I need an agent.

I’ve had my second novel, Descendent, finished for a while now, and I am wondering whether I should self publish on Amazon again, or find an agent.

I self published my first novel, How the World Ends, on the Kindle, to see what would happen.  It sold several hundred copies with positive reviews, without any real effort on my part.  I think it’s worth spending the energy this time around to do it right in terms of marketing and finding the right publisher, but I need help in that regard.

Here’s the pitch for Descendent:

Six-year-old Laurel has been six years old for two-thousand years.  He doesn’t age, but a group of assassins have been trying to kill him for centuries.  Vincent Carpenter is a former Special Forces operative. The two meet at Manchester airport as Vincent is attempting to prevent a terrorist attack.  The target is the boy.  Vincent, we discover, has been his protector since the days of ancient Rome.  As they attempt to outrun their pursuers, Vincent begins to remember his previous lives, and Laurel “takes” him there with his every touch.

Descendant is part thriller and part historical novel. It’s a story that moves swiftly through many different settings, and at 75,000 words, it’s a quick and exciting read.  I think it’s a very marketable book.

Contact me (joelvarty at gmail dot com) if you think you know an agent that might be interested, and I will send a portion of the manuscript through.

Turtles at Bottle Lake

This is a true story.
Written by Joel Varty on behalf of Gemma & Harry.
It was eight o’clock in the morning at Bottle Lake, nestled deep in the Kawartha Highlands provincial park. The mist was still rising from the warm water, stirred from its glassy surface by the sharp coolness of the air.
A hawk circled the beach, riding the currents of the wind. It spotted movement down on the sand, but there wasn’t much to see. It was puzzled, so the large predator bird of the northern skies banked and twisted up and down the shoreline, not wanting to give itself away, but also not giving up on a chance at a nice breakfast.
In the shallow water, some clams moved slowly through the sand, pushing themselves along with a fleshy foot. Their siphons were stuck out from their shells like two trailing antennae, capturing water and filtering it for food and oxygen.
This wasn’t what the hawk had seen though; it was focused on something different.
Harry was the first awake in his tent, as usual. He was seven. His sister Gemma was ten, and she, almost like a wily teenager, liked to sleep in as late as possible. Even when camping. Here is a picture of them from the day before, when they had boiled water for hot chocolate on the fire, and cooked dinner on the silent Trangia stove, which burned a tiny amount of alcohol for fuel.
On this cool and almost frosty morning they were bundled up in their sleeping bags when their Mum and Dad went out in the canoe to take supplies back to their truck. They wouldn’t be back for at least an hour.
The kids were free!
What would they do with the time?
First, Gemma noticed a dragonfly on the toilet paper. Then she got some water from the spring in the wash basin and coaxed Harry into washing his face with actual soap. This was not an easy task, as Harry seemed to actually like being dirty. Gemma attributed this to his being a boy and moved on.
The first thing she noticed when she walked onto the beach was some strange markings made in the sand. They looked like lines drawn with a stick, and there were little dots running down either side of the line.
They led down to the water.
Harry followed the line of tracks from the water back up the sand to a hole not far from the grass.
They looked inside.
Two little heads were poking their way out of the sand.
They were turtle heads!
The smallest turtle heads you’ve ever seen, for they had just hatched. Their eggs had been laid months ago, and they had finally cracked their way out, one by one, and in this case, two by two.
It was a long way to the water, but the turtles seemed to know what they were doing, so Gemma and Harry just watched as the babies made their way down the beach.
Overhead the hawk decided the little disturbances in the sand were too dangerous to follow, now that these colorful children had come out. He spun away on the wind in search of new prey.
The children watched like nervous parents while their little charges made their first steps into their new, wet world.
Each turtle took its own little route down to the water, some slow, some hurried and bustling. Each one never hesitated, though, when it stepped into that vast new liquid body that would be their new home.
When Mum and Dad came back, the two kids couldn’t wait to tell them the news. The grownups had missed everything!
Twenty turtles had hatched and swum while they were gone. The kids had taken care of all of them.
Gemma and Harry showed the hole where the turtles had come from.
“Look!” Harry cried. “There’s two more!”
“Where?” said Dad. “I don’t see anything.”
Gemma carefully pointed out the tail and the head of the newly hatched babies.
“This one seems a little grumpy,” Harry said. “He keeps stopping and tucking his head into his shell.”
“Maybe he’s shy,” said Gemma.
When the last shy, grumpy turtle finally made it near the water, he seemed to turn his head, as if to say goodbye.
Mum and Dad and Gemma and Harry stayed until they knew it was time to leave.
The sun was starting to set – they had left it maybe even a little too late, but it was hard to say goodbye to this enchanting lake where they knew some friends were swimming.
The kids told their parents that they would like to come back next year.
Mum and Dad agreed.

Descendant: editing pass complete


I’ve just finished the latest pass of editing for Descendant. 

All the tangles are wound up tightly where a single pull will unravel them and all of the loose ends are tucked away neatly where only a sequel will reach them.

No, really, it’s so close to being done… I can feel it.

I think I’ll get a copy bound today to get a more critical perspective….

This weekend?  Paddling, fishing, and cover design!


more later – joel

Editing like mad

I have just finished my second sangria (homemade and not that strong) and I now feel compelled to write the following: I am not changing the damned title.  In fact, I am changing it back, and no power on earth may otherwise combine or appear to make me change my mind.

