3 S.R. Johannes: December 2010

Thursday, December 23, 2010

The Grinch Who Stole EVERYTHING from a little boy.

On Sunday, my parents brought down an electric train to go around our Christmas tree. They found it at a store and knew my kids would love it.

You see, my 3.5 year old son LOVES trains. I think he even wants to be a conductor when he grows up. He was thrilled when they walked in with the box. His eyes lit up and he jumped around. I think he even squealed.


We told him that it was for him AND his sister so they both had to "the s word" --- SHARE.

Then, the devil took over my beautiful angel boy who is usually the first to say "Thank you", "Please" and "excuse me."

Now, Devil turns to my parents and asks them to take back the train.

I was mortified.

I asked him to thank his grandparents for the train --and he REFUSED. So, I told him he was not allowed to play with the train until he showed some manners. He proceeded to have a hissy fit asking my parents to take back the train! So I calmly walked him to his room and told him to stay there until he wanted to come out to apologize to --and thank --my parents

2 HOURS LATER - my son still REFUSED to be polite and was actually very rude. This was not your average kid just not saying thank you b/c he was shy or tired or didnt know better. He was mean.

My parents ended up leaving, my son ate dinner in his room and went to bed quietly, while I stayed up and steamed.

What kind of child have I raised that he would be that blatantly disrespectful?
Why was he doing this?
How do I teach him to be grateful?

The next morning, my son woke up and... what do you think he wanted to do first?
.....you git it....play with the train.

Grinch - "I'm sorry but you will not play with the train until you call and thank mimi and papa. do you understand?"

Son - "Yes."

Grinch - "Do you want to call them so you can play with it?"

Son - "Not yet."

This went on for a couple hours.

Now, I am not the strictest of parents. I tend to talk my kids to death and listen - probably too much. But the way my son was behaving was unacceptable to me. I tried to explain that no matter what people give us, we need to be grateful b/c they are thoughts wrapped up in gifts.

So I say: "If you cant be grateful for gifts, then you are going to lose other privileges. Every half hour until you do."

Son (while shrugging) - "Okay."

Grinch: Do you want to call mimi and papa so you dont' lose anything?

Son: "No"

This unsuspecting threat started the beginning of the end of this loooonnnggg day. Let me say upfront that I had NO IDEA the will power of this child, especially a 3 year old. I really did not think he would make it for 3 minutes after I took his trains or cars out of his room. I was sure he would cave.

So - in hind site - I've learned - be careful what you threaten b/c we all know from Dr Phil and Oprah that if you SAY you are going to do something, you HAVE to follow through with it.

So - my son was sent to his room because his sister earned a movie that he was now not allowed to watch. He started playing in his room - happily.

Meanwhile 30 min after that, I began to remove things from his room. All the while steaming mad, grumbling to myself....begging him to make the call...praying to God that I was not going to have to empty the room because then I would have to clean it all up!

(for those tallying - we are now at about 3-4 hours now, not including the 2 hours the night before and it is about 11 am. Oh yeah, and for the record - I am already exhausted due to daughter having strep throat all weekend and me fighting a tummy virus. In a nutshell - I am NOT HAPPY!)

About an hour later -- --my son comes out and hands me a couple of toys.

Son - "Mommy, you can take this one."

At this very moment I lost it. Mommy left my body and the Grinch took over.

"That's it. Forget every 30 minutes. You lose everything until you can apologize for your behavior and thank mimi and papa!"

I began taking EVERYTHING out of his room. Toys, 200 books, Christmas decorations, broken crayons, stuffed animals, even dust bunnies were tumbling for cover. Side note: Not to mention I realized how dirty his room really was - even though a cleaner comes in every other week. Its amazing what you will find when you clear a room.

I dont even think I left a light bulb. I was the Grinch who stole EVERYTHING. I literally was chunking stuff over my shoulder into the hall repeatedly saying"I cant believe you're making me do this." Tears fell and yelling commenced. It had been 4 hours at this point and I wanted this to end so I could put my sick kid and the Devil in front of the TV so I could rest my tummy.

