by Rhonda Parrish
So that’s the latest installment of the Magical Menageries anthology series put to bed. Okay, okay, I exaggerate slightly. I’m not quite done my end of things, but it’s close. Submissions have been solicited and read. Decisions, difficult decisions, have been made, contracts signed and edits have been sent to all the contributors.
At this point I’ve done a fair number of anthologies and each one comes with its own unique challenges. The biggest challenge with Sirens was that I had an embarrassment of riches. So many amazing stories to chose from. I’m not even kidding.
I received 199 submissions in total. I shortlisted 48 of them. That’s crazy! I’ve never had a shortlist that big before — nearly a quarter of my submissions. And what’s more, usually as an anthology develops it becomes apparent (with some few tricky exceptions) which stories from the shortlist you’re going to keep and which you’ll be passing on simply because they aren’t compatible with the others. That was not the case with this anthology. I wanted to accept every story from the shortlist.
In my experience, anthologies kind of take on a personality of their own as I work on them. Obviously it’s a personality that is strongly influenced by my choices, preferences and the theme, but they do have an energy of their own. Usually that energy helps determine the shape the book is going to take but in this case I had several completely different directions I could have chosen.
In the end, I whittled those 199 submissions down into a table of contents of sixteen diverse stories that are going to blow you away.
I’d been aiming for an equal number of 'sea' sirens as 'sky' sirens but that’s not how it turned out. Sometimes the lines between sea and sky are blurry, but generally speaking I’ve got ten sea stories, five sky stories and one space story. That does reflect the general proportion of sea to sky submissions I received though, the breakdown of which looks something like this:
Uncertain or Other: 48
Submissions came from all over the world including Australia, The Netherlands, Italy, Canada, Scotland, England, Sweden, Finland, South Africa, the Isle of Man and the United States of America.
Three of the submissions were duplicate submissions--where someone sent me the exact same story twice — and nine of them didn’t have an identifiable siren. Oops.
Four of the submissions were resubmissions where someone sent me something, received a revise and resubmit letter from me and took me up on that offer. I use a lot of labels in my email to keep things sorted and by the time contracts were being sent out one story had all the following labels on it:
We’ll have an actual table of contents and cover reveal coming up in a couple weeks (I’ve seen the cover, it’s awesome!) but I wanted to give you a bit of a peek into my slush for this anthology. It was an adventure, but the resulting book is something I am incredibly proud of. I can’t wait to share it with you!
Rhonda Parrish is driven by the desire to do All The Things. She was the founder and editor-in-chief of Niteblade Magazine, is an Assistant Editor at World Weaver Press, and is the editor of several anthologies including, most recently, Sirens and C is for Chimera. In addition, Rhonda is a writer whose work has been included or is forthcoming in dozens of publications including Tesseracts 17: Speculating Canada from Coast to Coast, Imaginarium: The Best Canadian Speculative Writing (2012 & 2015), and Mythic Delirium. Her website, updated weekly, is at rhondaparrish.com.
World Weaver Press
Publishing fantasy, paranormal, and science fiction.