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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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Our Next Anthology! Aim for the Heart: Queer Fanworks Inspired by Alexandre Dumas’s “The Three Musketeers”

Our next anthology, second in our Queer Fanworks Inspired By… series, will feature stories and black-and-white artworks inspired by The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas! This theme was selected by monthly backers on our Patreon and ko-fi, based on a list of finalists selected by our management team, and we couldn’t be more excited about their choice!

Have you ever thought, “this story is great but why isn’t it queer”?

Are Athos, Porthos, Aramis, and d’Artagnan your OT4?

Do you love ridiculous hats? Flamboyant outfits? Skirts wider than doorways? Shiny shiny swords?

Are you positive that literally every female character in the book deserved better than canon?

Well, if any of those describe you, WE WANT YOUR ARTWORK! This is an open call for artist applicants to create a black-and-white or grayscale artwork of A4 size, taking inspiration from the source material of the d’Artagnan romances, transforming them, and queerifying them for the delight and enjoyment of all! You must create fanart (of any fandom, doesn’t have to be this one!) to be eligible to apply for this anthology! And – this is a paid opportunity! We’ll be paying a minimum of $50 per page of artwork – and there may be opportunities for artists to do more than one page, and there may be a pay increase (dependent on crowdfunding success).

Interested? Fascinated? Intrigued? You and Milady both! Read on to learn more…

Recruitment is open until October 15th, 2022.

We’d love to hear from you, so why not take a stab at publishing with us and Apply Now!

Artwork by Pallas Perilous.

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Do You Tiktok?

Well, now we do too! We’ve actually had the account for ages, and we’ve batted around a lot of ideas for how to use it without implementing any of them, but now we’ve posted our first video there. Long-term, we hope to post there regularly; at the moment, if you use Tiktok and want to give us a follow, expect intermittent posts: unboxings, asks answered, slice-of-life, book gushing, readings, and of course ducks (always ducks!), that kind of thing.

Our account is here!

And our first video? Why, here of course! It’s a video of me (Nina Waters, the Press owner!) unboxing the patches for the crowdfunding campaign for She Wears the Midnight Crown and He Bears the Cape of Stars. The merch was produced by Alchemy, featuring artwork by Reship KMN (Tumblr | Twitter).

@duckprintspress

Duck Prints Press Unboxes: Patches for “He Bears the Cape of Stars” and “She Wears the Midnight Crown.” Art by Reshipkmn, Manufactured by Alchemy.

♬ original sound – duckprintspress

Have something you’d like to see a member of the Press talk about in a video? Let us know and we’ll see what we can do to make it happen!

We’ll also be cross-posting videos on Instagram and YouTube, so even if you don’t have Tiktok, don’t worry – you’ve got options to make sure you don’t miss out!

Oh, and here’s a pic of the patches – they’re so beautiful and sturdy! I can’t wait to send them out to everyone.

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First-Ever Giveaway for One of Our Titles!

Are y’all familiar with Storygraph? It’s the independent alternative to Goodreads, a lovely website that does a lot of what Goodreads does, but without the whole “being owned by Amazon” crap. It’s been running for a while now, and we’ve been on it since the minute we found out about it (and got a paid account as soon as they offered them – $40/year to support such an amazing project? Heck yeah! Not that anyone has to give them $$ to be clear, the site is free to use). They’ve been steadily expanding, adding functionality, unrolling more publisher- and author-oriented features, and generally being awesome. And, with all that in mind, we were thrilled to hear that they were introducing a Giveaways function (which, on Goodreads, is often a great way to get the word out about a book), and we jumped on the chance to offer our debut anthology Add Magic to Taste as part of the very first run of Storygraph giveaways!

But enough about them – what about the book we’re giving away?

For Add Magic to Taste, 20 authors have come together to produce all-new, original short stories uniting four of our absolute favorite themes: queer relationships, fluff, magic, and coffee shops! Our diverse writers have created an even more diverse collection of stories guaranteed to sweeten your coffee and warm your tart.

So, check out Storygraph if you haven’t already, and check out our giveaway and the other awesome titles on offering (such as our own A. L. Heard’s Choose Your Own Adventure story), and enter to win your own copy of Add Magic to Taste!

The giveaway is running until October 18th, 2022, so if you want to throw in your hat for one of the 10 digital copies on offering, this is your moment!

Check it out now!

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Current Projects and Their Statuses

We received the following ask on Tumblr:

Hi, Friendly anon here! I was wondering if y’all had any updates on your projects? I found a reference to a Trello taskboard thing that looked like it might have some but I got waaaaay confused trying to understand it. How goes everything?

