Category Archives: Rambles

Rambles: Decompressing

At the place where I used to work until a week ago – a school – I was told just before Easter that I would be made redundant by the end of September.

I wasn’t the only one: It was supposed to be a surgical operation to remove a few members of staff from the school so the rest could survive…but someone hit an artery, and the bleeding hadn’t stopped when I left last week. It wasn’t a pleasant place to work for those last few months.

For me, the time since Easter has been a long and stressful slog, a hard jungle journey with no certainty of a successful end. A few weeks ago, I cut my way through the last thicket and came out on the other side. And last Friday, I left the place I called “work” for the past fourteen years without looking back.

For complicated reasons, I’m not able to start work at my new school for a month. So I have a month off, a month to “rest and regale myself after the long journey.” (To quote Robinson Crusoe)

Working in a school, I have a week off every six weeks (tough life, huh?), but this is the first time I know I’m not going back to the same problems and same faces. When I go back, it will be to somewhere new.

I can’t tell you how liberating it is to know I never have to set foot in that school again unless I want to. All week, I’ve been dropping my wife off at the school (she still works there) and the whole day is mine to do with as I please.

Let me say that again: A day to do with as I please. I could drive to Wales and back, or go to the beach and chill for a few hours. Go see a movie. Do some laundry. Any damn thing I want.

And it feels amazing. The months of tension, of not knowing if I’ll have a home by Christmas, or where that home would be, have gone. The tedium and stress of going somewhere where I’ve been told I’m not needed is gone. The past fourteen years of the same routines have gone. No more lunchtime at the same time every day. No same walls, same ceiling, same people. I didn’t realise how oppressive and depressive it all was until I left.

Since today is the first day I haven’t had any chores (and it’s not been raining), I went for an hour long walk this morning. Normally, I would have been sitting at my desk, staring at the day and wishing I was out in the sun.

Today, I was.

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Rambles: The Hotel

I pull into the hotel after too long driving, too tired to continue. The instant I walk through the door, I realise this is a mistake. The décor is 1960s, worn brown carpet, faded wallpaper. The place looks like it hasn’t been cleaned in a decade. I’m about to turn around and leave when the owners appear, a pale old couple as decrepit as the hotel they run.

So, seeing as I’m so polite and British, I can’t possibly leave now.

I find myself in their hotel lounge, the thick brown shag carpet put down before man landed on the moon and never changed since, the panelling on the walls wood, the room dim. The male owner regales me with an endless, droning monologue from which it’s impossible to escape. And since (for some reason) my room is in the lounge, I can’t go to bed until they do. Clearly this man hadn’t had a conversation since 1970 or so, and tells me every flat and dull detail about everything he’s experienced since then in exquisite detail. Including the affair with the barmaid and that thing with the chicken, thank God they didn’t press charges and he was drunk anyway.

And being polite and British, I smile and nod at the right places during this endless threnody and don’t reach down his throat and rip out his tongue like I really want to just to shut him up. That would give him something to talk about (or not talk about, as the case may be) when the next customer mistakenly arrives.

Then the dream starts to fracture, and I start to wake; it’s then that I realise that this man’s endless drone is actually my minds interpretation of my wife’s snoring. Bless her.

 

 

Rambles: An Unfortunate Anniversary

In my work in progress, a character says, “Some days you don’t forget, no matter how long ago they were.”

4:20am, 24th August 1990.

There’s a knocking on the door of the house where I’m sleeping – an aunts house. Insistent and persistent. Barely awake; then there’s a figure at my bedroom door, unmistakably a policeman. For a second, I confuse him with my cousin (also a policeman).

My brother is dead. Car crash.

First thought might be an odd one, but here it is: Oh. Is that all? You couldn’t have waited until…like…six in the morning to tell me that? It takes me a second longer to process the real meaning.

The start of a long day, a long journey home by taxi. My dad howling like a wounded and caged animal; my mum said she heard someone call out her name at about 12:20am when it happened.

It happened around 12:20, but it took a few hours to track us down – my brother’s car was new, and the paperwork hadn’t caught up yet. He was racing on a wet road – slippery enough to kill him. Here’s something else: If he’d done it now – antilock brakes, traction control, stability control, airbags, crumple zones – he’d have probably walked away with a sore head and a story.

I’d only just started to learn to drive as well – the date on my learners licence was the 25th August, 1990, when it arrived later. First thing I asked my family was if they wanted me to carry on.

