The Truth About Getting an Agent – Part 2

Filed under: SCBWI, Writing

Hmmm so where were we? Oh, that’s right–Dad just died, pregnant with 3rd child, recently discovered the benefits of being an emotional risk taker and now dedicated to being a children’s book author.

I’m sure you’re all saying… “Blah, blah, blah–sweet story and all–but what has this got to do with the truth about getting an agent???”

It’s coming.  I promise.  I’ll also add–Michelle Wolfson of Wolfson Literary well worth the wait.

It’s June of 2005 and although I’m now dedicated to being an author of–something involving children literature–this little guys is still one of my best creations EVER!

My 3rd little boy.  *heart squish*  We thought for sure he was going to be a girl.  He corrected that notion straight off by taking a well aimed whizz on my head–twice LOL!  From the moment I laid eyes on him, I’ve never  missed having a girl.  I’ve felt pretty lucky to have my very own super hero and–if you squint–he looks almost exactly like Mike Jung.

For the next year or maybe it was an eternity–lets be honest–I wiped a lot of butts.  I had a newborn, a 2 year old and a 4 year old.  Hell, I’m just lucky I survived LOL!  My ability to stay afloat was illustrated in my Christmas card for 2005.  I stuck with two very important goals in the making of the card…

…find the easiest way to deal with outfit stress and containment.  This was the only way I could get a picture without someone running away LOL!  I also have to give a nod to photo technology for making this picture possible because I have a pepto-dismal pink tub.

So, I dabbled in poetry and then in picture books.  I couldn’t wrap my mind around something that wasn’t “bite sized”  (I had no earthly idea that size and level of difficulty are not related when it comes to the world of outstanding picture books)  

Even within my comfort level, I didn’t write much, but I learned another important lesson that has come to serve me well–I always have time to think.  I’ve now come to call these days “Mull-it Days.”

Not this kind of mullet…eeewwwww

My mull-it refers to using that computer on top of your shoulders. Mull-it days have replaced the days that used to make me feel bad about myself because I couldn’t sit to write.  I mean, come on, with the Sabatini Zoo Crew there were days I didn’t even get to sit at all!  So, I’ve learned that there’s value to writing and plotting and developing characters in my head while my kids are at the play ground, or while I’m doing laundry.  It’s important to push yourself, but there is also value in learning what works for you.  Maybe to write a unique book, you have to be a unique person too. You also have to have a little courage thrown into the mix.

Courage is an interesting thing.  Some people find it when someone else validates them.

Other people are cliff divers–they just jump right in without thinking.  Ummm….that scares the heck out of me in case your wondering.  If I’m taking a cliff dive, call the cops–I’ve been pushed! I’m the kind of courage that comes in baby steps.  You’re gonna see me revving my engine for a good bit before I hit each speed bump one at a time.  *grin*  Slow and steady…they should write a fable about that.

In the summer of 2006 I entered a short story contest (Hudson Valley Tale Spinners) in my local paper. I didn’t win or garner any attention, but I decided to have my little courageous moment and emailed the the POC at the paper and asked what I could do to improve my writing.  He contacted me and said he doesn’t normally provide feedback to contestants but he very kindly looked up my entry.  (Give me a high five for asking!)  He told me that while it was well written, it was (honestly) boring.  He said it much nicer than that, but that was the truth.  I thought about it and decided that this was good news.  (Can you tell I’m a cup half full kind of a gal?)  I decided to focus on the fact that my writing was good-he could have said it wasn’t!  And when I thought about it, yes, the story was boring.  It had no hook.  In fact it was the same thing that 12 other people wrote about–lesson learned.  I was going to keep that on file.

FYI just because I file something, it doesn’t mean I’ve completely absorbed it right away. Repetition is key.  I promise I’ve got it now…ask my agent *grin*  But that agent is still a long way off…

This is where I send my deepest apologies to Writer’s House and hang my head for being ignorant and clogging up the slush pipe. *blushes with shame*  I finally decided to send out my first picture book submission. (Honestly, I’ve blocked the exact date from my memory.)  But I can tell you that I sent it to Writer’s House Literary Agency because of one very important reason–LOOK HERE TO SEE THE REASON–the building was adorable!  This loosely translates into–I didn’t know my ass from my elbow and had no business submitting to an agent, but by golly, I was even to green to know that.  *sheepish grin*

