Between my last day of 2010 in the office and today, I was busy hopping from New York to Chicago to L.A. to Chicago to New York (why? tradition. I’ll talk more about that in my next post). All those time zones and I lost track of days and missed my last post of 2010. If you’ll indulge me, I am going to hold off on my resolutions post until next week and provide my overview of 2010 in agenting today instead. I will do my best to leave out events already covered by the other BRGers.
Sometime in early January, I was sitting in my apartment when my cell phone rang in the a.m. When I looked down to see that the caller was Matt Phelan, I was puzzled. Had I slept through a week or two? Was an ALA committee overly ambitious this year? Wasn’t I supposed to be in Boston for this moment?
I wasn’t delirious. He was calling to tell me that THE STORM IN THE BARN won the 2010 Scott O’Dell Award. (Click here: http://readroger.hbook.com/2010/07/2010-scott-odell-award.html to read the magnificent speech Scott O’Dell’s widow, Elizabeth Hall, gave when presenting Matt with the award in June).
Then there was the morning of January 18th. I had a yet undiagnosed sinus infection and had powered my way through the weekend of ALA midwinter with tea and tissues. I spent the night before watching the Golden Globes with my cousin who attends Boston University and my friend Angie (who happens to be a wonderful librarian. Check out her twitter feed @deweydecimator) and ate a full bag of Stacy’s pita chips out of nerves (not for Jeff Bridges who was sure to win Best Actor…for the awards to be announced the next morning). I woke up early and no call. I took the phone into the hotel bathroom while I showered and no call. I got into a cab with Angie and two other librarians as it snowed and headed to the convention center and no call. It was not until I was heading up the escalator toward the room where the announcement was to be made that my cell phone rang. It was Grace, and she told me this would be happening…
Proud Editor and Agent
I was in the convention center and supposed to keep my composure so that no one would guess who any recipients were before the announcement was made. I got to the top of the escalator did a happy dance, hugged Angie, and ran to the corner to call my mom. Nope, not suspicious at all.
Later that month, I found out that WHERE THE MOUNTAIN MEETS THE MOON would be a New York Times Bestseller.
*Other January highlights—winter getaway in the Hamptons with 10 of my closest friends, As You Like It at BAM.
*Low points—I had back to back sinus infections. No fun.
*Great reads in January—Loving Frank by Nancy Horan and Sag Harbor by Colson Whitehead
In the Hamptons, celebrating Megan’s birthday. As a Midwesterner, I had never experienced Carvel’s Fudgie the Whale cake before!
February 1st marked the 50th anniversary of the sit-in by African American college students at a Woolworth’s lunch counter in Greensboro, North Carolina as well as the publication of SIT-IN by Andrea Davis Pinkney and Brian Pinkney:
In the parking lot of an outlet mall in Kenosha, Wisconsin I learned that SIT-IN would become the first picture book I represented to make the New York Times Bestseller list. It was an especially wonderful week when both SIT-IN and WTMMTM were on the list.
The debut middle grade novel NOONIE’S MASTERPIECE by Lisa Railsback was published. While the publication of every book is special, there is something extra important about a debut. This one is near and dear to my heart as is BETTI ON A HIGH WIRE, Lisa’s second book on 2010 (way to start with a bang!) which published in the summer.
Also Alex and Grace got married in February which allowed for this to happen:
*Other February highlights—being in Chicago for my best friend’s daughters’ first birthday and watching her eat cake for the first time.
*Great reads—manuscript month
In March, I served on faculty at the Whispering Pines SCBWI retreat. I try to speak at a couple (or small handful) of conferences a year. I also try not to stay in haunted places. One out of two’s not bad.
*Other March highlights—The Bank Street Book Awards
*Great reads—Chiggers by Hope Larson and The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson
In April, Matt Phelan call me at 8 at night on my cell phone on the beginning of a long weekend to tell me about a call he just had with a big producer…which I still can’t talk about because the contracts not done. Yes, I am a tease.
And another important call in April was the one I made to Jarrett J. Krosoczka. I was the one to break the news to him that his graphic novel LUNCH LADY AND THE CYBORG SUBSTITUTE was nominated for an Eisner award! (Ah, the magic of twitter where I found a link to the nominees. Follow me @rebeccagent)
*Other April highlights—Anyone Can Whistle at City Center and Sondheim 80th birthday extravaganza (I am a sucker for Sondheim). My friends Alan and Melissa got married. I tweeted my teenage crush Johnny Galecki on his birthday and he tweeted me back.
