S is for Shelf-Life

SThe well-known idiom states: “you can tell a lot about a person by their shoes,” but for me, the most telling thing about a person is their bookshelves. Be it physical or digital, what’s on a person’s book shelf says a lot about their tastes, likes and dislikes.


Here’s my Kindle bookshelf, for example.





There’s some contemporary-romance, as that’s what I’m currently writing, the trusty emotional thesaurus, some of my favourite fantasy/ urban-fantasy books, and a few non-fiction books; one I love and the other I’m currently sampling.


Fairly eclectic, but with a focus on romance, humour and the supernatural, which is a perfect summarization of both my reading and writing habits.

My dream bookshelf would be wall-to-wall bookcases, with hardback copies of all my favorites, and literary trinkets scattered throughout. Maybe when I win the lottery, huh?



And here are some of my favorite bookshelves from around the web.













Thanks for reading, and please feel free to share your own / favorite/ dream bookshelves in the comments, or on one of our social media platforms: Facebook | Twitter | Google+ | Tumblr | Instagram





R is for Reviews

Reviews are the lifeblood of any author. Word of mouth promotion is key to selling books, and the most accepted form of that is reviews.

How many of you check the reviews of a book on Amazon or Goodreads before buying it? How many of you go back and read the reviews of a book you’ve just finished, to see if other readers felt the same as you do?

Reviews also help authors get onto sale promotion sites, like the hugely popular BookBub, which often require X amount of reviews as part of their acceptance criteria.

That’s why CQ values their reviewers, book bloggers and BookTubers so dearly. Every reader that takes the time to leave feedback for our novels, and write/ record a little something about what they liked about a book is a treasure to us.

As a publisher, the best reviews for us are the ones that offer honest criticism, and we even been happy with two star reviews that constructively tell the reader where they can improve their writing!

For us, bad reviews are the ones that go into no detail. It’s great you gave the book 3 stars, but WHY? What did the author get right? Where can they improve?

Reviews that seem to follow a generic pattern aren’t very helpful, either. Comments like “[Insert title] was a great read and I hope to see more from [insert author],” make us wonder how genuine they are.

Reviews that rate the book negatively due to technical issues – i.e not being available in a preferred format, or an issue with the internal formatting – are frustrating for both authors and publishers; especially authors as often these issues are out of their control. If you ever have a technical problem with a book, it’s best to contact the publisher. We’re more than happy to help by sending you a different format etc.

A positive, well-thought out review can often make an author and publisher’s day, and getting these in our inboxes is what enables us to keep going when times are rough.

There are so many times when the day has been tough, and then I get an email from a reader, thanking me for sending them a review copy of a title they’ve been dying to read, or saying how much the loved a book and I can pass it onto the author.

A situation like this happened recently, with Jamie Ayres’ 18 THOUGHTS, where a reader told me she’d just experienced a death in the family, and that Jamie’s series – that deals with death and grief – really helped her through it. It was a very poignant moment for both myself, and Jamie.

Curiosity Quills always welcomes new reviewers. We have a regularly updated catalog on NetGalley, or if you’d prefer to be contacted about recent and forthcoming releases, and invited to monthly review tours, please sign up for our reviewer mailing list.

Q is for Querying – What The Hell Is A Query?

QWhat’s the Next Step?


So you’ve just finished your first novel. You are full of sunshine and rainbows. Nothing feels better than typing “The End” and knowing you’ve accomplished something with your life. You’ve written A WHOLE NOVEL, created people and places and things with your brain and your brain alone. You open Google and type into the search bar how to get published. BAD NEWS, FRIEND. Your journey has just begun, and, unfortunately, writing the novel was the easy part.
Now you must move on to round two…
…the query.
(Insert dramatic music.)

What the Hell is a Query?


A query is the sole means of communication between you and literary agents or publishers. A literary agent is the person who will offer you a contract, represent you, peddle your book to publishers, market for you (well, sort of), be your shoulder to cry on during the submission process, and do a whole bunch of other useful things. Some literary agents get hundreds of unsolicited queries per DAY—not week or month, but day.
An agent’s priority is to take care of the authors they already represent, but they also sift through the “slush pile” to find promising authors and novels. A query is the most effective way to present your novel to an agent or acquisitions editor.

…And Where the HELL Do I Start?

Queries follow a pretty strict format. Remember that you are writing a business letter, and business letters must always be professional.

