Saturday, October 29, 2016

Reading Wild

Jim Lovell (Tom Hanks): "I made the decision."
Ken Mattingly (Gary Sinise): "Must have been a tough one."
Apollo 13, (1995)

I read the email this morning, letting me know that publisher Wild Child was shutting down at the end of the year. This was not unexpected news - the publishing business is tough, competitive and (right now) awash in titles. Heck, anyone with Word and internet access can get something onto Amazon. Self-publishing firms are everywhere. A small house like WC (and sister Freya's Bower) jockey's for position with everyone else, trying to command attention. Readers seem in shrinking supply even as their reading options multiply. People who know the ropes, are attuned to trends, say this is a tough time to make a living in the writing business.

I'll say.

But, nobody needs to call the waaaambulance for me. Marci Baun, and her publishing company, have given me an opportunity I never thought I'd get. To read the email - "We like the manuscript you submitted. We want to discuss publishing it" was one of the most joyous moments in my writing life. 

It was a little after 0400...the proverbial "Oh-dark thirty." I was eating breakfast, reading emails and getting ready to drive to work for six AM roll call. Attempts to gain the attention of an agent or publisher had gone unavailing...for two years. Nearly a hundred submissions. In some cases, the publisher responded with "Not our genre." A couple thought the stories interesting, such as they were. Some never responded back, despite SASE. The bastards. My personal favorite was an email submission that required only six minutes to come back "Sorry." That was it!

A Parasol in a Hurricane evolved from a combination of conversations about how to address the brick wall I'd encountered. It represented a departure for me - a short story instead of a novel - being something bite-sized and, perhaps, tempting. Publisher Wild Child caught my eye. We had called one of our kids (need I mention who) the wild child. Enya's song of the same name was her ring tone. Fate?

Then I got their response. I went upstairs and woke up my wife. Did I mention it was 4 AM? We laughed, we cried. We hugged.

Over the next eight years the little shop in Culver City and I did the short story and two novels together. Neither of us got rich, obviously. But, I'll never forget the look on Pat's face when I told her I'd found a publisher.

For that, and a hundred other things... Thank you, Marci.

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