A Letter from Long Ago

harper letter.bmpWell, now, this is funny! I have a treasure box–a large plastic tub in which I keep all those odds and ends that have meaning to me but that don’t belong anywhere else in my house. I have my original wedding ring in it, a picture I took of Felix Cavaliere (The Young Rascals) back when I had the hots for him as a teenager, greeting cards I received that had special meaning to me, etc. I was cleaning closets, as I do when I’m trying to think (in this case, of a new title for the WIP. sigh) and started going through the treasure box. I found this old letter. I can’t reproduce it well enough for you to see what it says, but apparently when I was 20 (the date of the letter is 1970), I wrote to Harper and Row Publishers (before they became HarperCollins) to ask how to go about getting a children’s book published. (I don’t recall ever writing a children’s book, but obviously I had it on my mind!). The letter is addressed to Zan Lopresti, which was the name I went by back then–Lopresti being my maiden name and Zan a nickname. The lovely woman who responded wrote: Actually, it’s a very simple and informal affair, submitting a manuscript to a publisher. Ha! Times have certainly changed. She goes on to say We were so pleased that Charlotte’s Web is your all-time favorite book.  (It still is one of the best books I’ve ever read). Finally, she says: So go ahead and send us some of your manuscripts. We look forward to reading them.
For those of you who are trying to get published, doesn’t this make you long for the good old days? Of course, we were typing on typewriters and using carbon paper back then, so everything wasn’t perfect. I tucked that letter away somewhere (so glad I saved it!) and went on to become a social worker. Writing eventually became a hobby and finally a career. And a good number of my books wound up being published by HarperCollins. Who could have guessed?


  1. Krysia on February 20, 2007 at 9:27 pm

    I remember when I was in the 5th grade one of our English assignments was to write a letter to a company and basically ask for free stuff. I wrote to the publisher of Beverly Clearly books and stated how much I loved those books, etc. They wouldn’t send me a Beverly Clearly book but they did send me a ton of stuff including a book on Vanilla Ice (I loved him back than and still can sing the words to Ice Ice Baby 16 years later). I thought it was pretty neat, some of the people in my class got candy and other stuff.
    I have a tiny treasure box myself. I was told once it was childish to keep things like that. I shrigged it off. We all have things that mean something to us and we keep them (I still have a cradle that I got on my 1st bday and my baby blanket). Both my parents had kept tubs of stuff for my sister and I with all kinds of stuff in it I had once forgotten about.

  2. Diane Chamberlain on February 20, 2007 at 10:44 pm

    it’s wonderful that your parents kept those old memories for you. There are so many “material” things my family gave away or threw away that would mean a lot to me now. More than that, though, I wished my generation had talked more to the older generations. How I’d love to know what their lives had been like long before I came along!
    I started my treasure box after reading a GREAT book on organizing your house called IT’S HERE SOMEWHERE by Alice Fulton and Pauline Hatch. the treasure box was one of their suggestions and it’s lovely to have a place for the old memorabilia.

  3. Margo on February 21, 2007 at 9:04 am

    Great idea! I think I’ll start 1 and gather up my treasures to place in 1 box…right now, things are in diff places in my closet. 1 treasure is an 8 x 10 photo of me standing with John Davidson who was my heart throb long ago. I became President of his fan club in the 70’s and when he came to our city to sing, pics were taken of us together for the newspaper (I got a wonderful kiss from him too!)…these pics are all stored in my closet and 1 day I got them out because he was returning here in a broadway play. After all these years I thought it would be wonderful to see him again and show him the pic that appeared in our newspaper 30 years ago. I was so excited!…BUT…well, let me just say I think the old saying is true; some people easily forget their beginnings…I think when I start my treasure box this pic will be at the bottom and what really matters most to me will be on top.

  4. Diane Chamberlain on February 21, 2007 at 9:31 am

    LOL, Margo. As a young teen, I fantasized about marrying Mick Jagger. Whew! Dodged that bullet.

  5. Margo on February 21, 2007 at 10:04 am

    Diane, for some reason I just can’t picture you with Mick! LOL

  6. brenda on February 21, 2007 at 6:06 pm

    As I have mentioned before, I have my Cedar Chest. I also have my kids’ boxes of C’mas ornaments, few special toys, clothes etc. When the granddaughters were here this weekend, we read the books that belonged to their mommy and uncle, played with Mommy’s Fisher Price Doll House, and Uncle’s Star Wars–I did not keep a lot-just a few things…F. Price puzzles that are now 30 plus years old.
    It was great seeing those things…I am very nostalgic.
    Diane-I can’t sign up for the class yet. I won’t know until April (go figure) if I will graduate May 5th…if not–I have to take another class beginning in May–go figure that one…I can’t believe this…Am doing all I can…writing papers-doing it all…we will see–I am hoping…I know I will probably miss out on a place, but I can’t help that…this stress of graduation at my age is enough to get to me…
    Take care all
    Diane an Mick Jagger-I don’t know about that one…
    Girls-read that book by a Mona something-can’t remember-about getting the kids out of Germany during the Holocaust-today, the children in Putnam COunty WV were able to go to our Clay Center in Charleston (check it out on Internet) and hear Mona play classics on the piano as she told the story of her mother getting out…THE CHILDREN OF Willesden..Lane…I think…Mona Golenbek

  7. brenda on February 21, 2007 at 6:09 pm

    Okay-my heart throbs…Rock Hudson, Elvis, Rick Nelson, Troy Donahue–telling my age…

  8. brenda on February 21, 2007 at 6:10 pm

    What’s wrong with your title?