And, our answer!

Hey anon!

Yeah, we’ve publicly shared our Trello here but for someone who’s not familiar with how Trello boards are set up I can absolutely see how it could be confusing. So I’m figuring I can answer this Ask two-fold: first with what we’re actually up to right now, and second with a quick how-to that’d hopefully help with understanding the Trello in the future.

Current Projects and Their Statuses:

And Seek (Not) to Alter Me: Kickstarter fulfillment is complete except for people who haven’t done their backer surveys. We are planning to release the e-book and some surplus merch on our website on October 1st, so we’ve been doing work related to that: taking pictures, preparing shop listings, working on our controlled vocabulary, etc.

He Bears the Cape of Stars and She Wears the Midnight Crown: we’ve got virtually all the merchandise here and ready to go with a few exceptions; the bath bombs still need to be repackaged, the patches are currently shipping and are slated to arrive on Wednesday, and chocolates we won’t get until it’s time to ship, so they won’t spoil while sitting around waiting. We’re still hard at work on the books themselves and the stories. There are a total of 36 stories in the two collections; as of right now, 19 stories are completely done/edited/ready to go, and 7 more are close (at the final step before completion). The rest are in various stages of editing. We’ve ended up behind our originally (intentionally optimistic) projected schedule for a variety of reasons, but we’re well within the range of our more “pessimistic” projections, which had us fulfilling in March or so. As it is, we expect to be able to complete fulfillment/ship people’s purchases in early November.

Our Next Anthology: we’ve been hard at work on the planning for our second Queer Fanworks Inspired By… anthology. We’ve hammered out all the details, figured out a schedule, got a title, drafted and edited the websites and surveys that include the rules, guidelines, recruitment stuff, etc., and we anticipate launching recruitment (which will mostly be internal) on October 1st.

An Enamel Pin Campaign: we originally intended to launch a campaign featuring only enamel pins in September. We’re still planning to launch it, but we had so many ideas that we’ve struggled to narrow them down, and so odds are we’ll be launching this in October instead. Right now, we’ve narrowed it to a specific theme and right now we’re voting on which specific pins we want within that theme.

General Business Tasks: as we’re getting closer to finishing the stories for He Bears the Cape of Stars and She Wears the Midnight Crown we’ve been tackling a back-log of more general tasks. For example, we’ve opened up opportunities for authors we’ve worked with to publish their solo original works (as in, personal projects by our authors instead of themed anthologies) and we’re in the process of reviewing the interest checks people sent in, gathering more information from the authors, and getting the ball rolling on having more stand-alone/solo projects coming down the pipes. This is an essential step in widening the scope of what we publish, and we are aiming to start getting out roughly a novel a quarter starting this winter. Also, starting in October, we expect to publish a short story per week on our website, though we’re still getting the ducks in a row to make that a reality so consider that tentative, not official. We’ve also also been expanding the resources part of our website, preparing a style guide, an e-book formatting guide, a fandom lexicon, and more. Our resource-related posts have tended to be well-received, and also because the resources are free we consider providing them an important part of our mission of helping fanfiction author publish their works: even someone who never works with DPP can benefit from a public, free, thorough, professional-level guide that helps them format their story for e-book publication without needing any special/expensive software, for example.

That’s…all the basics I think? there’s also a continuous background buzz of Things That We Do – regular blogging, daily monitoring/upkeep on our social media, maintaining our Patreon and ko-fi accounts, accounting, end-of-month and beginning-of-month fiscal activities, etc. – all the day-to-day activities that keep a business (even a business as small and new as this one) running.

How to Navigate the Trello

So, while we’re still hammering out the details on how best to organize the Trello for utility both for us as we organize things and to the public – in particular, I’m going to need to tweak how it’s set up if we’re going to effectively use the built-in calendar functionality – here’s how it’s set up now.

LISTS:

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The highest level of organization on a Trello Board is the lists. We’ve currently got a whole bunch of different lists.

At a Glance: this is the “overview” lists. It includes all of our current projects, and all of our regular/general management. Those are organized on Cards – more on that next.

Merchandise: lists all the merchandise we’ve currently got in production/in process, and what their current status is. (it does NOT include merch produced for past campaigns/activities)

After those two, we have a whole bunch of lists that all serve the same function: they indicate what stage of editing we’ve completed for each of a number of stories we’re currently working on.

