Christmas Revels 5 duo…

Where Kate and Louisa spill the inside scoop on an anthology

Kate: Well, Louisa, we’ve launched the fifth Christmas Revels anthology. For those who don’t know, these are unrelated Regency romance novellas taking place at Christmastime where it is always snowy and happily-ever-afters are assured.

Louisa: The fifth! And they said it wouldn’t last. Groups of authors getting together to create anthologies has really taken off in the five years since we started Christmas Revels. Some are put together around a theme. Some take one story and write it through the eyes of the different authors. (Which would make me crazy. I do well to agree with myself when it comes to the details of a story!) And of course, some are produced centered around a specific holiday. I started collecting Regency set Christmas anthologies long before we started Christmas Revels, so having these include one of my novellas is a real source of pride and delight for me.

Kate: I became involved when Hannah Meredith, a friend from HCRW, asked if I wanted to be part of the first Christmas Revels. I don’t think we even had a name for it yet, much less have guessed it would be a series. I said yes, even though my historical leanings are late nineteenth and early twentieth century and I kill people in my stories. Fortunately, not the hero and heroine. Hannah said we had three and did I know someone good for a fourth. I immediately said Louisa!

Louisa: And I have taken advantage of that little bit of temporary insanity on Kate’s part ever since! I was thrilled and honored even to be asked to participate in this anthology. But what is equally amazing is my novella in the original Christmas Revels was my first published work. So, Kate’s invitation and Hannah and Anna’s agreement to include me set my feet on the path to publication. This year I will be publishing my tenth and eleventh books. I owe a great debt to these ladies and I never forget it for a moment.

Kate: Each anthology has different stories, a slightly different schedule depending on Hannah’s travels and everyone’s writing timeframe, and different people doing different formatting. The four of us edit each other’s stories as well as proofread. And we all are responsible for a part of the marketing.

Louisa: We generally start talking about the next Christmas Revels in January after the previous Christmas Revels has been published. For all of the reasons Kate has listed and then, of course, for the reason she doesn’t mention. The Louisa Problem. Remember the song from the Sound of Music, How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria? Yes, that would be me. Not that I bear any resemblance to a nun. After all, I am the one who writes the hot sex novella in our anthology. Kate’s novellas have the dead body. Hannah’s have the more mature heroine. Anna’s have the non-nobility heroes and heroines. And mine have somebody participating in carnal relations for the holidays.

I am the slowest writer in the group. If you decide to do an anthology and can avoid including a slow writer, do it. Or invest in Rogaine. I am fairly certain Hannah, Kate, and Anna will need wigs soon. However, because of these ladies I have learned to write faster, not to spend so much time rewriting the same thing over and over again in the hope of achieving perfection, and the importance of meeting deadlines. Especially when other people depend on you to do so.

Kate: That’s the joy of working with a group of authors. Don’t even try for perfection, because they’ll find something wrong. When you know three other authors have your back, you can write faster and with more assurance, since you know they’ll catch mistakes. If you’ve used the wrong word or aren’t clear in your meaning, they’ll point it out and give you suggestions.

Louisa: Every year we learn a bit more about how to work together to produce an entertaining and well-crafted holiday treat for our readers. And after five years of Christmas Revels, we have readers! We have people who pre order as soon as the next set is up because they enjoyed the previous anthology. They post reviews of every volume of Christmas Revels. How cool is that? And I think that is something anyone doing a set like this should strive for, to write something that people look forward to year after year.

The production of an anthology like this requires a division of labor and the ability to capitalize on each writer’s strengths. Hannah is our resident whip-cracker. She keeps us moving. Trust me, every group project needs one. She will hand the whip off to Kate from time to time. Especially when we are playing Where in the World is Hannah Meredith? She and her hubby are doing retirement right. I want to be them when I grow up. Anna is our formatting guru. How she has dealt with my repeat offenses without murdering me I do not know. If she and Kate get together, I am toast. Kate handles a great deal of the proofing. We edit each other’s work, but Kate rereads the rewrites. And Kate and I try to handle the promotional side of the anthology. Everyone pitches in on every aspect, but each of us runs point on one or two aspects. And every year we get better at it.

Kate: I have an eye for proofreading, just like I have an eye for addition and subtraction mistakes. Hannah is super organized and so she is our bookkeeper. One person has to be responsible for handing out the money every month. Without Hannah, we’d have crashed and burned the first year. Anna keeps track of dates and times and our schedule. Louisa is our historical fact checker. There’s nothing about the regency period that she doesn’t know.

Louisa: One of the bonuses of doing a project like this year after year is we have become great friends. We speak by e mail at least once a day. We have helped each other through all sorts of things that have nothing to do with writing. And we have acted as sounding boards on a great many of the writer aspects of each other’s lives. And I have become a better writer because of my work with these ladies. Each of them has taught me more than I could possibly have taught them.

I will say, when working on an anthology series like this, when you become friends with the other authors…destroy the evidence. One of these days the FBI is going to tap into our e mails and the results will not be pretty. Conversations about the best place to hide a dead body during a Christmas house party, how long a body can stay on ice in a wine cellar, legal ways to cut a pesky heir out of a will. And let’s not even talk about e mails concerning how to get rid of relatives who get on your nerves or snakes that show up unannounced in the garden.

I happen to think Christmas Revels V has four of the best novellas we’ve written to date. So far, the reviews agree with us. And that is one of the real perks of writing an anthology with other authors. You encourage each other to write better, write tighter, and to create a series you take such pride in you always want to make each version better than the last.

Kate: There you have it. The inside scoop on the making of an anthology. Give it a try. You’ll find at least one story you’ll enjoy this holiday season, and you might find you like all four!

12 responses to “Christmas Revels 5 duo…”

  1. Congrats on the new Christmas anthology, ladies! I’m such a sucker for a holiday story so I’m glad you keep coming up with these!

  2. Jennifer Bray-Weber says:

    What great insight into your anthology process. Love how you guys have strengthened your friendship. Congrats and good luck!

  3. Tamara Hogan says:

    Thanks for sharing your experiences producing your anthology! Happy book birthday, and I wish you many readers!

  4. Congratulations on number five! Enjoyed reading about your experiences, and amazingly it sounds like you’re all closer than ever.

  5. Thanks, Vivi! I have always loved Regency Christmas anthologies. I have been collecting them for years! Reading them whilst I worked at Walmart kept me from killing Walmart’s customers at Christmas!

  6. Trust me, Jenn, you have to be friends to go through this process. But even better you discover how to be friends in spite of each person’s quirks!

  7. Thanks, Tammy! We figure when we reach Christmas Revels X we will have this process down pat.

  8. Thanks, Bev !!

    We do fight, but when we do we fight like sisters, which is much easier to deal with. LOL

  9. Addison Fox says:

    I love this post and I am so excited there are more revels!!!!!



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