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Love It Enough (sample)
Tinney S. Heath
My ex-boyfriend Larry wants to be a Top Reviewer for Amazon when he grows up. He's been practicing by extolling his new girlfriend's YA paranormal romance, Passionate Zombie Liaisons. Five stars. Nerissa Coleridge. Was this review helpful to you?
It wasn't Nerissa he gave as a reason when he told me he was moving out. "Writers are sensitive creatures," he said. "We need time by ourselves to be truly creative. It's not you, Babe, it's just that I feel my muse calling and I must answer." His muse has him lurching through a derivative thriller about arcane symbolism, gruesome murders, and the end of the world as we know it. I think he ended up blaming the Vatican, though he may have decided to go with Al Quaeda. Or the UN.
He's right about one thing, though. Writing is a solitary business. You can be surrounded by people, and still it's just you and the words on the screen in front of you. Or you and the blank screen, more likely. You can dissipate your art in conversation, as Oscar Wilde would say, or you can workshop it, troll for beta readers, haul in strangers off the street. At the end of the day you're still alone with your work.
And I'm alone with mine. Do you have any idea what a relief that is? Let me tell you about Gene, and how he changed my life.
The day Gene appeared, I was taking stock. Things weren't going well. Larry was gone, and while my mind acknowledged that this was probably a good thing, the rest of me was still feeling pretty bruised and forlorn. Also, I wasn't getting anywhere with my attempts to land an agent for my own book. I won't tell you anything about my project, except that it's historical fiction and it's set in Italy in the early Middle Ages. Nobody's ever heard of my main character, though she gets a stub entry in the Italian version of Wikipedia. Apparently nobody wants to hear about her, either. Suffice it to say that some hundred or so copies of my earnestly-crafted query letter, with its zinger of a hook and its three-sentence thumbnail sketch of the plot, went off into the vast black hole of New York literary agencies, and all that came back was a little debris. This consisted of a stack of form rejection slips ("Didn't love it enough.…", "Not right for our list at this time.…", "Didn't feel enough of a connection.…"). One brief personal note saying that she couldn't sell historicals if the protagonist wasn't a marquee name. Another note scrawled on my returned letter: "Not enough sex!" A brochure for an editorial service an agent runs on the side ("Make your book a bestseller!"). A bookmark advertising another agent's new book on how to find an agent. Thanks, guys. Now what?
Short of self-publishing, the only thing I could think of was to send out yet another round of queries, so I'd picked up yet another recycled toner cartridge that morning. As I wrestled the thing into my aging printer, always a messy business, a cloud of black particles mushroomed up and hovered overhead. I scuttled back so it wouldn't settle on me. Oh, great, I thought. I'll have toner soot all over my papers. I checked to see if there was anything there valuable enough to yank it out from under the cloud. There wasn't—just my manuscript.
So I waited, but the dust didn't settle. Instead, it wafted around about two feet above my printer, moving gently as if cradled by a little breeze, a breeze that had no business existing in my office on a winter day with all the windows closed. It began to move in little circular gusts, gradually forming itself into a slowly swirling eddy as I watched, fascinated. It became darker and denser as it swirled, until it resembled a rather menacing miniature tornado.
It picked up speed. I took a couple of steps backward, keeping my eyes on the spinning funnel. No way was there that kind of air current in this room, even if I'd had all the windows open. This was weird. Maybe recycled toner cartridges weren't worth the savings, after all.
Whatever it was, it was spinning faster, growing larger and darker. I wanted to back out of the room, but I couldn't stop watching it. The particles were whirling fast enough to be a blur, morphing from a funnel shape into something I couldn't identify. It was still wider at the top like a funnel, but various bulges and rounded bits were forming, and now it seemed to consist of several different eddies, all working together to create…something.
Maybe I could just stick with e-queries, I thought irrelevantly. It would save postage. The ominous cloud coalesced, the swirling motion slowed, and to my utter amazement I realized I was looking at a life-size male head and torso emerging from my printer. Muscular naked arms folded, stern face scowling at me, Shriner-style silly little hat perched on its bald head. As we stared at each other, he solidified, and colors—red hat, gold tassel, tanning-parlor skin tone, turquoise vest—formed themselves out of the black particles. I'd seen pictures, and I knew what he was.
I had a genie in my toner cartridge. Suddenly that stack of rejection letters didn't seem like my biggest problem any more.
Cover design by Laura Unger, all rights reserved.
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This page created 13 December 2011
Last update 21 March 2014