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Announcing: The Contributors to “He Bears the Cape of Stars” and “She Wears the Midnight Crown”!

36 remarkable authors—18 for He Bears the Cape of Stars, 18 for She Wears the Midnight Crown—have come together for this project. These authors have been toiling away on their stories since February 1st, 2022, and we’re currently work with them on edits to get them publication-ready. We’re delighted to share their work with you!

Contributors to He Bears the Cape of Stars:

Contributors to She Wears the Midnight Crown:

You can read about them—in their own words!—see select author portraits, and more, by clicking this link:

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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.”

*

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!!

*

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

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NOW AVAILABLE: THE E-BOOK OF ADD MAGIC TO TASTE and Extra Kickstarter Merchandise!

Did you miss your chance to back our first Kickstarter? Did you back it, but have a friend who wants a copy? Have you just been itching to get some of the merch you didn’t get as a backer? Have you only just heard of us thanks to our recent call for applicants, and want to learn more about our first Anthology?

Now you can do all these things!

Duck Prints Press’s first anthology, Add Magic to Taste, is now available for sale on our website!

For Add Magic to Taste, 20 authors have come together to produce 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.

Select extra/leftover merchandise from the Kickstarter is also available, including:

So check it out, and get some of the book that’s averaging over 4 stars on Goodreads and Storygraph, and the merch that our Kickstarter backers described as “absolutely beautiful,” “gorgeous,” “incredible,” and “absolute BEST IN CLASS.”

VISIT OUR SHOP NOW AND GET YOURS!

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Our Favorite Queer Books for Children

Many members of Duck Prints Press have young children, so we got to talking about what our favorite queer children’s stories are. These are all picture books – aimed at children under 8. This list doesn’t include any middle grade or young adult books.

Note that, regarding any individual book, we’re not saying, “this is flawless,” “this is perfect rep,” or “this is the right book for everyone/every situation/every family.” I’ve included a few notes about each book, to give a general idea of the representation it incorporates, but we always recommend that you read the full descriptions at the links provided (which are to Bookshop.org whenever possible), assess the book, borrow it from the library – basically, give it a read, and assess for yourself, and always pick with your own situation and sensibilities in mind when buying books for the young children in your life!

The list is in alphabetical order by book title.

A is for Activist

Author and Illustrator: Innosanto Nagara

An alphabet book, with intersectionality, disability, race, queerness, and more.


The Adventures of Honey and Leon 

Author: Alan Cumming

Illustrator: Grant Shaffer

mlm, semi-autobiographical.

Book 1 | Book 2


And Tango Makes Three

Authors: Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell

Illustrator: Henry Cole

mlm, queer parents, adoption, based on a true story.


Be Who You Are 

Author: Jennifer Carr

Illustrator: Ben Rumback

Trans girl, supportive family. 


Charlotte, Wander On

Author: Matt Cubberly

Illustrator: Irina Kovalova

(you’ll have to read and find out!)


A Day in the Life of Marlon Bundo 

Author: Jill Twiss

Illustrator: E. G. Keller

mlm, politics.


Everywhere Babies

Author: Susan Meyers

Illustrator: Marla Frazee

wlw, mlm. Queer parents. Stealth.


The Frog and Toad Collection

Author and Illustrator: Arnold Lobel

mlm. Stealth.


Heather Has Two Mommies

Author: Lesléa Newman

Illustrator: Laura Cornell

wlw, queer parents


I Am Jazz

Authors: Jessica Herthel and Jazz Jennings

Illustrator: Shelagh McNicholas

Trans girl, supportive parents. Auto-biographical.


Intersectional Allies

Authors: Chelsea Johnson, LaToya Council, Carolyn Choi

Illustrator: Ashley Seil Smith

Intersectionality, focused on disability, race, and religion.


Jaime is Jaime

Author: Afsaneh Moradian

Illustrator: Maria Bogade

Gender non-conformity


Julian is a Mermaid

Author and Illustrator: Jessica Love

Gender non-conformity.


Llama Glamarama

Author: Simon James Green

Illustrator: Garry Parsons

Gender non-conformity.


My Friends and Me

Author: Stephanie Stansbie

Illustrator: Katy Halford

mlm, wlw. Queer parents.


Neither

Author and Illustrator: Arlie Anderson

Gender non-conformity; can also be seen as an allegory for non-binary and/or intersex and/or other forms of gender queerness. Stealth.


