Saturday, July 23, 2016

My Experience as an Agent Assistant

For a long time, I wasn't sure what I wanted to do after college. Publisher or author? Or both? Being an agent assistant at #‎MWW16 has helped me see that I do, in fact, want to be an agent above everything else. Seeing how my agent interacts with writers has been magical in a way I can't put into words. Also seeing how agents have formed relationships with writers they've signed has been amazing. This whole experience has put my life and future into perspective.
My first pitch session with Rachel Ekstrom was probably the most nerve-wracking but thrilling experience in my life. We had just gotten done with the All Agent Panel and barely made it up to the third floor in time for the first pitch. We made it just in time for Rachel to get settled in at her table before I went to get our first pitch. Until Friday, I had no idea how fast five minutes could fly by. Jacqueline came in, introduced herself, and immediately jumped into her pitch. The whole time, I couldn’t stop watching how intensely Rachel was listening to Jacqueline. She was taking everything in and I could see the gears working in her head. Rachel then asked about comp titles and about a specific thread that was in the novel, and the whole process was mesmerizing.
Friday, Rachel and I were all over the place, jumping between the second and third floor. She was on three panels, all of which I got to sit in on. Of the three, my favorite had to be the Agent/Author Relationship panel. Because, not only were Rachel and Amy Reichert on the panel, but so were Molly Jaffa with Julie Murphy and Natalie Parker, and Uwe Stender, Brent Taylor, and Summer Heacock. It was nice getting to see the relationships that were built all on an idea for a novel. Relationships like those are ones I strive to have.
The rest of Friday consisted of more pitches (some of which Rachel asked for pages of or for the full manuscript) and some query critiques. It was a packed schedule but it was worth every minute of exhaustion and craziness. After the delicious Italian dinner we had, I went to two buttonhole sessions, one with Karma Brown and one with Amy Reichert (ahhh!). In those two 20 minute sessions alone, I learned more about publicists and genre than I could have ever imagined. It was so much fun!
AND THEN, it was book signing time! I went straight to Lori Rader-Day, because she’s Lori Rader-Day and she’s freaking awesome. And, then I made my way to Amy Reichert and had her sign both of the books I own of hers. But, above all else, I think my favorite part of the night was when pictures were taken. I got a picture with Amy Reichert, squeeze-hugging me! And then I got a picture with Julie Murphy, which was probably one of the highlights of the whole weekend. Then, it was photo booth time with my girls (Lauren, Amanda, Rachel, and Rachel). And finally, I ended the night with a picture with Lori Rader-Day.

            After the lovely Amanda Byk picked me up for the day, the two of us spent our morning in the pitch room, bonding more than we had before. At about 10:00 am, we went down a floor to make sure our agents got to the places where they needed to be next. For Rachel: query critiques. For Lauren: just some time alone. Rachel and I made it through two critiques before we got a break. During that short amount of time, we talked about being an agent and New York. Also during that break, Rachel looked at me and said, “I should ask you more about what you thought of the pitches!” And she did. She asked me which ones I liked the most and if I enjoyed a pitch. It was the experience I wanted and I got it.
            During a two and a half hour break and Rachel’s nap, I got to enjoy the teaching of Ashley Ford. In a short hour, I learned more about unfinished essay than I could have ever imagined. She used a metaphor of an unfinished essay is like a sculptor and that the essay just needed to be chipped away until the real essay is found. It was the greatest lecture/session I had been to. I learned so much and changed my thinking process about essays.
            And then it was time for Julie Murphy’s keynote speech. As a woman that is heavier than others, Julie’s speech really spoke to me. Not just about that, but because she put everything bad that happened in this world in the last month or so into perspective and it changed everything I thought I knew. It was beautiful and brilliant. She’s beautiful and brilliant.

            As the night came to a close, as sad as it was, I got to spend time with the brilliant minds behind the whole Workshop, I took a lot of pictures, laughed and smiled a lot. It was the perfect ending to the perfect workshop known as Midwest Writer’s Workshop.  

Thursday, July 14, 2016

The Art of Book Sharing

I love reading and I love books. But what I don’t love is sharing my books. It makes me nervous thinking about someone else touching or turning a page in one of my books. I set rules for the people I do allow to touch my books:

·         no food or drinks by the book
·         wash your hands before you touch it
·         if you don’t like the sleeve, take it off before you start reading, and

        Other than the fact that it’s unreasonable (trust me, I KNOW), I can't shake the feeling that my books might be ruined. However, I’ve been trying to be better. I’m letting others come into the Library of Caroline and pick out any books they want. Being a literary citizen, and really knowing what it means, means I need to be able to share the thing I love most: reading. And I can’t do that without sharing my books with anyone who wants to read them.
I know how it feels when I open a book to the first page, how it feels to read the first sentence of the book, how it feels to get to the climax, and how it feels to get to the end. I want everyone to feel how amazing it feels to read one of my favorite books. It’s like wanting to be an author and wanting to hear about how the book changed their lives and what they thought about it. It’s probably the best feeling in the world. And I am determined to share it with the world.

If you ever want to read any of my books, here is my list:

  • Almost every one of Jodi Picoult's books (just ask which ones I don't have!)
  • 11 of Nicholas Sparks books (just ask which ones I don't have!)
  • A book of F. Scott Fitzgerald's best stories
  • Leo Tolstoy
  • Katie Coyle, and so many more!