I’m a very cautious driver, as you can imagine, even now. Driverless cars can’t come fast enough for me, to be honest.

My brother never made it to twenty-one – he was three months short of that milestone. Me? All this happened five days after my eighteenth birthday. I’m forty-three this year.

Twenty five years ago. It’s a long time to be dead, twenty-five years. Never got the chance to marry, have kids, grow old.

Drive carefully, folks.

Rambles: A front end for KindleGen

For those of you going, huh? at that title, you can skip this post. The Kindle authors out there can dig in and enjoy…

Last year, I had to demonstrate to a small group of people the way to create a .mobi file. I’d been using Calibre (http://calibre-ebook.com/) for a while, but it seems like Amazon are tightening up on creating files without using KindleGen (Certainly the last time I used Calibre, the Amazon uploader kicked it back out).

The only choice was using the lousy Amazon command line KindleGen program (Seriously, what is this, 1998?). But trying to explain command lines and file paths in DOS to a group of people who had barely used a computer was really out of the question.

So I Googled and searched around for a while…and I wrote my own front end for KindleGen in .hta and VisualBasic.

Untitled

 

It’s pretty self-explanatory. Tell it where the KindleGen application is, tell it where the document is you want converting to .mobi. It takes that input, makes a compound statement and spits out the .mobi at the end in the same location as the document in the second box.

No fuss, no bother.

I really have to wonder if someone with as little coding experience as me can make something simpler than fighting your way through DOS pathways – in less than a week – why couldn’t Amazon?

Feel free to modify it as you like, but let me know if you make it all singing and dancing – I’d love to see it (Especially if someone figures out a way of adding a cover).

Download it here.

Rambles: Book Tag thingy

On Tuesday, I was tagged by Becky to answer some bookish questions. Ooo, eck…

However…

Challenge Accepted!

You have 20,000 books on your TBR. How in the world do you decide what to read next? 

Only 20k? I must be slipping. 🙂 I pick books from my TBR on a whim 99% of the time, unless it’s a book I’ve been after for a long time and I really want to read it.

You’re halfway through a book and you’re just not loving it. Do you quit or commit?

I’ve never not finished a book. I’m not a quitter, and I’ve been through some turkeys: Jaws. The Road. The novelisation of Close Encounters of the Third Kind. {blows raspberry} There’s usually some glimmer of light somewhere, even in the darkest reaches of the worst book I’ve ever read, so I keep going.

The end of the year is coming and you’re so close yet so far away on your Goodreads Challenge. Do you quit or commit? 

I’ve never taken a GR challenge….I like to enjoy my books and don’t want the artificial pressure of reading forty more by the end of the year. I’d rather enjoy them!

The covers of a series you love DO. NOT. MATCH. How do you cope?

Curl into a corner and weep for a week. Then I go out and buy the whole set again. 🙂 Actually, mostly I learn to live with it. After years of extensive therapy and counselling, that is.

Everyone and their mother loves a book you really don’t like. Who do you bond with over shared feelings?

Oh, you’ve heard about The Fault in Our Stars, huh? There’s generally someone who will agree with your opinion. Sometimes you have to go the extra mile to find them. Or hire a detective to find them for you…

You’re reading a book and you’re about to start crying in public. How do you deal?

Oh, that’s a toughie. Pretend I have allergies, mostly. No, it’s hayfever, really…what’s that? Yes, I get it in December. Honestly.

A sequel of a book you loved just came out, but you’ve forgotten a lot from the prior novel. Will you re-read the book? Skip the sequel? Try to find a summary on Goodreads? Cry in frustration?

I’m re-reading “The Enemy” series by Charlie Higson at the minute. He’s been writing these for about seven years now, and I can’t remember one from the other with all the gaps in between (hence the re-read now he’s nearly finished). A decent writer will give you some backstory to help you on your way. If I get really stuck, I’d check back on my review and then the summary on Goodreads.

You don’t want ANYONE borrowing your books. How do you politely tell people “nope” when they ask?

I growl from the back of my throat, like a Wookiee with phlegm.

You’ve picked up and put down five different books in the past month. How do you get over your slump?

I’ve never had a slump with my reading…if I picked up five books and put them down again in a month, it’s ‘cos I read ‘em all.

There are so many new books coming out that you are dying to read! How many do you actually buy?

Not many…the school where I work has a really good library, and they listen to my suggestions of what to buy. So I borrow new books from them when they arrive. 😉

After you’ve bought a new book you want to get to, how long do they sit on your shelf until you actually read them?

