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Our Favorite Reads of 2023

A graphic showing 9 book covers over a rainbow gradient background, with the text "Our Fave Reads of 2023." The book covers are: Shubeik Lubeik by Deena Mohamed; Consort of Fire by Kit Rocha; The Spear Cuts Through the Water by Simon Jimenez; Light From Uncommon Stars by Ryka Aoki; Mo Du by Priest; Hijab Butch Blues by Almya H; Death by Silver by Melissa Scott and Amy Griswold; The Wolf of Oren-Yaro by K. S. Villoso; and Gideon the Ninth by Tasmyn Muir. Graphic 1/2 for this post.
A graphic showing 12 book covers over a rainbow gradient background. The books are: November by Thomas Olde Heuvelt; Camp Damascus by Chuck Tingle; To Drive the Hundred Miles by Alec J. Marsh; Siren Queen by Nghi Vo; The Heart-Break Bakery by A. R. Capetta; Many Drops Make a Stream by Adrian Harley; Heaven Official's Blessing by Mo Xiang Tong Xiu; Add Magic to Taste; A Power Unbound by Freya Marske; The Last Sun by K. D. Edwards; Silver in the Wood by Emily Tesh; and Open Throat by Henry Hoke. Graphic 2/2 for this post.

Inspired by this post from the Queer Liberation Library, we asked our awesome rec-list contributors to name their one favorite read of 2023, and the result is a list wonderful in its diversity of formats, genres, characters, stories, and authors. Check um out!

What was YOUR favorite read of 2023? Dare ya to try to pick only one!

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Happy International Asexuality Day! Celebrate with 10 Ace Characters!

Duck Prints Press, an aroace-owned small press, would love you to join us in celebrating International Asexuality Day, today, April 6th, 2023! We publish a range of works featuring queer characters from across the LGBTQIA+ spectrum, so of course that includes stories with asexual characters. Come, read their stories!

No One Right Way by R. L. Houck (erotica featuring a sex-positive asexual main character!)

“On Not Going to Parties” by Stephen G. Krueger, in the anthology He Bears the Cape of Stars (a short story featuring an asexual character in a queerplatonic relationship!)

“Bånd” by Florence Vale, in the anthology Add Magic to Taste (a short story featuring an asexual character finding an accepting significant other!)

Fortune Favors Felines by R. L. Houck (erotica featuring an asexual dom and their adoring sub!)

Two short stories – “The Journal of Don Pedro: Or, The Straights Are At It Again” by Nova Mason and “find ourselves unstuck” by nottesilhouette – and an art work – “Melancholy” by Joshua Beeking – in the anthology And Seek (Not) to Alter Me: Queer Fanworks Inspired by William Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing (two short stories feature asexual Don Pedro looking in from the outside at his friends’ relationship shenanigans, the other is in a modern setting and stars ace!Hero!)

Let the Solstice Come by D. V. Morse (starring an aroace character who really just want a good meal and a solid night of sleep!)

Commit to the Kick by Tris Lawrence (a novel about an aro main character and his ace best friend!)

Puppetry by Nina Waters (a novelette with an ace magical robot and her equally ace bff and their not-officially-a-qpr-but-it’s-a-qpr happy ending!)

Bonus! We’ve got an eleventh title coming soon! The forthcoming twin flame by nottesilhouette, which will be published on our website on April 15th, 2023, tells of an ace character and their friends-to-lovers relationship with their best friend!

It’s a great day to read an ace story! Happy International Asexuality Day, everyone!

Who We Are: Duck Prints Press LLC is an independent publisher based in New York State. Our founding vision is to help fan creators publishing their original works. We are particularly dedicated to working with queer authors and publishing stories featuring characters from across the LGBTQIA+ spectrum. Want to always hear the latest? Sign up for our monthly newsletter! Want to support the Press, read about us behind-the-scenes, learn what’s coming down the pipeline, get exclusive teasers, and claim free stories? Back us on Patreon monthly!

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“Aim For The Heart” Contributor Biographies

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Meet the authors and artists who are contributing to Aim For The Heart: Queer Fanworks Inspired by Alexandre Dumas’s “The Three Musketeers”!

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Artists

Aceriee

Hi! I’m Aceriee and I draw sometimes. I’ve been drawing all my life, but after falling into the Supernatural fandom in 2014 I’ve mostly focused on fanart.

Links: Instagram | Tumblr | Twitter

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Cris Alborja

I’m an illustration and comic artist from Spain. I’ve got a nursing degree, but I decided to pursue my passion. I have studied Illustration at EASD Pablo Picasso in A Coruña and comics at O Garaxe Hermético in Pontevedra. I have done cover art for an anthology called Infiniteca by Retranca Editorial and comics for Altar Mutante, Nai dos Desterrados, and Abraxas en Cuarentena fanzines, as well as in Gaspariño 21 by Retranca Editorial.

