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Writing for Anthologies, Part 2 April 15, 2012

Posted by Ronica Stromberg in Uncategorized.
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I just received my author copies of a new anthology, Always There. These true stories show how God moves in the lives of mothers of young children. The anthology makes seventeen I’ve had stories published in. and as I did with prior anthologies, I’ve now read every story in it. The best way to write for anthologies is to read them so you know what publishers are looking for.

Always There surprised me with its depth. I was expecting stories along the line of “the five-second rule” (how parents become increasingly lax about allowing their children to eat food dropped on the floor) or “the crying kids in Wal-Mart” (how parents used to be annoyed by crying children in department and grocery stores but now are the parents of those children themselves). These are the types of stories young mothers tell one another while commiserating over the struggles of parenthood, but such stories have been told so often they’re clichés. Always There skipped the clichés, the trite, and the shallow in laying open what women in the trenches of early motherhood truly feel.

One woman who struggled with infertility wrote of hating pregnant women. Several women wrote of feeling inadequate and overwhelmed as mothers. Others spoke of the difficulties of missing sleep.  I especially appreciated this statement from Rachel Swenson Balducci:  “Rarely does any good come from a sleep-deprived mother analyzing the way things are” (p. 131). Plenty of truth in that! But every story also included hope and the quiet acknowledgment that God is with us every step of the way.

This anthology is produced for MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers), and I expect it will comfort and uplift young moms. If I submit to the publishers again, I will keep in mind that they, like most anthology producers, want honesty and insight, the a-ha rather than the ho-hum.