FAQs for the Anthology of Orange County Wild Places

FAQs for the Orange County Wild Places Anthology; many thanks to Catherine Keefe for the first several excellent questions . . . which then inspired two more pages of them.

Q: With a mind toward narrowing down what I want to submit, do you have a target reader / purpose in mind for this?

A: These are the basic questions writers always need to address; these are also difficult to pin down for a project such as this.

Target reader: someone who knows, or doesn’t know, Orange County’s wild places. Someone who has lived here all her/his life, or someone from another hemisphere who many never visit this place except via the words of this anthology. Someone who already loves Black Star Falls, or who has never heard of it.

It may sound trite, but I would encourage writers to create something that they would love to read, something that feels vital to share, and let this passion draw other readers into their wild world.

As far as purpose goes . . . how about this lofty set of goals: to honor, celebrate, share (and thus help preserve) the wild beauty of Orange County, CA.

Q: Do you know how / where it will be distributed or sold?

A: While publication details have not been finalized, this book is being created so that it can be sold and distributed via both traditional print, and well as electronic, publishing outlets.

Q: Is there payment for pieces published?

A: I consider myself fortunate to have been published in five anthologies in the last five years*; payment in each instance was two free copies, plus a 50% discount on additional copies. Currently, that seems to be the direction this project is headed. The anthology gets one-time rights (re-prints are fine, with permission from the original publisher), after which all rights revert to the author.

Q: Where will proceeds from publishing go, then?

A: Arrangements are being made for anthology profits to enable the Orange County Chapter of the California Native Plant Society (OC-CNPS) to further local environmental education efforts. (As a current board member of OC-CNPS, I am happy to report that my fellow board members fully support this.)

Q: Is there an online link to the Call for Submissions?

A: Yes, more information is available at http://tinyurl.com/ke8z2uz

Q: How do I actually submit my piece(s) when ready?

A: Email them to OCNatureWriting@sbcglobal.net. (See the online Call for Submissions in the above link for details regarding subject line, formatting, etc.)

Q: What is the deadline for submissions?

A: December 31, 2015

Q: How many pieces may I send? What are the line and/or word count limits?

A: Up to five poems (each between 3-60 lines) and/or two prose–fiction and/or creative nonfiction–works (each between 100-2500 words). This means that a writer could potentially submit seven pieces of writing. (Note: PLEASE label the genre of prose pieces either fiction or creative nonfiction.)

Q: What is the one prerequisite for any piece published in this anthology?

A: The name of the “wild place” that inspired it must appear somewhere in the work: title, epigraph, or piece itself.

Q: How long is the response time? When will I know if my work was accepted?

A: The deadline for submissions is 12/31/15; after that the pieces will be carefully evaluated, with decisions regarding acceptances being communicated via email during the month of February.

Q: Will the anthology favor facts or meaning?

A: Yes! (In other words: be detailed and factual, but also weave meaning into those details and facts . . . you love this place enough to write about it . . . make your reader fall in love, too.)

Q: Do you have any other “tips”?

A: In order to incorporate as many voices as possible, preference may be given to shorter pieces. “Non-traditional” forms are encouraged: think lists, letters, lyric essays, tweetable haikus, collages of all of the above . . . along with traditional narratives and poetic forms (or creative blendings of any of these things).

Q: Whose idea was this, anyway?

A: Back in 2004, I was a novice hiking docent with the Nature Conservancy (which used to manage the Irvine Ranch Open Space). Joel Robinson and Mike Kahle were two influential mentors as I eagerly devoured all the info I could about our wild Orange County places, plants, and creatures.  Both Joel and Mike had a vision for an anthology that would celebrate Orange County’s natural history; eleven years later, I feel privileged to have sabbatical support from Concordia University Irvine to pursue this long-overdue project.

Q: And who is this “I” person behind this project?

A: Glad you asked. Thea Gavin here; I’m a native of Orange who loves our local wild lands where I hike and run (shoelessly, but that’s the subject of another blog) as much as possible. Over the past eleven years, as a volunteer naturalist, I’ve enjoyed introducing others to some of these amazing places in hopes that folks will learn about, grow to love, and work to preserve wild Orange County. What I see/hear/smell/taste/touch on my local adventures often inspires poems, some of which get published in the bi-monthly newsletters of our Orange County chapter of the California Native Plant Society. My MA in English (composition emphasis) is from Cal State Fullerton . . . the MFA in poetry from Spalding University (Louisville, KY). . . I’ve been teaching writing at Concordia University Irvine since 1997, and I have this thing for ellipses . . . . (and the word “this”).

Q: Is there a blog where I can keep up with the latest information about the project?

A: Of course! Please see https://ocnaturewriting.wordpress.com/ (never mind: you’re already here!)

In the words of local author and writing professor Catherine Keefe:
“I imagine it as sort of a love letter to the wilds I love so much.”

*Going Down Grand: Poems from the Canyon; On Foot: Grand Canyon Backpacking Stories; Workers Write! More Tales from the Cubicle; Manifest West: Eccentricities of Geography, A Literary Anthology; New Poets of the American West.

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