Where were you when you got “the call” from your publisher?

I was in line for the Smokey Mountain River Rampage at Dollywood theme park in Gatlinburg, Tennessee. True story.

My manuscript had made the final round of judging in a national writing contest, and I got a face-to-face pitch meeting with my now-editor as part of the nomination.

My editor’s call came three weeks after the pitch. At Dollywood. Surrounded by nephews. And a cheerful family from Chilhowie, Virginia, who had never met me before but promised to read my book whenever it came out.

Here it must be noted that I am a devotee of amusement parks (I once worked at Disney World), and no theme-park attraction has ever been as thrilling or satisfying as that soggy, two-minute whirl on Dolly’s River Rampage.

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