One Dad, Two Dads, Brown Dad, Blue Dad

Author: Johnny Valentine

Illustrator: Melody Sarecky

mlm. Queer parents.


Quackers

Author and Illustrator: Liz Wong

Gender non-conformity; can also be seen as an allegory for non-binary and/or trans and/or other forms of gender queerness. Stealth.


Rainbow 

Author: Michael Genhart

Illustrator: Anne Passchier

“A First Book of Pride” – the cover says it best. 


Red: A Crayon Story

Author and Illustrator: Michael Hall

Trans children and/or children with trans parents.


She’s My Dad

Author: Sarah Savage

Illustrator: Joules Garcia

Transgender adult/parent.


The Story of Ferdinand 

Author: Munro Leaf

Illustrator: Robert Lawson

Gender non-conformity. Stealth.


Unicorn Day

Author: Diana Murray

Illustrator: Luke Flowers

Gender non-conformity and/or trans and/or genderqueer, depending how you look at it.


We’re All Wonders

Author and Illustrator: R. J. Palacio

Self-acceptance, with an emphasis on neurodivergence, disability, and queerness.


What Are Your Words? A Book About Pronouns

Author: Katherine Locke

Illustrator: Anne Passchier

About pronouns. Non-binary representation and neo-pronouns included.


What Colour is Love?

Author: Linda Strachan

Illustrator: David Wojtowycz

Diversity.


Worm Loves Worm 

Author: J. J. Austrian

Illustrator: Mike Curato

wlw/mlm. Gender non-conformity.


The Pea that Was Me Series

Author and Illustrator: Kimberly Kluger-Bell

Different kinds of pregnancies, including mlm and wlw parents.

An Egg and Sperm | Egg Donation | Embryo Donation | IVF | Sperm Donation | A Single Mom and Sperm Donor | Two Dads, Egg Donation and Surrogacy | Two Moms and Sperm Donor


Contributions by: unforth, Willa, nottesilhouette, foxymoley, FallingIntoBlue, Owlish, Annabeth, nickelkeep, fpwoper


So, what are your favorite queer picture books?

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Cover Reveal for “Add Magic to Taste”

Duck Prints Press will be launching our first Kickstarter on July 15th, 2021, and we cannot possibly be more excited for it! We’ve got a LOT more info to come related to – previews of the merchandise, teasers for the stories, and more – but we wanted to get things started by sharing our amazing cover, which features art by LizLee Illustration (@lizleeillustration, Instagram, Twitter, Personal Site) and graphic design work by @pallasperilous (Twitter, Personal Website), @hermitwrites (Pillowfort, WordPress), and @alessariel.

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.

Love wlw? So do we!

Love mlm? We’ve got you covered!

Love genderqueer characters? Raise those trans, enby, agender and other flags high!

Love aces? Same, and we don’t (only) mean playing cards!

Love poly relationships? Oh hey, we’re sharing a brain!

We won’t say this anthology has it all – there are too many identities in the world for us to fit all of them into one anthology of 20 stories – but if you want some queer fluff and happy feelings, you’ve come to the right place. Add Magic to Taste features characters of different races, ethnicities, sexualities, romanticisms, gender identities, religions, and home nations, united by the common theme of finding someone (or more than one someone) to enjoy a muffin and a cuppa with – for today, or for a lifetime, romantically or otherwise!

Learn more about this project:

So, mark your calendars! Follow our Tumblr! Read more about the project! Ask us any questions you have! And save your pennies so you, too, can buy this amazing collection of stories!

The Kickstarter for Add Magic to Taste launches on July 15th, 2021!

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How to Edit an Over-Length Story Down to a Specific Word Count

One of the most wonderful things about writing as a hobby is that you never have to worry about the length of your story. You can be as self-indulgent as you want, make your prose the royalist of purples, include every single side story and extra thought that strikes your fancy. It’s your story, with no limits, and you can proceed with it as you wish. 

