One day last fall, I was at a neighbors’ house to drop off something. The neighbors, husband and wife Mike Poage and Gretchen Eick, started Blue Cedar Press a few years ago. As I was leaving, Mike said, “Send us a manuscript.” I did, even though it took awhile to get one pulled together again. I had sent two manuscripts to two local presses with high hopes, which were dashed by rejection. This even though the few friends who read them thought they were publishable.
I’m not sure when I sent the manuscript to Mike and Gretchen, but it was sometime around the end of 2017. In the meantime, Gretchen and Mike went to Bosnia and the manuscript hung in limbo. I did get occasional e-mails from Mike, Gretchen, and their editor, Laura Tillem, telling tme how much they liked the poetry. However, this was no guarantee that they would publish the manuscript.
In the meantime, I was laid up after surgery. Gretchen, now home from Bosnia, came by for visits to see how I was doing. Then one magic day, she came by to tell me they were publishing my book. We set up a time for an editorial meeting, a late Saturday afternoon. I went down the block to Gretchen and Mike’s house, where Gretchen, Mike, Laura, and I sat around the dining room table, copies of the manuscript in front of us. I had given the book a title from one of my poems. As we discussed the title, Laura came up with an amazing idea for a much better title. She took the title of another poem, “The Sad Joy of Leaving,” and suggested it as the title. I immediately agreed, as that title fit the theme of the manuscript much better.
From there, we continued to talk about other aspects of the manuscripts, with ideas and suggestions flying. We talked about cover art and I said I had the perfect photo, one taken by my friend Sandra Loux for our Broadside project. When I got home, I sent a copy of the photo, one of an isolated house at dusk, to the three editors and everyone liked it. I got Sandy’s permission to use, giving her credit, of course, and we were set.
I also sent them some portrait photos of me to choose from for the author photos. They chose one taken by Kansas Writers Association member Rae Cuda. She took pictures of all the members one day to use as author photos. My photo was really good, and I was pleased it was chosen.
We continued the editing process by e-mail, then when it was finally perfect—or at least as close to perfect as it could be—the manuscript was sent off to the format person in California. The book will come out in the fall. It’s been an exciting experience and I’m grateful for it.
Even more exciting is that just after this book was sent off, another editor contacted me through Facebook. He said he wanted to publish a book of my poetry next year. He had seen my work on the Facebook page 365 Poems in 365 Days, a page developed by James Benger. So I will start work on another manuscript and will happily undergo another editing process.
I’ve waited decades for this to happen. After spending time and energy preparing manuscripts and sending them off only to have them rejected, now feel justified–and overjoyed.