After months of delays, Absolute Visions, the SFF anthology put out by Absolute Write Water Cooler, is finally out!
You can find it here.
Or by searching “Sage Collins.”
It’s also on Goodreads, which I might as well tell you is my new obsession.
I haven’t read the other stories. I should be getting a copy on Thursday, but for now, I cannot tell you about all the other stories these great authors contributed to the anthology.
I can tell you about “Fireflies,” though. Fireflies was a MG novel I wrote during my two weeks stuck in Michigan in December 2009. It was my first MG and my first (and only) literary novel. It had my most successful query ever (just barely beating Love Sucks), which I will share with you now, for those people who like to research successful queries.
Twelve-year-old Fiona Hartwell is obsessed with three things: fireflies, ghost hunting, and not dealing with her brother Troy’s traumatic brain injury.
When Troy was hurt, the Hartwells moved to Fiona’s aunt’s inn, hoping that a handicap-ready room on the first floor would help with his recovery. Except Fiona wants nothing to do with Troy’s recovery. She hates watching him learn to walk, learn to eat, learn to do everything. She just wants him to be her strong, older brother again. She escapes to the duck pond every day, ignoring Troy’s requests to take him out with her, until a never-ending rainstorm traps her indoors.
She finds distraction and comfort in the ghost story she’s made up about the inn. Soon, Fiona’s sneaking out of her room each night to wander the halls, searching for the ghost girl she believes is trapped on the inaccessible third floor. She’s heard that fireflies symbolize souls going to heaven, and Fiona wants to set this firefly free. But her choice to focus on the ghost instead of Troy might put both of them in danger.
FIREFLIES is a 30,000-word literary MG novel about a girl who wishes it was a paranormal novel instead.
The “inaccessible third floor” doesn’t exist in the story and it’s not a 30K novel either, but otherwise, this is still pretty accurate.
I queried too fast with this, and ended up with lots of bites, but, unfortunately, all the excellent revision advice came after I’d pretty much queried everyone. But three agents asked to see it as a YA, so I started revising it. Only, it never really felt YA to me. I was adding words and changing the age, but I had no clue how to simultaneously fix the plot problems that a couple of agents had pointed out to me (that really resonated with me). So the revisions weren’t working, and too much time passed, but still I kept trying until I finally gave up last summer.
And then on AW had an open call for short stories to be put into an anthology. I started singing “I Can See Clearly Now.” What Fireflies needed to be fixed was to lose words. It needed to be a short story. Cutting the part with the hidden third-floor room mentioned in the query was so necessary and so easy. There were a lot of harder cuts. Some of my dearest darlings ended up murdered on my study’s carpet, but I was pretty proud of the story they left behind.
I submitted it, knowing that if it didn’t make it, I would be proud to submit it to other markets. I had never submitted a short story before. After a couple of months while the five editor judges chose the contributors, I got the good news e-mail! (You might remember from a previous post that I got it the same day I got my offer on Love Sucks.)
So now it’s out in print. Time to party!
Lots of love,