US Army Retired

US Army Retired

Thursday, January 7, 2016

A Rejection that Isn't a Downer

Not every rejection has to be negative is something I just learned. I sent out the following query with the hope that it stood a chance as the University of Oklahoma is where the Cherokee Nation is. For your information, the word “Tsalagi” is what the Cherokee call themselves. It is phonetically – Cha-Lah-Gee. So you can see who early Europeans mangled it to Cherokee. Here's the query:

Dear Ms. Tamulevich,

Staff Sergeant Ray Daniels, a modern Tsalagi warrior, awakens from nothingness. He feels the aches and pains of his healing physical injuries. But not the mental ones. Even the bravest mind cowers and entombs memories when confronted with unbearable horrors. Ray's memories only crawl out during his weakest hours, and when they do, they drag him awake, covered in cold sweat and shaking from unheard screams.

He doesn't know who he is, where he's from, and whether he has a family. All he knows is that the doctors told him he was injured in Afghanistan. Unlike the other patients, no one visits him. No family. No friends. He is alone.

Frustrated, he leaves the hospital to find himself in a truck stop outside of South Tuscon, Arizona. There, he's noticed by an ex-Green Beret veteran of the Vietnam War. Joe Redmond recognizes the blankness in the young soldier's eyes. He's an elder of the Tohono O'odham (Papago) Tribe and takes Ray in, seeking to heal him using traditional know-how.

Sonora Symphony is a contemporary novel of 109,000 words that approaches PTSD from a unique perspective. Ray's immersed in nature, given healthful and healing foods, and has his dark thoughts diverted with tales and lore of American Indians. All takes place in the Sonora Desert of southern Arizona.

Ray takes part in an ancient ritual on Baboquivari, the sacred mountain. It leads to a fork in his life's road. One leads to the World Above and the other to his future.

The potential audience for this work includes, but is not limited to, military personnel, both active and retired, anyone has has or has suffered from PTSD, all who are interested in the legends and culture of American Indians, nature lovers and those interested in beneficial plants, herb, and cooking, and a general audience interested in a good story.

I am aware of your submission guidelines and am prepared to submit all of it upon learning of your interest in this. I have, however, attached the first three chapters for your pleasure.

Thank you. Sincerely,

And so on as required.

So, yesterday I receive this response:

Dear Master Sergeant Dale Day,

Thank you so much for submitting your book idea to the University of Oklahoma Press. The novel sounds intriguing as well as important in terms of exploring the life of a contemporary Native soldier with PTSD. While the project merits publication, I fear the OU Press is not the right publisher for it. We rarely publish fiction given the unpredictable and volatile sales as well as the strong competition from commercial publishers. Thus, I suggest you contact the University of Arizona Press or the University of New Mexico Press since they publish fiction more frequently than we do.

I appreciate your thinking of the OU Press in regards to your publishing plans and wish you all the best in finding an appropriate publisher.

Best wishes,


Makes me feel good! Upbeat. She says it “merits publication.” And suggests two places where it might find a home.

Now, this leaves me with a couple of options:

a. I have a query pending with a literary agent who lived in the area where the novel takes place. Do I give her a follow up with this to show her someone thinks it has merit?

b. Contact the two universities and include the OkU comment?

What would you do?


  1. That does sound good! :) "It merits publication" definitely has a great ring to it.

    I'll answer your questions from what I would do, but of course, it's just my opinion :)

    1) I wouldn't send this to the agent personally, because I'd be worried agents would get a lot of response like this, which may not always be true (by that I mean some people might tell them publishers are interested when they arent) and I'm not sure if it would be helpful for the agent. The agent will probably figure out on his own if the book has merit or not for him - might not be right match for this agent but might be the right match for another one.

    2) I would definitely contact the other two universities, but I wouldn't mention the comment either. I'd let the book stand on its own, because ultimately I don't think they'd care much about a comment by the other universities: they'd just want to know about the book.

    Anyway, those are my two cents. Good luck!


  2. Thank you so very much for responding.

    As a matter of fact, I sent it to the agent I'm seeking to represent me. She went to school in Tuscon so is familiar with where the story takes place and went to school at the University of Arizona Tuscon campus. I've just got my fingers crossed.