It gets worse.  This is what I sent them.  I KNEW that it was just a matter of time until they were calling me back telling me that they couldn’t live without me!!!!!!!!!!  (Just a reminder–this occurred in 2006 and I did not sign with my agent until 2011)   Time to get your chuckle on folks…


Reginald Jones was a very nice boy
He always said “Thank You” and picked up his toys
And although there were days he had construction to do
He played with his brother, who only was two
Now Reggie was nice, but he also was clever
He could count up to five-teen and sing all his letters
He knew all his colors like red, green and blue
He puzzled and sculpted and painted things too
When you’re nice, when you’re clever that seems like a lot
But there is one more good thing that we almost forgot
Reginald Jones was funny as well
That spry little guy had great jokes to tell
Like all boys and girls who have swell things to tell
There are a couple of things that he doesn’t do well
When things don’t work out the way Reggie might think
Well, that’s when that boy can sure make a stink
For example there’s problems with tying his shoes
Causing ranting and raving and lots of boo hoo’s
He yells “I CAN DO IT!” so everyone hears
But he won’t let his Mom create bunny ears
Reggie has problems with wetting at night 
But he always insists that he’s doing it right
Dad thinks a wake-up’s a good thing to do
But that boy picks a puddle instead of the loo
Reginald Jones can squeeze out the toothpaste
But the squirt on the floor just seems like a waste
Then he insists that he give it a rub
His mother just sighs…now there’s some in the tub
When Reginald Jones pours his drink in a cup
It is guaranteed someone will mop the floor up
Next time they’ll guide his hand up and down
So he’ll sneak in the fridge when no one’s around
Last but not least Reggie can’t blow his nose
Air comes out of his mouth and shoots down to his toes
That boy gets upset when his mom holds his head
He just likes to use his finger instead
Reggie is clever, funny and nice
But when his parents describe him they never think twice
Independent, willful, a bit stubborn too
A boy with his own mind about what he should do
They are proud of their son and know that what makes him tough
Will serve him quite well when the world gets too rough
They are also aware that when Reggie gets surly
It’s probably best that he go to bed early.

Ummm as you might have guessed–they were KIND in sending me a form rejection.  But I also did the smartest thing I possibly could.  

I had a lightbulb moment, I revved my little courage engine and in April of 2007 I became an official member of the SCBWI.  This was one of the smartest things I’ve EVER done in my quest to get an agent…I’ll tell you all about it in installment #3.  

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  1. I LOVE this post about your writing journey, Kim – it's fun & full of humor, & includes the lessons of rejection that every aspiring writer must learn, in order to get better at writing.

    Thanks for sharing your courageous baby steps that set you on the right path to writing achievement. I really admire you for emailing the Tailspinners editor for some encouraging feedback – I'd entered the same contest, but just tossed out the form rejection letter I got. And I tossed out my story – it was boring too! 🙂

    Your "Reginald Jones" story made me grin – because I've heard & read some great PB stories of yours; you've come a long way!

    And I can relate to your "Mull-it" days – I have them too, especially when I'm stuck at work & can't sneak away to write down passages or even notes for my stories. But it all goes into the creative well, to be pulled out & written down later, when there's time. (But WHERE did you get the LOL-tastic pic of the mullet-man?? "Ewwwww" is right!!)

    And the best part of this post? Your pics of your adorable kids – I know they're a wonderful source of inspiration, & your writing & life journey wouldn't be complete without them!

    ♥ Linda

    (PS – I hope you save up all of these writing journey posts – because I can see you needing them for the future, after you're successfully published & you get invited to speak at the local SCBWI conference! Seriously, I can see that!! And you know I'll be sitting front & center with a big smile on my face, & taking notes like mad!!) ♥

  2. Mull-it v. "Mullet." Oh, ha ha!

    Kim, your sons are adorable. I have two sons, no daughters, so I sorta know what it's like (and I thought TWO were exhausting).

    And I joined SCBWI around the same time you did. So congrats again on getting an agent. You deserve it after all your hard work (and yes, I have some pretty lame rhyming picture books tucked away too).

    Ah, write and learn…

  3. Linda…I just LOVE you!

  4. Joanne-whoo hoo!!!!!! Mom's of boys rock…especially with ornery little picture books holed up with the dust bunnies. :o)

  5. I can't wait to read the next post, roomie! 😀

  6. Monica-this is soooo much fun LOL!

  7. Welcome to the Wolf Pack, Kim. I look forward to having you as an "Agency Sistah." 😉

  8. Woo Hoo!!!!! I've smiled non-stop for a week. *grin*

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