Last week’s discussion of my (semi) support of my hometown teams got me thinking about another group of talented professionals – the amazing women who work with me to bring my stories to the world.
First up: my agent, Jessica Faust. We have been together for (pause to count on fingers and toes – realize I can’t count that high, abandon the effort) – we’ve worked together since September of 2002. Do you want to know how dedicated this woman is? An agent’s primary role is to help sell the author’s books: to pair the stories with the editors who will be the best match for that work. Along the way, agents often offer editorial input, alert the author to new opportunities, and provide about ninety thousand pep talks. The kicker: agents don’t make a penny until the book sells. Yep. All that advice and hand-holding and wisdom and support – that huge investment of time and energy – is all offered on faith that the author will someday make enough money for the agent to balance the scales. Jessica hung in for almost ten years, believing in me when I totally lost faith, continuing to bolster and encourage me until my work got to the level it needed to reach for someone to say, “Yes.” She still pushes me and endures my oddities and makes me believe all publishing dreams are possible. And if that’s not enough, she also served as my editor/publisher for Call of the Wilder. I hit the jackpot when Jessica plucked my story out of the slush pile. All authors deserve someone this dedicated on their side.
Piya Campana, Editor Extraordinaire, works with me on my Superromances. And oh, do I make this poor woman work. Folks, if there is anything real or meaningful in my stories, you can thank Piya. She has the ability to sift through the pages of surface-level story that I send to her, find the kernels of depth and emotional resonance – not to mention something that resembles a cohesive plot – and wave them in front of my face so I can finally, FINALLY see them. And she does all this with humour, grace, and a gentleness that makes the process (almost) a joy. Plus she’s based in Toronto, which means we speak the same language. Someone once asked me why it was so easy to work on revisions with Piya. My response: “Are you kidding? We’re both Canadian. We’re too busy apologizing to each other to have any problems.”
Katherine Pelz and I have just begun working together on my upcoming stories from Berkley, but I have already benefited from her keen eye and vision. Also her patience 🙂 I’m looking forward to more of her guidance as she leads me through the process with this new publisher. I can’t imagine how an editor can read a submission – often just a few chapters of a work, along with a synopsis of what’s planned for the remainder – and see enough potential in it to commit to publishing it. Katherine has already gone to bat for me and my work, and I can’t wait to see where we go next.
Of course, there are many, many more people who touch each story along the way – senior editors and copy editors and proofreaders and cover artists and salespeople and so many more – but these three ladies are the first line for me. They each play a unique role and bring different perspectives that combine to challenge me to be a better writer. I can never thank them enough,