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.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Praise God!

I learned I am up for ACFW agent of the year; this is an award agents are given and are nominated by their clients. The first thing I thought when I found out was that I wish I could nominate my clients for Client of the Year. They work hard doing research, book signings, revising, writing long hours and answering fan mail. Sometimes I wonder how they manage to do write and write so well! They send me wonderfully written books and I sell them - they make my job so easy. I pray for them and for their families.
I had a lot of business trips this spring. Each was a blessing unto itself. I went to conferences in Baltimore, Tororonto, NJ and CT. I have a prayer card ministry. Whenever a writer signs up to do an appointment with me, I give them a business card and then I casually ask them if they would like a prayer card. Some writers say no and that's okay. I respect that. But most take one. I must say, this is not an easy thing for me to do. I realize some may take offense but in God's name I do this anyway. At a recent conference I attended in NYC, one of the writers that signed up to pitch her book for me cried when I gave her the card. Am not certain why but I do know the card touched her in a special way.
I recently returned from a conference in NYC, was going through my mail and noticed a beautiful card with a prayer hand written in it for me. I read it over several times. What a blessing that prayer was! It made me feel rested and calm and most of all reminded me that when we are tired or in a turmoil God IS in charge ALWAYS! The prayer was written by members of the Oregon Summer Conference I'll be attending in Portland next month. It is as follows: "Oh Lord Jesus, teach me how to pray for your servant, Mary Sue. Thank you for the gift she is to all. She serves in your enabling power. Sovereign Lord, be Mary Sue's feet like hinds feet and able her to walk - not stand still in terror but walk and make spiritual progress upon her dangerous heights of testing, trouble and responsibility.
Thank you, Lord, that the battle is yours. All Mary Sue has to do is hold her peace.
Anoint Mary Sue with weight and power and authority as she speaks and writes for You. Cause her authority to be recognized because she herself is bowed to righteous authority. Open doors before Mary Sue as she serves in every capacity. Let no task seem impossible. Cause her to know always that if she will be in You - You will do through her. Thank you, Father. Make us a blessing to her as she comes to Aldersgate. Amen."
And please remember whatever happens to you today or tomorrow, God is there with you bearing every burden. He loves you more than you will ever know!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Giving in 2011!

When I was a little girl my mother would sit down at the kitchen table each month and write bills. I noticed with great interest her writing little checks to all kinds of charities - The American Lung Association, Disabled Vets, USO and the lists go on and on. The checks were usually in the amount of $2 or $3 - at the time I didn't understand why she did that but what I remember is the smile on my mother's face when she did it. Even as child I worried about money - I was one of eight children and we struggled financially. But I knew my mother was right to do this and she said God always pays us back doubly for what we give.
I had a circumstance just like that at church yesterday. I went to my usual 9:00 AM service at Kendrew Methodist Church - this is a struggling church. It has lost money the past three years and is now running on money from five years ago - scary thing. The problem is not only that attendance is down but oil is up and also the fee they pay their ruling demonination is up as well.
So I give over twice to this church each week - just because I believe they need it. [By the way, if anyone has suggestions as to how a small, struggling country church could earn money, I'd appreciate you letting me know. There must be a way to get them grounded again.]
When my ancestors first came to America during the potato famine in the 1880's they attended that old church. It would be a shame to see it close and the people there are lovely.
Anyway, am getting off the subject - then I went to the large contemporary church I attend at 11:00 AM. This church isn't hurting for money but it offers one so many wonderful opportunities to give! Yesterday I gave my usually monthly donation for missionary outreach and my usual weekly donation. Then as I was leaving I noticed the youth group was collecting for starving children throughout the world. They had people cut-outs in pink, blue and yellow and hung up one on a clothesline over their heads every time someone donated their requested amount.
Then after church when I was putting the weekly bulletin in my car a paper fell out. A lady in the church who usually runs the Vacation Bible School program was asking for donations for Disaster Care Packages. So I stopped at Walmart and bought tooth brushes, a hand towel, beanie baby like stuffed animals, little packs of tissues and so on and since I wasn't going to be there the week they collected them I mailed them to the church.
Then today when the mail came for my agency, I opened a check that was the largest royalty check for nonfiction I have ever seen in nineteen years of agenting. I can't disclose the amount but the book was titled The Harry Potter Cookbook.
I knew right away, it was just God paying me back for giving yesterday. God is so good and He loves each and everyone of us. Blessings to you today.........

