The New Querying

It’s been a while since I’ve queried any agents and, for some reason, looking out over a wild and wooly lake in County Kerry, I decided to have one last crack at getting Trip to the Quiet Room into the hands of an agent.

Well, the tools agents are using are really excellent now… I particularly like QueryManager and some of the questions agents put to you for your submission.

Now, I have no idea what the agent experience is, but as a prospective client, I appreciated the little differences agents added to their submission page. For example, one (Jennifer Herrington), asks you what you’re currently reading, what your favourite book is, what character you most connect with (I am Radar, by Reif Larson and Emily St. John Mandel’s The Glass Hotel, The Third Policeman by Flann O’Brian, and Arthur Dent). While others will stick to simpler questions, or maybe who the audience for your book is.

Otherwise, that’s it from me, no other news.

I hope you’re enjoying the very dregs of 2020 somewhere safe and sound, and I hope to all that’s holy and good that we can all get together at the Dalkey Book Festival in 2021

Magic Funtime Butterfly Ranch: Now Accepting Orders?

So did you ever think, what would happen if I ever called that number for the butterfly ranch?

The original flyer for the Magic Funtime Butterfly Ranch




It’s all a lark, right? Guerrilla marketing for a fictional service from a book that doesn’t exist in the real world yet that is struggling to ever see the light of day? It’s also, by the way, a (508) 555 -XXXX number, some Hollywood trick to think there’s a real number somewhere in the 508 area code, which, by the way, just so happens to encompass the Cape Cod National Seashore area. “Very funny,” you probably said, or at least thought to yourself, “but I see what you’re trying to do there, Chuck.”

Leaving aside your overly familiarity with me and giving me the nickname Chuck against my will, sure, I accept your skepticism. Even when I saw a few of these flyers posted to telephone poles and traffic light posts around Worcester, Massachusetts, Dalkey, Co. Dublin, Ireland, and San Jose, California, I thought, “Ha, see? Someone’s taken it seriously.” But even *I* never thought of actually trying to call that number…


Well, what if I told you I found this, floating around on the internet this morning?

Trip to the Quiet Room: Old Sturbridge Village

“No Exhibits Beyond This Point”

What could Old Sturbridge Village be hiding back there? Could it be a new barn, housing a secret project, one that would change the game for historical theme parks? Was that screaming you heard from the old saw mill?

Or was it the funny lights from the old cooper’s shop, well after closing time?

The road to the cooper’s shop


The new Director of Old Sturbridge Village isn’t looking well these days, regardless, and maybe you can find out more about our dear old 19th century New England village and its secrets in Trip to the Quiet Room.

A Long Time Coming (Still Waiting)

The body count
The body count

Following on my last post, that ever hopeful sending off of actual pages to a literary agent, I was going through my submissions list when it dawned on me that I’ve been sending out packages to agents for Trip to the Quiet Room for a long-ish time*.

For the curious (?), I use Tinderbox (yes, I am a version behind — but Mark has a summer sale on at this very second) for keeping track of prospective agents, submissions, contests, publications, even first readers.

Tinderbox, along with PublishersMarketplace, QueryTracker, help me research (stalk?) agents and figure out who my best targets might be. Each prospective agent gets a note to themselves with some info about how to contact them, whether or not they’re open for submissions, where I found out about them, favorite foods, times they leave the house, how many pets, and what types of locks they have on their house, office, boathouse, and gym locker.

Prospective Agents
Prospective Agents

They get rough ratings, depending on how likely I think they are to like the story behind Trip to the Quiet Room (also known as Butterfly and William Murphy’s Trip to the Quiet Room over that time), though, judging by the length of time I’ve been sending out submissions and hunting for agents, maybe I’m not rating them right.

So I was looking through my list of agents and marking the latest submission sent out (the scoreboard is not looking great, that soul-sucking void has got a huge lead) when I decided to check my very first submission (to an agent named Mollie Glick, who I thought would be perfect for Butterfly because she repped a book about a whaling family**).

25th of June, 2014.

Wow. I’ve come a long way (without having come very far at all). The query letter has changed a lot over the years, some with greater success of just getting a response (instead of just flinging off into The Void — this letter to Ms. Glick is still out there in the void, I’m guessing she’s going to pass on the submission)

This will make a great story to tell Oprah, at some point, I’m sure. And when I’m sitting down in a coffee shop with J.K. Rowling and we’re both sending tweets to each other instead of speaking, we’ll compare just how many people passed on our books before we finally got a good, solid bite…

The first query
The first query











* Some glaciers might disagree with me, but I’ve got my own back on them by leaving a hair dryer running constantly, night and day, speeding up the process of global warming.

