Friday, December 14, 2012

I Found My Agent at the Mall or How Christmas Came Twice in One Year

by Michelle Houts
I’m really not much of a mall shopper. I tend to gravitate toward small shops and neighborhood stores. But there’s something so wonderful, so magical about the mall – any mall – at Christmastime, I could spend hours there. From Santa’s house to a Winter Wonderland to the massive ornaments and decorations, I don’t need to spend a dime. I’m happy just gawking at the glitz!
Recently, I was at the mall with my oldest daughter on her 19th birthday. I’d arranged to make a very important telephone call in the middle of the day. It was one of those calls every author waits for: an agent wanted to speak with me about my submission! So, the first order of business after arriving at the mall was to scope out a quiet spot to make this potentially life-changing phone call. But finding a quiet place in the midst of this…

…wasn’t going to be easy. There were people everywhere. There were children everywhere. There were elves everywhere! And, most of all, music everywhere. Now, I adore Christmas music. But how could I risk not hearing that all-important phrase, “I love your manuscript!” just because Jingle Bells was playing too loud?
Finally, my daughter had a brilliant idea.

Have you seen the ladies room at Von Maur? Von Maur’s restroom looks more like a Hilton lobby than a restroom. Nicely appointed with comfortable furniture, soft lighting, and best of all – delicate, classical piano music piped in from above, it was the perfect place for me to settle in, take a few deep breaths and get my thoughts together before my shaking fingers made THE call.
So, that’s how I found Karen Grencik at the mall.
I felt like Santa came early when Karen offered to represent me. She’s smart, sweet, and she believed in the middle grade manuscript I sent her. What more could an author want?
Oh, a book deal, you say?
Well, Christmas came again in May.  This time, no malls or restrooms were involved. Just an early morning phone call in which Karen announced we had an offer from Candlewick.  Sold! And guess what? It’s a Christmas story. 
I told you the mall is a magical place at Christmastime.


  1. This is a wonderful story! Thanks for sharing it! I'd LOVE to hear more just like this!

  2. Ohhh... magic! This wins for most original offer story ever, Michelle! Love it. :D