The story I'm now calling Always, Always started as a scene for a time travel story I was working on. The characters would visit a futuristic Australia and get the help of a lady who lived in Coober Pedy (a real, awesome town where people live underground). But of course I fell in love with the character, and her backstory merged with another idea and became an entire book.
Now the concept was this: desert dweller Tress finds a dead body... and it's her own. Not only does she discover that it's her from the future, but she's dressed in silks and jewelry her entire town couldn't afford in a lifetime. Can she solve her murder in time to prevent it?
Then there was the version where I added a time traveling love interest (Charlie, who's main personality trait was being from Canada) with a murder mystery of his own: his sister's. There was something to do with smuggling drugs into the past (I vaguely remember calling the drug McFly?) but I never actually got that far and the plot fizzled out.
So I added a robot! And I never figured out if she was a good guy or a bad guy!
And then the story continued to go nowhere.
Cut to a year later. I'm frustrated by my current project and really missing my futuristic Australia. What if I got rid of Charlie and the time travel and just have Tress and the robot on a road trip? And what if they fell in love even though Tress hated robots because they stole her job at the solar panel factory?
The answer is... it was still kind of sucky and still had no actual plot.
Or rather, it had a small plot - Tress trying to save her city from the people who would destroy it and drain it of the power it generated - and I was trying to stretch it to fill a book. In trying to tell the story of a country and a massive war, I was neglecting the story of the city and the girl who loved it.
Because it wasn't a novel at all; it's a short story that bears little resemblance to the idea I started with, except Tress is still too self-sacrificing and Voltaire is still a chatty assassin.
...and it was accepted in an anthology!
Central Arkansas Speculative Fiction Writers' Group (CASFWG) is putting out an anthology called When You're Strange, set to be published on November 1!
"There are things that define us. Things that separate us from the whole. Everyone’s a stranger in some way or another. Whether by coming to a new land, practicing different traditions, estrangement from your own people, or becoming a refugee forced from your home only to find yourself at the mercy of a tyrant… whatever the circumstances, strangers are compelling protagonists[...] We want to see stories about estrangement, oddballs, and those who simply do not follow rules. We want to see outsiders and those deemed unworthy by society. Outcasts are welcome."
Links and more information to come.