I was either an associate or lead editor of the first three NaNoLA anthologies, and I wrote the introduction for the inaugural collection. Because I moved across the country in January from Los Angeles to Baltimore, I was not a part of the fourth. (I encourage those of you who have the first three to round out your collections with what has been called “the best thus far”.)
Year One brought us Believe Me Not: An Unreliable Anthology (Lemur Publishing, 2014). As I note in the introduction, the first anthology started out as a joke and grew into something the editors could barely keep hold of by the time it was published. The collection has more than 45 stories, including several from young authors.
The collection is 427 pages long and sports everything from romance to science fiction to mystery. The prompt was: write a story with an unreliable narrator and the phrase “a cuticle in the space station” and, man, the authors really pulled out all the stops to pull off readable, internally realistic stories. As editors, we were impressed.
Year Two birthed It’s About Time (Lemur Publishing, 2015), wherein writers had to take into consideration time and also create an “oops!” moment for their characters. At 538 pages, this anthology outdid its predecessor in more ways than one. Though the collection is longer, we actually received more submissions and accepted fewer stories than the first year. Again, we as editors were impressed, and we began to see our creation take on a completely new life of its own.
Year Three, the final year I was a part of the editing collective in Los Angeles, I acted as managing (lead) editor. The editors produced a 354-page collection called Meet the Systems: Stories of Regimes, Formulas, & Schemes (1667 Press, 2016). Again, we chose fewer stories than the first two years, and the anthology was stronger for it. The prompt was: write a system-themed story that begins with the phrase “Where did this come from?”
I hope that the NaNoLA editors continue to publish story collections, and I am thinking about starting a similar program here in Baltimore once I’ve settled into the writing scene on this coast. The world needs stories, and we can write them.