This is one of my first acquisitions for Curiosity Quills Press.
I thought I’d post a little on how the manuscript was submitted
& what attracted me to it.
(the meaty part – note the book has changed substantially!)
Leila Khorasani always knew that she was meant to cure cancer, and as a promising Biology senior at Prairie State University, her dreams of doing so are tantalizingly within reach. Her dreams, however, meet a harsh reality the day a man with blood on his face arrives in her Biology lecture, and with gun firmly in hand, murders her and several classmates in cold blood. Yet despite her death, Leila discovers herself reborn on campus as a spirit who no one can see, hear, or feel. Attempts to contact her family end in heartbreak, and for five lonely years, Leila struggles to understand why God left her behind.Leila then meets Alejandro, a freshman who she discovers can see, talk, and touch her as if she were real. Alejandro finds himself immediately and powerfully attracted to her, so much so that he cares only a little when he discovers that she’s dead, and what begins as a friendship of necessity for Leila quickly evolves into an intense romance. Long forgotten sensations reawaken within Leila, and the two lovers begin to dream that a permanent relationship might be possible. Yet the sudden death of Alejandro’s younger sister causes Leila to discover the true reason she was left behind as well as the larger purpose of their relationship, a purpose that while liberating, would also mean the end of their miraculous love affair. Can their love survive a destiny that is larger than themselves?
The current blurb:
Leila Sepehri, an ambitious and brilliant student determined to cure cancer, is murdered during her final semester at college, yet discovers she’s been reborn as a spirit, resigned to haunt a school that can no longer see or hear her. The following semester, incoming freshman Alejandro Velásquez arrives on campus, eager to reinvent himself after eighteen years of awkwardness, as well as a devastating family tragedy, shake his sense of worth and faith to their cores.The two lonely souls meet under the auspice of moonlit rain, and soon find themselves passionately, irrevocably attracted to each other. Leila discovers her spiritual body reawakening with sensations that make her feel alive once again, and Alejandro discovers a kindred spirit who understands his pain like no one else. The fast friends become intense lovers, and become determined to find a way to hold onto their own private miracle forever.
Yet troublesome questions linger. How can Alejandro possibly explain to skeptical friends and family that his soul-mate is a ghost? Why does Leila get the nagging suspicion that their relationship might hold the key to understanding her existence as a spirit?
Intoxicated with each other, Leila and Alejandro evade these questions, only to have them explode once an act of evil causes both of them to clearly see the true meaning of their destiny together. Will their love give them the courage to accept a destiny that surpasses time and perhaps even God, or is their love destined to die loud and young?
What attracted me:
The male narrator’s voice. He’s a typical college freshman/teen – brash and crass while being highly unsure of himself and at the same time possessing very acute insight into other people. He’s not always endearing to his friends or the reader, but to me that makes him more ‘real’. Like many of the stories I pick up this one is a bit ‘flipped’. While it is told from both Leila and Alejandro’s POV, Alejandro’s dominates and it becomes less of the ‘girl ghost finding a sympathetic boy’ story than one about the boy coming to grips with what he’s found and how much he’s changed by his interactions with her. I also liked that Leila’s Muslim upbringing brought a different perspective to the story.
Where you can find it:
The usual places (Amazon, B&N, etc.) And.. there’s a giveaway on Goodreads, if you want a chance to win a paperback copy.
And, just in chase you didn’t see it, the LOVELY cover:
Clean up your manuscript: Workshops, Links & Style Sheets
I know you’ve seen it before, a tweet from an agent on their quick decision to pass on a submission because it needs ‘editing’.
I know, (I hope!) you’ve seen this great post by Janet Reid on the murky business of agents offering editing services. Really, of anyone offering editing services as an early/preliminary step to help you get an agent. (*note: Ms. Reid does say if you’ve gotten several requests for full and then been rejected you might want to explore having a paid editor look over your manuscript. Very clearly this is NOT a first step, rather the ‘next’ step when you know you’ve got a good product that is in some way falling short.)
So, let’s look at how to clean up your manuscript. First understand there are different types of editing you’ll need to work on. There’s editing for common errors, grammar, proofreading and content/structure to name a few. Over the next couple of months I hope to be doing a series of posts for the latter (structure/content) because clearly grammar isn’t my strength. In the meantime, while I can’t address all of the rest in one post, I can give you links and suggestions on what you can do, by yourself (or at least without professional help) to clean up your manuscript.