  • Developmental – Writing in Progress: first draft isn’t done
  • Developmental – Draft Completed: first draft is done, waiting for an editor
  • Concept Editing – First Pass Completed: a concept-edit run has been returned to the author and is pending their review
  • Concept Editing – Second Pass Completed: a second concept-edit run has been returned to the author and is pending their review.
  • Copy – First Edits Completed: a SPAG edit run has been returned to the author and is pending their review.
  • Copy – Second Pass Completed: a second SPAG edit run has been returned to the author and is pending their review.
  • Copy – Final Edits Completed: a final/clean-up SPAG edit run has been returned to the author and is pending their review.
  • Final Edits Approved, Contract Sent and Pending Signature: the author has approved the final edit run and has been sent their contract.
  • Story Completed, Contract Signed, Author Paid, Preliminary Formatting Done: what it says on the tin
  • Typesetting – First Pass: the typesetter has done the first run on formatting the story for print.
  • Typesetting Completed: what it says on the tin.

Not every single story ends up needing every single one of these, and sometimes stories need more concept or SPAG runs than this, but we thought this division reflected the process stories go through most often. We’ve given the stories basic anonymizing so that no author feels “called out,” though more often than not it’s the editing team that’s behind, not the authors.

Long-Term Ideas, Lists, Information We May Need Someday: the last of our lists is what it says on the tin. We keep track of ideas for future anthologies, potential merch, things we’ve thought of and went “we can’t do that now but maybe someday…” etc., and we just toss it all there so that the ideas don’t get lost.

CARDS:

Every List is composed of Cards. Each Card reflects one category of “thing that needs to be done.” There are a lot of ways to actually set up lists and cards (and we may change ours in the future) but currently, we have:

Cards for all our main projects/overarching “areas” in which we’re working. These are on the At a Glance List.

Cards for all currently in-progress Merchandise, on the Merchandise list.

Cards for all stories we have in-progress at the moment, on the appropriate Lists for their current status.

Cards for some over-arching categories of “things for not now,” on the Long-Term Ideas list.

All the Cards on At a Glance have the same basic structure. If you click on the Card, you’ll be able to see sub-tasks/checklists related to the items on that list. For example, here’s the Recurring Tasks Card:

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This is one of the most complex of the Cards, as it includes all the activities we engage in daily, weekly, monthly, and annually to keep the business running smoothly. Other “management” related Cards on this list include two related to our weekly management meetings and monthly all-server meetings, and the General Task Card, which lists a whole slew of background activities that we’ve been working on and/or intend to do (divided into separate checklists for each category, cause there are just so many).

Then, below the the general Cards the cards for specific projects. Here’s the one for He Bears the Cape of Stars and She Wears the Midnight Crown.

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This, and the other specific project Cards, list all the tasks we currently know of/have thought of that need to be done for the given project. The checklists give a quick idea of what the task is, and indicates the current status of that task. A few also have dates attached to them, though not most cause we don’t tend to treat deadlines as that “hard” internally – we prefer to maintain flexibility considering how many people are involved in these projects and how complex all our lives are and how the world just, ya know, is right now.

As we complete tasks, we move them into the Comments section at the bottom of the Card. Because we only recently implemented this public system (previously, we worked from a private Trello that looked a lot like this but was just a bit messier and not designed to be viewed by outsiders, like, we used a lot of shorthand, that kind of thing) it doesn’t include tasks completed before we implemented this system, but we’ve been doing our best to keep on top of it since we opened the public Trello a couple weeks ago. For example, here’s the completed tasks for our upcoming anthology that we expect to open recruitment for on October 1st:

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So, I think that’s the basic?

Because we want to use the Calendar more, we may end up breaking out more of the individual tasks currently listed on checklists on Cards into their own Cards, since the Calendar mostly functions at the Card-level, not at the checklist-item level. If we do that, we’ll likely make additional Lists for our main active projects, with cards for each task that is currently a checklist item. However, that’s not going to happen immediately just cause there are higher priority things to be done.

If there’s something more specific that you’re finding confusing, I’m happy to put together a tutorial – I tend to figure that if one person has a question and actually tells me they have a question, there are at least a half-dozen other people who had the same question and decided for whatever reason not to ask, and as you likely know, anon and everyone else reading this, we’re committed to transparency, and the Trello is one of the biggest, newest facets of that, so ensuring it’s navigable for new comers is really important to us. It’s hard to create a public-facing system that maintains a certain degree of confidentiality and still serves our needs for managing the business, and also just – we’ve got a lot going on basically all the time (and more and more as we grow), so there’s a lot that has to go on there, which means by necessity it’s kinda complicated. I do worry that if it’s really complex, it’ll serve to create obscurity instead of transparency, but…well, we’re doing our best, and we’ll keep doing our best, and we hope that when questions/issues/concerns/delays/etc. do arise, people will continue to be as patient with us as they have been! <3

Hope that helps, and thanks for sending an ask!! We’re always here to help. <3

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Received Asks: How Did You Pick the Name You Create Under and What Influenced that Decision?

