[Interior: evening. Two writers IM about submission opportunities]
Crit partner: The paranormal line at Wild Rose Press is looking for short fiction.
Crit partner: Got anything paranormal?
Author: Well, I have this one with a ghost in it and a heroine who time travels back to when he was alive—‘cause they’re like soul mates and stuff—and then she lives there with him until she becomes her own grandmother.
Crit partner: Does she ever come back to the present?
Crit partner: Send it in. What’s the worst they can say?
Faery Editor Kelly Schaub: (sigh) It’s probably historical line instead of Faery.
What I do want to see in short submissions: I want to read about men and women who make their own fate and choose to be together. I don’t believe in “soul mates.”
Our senior editor, Amanda, pointed out earlier that time travels are hot hot hot for sales. Along with that, my own research points at cowboys amping the sales numbers—cowboy in the title + cowboy on the cover = win. And I am a Browncoat. If you know what that means without scanning Wikipedia, you’re already in my camp.
I love me some space cowboys.
Short length (45K down to 7.5K). Space cowboys who time travel.
More seriously, I enjoy heroes who are not only physically good to look upon but highly intelligent. Think Commander John Crichton from Farscape (PhD in aeronautics, designed and built his own spaceflight module which shot him through a wormhole to travel in alien lands…and he’s good looking), Quinn Mallory of Sliders (genius inventor who developed “sliding” from one alternate universe to another…and pretty darn cute), Dr. Sam Beckett of Quantum Leap (invented a way for man to time travel within his own lifetime…handsome, moral) and of course Captain Mal Reynolds of Firefly, the best space cowboy ever (with the exception of Captain Kirk). Mal and Kirk didn’t have to be smarter than average; they live, fight, and love in the future. No emo metro-males need apply at my desk.
The heroine must be able to keep up and hold her own, but not be so kick-ass that she diminishes the hero’s masculinity or cannot be feminine and vulnerable. Some characters who strike the right balance: Princess Ardala and Colonel Wilma Deering (both from Buck Rogers of the 25th Century), Officer Aeryn Sun from Farscape, Zoe Washburne from Firefly—heck, any of the women on that show; Kaylee, Inara. Think of the female officers on Star Trek.
We are facing a high amount of competition both between TWRP and other publishers and within our own house to put before our readers the very best stories we can offer. Manuscripts must be highly polished, ready to go, with all the necessary literary pieces and parts before they’re offered to us. Watch your junk words (just, very, some, often, always, nearly), passive verbs (was/were), and sentences beginning “It was/There was/were.” Be sure you have believable and discernable goal, motivation, and conflict for hero and heroine, and that they work at cross-purposes to the relationship until the very end of the story. Make them work for that Happily Ever After!