- Set it aside and work on something else then come back to it with fresh eyes. Seriously, the best way to get the ‘distance’ you need to see what you wrote (as opposed to reading what you intended to write) is time. Some people can do this immediately, I applaud them. In my experience most people need the distance of time. After you’re done with another project or at least a month has passed, go back and read your manuscript. Trust me, you’ll find passages you don’t need, spelling errors, things you thought were clear but really aren’t.
- Get a Beta reader/Critique partner. This is someone who will read through and give you an honest opinion on what works and what doesn’t work and who will, hopefully, tell you if you have major grammatical mistakes. Get another and see if they agree with the points the first one raised. CPSeek is one place find partners. Goodreads has groups specifically for people looking for beta readers (who will read and not ask for you to read anything in return – note quality varies greatly here). Also keep an eye out for crit partner match-up events by Miss Snark’s First Victim and other pitch hosting sites.
- Find a contest/workshop that works with the whole manuscript. I know Talynn over at Ink in the Book is running a workshop in February, free (preliminary post on 1/31, plus these posts will be up after the workshop so even if you’re reading this months later, you can use the information). Many conferences have workshops, as well as online writing sites such as Savvy Author. With any paid workshop/class – online, at conferences, at community colleges, through an RWA chapter – research who is running the class and see if paying the money is the right call for you.
- Read these posts on tightening your writing. They have helpful information on how to condense your writing and polish your piece prior to submission: Ten quick fixes.(common errors) Getting Rid of Ugly Wordiness.(general tightening) How to cut Thousands of Words. (a bit of both).
Now for the slightly more nit-picky stuff (and, yes, there is some redundancy here with the above posts). Even though we always hope our submissions are as clean as possible, every press has a style sheet of the more common errors that need to be fixed before it goes to an in-house editor. The occasional lapse might slide past acquisitions/agents, frequent errors and you’re likely to get dinged by anyone. Here’s a partial list of common mistakes, pulled from the Curiosity Quills style sheet (trust me there are more, our style sheet is close to ten pages). In typical CQP style, some of the examples are over the top, but hey, they get the point across!
- Impossible Simultaneous Actions: Sweeping the floor, he put away the broom. As written, this is impossible. If he’s sweeping the floor, he cannot put away the broom at the same time.
- Only: The word only comes after the word it modifies. Example: He needed only ten hours to travel through space. Incorrect Example: He only needed ten hours to travel through space.
- Of: Another filler word. Example: Tommy travelled inside a ship. Incorrect Example: Tommy travelled inside of a ship.
- Redundancies (There are many types of these, but we’ve listed the most common): Nodded her head. Shrugged his shoulders. Clenched his fists tightly.
- Began To, Nearly, About To, Almost: These are telling words, vague, and sometimes passive. Instead of saying “She almost cried”, tell us “The burden of the news crushed her, but she held the pain all inside, never allowing a tear to escape.”
- Passive Sentences: Do a search for the word “was/were” and see if the sentence is passive, then rewrite if necessary. Example: I was considering a job change. / I considered a job change.
So, right now you’re probably looking at all the things you might have to do to clean up your manuscript and thinking, that’s a lot of work.
Yes, it is.
Writing is a job. If you’re not committed to learn the craft, revise and spend the time necessary to clean up your manuscript, you might not be in the right profession. Harsh words, I know, but honest ones. And this doesn’t even touch on marketing, etc. (see my post on CQP submission check list).
The good news? Many of the skills you learn carry forward. For example eliminating it, that, most adverbs, unnecessary dialog tags and back story will become automatic – even when writing ‘drunk’ – and your writing will be stronger. This means, hopefully, that you will spend less time cleaning each subsequent manuscript. And a clean manuscript will help you avoid that automatic ‘ding’ for ‘needs editing’.
Finally, one last thought. It is easy to get bogged down in all the rules and build up anxiety over getting things right the first time. Don’t do this. Remember Ernest Hemmingway’s words: Write drunk; edit sober. While you are writing, don’t let worry over all the rules and possible errors hamper your creativity. Write without inhibitions with the knowledge that that later you will go back and address the edits. But do plan to edit. You do yourself a disservice if you submit without having polished your manuscript.