Link: Instagram

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bloomingtea

Téa is a hypothetical writer and artist, a professional procrastinator, and a merch hoarder. When they aren’t working on personal projects, they moderate zines and bake the same loaf of bread over and over again. From their pile of WIPs, they’ve managed to self-publish one book and are currently working on other manuscripts to eventually release into the world. Until then, they remain the worst gamer on Twitch and like to spend their free time ranting about books and thinking about fictional lawyer video games.

Link: Personal Website | Twitter

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C

A massive drinker of coffee and a lover of old TV shows and movies, C is a small-time concept artist and illustrator who likes to dabble in all things literature and history. When she’s not busy drawing and nodding along to Bruce Springsteen while researching the Kentucky Cave Wars, she’s trying to save up for grad school to become to a forensic artist so she can draw some more.

Link: Tumblr

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Amy Fincher

Amy Fincher (she/her) is a producer and artist with over a dozen years of experience in the video game and animation industries. She has contributed to various AAA and indie titles, including the Civilization, XCOM, and Skylanders series. Amy is currently working on Open Roads as Executive Producer. When the mood strikes and time allows, she teaches art classes and takes on art commissions on the side. Her hobbies include learning aerial silks, collecting aesthetically pleasing empty containers, looking at shiny rocks, and taking very long naps.

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Kou Lukeman

Kou Lukeman is an artist, composer, writer, and video-game developer. His long-term goal is to someday lead a video-game company that makes video games by queer and neurodivergent people. Kou identifies as queer, neurodivergent, and is proud to be both. He is an avid Final Fantasy 14 player, a huge Kingdom Hearts fan, and video games have inspired Kou to create from a very young age. While his main creative interests tend to be in queer and neurodivergent horror, Kou also dabbles in fantasy as a genre. He is currently working on releasing his first few games and a graphic horror novel about neurodiversity and queer people in society.

Link: Instagram

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Giulia Malagoli

Giulia Malagoli (she/they) got into art because of generally friendly competition with a classmate in middle school, and now she has an entire Bachelor’s Degree in Concept Art to show for it. 

For about ten years, she has been hopping through fandom spaces—from video games, to comics, to movies and TV series—and has drawn inspiration from each of them for both fan and original art. The result is a passion for character design and for art that weaves a story into its visuals, with a whole lot of feelings about the role of The Narrative to boot. 

To chase this passion Giulia has moved from their home country of Italy to the United Kingdom and back again. They now work as a freelance illustrator with enthusiasm, always scraping some time at the end of the day to keep up with fandom friends.

Links: ArtStation | Twitter

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MidnightSilver

I’m MidnightSilver (They/Them). I’m a freelance artist who specialises in fandom art, most often inspired by Supernatural the TV show, and I can usually be found illustrating stories for independent authors—my favourites are those that combine adventure/magic/horror with a boatload of feels! As a bi, non-binary, mixed-race person, I don’t believe in restrictive boundaries, and I love tales that highlight diversity and freedom of expression while at the same time incorporating the fantastical and magical elements that I fell in love with when reading stories as a child. It’s my aim to take all the many wondrous worlds and people with whom we visit when lost in book pages at 2 o’clock in the morning and to share them with you in visual form. It’s a project I never tire of pursuing.

Links: Archive of Our Own | deviantArt

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Queen Sponge Studios

Thanks for reading my bio! My name is Sponge, and I use they/them pronouns! I am currently studying for a Game Arts degree through online courses at SNHU. Along with working at a thrift store, I enjoy working on projects with others. Based in Northern Wisconsin, I majorly entertain myself through art and media pertaining to it. On the long list of my hobbies, I enjoy staying active as well as collecting. I am an avid, crazed Sanrio fanatic with a long list of fandoms dating all the way back to when I was ten. I may be more reserved, but I love making new connections through creation! Meeting like-minded individuals working toward a common goal has been the most fulfilling experience I have had to date. As a young artist, I have dabbled in vending at conventions, game art, and selling my own merchandise online. I hope to one day fully chase after my ambitions of artistry full-time through a studio! Thank you for your support and interest in my work!

Links: Etsy | Instagram | TikTok

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Jennifer Smith

Smith has been drawing since a young age. With a focus in traditional drawing techniques, she has recently started using digital mediums to imitate traditional styles. Her focus is in portraiture and landscapes, especially with watercolor. You can find more of her art on her Tumblr.

Link: Tumblr

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Toby.exe

Freelance Animator and Illustrator based in the UK. He/They LGBTQ+ friendly little goblin who plays excessive amounts of DnD and loves to play Live Action Roleplay events all over the country! If I am not at home drawing, I am out and about playing a variety of fantasy characters in the woods and hitting people with silly foam swords.

Links: Personal Website | Instagram | Patreon | Twitter

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Jupiter V

Hailing from Kjipuktuk/Halifax, Nova Scotia (that’s in Canada), Jupiter V is an artist, musician, and creative crackerjack with a career spanning over a decade. Cutting their teeth designing award-winning gig posters, they’ve gone on to illustrate for film, graphic fiction, children’s literature, and more. At times, they have been caught painting murals at the circus (?!) and whooping their child mercilessly in Rivals of Aether. 