You hear me?


New Cover

cover - kindle

After watching a TED talk by Chip Kidd regarding book design, I thought I would spend a few minutes and update the cover for how the world ends.  Amazon still hasn’t pushed the change through to the Kindle store yet, but the updated version is above.  If you’ve read the book, I presume you’ll get it, but if you haven’t I hope it makes you wonder.

One of the things that I’ve striven towards in many aspects of what I do (not limited to writing, but that’s the big one) is not so much amazing, stunning, wonderful, or even great.  What on earth do those things even mean, anyways, when everyone talks about them so much?  I don’t think I can take much more amazing

Surely the beauty of our world is something more subtle than that. 

Surely the blood that runs through our veins is driven by a force more powerful than words, and thus we should not use words to describe it.

Hence the new cover.

Now available: 5 Stories

I have compiled five or my favourite short stories from the past couple years into one volume, available for 99 cents from Amazon.com.
These stories are totally varied, but there are few common themes running throughout that I thought tied them all together.
The Downtown Rutting of the Stags
3 teenage friends take a trip downtown to find a good time. Things take a turn when Jimmy gets on the wrong side of a drug dealing bouncer in a seedy strip joint.

A Farmer’s Short Version of The End
A farmer and his wife defend their garden produce from neighbour thieves in the near-future.

The Moment
Who is the one that saved the boy’s life as he lay dying on the beach?

Under the Falls
A northern Ontario working expedition meets danger on the ice in the fog.

Waking Up Cold
Another near-future tale of farm-life without any electricity or fuel.

The Power has Gone Out
A look at three separate situations that people are locked into when the power goes out for the last time.

I hope you enjoy them!
more later – joel

If you love it, give it away.

Cover art for How the World Ends

I have taken the plunge in the Kindle Select program that Amazon is using to promote readership for independent authors. This means my first novel, how the world ends, is available in the US Lending Library, and to Amazon Prime members. Instead of getting paid the full price, the author (me) will now get a royalty when the book is consumed in this way.

Also, it allows the author to promote the title for free for up to five days.

Therefore, as of February 24th (my birthday), how the world ends is free in the Kindle Store until the 29th.

I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it.


Joel Varty

The Path


Stand at the bottom of the stairs, look down the hallway, through the doorway.
Walk that way and get outside.

Sidewalk Perspective

Stand on the sidewalk and choose a direction. Left or right. Cross the street or stay on this side. Don’t step in the shit and vomit.
Ignore the smell, if you can.

Village road
Walk a long, long way. When the sidewalks disappear, and the road is just road. The gravel crunches. How far can you go? The choices grow at the crossroads, and one of them is giving up.
Another choice is not staying on the road.

Harvest is Coming
Into some fields now, filled with last year’s corn stalks, or maybe just coming up with wheat. You’re alive and it’s quiet. Stop for a minute and just breathe. Can you feel it? The fields roll on an on, if you want, and you can maybe forget that there was ever a direction, or a place you wanted to get to.
But the fields always come to end sometime.

Dark forest
The forest looms, sometimes with darkness, sometimes with sunbeams, or both. You can wander the pathways, you can meander, or you can become afraid, and run. It always get’s harder when you run. It becomes a jungle. You take out some sort of tool and hack away at the vegetation, but it might not be enough, so you never know if it’s the right move, not until later. If you live.
But the forest doesn’t last either.

endless desert
The desert. You’ve made it. The destination with no pathways in or out of it, only to passing of the heavens above. The sun whose light you either cling to or scurry away from. The moon whose coming you either celebrate, or ignore, at your peril. The stars. Whose significance I can’t guess at, except to follow.
In the dream, when I walk the path, it always ends in the desert, from whence there is no escape.
open doorway
But I keep going out the door anyways.
Just to see.

UPDATED – A Response from my father:

A path takes me between the hill and the water, along the sediment.
I dig there, looking for the line from the old folk song.
Under my feet crack the empty exoskeletons buried there, layered under the molecules that sifted in, like dust through a stone wall.
The soil is soft there, held together by strands of something ripe and dry, once illuminated above  the rocks buried in the field on the hill.
Tiny things take root in front of me beckoning for attention.
My travel is a slow thing.
I have to caress these things for they need attention and care.
A sweet breeze takes me up through cedars to the oak and alder and others of smooth bark and thorn.
Through a frame of vine and limb the water bathes the air above it, buoyant in the sky.    

Return to the Scene – A Christmas Story (written Dec 2010)

I wrote this story last year as a kind of a first for me.  My dad has written a Christmas story every year since I can remember, and it’s always something I look forward to.

I started doing the same thing last year, and it is called Return to the Scene.  It’s kind of a Christmas ghost story, and I think those are some of the best kinds (two of my favourites are Dickens’ A Christmas Carol and Frederick Forsyth’s The Shepherd).

Here’s a link to the story itself: http://www.joelvarty.com/return-to-the-scene
Here’s a link to the printable PDF version: http://www.joelvarty.com/return-to-the-scene/ReturntotheScene.pdf?attredirects=0&d=1

In case you missed the 2011 story, The Gift of a Feather – it’s herehttp://blog.joelvarty.com/2011/11/short-story-gift-of-feather.html