The Greeting

You begin with Dear [agent’s name]:. Make sure to put a colon, not a comma after the agent’s name. And, please, make sure you spell their name right! You may put some personalization at the beginning, such as: I read in X interview that you are looking for Y, so I felt my novel would interest you. Some agents like personalization, some don’t. I encourage you to do all the research you can on an agent before submitting to them.

The Hook

After that you will write a “hook” that grabs the agent’s interest and makes them want to keep reading. The hook should be a sentence or two that is attention-grabbing, interesting, and unique to your story. The main character should always be mentioned in the hook. For many people, the hook is the hardest part.
Below I will give some examples of good hooks that I’ve compiled from AgentQueryConnect’s successful queries forum:
“Lifelong skeptic Sarah Griffith doesn’t believe in ghosts, or ghouls, or things that go bump in the night. Imagine her surprise when she discovers her next-door neighbor is Death Incarnate.”—GRAVE INTENTIONS by Lori Sjoberg
“Sixteen-year-old Clementine wants to grow old and live in a place where the moon is a beautiful, glowing orb in the sky instead of an acid-bleeding menace to the planet.”—EXTRACTION by Stephanie Diaz
“16-year-old Dusty Everhart might make a regular habit of breaking into houses late at night, but she’s no criminal. She is a Nightmare, a magical being who must feed on the dreams of others, and in doing so experience those dreams, too.”—THE NIGHTMARE AFFAIR by Mindee Arnett
Do those hooks make you want to read more about the books?

The Body

Next come the body paragraphs of the query. The whole query should be no more than 250-300 words, so remember to keep it simple. This is not a synopsis, so there’s no need to list every single thing that happens in the novel. It’s similar to the blurb found on the back of a book. The gist of it is to tell the overall plot of the novel without giving too much away or being too vague. It’s a tricky balancing act. You do not give away all the ending in a query, only give enough information to make the agent want to request pages and find out what happens in your novel.
Be careful that your query doesn’t turn into “character soup”—no more than two or three characters should be introduced in the query to avoid confusion. Remember not to ask rhetorical questions. Clearly present the stakes within the query. The main questions you want to answer are: Who is the main character? What does the main character want to accomplish? What stands in their way? What must they do to overcome that obstacle? What will they lose if they can’t accomplish what they need to?

The Logline

After the body paragraphs you will state the title, genre, and word count of the novel. TITLE is a (genre) novel complete at XX,000 words. Your title should always be in all caps. There is no need to state that this is your first completed novel. If this novel is the first in a series, simply state that it is the first in a potential series. If the book is a standalone with series potential, state that.
Most agents do like to see that an author won’t be a one hit wonder. They like to build an ongoing relationship with a client. However, sometimes it’s easier to sell a standalone to a publisher. If you have already begun to work on sequels to your novel, be aware that the plot of the novel may change so much during the editing process that the sequels no longer apply. It’s best to work on a new project when querying.
Be sure to research the proper word count for your genre. Having a very high or very low word count can make or break your chance of nabbing an agent or signing with a publisher.
Many authors use comparison titles in the logline. Make sure your novel lives up to the comp title (if it’s a well-known one) and make sure the comp title fits your novel. YA comp titles should be given for YA works, etc. It’s also better to list comp titles that have been released within the last few years.
Within the logline, you may also put any publishing experience or credentials you might have. This is not a place to spill your guts on why you wrote a novel, why you want to be published, nor to put your resume. This is where you list short stories or other novels that have been published, if you have an English degree, or any other credentials related to writing (such as if your novel is about OCD and you have OCD). If you have no experience, it is totally fine to omit the bio. If you have previously self-published your work, many agents want to know this up front.

The Closing

After all that, simply put, “Thank you for your time and consideration.”
Doesn’t sound THAT hard, right?
Writing a query can be a frustrating and exhausting process. I mean, how do you condense all that down to just 250 words? Don’t let this process get the better of you. Above all else, guys, remember to have fun! Open your mind and think outside the box. If something doesn’t work, don’t be afraid to erase it and start from scratch at a different angle.

I Sent My Query and Got Rejected

Rejection means you’re a REAL author now! Time to make those rejection letters into confetti and party! But seriously, rejection is normal. Somewhere around three percent of authors will be offered representation. That’s not a lot at all.
Rejection and criticism are part of the life of a writer. Your work will always be judged by others. All you can do is make sure your novel is as polished as it can be and your skin is as thick as you can get it. If after sending out a few queries you’ve still received no interest, take a look at your query, synopsis, and first few chapters again. Do some revisions. You should receive a 10-20% request rate from your query.
Don’t give up, because you never know. Agents and publishers have differing tastes and what one loves another may not be interested in.

