of worthwhile stories. Instead, the final anthology is 135k and we had to reject several fantastic stories. We almost did two tomes, but the extra workload involved cooled us down a little (for which I’m glad. I was totally burned when we put the finishing touches earlier this month).
So how did we go about reading and choosing? As we read through the stories we marked them green – yellow – red (yes, maybe, no). Sometimes that was an easy decision. As with any slush, we had stories that didn’t fit at all what we had in mind, or stories with great concept that didn’t carry it through. Or we would have this gorgeous tale with so little editing required, we could almost publish it as is!
Sometimes it was a lot harder. We had a great deal of stories that would kind of border the line between yellow and green. Or sometimes they’d be an obvious green to one of us, but a yellow to the other! So we put the stories we loved but that required more line-to-line work, or the ones that’d need some revisions to fit ‘solarpunk dragons’ in the yellow section. We figured we’d have a better idea once we received all the short stories.
To be honest I still think about those “yellow stories.” With more time and room, they would have gone fabulously alongside the others. That turned out to be one of the hardest part for me. We started this project out of love for the concept of ‘solarpunk dragons’ and a desire to spread the subgenre, expecting little. Yet we got so much, it was hard not to always be able to give back, and add the authors to the anthology.
In the end, we stopped debating when we stared at our list of accepted pieces, and felt it was complete — that we’d covered a wide array of stories, with different settings, characters, tone, and length, without ever clashing too much.
Perhaps it’s because there is so little solarpunk fiction out there, or because I read more novels than short stories, but one thing seemed true of almost all of our submissions: they seemed fresh and new, original in their own way, and I’m in absolute love with the chosen pieces.