Story of a Story: Caged Sparrow Announcement

15 May

It’s hard to say when Caged Sparrow became a book.

The Event occurred in Buffalo, NY in the late ’70s, when Joseph Tuttolomondo was convicted and sent to prison for a crime he did not commit.

The idea to write about it began even earlier, when he and his wife started collecting newspaper accounts of his arrest and recording details of his story in case “one day” ever came.

He thought “one day” had arrived many times, but the timing was never right, so he got on with his life. Then he met someone named Linda at a dinner in Florida. Linda, a writer, showed an interest in his story, but biographies were not her genre.

A year later, Linda met me, by chance, some would say, at the Blue Ridge Mountain Christian Writers Conference in Asheville, NC. I had been trying to tell people about my writing projects, hoping to find some backing. The conference was nearly over. I’d given up telling people I write contemporary parables and sat moping in a lobby area of the hotel, thinking the entire week had been a bust. It didn’t make sense, considering how many people were praying for me to find my direction. I had a whole team of friends praying, because I’d honestly believed something was going to happen at the conference that would enable me to quit my “day job” and write for a living.

Linda sat down across from me and just started talking. “And what do you write?”

A harmless question. I’d answered it many times that week. I didn’t know her, and I didn’t particularly want to chat, but manners suggested I should at least be polite.

“Personality stories,” I answered. Where did that come from? I’d not written personalities since my Marine Corps days, when I wrote for the base paper. They’d always been my favorite assignments.

“Oh, you do?” She beamed. “I have a story for you!”

Next thing I know, I’m flying to Naples, FL to meet quite possibly the sweetest, most humble man I’ve ever known. He told me his fascinating story and I brought it to Virginia as a box of letters & documents, and about 12 hours of recorded interviews.

I quit my day job.

Since then the project has gone from data to text, to chapters, to completed story. It became a proposal a year ago, and was picked up by a wonderful agent. The agent tried for months to find a publisher for it, to no avail. Undeterred, I decided to publish it myself. After many revisions, this month I uploaded it into a template and received a proof copy of what it will look like. I will make one final revision, after I hear from Mary, a friend and editor who is reviewing it for grammar and flow.

So, is it technically a book? I think so. Although you can’t order it yet, the critical elements are all there: Story…check; ISBN…check; author bio…check; UPC code…check; and, to my absolute joy, an incredible cover…CHECK!!!  Here’s where I give a shout out to Anthony Cash, who can hear pictures and transform them to paper. He listened to Joe’s story and made the most remarkable cover anyone could hope for.

Next week will mark two years since that day in the lobby. I estimate it took about a year longer than necessary because of all I had to learn along the way. Then again, I think the timing is perfect. I hereby announce that Caged Sparrow will be available for purchase June 15, via a link on this website and as many other venues as I can find.

But for now, I’ll give you a sneak peek at the cover…

Sparrow in prison book cover

Coming soon!

16 Responses to “Story of a Story: Caged Sparrow Announcement”

  1. Ed Speare May 15, 2015 at 1:42 pm #

    So, you want to write a book? Love, Ed

    • pjoy93 May 16, 2015 at 8:24 pm #

      Oh, yeah. I think I’m finally home.

  2. Robert May 15, 2015 at 4:14 pm #

    Nice to see this happen 🙂

    • pjoy93 May 16, 2015 at 8:20 pm #

      Thanks Robert. I has been a long time since the dream began, hasn’t it?

  3. Albert Martinez May 15, 2015 at 4:23 pm #

    Rose, many congratulations! I will be one of the first to buy a copy.

    • Linette Ambrose May 16, 2015 at 3:08 pm #

      It sounds like an intriguing story. I’ll be bookmarking this page so that I can order a copy, too. Wonder if it will be available in digital copy thru Amazon?

      • pjoy93 May 16, 2015 at 8:24 pm #

        Oh you betcha! Thank you so much for the support. I hope it lives up to the promise of Tony’s cover. 🙂

    • pjoy93 May 16, 2015 at 8:20 pm #

      Thanks Albert. Hmmm…do I really want editors reading it?

      • Linette Ambrose May 17, 2015 at 9:31 pm #

        Lol! Albert is my brother and I’m sure he will love it, while being honest and fair in his critique.

  4. Phanalphie May 15, 2015 at 6:35 pm #

    I am nearly in tears seeing the birth of this book. I am beyond words at your bravery, tenacity and faithfulness to your gift and calling. I absolutely love the cover and can’t wait to read the book.

    • pjoy93 May 16, 2015 at 8:19 pm #

      Thank you Phanalphie. Birth is a good word. 🙂

  5. Margie DeHoust May 15, 2015 at 8:32 pm #

    Rose…I can’t wait. Maybe my whole book club will read it next year. I love your writings.

    • pjoy93 May 16, 2015 at 8:17 pm #

      Oh, my…no pressure there… 😉

  6. Erin Unger May 23, 2015 at 10:15 pm #

    I was so excited to see this book in your hand at the conference. My prayers and blessings to you!

  7. Carrie May 27, 2015 at 10:36 pm #

    Cool cover art, but very more cooler storyteller. I am so proud of you.


  1. State of the Portrait Writer Report | The Portrait Writer - December 31, 2015

    […] with lists in My Ship Will Float, and I finished out the month on an overwhelming high with the cover reveal for my first book, “Caged Sparrow.” I also made promises I couldn’t keep for June, but that’s an entry […]

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