We’ve talked about loglines or elevator pitches many times on Paul Pens.

I’ve gotten into the habit of starting a synopsis with a preface that sums up the plot in a couple of sentences, but, making another query last night, a literary agent specifically asked for a logline to describe my book. Toby Munday is an agent at Aevitas


who use an online submission form. Theirs is different to most agencies who appear to have bought commercial software. Aevitas don’t call it a logline: rather, they describe it as a One sentence summary of your book or manuscript.”

In seven years of making 850 queries, this is the first time a logline has been requested. I wonder if it’s the start of a trend.

Mine, for The Dead Need Nobody, is: An art gallery owner prefers paintings to people, killing to protect his collection, something that Detective Chief Inspector Neil Kettle finds repugnant, so he lures him into a trap.”

What’s your logline or elevator pitch for your latest book?

How Writers Die

In this Guardian interview with novelist Nora Roberts, she states that:

I’m told that Robert B Parker, one of my favourite authors, died at his computer. Bob – that’s just the way to go,” she says. “He was a workhorse. I’m the same.”

Dying on the job is a good way to go if you accept that someone was doing what they loved. Some of you will have heard of the recent sad and noble death of folk singer-songwriter David Olney


From Wikipedia: Olney died of an apparent heart attack during a performance onstage at the 30A Songwriter Festival in Santa Rosa Beach, Florida, on January 18, 2020, at age 71. He was in the middle of his third song when he stopped, apologized and shut his eyes, according to fellow musician Scott Miller who was accompanying Olney. “David was playing a song when he paused, said ‘I’m sorry’ and put his chin to his chest. He never dropped his guitar or fell off his stool. It was as easy and gentle as he was,” Miller said.

One of my Wild West heroes, Bat Masterson, died at his typewriter; he had a remarkable life.

Those who died by their own hand, include:


Ernest Hemingway https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ernest_Hemingway

Richard Brautigan https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_Brautigan

Kurt Cobain https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kurt_Cobain

Hunter S. Thompson https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hunter_S._Thompson


Yukio Mishima, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yukio_Mishima

Elliott Smith https://www.theguardian.com/music/2004/mar/19/popandrock.elliottsmith


David Foster Wallace, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Foster_Wallace

Roy Buchanan https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roy_Buchanan


Abbie Hoffman https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abbie_Hoffman

Sara Teasdale https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sara_Teasdale

Jane Aiken Hodge https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jane_Aiken_Hodge

Jerzy Kosiński https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jerzy_Kosi%C5%84ski#Death

Arthur Koestler https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arthur_Koestler#Final_years,_1976%E2%80%931983


Primo Levi, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Primo_Levi

John Berryman https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Berryman


Virginia Woolf, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Virginia_Woolf

Hart Crane https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hart_Crane

Spalding Grey https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spalding_Gray#Health_problems_and_death


Sylvia Plath, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sylvia_Plath

John Kennedy Toole, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Kennedy_Toole

Anne Sexton https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anne_Sexton#Death

Some writers died in unexpected accidents:


Shelley https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Percy_Bysshe_Shelley

Jeff Buckley https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jeff_Buckley#Death

Road Traffic Accident:

Jerry Rubin https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jerry_Rubin,

Albert Camus https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Albert_Camus

Harry Chapin https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harry_Chapin

Roland Barthes https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roland_Barthes

Margaret Mitchell https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Margaret_Mitchell#Death_and_legacy

T.E. Lawrence https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/T._E._Lawrence


Zelda Fitzgerald https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zelda_Fitzgerald#Obsession_and_illness


Tennessee Williams https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tennessee_Williams#Death

Or, by murder:

Joe Orton https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joe_Orton #

Christopher Marlowe https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christopher_Marlowe #

Joy Adamson https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joy_Adamson #

Jim Koethe https://wikispooks.com/wiki/Jim_Koethe

Philip Marshall https://wikispooks.com/wiki/Philip_Marshall

Or, by natural causes:

Heart Attack: Stieg Larsson https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stieg_Larsson

Tuberculosis:  Anne Brontë https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anne_Bront%C3%AB

Emily Brontë  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emily_Bront%C3%AB

Bone Cancer: Arthur Rimbaud https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arthur_Rimbaud

Lymphoma: Michael Crichton https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michael_Crichton

Oral Cancer: Dr Seuss https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dr._Seuss

Just as cynics say “Great career move” when a fading musician dies unexpectedly, leading to a massive boost in the sales of their albums, so it takes having The Grim Reaper as your literary agent for some writers to get anywhere.

