I thought I’d give you all some insight into what I do when I’m not doing EBR stuff, Day-Job Stuff, or Family Stuff. So, again, it’s story time!
Back in early 2014, I’m watching a TV show. The funny thing is that I can’t even remember which one. There was a line that talked about people sharing dreams, and for some reason my brain said, “Yeah, but sharing nightmares would be way more interesting.” That idea brewed in my head all night, and I woke up the next morning with a goal to edit my own anthology. That’s how SHARED NIGHTMARES was born. But I didn’t know a dang thing. You have to understand, sometimes, when I get an idea, I jump in without thinking. Here’s what I knew:
1) I have pretty good taste in fiction.
2) I know lots of people.
3) I’m a pretty easy guy to work with.
4) I’ve been a hardcore content editor/beta reader for some big names.
5) I had to get into the publishing world somehow…
Here is what I didn’t know:
1) All of the other stuff to make this actually work.
But whatever. No guts, no glory. Obviously, SHARED NIGHTMARES had to be a Horror anthology. And it needed a theme revolving around dreams and nightmares. Pretty easy. I teamed up with Nathan Shumate to handle all that other stuff. He’s the guy that edited my story in SPACE ELDRITCH II, and I really liked the way he edited my story. Then came the scary part. I began asking authors. I was terrified. But nearly everyone I asked said yes. Of course, I had people reject me, but it was always because of timing issues. Turns out that authors have these things called “schedules.” See, I wanted the anthology published in October/November 2014. That was only 6-8 months from when I was asking people for stories. You do the math. It was tight, and some great people just didn’t have the time. And yet, here is the killer ToC:
“Father’s Day” by Larry Correia
“Dreamcatcher” by Sarah Hoyt
“Incubation” by D.J. Butler
“The Devil On My Shoulder” by Tom Lloyd
“Onnen” by Paul Genesse
“To Dream Awake, To Sleep the Real” by Michaelbrent Collings
“What Hellhounds Dream” by Steven Diamond
“The Damnation of St. Teresa of Avila” by Marie Brennan
“Man in the Middle” by Max Gladstone
“U.I.” by Howard Tayler
“The Quality of Light is Not Strain’d” by Peter Orullian
“Health and Wellness” by Dan Wells
I’m super proud of this collection, and I’m so happy with the authors that agreed to be involved. They were all pure professionals, and I’d work with them again without hesitation. I love them all.
All this being said, I discovered that editing an anthology is a TON of work. Holy cow. I brainstormed with authors. I read bits and pieces as they progressed if the authors wanted early feedback. Long conversations by phone. Gathering them all in. Edits. Edits. More Edits. I wrote my own story for it, and work-shopped it. And then working with Nathan to do contracts, get the cover (which I absolutely LOVE! Dan Verkys. Dude is killer), get the bios, write an intro…it was a serious amount of work.
At the end of the day, though, there isn’t anything like the feeling of having authors write stuff for you. Of having them buy-in and produce some awesome original fiction. Look at that list closely. Quite a few of those authors aren’t known for Horror. That was intentional. I wanted to see authors really stretch themselves. The results were incredible.
This anthology didn’t happen in a vacuum. I had a ton of help. I plan on doing more anthologies, and I know I’ll get better at them. This one was pretty special, though. This took months to put together, and I love the final product. There are no guarantees people will like it, and that’s OK. That’s the world I’m in now.