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Category: Lessons Learned

Weekly Bible Memory Verse at Canterbury Christian School – Hebrews 4: 12 – 13

Weekly Bible Memory Verse at Canterbury Christian School – Hebrews 4: 12 – 13

God Always Loves Me
God Always Loves Me

I go to Canterbury Christian School in Los Altos, CA.

Bible Memorization is Important

At my school, we are required memorize Bible verses each week. Each year it gets harder and harder. I am in the 4th grade. Following is this week’s verse.

It is my first one as a 4th grader!

“For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any two double – edged sword, it penetrates even to the dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Nothing in creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we have to give account.” Hebrews 4:12-13

This is the New International Version. We memorize the King James Version.  I like the King James Version better because it is easier to remember and it can be more colorful.

What I think about this verse

I like this verse because it reminds me that I can know God is with me and watching me all the time. I will always be His child. And He has given me His Word so I can know what He wants from me. Amen.

Why I Think Chasing Literary Agents is a Waste of Time

Why I Think Chasing Literary Agents is a Waste of Time

I may be cutting my own throat, burning a bridge (if there were one) … or it might just be that I am a loser.

Think what you will think, most people do anyway … but here’s my story on why I think chasing literary agents is a waste of time.

Chasing a Literary Agent Wore Me Out
Chasing a Literary Agent Wore Me Out

Putting Together a Book Proposal

I spent nearly 2 months putting together a book proposal for a non-fiction book. I created multiple iterations and had a highly qualified friend take a look and give feedback.

Question – How do I know she is highly-qualified?

Answer – Check out these qualifications:

  • She has 3 times successfully landed a literary agent. Twice for fiction and once for nonfiction.
  • She has multiple times had articles published in ‘prestigious’ magazines and online sites.
  • She used to do book reviews for very highly respected newspaper on the left coast.
  • She knows her stuff and held nothing back in telling me what I should and should not do with my book proposal.

I also got online, read a BUNCH of websites owned by literary agents and publishing houses to learn from them as well what was needed, wanted in a proposal.

I finally had a proposal I could confidently submit.

Literary Agents Have More Hoops to Jump Through

Jumping over obstacles for Literary Agents
Jumping over obstacles for Literary Agents

A proposal, however, is not all that a literary agent wants.

Literary agents say they want:

  • a personalized email submission / query letter that shows I care, took the time to reach out to them because they are a match.  Yeah, right.
  • a social media presence that is worth tooting about. Yeah, right again.

So, I took this advice to heart. I spent on average an hour and a half per email query.

3 Steps to Choosing a Literary Agent to Contact

  1. I went to the agent’s site or the agency site where the agent was attached.
  2. I read bio after bio and clicked through to read up on books they had represented.
  3. I picked out that one agent who resonated, who said they were interested in the book-type I was writing.

Example – My book is about raising bi-cultural kids. I found a bi-cultural agent in Kansas or some such place from the 2 cultures I am writing about!  I could tell from her name, and wrote personally to her … because of her name, because she said she was interested in the kind of book I was writing. Silence.

I tailored EVERY single email I sent out to each agent or agency, mentioning books they had represented and their interests and explaining how my book idea was a match. EVERY ONE!

Solid Research in my Marketing Statistics

Yes, yes … I did my market research. My book proposal was solid. No making up of numbers. Solid.

But and this might be a big BUTT, or but for most would-be authors … gotta have a social media presence. What about that?

Super Social Networker
Super Social Networker

Go Ahead – Check Out My Social Media Platform

  • I have two very relevant Twitter accounts with more than 90,000 combined targeted followers. That’s a big number, right?
  • I have a local F2F network of followers that reaches over 30,000 people. Real people. Who follow me. That’s a big number, right?
  • I have an online niche forum of people who follow me. My name is in the URL that they follow … 2,200 posts, 23,000 threads, the majority created by my 3,000+ followers!! Those are big numbers. Right?
  • More than 140,000 visitors have come to my personal site more than 200,000 times! Organically! Those are big numbers, too, right?
  • I included screenshots in my book proposal as proof. Did I say my proposal was solid?
  • I had opening chapters, outline for the project. And everything else that my coach and the many websites said I needed. Did I say my proposal was solid?

Results?

