Category Archives: Anthologies

Planning a launch.

When my writers’ group put together an anthology recently we planned a launch for the beginning of March. We:

  • Ordered extra copies
  • Booked a table in a local bookshop (who put the date in their Facebook calendar)
  • Talked about it on our own blogs, Facebook Twitter etc.
  • Mentioned it (more than once) to friends
  • Organised a press release
  • Had a slot on local radio
  • Put the date in our own diaries to make sure we turned up to do our stint on the sales.

What could possibly go wrong?

Well, the weather could! On the Friday it snowed. And snowed …

By Saturday morning roads were impassable so the bookshop owner couldn’t get in to open his shop, and most of us couldn’t get there anyway for the same reason. All that could be done was to ask the radio to mention the event was cancelled.

At the next meeting, we decided to hold another launch at the end of May. After all we still had the stock of books, and boxes of sweets, we had ordered for the original date. We dutifully put the date in our personal diaries. Job done.

Except it wasn’t of course – we didn’t double check it was in the bookshop diary until the last minute (it wasn’t, but as the date was free we could still go ahead, minus their advance publicity). No one thought to notify the local press and radio, and I wasn’t the only one who didn’t do any promotion via Twitter, blog and Facebook.

As a result we spent a pleasant hour chatting to each other, eating all the promotional chocolates, and selling one anthology to a friend of mine who’d wandered in for a slice of the truly delicious home-made cake sold at the bookshop, and felt sorry for us.

Maybe we wouldn’t have sold out if the event had gone ahead in March as planned and promoted. But we’ve learnt a few things about the consequences of not doing the preparation properly from our May effort.

anthcov2However, better late than never. If you’re tempted to buy a copy of this gently humorous anthology, Stories to Make You Smile, here is my link. It is an enjoyable read, ideal for lazy summer days on the garden lounger – and I’m not just saying that because mine is the first story you come to.



PS: If you have any good ideas for making a launch go with a bang (and some good sales), please share.




A short story from a writers’ group anthology.

I’ve been a bit busy, and feeling a bit ‘meh’ this week and not got round to writing a post till now. I’ve taken a lazy option and used an excerpt of a short story.  It’s from the story Ianthcov2 contributed to the Coventry Writers’ Group anthology before Christmas. We didn’t organise a launch then in case the weather was bad. Instead we arranged it for the beginning of this month. And – guess what? – we had to cancel due to heavy snow. The anthology is called Stories to Make you Smile, but this was no laughing matter!

Anyway, here are the opening paragraphs of my contribution – Storm in a B Cup.

 I was eating toast and nearly didn’t take the call.

       “Hello?” I said eventually, still chewing and coughing slightly as a crumb caught in the back of my throat. I took a sip of tea to clear it.

       “Andrea Peterson?” It was a man’s voice, heavily accented, and nasal, as if he had a cold or was holding his nose. I thought he might be East European, but I’m not very good at accents.

        I “uh-hu’d,” in the affirmative. That, and the tea, helped shift the crumb.

       “Andrea Peterson, we have your father.”

       There was a pause. He, presumably, to let the import of what he’d said sink in. Me because my father had been dead for over two years.

       “Sorry, I think you have the wrong number.” I was about to switch off, but the man cut in quickly.

       “He’s safe – for now. Fifty grand by the weekend or he loses a finger every day you delay. We’ll be in touch.”

       The phone went dead. I took another mouthful of toast. It had to be a mistake. But the man – Russian, I’d decided it had to be a Russian, because this was the sort of thing Russians did in films – knew my name and my mobile phone number. Knew my new name in fact as, since the gender re-assignment surgery, I had stopped calling myself Andrew.

       How had he got hold of my mobile number? Was this part of a new spate of transphobic trolling? I’d had a fair bit of that in the past few years. I scrolled through my Facebook and Twitter accounts. Nothing. So far, this call was a one off.

       But the thing about chopping off Dad’s fingers bothered me. Was it some kind of coded digital message? How do you chop a finger off a dead man anyway? So dead, in fact, his ashes had been deposited in an old cocoa tin on my mantelpiece whilst I decided what to do with them. I needed to agree his final resting place with my brother, who currently wasn’t speaking to me. Or maybe he was – but I’d made it a rule two years ago not to open letters addressed to Andrew Peterson, and he knew that. Besides, I’d been told by an old neighbour that he had moved to a new flat and salon, but she didn’t have any contact details.

       I finished my toast, took three hormone boosting pills with a few swigs of my now cold tea, and rinsed the mug and plate under the hot tap.

       The phone rang again. I picked up quickly this time.

