So you can read my books

Tuesday, June 1, 2010


Dear Author :

We have read your query
{actually we read only the first hackneyed sentence that we've read a 1000 times from a 1000 others.}

After due consideration {the time it took our forefinger to zip to the reject button},

we have decided your book is not for us
{or any other rational agent outside an asylum.}

We wish you luck {yeah, pal, lots of luck with this turkey} in your endeavors to find an agent.
Sincerely, Sarah (Glad I'm not you) Breakout
The worst thing for me about rejections {can you tell I received a rejection this morning?} is that it doesn't tell you why. Nor should it. This is a business.

The agent is not here to hold your hand, teach you how to write, or sugar-coat reality. She's arrives at work every morning to make money. If you can help her do that, fine. If not, form rejection time.

But you can find some benefits to rejections :

1)Rejection letters can make you stronger. Suffering builds character. Or makes you one. Guess it's the latter for me.

2) A rejection letter puts a period to the replace the question mark about your query. Nope. Sarah would rather gargle penguin urine than handle your novel.

3) When it says Dear Mr. Yeomans instead of Dear Author, you can hope a little longer until you scroll down more. I still keep scratch off tickets with all but the last space scratched off. Until I scratch that spot clean, I can pretend. It drives my co-workers crazy.

4) There are those few rejections with personal inscriptions : "Perhaps using Sanskrit is not for the general reader." "You know, Roland, while the sex life of clams may hold great interest to you, it is not of vital concern for most of us outside an asylum."

5) Those personal rejections sparks hope that your work is not total crap. There was a great agent who made my novel better by pointing out that making my hero a man of faith walled out the majority of the reading population who are just folks, seeing life without any particular faith. I made FRENCH QUARTER NOCTURNE stronger and deeper by having my hero become agnostic. His questions of his best friend, the vampire priest, made for a more alive, more involving narrative.

6) Sometimes you're called the wrong gender, your title is switched for one not even in the same galaxy as yours. Rejoice. MY BLOOD IS MUD was rejected -- not your book.

7) You are rejected because your timing sucks. The agent's plate is full. William Faulkner could submit under a pen name and be rejected. I noticed all my agent requests for fulls and partials came in January and February. Had those agents cleaned their plates of last year's submissions? Who knows? Not me. The only things more mysterious than the minds of agents are the minds of beautiful women.

So me, being me, I researched a new agent. I found one who said in interviews he was tired of "cookie cutter" queries so general that they could be sent to any agent. He wanted to know by the first sentence that the writer had researched him. He was tired of not getting his requested three pages in the body of the email. And he was tired of Angelina Jolie not returning his phone calls.

I couldn't help with that last. And if I could, I would be calling her myself. But I did what I could with the first two. So here is what I sent him. See if I used any Sanskrit in it by accident :

Dear Mr. _________ :

You've stated that one of your favorite novels was LONESOME DOVE. Imagine a Texas Ranger from that time period who could not die. A product of times where independence, strength of will, and honor were bred into those who survived. A man who wrote bad poetry to his wife that he hid from all eyes but hers. {As I know you are a writer of poetry yourself, I thought that aspect of his character might interest you.}

Now, imagine him in Post-Katrina New Orleans, facing inept politicians, street thugs, and unnatural predators in the shadows of a dying city.

Hurricane Katrina has mortally wounded New Orleans. There is no help in sight. Federal agencies are grid-locked. State officials are befuddled and ineffectual. The police are undermanned with little amunition and no sure means of communication.

And along every dark, flooded street, the dead have started to rise. Impossible, right? Just like commercial airliners crashing into the Trade Towers. Sometimes reality turns deaf ears to Man's cries of impossible.

Samuel McCord, legendary French Quarter jazz club owner, decides he has lost enough : his family, his wife, and his humanity. He will not lose his adopted city -- not to inept, corrupt politicians, not to the rising dead in the shadows, nor to DayStar, a life-long enemy whose power is causing the dead to rise and creatures long thought myth to close in around a helpless New Orleans.

And so begins the 90,000 word speculative Noir, FRENCH QUARTER NOCTURNE. I'm including the first three pages of my novel in response to your submission guidelines :

It rained lies and death today.

I stood knee-deep in water outside my French Quarter jazz club, Meilori’s. My soul stretched tight across my chest. Everything I saw and heard in the shadows spoke to me ... in threats. The sudden, short explosion of an unseen gun. A quick, sharp scream in the distance. And the blue spurt of a lighted match at the far end of the street. My city bled slowly in the ripples of the flooded streets.

