Losing an Agent

25 03 2016
Angel in the Mist

Photo Credit: Zsolt Zatrok

Losing an agent hurts. Sometimes agents can’t sell your books, sometimes you’re not a good match, and sometimes they leave the business. But the most painful way to lose an agent is to death.

Earlier this week, I lost an agent I loved. Mary Sue Seymour lost her long and hard-fought battle against cancer. I still can’t believe she’s gone. Even last week, she was still posting her usual upbeats messages. She saw beauty and goodness everywhere she went. And she had the gift of spreading the gifts of kindness and encouragement wherever she went.

I admired her as a person, and as an agent, she was awesome. I’ve never known an agent to respond to every email within 5-10 minutes. Soon after I signed on with her, I sent the final manuscript revisions to her after midnight. The following morning at 7 am, she emailed with a list of 10 publishers who had the manuscript.

A few months later, she completed all the back-and-forth contract negotiations until we had everything we both wanted on a 3-book deal. I didn’t discover until later that she’d been undergoing twice-weekly chemo sessions the whole time. She never once mentioned her health. And she must have been doing the same for her other clients, because a month later, she was named Agent of the Year by the American Christian Fiction Writers.

Change of Heart - Comp - Dec4I’m grateful that I signed with her. I only wish she could be here to see the first book in the Sisters & Friends Amish series, Change of Heart, release on May 3. I wrote this book at her request, and she offered to review it as I went along. She shepherded it through the synopsis and early draft stages, even though I never sent it as official submission. When it was completed, I was thrilled when she offered to represent me. The book had been her baby all along. Although she can’t be at my book launch in person, I know she’ll be there in spirit. And at all my signings, I’ll be wearing the lovely bracelet she sent me at Christmas to celebrate my first book contract as Rachel J. Good.

To honor her life and generous, caring nature, I’m dedicating my Rachel J. Good Twitter feed to celebrating Random Acts of Kindness. Feel free to share any acts you do  for others or those you hear about. Let’s flood social media with positive messages.

#100kRAOK #randomactsofkindness

 

 





Honoring Your Journey

6 01 2016

2015  ReleasesI usually set goals and make resolutions this time of year. I like the thought of a shiny new year with all those beautiful blank days ready to fill like journal pages. As I look back over last year’s journal and accomplishments, it’s easy to see how I spent most of my time. Writing and illustrating took up a lot of it.

I had 6 books come out and signed with an agent, who sold my Amish novel in a 3-book deal. I traveled to quite a few speaking engagements and finished my classes for my MFA in Children’s Writing and Illustrating at Hollins University.

Those were all tangible results, but I remember many years when my only progress consisted of stacks of rejection letters, half-finished manuscripts, and a brain full of ideas. Although I put in a lot of work, I didn’t feel a real sense of accomplishment. Now I wish I could go back and celebrate those achievements, because if it weren’t for those years of drudgery and disappointment, I wouldn’t be published today.

So wherever you are on your journey (whether in writing or other pursuits), honor the hard work you’ve put in — even if it didn’t bring the rewards you hoped. Find a way to keep track of what you’ve done and celebrate the small milestones along the way. Rejection letters indicate you’ve been submitting, partially finished manuscripts prove you’ve been writing, doodles in your sketchbook show you’ve been drawing. Yes, you may not have gotten as far as you’d hoped, but rather than looking at where you expected to be, rejoice in how far you’ve come. You’ve made progress, and that’s the most important thing.

What small strides did you make toward your goals this year that you haven’t given yourself enough credit for?

 





Celebrating 2015

1 01 2016

fireworksA year often passes so swiftly that you barely have time to breathe before it’s over. So it’s always good to look back over the highlights of the past 12 months. Sometimes it seems you haven’t accomplished much, but when you take time to appreciate how you spent your time, you realize that you did much more than you thought you did.

Often we focus only on external achievements, but forget to count the time we spent helping others, building relationships, and making deep, inner changes in our personal lives. Those should be the cause for the greatest celebration.

Perhaps you didn’t reach your goals or complete last year’s New Year’s resolutions, but did you make any progress? Even if you lost 10 pounds twice (the same ones, and regained them), give yourself credit for losing 20 pounds. You did do that, even if no one can see it now.

Did you set a goal to send your manuscript out to 20 agents, but only sent to 5? That’s still progress. Happiness

Maybe you decided to be a kinder, nicer person, but found yourself losing your temper more than you’d like. Count up the days that you did manage to hold your tongue, days when you said the right thing, days when you encouraged someone or did a kind deed for a friend or stranger. Did you like someone’s Facebook post or compliment someone? Those count too. You might be surprised to find that you did a lot more good than you realized.

What big goals did you reach this year? And what thing — small or large — did you do this year that you haven’t appreciated yourself for?

 





Inspiration and Genius…

30 03 2015

“Obstacles are those frightful things you see when you take your eye off the goal.”  ~ Henry Ford

 





Need Some Inspiration?

20 03 2015

“Begin doing what you want now….We have only this moment, sparkling like a star in our hand — and melting like a snowflake. Let us use it before it is too late.”
~Marie Beynon Ray





Overcoming Fears

6 03 2015

“If you hear a voice within you say, ‘you cannot paint,’ then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced.” ~Van Gogh
http://www.full-confidence.com http://full-confidence.blogspot.com/





Climbing toward a Dream

26 01 2015

ladder to sky I always loved this picture of a ladder reaching to the sky. When I first decided I wanted to write, I drew a symbol like this as my logo. I pictured myself climbing that ladder to success, rung by rung, each rung representing a new skill, a new publication, a new height. And slowly, I started learning and climbing.

Some of the most important steps along the way were joining SCBWI, participating in critique groups, reading craft books, and taking classes. I even added an MFA to my goals. But the most important step was doing the writing itself. I’d read somewhere that to become an expert in any skill, you needed to put in 10,000 hours and write 1,000,000 words. So I did.

And the work began to pay off. First in small writing assignments and then in books. During the early writing years, I drew another picture in addition to that logo–a stack of books. A tall stack set up in a spiral shape. I was reminded of that recently when I decided to take a picture of the books I’ve written in the past five years. That drawing looked almost exactly like this:

7_BooksInterestingly enough, some of the titles I put on those books were related to the topics of these books. I’m a big believer in using visualization to achieve goals, but I was surprised at how much the two stacks resembled each other.

I’ve seen so many writing dreams come true  in 2014. This past year has been filled with book contracts and book releases and speaking engagements. All of it fun, although sometimes exhausting. Sometimes the sign hanging behind me at this reading was definitely a reality.

8_reading  One of my long-term goals was signing at BEA, and I not only got to do that, but I got to watch friends and a CP sign too. And that was one of the highlights of the year — seeing so many friends and acquaintances making their dreams come true.

And 2015 is promising more of the same. Several CPs have signed book deals, and I know more will follow. I’m looking forward to what this year will bring. And wishing all of you a move up to the next rungs of the ladder to your dreams.