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Rejection After Acceptance January 23, 2010

Posted by Ronica Stromberg in Uncategorized.
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I sold a story to a Christmas anthology almost two years ago and eagerly awaited my author copy arriving by Christmas 2009. It never did.

I e-mailed the editor.  Turns out the publisher cut my story right before publication. No explanation. Sometimes even accepted work gets dropped.

Normally, a rejection on a story for an anthology or magazine doesn’t bother me much. But this was my fifth-grade teacher’s story. She’d called me after reading in my hometown paper about the sale of my first book. She wondered if I remembered her. Of course, I did.  She was one of my favorite teachers. We became pen pals, and I visited her when I returned home.

On one visit, she told me how cardinals became significant to her when her husband fell ill with cancer. Every time they visited his doctor, they’d see a cardinal along the way and her husband would have a good checkup. They began to view cardinals as a sign of hope. Then, on the way to a final checkup, they never saw a cardinal. The doctor told them that the cancer had returned and was inoperable. The husband of my fifth-grade teacher passed away a couple of days later.

My fifth-grade teacher sank into a depression, seldom leaving the house. One day, she pulled herself from bed, looked out a window, and asked God why her husband had to die. Almost as if in response, a male cardinal flew past her window and alighted in her yard. On the other side of the chain-link fence separating her yard from her neighbor’s, a female cardinal stood, facing the male. My teacher drew comfort from this bird sighting, interpreting it as a message from God that, like the cardinals separated by a fence, she and her husband stood separated by time but  would one day be reunited.

She grew better and collected and kept cardinal figurines around her house as a reminder of the hope she had. She also sent out Christmas cards with cardinals on them every year.

I thought her story could touch many people and comfort others grieving a loved one. She agreed I should submit it for publication. When an editor accepted it, she cried with joy.

She passed away several months later, still anticipating her story’s publication. This is why this rejection hurts.

Now I need to tell her children what happened to her story.

Not easy.


Me as Emcee? January 13, 2010

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My church holds a women’s brunch or dinner every fall and spring. Word got out that I speak publicly, and an elder asked me if I’d be interested in delivering the keynote address.


I speak publicly often—to kindergartners and middle schoolers. I have yet to speak to 200-or-so adults, which is what this brunch would total with the women, plus the men from the congregation who prepare and serve the meal. (The men always do a fabulous job of this, by the way, even dressing in tuxedos!)

Now I’m not saying I’d never speak to a large group of adults like this. To grow as a person, I need to take on new challenges. This really hit home about a year ago when I met with a childhood friend who had always been shy. She was now speaking publicly as part of her job. She told me she changed after a seminar instructor told her to write her accomplishments on a sheet of paper. Once she had done so, the instructor told her to draw a circle around her accomplishments. He said, “This is what you’ve accomplished doing what you’ve been doing. If you want to accomplish something outside this circle, you need to do something different.” She started speaking at company meetings and moved into management. Her story inspires me to step outside my circle of familiarity.

But I want to step, not leap.

I told the elder at my church that my books are geared toward children and most of the speaking I do presently is too. I know many writers who speak to large groups of adults, and I referred him to a couple of these friends. The church decided to go with my friend of many years, Debi Stack (http://www.maxedout.net/).

Problem solved.

For a few months. The elder recently asked me if I’d emcee the program since I know Debi so well.

Double eek. Emcees are usually funnier and livelier than the speakers. And Debi is laugh-until-your-stomach-hurts funny.

I told him I’d be willing to introduce Debi but don’t want to emcee the program.

I’m taking baby steps outside the circle.

It’ll be a while before I fill Ryan Seacrest’s shoes.

Networking January 5, 2010

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This past week showed me once again that networking pays.

After I sold a story to Mothers of Preschoolers (MOPS) for use in their anthology, The Mommy Diaries:  Finding Yourself in the Daily Adventure, the book’s editor wrote me that she liked my writing style and encouraged me to submit to the MOPS magazine. I did and received an acceptance for an article this past week.

This isn’t the first time this has happened to me. Some publishing houses publish magazines as well as books and will use the same writers for both. A few years ago I sold a story to Encounter magazine, and the publisher, Standard, let me know that they planned to compile an anthology of their favorite stories from the magazine.  They wanted to know if I would sell them reprint rights for my story. I said yes. That story appeared in Encounters With God 2.

When I started writing, I focused on writing books, but I soon learned to expand my reach into the magazine market. Opportunities sometimes arise in unexpected places.

I’ve seen this in promoting my books also. After I signed books at a bookstore, a woman contacted me about speaking at a literature festival she coordinates. Just this past week, a friend of a friend called to inquire about booking me for a school visit.

A friend of a blogger I had networked with interviewed me this past week and has posted the interview and reviews of my two latest books on her site, “My Only Vice” (http://gravesok.wordpress.com).

And the editor of one of my favorite writing resources, Children’s Book Insider, read my latest book, Living It Up to Live It Down, and scheduled an interview with me. The interview will air in late January on the CBI Clubhouse.  I should receive a link to the podcast shortly after that.

Not a bad week.