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Michael Sanicola Success Story Interview with Mark Malatesta – During this insider interview on our literary agent blog, Michael Sanicola, author of the not-yet-published memoir The Pot Preacher shares advice for authors of all genres about how to write, publish, and/or promote their books. Michael also talks about how he worked with former literary agent Mark Malatesta to improve his book, platform, and pitch materials resulting in representation with Adrienne Rosado with Stonesong Literary.

Prior to joining Stonesong, Adrienne was an agent with Leibo Management and Nancy Yost Literary, where she was literary director and director of subsidiary rights, respectively. Within an hour of Michael sending Adrienne his query, she said his book was precisely the kind of project she’s been looking for. 

Scroll below to: 1) Get instant access to the audio interview, 2) See Michael’s success story about how he got a successful literary agent, and 3) See a description of Michael’s book and a sample chapter.

Click here to visit Michael’s website.

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Audio Interview with Michael Sanicola – Author of The Pot Preacher

Press the play button below now to listen or click here to download the file (left-click or right-click the link, then select “Save Link As”). This recording is 67 minutes.

Click here to view and/or download a free PDF transcript
of this audio interview!

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Michael Sanicola’s Success Story

Photo of author Michael SanicolaYAHOO! Thank you, Mark!!!

Adrienne Rosado with Stonesong Literary just offered to represent me. Within an hour of sending her my query, she said my book was precisely the kind of project she’s been looking for. She said my book proposal was exceptional—very powerful. Your coaching is excellent, everything unfolded perfectly.

It wasn’t easy, though. During the year I spent working on this project, my mother-in-law passed away (my wife was her caretaker). Our house burned down (it was 10 degrees out and the firemen couldn’t put the fire out because the pipes were frozen). And we got robbed of many of our possessions.

It’s a movie.

I’m not complaining, it’s just our life. We’re laughing about it now, living in a 5th wheel. But, that’s why, when we got the call from Adrienne, it meant so much. Everything we had dreamed about, hoped for, and paid for, had finally paid off. It was like okay, it’s coming true. It’s real. I never doubted you for one second.

I’d already tried to make it as an author on my own. I tried to self-publish one, two, three books. I spent a lot of money, a lot of time, a lot of energy, a lot of emotion, a lot of sacrifice, and a lot of disappointment. There’s only so much of that you can take, and there’s only so much of that your family can take.

When we invested in you, it was because my wife found you on the Internet. She was so frustrated and upset. She said, “Look, everybody tells you that you have to find an agent. There has to be a way. We cannot self-publish. You’re going to get an agent.” Then she found you and we dove into your websites.

You really got us hooked with your author questionnaire, going through that detail. I’m old enough to know what I don’t know. So, I try to be humble. I’ve never done this before, never tried to get an agent. So, I needed guidance. I submitted myself to that from the get-go, that part wasn’t hard or complicated for me.

After Adrienne reviewed my proposal, she immediately wanted to talk. That was really exciting, a dream come true. She’s been in the industry for 15 years, spent her entire career on the agency side of publishing and she has extensive background in subsidiary rights. It’s comforting to have someone who’s been in the game that long.

When I first talked to Adrienne, she told me she gets hundreds of queries and that my title, Pot Preacher, stood out to her instantaneously. I want to thank you for that, because that was your idea. My original title was different, not as good. I wasn’t sure about your title at first, even though my wife and kids loved it, but I went with it.

Some of the additions and revisions I had to write were difficult. Very, very difficult. When you write about the fact that your kid had cancer and almost died, it’s going to hurt. Writing a memoir is personal and emotional. But, if the writer doesn’t cry, neither will the reader. You don’t do it to sell books. You relive the experience to make the best book.

Doing that, over and over, made me feel ill repeatedly. It was a challenge, but my family helped, including my wife who read everything and gave me feedback. She went from being engaged to excited. She also started to realize how much time everything takes, and it was easier for her to be supportive of me spending so much time on the project.