A collaboratively written post by multiple members of Duck Prints Press. The input of every individual author has been used and lightly edited with permission and credited in the way they’ve requested.

Two days ago, a member of Duck Prints Press posed the following questions to our blogging team:

  • Whether you publish under a pen name or your given name, what factored into your decision to use one or the other?
  • Was personal safety the primary reason behind deciding to use a pen name, or were there other reasons? 
  • If you use your given name, do you feel safe? 
  • What’s your advice for [creators] who are thinking about publishing original [work]? 

A number of us replied, and we all felt that the compiled responses would make a good post to share, as “whether or not to use a pen name” is a recurring question we often get in-server, and is likely one many of y’all out there thinking of publishing your original work have pondered as well. 

Do you publish under a pen name or use your given name, and what factors influenced your decision to use one or the other?

@arialerendeair: I publish under a pseudonym and always will! I decided to go with names that riff off my fanfic name (Aria Lerendeair) – Aria L. Deair (for non-erotica) and Aria D. Leren (for erotica) because I’ve built a community and wanted it to be a bit of an in-joke when they find/buy my content. If someone were to find the story organically – they might get the name reference, they might not. It’s a fun way to create not-separation between the names and have one for the different genres! 

B. T. Fish: I (try to) stay anonymous aside from necessary contracts because of personal safety as regards certain family members. I honestly don’t worry about strangers knowing who I am, but if I am aiming for anonymity I have to commit.

Annabeth Lynch: I use a pen name, but I plan on taking at least the first name as my legal name when possible. I won’t share that or my pen name with my family because 1) they don’t know I write, and I’m not content to share that with them at all, and 2) I don’t want them to know I’m queer. They likely wouldn’t be hellish about it but I would certainly be mocked. Also, now I live in the south and while I live in a liberal section because of the nearby colleges, the place I want to move after my husband’s schooling is ~liberal~ in a vague way but definitely not as good as where I am now. It’s one reason why I’m hesitant to try and get my books in bookstores that might want in-person events.

Dei Walker: I went with a pen name for the erotica I wrote for DPP (and I’ll keep with that), but the first name holds a link with my real name in some ways. My husband’s a teacher at a fairly prestigious private school, and there’s a degree of “yeah my wife writes smut” that’s okay with colleagues but isn’t okay if the parents find out about it if they use search engines to learn more about me.

Willa Blythe: I chose to use a pen name. One, my real name is kind of weirdly spelled and I don’t actually even use my first name because it is a very popular name from the 80s that my parents left a letter out of… I go by my middle name but I spell it differently than what’s on my birth certificate, and I’ve gone by this name since I was 18. Everyone in my life knows me as (NAME) save my family, and they know I go by that. It’s not a nickname, it’s my name, and that’s fine. 

Anonymous: I decided to use a pen name for two reasons: 1) my name is incomprehensible to English speakers – not only is it hard to pronounce, but it also uses special characters; 2) I’m a primary teacher in a small town where gossip goes wild (for example, when I decided to go part-time so I have more time for writing it was going around that I was pregnant ) so I don’t want anyone to find out that I’m queer and write queer romance. There are idiots out there who wouldn’t want me to teach their kids because of that. I eventually came up with a pen name that is a word play on my legal name so it still feels like me, and the people I want to know would recognize it as me but strangers are unlikely to make the connection.

Nina Waters ( @unforth ): I publish under a pen name because people always mispronounce my last name and my understanding is that it’s better to make a pen name people can pronounce. Back when I was still considering trad pub, I was planning to use multiple pen names so I could write across genres. Nina Waters was gonna be spec fic and romance, but I love historical drama type stuff too and like. Those sell better with a male name on them? So I was gonna use either C. P. Houck (so, my actual initials and last name) or Charles (or maybe Chuck) P. Houck, since Charles is a family name (my uncle, my grandfather, and my great grandfather on my dad’s side are all Charles’s). That all said, when I decided to go the small Press creation route instead, there was basically no way to keep my real name out of things since as the owner I have to put it on all official paperwork, which means it’s filed with the government and a matter of public record. Since anyone could access it, there didn’t seem to be much point in keeping it a secret/separate. 

