Dreams Become Reality

chickens at Polyface FarmMy connection to Polyface began with the purchase of Everything I Want to Do is Illegal, and the subsequent events in the blog entry “Chain of Events.” However, the story doesn’t really end there. The following summer, I broke my ankle. Ever been in New Jersey in the summer? The week I broke my ankle was a heat wave, the first of five we would have while I was in the boot, with the relief weeks only in the high 80’s. Overnight low’s in the upper 70’s, and humidity to rival Carbondale, IL; it was punishing. And I was miserable. I live in a world without air-conditioning.

One afternoon, as my husband headed out to the pool with the kids, he said, “Why don’t you work on that book you always talk about writing.” So I hobbled around and collected my notebooks and outlines, found an old laptop computer a friend gave me (that didn’t connect to other computers, nor a printer, and used a rather unreliable floppy disk drive), and began to write. I pumped out a 120 page rough draft in about a week. I was rather astonished at my own productivity, until I considered the fact that I really couldn’t do anything else. As a wife and mother who works outside the home, there always seems to be something more pressing to do than writing. Writing is a guilty pleasure. Take this moment: I had planned to sit down at the computer and start working on a new project for my AP Lit class, but the weekend is too fresh and I am too scattered to think about school, so I indulge myself.

With the book written, I began exploring avenues for publication. I edited the book, rearranged some things, and had my most trusted colleague do some copy-editing. I learned a lot of things about my writing quirks – like my penchant for exclamation points. I should just remove the button from my computer. I’m worse than P. B. Shelley.

I started sending out book queries and received rejection after rejection. I decided to write to Joel Salatin for advice. I’m not sure why, but I thought maybe he would have something sage to say that would keep me going as I was giving up on the book. He did: that if a publisher didn’t want to pick up the book, I should self-publish and get the words out there. He referenced the famous authors whose books were rejected gazillions of times, like Margaret Mitchell (Gone With the Wind) and Dr. Suess (The Cat in the Hat). And he offered to write a forward, if the book was what he thought it would be. More editing. And then I printed it and sent it to Joel.

And write a forward, he did. I laughed because I wasn’t sure he was writing about the book I wrote. His enthusiasm got me rolling again with the book submission queries. And again, rejection after rejection.

This past January, I was on the verge of self-publishing. I copyrighted my material and purchased an ISBN number. That morning, after I had spent my limit of time on personal stuff, and got back to what I was really doing on the computer, creating a list of links to articles for The Politics of Food unit (where this whole thing began…). There I was, trying to find articles on the Acres USA website (and not connecting, and cursing my internet service), when I finally pounded on my mouse (because when the internet isn’t working, one should always take it out on the computer hardware, right?), and ended up on a page that read “Book Catalog” and on the sidebar was a box that read, “Submission Queries.” So I clicked. And I emailed. I mean, I had been messing around with this book for this long, what was one more query?

And I am glad that I did: so began my relationship with Amanda Irle and Fred Walters of Acres USA, the company that will be publishing my book , Ditching the Drive-Thru.  The release date is September 15th, by Spikehorn Press (an imprint of Acres USA).

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