How can one avoid the rejection blues? I just got an email from a lovely young woman judging by her photo, probably thirty-five my junior, who is a Kindle reviewer. I had asked her to review Turtle Bay for me. Our first interaction resulted in her telling me that my e-book was badly in need of re-formatting. I hired professionals, it now looks beautiful, and I happily informed her she could now download it without any apprehension. She seemed pleased, but today’s email says she tried reading my book three times but, 1) it isn’t going anywhere; 2) it has too much description; and 3) I am trying to do too much. Gracefully, she offered not to review the book, rather than give me a mediocre review. I am devastated and took my little dachshund for a long walk to work it off. I am scared to death what the virtual book tour reviewers will do. Now I shall have a Martini.
Of course this is not the kind of rejection you want me to write about. I have to admit, I have avoided it by self-publishing. When I did submit some manuscripts to publishers, or inquired about an agent, I did it only about half a dozen times in all my years of writing. I guess I spent too much time as an academic concentrating on eighteenth-century German writers who were under-appreciated. They have now come into their own, and I will defend them to the end.
As for self-publishing, it costs a little, but it prevents much work searching for agents and/or publishers. Of course I would not mind being picked up by a publisher who pays me, but in the meantime I am happily avoiding rejection blues by setting my own rules.
HELGA STIPA MADLAND was born in Upper Silesia, now a part of southwest Poland, in 1939. In 1945, she was a refugee along with her Mother and Sister; Dad, a forester, had been drafted. They left their home village together with her aunt, Tante Hilde, whose husband, Onkel Joseph, was able to help because he was a police detective and had not been drafted, and their three children, Rita, Lothar and Sigrid. Lothar is two days younger than Helga, and the cousins regarded this to be a cause for constant conflict. Later, in West Germany, two more cousins were born, Guenther and Reinhart, a large group of cousins.
In 1954, by way of Canada, the author, her parents Hubert and Ann, sister Ingrid, and brother Michael (born much later in West Germany) moved to the United States. Helga graduated from Helias High School in Jefferson City, Missouri in 1957.
Hubert Stipa was able to obtain a position as a forester in Idaho and lived there, along with his wife Ann, until his death in 2004 at the age of ninety-three. Helga worked as a secretary, something she thought she would never do because she could not type; after a short while, she married Bill (Spike) Madland and they produced three amazing children, Kathryn, Michael and Patrick, who now live with their spouses, Bob, Lisa and Bobbie, in Boise, Seattle and Anchorage. Helga is fortunate to have six grand children, Bobby and Alex, Sydney and Colin, Atticus and Melozie, and two nephews, Christopher, her brother’s son, and Tom, her former sister-in-laws, Joanne’s, son.
Former sister-in-law suggests that the marriage to “Spike” did not last. After completing her B.A. by hook and by crook (night school, correspondence courses, one semester on campus), Helga earned a B.A. in German and English education and taught high school for three years in Twin Falls, Idaho. Eventually, she noticed that Ingrid, her sister, who by then had returned to graduate school in California, earned about the same as a teaching assistant as she earned as a high school teacher in Idaho. Helga applied for graduate study in German and was accepted at the University of Washington, from where she graduate in 1981 with a Ph.D. in German and a minor in Spanish. By then, daughter Kathy had graduated from high school and was about to attend college. Sons Mike and Pat accompanied her to Seattle, where they lived on campus, and undoubtedly received an effective out-of-classroom education.
In 1981, Ph.D. finally in hand, Helga asked her sons, who by then had graduated from high school, if she should accept the assistant professor of German position she had been offered at the University of Oklahoma; they told her: “Mom, if you don’t leave, we might.” Such maturity was difficult to resist. She took the job.
After “rising” to department chair of the Department of Modern Languages, Literatures and Linguistics at the University of Oklahoma, an institution she generally adores, she retired in 2005 and is now Professor Emeritus at OU.
Last but in no way least, she has been married for twenty years or so, to her second husband (and, believe me, last), Richard Beck, who teaches Ancient Greek at the University of Oklahoma. When he isn’t reading Greek grammar or literature, he is reading international recipes, or worrying about the two dogs, the long-haired dachshund Questor, Peter, a sort of schnauzer-terrier mixture, and four domestic house cats, Tassos, a languid, yellowish feline, Gretel, his tortoise shell sister, Percy, a calico cat, and Fritz, a very hairy cartoon cat. All these animals live with us. In addition, Richard like to garden and travel, in reversed order.