Helpful Resources:

FullSizeRenderAbout Jadah McCoy

Jadah currently lives in Nashville, TN and works as a legal coordinator. When not babysitting attorneys, she can be found juicing her brain for creative ideas or fantasizing about her next trip out of the country (or about Tom HIddleston as Loki – it’s always a toss up when she fantasizes.)She grew up in rural Arkansas, yet can still write good and sometimes even wears shoes! She did date her first cousin for a while but they decided against marriage for the sake of the gene pool.

Her true loves are elephants, cursing, and sangria – in that order. If you find an elephant that curses like a sailor whilst drinking sangria, you’re dangerously close to becoming her next romantic victim – er, partner.

She cut her writing teeth on badly written, hormone-driven fanfiction (be glad that’s out of her system), and her one true dream is to have wildly erotic fanfiction with dubious grammar written about her own novels. Please make her dreams come true.

Find Jadah Online:

P is for Publishing Today (being a newby in the field of Publishing)

PDandelion, oh dandelion,

You are the spring’s bright bloom

You are lovely and fluffy

But a cow will eat you up

As quietly as you were born,

So quietly will you go to your grave.

Of course, it looses something in the Russian to English translation, but essentially, this is my first magnum opus, written at a ripe old age of three, finally seeing the light of day. You could say, I have now published it 🙂
Which I suppose is fitting – for both what I do in the general run of things and the purposes of meeting today’s A-Z challenge. Letter P.
I should note Eugene and I had not originally set out to do any such thing – publishing, that is. Coming into this as a programmer with a background in foreign currency trading (Eugene) and an entertainment industry marketing professional with aspirations of authorly fame (me), we have first ventured into this arena with our joint upper MG novel, the Gatecrashers, and its spunky teenage universe-hopping heroine. Now, before we have ever set out to find ourselves an agent, we have undertaken a massive crash course via Google on just what it takes these days to sell oneself successfully to both the gatekeepers of the hallowed halls of the then-Big 6 as well as to the general readers.
And what we have found is – this is the age of self-marketing, and social media is an unprecedented (and unprecedentedly affordable) king.
Which happened to mean the beginning of our joint blog, Curiosity Quills (nearly named Curiosity Kills – and only changed to something a little less bloodthirsty at the last possible moment; who says one can only see the error of one’s ways after the fact?). Soon, CQ turned itself into a bit of a portal, where innovative authors such as Lizzy Ford, educators like DIYMFA’s Gabriela Pereiera, and industry big names such as Jane Friedman and Nathan Bransford were given a progressively taller soapbox, from which to share their opinions and experiences with other writers and readers.
As a pleasant, albeit not very long-lasting, side-effect, that also meant we now had time to put final polish on Gatecrashers before finally deciding whether we wanted to go the traditional publishing route or self-pub it, as an increasing number of authors were trying at the time.
But why not very long-lasting, you ask? Why, because we are gluttons for punishment – and because of Eugene’s mile-wide entrepreneurial streak that went and infected me too 🙂 That, and author Michael Shean’s talent that immediately made fans of us both.
In October 2011, we have signed our very first author, Michael Shean, and opened the fledgling Curiosity Quills Press’ doors to submissions, promptly adding Rod Kierkegaard, Jr., Matthew Graybosh, and Vicki Keire to our little catalog. All of them are still with us, and we haven’t looked back since.
While incredibly rewarding, our journey as publishers has been incredibly nerve-wrecking, as well, and fraught with as many ups and downs as that of any individual author’s – or, in a way, more so. Because all our authors successes and failures are our own, and we feel that’s one of the things that stands us apart from the somewhat impersonal nature of how now Big-5 run their business.
Yet having witnessed the challenges and changes that the last three-plus years have wrought in our professional world, we feel that our approach of personalized marketing, our consistent innovation in the areas of marketing and production (hello, PaperBrain TM and Novelful TM), is what is going to continue keeping our heads above water, our names on authors’ and readers’ minds — and our own writing firmly on the shelf.
Time, even for us, especially for us, is not elastic. And that’s OK, because with the authors we are consistently retaining and acquiring for our catalog, we know that if not our own novels, at least CQ authors’ books will find their way onto Kindles, iPhones, and bookshelves of more and more fiction lovers everywhere!
And for now… well, at least my little tragic Dandelion has finally found its audience. Who knows what that bodes for Gatecrashers…

O is for Oxford Comma

OSome grammar rules are a given. Use active voice. Link ideas with a conjunction. Use a comma to connect two ideas as one.