*Low points- my wallet was stolen out of my purse in my office. A saga I wish on no one. Thank yous to all at Writers House who helped including my former assistant Ty King who slept on my loveseat that evening and especially our children’s subsidiary rights director Cecilia de la Campa my fellow wallet snatcher victim as well as NYPD detectives Garcia and Mercado.
*Great Reads—Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver, Assassination Vacation by Sarah Vowell, Matched by Allie Condie (It helps to know her agent)
SCBWI take two. This time in Orange County, CA. The wonderful thing about this event (at least for me) was that it was titled as “Agents’ Day.” I wasn’t the only agent on the bill! I had the pleasure of hearing talks by Brenda Bowen of Sandford J. Greenburger, Mary Kole of Andrea Brown, and Kevan Lyon of Marsal Lyon and learn from them too! Plus there was an attendee that did sketches of each of us for her blog http://www.dianebrowningillustrations.com/2010/05/scbwi-orange-county-agents-day.html Take note illustrator clients!
LUNCH LADY AND THE CYBORG SUBSTITUTE wins a Children’s Choice Book Award.
Tricia Rayburn quickly “sells out” of her ARCs of SIREN at BEA and I scored a piece of original art from my client NOONIE’S MASTERPIECE at the ABC silent auction/not a dinner.
*Other May highlights—The SCBWI trip also allowed me to visit with some of my favorite L.A. people. I attend my 5th Whitney Biennial. So many shows: Everyday Rapture, Behanding in Spokane (in which Christopher Walken paused to give the death stare when a cell phone went off), the opening of Metal Children by Adam Rapp. My cousin got married.
*Low point—a pain begins in my ear, many months, doctors visits, and tests later, I learn that it is not my ear but my jaw that is causing the pain.
*Great Reads—Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly (see above re: Allie Condie), Smile by Raina Telgemeier and Happyface by Stephen Emond
The big work related highlight of June is the annual ALA conference. I know this event has been much detailed on the BRG blog already, but let me add my voice to the chorus and say what a great night the Newbery/Caldecott banquet was and how much Grace deserved the celebration. The weekend also brought a great deal of celebrating Matt Phelan’s the Storm in the Barn not only during the O’Dell party but also during Friday night dinner with his editor and a graphic novel panel put on by Booklist that evening. A trip to DC (even in sweltering heat) also meant the chance to meet with my client Caroline Hickey over a yummy tapas lunch.
*Other June highlights- My birthday (complete with pizza dinner and gelato dessert with close friends)! Toy Story 3 on the IMAX. Writers House/Little, Brown screening of Eclipse.
*Low point- my friend Bethany leaves Writers House (on the very bright side, she left to become Alvina’s assistant at Little, Brown!)
*Great Reads—Countdown by Deborah Wiles and Shug by Jenny Han
It was sweltering hot in NYC in July but three very important things happened this month.
#1 I sold THE PLATYPUS POLICE SQUAD series by Jarrett J. Krosoczka to Harper and had a blast doing it.(http://www.publishersweekly.com/pw/by-topic/childrens/childrens-industry-news/article/44382-team-monotreme-walden-nabs-an-unusual-cop-series.html)
#2 LING AND TING: Not Exactly the Same! by Grace published and an early reader superstar was born:
#3 I did not break both my elbows…on July 5th of 2009, I did indeed break both my elbows by tripping while on the way to the gym. The one year anniversary was appropriately celebrated with macaroni (elbow pasta- get it!).
*Other July highlights- A Little Night Music with Bernadette Peters and Elaine “Stritchy” Stritch (yes, there is a Sondheim pattern). The final book in the not to be missed Scott Pilgrim series.
*Low points—my first generation kindle dies and the warrantee is up.
*Great Reads—The Strange Case of Origami Yoda by Tom Angleberger and The Last Summer of The Death Warriors by Francisco X. Stork
August is supposedly slow in publishing. Note: I said supposedly. Things seemed as busy as ever at the office (that is until things got busier in September). This month many wonderful picture books published including FLORA’S VERY WINDY DAY illustrated by Matt Phelan. On the author/illustrator front INTERRUPTING CHICKEN by David Ezra Stein and Anna’s DISAPPEARING DESMOND were published. I’ve loved these books since the very idea of them were relayed to me by David and Anna, and I’m thrilled they are finally available for everyone to love as much as I do.
