So you can read my books

Saturday, April 20, 2013


I am preparing to go down lonely, dark rural roads to bring very rare blood to a struggling baby.

And a tune is haunting me.

The Icarus Wind.
It's a lovely song by the equally lovely {and evocative} Thea Gilmore.

The Icarus Wind

is also the spirit which sweeps us up

and hurls us into the misty clouds where our dreams live.

It is a dangerous realm. There is no promise of success. And there is no safety net to catch us should we fall.

The post of yesterday brought back memories of my bookstore and my customers.  {Don't ask how!}

Yes, I owned a bookstore for a time.

I needed an understanding boss who would allow me to accompany my mother on her distant trips for chemotherapy and radiation treatments.

I figured I could be pretty darn understanding.

So I emptied my savings, and with the added financial help of two good friends, I started my bookstore. I had not thought of sales as a way to make a living. But luckily, the people coming in pretty much knew what they wanted.

After coming in for awhile, they knew I wasn't going to hard-sell them anything. I got to know them and pointed out things I thought they'd like. I was usually right.

And it's come to me that once again, as with my bookstore,

I am back in sales ... in a sense.

But only in a sense.

Like in my bookstore, I have to get to know my customer {potential agent or reader} I have to learn her likes and dislikes.

But unlike my bookstore, the agent hasn't gotten to know the wonderfulness of myself. No.

I'm coming in cold.
In another sense, I'm also coming in hot:

no time to build up trust or to ratchet-up the tension.

Like a space shuttle without fuel, I'm flying like a razor through the cyber-void.

I have seconds,

ten seconds

if conventional wisdom is correct, to win the agent's interested attention.

That's not much time to hit a home run.

To follow the trajectory of the baseball analogy, I have to quickly present a winning ...


Line Drive.

Home Run.

Think : Speed. Focus. And ... out of the ball park!

My target agent is eye-weary, computer numb, and conditioned by thousands of terrible queries to expect yet another boring turkey.

I have to flash a surprise crack of the bat and get her attention.

I'll use my 90,000 word urban fantasy, FRENCH QUARTER NOCTURNE, for an example

{Yeah, what a surprise, right?} :


A man who no longer believes in God must fight a being who believes himself the Devil.


Doubt. Faith. Death. All three collide in Post-Katrina New Orleans where the dying of the lights bring out the predators from both sides of the darkness.


In post-Katrina New Orleans, an undead Texas Ranger battles inept politicians, Russian mobsters, and DayStar, a being with god-like powers.

Helped by a vampire priest, the Ranger faces mounting opposition from all corners of the supernatural realm, all eager to take advantage of the chaos following the hurricane. And in the wings watching the Ranger get weaker and weaker, DayStar sets his last trap for his hated enemy into motion.
Post Script :

Many times we writers don't even get the opportunity to audition for the agent. We get the intern.

Imagine getting your X-ray read. As you hand it in to the desk, you ask,

"The doctor will read this, right?"

"No, the intern will."

"She's trained in reading X-Rays?"

"No education. No salary even. But she's optimistic and hopeful."

"Yeah, well that makes one of us."

"Oh, it's always been this way. That's just the way the system works."

"Yeah, they told Lincoln the same thing about slavery."

"Oh, so the intern's been complaining about having to re-arrange the agent's bookshelf, has she?"

"No, I haven't talked to her. So she has to re-arrange the agent's books, too? Where does she find the time to grovel?"

"Oh, there's always time to grovel."

"Words to live by," I smile and walk out the door.

Post script II :

The really great news?

You know what the success ratio for a super-star agent is? 50%.

Ouch. Or not so ouch.

It takes the pressure off. It is what it is. We try our best and enjoy the journey.
Here's the music video of Thea singing "The Icarus Wind."


  1. I can grovel.
    Is that the success rate for being an agent?

  2. Wow..

    But as you said the journey is what gets us where we need to go. And we pick up SOOOO much along the way.

  3. Alex:
    If an agent demands a grovel, it is a sure sign a long term arrangement would certainly wear on you! :-)

    Those are the last success rates I encountered in my research. What with the anemic state of publishing right now, it is probably worse! Ouch!!

    The journey defines us, shapes us, and teaches us neeedful lessons -- if we pay attention. :-)

  4. Like you say, it is the journey not the destination.

    And I will be grovelling to nobody!

  5. Wendy:
    Groveling is too high a price to pay! You're right! Let's enjoy the journey!! :-)

  6. It is the journey and not that destination, I absolutely believe that. But honestly, Roland, I'm getting very road road weary. *sigh*

    VR Barkowski

  7. VR:
    I am with you with the road weariness. These days I am hardly a Road Warrior! Yet, if we give up, we will never know if we were just about to hit our stride and build up momentum. Have a great rest of the A-Z Challenge! Always your friend, Roland