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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.

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