Monday, January 10, 2011

The Disney Half Marathon January 8th

God blessed me!
I ran/walked the Disney half marathon this past Saturday! What an experience! The bus picked us up at my hotel in Disney All Star Music at 3:45 AM. I was on time! The bus was luxurious with comfy seats. I sat next to a high school coach from Florida who told me a story about a little girl named Abby. Her mother was a single mom because when her little brother needed his first heart surgery, his dad left. The mom had no family and now Abby was awaiting some serious surgery. Her digestive system had shut down and she couldn't eat. This gentleman told me he and his wife, who was a first grade teacher, had adopted this family and had them to their home for Thanksgiving and Christmas. I told the man I would pray for Abby and for strength for her mom to persevere. He and his wife were each taking ten days off from school to be with the family during the surgery.
When we got off the bus, we walked a long way to get to the grounds where we were to gather. There were 35,000 runners! So many! There was a DJ playing peppy songs and reminding us of the magic of Disney and because it was 4:00 AM, it was still dark. We waited and I met some lovely people. I was alone - the half marathon was actually a younger sister's idea but she had a very good reason to bow out; I travel alone all the time for business so didn't mind going alone at all. We walked to our corrals - there were eight corrals to accomodate the 35,000 particpants. I was in G - most likely because I am 58 and they supposed I wouldn't have a great time which of course I wouldn't! They were right on with that but then my goal was to just finish.
It was cold - 47 degrees - I wore capris, a t-shirt and a light fleece but was so excited, I didn't feel the cold. We walked as a group to find placement in our corrals. At the entrance Disney had a wide red, plush carpet spread out for us. To the left was a very tall man in his 70's or so wearing a pink flamingo suit. He smiled at me - honestly I was so astonished I hope I smiled back. When when our eyes met, I had an epiphany. I knew at that moment I had to finish that race! The tricky part of the race is there was a spotter in the H corral in an orange suit setting a pace - if one didn't keep up, you were picked up and taken in a cart to the finish. Susan - a friend I've known for over fifty years called the cart "the loser wagon" and we joked about me staying ahead of it. I'm not an athelete or really competitive, but I always like to finish what I start. It honestly would have killed me to be taken out.
Then they directed us to our corrals. There was a DJ interviewing a young soldier who had been in an explosion Iraq in 2006 and lost his eyesight. He was running the race, and he sounded like such a lovely young man. I thought how proud his mother must be of him; I know how proud I am of both of my sons! I met two lovely young runners in my G corral. Jane drove up from South Carolina and Sherry was from California. I told them I hadn't trained for the  race other than walking fifteen miles the weekend before and attending a few zumba classes. The holidays and eating got away from me, the race crept up and I knew I should have trained. But I was there and would do my best. I had also gained eight pounds from all the Christmas cookies I baked!
They fired guns off in waves as the runners started. When each wave left and of course I mentioned it was dark, they shot off fireworks. This was the closest I've ever been to fireworks and it was exciting! Jane took pictures of the fireworks. I hadn't brought a camera because I knew I was alone - pictures without people in them aren't so great. Then it came to be our turn! The exhilaration was so cool!
When I ran over the start, there were very large torches above us and they were so warm! The heat felt good.
I surprised myself and was so into not being taken out, that I ran - I remembered someone telling me how to jog over thirty years before. They said relax, count and breathe so that's what I did.
At the first mile a smiling lady held up a sign that said, "You're almost there!" That made me smile.
There were high school bands along the way with cheerleading squads. The girls and band members held out their hands and hit hands with you as you passed. I clapped for some of them and thanked them for coming.
I imagine Disney gave them free admission to the park that day for their participation.
A lot of people wore costumes - mostly Donald Duck, Micky and Minnie Mouse - so cute. One girl that seemed to stay near me most of the race - am assuming she was Tinker Bell -  wore wings that had flashing lights on them - so cute!!!
We ran on highways around Disney mostly. We were running on a six-lane highway - the runners were going down three lanes which were closed off to traffic. The other three lanes had heavy traffic going one way. Two runners collapsed a few yards ahead of me. They stopped the race. Two fire trucks, two ambulances, three emergency vehicles with flashing blue lights and two police cars came tearing down the traffic lane against the heavy traffic. It was something to see!!! Then finally the emergency vehicles pulled off onto the median. They loaded the two runners on stretchers and placed them into individual ambulances. How strange: two collapsed at the same time; am assuming they probably needed fluids and rest.
Then we ran into Magic Kingdom. That was so fun! We ran right through the middle of the castle. The runners were yelling and listening to the echos in the castle. After I ran through the castle, I noted the crowd of people along the side. There was a rope fence holding them back. One lady held a sign that said, "Your knees are replaceable; your pride isn't!"
Then we ran back out onto the highway and I started to get a little bored. I started noting runners ahead of me I thought I might be able to pass so I set about trying to pass them. Then I set my sights on another person I thought I might be able to pass and so it went....This kept me from losing focus and slowing down as well. At every mile they had a clock. I honestly would try to memorize the time and see how fast I was running, but I would always miss the next clock at the next mile or not be able to see it through the crush of runners or I forgot the time on the last one. Most of the runners had nice watches and were keeping pace that way. I wished.....
By mile ten, I looked at runners ahead of me, I thought that was nice but ached all over and no longer tried to pass people. Three miles remaining and there was a Scottish contemporary band playing. I listened as long as I could. They were great! Bagpipies, fiddles and so on....
When we entered Epcot, a man yelled 3/5 a mile remaining! I was trying to figure out how far that was. A lady who was running ahead of me wore a shirt that said, "God, please make there be someone behind me to read this!" That made me smile.
Our names were on our numbers so people cheered for you by name. One lady yelled at the last half mile, "Come on, Mary Sue! You're almost there!!" My eyes teared up at the emotion in her voice.
Then I saw the finish line. It was a wonderful site! The crowds were fifty deep behind the rope fences. I ran over and a nice man handed me a Donald Duck medal. I put it on around my neck, looked up to heaven and silently thanked God.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Christmas 2010

