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.


  1. I am so blessed to have you in my life, Mary Sue! Thank you for always believing in me and offering me encouraging words when I needed them. :)

  2. Great post with lots of information. I, too, am glad to have Mary Sue in my life!!

  3. Mary Sue, I wanted to be a librarian when I was 10 yrs old; however, unlike you I did not say a prayer. I did not become a follower of Jesus until my 20's. Now I want to be a writer. I hope that when my first novel draft is completed I will end up under the wings of someone with the same ethical standards as you have.

    Blessings ~ Wendy ❀