Mark DavisTHE BOOK: Rejection.

AUTHOR: Mark Davis.


EDITOR: University of South Carolina and Carol Woody

PUBLISHER: Poinsettia

SUMMARY: Perno Morris is desperate. After years of rejection letters and returned manuscripts, decades of frustration, disappointment and stacks of rejection letters, he decides to take matters into his own hands. After seeing super literary agent Susan McCarthy on a national talk show, where she mentioned her vacation home, and that she has a six year old daughter, Perno decides to kidnap her little girl to get his book published. Dressed as a catholic priest, Perno takes little Christine McCarthy from a McDonald’s restaurant when her babysitter went to the restroom. He is videotaped from an ATM machine camera across the street, but can only be identified as a man of clergy. The camera’s view of his car is blocked by a delivery truck, and images are not recorded. He holds her hostage in the basement of his farm house miles from town.

THE BACK STORY: I saw a super agent on 60 Minutes boasting that she was the top literary agent and that publisher’s have an “open door” to any author she signed. As a rain-maker of best selling authors she had made publisher’s a small fortune. She also mentioned that she vacationed and her lake home with her six year old daughter. I thought that it was somewhat risky mentioning where she vacationed and she could possibly be at risk for some psycho or disgruntled wanna be author who may have been rejected by her. And so the plot for my novel was born.

RejectionWHY WOULD SOMEONE WANT TO READ IT? I reveal some of the harsh facts about the up-hill battle of getting published and the ineptness of the FBI in locating missing children. The combination of facts interwoven with the story of a frustrated writer makes for an informative and thought provoking novel.


“The concept is intriguing and a little frightening. Perno is a fascinating character. The plot has the momentum of a car chase. But the ending was what truly stunned me. There is no way I could have predicted that. Davis has created the novel equivalent of a set of nesting Russian dolls … a mystery, inside an enigma, inside a puzzle. — Tonya Murphy.
“Amazing view point from a author’s perspective as well as how the print industry works. Has a captivating story line with a great twist at the end.” — Bill, on Amazon.

“A really good writer with a great story to tell…a thriller for all of us who ever dreamed of seeing our book displayed in a bookstore window.” —  Steve Thayer, New York Times Best Selling Author.

AUTHOR PROFILE: “I have been a creative director and advertising copywriter for more than thirty years, with a focus on print advertising, I have written thousands of brochures, corporate literature and product ads for national and international companies. I have written and directed numerous documentary films, one of which was “Variations on America,” counterpoint to the 60 minutes segment on foreigners owning U.S. soil. The documentary aired on national PBS. I have been a feature writer for multiple business, regional and entertainment magazines. (Virginia Business, LB Business Magazine, Arts & Entertainment Monthly).”

SAMPLE CHAPTER: On the thirty-fifth floor overlooking Times Square, Diane Baker sat at her desk opening the mail. A stack of more than a hundred envelopes were addressed to Susan McCarthy, literary agent. The morning sun filled the office on a clear and unusually warm, autumn day. Diane sipped her Starbucks caramel macchiato as she carefully sliced open each envelope. Most of the letters would end up in the waste basket, but some would be held for the next step in the difficult process of selection. Diane was trained to recognize the good from the bad, the prepared from the unprepared, and Susan counted on her to know which was correct. She had been Susan’s assistant for more than a decade.

Possibly, one of the envelopes held the outline of the next best-seller; the next John Grisham, Tom Clancy, James Patterson or Stephen King. But most would be stamped with the standard rejection notice and sent back to the want-to-be author. Only the exceptional would be held for Susan.

Any cover letter or outline that was hand-written instead of typed was automatically placed on the pile to be returned. If the envelope did not include a return, self-addressed, stamped envelope, it was quickly fed into a shredder and transformed into confetti for New Years Eve, when thousands of authors’ submissions would become a cloud of paper strips raining down on a half-million people bringing in the New Year. The closet held a plastic trash bag already half full with tiny strips—thousands of manuscripts made into confetti and street litter.

When she finished the mailed submissions, she went for the one overnight envelope. When she opened it and read it her life was changed forever. Inside was a cover letter and computer disk. She immediately looked for the return envelope. She fed the overnight envelope into the shredder beside her desk. The letter had been typed on a computer and definitely had the required catchy first line to grab the attention of the literary agent. It stopped Diane in her tracks.

Dear Susan McCarthy:

By the time you read this letter, I will already have taken your daughter.

Diane stared at the words. Her eye shadow quickly disappeared behind her eyelids.

“Oh my God,” she gasped into the empty office as she read the opening words. “This has to be a joke!” Her mouth dropped open in astonishment.

This is no work of fiction. The author stated. You are to tell no one of this letter or your little girl will most certainly die. My demand is very simple…publish my novel by November fifteenth, or pay the consequence.

Enclosed is the manuscript of my book. As you can see, it is on computer disk. I say book because you will make it so—you will take it from words and sentences on a computer and make them words and sentences on paper, nicely printed in Goudy Old Style and bound as a hard-cover novel. This will surely be next year’s best-selling work.  You are to have it published exactly as I have written it.

I saw you on the national morning television show not too long ago bragging about your successes as a literary agent, so now is the time for you to prove it to me and to your pretty little girl Christine.  I will expect you to promote my novel prior to the release to be sure that it sells. Sorry that you won’t have a picture of the author for the back cover…just use anything, I don’t really care.  However, a rejection of this manuscript will mean the death of your little girl.  I will expect to see my book in every major bookstore in the country on November fifteenth. This has nothing to do with money, which is no longer important to me; it’s a question of my success as an author.

I will not contact you until the day of the release of the book…then, and only then, will you see your daughter. I will visit a bookstore of my choosing on that day, and I expect to see this work on the shelf.  If it is, you can have your daughter back.

I must go now, but I will expect to see this novel in each and every book store. You may use the name Thomas Canvanaugh as the author, I’ve always liked that name.


Your new client.

Diane dropped the letter on her desk and picked up the CD. She couldn’t believe what she had just read. She gathered her thoughts and then picked up the phone to call Susan McCarthy. She had the number programmed in her phone for speed dial. Within seconds the phone was ringing at Sue’s home, but no answer. She then tried her cell phone. Again there was no answer, but it did connect with Sue’s voice mail.

“Sue, this is Diane. This is urgent. Please, call me as soon as you receive this voice mail…it’s critical. Wait! I can’t say anything over the phone, so maybe you had better come into the office. Bring Christine with you…don’t leave her out of your sight. Please, come right away.”

Diane suddenly realized that perhaps she shouldn’t have touched the letter or the computer disk, so she dropped it onto the desk. As she rose from her chair while trying to think of what to do next, she accidentally caught her blouse sleeve on the desk pad. It lifted and slid to the right knocking over the coffee. A flood of brown liquid flowed over the letter and began leaching into the paper fiber. She grabbed it and waved it in the air. In a panic she cried out… “Oh God!   Oh God!”

AVAILABLE: Amazon, Barnes and Noble


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Recently retired after 35 years with the News & Advance newspaper in Lynchburg, VA, now re-inventing myself as a novelist/nonfiction writer and writing coach in Lake George, NY.

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