My publisher never calls me unless it is as important as a call from Stephen Spielberg telling her he wants to make by book into a movie. She prefers to use email. So I was surprised to hear her voice when I picked up the phone. “You just won the Midwest Independent Publishers Award for Historical Fiction!”
Thinking I had heard her incorrectly, I asked her to repeat this. “And, she added, you were also runner up for the Literary Fiction award as well.”
I love my new publisher, Kira Henschel, of Henschel Haus Publishing. She is an author’s dream. She only published my two books about 10 months ago and she has taken it to places it hadn’t gone in the last three years. She lives in Wisconsin and submitted my book along with 12 other states, 90 publishers and over 300 entries to this writer’s contest- and it won!
My friends were thrilled. They insisted we celebrate it with a Book Awards Event. When I told my publisher about this she wrote back, “I’m coming to Massachusetts to your event and officially presenting you with the award.”
“Well, that rules out having it in the church parish hall,” I joked. So for July 24th, we rented a function hall that included a bartender, hired a DJ, ordered the food to be catered, and picked out the decorations. I decided to wear a women’s tux. It’s something I have always wanted to do and I saw this as the best excuse I could find to do so. It will be my own little Emmy night. That in mind, I requested the order of dress to be simply black and white.
We sent out over 100 invitations by mail and invited at least as many verbally. We didn’t know how many people would actually want to come to an event like this. 80 people showed up. One man said he didn’t have anything black or white. “Do you have a black tie or can you find one?” I asked.
“Good! You can wear your tidy whities with a black tie and come as a Chippendale. I was looking for some entertainment.” He gave a nervous laugh.
Everyone looked elegant in their choices of black and white. My Chippendale-to-be, however, came in a black shirt and black pants. Oh, well.
My minister wanted to be the program host. Anyone who knows her knows she would do well in the theater, so I turned the mike over to her. She had a few people come up to share with us their role in the making of the book. Kira then proudly awarded me with a handsome Award Certificate and a coin that is a replica of the gold badges that will now appear on the cover of my books. Then the surprise came. The state representative stood up and presented me with a Citation of Appreciation. It was awarded from the Boston House of Representatives and signed by the speaker of the house, Robert DeLeo. I was stunned. The only time I’d ever received a citation for anything before this was from a cop for speeding.
This book continues to take on a life of its own. Sometimes I feel as if I am hanging on to its coattails and going for the ride. When I first decided to write this book, I could never have imagined it would have gotten as far as it did. It is common knowledge in the publishing industry that the manuscripts of first books hardly ever get out of the drawer or out of the computer. No one wants to take a chance on an author’s first book. That’s why so many authors self publish their first books. Book agents repeatedly turned down my book.
“I couldn’t get into the character,” one told me.
“The dialogue is trite,” said another.
“I like it but my boss doesn’t so, sorry,” was the third.
The fourth, a British publishing company said, “Yes, we specialize in British history books but not your kind of history book. Give us a go next year. Maybe we’ll change our minds.” Trying to make the case that 2015 was the centennial year for the remembrances of Edith Cavell so the timing was perfect for it to be published in the UK now, got me nowhere so I found a very small publisher in the beginning to give it a start. Then I was able to pick up a larger publisher a few years later.
So I carry on with my trusty new publisher at my side. “There will be so much more to come,” she assures me. “I just know it.” Masterpiece Theater just viewed Crimson Fields, a series of six episodes of WWI nurses. In the last episode they mentioned Edith Cavell. What could possibly be a better follow-up series than “Fatal Decision: Edith Cavell WWI Nurse,” unless it is a movie? Stephen Spielberg, are you listening? i love that I got the Midwestern Independent Publishers award but the next time my publisher calls me, i want to know that it’s because you are on the line.