To be very honest with you — I never doubted we’d make it for one moment. But my wife did. We had those conversations that start with, “Hey, what if this doesn’t work?” But I never doubted, because we had so much substance, solid content. It made so much sense, and everyone kept telling us how amazing our story was.

Going back to your questionnaire, that gave me the confidence to persevere through the entire process. It really set us up for victory because it showed where I was strong and where I was lacking. You also suggested we take the three partial books I sent you, and combine them into one book, a memoir.

If you take a test and didn’t study the night before, you’re going to wake up that morning feeling like crap. I don’t care how psyched up you get before you go to class. You’re going to feel shaky. Each time I went to bed after working on your assignments—for hours and hours and days and days—I slept peacefully, because I knew I was doing the work.

The joy, ironically, was in the work. That’s what gave me security. That’s why I never doubted before I got to the end. When we sent out the query letter, I would laugh thinking, “Well, this is going to be really, really cool. Someone’s going to grab this. Somebody’s going to grab it.” I just never really doubted it—even though you said there are no guarantees.

You said, “Don’t get your hopes up too much. It might be brutally hard, it’s usually brutally hard, and not everyone makes it.” You gave it to me straight. Clearly life can be a challenge, but it’s hard to spook me. In the last twelve months, my mother-in-law passed away, our house burned down, then we were robbed of many of our possessions. What are you going to say to discourage me? It might not work? Right. Ha-ha, okay.

I also appreciated the books you recommended for me to read, about how to improve my story and be a better writer. They were very, very helpful. I’m excited about, and grateful for, all the opportunities that have come out of our work together. And, I hope my testimonial will inspire somebody else who’s going through dark and dreary days.

Here’s a good proverb: “Hope deferred makes the heart sick.” My heart is now rejoicing because the hope of securing a top agent was realized. I focused my mind and heart each day knowing I would receive an email from a top agent offering representation. Even now, I create the feeling of joy that a publisher is ready to do business. It’s nuts, finally being at this point. So many people in our lives have been rooting for us for decades. Literally, decades.

This is fun, you’re awesome.

Thank you so much!!!

Michael Sanicola

Author of the memoir
The Pot Preacher
(not yet published)

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The Pot Preacher by Michael Sanicola (Preview)

Chapter One

Striking the Match

My eyelids are sore and swollen from crying. It’s 3:30 a.m. on Sunday morning in Lafayette, Colorado. I get out of bed, enter my home office, and open the window to allow the cold air to pour in. I then light up three tea lights, take a deep breath, and grind some cannabis flower. I’m preparing for my morning meditation to balance my body, mind, and spirit. I know it’s not the typical morning routine for a man of the cloth, but this isn’t a typical story.

As the candles burn, I head into the adjoining bathroom and fill the bathtub with super-hot water to soak my feet. After 10 minutes, I re-enter my office and my body cringes in the cold air as I’m faced with the smell of lemon-scented cannabis. I take another deep breath and then close the window. Now, I’m wide awake and fully alert.

Next, I spark the torch and heat up my glass bowl into a fiery glow, then drop in some organic cannabis wax. It instantly transforms into vapor, which I then inhale deeply. As I exhale, the wax vapor fills the room with rotating swirls of moving art. Because of its high quality, my lungs expand and clear in about two minutes; I call this the purge. The effects of the THC are felt within one minute as I begin my breathing exercises and unwind. I can feel my body warming up as the blood circulates through my veins. My back and shoulders are tight, so I reach for my baseball bat and begin to gently stretch and rotate my hips. Being in my mid-fifties, I must be careful not to reinjure myself, so I take my time.

Physical trauma has always affected my life, not only physically, but spiritually as well. As a young child, I sustained two serious injuries. At four years old, I fracture my skull by running into a door. A couple of years later, I decide to ride my bike down an unpaved hill, but instead fly over the handle bars and roll down the rocky terrain, tearing open my knee. That summer, with my knee not yet fully healed, I decide to swim in a public pool and my knee got infected. Over time, the infection settled into my bone and I developed osteomyelitis. The doctor recommended my leg be amputated. I was eleven and the news was shocking, yet triggered a profound spiritual awakening.

