Thursday, December 8, 2011

When Things Finally Happen...

I have been working at this publishing game for several years now. I have had plenty of failures, and some successes. My successes have until this time been on a fairly small scale with local newspapers, small literary journals and of course, this blog. All told, I've probably made $400 over the past 4 years between the KVSUN and my blog earnings. Not bad. However, any of my attempts to break into something bigger have yielded no result.

Just last week I got a rejection from a Children's magazine. They at least told me why they were rejecting my story, which was a tale about Ladybug the dog, that I had completely fallen in love with as soon as I wrote it, but which they said didn't have enough conflict to interest children and lacked emotional impact. That stung for a few days...but I appreciate the feedback.

Come to think of it, I've never gotten positive responses from any of my submitted children's writing. I think part of it is that there don't seem to be many obscure children's magazines...after all, who would buy them? Also, I need to take a workshop or a class of some kind. Clearly, my work is missing something.

The best successes I've had recently have been nonfiction pieces and I think they are getting such positive results because of the nonfiction workshop I took this summer. That really made a difference.

Anyway, this week...this week I recieved an email that stunned and shocked me. I had submitted a 400-word autobiographical story, "The Promise Pincecone," to Guideposts Magazine. I never in a million years expected them to accept it. They get tons of submissions and have a readership around oh, 5,000,000 people. It was a nice little story, but once I submitted it on an act of baseless hope, I sort of forgot about it. In fact, I regretted submitting it because it's very honest about the way things have been in my life this year...and doesn't cast the nicest light on certain family members in my life.

It was one thing to write about my family members when I was being picked up by obscure journals. What are the chances of them coming across my work? Pretty much nill.

But Guideposts accepted my piece. I stared at the screen at first...frozen. It reminded me of when I first looked at my positive home pregnancy test. I always imagine that I will jump up and down and scream with joy when these things happen...but instead I just sit there, shocked and in disbelief. An intense hot sensation spread across my face.

I quickly told my husband Anthony what had happened...and he was thrilled for me, but also I told him that at that point I was considering withdrawing the piece. After all, it was his dad I had been writing about. I printed him a copy and sat with my legs up on my chair hugged to my chest, waiting for him to finish reading it.

"Well, it's all true," he said. "I think you should publish it."

"I don't know..." I hesitated, "Chances are, your mom is going to find out about this and it's not worth causing a fight in our family just for this."

"You didn't write anything negative about my mom, just a few things about my dad," he countered. "And it was all true and you ended the story happily. This is a great opportunity for you and I don't want you to miss it."

We prayed and decided to go ahead and publish the piece.

Then I spent 2 hours trying to find a picture of myself. I don't have many that are good shots just of me. I finally managed to find a headshot my Uncle Ronnie had taken for me a few years ago where I look relatively normal.

I always thought I'd be ready when something like this happened, but I didn't feel ready at all. Only after about 2 hours did I start getting excited about it, and then I couldn't even sleep because I was so excited.

When I woke up this morning, I half expected to check my email and have another message from Guideposts saying they had changed their minds or something, but nope, it wasn't there.

I am not sure which edition the piece will appear in, but it will probably be sometime in the next year. I wonder if I will have to wait for the piece to come out before I can finally believe this is real.


  1. Big, BIG congrats Sandra! You've obviously worked your tail off for this, enjoy it! :)

    Hope it leads to more!


  2. You know which children's stories didn't have enough 'conflict' or 'emotional impact'? 'BROWN BEAR, BROWN BEAR', 'Richard Scarry's Best Word Book', 'GOOD NIGHT MOON', and 'Mr. Brown Can Moo! Can You?' What do these books have in common? These are all books on the BEST SELLING CHILDREN'S BOOKS OF ALL TIME LIST!

    I think your Ladybug story is LOVELY and wonderful I think you should keep submitting it until you find an editor who is not so confused. These editors seem to think children are pretty sophisticated. I don't think anyone that routinely eats mud, soils their pants, or gives out wet-willies are too sophisticated to enjoy your Ladybug Story.

    Maybe you should read it to ACTUAL children and see what they think.Because I see sequels in the future of the Ladybug story. If AMELIA BEDELIA gets sequels, Ladybug could have sequels: "Ladybug Goes to the Store." "Ladybug, Come Home!" "Ladybug goes to the Lake."

    But I know that wasn't the point of your blog.
    I just think those editors are wrong. (I mean, what did Garfield do? He laid there and ate LASAGNA! Talk about lack of conflict or emotional impact!) I think Ladybug could easily be next Snoopy/Pluto(I mean, what did that guy do, really???)/Clifford(WHAT EXACTLY what the point of Clifford? He WAS a BIG RED DOG and he has TONS of books just because he was big and red).

    Congratulations again on "The Promise Pinecone."
    I look forward to reading it. That is a very Guideposty title, good job. And a nice picture you picked, as well. You look so mature and intelligent. Nice "I am a writer" expression on your face.

  3. I am still angry at those editors. Editors are not children's story writers or children. Their best guess is not always good enough.

    You will be just like the MONOPOLY guy who got his game rejected by everybody and then turns out its the most sold game ever and those other game companies had to eat crow.

  4. Wow! Congrats on that. All I ever got from Guideposts was rejections.

  5. Congratulations! It can be hard living through rejection after rejection, but that just makes eventual success even sweeter. Be sure to let us know when the magazine comes out, so we can look for a copy...

  6. It takes a lot of courage to present your writing for others to critique. I am delighted that your non fiction piece was accepted. You are a beautiful and talented young lady. We are so blessed to have you as our number two daughter.
    I am humbled by your courage and determination.

  7. That is awesome! Congratulations on getting into Guideposts! If you have your husband's backing on the story, I think you should stand by it - look at all the things famous writers have divulged in their stories. Something well-written and meaningful is worth sharing.

  8. At some point, the next step might be to take the real life experiences, thoughts, and emotions of the people in your life, and weave it into a "made-up story", but where it ends the way you would like it to end.

  9. Congratulations, send me the link to the magazine when your story is published.

    Wishing you all the best for 2012.

  10. Its really interesting to know that after facing so many failures, you finally got a hit on your writings. Thats amazing you ll be in the list of published very soon. Good Luck and Wish you a very blessed New Year 2012.