But one grammar rule divides writers and experts. The Oxford or serial comma.

“In English punctuation, a serial comma or series comma (also called Oxford comma and Harvard comma) is a comma placed immediately before the coordinating conjunction (usually and, or, or nor) in a series of three or more terms. For example, a list of three countries might be punctuated either as “France, Italy, and Spain” (with the serial comma), or as “France, Italy and Spain” (without the serial comma).” – from the Wikipedia entry on Oxford commas.

I’m personally all in favor of the Oxford comma, and think it brings clarity to lists and connected ideas.

There are many examples online showing that the Oxford comma brings clarity to a sentence.









A survey by FiveThirtyEight in 2014 showed a link between people who prefer the Oxford comma, and people who think their own grammar is excellent.



Even though the Oxford comma is popular, and it’s clear to see its advantages, people remain uncertain if it’s correct, and it’s use is often personal preference.


N is for Nikki’s Story!

N“Nikki, stop reading, you’re going to fall down the stairs!” “Have you been reading this whole time, class started 20 minutes ago!” This was basically my childhood in a nutshell. Oddly enough, when the time came for the big question, “what do you want to do with your life?”, my first instinct wasn’t to look into the book industry.   Honestly, I didn’t even think it was a possibility or a real career, and by the time I figured it out, the industry was really competitive.

So, I studied marketing and loved every minute of it. When graduation loomed, hard work and crazy random happenstance sent me in the direction of Curiosity Quills Press as a marketing and executive assistant. My brain thought, “hmm, I like books, I like marketing, this will be great”….and it was 100% correct. I love my job every day, even on bad days, I can still say I am passionate about what I do. However, this sort of occupational luxury did come with a cost of sorts. Seeing the behind-the-scenes of book creation and the trials and tribulations of authors gives me a whole new perspective on books, and a critical eye. For a while I viewed every single error in every book I read and judged it solely based on how perfect it was ‘on paper’.

I can’t even count a hands worth of times that I’ve reviewed a novel before I was in the industry. I’ve seen two author signings, recommended maybe 4 books in my whole life, and that’s about the most community participation I had done at the time. I had to re-learn to appreciate books for more than their editing quality, or how many widows were left in the formatting. I’ve been a huge book nerd since I could read, but it had always been about escaping for me, about how the book makes me feel. Thankfully, hearing my authors talk about why they wrote the book, and what the characters’ struggles meant to me gave me a whole new insight into the literary world that unfortunately most readers aren’t able to see. My escape came back with a vengeance, and I now read more than ever.tumblr_n6gceb8p9H1sk9teio1_500

In fact, when it came time to find a new slogan for CQ, ‘Find Your Escape’ seemed like the best possible solution. I think the most important thing I’ve learned both as a marketer and a publisher is that it’s not about finding the perfect book. It’s about finding the perfect book for you, over and over again, and that the emotion it brings to you is way more valuable and any sort of statistic. To my delight, I’ve also learned in the past two years that today’s readers are so much more fun than I was, and so much more involved. From booktubers (shoutout to Sasha from ABookTopia and Ben from BenjaminofTomes!), to tumblr fans, to end-of-book surveys, our readers are all about telling the world what they think about books and finding each other’s next escape.

I’ve also learned that I’m a giant cliche, because I constantly feel the need to thank our readers for being so amazing, and making dreams come true for all of our authors. I’m not lying when I say every single 5 star review is an author fangirl party for them and us at CQ.

So stay classy book world, thanks for making this an adventure every day (sans the gold-hoarding dragons, those can keep their distance).



M is for Marketing

MHow do I market my book? We get this question in our inbox on a daily basis, and it plagues almost every author out there. Often the answer is a menagerie of social networks, advertising, and blog tours all saying, “Buy my book”.  Problem is, these have become so convoluted and cluttered that it winds up being a messy routine of spam, confusion, and money pits. Here’s another M word for you: Me-Monster. That’s right, Me-Monster. Me-Monsters are the people that make everything about them in a conversation. No one likes them at the dinner table and no one likes them online, so don’t just post about yourself, interact, engage, and in general give a crap about what other people have to say (at least some of them, I’m not sure Miley Cyrus is really bringing heated conversation to the table…).


