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The Legend of Mack the Knife

Posted: July 14th, 2014, 3:15 pm
by Mack
Hello all! My name is Donald and I'm new to the forums. Just recently, I completed my first novel entitled "The Legend of Mack The Knife" I've been looking around all day searching for information about finding an agent until Mr. Bransford suggested that we needed a query letter. I wrote this a little while ago, and I was wondering if this would be suitable enough to give to an agent, if anyone would like the read it? Thanks to you all!

To (whomever)

Hello, my name is Donald Howell, a twenty-three year old male from West Virginia who is currently residing in Florida. Even though I am young, I hope that does not deter you from this letter. In any case, ever since I was a child, I’ve always had a knack for writing; in fact, I was once published for the old TV show, Reading Rainbow, when it was on the air way back in my elementary school days. Since then, I’ve been writing everything from short stories to poetry until the present day.

Just recently, I’ve completed a fictional novel called “The Legend of Mack the Knife (Part 1)”, an 81000 (this number will change once the editing is done), 246 paged book based on Mr. Louis Armstrong’s rendition of “Mack the Knife” that was recorded in the 1950’s. As you may or may not know, the song was an old jazz tune about a murderer who took the lives of many victims in one form or another. Thinking that this was a great idea to start a story from, I decided to put the plan in motion.

The story starts off around the fall of 1962 with Mr. Willie MacHeath, the main protagonist of the story. Born on October 3rd, 1908, he is a depressed, African American, fifty-four year old man that lives in the sunny hills of California with his daughter Catalina; an eleven year old Afro-Mexican girl that he bore with her mother of Mexican descent. Faced with a notorious past, he struggles day by day from the guilt of all that he has done; even worse, he worries about his past life catching up to him in the form of payback. One day as he is cleaning out his closet, he notices his mother’s old scrapbook that he inherited from her over thirty years ago.
As he flips through the pages of the scrapbook, a large metal object falls from the back of the book. To his horror, he looks down and notices that the object that fell is his father’s old World War One trench knife-the very weapon of choice Willie used during his escapades. Though the knife brings back ill memories for Willie, he tries to block them by reminiscing about the better times in his life, starting from the very beginning. Throughout the story, he talks about everything he has been through in his life growing up in Chicago: racism, World War I (eventually World War II in my second or third book), The Great Depression, Prohibition, his love life, and of course, the murders he’s committed. Starting from the age of nine, Willie’s life takes a downward spiral starting from the death of his father in the first war. Having nothing else to lose, he, along with allies Cutter (an older, mysterious stranger that emigrated from Italy) and Juan (an English-speaking, illegal Mexican immigrant looking for a better life), begin their years of debauchery and scandals for the next twenty years of his life.

As I was writing this story, I wanted my readers to get a sense of who Willie really is as a person. Even though his background is negative, I wanted people to understand why he decided to choose the path he walked and to see the world in his point of view; to give them the idea that he really isn’t such a bad person, but a person who made wrong decisions. His story advances into two more books I hope to write following his life. In conclusion, I hope my story has convinced you to accept me as one of your own. If you have any questions for me, please feel free to contact me via email at _________. Thank you for your consideration!

Re: The Legend of Mack the Knife

Posted: July 14th, 2014, 4:14 pm
by Beethovenfan
Hey Donald! First of all, congratulations on completing your novel! That's a feat that few ever do.
What a great idea basing your story off of a song - way cool! And who doesn't love Louis Armstrong?? Now, about your query...
I think the BEST advice I can give you at this point is to head on over to the Query Shark (aka Janet Reid). She is THE guru on all things query. From perusing your query I can tell you are pretty new to it. She lays down the ground rules in the best way possible. Here's the link: ... rk-to.html
She suggests reading ALL the submissions in her news feed. It's a daunting task, I know. But I've done it myself, and it's the best thing I ever did.
Best of luck!

Re: The Legend of Mack the Knife

Posted: July 15th, 2014, 7:12 pm
by Mack
Thank you! I actually have a revised one that I sent to her (or is it them?) Just yesterday. Hopefully, I can hear something soon!