Friday, August 28, 2009


Jon's mom at age 95 is learning how to be a widow. She will stay in Chicago for the foreseeable future, though we encourage her to come here. She may be 95 but she's of pretty sound mind and will do what she pleases, thank you very much.

Jon spent the last week in Chicago finalizing his dad's papers and helping his mom with assorted tasks. Now what? The death of a parent, even one who is 97, leaves a hole in our lives.

Our apologies to all of you who have partials and manuscripts with us. We beg your indulgence as we put things back together and move forward.

I've been keeping up with emailed queries and had a lovely batch to peruse this week. I'm so impressed with most of what we're getting. "Lee" and the abused woman composer are seldom seen any more, so that's made life easier!

It's cool and rainy in Pennsylvania today. Hope you are all enjoying these last few days of summer!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009


Jon's dad died yesterday at home in suburban Chicago. I can't believe he's gone. Though we never lived near the "senior Tienstra," his influence and opinions affected us each and every day. He was not an easy guy. Dictatorial and egocentric are terms that I don't use lightly, but they describe him perfectly. I gave up trying to get him to love me early on, but I think I earned his respect, despite the fact that I was a woman and a "career girl."

He was fierce, always fierce. Whether he was preparing perfect pork barbeque on the outdoor smoker he designed, fishing in his beloved Caloosahatchee River in Florida, selling insurance policies, or advising family members, it was always done his way or no way. He was tireless, working two jobs for half of his life. By day, a respected businessman, by night, "the grassman."

He taught his children the value and honor of work. He demanded perfection and when he didn't get it, he often closed the door forever.

He was tough. Perhaps it was the "small man complex" or maybe it was that he was the middle child of 12, born to Dutch immigrant parents with no time for coddling.

If you met him once, you didn't forget him. Though opinionated and outspoken, he could be charming and outgoing. When he talked to you, he talked to you. And he listened to you too. How many people do that today?

He was a man of another era. A time when men were men, women stayed home and took care of the house and the children, and good work was rewarded.

But he was the father of my husband and I'll always owe him everything for raising my Jon, an improvement by 100% on the old model. We'll miss John Franklin Tienstra and we will pay him homage each day when we talk to our fabulous children, and look into the clear, Dutch blue eyes of our grandsons.

Thursday, August 13, 2009


If you have a garden and a library you have everything you need. -- Cicero

How true that is, especially now when the hummingbirds are here, the zinnias are at their best and the delphiniums are about to bloom again. I'm reading The Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao. I won't classify it as an easy read, but one I recommend, if you have an interest in the Dominican Republic, immigrant life in Patterson, NJ, or just appreciate tight, good prose and dialogue. If you understand a smattering of Spanish, that will help.

On the personal front: Jon's dad continues to languish under 24-hour nursing care in his home in Chicago. Jon's sister is there for the next week and Jon will return next week. Meanwhile, he's manfully trying to shrink his reading pile and deal with other agency business.

I've become acquainted with Michele Acker who invited me to be interviewed on her new blog, "The Write Brigade." Michele and other authors manage this interesting site and provide valuable support and information for writers. Drop in and see how you like it. My interview with Michele will appear on September 12 and I'll visit again on the 13th and 14th to answer questions.

And, if you are interested in attending a writers conference, consider the MCCC Writers Conference to be held in November on the campus of Montgomery County Community College in (Bluebell, PA) suburban Philadelphia. It will be held November 6-7 with Maxine Hong Kingston, author of The Woman Warrior: Memoirs of a Girlhood Among Ghosts, delivering the keynote address. I'll sit on an agent panel on the 7th and be available for author interviews that day. It would be wonderful to meet some of you!

Back to queries, back to partials, and, if I'm lucky, a manuscript!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009


The Chicago-ailing-dad saga continues. We're feeling much relief today as Jon's sister stepped into the fray. She'll fly to Chicago tomorrow and spend two weeks there. Jon came home last week, sick and exhausted. He picked up some kind of bug while traveling and is just now feeling like he can work. He has a lot of catching up to do with partials and manuscripts and now can concentrate on that, knowing his parents are in good hands.

I spent almost an hour on the phone yesterday with one of our agency authors. His first book in a three-book series will be published next winter. The author has this series is well in hand and he is in the process of writing book number II. But, as he works away at this commitment, he wanted to talk about his writing career in general. This was an exciting and positive conversation on so many levels. This author is bright and dedicated and wants to make book writing his full-time career. At this point he's supporting himself and his family by writing--magazine articles, web writing, etc. His book deal with a large publisher adds to that income, but now the goal is, in his words, "a BIG book."

He had several ideas in mind, but before fleshing them out he needed to talk about them. Two of them are real winners and one just blew me away. So, like a couple of kids planning a summer performance ("I know--let's put on a SHOW!"), we talked about his great plot idea and how to make his protagonist come alive. I love this kind of collaboration because it allows my creative, frustrated author side to shine. By the time we closed our discussion both of us were bouncing off the walls with the excitement of this new project.

As a new literary agent, this was a unique experience for me and I found that I truly love this part of our work. I'm delighted that he instigated this collaboration and I look forward to helping to guide his work in months and years to come.

Happy August everyone!