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  • Jennifer Z. Major

Happy Birthday!! And another lesson...

Today is Someone Special's birthday.

This someone has taken me and my work from "oh look, if we shred this, it'll be perfect for the bottom of my birdcage!" to "...this is unforgettable, un-put-downable, beautifully written historical fiction". ***

~~Happy birthday, Mary Keeley!!~~

So, let me explain another part of a writer's life.

The literary agent.

For many of us, our literary agent is our guide, our point-man, our anchor, our architect. And yes, for many writers, our agent is the Sam to our Frodo.

Many writers do what they do in order to teach and to bring change. Some do it with side splitting humour. Some do it with sweet romance. Some do it by taking the reader down a dark hole and making their spines tingle. And some, like me, take the reader deep into a hard time in history and fall in love with a people and a culture, bring loved ones together, and then break hearts and bring tears along the way, all in order to get to the very core of the human heart, and introduce that reader to the Healer.

In order to write my best work, I had a TONNE to learn. Before and after I signed with Mary Keeley, and became a part of the **Books and Such Literary Management family, she was there to show me the way. She gave of her wisdom and knowledge and helped me craft better work and a better story. AND she gave out chocolate!! Hello!! How awesome is that??

All along the road to publication, there have been mountain tops, and there have been setbacks. That is to be expected. But, there have also been "only God could have arranged THIS!" moments. In each of those experiences, my agent was either there, or immediately privy to it. Last October, when I came through a long awaited, and then truly hard meeting, and then left on a joyful cloud of "this cannot be happening", I called her up and yammered like an auctioneer at an espresso tasting contest.

Poor sweet woman!

Then, the next morning, once my weary mind recovered enough to form articulate sentences, I called her up again. I paced this exact spot and told her everything I could remember about the meeting and all the amazing things we'd discussed. I paced around that table, under that pergola, around those benches, and back again, just pouring out the amazing, mind-bending experience. It was a thrill to share that moment "together", with her in her office thousands of miles away, and me under the New Mexican morning sun, enjoying the outlandish and audacious ways of God's hand and timing.

For many writers, the importance and significance of their literary agent is indescribable. The right agent is that important. From writing craft and publishing industry knowledge, to being able to spot the 'diamond in the rough' writer, to having a degree in "how writers think, or don't think", a great agent is worth her weight in gold.

I am beyond thankful that my agent is also my friend, and that she is so incredibly knowledgable and patient. I mean, we've met me. Mary deserves flowers at least once a week.

So there you have it, a wee education in the importance of a literary agent, and a birthday homage to the amazing Mary Keeley.

***Quote from Dorothy Adamek, Australian writer of historical fiction. You can find her beautiful book, Carry Me Home, here:

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