Thom Mark Shepard
I am a librarian who has worked in both public television and research and development organizations. My short story, The Tannery won the Ellis Literary Award at Indiana University, and my short story, Stick and Strings, published in Mid-American Review, was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. An earlier draft of Puzzle Trees, titled, The Green Apettes, was one of three finalists in a YA contest sponsored by Leapfrog Press. The judges were Alexandria LaFaye (The Keening) and B.B. Wurge (Last Notebook of Leonardo), and I have taken to heart their invaluable suggestions with this new version of my book.
One of my happiest moments as an author stems not from publication but from a rejection of "Stick and Strings" by the Paris Review. David Evanier, the fiction editor at that time, wrote me a wonderful letter, telling me that he had voted to publish it and that George Plimption particularly enjoyed it, but that the committee narrowly voted to pass on it. David and I exchanged a few letters over the coming months, in which he urged me to submit some more stories, but back then I was young and stupid and incredibly insecure, and stopped writing.
Years later, I met George Plimpton at a book signing in Boston, where I gathered up the courage to ask the great man if remembered my story. Indeed, he remembered it well. "The boy who wanted to be a ventriloquist," he said. "Yes, that was a very good story" He confirmed that it came very close to being accepted. Then he asked if I had found a publisher for it, and when I told him Mid-American Review, he smiled and said, "That's a great little journal." Or words to that effect.