       “Don’t phone the Police.” He rang off before I had time to say a word. This time I felt the accent had a hint of Welsh, but the line went dead so quickly, I may have just imagined it. I sat looking at the phone screen – option one seemed to have been ruled out before I’d even thought of it.

       The tablets always made me feel a bit queasy for a bit after I’d taken them. But it was worth it – my breasts had been growing since the start of the hormone treatment and I was a decent B cup size now. I felt them appreciatively, and for a moment they took my mind off the recent phone calls.      Then the phone rang again.

       “Yes?” This time I forgot to modulate my voice in the way I’d been taught, and the word came out as a basso bark.

       “Hey, steady! What’s this with the macho aggression?” It was my transition mentor. I was due to see her in an hour.

       “Clare, I’m sorry.” I willed my voice up half an octave. “Been having a bit of bother over the phone. I thought it might be them again.”

       “Trannie haters?” I hated Clare using that term – in her book it seemed to cover ninety percent of the population. But I had never known how to tell her, and just now didn’t feel like the right time either.

       “Don’t think so. It was about my Dad.”

       “Poor you. You think you’ve got them dead and buried, but there’s always something still needs doing. No peace for the wicked eh?”

       I glanced at the cocoa tin. For the second time in less than a minute I felt Clare’s counselling skills were somewhat lacking. But she’d been through the system, well not the full bells and whistles – she’d decided to keep her bells and whistle intact – so, in the absence of any other mentors being available, I was stuck with her.

        “Anyway,” she went on, “I’m just ringing to say I’m running terribly behind this morning, can we leave it till the same time tomorrow? That’s great. You’re a star. Must dash” She rang off without waiting for a reply. I didn’t believe she was too busy. More likely she had been out on a date last night and still hadn’t got home. Clare never seemed short of male partners looking for something a bit different.

       The phone rang again almost immediately.

       “Hello?” I remembered to use my lilting contralto this time. ……

Want to read more? The anthology is available on Amazon in print and as an e-book. here is the link if you are interested:

Still in the Mood for Love?

Today my blog has been taken over by writers from Solstice Publishing, whose anthology, Cupid’s Arrow, Vol 2, was published last week.

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Valentine’s Day encompasses romance for all ages. People go out of their way to show their affection for the one they love with flowers, candy, perhaps a special meal. Just how did this day come to be?

Valentine’s Day can be traced back to the third century, when Emperor Claudius III of Rom decided young men made better soldiers than those with wives and families to care for. Valentine, a young man who preached the word, felt this was injustice at its worst. He defied the emperor and performed marriages for young lovers in secret. Once his actions were discovered, the emperor ordered he be put to death.

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Today, we honor his memory by celebrating romance with the one we love. To honor St. Valentine, Solstice Publishing presents Cupid’s Arrow Vol. 2, a collection of tales of love.

An essence of bliss makes everything delicious.

Her last word before kissing him was, “Hush.”

Never say never…

She’s not your grandmother’s matchmaker.

Separated by the winds of war

They meet time after time…

Can love possibly come again?

Real life isn’t a fairy tale… or is it?

Love is a wonderful spell.

Love is a special feeling between couples. The sweetness of caring deeply for each other. A waterfall of romance is brought to you E.B. Sullivan, Jeffery Martin Botzenhart, A.A. Schenna, Adam Zorzi, K.C. Sprayberry, A.J. Kohler, Veronica Peters, Noelle Myers, and Palvi Sharma

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Free download of CAST OFF this weekend.

In a bid to beat the mid winter blues – mine and yours – I am offering some of my books for free on Amazon over the next few weeks.

Cast OffThis weekend it is CAST OFF –  a collection of 13 short stories based on female characters in plays by Shakespeare.

Have you ever thought what a Shakespeare character might be doing or thinking when she is not on stage? Does she like the role that has been created for her? Would she prefer a different plot? Or love interest? How does she really feel about all that cross dressing? Will she actually go back on stage when it’s her cue?

If you download my book on Saturday 13th or Sunday 14th January you can find some answers to all these questions, and more, for FREE. Money back if you don’t find at least one story to your liking!

Amazon link:

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Sent to Coventry


Coventry UK has just won the bid to be City of Culture for 2021. The official announcement was made just as the audience was settling down to a play in my local theatre. The production was delayed slightly for the artistic director to tell everyone the news, which was greeted by a huge roar of approval and clapping – a good way to get the actors geed up for their performances too!

