It’s not going to happen until April.

But it IS going to happen!

After 65 years of talking about it

(“I’m going to be a writer when I grow up!”);

After 20 years of doing something about it

(actually writing);

After 8 years of

receiving form rejection slips;

receiving form rejection slips with “Sorry” handwritten on them;

receiving nicer form rejection slips with “We liked this quite a bit” handwritten on them;

receiving still nicer form rejection slips with “Almost, Nina!  Keep trying!” handwritten on them;

receiving the occasional form rejection letter expressing pleasure at reading and chagrin at being unable to publish for lack of (a) space or (b) resources;

And after three years of having just about given up trying…



AND BE PAID (a little) FOR IT!

Yes!  “Falling Off the Roof” — a twenty-three page memoir about the summer I turned thirteen — will appear in the Spring 2014 issue of The Iowa Review.  The page proofs arrived today, so I know it’s finally true.

Apart from the age at which it is happening to me, there are several interesting aspects to this extremely belated triumph.  I wrote a long-form version of the piece nineteen years ago, in 1995. It was then called “Atlantic City 1944.” Retired from the law, I cut it way down to what I hoped was publishable length and began sending it out as fiction eight years ago, in 2006.  But it wasn’t until five years later in 2011, when I cut it down even further, gave it a more interesting title, and changed the narrator’s name from Anna to Nina, thereby transforming her first-person story into memoir for a whole new set of editors to consider — that I finally passed Go.

Even then, it was a pretty slow Go.  Two years for the magazine to make up its mind;  we didn’t sign a contract until March 2013.  And one more year after that to move through Iowa’s pipeline to the printed page.  It’s a wonder I’m still alive to see the day!

Some people might look for lessons here.  Such as:

Never give up.  

Editors come, editors go.

Some like what others don’t.

Memoir is still hot.

Titles matter.

If it seems broke, fix it.

But I think the main lesson is just what it is in life generally:

You never can tell.

Single issues of The Iowa Review are $9.95 plus $2 shipping if you buy from the website.  In addition, the Spring 2014 issue will be available on Kindle in April. You may also be able to find TIR for free at large public libraries and at university libraries, if you have access to one.  I’d love to retype all of “Falling Off the Roof” for you right here and save you the hassle, but that would breach the contract, which guarantees TIR first publication rights.  Unfortunately, blogging is considered “publication.”

You’ll probably hear more about this from me as April approaches.  Right now, please forgive the blog seeming a bit bleary during the next few days.  I shall be page-proofing with eagle eyes and a ruler beneath each line of text so as not to miss a single misplaced jot or tittle, and may therefore miss a whole lot of them online.


33 thoughts on “A FIRST AT EIGHTY-TWO!

    • In whatever part of the internet the TIR website may be, TIR and its mailing department are themselves located in Iowa. The author, as you may know, lives in New Jersey. She will therefore find it hard to autograph copies in Iowa, a state she has no plans to visit in the foreseeable future. ( If you look at a map, you will realize those two states are quite far apart.) However, requests made privately to the author’s email address by special virtual “friends” are another matter. She will see what she can do. 🙂


  1. Congratulations. It’s given me hope. I had two short stories printed in a local paper in 1997. I had retired through ill health so I thought I could supplement my income by writing for magazines. The first couple of times my work was rejected , I thought “Well, Grandma Moses didn’t become famous until she was in her eighties. ” Several rejections later I gave up. I might give it a go now. As you say – editors come and go. Well done.


  2. Delighted to hear this! From the quality of your blog writing I had assumed you were already a published author, so was surprised that this has only now been recognised.
    Still it is good to see that, in a declining world, at least the ability of literary editors to recognise quality has improved in the last eight years!
    Congratulations 🙂


    • Thank you very much, Mr. T. I value your opinion highly.

      I WAS a published author of sorts — of “legal” stuff no one but other lawyers could possibly read, which appeared in legal publications no one but lawyers knows exist, and was written in the first place because that’s what lawyers are supposed to do in their “spare” time to get ahead as lawyers.

      But that was my other life. It seems I’m now starting off on a new one! 🙂 Thank you, thank you again.


  3. Nina — congratulations. Very happy for you. My book comes out in April too, so we’ll both have an extra reason to look forward to spring. When the story is published, let me know and I’ll get a copy. Again, congratz!


    • Very lackadaisical perseverence, Gwen. So don’t be too impressed. Until this blog, it wasn’t as if I was closeted in my room every day, writing up a storm. But thank you very much for the congratulations, anyway. They’re especially welcome from someone (like you) whom I actually know in real life!


  4. Jools

    Huge congratulations and yes, there are lessons on patience and persistence in there for all of us! Well done for achieving this milestone at such a relatively young age 🙂


  5. jmpod

    i am sure there are other places to pose this question but i wanted to ask about what your process was for getting published. and since blogging is publishing, whether there were any publications that will take previously blogged material? im just dipping my toes in…. and i feel comfortable asking you. 🙂


    • I feel honored that you’re comfortable asking me your questions. Unfortunately, the answer to the second question is short: Not that I know of. Every Submissions page on the web that I’ve seen declares that the publication in question will not accept previously published material, and then goes on to define “published” as including anything publicly available online, usually specifically referencing blogs within that category. I think this exclusion would be hard to side-step. One thing you could do with what’s already appeared in your blog is what I was thinking of doing in about a year: collect and revise the best ones and put them together in book form. You can market books of Collected Short Stories (or Collected Pieces), even if they’ve previously appeared in literary magazines or online.

      As for the much bigger question of what process to follow for getting published, I’d better deal with that by e-mail, tonight or tomorrow. Keep an eye on your inbox! 🙂


    • Thanks, Cynthia. Truth to tell, the real high was receiving the acceptance email from the managing editor. The whole process afterwards was so long-drawn-out that finally seeing the Spring issue in print in my hands was anticlimactic. Now it all seems long in the past, although it was only a year ago. If I ever get anything published on paper again, it will probably be something self-published. (Perhaps a collection of blog pieces?) I haven’t got the energy or time to go through another nineteen-year (1995-2014) gestation period!

      Liked by 1 person

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