Jupiter is currently toiling away at their next graphic work of fiction, Wizards 99k, as we speak.

Link: Instagram

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Amy Alexander Weston

Alex, AKA foxymoley, (she/her) is best described as a jack of all trades, but practices digital art more than anything else. She just wants to make things and change the world for the better. 

Links: Archive of Our Own | Instagram | Tumblr

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Amalia Zeichneren

Amalia Zeichnerin (she/her) lives in Hamburg, Germany. She is a disabled queer woman with a chronic illness and lives in a polyam polycule. Amalia mostly writes original fiction (SFF, cosy Victorian mysteries, Queer Romance) in German and has also one English Star Wars fan fiction on AO3, with one of her favorite shippings, StormPilot. Amalia also likes to draw and paint, especially fantasy world maps, character portraits, and sometimes also fanart. Amalia’s hobbies include pen-and-paper RPG and LARPing; these also have inspired some of her writing and artworks.

Link: Linktree

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Jagoda Zirebiec

Hiya! I’m Jagoda or MizuShiba. I am a game dev artist currently working on a few unannounced titles. In my spare time I love to join collaborative projects like this, or charity Zines. This is my first project with DPP and hopefully not last! 

I’m located in Poland and currently live here with my family. Aside from art, I’m interested in collecting dice and playing ttrpgs with friends. 

Links: ArtStation | Tumblr | Twitter

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Authors

Len Amin

Len Amin was brought up living between worlds in her small suburban town in the Midwest throughout the year, and summering frequently to visit her Palestinian Family living in the West Bank. Her family is larger-than-life in true Arabian fashion, including a very prissy puppy named Charles who refuses to sleep alone and chews up all of her sister’s barbie dolls. Though never quite feeling like she belonged in either world, she instead fell in love with the stories with the people that resided in these places—how the humanity can be found so effortlessly if one just delved that bit deeper into someone’s “once upon a time.” Etching down words into her flower-printed journals and shuffling a fresh spread from her star-printed tarot deck for her friends were always her way to connect to someone and to open up that channel of understanding. Len is now about to hit her mid-twenties, and has nothing to lose as she strives for her Social Work degree while also focusing on her true passion of writing her first full-length novel. You can find the updates on her writing journey, and support her endeavors on her Tumblr page.

Links: Archive of Our Own | Tumblr | Twitter

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Aria L. Deair

Aria L. Deair is an author who has been writing and (while cursing her excessive comma usage) publishing fanfiction online for more than sixteen years. Freelance writer by day and author every other hour that she isn’t sleeping, she spends her days courting carpal tunnel and “forgetting” to wear her wrist brace.

As a proud member of more fandoms than she can count, Aria can be found blogging about some of the writing that she is avoiding doing at arialerendeair.tumblr.com.

Like a dragon with her hoard, she can be found in her New Hampshire apartment, surrounded by notebooks (most of which are empty), half-filled mugs of tea, and some of the comfiest blankets that have ever existed. Disturb her at your own risk, especially during NaNo Season.

Links: Discord: Dragon#5555 | Tumblr | Twitter

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E. V. Dean

E. V. Dean is a writer with a decade of fanfiction writing under her belt. She’s embarking on her original fiction adventure with the angst tag kept within arm’s reach. Her favorite excuse not to write is watching Jeopardy.

Links: Instagram | Tumblr

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Rhosyn Goodfellow

Rhosyn Goodfellow is an author of queer romance and speculative fiction living with her spouse and two dogs in the Pacific Northwest, where she is sad to report that she has not yet mysteriously disappeared or encountered any cryptids. Her hobbies include spoiling the aforementioned dogs, drinking inadvisable amounts of coffee, and running unreasonably long distances very slowly. She’s secretly just a collection of loosely-related stories dressed up in a meat suit.

Links: Personal Website | Instagram | Mastodon | Tumblr | Twitter

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Catherine E. Green

Catherine E. Green (pronouns: xe/xem/xyr or they/them/their) is an agender person, one who’s had an on-again, off-again love affair with writing. Xe began writing when xe was a wee thing, when xyr other major pastimes were playing xyr mother’s NES and roughhousing with the boys next door. It’s only in the past few years that they have begun writing consistently and publishing their writing, fanfiction and original writing alike, leading to their first published short story titled “Of Loops and Weaves.” 

Outside of writing, xe is a collector of books and sleep debt and an avid admirer of the cosmos. Playing video games, reading a variety of fiction genres (primarily fantasy, queer romance, and manga and graphic novels of all kinds), and working on wrangling their own personal data archiving projects occupy most of their free time. Xe has also started meeting up with a local fiber arts group and is excited to be crocheting xyr first scarf.

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J. D. Harlock

J.D. Harlock is a Syrian-Lebanese-Palestinian writer and editor based in Beirut. In addition to his posts at Wasifiri, as an editor-at-large, and at Solarpunk Magazine, as a poetry editor, his writing has been featured in Strange Horizons, Star*Line, and the SFWA Blog. You can always find him on Twitter and Instagram posting updates on his latest projects.