Originally this blog was dedicated to what I try to do for God. In the few weeks I've been doing this, it has made me realize that I do pretty much nothing for God. He does everything for me. I am praying that I do better in the new year!
Christmas Eve we went to a 4:00 service at church. It was standing room only and I was standing but I chose a spot by the 10th row so I had a great view. Sweet little girls dressed up like angels came down the row after they performed in the nativity. Two of the little girls were from the Christian school I help out at - one of them smiled and waved as she went by but the other, Hannah, stopped and gave me a huge hug! I have to say getting hugged by one of God's angels on Christmas Eve was the highlight!
Then we went to Mike's sister's Mary Ellen's for a party Christmas Eve. Mike's sister, Beth, gave a talk about how we should all pretend we were there that night in Bethlehem when Christ was born. It was very heart felt and I was sorry when her talk ended. I gave the reading which was an honor really to be asked.
Christmas morning we stopped at my brother John's and gave him his cinammon rolls. Had taken other brother Andy's to him with son, Luke, the day before Christmas Eve. The house he is renovating is lovely. He is gifted to be able to do that! Then we stopped at my sister, Bev's, for breakfast Christmas Day. She had amazing french toast with giant blueberries! It was so good - then we went on to Mike's mothers. I took a platter of Christmas cookies. It did my heart good to see everyone eating them - especially the children. I love to bake but obviously can only eat so many!
It made me think of all the people I had given my Christmas cookies to - brother, Dave, the pastor and his wife at church, our neighbor, Irene, my piano and art students that come to my house Monday and Tuesday evenings, a sister and so on....I am so blessed to be have so many people to give my cookies to!!!
Then we went to my new daughter in law's parent's house which is located in the same city. We had awesome macaroni and cheese and Italian meatballs. And I got to play with Nicky's nephew, Jordan. We played dinosaurs and got some good dinosaur fights going!
Then Sunday morning I went to the small country church I attend at 9 and remembered my Christmas cards for everyone. Had forgotten them the week before and it's a tradition in that little church to remember everyone with Christmas cards for Christmas. Then I grabbed another cup of tea in my Christmas mug I had bought at Cracker Barrel and went to my 11:00 church which is a large contemporary church with a Christian band. I spoke with a lovely family after the service - their son Nathan is applying to medical school and has asked me to edit his essay which I am more than happy to do - and also honored to do.
Last night I had Mike's mom, sister, Margaret, husband, Cody and son, Eric, over for dinner. We had the nicest time with Christmas music playing and the Christmas tree lit. Honestly if I had to pray to marry into a nice family, I wouldn't have even dreamed to pray for my in-laws! Each and everyone of them are special beyond being special.
Thank you, God, for what you do for me!!! And Christmas blessings to all.....

