5 March 2018

Agent Nightmare...

It's way after midnight and I am wide awake.

It could be an old habit instilled in me since I started writing five years ago, the aftershock of my curry dinner, or merely a sense of uneasiness.

Probably the latter.

You see, I am querying agents again. Not the usual shopping list of men and woman I had made use of before, but a more personal approach. Yes, I stalk them (kinda) to see whether I would be a good fit for whatever makes them tick, and each time I say a silent prayer and push the 'send' button I once again send a piece of me into an unknown world knowing that I have edited and polished my covering letter and opening chapters based on the last comment from a person inundated with query requests.
Yes, there are agents out there that respond. It is neither myth nor urban legend.

But each time I get a response - some personal and others not, and decide to change my original story, it reminds me of the greatest deal I could ever have received. I found myself drifting back to the day I first started building my platform; that moment when every new follower was seen as a UFO sighting. Writers follow writers because writers read, and if writers read... It was a plan. A good one.

Back to my deal.

One author in particular stood out.
I found myself going through my growing list while axing those that had unfollowed me, and always paused when a profile appeared. She was beautiful. Exotic. A German living in Paris. And a writer.
It turns out that by the time I plucked up enough courage to say Hi, she had already moved to Ireland. Not that I was in a position to fly to Europe, anyway.
Irrespective of geographics, those two letters, one simple word, snowballed into a series of events neither of us expected. Seeing as this is not one of my books and you don't have days to read my mutterings, I'll cut to the chase.
Five years later, and we are happily married.

So what has all this to do with querying agents, you may ask. Well, it reminded me that if you truly believe in something you should not change a damned thing.

Comments of 'We want new, exciting and with a unique voice' is often met with a reply of 'You don't fit in.' Frustrating, I know. But at the end of the day, every agent wants to sell books to publishers. If mine smells of bacon and the editor is looking for chicken, then so be it. I understand and respect that.
Again...what has this to do with my amazing deal?

After uttering one magical and powerful word (my cover letter), my dream girl took a while to respond. Thinking I had struck out, she had in fact stalked the crap out of me and ended up buying one of my books. Yes, it was on Amazon for a while until I realised that monitoring sales ten times an hour was more demotivating than the already wretched fear of never seeing my work published.
Back to my angel.
She had bought my book. And read it. And loved it.

Deal signed.

So if something I had written and edited myself could leave her wanting more, surely I must be doing something right. And now, I would like to share the passage that made her realise I wasn't some psycho halfway around the world...

****

“You look funny, Daddy,” she called out. “Next year you can be the clown at my party.”
I loved it when she laughed. Walking towards her with an animal clenched under each arm, I tried to scoop some mud on the front of my boot and kick it at her. It didn’t work. One of the lambs wriggled fiercely the moment I planned to launch the soggy projectile, and I lost my balance. With one foot elevated, the other slid sideways and I ended up in a pool of water. She screeched again.
“See what happens when you try to be nasty.”
“Nasty?" I asked. "What did I do?”
“I may be six, but I’m not stupid, you know. I saw that foot aiming at me.”
I stowed the lambs to be taken to Giuseppe’s in the barn, and we took off our boots before walking into the house. I spat remaining bits of mud through the open top of the door, and Nastassja ran ahead to go run her bath. After a quick shower I knocked on the bathroom door.
“Yes?” she asked.
“Can I come in?”
“Give me a minute.”
This was another sign of her growing up, a realisation that she wouldn’t be my little girl for ever. Previously I would knock twice and walk in, but the last few weeks she made it clear that I couldn’t do that anymore.
“Okay, you can come in now,” she said.
“Here’s your towel,” I said as I opened the door, my hand shielding my eyes.
“It’s okay, I’m covered in bubbles.”
“Don’t worry sweety, I’ll put this down and leave.”
“You can sit. I want to chat,” she said.
“About what?”
“Things.”
“What kind of things?”
“Just things.”
There was a long-standing rule in the house. If somebody had something to say, we would put time aside for it; not the usual run of the mill stuff about who said what and when, but the kind of talking that started with ‘I want to chat.’
“But we’re in the bathroom; can’t we do this at dinner?”
“No. Mommy always said that if you want a man’s undivided attention, you spoke while in the bath. So, do I have your attention?”
“Yes, yes you do,” I answered, smiling at her pouted lips.
“Good.”
Looking at her was like seeing a smaller version of her mother. She sang as she washed, and it brought back memories of the two of them bathing together.
“So, what would you like to talk about?” I asked.
“Just things.”
“Nastassja, you might have my attention, but mommy also told you to keep a man interested in your conversation otherwise he will either fall asleep or walk away.”
“But you won’t walk away from me?”
“No, sweetheart. Never.”
“Well that’s settled, then. You have to stay.”
Moments like these were special, a time to leave the outside world on the doorstep. I would often stand in the corridor listening to the two women in my life as they spoke. Sometimes I was the topic of discussion, and other times not. The best was when Nastassja asked Olivia what it would be like when she grew up, and what kind of man she would meet some day. It always warmed me when she said, ‘I want a husband like my daddy.’
“Daddy?”
“Yes?” I answered.
“Do you like Jessica?”
Knowing that she was not my father and couldn’t easily be put aside with a simple ‘basta,’ I got off the stool and sat on the bathroom floor. Straightening my legs and leaning against the door, I saw her little face peering at me over the rim.
“Well?” she asked, eyes fixed on me.
“She’s okay,” I said.
“Just okay?”
“Sweety, why do you ask?”
“Well,” she paused, “I think she likes you.”
“And why do you say that?”
“Well,” she said, pausing again. “She seems to smile a lot when she’s around you. Other times she seems a bit sad. Did you know she paints?”
“No, I didn’t know she paints,” I said.
“Probably not as good as mommy, but it’s a start.”
“A start for what?”
“Nothing,” she said, lowering her head.
Trying to remember anything out of the ordinary, I played the first days we met over in my mind. Yes, she was full of fire, and in a way a bit cheeky, but I never noticed any sign of interest. Jessica was a long way from home, far from family and friends, and I took her pleasant tone to be a way of trying to fit in. What if she was interested in me? The thought scared me a bit.
“Daddy?”
“Yes, Nastassja?”

“I like her.”



20 August 2017

I Found A New Moonlighting Job

Killing people.

Fictionally, of course.

Following the successful murder mystery evening, I began a co-write with Natalie. She is my wife, in case you were wondering. Six weeks have gone by since that inspiring evening, and we are done.

Yes - Done! A novel in six weeks!

I still sit and wonder why the bloody hell I have gone from writing romance to urban fantasy, and then finally a Who Dunnit? The answer I found is actually quite simple: Why the bloody hell not!

9 July 2017

A Killer Party...

The mood was set.

While displaying vodka jelly shots on a boob-shaped platter, I looked up at the noose hanging from above my head. Children playing outside stopped to stare through the window, whispering among themselves. I could almost read their minds: "They turned their lounge into gallows..."
Smiling wryly, I was actually looking forward to curious glances once they had told their parents.

In our circles, my wife and I were renowned for discussing the strangest of topics. Murder was a new dark alley we wanted to explore...
Before anyone calls the cops or searches for Horatio Caine's cell number, we mean this in a literary sense.

The guests arrived.
Wide smiles dimmed and hands holding up wine bottles lowered when they took in the scene. Like a credit card ad catch-phrase, the expressions were priceless. Our murder mystery night had begun.

Off with their heads!!