Blood in the Rain Reading Season


I’ve settled into a pretty good rhythm when it comes to putting together the Blood in the Rain anthologies. Because this is our third time around, Mary Trepanier (my co-editor) and I have developed a system for reading submissions and deciding which stories will go in the anthologies.

This is the third year for Blood in the Rain. We originally wanted all the stories to be from writers in the Pacific Northwest–hence the title. We found that limited our resources tremendously. There may be be more writers per capita in Seattle, but not many are writing vampire erotica. We originally only had a handful of entries. After realizing we needed more stories, we widened our scope considerably. While we still rank NW writers a little heavier than others, we’ve cast our net worldwide and received a significantly higher number of submissions.

This is great. We LOVE seeing stories from India, Romania, and Australia! It’s fun to see a variety of stories and alternate worlds. The thing about spreading our net wide? Every year we get MORE stories than the year before. It’s awesome to have a varied selection, but it means we have to actually look at SO MANY stories.

Before I started doing this, I would get frustrated when I heard that editors and agents only read the first paragraph of someone’s work. Now? I totally get it.  Those first few words have to be compelling. If I read past the first paragraph and am intrigued, I keep reading. If I get halfway through the story and there’s no glaring editing to be done, and I’m still interested, the story goes in a maybe folder.  If the first paragraph trips me up, it goes into the no folder. If I get part way through and find myself thinking “this is just like x” or I get bored, it goes into the no folder. If I get part way through the story and have counted up oodles of major editing needs, it goes into the no folder.

By “major editing”, I’m not talking about simple typos. I can forgive quite a few of those as I’m prone to a few myself. I’m talking more about comprehensive editing where there are point of view shifts within the story, continuity errors that would take hours to fix, repetition within the prose, and other basic craft issues.  Every once in a while, I find a story so intriguing that I’m willing to spend a few hours doing this kind of extensive editing. That’s pretty rare, but it does happen.

The actual selection process for the anthology is a little tricky when you have two people reading stories. We have slightly different tastes, and sometimes I pass on a story that Mary really likes and vice versa. There are usually a number of stories that have a solid “yes” from both of us. When we both are loving a story, it’s a no-brainer to include it in the anthology. But what about the remaining slots? We basically look at the kinds of stories we’ve selected and fill in with stories to broaden the variety of settings and characters.

We are committed to including a wide selection of gender expression, sexualities, race, etc. If your story is the only story featuring a transgender character, it’s likely we will go at greater lengths to make the story work. If your story is the only one featuring a person of color, we’re more likely to spend more time considering it. If your story is the only one set in ancient Sumeria…well you get the idea.

The hardest part about all of this is this year’s submission list contains a huge number of really good stories. My ‘yes’ folder contains more than twice the number of stories we can put in the anthology. My ‘maybe’ folder has dozens more. My outright “no” folder has maybe a dozen stories. It’s lovely to have such fabulous stories to choose from, but it breaks my heart when I have to tell an author “no.”

If Mom’s Happy: Stories of Erotic Mothers

17796769_1018014174998969_3592240125127016997_n My story in If Mom’s Happy is mostly fantasy, but this little snippet is straight out of real-life experience. Not waking the kids is definitely ‘a thing’ for most parents at some point. It’s not that we were trying to hide the fact we have sex, we wanted them to sleep so that we CAN have sex. Nothing kills the moment like a crying baby.

It’s kind of ironic. Most women spend their first few years of sexuality concerned about not getting pregnant and not getting a disease. Sure, there’s exploration and lots of fun, but the underlying problems with being female are always there, lurking.

Then, if we decide to have kids, sex takes on this other role. For some of us, sexual freedom, and sometimes the act itself, is removed from procreation. (When we were going through infertility treatments, everything was timed. Sperm and eggs were ‘collected’ and manipulated in sterile spaces while we were in different rooms.)

When women are done procreating, sex can morph back into a wholly recreational activity. The freedom in not having any of those old worries is truly liberating. But, if we’ve had children, they are around and in the house for many years. The way we deal with these little interlopers varies and the stories in this collection reflect how women cope with their resurgent sexuality.

Pooja Pande’s lyrical “Tocks in My Ticker” had me nodding my head in understanding–there were plenty of times when I was reading bedtime stories to my kids while my mind wandered to what would happen once they were asleep.

Sara Dobie Bauer’s I Need Your Package puts a hot spin on the delivery man trope–who hasn’t at least looked at the guy in the brown suit as he lugs a package to your door?

Andrea Lani’s Toy Story reminds us that we all have our own pace and our own needs to accept the changes in our sexual needs and moods.  The other stories in the collection all resonated with me at some level.

Kristina Wright’s In the Early Morning Light captures the desperate exhaustion of new mothers and the push-pull between the desire to sleep or play.

My story, A Desperate State is about a mom who has slightly older kids and is craving wanton sex out of the confines of her master bedroom and regular schedule. Connie manages to get all of her kids out of the house for a weekend so she and her hubby can make their way from room to room while being as loud as they want–because there’s no one in the house to hear them.

If Mom’s Happy: Stories of Erotic Mothers, Edited by Brandy Fox is available in e-book  and print format.

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