Monday, April 13, 2009


There is nothing like the first time. Your heart races when it happens. You try to freeze the moment, to keep that feeling of elation with you forever, but eventually the buzz wears off and you are left with a sentimental memory. I'm not talking about a first kiss. I'm referring to the first time a writer sees their name in a byline.

I still remember that day in 1995 when I received the letter from The Flowerlover, a magazine devoted to garden essays. The letter stated they wanted to publish my essay Step Gardening. When I opened the envelope my husband and seven-year-old daughter were outside. I ran into the front yard to tell them the news. My husband hugged me. Then my daughter and I locked hands and jumped and jumped. No trampoline needed. The neighbors must have thought we won the lottery.

The Flowerlover is no longer in print, but they will forever be remembered by me. Because that day I received the good news, it felt like I had won the lottery. Since our planting season begins officially this week, I thought I'd share the essay with you. Please be kind in your judgement. Remember this was my first.

Tell me about your first.

(Please feel free to read and direct other folks to this post, but please don't copy my work without my permission. Thank you.)


  1. Dear Kimberly,
    My first publication was a chapter I provided in a book about Appalachians. I wrote about how death was represented in Appalachian Literature. I was passionate about the stories and believed in regionalism in literature as a bona-fide genre. My footnotes were filled with family examples! It really "hit me" the published thing, when I was in Joseph-Beth Bookstores in Cincinnati and there was "my" book on the shelf. Though I have published several times since then, fiction writing has been damn scary and I am dragging my trembling feet. But the weight of the stories and the characters are demanding more and more attention to be writ --not to mention your finest encouragement too.

  2. My first was in an anthology collection just a few months after I started writing seriously. I though I was on my way but it took me over three years before I sold another thing. Luckily I do a bit better these days. I seems to place five or six stories a year now.

  3. Jennifer and Travis,

    Neither of you had told me about your books. I'm so glad to know now.

    I can't wait to read the chapter you wrote, Jennifer. And I'd love to read your stories, Travis. Short fiction is my favorite genre.

    So...titles, please!

    And Jennifer, I agree that regionalism is a genre. I love a story that takes me some place, not just in the plot, but in the setting.