IT PROBABLY HELPS TO BE A FEW FRIES SHORT OF A HAPPY MEAL
A few days ago, I came across some notes I made while plodding though the literary landscape in search of an agent who would represent my debut novel, EYEWALL. The notes were compiled in 2009 – a couple of years prior to EYEWALL’s publication. I had no recollection of making them, but there they were.
What they were was this: a compilation of comments agents had made about the manuscript, both pro and con. I assume I kept them to remind me to focus on the positive remarks as opposed to the negative ones, since I tend to be a glass-half-empty kind of guy instead of a glass-half-full one. In other words, I needed an antidote, the “pro” comments, to ward off the poisonous effects of negative reviews.
If you’re a published writer or are looking for an agent, then you know exactly what I’m talking about. If you aren’t, then what follows will provide a little insight into what authors face as they trek along the winding, unpaved road to publication. In my case, the road turned out to be ten years long and strewn with four different manuscripts.
If nothing else, a review of the comments I received serves as a vivid reminder of how TOTALLY SUBJECTIVE the endeavor of assessing manuscripts is. And I know this from both sides of the aisle now, since I occasionally judge writing competitions.
So here we go.
According to my notes, I lacked genuine talent as a writer. One agent said she was “not that impressed by the writing.” Another dissed my execution as “a bit dense and overwritten.”
Time for a big swallow of my antidote. “You have a gift of description which is lushly depicted,” declared one agent. Another pointed out: “Your language in descriptive passages really impressed me.” Okay, perhaps there’s a glimmer of hope for me.
I apparently had trouble kick starting the story, however. One agent pointed out the first two chapters were “not compelling enough.” But another told me, “Very nice writing, especially the first chapter.” Hmmm, maybe I sent out two different manuscripts.
Then there was the issue of driving the drama forward. “More slow-moving than I’d hoped,” one reviewer complained. Another griped, “The details get in the way of what should be more fast-paced and gripping.”
Happily, there was an opposite assessment: “Starts off fast paced right from the beginning.”
The body blows were relentless, however. Agents were “not sufficiently engaged; not sufficiently enthusiastic;” or found the tale “a bit predictable.”
Thankfully, there were always the counterpunches to keep me going: “Great and timely concept, one with clear marketability,” and “you write well and deserve an agent with the time to properly represent you.”
It took me another year before I found such an agent.
In the end, I’d have to say the pro comments were more on target than the cons. EYEWALL went on to become a number-one best seller on Amazon’s Kindle Store.
That’s just the kind of goofy business this is. It’s a game with only self-defined rules, amorphous boundaries, and no referees. One that’s both fun and terribly frustrating. To play it, you have to be tenacious, thick-skinned, and probably a few fries short of a Happy Meal.
Pick up EYEWALL by H.W. Buzz Bernard today for just $1.99!
St. Simons Island, Georgia, has never been hit by a Category 5 hurricane. Until now.
No one predicted the storm’s sudden force. A crippled Air Force recon plane, trapped in the eye of a violent hurricane. An outspoken tropical weather forecaster, fired from his network TV job before he can issue a warning: the storm is changing course and intensifying. A desperate family searching for a runaway daughter on Georgia’s posh St. Simons Island, cut off from escape as the hurricane roars toward them. A marriage on the rocks; an unrequited sexual attraction; a May-December romance. All will be swept up by the monster storm.
Get ready for a white-knuckle adventure.
And don’t forget to grab H.W. Buzz Bernard’s other great Bell Bridge Titles as well!
About the Author:
H. W. “Buzz” Bernard is a best-selling, award-winning novelist.
His debut novel, EYEWALL, which one reviewer called a “perfect summer beach read,” was released in May 2011 and went on to become a number-one best seller in Amazon’s Kindle Store.
PLAGUE (“One of the best thrillers of 2012″–novelist Al Leverone) came out in September 2012, and won the 2014 EPIC eBook Award in the suspense/thriller category.
SUPERCELL (“Races along with the speed of a twister”–novelist Michael Wallace) was published in late 2013 and became a best seller on Kindle as well as the winner of the 2015 EPIC eBook Award in the suspense thriller/category.
Buzz’s fourth novel and third in his “weather trilogy,” BLIZZARD (“A terrific book”–novelist Deborah Smith) was released in February 2015. It led to his nomination for a 2016 Georgia Author of the Year award.
CASCADIA (“heart pounding”–Reed Farrel Coleman, NYT best-selling author WHERE IT HURTS) hit the market in July 2016.
Before becoming a novelist, Buzz worked at The Weather Channel as a senior meteorologist for 13 years. Prior to that, he served as a weather officer in the U.S. Air Force for over three decades. He attained the rank of colonel and received, among other awards, the Legion of Merit. His “airborne” experiences include a mission with the Air Force Reserve Hurricane Hunters, air drops over the Arctic Ocean and Turkey, and a stint as a weather officer aboard a Tactical Air Command airborne command post (C-135). In the past, he’s provided field support to forest fire fighting operations in the Pacific Northwest, spent a summer working on Alaska’s arctic slope, and served two tours in Vietnam. Various other jobs, both civilian and military, have taken him to Germany, Saudi Arabia and Panama. He’s a native Oregonian and attended the University of Washington in Seattle where he earned a bachelor’s degree in atmospheric science; he also studied creative writing. Buzz currently is vice president of the Southeastern Writers Association. He’s a member of International Thriller Writers, the Atlanta Writers Club and Willamette Writers. He and his wife, Christina, live in Roswell, Georgia, along with their fuzzy and sometimes over-active Shih-Tzu, Stormy.
Buzz’s Website can be found at www.buzzbernard.com.