Was personal safety the primary reason behind deciding to use a pen name? What other reasons influenced your decisions?

(some authors included their answers to this in their replies above)

Nina Waters: Not really, though I did originally concoct the Nina Waters name for a really silly version of personal safety? I was writing a thing based on my unrequited feelings for someone and I obviously couldn’t put that under my real name without risking them figuring it out, so I needed a pen name. I never did finish that project lmao and now I would never bother but the pen name stuck. 

arialerendeair: Part of [why I use a pen name] is because I was doxxed (and received threats) from a non-writing community almost a decade ago. I’m not afraid of attaching my real name to my works – I’m proud of them! But with the very real possibility of that happening again at some point in the future, I didn’t want to risk it!

Willa Blythe: There was an additional reason that using a pen name was important to me, though. When I wrote fan fiction, I was the victim of a targeted hate campaign aimed at people who wrote fanfiction about a certain character. I wrote fic that I loved and I stayed in my corner, but I got aggressive and hateful messages constantly about not only myself but also my young son, for the crime of choosing to write about a young man of color instead of the overwhelmingly popular white m/m ship in that fandom. It was alarming, especially when people I didn’t know sent me messages about my workplace and my movements there. Prior to that, I’d been pretty open online. I’m not now. I take doxxing very seriously. My son’s safety, but also my own and my roommate’s, are of huge importance. I write about things people don’t love: complicated queer relationships, critiques of capitalism and white supremacy, critiques of religion and spiritual practices, etc. I have to do what is necessary to create distance between my real life, my fandom life, and my writing life. That said… I’ve done more to separate my fandom and writing identities than my real and writing identities, for a variety of reasons. It’s complicated, but as much as I love fandom, it does breed a certain kind of entitlement that my personal friends and family just don’t have.

If you use your given name, do you feel safe?

@owlishintergalactic: My wife and I had a huge conversation about the implications of me writing under my wallet name. I am quite politically involved in the Early Childhood Education and Early Childhood Special Education sectors in my county and state. This is a sector where being openly LGBTQ can cause problems with a particular subset of parents and voters. Yet, we don’t believe we should have to hide who we are and that we are LGBTQ – like many other parents in our state. We decided, in the end, that since I don’t write anything more racy than “mature,” it makes sense to build my platform using my real name. My writing is a part of me. It is a part of my advocacy. It’s my profession. But it is a risk, and it’s mitigated some because I live in one of the most open and inclusive communities in the US. For the most part, though, I do almost all of my online work under a variation of Owlish because it creates a layer of protection between me and the internet masses who don’t always have the best intentions.

Nina Waters: I. uh. Mostly? I definitely worry about it. I’ve been thinking about getting a P. O. Box for the business so I at least don’t have to use my real address all the time too. I worry that if someone took offense to the kind of work I do, they could go after my children, and that scares the crap out of me. In retrospect I wish I’d worked a little harder to keep my identities separate, but they were already mostly merged by the time I had kids and I’d have had to completely restart with new screen names and everything, so it felt like it was already too late by the time the business became public.

What’s your advice for [creators] who are thinking about publishing original [work]?

Nina Waters: The advice I give to people in the Press is if they’re even a LITTLE unsure, they should use a pen name. At any time when they decide they’re comfortable they can always switch to using their real name, but once the genie’s out of the bottle there’s no putting it back.

arialerendeair: There are a great many reasons to choose to use a pseud! For your own personal reasons, for reasons involving your spouse, your family, your activism work, because the internet is a scary place sometimes and many grew up in the web safety diligence era. If you are picking up a pseud for any reason at all – great! They can be fun, they can be punny, (is it a coincidence that D is the middle initial for my pseud that I write erotica under? Nope!) and they can be a chance to reinvent yourself for an audience that doesn’t know you yet. There’s a power in being able to shape a persona – and sometimes it’s fun to grab that and see where it leads!

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Do you – yes, you, the person reading this! – use a pen name for publishing your art, fiction, or other types of creations? Have you kept your fandom, creation, and meatspace selves separate? We’d love to hear your answers to the above questions, so feel free to comment and weigh in!

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Have a question? Feel free to drop us an ask any time!

Want to support what we do and get access to extras and behind-the-scenes information? Back us on Patreon or ko-fi!

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Wondering What We’re Working On?

Well, wonder no more!

