Billie Letts, 'Where the Heart is' Novelist, Dies at 76
I was saddened to hear of the passing Ms. Letts today. She was one of the first people who encouraged me to pursue my writing dreams.
Rewind back to 2004. I was in grad school, unsure if I was pursuing a career that I was truly passionate about. It was a year that I did a lot of soul searching, and I came to the conclusion that I had abandoned something in college that I had truly loved--writing.
I met Ms. Letts when I was studying for an exam at Books A Million and she was doing a signing for her new novel, Shoot the Moon. I recognized who she was right away because I had read Where the Heart is earlier that year. I watched readers line up with copies of her books (instead of studying) and how she smiled and signed each one. After a few hours the crowd dwindled and I was itching to talk to her. I purchased a copy of her book for her to sign, but what I really wanted was to talk to her about how to become an author.
Let me tell you, I was soooo nervous. But, she was so warm, friendly, and helpful. We talked for a good bit and she told me about literary agents, and how it was important to complete a novel before trying to pursue representation. I was a happy sponge, just soaking up all the information she had to offer. And to top it off, she even offered, whenever I finished writing my novel, that she'd be happy to read it! And then she even told me how to send it to her! I was blown away by her generosity.
I hadn't even written a novel at this point, and yet she was so supportive and encouraging of pursuing my dreams.
We chatted a bit, and then I needed to get back to studying. So I handed her my book, she signed it, and I went back to my study table. I remember I couldn't stop grinning. She had lit a fire of hope inside me. Maybe my writing dreams weren't so crazy after all.
Instead of opening up my study notes, I opened up my copy of Shoot the Moon and saw what Ms. Letts had wrote:
I haven't opened up Shoot the Moon in many years, until I heard of Ms. Letts passing today. And I had totally forgotten that this is what she had signed inside my book.
On one of the blank pages of the novel I had also written notes about what Ms. Letts and I had discussed that day, and I had just happened to write the date that we had talked: July 22, 2004.
Adrian Ranta offered to be my literary agent on July 21, 2014--almost ten years to the day.