Wednesday, August 13, 2008
Q & A: Questions and Anthology Answers with Christina Fugate
As an occasional contributor to anthologies (and perhaps a future anthology editor), I always welcome the chance to talk to those who have put together a popular collection.
Christina Fugate edited The Mothering Heights Manual for Motherhood: Volume 1 , released in May and recently held the number one spot in the mothering category at Amazon. Christina is a filmmaker, columnist, blogger and (need I say this?) a mother. I picked her brain just before she pulled the computer plug for a few weeks to enjoy some California summertime with her husband and children.
LR: Any topics or themes in the essay submissions which surprised you?
Christina: The use of the word perfection, over 96 times.
LR: Anything which you expected to see, but didn't?
Christina: I was surprised more moms didn't write about working at jobs outside of the home and how one juggles (or not) family life and personal needs.
LR: How many submissions did you receive?
Christina: I received over 100 submissions; 28 essays are featured, and I also invited submissions from several poets.
LR: When you decided which essays to include, what were the main criteria?
Christina: I looked for a unique voice and point-of-view in the essay. Sometimes that was in a form of a story, list or anecdotes. Some of the decisions were not mine but those of the previous publisher I was originally working with on the book. Once I took over the project, I did not have time to re-edit the manuscript and make the Mother’s Day deadline.
LR: Tell me about the title and subtitle.
Christina: The "manual" idea came from the fact that my husband has car manuals all around our house. One day, I thought to myself, I need a manual to tell me what to do with parenting. The subtitle came from the question posed for the essay contest and my continual griping about doing laundry and cooking.
LR: You turned around the print anthology pretty quickly. And you also ran, concurrently, an online essay contest.
Christina: This was a lot of work and a natural diet. (I dropped poundage which is now back on.) I would never advise someone to host a contest, collect the entries, edit and publish a book in five months.
LR: I love the book's trailer. What's on tap for promotion in the coming weeks?
Christina: I am taking most of August off to re-group. This has been an exciting but stressful time. I had an intervention from my husband who has insisted I put my laptop away and spend time offline relaxing. But I am doing some private book events and a reading at Joseph Beth Booksellers in my hometown of Lexington, Kentucky on August 23.
LR: How can contributors to anthologies help to promote the book and themselves?
Christina: They need to toot their horn more! Send a copy of the book to their local newspapers and radio. It is so hard to get published, but an anthology can open a lot of doors.
LR: Tell us about your next project.
Christina: I am finishing up Transforming Matter, a film I have been working on for four years. It tells the story of poet Donna Hilbert and her struggle to find love and happiness after the sudden death of her husband.