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You know you’ve received some kind of recognition when you’re asked to submit to an anthology. So, I was thrilled last June, when I received info about a new anthology called Now We Heal: An Anthology of Hope through Wellworth Publishing that would be coming out just before Christmas. The Portland area folks involved with this book really wanted me to submit. The main idea behind this book is to have it be filled with positive and inspiring stories to bring hope and healing to a world reeling from all that 2020 has brought us.
I had the perfect story––“The Salad Days of Summer.” It involved healing and was inspiring. It had won First Place for nonfiction in a local writer’s contest. And it had been accepted for publication by a national magazine––National Gardening. They even paid me for the story, but it was never published. About a year after acceptance, the magazine cut back from monthly to every other month and had to return many of the stories they planned to use. So, my story was returned, and they said that I could keep the $300 I had been paid.
Since that happened a long time ago, between 1988 and 1991, I was really pleased to finally have a chance to have this story published. I wrote it in 1990. It was 2,400 words. I wove the story of my late husband, Walt’s, battle with cancer with my story of proving that I could do almost anything, as I transformed our backyard into a vegetable garden with a greenhouse. The steep slope made everything so difficult. We both wanted home-grown tomatoes, and that would involve terracing, leveling a location for a greenhouse, installing steps, preparing the soil, building greenhouse benches, and more. Most of this, I either did myself or was in charge of getting it done. All of which was new to me.
Because this story was intended for a gardening magazine, it had a lot of plant and planting detail, as well as sidebars of when to plant what and diagrams of where plants were planted in the garden and greenhouse. The emphasis was on the plants, the garden, and especially the greenhouse.
In the 2020 Anthology, there were a few rules. The stories could be any genre, they had to be unpublished, and each one had to be between 500 and 3,000 words long. After much searching on my computer, I found it. I spent a couple hours tweaking it, and it was ready to go. Easy peasey, . . . or so I thought!
I emailed Jean Sheldon, my contact and one of the movers and shakers on this project. I told her that I was sending in my story and mentioned that I had been paid for it, but it had not been published. She emailed back to say that since I had been paid for the story, I needed a release from the magazine that paid me.
That was National Gardening––a magazine that ceased to exist after the early 1990s. I had subscribed to it for years. After a couple of years of six issues a year, it was bought out by Harrowsmith. Then a few years later, Harrowsmith ceased publication. It was not going to be possible to obtain a release.
That meant, I could not use this story in the anthology. Dang!
After looking at everything else I had written that was unpublished, I found nothing that fit the criteria of healing and inspiring. So, I decided to rewrite “The Salad Days of Summer” with less emphasis on the plants and planting and more on our two intertwining stories. That took a few days of work. When I was done, it was at 1,100 words—less than half of what it had been. It was a total rewrite. Partially, the same story but with a totally different emphasis. Now, I had a story that I could enter in the Anthology that would fit all the criteria.
I got the new story in well before the September deadline, it passed muster during the jurying process, and I signed a contract.
Just the other day, December 3, I received an email letting me know that Now We Heal: An Anthology of Hope has been published. And printed books, as well as ebooks, are available ($12.95 printed), $3.99 ebook) through Amazon https://www.amazon.com/dp/0983813663/.
Later today, I’ll order one as a Christmas gift for a fellow writer. In January, I’ll receive two copies as a contributor. One of those will go to another writer friend.
Love the cover. I’m anxious to see the book and how my story turned out. And I’m curious to see and read all the other 18 stories and verse that passed muster. I know at least two other authors whose work is included, and I bet, I’ll know a few others too.
It took 30 years, but “The Salad Days of Summer”finally got published! Yay!