I leaned back against the door to my club as if for reassurance that something solid still remained to me. That it had survived Katrina was a mixed blessing. It was all that was left to me of my wife. Staying here was both penance and purgatory. Meilori’s was the kind of place in which almost anything was likely to happen and in which almost everything had. Inside, fifty-one survivors of Katrina were huddled in shivering, too quiet clusters. Words have no meaning when a city dies. Nothing much does.

Somewhere distant in the hot, red darkness a shot rang out. Another called out to it like a wolf. But it came from a different direction. I smiled bitter. The predators were crawling out of their boarded shelters. They knew the restraint of law had died this day. Soon they would come for me.

You see, I had enemies in the night. And not all of them were human.

But what was human? Science kept telling us that human was only another kind of animal. We certainly acted it.

The lights were out all over New Orleans. And the real face of Man was showing. I knew what so many were thinking : ‘Now, I can do what I’ve always wanted. No one to see me. No one to stop me. No one to make me pay.’

“There’s me,” I whispered to the approaching darkness. “And soon there’ll be hell to pay.”

The water lapped at my knees, and I shook my head. Hell had already come collecting. But it seemed Hell was never satisfied. Soon it would demand more.

I had no words. An entire life’s outrage at lying politicians tried to crowd itself into this one moment. It wouldn't fit. In fact, I felt like I was about to explode. My anger was a wild beast inside my heart. But the outrage was slowly pushed into the background by the numbed shock of the sight before me.

My city shouldn't be drowning in front of me. And yet, here it was doing just that. I tried to remember what these streets had looked like dry and filled with laughing tourists. I couldn't. My mind felt broken.

The love that had kept me whole in its invisible sheath was gone. Gone. And what was left worth having? There had to be something better than cursing the darkness. But for the life of me I couldn’t think of it. All I could do was mourn.

I thought about the words Wilde had me carve on his false tombstone.

“Alien tears will fill for him

Pity’s long-broken urn,

For his mourners will be outcast men,

And outcasts always mourn.”

I looked all around. Yes, those words fit the desolation I saw. Hell, they fit the desolation inside me. The emptiness that had been born seven years ago when Meilori, my wife, could no longer stand the sight of me and had stormed away into the night.

Now, another lady named Katrina had come storming back. And she didn't seem to like me any more than had Meilori. I shook my head. That particular line stretched around the block.

The light was quickly fading. A last crimson glory filled the French Quarter. Its glow lay on the flooded streets like a crown of blood. A whisper of ice murmured that I was watching more than the death of the day. I was watching the death of a city, of a people’s hopes and dreams. Sadly, it wouldn’t be the first time. And like the people now inside my club, they had looked to me for answers and meaning then, too.

My jaw firmed. It would be different this time. I heard Meilori’s mocking laughter in my mind.

Damn it. It would be different. I would be different.

The laughter continued.

In the cobwebs of my memory, Robert Frost spoke in that thin, reedy voice of his on the bitter cycle of life,
“As leaf subsides to leaf,

So Eden sank to grief,

So dawn goes down to day,

Nothing gold can stay.”

I whispered to the encroaching shadows, “Not the gold of love nor the tarnished gold of a city.”

In the distant deepening shadows another gun went off. This shot had been closer. The predators were closing in.

Let them. I smiled like the last wolf I was sometimes called. For seven years I had been looking for a good death. Protecting bruised victims might be a good enough one.

The door to my club suddenly opened, letting the knee-deep water come rushing in. I heard Toya, my club’s manager, snap a biological impossibility to my best friend who quickly shut the door behind him.

The hydraulic seals kicked in with a metallic hiss. The state-of-the-art pumps would make quick work of the invading water. I smiled bitter. Having more money than Billy Gates came in handy sometimes. My smile died. But not as often as you might think. No amount of money can buy back ill-chosen words or actions. Meilori no longer at my side proved that. Somewhere in my past, I had lost my way. And my compass had left me.

Renfield was fit to be tied. I refused to call him Father. Hell, I had known him long before my worst enemy had forced him into becoming a Catholic priest to save his son. The sun’s last gasp struck fire from his sharp, white canines as he shoved his satellite phone back inside his black coat.

“Damn bloody system overloads just when you need it most!”

I arched a brow and made a lame attempt at our usual banter. “Padre, such language from a man of the cloth.”

“Oh, go climb your thumb!”

I smiled. His Irish accent became more pronounced when he was upset. Like now. It reminded me of older, better times. Or were they truly better? Or did my memory merely edit in my favor?

