Please welcome Shira Anthony with
Wild, Wild Heart
from the anthology
Once Upon A Time In The Weird West
Al Pennington and Cyrus Reese are both damaged men. Apprenticed as a child to a master who created clockwork wonders, Al now prefers to spend his days on his secluded homestead, toiling over his own fantastical inventions. But when he takes the wounded Cyrus into his home and nurses him back to health, Al realizes he wants Cyrus to stay. Al’s tired of being alone, Cyrus is tired of running, and maybe their time together can be a balm to wounds left by their difficult pasts.
When an outlaw bent on dragging Cyrus back into a life of crime comes knocking, Al is seriously injured. Cyrus must quite literally take Al’s broken heart in his hands to save his life.
Blurb for the anthology:
This isn’t the same old Wild West. The usual suspects are all present: cowboys, outlaws, and sheriffs. There’s plenty of dust, tumbleweeds, horses, and cattle on the range, but there are also magical gems, automatons, elementals, airships… even dinosaurs and genetically modified insects. Roaming among the buffalo and coyotes, you’ll encounter skinwalkers, mad engineers, mythical beings cloaked in darkness, and lovers who stay true to their oaths… even beyond the grave. On this frontier are those at the mercy of their own elaborate devices as well as men whose control of time and space provides a present-day vision of the West. There might even be a dragon hidden amongst the ghost towns and wagon trains.
If you like your Westerns with a splash of magic, a touch of steampunk, and plenty of passionate romance between men, these genre-bending tales will exceed expectations.
Hold on to your hats, cowboys and cowgirls. The West is about to get weird, and you’re in for a hell of a ride.
I often hear writers encourage authors new to the publishing business to submit a short story for an anthology as a way to get their name out there. Sounds like good advice, right? So it might surprise you that, although I’ve been a published gay romance author for more than five years now (my 20th book will be published sometime in early 2017), my offering in the Once Upon a Time in the Weird West anthology is my first short story that isn’t a freebie. Why? Because writing a really good short story takes particular talent and skill, neither of which I’ve been blessed with! Let me explain….
Don’t get me wrong. I think I’m a solid writer. Of novels and novellas, that is. But short stories? They seem like they’d be easy to write, but the reality is entirely the opposite. In fact, Wild, Wild Heart took me as long to write as my first Dreamspun Desire title, First Comes Marriage. And that story is nearly 50,000 words!
So why is short story writing its own form of art? Because it requires nearly the same elements of a far longer story, compressed into (in my case) about 10,000 words: characterization, plot, and tension that culminates in a climax. And you don’t have enough word count for the kind of exposition or introduction to a new universe that I’m used to in my longer stories. Sure, you can write stories that don’t have these elements, but we’re talking romance here, and slice of life, meandering stories aren’t usually what readers look for. Add to that the research that goes into writing a story set in the Old West, and you have a double—maybe triple—whammy. Just because it’s short doesn’t mean it doesn’t require research about language, setting, and technology!
I love to write about what I know. Musicians, sailing, scuba diving, travel. Most of the books I’ve written required some research, but mostly the research confirms facts I already know. Even the hurricane rescue scene in my most recent novel, Take Two, was based in part on my knowledge of boating and storms. What I didn’t know I asked my husband (who has a professional captain’s license). But the technology needed to create the artificial heart in Wild, Wild Heart? I had to start from scratch.
I watched countless videos about how watches and pocket watches work. I found it fascinating and mind-boggling. Not to mention there are many riffs on how a watch is built. I had hear the term “jewels” with respect to fine watches, but had no idea that there really are tiny sapphires and other hard gemstones used to keep the watch moving smoothly. Did you know there’s a tiny pendulum inside a mechanical watch?
Once I had a clue about the inner workings of watches, I needed to create a problem that needed fixing in the watch. And once I identified a problem, I needed to learn how to fix it. I’m amazed at the number of videos available online that show watch repair. I spent at least as much time researching Wild, Wild Heart was at least as I did actually writing it!
So how do you take the very technical research about mechanical watches and make it interesting for the reader? First, you toss out about 90% of what you’ve learned. Your reader doesn’t need most of the nitty gritty details, even if you, the writer, needs them to make the story believable. Then you inject tension and emotion into scenes that otherwise might be hyper technical. What happens if the heart quite literally breaks? What are the consequences of failing to fix the heart in time? What goes through the character’s head when time begins to run out?You’ll find the answers to these questions as Cyrus races against time to save Al, the man who rescued him from a life running with a gang of outlaws. If I got the balance right, you probably won’t even notice the tiny details. But they’re there, just as they would be in a far longer story. Because even more than in a long story, those details are like those tiny jewels keep the movement of a watch operating smoothly.
Get the book:
About Shira Anthony:
Shira Anthony was a professional opera singer in her last incarnation, performing roles in such operas as Tosca, i Pagliacci, and La Traviata, among others. She’s given up TV for evenings spent with her laptop, and she never goes anywhere without a pile of unread M/M romance on her Kindle. You can hear Shira singing “Vissi d’arte” from Puccini’s Tosca by clicking here: Shira’s Singing
Shira loves a great happily-ever-after and never writes a story without one. She’s happy to write what her muse tells her, whether it’s fantasy, sci fi, paranormal, or contemporary romance. She particularly loves writing series, because she thinks of her characters as old friends and she wants to visit them even after their stories are told.
In real life, Shira sang professionally for 14 years, and she currently works as a public sector attorney advocating for children. She’s happy to have made writing her second full-time job, even if it means she rarely has time to watch TV or go to the movies. Shira writes about the things she knows and loves, whether it’s music and musicians, the ocean, or the places she’s lived or traveled to. She spent her middle school years living in France, and tries to visit as often as she can.
Promotional post. Materials provided by the author.