WHEN THE STARS ALIGN…
…it’s a beautiful thing. Seems like my stars like to align all at once, rather than here and there. Long stretches of time pass with them all scattered about, not connecting, not communicating and apparently not in sync.
Last year, my stars briefly lined up and my very first picture book shined out of the dark sky.
The Sparrow and The Trees goes to print in April and will be out in the world this fall. I hope everyone enjoys it.
This year…my stars all aligned once again!
This year… I signed with an amazing agent and now I’m an agented author! It’s a dream come true.
Here’s what happened:
A few weeks ago, I entered the #agentmatch contest with the hopes of getting some nibbles or at the very least some feedback on what was working or wasn’t working for my chapter book. I ended that contest with three requests and one offer. I was excited! But that isn’t the end of my stars aligning. THAT is just the beginning.
The following week I had a lovely phone call with the agent who made the offer during #agentmatch. Now the offer was official. Time to send out ‘I have an offer’ emails to all other agents with my manuscripts. But I had a problem. One VERY important agent didn’t have any of my manuscripts at the moment and I was not about to sit idly by.
Now my story gets strategic. So…let the tactics begin.
A friend of mine, PJ McIlvaine signed with her dream agent back in October 2014 and we hatched a plan. After she had been with her dream agent for a while, she was going to send a referral to that agent for me…we had planned to wait six months. But my stars didn’t agree with that timeline. They thought four months was long enough. I sent PJ an email about my offer and off she went…telling her dream all about me. *Thank you PJ!J*
That following afternoon, when I got home from work, I had an email from PJ with the go ahead to send. I quickly responded back to her with several smileys and YAY’s and one oh my gosh which one do I send her? Picture book authors have so many manuscripts on hand and we always want to send what we think that agent will love. Without hesitation, she emailed me back telling me to send —– (Ha! Ha! Thought I was going to tell you which one huh? Well, I can’t give the title away in this post now can IJ). Back to the story, PJ ended her email with “It’s my favorite!” Turns out it was my first choice too. Now, off I went!
I cheerfully sent out a thank you email to ‘dream’ agent with my picture book attached. I thanked her reviewing it and I informed her I had many more picture books, as well as a Chapter Book, and a Middle Grade work in progress. I said a little prayer that my stars were all aligned and in sync. And I hit send.
I sat quietly…patiently by my laptop… Okay yeah, I know…that’s not how it happened right? All writers know that’s not possible. Truth is, I hit refresh every fifteen seconds. But luckily for me, all that refreshing ended in a matter of minutes!
Right there in front of me, I had a response saying, Send me all you got! My heart nearly leapt out of my chest. Could it really be? She was actually considering signing me. I let out a squeal and got busy sending all my picture books. My Chapter Book. And my Middle Grade work in progress. I typed up an email and told her I hoped my email didn’t crash her computer because there were so many attachments. I said another prayer, asking for those stars to please, pretty please align for me this time. And I hit send. This was February 24th.
Are you still with me? Good. Because that’s still not the end of my story.
The following morning, I also had something exciting going on in the background. See…told you my stars like to align all at once. Michelle Hauck asked me to co-host a picture book contest with her. Throughout the year, there are tons of contests happening but usually picture books are left on the side to watch and secretly whine. I happily accepted. We emailed back and forth some of the details and I gathered a list of agents for us to invite. At the very top of my list and the very first person I thought of when Michelle asked, was none other than the agent I had just said a prayer about and hit send to the day before with that very large attachment.
Later that morning I emailed ‘dream’ agent (we will call her that for now so it doesn’t spoil the fun) and asked her if she’d join us. Her response was lightning fast — she wanted to know more details! Well, since this was my first contest, and since it involved none other than my dream agent, I wanted to make sure I gave all the correct answers. I emailed her back telling her I’d get more details from Michelle and fill her in asap. Another lightning speed response (got to love that!) hit my inbox thanking me…BUT that’s not all!
In her email, she included that she was almost done reading my work and would have an answer for me soon…this time I squealed so loud I think my bunnies had the heart attack for me. They dashed into their house, probably sure I was a lunatic. (Don’t worry, they have come out from hiding and are back to their playful bunny selves.)
That night, I went to sleep dreaming that maybe…just maybe those twinkling stars were aligning for me and my wish of having my very own dream agent was about to come true.