Links: Instagram | Twitter

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A. L. Heard

A. L. Heard is an aspiring writer from Pittsburgh. She’s been writing fanworks for over a decade and self-published her first novel, Hockey Bois, in 2021. Some of her short stories have been published through the indie press Duck Prints Press, where she also contributes as an editor. Ultimately, though, she spends her free time writing about characters she adores in worlds she’d like to explore: contemporary romance, historical fiction, science fiction, and fantasy. In between writing projects, she works as a language teacher, plays hockey, tours breweries with her boyfriend, and spends her evenings playing dinosaurs with her two sons.

Links: Instagram | Twitter

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D. A. Hernández

AKA Mitch, an author who works as a teacher, reads fanfiction compulsively, tells anyone who will listen about their weird dreams, takes long naps, and once in a while manages to write a story or two. You can find another of their stories in the Duck Prints Press anthology She Wears the Midnight Crown. 

Mitch’s playlist includes metal, pop, electronic, bluegrass, reggaeton and cumbia. 

Link: Twitter

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R. L. Houck

R. L. Houck (she/her) still has one of the first stories she ever wrote, all the way back from elementary school. It was about flightless penguins reaching the sun and was a good indication of her boundless imagination and her love of animals. The latter became a full-time veterinary career; the former keeps her occupied with fanfiction and original fiction in her downtime. 

She’s sometimes found wandering the woods around her house in Virginia with her dog. If not there, she’s sitting on the couch, catching up on a Netflix series, and smothered by her five cats. Sometimes, there’s even space for her wife.

Links: TikTok

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Lucy K. R.

Lucy K.R. (she/her) is technically in existence. Every time she is free, she writes. Sometimes when she is not free she also writes. This has occasionally created problems. She is fortunate to be supported (read: enabled) by her enthusiastic fiancée Tomo, a loving OG family, and a lively found family as well.

Eager for a change after a decade of waitressing, Lucy K.R. took the chance in March of 2021 to make her first steps into the world of published work. Prior to the success of the largely-fabricated German translation of the short-story found in this collection, ‘die Karaoke-Königinnen’, she was best known for her work on Mageling: Rise of the Ancient Ones and in the Duck Prints Press anthologies “And Seek (Not) to Alter Me” and “She Wears the Midnight Crown”.

In her stories, Lucy K. enjoys writing evil ideas as gently as possible, portrayed through unexpected lenses. She would like to acknowledge that she has never written a biographical statement that did not turn out weird, beg your indulgence, and express her hope that you enjoy her work in this anthology. The people at Duck Prints Press have been a delight, and she is deeply grateful to be included!

Links: Personal Website | Twitter

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Aeryn Jemariel Knox

Aeryn Jemariel Knox first identified as a writer in second grade. With both parents involved in theater and a house full of bookshelves, they grew up surrounded by stories, and as soon as they could hold a crayon, they felt the urge to tell their own. In 2001, they discovered the wide and wonderful world of fanfiction; since then, they have gone by Jemariel in fandom spaces across the internet, engaging with their favorite media and communities in the best way they know. Previous fandoms include Harry Potter, Star Trek (The Original Series), Torchwood, and BBC’s Sherlock, but their most prolific writing and strongest community ties are in the Supernatural fandom. Now, nearly a decade after their last original fiction attempt, Aeryn is eager to explore the wider writing word. 

A native of Portland, Oregon, Aeryn currently lives in the suburbs with their husband and 16-year-old cat. For a day job, they work as a tech writer and general paper-pusher for an energy drink factory. Their favorite stories, both to tell and to read, are stories about love, identity, and magic.

Links: Archive of Our Own | Tumblr

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Annabeth Lynch

Annabeth Lynch is a genderfae (she/they), bisexual author who writes mostly queer stories, preferring to write marginalized characters finding love. She lives in North Carolina with her husband, daughter, and two very overweight cats.

Links: Facebook | Instagram

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Sebastian Marie

Sebastian Marie (he/him) is an engineering student with a penchant for writing off-the-wall fantasy, darkly comedic prose, and sickeningly indulgent short stories. He has a lot of opinions about dragons, pirates, and sword fighting. Track him down on Ao3 and he’ll share these opinions through fanfiction for various fandoms including BBC Merlin, The Mechanisms, and Our Flag Means Death. His original works often combine fantasy and dystopia into what he calls “queer fantasy hopepunk,” something that will be explored in his future novels. He loves to write conflicting traditional and non-traditional family dynamics, especially where they intersect with queer relationships. And if he can throw werewolves and brujas into the mix? So much the better. When not writing, frantically studying dirt, or reading, he can be found singing loudly, sewing impractical coats, playing Dungeons and Dragons, and going on long rambling walks while plotting stories (and occasionally falling into rivers). 

This is his second time writing for Duck Prints Press, having previously contributed to She Wears the Midnight Crown. This brings his grand total of published works up to two! He’s looking forward to more, as soon as he gets some sleep. 