When transitioning from casual writing to a more professional writing milieu, this changes. If you want to publish, odds are, you’ll need to write to a word count. If a flash fiction serial says, “1,000 words or less,” your story can’t be 1,025 and still qualify. If a website says, “we accept novellas ranging from 20,000 to 40,000 words,” your story will need to fall into that window. Even when you consider novel-length works, stories are expected to be a certain word count to fit neatly into specific genres – romance is usually around 80,000 words, young adult usually 50,000 to 80,000, debut novels usually have to be 100,000 words or less regardless of genre, etc. If you self-publish or work with a small press, you may be able to get away with breaking these “rules,” but it’s still worthwhile to learn to read your own writing critically with length in mind and learn to recognize what you do and do not need to make your story work – and then, if length isn’t an issue in your publishing setting, you can always decide after figuring out what’s non-essential to just keep everything anyway. 

If you’re writing for fun? You literally never have to worry about your word count (well, except for sometimes in specific challenges that have minimum and/or maximum word counts), and as such, this post is probably not for you.

But, if you’re used to writing in the “throw in everything and the kitchen sink” way that’s common in fandom fanfiction circles, and you’re trying to transition only to be suddenly confronted with the reality that you’ve written 6,000 words for a short story project with a maximum word count of 5,000…well, we at Duck Prints Press have been there, we are in fact there right now, as we finish our stories for our upcoming anthology Add Magic to Taste and many of us wrote first drafts that were well over the maximum word count.

So, based on our experiences, here are our suggestions on approaches to help your story shorter…without losing the story you wanted to tell!

