Grandma Gertie always said there's not a savory dish that can't be made tastier by just a touch of tarragon.

Tsunami and Me

Tsunami and Me
too big to escape now....

Monday, August 18, 2014

The Ride on the Dark Side

Even though I usually can find silver linings for most of the misfortunes I've met with, some heretofore have remained in the shadows. Mostly for good reason. It's easy to write about embarrassing moments when I can be sure people will smile and nod, and agree that it could have happened to anyone. Then there's those moments that I've been uncertain I'd ever want to share.

A few years ago Cara Bruce and Shawna Kenney founded Pinchback Press. I'd submitted a story for their collection, Tarnished. I'd been pleased when it had been published, and when they announced an upcoming book, Busted, I figured I'd contribute again. This time I mustered up all my courage and wrote about an event that has haunted me.

A longer story, "Arrested Development" told of a secret I've kept for over fifty years. I'd congratulated myself for finally putting it into a creative nonfiction piece, and reassured myself when it was accepted that I'd done the right thing by finally coming clean.

Unfortunately, the book got cancelled, and my 2500 word confession retired to my orphanage, where my rejects languish indefinitely. I doubted I'd ever find a good home for this particular story. It didn't fit the usual anthology's not particularly uplifting, it's not inspirational, it's not laugh-out-loud hilarious. It's a ride on the dark side.

A few months ago I saw a call out for a contest for an anthology to be titled Uncertain Promise, which would include fiction and nonfiction. Some cash prizes would be offered, and though I've only once before entered a literary contest that required an entry fee, somehow I believed that my particular story might be a contender. If not, it might fit the premise for the collection.

The publisher, Compass Flower Press, defined it this way:

Uncertain Promise: an unexpected outcome (joy, satisfaction, renewal, despair, emotional growth, etc.) from an otherwise routine or mundane circumstance. The uncertain promise might be an unspoken commitment from a friend or lover falls through due to misunderstanding or unforeseen happening, a career failure or future crashes--or ascends--depending on the outcome of a single event. These are some of the editor's ideas, but writers are welcome to use their imaginations and interpret the theme broadly. 

This morning I've learned that my story did not win one of the prizes...but it will be included in the book, which will be published in October. It turned out that the tentative title of my orphan also had been the title of a sit com, which I'd not been familiar with. So it needed a new title. I reread my story and decided on "Blame and Shame," which the publisher, Yoland Ciolli, agreed would be fine. Here's the prize winners, and I look forward to reading their stories:

• First Place: “Body Language” David G. Collins, Fulton, MO
• Second Place: “Our Ventana” Mary Pacifico Curtis, San Jose, CA
• Third Place (Tie): “Ballerina” Sally Whitney, Millersville, MD and
“The Broom” Marlene Lee, Columbia, MO

Uncertain Promise can be ordered at a $10 prepublication price through PayPal on the Compass Flower Press website:

So another orphan has found a home. Counting the books with my stories on top the entertainment center, and the ones that I've received acceptances for that will be published in upcoming months, this totals 99. I'm aiming for a hundred by New Year's Eve. Maybe another Chicken Soup for the Soul? Another Not Your Mother's Book? Another indie?

That will be a ride on a sunnier side of the street.

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