Sunday, July 29, 2018

Teachers Write Weekly Check In #3

Hi, friends!

I had a hard week. It was the kind of hard week where I didn't write much at all and I actually wasn't sure I would ever feel good about writing again. 

A big thing happened this week even though I can fit it into just a few words. 

My agent, Danielle Smith of Lupine Grove Creative, shut down her agency. 

She was accused of fraud, ended our contracts, and that was that. 

I signed with her at the end of 2016 so it was less than two years that I was one of her clients. In that time, I thought she was sending my picture books to editors but after checking with the few editors whose names she specifically shared with me, it seems as though they never saw my work. That's pretty bad, right? I mean, I was shocked and heartbroken. I've cried and cried and cried. But in talking with her other clients, it seem as though she did this to most of us and to some, on a far larger scale. That's really bad.

I spent most of the week consumed with listening to stories from other clients, shaking my head as I tried to understand why (I'm not sure I'll ever know why), and figuring out what my next steps will be. I've lived a year in these last few days, having gone through so many emotions. 

I was supposed to be adding words to my work in progress, my shiny new draft I've been so excited to get to. But I didn't get far before I got the news from Danielle. 

It's been a really hard week but I have a plan to start querying again and to keep writing (which I'm so so so glad I have been doing all along) and to move forward on my journey as a writer. The kidlit community has been extraordinarily kind and has offered support in a variety of ways. Personally, Anne Ursu, Laurel Snyder, Katherine Locke, Josh Funk, Kate Messner, and Brooks Benjamin have been so helpful in talking me through plans, thinking about agents to query, working on my query, and getting my work ready to send out. I cannot thank them enough. So many others checked in on me and offered words of encouragement that truly meant a lot.

I'm outraged at Danielle and what she put me and the other creators through. As mad as I am and always will be, I do appreciate the feedback she gave me on my picture books and I sure do have an unbelievable story to tell. 

My advice this week is as much for me as it is for you and your students. 

I'm telling myself to keep going. We have one more week of Teachers Write and I hope you are telling yourself and others here in our lovely community to keep going. And when you're working with student writers this year, I want you to remember these two words:

Keep going.

Photo Credit: Brittany Thurman

Just why are these two words so important? Because writers are notorious for having an idea, for starting, and for giving up. I bet you can talk to tons of people who will tell you they have an idea for a story or who started something but never finished it or even for those who wrote something but then never did anything with it. No matter where you are in the process or if you're starting fresh on a new idea...keep going.

Sometimes, all we need to hear is a vote of confidence. It can even be a whisper. But those two words make a difference. I believe in you and what you have to stay, so I hope you keep going. 

And if you ever find yourself in a situation where someone makes you feel as though you shouldn't keep writing or your writing isn't good enough or there's no reason to keep going, don't listen to them. 

Believe me. Keep going. 

Finally by Saturday night, after listening to the playlist I made for my work in progress over and over again to try and get my mind off all the jaw dropping, blood boiling stories I've heard, I pulled out my notebook and started writing. Characters I've been trying to seeing better in my mind came into crystal clear view. 

The loss I experienced this week reminded me of other times in my life when I've been disappointed. I pinpointed times when I've been so heartbroken for different reasons and I forced myself to remember the hurt I've felt before. In remembering, I realized that every single time, I found a way to keep going. 

So that's what I'm going to do and I hope you do to. 

I can't wait to hear how everything is going! Happy writing!!!

Rules for Teachers Write Sunday Check-Ins:
1. We respect each other and the type of writing we do.
2. We only offer constructive criticism.
3. We are positive and encourage each other at all times.
4. We recognize and maintain this as a safe environment.

Today, in the comments:
How did you do this week? Did you meet your weekly goal(s)?
What was the pit of your week? (The hardest part, the not-so-fun part?)
What was the peak of your week? (The best part, the most-totally-fun part?)
What inspires you or encourages you to keep going?

P.S. Thank you for replying to each other's comments! 
While I read them all and do my best to reply and 
reply as soon as possible, it doesn't always happen.
I so appreciate you cheering each other on through Teachers Write! Keep being awesome!


  1. The pit of my week has been seeing my friends hurting. I'm heartbroken for you and the others dealing with this situation. But I know that you (and Danielle's other clients) are talented! And the world needs your words! I'm so glad you've been buoyed by people in the industry who want to help!

    The peak of my week: I finished a big revision this week. There will be many more to come, but I'm glad I finished this particular revision because it really forced me to reinvision the whole manuscript! I also took some days off from writing--which is very unlike me. After that revision, which had consumed everything, I needed a brain break. Saw 2 movies, ate ice cream, sat on the porch, went to a museum. It was just what I needed.

    Coming up: I'm heading to Highlights for an unworkshop this week. I have multiple PBs that need some TLC. So...I'm excited to work on something different for several days.

  2. So sorry to hear about your experience this week. You have such a great attitude. And to top it all off, you are uplifting us - keep going. I for sure need this. This is my 2nd year with Teacher Write. I took two creative writing classes in my Master of English class and loved every minute of them. My professors were encouraging, and I thought that I would keep writing. But, I started teaching and have hardly written at all. I have never published anything. Last summer and this summer, all of you have been so great with your time and words of encouragement. I hope that I can "keep going" when this ends and find the time (make the time). Again, I am so sorry for your crappy week and your stupid agent. The best part, and the totally fun part of this week were the lessons, Josh Funk, Gae Polisner, Petro-Roy, Paquette, Kahn, and Kate Messner and all of you for putting this all together. Thanks again.

  3. I’m So sorry, Jen! You are a great writer and person, and I’m so glad you’ve kept going! It’s also nice to hear how many writer friends have stepped up to help in this terrible situation. I know it’s going to be okay!

    No, I didn’t meet my writing goal this week, although I got almost 800 words together on one document! My dog was needy this week (he’s old) and there were some distractions; I still need to learn to deal with distractions during writing time. Even though I’ve placed a schedule, I still let the writing time be interrupted, and I cannot do that!

    Next week is my last week before school starts, so I’m planning to be consistent with my schedule and be happy with my time I get to do this!
    My pit: distractions
    My peak: 800 “good” words on one document!
    Inspirations: Reading 3 ARCs and talking with friends about reading and writing in meaningful ways. Visiting The Brain Lair Bookstore! (It’s so wonderful!)
    The #g2great chat around nonfiction texts.

    Have a great week! Keep going!

  4. Jen,
    I’m so sorry. I can’t imagine. I read posts on twitter but had no idea you were one of her victims. I’m glad you took the time to process what happened and that you had good friends rally around you. And I am SUPER glad you are still writing. Writing is a gift given to you by God and one that you have worked so hard on to become a fantastic writer. I’m so happy you are not letting this sideline you. I will be thinking of you in the days ahead and encourage you to keep that pen to the paper. You will be victorious because you have the passion and the drive and the work ethic.
    Keep Going! A reminder we all need.

  5. Jen, I can only imagine how violated and betrayed you feel. That said, you are strong and talented, and I am sure that this issue will propel you to even greater heights. In the immortal words of Dory, "Just keep swimming."

    I will take your advice, as well. Tough week of travel, zero writing was accomplished in the drive back to California, but I have a week before school starts, so I am getting back to it today. Thinking of you will help me push forward this week. I appreciate you sharing your story. Sending you encouraging thoughts and calming vibes. You got this.


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