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It Started with an Angel
by Ann Brandt

Angels were an unlikely subject for articles in the early 1990s, but ignorance was bliss to this novice who had never made a sale. I wanted to share my angel experience to anyone who could read or listen. With no knowledge of query letters or studying markets, I looked through my heavy volume of Writer’s Market. The religion section caught my eye because aren’t angels religious in some way?

So I told the story of how my daughter and I got lost in a snowstorm—are you beginning to yawn here? The hour was growing late, the gas gauge hovered near empty, visibility grew worse and our windshield wiper fluid ran out. Pesky automated toll booths seemed to appear every ten minutes and we became desperate for someone to give us directions.

When a lighted cafe appeared by the side of the road, our prayers were answered and we got the directions we needed. What happened the next day became the basis for my story, “Angel by the Side of the Road.”

I snail-mailed the angel and his life-saving qualities to 27 different publications listed under the topic of religion in my trusty Writer’s Market. I had no idea what the editors wanted or how various denominations differed in their approaches to religion. Writing for an audience did not cross my mind as a requirement for success. I had a story to share and that should be enough. All magazines listed under Religion should be interested in angels and this story was special—a never-before event. That was my reasoning.

Most submissions came back in the SASE. Some just disappeared, leaving me to wonder why editors would be so rude as to not reply. Several years went by as I continued to indulge in this unfulfilling activity, adding 20 recipients to my list, even duplicating some in the hope that an editor may have changed his or her mind. Eventually I gave up thinking about my life-saving angel and left him by the side of the road as I went about my routine of teaching school and running a household.

Then one day an envelope appeared with the daily mail. It was postmarked Canada and listed on the return address was a French-sounding name beginning with Fr. What Catholic priest did I know in Canada? Curious, I ripped open the envelope and, along with a short note assuring me that my angel would be appearing in public soon, there was a check for $15. My angel never saw the pages of that magazine but he has come to life in later years, rewritten and sent to carefully selected publications, earning me more than $15.

When I think about those days of mailing off a story with nothing more solid than hope that some editor will see its charm, I wonder at the naiveté that both protected and hindered me. The big winner in my lessons learned on the job was the US Post Office with my inordinate expenditure of stamps.

© Copyright 2009, Ann Brandt

In addition to writing short pieces for local and national magazines, Ann Brandt is the author of A Caregiver's Story: Coping with a Loved One's Life-Threatening Illness, based on her experience as caregiver for her husband when he was diagnosed with four malignant brain tumors. She attributes his long term survival in part to a number of angels that appeared during their cancer battle. Visit Ann at www.annkbrandt.com.

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