Greg Bardsley


Literary representation

Waiting …. waiting …. waiting

My agent is starting to tell publishers about my novel, which has been pretty damn cool. For me, to finally have some really great book editors take a look at my stuff is like getting called up from the farm system for an afternoon of practice in the Majors. Of course, you know the odds of lasting beyond that one day of practice are slim — but, damn, it’s cool to at least see them give you a serious look.

So now I wait, and try to focus on producing new fiction, primarily the storylines and themes for the second, third and possibly fourth books in what would be a series of crime novels. And I’m making progress. But of course I spend too much time thinking about what might be happening out there with my manuscript — who might be reading it, what might be going through the editors’ minds as they do read it, whether any of them are reacting favorably to the idea of a smart and violent femme fatale who thoroughly bewitches a young journalist, or what they think of a paroled Oakland Raiders fan and his tiny pet monkey with the serious ear fetish.

We’ve gotten some initial feedback, and it’s been encouraging. The first editor to respond enjoyed the book and called it “a lot of fun.” The second response came from an editor who said the novel was entertaining and well-paced, and added that “Greg Bardsley clearly has talent” (I’m saving that comment). But neither of them made an offer. In fact, we’re early in the process, my agent reminds, and the manuscript is still out with other publishers. So I wait.

I think I’m getting good at that.

He “popped the hood”

My agent sent me an email Monday. And I have to say, this probably was the most satisfying email I’ve gotten in my fiction-writing pursuits.

In his email, Jeff outlines and explains his strategy for pitching my novel to editors. After working with Jeff on the editorial aspects of the book, I now got to see the other side of his literary-agent skills — architecting the submission process and discussing the sensibilities and buying habits of various editors.

Not only was I impressed with Jeff’s deep knowledge of the publishing community, but I was simply thrilled to see the names of editors with whom he wants to share my novel. They’re editors who’ve put out some truly great crime novels, and seeing their names and respective publishing-house imprints in Jeff’s email added a new layer of tangible authenticity to my adventure. It was as if he had “popped the front hood” of the publishing-world’s TransAm and let me have a nice long look at its engine — it’s fascinating, cherried-out, all-chrome machinery.

Pretty sweet.

“What About Greg?” starring me

The chicken-bone sceneOne of my all-time favorite movies is the 1991 comedy “What About Bob?” starring Bill Murray and Richard Dreyfuss. When I chance upon it on TV, I can still sit there on the couch, point at the screen and laugh out loud. And when the Heimlich Maneuver scene unfolds, I go into a full-on fit with tears streaming down my face — at which point my wife pats me on the leg and whispers, “I think I’ll leave you alone.”

“What About Bob?” features an annoying but harmless “multiphobic obsessive compulsive psychiatric patient” (Murray) who won’t leave his successful psychiatrist (Dreyfuss) alone. All the good doctor wants is a restful, Bob-free family vacation at the lake; problem is, Murray’s Bob Wiley follows him there. As the stalking continues, Bob slowly drives the doctor loony.

I don't wanna be like BobI got to thinking of this movie today — right after I sent my literary agent, Jeff, another email. You see, I don’t want to annoy Jeff. I don’t want to keep sending him emails, as he already is overloaded with them. And being that I am capable of sending Jeff too many emails, I suddenly realized that I risk becoming the literary equivalent of Bob Wiley, the annoying client who won’t leave his savior alone.

But on the other hand, Jeff is about to start telling book editors about my novel, and it’s a major moment for me. I want to make sure I’ve given Jeff everything that could help him, which is why today I sent him a kind of cheat sheet to my book. It summarizes some of the selling angles we’ve discussed, and it offers my crudely developed list of editors who’ve bought novels similar to mine. Mindful of possibly becoming the Bob Wiley of Jeff’s world, I did promise to “go away” for a long time and resume work on my next novel.

Have any of you sent your agent any sales leads? Or would that be too annoying, too Bob Wiley’sh?

A personal milestone

Last Friday, the call finally came. It was the call I’d been anticipating for months. It was the call I’d been working toward for years. It was the call I sometimes thought would never come.

It was a call from my literary agent. He’d finished reading the latest revision of my novel, and he is ready to start sharing it with some handpicked editors the week after Labor Day.

Thus, I begin a new phase in my fiction-writing career — actually having my book submitted to publishers. On the surface, that might sound like it should have been a simple goal, something easy to attain. But to actually get to this point was anything but easy. I have spent many years writing and revising this book — countless late nights, countless pre-dawn mornings, so many stolen moments.

And believe me, I know. I know how low the odds are. In today’s book market, I know how rare it is for any book editor to actually like a book so thoroughly that she would be willing to part with hard-earned cash to have it. But right now, on this week, that’s okay. I’ll bemoan those sober realities some other day.

In other words, wooooooooooooooooooooo-hoooooo.

Literary-agent theatre

I heard from my literary agent the other day. He’s at the beach reading the ending of my revised manuscript. And with any luck, he’ll soon come back with a list of publishers to target.

I remember the first time a major agent requested to see my novel. I could barely sleep. I tossed and turned. I stared at the wall with a goofy gaze. I imagined said agent sitting in a softly lit corner of his house flipping through my book, maybe even chuckling to himself. When he actually came back and informed me that he “might be able to sell it” but just didn’t have the time, it was a major blow.

So began my gradual desensitization to the literary letdowns so many writers face. Ultimately, I think those letdowns opened the door for something really fortunate — the chance to start talking with my eventual agent, Jeff Gerecke. Not only was this guy a longtime Raiders fan with a great sense of humor (relevant qualities as they relate to my novel), but he’d sold his share of bestsellers and came highly recommended. With his brilliant insight, Jeff set me off on a year-long course of revision that has helped the book “grow up.”

So now I wait — again. Knowing that Jeff still may come back with concerns. Knowing that this gig is filled with a seemingly endless supply of false starts, letdowns, long waits and hardcore introspection into one’s work. Knowing that nothing is guaranteed.

No wonder I’ve stopped tossing and turning at night.


What’s the longest time you’ve waited for big news?

Gather ’round the kiddie pool

My sweet little baby has found a home.

You see, a while back I’d been forced to kill this “baby.” I’d always been fond of it, but after a very frank discussion with my very frank literary agent, I knew I had to “kill my babies,” as they say in writing. And believe me, when it came to my novel, there were a lot of babies that needed killing. One scene in particular was hard to kill — it involved the primary thug in my novel being mistaken for a performance artist, and the violent hilarity that ensued.

So I sent my baby to a cut file — a document packed with other cut scenes, a document that spans hundreds of pages. By being housed in a document, you see, my babies don’t really die. They’re just in some kind of literary form of cryogenics, waiting for a cure that may or may not ever come, waiting for a new lease on life, assuming the author ever finds a way to use them properly.

Then I had an inspiration: I saw a way to marry this cut scene with other scenes that still remain in my novel, and then turn it all into a story that works on it’s own. A few weeks later, I sent it to Thuglit, a terribly fun pulp-fiction ‘zine that recently signed a three-book deal with Kensington Books, and they loved it.

Last night, Thuglit went live with the story. I feel really good, and I’m thinking this could be my strongest attempt at a short story yet. It also feels great to see folks having fun with the whole thing. Thuglit creates some interesting art for each issue, and they have editors with names like Big Daddy Thug, Lady Detroit, Johnny Kneecaps and some guy they call Roadhouse.

My story, Big Load of Trouble, is here. The other stories are here. So tell me what you think. It’s okay; I have thick skin. I spent seven years in newsrooms, where they tell you, “You ain’t shit, Fancy Boy,” every day of the year.

Thuglit Table of Contents and Cover Art

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