With so many deadlines I’ve fallen behind on my usual posts of pitch events. So, if that’s what you’re here looking for, I’d recommend you check out Carissa Taylor’s page Contest Madness. A sneak peak of events just through October (she has events through the end of the year plus notes on annual & semi-annual events you might want to get ready for).
Upcoming Pitch Contests!Enter for a chance to get your MS or query read &/or critiqued by an agent!More pitch contest roundups at: Art of Infiltration // Meredith’s Musings // I Write for Apples // Agent Query Connect // Sub It Club
Sept-Oct 14: Query Letter Contest with lit agent Eric Ruben – hosted by Stacey O’Neale
In other news Shade of Pink anthology is selling nicely, but we still haven’t met our goal. So if you want a copy (33 Authors! Romance!) go to this site and make a donation to the National Breast Cancer Foundation.
Speaking of anthologies, Curiosity Quills Press also released two anthologies this month, both to benefit no-kill shelters. For more information on the “Primetime Anthology” go here. The info:
Curiosity Quills Press brings together bestselling authors like J.R. Rain, Tony Healey, A.W. Exley, and more to create a spine-tingling, mind-blowing, quirky collection of short stories in their first ever, annual Curiosity Quills: Primetime Anthology.
10% of every purchase will go straight to animals in need. The CQ team has selected humane societies on both the East and West coast that spend well and do not stray from their “no-kill” policies.
They’ve also put together an After Dark version. The details:
Welcome to Curiosity Quills: Primetime’s steamier counterpart, Curiosity Quills: After Dark, where bestselling authors like A.W. Exley, Nathan L. Yocum, Jose Prendes, Jade Hart, and more come together to bring you hard-hitting, sexy, violent, and dark short stories to read when the sun has gone down and the kids are in bed.
Just like its twin, 10% of every purchase will go straight to animals in need. The CQ team has selected humane societies on both the East and West coast that spend well and do not stray from their “no-kill” policies.
This anthology is a bit of a ‘soft’ opening for their new line Curiosity Thrills – the same great stories they’ve always carried but now with more sex! Okay, that’s not the official tag line, but it’s not far off. So if you’ve a hard hitting SF/UF/Spec Fic story which has been rejected because the sex was too explicit… think about subbing.
Finally two last bits of news. I entered my regency A Not Good Heart in SYTYCW (So You Think You Can Write). I’ve love some FB ‘likes’ if anyone has the chance. And the lovely DA Kentner graciously let me be a guest on his award winning blog The Reader’s Writers where I answer the question “Why do you write romance?”
Next week I’ll be hanging out on twitter for #adpit so look for me there!
Shades of Pink Charity Anthology
As you may know, October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. For this occasion, 33 authors have allied for 1 cause: fundraising for research. Their gift to everyone who makes a donation? A romance anthology (ebook) titled Shades of Pink, totaling over 200.000 words / about 500 pages as a PDF.
The suggested donation is $5. Funds are raised via Stayclassy.org and all proceeds go directly to the National Breast Cancer Foundation. Readers can also donate to the charity organization of their choice (with a focus on breast cancer) and email their receipt to receive their copy of the Shades of Pink anthology in either PDF, ePub or mobi (kindle).
When: October through November 15th.
What: 33 short stories, including…
- 30 M/F, 1.5 M/M, 1.5 M/F/M
- 4 paranormal, 2 sci-fi, 19 contemporary, 3 historical, 1 BDSM, 9 fantasy, 3 YA (some stories have more than one genre)
- 4 spicy (ménage or kink), 15 sexy (explicit sex scenes), 14 sweet (no sex)
- A handful of vampires, about four dozen humans including fighters, cursed humans, reincarnated souls, footballers, time travelers, bosses, secretaries, writers, rock stars, teens, witches, soldiers, wives, husbands and fiancés, 1 succubus, 1 genie, 1 extra-terrestrial princess, a few gods and goddesses, a pack of werewolves.
- Pink, pink and more pink, including cherry blossoms, jewelry, flamingoes, silk, a leather collar, assorted flowers, hair, a car, lip gloss, champagne, a hair ribbon, a hippo, various clothing items, lemonade and a toy.
Where: Kallysten’s blog
Here you’ll find teasers for all the stories in Shades of Pink, interviews of the authors posted during all of October, and of course the link where you can donate and help this worthy cause. (My interview will be up September 23!)
