If you’ve visited my site recently, you might have noticed Vanessa Chan’s lovely artwork in my sidebar. This is actually the cover of my newly published e-book, Rose in Winter, a 20-page short story that was originally published in Marion Zimmer Bradley’s Sword and Sorceress XXI.
For those unfamiliar with this anthology series, MZB’s goal was to collect stories featuring strong female characters. The protagonists were generally butt-kicking female warriors or powerful sorceresses. Sometimes both at the same time.
The protagonist in my story is none of the above. She is not strong, or any kind of fighter, or magical in any way. In fact, she’s an ordinary young girl living a normal life. (Well, normal for young nobility in a medieval fantasy world.) Worse, this is a fairy tale love story about a girl who must choose between two men, both of whom are the “perfect choice” in completely different ways. This is not the type of story I usually write. And it certainly is not the type of story that appears in the Sword and Sorceress anthologies.
Furthermore, only authors who had published in MZB’s previous anthologies were invited to submit stories to this volume. The closest I’d come to publishing in the Sword and Sorceress series was to read a few stories in one volume to see if Rose in Winter was a good match.
My probability of publishing with MZB’s anthology was not significantly different from zero. But I stuck my jaw out and sent it anyway, muttering, “Well, there is a sword in the story…and sorcery, too…” as I licked the envelope.
A few weeks later, I got the letter. For some reason I still can’t fathom, the editor selected the story and it did indeed appear in volume XXI. And I am grateful.
At this stage of my narration, you probably expect me to start pontificating on the virtues of perseverance in the face of poor odds and so forth, but I think that point is plenty obvious. Instead, I want to ponder why Diana L. Paxson (who was the first editor of the series after MZB’s death) chose the story.
Maybe she chose Rose in Winter because it was reasonably well written. That’s a nice thought. But the Sword and Sorceress series was popular. Seems unlikely the editor was desperate for good writers.
Maybe the colorful characters or the general tone of the story appealed to her. Or maybe she had exactly 20 pages to fill and my story fit the space the best
But I prefer to think she chose the story because she saw beyond the love story and realized Rose in Winter is really about choices and how they can affect your life. And sometimes making those choices is a lot tougher than swinging a sword or doing a little magic.
Rose in Winter is currently available at Kindle Books (Amazon) for 99 cents. If you don’t have a Kindle, you can get Kindle app for iPad, iPhone (and many other smart phones), and for your PC or Mac. (for example, google “Kindle for PC” to find the download link.)