While we are going to give you some tips and tools on marketing in today’s post, we are not by any means saying this is a recipe for success. There are a lot of factors that go into making a successful book and sometimes the largest one can be luck, but most of the time, it’s writing a dang good book, over and over and over again.


Non-social tips:


Make a professional brand to identify yourself, even if that’s simply your name in a certain font and color. Use it on socials, your blog, your business card, your letterhead.
A note on swag: please don’t simply make a variety of bracelets, tattoos, and stickers with your name on them. It’s sort of weird to ask people to walk around wearing your name, and the whole point of swag is to offer an interesting small gift- make it interesting.


Events, they aren’t always a waste of time, but if you’re sitting in the corner of your booth waiting for fans to rush in, it is exactly that. You better be out there chatting people up, visiting other booths, and brushing up with the organizers if they aren’t too busy (you never know if they’ll remember you come next year when they need a friendly guest author).


Don’t spend thousands of dollars on advertising unless you are really sure it’s going to hit your audience well and you have a strong ad. Advertising can be a potent tool in promoting a novel; however there are many sites are out there claiming book promotion with them leads to a NY Times best seller listing, for the cheap price of an arm, a leg, a thousand bucks and your first born child.


Sometimes the best advertising isn’t done after the book release when you can scream BUY MY BOOK, but well before. Craft ads in sets that focus on the hook of your novel, or that are simply interesting to read/look at based on your cover scheme, so that when the book comes out, they will recognize it from the ads and be intrigued. My favorite example of this is recently is the The Wicked Will Rise Wanted posters by Epic Reads.


Participate around your community if possible, not just because it’s a great thing to do, but also because word of mouth is a great way to get your book out there. Your local reporter might think it’s interesting that the set designer for the local children’s play also writes novels.


Social Tips:


Utilize hashtags – whether you’re talking about your book or something else, join in on conversations and connect with other people via hashtags. I’m sure you all know the one for the #AtoZChallenge, and of course for authors there’s #amwriting, #amediting, #amreading. There’s also genre-based ones, like #PNR for paranormal-romance.


Also, see what’s trending. Don’t reply to EVERY trending topic, but if something trending interests you, like a popular TV show, movie, or book, comment on it. It’s a great way to join in conversations and meet new people.


Be visual – If you’re scrolling through your newsfeed, posts with images will more likely grab your attention. Use free stock images, or designs of your own creation based on your cover, to make eye-catching teasers and graphics.


Post with regularity – Obviously spamming is bad, and posting “buy my books” twenty times a day will do more harm than good, but if people get used to seeing your presence online and you participating it certain things – Tweet chats for example – disappearing for months on end will also do damage.


Join FB groups – Facebook is a treasure trove of groups. Some are purely for promotion, and you can post teasers, sales news, releases blitzes etc. Others are discussion groups where you can meet like-minded people. A good place to start is by joining groups that interest you out of the ones your friends are members of. Then you’ll already know at least one person there!


Take part in regular events – Most social networks have regular events, like “Man Crush Mondays” or “Throw Back Thursdays”. These are great places to connect with others and share a little bit about yourself, without it being obvious self-promotion.


Tools we love:

L is for Lessons Learned

LWhiskey-soused greetings, one and all! My name is J.P. Sloan, and the last two years have been one hell of a ride for yours truly. I signed the first two books of my Dark Choir series with Curiosity Quills in January of 2014. The first book, The Curse Merchant was released in September 2014, and the sequel, The Curse Servant, launched February 2015. With celebration, and a modicum of retrospection, I thought I’d roll back the sundial a tidge and cast an eye back to the long slog that lead me here.


I’ve learned a lot of lessons along the path to publication. Lots. I’ve also had several successes and uplifting moments, but hell… the lessons learned are a lot more fun to read about, right? Thus, here are six lessons I learned trying to get my first novel published:


I THOUGHT I WAS DONE WHEN I FINISHED THE BOOK. Serious rookie error, here. I’d been writing off and on since high school, but never really got serious about sitting down to produce long format fiction until 2002. I decided, “Crap, might as well give this a real go.” Everything I understood about writing a novel came from TV and movies. There’s this one moment you see all the time… that last page hammered out on a typewriter, the author zips it out, presses it flat against a stack of previous pages, takes a drag of a cigarette or a swig of whiskey, and the book is fait accompli. WRONG! What I had written was a first draft… and it was nowhere near complete. You never see the revision and editing passes in TV shows. When you finish typing, you’re nowhere near being done! Write first. Write later.


