Monday Motivation: I Had to Believe

While I was learning to work with clay, I made a lot of pots and had to believe that even if they were less than perfect the making of them was worthwhile and important.  To continue, I needed to find faith that the expression of my inner forms would become easier and that it had intrinsic value to me as a process of growth.  I had to believe that my vision and its pursuit were valuable to me and to those around me even though the world didn’t necessarily need more mediocre pottery.

—Rheya Polo, “Spinning from the Center—Creation & Transformation”

Snippet: Transylvania Community College

“You said to ‘kill my darlings.'”

“That’s not—!”  Prudella pinched the bridge of her nose and closed her eyes.  “I didn’t mean literally.  It’s a saying.  It means to cut out those phrases you love.”

“Well, I didn’t know that!”

Prudella counted to four, took a breath and opened her eyes.  The ghoul sitting across the desk from her wore a wrinkled, pained expression, accented by the jagged scar that ran like a fissure across her face.  It was a toss up as to whether the ghoul was more concerned about the bodies in the wheelbarrow behind her or her grade in Fiction Writing 101.

“It’s okay.  A beginner’s mistake.”  Prudella pushed the box of tissues across the desk.  On the cubicle wall opposite a poster reminded her that that everyone at Transylvania Community College was there to help students succeed.

“What should I do?”

“Go over your manuscript again and bring it to the next class.  Oh, and maybe talk to Irving.  He’s a necromancer, I think.”

“The term is ‘resurrectionist,'” the ghoul said around her soggy tissue nose blowing.

“Do they?”  Prudella watched the ghoul maneuver her load between the adjunct professors’ cubicles and made a mental note to ask Irving at the next class what term he preferred.  Then she reminded herself she had another dozen Composition 101 papers to grade before her next student conference.  This week’s assignment had been “how-to” articles.   Already she’d read three point by point grave robbing tutorials.

“Back into the fray,” she sighed.  But first, coffee.


This post first appeared on October 15, 2015.

Sew Witchy: Finding an Agent

I am an example of the saying “There’s no road map to success.”  I posted earlier about how I wrote the proposal for my book Sew Witchy.  It was accepted by the first publisher I submitted to.  That’s not the way it usually works out and I found myself caught off guard.  Once I got over the surprise of Llewellyn Worldwide‘s acceptance, I realized I needed to get started on finding an agent.

I have experience with publishing contracts, but I wasn’t under any illusion that I would be able to negotiate a contract on my own.  Also, I want to have a writing career, and having an agent will help with that.  Finding an agent now would help with both those issues.  And, I figured, having a contract in hand would make it much easier to attract an agent.  So, much sooner than I had expected, I found myself once again engaging in caffeine-fueled Google searching.

Because of the complicated nature of the book, and my desire to have both a nonfiction and fiction career, I realized that potential agent pool was going to be limited.  I needed to find an agent who repped not only fiction, but also pagan nonfiction.  And if they had some experience with craft and/or sewing books, that would be a plus.  Sure, no big deal, right?

I started off hitting Publisher’s Marketplace and Agent Query.  Both allow you to search for agents based on their areas of interest.  I didn’t want to query people who repped general nonfiction, so I started off looking for agents who repped “New Age”. (That seemed to be the catch all for pagan/metaphysical/Wicca/etc.)  Of those agents I noted those who also repped fantasy authors/titles.  Remove the agents who weren’t accepting submissions and that left me with a list of sixteen to query.

I didn’t send off my queries right away.  I took time to research them online.  If they had websites I checked it out and looked to see who else they represented.  That often gives you a really good idea of who would be a good fit.  If they are representing books and authors that you enjoy or think you would enjoy, there’s a greater likelihood that you and the agent will get along.

The first few queries went like this:

I'm writing to you because Elysia Gallo at Llewellyn has expressed interest in my pagan craft book proposal and I am seeking an agent.  

Elysia has already pitched my proposal to the editorial department and they have said yes if I can provide them with suitable photographs.  They are suggesting a full color craft book, about 192 pages.  I will be sending them the photographs on Monday and they will be getting back to me about a week after that.

I have attached my original book proposal to this e-mail.  It is the one that I sent to Llewellyn.

If there is any other information you need, please feel free to email me.

