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Now browsing: Hometown News > Columnist Archives > Family - Family Matters

Author publishing one story at a time
Rating: 3.23 / 5 (193 votes)  
Posted: 2006 May 12 - 04:20

The doorbell rings. There are several adults dressed in suits at the door.

"We're here to pick up the copy for your first book," the lead suit tells me. I let them in and gather my papers and computer disk.

"Shall we give you your check now or mail it?" asks the second suit. I wave my hand in a carefree manner. "Just put in the mail."

In my imagination, I picture the conversation going much like Ed McMahon's television commercials where he visits the winners of the Publisher's Clearing House Sweepstakes-you know the one. Except, of course, that I will have earned my check for my book with the sweat and toil of hours, weeks and years spent working at the computer keyboard. In fact, I will be starting that book any day now; any minute.

Along with roughly half the universe, I want to write a book someday. It's been a dream of mine since I was in junior high and decided I would either be a criminal defense attorney like Perry Mason, since I was good at arguing, or a writer, since I loved to write.

In college, I discovered that the study of law was more like my law student friends' torts and contracts class and less like the television drama I had come to admire. So, I went to journalism school, where I learned to write factual press releases, ebullient advertising copy and stripped-bare-to-the-bones hard news features.

"Too wordy," my professors proclaimed my writing style. I earned A's by cutting my work to shreds and left my opinions in the dust.

If you have been reading this column long, then you know that my opinions are back. I'm lucky to make a living by writing about people I know and love, stories of day-to-day situations and ordinary people, tales of lessons learned and extraordinary people.

Those guys ringing my doorbell are more likely to be Jehovah's Witnesses than book publishers and anyway, my book isn't finished yet. But, thanks to the publishers of the Chicken Soup book series, I am now published in a book, which is kind of cool.

Released just in time for Mother's Day gift giving is the book, "Chicken Soup for the Mother and Son Soul," complete with a short but sweet story written by me about a time when my now 13-year-old son was in kindergarten. It was one of the "Aha" mother-love kind of moments in time that I had written about and submitted to the Chicken Soup for the Soul Web site nearly two years ago.

Although I had all but forgotten about submitting the story, last fall I got a letter telling me it was one of the finalists for the "Mother and Son" book, followed by a phone call saying it had made the final cut. I felt like I had won the sweepstakes.

LeAnn Thieman, a motivational speaker and co-author of many Chicken Soup books, encourages everyone-not just writers-to submit their true, heart-warming stories to the Web site, which lists literally dozens of "Chicken Soup for the Soul" books that are in different stages of publication.

"Everyone has a story to tell and I encourage you to send it to Chicken Soup for the Soul," said Mrs. Thieman. "When you think about it, sharing stories is how we have shared our wisdom from the beginning of time. Even if you think you don't know how to write, send the story anyway because editors can help you 'soup' it up."

"When my own story was first published in 'Chicken Soup for the Mother's Soul,'" continued Mrs. Thieman. "I became one of Chicken Soup's most prolific writers, with stories in 11 more books. That, and my devotion to more than 30 years of nursing, made me the ideal co-author of, 'Chicken Soup for the Nurse's Soul,' then 'Chicken Soup for the Christian Woman's Soul,' 'Chicken Soup for the Caregiver's Soul,' 'Father-Daughter Soul,' 'Chicken Soup for the Grandma's Soul,' and now 'Chicken Soup for the Mother and Son Soul.'

"For each book, we expect to collect about 2,000 stories, and the top 150 or so will go to a grading team of about 40 readers who score them, sort of like in the Olympics! Then the top 101 make it into the book."

The package with my copy of "Chicken Soup for the Mother and Son Soul" came by express mail one day last month, and I thumbed through and found my little story about Jake, listed along with my name and an "about the author" section. I was thrilled.

Then, a week later, while shopping at Target, I found the new book displayed on the shelves in their book department. I'll admit, I felt a lot like Steve Martin in the old movie, "The Jerk," where he sees his name in the phone book for the first time. I purchased the book, of course. And, on the way out through the checkout, I maintained complete control and only showed it to the check-out clerk and one woman behind me in line.

You can find it in a bookstore or book department near you. Or if you have your own story to tell, submit it to www.chickensoup.com.

Today, one story. Tomorrow, a book. Because you never know when opportunity will come knocking.

Sue-Ellen Sanders writes about family issues every week in the Hometown News. Contact her at tothemoon@bellsouth.net.





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