The picture that started it all

April 22, 2008

Just got a call from another longtime friend of the SCWC, movie editor John Rosenberg, who was a conferee at one of our LA events, and whose manuscript nabbed the attention of editor Jennifer Redmond and agent Sally van Haitsma (as usual). His novel is so achingly close to finding a home that I’m staking money on it being yet another LA-conference book published as a result of the collective effort of so many staffers. He won the SCWC Fiction Award for it, now fingers & toes are crossed that he’ll land the deal it warrants.

And this got me thinking about the LA conference history in general, and in particular how one of the upcoming LA6’s guest speakers (Stacey O’Brien) got her gusto after attending LA4, which was held in Manhattan Beach. Sally van Haitsma put it perfectly:

I’ll never forget that day when I first met Stacey at the conference and you spoke to me about the excitement her project inspired. The endorsements we’ve been receiving for Stacey’s book have been amazing. Here’s the latest, from one of the greatest naturalists alive:

Most “me and my bird” stories are mildly entertaining at best, but Wesley the Owl is a different animal altogether. Stacey O’Brien got to know this owl with a unique combination of deep scientific understanding and rare emotional intensity, and the result is stunning, unforgettable. Read this book and you will never see owls, or humans, in the same light again.

–Kenn Kaufman
author of Kingbird Highway and Flights Against the Sunset

How exactly did Stacey’s manuscript become the focus of so much attention? Well, truth be told, Stacey included the above photo of Wesley in her submission of manuscript pages addressed to conference assistant director and registration administer Chrissie Barnett, my wife, who was so smitten with it that she called me just before Saturday evening’s banquet and insisted that I introduce her to somebody who might become a passionate advocate of Stacey and Wesley’s story.

There you go. I just read the galleys of the book and it is a wonderful read. I laughed. I cried. I suck. I suck because of maintaining this simple perspective: The only rule in publishing is there are no rules!




  1. I remember this Owl book, adorable and very engaging. I hope the deal happens!!!

  2. That is absolutely adorable!

  3. I just read the book and still cry when I think of Wesley’s death. In spite of his having a very long and full life for a wild creature, I sympathize with Ms. O’Brien and her concern for all wild creatures (or is that All Creatures Great and Small?). I too have done wildlife work and currently do rescue work for mostly domestic animals, Wesley was very lucky to have had such a devoted ‘owl mom’.

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