Links: Archive of Our Own | Tumblr

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Nova Mason

Nova Mason spent a significant portion of her childhood fantasizing about dragons, spaceships, and other worlds. She is now, allegedly, a grown-up, with two kids, and more varied interests. Dragons, spaceships, and other worlds are still pretty high in the list, though.

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Sage Mooreland

Sage Mooreland (they/them) is a city-dwelling gremlin from Chicago. They are embarking on the adventure that is their 40s equipped with three amazing partners, one very ridiculous eighteen-year-old biological offspring, and a fleet of teenagers and twentysomethings that adopted them through work over the last several years. Sage put themselves through the torture of grad school, and now holds a Bachelor’s in English and a Master’s in English and Creative Writing – Fiction, to which they say, “Now I have expensive pieces of paper that make it seem like I know what I’m talking about.” 

Sage has been writing since they were wee small, entering their first writing contest in fifth grade/at ten years old. In high school and college, they made small offerings to school literary magazines, and have done eighteen years of National Novel Writing Month. As their writing career grows, they hope to provide stories that are entertaining, caring, inclusive of all, and full of the stuff of which dreams are made. 

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D. V. Morse

D. V. Morse (she/her) is a writer of fantasy and science fiction, generally (though not always) with some romance in there somewhere. She’s been in various aspects of healthcare for a couple of decades, most recently nursing. A lifelong New Englander who has been writing for as long as she can remember, she loves to find the liminal spaces in the local landscape and find the stories lurking within. She also loves playing with fiber arts, cycling through knitting, crochet, cross-stitch, and blackwork. She has also contributed to “Stand Where You’re Afraid,” in I Am the Fire, a limited edition charity anthology by a collective of SF/F romance authors raising funds for the National Network of Abortion Funds.

Links: Carrd | Blog | Twitter | Facebook 

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MouMouSanRen

MouMouSanRen (she/her) was born and raised on unceded Matinecock territory in what is now known as Flushing, New York. She has been published in multiple non-fiction magazines including Polygon. Aim for the Heart is her fiction debut. She resides in her native Queens, practicing martial arts and taking care of her dogs.

Link: Twitter

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J. D. Rivers

J. D. writes speculative fiction where they fall deeply and madly in love and find a dead body, not necessarily in that order.

She collects hobbies as others collect books and has an unhealthy addiction to watching competitive cooking shows.

J. D. lives close to the woods with her husband and the cutest dog in the world.

Links: Personal Website | Twitter

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Veronica Sloane

Veronica Sloane has authored a novel, several short stories, some poetry, and twenty-two years worth of fanfic. She lives with one lovely spouse, one rambunctious clever child, and one sleepy cat.

Links: Archive of Our Own | Tumblr

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Shea Sullivan

Shea Sullivan is a life-long writer living in upstate New York. As a late-blooming queer person, she enjoys writing about complex characters coming into themselves and finding comfort in being exactly who they are.

Shea’s day jobs in computer programming and middle management have molded her into the patient, sarcastic, big-hearted, frustrated human she is today, but it’s what she does outside the 9-5 that really excites her. When she’s not writing, she can be found painting, napping, making quilts, watching documentaries, and trying not to adopt more animals, usually with a cup of tea in hand.

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Xianyu Zhou

Xianyu Zhou is a translator and aspiring garment and plushie cloning specialist hailing from a coastal city in the tropics. Despite staying a 20-minute drive away from the nearest beach, they have yet to visited one, preferring to dwell in their darkened room luminated by a table lamp and ever-shifting RGB of a CPU fan. They have the tendency to accidentally wander into new and exciting forays such as joining Duck Prints Press (and enjoying it!), learning to sew (stitching and unstitching the same part of a “coaster” for the nth time) and working on their language skills (watching shows to scruntinize take notes about how their subtitles are written). 

Xianyu’s contribution to the anthology is their first publication, and they have reportedly made a party hat for their computer to celebrate the occasion. 

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Monthly Storygraph Giveaway: And Seek (Not) to Alter Me

Duck Prints Press returns to the second round of Storygraph giveaways with our second anthology And Seek (Not) to Alter Me: Queer Fanworks Inspired by William Shakepeare’s “Much Ado About Nothing.

What is Storygraph? The awesome independently owned-and-operated alternative to Amazon-owned Goodreads! Working with them as a publisher doing this giveaways has been phenomenal: they’re organized, receptive to feedback, interested in innovative, and responsive. We’re thrilled to continue working with them on giveaways. If you’ve wanted a Goodreads alternative for organizing your reading, posting your reviews, logging your book collections, and more, you should definitely check them out.

What is Duck Prints Press? We’re the indie publisher dedicated to helping creators transition from creating primarily fanworks to creating primarily original works! We especially focus on publishing works featuring LGBTQIA+ characters.

What is And Seek (Not) to Alter Me? In And Seek (Not) to Alter Me, 16 authors and 16 artists have come together to create an exquisite, full-color collection of artwork and stories inspired by William Shakespeare’s play Much Ado About Nothing. We encouraged contributors to stretch their imaginations, think outside the box, and put their own unique—and queer—twists on Benedick, Beatrice, Hero, Claudio, Don Pedro, and the whole gang! In true Shakespearean fashion, our creators utilize gender, sexuality, romanticism, and a host of costume changes to tell unique artworks and stories—some featuring original characters, some characters from the play—that show Shakespeare’s work in a whole new light.

