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

 

 





Coming out of Hibernation

18 03 2016

polar bear

What did you do on the long winter weekends? Besides hibernating to meet deadlines, I’ve also been spending time on writers’ retreats.

The first one occurred during the worst week of winter. I was anticipating a lovely warm cruise to Mexico when the car got stuck in the ice in the driveway, and airports all over the east coast shut down. I worried I might not make it to Florida before the cruise ship left. My own cancelled and delayed flights left me wondering if I’d make it. I arrived about six hours later than I’d planned, but in time to spend a night in a lovely FL hotel.

FL hotel

But delays weren’t the only thing I needed to worry about. Nothing like trying to board a ship with an expired passport. My new passport was safely locked up at home hundreds of miles away. After hours of frustration, we managed to get a copy of my birth certificate faxed a short while before the ship left port.
ship

So we were off to the Caymans and Cozumel with a group of authors, editors and agents aboard the Brilliance of the Seas. Some great pics of the fun and “work” we did can be found at the Seymour Agency website (scroll to bottom of page). Oh, wait, are most of those pictures of us eating? Believe me, we really did work, attend sessions, and pitch books. I returned with several editor requests for manuscripts and two more agents at the Seymour agency who will rep my work, so it was time well spent.

We did find time for fun and touring. I spent a day swimming with sea turtles and seeing babies to adults, touring small towns, and visiting Chichen Itza. My lovely editor gave me an additional week to finish my manuscript so I could enjoy the sightseeing and socializing.

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I returned home to warmer weather than when I left, but holed up in the house to finish that manuscript. Thanks to some wonderful critique partners, who edited while I wrote, I made the deadline.

After all that writing, I needed another break. So it was off to the North Carolina beach with a different group of authors. The weather was nice enough on Topsail Island for walks along the shore, picking up shells and sea glass, and sitting on my bedroom balcony to write and enjoy the view. Lots of craft sessions and fellowship filled the time between writing and meals. Hmm…are we eating again?

Topsail

The following weekend I headed to the lovely Mimslyn Inn in Luray, Virginia. Again, lots of great food and company, but time to work too. We created journals with pictures and notes about our book’s setting and details. As I researched, I stumbled across a valuable resource for my historical novel. I’m looking forward to delving into it further. I left the retreat refreshed and eager to get back to writing.
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I have some more hibernating to do before I attend one more retreat in April — this time an illustrators’ retreat. And then in May and June, I come out of my cave completely to attend a whirlwind of events for my book launch. So the next few weeks will be a mix of writing and planning.

As writers we often need to hibernate to get work done, but we should also plan to come out of our caves from time to time. And even if you’re not a writer, do you hunker down in winter and spend a lot time indoors? What do you do after an extended period of hibernation? Do you socialize or prefer quieter activities? And if you’re a writer, what are you favorite writers’ retreats?





Indies First

19 11 2015

LaurieEdwards_ScuppernongFeeling overjoyed to be asked to participate in Indies First again this year, this time a little closer to home.

Indies First is a national campaign of activities and events in support of independent bookstores, first envisioned by author Sherman Alexie in 2013. It kicks off each November, on Small Business Saturday (November 28, 2015), when independent bookstores host authors as honorary booksellers throughout the day to help sell books, share recommendations, sign stock, give readings, and more.”

aposter Indies First

 

 

 

 

 

I hope you all will come out to a brand-new Indie bookstore in Eden, NC, on Sat., Nov. 28, 2015 from 12-4 pm, where I’ll be hand-selling some of my favorite books and signing copies of Grace and the Guiltless and Her Cold Revenge, the first two books in my YA series set in the Wild West. Local fantasy author Teresa Fruhock will also be signing copies of her book, Miserere.

In keeping with theme, I’m planning to dress Western style in a fringed buckskin jacket, a full skirt, cowgirl hat, and boots. I always have fun getting into character, and Indies First is a great place to do it.

So pardners, if yer in the area, head on over to:

Once Upon a Tome Bookstore

655 Washington St

Eden, North Carolina

(336) 612-2857

aBkstore

And if you’re not in the area, show your love for your own local Indie bookstore by doing some holiday shopping there on Small Business Saturday. After all, who wouldn’t want books for gifts?

aOnce tome

For more about the WANTED series, check out this post.





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.





Inspiration

20 07 2011

Somehow my vacations always seem to end up as working vacations. My husband could never understand why I didn’t consider camping a vacation. For some reason, cooking for all seven of us over an open fire or on a small cookstove while keeping an eye on smallfry who each ran in different directions, washing dishes under a pump, and spending the night on a slowly deflating air mattresses while being kicked in the ribs, head, and stomach by various sleeping offspring, never topped my list of summer fun. I usually went home more tired than rested, not to mention bug-bitten, sunburned, and sore.

So this summer I planned a different type of working vacation. I agreed to help teach writing sessions at an out-of-state university. I was expecting to come home exhausted and drained. Instead, I came back excited, energized, and eager to dive into my own creative work.

It probably helped that my destination was the Mazza Summer Institute in Findlay, Ohio. For those who aren’t familiar with it, Findlay University holds a fabulous weeklong conference featuring picture book authors and illustrators. The University is home to the famous Mazza Museum, which houses the world’s largest collection of original picture book art.  From the early works of Randolph Caldecott to many of the latest award-winning picture book artists, Mazza has it all. Watercolors, oils, prints, collage, pen and ink, pastels, and every medium in between. Each piece of art hangs above a shelf with the picture book it’s printed in. For anyone who loves picture books the way I do, it’s an inspiration. So much so, that someday I hope to see my own work hanging on their walls.

So I spent a week co-teaching breakout sessions in between listening to famous illustrators give visual presentations on their artistic processes and tell about their lives. Even more fun was being around an audience of teachers, librarians, writers, and art lovers who enjoy reading picture books even when there isn’t a toddler within hearing distance. I felt right at home.





Ship Ahoy!

21 06 2011

Hard to believe it’s been so long since I’ve blogged, but a five-book contract with deadlines a month apart has been grueling.

But I just received word that Pirates 
Through the Ages  is on the way. Yay!! Can’t wait to see how it looks. The editor said it turned out terrific, so I’m excited about holding it in my own two hands. Here’s a mock up of the cover.

Looking back, I wondered while I was immersed in it if I’d manage to get it done by the deadline, but I did. Now I’m wondering the same about my latest assignment. What is it about writers that they’ll put themselves under this much pressure and agree to practically impossible deadlines, then slog through long hours day after day to produce a book? What is it about this profession that’s so compelling? It’s obviously not the money. As most writers discover, this isn’t a lucrative profession. So what do we get besides the pleasure and excitement of holding a book in our hands?





Making Time for Writing

18 05 2011

I stumbled on a new blog today that has some great tips for writers. Called Literary Crush, it’s by a fellow Vermont College (can’t help plugging my alma mater) grad, Bethany Dellinger.

I particularly enjoyed her Guiding Principles. If you’re struggling to find time to write each day, you’ll want to check these out.