Tuesday, May 13, 2014

How I Got My Agent: the Multi-talented Teresa Robeson

I've been sitting on really exciting news.

My picture book critique buddy and good friend Teresa Robeson has signed with an agent: Ella Kennen of the Corvisiero Agency. She is multitalented: she writes picture books, middle grade, YA, short stories, and illustrates (not to mention homeschools, paints, knits, gardens, cans food, etc.). She tells us about The Call and how she ended up here.



Tell us about your writing journey. How long have you been writing, and what sorts of stories do you write?

I’ve enjoyed writing ever since I learned English after moving to Canada in third grade, but I didn’t think about writing professionally until 1990 when I took my first course from the Institute of Children’s Literature. I decided to take the course because kid lit, along with science fiction, was one of my first loves. Within a year of completing the class, I joined SCBWI and sold my first short story to Ladybug Magazine and my first article to Outdoor Indiana.

Throughout the next decade, I continued to sell poetry to Babybug and Ladybug magazines. When my kids got to be a certain age, I became so busy with homeschooling and small-scale homesteading, I stopped writing for a while.

About four years ago, I decided to turn to my other first love, science fiction, and took the Science Fiction and Fantasy courses from the talented Michaela Roessner through Gotham Writers’ Workshop.

I never forgot about children’s lit and when I saw Julie Hedlund's 12x12 Picture Book Writing Challenge mentioned at WriteOn Con and Verla Kay’s Blueboard (now SCBWI’s Blueboard) back in 2012, I decided to give it a try in 2013. What a wonderful venue that has been in so many ways!

So, that was the long way to say I write general fiction, nonfiction (mainly science and nature), and science fiction for all ages, from children to adults.

How did you met Ella Kennen and how did she became your agent?

I want to stress that this is not how I recommend someone find an agent. LOL!

It started innocently enough. I first met Ella through the 2013 12x12 (like I said, that has been a wonderful venue in so many ways!), and we became Facebook and Twitter friends. Now, I normally try very hard not to whine on social media, but I was feeling down after a rejection, and despite my better judgment, I tweeted that just because some publisher doesn’t like my story doesn’t mean it’s not a good story.

The universe must have taken pity on me that day because Ella saw my tweet, asked me to show her the story so she could give me some feedback. So, I sent the story to her, and she gave me a terrific critique. I did the edits she suggested, and she looked at the story again. After going back and forth a couple more times, I joked that she should charge me for the feedback because she wasn’t in my critique group and was spending an awful lot of time helping me.

That was when she confessed that she was interning to be an agent and perhaps it was possible that we could, one day, work together as agent and client since she was looking to represent most of the things I write.

I thought it was a wonderful idea since she is obviously smart and nice and if it worked out, I couldn’t ask for a better person to represent me.

Signing the Contract!
Please describe THE CALL when you were offered representation.

Even though we’d been inching closer and closer to officially working together, I was still taken by surprise when I got The Call. When she said, “May I ask you a question?” I was absolutely not expecting it to be “Would you like to be my client?” I thought she was going to ask me some detail about one of the stories I’d recently submitted to her to look at. I think Clueless is my middle name.

I squeeeeed, of course. I hope I didn’t hurt her ear.

When did you know she was the agent for you?

When I first got feedback from her, I discovered that she was incredibly insightful, and thought, “wouldn’t it be nice if she were part of my critique group?” But since I didn’t know she was interning to be an agent, I wasn’t thinking, “boy, she’d be the perfect agent for me.” By the time she told me she was an agent-in-training, we’d already established a good rapport and worked well together on editing my stories, so I knew then that having her as my agent would be absolutely ideal.

You are already indie published. Is that something Ella is supportive of?

I’m pretty sure Ella knows about the speculative fiction anthologies for charity that I’m a part of, but I’ve not asked her for her thoughts on them. The anthologies are selling well, and we’ve donated over $1,000 to Doctors Without Borders (100% of the profits are donated). Besides the do-good component of these indie-published e-books, they have also served as a nice platform builder for my SF group, The Minnows. We have a number of complimentary reviews on both Amazon and Goodreads, and I have personally received two fan emails from complete strangers.

One of Teresa's stories is in this science fiction anthology

 
One of Teresa's stories is in this anthology of fractured fairy tales
Since agents and editors generally like for authors to build platforms, I would think that the anthologies can only be a beneficial thing. While they’re not related to children’s lit, they are science fiction, which is one of the categories that I write. If I were ever to write anything that was not compatible with the kid lit world, I would definitely ask Ella’s opinion on it.

