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Dialog Prompts: Creature Culture Clash!

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

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

“Well, about that … funny story…”

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

“I thought you were joking!”

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

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

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

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

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

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

“It’s death, obviously!”

“But they hardly did anything wrong!”

“Uhhhhhhh.”

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

“What do you mean, humans?!!?“

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

“How would you know?”

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

“You know, that joke is getting old.”

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

Now, go forth and write some things!!

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

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Ten Things We Hate About Trad Pub

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

4. Query letters, for so many reasons.

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

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

5. “Simultaneous submissions prohibited.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

9. Fanfiction writing doesn’t count as writing experience

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

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

10. Tagging conventions (read: lack thereof).

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

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

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

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Announcing: The Authors and Artists Contributing to “And Seek (Not) to Alter Me!”

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We are thrilled to announce the authors and who will be contributing to And Seek (Not) to Alter Me! (Though we may yet add an artist or three…)

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Artists

Miss Aceriee

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

Links: Instagram | Tumblr | Twitter

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Cris Alborja

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

Link: Instagram

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Joshua Beeking

I’m Joshua Beeking, an illustrator from Québec City that works in both traditional and digital medias. I have been working on sharpening my skills for over 10 years. I received formal education at Quebec’s O’Sullivan College, where I earned a diploma in 2D/3D Animation and Rendering in 2012. I won first place at the UQAM digital creation contest in 2011 for best character designs.

I’m currently a full time freelance artist with more than 200 commissions completed over the years, and aim to share my little touch of creativity with the world!

Links: Instagram | Patreon | Twitter

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Liz Brooks

I’m a freelance artist currently living in Michigan with my boyfriend and my dog Ringus Mingus (aka Gus). I’ve been doing freelance work for a few years now and am currently working on making a webcomic series about gay Renaissance Faire knights. In my free time, I enjoy reading, playing video games poorly, and baking.

Links: Carrd | Instagram | Tumblr | Twitter

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Amy Fincher

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

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Taylor C. Fischer

Taylor graduated from the Maryland Institute College of art in 2010. They believe that there are experiences and stories that can connect all of us with the aid of illustration and design. Their previous projects include: Dauntless, Elderscrolls Online, Sid Meier’s: Civilization, League of Legends, and Xcom

Taylor’s continues to create personal work in their free time, but also enjoys raising farm animals, horseback riding, training horses, beekeeping, and lives in their Tiny House on wheels.

Preferred pronouns are They/Them

Links: TaylorCFischer.com | Twitter

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Gio Guimarães

Giovanna, or simply Gio, she/her, is a Brazilian artist, working for a long time as illustrator, comic artist and animator. Some of her works are the comics Robocop and Green Hornet, cards for Avatar: The Last Airbender, short animations for advertising and TV shows, and art for games. Since 2016, lives in São Paulo and works for an American game company as Senior Illustrator. Besides the “official” work, she is always working in personal projects, such as independent comics, short animations, illustrations, and fandom works.

Links: Facebook (giovannabcg) | Facebook (giosdoodlesandartworks) | Instagram | Tumblr | Twitter

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Alicia Matheson

Alicia Matheson (she/her), Bi-Demisexual and Elder Millenial circa 1982! Southern California native, currently living in the Pacific Northwest; has been writing and doing digital and traditional art for decades. She also works as an author under the pen name Licie Laine.

Links: Archive of Our Own | deviantArt | Patreon | Tumblr | Twitter

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Lauren Mugford

I’ve been drawing since my mom first put a crayon in my hand as a way to help express my emotions. This resulted in bedroom walls getting covered in elaborate story-filled murals, and I haven’t really stopped since (though my choice of media has changed a bit). My pronouns are she/her, and I currently I reside in the Toronto area, trying to figure out how to make this comic-making, illustration-drawing thing work. With a strong love for narratives, my primary focus is on making fan art for whatever fandom has me most recently captivated, and trying to create my own queer, nerdy works of fiction to put out in the world.

Links: Instagram | Tumblr | Twitter

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Pimmy Oldham

A quirky queer published artist and hobby writer, mainly working in digital media for the last five years, but often drifting back into traditional media out of nostalgia for my long deserted youth.

I hobby art predominantly in the Supernatural fandom. Heller to the end of my days.

My home is in the UK, my heart is in Europe and my head is usually orbiting Pluto (she’s still a planet to me).

I usually have three or four cats vying to lie on me, my keyboard, or my graphics tab in no set order and live with them and my daughter in generally harmonious chaos.

Links: Archive of Our Own | RedBubble | Tumblr

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Meredith Pancake

I am a 30 year old artist from Indiana. After playing Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, I fell in love with the game and with digital art, and haven’t looked back since! I enjoy creating fanart for whatever show, movie, or book series has my attention at the time, ranging from LoZ to the Witcher. I’m always exploring to find new artists to emulate and learn from, and trying new techniques!