The hall way was now impassable. So I fall over everything to get into kitchen and try to calm down.

Grinch (face red instead of green) : "Don't come out until you are ready to be polite and grateful for your things! I will slip your food under the door. I will break you!!!!"

Now maybe this sounds harsh to you. And for the record - I have never claimed to be mother of the year. But besides the fact that I forced a kid to stay in his room with nothing - just because he didn't thank someone or was rude isn't the real problem. Because believe me - at this point I am wishing I could take it all back and sing Kum Bah Yah with my kids holding my hands.

The real problem? I said this is what I was going to do so now I am backed into a corner. I either follow through or lose control of kid forever and he becomes total psycho and doesn't respect authority when he gets older. probably in jail. Yes that might be extreme but that is where my head was in the moment. Definitely in a state of insanity.

It was not about "Thank you's" anymore. It was now a "battle of the wills". This was setting a precedent for other issues to come.

Hubby says while sitting in lush office at work 30 miles away. "I don't care what happens, don't cave. His entire life is riding all on your shoulders. Stay strong. I gotta go take some clients out to fancy lunch. Have a nice day.

Grinch - "Eat some lobster for me."

Daughter said: "What is wrong with Gray? I've never seen him do this. He's crazy. I'd never take it this far. Especially with my toys."

So - where were we. Oh yes. 3.5 year old sitting in a room with four walls, a flat pillow, a bean bag, and a few scared dust bunnies.

How long do you think he lasted with NOTHING?

Do you know he sat in that room for...4 more hours...

yes a 3.5 year old held out against his mom with NOTHING (not even a bathroom or bread and water) for a total of 7.5 hours!

I've never seen my son take anything even close to this far. For 4 more hours this kid came out 1,000 times, tried to sneak toys back in his room, threw a car at me. It was insane. It was exhausting. I was baffled.

I was like a lion trapped in a cage, pacing back and forth in front of hall door, staring at my clock mumbling (and probably drooling with insanity), "I cant believe this. What am I going to do" over and over and over. For 4 more hours.

At 3 pm (this started at 6:30 am) , I slumped into a chair and sent in reinforcements - yes - my 7 year old daughter. She wanted it to stop as much as me.

Daughter - mom can i go talk to him?

Grinch - "Sure honey. See if you can stop this insanity."

Daughter goes to see incarcerated son - "Gray, mommy is sad. Mimi and papa ae sad. Yo need to stop this craziness. It's gone too far. Please please, say you are sorry and think you so you can come out and play with me."

15 min later - he comes out and yells with a big smile on his face (as if he's ready for a baseball game or a trip to get ice cream.) "Mommy, I'm ready." This is after me sitting and talking, begging, yelling, taking things away. His sister begs him to stop so she can play with him and he does just that.

He called both my parents - apologized and thanked them for the gift. And his day went on as if nothing had ever happened. me? Nervous breakdown and emotional eating.

So what did I learn from this?

1) My will power sucks - After watching a 3.5 year old hold out 7.5 hours - I realize that I can't even go a day without chocolate. Not to mention, I was just about to crack when he did.

2) Once again - my mothering capabilities. Do you know i scoured all my child raising books during this 7.5 hours and could find nothing of help? Who do you turn to?

3) I am convinced my son was a monk or a hobo in a past live - someone who fasted without food for days and could stare at blank walls for 7.5 hours without going insane.

4) my son looooooves his sister.

5) my son has made all Tauruses proud.

6) I am in trouble when he is a teen. let's hope my daughter's will power is much weaker.

7) Never EVER EVER say you are going to do something unless you think through the consequences. Unless you can truly back it up WITHOUT going insane. You never know how far your kids are prepared to go.

It might just be further than you think.