Want your own copy of this awesome, innovative collection? Enter our giveaway on Storygraph NOW – or, if you don’t want to wait that long and leave it to chance, you can always buy your own copy immediately from our webstore!

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“And Seek (Not) to Alter Me: Queer Fanworks Inspired by Shakespeare’s ‘Much Ado About Nothing'” – Now Available in Our Webstore!

Did you miss our crowdfunding campaign for And Seek (Not) to Alter Me: Queer Fanworks Inspired by William Shakespeare’s “Much Ado About Nothing”? Was there merch you wanted that you didn’t get? Have you been eagerly awaiting it’s arrival in our webstore (haven’t we all been?)? Well YOUR TIME HAS COME!

In And Seek (Not) to Alter Me, 16 authors and 16 artists have come together to create an exquisite, full-color collection of artwork and stories inspired by William Shakespeare’s play Much Ado About Nothing. We encouraged contributors to stretch their imaginations, think outside the box, and put their own unique—and queer—twists on Benedick, Beatrice, Hero, Claudio, Don Pedro, and the whole gang! In true Shakespearean fashion, our creators utilize gender, sexuality, romanticism, and a host of costume changes to tell unique artworks and stories—some featuring original characters, some characters from the play—that show Shakespeare’s work in a whole new light.

And now, you can get your very own e-book copy from our webstore! Only $9.99 for 16 phenomenal stories and 20 gorgeous art pieces!

We’ve also listed four merchandise items from the original crowdfunding campaign that we have extras of – if you want ‘um, you’d better grab ‘um, because once these extras are sold out, we will never be making more!

Art Prints of the Front Cover

(featuring the gorgeous artwork by Gio Guimarães in all it’s colorful, queer glory!)


Art Prints of the Back Cover

(featuring even more of Gio Guimarães‘s wonderful work!)


“Taming My Wild Heart to thy Loving Hand” Bookmark

(with artwork by Alicia Matheson and the signatures of our contributors!)


Bard Dux Sticker

(created by Alessa Riel)


Don’t Miss Out! Visit Our Store Today!

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Dialog Prompts: Creature Culture Clash!

Aliens, shifters, and monsters live among us. Perhaps they have since the dawn of time, or perhaps they’ve recently arrived from the stars or found themselves the owner of a shiny new fur coat during the last full moon. However long they’ve been around, and whatever their reason for being here, one thing’s for certain: when human and creature lives become entangled, shenanigans are bound to happen. Here are some fun prompts to inspire stories about the messy, sometimes hilarious, and always intriguing ways alien and creature lives can collide with our own.

  • “So, my grandpa has this story he tells at family gatherings without fail … it goes like this … … so now he’s convinced aliens/monsters really do exist.”

“Well, about that … funny story…”

  • “I thought you knew! I told you at the club on your birthday. I’ve been open about it ever since.”

“I thought you were joking!”

“For four months? All of these conversations and you thought it was a joke and went along with it for four months?!?!”

  • “When you said not to worry, you just had a few legal troubles to sort out, I didn’t expect to end up in a cell on a starship two-thousand light years from Earth.”
  • “All right, I’ve had enough. It’s time you show me what you do out there in the woods every month. No more secrets.”
  • “Why is that person looking at me like I’m a piece of meat. Like, literally, a piece of meat.”

*coughs* “Oh, well, you know, they’re a…”

  • “I’ve always been drawn to the stars.”

“Perhaps there’s a reason. There’s something I’ve been meaning to tell you, but you might want to sit down first.”

  • “So… this is what you really look like in the morning? I…uh…think I can get used to it.”
  • “Wait, the penalty for doing that is what where you come from?”

“It’s death, obviously!”

“But they hardly did anything wrong!”

“Uhhhhhhh.”

  • “You are going to tell me right now why you stole my identity and…uh…my face.”
  • “Local cryptids need love too, so I made a dating app for them.”
  • “Wait, so humans can hide their extra eyelids too?“

“What do you mean, humans?!!?“

  • “Ugh I hate when I have these dreams where my [alien/monster feature] won’t go away! Wait. This isn’t a dream!”
  • *Growls* “I very carefully planted all those myths and legends to scare folks so they’d leave me alone.
  • “You’re under arrest for breaking interstellar code 327.25 section B subsection 12. You have the right to…”
  • “That is the most ridiculous alien costume I’ve ever seen. Aliens don’t look anything like that!”

“How would you know?”

  • “Why [name] what big ears you have…”

“You know, that joke is getting old.”

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There’s so much potential in confusion between people of different species. These are just some ideas – we hope you loved them!

Now, go forth and write some things!!