Links: Tumblr

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Magnolia Porter

Magnolia Porter, 24; I’m an illustrator and painter who enjoys figure expression, both grand and sentimental, what it means to be a creature, and exploiting my exposure to the ideas of holy and unholiness for symbolism material, especially while exploring a mixture thereof (“I’ll tell you my sins so you can sharpen your knife,” anyone?). This will be my first published art, outside of a fandom zine or two. I also dabble in creative writing, though it is not quite my breath and blood like art is. I daydream of fantasy worldbuilding, but unfortunately my troubles with plot have kept those worlds from expanding. Currently, I am in my fourth year of Artfight (go team steampunk!), I cannot stop listening to The Oh Hellos and Will Wood and the Tapeworms, and I am quite looking forward to the new Good Omens series.

Links: Tumblr (mushrooms-and-blooms) | Tumblr (roseal-marrow)

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Sunny Powell

I’m a they/them ace-spectrum trash panda with a love for political science and working hard to change the world one act of kindness at a time. I’m a graphic designer by day, a multimedia creator and writer by night, and I’ve been involved with various fandom communities for nearly twenty five years. I live in Portland, OR with my 7 year old son and two cats.

Link: SunnyPowellArt.com

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Xanthe P. Russell

I’m Xanthe, she/they, a 23 year old queer freelance artist based in the United Kingdom. I am primarily a portrait artist who specialises in using portraiture as a way of expressing my love for both the subject and art world in general. I mainly work digitally, although love to dabble in traditional art from time to time (such as pencils, paints, embroidery, etc), and am constantly looking to push the boundaries of what my art can be! I recently graduated with a BA in History of Art, and often will use artists of the past and present as inspirations for my work. My art has been featured in a few primarily online magazines, such as the Kraze and MouthingOff, along with some fan-zine and independent projects.

My work is a mix of fan art and original character designs. I have a wide range of fandoms that I’ve been involved in over the years, but one that has remained consistent (and was also what got me interested in digital art back in 2013) is the Kpop fandom. Fandoms in general have been places where I’ve met a lot of really talented and lovely people who have helped inspire and motivate me as a creative person! I also have a love for music and writing, and have written a lot of my own music and stories in my spare time. Being creative has always been a big and happy part of my life, and I love being able to share that creativity with the world!

Links: Behance | Facebook | deviantArt | Instagram | Tumblr | Twitter

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Casei Solus

Casei is a self-taught artist from Florida, USA. She is known for her impressionist fanart and her minimalist pride merch. For work, she designs and mocks up merch for clients. She doesn’t care about her pronouns.

Links: Linktree

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Rima Sweet

I am a Luxembourg/Europe-based Media Writer. My preferred pronouns are she/her. I’ve never had an art piece published before, but a small screenplay made it into my university’s 10th anniversary anthology.

Growing up, art and literature were my passion. As an absolute language nerd, I went on to study English Literature and Linguistics with a heavy focus on Shakespeare, with Sociology as a Minor. Later, I switched to a BTS (“Brevet de Technicien Supérieur”) in Media Writing, which focused more on content creation for various outlets of media, be that visual, audio, print, online, film, journalism…what have you.

Drawing and painting have always been my preferred ways of expressing myself. I was gifted my first set of coloured pencils when I was three years old. Since then, there’s practically always been some sort of drawing utensil in my hand. I love to play with lighting, and my favourite scenes to depict are heartfelt moments with much emotion. I started drawing fan art when I was a teenager, and I am still enjoying it tremendously to this day. Outside of fandom, I like to draw and paint horses, especially in movement, and landscapes. I specialise in digital art but I want to get back into watercolour and gouache.

At the moment, my main fandom is “The Untamed”, or “The Grandmaster of Demonic Cultivation”. Outside of that, I enjoy Marvel movies, fantasy/YA novels, and French poetry. When I’m not working or drawing, you can catch me crocheting or preparing some kind of food, which I love to share with my long-term partner.

Links: Archive of Our Own | Tumblr | Twitter

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A. A. Weston

I’m best described as a jack of all trades but I practice art more than anything else. I am a neurodivergent and queer momma of the best kid in the world.

Links: Archive of Our Own | Instagram | Tumblr | Twitter

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Authors

Len Amin

I’m a disaster pansexual woman, and a fresh graduate with my bachelors degree but absolutely no direction! Despite that, I don’t remember a breath in which I wasn’t creating stories in my mind. Weaving together worlds has always felt like just a different way for me to understand the human condition and to connect with others on a deeper, more spiritual level, and I never want to give it up. I crave quiet, relatable tales about the connection and love between people in whatever form that takes, and how people work through the tribulations that may come about from that intimacy. I am currently residing in the Midwest of the United States with my Palestinian family, our puppy Charles, and our lovely chickens, with a particular affinity of poetry, spending time with friends, and typing away on my laptop in our local cafe.