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Little Pretty Things Tests the Waters Between Friendship and Rivalry

Juliet Townsend has always been jealous of Madeleine Bell.
Living in Maddy’s shadow since they were fierce competitors on their high school track team, Juliet  now works a dead-end job at a hotel, cleaning rooms. One night, Maddy checks into the Mid-Night Inn, well-dressed and sporting a diamond ring on her left finger. Maddy has it all and Juliet wants it. The next morning, however, Juliet is more than just a jealous best friend – she’s the main suspect in Maddy’s murder.
Juliet gets stuck in a rut for ten years, dealing with low self-esteem and it takes the murder of her friend to force her to decide it is time to take charge and change her life. She takes advantage of her daily running routine to discover secrets of a painful past. So it doesn’t surprise her when the police pursue her as a suspect in the murder of her close friend. After discovering details of events leading to Maddy’s murder, she decides it’s time to find the real killer and clear her good name.
Lori Rader-Day, author of the Anthony Award-winning The Black Hour, teaches mystery writing at Story Studio Chicago. Day takes readers on a tour of crime and mystery in Little Pretty Things. With a well-planned plot, a rollercoaster of emotion, and a twist you won’t soon forget, the mystery is solid, every detail in place. The characters are developed and relatable. But it's the relationships the protagonist has with other women that will resonate for a long time after reading this book, like the little pretty things we tend to overlook.

Little Pretty Things is a summer must read.

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Good or Bad?

            I am a huge fan of Jodi Picoult and all the books she’s written, and I own every single one of them. Every time I bought a new book of hers, or checked one out of the library, I always Tweeted about it or shared it on Facebook. I didn’t know it at the time, but I was being the best literary citizen I could be, not knowing exactly what it meant. At the time, it didn’t matter, because I was sharing the love I had of Jodi Picoult with the world.
            Along with Jodi Picoult, I am a huge fan of Nicholas Sparks. Now, I don’t own all of his books (that would take a lot of time), but I have read all of them. But I wouldn’t have known about him if it wasn’t for Picoult’s great dislike of him. And, even though it was a bad review of all of his work, it was probably the best literary citizen move on Picoult’s part, but it opened up a world of wonder for me, and I’d think for Sparks too.
            I guess what I’m trying to say is that no literary citizenship is bad citizenship. Had it not been for Picoult’s distaste in Sparks’ writing, I would never have known about him. Sure, I could probably have read his books after watching the movies, but who would want to do that? I don’t. There have been times when I gave a bad review about a book to my friend, but then she ends up liking the book, even though I hated it. For example, I absolutely did not like Finding Alaska by John Green, but several of my friends did even after I told them why I didn’t like it.

            As long as someone is saying something, good or bad, about a book or author, it’s still literary citizenship, and that’s all that matters. 

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Blog Post #1

What does being a Literary Citizen mean to you? That’s an interesting question, isn’t it? Before this class started, I had no idea what Literary Citizenship or Literary Citizen meant. I had never heard of it. One of the first readings we had before the class started was Cathy Day’s Principles of Literary Citizenship. From that one reading alone, I learned more about Literary Citizenship than I thought I ever could.
I think being a Literary Citizen means supporting anything and everyone in the literary world. I followed all my favorite authors on Twitter and Instagram right when I started social media, but didn’t know that I was participating in Literary Citizenship. I just thought that I was being a “fan girl” of sorts. So, doing a simple thing like following your favorite writer, or any writer for that matter, is Literary Citizenship.
I also think being a Literary Citizen is to let the author and your followers/friends know what’s going well and what’s not. Getting your opinion of your favorite author and your favorite books out there in the world is probably the most important aspect of being a Literary Citizen. Telling your followers/friends about a book/author and then they tell someone else and so on makes instantly makes more people into Literary Citizens. The more we have, the better off we’ll be.
Ever since learning about being a Literary Citizen, I take it very seriously. It means so much to me to create relationships with my favorite authors and publishers. Having a passion for reading and writing, then sharing it with everyone is what I truly think what matters. Having passion for something, anything, alone is something great, but being able to show and share and spread your passion with someone else is magical. Truly magical. Sharing your passion with everyone makes you a Literary Citizen.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016


A few weeks ago, my grandfather passed away. So, in his honor, I wrote this lyric essay about him. He was a great man and will be missed dearly. This is:


There’s a feeling of sadness when you look at something and know it’s time has come and gone. I sat in my car after a visit to the hospital to see my grandfather and cried. There is something relaxing about crying, the way sadness and anger have an escape route and contentment has an entrance, even if for a little bit.
                As I walked back to my apartment, I saw a dandelion tilted over. Its petals allowing gravity to take over, pulling them toward the ground, where they would eventually call home. The stigma was a darker color than usual. A bug landed on it for a split second before it realized that the flower no longer had pollen.
                When I was a child, I was taught that when a flower died, it was right to throw it away. Looking at the dandelion, I knew it wasn’t true. Dandelions live for a couple of days before they disperse their seeds. For a flower, that’s almost a lifetime.

                Tears rolling down my face, I watched the flower, knowing that, just like my grandfather, time was moving in slow motion toward the finish line. For a second, I cried for the flower. I cried for my grandfather. And then I knew. Sadness was universal, whether it was over a dying dandelion or a dying family member.