Usually less than twelve hours! I’m not one to delay my reading pleasure.

This was kinda fun. 🙂

I tag…

Melanie Cusick-Jones

Anna Hub

Coffee2words

Rambles: The Book Six that never was

“Never apologize and never explain–it’s a sign of weakness.” – John Wayne, She Wore a Yellow Ribbon, attributed.

 

But then again, why not?

I’ve done one of these posts before in 2013 (The Book Five that never was), so since I’m now into the flesh and bone of Book Six, I decided to do one again.

So, anyway, there was going to be a Book Six, but it was going to be very different from the one I’m writing…more of an odyssey than the one-location tale it is now.

However, the ideas I was developing weren’t wasted (as they weren’t when I did The Book Five that never was) – most of them found their way into what would become Medusa, and I don’t want Australian fellow writer Anna Hub to think her feedback was wasted; I took it all on board.

Sometimes the stories do get away, but that wasn’t the problem here. The problem was that I wanted the protagonist to have a new voice, something different.

So I abandoned it and started again. It’s a shame; I think it’s one of the most powerful openings I’ve ever written, and I would have liked to have known where this path through the forest went.

But as the song says: Let It Go.

I get the feeling sometimes I have to do these little opening chapters to warm myself up for the main event. That’s why they call them drafts, folks. 🙂

Anyway, The Book Six that never was:

Day Four
I shot a man tonight.
I handled the rifle the way my dad taught me: Pushing the stock hard into my right shoulder, steadying my racing heartbeat and squeezing down on my rushing breath, sighting down the barrel so the world shrunk to only him and me.
Still he came towards me, convinced I wouldn’t do it perhaps, or just desperate for our supplies, coming on almost as though he didn’t hear my warning or care one way or the other. That was possible; he could have been one of the last of the Sueys, after all.
I squeezed the trigger and the rifle bucked and rose to the left, enormously loud, as I knew it would. I pulled it back to the right and down again, already lining up for another shot. The man spun a half turn, a hand rising to his shoulder. The echo of the shot came back from the mountains, scolding me.
I didn’t wait for him to turn back to me, aiming between his shoulder blades. This time there was a spray of red and white as the bullet blew him open. He fell to his knees, still facing away from me and his head dropped. He seemed to sigh.
Then he fell forward onto his face without putting his hands out to stop himself and lay still.
I just killed a man. Shot him in the back in cold blood. Took his life.
It did no good to justify it, to say to myself that it was him or me, it was him or us. It did no good to say that everyone left on the planet will be dead in a few days anyway. If I used that argument, there was no reason he couldn’t have shared his last meals with us, no reason for me to take his life.
Maybe all he wanted was not to die alone.
I just. Shot a man.
The shaking started then, the delayed shock of what I’d done rising from somewhere in my stomach. I tossed away the rifle as though it burned and my outstretched fingers convulsed, flexing and relaxing, flexing and relaxing. Bands of steel tightened around my spine and spiders rose towards my neck, ice spinning behind them. My stomach convulsed and turned, the gorge rising into my throat. Every muscle in my body loosened and shook, and I fell to my knees, staring at the stony ground between my hands, not feeling the harsh rocks cut my knees or palms.
The remains of dinner brushed the back of my throat, and I vomited and vomited until bile burned and it mixed with my sobs and mucus from my running nose, my whole body shaking and thrumming like a man in a high fever, my body a shaking wire. I couldn’t stop myself, couldn’t even look up at what I’d done.
Beside my hand, a familiar pair of boots appeared, then dad’s grip was on my shoulder and pulling me up. I fell into his shoulder, still sobbing as he led me back to the cabin, his voice full of singsong reassurances that meant nothing.
I shot a man tonight. I have to find a way to live with that in the few days we have left.

Rambles: I am what I am

I remember one New Year’s Eve party in particular. My dad was in the Territorial Army (An army reserve he went to on weekends) for most of his life that I was a part of. This was a NYE party they were holding in their big hall in their barracks, and the whole family were there, plus about a hundred other people. Lots of food and a disco – you know the deal, right? It must have been perhaps 1982 or 1983; that’s the best date I can put on it, anyway, and the year doesn’t really matter.

The reason it doesn’t matter is because here’s the thing I remember the most about that year-going-into-the-next, the thing I’m here to talk about: I spent the seconds across midnight in the empty and mostly dark gym that looked over the hall. On an exercise bike. Alone.

