Tag Archives: waiting to be published

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!

Waiting on The Call: Roping Time with a Molasses Lasso

3 Jun

I’m not good at waiting.

I remember a time early in my marriage when I was struck by a creative muse and got up around midnight to write a story that wouldn’t let me go. When it was finished, I liked it so much it made me giddy. I wanted so badly to share it that I woke my husband from a sound sleep, turned the reading lamp on to its highest setting, and pushed my story under his nose.

“Read it!”

Startled by my exuberance and the brilliant illumination, he shielded his eyes and squinted at me to determine the source of my distress. When he realized there was none, his entire body sighed with exasperation. He would have given me his incredulous face if he could have held his eyes open.

Instead, he took the pages as he rolled away from the lamp’s glaring light, and slid MY MASTERPIECE under his pillow on his way back into dreamland.

Not one to give up easily, I yanked his shoulder back so I could retrieve the captive pages and encouraged him again to take a look.

“I can’t believe you won’t support me,” I wailed.

Sensing he was somehow in the wrong, my husband struggled to sit up. He took the papers and honestly tried to focus. Instead of reading, I suspect his brain was weakly calculating the requisite number of seconds he had to sit upright before I’d believe he’d read it. He handed the papers back and mumbled, “Looks good,” before slipping away again. Never mind that they were upside-down.

I spent the rest of the night pouting.

He finally read it the next day, somewhat alert and mostly awake after a poor night’s sleep. He gave me good comments and some constructive feedback. His serious attention to the details compelled me to go back and look at it again. I realized it wasn’t as good as I’d thought the night before, and I rewrote it three or four times before I liked it again.

Since then, I’ve learned to be a bit more considerate about when to share, and to put my ego on the back burner. At least I hope I have.

However, when I took Joe’s story proposal to the writers’ conference recently, that giddy kid resurfaced. I drove down to Asheville feeling a bit like Ralphie in A Christmas Story, who just knew his teacher would like his paper about the Red Ryder carbine-action 200-shot Range Model Air Rifle with a compass in the stock so much that she would tell his parents to purchase one immediately.

My appointment with the agent was on the first day, and I approached her table with a mix of excitement and fear. I didn’t bring the giant basket of fruit as Ralphie would have, but I did almost give her that knowing wink. And I must confess, I looked around for a blackboard on which she could scrawl “A++++++!”

She took my proposal and read. For a long time. The voices in my head waged a battle of conjecture as I watched. “She loves it. She hates it. She’s read 50 others just like it today alone. I should have worked harder on the opening. She nodded! She likes it. She’s taking too long. She hates it…”

At last she looked up, smiled at me, and said, “Would you e-mail this to me?”

YES! YES! YES! Wait, what?

She didn’t ask for my manuscript, but for an electronic copy of the proposal. For a while, I was crushed. Surely, she saw the potential in Joe’s story. I’d been expecting to leave this place an agented author.

But then I remembered that long-ago late-night “reading” and found peace. I received the best possible response for a conference setting. There was no way she could give that proposal a definite assessment there, with hundreds of would-be authors clamoring for her attention. She wants to read it again, later, when she can give it serious focus. And I must wait. She said it could take two or three months for Joe’s story to reach the top of her pile. Sigh.

Calendar with the days marked off

Like sand through the hourglass…

I sincerely believe that because patience is one of the many virtues I lack, the less content I am with waiting, the longer it will take. So, I’m back at my writing desk. While I wait, I will finish the final chapter of Joe’s story and start working on my web page, to make it a more active place of business.

Instead of pining for answers, I will be thankful for how far along this book has come, and I will quote the Greek philosopher Epicurus, who said, “Do not spoil what you have by desiring what you have not; remember that what you now have was once among the things you only hoped for.”

The agent will contact me at just the right time. I will be patient, and I will remember that she did smile.

I will also keep checking behind the stereo for a package. You never know.

 

“I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.” Psalm 27:13-14