And if so, why did Meilori's ghost persist in haunting me? Maybe you couldn't bury your mistakes. You always buried them alive. And one dark night they would claw from those graves until you faced them ... and yourself.

Renfield was taller than me, his red hair offsetting my pure white tangle. But don’t read too much into that. Seeing the murder of my entire family at the hands of the Comanche had turned it moon-white at the age of fifteen.

Renfield slammed a fist into the delicately etched iron support to his right. It left a dent. I arched a true disapproving brow.

“Padre, Baroness Pontalba spent a lot of money to make these colonnades the equal of her block-long apartments by Jackson Square.”

He angrily rubbed his face. “Sorry, Sam.”

“So judging from your face, you did get into touch with our so-called friends of influence.”

“Oh, didn’t I just! And they all spouted empty condolences. But in the end, they’re not going to do anything. Anything!”

He started to punch the dented iron lacework again but pulled back. “It just seems so unfair. You and I have donated small fortunes to get these politicians elected. And then, they turn on us.”

I shook my head. “I’m about as far from a believer as you can get. But I seem to remember King Solomon warning folks about the bad memories of those in power.”


To get a better idea of my writing voice, you may want to check out my blog, WRITING IN THE CROSSHAIRS,

I am a former high school teacher, family counselor, and now a blood courier. The last a result of being evacuated from Lake Charles due to Hurricane Rita and having to support myself any way I could. I found I liked the job and the people with whom I worked. And it gives me more time to write.

Thank you for taking the time to read my query. I would be happy to send you sample chapters or the full manuscript. I hope that you find some gem in the flood of submissions that pour your way. May your Spring hold only happy surprises with some relief for punished eyes and swamped workloads.

Roland D. Yeomans M.A.

See? Not a single word of Sanskrit. And I followed his stated desires to the letter.

But life is often like being in the midst of an argument. Sometimes you get what you ask for, but not what you wanted.

As when a husband yells, "Would you just shut up!" She does. But the anger still simmers in her eyes, along with hate. The husband hadn't really wanted silence. He wanted the loving wife of their first year of marriage back. Neither is happy, though one asked and received what he asked for.

And here is a jazz classic given depth by an unexpected appearance of heartbreak in the middle of the song.


  1. Hit the picture of the rejection letter with the left click of your cursor for a larger copy of it. Reading it might give you a laugh. Roland

  2. Maybe he had just had an argument with a spouse; co-worker or boss and you hit the wrong day. Keep smiling and keep plugging!

  3. Hi Roland,
    Glad you found my little blog, and I mean LITTLE!
    I just started this book blog 1 week ago (or thereabouts) and I cannot believe how many nice and generous bloggers I've met so far! Touching Spirit Bear is a book that I am very familiar with, as I worked in the schools (junior high) for a few years and it is a required reading. I'm sure you've tried this, but maybe target the school scene OR you could even try having a heart to heart 'email' with the author Ben M. of Spirit Bear and see what he thinks! for example, how did HE start? etc. He does lectures and goes all over the place talking about his Bear :)
    You have a wonderful writing style, funny!
    I'm by no means a writer, just a reader, but I found your post here entertaining! I'm following now too!

  4. It's gonna happen - keep at it! :) You've got so much voice - it'll work out.

  5. I hate to say it Roland, but this post was full of delicious snark. Penguin urine? Mysterious minds of beautiful women? You're funny when you've been rejected.

    I too, have been rejected, on partials as well. I only eat chocolate, I have no snark. It's a sucky game yet it must be played. I know I keep saying this, but someday... someday.

  6. Sigh!!! a long post... hope u vented out all your anger through this. The rejection letter was quite funny!!! I believe you will get a better and a much more famous publisher than them. Don't get disheartened. All the best :)



  7. I'm at 55 rejections and 16 no responses. All we can do is plod on, yes? Plod on and keep writing something new.

  8. Best wishes as you keep querying. Your story sounds fascinating. I love the atmosphere.

    Thanks for sharing!!

  9. I hope you finally find an agent/publisher somewhere. Sometime. Somehow.

    I've never gotten a rejection letter since I haven't sent out my work before, but it seems like a pretty chancy process. Agents! It takes montsh/years to write, and then WOOP bad day and your work is rejected. "-_-

  10. Hi Roland:
    Hang in there! It's going to happen soon!
    you definitely should have a character in your book that likes to gargle penguin urine! Hilarious and double yuck!

  11. My "favorite" rejection was one I got a few years ago: a lopsided photocopy, unsigned. I kept staring at it, like, "Really? You put this diagonal photocopy in the mail and sent it to me?"

    Hang in there.