I look forward to hearing from you.

After I had sent some out I realized I should add why I was querying the particular agent so I started to add a sentence along the lines of “I am approaching you because you have [expressed interest in / have sold] [New Age books / craft books/ etc.].” I also realized that I needed to make it clear in the subject header of the e-mails that this was a query for a book that had an offer already.

The following days were nerve wracking.  Every time my e-mail pinged I had to prepare myself for rejection.  I got a few of those at first.  In fact, when it was all said and done there were six rejections and seven non-responses.  I did, however, receive three interested responses, with two responding within hours of each other.  And this is where it got anxiety inducing.

Agent #1 responded first and wanted to know if Llewellyn was the only publisher I had approached.  Agent #2 responded second and wanted to talk on the phone.  I emailed a couple of times back and forth with Agent #1 where it became clear they thought that another, larger, publisher might be interested in the book.  This made me a bit uncomfortable.  I had done research and I really felt that Llewellyn was the right publisher for Sew Witchy, however agents have more experience and maybe this one knew something I didn’t.  It didn’t feel right to go looking for another publisher, though.

I made plans to talk to Agent #2 on the phone, despite the fact that phone calls ratchet up my anxiety.  I was willing to deal with it for this.  So Agent #2 and I talked on the phone and it was good.  She agreed with me that Llewellyn was the best publisher for this book.  We talked about how I wanted to build a career.  She told me my writing was good.  And at the end I squeaked out, “So, do you want to be my agent.” (Because I’m smooth like that.)  And she said yes.

This left me with Agent #1.  We had emailed back and forth, but I hadn’t said that I wanted to work with her, I had just answered her questions.  I wrote her a note saying that I had just signed with Agent #2.  Her reply was, paraphrased, “That’s odd, I thought we were going to work together.  Oh well, good luck.” That sent me down a spiral of, “Oh crap!  Did I just screw up?  Did I make her think we were working together?”  It took a bit of time for me to claw my way back up from that feeling, after people pointed out that no mention of a contract had been made.

Agent #3 had responded the day after I had talked with Agent #2 and I sent another “Thanks, but I just signed with someone else.”  They replied with a note of “Good luck!”  I imagine this is business for them all.  Sometimes authors go with other agents, that’s how it is.

When it’s all said and done, the agent I signed with, Andrea Somberg of Harvey Klinger, is enthusiastic about my writing and doesn’t seem to be turned off by my supreme awkwardness.  And that is what I need right now.


This post originally appeared on April 26, 2018.

Sew Witchy: Pitching the Book

When I decided to try to find a publisher for my book, Sew Witchy (née Sew Craft) I had a vague idea of what I was doing.  A few year prior I had done a round of submissions on a fantasy novel.  I knew writing a nonfiction proposal would be a different process, so I did what I always do: turned to Google.  There is a wealth of information out there on what should go into a nonfiction proposal.  Most of it talks about what information to include and how to organize it.  Not many have actual samples of actual proposals.  I spent several caffeine-fueled days researching comparable titles, market demographics and making notes of those points I thought were the most important take-aways from the book.  What I ended up with was this:

Continue reading Sew Witchy: Pitching the Book

Monday Motivation: Tikkun Olam

The Hebrew expression “Tikkun Olam” literally means “to repair the world.” Ideologically, it suggests a wholehearted acceptance of the world’s brokenness along with our ability to repair it, or at least our ability to try. It does not point to a particular time or transgression. it does not cast blame. It does not indulge the notion of absolute good or evil. It simply accepts that we live in a broken world and can, or should (if and when we are ready), reach toward its repair. I consider this a reasonable position. Like the sentiment behind the lovely Buddhist saying “Live joyfully in a world of sorrows,” Tikkun Olam recognizes the folly of life but never shirks from reaching for the good.

—Harriet Fasenfest, A Householder’s Guide to the Universe

Friday Craft Day: Glycerin Leaves

It’s Friday and you know what that means: time for a weekend craft.

Now that fall has hit the Northern Hemisphere, it’s time to go for nature walks and collect leaves, nuts and berries and generally act like the hedgewitch we want to see in the world.

To that end, here’s a handy activity that will help you preserve colorful fall leaves for future crafts.