Okay, I checked with Ella and here’s her reply: "Whether indie publishing makes sense depends on the circumstances. I think a group of sci-fi writers teaming up together to write a short story anthology to support charity is awesome, so go you."

See, isn’t Ella THE best?!

What are the next steps for you and your agent?

I think the current game plan is to start submitting one or two of my fiction and nonfiction picture book manuscripts. I have a couple more picture book stories that are pretty close to final draft form that Ella plans to take on after that. I have a middle-grade science fiction story and a young adult steampunk novel in various stages of revision and writing, so they’re not really on Ella’s radar yet. Can’t sell unfinished works. J

I’m continuing to write sci-fi short stories for inclusion in upcoming charity anthologies, but those are independent of Ella (as I get no income from them).

Thank you, Teresa. I am so happy Ella Kennen recognized your hard work, dedication, and talent, and I can't wait to see what's next in store for you. Any last words?

I would be remiss if I didn’t credit my three critique groups for helping me on my writing journey: The Minnows Literary Group - the sci-fi group composed of former classmates from the Gotham classes; my in-real-life SCBWI critique group; and The Penguins, my online picture book critique group of fellow 12x12 participants. I love all my critique group friends dearly!


You can find Teresa online at her website, her blog, Growing, Writing, Creating, on Facebook, Goodreads, and Twitter

73 comments:

  1. And WE love you!!! Congrats my friend, you are so talented in so many ways, I just know you are going to go far!!! Woot!! Cheers!! xoxoxox

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    1. <3 Honey! As for going far, my family laughs since I don't usually venture more than 5 feet from the house. ;) *mwah*!

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  2. Fabulous networking story! So happy for you.

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    1. Joanna, sometimes I feel like it's really all about making friends and connecting...and getting an agent or a book published is the icing on the cupcake! :)

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  3. CONGRATULATIONS Teresa!! I couldn't be happier for you AND Ella! And I love that you two met in 12 x 12. Amazing.

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    1. Julie, you and 12x12 are like the matchmakers of kid lit writers!! :) Thank you!

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  4. Now I'm jealous that I'm not in one of those critique groups with you! Ha! But I bet it won't be long before I can hold one of your very own books in my hands, and that will do! All the very best!

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    1. Julie, you should be jealous that you don't have my awesome crit grp members; they're the most wonderful peeps! I'll bet I'll be holding one of your books long before you'll hold one of mine. Actually, what I really want is to hold a toy version of your fox and jackrabbit characters! :)

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    2. Well, we are pretty awesome, ;-) but we're all BETAS together, Julie!!! XO

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  5. Congrats!!! I'm so excited for you and look forward to reading your books. :-)

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    1. Thank you, Debbie! Don't hold your breath while waiting for a book of mine to come out because it could be a while. ;)

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  6. This is FANTASTIC news! As Julie said, I'm happy for both you and Ella! Happy happy joy joy!

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  7. Hurray and Woot woot! Congratulations Teresa!

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    1. Thanks so much, Cathy! It's always more fun to have someone to say "woot" with! :D

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  8. Congratulations, Teresa! Wow, I'm proud of you. This is so neat how you and Ella connected!

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    1. Tina, thank you! Yeah...it's an odd but wonderful way to meet one's agent. It's kind of like with a spouse: it's always great to be friends first, I think. :)

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  9. Honk honk! You are a most wonderful Penguin and so deserving of all these good things. Hooray!!!

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    1. Honk, honk back atcha, my fellow wonderful Penguin! Here's to many more years of slipping on the ice together...or is that sipping things on ice together. Who's plastered? :D xo

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    2. HAHA! Good one, my witty friend!

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    3. HONK, HONK! Penguins give you two flippers up! :D

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    4. Renee, your wittiness is rubbing off on me!

      Elaine, flipper-high-fives all around!

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  10. CONGRADS, PAL ! YOU KNOW I MEAN THAT FROM THE VERY BOTTOM OF MY HEART!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Love you.

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    1. I know you do, my dear, dear friend! Love you too!

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    2. Awwww, Robyn is going to make me cry! You're are so genuine Robyn, <3 you!

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  11. Totally awesome, Teresa! Ella is a fabulous teacher and editor! You've got the best! I'm thrilled for you!

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    1. Carrie, thank you! I know it: Ella is truly amazing: brilliant, professional, and So Darned Nice!!

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  12. Congratulations Teresa!!!!! That's fantastic! Very happy for you. :D

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    1. Meg, thanks so much! You know, ReviMo and all the mini-ReviMos really helped me get my revising groove on for the stories Ella likes. :)

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    1. Thanks, Deborah! It feels good; it feels right!