I TRIED TO EDIT AS I WROTE. Another rookie error. And it went something like this: Type paragraph one. Tighten up first sentence. Type paragraph two. Tighten up paragraph one. Reconsider the first sentence. Type paragraph three. Tighten up all previous sentences. Fast-forward three weeks later, and I’m bald from pulling my hair out and cirrhotic from my sudden onset alcoholism. It took a while for me to realize that I have to keep plugging forward and complete the first draft before I’m allowed to do any revising. Editing while drafting is a slippery slope that leads to developmental quagmire. Write first. Revise later.


I LISTENED TO TOO MUCH ADVICE. I learned this lesson early on in assuming that anyone who expressed an opinion online was an expert. Turns out… not so much. Just because someone has a microphone, that doesn’t you should listen. For every three writer’s blogs in the ‘sphere, you’ll get four opinions on how to publish… and it’s possible none of them is right for you. That’s not to say one should disregard the fundamentals of grammar and the craft of storytelling. I’m just saying… it’s really easy to fill your brain with so many contradictory admonitions that it makes it impossible to get the ball moving. Write first. Advise later.


I TRIED TO BUILD A PLATFORM BEFORE I ACTUALLY HAD ONE. Among the advice I’d absorbed in heaping fistfuls was the dogma that all aspiring authors must develop their online platform before they query. Whereas it may be true that an agent, editor, or Uncle Rufus who works at Foldybucks Publishing wants to see you’ve gathered a following before they extend their interest, I found myself getting sucked into a never-ending phase of content creation for my blog and social media. All the while I was building a “brand” that didn’t sell anything. I was justifying my existence to the world, but wasn’t following through. Write first. Advertise later.


I READ THE REVIEWS. Holy God, was that a lesson learned! Now, I’m not talking about full-time reviewers and seasoned book bloggers whose input is thoughtful, reasoned, and proportionate. I’m talking about Amazon reviews. Don’t get me wrong… I adore every reader who takes a chance on my books. Love them to tears. But from time-to-time you get slap-dash one-star reviews that don’t seem to have required a great deal of thought. Yet for every ten four-to-five star reviews you get, that single one-star review can drain the life out of the rest. That’s how we writers think, and it rather sucks. Here’s the irony… an author searching for discoverability online NEEDS those one-star reviews. Or put more accurately, you need to be genuine, as prospective readers side-eye the living horse hair out of a book that has twenty five-star reviews and nothing else. Write first. Surmise later.


I TRIED TO WRITE IN A VACUUM. Another media trope of the author is the haunted, pasty, coffee-addled miser in the attic office grumbling over typewriter sheets with a half-smoked cigarette dangling from yellowed fingertips. This mad beast glares at the world from his clerestory window, peering into the literary depths of his garden gnome from afar. Turns out, though, you really MUST seek out the company of other writers. First, they help keep you writing with encouragement from people who have been there. Second, they give you valuable input on your manuscript from voices that don’t reside entirely in your own head. Critique partners and beta-readers are worth their weight in gold-laying geese. Write first. Fraternize later.


Thank the High Holy Sky Panther, I managed to stumble my way through the pitfalls and tiger pits along the way, and after requests and rejections, my manuscripts found a home with an indie press, and they are just the right fit for my personality. Perhaps the greatest lesson any aspiring writer can learn is to not give up. Don’t stop. Don’t give up. Keep writing, my friends!

JP Sloan - author picAbout J.P. Sloan:

J.P. Sloan is a speculative fiction author … primarily of urban fantasy, horror and several shades between. His writing explores the strangeness in that which is familiar, at times stretching the limits of the human experience, or only hinting at the monsters lurking under your bed.

A Louisiana native, Sloan relocated to the vineyards and cow pastures of Central Maryland after Hurricane Katrina, where he lives with his wife and son. During the day he commutes to the city of Baltimore, a setting which inspires much of his writing.

In his spare time, Sloan enjoys wine-making and homebrewing, and is a certified beer judge.