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Prompts by @owlishintergalactic, @alessariel, @unforth, and @ramblingandpie

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Ten Things We Hate About Trad Pub

Often when I say “I’ve started a small press; we publish the works of those who have trouble breaking into traditional publishing!” what people seem to hear is “me and a bunch of sad saps couldn’t sell our books in the Real World so we’ve made our own place with lower standards.” For those with minimal understanding of traditional publishing (trad pub), this reaction is perhaps understandable? But, truly, there are many things to hate about traditional publishing (and, don’t get me wrong – there are things to love about trad pub, too, but that’s not what this list is about) and it’s entirely reasonable for even highly accomplished authors to have no interest in running the gauntlet of genre restrictions, editorial control, hazing, long waits, and more, that make trad pub at best, um, challenging, and at worst, utterly inaccessible to many authors – even excellent ones.

Written in collaboration with @jhoomwrites, with input from @ramblingandpie, here is a list of ten things that we at Duck Prints Press detest about trad pub, why we hate it, and why/how we think things should be different!

(Needless to say, part of why we created Duck Prints Press was to…not do any of these things… so if you’re a writer looking for a publishing home, and you hate these things, too, and want to write with a Press that doesn’t do them…maybe come say hi?)

1. Work lengths dictated by genre and/or author experience.

Romance novels can’t be longer than 90,000 words or they won’t sell! New authors shouldn’t try to market a novel longer than 100,000 words!

A good story is a good story is a good story. Longer genre works give authors the chance to explore their themes and develop their plots. How often an author has been published shouldn’t put a cap on the length of their work.

2. Editors assert control of story events…except when they don’t.

If you don’t change this plot point, the book won’t market well. Oh, you’re a ten-time bestseller? Write whatever you want, even if it doesn’t make sense we know people will buy it.

Sometimes, a beta or an editor will point out that an aspect of a story doesn’t work – because it’s nonsensical, illogical, Deus ex Machina, etc. – and in those cases it’s of course reasonable for an editor to say, “This doesn’t work and we recommend changing it, for these reasons…” However, when that list of reasons begins and ends with, “…because it won’t sell…” that’s a problem, especially because this is so often applied as a double standard. We’ve all read bestsellers with major plot issues, but those authors get a “bye” because editors don’t want to exert to heavy a hand and risk a proven seller, but with a new, less experienced, or worse-selling author, the gloves come off (even though evidence suggests time and again that publishers’ ability to predict what will sell well is at best low and at worst nonexistent.)

3. A billion rejection letters as a required rite of passage (especially when the letters aren’t helpful in pinpointing why a work has been rejected or how the author can improve).

Well, my first book was rejected by a hundred Presses before it was accepted! How many rejection letters did you get before you got a bite? What, only one or two? Oh…

How often one succeeds or fails to get published shouldn’t be treated as a form of hazing, and we all know that how often someone gets rejected or accepted has essentially no bearing on how good a writer they are. Plenty of schlock goes out into the world after being accepted on the first or second try…and so does plenty of good stuff! Likewise, plenty of schlock will get rejected 100 times but due to persistence, luck, circumstances, whatever, finally find a home, and plenty of good stuff will also get rejected 100 times before being publishing. Rejections (or lack there of) as a point of pride or as a means of judging others needs to die as a rite of passage among authors.

4. Query letters, for so many reasons.

Summarize all your hard work in a single page! Tell us who you’re like as an author and what books your story is like, so we can gauge how well it’ll sell based on two sentences about it! Format it exactly the way we say or we won’t even consider you!

For publishers, agents, and editors who have slush piles as tall as Mount Everest…we get it. There has to be a way to differentiate. We don’t blame you. Every creative writing class, NaNoWriMo pep talk, and college lit department combine to send out hundreds of thousands of people who think all they need to do to become the next Ernest Hemingway is string a sentence together. There has to be some way to sort through that pile…but God, can’t there be a better way than query letters? Especially since even with query letters being used it often takes months or years to hear back, and…

5. “Simultaneous submissions prohibited.”

No, we don’t know when we’ll get to your query, but we’ll throw it out instantly if you have the audacity to shop around while you wait for us.

The combination of “no simultaneous submissions” with the query letter bottleneck makes success slow and arduous. It disadvantages everyone who aims to write full-time but doesn’t have another income source (their own, or a parents’, or a spouse’s, or, or or). The result is that entire classes of people are edged out of publishing solely because the process, especially for writers early in their career, moves so glacially that people have to earn a living while they wait, and it’s so hard to, for example, work two jobs and raise a family and also somehow find the time to write. Especially considering that the standard advice for dealing with “no simultaneous submissions” is “just write something else while you wait!” …the whole system screams privilege.