** Logic has never, ever been my strong suit.

Rain Delay

I don’t know if it has anything to do with our new residence in beautiful Dalkey, but it seems like something’s gone sideways, with our dear author-tracker:

Rain Delayed
Rain Delayed

We’ll see if and when the storm passes, but here’s hoping our intrepid author (oh, me) gets back out on the field without serious injury.

Dalkey is a little town maybe twelve miles south of Dublin, on the shore. It is an unlikely town, huddled, quiet, pretending to be asleep. Its streets are narrow, not quite self-evident as streets and with meetings which seem accidental. Small shops look closed but are open. Dalkey looks like an humble settlement which must, a traveller feels, be next door to some place of the first importance and distinction. And it is — vestibule of a heavenly conspection.

-Flann O’Brien, The Dalkey Archive

Welcome to Dalkey
Welcome to Dalkey


Ice Guardians to Honor the Place of Tough Guys in Hockey

I almost expected to see William Murphy, the protagonist of Trip to the Quiet Room, make an appearance in the trailer.

Go check out the article at Obviously I think the enforcer character is an interesting one and it looks like this movie is an excellent exploration of that role.





[No other news to report that I can report right now, Trip to the Quiet Room still as yet unpublished, I’m still as yet unagented, water is still wet, ice is still very cold and only a little speckled with blood.]

Trending Micro-Genres

I feel like I should get some credit for including at least three of the ten trending micro-genres, according to

Hockey Romance?
Hockey Romance?

Trip to the Quiet Room is a story about an ex-hockey pro struggling with his retirement, possible post-concussion symptoms, family life after the daily grind of a professional athlete’s routine, and the explosion of a time machine in his bathtub. It’s a story about escaping to the seaside to tend butterflies. It’s a story about a mysterious orphan showing up on the doorstop of Central Massachusetts’ favorite tourist attraction. It’s about a cotton candy factory that employs child labor for better or worse. It’s a story about the FBI playing catch-up with some of the CIA’s rumored more esoteric investigation techniques.

Surely this would make some sort of list, if only someone would publish it…

Drop the puck... on entertainment!
Drop the puck… on entertainment!

My Overnight Success Story

My Overnight Success

I can’t get over how similar Rick Riordan and I are.

I may be actually boring Adam and David to death, here...
I may be *actually* boring Adam and David to death, here…

I’ve been lucky enough to have a couple readings… some of them in editor Adam Pacther’s hometown of Arlington pretty well-attended, Waltham, the awesome Booklovers’ Gourmet in Webster… others not so well attended. My favorite moment* was when we arrived at the Arlington Center for the Arts and one poor lady, who I don’t think intended to attend the reading, was seated in our room and bravely stuck it out while Adam and I read. Or the time I had a reading booked at my local, my hometown library, the Charlton Library (the library which banned Mark Twain’s “Eve’s Diary”… probably not for the pictures, as claimed, but probably for him being a bit full of himself) and my old boss from Ronnie’s Seafood showed up with one of his sons and… no one else. So we skipped the reading (sorry, Adam), and just chatted about what we’d all been up to.

Reading in Waltham, MA
Reading in Waltham, MA

My reading series as a young a**hole where I just showed up in parks and read from my dreadful roman à clef-in-progress God Coffee, I Miss You was similarly successful, hitting parks in Brooklyn, Seattle, and Los Angeles, with a grand total of none audience, but maybe that was to be expected.

So if some lucky agent wants to pick up Trip to the Quiet Room, this might be a great time to get in, as I’ve got loads of stories about how long the road to overnight success actually is. The book is an excellent beach read, because some of it takes place down in Wellfleet, Massachusetts, where William Murphy is in hiding from the Federal Bureau of Investigation and ‘Jimmy’ is in hiding from Old Sturbridge Village and the proprietors of the Magic Funtime Butterfly Ranch are in hiding from the Internal Revenue Service

It could be your next Percy Jackson… ?




* By this, of course, I mean my least favorite moment, the moment when my stomach drops through my toes and leaks out onto the floor in a sad little stomach puddle.