Monday, November 18, 2013

For the Love of a Good Anthology

I am an unabashed fan of anthologies. Why do I love them? Let me count the ways...

First - Discoverability

I love sitting down with one, stomach all aflutter with anticipation. The promise of a cozy, quick immersion in the talent of one of my favorite authors makes me grin. But it's the prospect of finding a new-to-me-and-just-waiting-to-be-discovered writer that has me sinking into my reading chair, squirming into that just-right spot, ready to dive for a few hours of reading bliss.

I've "discovered" some amazing talent by taking a chance on an anthology. Linda Howard - "Lake of Dreams," anyone? Anne Stuart, Carla Kelly, Eileen Wilks, Cait London, Katherine Stone, Mary Blayney, Lori Foster, MaryJanice Davidson, Cherise Sinclair, Stacia Kane. By taking a chance - and knowing I might have to kiss some frogs along the way - I opened myself up to wonderful new worlds.

Second - Re-readability

I love to re-read stories that have touched my heart. And the absolute best thing about a story from an anthology is you can have that emotional catharsis in relatively short order.

When I want to laugh, I'll go to Cait London's "The Nine-Month Knight" in Maternity Leave.

When I want to sweet and funny and lovely, I'll head for Eileen Wilks' "The Proper Love" in All I Want for Christmas.

For flat out emotion, you just can't beat Linda Howard's "The Way Home," in A Bouquet of Babies. Tears my heart out each time I crack that story open.

Third - Craftsmanship

Okay, so this reason is less about a love of reading and more about a love of writing. Creating a world, believable characters, a strong central conflict and a happily ever after is challenging enough in a regular length story. Cutting the word count means you really need to up your game and make every word matter. Reading a tight, well-honed short story is likely immersing myself in a master class of craft. Yum.

Fourth - Themes!

The last reason I'm drawn to anthologies is that I'm a sucker for theme - and how each of us interprets a given them in our own unique ways. Chocolate (check out Lisa Cache's "Eliza's Gateau"). Christmas. Father's Day. Halloween. Kink. Bad Boys. Valentine's Day (duh!). DIY for the paranormal set.  The Rockville 8 is planning our own anthology with a moon theme tying us all together. There's no end to the themes that can tie otherwise seemingly disparate stories into one happy gift for readers.

And speaking of gifts, consider giving one of these to your nearest and dearest romance reader (and that person just may be you!).

A Spirited Season - with The Rockville 8's own Misha Crews!

If Regency Christmas is your go to theme, try this collection of Carla Kelly tales.

For folks with a sweet tooth AND a jones for Christmas, try The Sugar Cook Sweetheart Swap with three delicious stories from Donna Kaufmann, Kate Angell and Kimberly Kincaid.

And while there's no Christmas in this rich collection, it's still a fantastic read and a perfect gift of the heart: Once and Forever - a new release that introduces the R8's Evie Owens to the world!

 Friends - what about you? Fan or foe of the anthology? Do you have a favorite? One lucky commenter will receive a copy of Once and Forever!


  1. I adore anthologies. Especially at the holiday time. When I get into the holiday spirit, I like to read stories about Christmas. So some of my favorite anthologies are related to Christmas. One of my favorites is Holiday Kisses, which has one of my all-time favorite anthology pieces--Mistletoe & Margaritas by Shannon Stacy.

    One of the reasons I love anthologies is that I can get a full-sized story in a bite-sized sitting. We're all short on time, especially as we approach Thanksgiving and Christmas and New Year's ... so why not try one of the anthologies Keely so nicely pointed out as gift ideas. Treat yourself!

    Great post, Keely. I'll be looking into a few of the anthologies you listed! Thanks!

  2. Mackenzie! Oh!! A new-to-me holiday collection! Off to Amazon now to pick up a copy of Holiday Kisses so I can check out "Mistletoe and Margaritas" (great title!)

  3. Thanks for the book recs, Keely! And for the shout out. :-)

    I love holiday anthologies, too, and I just picked up "Heating Up The Holidays" because Mary Ann Rivers has a story in it and she's a new author that I just adore:

    I haven't read it yet, but I'm looking forward to it, and to hopefully finding another new author to love!

  4. Great blog, Keely! And I couldn't agree more. I love anthologies. I've got Once and Forever sitting on my TBR list and I can't wait to get to it. For those who like a little horror or something strange there's Tales From The Mist which I and a group of writer friends put out last Halloween. It's now 99 cents everywhere. There are some really fun and creepy stories in there!

  5. Evie - how glorious! Another collection to add to my holiday reading list AND a new-to-me author to discover. Score!

    Merry - I can attest that Tales From the Mist is a great spooky read!! Who needs to wait for Halloween?