Links: Archive of Our Own | Discord: LenScribbles#2644 | Tumblr | Twitter

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Juno Caster

Juno is a queer woman in her thirties living in France; she teaches ESL and English literature. She’s been involved in fandom, mostly through writing fanfiction, for twenty years — first on forums and privately hosted websites, then on LiveJournal and FanFiction.Net, and now on Tumblr and AO3. She’s mostly into Asian dramas these days; other interests include foreign languages, true crime, and coffee.

Links: Twitter

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Era J.M. Couts

I’ve been a writer for over 20 years.

Well, if I actually think about it carefully, it has probably been longer than that. I do remember writing a story on MS Paint when my age was still single digits. I could have used Word but Paint was funnier, it let me draw my scenes there too.

So maybe I should rephrase it: I have been a fanfic writer for over 20 years. There, that looks a bit better. I wrote a few originals too, but those never saw the light of day. They will, eventually.

I like to write about characters and their development. I like to write about feelings and struggles and how complicated life can be even when it looks so simple. I like to write epic love stories that don’t always have a happy ending. But most often they do.

I will, one day, write a dystopian series that I’ve been plotting for over a decade. One day, certainly one day.
Aside from being a writer, I’m a reader, an opinionated mind, an Aries, an immigrant, a coffee lover, and a night owl that has been forced to conform to the social norm of waking up early only to become a “Morgenmuffel.”

I am passionate, energetic, lazy, and sarcastic. I’m a CrazyCatLady in the making, a food lover that cannot cook, the Man™ my grandma wanted me to marry, and a happy soul in my own shoes.

And, above all, I am weird. I am queer. And so damn proud of it.

Links: Archive of Our Own | Tumblr

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Aria L. Deair

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

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

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

Links: Discord: ✨Dragon✨#5555 | Tumblr | Twitter

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Adrian Harley

Adrian Harley is an almost-lifelong North Carolinian and a fantasy fiction aficionado who didn’t start delving deep into fandom until adulthood. In an effort to reduce the number of unread books in their hoard, they have recently started reviewing books they possess at booksinmyhouse.dreamwidth.org. They are an editor of research by day and an aspiring novelist, also by day. They go to bed early. They live in Raleigh, NC, with their husband and a perfectly reasonable number of cats.

Link: Twitter

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R.L. Houck

R. L. Houck is a 40 yr old woman who uses she/her pronouns. She resides in Virginia with her wife, two dogs, and six cats. She has been writing creatively for as long as she can remember, but this anthology will be her first original publication.

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Hayley Hyde

Hayley Hyde is a chaotic neutral writer and visual artist. Having recently graduated with a bachelor’s degree in English Writings, she currently works as a freelance copywriter, while also fumbling about in her pursuit of a TV writing career. As a former writing center tutor, Hayley knows no bliss quite like tutees coming in with fiction assignments. She’s currently busy being a big ol’ lesbian in Philadelphia.

Links: Archive of Our Own | Discord: destihecker#2695 | Instagram

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Lucy K.R.

Lucy K.R. (she/her) is technically in existence. Every time she is free, she writes. Sometimes, when she is not free, she writes anyway. Therefore, she has taken it upon herself to pursue an authorial career rather than shirking responsibilities in search of the writing time she needs. She is fortunate to be joined by her enthusiastic fiancée Tomo, a loving OG family, and a lively found family as well.

Though a new name in original fiction, she boasts a couple publications in local newspaper Flagpole, and has done some writing for board and video games. Most notably, her work will be featured in the upcoming board game Mageling: Rise of the Ancient Ones. She maintains an eager following for her Final Fantasy VII fanfictions, and in the past year began writing in the Heaven Official’s Blessing universe as well to warm responses.

She comes to writing with a background in upright bass performance, a general interest in most things, and little relevant experience. She is the kind of person who enjoys learning one piece of information about everything without ever acquiring a specialty. In her written works Lucy K. enjoys exploring the fragility and endurance inherent in humanity, the effects of trauma on relationships, and the paradoxical brotherhood of confinement and freedom in society.

She would like to acknowledge that she has never written a biographical statement that did not turn out weird, beg your indulgence, and express her hope that you enjoy her work in this anthology. The people at Duck Prints Press have been a delight, and she is deeply grateful to be included.

Links: Archive of Our Own | Twitter

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Nickel J. Keep

Nickel (they/them) was born in a galaxy far, far away. No. Wait. That’s not their origin story. They currently live in Pennsylvania with two of their three partners, their two children, and a fat, lazy, chonk of a cat named Sphinx. When not writing, Nickel can be found drawing, playing video games, or running Magic: The Gathering tournaments as an L1 judge. They can frequently be found lurking in the Haven, Leverage, and Witcher fandoms.

