This morning I have been thinking about everything that has happened in the past year with regard to Fried Windows (In A Light White Sauce) – really the past two or so years since I wrote the original draft. It has been a crazy journey in every sense of the word ‘crazy’. A lot of people have helped me along the way, including family and friends.
On Washington’s Birthday in 2012, I left my position in retail management. Although I started looking for other work immediately, what I focused more on was my writing and getting my personal life and health back on track after a detour through a personal level of hell to which I never want to return. A couple of days before St. Patrick’s Day I wrote a poem with a whimsical childhood theme and posted it online. It received a lot of favorable feedback, even though I’m not much of a poet. It inspired me to write a quirky story that became the nucleus of Fried Windows.
The odd title came from a misread headline on an online news feed. I wasn’t wearing glasses at the time and mused about how one would serve Fried Windows – in a light white sauce, of course! Anyway, the title seemed to fit the story which was about a middle aged man receiving a gift – the opportunity to reconnect with his childhood. SO I worked the title into the story, explaining it fairly early in the telling. That initial story from which everything else evolved is contained in the first two chapters of my book.
Many people who read the story after I posted it online at a writing community suggested that I continue with more stories about the same characters. Over the next month or so I wrote a total of sixteen separate stories. A little later on I added a seventeenth story that now appears as Chapter 13 in the finished book. Yeah, the stories were discreet, stand alone short stories at one point and the order in which the basic elements of those stories are arrayed throughout the book does not reflect the order in which they were originally posted in my writing community. You see, about a year after writing the stories I pulled them down from the site with the intention of submitting them to a magazine, beginning with the original story. I allowed a good friend of mine to go over that story and edit it a bit.
After submitting the story, I felt very good about its prospects for publication – so much so that I revised the other stories I had written so that I was ready to send them to the magazine when requested. Never did I believe for a moment that the initial story would be rejected. It was so vastly different from other things I had submitted only to be rejected over the years that surely it was magical and would be the breakthrough piece for me. I was sure I’d found the formula for success as a writer. When the rejection came I went numb with disbelief. How could anyone reject that wonderful story?
I know what you’re thinking – especially if you’re a writer with some experience in being refused publication Rejection is part of life as an author. Believe me, I could wallpaper a house with the rejection letters I’ve received over the course of my life. I’ve heard every excuse in the book as well. Most of the letters seemed to be standardized form responses to a submission politely telling me not to quit my day job.
Well, too late for that. I was unemployed and counting on selling some stories. Having worn out my welcome with my relatives, I was facing the prospect of couch surfing for a while – something many artists can relate to, I’m sure.
As I had revised the several other short stories I had written along with the original Fried Windows piece I noticed some continuity. When assembled in a certain order with a few connective pieces there was the makings of a novel. I spent a few days writing some additional chapters and coming up with a tentative ending. Once reassembled, I was determined to prove the naysayers wrong. I was going to upload the book and start selling it.
Around the time I was formatting everything to standards for eBook publication, I received a tweet from Pandamoon Publishing. The company’s name intrigued me because I have always loved pandas. I checked out the website and submission guidelines. After spending a couple of hours creating the proper documentation and presenting the novel in an acceptable format, I deferred self-publishing for the moment to submit Fried Windows. Honestly, I expected to wait a few weeks before receiving a polite pass – another rejection. A few days later, though, I received confirmation that the manuscript had been received and would be reviewed. But to my amazement the next email I received began with the word “Congratulations’ and it referred to Fried Windows as a great novel.
Yea, I re-read the email several times looking for the punchline. You do that when you’ve been rejected as often as I have. I forwarded the email to my kids (who are full grown) and some other relatives to see if anyone read the email differently. Everyone confirmed what I understood to be acceptance, offering their congratulations. A few days later I had a phone conversation with the publisher and a few days after that I negotiated a contract for publishing a book.
After the long process of receiving and responding to substantive edits, content edits, cover design concepts and publicity campaigns the book is ready for release in a few days. (May 30, 2014). The cover was revealed last night (May 26) and is posted above. From a crazy idea to a book in two years – maybe it can be done quicker, I don’t know. But in that span my life has evolved along with bringing the concept to fruition as a tangible book for public consumption.
Although their are general similarities, the publishing process is unique for every author and each book. Some win contests, other must struggle as I have to get attention for a book. More would be authors are rejected than accepted. Like most authors I have always had faith in my projects and have usually taken rejection in stride, reviewed the project and made some adjustments before submitting it anew. It’s not an easy thing to do getting others to believe in something you wrote, but that is the essential difference between a writer and an author, isn’t it. Both write but the author is the one who doesn’t give up on an idea.