Apocalypse Utah: My first published short story, from sub to pub

Last year marked a lot of firsts for me. I sent my first query letter (and within 24 hours received my first rejection). I joined my first writers' organizations, the LUW and the HWA. I attended my first writing conference, landed my first publishing contract, and had a short story accepted into a paid anthology for the first time. 

Big moment - first time getting paid for a short story! #writerslife #amwriting #apocalypseutah #horror #shortstory

A photo posted by Caryn Larrinaga (@carynlarrinaga) on

Tomorrow, that anthology comes out. My story will be published along with 11 other pieces of short horror, and I'm so proud and excited to be a part of Apocalypse: Utah. 

As I look forward to celebrating the anthology's release with my fellow contributing authors, I'm also finding myself looking back on the moment almost five months ago when I was drumming up the courage to submit my short story in the first place.

I'm not sure why I'm so nervous about submitting my work, especially since that paralyzing fear only seems to happen with my works of fiction. In high school, I worked on the school paper and had an internship at the Davis County Clipper, so I've had dozens of articles and opinion pieces go through the editing process and subsequently get published. Hell, I spew my thoughts out onto this blog a couple of times a month without losing any sleep. But for some reason, when it comes to sharing the fictional stuff my brain cooks up, I'm suddenly overcome with shyness.

So when I heard that the HWA was sponsoring an anthology, my first instinct wasn't to submit a story. Instead, I pictured myself on the sidelines, cheering on my fellow HWA members and thinking about possibly submitting to some future, undetermined contest. Things are so much less intimidating when they're in the abstract.

And then I saw the theme/title. Apocalypse: Utah.

I love apocalyptic stories. The idea of civilization crumbling because of war, natural disaster, or some kind of disease is terrifying. And fascinating. Those scenarios seem like pressure cookers, bringing out the strongest qualities of the people involved, whether they're good or bad. I felt compelled to write a story. "The Fishermen" spilled out of me, but I wasn't convinced it was worth submitting until I got it back from my beta readers. Their wonderful, constructive feedback pushed me over the finish line.

Speaking of my beta readers, the anthology doesn't have an acknowledgements page so I'd like to thank them here. You all are amazing - thank you Brandy, Carrie, Kelly, Rachel, Robyn, and Shannon for your willingness to read the story and your honesty when pointing out the things that weren't working. An extra enormous THANK YOU is due to Matt, whose feedback about weaponry and the effects of violence on the human body were critical for keeping my story grounded in reality. You guys & gals are the best, and I wouldn't have dared to submit if you all hadn't encouraged me so much.

So, one day before the Halloween deadline, I submitted my story. Almost exactly one month later, I got the email that made me leap out of my desk chair in joy: "The Fishermen" had been selected for publication. I signed the contract within the hour. It would've been immediate, but I waited until I was with Kelly so he could witness the big moment.

From there, the publication process was extremely similar to the process for Donn's Hill, but on a much faster timeframe. I had the opportunity to work with yet another fantastic editor (Callie Stoker) and the publisher, Griffin Publishers, was super easy to work with and very communicative. Now, just four-and-a-half months after submission, the anthology is about to start shipping from Amazon. You can get your hands on a copy here: 

Apocalypse Utah: A Collection of Utah Horror
Griffin Publishers, LLC

On Thursday, I'll be joining many of my fellow contributing authors at the launch party in Provo. If you're in the area, please join us!