Sunday, October 31, 2021

“October 31st” by Nicolette Vajtay


a hundred and twelve degrees

on October thirty-first

teen girls saunter

in skimpy costumes

while young boys kill them

with pistols full of tap water

a battery-operated fan

pushes heat-soaked molecules

over my daughter’s sweat-stained skin

I under an umbrella

thirsty for shade


my four-year-old grandbaby

only knows

only loves

the brilliant heat

she will never feel

a fall chill pinch her nose

or frost her breath

or hear

the crunch of fallen leaves

under her feet

rose red, plum purple, sunrise yellow, sunset orange

stunning carpets of death

littered on the sidewalks

nor claim her favorite smell

a tree

smoldering in a fireplace

red pimples erupt under my arms

detoxing the chemicals of Duraflame


in a bright pink two-piece bathing suit

the color of summer

cinched at the waist with a bushel of tulle

my grandbaby twirls and leaps in the sunshine

through the sprinklers

that cool the Halloweener’s

the grass is never green anymore

her skin tinged by the sun

browned by evolution

so different from my

Swedish complexion

my light eyes

shielded by dark glasses

her black eyes

squint into slits

like a cat’s

she thrives

while I survive


chocolate offerings melt in the pillowcase

long before we rest again

in our air-conditioned home

candy corn hurts my teeth

but she’s happy

like I was when I was four

celebrating all hallows eve

with beef stew and hot chocolate

today we’ll sip iced tea

dip carrots and cucumbers into hummus

and suck on popsicles


none of us will sleep

my grandbaby hyped on sugar

me tossing and turning

afraid that next year

there won’t be a day of dress-up

or candy

or cool water that spills from sprinklers

just the ghosts of Halloweens past

haunting the blistering streets


Nicolette Vajtay received a BFA in the Performing Arts at Montclair State University in New Jersey, and then went on to a yearlong acting Apprenticeship program with Actors Theatre of Louisville, in Kentucky, and completed her graduate studies at Harvard University, in a conservatory program with The American Repertory Theatre Company.  

Acting turned into writing in 2003; she has penned 17 titles including two full-length plays, many one-acts, a handful of ten-minute plays, and her first novel. She is exploring poetry and the short story now and lives in Denver, Colorado.

See Brian Henry’s upcoming weekly writing classes, one-day workshops, and weekend retreats here.


Saturday, October 30, 2021

“The Hand” by Karen Ervin

“Whose hand is this? Oh yes, it’s mine.” He was holding a wine glass, attempting to place it back on its coaster, when he noticed his hand, as though it did not belong to him. Or maybe it did at one time but not any longer. His hand suddenly looked foreign, like it belonged to someone else, like maybe he was just borrowing it and hadn’t fully gotten used to it yet. Like a new car that he was taking for a test drive before deciding to buy. Only it wasn’t a car, it was a hand. You can’t test drive a hand and you can’t really trade one in for a newer model either. So what was he doing equating his hand with a car?

Still the hand felt odd. He hadn’t felt this way before, unsure of whose hand it was. He had never been unsure of anything since he was a child. He placed the glass on the coaster and focused his eyes on the hand. Do I know this hand? he thought. Can I even recognize who I’ve become?

He stared at his hand, spreading his fingers apart, turning the hand about, palm up then palm down, searching the back of it for some meaning. The hand was steady now. Only minutes ago it had been trembling, shaking with fear and rage. Now it is completely calm, able to delicately place the long-stemmed wine glass back on its coaster without spilling a drop, without clanging into anything on its way back to the table.

He was calm and collected, the hand, whatever hand it was, borrowed or stolen, was steady as a jewel smith setting a precious stone. Minutes ago it had been full of rage and anger; it had been shifty, swollen, knuckles turned white. It had done an awful thing, that hand, whatever hand, stolen from some mad lunatic perhaps. Still, he used to know the hand, he used to be on friendly terms... He took the hand and covered his eyes.

He would have to erase what he, what this hand had done. He glanced around the room until he spotted the body. Yes, the woman’s body still lay there, where he had left it. The blue silk scarf still across her body, the body of his long time lover, or someone he barely knew. She had seemed to change overnight.

He sighed. He felt little remorse; killing her was something he simply had to do. She was going to ruin it all. It wasn’t in a fit of rage that he’d killed her. He had planned it, calculated it. But he killed her with his bare hands. Just held her throat until she couldn’t breathe. He held so tightly that his knuckles started to turn white. Red first, then white.

She was no longer gasping, or trying to gasp for air when he started to focus on his hand. But her eyes were wide open, staring at him, seeming to ask why. Then he shook and shook her so violently that her eyes closed and he let her fall, letting the scarf drape over her body. But the hand, the hand was throbbing. Such incredible strength, such brute force had been exerted that his hand was throbbing and shaking uncontrollably.