A week ago (Sunday, August 28th, 2022) we held our second-ever all-server meeting – a now-monthly event inaugurated in July, where everyone involved with Duck Prints Press (authors, artists, designers, ko-fi/Patreon monthly backers, etc.) is invited to jump into a channel on our Discord, listen to some updates on our current projects and upcoming plans, and ask questions, comment, make suggestions, and generally get more involved! At the meeting, many people indicated that they wanted a better idea of what the Press staff are actually doing, on a day-to-day basis, and @hermit-writes (WordPress) suggested it would be easy for us to set up a public-facing Trello board, especially because we already use Trello to do most of our behind-the-scenes task organization/management. We opened that up to a general vote and the response was overwhelming, YES WE WANT TO KNOW! So, with Hermit’s help, the thing is now done – and y’all can see too!

As part of Duck Prints Press’s ongoing commitment to transparency, we present you: a Trello board listing what we’re working on and project status, available for everyone to see!

This Trello board includes all of our current projects and short-term plans (roughly the next quarter-or-so), and the status of individual tasks associated with the project. You do not need a Trello account to view it. We expect to add a calendar component to it too (transferring our existing, rather bare-bones, Google Calendar into the Trello so that everything is in one place). We encourage you to take a peek and keep an eye on what we’re up to and how we’re progressing!

As always, we’re here to provide information to our contributors, staff, readership, curious public, really everyone involved in the Press in anyway – so always feel free to let us know if you have questions, comments, feedback, etc.

(and – want to support what we do? we heart our monthly supporters on ko-fi and Patreon, and we’d love to have you, yes YOU, on board too!)

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Creator’s Spotlight: August, 2022

Welcome to our second monthly “round up” of fan creations and original creations by people involved with Duck Prints Press! This list is “opt in,” so you bet our creators made a lot of other things, but these are the ones they wanted to share with y’all this month!

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The Meaning of Home (Chapters 32-38) by Tris Lawrence (tryslora) / @tryslora

fiction || original work || poly (one gender: male) || teen & up || no major warnings apply || 26,324 || complete

summary: In the final chapters of The Meaning of Home, Pawel finds his place in this new family of his.

other tags: adult audiences, angst, animal transformation, bisexual character, cat shifter, character has ptsd, established relationship, family, fostering, found family, homosexual character, lawyer, missing persons, mlm, modern, modern with magic, mute character, mystery, New York, off screen death of a parent, only one bed, parenthood, past temporary character death, police officer, polyamorous relationship negotiation, polyamory, pov third person limited, professor, reunion, rodent shifter, siblings, single parent, taekwondo, United States of America, mentions of off-screen transphobia

TUMBLRPILLOWFORT

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love all to match point by Tris Lawrence (tryslora) / @tryslora

fiction || tiger & bunny || m/m || sengoku subaru/thomas taurus || teen & up || no major warnings apply || 10,108 || complete

summary: Subaru was scouted as a doubles player in badminton, and left his home and family to come play for this school. His partner has never played doubles, and is probably the most irritating, disagreeable guy Subaru’s ever met. They are never going to figure out how to make this partnership work, no matter how much Coach Kaburagi and Coach Brooks seem to think it’s going to be perfect.

other tags: Alternate Universe – High School, Alternate Universe – Sports, Background Relationships, Minor Barnaby “Bunny” Brooks Jr./Kaburagi T. Kotetsu, Minor Karina Lyle/Ryan Goldsmith, Other Relationships If You Look Hard Enough, badminton au

AO3

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Go forth and read some things!

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Planning Using the Three-Act Structure: Dystopian Novels

This is the third in a series of posts about the Three-Act structure, written by guest blogger Annabeth Lynch. Part 1: Romance Novels. Part 2: Mystery Novels.

It’s time for another crash course in writing! This time, we’ll be discussing the outline of a dystopian book. Ernest Hemingway gave my favorite description of being an author: “There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.” So set up that typewriter and let’s start bleeding.

Before we begin breaking down this structure as it applies specifically to dystopian stories, a little background on the three-act structure. I’ve written about this structure as it applies to romance and mystery. Most Western novels are written with this structure, which is separated into three sections. First, the beginning, aptly named the Setup, is the first 25% of the story. The second act is called the Confrontation, taking up half the story, 25%-75%. The last quarter of the story, from 75% to 100%, is the Resolution. This is the novel in its most basic form. It’s a good measure of how the story needs to progress, but there’s a lot of wiggle room in such a broad system. Also, what should happen in each of these sections varies by genre, hence this series of posts. This time, we’re going to break down the acts into plot points and show approximately which events should go in each section when you’re writing a dystopian story.

