So you can read my books

Saturday, November 27, 2010


To Sing Life Into Being.

My half-Lakota mother would take me on long walks at night,

pointing to the stars and telling me tales

of long ago when life was blinking-eye fresh

and animals could talk.

She would always start those walks by pointing to the many-eyed blanket of night and say,

"The Great Mystery sang those stars to life, Little One. What words do you suppose He used?"

Perhaps that is why we sing life into being with our prose --

we carry that need to create we inherited from He whose song
spoke us to life.

Words. It all comes down to the Word.

In the beginning was the Word.

Lucky for the universe God didn't need an agent to get his Word to see the Light.

But none of us is God. We don't have the job qualifications.

Not being Deity, you and I have to get an agent.

Of course, there are vanity publishers. But they're called vanity publishers for a reason. Basically, it's like paying for a kiss. It means very little.

And less to major publishers if you refer to being published by them. The big boys all know you paid to get published.

And it only means something when they pay you for it.

In a sad sidebar, that truth is why some hopeless women on the hard streets feel they have worth.

Men pay for them.


"If you build it, he will come."

And the same is true for us as writers.

An agent will not come because I'm a nice guy.

She will not come because I'm a writer with a great idea.

She will not come because I beg. {Although I have to admit, I've been tempted to do that.}

She will not come because I have great promise.


The agent will come when I build something real for her to appear for :

A novel that is finished,

that is riveting from the very first sentence,

that grabs the reader and will not let her go,

that finishes with a resolved crisis and growth for the main character, hinted at in the very first chapter.

But more :

she will come when I have already built a platform from which she can stand,

from which a publisher can view potential sales, from which they can compute the possible profit in it for them to buy my novel.

That is something she can use in the ways she knows best,

taking a finished novel with existing interest.

With that she can go to the editors, persuading them into a better financial deal than we could have dreamed.

Until that happens, there is no need for an agent. Lusting for one is even a distraction. A distraction from what, you say?

From crafting that polished," draw-you-in-with-the-first-sentence" novel.

But the novel is not enough, you must also have a platform. Get your name out there.

Twitter. Ah, I am not comfortable with it. But many are.

Listen to others on it. Learn how NOT to hawk yourself.

Facebook has problems. But set up an account for later.

Be prepared.

Do what you're doing now:

Write an interesting, absorbing blog. Be the best you on that blog you can be.

Go with your strengths. If you're funny, make 'em laugh.

If you're wise {me, I'm otherwise},

then share what you have freely and compassionately.

Go to others' blogs. You see something there that is useful or fun or both, direct your readers to that blog.

Have the back of your fellow blogger. Maybe they'll have your back in return.

If not, you still have the good feeling inside that being decent and kind gives you.

Google on how to write queries. I've written a couple of decent posts on how to do that. Other bloggers have as well.

Now, go to and find agents for your genre.

Go to Preditors and Editors and see if there are any red flags to their names.

Go to Absolute Write Water Cooler : and see what fellow writers think of your targeted agent.

Write the shortest, most interest-grabbing query you can.

I've written a few posts on how to do that.

Google will show you others. Now, write that query. Show it to a few fellow writers you trust.

Then, throw your note in a cyber bottle out into the sea. Throw ten notes.

And if three request a partial or a full, send them. Also tell those requesting agents about the interest of the other two.

Is that honest? Yes. Is that wise? It's human nature wise.

Guys want a girl that other guys want. It's human nature.

Finding out other agents are interested in you makes you seem more attractive to that agent reading your reply.

Be professional, of course, in how you state it. State it as a courtesy to them.

Agents who read this may sputter. But I'm not writing this for them. I writing this for you to have the best shot at getting an agent.

Oh, and when you get your agent, and she sells your novel, her next question will be :

"What are you working on next?"

Be prepared for that with a polished proposal.

{I have one prepared for the sequel to THE LEGEND OF VICTOR STANDISH : VICTOR IS NOT JUST MY NAME.}

Let her know that you are professional and not a one-shot wonder.

Understand that there is a melody playing inside her head as she looks at you :

"What do you have for me that will make me more money?"

Your goal is to write, sell, repeat. Enjoy the journey ...

and the friends you make along the way.

Like Spenser says, "It is what it is."
And please give your spirit and heart a present and watch and listen to this :


  1. Enjoyed your opening! I wish I had the power to "sing life"

  2. Thanks for the advice. I really liked the beginning too!

  3. I saw Aslan! At least, I did as I read the first few sentences.

    The lady in the green looks like the lady on one of those law and order shows.

