Congratulations to Karen! She’s the winner of Written Dreams!
Happy Sunday! Today we have Millie G Ireland with us and she’s giving away a free book! The details are at the end of the post!
I love the literary chocolate box that is a lesfic short story collection. Exotic flavours, old favourites, all nestled beneath a “choose me!” cover lid.
Anthologies made a lesfic reader of me, and as much I enjoy consuming short stories, I had only dreamed of writing one. That is, until I was captured by Beth Burnett’s sales pitch for the GCLS Writing Academy. After convincing myself and the admissions panel that I had it in me, I joined the 2017-18 class.
It was serendipitous that I arrived in the year that Susan Meagher and Carolyn Norman of Brisk Press sponsored an anthology of short stories, to be selected from submissions from current and former Writing Academy members and published in time for the 2018 GCLS conference.
The academy did not leave our short story writing to chance or inspiration. We were tutored in classes delivered by Radclyffe, Ann McMan, and Lee Lynch. Each member of the class was assigned an individual mentor to review our draft and guide us to submission. We were matched with luminaries already named plus Georgia Beers, KG MacGregor, and in my case, the incredibly wonderful Karelia Stetz-Waters. When their feedback arrived on our first drafts, the ice bucket of content editing descended, cooling any latent fangirling (mostly).
Our entire class made the cut for the anthology. We were assigned copy editors, we reviewed our proofs, and we all travelled to Vegas for the GCLS conference, the book launch, and the author signing.
The collection was open to all themes, resulting in a selection box of three delicious layers. On top are the offerings from the 2017-18 class—fresh, varied, and perfectly presented. In the middle are contributions from former class members. With the benefit of time and experience, their stories are more experimental. For example, Ona Marae’s Lullaby is, she believes, “unexpected but it may speak directly to someone in an important moment.” And Ruth Simon’s The Death of Me is her first foray into fantasy. On the bottom layer are stories from the foundations of the Writing Academy—former students who now instruct on and lead the programme. One of these is Jody Klaire’s Understudy. Jody studied and then taught on the programme, which she sees as being about “launching and linking writers to an amazing community.”
Finding myself in my class amongst published authors, members of multiple writing groups, and women who had scribbled stories since they could clutch a crayon, I panicked and wondered if I were a pretender, a dilettante amongst my professionally oriented colleagues. But the magic of the collective kicked in. We were united by a sense of community and a commitment to honing our craft, whatever our start points. We supported one another in class, in peer review of our homework and WIPs, and in online “Shut Up and Write”-style group writing sessions. As Maria Y. Maxwell, author of Or Forever Hold Her Peace commented, we are now “inspired and much more knowledgeable…It was wonderful to have that guidance from the GCLS.”
And the anthology? Renee Young, author of Bare, captures the pain and joy: “cutting that favorite paragraph because she was right, it just wasn’t helping but *sob*, signing a contract, doing a reading for it in front of a lot of people—hey, I’m a published author! That’s a great feeling. ”
The point at which this all felt real, and really great, was when I learned that Tara Young was my copy editor. To be edited by the editor of my favourite lesfic writer made me feel credible by association. I was delighted when she agreed to edit the next short story I wrote and this blog.
What I value most from my year in the WA is the generous support I received from my talented classmates. A prime example of this is C.L. Taylor using her graphic design skills to help all of us promote our individual contributions to the anthology.
I leave the last words to Britt Augustine, author of Replay. What stood out most for her was “holding your first book in your hands and feeling elated when someone asks you to sign their copy.” Written dreams, indeed. Get your copy today through Brisk Press, Bella, or Amazon, and share in the magic.
With the help of Women and Words, Brisk Press is giving away a copy of Written Dreams. For a chance to win a copy, leave a comment on your lesfic memories. Readers, what did finding your first lesfic short story or novel mean to you? Writers, how did it feel to publish your first lesfic?
Millie Ireland is a 2018 graduate of the GCLS Writing Academy. She is an academic writer by day. She has published one short story, in the Written Dreams anthology, and is working on a collection of linked short stories. She lives in Ireland with her family.