Thursday, March 13, 2008

With Some God-incidences along the way...

I've really had some pretty cool things happen to me over the last few years. It's fun to look back and
see how God was working and I didn't even know it.
The story of how I got my agent - no, that sounds too weird - like I went to the store and bought her...hmmm. Attained? Retained, obtained??
Well, anyway, my brain is tired so you can figure out what I's the story.
It's the Internet's fault. Isn't everything?
As you all know, I spend far to much time on the computer. I can hear my family now - "No! Really?"
Okay, my obsession has actually turned out to be a good thing so I feel
completely justified. So on with the story.
When I first began blogging a few years ago, it was right around the time I started writing again. To clarify, writing with the goal of pursuing publication.
I was on a few online groups and websites. To be honest, I can't even remember when I started reading Rachelle's blog.
I knew she was a mom with two kids who loved to read. I liked what she had to say and we seemed to have some things in common. I'm not really sure when I discovered she was an editor for a major publishing house, she may even have already been freelancing at the time, but it's probably a good thing I didn't know that or I might have been scared witless and never left any comments on her blog. I'm not even clear of the timing of our relationship evolving, but I just remember I thought she was a pretty cool person. (She talked about this phenomenon on her agent blog yesterday - how 'well' we think we know one another just through blogging - another interesting topic).
When I got the idea for Yesterday's Tomorrow, I kicked it around with a couple of people. I wasn't sure how a romance taking place during the Vietnam War would go over. By then the story was burning in my brain and simmering in my soul and I knew I had to write it. Just at that time, I happened to ask an agent what she thought of the idea. Well, she didn't like it. Said it was doomed from the start and I should put it aside and work on something else.
Okay...well, I didn't.
Then I had a friend tell me the story line was similar to something Deb Raney had written, so I got up the nerve to write to Deb and ask her what she thought of the synopsis and whether it was too similar to her book, which I hadn't read, but now have. Now really, I'm a very shy person. Honest. I would never just walk up to a published author in real life...gasp...they might bite me! Of course, Deb being Deb-the-nicest person-on-earth, was, well, nice.
Long story short, Deb loved the idea. Said she thought it would definitely fly. Her encouragement was awesome. So I started writing. And then I thought, just to make sure, (yes, I have self-confidence issues), maybe my blogging buddy Rachelle would have an opinion. I knew by this time what she did so I was very apprehensive to approach her, but I did. And she was actually kind of excited about the story. I'll never forget blinking in shock at the long email response she took the time to write. I was blown away at all the amazing suggestions she had for me...for free. Without her initial direction and encouragement, it certainly wouldn't be the story it is now, and I'm not sure I would have had the confidence to write it. Funny how God works.

Rachelle and I corresponded a bit over the year and however long it took me to write the book. She never saw any chapters or anything aside from the synopsis. I may have sent her one scene for an opinion but I'm not sure. Sometime last fall, after I'd returned from the ACFW conference where I pitched the book and received some favorable comments after my agent/editor interviews, I wrote to Rachelle to let her know how things had gone. Oh yes, I was doing a re-write as well at the request of the agent I met with. She wrote and asked me if I would send her my book when I was done. She did not, however, divulge why.
In fact, I was left to agonize over why she wanted it for quite some time. And agonize I did. My family, friends and critique partners can attest to that. Rachelle, if you ever meet one of them in a dark alley, run.
In my darker moments I had her pegged for some psycho who was going to steal my book idea and publish it as her own. I mean come on, we met on the Internet. Or maybe she was so impressed with it she was going to send it to Oprah, who knew? (Yeah you knew I had to bring O into this somehow, didn't you?)
Eventually I discovered Rachelle was taking the step into Agent World, and I was super-excited. I knew she would make a great agent based on her publishing experience, overall nice person qualities and love of cool places that serve coke and the like. And the best news of all was that she was looking at MY manuscript for possible representation! Wow. And I didn't even write a query letter. How cool is that?? (She got me back though, I had to write a book proposal, which is even worse).
After a few more months and yet another re-write (if you're not getting the picture yet - hard work is a necessary requirement to moving forward in the publishing business) under the tutelage of the amazing Susan May Warren, (Book Therapy ROCKS!!) Rachelle, God bless her big heart, decided to take a chance on me, and here we are.
After trying for more years than one of my children have lived, I have an agent.

I'm praying my book sells and I make her lots and lots of money. After I make me lots of course.
Oh, right, it's not about the money! No, really, it's not. I'm told not to expect much.
But I'm just thrilled to have come this far. A nice bottle of French Cabernet Sauvignon would do just fine. An old bottle. Oh what the heck, make it a case.

The point to all this, the message I want to share, is this - you never know how God is at work behind the scenes in your life. He knows the desires of your heart and He wants to give them to you. He's just cool like that.
I had no idea when I was reading about Rachelle's dog, her kids, her love of Christmas cards and Nickleback, that one day she would be representing my book and torturing me with book proposals.
I was actively looking for an agent for many years.
One was dropped in my lap, sort of, when I least expected it.
It kind of reminds me of that song Angels Among Us. You just never know who you're talking to.
I'm amazed and very blessed.
I'd love to hear the cool ways God has worked in your life too.


Lynda Schab said...

Very cool story, Cathy! I can only hope I have a just-as-cool one when I finally obtain/retain or attain an agent. :-)
Thanks for sharing and congrats! Looking forward to hearing what happens.

Jennifer Hudson Taylor said...

One of your critque buddies here--I can attest to the fact that Yesterday's Tomorrow is a great book!

Congratulations on your agent, Cathy! I'm hoping the best for you.

Leigh said...

Great story, Cathy. I knew bits of it but not the whole scope of things. And you're so right -- we never know how God plans to use all those "incidents" in our lives to work things for His glory. Here's to writing for Him! :-)