I was more comfortable up there than down on that floor singing Auld Lang’s Syne with a bunch of people I didn’t know. I was more comfortable in a dark room than taking part in the fun down there below me.

Does that seem strange to you?

Parties, you see, even ones where I know people, aren’t my thing. Even small ones at some-friends-my-parents-knew house, with ten people there. I’m just here for the food thanks, please don’t talk to me.

Neither are wedding receptions; park me next to the buffet and leave me alone, please. Neither are meetings where you have to talk or contribute (You know…most of them). Neither are being parts of a team and networking, something my work friend likes doing constantly. He likes talking to people you see. Mostly, I probably come across as rude and indifferent; mostly I only talk when I have to.

Social situations of any sort are exhausting to me, and I want to get out of them as quickly as possible. Stay and make small talk? No thanks. Office parties? Never been to one; never want to go to one. If someone invited me to one, I would decline.

What always puzzled me was how many people think this was (and is) a deliberate choice on my part. How many teachers would write in my school reports “Tony needs to get more involved and speak up more” as though it was as easy as changing socks.

There seem to be a lot of people who want to cure me of the way I am by “getting me involved”; not to draw too many parallels, but I see the way introverts are treated in much the same way as homophobia: “Have you tried not being quiet?” Well…have you tried not being noisy?

I always ate my lunch alone when I was in college, and never in the canteen (eating in public is something I avoided for years), hunting out the quietest corner I could find if it was too cold to eat outside – and you’d be surprised at how high that outside-eating bar could be raised. I’d eat with freezing fingers on a park bench and only move inside if it rained. If I had a free lesson, I’d go for a walk rather than socialise.

If you’re curious about how I was able to make any friends with all this static, believe me it wasn’t easy. So I tend to keep the ones I made, and if they vanished, I didn’t make many new ones.

And if you want to know what it was like being a teenager in a world like mine, go read Black Shark, my short story. A friend read it and commented, ” I don’t think I’ve ever met someone with the level of anxiety that the main character experiences.” Well, yeah…you kinda have, albeit virtually. ;-). (This isn’t a plug for the story, by the way)

So I thought there was something wrong with me for not enjoying being at a loud disco or nightclub. I used to think it was only me who had this odd affliction for not wanting – not needing – to be around people, but I discovered only recently that there are many people out there who are like me. They very rarely get together, you see – as you can imagine, the annual meeting of the Socially Anxious and Introverted doesn’t get many people turn up, and when they do, it’s a quiet affair.

Growing up, of course, forces you out of your shell whether you like it or not. For the most part, that is. But I will always be on the edge of the crowd and looking in. I will always be the last person to speak up, and certainly not voluntarily.

This drives my wife a little mad at times. She’d love to go out dancing at a nightclub. I’d love to sit in the car and wait for her to come out. Or I’ll sit at a table all night and be uncomfortable, thanks. You go have a good time and try not to drag me to the dance floor. Please.

I’d rather not have anything to eat than have to order it myself, and she’ll do it for me if we’re in Starbucks. I’d rather not go into the chip-shop and order if she’s willing to do it for me.

Don’t get me wrong (and don’t call me lazy) – I can do these things if I have to. But I don’t enjoy doing them. I don’t relish going into a shop and making small talk with the girl behind the till or the chip-shop owner. I don’t enjoy crowds. I don’t like people’s leaving parties at work and meetings are to be dreaded and sat through like a dental appointment.

And you know what it’s taken me a long time to realise? It’s the way I am, and the way I’m made. And I’m good with that.

Finally, after all the years of people saying there was something wrong with me standing on the edge and looking in: I’m good with that.

I am what I am.

Double edges

On the street where I live, a solitary neighbour – let’s call him Paul – recently died. Paul was a nice guy, quiet, looked after his mother when she was terminally ill and looked after another old lady who lived across the road (We live on a street where most of our neighbours are retired and elderly. It’s one of the reasons I love it – no parties until 3am where we live).

Anyway, another neighbour told me that Paul was slowly drinking himself to death; and, as I said, he recently succeeded.

Being a writer is mostly a great time. You get to make up worlds and people who don’t exist and play with them, run them through the mill and see what they’re made of. But it’s a double-edged sword, like with our quiet neighbour Paul.