Who’s in Shades of PInk:
(Ratings: sweet – no sex / behind closed doors. sexy – graphic sex, spicy – ménage and/or ‘kink’)
The Last Sunset by Kallysten [M/M, M/F/M – paranormal – spicy]
One More Bloom by Vivien Dean [M/F – fantasy – sweet]
Blood Lust by DJ Shaw [M/F – paranormal – sexy]
Dirty Strategy by Eden Summers [M/F/M – contemporary – spicy]
Highland Eclipse by Laura Hunsaker [M/F – sci-fi/historical – sexy]
In Search of Pink Coral by Sabrina Garie [M/F – fantasy – sexy]
Flock That! by Ellie Heller [M/F – contemporary – sweet]
The Touch by Amber Green [M/M – historical/paranormal – sweet]
Collar Me Pink by Rachel Firasek [M/F – BDSM – spicy]
Princess Pink by Kristin L. Wilson [M/F – sci-fi/fantasy – sexy]
The Mother by Rose Caraway [M/F – historical/fantasy – sexy]
A Single Pink Rose by JJ Ellis [M/F – contemporary – sexy]
Mysteries in Pink by Matthew Welch [M/F – contemporary – sweet]
Pink Rose by Perci T. Brooks [M/F – contemporary/YA – sweet]
Fate, Free Will & Fancy by Torie James [M/F – fantasy – sexy]
Olivia by Madeline Sheehan [M/F – contemporary – sweet]
Break Out by Brei Betzold [M/F – contemporary/YA – sweet]
Avoiding Commitment by K.A. Linde [M/F – contemporary – sweet]
See Me by Zoe York [M/F – contemporary – sweet]
Love and Other Silly Emotions by Susan Harris [M/F – contemporary – sweet]
The Pink Ribbon by Sarah Daltry [M/F – contemporary – sweet]
The Pink Hippo by C. Deanne Rowe [M/F – contemporary – sweet]
Real Men Wear Pink by Lisa M. Harley [M/F – contemporary – sexy]
Harlequinade by Gill Taber [M/F – fantasy – sexy]
Surprise Weekend Getaway by K. R. Haynes [M/F – contemporary – spicy]
The Princess’s Consort by J Annas Walker [M/F – fantasy/paranormal – sexy]
Pretty Little Rockstar by Bethan Cooper [M/F – contemporary – sexy]
In Love With Teresa March by T. Hammond [M/F – contemporary – sexy]
The Last Night by Jean Booth [M/F – fantasy – sexy]
I Already Am by Catherine Bowman [M/F – fantasy/shifters – sexy]
Pink Girl by Kate Baum [M/F – contemporary – sexy]
Pinkie Swear by Jennifer James [M/F – contemporary – sweet]
Blush by Angela Yseult [M/F – contemporary/YA – sweet]
Please consider donating to this worthy cause and get your free copy of Shades of Pink as a thank you!
If you haven’t seen the new Curiosity Quills Submissions Guidelines you really should take a look.
Because the advice they give is good for everyone who is querying their manuscript and looking to become a published author. Some of the main points:
- Polish your manuscript before you submit.
- After your manuscript is accepted expect more editing.
- To succeed you must be active in social media.
Now that last point is essential if you’re with a small or indie publisher, and especially if you self publish, but still relevant no matter what route you take. Being active in social media is a necessity in this day and age. If you’re not willing to be out there and help get the word out on your story, you’re setting yourself up for failure. Not that being out there is going to guarantee a blockbuster, but it you will fail if you don’t do it. It’s the new reality, and you must understand that you will be expected to embrace it, now, before you get any further.
After that reality check, here’s the full text:
Publishing a book is serious business! Not only is it a big commitment for you, the author – it’s also a big undertaking for us, the publisher. We want to make sure that we’re putting out only the best the literary world has to offer – and giving YOU the best shot at success.
Unless all parties – the author AND the publisher – are firing on all cylinders, achieving success will be exponentially more difficult. That is why sometimes it makes sense to go back to the drawing board before committing blood, sweat, and tears to promoting a work that is not fully ready to be published.
Consider this a plus to everyone involved!
In order to proceed with your query, you must answer “yes” to ALL of these, to the best of your abilities:
Production Reality Check:
Yes, I read my own manuscript one last time, with the critical eye of an acquisition editor.
