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A novel nanny

In the world of writing, competition is fierce and the rewards ephemeral. I admire and respect those who have relayed their support for my somewhat distorted or perceptive (you choose) style and choice of topics. Yet when it comes to snuggling up with a respected publisher, I feel pollywogish in an open sea of tidal opportunities.

Well, perhaps that is overstating this a little, but I clearly need some help.

Besides a couple gallons of fresh inspiration, I find myself in need of an agent, someone who can grease the skids and help me place articles in compelling places nationwide. No, I don't mean the recycling bin or at the bottom of a birdcage, but it is sometimes a comfort to know that Myna birds and parrots often get a laugh at my musings before dropping the matter and moving on to other activities.

Ashland is awash with current or retired editors and publishers. I am flattered when one stands up, extends a hand and walks by me to warmly embrace the newly hired busboy who cleared their table in record time, allowing them to sit down and dig into the meat that thoughtful conversation often provides. With most of the restaurant staff having a screen play, novella or a clutch of poems rolled up in their back pocket, it is sometimes difficult to speak with a literary agent to see what will fly and what is destined to die. Often people will say or do most anything to get a good seat, hovering attendance or an inside wink of what is best on the menu, but a good agent can scan the room and instantly determine how to get things done on their terms.

OK. If this is what it takes, then line me up with a capable, influential literary agent who does not charge in advance of placement and I will almost guarantee that they will not be seated next to the bathroom and that they will be the first to know about spanking new entrees and "to-die-for" deserts. They will no longer have to believe in the menu hype, as long as they make a few calls and help put my career on the upswing. Of course, if they are long on talk and short on walk, may heaven help them as they are seated next to a pre-divorce couple spitting tacks while cutting everything on the table into halves.

I am searching for an agent with a sense of humor and the ability to convey that to the publisher in question. Someone who lunches with the senior editors of the The New York Times, then skips over to the favorite bar of the senior management of the The New Yorker. If your only contact is a cousin who delivers papers for the Sasquatch Footprint or has met the obit writer for the Russian River Picayune, then, well, we are not on the same page.

While we are at it, I also need an editor with a deep respect for English and the many ways that I can spell the same word, or, as Mark Twain once said: "I don't give a damn for a man that can only spell a word one way." Most of the English teachers and professors who I manage to corner wring their hands and wince when recalling the overwhelming number of typos that lurk upon my pages, waiting for an unsuspecting reader like a cat in front of a mouse hole.

If you know of anyone who can spin my writing to the top, let's have lunch and get on it. My only request is that you do not re-introduce me to my eighth-grade English teacher who used me as an example of someone who would never be seen in print, except, perhaps, on the Post Office wall along with the other nine most wanted.

My mother's parrot, Jake, knows better.

Lance@journalist.com was last seen loading a volume of verbs into the back of a U-Haul for a one-way trip to points uncertain. If you spot one along the side of the road, just keep on driving.