  12. Hi

    That's like not blood splattered on the rejection letter right?

    Anyway - I like your query and have just finished reading your first three chapters too. The quote from Robert Frost was also quoted in one of my most favourite novels "the outsiders" by SE Hinton. Amazing!!! I thought your first three chapters were very atmospheric and moody. I like your Mr McCord - lots of conflict there brewing already - lots of references to things that go bump in the night but I'm left guessing as to what!

    Good luck with your query and your novel! Thanks for sharing.
    Take care

  13. Sorry about the rejection. Keep on going. We're cheering for you. =)

  14. I'm totally in rejection hell right now, so I feel you! I like to mix up my queries with the more personal ones to the Agents I'm really interested in, as well as a general query to the rest. One of them will work, right?

    I got a pretty good rejection yesterday that got me off my a$$ and fix what I already knew was broken, but didn't know how to fix until I read it! So, now it's all fixed, blogged about and ready to go! Couldn't be more pleased with it.

    Good luck on your query! I think it's fantabulous and I LOVED your pages:)

  15. "You know, Roland, while the sex life of clams may hold great interest to you, it is not of vital concern for most of us outside an asylum." *giggling*

    The query looked like it gave him what he wanted and your writing is good. Love the voice and the atmosphere. Fine show!

  16. That's one hell of an opening line. Keep plugging, Roland.

  17. some day your PRINTS will come, roland ;)

  18. Yikes. Rejection is always hard and hardest in the form of a form letter.

  19. I love your first line. "It rained lies and death today." got me interested and set the tone and voice of your character. Hope you get some good news soon!

  20. Best of luck plugging ahead!

  21. Ann : Thanks for trying to put a painless spin to it.

    Niki : Everyone's blog starts out little. Oaks grow from tiny acorns. Thanks for dropping by and giving me those great ideas.

    Jemi : My voice is getting hoarse. Just joking. Thanks for the vote of confidence.

    Anne : I am not snarky. I'm just channeling Don Rickles! You know maybe I could win the lotto and buy a publishing house for me and my blog friends? Wouldn't that be neat?

    Dudo : Sorry about the long post. I'm glad you got a laugh at the rejection letter. By the end of it I was feeling much better.

    Christ : It does get wearisome, doesn't it. Again this morning I got another rejection. A personalized one : "This was good ... for wrapping dead fish." I kid you not. It was so out there, it didn't faze me. Better luck for the two of us, all right? Actually for all my blog friends who've commented.

    MBW : I'm glad you liked the atmosphere of my story -- and that you didn't mention dead fish!

    The Golden Eagle : Thanks for the kind words. Yes, agent hunting is no sport at all!

  22. JCK : I'm glad you got a chuckle, although a nauseated one, from the old penguin line. I have another penguin line in Tuesday post.

    Sarah : A lopside rejection? Ouch. I once got a manuscript back with no rejection slip : just one footprint of the front page.

    Kitty : I hope it's not blood. It might be that the editor was driven to sliting her wrists. If you left click the picture of the rejection letter, you can get a larger picture of it and read it. It's a hoot.

    THE OUTSIDERS was a great book, wasn't it? I'm so very happy that you liked my first three pages. And McCord salutes you with his Stetson for liking him as well and his moody broodings.

    Carolyn V. : Thanks for cheering me on. It helps especially with that agent rejecting me this morning with the words : "It's good ... for wrapping dead fish."

    Misty Waters : Maybe we're not in Rejection Hell but "Rejection Purgatory." Hope so. You and I will tough it out and get our agent. It's just a matter of never giving up. Thanks for liking my pages.

    Terry : Happy that I made you giggle with the love life of clams remark. I was out there when I wrote that mock rejection letter. I'm glad you liked the voice and writing.

    Delia : I worked hard on that first line to make it a good hook. That you think it did its job means a lot.

    Laughing Wolf : I loved you pun. The louder the groan, the better the pun. My groan was loud.

    Betty : You're right. Form rejections are even worse than the "good for wrapping dead fish" personalized one I got this morning.

    Raquel : I'm happy you liked my first line. I hope TRUE BLOOD will help you with the Cajun accent in your novel. And I hope you enjoy the first season as well.

    Kazzy : Thanks for the pat on the back. And good fortune for your dreams as well.

  23. You grabbed me right here...

    "In your end is your beginning," she sadly murmured.

    I jerked as if slapped. "What?"

    Her eyes of winter come to life grew wet. "The words will make sense when the season is upon you."

    ...great writing, all the way to the end!

    Blessings & a bit o' sunshine!