Every Literary Agent’s Dream Novel
So I took a hard hit yesterday. Book 3 of my series got cut from the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award contest.
Although I wasn’t counting chickens or anything, I had high hopes. Book 3 is about Jerry Nunez’s infantry company fighting against a limited cartel incursion on the Texas border. I like to think it’s a pretty good book, but the Amazon judges didn’t agree.
I’m trying to be fair about it. There’s a strong possibility the judges thought my writing sucked. On the other hand, the bitter, angry part of me suspects there will not be a single military fiction novel among the finalists. In the publishing world, military fiction seems to make editors and agents turn away in revulsion.
I’ve been trying to get a mainstream publisher interested in my novels for three years, which is not a real long time. I’ve been told the average successful writer tries for seven years before they make it, and some others have to try a lot longer than that. Karl Marlantes, a Marine VN vet who is an inspiration to me, tried for over thirty years to get his novel published. So I’m thankful for the success I’ve experienced so far. I’m ahead of the curve.
On the other hand, my brief brushes with the publishing industry have been pretty frustrating. Most agents seem to dismiss my genre out of hand. I had a conversation with a male agent one evening, and was sure he would be interested in war fiction. Most agents are female, highly educated, extremely liberal, into chick lit and young adult fantasy, but this agent was into guy stuff.
I told him I had written a novel based on my experiences in the Afghanistan War. He pursed his lips, pondered for a moment. Then he said, “Nah. What else you got?”
Another agent read Proof of Our Resolve and responded, “I don’t think I can place this.” In other words, nobody’s interested. Thank God Tactical16 came along, looking for veteran writers.
In my more cynical, bitter moments (which is most of the time I’m thinking about the mainstream writing world) I chide myself for not following the basic rules of success: add a vampire. Write about zombies or Victorian romance. Don’t waste your time telling the world about amazing, dramatic struggles in exotic lands where ordinary Americans risked and gave their lives to defend an ideal.
Yes, I realize I’m whining. Yes, I sound like Aunt Flow is in town. I’m retaining water. My estrogen levels are high. I’m being a wuss. I’m not considering the likelihood that my writing needs work. Guilty as charged.
But in the spirit of frustrating disappointment, I’ve decided to publish the short story below. This story is without a doubt Every Literary Agent’s Dream Novel. When you finish it, you’ll be so awestruck that you WILL perform the internet equivalent of throwing your panties on stage. If this story somehow makes it across an agent’s desk, I’m guaranteed to get a publishing contract and 64 trillion dollar advance. I hope you guys enjoy it.
Victoria, Caroline and Alberta, daughters of the Widow Duchess Lady Countess Jane Anne Montford Remington, crowded into the drawing room of their sprawling Yorkshire estate mansion. Their mother, tall and elegant, glided into the room. Looking down her prim, aristocratic nose, she said, “Today Mister Farcy will visit, with the intent of choosing one of you as his bride.”
Victoria jumped from her fainting couch. “Mister Farcy? Oh mother, we’ve always so wanted to meet him! I simply must marry him, I must!”
“No, he shall choose me!” Caroline cried.
“But I so love Mister Farcy, I shan’t live without him!” Alberta exclaimed.
“Ladies, control yourselves,” the Duchess commanded. “Mister Farcy will not be amused by such childish outbursts. Whirl about and greet him properly.”
The daughters spun and were shocked to see Mister Farcy behind them in the drawing room. “Mister Farcy!” Victoria exclaimed, thinking, What the f – ? . . . where did he come from?
“It is I,” he answered coldly. Victoria was frozen by his breathtaking handsomeness, his perfectly tailored livery, the eyes that commanded her to be his. Her loins quaked at his brutally masculine voice.
“Mister Farcy, please take me as your wife!” Caroline begged.
“No Mister Farcy, I am by far the best sister,” Alberta pleaded. “You simply must choose me!”
Mister Farcy glared at them with a face of stone. “Enough of this,” he commanded.
They fell silent. “This is our first encounter, we scarcely know one another. I shall only choose a wife after careful consideration and sufficient dramatic pause.” He gazed at the eager faces. “I have made my decision. Victoria will be my bride.”