    Uh, I'm easily distracted. I'm loving this video and want it!

    Last night, before succombing to the need to sleep (sleep nearly had to hit me over the head) I re-read some posts, yours, too. I noticed that you talked about tweaking the nose of a snobbish boss.

    I swear, I don't remember reading that the first time. I 'tweaked' your nose purely for fun. Just wanted to be clear.

    This is great advice and I see a couple things I can start doing more. I haven't even finished my story, much less editing, so I'm not ready for most of that yet. But it's getting filed away in that great big office I keep in my noggin'.

    Thanks! And have a RESTFUL weekend!

  4. Hi Roland,

    I feel so sorry about the misfortune of that agent that wasn't smart enough to snap you up! She'll be kicking herself in the near future.

    I can't believe I've missed four of your posts! I am finally caught up. I am set in my timeshare now, and will have plenty of opportunities to read your wonderful words of wisdom.... I missed my daily dose. I am hoping to work on my query this week. I'll shoot it to you when I'm done.

    I hope you had some cheer on this holiday and not just work. I've been in a whirlwind of travel. I've been to the beach on both coasts and to the magical Wizarding World of Harry Potter. I finally had to chance to post some pics. More will come each day.

    Today is overcast and drizzly... I'm fine with that, I have a chance to keep in contact with my blog friends and write a bit.


  5. Loved this, I'm RTing it, as I'm a big fan of Twitter. It took awhile, but now I get it. You make some excellent points here and do it so well. If I were an agent and this were your ms I'd appear for you LOL.

  6. A post with lots of punch! Great stuff. I especially liked the "paid for the kiss" and "I'm otherwise."

    Your advice is right on. I'm so thankful for bloggers like you who have shown me the way. A year ago I was completely clueless about all of this, but now I feel more on track. Thanks!

  7. Julie : None of us come into this knowing about the publishing world. Yeah, I certainly am otherwise! LOL. Good to share the roster with you in Lindsey's article for TEEN INKST MAGAZINE :

    KarenG : I wish I had won the Lottery and created my own publishing house : you and I and my many blogging friends would now have book deals!

    Michael : You take some time to rest and heal. As a blood courier, I know that driving long distances can be exhausing. One day we will both be published, and we look back on these days and chuckle.

    Words Crafter : When you used "tweak" to me, I thought you had borrowed it from my earlier times of using in my posts. We're buds. I know your heart. And it is a good one.

    Yes, Mother read me that section of Aslan singing Narnia to life many times. I can still hear her voice if I listen closely.

    Emily : Glad you liked the beginning. As I told Words Crafter, I heard my mother's voice when I was writing it.

    Gail : We, as writers, all have the power to sing life into our characters and our fictive worlds (I just made the ghost of Robert B. Parker smile) if we but root our muse in our hearts.

    Happy Weekend, Everyone! Come read Lindsey's article, why don't you?

  8. Great post and lots for thinking about in the wide, world of querying.
    Hope you have a great weekend!

  9. Lydia : Thanks. I'm staying in my apartment lair, editing the last chapters of THE LEGEND OF VICTOR STANDISH. Hope your weekend is healing and restful. Roland

  10. Many points to ponder on this post.

    You say, writing a novel is not enough, you must have a platform. I cling to hope that that is not the case. The likes of Tolkien, Roald Dahl and the more recent, J.K.Rowling (amid countless others), having a platform was the last thing on their minds. They were too busy writing. Their success was attributed to hard work alone.

    If having an interesting absorbing blog is the key, you are surely a winner my friend. Not taking into account of course your writing is beyond compare.

    I, quite frankly would rather give up mine (which is neither absorbing or interesting) and hang out here. Which, I have found myself doing more and more these days.

    PS. Nice guys normally take the prize in the end :)

  11. Wendy : A platform is nice. But great writing is everything. And your blog is absorbing and interesting. You are just too close to it to realize that.

    Thanks for the kind words about my blog. I try to make my cyber-home a pleasant and fun place to visit. And that you visit here more and more makes my day. Your comments are heartily read and appreicated. Thanks again.

    Have a great weekend. I'm busy getting Victor into what seem a hopeless fix in New Orleans. Don't worry though. Like the last chapter and the title to his sequel says, "Victor is not just my name."

    And I do hope a publishing contract looms for us both in the near future!