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First-Ever Giveaway for One of Our Titles!

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

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

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

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

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

Check it out now!

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Solicited Brilliance

Hey everyone! This is Aria, one of the resident fandom olds here to bring you a guest blog post this week. The topic is near and dear to my heart, so let’s dive straight into talking about that ever-ominous thundercloud – Writing Advice! 

Writing advice is a tricky subject for many authors – what works for one clearly doesn’t work for another, and what’s essential for one genre might not even apply to another genre . (Certain authors can pry adverbs from my cold, dead hands.) It doesn’t matter who is offering it, where, or when: it is an industry truism that writing advice is as varied as writers themselves. 

With that in mind, I asked ten different authors for writing advice, in the hope to highlight just how different we all are, even when approaching the same question.

The question I posed to everyone individually (so no one would get worried if they gave the same answer), was as follows: What is one piece of writing/writerly advice you hold as a Universal Constant? That no matter what you are writing or what you are working on still holds true?

As I hoped, the advice is as varied as the authors are!


@nottesilhouette:

Hmm I think for me, the Universal Constant is that [my writing has] got to make me feel good. Not necessarily happy, because I’ve definitely written through tears before, but it’s got to make me feel…satisfied, or give me catharsis, or lead me towards a goal I’m passionate about (looking at you, med school essays!). 

Even if [my writing is] for school, getting things done feels good, and for creative writing, I want to feel like I’ve stretched my writing brain or accomplished something cool — if I’m not getting that feeling, it’s time for a break and maybe a new plan of attack.


Hermit:

“You can’t think your way out of a writer’s block. Most of the time you need to write yourself out of a thinking block.” – John Rogers

When a story is fighting me this is often the solution. Either the scene is going against the characterization, the characters are lacking agency/being too passive, or I went wrong three sentences back; the answer to getting the story flowing is to write it differently and see how that feels. Rather than try to force an existing scene by coming up with better justification for an OOC (Out of Character) passage or diving into a new research rabbit hole.


Shadaras:

I don’t know where this advice first came from (it’s one of those things that just gets passed around until it’s from the general writer mindscape, especially in fandom spaces), but this is the advice I tend to ground myself in: “Write what you want to read.” What that means can vary depending on context, of course, but it gives a guiding point to return to when I’m stuck. 

The thing I want to read could be a specific character dynamic, or leaning into descriptions of the environment, or a plot beat I really want to hit, or even (in a nonfiction context) just the clearest explanation of an event/rule I know how to give. Writing what I want to read means that I’m going to enjoy myself more, and that means that I’m going to be able to write much more easily, and that makes it more likely I’ll finish stories and be able to share them with other people – and then I can find people who like the same things in stories I do, and we all win!


Annabeth Lynch:

The most constant advice that I really try to keep in mind is that sure, someone else may have written it, but not you. Everyone has unique experiences, and that makes your writing unique. No one can write something the exact way you would. It’s my favorite advice I’ve ever gotten, and I feel that it’s always relevant.


@ts-knight:

Writing by habit is often easier than waiting for the muse. When I feel out of practice in my writing, I find that starting again is an uphill climb, but setting a daily goal helps me get back into the flow. That goal could be just writing at all or a certain (achievable) number of words. That way, I know I’ve reached the goal not when I’ve hit a certain quality of writing, but when I sat down at the keys. Exercising my writing muscles (even when I’m afraid to) makes the creativity flow so much better than avoiding the ominous blank page!


@mad-madam-m:

[My writing advice is] that you have to finish. And I don’t mean that you have to finish everything that you write; I’ve got easily a dozen stories or more that are either unfinished or never made it past the first draft. But if you’re writing with the goal of sharing your stories with an audience, be that via fanfic or original fiction or what have you, I really think one of the best things you can do is learn to finish them. This quote about it in particular is one that I’ve held close to my heart for years:

“Finish. The difference between being a writer and being a person of talent is the discipline it takes to apply the seat of your pants to the seat of your chair and finish. Don’t talk about doing it. Do it. Finish.” — E. L. Konigsburg 


Sanne Burg:

I think my universal constant is that I write because I want to write, and I create for myself. That means not caring what other people think of the topics I write [about], as long as I’m behind whatever it is I’m writing. (It also means that I know when I’m forcing it and that I need to stop when writing becomes a chore rather than something for fun or a hobby.)


@theleakypen:

I think the one [piece of writing advice] that has been truest for me, regardless of what I’m working on, is that if something isn’t working [I should] step away from it for a bit and go work on something else. Usually if there’s a problem, I need to let it percolate in the back of my head instead of banging my head against a wall.