I’ve mentioned the sad tale of John Kennedy Toole in previous threads, and it would have been fascinating to know what else he would have created. At least he hasn’t been turned into a franchise operation with hired gun authors brought in to continue the series, as happened with Stieg Larsson’s Lisbeth Salander and the long-established James Bond and Sherlock Holmes stories.


Writing this post has placed a chill in my heart. I’ve been close to death a few times, but am glad to have survived.

We writers should take care of our mental and physical health.

Given the choice of how to shuffle off my mortal coil, I favour Roger McGough’s ideas.

How about you?

No one wants to die editing their manuscript or reading another rejection email!

Let Me Die A Youngman’s Death

Let me die a youngman’s death
not a clean and inbetween
the sheets holywater death
not a famous-last-words
peaceful out of breath death

When I’m 73
and in constant good tumour
may I be mown down at dawn
by a bright red sports car
on my way home
from an allnight party

Or when I’m 91
with silver hair
and sitting in a barber’s chair
may rival gangsters
with hamfisted tommyguns burst in
and give me a short back and insides

Or when I’m 104
and banned from the Cavern
may my mistress
catching me in bed with her daughter
and fearing for her son
cut me up into little pieces
and throw away every piece but one

Let me die a youngman’s death
not a free from sin tiptoe in
candle wax and waning death
not a curtains drawn by angels borne
‘what a nice way to go’ death


Impostor Me….

Impostor Syndrome haunts writers.


I was reminded of it by a brilliant cartoon in today’s newsletter from Hyperallergic.

I smiled at the punchline in the final box.

Once again, I’m feeling like an impostor, as I stumble around learning how to use Twitter and Instagram. I keep wondering: “What am I doing here? Will anything I post make a difference to anything?”

But, that’s part and parcel of being a writer. The world of writing and publishing thrives on creating doubt. Subscribe to one hundred newsletters from writing gurus and soon you’ll be inundated with advice on what you’re doing wrong…and, if you simply pay £450 for a weekend residential course, all of your errors will be chased away.

What a writer desires is some form of validation. Things get so uncertain, that we analyse the language used in rejection letters for solace!

I come alive when I write more of my WIP, which is how I know I’m real and not an impostor. Tweeting and posting on social media is restrictive and repetitive, as I tailor my words to have an effect—which makes me feel like a con man—get the punters’ confidence and maybe they’ll buy my books!

Impostor me…sort of.

How about you?


Should Your Lead Character Have A Twitter Account?

A few months ago, I suggested the idea of giving your main character their own email account:


Recently, I’ve been exploring Twitter, seeking out Colony members and Crime genre authors and literary agents who like crime novels. I intended to use this personal account to make contacts and to promote myself and my Cornish Detective series in a non-pushy way.

My Twitter presence morphed from a Facebook Author page called Paul Pens, which is based on threads I started on The Colony. Last autumn, I started a Facebook business page devoted to my Cornish Detective series. Why not give my fictional hero a Twitter account too?

I searched for advice online, finding this dated article:


Apparently, Twitter verifies the accounts of fictional characters, though this article is from 2012:


There are a lot of Marvel and DC superheroes and fictional heroes tweeting away, as are Homer J. Simpson, Charlie Brown and Lord Voldermort, so I may join in with Detective Chief Inspector Neil Kettle.

Have any of you given your MC a Twitter account?

Do you follow any fictional characters

She wouldn’t get away with it today!

We’ve previously discussed the semicolon in a couple of threads:



Today, while reading A Biography of Loneliness, by Fay Bound Alberti, I found a quote from Virginia Woolf’s A Writer’s Diary which she’d used as a chapter epigraph:

I have entered into a sanctuary; a nunnery; had a religious retreat; of great agony once; and always some terror; so afraid one is of loneliness; of seeing to the bottom of the vessel. That is one of the experiences I have had here in some Augusts; and got then to a consciousness of what I call ‘reality’: a thing I see before me: something abstract; but residing in the downs or the sky; beside which nothing matters; in which I shall rest and continue to exist.”

That’s a plethora of semicolons!

I felt bold when I once used two semicolons in a sentence.

Do you think she’d get away with it today?

Wouldn’t a 21st-century editor wield their red pen?