Believe it or not, it’s just over 6 months since Clarendon House Publications began producing its spate of anthologies. Yes, there was Condor late last year, which was a trial run and an experiment, but from late February until now there has been a fairly consistent stream of publications emanating from my armchair on the edge of the Yorkshire moors here in England, including:
Sand: A Collection of Short Stories by Steve Carr
Flashpoint: The Inner Circle Writers’ Group Flash Fiction Anthology 2018
Through Another’s Eyes: A Short Story Collection by Gary Bonn
Galaxy: The Inner Circle Writers’ Group Science Fiction Anthology 2018
Storm: The Inner Circle Writers’ Group Fantasy Anthology 2018
Vortex: The Inner Circle Writers’ Group Literary Anthology 2018
Window: The Inner Circle Writers’ Group Children’s Anthology 2018
Carrier Wave: The Inner Circle Writers’ Group Comedy Anthology 2018
Cadence: The Inner Circle Writers’ Group Poetry Anthology 2018
Fireburst: The Inner Circle Writers’ Group Second Flash Fiction Anthology 2018
Unfettered: A Short Story Collection by R. A. Goli.
All of these are available here.
Those of you tracking with such things will know that there are still quite a few books lined up for release in the remainder of the year, including:
Rapture: The Inner Circle Writers’ Group Romance Anthology 2018
Enigma: The Inner Circle Writers’ Group Crime/Mystery/Thriller Anthology 2018
Miracle: The Inner Circle Writers’ Group Christian Stories Anthology 2018
and not forgetting Showcase: The Inner Circle Writers’ Group Special Anthology 2018.
Others are planned too. Recently announced is Steve Carr’s next volume of stories, entitled Rain - and some of you will have no doubt been tantalised by the brief appearance of the cover of a book called The Tales of Talker Knock, also by Steve Carr. That one is going to be pretty special.
Also, winners of Galaxy, Storm, Vortex and Window are working on their own collections; plus future winners of Carrier Wave, Cadence, Fireburst and all the rest will follow.
During the year, several authors have approached me to publish their own works as well.
So 2018 has been a fairly quiet year…
I wondered if you’d be interested in some general feedback about which volumes have been most successful so far. By ‘successful’ I don’t mean ‘commercially successful’: no anthology has yet covered its production costs, though Steve Carr’s Sand comes closest. I mean successful in terms of feedback from readers. I’m not going to try to rank each book, as that is not quite possible when we’re talking about something as intangible as ‘feedback’, but even the general overview of this might be of interest to some of you.
Firstly, I have to admit that my own predictions were slightly askew: I imagined that there would be much more of groundswell of interest in the science fiction and fantasy releases, Galaxy and Storm. Perhaps I had been perusing too many sci-fi or fantasy writers’ groups at the time, but I felt sure that these books would be received with greater enthusiasm. They did reasonably well, don’t get me wrong, but by far the most popular volumes amongst all of the above so far were Steve Carr’s Sand and Vortex: The Inner Circle Writers’ Group Literary Anthology 2018. Readers also seemed to have the most trouble picking a winner from the stories in Vortex, though Window and Carrier Wave readers also struggled, from the letters I’ve been getting.
Earlier on in the Inner Circle Writers’ Group, some members wondered if the group as a whole had an ‘anti-literary’ bent to it - something which I never felt was the case, by the way, but it was interesting that that perception was given voice. Vortex seemed to put paid to that idea. In fact, I would go so far as to say that the ICWG leans a little towards the literary rather than towards genre fiction: some of the most powerful stories I’m reading for Rapture at the moment are literary by nature.
As I have written about elsewhere, some try to categorise ‘literary’ as just another genre, claiming that its characteristics include greater length and a focus on the words and deeper themes. But I don’t define literary fiction as a subset of genre fiction. Literary is an adjective, originating in the mid-17th century in the sense of ‘relating to the letters of the alphabet’. It comes from the Latin litterarius, from littera, or ‘letter’. It concerns, says the dictionary, the writing, study, or content of literature, especially of the kind valued for quality of form. What ‘quality of form’ is exactly the dictionary doesn’t go on to say, but I would suggest that we view genres as subsets of the literary. Real literary fiction doesn’t normally begin within genre and then burst out of its boundaries: literary fiction begins without any boundaries. If it contains tropes or templates, or any of the other trappings of genre fiction, it is because it is using them to create an effect upon the reader not necessarily within the pre-packaged set of effects usually associated with ‘genres’.
Based on that concept, ICWG writers tend to be an independent lot: they often write ‘without due regard to the conventions of genres’, you might say. And I’m glad that they do. I think that we have all seen how much quality there is in the group and that it stems largely from a refusal to write in a ‘tick-box’ style. Quality writing comes from authentic, heart-felt stories making it onto the page before anyone comes along with a genre checklist. (Genre checklists also have their place, having said that.)
What of the future?
At this writing, I’m looking at a 350,000 word ‘submissions mountain’, so it’s hard to see much beyond that. I do know, though, that there are some tremendously exciting things coming in the next few months and that now is the time to get fully participating in what Clarendon House has to offer, because the plans include many, many more submission opportunities and even more channels to make money by doing what you love.
So please stay tuned for more detailed announcements soon.