  1. Cut weasel words (we wrote a whole post to help you learn how to do that!) such as unnecessary adverbs and adjectives, the “was ~ing” sentence structure, redundant time words such as “a moment later,” and many others.
  2. When reviewing dialog, keep an eye out for “uh,” “er,” “I mean,” “well,” and other casual extra words. A small amount of that kind of language usage can make dialog more realistic, but a little goes a long way, and often a fair number of words can be removed by cutting these words, without negatively impacting your story at all.
  3. Active voice almost always uses fewer words than passive voice, so try to use active voice more (but don’t forget that passive voice is important for varying up your sentence structures and keeping your story interesting, so don’t only write in active voice!).
  4. Look for places where you can replace phrases with single words that mean the same thing. You can often save a lot of words by switching out phrases like “come back” for “return” and seeking out other places where one word can do the work of many.
  5. Cut sentences that add atmosphere but don’t forward the plot or grow your characters. (Obviously, use your judgement. Don’t cut ALL the flavor, but start by going – I’ve got two sentences that are mostly flavor text – which adds more? And then delete the other, or combine them into one shorter sentence.)
  6. Remove superfluous dialog tags. If it’s clear who’s talking, especially if it’s a conversation between only two people, you can cut all the he saids, she saids.
  7. Look for places where you’ve written repetitively – at the most basic level, “ ‘hahaha,’ he laughed,” is an example, but repetition is often more subtle, like instances where you give information in once sentence, and then rephrase part or all of that sentence in the next one – it’s better to poke at the two sentences until you think of an effective, and more concise, way to make them into only one sentence. This also goes for scenes – if you’ve got two scenes that tend towards accomplishing the same plot-related goal, consider combining them into one scene.
  8. Have a reason for every sentence, and even every sentence clause (as in, every comma insertion, every part of the sentence, every em dashed inclusion, that kind of thing). Ask yourself – what function does this serve? Have I met that function somewhere else? If it serves no function, or if it’s duplicative, consider cutting it. Or, the answer may be “none,” and you may choose to save it anyway – because it adds flavor, or is very in character for your PoV person, or any of a number of reasons. But if you’re saving it, make sure you’ve done so intentionally. It’s important to be aware of what you’re trying to do with your words, or else how can you recognize what to cut, and what not to cut?
  9. Likewise, have a reason for every scene. They should all move the story along – whatever the story is, it doesn’t have to be “the end of the world,” your story can be simple and straightforward and sequential…but if you’re working to a word count, your scenes should still forward the story toward that end point. If the scene doesn’t contribute…you may not need them, or you may be able to fold it in with another scene, as suggested in item 6.
  10.  Review the worldbuilding you’ve included, and consider what you’re trying to accomplish with your story. A bit of worldbuilding outside of the bare essentials makes a story feel fleshed out, but again, a little can go a long way. If you’ve got lots of “fun” worldbuilding bits that don’t actually forward your plot and aren’t relevant to your characters, cut them. You can always put them as extras in your blog later, but they’ll just make your story clunky if you have a lot of them. 
  11. Beware of info-dumps. Often finding a more natural way to integrate that information – showing instead of telling in bits throughout the story – can help reduce word count.
  12. Alternatively – if you over-show, and never tell, this will vastly increase your word count, so consider if there are any places in your story where you can gloss over the details in favor of a shorter more “tell-y” description. You don’t need to go into a minute description of every smile and laugh – sometimes it’s fine to just say, “she was happy” or “she frowned” without going into a long description of their reaction that makes the reader infer that they were happy. (Anyone who unconditionally says “show, don’t tell,” is giving you bad writing advice. It’s much more important to learn to recognize when showing is more appropriate, and when telling is more appropriate, because no story will function as a cohesive whole if it’s all one or all the other.)
  13. If you’ve got long paragraphs, they’re often prime places to look for entire sentences to cut. Read them critically and consider what’s actually helping your story instead of just adding word count chonk.
  14. Try reading some or all of the dialog out loud; if it gets boring, repetitive, or unnecessary, end your scene wherever you start to lose interest, and cut the dialog that came after. If necessary, add a sentence or two of description at the end to make sure the transition is abrupt, but honestly, you often won’t even need to do so – scenes that end at the final punchy point in a discussion often work very well.
  15. Create a specific goal for a scene or chapter. Maybe it’s revealing a specific piece of information, or having a character discover a specific thing, or having a specific unexpected event occur, but, whatever it is, make sure you can say, “this scene/chapter is supposed to accomplish this.” Once you know what you’re trying to do, check if the scene met that goal, make any necessary changes to ensure it does, and cut things that don’t help the scene meet that goal.
  16. Building on the previous one, you can do the same thing, but for your entire story. Starting from the beginning, re-outline the story scene-by-scene and/or chapter-by-chapter, picking out what the main “beats” and most important themes are, and then re-read your draft and make sure you’re hitting those clearly. Consider cutting out the pieces of your story that don’t contribute to those, and definitely cut the pieces that distract from those key moments (unless, of course, the distraction is the point.)
  17. Re-read a section you think could be cut and see if any sentences snag your attention. Poke at that bit until you figure out why – often, it’s because the sentence is unnecessary, poorly worded, unclear, or otherwise superfluous. You can often rewrite the sentence to be clearer, or cut the sentence completely without negatively impacting your work.
  18. Be prepared to cut your darlings; even if you love a sentence or dialog exchange or paragraph, if you are working to a strict word count and it doesn’t add anything, it may have to go, and that’s okay…even though yes, it will hurt, always, no matter how experienced a writer you are. (Tip? Save your original draft, and/or make a new word doc where you safely tuck your darlings in for the future. Second tip? If you really, really love it…find a way to save it, but understand that to do so, you’ll have to cut something else. It’s often wise to pick one or two favorites and sacrifice the rest to save the best ones. We are not saying “always cut your darlings.” That is terrible writing advice. Don’t always cut your darlings. Writing, and reading your own writing, should bring you joy, even when you’re doing it professionally.)
  19. If you’re having trouble recognizing what in your own work CAN be cut, try implementing the above strategies in different places – cut things, and then re-read, and see how it works, and if it works at all. Sometimes, you’ll realize…you didn’t need any of what you cut. Other times, you’ll realize…it no longer feels like the story you were trying to tell. Fiddle with it until you figure out what you need for it to still feel like your story, and practice that kind of cutting until you get better at recognizing what can and can’t go without having to do as much tweaking.
  20. Lastly…along the lines of the previous…understand that sometimes, cutting your story down to a certain word count will just be impossible. Some stories simply can’t be made very short, and others simply can’t be told at length. If you’re really struggling, it’s important to consider that your story just…isn’t going to work at that word count. And that’s okay. Go back to the drawing board, and try again – you’ll also get better at learning what stories you can tell, in your style, using your own writing voice, at different word counts. It’s not something you’ll just know how to do – that kind of estimating is a skill, just like all other writing abilities.

As with all our writing advice – there’s no one way to tackle cutting stories for length, and also, which of these strategies is most appropriate will depend on what kind of story you’re writing, how much over-length it is, what your target market is, your characters, and your personal writing style. Try different ones, and see which work for you – the most important aspect is to learn to read your own writing critically enough that you are able to recognize what you can cut, and then from that standpoint, use your expertise to decide what you should cut, which is definitely not always the same thing. Lots of details can be cut – but a story with all of the flavor and individuality removed should never be your goal.