I can see him, sitting alone in his kitchen every night, staring at a bottle and the silent, silent walls and rooms around him. I can see him reaching for that bottle to try to drown out that silence, then having to do it more often. The absolute loneliness of his life, the spaces he couldn’t fill.

I could be wrong about Paul, of course; he could – and most likely did – have his own reasons for drinking until it killed him. But still the writer in me sees him sitting there, alone, every night and sees the empty tragedy of his life.

Here’s another example: My wife and I had a good friend who died in a light aircraft crash quite a few years ago. (Those things crash all the time, have you noticed?). As a writer, it’s all too easy to imagine her gripping the hand of the person beside her as the pilot loses control and the plane starts to shudder. And to see the rushing trees coming towards her through her eyes, see those last thoughts flash through her head.

And as easy as it to imagine how beautiful a starlight beach is at midnight, the sand rubbing your toes, the infinity of stars above you, that smell of open water and the mist from the surf prickling your skin, so it’s as easy to imagine how it feels to be trapped in a plane that’s being flown towards an already burning building, the Manhattan skyline unrolling beneath you at three hundred miles per hour.

I don’t get to pick and choose what Muse throws at me, and when she does, I feel the responsibility to share that empathy to lonely people like Paul…to tell the stories the way my imagination and experience of life sees them, both the happy stories and the sad: The beautiful beach and the burning building. Both edges of the sword, and both of them cut as deeply when I write.

I’m not complaining about that responsibility at all; in fact I enjoy it. I’ll always try and do the best job I can with the stories I write, because that’s the way I was raised – if a job’s worth doing, then do it well – and I take my writing very seriously, even when it’s just fun and games.

It wouldn’t be right otherwise.

Rambles: Ten books that made me the reader I am today

A fellow blogger Becky Day recently posted (here) about the books that have made her the reader she is today. It’s a fascinating thought, and one that’s impossible to resist. How do you decide which books you read when you look at all the ones you can pick?

I have read a LOT of books since I started around the age of six or so. I have no idea how many, but my Goodreads shelf count is 426, and those are only the ones I can remember reading or have added to my bookshelves. I know there are ones I’ve never added – I have a complete set of Star Trek movie novelisations and short stories based on the original episodes by James Blish sitting on my shelf at home, for instance, and that’s just the tip of the literary iceberg.

But I managed to pick out ten which I think define me as a reader. The ones that made me look at the world a little differently, or the ones that I simply loved and read over and over.

(Looking over this list as I type the author names, I just realised I only had two females. Doesn’t mean I haven’t read any, just interesting to note. I think the ones I have picked pitch some literary weight though, certainly for me.)

 

Anyway, in no particular order:

 

Bedknob and broomstick, Mary Norton (Review)

B & B was the first book I remember reading independently, and for that it’s made an indelible mark. I remember reading non-fiction at the little library in my primary school – books full of trivia like the size of dinosaur teeth or the world’s smallest plant – but this is the first time I think I ever tried fiction. I fell in love with the simple story and read it over and over again. Even bought myself a new copy a few years ago…and the magic was still there. If I hadn’t read this, it would have probably been another fiction book I read first…but who knows, I might not have developed the early skills to sit and read and enjoy fiction as much as I still do. I might have hated it!

 

Tomorrow when the war Began, John Marsden (Review)

When I first met my wife in 2001, I hadn’t read any young adult books in years. Mostly, I was in to movie novelisations and Stephen King and Dean Koontz. Young adult to me was of the level of “Oh, dear, I farted {giggle}” – and I hadn’t seen anything to convince me otherwise. My wife told me to read this and Marsden changed it all for me. Here were intelligent, well created characters you lived and breathed with, characters you laughed and cried with, characters you climbed inside of. He’s a big influence on me as writer as well, and I’ve read almost everything he’s ever written.

 

Lord of the rings, JRR Tolkien

Now this is an odd one. I have never read Lord of the Rings, or The Hobbit, so why is it here? I think the books we don’t pick say as much as much as the ones we do. I tried LoTR, I really did. I loved the movies…but the books…just plain bored me. I never got past page one of LoTR or The Hobbit, and to this day I’ll never read a book where they name a sword. It’s not pushing any of my buttons, folks!

 

Day of the Triffids, John Wyndham

Way before anyone knew the phrase “post-apocalyptic”, here’s John Wyndham in 1951. The world goes blind overnight, and the survivors struggle to rebuild their lives and start a new society. The story is creepy as hell and the scenes of a crumbling London and England fifty years ahead of its time…and it started my ongoing fascination with post-apocalyptic fiction.  

