Abingdon Fall Fiction
Bonnie S. Calhoun

Bonnie S. Calhoun is the Founder and Publisher of Christian Fiction Online Magazine . She is also the Owner and Director of the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance which is the parent organization for the magazine.

In addition to her passion for spreading the word about Christian fiction, Bonnie is also an author of suspense/mystery thrillers. She recently signed a two book contract with Abingdon Press. The first book will be released in 2011 and the second in 2012. She is represented by Terry Burns at Hartline Literary.

Christian Media Association

Introducing Kelly Mortimer and CMA

Barbara ScottToday I welcome agent Kelly Mortimer and her exciting new project, Christian Media Association! Take it away Kelly and tell us about yourself and this great new organization.

It’s a do-over. Huh? This year is a do-over for Mortimer Literary Agency. I consider 2009 a rebuilding year. I don’t plan to win the World Series, the Superbowl, or the Stanley Cup. I won’t break any records. When veteran players go out, and rookies come up, the manager/coach/owner [me] knows the team might not be perfect at present, but they’re setting up a strong foundation for the coming year. [I’ll go into my lineup later, so hang around and make me look good.]

Not sure how much y’all know about me, so I’ll enlighten ya. I was a writer before I was an agent. I feel your pain. Been there; done that.

I chose my agency mission statement, two words: “Ich dien” [I serve.], while writing a 14th-century medieval. My statement was the motto of the king of Bohemia. Edward III had so much respect for his enemy upon his death, Prince Edward took the motto as his. The heir to the throne, the Prince of Wales, still uses this motto today. [The Mortimer’s motto is “Press Forward.” But, since I hate ironing, and I used to be a waitress, I thought the other motto suited.]

What do I mean by, “I serve.” My sole purpose is to help writers. I’ve never taken a paycheck from my commission. Meaning, I’ve never paid myself. [Yep, I am crazy. Just ask my psychiatrist, Dr. Moon.] For now, the money’s better spent helping writers, and for business expenses.

I don’t have readers or assistants, which is why I don’t take general queries. I have a short list of ways a writer can slip a query in … okay, ya forced it outta me.

Firstly, I only sign pre-published writers [I loathe the negative term, “unpublished”], or those not published in the last three years. [Sorry, Nora, the answer’s still no. Gasp! I really am crazy.] Here are those exceptions:

• If your initials match those embedded on the Agency News Page on my site. Note: Your initials must be comprised of your first and last name, or that of your pseudonym. Period. I get questions like: “Those are the initials of my character’s cat; can I query?” Sheesh! Why do I do the initial thing? Cuz it’s my agency. [Oh, the power.]

• Writers aged 14-17. Never too early to write for publication. [The Genius Child, my eleven-year-old, hates my job. If she makes a mistake like the other night and says, “I don’t want to take a bath. I’m really tired.” I reply, “You just used an intensifier to shore-up a weak verb. Gimme a stronger verb, missy.” She sighs. “Fine! I don’t want to take a bath because I’m exhausted.” “Great job, kid; but ya still haveta take the bath.”]

• Writers who live out of the country. [No, Texas is not another country; they just think they are. Sorry.]

• Writers who are physically handicapped

• Those who have a “deal on the table.” Buuut, a sure sale doesn’t guarantee representation. I’ll have a chat with the writer to see if I wanna bring them into the family. [And once you’re in il familia … nevermind.]

• In a few months when I get caught up [stop laughin’; it could happen], members of my nonprofit organization: Christian Media Association (CMA) can query if they write in a genre I represent. [More about this group later as well.]

I do a content, line, and proof edit of my clients’ manuscripts before I submit them. I wanna send editors the writer’s best work, and I’m a decent editor. [Okay, I’m better than decent, IMO. Yeah, I know I left out the “H” for humble. Had to. Lack of humbleness is what keeps me from bein’ perfect.] Because I edit, I keep a short list of clients. Fortunately, I don’t need to be an agent to make a living. Most of my agent-friends have up to forty or fifty clients. I usually have fifteen. When I move a client from pre-published bliss to “The Dark Side,” then his or her editor edits, opening up a spot for another writer.

So, why is this year a do-over? God made His vision for me clear: build an organization, and sign the clients I bring you. Hence, a bunch of new clients I adore, and my new venture: CMA.

I started CMA for all Christian and Jewish writers. We welcome the misfits as well as the wanted. Huh? We wanna help Christians and Jewish people who write for the secular market, too, and those who write screenplays and TV scripts, etc. If you’re Jewish or a Christian, we don’t care what you write; we want you in our organization. Check out our video trailer out at: www.joincma.org

Further, I’m making contacts in Hollywood. I have my eye on producing works of quality that anyone can watch [y’know, like in the olden days when they didn't haveta rate movies], and I’d love to revive my small press, Underdog Press, and publish some niche manuscripts I love, and other edgier stuff. [Y’know, the kind where the characters depict us flawed humans as flawed humans, sorta like the Bible does. Sorry.]

As for the clients, quite a sic lineup. God’s choices are off the rip! I’ll haveta go into detail on how God sent ’em to me at my blog, www.welcometomyworlds.com. In short, I signed a Pulitzer Prize nominee [An Italian gal. Sigh.], the first hijacker [in 1956, he and six others took over a commercial plane to escape Communist Hungary. I’m writin’ the action-packed screenplay], Paula Jones [Yep, that Paula Jones], a former comedian and late-night talk show writer who roomed with Leno and Letterman [wrote a bangin’ mystery], a gal who’s almost as funny as me and lives by Frank Peretti [he wrote the first “Christian” novel I read: This Present Darkness], and Frank has a hand [or two] in the writing of the manuscript; and a cowgal [no, she doesn't look like a cow], who’s writin’ an inspiration book compiled of stories from the wives of famous rodeo dudes.

Six out; six in…

And the year is gettin’ better. Got an offer for one of my longtime clients who stuck by me in my hours of need. I loved makin’ that call! And this ridiculous [that means “totally awesome” now] news: I just booked one of my clients on Sean Hannity’s National TV show, Hannity. [No. I don’t get a publicist fee. A gal does what she can. I can do “lots.”] I can pitch [no, not a four-seam fastball, right down the pipe]. Pitchin’ a writer to a producer ain’t no different than pitchin’ a writer to an editor [not literally].

So, who’s the real Kelly Mortimer? I’m the USC Trojan of agents: ya love me with a passion, or ya dislike me just as much. [I can live with that. Others often have a problem with someone who ain’t afraid to stand up for their principles, and who Will. Not. Compromise. I’m the female equivalent to Rocky Balboa, and the human Sea Biscuit, cuz I just don’t have it in me to quit [and if I forget my purpose is that of a warrior, God kicks me in the … God kicks me.].

I remain: Diabolically Diligent. Manically Moral. Defiantly Different. [And if ya don’t like it, TOUGH.]