Contributions to this post were made by @unforth, @jhoomwrites, @alecjmarsh, @shealynn88, @foxymoley, @willablythe, and @owlishintergalactic, and their input has been used with their knowledge and explicit permission. Thanks, everyone, for helping us consider different ways to shorten stories!

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How can I return to writing after a long hiatus?

This post is based on a conversation we had in the Duck Prints Press LLC Discord, and all contributors comments have been used/paraphrased/integrated into this post with permission. The people who contributed ideas to this post are: @nottesilhouette, @ramblingandpie, @arialerendeair, @tryslora, @deansmultitudes​, @theleakypen​, Owlish Intergalactic, myself (I’m @unforth​), and one who preferred to remain anonymous).

Few things are harder than coming back to writing after a long period of not writing. Being creative takes a lot of energy, and starting after not doing so for a period of time takes even more energy. The writers on our Discord had a really productive discussion, where we talked about strategies we’ve each personally used to help us get our writing mojo back. None of these methods work for everyone, but if you haven’t written in a while, maybe one of these will work for you!

How to Revive that Creative Writing Spark:

  • doing sprints with a friend – knowing you’re all in it together can really help!
  • talking with writing buddies about what you’re each working on – the shared enthusiasm can be really helpful,
  • journaling, about daily life, or about dreams you’ve had – turning the dream into something coherent can be a great strategy (or, don’t bother, and just write it however crazily it took place!)
  • pick a random story you wrote in the past and read a chapter, paragraph, or 500 word segment – and look at it as a reader, say things you liked about it, praise it, emphasize the good things about your own writing.
  • transcribe a song with lyrics you find inspiring, or crack open a favorite book and transcribe a few paragraphs. You can even do it with something you’ve written yourself!
  • set a low-pressure, low-word count deadline – make it public, if you’re the kind of person that helps, or keep it to yourself.
  • sign up for a zero-consequence challenge, such as a bingo, or the Duck Prints Press #drabbledaysaturday prompts on Twitter – something where no one will mind if you don’t succeed, but you might find some inspiration.
  • create a small goal, either daily, weekly, or monthly – it can be a time frame (I’ll write for 5 minutes a day!) or a word count (I’ll write 1,000 words a month!) or even something tiny (I’ll write one sentence a day!) or a public sharing goal (post a ficlet a day!) and then do your best to stick to it, and reward yourself when you succeed.
  • open your ask box or otherwise solicit short prompts – for example, do a “three sentence” meme (”send me a pairing and a trope and I’ll write a three sentence fill”) or a story title meme (”send me a story title and I’ll write a little about the story I’d create with that title”) or an emoji prompt (”send me three emojis and I’ll write a ficlet”) or make your own fun one that will bring you joy (one of our writers created a “name two characters and I’ll make them kiss in six sentences or less” meme that helped them a lot)
  • participate in a prompt month, something with no consequences for failure but with prompts that can inspire daily ficlet.
  • write without editing, and just throw what you create out into the world – anything to get the words flowing.
  • challenge yourself to write a drabble day, no more and no less.
  • try changing how or when you write – get a nice journal and write by hand, or if that’s your normal, try writing in a word document instead.
  • write at different times of day, and see if it’s easier for you over breakfast, or after lights out, or during your lunch break, or by stealing a few minutes while you’re “on the clock” at work.
  • make an attempt at different formats of writing – if you usually write prose, try a poem; if you usually write really long things, try a drabble.
  • look out your window, or find a place you like, and just describe what you see.
  • do some free association exercises – for example, use a random word generator (I use this one sometimes) and then write literally whatever word comes into your head next – keep going until you fill the page, or until it starts to turn into a story, or just until you don’t feel like it any longer.
  • pick a random sentence (the person who suggested this often uses “Just write anything”) to be the start of a story, and “pants” your way through whatever comes next, without worrying about grammar, continuity, logic, or much of anything.
  • plan ahead – schedule your writing time and don’t let yourself put it off (rewards for success are always good!) and/or visualize exactly what you want to write ahead so you’re ready when you sit down.
  • if you get hit by inspiration, don’t put it off – even if all you do is scrawl a sentence in your phone or on scratch paper between other tasks, get it out of your head. Even a single sentence is a creation!
  • get out of the spaces where your usual things are – go to a park, or on a hike, or in your backyard, or even a different room in your own home, and bring a journal or phone or laptop, and see what strikes you.
  • pick That Thing You Haven’t Been Letting Yourself Write and ignore all the things you Think You Should Be Writing and just…write what brings you joy
  • fanfiction can be very helpful, especially in canon using canon-compliant ships/characterizations – there’s no need to do the heavy lifting. Even if you just write the characters going to a grocery store, or talking about what movie they want to watch, or arguing over take out – something short and sweet that’s just for fun, with no expectations for yourself or anyone else.
  • alternatively, if you’re the type who writes better for others and you’re feeling down – knock out anything, even something short, and post it, and take joy even in a single like or kudos. Knowing even one person out there loved what you wrote can really help.