Yes, I checked for Head-Hopping, Passive Voice, Disembodied Body Parts, Dangling Modifiers & overused words.
Yes, I made sure all names, places, dates, and other conventions were consistent throughout the manuscript.
Yes, I researched the places, procedures, people, and historical and scientific facts I am writing about.
Yes, I made sure that characters actually grew and changed throughout the story.
Yes, my characters are sufficiently fleshed out and are not paper-thin Mary Sues.
Yes, my world is sufficiently fleshed out through adequate worldbuilding.
Yes, I made sure all character motivations and actions make sense.
Yes, I made sure to avoid instances of Deus Ex Machina.
Yes, I worked to eliminate Telling vs. Showing and Purple Prose.
Yes, I have checked for unnecessary scenes, characters, and concepts… and murdered them.
Yes, I have a sufficiently strong ending for the book to stand alone, even if it’s a part of a series.
Yes, I used the automated Spell & Grammar check in Word to spot any obvious mistakes.
Yes, I used a Beta Reader to help me spot less-than-obvious mistakes and plot issues.
Yes, I had at least one family member serve as a volunteer Beta Reader to further help weed out shenanigans.
Marketing Reality Check:
Yes, I have a Facebook account and use it at least once every few days.
Yes, I maintain at least one additional social media account (Twitter, Google Plus, Pinterest, etc.)
Yes, I am comfortable with the idea of meeting people, mingling, and otherwise rubbing elbows.
Yes, I am comfortable with selling myself, my book, and my ideas.
Yes, I understand that the publisher is not my publicist – I will need to work hard to promote my book, too.
Yes, I do not expect an instant bestseller (though it would be nice).
Yes, I am prepared to follow the guidance of my Marketing, Editorial, and Production contacts.
Yes, I understand that the publisher’s vision for my cover might not match my own (though they will try).
Yes, I understand that the editor’s vision for my book might not match my own (though they will try).
If you’re interested in Curiosity Quills and the books we publish, there are many titles on sale for 99 cents during July:
Be sure to check them out.
DFRAT is perfectly timed with Crimson Romance’s First Anniversary Sale (entirely happy coincidence!) And, yes!, A Matter of Fate is one of the sale titles! And featured on July 12.
So, what is DFRAT?
It’s the DIGITAL FIRST READ-A-THON! Look for excerpts, giveaways and loads of reviews over the next thirty days at Book Binge, Tracy’s Place, RR@H Novel Thoughts and The Book Reading Gals. BE SURE TO CHECK OUT EACH BLOG EACH DAY FOR GIVEAWAYS!!
An explanation from Tracy’s Place:
In case you missed last year’s fun, the digital first read-a-thon is a month long reading adventure where you read as many books that were published in digital format-first as possible. There are a lot of books that have been released in e-format before they were released in print and these are the books that we’re spotlighting. If you read more traditionally published books then you’re missing out on a lot of fantastic stories. You’ve missed out on some pretty amazing characters and we’re here to spotlight those books for the entire month. We hope that you’ll join us in the DFRAT festivities. I promise that you’ll find a lot of new to you authors that you’ve never tried out and you’ll fall in love with them, the way that we have. And you’ll thank us. =)
ON JULY 12 A MATTER OF FATE
WILL BE FEATURED ON TRACY’S PLACE!
Look for an ebook and swag box giveaway! (it’s the last box of this batch).
Plus, want a great place to start with some digital first titles? Crimson Romance is also offering all of their e-books published their first year for $1.99 through the month of July on Amazon.
PLUS there’s the opportunity to win a kindle pre-loaded with all the titles released in their first year over at Crimson Romance. Click here for contest details! ** Open through 7/15 so get on over there now!
A couple of quick contest notes (look for monthly post on 7/6 with more updates!):
I just found out about Brenda Drake’s
and I’m so VERY excited!!
To quote her: After many requests from Adult writers and agents, I’m kicking off the summer with a pitch event for adult only fiction.
GO TO HER SITE for the full details. It runs from 6/27-6/29 so chop, chop!
(hey Brenda, if I haven’t told you before, you rock!)
(I’m so glad to see this! I was half contemplating how to put one together as there’s definitely a need. So glad she’s doing it, as she’s an old pro and has the contacts!)