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)