Some of you know me as a hat person. Yes, I do have a bit of a thing for hats (Downton Abbey gave me hat envy) and I have a few at home that come out when the weather cools or the occasion warrants.
This week I’m wearing multiple hats in my writing life: publisher, writer, editor, chauffeur, marketer, baker, and event manager.
I wear all these hats regularly in my writing life – publisher/editor/marketer at Serenity Press (there are only two of us so we have to be multi-skilled), and writer in my own right. But this week, I’m combining them all for the launch of Serenity Press’s latest anthology, A Bouquet of Love.
The anthology comprises ten stories that stand alone but are linked by a common place – Serendipity Bridal Boutique – and the boutique’s staff – Kate, Kyle and Vanessa. You can find out more about it here.
How did the anthology come about? Well, back in 2016, Karen and I brainstormed ideas for our 2018 romance anthology. We wanted to challenge both authors and ourselves with something a little different, and the bridal boutique setting concept stood out. I created a submission brief and put it out there … and then we waited for the submissions to roll in.
In the meantime, I slapped on my writer’s hat and wrote my story, “Fortunate Accident”, a light-hearted romance starring the boutique’s owner – we wanted her story to round off the anthology. She endures two dreadful blind dates set up by her helpful younger brother but is saved from the third by a cheeky kiss from a bartender with a cute butt.
We received about 23 submissions and I put on my publisher’s hat to select the ones I felt would work best. I deliberately chose a few that were a little different from the normal romance formula, although they all still had to have strong romantic feels, solid links to the bridal boutique, and happy endings. It’s really hard writing rejection letters though – I know just it feels when one hits the inbox.
Next up was the editor’s hat. Each story needed structural edits, some more than others, and then copyedits. This process took several months, to give writers time to rewrite as needed. And then I read it again and again, ensuring that the stories were
The editing was one of the more challenging aspects. Firstly, I wanted each story to shine, so they needed structural edits. Once the rewrites were back, I had the task of making sure all the stories were connected consistently. Were places mentioned in keeping with the brief and other stories? Was Kyle a fashion designer or stylist? Was the boutique manager Kate’s characterisation consistent? The stories didn’t need to continue from one to another in a linear order, and it was OK if there were some different interpretations of character, but on the whole, there had to be consistency. The whole process took months.
And in the meantime, I was sharing posts and graphics on social media, to keep the anthology in people’s minds – the marketing/publicity hat never comes off.
Proofreading and more proofreading and layout checking – that was next. Karen took the finished manuscript and laid it out, then arranged our proof copy. And finally, we had to say, it’s done.
Now, it’s the eve of the anthology’s official launch. We’ve planned a party in a small black-box theatre (at my day job), and all the guests have been challenged to wear bridesmaid dresses. Rachael Johns has agreed to launch the book for us, which is fantastic. The stage is set (I’ve arranged some special props to set the scene), and the lighting will be sorted today – I trust the people I work with to do a great job creating the atmosphere we want. And I have a couple of surprises up my sleeve.
Soon, I’m popping on the chauffeur hat to collect my mother from the airport. She’s one of the successful contributors (Ilona Krueger), joining Claire Boston, Teena Raffa, Glennys Marsdon, Barbara Gurney, Louisa West, Carolyn Wren, P.L Harris, Bree Verity and myself in the anthology.
And tomorrow I’m baking cupcakes and other goodies for the launch. And hemming my dress, getting my hair done … all this before heading to the arts centre to do last-minute set-up before guests arrive. Wish me luck!
You can order A Bouquet of Love here.
PS. Did you see the marriage advice at the start of the post? Which is your favourite?