Two agents told me that they liked the premise of my story, TERMINAL FIVE, and my pitch, but they could not 'connect' with my writing! Below,I give details of what I emailed to them.Can anyone shed light on why my writing does not 'connect.' Does it connect with you? Comments please. Note. I have just spent a lot of time indenting the paragraphs. It has all been lost in transition. Very annoying.
My novel, entitled TERMINAL FIVE, pits a sociopathic office worker, Josi Devlin, against her sexist boss, George Thackery. My aim was to feature one very unpleasant female as lead character. The title of the novel has particular significance. All the final action takes place at Heathrow Airport, Terminal Five. In addition, five people die as a result of her actions. The setting for this story is the Lake District, where I live in the UK, and London where I used to live.
I have been writing fiction since 2011 when I joined a local writing group and was encouraged to write a novel. I have not stopped since! I have completed fourteen novels, one book of short stories and three books of quirky verse. I use self-publishing as a motivating tool, turning each novel into a paperback and parking it on my website while I search for an agent/publisher.
You will find a lot more information about me and my books etc. on my website if you have the time.
TELL HIM STRAIGHT
Huddled together at one end of the staff dining room, Josi and her two workmates sat as far from their male colleagues as they possibly could. This is where they put the world to rights, where they voiced their discontent, and where ringleader, Josi Devlin, doled out advice on injustices, especially those dispensed by her boss, George Thackery, regional manager at McDuff Foods.
'They can't hear us from here, can they?' said Caitlin, her gaze shifting towards the group sitting further down the room.
'No. Here's fine,' said Josi. 'We'll just have to change the subject pronto if any of them come over.'
At times like this Josi was in her element. From the daily grind of taking orders, she was now elevated to a position of power as Emma sought her support.
'I've got proof,' said Emma. 'I saw Matthew's payslip. Just as he opened his salary envelope, Thackery buzzed him. He left it on the desk. I went across and had a peep. I couldn't believe it.'
Josi's brown eyes blazed. 'That's good enough. Go to Thackery tomorrow and confront him head on.'
Emma slumped in her chair, her legs outstretched. 'Do you really think I should? Remember what happened to that girl in Quality Control when she complained? She didn't stand a chance.' Josi's lips tightened at the reminder. 'Caitlin, why don't you go with Emma, present a united front, show him you mean business?'
'What exactly should I say?' Emma asked, sliding folds of white table cloth between her fingers.
'Just tell him straight,' said Josi, nodding sharply with every word. 'Say you know that Matthew earns a lot more than you, say you've seen his wage slip and you think it's unfair as your jobs are the same. Tell him you want more in your next wage packet.'
They sat in silence, their focus drawn towards the table.
'But are the jobs the same?' said worried Emma, fiddling with her cardigan button.
'Course they are. Just because you're in the office on the phone and he goes out visiting, doesn't make any difference. You're both in touch with suppliers, trying to screw them for discount. In fact,' insisted Josi, arms folded defiantly, 'I think you should earn more. He's got use of the company car.'
'What do you think, Caitlin?' asked Emma.
'I'll go along with you if you want, Emma. Makes sense to me. Can't you be there, too, Josi?'
'Can't very well, can I? I'm his personal assistant. I see him every day. It would make it really awkward.'
As the dining room filled up, cooking smells intensified. The clatter of knives and forks, the hum of jovial chatter and the scrape of chairs on the polished wood floor, all provided good cover for their conversation.
'What's the special?' asked Emma sniffing the air. 'Not curry again, surely?'
Josi squinted at the menu board on the wall. 'Yes . Chicken curry, I think. How boring.'
'Look,' said Caitlin, nodding towards the door. 'That's him now.'
Their eyes narrowed as they glanced round to watch George Thackery take his place in the queue for lunch.
'What's he getting?' asked Emma, her back to the service counter.
'Looks like fish and chips,' said Caitlin. 'Probably doesn't eat that nasty foreign muck.'
'Pity they don't serve rat food,' Josi sneered. 'I'd buy him lunch myself.'
Next morning, Josi sat at her desk in the adjoining office, waiting until it was all over. She knew Thackery would never wear it. He got rid of the last one pretty quickly after she moaned about her salary. The big ray of light for Josi was knowing that the woman-hating rat was under pressure. He deserved it, and Emma could easily get another job if the worst happened.
When she heard his office door open, she peeped down the corridor. Emma and Caitlin's hard set faces told the whole story. Without a word, all three marched to their allotted place at the far end of the staff dining room.
'I knew it! I knew it!' Emma sat back in her chair, her grey eyes filled with fury. 'He's a pig...a slippery, sexist pig! He just went all odd then dismissed the whole idea. He said Matthew had been with the company longer and he couldn't see any reason to bring my money up to his level.'
'Bet he didn't like being told,' said Josi, suppressing a snigger at the thought of Thackery getting all het up. 'Did he get flustered? Did he start stuttering and breathing fast?' Her smirk stayed hidden while Emma and Caitlin looked down in the mouth.
'Perhaps we could take him to a tribunal,' said Caitlin.
'That's complicated,' said Josi. 'Seen it before. Takes ages even when the trade union gets involved. Anyway, Thackery can wriggle out of anything.'
'What about going over his head; going straight to managing director, Dennis McDuff?' suggested Emma.
'Hmm...maybe....except McDuff never bothers with us up here in Kendal, just like Austen Frogget, the chairman,' reminded Josi. 'Just sits in his London office reading reports according to Sasha; and you know what he thinks about protocol. He'd never go over Thackery's head, even if he did think you were right.'
There was a despondent sigh from the two younger women. 'I don't know how you can work for that man,' said Emma. 'He's weak like all his type,' pronounced Josi. 'Underneath all that bravado he's scared we're better than him. I've come across men like that before.'
Emma stared down the room at their male colleagues laughing and joking six tables away. 'Alright for them. They don't have to fight for anything.'
As the women dispersed, Josi felt a sense of triumph. It would be a pity if Emma was forced to leave, but sacrifices had to be made sometimes. Thackery had to be kept under pressure if he was to realise the error of his ways. His attitude to women in business was despicable and infuriating.
That evening, in her sitting room, Josi kicked off her heels, shut her eyes and tipped her head back on the soft sofa cushion. She let out a sigh of relief, enjoying a moment's relaxation, putting to the back of her mind all the trials and tribulations of work.
A few minutes later, feeling refreshed, she poured herself a glass of wine and stepped towards the window. From her 'bijou' rented accommodation above the Oxfam shop, she could see down the high street and, on a good day, beyond towards the Lakeland hills. Kendal was often referred to as a picturesque location and, certainly, she found this market town with its grey stone buildings on the banks of the river Kent, a civilised place to live; but a flat above the Oxfam shop was hardly an aspiration. She'd envisaged being out of this poky place by now. At the age of thirty seven, she expected to be living somewhere nice with a front lawn and a winding garden path. If she didn't move up the salary ladder soon, she'd have to move on from McDuff Foods. Waiting until Thackery was put out to pasture would be useless. She'd never get the house she wanted.
As she stood, head tilted, her short brown hair tipping over her face, she watched the dwindling number of workers make their way home. Her thoughts turned to David, a friend from the ramblers' group. She'd promised him dinner. She just hoped he wasn't expecting anything more.