Besides a fractured skull and osteomyelitis, I have been impaled, spiked, and stabbed. I fractured my tibia twice and broke my nose three times—my big toe too. I dislocated my shoulders three times, my index finger once, and endured two knee operations. I’ve broken numerous teeth from getting kneed in the jaw and running into metal fence posts while chasing down baseballs. I suffered at least three concussions, a collapsed lung, chipped scapula, and finally whiplash, forcing me to sleep with a rolled towel under my neck. Humbling, this isn’t an exhaustive list. Because of my injuries, I choose pot, prayer, and meditation to treat my pain versus pills and prescription drugs. Cannabis keeps the pain at bay and doctors away among other benefits.

As I settle into position, I place my headset on and choose highly focused isochronic tones like Tibetan Singing Bowlsto increase my mind frequency. I’m saddened by the fact it has taken me this long to learn the truth about cannabis, it saddens me even more because I had to learn this truth through the suffering of my children. But I’m working on changing this. Being a parent is very humbling and keeps me spiritually sober and forever learning.

After serving in the ministry for nearly two decades, we resigned—after an eleven-year absence we’re re-hired. Now I’m getting ready to deliver a message from the book of Ephesians. One of the main points is about the “belt-buckle of truth,” and I’m planning to preach the truth about cannabis. Not that marijuana is a sin.The opposite.

I should be afraid, but I’m not. I’ve seen too many people die and can defend my position, biblically and otherwise. In the past I’ve preached against pot and other drugs. Now I’ve flip-flopped. I know people are going to be confused. I also know I’m probably going to be challenged by both the members and leadership of the church. I could be punished. I might even be banished. But I know this is what I’m supposed to do.

As I get dressed for the church service, I remind myself of the speech I delivered twelve years earlier. In front of thousands of people, I spoke about the evils of marijuana—I still believe that God’s “hand” was upon me that day, but it’s clear He was tapping me on the shoulder whispering, “Who is this that obscures my plans without knowledge?” “Surely, Lord, it’s [Michael], I spoke of things I didn’t understand, things too wonderful for me to know.” [Job, Old Testament Scriptures] Now, I shake my head every time I think about it. Today, I can straighten out the record, but the question still remains relevant: “Am I preaching the truth regarding the single most controversial plant on the planet?”

After years of research, observation and personal experience, I have a better understanding of the cannabis plant. I once believed the cannabis “hemp” plant was evil, but I now understand this amazing plant can provide food, fiber, and fuel, all while healing humanity. On a sobering note, I also grew in my understanding of the “War on Drugs.” Therefore, I’m compelled to speak the truth and help others who are victims of the effects of cannabis prohibition and its horrific consequence on families across the world—especially in minority communities.

I believe that if any spiritual leader makes a claim of faith, or speaks on the Creator’s behalf, either prophetically or by reading the scripture, they should take the lead in being reasonable when it comes to life and death issues. It’s one thing to have pause when navigating unchartered waters while learning new subject matter; it’s another thing to ignore and deny scientific research and discovery. I find this to be irresponsible, intellectually dishonest, and simply ridicules—Galileo would agree. The prohibition of cannabis is a total and complete scam on every level.

Time to type my speech, so I tap on my computer bar and what appears is a picture of Cash Hyde being held by his mother—both are smiling. Although the photo is a happy moment for the family, the young child doesn’t make it. Of all the heart wrenching stories of survival, the Hyde family gave me nightmares. Their story is so unbelievable it swells my chest and stokes the fire inside my heart! It encapsulates and illustrates a painful journey of love and courage; exposes an amoral judicial system and brings to light the dark side of cannabis prohibition and its inhumane consequence. The story of Cash Hyde is only one tragic consequence of the “War on Drugs.” This is the reason I rise early in the mornings without the aid of an electronic alarm.

Cash’s death makes me think about my sons, especially Michael. Then there’s Gino’s arrest, and Nico’s seizures. Life’s so fragile. Next, I think of my wife and close friends. I know they’ll support me no matter what. But what if speaking my truth causes us to be cast out?