Links: Archive of Our Own | Twitter

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M.K. Mads

M.K. Mads has been writing stories since she was seven years old. While she is most prolific in fanfiction and has works scattered among more than a dozen fandoms, she has been making strides into original fiction. Her favorite genre to read is romance. When she isn’t reading, writing, or falling headfirst into a new fandom, she can be found baking, walking, doting on her niblings, or playing Pokemon Go.

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Nova Mason

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

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Theo Neidlinger

Writer with a focus on lgbtq+ themes. They/them.

Link: Twitter

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A. Reilly

A. Reilly is an avid reader, and has been writing stories as long as they can remember. Around eight years old, they saved up their allowance one nickel and dime at a time to buy a typewriter — which they still have, although they mostly use a Mac now. Adaille joined the fanfic and fanart scene in 2018 after years in the Supernatural fandom, and has been hooked on the community ever since.

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Notte Silhouette

Hi! I’m Notte (she/they). I’ve been a writer since I was 12 years old, which is when I started reading fanfiction and almost immediately felt compelled to write some, too. I started in the Percy Jackson fandom, then moved through various medias until my stories started becoming so AU they were practically my own. While I’ve never published original fiction before, I’ve been publishing fanfiction steadily over the last decade across various usernames and have published articles under my given name for multiple genres: interview, research, and more. I’ve also begun songwriting, and recently had one of my songs incorporated into a video game!

My fiction writing tends towards introspective, character-driven short stories, often laden with metaphor and double meanings. I love flowery imagery and poetic prose, and making characters suffer in the name of growth. More than that, I love using fiction as a way to connect with others: both through the text and through the process of writing. I’ve been running a fandom server for the past two years to build community and support other fanfic writers. I’ve also run two to three prompt months per year, and I’m excited to take on the beta and co-head mod role for a current zine!

When I’m not writing, I’m studying (for grad school, for a future medical school, for research work). Any time after that goes into reading as much as possible, or recently, graphic design, as I start creating graphics to enhance the quality of my events. I love talking to people who want to talk to me, and I will sleep anytime I’m presented with a soft surface to lay on (and sometimes even without). I can’t wait to share my work with you, thank you for taking the time to read it!

Links: Archive of Our Own | Tumblr (fandomsilhouette) | Tumblr (nottesilhouette)

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Veronica Sloane

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

Links: Archive of Our Own | Tumblr

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Theresa Tanner

Theresa Tanner (she/her): My father’s family was in newspaper journalism, and he taught me how to get to the heart of a story and how to proofread. My mom was an Army doctor, and her family included a long history of educators. I grew up to teach high school science and write stories, so I’d like to think both sides would be proud of me. When I retire from teaching, I plan to pursue writing as my second full-time career. When not teaching or writing, I enjoy playing with my cat, video games, knitting, listening to music, streaming TV, and, of course, reading. I live in West Texas now, but have lived in Maryland and Germany and traveled through much of the United States and Western Europe.

I’ve written several novels with the help of NaNoWriMo, although none are yet published. I have several hundred works on Archive of Our Own, primarily in the Supernatural and Yuri!!! on Ice fandoms. I currently also enjoy Miraculous Ladybug, Marvel Cinematic Universe, Boku no Hero Academia, Star Wars, Star Trek, Mass Effect, and The Lord of the Rings.

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K.B. Vimes

K.B. Vimes lives in West Virginia with his fiance and their six cats, four frogs, three lizards, one frog, and a number of fish. In his spare time he makes paper craft, takes long walks with his fiance, and visits state parks. He’s been writing since he was old enough to hold a pencil, and for years has told stories to anyone willing to hold still long enough to listen.

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Lyn Weaver

Lyn Weaver has been writing fanfiction for over a decade and original fiction for even longer. Her preferred genres are fantasy and horror and her preferred tropes are ‘enemies to lovers’ and anything to do with identity issues. She won’t read a story if something bad happens to the cat.

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Nicole Wilkinson

Nicole has been publishing her writing for the public since she first stumbled into fanfiction back in 2007, when a college friend introduced her to the concept through the world of Final Fantasy VIII slash fiction. Since then, it’s been a roller coaster ride straight through dozens of fandoms, eventually leading to original content published through a variety of means. She’s in her mid-thirties, uses she/her pronouns, and more recently has discovered an intense affection for playing Dungeons and Dragons.

Links: Archive of Our Own | Tumblr | WordPress

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Cat Z.Y.

Cat currently lives in California with her succulent Teddy. She published her first novel by the name of “Guardian” with the pseudonym Ann O. Nemos (after reading too much Agatha Christie) at the age of 14. Besides writer, she enjoys fiber crafts and swimming.

Link: Archive of Our Own

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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!