How I Got My Agent: Lori Ann Levy-Holm

Today I am thrilled to feature my friend, Lori Ann Levy-Holm in my How I Got My Agent series. 

I first met Lori Ann through Julie Hedlund's 12x12 picture book writing challenge; we were in a critique group together; and we were in the Nevada SCBWI Mentor Program together as illustration mentees. So I've had the great pleasure of enjoying her hilarious and wonderful company both online and in person. 

Lori Ann writes and illustrates picture book manuscripts. She recently announced that she has signed with Jodell Sadler of Sadler's Children Literary

Here she is to tell us about it.

Give us the short version of how you came to children's writing and illustrating.

When I was in grad school my first class was with Ted and Betsy Lewin. . . I know . . . right??? The course was Your Dream Project. I decided to write and illustrate a picture book. It was my first attempt and they helped me from start to finish. On a later study tour that dream team invited us to visit them at their Brooklyn home where Ted gave us a reference photography lesson. Ted and Betsy gave me much encouragement and I haven't looked back.

What is your niche in writing? How did you figure this out?

When I started writing, I concentrated on developing characters to illustrate and then came up with story lines to accompany them. Needless to say, these stories were horrific. My friend Kristen Fulton read a story I had written in grad school and asked me why I wasn’t writing nonfiction.  

I’ve always been fascinated with biographies. The first chapter book I read as a child was about Abraham Lincoln. The cover was textured light blue linen with a black line drawing of Abe’s childhood cabin. In my mind's eye, I can still see the spine of the book in my elementary school library.

How did you learn about/ meet Jodell Sadler and what drew you to her?

I read a post she did about pacing pictures books weeks before I met her at the WOW retreat. I thought she was articulate, insightful and had a great command of picture books. Basically, I thought she was a pretty sharp tool in the kidlit shed.  In person she is kind, intelligent, a direct communicator and best of all she is happy.

Tell us about "the call" or the moment you got the offer. 

I didn’t get a call. Jodell looked me in the eyes and said, I really want to work with you. I love your work and I think we would make a great team.

What would you say are the one or two things you did that got your work  to the level that landed you an agent?

I stay connected to my need for learning. If I am not discovering, then I am not living. Taking classes and doing the work are essential for me. 

I am not talented, people. I am a hard worker. 

My critique partners have helped me hone my craft. 

David Diaz and Jim Averbeck from the SCBWI Nevada Mentor program were instrumental mentors who continue to support me on my journey long after the program ended. 

I am a lucky girl.

How did you celebrate getting an agent?

I cleaned my refrigerator, got a pedicure, and finished up the excitement with grocery shopping. I stick with my motto . . . do the work.

Any parting words of advice to other writers and illustrators?

See the above motto, do the work.

Thank you so much, Lori Ann!

The website I help run, will feature Lori Ann in the Illustrator Spotlight on Friday, July 25, where we will explore her illustration work. In the meantime, here's a teaser of her one of her illustrations:

© Lori Ann Levy-Holm

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