Tag Archives: Submissions

1/27 Two(ish) weeks: Thoughts on Realism, Romance and Contests

Two weeks down and still working on finding that zinger that catches my interest. Several were close this week but didn’t quite deliver.

One repeating theme in the stories that didn’t work revolved around characters accomplishing unrealistic feats. As I’ve said before, I love Fantasy (capital F as I’m talking genre here), so I don’t have a problem suspending my disbelief for a story. However, for goodness sake, don’t screw up the basics of survival. These include walking incomprehensible distances (there’s a helpful and interesting discussion here on realistic expectations if you’re wondering), remaining physically active and fit while not eating & drinking for extended periods of time (say days), and surviving extreme cold in ‘everyday’ clothes – again while being active. Or, worse yet, doing all at the same time. This is pretty basic research, there’s no reason anyone should be getting this wrong. Of course, these weren’t the primary reason I said ‘no’ to any manuscript, this type of thing is fixable after all, unrealistic feats like these were just a common theme in my submissions this week.

I also received some questions about romance this week. I love Romance (note the capital ‘R’ here, because I’m talking about genre), but it’s not a genre that Curiosity Quills Press publishes. That’s not to say there can’t be romantic elements or a romance in the story, heck if we said that we’d have to forego a huge chunk of YA submissions. No, the point here is that, particularly for adult novels, it can’t be a Romance. And, what, exactly does that mean? You could, of course, look it up in Wikipedia, but for the sake of expediency if the entire plot revolves around the romantic relationship between two main characters, and the positive resolution of that relationship is both the main theme of the plot as well as the end goal of the story, you probably have a romance. Would the story exist if, say, the two were just friends at the end? Would the plot fall apart if, say, the couple didn’t resolve their differences? I will say it can be a bit gray, especially with YA since relationships are the heart of many YA stories. If you’re not sure, send it on in. But if you are sure, we’re probably not the publisher for you.

Finally, some thoughts on contests. The wonderful Brenda Drake held her semi-annual twitter pitch session. #PitMad, this week. I only belatedly remembered to ask for people to think of us, as well as target a couple of pitches I thought would do very well at Curiosity Quills. Next time I need to be on top of the situation, there we hundreds of pitches throughout the day. I’m thinking in the fall we may want to hold a special twitter pitch session ourselves to get pitches which fit our genres better. Hmm, need to talk to my boss about this. One thing about Brenda Drake’s contest is that it was was billed as pitching to agents (although I did see some other editors on there). And there is a certain group of people whom are actively pursuing being repped by an agent and will not consider anything else. Their loss. Some of their stories are wonderful but not quite mainstream and aren’t going to catch an agent’s eye. On the other hand, those stories are perfect for small presses like us. We like the quirky, we like the truly unusual, we like epic fantasy/sci-fi/cozy mysteries and noir thrillers. I hope these people wise up and change their expectations and come join us. We’d love to have them. (Oh, and we do take agented submission too, but most of our submissions are made directly to us)


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Posted by on January 27, 2013 in On Writing, Submissions


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One week (and a tad more) down & what I’ve learned.

I had planned to write this exactly one week after I officially started, but a nasty cold gobsmacked me (please do not bandy about the word ‘flu’, I am optimistically denying the possibility that this yuck is a flu).

So, here I am a tad late with my ‘what I learned’ post. Let’s see, I think my official start was the tenth, and it’s now the nineteenth, so just a couple of days late. Not too bad.

Now, where was I going with this…? Right, what I learned this week (besides realizing that tissues with lotion are worth their weight in gold).

  • There are some fantastic world builders out there. Reading some unique and vastly different takes on parallell universes and fairy kingdoms made me remember why my first love is Fantasy.
  • The first five pages really are very important to ‘sell’ your story. Looking for advice on this I found this article by Hilari Bell, which I highly recommended to at least one author. Note it was written in 2007, so this isn’t a ‘new’ trend. (And I love the title! – Doghouse on Malibu Beach: What you should, and shouldn’t, put in the first five pages of your manuscript.)
  • As I suspected, saying ‘no’ is difficult, but it it’s not working, it’s not working.
  • Sometimes people read that we are interested in ‘first time authors’ as ‘first drafts from authors’ or ‘first ever finished piece’. While there are first drafts/first stories which are great and ready to submit, that number is very small, and the vast majority will benefit from beta readers/critique partners/heavy editing.
  • I have a great group of co-acquisitions editors who love to read.

In this next week I’m looking forward to reading more submission and getting over this cold. My anticipation for both is equally high, which says something about how much I am enjoying this! And I’m still waiting for that story that zings my interest. A couple were close, but not…quite…there.


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Posted by on January 19, 2013 in Submissions


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Ready, Set… Read!

I have recently been hired as an acquisitions editor for Curiosity Quills Press.

Which means… what?

Well, their head acquisitions editor does the slush pile read and culls out all the obviously not-ready-for-primetime submissions.

The rest he passes along to his acquiring editors to read. From there we decide if we, on behalf of the press, will a) pass or b) request more (typically a full manuscript). Oh the power! (and the responsibility, but I will do my utmost to not let it debilitate me).

Once a full is requested, I again have the responsibility to a) pass or b) ‘pitch’ it to the head acquiring editor as something I think the press should contract. Actually, if any responsibility will weigh heavily on me it will be this one, from either side. Saying ‘no’, after requesting a full will be hard and taking a stance that *this* book is worth the company investing in will be pressure-filled too. Plus there’s an option c) revise and resubmit. If the book is close and needs just a few tweaks, I can offer this opportunity as well. The good news is there are other acquiring editors I can run my thoughts by so, never fear, I am not doing this blind!

When (not if, but when!) I find a story that the acquiring editor agrees we should contract, and the writer accepts the contract, I then coordinate their transition to the editing and marketing team. Never fear, any author I’ve found can still contact me (but, honestly your new editor will more likely have the answers!).

One GREAT thing about Curiosity Quills – there are NO form letters. You read that right. Every single rejection is personalized, with a bit of feedback on why the story didn’t work. I think this is what sold me on the job. Why? Because I, too, write. Of course, now I’ve crossed a publisher off my submission list by agreeing to work for them (too much of a conflict of interest, I won’t touch that with ten foot pole!), but the pay off, helping other people pursue their dreams will be worth it.

Oh! And did I mention I can take part as an editor in pitch contests? Woo-hoo, looking forward to being a sneaky ninja editor soon! That will rock.

Look forward to seeing you around the web. Remember, I’m NOT taking submissions directly, you need go to Curiosity Quills site for information on the submission process (or click on that tab, up at the top of the page 🙂 ).


Posted by on January 9, 2013 in Submissions


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