Let me say up front, I was a Kate Duffy fan. Nothing could have shocked me more than hearing about her death. I always thought—and still do—that I would be a much better writer if I’d had the privilege of being in Kate’s stable of writers.
I met Kate at the Golden Triangle Writers Guild conference in Beaumont, Texas. Each time she attended our conference, she was always kind and cordial to me. I think she recognized that I was quite the wimp, totally intimidated by her presence. I stood in awe of her, sat on the fringes and listened to everything she had to say about writing, publishing, editing, acquiring books for whatever publisher she worked for at the time. As far as I was concerned, her word was the law back in the late 80s and early 90s.
One of my most prized possessions is a rejection slip from Kate when she was editor in chief at Meteor Publishing in October, 1990. It's priceless and I’d like to share it with you:
As you may know, while I was at Tudor I was involved with publishing the book IS ELVIS ALIVE? And that project turned my phone into an Elvis Presley hot line. I, in fact, had calls from two Elvi. I had somebody call and offer to sell me Elvis’s hair brush with Elvis’s hair still in it. I was offered, for a considerable sum of money, the table on which Elvis was embalmed. People called my office claiming that Elvis was speaking to them through various appliances. And, last but not least, I heard from a significant number of the population who decided to name various children and animals “Elvis.” I have to be the only editor you will run into who has had this kind of experience and, therefore, I am the least likely to be interested in a book that has anything to do with Elvis.
Without prejudice, I did read your query letter, and it does sound like Love You Tender is not a romance. Therefore, I cannot encourage you to submit this book to us. Best of luck in placing this project elsewhere.
Sincerely, Kate Duffy
Editor in Chief
I have no idea if Kate was in a hilarious mood, just feeling creative or if her tone was total sarcasm, but this rejection slip made my day because it was funny, and it was definitely not a form rejection. I have a feeling this letter is a perfect example of Kate Duffy’s quirky personality, and I have no doubt she touched many lives and left many of us with wonderful memories.
Love You Tender eventually became a romance and sold to Silhouette Romance of which Kate was founding editor. The title was changed to The Groom Wore Blue Suede Shoes. I wonder if my editor at Silhouette was contacted by any Elvi.
Rest in Peace, Kate. You were loved.