He would have to move the body soon.

He sipped his wine, then gently set the glass on the table and put his jacket on. He rolled her body up in the rug where she lay (her favourite rug). He manoeuvred the body in such a way as to place it lengthwise on the rug. She was about five foot five and the rug was easily six feet long. The hard part would be picking it up and then the actual disposal.

He had never had the need to dispose of a dead body before and didn’t really know how to do it. Should he just walk out of the building with his bundle, hail a taxi and leave it in the trunk? It worked in the movies, and they were never caught. Of course, they were also psycho, but then again, maybe so was he.

The body lay rolled in the rug. Unless someone bent over to look at the rug, no one would have a clue that a dead body was rolled inside. They’d just think the rug was longer than it was, made a thicker cylinder when all rolled up.

He poured another glass of wine. His hand, once again, steady, decisive. Why move the body at all? He would simply leave. The building was not his residence. At some point the body would be found and he might even be questioned by the police. But for now, his hand was steady so he left.


Karen Ervin has a B.A. degree in English and a Master of Library Science. She taught university students as an adjunct online instructor while working full time as a mental health librarian at a Pennsylvania State Psychiatric Hospital. She has a chapter published in “Cases on Electronic Records and Resource Management...” (IGI Global, 2014) and has served as a judge for the Independent Book Publishers Association Benjamin Franklin Awards.

She retired in 2019, married a Canadian, and currently lives in St. Catharines. Her hobbies include reading and writing poetry, stories, and book reviews.

See Brian Henry’s upcoming weekly writing classes, one-day workshops, and weekend retreats here.

Tuesday, October 26, 2021

Ten agents at David Higman agency seeking authors: adult fiction, kid lit, and nonfiction

David Higham Agency

6th Floor, Waverley House
7–12 Noel Street
London W1F 8GQ

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David Higham Agency was established in 1935. It represents commercial and literary fiction and nonfiction, in all media and languages, and are a leading agency for children’s authors and illustrators.

The agency also has a Film, TV & Theatre department for writers originating and scripting material for stage, screen and new media, as well as selling screen and stage rights to the books we handle.

Like everyone else, they want to find more diverse authors.

David Higham Agency has thirteen literary agents, ten of whom are open to new clients, including Christabel McKinley, who was recently promoted from assistant to agent. Like all new agents, she needs authors.

Christabel McKinley joined David Higham Associates in 2018, having previously worked in translation rights and at a scouting agency. She graduated with a degree in Russian and English Literature from Trinity College Dublin, after which she spent a year teaching English in South Korea.

Christabel assists Caroline Walsh and is also building a list of children’s authors and illustrators, from picture books to Young Adult fiction.

She is particularly drawn to writing that feels authentically child-oriented with clear insight into the way young people feel and think. Her favourite works for children include Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones, The Princess Diaries by Meg Cabot and Across the Nightingale Floor by Lian Hearn.

Query Christabel at:  

Include your name and book title in the subject header; address your chosen agent in the first line of the email {eg: Dear Ms Christabel McKinley}; for young fiction and novels attach the first 3 chapters and a synopsis {max 2 pages}. For picture books, attach the full manuscript(s); send a maximum of three texts. Attachments must be Word documents or PDFs.

Other agents at David Higham Agency accepting submissions:

Veronique Baxter, Agent and Director. She is looking for literary fiction, fiction with a speculative edgehistorical fiction that surprises and upmarket crime and thrillers.

In children’s books, Veronique is looking for standout middle-grade and YA with heart or adventure, or preferably both!

In non-fiction, she is particularly drawn to feminism, history, current affairs, memoir and narrative non-fiction.  

If you would like to submit your work to Veronique, please email:

Include a covering letter, a synopsis, and the first three chapters of your book. Full submission guidelines here.

Nicola Chang rrepresents writers of fiction and nonfiction as well as a small list of poets. She primarily represents literary fiction and general and narrative non-fiction and is looking to take on and develop writers who are working across these genres, including poets who are also working in prose.

Query Nicola at:

Full submission guidelines here.

Elise Dillsworth set up her agency in 2012, and became an associate of David Higham Agency in 2020. She represents literary and commercial fiction and nonfiction, with a keen aim to reflect writing that is international.

Query Elise at: 

Include your name and title of the work in the subject line. For fiction, attach the first three chapters {or about 50 pages} and a short synopsis in Microsoft Word or PDF format. For nonfiction, attach a proposal and a writing sample {about 30 pages}. Full guidelines here.

Read more about the Elise Dillsworth Agency here.