ThePornFairy:

Focus on the feeling. If you can write the feeling so that it’s filling you from the tips of your toes to the hair on your head, then you’re on the right track. People don’t care half as much about the setting and wording as they do about the feeling. 

When people say “step inside your character”, I think what they mean is “let your character feel and feel along with them until feelings come out on your page and stab your reader’s eyeballs until they’re feeling right along with you.” Everything else can be edited later, as long as you capture and express the emotions.


@tryslora:

Fall in love with your characters. If you don’t love them, no one else will. And yes, this includes the antagonists and every single side character. And while you’re doing that, remember that every single character thinks they are the star of their own narrative, so let them tell you what it is, even if it’s not the main storyline. Let them come alive.


Wonderfully said, everyone! I’m going to add my answer to the question as well, because sometimes, I’ve needed this reminder far more than I’ll admit! 

@arialerendeair:

Don’t be afraid to write badly. Or poorly, or lazily. (Take that, Mr. Adverb-Hater.) There is a freedom I never realized before in allowing myself to write “badly:” to overuse certain words, phrases, and even styles as I write my rough draft. When I remember not to focus on the minutiae of a story, I can focus on the bigger problems, and fix the small ones later. Once the words are on the page, they can be fixed, but they have to be put on the page first. Write badly, edit, learn, get better, and write again. 

Writing advice as a topic is a mix of controversial and contradictory; all advice should be applied in moderation rather than treated as an endless stream of syrup being poured over a stack of pancakes. (And now I want pancakes…) It’s always all right if advice doesn’t apply to you – but understanding why the advice is given is important. There are other authors out there who might need the advice that isn’t right for you.

When I set out to write this blog post, I had two goals. The first was I wanted to highlight how varied writing advice and tips can be. The second one was for everyone reading it to walk away with one piece of advice that they could hold to heart because it fit them. I accomplished the first, but the second is entirely up to every author reading this. 

The one consistent theme through all of this advice comes down to two words: Keep Writing. Whether that’s daydreaming about your story or putting the words down on the page, write. 

Keep writing. 

Last, but not least, I’ll leave you all with the same question, because I know there are more answers out there that we all would love to hear:

What is one piece of writing/writerly advice you hold as a Universal Constant? That no matter what you are writing, what you are working on, still holds true.

Stay sassy, everyone!

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Prompt-a-Duck Masterpost: Feb 12, 2022

Prompt-A-Duck is a low pressure weekly prompt challenge run on the Duck Prints Press discord server, open to all of our authors and artists. The prompts are issued every Friday, and result masterposts go up on Saturdays.

The rules are simple: Create something inspired by our weekly prompts, either one or both. It can be an original creation or a fanwork. Art, writing, digital graphics or whatever else strikes people’s fancy are all welcome. There’s no minimum or maximum word count and we actively encourage thinking outside of the box, so the result may only be tangential to the prompt.

Prompt-A-Duck, theme week 1:

1. Epiphany

2. Thunderstorm

This week‘s submissions:

1. Puck has written a prequel for a character featuring in one of our upcoming anthologies: https://theleakypen.tumblr.com/post/675635302441844736/written-for-the-prompt-1-epiphany-2

2. Satu wrote a little Encanto OneShot: https://archiveofourown.org/works/37009849

Please check out these stories and let our authors know if you enjoyed them!

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What Do We Look For in a Story Pitch?

We received a question on our Discord, seeking guidance on writing a pitch for our newest anthologies, She Wears the Midnight Crown and He Bears the Cape of Midnight. Answering it led us to look through the pitches we received when we put out our first call for applicants earlier this year. At that time, we didn’t include story pitches in the ratings, and we were also more open to authors changing their pitches, since we weren’t rating them. However, we still read them because we were really curious and excited to see what people had in mind, and I (hi, it’s your friendly neighborhood @unforth, owner and usually-the-blogger) highlighted my favorites and shared many of them with our backers on Patreon to whet their appetites.In response to the question on Discord, I shared a few of my favorites, and multiple people expressed that it was helpful to them, so I thought – why not turn it into a blog post, and let everyone see?

A few notes on this:

1. We do not claim this list will be generalizable to other Presses or calls for story pitches. You may find these strategies effective elsewhere, but you may not!

2. The pitches for Add Magic to Taste were restricted to only 200 words; our new call allows up to 400, so if you’re writing a pitch for us you’ll be able to get a bit more in than the examples were provide.

3. If you’re coming to this in the future when we’ve pitched a new anthology that you’d like to apply to, it will still be applicable – just swap in the specifics that make sense to our new project, because the essentials won’t have changed even when the specifics do.