Any or all of these may help you, but there’s one final one that I, at least, think is the most important of all – and that’s helped me most.

  • FORGIVE YOURSELF. You have work in progress up. It’s okay to leave them. You told someone you’d write something for them. It’s okay not to. You have a deadline looming. It’s okay to ask for more time, or to withdraw, or – in the end – it’s even okay to ghost. You think what you’ve made is bad. It’s okay if it’s bad. You’ll never be able to create when you’re raking yourself over the coals. Everyone in fandom has “been there” – has missed deadlines, has left challenges, has abandoned works in progress, have reneged on a promise to a friend to write something. Until you forgive yourself, you’ll never be able to create anything, and isn’t even a single sentence that isn’t on that Big Important Thing better than no sentences on anything?

Forgive yourself, and find that spark, inspiration, muse, whatever you want to call it – and write things that bring you joy.

We believe in you!

YOU CAN DO IT!

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Announcing: The Authors Selection to Contribute to “Add Magic to Taste”

Duck Prints Press is thrilled to share more information about the 20 authors who have been selected to contribute to Add Magic to Taste! Read on…

Transparent Duck Print: Yellow

Theresa Alef

I’m a pediatric occupational therapist in the Southwest USA, and my pronouns are she/her. Writing has been my first love since I was old enough to string words together, but this will be my very first fictional publication! I have a special place in my heart for a lot of fandoms, but Marvel is definitely my favorite—specifically, the Clint Barton/Bucky Barnes ship. I spend a lot of my free time writing, but when I’m not at the computer, I like to go hiking in the desert, spend time with friends and family, and read books.

Transparent Duck Print: Green

I.A. Ashcroft

A writer and web development freelancer, I. A. Ashcroft lives in the mountains of Colorado alongside family and his constant feline companion, Potato. Ashcroft has published two original sci-fi/fantasy novels, is hard at work on the third in the series, and has been writing for fandoms for over a decade, loving stories that emphasize unlikely bonds, mythology, magic, and hope in the darkness. In between storytelling efforts, he enjoys cooking, fiddling with technology projects, and rolling dice with friends while wearing funny hats.

Links: Archive of Our Own | Tumblr | Twitter

Transparent Duck Print: Blue

Jessica Black

Jessie, pen name Jessica Black, fandom name alocalband, decided she wanted to be a writer at the age of seven and hasn’t looked back since. With a degree in screenwriting, she spent the majority of her career working on assorted projects in Hollywood, New York, and Puerto Rico. Lately, however, she’s settled down to a quieter life with her cat, her library, and a constantly filling notebook of new ideas. Hobbies include reading, hiking, gaming, knitting, and going to hockey games.

Links: Archive of Our Own | Discord: alocalband#6844 | Tumblr | Twitter

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Marianne Blaine

Marianne is a 25-year-old grad student, currently striving to earn their PhD in biology. In their copious spare time, they enjoy reading, writing, and narrating. Though publishing their works has been a persistent dream since early childhood, participating in this anthology is their first foray away from the relative anonymity and ease of fanfiction. Happiest outdoors, they take inspiration from nature and are always planning a next adventure in the wild places (with maybe an audiobook or two).

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Willa Blythe

Willa Blythe (she/her) started talking late and telling stories early, and she hasn’t stopped doing either of those things since. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Playwriting and a Master’s in Literature, and she still learned most everything she knows about writing from reading someone else’s. She and her pre-teen son Jack are a dynamic duo when it comes to road trip karaoke and dinner table roleplay, but disagree about minor matters like homework and chores and whether or not you must do those things. When not working at her day job, teaching, parenting, trying to convince herself to write, or talking on the phone for hours to the three people in her life who are still into talking on the phone, Willa enjoys picking up new hobbies that she’ll pursue to excess for two and a half months; downloading 67 mods for a video game she’ll play 4 hours of before abandoning for three years; reading halves and thirds and quarters of books; and playing a lot of Dungeons & Dragons with friends online. She’s still waiting for the lady knight of her dreams to come pick her up from this really boring tower—but at least the view is pretty sweet. Her contribution to Add Magic to Taste will be Willa’s first publication, and she’s both grateful and excited for this opportunity to bring a bit of magic to the mundane.