Dystopian novels usually clock in at 60,000 to 120,000 words, so we’ll base the word count on the average, which is 90,000. Though dystopian novels are often turned into series, for simplicity’s sake we’ll work with the idea that this novel is a stand-alone. This same structure can be used on a larger scale for a series if desired, though – just recalculate the word counts appropriately.

The Setup

This act is about laying the foundation of the novel. This is where your hook should be, right at the beginning. Additionally, the reader should get a glimpse of the main character(s) in their average life and develop a baseline understanding of how the world works. In a dystopian novel, some aspect of society or the world is exaggerated and therefore causing problems for the characters. The main two causes of a dystopia are a man-made disaster or a natural disaster or descent of society. Readers will want to know what caused your specific dystopia to come about and how these events have affected the populous.

At the 12% mark (approximately 10,800 words in), the inciting incident should occur. After the world is established in the reader’s head, it’s time to introduce the crux of the plot. In dystopian books, because this subgenre can be used in multiple larger genres (like sci-fi or fantasy) there’s a lot of room to work with different types of stories you can tell. Regardless of which direction you choose to write in, the inciting incident should affect all the main characters and function as a call to action that they will undoubtedly rise to –  whether because they want to incite change or because there’s no other option left to them.

By 20% (18,000 words) of the way in, all the important characters should have been introduced. This goal is a little flexible because worldbuilding takes a little longer in dystopian novels, but you shouldn’t take much longer than this. The other characters will need the remaining word count to really make an impact on the plot! You don’t want to run the risk of a seeming deus-ex-machina solution by waiting to introduce a crucial character only at the critical moment.

The Setup ends at 25% (22,500 words), when the first major plot point should occur. This is where the story starts to pick up and the heroes’ journey begins. They embark on their mission or escape their bonds, or they’ve learned some hint about how to fix the world, or they or someone they know comes down with the illness plaguing the world – whatever needs to happen to move them into the next stage of the story.

The Confrontation

This is the meat of the story. It makes up roughly half of the whole novel and includes most of the build-up. Now is the time to ratchet up the tension and help the reader get their bearings in the developing story situation. This part will contain most of the important plot points except the three C’s (more on those later) since, in dystopian stories, the first act is will usually be focused on world- and character-building.

At about 37% (33,300 words) is the first pinch point, and is also usually a good excuse to give a little more backstory. Anything that connects the main character(s) to the main “problem” of the story should be brought up. Were they present when the military rolled through to institute a police state? Was their mother instrumental in the creation of the disease? What does the state of the world now mean to them, and what do they plan to do about it? Clear up some of the past for the readers!

50% (45,000 words) is the midpoint. As in most genres, this is the time for a false high or a false low. A false high would be a point in the story when it looks as though the journey is coming to end, when the characters appear on the verge of being victorious and winning the day only to be crushed under the weight of finding out they’re only halfway done. On the flip side, a false low would be when all looks hopeless until they find something or someone that will help them rise up and take their victory.

Around 62% (55,800 words) comes the second pinch point. This can take a few different forms. It could be another chance for you to reveal the backstory, like a flashback, or, if – for example – you’re writing a romantic subplot, this could be a moment that brings the couple together and increases intimacy. This pinch point should mainly further the secondary plot, whatever thing(s) your character(s) is struggling with beyond the main conflict.

The end of act two comes with the second plot point at 75% (67,500 words). This is when the stakes are raised to an all-time high. We’re approaching the end now and the characters should feel the pressure. Unfortunately for them, this is also when things should go sideways. The worst possible thing happens, but it doesn’t deter them (at least, not for long).

The Resolution

We’re almost done, and you’ve reached the action-packed, fast-paced part of the book. This is where the three C’s I mentioned earlier come in. The C’s stand for Crisis, Climax, and Conclusion.

The Crisis kicks off at roughly the 87% point (78,300 words) of the story. Having overcome the problems from the second plot point that ended the Confrontation, the characters are thrust once again into danger, whether by circumstance or by their own actions. This is also when they often learn a life lesson that will be important to overcoming their adversaries.

The turnaround from the Crisis to the Climax is quick, coming in at 90% (81,000 words). The big showdown between the protagonist and the antagonist, who is usually the perpetrator of the problem(s) plaguing the world. A large chunk of the book should be taken up by this fight, with guns blazing and all the new technology introduced in this world brought out to play.

When reading the Conclusion (the final few thousand words), readers will want to know how the world is after the perpetrator of the suffering has been removed from the picture. This can also be an epilogue if you prefer a more in-depth look at where the characters are now.

