Last year I wrote an essay called "Snowbirds in Paradise" for a Southern publisher putting together a Christmas anthology. This was one of those quick deals . . . the assignment came up out of the blue, the writing took place over a 2-day period, and the book was to go to press and hit the shelves within a matter of 6 weeks.
The setup threw up a red flag or two in my mind, but it was a fun piece of work to create, and I decided what the heck. Who doesn't love to wax nostalgic about a Christmas past? Also, the money was such that I filed the whole experience under "Just Doing This for Fun on the Side and Half-Expecting the Whole Thing to Fall Apart."
Well, from what I could tell, the whole thing did fall apart. My contact at the publisher mentioned the possibility of a publication delay and then stopped returning calls and emails. I mean REALLY stopped. I did receive my check, thank goodness, along with the executed contract delineating my rights to the essay, so I chalked it up to half-expectations-met, took the publisher off my contacts list, and thought I might run the essay on the blog near Christmas 2008.
Guess what happened last week! The anthology called A Florida Christmas showed up in my mailbox (no return address, no note . . . sneaky!), released by a sister publisher. My first thought upon seeing the book was that someone had sent me a review copy, as the title didn't immediately register. But then the switch turned on and I scanned the TOC to see whether this was "the" A Florida Christmas.
It's a lovely book, actually, very nicely designed. I quickly ordered the only copy "left" (at the time) on Amazon. Then I reread my piece to see how I felt about it. I'm pleased. I won't post the essay here this season, though, because I'm giving that extra copy as a gift. Wouldn't want to spoil the surprise!