I spent a minimum of 100 hrs researching agents and agencies, writing personalized emails and sending them out and waiting 6 weeks to 3 months (are you serious?) to get an answer … one way or the other … or more accurately … to NOT get an answer.

I got one ask for more information. I got almost a dozen canned responses. And a full 80% of my queries got no response whatsoever. So, I sent them out again! Yeah, I can hit resend. But only after I further personalized the email and mentioned, that they must be busy and what not.

More zilch. Nada. Zero. Zip. No answer. Can you really get more of nothing? More silence I suppose.

Do the math before thinking Literary Agent

Pieces do NOT Fall into Place
Pieces do NOT Fall into Place

100 hrs and one ask for more info. The way I figure, I need to get 30 asks for more information in order to finally get the agent. 30 x 100 hrs = 3,000 hrs. People don’t work that much in one year!

So, how much do I pay myself per hour. $10/hr? $100/hr? If I paid myself minimum wage I’d be spending $30K just to get an agent!?!? And I still don’t have a publishing deal or an advance. That would take even more time and revisions … and with NO guarantee. And if I got an advance I’d still have to write the book AND share with the agent.

In which universe does this make sense?

Conclusion:

Agents are self-proclaimed gatekeepers AND lousy ones at that.

Furthermore … I think they are just dishonest at worse … or completely overwhelmed with so much trash that it’s now impossible to get noticed unless there is an introduction.

Agents say – we need this, this and this. And I provided that, that and that.  Did I say my proposal was solid?

And I couldn’t even get them to read the email, much less respond.

Chasing literary agents is a waste of time. Or maybe … I am just a loser.

Amazing Grace | Reverse Culture Shock | Learning to Like People

Amazing Grace | Reverse Culture Shock | Learning to Like People

Reverse Culture Shock
Reverse Culture Shock

My daddy has been going to a Bible study with other daddies for a really long time. They read a book, “What’s So Amazing About Grace?”

On one of our morning walks daddy told me he wants to learn to like people again.

“What??!! He doesn’t like people?”

That surprised me.

“I think I am going through reverse culture shock.”

“Reverse what shock?”

“Even after 10 years of being back in the US. Maybe I haven’t readjusted yet.”

He went on and on about how he lived and worked in Japan for many years after spending lots of time in the Navy on a ship with lots of people in a very small place. And then he taught college and university and there was drama and movements toward being a pot licking correcter. (Ed. political correctness).

He said it was hard to move back to the United States from Asia.

Daddy said America is not like it used to be. Or Americans are not the way he remembers them.

Maybe Americans are the way they have always been but daddy remembers differently.

I am glad my daddy likes me. The rest of the people have to get in line behind me.

Oh, and I hope daddy learns to like people again.

 by Melissa and Doug  (105)  Buy new: $14.99 $13.92  57 used & new from $9.49

Chaos and Creativity | Lessons Learned about Life from the Walt Disney Family Museum in San Francisco

Chaos and Creativity | Lessons Learned about Life from the Walt Disney Family Museum in San Francisco

Bill Belew has raised 2 bi-cultural kids, now 34 and 30. And he and his wife are now parenting a 3rd, Mia, who is 8.

Snow White's Personality
Snow White’s Personality

When the Walt Disney studio was working on the production Snow White the studio grew in size, meaning more and more people came to work.

Artists had to work in newly constructed places, annexes, apartment buildings next door, makeshift locations, anywhere a drawing board could be set up.

The chaos encouraged rather than diluted rich creativity.

One of the animators, Art Babbit said, “There was an atmosphere of discovery, of learning, and everybody was eager. Guys would stay after work to sneak a look at somebody else’s work, on the desk or wherever it was, to try to learn, and nobody was stingy with their information. You know, they were happy to tell you how to do something.”

Related: Lessons Learned about Life at the Walt Disney Family Museum in San Francisco | Introduction

That spirit of creativity and sharing in the midst of chaos is what helped make Snow White the success that it became.

Another concept artist called the studio a, ” … drawing factory. It was incredible, the brilliance, the invention … Amazing. It was a fountain of drawing.”

It seems that the struggle to make things all right and proper so that you can become creative is not the right strategy at all. Rather it is better to create amongst the struggle, in the uncertainty, and do it with other like-minded souls. That is where greatness is found.

Hmm…

Talk to Bill and others about their experiences raising bi-cultural Japanese-American kids.