Janet Grace Riehl Accepted into Authors Guild: Story of a Meandering Publishing Career

From 2000-2001 I sent out my poems, stories, and personal essays to national literary journals. I used Writers Relief, Inc., an author’s submission service, to help me with the logistical details of submission. I learned a bundle (notice the verb is “learn,” not “earn”!) and enjoyed getting all the mail, including the rejection letters. After all, it was the Paris Review rejecting me, how exciting.

Over this two-year period, I garnered around 15 publications in some good venues like the Harvard Review, Cream City Review, International Poetry Review. Getting free contributor copies was a great bonus, because I got to read all these lit-mags I’d never seen before. The whole scene has exploded since I co-edited the Sou’Wester when I went to school at Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville.

My next phase of getting published was to start getting my work into anthologies, like Stories to Live By: Wisdom to Make the Most of Every Day. I gave this book to a friend shortly after it came out. He slowly looked over the author list that included both names and no-names. Mine, of course, being one of the no-names. The names included some of my favorite authors such as Kurt Vonnegut,Robert Fulghum, Daniel Pinkwater, Michael Crichton, Sylvia Boorstein, and Maya Angelou.

“You’re NOT in this book,” he said, looking up and smiling at me, sort of shaking his head in wonder. That’s sort of the way I felt, too, but I said, “I am, Lloyd. I AM in this book.”

What I love about my meandering way of career-building is that one stepping stone in the stream does seem to leap to another, though there are splashes along the way. These literary magazine publications, in time, allowed me to register at Poets and Writers, and now join The Authors Guild.

Although my 2006 book Sightlines: A Poet’s Diary gives me great pleasure, it is not an entre into Author’s Guild.I had to keep a conversation going with the person at Authors Guild who kindly reviews the applications in order to find the literary journal publication category for applicants, since I’m not a journalist or published with a mainstream publisher.

Not only am I pleased at the honor of being accepted by Authors Guild, but there are practical benefits as well (just as there are for being registered with Poets and Writers–see my listing here).

Not only that, but in looking at the registry, I noticed another Riehl–Gene Riehl, an author of some reknown in the world of thrillers. Through striking up an email correspondence between Gene and my father, they discovered a long-ago connection between our two families that has given joy and a chuckle to everyone to have this memory revealed.

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