Find J.P. Sloan Online:

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

K is for Kindles, Keurigs, and Keywords

Kindles, Keurigs, and Keywords: The things that make a marketer in publishing go round.

KWhat does marketing at a publishing house look like? For me, it’s pretty much Kindles, Keurigs, and keywords, three things that my day-to-day revolve around. They fuel my workweek, my conversations, and how I campaign.

My livelihood and the livelihood of many authors are sustained by the use of the Kindles and its e-reader counterparts, so you can imagine that I wear through mine pretty quickly. I read galleys on my Kindle trying to find that right hook for our latest books, pull quotes from powerful or touching moments to highlight the storytelling, and basically figure out how to make you read one of our books on them (or any other format really). I also spend a lot of time stalking reviewing titles on Amazon to see what keywords I can pull and how they might affect ranking. A big part of marketing is appreciating the algorithms, the analytics behind how changing a mere word can make or break the success of a product, or it’s awareness. Getting someone to notice a book IRL is as easy as a friend handing it to you with a good word about it, but online, there are so many factors that come into play. Authors have to make sure the words they string together in a book are good; I need to make sure the words we choose to help identify the book are the right ones so that our ideal readers (I call them Jane and Ted) can find it when they search for their next read. Everything from book description to category choices to author Twitter bylines can change how a book is positioned and who finds it. Think about the types of books you read and how you find them, what do you search to find them? Do you click a cover that looks good and then read the description, or maybe search a theme you enjoy reading? This is what I have to consider each and every day, and I do it all with the help of the friendly third K in this party, my Keurig, because coffee might as well be the elixir of life. Unfortunately I don’t have the ability to sit down for ‘a cuppa’ as our British web curator and social media gal Clare would say, but thanks to technology I can still work with my authors on a one-on-one level. These three K’s help me make them as strong an author as possible (and be a civil human being before 10AM thanks to the last one!) so I’d say K is a pretty cool letter. Here’s a few more awesome things that start with K’s in case you aren’t convinced:


  • Kool-aid
  • koalas
  • kilts
  • kabobs
  • kayaks
  • kazoos
  • kittens
  • kamakazes
  • Kit-Kats
  • kiolbasi
  • kickball
  • knitted sweaters
  • kangaroos
  • kismet

J is for Jason Purdy and Randee Dawn

JCuriosity Quills has two excellent columnists, Jason Purdy and Randee Dawn, who both post every other week; Jason on Fridays and Randee on Mondays.

Jason’s column – The Purdy Perspective – focuses on reviewing video games and movies, and he brings expertise from his video game Youtube channel Polygonasaurus.

Randee’s column – Between The Lines – focuses on the writing aspect of film and television, and she brings expertise from her career as a full-time entertainment writer  for publications including Variety, The Hollywood ReporterThe Los  Angeles  Times,  Moving Pictures Magazine and NBCNews.com.

Jason Purdy - Author PicAbout Jason Purdy

Jason Purdy is 22 years old, from Northern Ireland. In his free time, he enjoys writing, reading, listening to music, watching films and going to the gym. He enjoys video games more than a grown man should. He’s studying for a BA and hopes to do a PhD. Needless to say, he is a glutton for punishment.

His debut novel, Cigarette was released in April 2013 with Rowanvale books. He has also written for a number of short story anthologies, including All Hallows Evil and Undead of Winter. In 2014, he will feature in Curiosity Quills’ The Actuator Anthology with his short story Anna and Lena, and UoU’s Reflexions 2014 collection.

The Purdy Perspective |Website | Twitter


Randee DawnAbout Randee Dawn

New York-based journalist/critic Randee Dawn is a full-time entertainment  writer  for publications including Variety, The Hollywood ReporterThe Los  Angeles  Times,  Moving Pictures Magazine and NBCNews.com. Over the past 20  years,  she  has worked for Soap Opera Digest, National Public Radio’s Living on  Earth  and WGBH-TV’s Ten O’Clock News, and covered the entertainment   industry  for The Boston Phoenix, E! Online, New Musical Express and Mojo.
She contributed to the first edition of Les Series Tele, a French book  about  American television, her short fiction has been published and podcast  in  publications such as 3AM Magazine and Well Told Tales. She co-authored  The Law & Order: SVU Unofficial Companion (BenBella Books, 2009).
She has a broadcast journalism degree from Boston University and a paralegal  certificate from New York University.
She currently resides in the greatest city in the world with the love of her life.

Between The Lines | Website | Twitter