Thursday, December 6, 2012

The Advent Conspiracy (Copied from Advent Conspiracy pamphlet)

The story of Christ's birth is a story of promise, hope, and a revolutionary love. So, what happened? What was once a time to celebrate the birth of a Savior has somehow turned into a season of stress, traffic jams, and shopping lists. And when it's all over, many of us are left with presents to return, looming debt that will take months to pay off, and this empty feeling of missed purpose. Is this what we really want out of Christmas? What if Christmas became a world-changing event again? Welcome to Advent Conspiracy, a movement calling us to proclaim Christ in how we celebrate Christmas.

Advent Conspiracy was started in 2006 by five pastors who decided to make Christmas a revolutionary event by encouraging their faith communities to Worship Fully, Spend Less, Give More and Love All. The response was overwhelming and the Conspiracy was born. Their vision for this project is a collaboration between Rick McKinley of Imago Dei Community in Portland, OR; Greg Holder from Windsor Crossing in St.Louis, MO; and Chris Seay of Ecclesia in Houston, TX.

Becoming a Part of the Story

Advent Conspiracy is a resource for churches to engage in authentic Worship and Giving at Christmas more fully-- a simple idea for you to take and run with. Be as creative and bless those in need by giving relationally as God gave His Son to us at Christmas. No Money comes to or through Advent Conspiracy. You decide where and how you would like to Give More to those in need. The concept behind Advent Conspiracy is simple...

Worship Fully
It starts with Jesus. It ends with Jesus. This is the holistic approach God had in mind for Christmas. It's a season where we are called to put down our burdens and lift a song up to our God. It's a season where love wins, peace reigns, and a king is celebrated with each breath. It's the party of the year. Entering the story of Advent means entering this season with an overwhelming passion to worship Jesus to the fullest.

Spend Less
Before you think we're getting all Scrooge on you, let us explain what we mean. We like gifts. Our kids really like gifts. But consider this: America spends on average of $450 billion a year on Christmas. How often have you spent money on Christmas presents for no other reason than obligation? How many times have you received a gift out of that same obligation? Thanks, but no thanks, right? We're asking people to consider buying one less gift this Christmas. Just one. Sounds insignificant, yet many who have taken this small sacrifice have experienced something nothing less than a miracle: They have been more available to celebrate Christ during the advent season. Looking for a few gifts that don't cost money? Need some more ideas for relational giving? Head to today.

Give More
God's gift to us was a relationship built on love. So it's no wonder why we're drawn to the idea that Christmas should be a time to love our friends and family in the most memorable ways possible. Time is the real gift Christmas offers us, and no matter how hard we look, it can't be found at the mall. Time to make a gift that turns into the next family heirloom. Time to write mom a letter. Time to take the kids sledding. Time to bake really good cookies and sing really bad Christmas carols. Time to make love visible through relational giving. Sounds a lot better than getting a sweater two sizes too big, right?

Love All
When Jesus loved, he loved in ways never imagined. Though rich, he became poor to love the poor, the forgotten, the overlooked, and the sick. Jesus played to the margins. By spending less at Christmas we have the opportunity to join him in giving resources to those who need the most. When Advent Conspiracy first began four churches challenged this simple concept to its congregations. The result raised more than a half million dollars to aid those in need.

One less gift.
One unbelievable present in the name of Christ.

For more information, including some videos, be sure to visit

Friday, November 16, 2012

Mary Sue Answers Questions

I love to participate in writing conferences where I enjoy presenting workshops, meeting with writers about their books, and speaking on panels. My current blog consists of questions asked of me while sitting on panels at recent conferences along with my responses.

How did you become an agent?

I grew up one of eight children in rural New York State. My brothers, sisters and I liked doing things that were free such as attending Sunday School, going to the library, and swimming in the river. [I still enjoy doing all of these things!] One day when I was five years old while evading my chores I took a stack of library books to an empty brooder house which is a place where turkeys were kept. When I finished reading half the stack, I remember looking up – because that’s where I thought God was in those days – and praying, “God, when I grow up I want to read books for a living!” That’s where my career began – in an old turkey brooder house!

What is new with you and your clients?

