How to Get a Story Published in an Anthology

Jane Nightshade's Serial Encounters

Dear Subscriber,

Ever wonder how a pacifist veteran of the U.S. Armed Forces, vegetarian, and former English professor becomes intrigued with murders in insane asylums, romances in Auschwitz-Birkenau, serial killers in Russia, and a programmed killing of Robert F. Kennedy? Well, for one thing, it balances my psyche! That’s right. As the Beatles once sang so profoundly, “The inside is outside, and the outside is inside.”

For example, the free novel I have in this newsletter’s collection (above) Chinawoman’s Chance features a serial killer in 1884 San Francisco. Attorney and detective Clara Foltz, the first woman in history to be accepted into the California Bar, gets on this case, and it’s a great first novel in my popular Portia of the Pacific series because women aren’t afraid of serial killers, even in the Nineteenth Century. I love strong women protagonists!

In another example, I have just crafted three great stories for consideration in an anthology called Anna Korenina Isn’t Dead, which will feature stories about fictional women characters (like Anna) for whom the author shall craft a different fictional result other than the negative result crafted by the original author (Leo Tolstoy anyone?). The three stories I carfted were about the following fictional characters: 1. Eleanor Vance is from Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House. In my story, Eleanor, Willow, and Tania, Eleanor is working as a tour guide in the Hearst Castle of 1974 northern California. 2. Lady Constance Chatterley, who in my story Lady Chatterley’s Tree meets a different “lover” than the gamekeeper in D. H. Lawrence’s novel. Finally, I yesterday completed the third story, The Debutante, featuring Daisy Fay Buchanan from F. Scott Fitzgerald’s classic novel The Great Gatsby. I especially enjoyed this one, which you can read on my Google Docs, because it has a “horror twist” at the end.

Finally, how do I get all these genius stories accepted into cool antholgies? I “pitch the ideas first” before I begin crafting them.

For example, here’s my pitch to the editor of an anthology featuring the fictional folks who might have met or had dealings with some infamous serial killer. I am very much looking forward to crafting this, as my deceased wife was a nurse, and I actually saw the horrific video Richard Speck recorded while housed in his maximum security cell.


Dear Anthology Editor,

I really like your concept and challenge in the “Serial Encounters” anthology. When you mentioned “Richard Speck,” my fuzzy, werewolf ears perked up. Here’s the great idea for crafting my story. I wanted to run it by you before I begin:

Speck has always fascinated me. I think I’ll craft a fictional woman nurse, who works at the prison where Speck is kept after his murder of the eight nurses in South Deering, Chicago. She knows about him, as she also writes for horror and true crime magazines. She wants to get info from him to write a story, when he one day reports to the prison’s infirmary for treatment. In fact, I’m going to feature (as the climax and tension builder) the video he recorded in the Joliet maximum security prison that my fictional prison nurse “discovers” while treating Speck. So, it will be a gradual playing out of how she uncovers what is in the video and what it means about how insecure the prison is and how she could also be in danger. Are you aware of the video to which I refer? It’s factually based. I watched it and learned about it when it came out about the insecurity of the prison at Joliet. Speck and others were making recordings wherein he bragged about killing the nurses and told others how he did it. He also got drugs, booze, and breast enhancement injections from the prison’s pharmacy, and was playing “woman” for his pals inside the cell. I think that’s almost as horrendous as having seen the actual murders he committed, and it will add to the suspense as my fictional nurse character gradually uncovers what he’s doing inside the prison. I think I’ll also make her have a very difficult time getting the prison officials to accept the voracity of the video, claiming she’s doing it to make money from a story. You know, the usual way women get blamed also, because the warden doesn’t want the bad press. Now if I can just channel my best Poppy Z. Brite! 

Let me know what you think, and I’ll begin crafting.

Keep up the great work!

Well, there you go. A little insight into James Musgrave’s brain and how it functions (barely, sometimes, LOL).

Thanks for hanging with me, and your input/suggestions are always welcome.

James Musgrave

San Diego, CA

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