Fast forward two days later to February 27th. I received an email that was so twinkly. So sparkly. That I now have that email copy/pasted and saved on my laptop. It was THE CALL email that I had been waiting for FOR years! I pushed my heart back down into my chest. A heart in the throat can make it a bit hard to squeal. And this email needed the biggest squeal yet! She wanted to talk on Monday! I squealed. I smiled. I blinked. I nearly cried I was so excited. But, I also needed to get work. I shot out an email thanking her, letting her know about my crazy, wacky work schedule and suggesting a good time to call. I gave her my phone number and my cell phone number, you know just in case I didn’t make it home from work before our phone meeting. Because the last thing in the world I wanted to was to miss THE CALL!
You still with me? Okay. Good. Are you ready for some more stars to align? Me too!
Fast forward to Monday, March 2nd. The day I have been dreaming about and wishing upon star after star had finally arrived. And once again all those stars were aligning in perfect harmony.
My work day went smoother than ever before. It was a Monday which is usually a very long day. But the dreary winter weather had caused schools to close so my husband and I (we operate a bread route, by the way) had five less stops that day. Five less stops = getting done earlier…yep the stars were at work.J
I got home an hour and a half earlier than usual and immediately went to my laptop to check my emails. And there sitting in my inbox was an email from my editor, Katie Hall at Arbordale Publishing. My picture book The Sparrow and The Trees was complete and she had attached the FULL color illustrated book. I reread my picture book with the wonderful illustrations that Susan Detwiler had done for it and smiled. Oh the joy of the stars aligning!
I took a few moments to savor that first picture book in full color. And then I got right down to business. I laid out my notes. Some extra paper. Two pencils. You know, just in case one broke. I didn’t want to have to tell ‘dream’ agent to hold on a minute.
With all my preparations complete, I consoled with several of my writer friends *waves at each of you* to keep my nerves calm. Okay. Yeah. I know you guys are coughing a little and thinking console = obsess, but either way “Thank you all!”
Now for the moment I had been waiting for. It was time for THE CALL! And like clockwork, ‘dream’ agent rang my phone right on time. I pushed my heart down where it belonged, demanding it stay there this time and I answered.
To a pleasant, kind, cheerful voice on the other end. We talked a few moments about non-writing things (hehehe…I can’t tell you guys everything. Some things have to stay between an agent and her client right.J) Right away, ‘dream’ agent let me know she was calling to offer representation and I bounced in my seat. And yes. Demanded that my heart stay in my chest because I needed my voice.
We talked about several of my books that I sent in that very large email. Her passion for my work was so uplifting. So exciting. And so inspirational, I could hardly contain myself! We spent a great deal of time talking about my books, submissions, revisions and what’s next. I was on cloud nine.
Then, we wrapped up our call just talking. Chatting about various things. And just a little word to the wise…squirrels can be quite mean. So if you’re thinking of planting basil outside your window, I’d strongly advise against it. J We laughed and got to know one another and by the end of THE CALL I not only knew she was THE agent for me, I felt as though I had found a new, awesome, funny, witty, savvy friend.
We agreed to wait for one week for other agents that had my submissions to come forward with an offer. But I had already made up my mind…THIS was going to be MY agent no matter what. To find an agent who LOVES my work, feels as passionate about it as she did, AND to be able to feel right at home with her, laughing and talking —it was more than I could ever wish for upon those twinkling stars.
SO without further ado…I am extremely proud, very excited, and beyond over the moon to announce that I am now represented by the amazingly talented, super fun, awesomely savvy Jessica Sinsheimer of Sarah Jane Freymann Agency!
My stars aligned for me once again in February. But this time, with Jessica by my side, I know I will not have to wait another whole year for those stars to align again. And I am ready to start this next phase in my career with my new agent and my new friend.
Thank you Jessica for believing in me and my books. Thank you for a wonderful fun conversation. And thank you for giving me THE CALL. I look forward to a lifetime of chatting, laughing, writing, revising, and selling books with you! Because when the stars align…
…it’s a beautiful thing.
This is me signing my agent contract! And if you are wondering why in the world I’m sitting in a bread truck, it’s because THIS is my mobile office :). My husband, Ricky and I own a bread route. The hours are long and I, like so many other writers have adapted. I have this bread truck filled with books, magazines, notebooks, pencils, and a tablet. And I’ve accomplished quite a bit of writing in my office on wheels. PLUS the truck is stocked with snacks ALL the time!