Sunday, March 6, 2011

Seeds of Gratitude...Flowers of A Career

Years ago, circa 1990-1992, I had had just sold my first book, The Bewitched Book, to Dell Publishing. It was an exciting time, of course, but made more so, as it's history to publication was more complicated than usual for "first-timers."

Inspired by Bart Andrews' The I Love Lucy Book, and the result of Bewitched star Elizabeth Montgomery having little interest in revisiting Bewitched as a TV-reunion movie (for which I had written a spec-script with which Bewitched director/producer William Asher was quite impressed), I decided to write a companion book to the adventures of Samantha Stephens (America's favorite "witch-with-a-twitch").

As Lucy author Bart Andrews was also a literary agent, he would be the ideal representative for the project. And I was estatic when he agreed to represent the project. Then originally titled, Behold Bewitched, and prepared in proposal form (under Bart's genius guidance), the book, unfortunately, went on to receive countless rejections (more than 75). Yet, it was finally purchased by Carol Publishing, only to be cancelled after my editor left the company. It was then purchased again by Harmony Books, only to be cancelled a second time after my editor there had also left his position.

Yet, as fate would have it, my original editor found his way to Dell Publishing, and The Bewitched Book: The Cosmic Companion To Television's Most Magical Supernatural Situation Comedy made its way to book stores across the country in the Fall of 1992.

It was a dream come true - and an answer to infinite prayers.

Needless to say, I was grateful - and I wanted to show my gratitude.

As a man of great faith in Heaven and Love (which and who I define as "God"), I had a notion to visit one of my childhood churches, St. Anthony of Padua, across from Jones Park, in my hometown of Rochester, New York.

By this time, I had left Los Angeles, and returned to Rochester, where I had reunited with my parents, and commenced to write The Bewitched Book in the room in which I had grown up. Some years before, my family had left the red brick house on Erie Street (across from where now stands Frontier Field), and we were living in Greenleaf Meadows...a beautiful townhome rental community which was some twelve miles from St. Anthony's church.

I was a struggling writer in every sense of the term, and even though I had received a substantial advance from Dell, I was forced to use a good portion of that advance to pay of years-long debt. As such, I was still unable to purchase a vehicle upon my return from LA.

Still, I felt compelled to somehow make my way...my quest...my pilgrimage to St. Anthony's in thanks for the publication of The Bewitched Book.

In retrospect, every good thing that has ever transpired in my career, whether it be in publishing or the entertainment industry, in general, happened because of The Bewitched Book. And even before every great career choice or position that followed it, I knew in my heart of hearts just how special that book would be in my life.

So, again, I wanted to show my appreciation...to Heaven.

As such, the first Sunday after The Bewitched Book was sold, I went to church with my Mom and, after mass, approached the priest, Father Beligotti, and inquired if there was some way I could be of service. We walked around the grounds of the church, and I noticed the flora and landscaping could use a little work.

I suggested to Father Beligotti that, if the Church would purchase the flowers and the additional supplies, I would tend to a new garden.

He agreed, and within a week's time, a new garden of flowers and white stones had appeared at the front of St. Anthony's, and to either side of the main entrance, on the left of which stood a beautiful white stone statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Then, for that entire summer of 1991, and without a vehicle, I took the bus twelve-miles mostly every day to care for that new garden. Periodically, my Dad would drive me, and I would get a ride back from a friend. But either way, those flowers and that stone garden, needed tending. And without fail, I was there.

How could I not be?

The Bewitched Book planted the seeds of my career, and I somehow even knew it then. So, I sought to plant flowers of gratitude, which, to this day, continue to blossom, if no longer in front of St. Anthony of Padua's Church - but in every good thought, deed, word or project that I make every attempt to to think, speak or bring to fruition.

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