Tell me - have your kids held out for a long time like this to stand their ground? Have you taken everything to prove a point? Please tell me I am not the only one.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Josh Adams Pitch Contest Winners!

Congrads to all the winners listed below!

All winner(s) and honorary mentions can contact me for specific instructions at sjohannes@bilaninc.com.

Here is a note from Josh himself announcing the winners: (isn't he sweet! :)


Hi Shelli,

I'd like to thank everyone who participated in the agent pitch contest. It was a great opportunity to see a range of stories, and it was surprisingly difficult to choose favorites from among all the promising pitches.

In some cases among those I did not select, I loved the titles, but wasn't grabbed by the pitches; in other cases, it was the other way around. Other times, writers had me until one key word threw me off; or, I'd be intrigued, but a bit confused by the need to cram too much detail into too few words. But in every case among those I selected, a simple but effective message emerged—and I'm excited by the possibilities.

In the spirit of the season, I've selected multiple winners, along with honorable mentions.

Winners: (full manuscript submission to Josh personally)
Honorable Mentions: ( full synopsis or query letter to Josh personally)
Happy Holidays,
Josh Adams



Thanks for being loyal followers and happy Holidays!

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Agent Pitch Contest starts today! Extended Deadline!


It's time for our December agent twitter pitch contest!

Today, the pitch is being judged by Josh Adams from Adams Literary.

Here are some other interviews to help you get to know their taste and style:
Josh Adams Interview
Agent Spotlight on Josh Adams
Tracey Adams Interview

Gets to submit the manuscript pitched for consideration! (Thanks Josh! :)

When: Begins today, (Thurs Dec 9th) at 10AM EST and ends tomorrow (Fri, Dec 10) at midnight EST (I will close comments when it officially ends so if you get a comment in, you are counted.)

Why Twitter pitch? Because if you can't get your book in a Twitter pitch, you need to work on narrowing down the story and hook. You can check your character count either on Word (file, Tools/Word Count/Characters with spaces), on Twitter, or here.

  • Your pitch MUST only be 140 characters to be counted so please check it twice! This includes spaces and punctuation so you might have to be creative. If your pitch is over 140 characters when I test it, it will not be eligible.
  • Your pitch must be for children. No adult books. They do not represent them.
  • This is for unagented/unpublished book writers only. (if you've published articles or essays - you may enter!)
  • You can only enter ONCE so choose wisely!
  • You must be a follower of my blog (and I'd love to see you on Twitter too). It's only fair to those who are .
What To include: In the comments you MUST leave the following information to be considered:
  • title of book
  • genre
  • your Twitter (140 characters) pitch
  • your email
Title - Untraceable
Genre - YA Survival Suspense
Email - sjohannes@bilaninc.com

Pitch - When her forest-ranger father disappears,Grace uses her survival skills to search the NC mtns & finds a secret group plotting against nature

References: Here are a few articles on writing short, one sentence pitches:

Nathan Bransford (agent)
Rachel Gardner (agent)
Query Tracker
Scribe Chat
140 character pitch

Winner(s) will be announced next week!

Good luck!

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Josh Adams from Adams Literary Stops by to Chat!

Josh Adams from Adams Literary stops by before our Agent Pitch Contest tomorrow.

Hey Josh, tell us about yourself/your agency.

Together with my wife Tracey, I run Adams Literary, a full-service, boutique literary agency exclusively representing children's and young adult authors and artists. Given the focus of your blog, your readers may be interested to know that in addition to my editorial background, I received my MBA from Columbia Business School, where I won the marketing award—and, prior to co-founding Adams Literary with Tracey, worked for several years in marketing and brand strategy. These are all things that have served me well, and perhaps uniquely, as a literary agent for the children's and YA markets.

How do you, as an agent, encourage your authors to market themselves?

The first thing I'd encourage our—or any authors—to do is to write truly unforgettable books. Their work is their strongest marketing tool. But beyond that, I'd encourage them to build a network of contacts and friends in the industry, to attend conferences as participants and/or faculty, to line up school and library visits so they can connect with their readers, to think creatively about publicity, and, especially for young adult authors, to use social media to their advantage.