*Other August Highlights- A wonderful summer art project called Key to the City brought me to places in New York I might have otherwise missed. I encourage you all to venture to the Louis Armstrong Museum in Queens.
*Low point- my first MRI. Yep, this is how long it took to realize my jaw wasn’t working right.
*Great Reads—One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia, Hereville by Barry Deutsch, Ninth Ward by Jewell Parker Rhodes, and Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins (with a reread of Hunger Games and Catching Fire just before)
Are you all bored yet? September was busy. So busy that it seems I didn’t record one work related event that month. I bought a new Kindle? Moving on.
*Other September highlights—my mother and sister visit for the week between Labor Day weekend and Rosh Hashanah, and I am introduced to the wonder of Momofuku Milk Bar. My best friend gives birth to baby Eli on Yom Kippur.
(May I suggest the compost cookie, cereal milk soft serve, and crack pie? Trust me.)
*Low points—everything else about Yom Kippur—fasting is not my friend. My assistant, Ty King, tells me that she is leaving New York …(on the upside) to become Steven Malk’s assistant in San Diego.
*Great Reads—The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafron and Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro
October brought a run of great art. Not only was I able to hang out with so many illustrators and industry friends at the Society of Illustrators Original Art show, I also joined Dan Yaccarino, Selina Alko, and Jarrett Krosoczka on meetings with their publishers in which they delivered final art for new picture books. This is definitely one of my favorite parts of my job.
*Other October highlights: a brief run through NY Comic Con with Jarrett Krosoczka. Going to Chicago to meet baby Eli. My first meal at Gramercy Tavern. Annual Apple Picking with friends. The most unexpected and amazing event of 2010…see p.s.
*Low points- The NYT article on picture books
*Great Reads—The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri
November was another hectic month as I tried to get EVERYTHING done before Thanksgiving/before the cruise. Unlike Alvina, try as I might…I might never achieve Inbox Zero.
*Other November highlights: Dinner and drinks with one of my two favorite husband and wife teams, Selina Alko and Sean Qualls. Went to a taping of Inside the Actor’s Studio with James Franco. Scottsboro Boys. Went to the Quidditch World Cup. I became a doctor via my second Gossip Girl shout out. Watch the first January episode for another wink to me.
*Low points—some of the results of this month’s elections.
*Great Reads—(reread) To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
Well you’ve already read a bit about my December on BRG so…
*December Highlights other than the cruise: Los Angeles Christmas inc. acquisition of an IPAD! Late December in Chicago ultimately as a better option weather-wise than NYC.
* Low points: where does the year go?
*Great Reads- Freedom by Jonathan Franzen, Little Bee by Chris Cleave, Mockingbird by Kathryn Erskine and Room by Emma Donoghue
This never-ending recap is far from a complete look at my year. (I read more books, saw more theater and films, and I didn’t even mention TV watching and I did plenty of that). For those whose names were not named please do not feel left out. For example, many books by clients of mine were published this year. (My recommended Hanukkah shopping list provides a nearly complete list of clients’ books of 2010). There were starred reviews and year end lists (and perhaps in 2011 I should keep a running tally). I sold 28 books (just one of those an adult title), had two books optioned for film, one book optioned for the stage, two picture books’ audio rights sold (not easy!), sold books in territories I never thought possible (Hello, Macedonia) and had a great time doing it all (notice the low points are never related to agenting- unless you count the NYT article).
Looking forward to a great 2011… resolutions to come next week.
p.s. this happened to me in 2010. I can check it off the bucket list. I have been OPRAH’ED. (look upper right hand corner at 10:26 and 11:04)
Rebecca Sherman is a fabulous agent with over 9 years of experience at Writer's House. Her clients include Lunch Lady author/illustrator Jarrett Krosoczka, the Scott O'Dell Award Winner Matt Phelan, Caldecott Honor Illustrator Brian Pinkney and Blue Rose Girls Anna Alter and Grace Lin. You can follow Rebecca on twitter @rebeccagent.