Shelley Shepard Gray’s Found [Harper Collins] hit the New York Times and USA Today best sellers lists; Mary Ellis’s Living in Harmony [Harvest House] is a 2012 Lime Award nominee after receiving a 5 star review; Jen Turano’s A Change in Fortune[Bethany House]  received a starred Booklist review; Amy Clipston’s October release, the Kauffman Amish Collection [Zondervan], includes A Plain and Simple Christmas and Naomi’s Gift; Vannetta Chapman has begun writing her second series for Zondervan and recently signed a 3 book deal with Harvest House for the Amish Artisan Mystery Series ; Kate Welsh was nominated for a Golden Leaf Award for Texan’s Honor [Harlequin]; Kelly Irvin just signed a new contract with Harvest House for a spin-off series entitled New Hope Amish; Ruth Reid’s An Angel at Her Side[Thomas Nelson]will be released January 1, 2013; Amy Lillard, author of Saving Gideon [B & H], received a 4 star review from RT; and Jennifer Beckstrand’s Amish series titled Forever in Apple Lake[Summerside Press] includes Miriam’s Quilt which is scheduled to be released March 1; I just sold Caryl McAdoo’s Vow Unbroken to Howard Books which is a division of Simon & Schuster and Pat Trainum’s three book deal Shadows From the Past to Revell. In the past few weeks have sold 7 inspirational works of nonfiction including Angels in the Fire which went to Bethany House. Co-agent, Nicole Resciniti, and I have a book being released in 2013 titled The Smart Guide to Getting Published which we are very excited about. I also authored a picture book titled Friends in a Storm which was illustrated by Samantha Flynn, 9 year old art student of mine. This will be released by Guardian Angel Publishing in 2013.

What is the best advice you can offer a new writer looking for an agent?

Make certain your agent is a member of the AAR. When an agent is a member of the Association of Author’s Representatives, he or she must uphold a Canon of Ethics. There is a complete list of members on the AAR site which is:

Do you represent any projects currently that are unusual or different?

I am circulating NY Times best-selling author Cec Murphey’s Slow Death in Muma which is a murder mystery. I don’t usually handle this genre, but I couldn’t put Cec’s book down. Also, I am circulating Don Reid of the Statler Brothers’ Stranger in Mount Jefferson.  Again this is not a genre I usually handle, but I loved Don’s smooth, easy to read writing style.  I sold Don’s first series to Cook.

What unique things can you offer your clients?

I like to think of The Seymour Agency as a family of writers. When my published authors and I get together at ACFW or other conferences, I like to treat them to dinner or for drinks.  Even when we all sit down and have a glass of iced tea together and chat, it’s nice catching up on news with everyone’s families and careers.  I also love giving my clients little gifts to show my appreciation of their loyalty. Emily Keys who worked in foreign rights and contracts for Simon & Schuster looks over our contracts and sells our foreign rights. As a former teacher who holds New York State certification, I like to think I’m a good editor. If there’s something wrong with a book, I can write a prescription to fix it. Whether it’s picking out Christmas gifts for my clients or praying about their children with them, as I said before, I like to think of us as a family. In the end as Christians we must model ourselves after Jesus Christ who was an advocate of love.

What are some of the upcoming writers’ conferences you’ll be attending?

I’ll be attending Heartland of America Christian Writers Network in Kansas City, Oregon Christian Writers Conference, Florida Writers Association Conference, Florida Christian Writers Association Conference, Nola Stars in Louisiana, Unicorn Writers Conference in Connecticut, Charter Oak Romance Group in Connecticut, Tallahassee Writing Association Conference in Florida, the WisRWA Annual Writers Conference in Wisconsin, American Christian Fiction Writers in Indiana, and Romance Writers of America National Convention in Georgia. At some of these conferences I will be presenting workshops, sitting on panels, and listening to pitches. I hope to meet you at one of them! If you do attend, please come up to me and introduce yourself. I love meeting new people!

For what are you thankful?

 I have so much to be thankful for. I am always asking God why I have a roof over my head, heat in my house and food to eat, and why my children have medical care and an education, but so much of the world doesn’t. Why did God choose me to receive these gifts? This is a mystery, and I have no answers. I am thankful for my friends and family especially my sons, Matt and Luke; daughter-in-law, Nicky; and my co-agent, Nicole Resciniti, who is the daughter I never had – but always wanted. I am thankful for my clients who allow me to direct their writing careers. I am thankful for the editors who have bought my clients’ books because they have launched them into the beautiful world of Christian publishing. I’m also thankful for the editors who have not bought my clients’ books because those editors are in a position to open peoples’ hearts to Jesus Christ through the projects they do buy.

But most of all, I am thankful to God for hearing the prayer of that little girl in the brooder house.