Friday, December 10, 2010

Friday Afternoon

     This afternoon after I was settled in to an afternoon full of agency work, my husband called me from the road. He told me as a libary board member he was supposed to have taken food donations and two very large tables to the library that afternoon to be used for their holiday sale the following day. He asked me to do it for him since he wouldn't be back in time.
     The tables are the tables that seat twelve people each that we use for Thanksgiving. We had 46 people at our house for Thanksgiving this year and what a blessing it was!
     I had to drag them upstairs as they are old and heavy and then get them in the back of my younger son, Luke's pick up truck. This truck had belonged to Luke's grandfather many years before, is a 1992 and the tailgate rusted out years before and is missing. Luke is a college student who mows 3 cemeteries in the summer so it suits him well.
     My husband was driving the good truck and I knew they wouldn't fit in my Corolla. I worried a little bit that the tables would fall out of the back but thought I would just drive very slowly. I drove about 35 mph down our road and into town.
     When I pulled into a parking place at the libary, I noticed both the tables were missing so I did a U turn in the middle of that busy street to go back and rescue them. Driving Luke's truck has never been easy for me and I'm afraid I held up traffic for awhile at the intersection before I could get it into reverse. Then as I rounded the bend on the main street, I saw them in the middle of the road. People were slowing down and looking at them strangely to see what they were.
     I left the truck running, parked illegally, got out and pulled one of them out of the road. Then a nice young man came out of nowhere, grabbed the other one and pulled that one out. He walked through the traffic with me and loaded both tables back on the truck. What a nice guy!!! I thanked him profusely. Honestly it was difficult enough getting them in the back of the truck the first time - am not certain I could have accomplished it again.
     It surprised me as well that the people in the busy intersection weren't angry to be held up; they were smiling and one lady was laughing. Would rather have that than people being angry.
     So I didn't have to take a turn, I drove behind the library, parked illegally [again] and dragged the tables one by one into the library and down the stairs. I also took in the food items for the sale. When I left the tables, I noticed there was a lot of snow on them from when they fell off the truck but by the look on my face, I guess the ladies decided not to say anything to me about it.
     Since I was out and about, I stopped at Lowe's to pick up a couple of things. As I walked through the poinsetta  section, I noticed carts of beautifully scented Easter lilies. I couldn't walk by them without stopping to take a whiff. Their scent is the closest thing to heaven without really being there. The girl unloading them off a cart told me quietly the store had ordered Christmas cactuses but that the warehouse had sent them Easter lilies by mistake. I couldn't help but wonder if people would buy them.
     Then at the light on the way home waiting at an intersection, I noticed my husband's Golden Retriever, Pike, who was sitting in the passenger seat next to me staring through the window at the car next to me. I didn't want to be snoopy but I looked over. There was a little girl holding a Golden Retriever puppy that was wearing a bright red sweater. The little girl was holding the puppy's paw so that it was waving at Pike. For a second I thought Pike might wave back...