Have you ever borrowed a recipe from someone because the very taste knocked the socks off your taste buds, but when you got the recipe home to give it a try, something was missing?Â Trying to figure out where you went wrong, you head straight to the telephone to give them a call and they say, â€œOh, I forget to tell you.Â I leave out the tarragon and add extra sour cream.â€Â Or they might say, â€œDouble the sugar and add chocolate; thatâ€™s the key.â€Â Sometimes you have to tweak a recipe to make it perfect for you.
Thatâ€™s the way it works when you craft a story for an anthology.Â Take an event, add a personal touch and a dab of joy, and you have a tale that will make hearts sing.Â Or weep.Â Or thump and turn somersaults.Â Because even though we may all be very different, we are fundamentally the same.Â Everyone experiences happy times and sad, the exhilaration of personal victories, and the devastation of loss.Â To make a personal story appeal to thousands of people, find a story that deals with an event or emotion that is fundamental to life; that is so common to basic humanity that most everyone will experience the same feeling at some point in his or her lifetime.Â Then tell the story earnestly, make a point, and submit the essay.Â Itâ€™s as simple as that.
When Jenna Glatzer, founder of AbsoluteWrite.com, set out to publish an anthology to benefit victims of Hurricane Katrina, she chose strength as the theme of the book.Â I didnâ€™t have money to send to the victims of this unexpected and horrible storm, and I especially wanted to contribute to this anthology as my way of extending a hand to these disaster-worn people I would never meet.Â How, then, to give myself the best chance to be included?Â I decided that most people who approach the topic of strength would do so from a deep, introspective point of view.Â I decided to go the opposite route and tackle the topic with humor. Â I chose a meaningful time in my life, a time when my father showed me how to face lifeâ€™s troubles on my own during a period when childish imagination has a way of making waterfalls out of dripping faucets.Â I told a true story, but a story decorated with the terrifying exaggerations of a childâ€™s mind.Â In The Wonderful Transformation of the Library Troll, a little girl has to find the courage to march up the library stairs and face the evil librarian in order to return a library book that was dreadfully overdue.Â Then I tied up the story with the sigh of relief that comes from turning dragons into dragonflies. The point?Â If a kid can lead the charge up the library steps and tackle the troll she finds inside, you can fight your fiends as well and come out a hero.
Having trouble finding a topic?Â Everyone has a favorite story.Â Think back to birthday celebrations, anniversary parties, engagements, divorces, the first day at school, or starting a new job.Â Changes in life bring stories like flower fields bring butterflies.Â Did you get married, attend a friendâ€™s wedding, get a new stepparent, go on a trip?Â How about challenges?Â If youâ€™ve lost a loved one, a job, or a memento or got a new computer, tried to program a DVD player or given up on how to do anything with your cell phone buy say hello, youâ€™ve got a story.Â Make a habit of writing down the events in your life as they happen.Â Youâ€™ll be ready with a rose garden full of memories, and when an editor calls for a single bloom you can pick one from your bouquet.
Think back on the stories you tell and retell when you get together with friends over Friday night coffee or with relatives at family reunions.Â Any story that begins â€œRemember the timeâ€ or â€œIâ€™ll never forget whenâ€ is a potential story to share.Â These are your highlights, the moments when all of lifeâ€™s special effects worked together to produce a magic memory.Â It may be a story that makes your lungs and backbone ache from laughing, or that makes you sniffle and blink away the tears as the words drop one by one into the silence of the listeners, like snowflakes onto a barren field.Â These are the stories that, carefully and lovingly unfolded like grandmotherâ€™s wedding dress being readied for use by a devoted granddaughter, will touch the hearts of everyone who shares the moment.Â
Now you can lean back and congratulate yourself for capturing this beautiful moment on the canvas of a computer screen, right?Â Of course not.Â If you do, youâ€™ll miss the most exciting part of the journey.Â Submit your work.Â Both Chickensoup.com and CupofComfort.com have story guidelines on the Internet and include lists of story topics currently underway.Â Anthologies.com also has a Writerâ€™s Wanted section that lists books in the making.Â If you belong to a writerâ€™s group, either in person or online, you will likely share information about callouts for new anthologies.Â In most cases it costs nothing to try.Â So why wait?Â Stir up your own cup of soup, add a dash of personality, and see your story in print!
BIO:Â Amy Mullis tells the tales of friends, relatives, and self from her home in upstate