I was going to write about fantasy and review Indie authors in this and the next post. But reading an email, I suddenly leapt into a realm I had never known before. I am to have my first book published by a publisher. I won the Prize Americana for Fiction which means I’ll have my short story collection, Curiosity Killed the Sphinx and Other Stories, published by Press Americana’s imprint, Hollywood Books International.
This last year, another small press publisher was interested in that collection and mentioned a contract. But the book was ultimately rejected and the reasons why made me look at the stories again. I had been involved in writing an adult novel in recent years. The stories needed work so I put everything down and concentrated on revising them. Then I sent the collection to the Press Americana contest. Review Americana published a short story of mine in 2007.
I’d written children’s novels before short stories. A few years after I began to write short stories, I sent one to Gordon Lish’s journal in New York. It was a joke to me, thinking about the thousands of short stories that he probably received. I was jolted then when he became interested in my story and wanted to see all I had written. He invited me to his workshop that year. Since, I much regretted not going to it. It was a bad year for that and I was a fool. Opportunities like that don’t happen often and they might not recur.
I hadn’t succeeded with creative writing at that point. Gordon’s workshop was in Bloomington, Indiana. My father lived in Indiana with his third wife who was also his first love. My father loved the city of Bloomington. I couldn’t have attended the workshop without him wanting to come there and meet Gordon Lish, the New York editor. Problem was, my father wasn’t very happy with me pursuing creative writing. He had his reading stacked near him when he watched TV. Usually, the books were on economics. His basic comment about books was, “There are too many books being published.”
A few years before, he had discouraged me from moving to Boston. Previously, I had visited friends there and gotten a job interview at Little, Brown and Company. My father was from old Midwestern people and they just didn't know Boston. Well, they thought Boston didn't know them so the feeling was mutual.
I didn’t know how I would get to the workshop without him finding out. And it was a bad year for it. So I plunged on alone and it took some years before I could put my short stories into my best form.
I wouldn’t in any way blame my father when I know I’m really like the Lion in the Wizard of Oz, lacking courage. The other girls defied past convention and went with opportunity. I might have become a performing flute player but I did the same thing. In high school, I was invited to a barbecue with Jean Pierre Rampal and other flute students of my symphony musician teacher’s. I vowed that I wouldn’t be such a coward again after I didn’t face a renowned editor.
I think it’s about being a Midwesterner. This publication is thrilling to me because of the Press Americana’s mission. And it’s thrilling because it proves that publishing does work if a person is willing to do the difficult work.