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  14. Well done, Teresa! I am looking forward to seeing a picture of you signing your first book contract soon! I am one proud Penguin :-)

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    1. Whoa, Penguin Pal...one step at a time! LOL! Thank you, dear Von!

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  15. Oh yeah! Go, Teresa! So proud of you and thrilled, thrilled, thrilled. Ella knows a good find when she sees one. Congratulations! So glad you shared your story and photo of your contract signing here. It made my day. I have to add a couple more exclamation points for good measure !!!!!!!!!!!!!!! ;-)

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    1. Alayne, if you don't watch out, the exclamation police will be after you! :D You do know that you've helped me bunches to get me where I am, don't you? I am so lucky to have you, Von, Renee, Victoria, Elaine, and Sylvia in my group!!

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  16. Sylvia, thank you for showcasing me! You are truly one of the best critique group buddies and friend one could ask for...not to mention a good journalist! :)

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    1. Thank you, Teresa. It is my privilege to have gotten to know you, and you're the reason I'm in the group, so I'm forever grateful that you said ok when I asked to join the group.

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    2. And I'm thrilled you had asked! :) Our group could not be where it is now without you.

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  17. Thanks for sharing your story Teresa. All the best to you and Ella! Thanks for hosting Sylvia.

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    1. Thanks, Darshana! I hope to have a long, happy agent-client relationship with Ella. :)

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  18. What a fantastic story, Teresa! I'm so happy for you! And yes, great pic of you signing your contract with Ella. Yay!!! :-)

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    1. Maria, thank you!! Hah! You liked my deer-in-headlights look, eh? ;)

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  19. My phone wouldn't allow me to comment earlier. This is great news and looking forward to reading more of your work. Congratulations.

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    1. Stacy, thanks so much for taking the time to come back and comment! And thanks also for sharing my good news on FB. :)

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  20. I'm brimming with joy for you, dear girl. The pictures of you are stunning by the way! This post has inspired me to interview you also, for either my blog or my newsletter. Will be in touch when I think of the questions!! :-)

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    1. Yvette, my dear WANA pal, thanks so much for all your support and friendship! So, you'd asked me about my arms and whether they're like my Mom's: you can be the judge here. LOL!

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  21. What a wonderful interview, if I do say so myself. And so great to see so many familiar names! What a wonderful community. I must say, though, this has got to be one of the weirder how-I-met-my-agent stories. ;) I'm so glad it worked out. And I'm soo glad you commemorated the signing with a photo! <3

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    1. Ella!! We do weird well together, don't we? :D I think I'm more glad than you are. LOL! Sylvia made me take a photo...I look like I've just been stunned. Thank you, Awesome Agent! xo

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  22. What a lovely story. I am very happy for you!

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  23. Congratulations, Teresa! What an awesome story! :D

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    1. Thanks, Martha! It was fun to re-tell it; I'm still embarrassed about whining in public, but it all ended well. ;)

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  24. Fun! Fun! Fun! to hear your How I Got My Agent story, Teresa!!! So thrilled for you! Big smiles :-)

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    1. Penny, thanks! While the journey wasn't always fun, fun, fun, this part surely is. ;)

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  25. Wow! Teresa! So very happy for you. :)

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  26. So happy you found the "just right" agent Teresa. Best of luck with your submissions!!!

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    1. Kathy, thank you! It feels a bit surreal until I remind myself that we really do still need to sell the stories. ;)

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  27. Loved this post and how endearing to meet your agent this way. So very pleased and happy for you, Teresa. Go you!

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  28. Teresa, you're glowing in those photos! I'm super happy for you and excited to follow your journey and read your PBs and novels when they come out. Wishing you all the success in the world and beyond!

    Nice interview, Sylvia and Teresa.

    Sylvia, I love your blog, especially your header. How cool to be able to showcase your illustrator talents in your header. Looks awesome!

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    1. Lynn, you are an absolute dear, spreading sunshine wherever you go! Thank you for your good wishes! <3

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  29. So proud to know Teresa-- and Sylvia! And, gee, come to think of it, proud to know the whole bunch of you on here. Such creative, bright and funny folks!
    Congratulations, Teresa, on this huge step!

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    1. Gayle, and we are proud to know you too, you talented artist you! Big, big hugs!

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  30. What a wonderful story! Sounds like a partnership off to a great start.

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    1. Thanks, Melanie! I think it is too, and I hope to maintain it for many happy years. :)

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  31. Congratulations, Teresa. Wonderful news and really enjoyed learning more about you. Awesome lady!

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  32. Thanks so much! I'm blushing now. :)

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  33. Congrats on your story and wonderful news, Teresa!

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