The Jagged Man
I had actually been trying to write variations of this story for years, failed attempts that went nowhere. It originated from an image that formed in my head (possibly in the late-1990's) of a man walking from New Orleans to Houston, forcing his warped leg to stay straight despite the pain. In 2002 I forced a 39,000 word draft of the story of a near-immortal man into existence, and then killed it immediately. It was horrible. Its time hadn't arrived yet.
During the next few years I started work on If a Butterfly, and The Lives of Franklin Roosevelt Jones, finishing the first version of Butterfly in 2012 -- more on these two books elsewhere -- but thoughts about Jagged Man kept resurfacing. Apparently it was trying to zombify itself back into existence.
I didn't tackle Jagged Man again until 2010. Starting from scratch, but trying to keep the good parts of the book in my head, I posited the idea that the effects of Katrina on New Orleans might have been as bad as they were because of some human interference, and that became my starting point.
I nearly finished the book that time, but stopped about twenty pages short of the final scene. I had 157,000 words of what felt to me like a structurally-sound hot mess. I knew what the final few scenes were, and I knew how I wanted to handle them, but I didn't want to write them until I had dealt with making the rest of the book work the way I wanted it to.
It took setting it aside while I finished Butterfly, and then another push in 2012, and massive edits in 2013, before I was happy with it.
In November of 2013 I sent eight queries for the book to agents I met at the 2013 WLT Agents Conference. I eventually received rejections from all of them. They were all very nice, professional rejections, with helpful comments from several of them. After a reworking and a few more rejections, I made the decision to self-publish it. It came down to a matter of time available. If I were still thirty years old, I might have continued down the traditional publishing path, but at my age (late-sixties) I didn't feel like I could afford a few years to find an agent, potentially wait another few years to find a publisher, then more time for rewrites, etc., then a further delay before publicaion. The Jagged Man is now available as an e-book for Kindle, Nook, and other e-readers. Check it out at the Jagged Man website, http://jaggedman.com.
Here's a basic pitch for the book:
Sarah Brown (a brainy, beautiful, techno-geek and martial arts expert), and Juan Rodriguez (her ruggedly-handsome historian boyfriend), match wits with The Jagged Man (an 8,000 year old psychopath), whose Dorian Gray metabolism has let him reach the 21st century looking like a forty year old.
When he actually was forty, but only looked fifteen, his Mesolithic tribe tossed him off a cliff (to kill the “evil magic” of his unchanging appearance). One of his legs was horribly mangled, giving him the jagged shape of the title, but he survived. Vowing vengeance, he murdered his entire tribe, and then continued to cause death and destruction for the next eighty centuries.
Skip to 2005. Posing as Henry Warner, an employee of the Army Corps of Engineers, he plants explosives around New Orleans, so he can flood the city during Hurricane Katrina; but then he needs a new identity. He meets, murders, and becomes Claude Vieuxos, a newly hired professor at Rice University, in Houston.
Meanwhile, at Rice, Juan is studying an ancient papyrus describing a sinister “Jagged Man.” After Juan enlists some geek-help from Sarah, Vieuxos discovers that they know about the papyrus, the only document which could reveal the truth about him. He hires Jake Bukowski (an inept bumbler), to help him get rid of three things: Sarah, Juan, and the papyrus. Naturally, danger, deception, and intrigue follow soon after in this century-spanning thriller, The Jagged Man.