Kittie Howard

Monday, August 23, 2010

Welcome Aboard; An Experience with An Agent

A Louisiana story awaits, after a bit of spell checking and so on.  You know the drill.  In the meantime, I'd like to extend a warm welcome to new Followers.  I'd also like to thank Emma Michaels ( for the Blog Hop that brought most of us together. 
I've tried to be thorough about following you as well.  If I missed you, please drop a comment.  You're only a click away!

This was my first Hop, and WOW, what a positive experience! You did a great job, Emma! Thanks! 

And a big thank you and hugs to the pre-hop Followers for hanging in there.  I had problems with the HPmini/wifi in Europe (probably of my own making; a computer genius I'm not) and couldn't keep up as I had hoped. 

Anyway, as I guess you've figured out, yes, I plan on doing something with my stories.  Just not yet.  In true Southern fashion, my stories will lead (eventually!) to a twist that will have you saying, "Huh", just as I said when Ma (my grandmother) told me the family secret some years ago.  This is why I had to introduce you to her mother in the two-part story, A Rose by Any Other Name Is Paint.  I knew the stories were a bit long.  But no way around it to move the blog forward.  (And, no, I'm not revealing the secret this year!)

As with any dream, albiet a new one, reality must prevail.  I need to sharpen my skills and learn more about the industry that swirls around writers.  This happens daily, when I open the writers' blogs.  I thank all of you for sharing your experiences, for being so candid.  And, like you, I rejoice when a writer secures an agent and/or a contract (which seems to be happening regularly these days, yay!)  I'm constantly impressed by the talent in, more in awe of the talent out there.

This honesty and sharing are important.  Publishers and agents work to make money.  While most are professional and work hard, I personally feel the business in general sucks too much from the writer, ie, others can't do it but can tell you how to do it.  My sensing is that publishers and agents look for the finished product, a fast way to print. 

Of course the bottom line is money.  A book is a commercial product for sale.  Discounted books/e-books and so on have cut into profits.  I understand this.  What I don't like is this pushing for a finished product when there are others in the food chain who need to earn their keep.  I've read so many posts about agents and how so many feel sorry for them.  Well, I don't.  Not a bit.  If an agent is harried and overworked and can't deal with the caseload, then, there's the door.  Find a new profession.  I mean, either do what you're doing with a smile on your face or bye-bye.

Unfortunately, my hub says this whining, finished-product attitude is going on in the sports world.  This weekend we met a father with his son, a 6'8" guy 18 years old who wants to play professional hockey.  The perceived road to riches these days is for the athlete to by-pass college, pay for his training camps, then audition for the pros.  Coaches want a finished product, the e-jock reading for opening night.

Anyway, back to writing:  When we lived in Hawaii (and just prior to our living in Macedonia for two years), I wrote a couple of kids' stories about our cat, Chester.  A writer's conference came up.  Top agents in Honolulu would be there.  A friend who had published several books urged me to showcase my stories.  So I went.

Not without nervousness.  I pulled the agent with the toughest reputation in the state.  The room drew quiet when she snapped open her case and gave me her card, with the words, "Call me."

I didn't drive home.  I floated. 

Reality turned into a nightmare.  This agent tried to get me to sign over my stories and another MS I worked on with an imperial nature that, I thought, tried to intimidate (and I'm not easily intimidated).  She also wanted money, $3,000.00.  I didn't sign a thing, didn't give her any money, and told her to take a hike.  However, I tucked away the experience and am cautious about going where angels fear to tread, if you get my drift.  Information and education provide a powerful foundation.

Anyway, my husband's business soon brought us to Macedonia.  I put my writing on hold until we returned to the States and got back into the routine.  Blogging seemed like a great way to learn more about the writing industry, polish my skills, and, above all, meet others with like objectives.  However, my initial posts weren't Louisiana stories, more ad hoc.  Then, Fate intervened.  My nieces, as I've written before, showed a lack of interest in their family legacy that bothered me.  I got the idea to blog these stories for them to read when they're ready (not any time soon; they still don't get it.) 

Along the way, encouragement from so many of you led me to think that perhaps others would be interested in my stories.  Each Follower (that's you!) brought a bright smile to my face.  However, I'm not ready to think about finding an agent, need more stories, need more time.  And I don't want to feel rushed, that I have to produce.  When I sit at the computer, I zone back in time to that Louisiana farm, feel the hot sting of that August heat, feel how it was, and let the fingers fly.

I've brushed aside several opportunities to showcase my work (even as a guest on a tv program, of all places) because the little girl who grew up on that farm has major input into my stories and can't be commercialized right now.  I still need to feel, if that makes any sense. 

I live near Washington, D.C..  My little girl's heart is on that Louisiana farm.  Still a free spirit with so many interests that bring smiles of discovery.  One of these interests is a love for the outdoors, from a gentle rain to the sweet smell of freshly turned dirt...even like squiggling my toes into the tip of a crop row...and have been known to walk barefoot (oh, happy day!)

I enjoy all of the blogs I follow (read thoroughly, don't scan).  Many are about Mother Nature's delights and challenges.  If you want to feel good about small moments in Nature that warm the heart, click on over to:

AND, if you're hungry from being outdoors, if you like food, mouth-watering food from South Louisiana, click over to  Marguerite's a real Cajun with some real Cajun recipes who posts recipes she's putting into a cookbook.  Talk about a treat!

Just a bit more -- thank you for being so kind about the photos I posted.  I was a bit nervous, I mean, I don't know much about taking photos beyond snapping away.  Lots of credit goes to my Nikon digital camera and, of course, to the fantastic scenery in Greece.  (Also miss the hospitality.  So many Greeks sent foods to our taverna table for us to enjoy!  YUM!)

But, to give balance, we also enjoyed our days and the scenery in Tirol (Tyrol), Austria.  My husband took the header photo above from the top of a ski slope behind where we stayed in Achensee.  I think he captured a certain free spirit.  Great job, sweetie!

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