Who Art in Heaven

Real Estate Agent with Keller Williams Realty, Ann Arbor, MI

Vatican stairway to heavenA man died in our community yesterday.  He was bicycling, struck by a young man driving in rush hour with a storm moving in.  The lives of these men and their families will never be the same, one gone far too early and the other likely under the shadow of this tragedy for the rest of his life.  I don't know either of the men or their families, or if they believe in heaven, but I would like to think that they do and that that is where the victim is right now.

It was an odd coincidence that this event happened soon after I read chapter one of my daughter's debut novel.  The chapter is devoted to a graveside service and it made me cry;  I have been to far too many of these and recognized in her writing the numbness of the participants, the details of the scene, and the realization that it is all utterly unreal.

The Hopwood Awards ProgramSara graduated from the University of Michigan in May 2009 with a major in English Literature, a minor in Art History, and a completed novel, just short of perfection.  She has been polishing and rewriting some parts of the novel this summer, previously guided in her efforts while wrapping up her last term at Michigan, by a multi-published professor .  Sara was the recipient of a coveted Cowden Memorial Award at the university's spring 2009 Hopwood Award Ceremony after submitting parts of her novel for consideration.  It was pretty clear then that she had something good going on.

Over the last couple of days Sara told me she was putting the last puzzle piece in place - finding a literary agent to represent her and market her novel to publishers.  She sent a dozen letters out to the most suitable, reputable agents she could find who worked her brand of fiction.  These are not pay-to-read agents, or those pointing authors to vanity presses.  They are the real deal, taking on writers they believe will have critical success.  They choose carefully the authors they represent.  Sara prepared for a long wait on responses, as would be typical.  She received two responses within 24 hours; one agent asked for her full manuscript.

When I told Sara that her writing made me cry, she was surprised.  novelsShe hadn't viewed the chapter as particularly moving.  (I can only imagine what the rest of the book will do to me.)  I thought about that and realized it wasn't just what she wrote but that she had written it.  We have watched her grow up like all parents do, wondering what their children will make of themselves, and now we are here.

Sara is moving to New York City in September with a defined plan and willingness to take a risk.  We have two other children younger than Sara who have yet to have their special gifts acknowledged, though their days will come too.

Our youngest child told me, circa age 3, as we were resting before our afternoon nap so many years ago, that she had picked us.  I asked her to explain and she told me that before she was born, she looked down from heaven and saw our family, deciding then that that was where she would go.  Perhaps these were the ramblings of a preschooler who had never been schooled in any notion like this, but I choose to believe it happened just as she said it did.

Who Art in Heaven.  The beginning and the end.  One day, I hope to find out.


Comments (6)

Kate Wheeler
Country Homes and Land Murphy NC Realtor - Murphy, NC
CCIM - Murphy NC Real Estate for Sale

Hi Susan,

I too believe that children pick the family that they are born into.  You have truly been blessed with such a talented daughter - as she has been blessed with a supportive mother.

Jul 29, 2009 08:15 AM
Missy Caulk
Missy Caulk TEAM - Ann Arbor, MI
Savvy Realtor - Ann Arbor Real Estate

Awesome, I can't wait to read it.

Do you know how many times Jack Canfield tried to get Chicken Soup for the Soul published.

Finally a unknown publisher took it on and the rest is history.

The same thing with the Shack. No one wanted it. But, finally an unknown did and the rest is history.


Jul 29, 2009 12:56 PM
Susan Walters
Keller Williams Realty, Ann Arbor, MI - Ann Arbor, MI

It's pretty comforting, isn't it Kate!  Thanks for the kind remarks - I'll keep the AR team posted on progress.

Jul 29, 2009 01:28 PM
Susan Walters
Keller Williams Realty, Ann Arbor, MI - Ann Arbor, MI

Missy, Funny you should mention Chicken Soup for the Soul - Sara was published in Chicken Soup for the Christian Teen Soul when she was in 10th grade.  It was a poem she wrote when she was 12.  I should embarass her here and copy it but I think she sold all copyright to it for the $350 they paid her.  If you think real estate contracts are complicated, they actually had her sign rights to media "not yet invented, for perpetuity" or something like that.  We laughed about that!  She used a pen name, Anastasia Cassidy - look it up if you come across the book!  I still think it is a great poem, even though they re-arranged it on her.

Jul 29, 2009 01:33 PM
Maureen McCabe
HER Realtors - Columbus, OH
Columbus Ohio Real Estate

I can't wait to read it.  Let me know when it is published. 

Funny about the poem in CSFTS CSFTCTS.

Oct 14, 2010 02:10 AM
Susan Walters
Keller Williams Realty, Ann Arbor, MI - Ann Arbor, MI

Thanks for commenting Maureen.  I wrote this so long ago I almost forgot about it!  Sara ended up in Boston rather than NYC and we're thrilled that our youngest chose to go there for college this year too.

Regarding the book, it was well received in manuscript but as one agent told her, there are too many out there right now with similar storylines so the time is not right.  At least she responded!  It's sort of like showings and the odds of getting feedback - it might or might not happen.  So the manuscript waits for another time.  I know Sara has other books in her; maybe then she will time the market just right. 

Oct 14, 2010 09:14 AM