 

Star Wars Episode IV, Alan Dean Foster (as George Lucas)

This is the novelisation of Star Wars, and it started a long love affair for me for movie novelisations, which for a while I was actively seeking out in bookstores, (remember those?). Some of them were good – like this one – and some of them bad (Yes, you, Close Encounters of the Third Kind). The book is good enough to stand alone without the movie, and I’ve still got it on my bookshelf – along with five other Star Wars novelisations! Entertainment, pure and simple, and I love dipping into them.  

 

IT, Stephen King

One of my aunts had an extensive library of horror fiction in her spare room – some heavy stuff like Graham Masterton and Dennis Wheatley – and a collection of King. When I’d stop there for the weekend, I’d always pick one up, never quite daring to read it at midnight or one in the morning. IT (for those of you who don’t know) is 1100 pages of book, so it’s understandable I’d be intimidated by it even if it wasn’t horror.

But I found myself sucked in to it once I started it, and it started a love – and hate – relationship with King ever since. Some of his books don’t cut it for me (Needful Things and The Dead Zone), but mostly I’m in for a good time with Uncle Steve.  

 

A Tale of Two Cities, Charles Dickens

One of my parents books is an old copy of aToTC, bound and made sometime in the 1940s. I started it one day, not really knowing who Dickens was or what made him write it – or even when. Although the language was weird and it took a while to get started, I really got into it. I haven’t stopped reading Dickens or classics since, coming back to this one again and again and getting a little something different from it each time.  

 

Diary of a Young Girl, Anne Frank

Surprisingly, I didn’t have to study this at school, and it was quite a few years later that I picked a copy up. Anne was a blunt girl, not mincing words about anyone, but what got me was her simple hope and a wisdom she had beyond her years, and I symbolically have the book beside my 19th century Dickens and other classics. After I read this, I realised all you need to be free is to see is a blue sky, even if it’s glimpsed at from a behind a black out curtain. I still look at the sky sometimes and remember that.

 

Nineteen-Eighty Four, George Orwell

How startling it is to read this, in an age of internet snooping and CCTV on every street corner, with traffic cameras that keep records for five years. How easy it becomes to hate someone because the media says you should. How easily we slip, uncaring and indifferent, towards the world Orwell imagined.  

 

Lightning, Dean Koontz

Koontz is often bundled with King as a horror writer, and some of his earlier books were certainly that. But Koontz has transcended his genre. He doesn’t exactly write thrillers, or horror, or comedy, but mixes them all together into a wonderful smorgasbord. When he gets it right – like the generational time-travelling story of Lightning, the first of his books I read – his prose is powerful, his characters engaging. When he gets it right, you simply cannot put a Koontz down, and when he gets it right, there’s no one quite like him. Which is why I keep reading them…even when he gets it wrong.

 

I hope you enjoyed the list! Any thoughts on what books define you as a reader?

Rambles: Paperback Writer

Dear Mr Lennon-McCartney,

 

Thank you for your manuscript, based on a novel by a man named Lear. Our records indicate that Mr Lear actually did not write any novels, and restrained himself mostly to nonsense rhyme and children’s verse – I would suggest you might have him confused with a play called King Lear by a quite famous playwright named William Shakespeare, perhaps you would like to check.

 

As a point of protocol, it is also nice to find out the gender and name of the agent you are contacting before writing to them. We do prefer to be known other than by ‘Dear Sir or Madam’.

 

Now to your manuscript:

 

Your enthusiasm for the subject is very refreshing, and I am delighted to hear you will be writing more in a week or two.

 

Similarly, the offer to change the style is very generous, but the style would need dramatic alterations to fit our target audience of very young childrens books of less than one hundred words.

 

Sadly, the subject matter of a dirty story and a dirty man would not be appropriate for our age-five target audience. Unless the dirt in question was literal and not metaphorical, and he needed to get himself clean, of course.

 

Given the nature of the book, I am curious if you looked at our website before you made your submission to us? Have you considered offering your work to an agent who deals with more adult topics and books?

 

In conclusion, Mr Lennon-McCartney, I am unfortunately unable to offer you a contract at this time, despite the tempting offer of a million overnight. I’m returning it to you as you requested.

 

I will leave you with the final encouraging comment that some of your passages are very lyrical. Have you ever considered song writing?

  

 

                                                                           Yours sincerely,

                                                                           Penny Lane