THE TEXAS SWEETHEARTS are thrilled to introduce our newest FEATURED SWEETHEART, Casey McCormick. Not only is Casey a dedicated writer, mom, and reader for a literary agent, she also runs an amazing blog, Literary Rambles, especially for writers seeking agents. Her Agent Spotlight feature reaches out to hundreds of followers and includes a vast collection of all sorts of agents in the kidlit field. If you haven't checked out her blog, we can't recommend it more.
TXSH: You provide such helpful information on your blog, Agent Spotlight. Could you tell us about how you got the blog started and why did you decided to spotlight agents?
CLM: I started Literary Rambles based on the simple desire to connect with other writers of children’s books, and to have an outlet for my oft random thoughts about writing and life.
After a while, in reading other writer’s blogs, I noticed that my favorite blogs were those that offered a unique, recurring feature or were just plain funny. Natural funny I just don’t really have, so I started wondering what I could do in the realm of helpful, something that does come natural to me. Sometime later, the idea for Agent Spotlight came to me like story ideas often do—out of nowhere—and I decided to run with it. I’m so happy I did!
TXSH: What is something that you've gained unexpectedly after starting your blog?
CLM: I’ve gained a lot of unexpected things since starting my blog!
For one, I didn’t expect so many people to love and encourage Agent Spotlight, especially agents. To be honest, I was terrified what the agents I was profiling would think, so I was pleasantly surprised when I started receiving e-mails from some of them praising the feature.
Then there’s the huge amount of knowledge I’ve gained. Not only am I vastly more educated on agents than I was in general, but in digging so deep into what makes one agent different from another, I’ve been able to get a better feel for the type of agent I’d want for myself.
But best of all, I’ve also gained a lot of new friends and acquaintances that I wouldn’t have otherwise. I’ve never felt such a strong sense of community and I love it!
TXSH: Do you have any advice you'd like to share with other aspiring writers?
CLM: Stop and consider your current writing approach. Do you need to slow down? Being so closely connected to other writers via internet can have a huge affect on one’s writing. There’s the writer that can write five books a year, the other that sets lofty goals every week and meets them, the author that wrote a book in six months and managed to get an agent and a book deal in the next six. These things can create a rush, an unhealthy momentum in our goals. I recently realized I had fallen prey to the get-agented, get-published rush and it was hurting my writing more than it was helping it. I’ve promised myself to slow down this year and get back to focusing on the approach that works best for me and my writing. I’ll be shooting for quality over speed and quantity, and I’m positive that’s the way it should be.
TXSH: What about advice for writers looking for an agent?
CLM: Respect yourself and your writing enough to make informed decisions and don’t settle! You can’t know how you and an agent will work together until you’ve tried, but there are certainly things you can do to lay a strong foundation for success.
Try not to view it as the agent choosing you, but as a partnership. You’re choosing whom you query, interested agents are in turn choosing to offer representation, and then it’s YOUR call on whether you accept or not, whether you feel confident in making that partnership. You don’t have to take whatever agent will have you, even if it’s just one. Querying an agent does not obligate you to accept their offer. I know it’s hard not to jump at the opportunity to accept right away, especially if there is only one offer, but having the wrong agent can be worse than having no agent. It really can be.
Take the time to ask lots and lots of questions, all of the things that matter to you that you couldn’t find in your preliminary research, and then get a hold of a couple of their clients as well. Ask if you can e-mail a client they’ve sold projects for and then another they’ve yet to sell for. This will give you two different perspectives, valuable input that’s not directly from the agent.
TXSH: As a busy mother of two, blogger, writer, reader for a literary agent, and student among other things, how do you balance your time and stay sane?
CLM: Am I sane? Sometimes I don’t know. I’m also not sure how I balance it all sometimes. I think working at home enables me to do a lot more than those that work outside the home, but I also think it has a lot to do with priorities. I prioritize my blog and my writing over things like television (don’t even have cable) and cleaning (did I just say that publicly?). Seriously though, I recommend just focusing on the things in your control and trying to make the most of your unique situation.
Okay, here’s a secret before I go. I like to think of my life like the game Jenga. Everything’s stacked up like blocks, some of them creating a required foundation while newer priorities stack up precariously at the top. When I add one of those new priorities, I usually have to pull the time and energy from something that’s been around a lot longer (a lower block). I don’t know if my stack can handle that until I try, right? So I just have to give it a go, knowing that, even if I topple, I can try again and maybe I’ll pull from the right places the next time around, allowing my stack to get that much taller.
And now a brief bio for Casey:
Casey McCormick is an aspiring author as well as a reader for a literary agent. She lives in California where she neglects her day job as a medical transcriptionist to write young adult fiction and chase her kids around. To find out more, visit her blog, Literary Rambles, where she yaps about writing, literary agents, and a myriad of other desultory thoughts.
CLM: Thank you so much Jo, P.J. and Jessica! I'm honored to be featured by such Sweethearts!
TXSH: We are truly the honored ones! Thank you, Casey!
Please email us your nominations for featured sweethearts!