Jemima Forrester joined David Higham in 2016 having previously been senior commissioning editor at Orion Publishing Group. She is looking for commercial and upmarket fiction, including accessible literary fiction, crime and thrillers, historical, psychological suspense, women’s fiction and speculative/high-concept novels.

In nonfiction, she is looking for innovative lifestyle, cookery and popular-culture projects, unique personal stories and humour.

In both fiction and non-fiction, Jemima is actively seeking diverse voices and books with a strong feminist angle.

Query Jemima at:

Include a covering letter, a synopsis and the first three chapters of your book. Please put your name and the title of your manuscript in the subject line of your email.

Andrew Gordon joined David Higham Agency in 2007 and is an agent and acompany director.He primarily represents nonfiction. He welcomes approaches from experts in their field who want to communicate their ideas to a wider audience.

He’s open to new projects, especially history, current affairs, biography and memoir, narrative nonfiction, sport, popular culture, popular science and psychology, smart thinking and business books with a strong story.

In fiction, he likes novels that grab the attention, whether literary or commercial. He does not represent any YA authors, or science fiction/fantasy.

Full submission guidelines here.

Jane Gregory currently accepts only crime fiction submissions, including but not limited to: procedural, psychological, thriller, domestic noir, historical. 

Query Jane at:

Attach a synopsis (not a jacket-style blurb) and the first three chapters (in Word, double-spaced and with page numbers) of your book. Please put your name and the title of your manuscript in the subject line of your email.

Lizzy Kremer is an agent, a director of the company and Head of the Books Department.

She represents commercial and literary fiction and nonfiction. She is always keen to discover compelling new voices in commercial and literary fiction and has posted on the subject of what she looks for in fiction submissions here; on the subject of fiction for women here; on crime writing here; and on genre fiction here.

Query Lizzy at:

Attach a synopsis and the first three chapters of your book. Please put your name and the title of your manuscript in the subject line of your email.

Harriet Moore represents literary fiction, narrative non-fiction, and poetry. She is mostly looking for new fiction at the moment.

In fiction, she admires clarity, energy, emotional candour, intense interior portraits, close observation, texture, craft and compression.

Some examples: Jane Bowles’ Two Serious Ladies; Amina Cain’s Indelicacy; James Baldwin’s Giovanni’s Room; Ottessa Moshfegh’s My Year of Rest and Relaxation; Carson McCullers’ The Member of the Wedding; Shirley Jackson’s We Have Always Lived in the Castle; Elizabeth Strout’s My Name is Lucy Barton; Edward St Aubyn’s Patrick Melrose novels; all Marilynne Robinson; the short stories of Joy Williams, Lydia Davis, Mary Gaitskill.

In all forms {fiction, nonfiction and poetry} she is interested in how writing and visual art correspond, and a scholarly attention to the ordinary and everyday.

Full submission guidelines here.

Caroline Walsh joined David Higham Associates in 1996 after twelve years as a children’s books editor. Her client list is made up predominantly of children’s writers and illustrators, many of them award-winners and bestsellers. In addition she handles some adult fiction and nonfiction.

She is always on the look-out for original contemporary writing and talented author/illustrators. 

Full submission guidelines here.

Literary agent Paige Sisley en route
to our workshop in Collingwood in the Before Times

If you’re interested in meeting an agent and in getting published, don’t miss our online How to Get Published, Saturday, Nov 27, with guest, literary agent Paige Sisley. Details here.

Beyond that, Brian Henry’s schedule continues to take shape...


Online: Free Writers' Meet-Ups sponsored by the Burlington Public Library, Monday evenings, Nov 1, 15 & 29. Details here. 

Online: Writing for Children and for Young Adults, Sunday, Nov 14, with guests Katie Hearn,  editorial director, Annick Press, and picture book author Lana Button.  Details here. {Probably full, but email to join the wait list and to be the first to hear about our next Kid Lit workshop.}

Online: How to Make Yourself Write ~ A Creativity Workout, Sunday, Jan 23, 2022. Details here.

In-person: Exploring Creative Writing class, 10 weeks of discovering your creative side, Thursday evenings, Jan 20 – March 31, in Burlington, Ontario. Details here

Details of online classes offered in the new year to come.

Writing Retreats:

Jackson's Point on Lake Simcoe: Writing Retreat at The Briars Resort and Spa. Get away to this modern lakeside resort built around a historic country estate.  Friday, March 4 – Monday, March 7, 2022. Details here.

Algonquin Park: Writing Retreat at Arowhon Pines Resort, Friday, June 3 – Monday, June 6. Details here.


Navigation tips: Always check out the Labels underneath a post; they’ll lead you to various distinct collections of postings. If you're searching for more interviews with literary agents or a literary agent who represents a particular type of book, check out this post.