Victoria’s pulse raced with passionate elation. Caroline burst into tears. She screamed, “But Mister Farcy, I so love you, I just can’t live without you!” and fled the room. Alberta wiped tears and protested, “Mister Farcy, life without you will be so wretched it is not worth living!” She ran from the room after her sister.
Mister Farcy sat beside Victoria and took her hand. Victoria melted at his touch. The Duchess beamed with pride at her daughter. Her family’s financial security was now assured. Mister Farcy took Victoria’s face into his tender palms and leaned in to kiss her.
“Aaaaaaaahhhhhh!” Victoria was startled by the scream and spun around to see her sister Caroline’s body fall past the window to the moat below. The splash was drowned by a second scream as Alberta flung herself out an upstairs window to her death. Mouth agape, Victoria threw her face into Mister Farcy’s muscular chest.
“Oh Mister Farcy,” she sobbed, “my sisters have taken their lives! Oh, what shall I do without them?”
“You must carry on,” Mister Farcy answered in an even tone. “I am your family now. You have lost all else.”
Victoria lifted her head. “But Mister Farcy, I still have my mother.”
Mister Farcy gave the Widow Duchess Lady Countess Jane Anne Montford Remington an iron glare. She purposefully strode out of the room. Seconds later, Victoria heard another scream as her mother hurtled past the window to the moat.
“No Victoria, you are now an orphan. You will devote your life to pleasing your husband.”
Desire pulsed through Victoria’s veins. Her bosoms heaved — yes, those bosoms were heaving! — as she gasped for breath. She was a modern, educated woman. But her true passion, the secret passion of every woman, rested in her need to meet the desires of her man. She smiled, stood and began to disrobe.
The door flew open. Caroline, dripping with brackish water, covered in blood, stood in the doorway. Dull grey skin and purple lips stood in stark contrast to jagged teeth and claw-tipped, skeletal fingers. Caroline staggered into the room, arms extended before her, moaning unintelligibly. Victoria’s mind reeled. She made out one word from Caroline’s mouth: “Brains.”
Caroline was a zombie! Mister Farcy threw himself before Victoria and backed her into a corner. Behind Caroline, her sister Alberta and the Widow Duchess Lady Countess Jane Anne Montford Remington stumbled into the room. All three repeated “Brains! Brains!” and advanced on the doomed lovers. Victoria clutched Mister Farcy’s coat and cried in terror, “Oh Mister Farcy, what shall we do?”
Mister Farcy turned to face his betrothed. She looked at his handsome countenance in confusion. He seemed somehow. . . different. His skin was pale white, pupils slit vertically like a Tiger’s. He bared teeth that had morphed into fangs. Victoria drew back in terror. Mister Farcy was a vampire!
“Bare your neck, my dear Victoria,” Mister Farcy whispered. “To save you I shall turn you into a vampire. Together we shall transform into bats and fly to Berkley, California. There we shall open a university dedicated to studying women’s issues and electing liberal presidents. Prepare for your journey to the world of the undead, my darling.”
Victoria threw her hands up to defend herself. Mister Farcy brushed aside her feeble efforts and closed in for the bite. Her zombie sisters and mother were almost on them. Victoria slapped at him, cried “You beast! Stop, I forbid you from turning me into a vampire!” But inside, her heart roiled. She detested vampires, and yet, as his fangs closed in she felt her desire grow to unimaginable proportions. The logic of her brain was swept away by the passion of her heart.
As Mister Farcy’s fangs pierced the soft flesh of her neck, Victoria had a shocking revelation: she now loved him even more.
Awesome, isn’t it? So where’s my damn publishing contract?
Okay, it’s out of my system now. No more whining. Back to the grind, onward to victory.
Thank you for letting me vent, guys.
NOTE ADDED 3/23/13
I found out today that the contest reviewers did leave me some feedback. It appears to me that one of the two judges who left reviews is not a fan of military fiction. He also had some valid criticisms. The reviews have been added to my “Novel Excerpt: First Chapter of Book 3″ blog post from 3/22/13.
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