How have things changed with agencies promoting their author books? What things do agents/literary agencies do to help promote their author's books?

At Adams Literary, we've always tried to be forward-looking in promoting and marketing our authors' work. While it may seem rather quaint now in hindsight, when we started the agency in 2004, we were among the first literary agencies to have a web site and the first that we know of to publicly provide their client list (some surprisingly still do not). While the site is certainly helpful for people to learn about us as an agency (and most agencies use their sites that way), we view it, and indeed everything we do, as a way for people in the industry—and readers in general—to learn more about our authors and their work. Being tireless advocates of our clients' work—and publicizing them at every opportunity, including at regional and national writers' conferences—is one of our main roles as literary agents.

For people in the industry, we produce professionally designed, full-color printed and e-catalogs for major international fairs (Bologna and Frankfurt), highlighting our authors' work and available rights. For years, we've produced a newsletter that has gone to more than 1,000 people, including editors and publishers here and abroad, although more recently, it has been largely replaced by Twitter updates about our authors' new books and achievements. We also work closely with our authors, their editors and their publishers' publicity/marketing teams to ensure opportunities are being created for successful promotion and marketing.

As an agent, when evaluating whether to take on an author or book, I'm assuming you Google them. What do you look for? What would turn you off?

Well, first I'd probably visit their web site or blog, if they've provided it. If they haven't, then yes, I'd Google them. We look for the same thing we'd look for in a manuscript we're considering: a thoughtful, interesting and professional approach. We like to get a sense of the author's personality, if possible, and whether we think we'd like to work with them and would be "on the same page" about the direction of their career. We don't want to see anything inappropriate—either personally, or for the market—or that seems contradictory to the work or goals they've presented to us.

But if an author doesn't have a web site or blog, that's fine, too. (We do expect artists to have a web site that showcases their work.) It all comes back to the work itself. There is nothing more disappointing or frustrating than an author who has clearly spent more time on their web site than their manuscript.

What advice do you have for authors trying to promote their books to agents?

My first advice is to wait until you—and your work—are ready. We want unpublished authors to focus on the work, not on the marketing. As literary agents, we look for potential, not perfection—but we also want to see highly polished work. Also, do your homework to find the agent(s) that you think would be the best match for you, to target your submissions carefully, and to present your work—and yourself—as professionally as possible, without taking it all too seriously. One of our first questions is always, "Why us?" There needs to be a good answer to that. Make connections at conferences or industry-related functions; many of our new clients are referrals from clients and people in the industry. And finally, a sense of humor—and humility—can be helpful.

Don't forget to come back tomorrow at 9AM to enter the Agent Pitch Contest!

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Agent Pitch Contest - Josh Adams @ Adams Literary

Yes - so I've missed you guys.

I've been working tons and with the holidays can't post as often.

But don't fret - I'll be back on the ball in January!!! with marketing contests and more.

To tie you over, I have a special holiday surprise for all my followers - just for being so loyal and hanging in with me during my blog hiatus.

An Agent Pitch Contest!

Josh Adams from Adams Literary will be reading your pitches and choosing the winners who will get to submit to him personally.

I have met Josh several times and trust me - you WANT to enter this contest. Not only is he smart and has a good eye for books. But he is hilarious and fun! What more could you want.

So polish up your Twitter Pitches and get them ready for Thursday!

Some deets:
  • The pitch contest will start this Thursday 9am EST and last until midnight EST Friday night.
  • Your pitch must fit into my twitter count test of 140 characters. This includes punctuation and spaces. So try to be creative!
  • Must be a MG or YA.
  • You must follow the directions and include your entry in the comments.
  • You must be a follower to enter.

Tomorrow, Josh will stop by to answer a few questions and give you an idea of what he likes.

So come back tomorrow.

More deets to come!