Recently, I have been doing my Bible study around Jesus and how He showed compassion for people regardless of the social norms and politics of the times. I open my Bible and read in the Gospel of Matthew: “At that time Jesus went through the grain fields on the Sabbath. His disciples were hungry and began to pick some heads of grain and eat them. When the Pharisees saw this, they said to him, “Look! Your disciples are doing what is unlawful on the Sabbath. “He answered, “Haven’t you read what David did when he and his companions were hungry? He entered the house of God, and he and his companions ate the consecrated bread—which wasn’t lawful for them to do, but only for the priests. Or haven’t you read in the Law that the priests on Sabbath duty in the temple desecrate the Sabbath and yet are innocent? I tell you that something greater than the temple is here. If you had known what these words mean, ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the innocent. For the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath.” Going on from that place, he went into their synagogue, and a man with a shriveled hand was there. Looking for a reason to bring charges against Jesus, they asked him, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?”

He said to them, “If any of you has a sheep and it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will you not take hold of it and lift it out? How much more valuable is a person than a sheep! Therefore, it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath.”

Then he said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” So he stretched it out and it was completely restored, just as sound as the other. But the Pharisees went out and plotted how they might kill Jesus. Aware of this, Jesus withdrew from that place. A large crowd followed him, and he healed all who were ill. He warned them not to tell others about him.” [Matthew 12, NIV]

Jesus was clearly making a point by healing all who were ill, regardless of the location (temple), the day (Sabbath), and a “law” based on discipline and sacrifice instead of mercy and compassion. Jesus made it clear that the religious norm of the day was nonsense and displayed legalism instead of mercy. After Jesus healsthe man, the religious leaders went and plotted how they might kill Jesus.

As the preacher, I’m supposed be like Jesus and heal those who are sick and dying, right? Unfortunately, the main leadership of this Christian denomination is focused on conquest instead of compassion. Am I to be tossed out too? For this reason, my prayer and meditation take so long each morning. I need this time to get my courage and temper my indignation. I stand up, walk around and stretch some more and take another hit of wax. The sun begins to rise as I complete my morning meditation and study. Brilliantly, the clouds absorb the sunlight and project streams of blue and orange rays. My body is relaxed, my mind is focused, and my spirit fired-up to speak the truth regarding cannabis—no matter what the cost. It’s game day!

Click here to visit Michael’s website.

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Michael Sanicola – Biography

MICHAEL SANICOLA, also known as The Pot Preacher, is a former minister who “converted” to cannabis—to save his family—and himself.

Prior to putting everything he’d worked so hard for at risk, Michael Sanicola had loving parents, was a former professional baseball player, had recently gotten married, had done missionary work around the world, and had given speeches to audiences of thousands. Then Michael walked away from the world he’d grown to love. Desperate to cure his children—and save himself—Michael turned to cannabis.

The traumatic event that caused Michael to use “medical marijuana”  was the discovery that all three of his sons had PANDAS, a neurological disease that causes obsessive thoughts, compulsive behaviors, motor and vocal tics, separation anxiety, anxiety attacks, irritability, extreme mood swings, temper tantrums, other immature behavior, hyperactivity, problems with attention and concentration, challenges with reading, writing, math, and other school subjects, chronic seizures, night terrors, and…cancer.

It was the beginning of a long and lonely journey—through a wilderness of questioning, self-doubt, wondering if he was walking away from God, losing lifelong friends, and being cast out of the religious community he’d come to cherish. Now Michael is an internationally recognized inspiration and advocate for the medicinal effects of cannabis. He’s also a profound example of doing what you believe is right, in the face of great adversity. And he’s the author of the not-yet-published memoir, The Pot Preacher.

Click here to visit Michael’s website.

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Question or Comment?

Click here (no charge) to see The 50 Questions Authors Ask Most (along with answers to the questions) and/or post your question or comment. Click here to see our Guide to Literary Agents. And, click here to see some of our best tips to help you Find a Literary Agent and/or Get a Literary Agent.

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