  9. Diane Chamberlain on February 21, 2007 at 7:40 pm

    >>Diane, for some reason I just can’t picture you with Mick! LOL
     Margo, I don’t think Mick could picture it either. 🙂

  10. Diane Chamberlain on February 21, 2007 at 7:45 pm

    Brenda, I’m just flabbergasted about this class you need. I hope there’s some way out of it.
    How lovely that you saved toys from your childhood for your grandchildren!
    As for the title. . . I’ll save that discussion for a post of its own. Maybe I’ll get y’all to vote. So far, I haven’t come up with anything I like as well as THE SEA TENDER.

  11. Margo on February 22, 2007 at 9:09 am

    I wish it was still titled THE SEA TENDER…I understand that editors make suggestions but in the end, could you still keep the title if you chose to? I still don’t understand why they want you to change it. It has such a beautiful sound to it and invites the reader to open the book and see what it’s inside. I loved it the moment I heard it.

  12. brenda on February 22, 2007 at 3:59 pm


  13. Brenda on February 25, 2007 at 8:06 pm

    Isn’t it great to change careers?
    I have had many. My minor is psychology, and I almost became social worker instead of teacher in 1994 when I finished-but my love teaching.

  14. Brenda on February 28, 2007 at 5:56 pm

    Are you guys as busy as I??? Diane, are you wrapped up in your novel?
    Have you guys read the latest D. Steel?
    I have made the decision to start using the library more and buy less. I have 4 coming from my bookclub and that is it–I am donating many to the library.
    Diane-don’t worry-yours are keepers-I have to buy them to reread.

  15. Diane Chamberlain on February 28, 2007 at 6:36 pm

    yes, i have fallen silent, haven’t I? Time for a new post.

  16. Margo on March 1, 2007 at 9:47 am

    Brenda and Diane, I’ve missed you! I thought maybe noone had blogged because of possible power outages due to winter weather lately! We lost our power for 5 hours on Sat and had a major, major ice storm mixed with snow. And today, we are getting a 2nd blast! It’s already starting to ice and this afternoon we’re to have 50 mile winds and snow on top of the ice. Meanwhile there are people in other parts of our state still without power. Brenda, I bought Danielle Steel’s new book ‘Sisters’ but have not read it yet. Started another ‘Nantucket’ book and should be done with it soon. Take Care.

  17. Diane Chamberlain on March 1, 2007 at 11:21 am

    Margo, we’ve got to get you out of Iowa! Balmy here. (well, almost).

  18. Margo on March 1, 2007 at 2:04 pm

    Lol Diane! Funny thing is, I really like snow and I LOVE STORMS both snow and rain…but I have to admit, I could easily be tempted to move anywhere near the sea or an isolated Island and never look back as long as I had my Gary and Kramer with me. (-: (of course I would need to talk my mother into coming with us)!

  19. Margo on March 1, 2007 at 3:19 pm

    Maybe I spoke too soon about snowstorms. Just heard that Omaha already has 10 inches of snow and we’re only 2 hrs East of there…I really DO like them but naturally I want everyone home safe and sound and not out on dangerous roads…as an artist I appreciate the beauty of nature in all forms and winter weather is beautiful but can be hazardous too. Everyone be safe out there!

  20. Brenda on March 1, 2007 at 4:38 pm

    I have been busy-but have missed your comments…the one thing I do when I check my email-go to this site only…keeps me going.
    As to the weather, as an arthritis sufferer, the winters are hard on me, but in this state not bad. On the other hand, raising our children in Ohio-snowy and windy-whew…my son is now in Northern Ohio and has been a couple of years-near the lake-ready to get out of those blizzards-when I visit, I am in so much pain…Eventually, I will have to return south.
    Take care-I have classes tonight.
    Still a glitch about my graduation.

  21. Diane Chamberlain on March 1, 2007 at 8:48 pm

    >>Still a glitch about my graduation.

  22. Krysia on March 1, 2007 at 11:42 pm

    Hope you enjoy the storm (I’m certainly not). We are to get the wrath of it tomorrow but all interstates are closed here to the missouri border and east to almost the wisconsin border. The wind is howling but I don’t think it’s snowing anymore. (where my parents live they’d gotten 14 inches since Wednesday morning and it’s still coming) I don’t know how much we’ve gotten but my car barely made it home from work (my guess is somewhere near a foot). It’s mainly been freezing rain since Wednesday.

