It's an odd thing to prize. Rejection letters. More than 60 of them are framed and hanging prominently in author D. Anne Browne's tidy living room.
But, wait. Look closer and smack dab in the middle is a letter with the word "YES" in bold face. It's the letter that let the Randallstown woman know that her three-year odyssey of trying to get her book published had finally ended.
Ms. Browne had accomplished, finally, what the title of her self-help book states: "You Can Get There From Here."
You would think that an acceptance letter would have caused a lot of jumping up and down and screaming in delight. You would be wrong.
"My attitude was, 'It's about time,' " said the 38-year-old Ms. Brown. "I felt that from the beginning someone would publish my book. I saw myself opening that letter all of the time. I knew it would happen. Then it did."
Such is the message behind Ms. Browne's book, subtitled "Life Lessons On Growth & Self Discovery for the Black Woman."
Ms. Browne took the advice of the experts. She wrote about what she knows.
"This book is about life lessons," she says. "I deliberately titled it that way. People are caught up in having degrees. But you don't have to have a Ph.D. to solve your problems. That's what empowerment is all about."
The 181-page book joins a variety of other self-help books on the market. Ms. Browne thinks this one is different because she was not an abused child, not a battered spouse, not an alcoholic and not a drug addict. Nor is she repressing any horrible memories.
"Too many times, people think that they have to go through those things," she says. "I do not and will not stress dysfunction. Anyway, nobody beat me and I haven't been molested. And I'm not a man basher. And I don't think the calamity of black women was caused by black men."
That could be the reason her book was turned down so many times. More than one person suggested that Ms. Browne slant her book to emphasize pathology. And at least one person was specific about what Ms. Browne needed to do to see the book in print. "I was asked by a New York agent to bash black men," she says.
For Gerri Dillon, co-owner of the small New Jersey-based publishing company Bryant & Dillon Publishers, Inc., the book was exactly what they were looking for. "The positiveness of the book struck us as something we wanted to be a part of our catalog," Ms. Dillon says. "And we were looking for a self-help book."
The book, priced at $12.95, will be distributed nationwide this fall, Ms. Dillon says.
Ms. Browne writes of "getting and keeping a positive mindset" and of expunging fear. She says the book is aimed at black people because of its spiritual tone. "It is not clinical," she says. "I believe black people are more in tune with their spiritual side and can understand it."
And she talks to the concerns of black women. She writes about how feedback from others, particularly when we are young, can affect the way we feel about ourselves.
"The beauty of black women is present for all to see," she writes. "Still, their beauty is not outwardly acknowledged in America. A black woman with positive childhood experiences still needs to have a sense of personal identity and autonomy strong enough to ward off the negative messages that are sent in American society."
She discusses the works of clinical psychologists and others and how their findings can be applied to black women.
There is also a chapter on black men, including "corporate ones, helpless ones, liberal ones and married ones."
The Baltimore native has written on fitness and health for national magazines. She works as a physical therapy assistant and was also a competitive body builder. She is a personal trainer and, in her spare time, writes poems.
Ms. Browne has already begun her next book, which will include some of her poetry. "It's called, 'That Old Black Magic: Essays, Images & Verse on the Joys of Loving Black Men.' " She hasn't begun shopping it around for a publisher yet. "But I'm hoping this one won't take as long."
D. Anne Browne will give a reading and sign books from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Friday, Oct. 27, at Sibanye, Inc., 4031 W. Rogers Ave., (410) 358-5806.