I have lived in Coventry, with its world famous new cathedral, for over twenty years – longer than I have lived anywhere elseCoventry 2 in England or Wales. What surprised me most when I first moved to the city was how down beat everyone was about the place. “Why made you move to live here?” was a regular question, not uttered in an unfriendly way, people were simply amazed that someone would choose to live in Coventry. But there has been a lot of excitement about the city of culture bid, and genuine pleasure, not just among arty types, in winning.

Where once the talk was about how good the roads around Coventry were for getting out of the city quickly, now these same roads are seen as a huge plus for getting people in for events etc. in 2021. This is a far cry from the old consensus (not actually based on fact) that you were either born in Coventry, or you were sent there – so didn’t have any choice in the matter.

The phrase ‘sent to Coventry’ is known far outside the city. It now means to become a social outcast, one who should be ignored socially. The phrase arose because during the English Civil War, in the mid 1600s, Coventry sided with the Parliamentarians. Captured supporters of the King (Royalists) were sent to Coventry. They were not actually imprisoned in the city, but were dumped there and left to wander around, ignored by the locals who would refuse them food and opportunities to work. Maybe worst of all, they were refused entry to any of the local inns!

The city’s hostile reputation among Royalists was such that any of their soldiers who were deemed to be rather apathetic in their duties would be threatened with being posted to Coventry as an incentive to show more commitment to the King’s cause.

If you have enjoyed this post, and would like to read more of my work, please go to my Amazon author page. As we are rapidly approaching the Festive season, you may wish to consider one of the anthologies, the Winter Holiday Anthology, published by Solstice, and Festive Treats, published by the Pigeon Park Press, are both available from my page or via the following links. 

AWinter Holiday Anthology:





Festive Treats:




Why go to a writers’ group?

Aspiring writers are always encouraged to attend a writers’ group. It certainly helped me make the shift from writing factual reports and practice manuals for work, to fiction. I still go to my local group for the camaraderie, and the tips. Sometimes I even have one to offer myself.

The Coventry Writers’ Group includes a writer who has many successful publications under her belt. Others have won prizes for their work, or contribute regularly to magazines, or are gaining a reputation as performance poets. Some are just starting out and looking for advice. One member recently self-published a novel and was willing to use his experience to help the group publish something together. We were keen to take up his offer and decided to compile an anthology. Once this was agreed, the idea was to get it out before Christmas.

We had published a couple of anthologies some years ago, but that was when we had a member who ran a small publishing house, guided us through the whole process, and sorted the printing and publishing. This time it was totally in-house – though it would have been impossible without the hard work of our volunteer publisher to co-ordinate it all.  Also his patience, as some people were late getting their work to him, asked for changes to the font, disagreed over the cover … you can imagine the scene!

Apart from a vague rule about the length of a poem or story, the only other stricture was that the entry should, if not make readers laugh out loud, at least make them smile. As for what the authors would get out of the anthology – if you have never been published before it is a thrill to see your work in print. Or if, like me, you already have a modest portfolio, it is recommended marketing practice to be able to offer something shorter (and cheaper) than your novels so potential readers can check you out before making a more expensive commitment.

So here we are. Within the time scale we had set ourselves, the group has produced its anthcov2new anthology, Stories to Make You Smile. The content reflects the make-up of the group, with contributions from the full-time writers, the never before been published members, and the majority of us who are somewhere in between.

The anthology is an eclectic mix. Not every story or poem will appeal to everyone, but it is bound to contain something to make you smile. It is now on Amazon both as a print book (£4.00) and e-book (£0.99). Just in time for a real or virtual Christmas stocking. A good enough reason – for me anyway – to be part of a writers’ group!


Stories to Make You Smile:

Anthology or collection?

Tom Hanks, the movie star sometimes dubbed the ‘all round nicest guy in Hollywood,’ has just published a collection of short stories, called Uncommon Type – some stories. And – really quite annoyingly for those who like popular figures to have feet of clay – it’s been well received by the critics. Not content with being a household name as an actor, the man is now going to be hailed as a writer of considerable talent too.

Short stories have increased in popularity recently and his new publication won’t have set back this resurgence. But why is Mr Hanks book of short stories called a collection and not an anthology?

My Collins dictionary describes an anthology as ‘any printed collection of literary pieces, songs, works of art etc.’ This sounds pretty much like calling an anthology an, er, collection by another name. However the crucial difference, as the dictionary also states, is that in an anthology the stories and poems are written by various authors and a collection only solstice logo (1)includes the work of one author. This is the distinction used by my publisher. Hence, a number of my Shakespeare character stories have appeared in anthologies, alongside the work of other authors, that Solstice Publishing have produced in the last couple of years. But this year, when they published these stories in the same volume as several more that I alone had written, the ensuing publication was called a collection – CAST OFF.

Links:Cast Off