Links: Twitter

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Scarlett Gale

Scarlett Gale is the author of His Secret Illuminations. Long ago, under another name, she was the co-author of Needles and Artifice (Cooperative Press; 2012), featuring a rollicking romantic steampunk adventure novella and associated knitting patterns, of which she also designed several. She writes and produces fringe theatre plays based on B-movies, such as Bodacious Barbarian Babes vs. The Indigo Empress and Showgirls of Beast Island. She is a co-producer of the Alison-Bechdel-approved Bechdel Test Burlesque, which in 2017 was included in the Women and Gender Studies curriculum at the University of Oregon. She lives in Seattle with her wife where she gardens, knits, reads, and drinks warm beverages. Unsurprisingly, she also has cats.

Link: Archive of Our Own | Twitter

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Lacey Hays

When Lacey isn’t dreaming of the stars or magical worlds, she can be found stomping around in the wild areas of Northern Oregon with her wife and son, or sipping on a coffee with her trusty notebook and fountain pens. Her writing journey began in the Star Trek Voyager fandom and has continued for over two decades. At the moment, she’s plugging away at her first novel—a world that’s taken twenty years to come to life. Lacey is eager to continue sharing diverse stories set in dark, but hopeful worlds.

Links: Tumblr | Twitter | Wattpad

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A.L. Heard

Ashley, pen name A.L. Heard, fandom name jhoom, is a 34 year old teacher, writer, and mother of two little boys. She’s been writing fanworks since she discovered ff.net back in her middle school days; the platform has changed and the writing’s improved, but Ashley ultimately still spends her free time writing about characters she adores in worlds she’d like to explore. Her first novel, Hockey Bois, was published in 2021. In between writing projects, she works as a language teacher in the Pittsburgh area, plays hockey, and plays trains with her sons.

Links: Archive of Our Own | Discord: jhoom#6351 | Tumblr | Twitter

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T.S. Knight

Starry, pen name T.S. Knight, is a New England-based writer of original fiction, fanfiction, and plays. “Add Magic to Taste” will be her first published short story. When not writing or beta reading, she spends time diving into history, wandering through art museums, and cooking food for the people she loves. An avid kayaker and helicopter cat mom, she loves to create and read queer stories most of all.

Links: Archive of Our Own | Dreamwidth | Tumblr

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Tris Lawrence

Tris Lawrence has been writing since she was a child, filling notebooks with the worlds, dreams, and voices from inside her head. She declared in sixth grade that she wanted to be a writer, promptly started drafting her first novel in seventh grade, and never looked back.

Tris has always been fascinated by the way people work: how their relationships fit together, how they work socially, how they learn and discover. She has read avidly her entire life, devouring mysteries, romance, science fiction, and fantasy novels, and as an adult still loves all of these genres, as well as reading YA constantly. Her favorite stories center around people who are learning or discovering new things, and coming-of-age stories top that list, which is how the school of Pine Hills University came to be. She wants to share stories of people who are learning how to relate to each other, how to adult, how to college, and how to just be. She hopes to share stories about diverse characters with representation of everything she wishes she could have read growing up, and she hopes that these stories will touch the lives and hearts of those who read them.

When not writing, Tris is a wife, a mother (to two children, a cat, and a dog), a knitter, a system administrator, a black belt in taekwondo, an avid reader and obsessive writer, and a music aficionado. Sleep, she claims, is optional.

Links: Facebook | Pillowfort | Tumblr | Twitter

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Lex T. Lindsay

Lex T. Lindsay likes cats, tats, and cool hats. When she isn’t shaking words loose or yelling about Captain America, she can often be found lurking in the woods. More stories in CONSTRAINT 280 (Microverses) and CLOCKWORK, CURSES AND COAL (World Weaver Press). Forthcoming in UPON A TWICE TIME (Air and Nothingness Press). Occasional Tweets @LexTLindsay.

