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Amy Lou Jenkins is the award-winning author of Every Natural Fact: Five Seasons of Open-Air Parenting

"If you combined the lyricism of Annie Dillard, the vision of Aldo Leopold, and the gentle but tough-minded optimism of Frank McCourt, you might come close to Amy Lou Jenkins.Tom Bissell author of The Father of All Things 

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Featured Author: Libby Cudmore


Libby Cudmore was born in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma but raised in
Cobleskill, New York. The daughter of a storyteller mother and an author father, Libby was gifted with an active imagination from the beginning and pursued her love of the written word throughout her childhood. In high school, she attended numerous writing conferences, including the Pen in Hand—of which she is a three-year alumnus—The St. Lawrence International Conference and in her senior year, was selected as one of 25 writers in New York State to attend the Silver Bay conference.  Libby is entering her senior year at Binghamton University as an English/Creative Writing major, and was recently named a recipient of the
2004-2005 Andrew Bergman Scholarship for Creative Writing and was a first-quarter finalist in the L. Ron Hubbard Writers of the Future contest.  Libby’s previous publications include CosmoGirl, Long Story Short (Where she
was the featured author for July of 2003) and About Teens.  

From "Always the Bride"

“Always the bride, never the bridesmaid,” my friend Beth use to joke when we were in college.  Back then she was referring to all the guys that gave me their phone numbers whenever she and I went out. I bet she never thought that it would actually be the truth. I’ve been a bridesmaid the same number of times
I’ve been a wife—zero, despite being engaged four times.

My first run-in with Left-At-The-Altar syndrome was at the age of twenty-two,  right after my boyfriend Danny and I graduated from NYU.  Danny was a music major, tall and pale, with inquisitive eyes the color of good chocolate cake. We had been dating for eighteen months, and living together for half of that, when he sang a proposal to me in front of two hundred and fifty people.

The week before our wedding, as a joke, the best man hired a male stripper for the bachelor party.  Danny and “Sir Loin” ran off together that very night.  I should have guessed—the Gap sweaters and the skin-tight tee shirts, the home-bleached hair that turned out the color of Cheez-Wiz, the earring in the
cartilage of his left ear.  At first I thought it was all just stereotype and decided I was too open-minded to buy into it. Later I realized that stereotypes have to come from somewhere, and I’m convinced the ones about the gay men from Danny.

My second fiancé, Matt, caught me on the rebound.  Well, we caught each other
on the rebound.  Fresh from a tumultuous relationship with his girlfriend
Brenda, I met him through a mutual friend and we hit it off immediately.  Matt
had a build like David Beckham and bed skills equivalent to Beckham's soccer
savvy.  We were engaged in six months, but the night before our wedding he got
cold feet and ran whimpering to his ex in Jersey. They married in Vegas two
days later and divorced before the weekend was out.  After he left I hacked
into his e-mail account and found they had been talking since we announced our
engagement.  Not only was I stuck with a wedding to call off, but he also left
me with nearly two hundred dollars in phone calls to his darling Brenda. Mutual
friends have told me that since then, they’ve re-married, divorced and are now
dating again. I always thought I should open an “All-Nite EZ Divorce
Drive-Thru” for cases like theirs.  I’d make a fortune off those two alone.

My third fiancé, David, seemed even more perfect than the two previous.  I had
fully intended to take a year off from dating, but when David and I met at a
concert in Brooklyn I had to break my solemn oath.  He was boyish and sweet,
and had close relationships with both his sisters.  Turns out the older sister,
Lauri was a stripper, and she and her baby brother were very close.  They were
so close, in fact that she happened to be on duty that night his buddies
dragged him to the Pink Panties strip club, and she gave him a lap dance—free
of charge. I tossed my engagement ring in the toilet and spent the remainder of
the night throwing up. I don’t even want to know what happened with those two.

My fourth fiancé Harry was the only one that actually made it to the altar.
Then he had a nervous breakdown, at the moment the minister said, “…until death
do you part.”  He began to scream “Lori!!!” the name of his first girlfriend,
who was decapitated in a car crash while cheating on Harry. My husband-to-be
then tried to stab himself with the bottom of my bouquet.  He’s still in the
“Retard Room” as Beth always calls it. 

A girl could not ask for a better friend than Beth.  She's the quintessential


best friend, the kind that understands that Adam Sandler movies and Ben and
Jerry's ice cream are essential for healing any sickness of the heart.  We've
been best friends since college and. Beth takes no chances with video stores in
a crisis, and she owns every Adam Sandler movie, special edition, on DVD.  As a
joke, she bought us equal shares in Ben and Jerry's stock. To top it all off,
she's a lawyer, so she helped me to get money out of Danny and Matt to pay for
their abandoned wedding costs.  In return, I keep her in subscriptions to Lady,
the woman's magazine I write for.

“So what have you been up to lately?” She asks as the waitress sets down her
her Caesar wrap at the Cafe de Vienne.  “Any new engagements?”
I accept my fruit salad with a nod of thanks. “That's not funny.” I reply.

“I know, but I couldn't resist.”  She cracked a smile.  “Seriously, what have
you been up to? I haven't seen you in, like, a month.  I thought maybe you'd
met someone and run off to Vegas before they could wuss out.”

“Busy at the office.”  I replied. “It's our big season.  We just got out the
summer 'Get skinny and skinny dip with your man' and now we have to prepare the
'Get skinny and get cozy with your man' for the fall issue.”

“The pressures of the glamorous life.” Beth sighed sarcastically.

“So what have you been up to?”

“It's divorce season.” she groaned.  “People want to get out of their marriages
as quickly as possible so they can take their alimony and cash it in on a
vacation to Acapulco with their personal trainers.”  Beth frowned. I felt bad
for her.  All through college she had watched Law and Order, hoping to one day
be a lawyer on the defendant's side of a major murder case.  Instead she ended
up the pawn of a firm that left her to deal with screaming couples, mistresses
vying for their “fair share” of a deceased man's fortune, small time child
actors trying to get liberated from their parents and other domestic horrors.
There was a rarely a good to side with.

“So, how's Bill doing?”

“He's good, got a big article due today for the music section of the Times—if
he gets this we’ll be moving here to Manhattan.” Beth’s eyes glittered at the

“Great!” I exclaimed. “I thought I saw a Hospice nurse heading into 4C, you
know, the creepy old guy?”

“The music teacher?”

“Yeah—I’m thinking he’s gonna kick off any day now, so you could rent that.”

“Eww, old dead guy-ness.” Beth shuddered melodramatically.  “Put me in the
apartment next to Matthew Broderick.”

“Please—and risk running into his wife when I come to visit you? No way. Take
your pick, me or Matthew Broderick.”

She laughed.  “Do you really want me to answer that?”