I have moved the whole blog to a new address. Please join me over there as no new posts are being added here and I have removed key info from this old version ...


When you get there, PLEASE rejoin as a "follower" - changing addresses means I lose my 230 lovely friends!

NB also - all comments are intact on the new version.

Sunday, 26 July 2009


Another Submission Spotlight opportunity
for an intrepid author to receive feedback.

The author, "Devan" tells me that she has had good feedback from an agent, but that the agent decided to pass because she "didn't feel the affinity with my style that she would need to champion my work." (Valid reason). Devan is now trying to work out whether this was just that agent or if there are "issues" to sort out. She also says, "I've been working on the ms for so many years that it's becoming increasingly difficult to see where the rewrites are needed." Oh, haven't we all been there!

So, it's over to you.

For those of you who haven't given feedback in a Spotlight before, please go here first for the original submission guidelines, which are NOT exactly what a normal agent would ask for. It might also help you to read a couple of the other submission spotlights, especially the comments, so you can see what happens. (On the Labels list, choose Submission Spotlights).

Oh, and Devan also makes the point that there's a US flavour to this (or should I say flavor??).

Here goes:
Dear Mr Agent,

I am currently seeking representation for my 108k-word literary novel, The Persistence of Memory. I very much enjoyed (existing client’s novel), and as I seek to write in a similarly vivid style, I believe I may fit in well with your existing list. I am not currently submitting the manuscript to any other agents.

Set in the world of musical theatre in the mid-20th century, The Persistence of Memory follows the life Patrick Winters, an English actor and singer with too many secrets. We meet him in 1939, on the eve of his overnight Broadway success, and follow his career over the course of a quarter-century as he agonizes over his mysterious wife’s infidelity and disappearance. He immerses himself in theatre, affairs, fairy tales, alcohol, and a conflicted relationship with his American protégée Dara, but the great question of his life is whether any of these things can compel him to risk a comfortable life of self-pity for the demands of self-sacrifice. Unusually for the story of romantic crooners, the word ‘love’ appears only once in my novel – in the last chapter – as the characters struggle to discover what it really means in their lives of theatrical romance and overwrought emotion.

My target audience includes, though is not limited to, women in the 18-24 age bracket and fans of musical theatre, which I believe is currently an underdeveloped market. I enclose the first 500 words of the manuscript and look forward to hearing from you in due course.

Yours sincerely


In the last act, the few minutes before curtain-down, the Actor was beautiful. Draped in white robes, he knelt in the one shaft of light that cut through the great darkness. He held a woman in his arms, and around them music flowed, a violin straining forward with vibrato and retreating to a quivering sigh, the accompaniment to a kiss of kisses. As the violin faded, finally out of breath, the man’s hand made a quick movement. In the silence, the woman dropped over in his arms without a cry, red already spreading on the bosom of her gown.

There was no more music for a long time.

Finally the Actor lifted his face to the mezzanine, and a thrill passed through the hypnotized Manhattan audience at the sight of the first tear that ran down his cheek, catching the silver gleam of the spotlight. Nobody noticed when the music started again, but then he was singing to it, his tenor quiet and low:

One blood, one flesh
One knife, one death-

A dagger glinted, and he stabbed himself to the heart and yielded up the spirit without a sigh. The hero was dead, but patrons in the more expensive seats could see that his body still trembled, for the performer was crying. He wept until the curtain fell over his body with the mournful note of a cello.

The heroine was applauded, but when the Actor appeared onstage, looking drained and bashful and British, he was astonished by an ovation beyond all propriety. And what was the musical about, what did it celebrate? It was nearly two thousand years since the Jewish fort of Masada had fallen to the Romans, and the inhabitants thereof committed mass suicide in the face of inevitable defeat. And now a young Englishman who had never known a wound worse than a cricket injury or a broken heart – now he was idolized for his admirably acted self-destruction.

The curtain came down as applause still roared through the auditorium. Backstage stood a colorful knot of the long legs and ribaldry and freakish egos that make up a Broadway cast. The chorus girls stood in the back as always, knowing their places. For a moment every champagne glass, thrust toward the heavens, trembled down liquid gold drops like rain on the cast of Masada. The lead actress stood at the centre of the crowd, giggling and raving as she received the company’s toasts, still wearing her robe that was soaked with mock blood. Only one member of the cast was absent.

In the largest dressing room, all was still and quiet except for the petty, persistent tick of a clock. To be in the room was to be in the presence of mystery and skill, of the theatre itself. For at that dressing table in that room, the Actor, the center of Broadway on that night, remarkable for his dignity, charisma, and theatrical passion, sat before his dingy mirror and stared at the table.