Links: Linktree | Twitter

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Beth Lumen

Beth Lumen (she/her/hers) has been writing both fan fiction and original fiction forever, and she is thrilled to have the opportunity to contribute to this anthology as her first published work. Her first big fandom was Harry Potter in the mid-2000s where she met many wonderful people who remain her friends to this day. She’s written in various book and TV fandoms since then, most recently for queer contemporary novels. In addition to writing and reading happy gay love stories, Beth loves volleyball, traveling, hiking, and making a mess in the kitchen. She lives in St. Paul, MN with her lovely partner and the two best dogs.

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Kristi Mae

Kristi has been daydreaming on road trips and scrawling stories on napkins since she was very small. In 2020, she discovered the wonderfully queer and neurodivergent world of fandom and has never looked back. She currently enjoys writing darkfic for the Magnus Archives podcast and is very happy for her first publishing opportunity with Duck Prints Press.

When not writing, you can find her napping, playing video games, dabbling in bookbinding projects, or occasionally engaging in her actual responsibilities as a STEM doctoral student in Canada.

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Puck Malamud

Puck Malamud (pronouns: ve/ver/vis/verself or they/them/theirs/themself) is a library worker, writer, and poet who has lived in a variety of large East Coast US cities since immigrating from Ukraine in the 1990s. Ve is a co-author of a chapter on being LGBTQ in the library profession, and author and co-author of multiple fics in various fandoms, though primarily The Untamed and Mo Dao Zu Shi. When not desperately trying to keep up with vis Libby holds, Puck can be found practicing dance, hanging out in various Slacks and Discords, and shitposting on Tumblr.

Links: Archive of Our Own | Tumblr

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Maggie Page

Maggie Page lives in Texas with family, including her incorrigibly clumsy mom with a green thumb, two silly dogs who are also mother and daughter, and a fierce feline hunter. Maggie has previously published several poems and a piece of flash fiction with collegiate and independent journals.

When not indulging the urge to write, Maggie enjoys music, traveling, camping, dabbling in various art forms, principally watercolor and graphic making, and torturing her loved ones with her ruthless board game victories.

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Alex Ransom

Alex Ransom is a longtime fan writer and translator recently expanding into original fiction. Her favorite trope, as both reader and writer, is “Earn Your Happy Ending,” in which characters fight through perhaps inordinate amounts of difficulty to come out happier and more content on the other side. She is especially interested in the intersection between social circumstances, personal history, and the formation and maintenance of identity. Her favorite genres are space opera, fantasy, queer romance, and poetry.

As a child, Alex thought everything was better if it was more complicated and that the best answer to a yes or no question was usually “both”. Consequently, today she is bi/pansexual, trans/nonbinary, has worked a variety of jobs, and has three degrees in completely unrelated fields. When she isn’t writing or doomscrolling on the internet, she likes to travel, hike, and build marginally functional furniture. She lives outside Boston, Massachusetts, with her spouse and adult daughter.

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Em Rowntree

Em Rowntree’s first foray into the world of writing was with a story called The Magic Land that featured a unicorn and a flying carpet the size of a country, and they’ve been chasing that high ever since. They’ve been sharing their writing online for almost seven years, and have had poems and short stories published in anthologies. They live in the UK.

Links: Twitter

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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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Florence Vale

Florence is a Norwegian picture book author and fanfic enthusiast. Her current obsessions include Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, The Magnus Archives, and just about any actual play podcast she can get her hands on. In addition to Add Magic to Taste and her Archive of Our Own account, you can find her writing in the original zines Mansion of Fears and Carpe Noctem.

Links: Archive of Our Own

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Nina Waters

Claire Houck (she/they/he), pen name Nina Waters, fandom name unforth, is the founder and sole proprietor of Duck Prints Press LLC. She is queer, 38 years old, married to the lovely Lisa, and a mother of two. Claire has been writing fanfiction since the young age of seven, when she penned (well, two-finger typed and printed dot matrix) the timeless classic “the story of my littl ponies and the glob.” Since then, her spelling, grammar and prose have improved immensely. She has written over two hundred short stories, a number of novellas, and 16 novels—some original, some fanfiction—including “A Glimmer of Hope,” which was successfully Kickstarted and self-published in fall, 2016. She’s also had two short stories published. Before she became a full-time writer, Claire had a career as a professional grant writer and program evaluator, providing consultation services for the New York City Department of Education and other non-profit education organizations.

Links: Archive of Our Own | Tumblr | Twitter