David Bruce: The Coolest People in Books — Letters, Media


• Jerry Spinelli, the author of Crash and Wringer, got many, many rejection letters when he was a young author, but he did not give up. Every time he finished a novel that no publisher would publish, he wrote another novel. Mr. Spinelli once noted that during his first 15 years of writing, he made only $200 from his writing. He also recommended that publishers send rejection bricks instead of rejection letters, noting, “Decades of work should not be able to fit into an envelope. You should be able to build a house with them.”

• Young-people’s author Richard Peck has received many letters from the readers of his books. Some are funny, as when someone wrote, “Our teacher told us to write to our favorite author. Could you please get me the address of Danielle Steele?” Other letters are serious; for example, someone wrote to him about Remembering the Good Times, a novel that recounted a suicide and educated the readers about the warning signs of suicides. The person wrote, “The only trouble with your book is that I didn’t find it in time.”

• Karyn McLaughlin Frist edited a book titled “Love you, Daddy Boy”: Daughters Honor the Fathers They Love. Just as the title suggests, the book is a collection of reminiscences of loving fathers by loving daughters. The title comes from the way Ms. Frist’s father signed his letters that each Monday he wrote to her when she was in college: “Love you, Daddy boy.” Her friends used to ask her, “So what did Daddy boy have to say today?”

• M.E. Kerr, author of books for young adults, received many rejection letters when she was trying to be published. In fact, she once attended a sorority costume party dressed as a rejection slip. She wore a black slip on which she had attached many of the rejection letters she had received.


• In February 2009, the Tucson Weekly celebrated 25 years of existence. Since most alternative newspapers don’t last that long, it was and is something to celebrate. Douglas Biggers and a friend named Mark Goehring started the newspaper. Mr. Biggers wrote in the newspaper’s 25th-anniversary edition, “It should have died a quick and easy death, since it was started by two 24-year-olds with no money, limited experience and virtually no qualifications to assume the monikers of editor and publisher. The city had a nasty reputation for chewing up and spitting out all attempts to start publications that were alternatives to the daily papers. That the Tucson Weekly continues to thrive and can celebrate 25 years of publication is nothing short of a miracle.” One of the miracles that kept the newspaper alive was that they never received a bill for printing it for the newspaper’s entire first year of existence. They had asked for two weeks’ credit, and they marveled as the two weeks’ credit turned into 50 weeks’ credit, during all of which time they were making the newspaper grow. At the end of the year, they contacted their printer and set up a meeting to discuss their credit situation. It was about time because they now owed over $100,000 in printing costs. They soon discovered why they had received a year’s credit: An accounting clerk at the printer’s offices did not want to confront them about their bill, so the clerk had let the credit continue. Mr. Biggers remembers, “The suits from Texas came to town soon thereafter, and the story ends with a lawsuit that was settled out of court after a series of misadventures with attorneys and a judge pro tem who I am convinced (and whose name I cannot recall) was a fan of the paper and somehow enabled us to prevail against formidable odds.” In the end, the Tucson Weekly survived, which is something worth celebrating.

• Tucson Weekly columnist Tom Danehy, whose columns are known for their use of the first person, original point of view, love of (most) sports, and sense of humor, has worked for a number of editors, including a woman editor who told him, “I don’t like first-person stuff; I don’t like your point of view; I hate sports; and I don’t get your sense of humor. Frankly, I don’t understand why you write for this paper. Your next column and all of the columns after that have to have solid reporting, no first-person and no humor. Otherwise, you’re gone.” His very next column was titled, “Tom Goes to the Golf Tournament and Goofs on People.” He says, “I figured I’d go out big.” He adds about the woman editor, “Fortunately, she ran afoul of others, too, and Doug [Biggers, the founder] got rid of her.”


Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved


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