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Monday, April 21, 2008

Story Behind the Stories – by Jason M. Waltz, Managing Editor, Flashing Swords Press

Just what did it take to find, bind, and mind the twenty-one entries that create The Return of the Sword: An Anthology of Heroic Adventure (RotS)? Nothing more than access to a remaining inventory of accepted stories, a couple years’ worth of reviewing and critiquing, a remembered blog post, and an expectant boss.

Did we have a theme in mind? Not from the start. The concept of publishing an anthology arose as a vehicle for returning to glory some stories accepted by the previous incarnation of Flashing Swords Magazine that had not received the attention they deserved. Once we agreed on this option, well, the anthology required a creator. As Managing Editor, Kelly chose me.

Doing so created our first dilemma. Or my first dilemma I should say. Though I eagerly accepted the role and the responsibility, I was the lone newbie in the group. The person with less than one year’s experience as an editor. The only person without a publishing history. Who was I to orchestrate this thing?

Simply the guy my exceptional boss allowed me to be.

The summary of what I went through to bring RotS to the masses is too long to recount here. Simply told, once assigned, I bent to my task with a passion. I tracked down authors with tales I’d read long ago and asked them for those titles. I recalled an accomplished author’s blogging wisdom and asked him for it. I learned a lot about editing and publishing, working with authors and artists, design and layout – and more design and layout! – before finally being content. Could I have done better? Absolutely – but I’m damn proud of the final result as it is.

Theme, you ask? Why, I only required each tale to rock me in some fashion and contain a figure heroic . . . or able to be heroic. All the RotS tales have a character filling that heroic role: some obviously, some by default, some in denial, and some not quite apparent – but still with that character who has the opportunity, no matter how slim, to be heroic.I wanted slam-bam adventure while simultaneously giving readers that heroic figure all of us look for. He didn’t have to be the biggest guy, the baddest guy, the smartest guy, or even a guy. I wanted, really, heroic attitude more than anything else, coupled with action-adventure that made readers sit up in their seats and pay attention.I think I captured what I sought. I don't think anyone can read this anthology lying in bed an evening. If you can, I didn't do my job.

Return now to the days of true adventure! Join fierce warriors in savage battles of survival and supremacy as they face hordes of vile foes, vie against inner demons, or struggle before onslaughts of both. Enter the halls of heroic fantasy in awe and marvel at the deeds of the mighty. Close upon the heels of Howard's Conan, Moorcock's Elric, and Leiber's Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser come Ehart's Ninshi, Heath's Brom, and Hawkes' Kabar. Unsheathe your sword and follow in their steps if you dare!

Get your copy of this great anthology at The Return of the Sword

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