And that’s the whole book! The three-act structure outline for a dystopian story has more room for interpretation/changes because it can be applied across multiple genres and scenarios, but that just makes it more fun! Remember that while this is a general guide, you are who makes your book. No one can write the same thing the exact same way you would, and that’s what makes it special. Until next time, happy bleeding!

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How the Disney Method Can Help Your Writing Process

A guest blog post by Mitchan!

Do you have problems beginning that new story percolating in your head? Are you feeling afflicted with writer’s block? Are you stuck on a scene with no idea how to move forward? Do you feel that your current ideas are stale and trite? Perhaps the Disney method can help you!

If you work in business or design, you might have heard of it before. The Walt Disney method is a creative strategy designed to find and develop unconventional ideas. While inspired by the way Walt Disney worked, the method itself was proposed by Robert Dilts in 1994.

In the Walt Disney method, the creator divides thmself into three separate roles: the Dreamer, the Realist, and the Critic. These three roles must work separately in three stages: 

First, the Dreamer brainstorms ideas in a focused way. The more the better. No limits or restraint. There are no “bad”, “stupid”, or “impossible” ideas; you can embrace the crazy and the stupid as much as you want. It’s still a focused brainstorm: you’re dreaming for an objective, say, a new amusement park attraction, ways to get your characters out of a pinch, the funniest and/or most character-focused problems you can add to your story… anything you need ideas for. 

  • Instead of sitting down and writing or typing your ideas, walk around and record yourself saying your ideas out loud. Speak without pause for 5 or 10 minutes. Look above the horizon to stimulate your creative brain. Some business websites recommend setting up different rooms for each stage of the process, so why not try a change of space? Go outside or to a room different from the one you usually work in. 

Once you’ve got loads of ideas, it’s the Realist’s turn. The job of the Realist is to look at the Dreamer’s ideas and think: How do we make them possible? The Realist doesn’t say “No”. It’s not the Realist’s job to say whether an idea is bad or won’t work. In this role, you must assume anything is possible and limit yourself to asking: How can I execute this? For our amusement park example, the Realist would select and bring in specialists who could make plans to turn a crazy idea into a real ride. 

  • Listen to the recording you made in the previous step. Without discarding any ideas, start with the most interesting or promising ones, and develop them. Write a rough draft or the details of what would happen in a scene. Do the necessary research. Reorganize scenes as needed. Try working on a whiteboard with markers and post-its: a place where you can stand up and look at your ideas in front of you. 

Once you have a solid proposal, or in a writer’s case, a complete first draft, the Critic comes in. The Critic’s job is to detect and correct flaws, mistakes, and risks (something crucial if you’re making an amusement park ride!). This is the moment to evaluate what works and what doesn’t work, what stays and what goes. 

  • Sit down with the printed-out draft on the desk, where you can look down at it, and use a red pen to mark places that need re-working or any contradictions in the narrative. Tighten the phrasing and clear up confusing details. Clean up the draft.

The stages then repeat as needed: for more ideas, go back to the Dreamer, then develop them, then edit again. 

The changes in position help to change your own perspective on the work, to dream or execute or evaluate more objectively. 

You probably already do something similar in your writing process: you have an idea, make an outline, write a first draft, then a second, a third and fourth and so on. You have alpha and beta readers who help brainstorm ideas, develop them, and correct the draft.  

Personally, the most helpful takeaway of this model is the neat separation of the roles. The Dreamer and the Critic cannot work in the same stage: criticism stifles creativity. When I’m outlining, brainstorming, or writing a rough draft, it helps me to keep this in mind. If I find myself getting judgmental about my story, I take a deep breath and tell the Critic to shut the fuck up. Whenever I’m blocked, I’ve found it often comes from me being too critical in a stage of the process when I need to be dreaming or just executing. 

Of course, the three roles are equally important in the creative process. Without the Dreamer we wouldn’t have new ideas; without the realist we would never do anything with them; without the Critic the work wouldn’t be as clean and clear as it can be. 

I have used this method before to write a stand-up comedy routine, which requires a lot of crazy ideas and well-developed set-ups and punchlines, but it can work for any creative needs. I have also applied the brainstorming method to develop the heist in my upcoming story in She Wears the Midnight Crown, as well as to think up character-based conflicts for previous fanfiction and original stories.

As with any other strategy or method, it’s up to you to try it, use what works for you and discard what doesn’t. I hope this can help you if you’re stuck, or at least inspires you to try something different! 

Have you ever used the Walt Disney method? How was your experience? Would you do anything differently? Are there any other methods that work better for you that you’d like to recommend? Let us know!