@Archaeolibrary, @GoddessFish, @vsantoro14,
In this tale of self-discovery and adventure, we are connected with a history we've come to know as the cradle of civilization.
Nenshi, an Egyptian house servant, raised in nobility, is well-schooled, a master huntsman and hungers to be free. His master agrees to grant his freedom but while the petition is set to be heard, Nenshi's indiscretion gets in the way. He is caught in a secret love affair with a woman above his social status.
As punishment, he is exiled to labour in the Nubian gold mines. His life turns upside down as he is thrust into a world for which he had been ill prepared. He escapes from the mines and vows to return to Thebes, but his attempts push him farther and farther away on a journey that redefines him – a journey mired with cruelty, bloodshed, and the discovery of a new deity.
In the end Nenshi learns his freedom has been granted and must decide whether to return to his homeland or start a new life.
"I greatly enjoyed this well written story by Vince Santoro. He takes us across the Ancient World through the protagonist, Nenshi, an exiled Egyptian servant who struggles with class structure, both around and within himself. Santoro weaves a story of ideas – a sense of belonging, monotheism, and the human soul - told through Nenshi's rite of passage through to his final crossing. The setting is visually evocative of "spirit of place" as the novelist and travel writer Lawrence Durrell called it. It's a story worth reading." - Terry Stanfill, Award winning historical fiction author of The Gift from Fortuny, Realms of Gold, The Blood Remembers and other works.
"Vince Santoro is a gifted storyteller. I found The Final Crossing difficult to put down because it is well written. As an historian and author of non-fiction books, I am impressed with the amount of research that Santoro has done to prepare this story of adventure and romance set in the ancient Middle East. The customs, the beliefs and even the character names are all authentic to that region and era. With so many plot twists and turns, Santoro will keep you guessing about what might happen next to the protagonist until the very end!" - John Charles Corrigan, Author of The Red Night and "Love Always"
Twilight was fast approaching, and they returned to the trail. From a distance they saw an abundance of trees and vegetation that sprung from the hard soil. Moments later, they heard rushing water. A twisting river murmured. It called out and invited them to consume its wealth. Nenshi and Aziza went to explore it.
Aziza stopped and kneeled to examine small flowers in bloom. On the river’s edge Nenshi bent over and splashed water on his face. He cupped his hands and drank its cool refreshing offering. Rocks jutted out from the shallow water. He heard footsteps and threw a glance behind him. Aziza, ran towards him, as free as the wind blew, eager to jump into the river. Nenshi screamed from the top of his lungs to warn her.
“Aziza ... Aziza ... be careful, the water is shallow! There are rocks!”
Her excitement muffled his warning. Nenshi then stood, flapped his arms to get her attention. She pushed her legs hard against the water to run faster until it was just deep enough to jump in.
“Aziza …. Aziza … stop …” Nenshi cried. Aziza took another step but this time slipped and almost fell. She tried to regain balance and continued moving forward. Nenshi gasped hoping she realized the danger and would stop. But she didn’t and it was too late. She slipped again, fell and hit a rock. Nenshi immediately ran to her, stepping and slipping on rocks that almost caused him to lose balance. Babak who had heard Nenshi’s cries dashed to the river. Nenshi crouched over the wet and motionless body.
“Help me get her out,” Nenshi cried out as he lifted her, propped her head and shoulders in his arms. Blood, washed by the water, dripped from her head.
Pet Peeves of the Publishing Industry
The publishing industry has changed over time and continues to do so. Publishers have come and gone, some have merged to stay alive, and many only look at work solicited by an agent. Literary agents have gone through similar experiences, moving from one agency to another, leaving the industry all together or collaborating with others to create a new agency.
But one thing I found that has not changed. Agents and, to a lesser degree, publishers rely heavily on subjectivity in the decision-making process regarding what gets represented and ultimately published.
My pet peeve is, too much subjectivity clouds judgement.
Many debut authors (me included) have experienced countless rejections from agents. Rejection is a necessary step to success. Yet inherent in most rejections is the degree to which subjectivity is used to decide what gets represented and what does not.
There are many well-known authors who were initially rejected by literary agents and publishers alike, such as J.K. Rowling, Dan Brown, Margaret Mitchell, Mario Puzo, and Stephen King, to name a few.
One of my favourite rejections I received from an agent read, “Not for me.”
That’s it! Three words. This agent would not be for me either. The lack of professionalism suggests how she might represent a client.
Another rejection I had received is more common in response to a query submission upon its rejection.
“Thank you for sending me your query. I'm sorry not to request the full manuscript or offer to represent you, but this doesn't seem like a good fit for my list. Publishing is very subjective, and other agents may well feel differently. I wish you all success finding it a home.”
And so there you have it, an agent admitting the industry is subjective. Many other agents have said the same thing. Subjectivity can certainly hinder a writer’s chances in representation and ultimate publication of their work.
Why is it so hard to be objective? Objectivity refers to something which exists, or is true, independent of anyone’s opinion. Subjectivity refers to an individual’s experience or opinion of something. Experiences shape our thoughts and subjectivity-infused thoughts affects our decisions. An agent’s life experience can evoke a response to reject a manuscript in favour of a story they like to read.
This, in my opinion, also explains what I call the flavour of the year publication. For example, during the past few years women’s fiction genre has grown tremendously.
Female-driven thrillers are flying off the bookshelves and being adapted into blockbusters and stories centered on women are still in demand: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Gone Girl, The Girl on the Train, Hello Girls, etc.
Publishers look at it a little differently. CEO of Penguin Random House Canada, Brad Martin said, "I'm not interested in a book that is going to generate less than $100,000 in revenue unless the editor or publisher has a compelling vision for the book and/or the author." Yikes! What are the chances of an aspiring author to land a deal with Penguin Random House Canada. By the way, Penguin Group and Random House merged in 2013 to become Penguin Random House LLC. And now Penguin Random House is looking to buy Simon & Schuster.
So literary agents become the gate keepers to publishers.
But gatekeepers aren’t necessarily risk takers. It seems agents want the sure thing, the book that will get published and hopefully sell big. I’m not aware of any agent that takes a risk and represents someone outside their comfort zone.
Perhaps the publishing system is broken when it comes to how stories are chosen to be represented and published. To a degree it explains indie or self-publishing. And there have been some big successes here. Maybe an overhaul is needed but who will take on the challenge and how will it be accomplished? When that question is answered, I can toss out my pet peeve of the publishing industry.
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Vince is an Italian-born Canadian who grew up in Toronto, Canada, and now lives in Pickering, a suburb of Toronto.
In his youth, education and sports became a priority. A private boys' school, St. Michael's College in Toronto, provided the opportunity for both. He graduated from York University, Toronto, with a degree in history and a minor in behavioural science.
Vince was always up for new challenges. After completing his studies, he set his eyes on Europe and played professional basketball in Italy. When he returned home, he shifted gears and worked in the aerospace industry in several capacities. The most rewarding was managing internal communications for a large aircraft manufacturer. It was during this time he decided to hone his writing skills by studying journalism at Ryerson University, Toronto, and he had several articles published.
His career in communications along with studies in history and journalism prepared him to take on his next challenge: to write a book. His debut novel, The Final Crossing, has been a labour of love, one he worked on for many years. It reflects life experiences, woven into a story that inspires and entertains, and perhaps even show the world in a different way.
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