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

 

 

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Hanging onto Your Dreams

10 12 2012

autumn leaves
What have you always dreamed of doing that you’ve set aside? That dream was planted in your heart for a reason. And you’re the only one who can make it come true. Don’t let anything sidetrack you from reaching it. Honor that dream.

I just finished an assignment: writing 60 articles about children’s authors. Reading their stories reminds me that following your heart isn’t always easy, but it’s always worthwhile. To inspire you to overcome obstacles, I thought I’d share the story of Wilson Rawls. Many of you have probably read (and cried over) his novel, Where the Red Fern Grows.

red fern
Like the hero of his story, Rawls grew up dirt poor in the Ozark Mountains. With no schools nearby, Rawls learned to read and write from his mother reading books aloud. When he heard Jack London’s Call of the Wild, Rawls decided he wanted to be a writer.

His family could not afford pencils or paper. Later when a school opened, he and his sisters attended for two or three months in the summer. For a short while after his family moved to another town, Rawls attended school, but never even graduated from eighth grade.

As a teenager, he went to work as a carpenter or laborer. To get work, he traveled the rails and lived as a hobo. But along the way, he wrote stories on whatever scraps of paper he could get. No publishers wanted manuscripts with such poor spelling and grammar. So Rawls hid them in a chest at his parents’ house.

f

Embarrassed by his failures, Rawls burned his all work, including five novels before he married his wife, Sophie. Later, after he confessed to her about his desire to be an author, Sophie encouraged him to rewrite one of his books. He rewrote Where the Red Fern Grows because it included many boyhood memories. Sophie helped him fix the grammar and punctuation. And the rest is history…

Well, not exactly. Yes, the story was serialized in the Saturday Evening Post and later picked up by Doubleday. But Doubleday marketed it as an adult book, so sales were poor. If it weren’t for some teachers and students who read it and raved about it, the novel might have fallen into obscurity.

summer of monkeys
Rawls finished only one more novel in his lifetime, Summer of the Monkeys. Who knows what treasures from that old chest went up in smoke. It’s sad to think about what was lost.

So what treasures have you hidden? What talents have you left unpolished? What have you produced that you’re ashamed to show the world? The world may be poorer without your special contributions.
And what excuses are you hiding behind? Do you want to write, but can’t afford pencils and paper? Hmm…thought not. Do you have to travel the country hunting for any job you can find to make ends meet? Perhaps so, in this economy. But Rawls still found a way to write. And so can you.

Even if your dream isn’t writing, ask yourself what roadblocks stand in your way. Not everyone can take a giant leap, but anyone can take a tiny step in the direction of those dreams.

And never burn those manuscript pages. You never know what gems might be hiding there.





Conquering Setbacks

11 07 2010

You can do it, baby!

Whenever babies are about to make huge advances in their skills, they frequently regress. A toddler who has been taking her first steps may suddenly revert to crawling. A highly verbal child may fall silent for a few days or even weeks. But following that regression, the baby blossoms and shows off a brand new skill.

So perhaps adults also need times of regression in our lives to gather our strength before we tackle and conquer the next plateau.





Hope in the Face of Darkness

3 05 2010

Has life slapped you in the face? Are you struggling to survive an emotional or financial hit? Are you facing major roadblocks on your life journey?

If everything looks bleak and you aren’t sure you’ll ever recover, here’s a message of hope  from the wonderful inspirational speaker Corrie ten Boom, who survived living in a concentration camp and watching her sister die. The tragedies of my life pale when compared to hers, but as I’m going through them, my own trials loom large. If I let them, they can overwhelm me and block out everything but the pain. This wise lady helped me look at the larger picture.

She compared life to a tapestry. We see the underside with its tangle of threads and knots, and have no idea why so many threads are dangling or why our lives have so many dark patches, but God, the master weaver, looking down from above sees the beautiful picture that is our lives. Each thread–dark or light–has its perfect place in the finished work of art.

So when dark times come, I try to remember that God sees what I cannot, and I know on the other side lies a work of great beauty.

Life Is But a Weaving
by Corrie ten Boom

My life is but a weaving between my God and me,
I do not choose the colors; He works so steadily.
Oft times He weaves in sorrow, and I in foolish pride,
Forget He sees the upper, and me the underside.
Not till the loom is silent, and the shuttles cease to fly,
Will God unroll the canvas, and explain the reason why.
The dark threads are as needful in the weavers skillful hand
As the threads of gold and silver in the pattern He has planned.





Angel in Disguise?

23 06 2009

Recently, I joined Thomas Nelson’s reader program. In exchange for a sneak peek at their latest releases, I agreed to post a review of each book in two places. The first title I chose, The Noticer by Andy Andrews, has received a lot of hype in the media. Very similar in format to other simple-to-read books filled with encouragement, it appeared to be a compilation of wisdom from many sources. If you want a quick, feel-good read, pick this up.

Here’s what I said in the Amazon.com review:

Combining wisdom from a variety of sources, including The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman, The Noticer provides insights into improving human relationships. Jones, not Mr. Jones, a drifter, an ageless old man with a gift for noticing what others need, offers nuggets of truth to turn around failing marriages, businesses, and lives. Although the advice is familiar, the allegory brings it together in one place, making it a quick read for anyone who’s lost hope.