6. Genres are boxes that must be fit into and adhered to.

Your protagonist is 18? Then obviously your book is Young Adult. It doesn’t matter how smutty your book is, erotica books must have sex within the first three chapters, ideally in the first chapter. Sorry, we’re a fantasy publisher, if you have a technological element you don’t belong here…

While some genre boxes have been becoming more like mesh cages of late, with some flow of content allowed in and out, many remain stiff prisons that constrict the kinds of stories people can tell. Even basic cross-genre works often struggle to find a place, and there’s no reason for it beyond “if we can’t pigeon-hole a story, it’s harder to sell.” This edges out many innovative, creative works. It also disadvantages people who aren’t as familiar with genre rules. And don’t get me wrong – this isn’t an argument that, for example, the romance genre would be improved by opening up to stories that don’t have “happily ever afters.” Instead, it’s pointing out – there should also be a home for, say, a space opera with a side romance, an erotica scene, and a happily-for-now ending. Occasionally, works breakthrough, but for the most part stories that don’t conform never see the light of day (or, they do, but only after Point 2 – trad pub editors insist that the elements most “outside” the box be removed or revised).

7. The lines between romance and erotica are arbitrary, random, and hetero- and cis-normative.

This modern romance novel won’t sell if it doesn’t have an explicit sex scene, but God forbid you call a penis a penis. Oh, no, this is far too explicit, even though the book only has one mlm sex scene, this is erotica.

The difference between “romance” and “erotica” might not matter so much if not for the stigmas attached to erotica and the huge difference in marketability and audience. The difference between “romance” and “erotica” also might not matter so much if not for the fact that, so often, even incredibly raunchy stories that feature cis straight male/cis straight female sex scenes are shelved as romance, but the moment the sex is between people of the same gender, and/or a trans or genderqueer person is involved, and/or the relationship is polyamorous, and/or the characters involved are literally anything other than a cis straight male pleasuring a cis straight female in a “standard” way (cunnilingus welcome, pegging need not apply)…then the story is erotica. Two identical stories will get assigned different genres based on who the people having sex are, and also based on the “skill” of the author to use ludicrous euphemisms (instead of just…calling body parts what they’re called…), and it’s insane. Non-con can be a “romance” novel, even if it’s graphically described. “50 Shades of Gray” can sell millions of copies, even containing BDSM. But the word “vagina” gets used once…bam, erotica. (Seriously, the only standard that should matter is the Envelope Analogy).

8. Authors are expected to do a lot of their own legwork (eg advertising) but then don’t reap the benefits.

Okay, so, you’re going to get an advance of $2,500 on this, your first novel, and a royalty rate of 5% if and only if your advance sells out…so you’d better get out there and market! Wait, what do you mean you don’t have a following? Guess you’re never selling out your advance…

Trad pub can generally be relied on to do some marketing – so this item is perhaps better seen as an indictment of more mid-sized Presses – but, basically, if an author has to do the majority of the work themselves, then why aren’t they getting paid more? What’s the actual benefit to going the large press/trad pub route if it’s not going to get the book into more hands? It’s especially strange that this continues to be a major issue when self-publishing (which also requires doing one’s own marketing) garners 60%+ royalty rates. Yes, the author doesn’t get an advance, and they don’t get the cache of ~well I was published by…~, but considering some Presses require parts of advances to get paid back if the initial run doesn’t sell out, and cache doesn’t put food on the table…pay models have really, really got to change.

9. Fanfiction writing doesn’t count as writing experience

Hey there Basic White Dude, we see you’ve graduated summa cum laude from A Big Fancy Expensive School. Of course we’ll set you up to publish your first novel you haven’t actually quite finished writing yet. Oh, Fanperson, you’ve written 15 novels for your favorite fandom in the last 4 years? Get to the back of the line!

Do I really need to explain this? The only way to get better at writing is to write. Placing fanfiction on official trad pub “do not interact” lists is idiotic, especially considering many of the other items on this list. (They know how to engage readers! They have existing followings! They understand genre and tropes!) Being a fanfiction writer should absolutely be a marketable “I am a writer” skill. Nuff said. (To be clear, I’m not saying publishers should publish fanfiction, I’m saying that being a fanfiction writer is relevant and important experience that should be given weight when considering an author’s qualifications, similar to, say, publishing in a university’s quarterly.)

10. Tagging conventions (read: lack thereof).

Oh, did I trigger you? Hahahaha. Good luck with that.

We rate movies so that people can avoid content they don’t like. Same with TV shows and video games. Increasingly, those ratings aren’t just “R – adult audiences,” either; they contain information about the nature of the story elements that have led to the rating (“blood and gore,” “alcohol reference,” “cartoon violence,” “drug reference,” “sexual violence,” “use of tobacco,” and many, many more). So why is it that I can read a book and, without warning, be surprised by incest, rape, graphic violence, explicit language, glorification of drug and alcohol use, and so so much more? That it’s left to readers to look up spoilers to ensure that they’re not exposed to content that could be upsetting or inappropriate for their children or, or, or, is insane. So often, too, authors cling to “but we don’t want to give away our story,” as if video game makes and other media makers do want to give away their stories. This shouldn’t be about author egos or ~originality~ (as if that’s even a thing)…it should be about helping readers make informed purchasing decisions. It’s way, way past time that major market books include content warnings.

Thank you for joining us, this has been our extended rant about how frustrated we are with traditional publishing. Helpful? No. Cathartic? Most definitely yes. 🤣

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