Monday, August 22, 2011

How I Met and Charmed My Agent - Agent Story # 9

When I met my agent, Jamie Weiss Chilton of the Andrea Brown Literary Agency, I was drunk on crappy white wine and told her a story in which the use of the “C” word was absolutely essential.


Let me back up.

I met the fabulous and wise JWC at the Santa Barbara Writers conference three years ago. Or has it been four years? I can’t remember. Time keeps on slippin’ slippin’ slippin’, as the song says. I want to tell you I chose to attend the Santa Barbara Conference because I’d done my research on the agents and editors who would be there, and because that conference has an excellent YA track. But the truth is I went because it was a two-hour drive from L.A., and I wanted to spend a week in Santa Barbara.

At the time, I’d written a practice young adult novel, and was about halfway through writing my “for reals this time” young adult novel. I decided to pitch this uncompleted masterpiece during the conference’s pitchfest, and deal with the consequences if anyone actually asked for the book.

The day before the pitchfest there was an agent meet and greet, one of those wonderful events that are probably an agent’s worst nightmare. It was my worst nightmare, too. I didn’t know ANYONE at the conference. I showed up at the meet and greet and tried to avoid the crazy dude who’d locked on to me the first day. I stood in a corner and sipped my white wine. I don’t normally drink white wine because it makes me silly, but red wine stains my teeth, and on the off chance that I actually spoke to a single person during the conference, I didn’t want to scare him/her away with a purple smile.

Miraculously, a group of wonderful YA writers––who will get a special thank you on the acknowledgments page of my book––invited me to join them. I made friends! I didn’t care about meeting agents at that point, I was just so relieved to have been invited into the fold. I relaxed. I had another glass of white wine. And then another. I was lots of fun at that point. And then . . .

Turns out, the writers who’d adopted poor socially awkward me knew a few of the agents already. Our group merged with an agent group. I wasn’t nervous anymore. I was drinking white wine in the hot sun and I was downright gregarious. The YA writers introduced me to JWC. We talked. Or, I should say, I talked . . . at her . . . a lot.

I had another glass of white wine.

I told the story in which the use of the “C” word was absolutely essential.

I did not feel the least bit embarrassed about this until the next day, when I had to pitch my half-finished novel, STRUCK, to JWC with a white wine hangover hammering at my brain.

But, hey, she asked me to send her the first 50, and after she read that she asked for the rest of the novel. We did some revisions together, yada yada yada. She sent the book out April of 2010. It went to auction between 4 publishing houses a month later, and has gone to auction in Germany, and sold in several other countries.

I love my agent.

I have since told her many, many more scandalous stories . . . some of them fictional.


  1. Love this! I love that you just went to a conference not knowing anyone and got to make some awesome connections!!! I've always been intimidated by conferences for this reason. Now I know the secret-- white wine ;)

  2. White wine is the secret to my success! The SBWC was actually the second conference I went to not knowing anyone. The first was the Maui Writer's Conference, and I survived that one, too, but I didn't drink nearly enough white wine to get me anywhere. ;)

  3. The moral? Drink more wine! What a great story. I'm going to need to hear that C-word-essential tale at some point...

  4. That's so fun! I also want to hear the c-word-essential tale!

  5. I think all of us budding alcoholics can learn a lesson here.

  6. Ohhh, the C word story . . . do I dare tell it again? What if it disrupts the balance of the universe?

  7. We all knew you were a stud the moment we heard an excerpt from STRUCK. It was destiny baby... And we're so lucky that you joined our beloved group of freaks (and even performed with us on stage...sans the wine...or were we drinking then too?) Love you Jen!