  23. Margo on March 2, 2007 at 11:38 am

    Krysia, I forget what state you live in? I made it into work today only because my husband drove me in his big truck, otherwise I would be home…lots of people didn’t come in today because we had quite a blizzard last nite into this a.m….I almost stayed home but the wind finally quit for awhile…we have TONS AND TONS of snow and it’s very cold but I really really love it. Glad today is Fri and this weekend I can just stay home and paint while it’s snowing outside. My husband Gary feeds all the birds in this kind of weather and it’s beautiful to look outside at the millions of red cardinals against the white snow. Brenda, I’m so sorry you suffer from RA pain like Diane. You and Diane have such good attitudes tho and I admire you both.

  24. Diane Chamberlain on March 2, 2007 at 12:06 pm

    margo and krysia, i feel for you both with the snow.
    and margo, the image of the cardinals against the snow is lovely. i happen to have an original margo painting of a cardinal. it’s one of the few pieces of art i have unboxed since our move and it’s waiting to be hung by the front door. (the red picks up the red in the sectional perfectly!)

  25. Margo on March 2, 2007 at 12:45 pm

    I’m honored to have ‘red’ hang in your home. Just imagine at least 20 of those gorgeous birds outside our window at Gary’s feeders against the white, white snow! I watch them while I paint and get SO much pleasure.

  26. Krysia on March 2, 2007 at 2:21 pm

    I live in South Dakota. I know I barely made it into work our road was drifted shut and some of our guys had plowed one lane to go through.

  27. Margo on March 2, 2007 at 2:30 pm

    Be careful out there Krysia! Maybe you can go home early. I plan on leaving work in about another hour just so I can be safe before the 3rd blast.

  28. brenda on March 2, 2007 at 6:08 pm

    I do not have RA–I was diagnosed with osteoarthritis when I was 25…now with fibromyalgia–have had 5 strokes (first one in my 20’s) and two are major ones…have bleeding ulcer…cataract…you name it…but just can’t let it get me down…Just keep going like the little energizer bunny…
    RA is much worse…I will be 60 this year (mother died of cancer at 60)…but I am doing all I can…
    Thanks for kind words…

  29. Krysia on March 2, 2007 at 7:02 pm

    I was home by 12:30. We were one of few places open (why I don’t know). Thankfully it’s about done.

  30. Diane Chamberlain on March 2, 2007 at 11:44 pm

    Brenda, take care of yourself! You are amazing. I’m going to write about the book I just finished reading in a new blog post soon. (But I bet you’ve already read it. You read everything!)
    Krysia, glad you’re home safe and sound.

  31. brenda on March 3, 2007 at 6:34 pm

    K-I love South Dakota. I remember before our children were in school-we took three weeks to tour from Ohio (where we lived at the time) to Idaho…stayed all night (or more) in S. D. to see Mt. Rushmore (it was fogged in (: ) So on our way home, we made sure we went there again-magnificent. There was a Dinosaur park somewhere-my little boy (at the time) was into dinosaurs…We spent a week or more at Yellowstone–then to Idaho-to some town there (just seeing the NW)…I loved Wyoming, Idaho, and MOntana too…however, I did not want to move there…

  32. Krysia on March 3, 2007 at 11:38 pm

    Brenda I Love SD. It makes it hard to leave. Dinosaur park is still there. I guess it’s not as good as when my mom was there when she was a kid. Mt Rushmore is pretty, it’s really neat when the sun sets and all the reds and oranges reflect off the rock. If you ever venture this way again you should go to Crazy Horse Monument. It’s really neat even though it’s not finished and also Flinstone park is really neat. Bear Country and Custer State Park are great places to take kids, the animals roam free. I got an awesome pic of Mt Rushmore at sunset but I lost my camera when I fell in the Badlands the next morning. I wasn’t pleased it had all my graduation pictures on it. Oh well.

  33. Anonymous on March 4, 2007 at 7:02 pm

    We went to Flintstone Park…Custer State Park
    Badlands…all that…My children are in their 30’s and remember that trip…I esp. remember being worried about the kids falling into the hot springs at Yellowstone-Old Faithful…a child had done that before we had gone (I read about it in Good Housekeeping)…
    Wonderful area…
    Sorry about losing your camera…

  34. brenda on March 4, 2007 at 7:02 pm

    sorry I had no name on my comment about S. Dakota

  35. Diane Chamberlain on March 4, 2007 at 7:36 pm

    You guys/y’all are making me want to visit South Dakota (but not in winter). Sounds wonderful!
    Sorry about that lost camera, Krysia. I took pictures on an amazing hike through pocket canyons in California years ago. You guessed it No film. Ugh.

  36. Margo on March 5, 2007 at 9:42 am

    Krysia, I can easily see why you love SD. We drove my in-laws thru SD many years ago and loved the Badlands, Mt Rushmore and the drive thru the Black Hills was magnificent. Drove up to Devil’s Tower and than onto Yellowstone Natl Park…fabulous beauty! Brenda, I dont know why I thought you had RA like Diane…I’m glad you don’t but you definitely have your share of health challenges and I admire you and Diane both for your optimisim. Diane, even tho FIRE AND RAIN takes place out West, the setting reminded me at times of the Badlands in SD…if you’ve never been before, SD is really a beautiful place to see.

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