A Gift In The Lap


Serendipity does happen, perhaps on a small scale, and even to novelists struggling to be heard within the literary din about them. Somewhat exhausted from the learning curve my first three experiments in novel writing and publishing had wrought, I decided to while away a year writing some short fiction. I had devised a scenario set in a rural Alabama pool hall/beer joint. About Alabama I knew a little; about beer joints and pool halls I knew quite a lot from my college days in Louisiana. The gist here is that I decided to write a piece of short fiction every month of the year, each set in or about such an establishment I called simply Sam’s Place. From this I hoped to uncover a really good story or two that might gain notice.

Some eight months into this project, I selected one story and sent it to a publisher in Massachusetts, who was soliciting stories for an anthology he planned to publish. Not too long following my submittal, I received his reply. He liked the story and wanted to include it in the anthology, but he also presented an alternative. I’d written in my submittal letter that the story was one of a collection I was currently writing. Instead, he wrote, I wouldn’t mind seeing your collection with an eye toward publishing it.


Talk about serendipity. Still, it was a case of a bird in the hand versus one in the bush. I opted to send him my collection. But, I replied, I’m only some eight months into this. That’s okay, he replied back. Take your time, get the stories in good shape and I’ll look at them.  Finally, the twelve complete and to Mike Aloisi, the publisher, I sat back and crossed my fingers. He replied later that he needed at least sixty thousand words and I only had around 45,000. Can you write more? Of course I could but I don’t want to write fluff in order to get to the 60, ooo. Fine with him. I continued writing, adapting one rather long story I’d already written. Finally at some 55,000 words, he said he’d publish the collection.


This experience made two valuable points: first, you never know from where a break is going to come from and the scenario that evolved with this indie publisher couldn’t have happened with one of the big publishing houses. It took almost another year, but my collection was published as Sam’s Place: Stories.

Next: My turn as a hybrid publisher. And what the hell is that?


Visit my website here, where you’ll find more information and a book trailer for SAM’S PLACE. There’s also a Facebook fan page if you can find it. On both you’ll find more on ideas and events that matter to me — and possibly to you.


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