4. If you’ve read our Submission Review Rubric you’ll already know that the only rubric item we have specifically for the Story Pitch is inherently subjective. While yes, we will consider the content, grammar, and technical aspects of your story pitch, that won’t have a huge impact on the ratings for our less subjective categories, and the main place we’ll rate it will be on a 0 to 4 scale from “I’m just not feeling it” through “I NEED 10K OF THIS YESTERDAY.” As such, because it’s subjective, what each reviewer will look for will vary. However, I wouldn’t be writing this post unless I thought the advice in it didn’t have some general applicability – our personal preferences will alter how precisely we rate pitches but in a general sense, a pitch that considers the criteria to follow has a good chance of appealing to all of us, even if it doesn’t end up a personal favorite.

With all that in mind…what should you consider when you write us a pitch? 

Basically: we’re going to want to know who the most important characters are, where those characters are, and what those characters are going to do/how they’re going to interact with each other and/or the world around them

Less basically…how do you do that?

1. Have characters. Don’t pull a “I want to tell a story kinda like a romance, but it takes place in a spaceship, and the ball is for…” without telling us about the people. Be the worldbuilding ever so cool (and don’t get us wrong, we LOVE cool worldbuilding!) we’re looking for people to tell stories about queer romance. So, we need to know who the characters are, not just where they are. All the most successful story pitches we’ve read are character driven. For example, here are some lovely character introductions from our Add Magic to Taste calls:

Ex. 1: Layla was born a witch—specifically, a witch who can make anything she touches taste sweet and delicious, which is a pretty lame magic to be born with. 

Ex. 2: Xee is Asexual, graduated from school a decade back, and works the Tea Shop his parents have owned since they moved there from the Fae realm four or five decades back. 

Ex: 3: Teravilis, a dragon shifter escaped from the government lab where she’s lived her whole life, is already feeling overwhelmed before a towering, beautiful woman sits down on the next couch. 

2. Have a setting. However lovingly your OCs are assembled, if we learn nothing about the type of masquerade you’re portraying or the surroundings, then we won’t be interested. Look again at those three examples of characters: all three not only tell us about the character – they also integrate information about the world that character inhabits. A pitch like “Character A is an engineer who is tall and blonde and very good at what they do; Character B is a sec op who has perfect aim and a give-um-hell attitude” is interesting but…what does Character A actually engineers? Why Character B would need to be a sec op wherever they are? It doesn’t have to be in the exact same sentence, but it needs to be in the pitch somewhere

2a: The setting and the characters must inter-relate. We want these characters to inhabit living, breathing worlds, and we do mean inhabit. If they just seem plastered over the setting – like if we took the characters out and plonked them down somewhere else they’d be completely the same – then that’s a problem. 

Some examples of settings that enhanced people’s pitches for Add Magic to Taste:

Ex. 1: Airmid, an undercover health inspector with a love for busting the dirtiest cooks in the business, stops by her gleaming city’s newest restaurant: The Drakery Bakery. She can’t believe what she sees. The miniature dragons who work as everything from oven flames to waiters can’t be up to code, and no matter how delicious the pastries are she’s certain that a dragon shouldn’t be breathing on crème brûlées to crisp their tops. 

Ex. 2: 35+ hedge witch who runs a bookstore (or similar) keeps magically bambozzling postal workers to deliver to the wrong address so she can talk to the cute owner of the bakery three doors down.

Ex. 3: Kyle hates that he has to put on his human skin every day and work at the coffee shop, but ocean jobs are reserved for those that can’t work on land. 

(and again, note how all three of these could have been easily swapped in as examples for item 1. The setting exists to serve the narrative about the characters, not the other way around, so a strong pitch is likely to integrate the worldbuilding aspects by describing where and how the character(s) fit into the world.)

3. Be specific. It’s okay if you don’t know the character names or haven’t decided on the name of the spaceship where your ball takes place – that level of specificity isn’t necessary – but a pitch that says, “Character A is a spaceship pilot who has snuck into the ball after making a mask out of discarded reactor core parts” is much more appealing than a pitch that says, “Character A works on the spaceship and sneaks into the ball.” We want to see that you’ve thought about who these characters are, and where they are, and what they’re going to do. 

Ex. 1: Then one morning, right in the middle of the dullest lull there ever was, the girl that works at the yarn shop across the street – the girl Merrily has been quietly pining over from afar since the first time she saw her three months ago – makes a dramatic entrance, slaps her hands down on the counter and says, very sternly, “It’s you, isn’t it?”

Ex. 2: Then he meets Nigh, a customer who hates the ocean but smells of kelp and salt and rides a skateboard like he’s underwater. He’s everything Kyle might want if he had time to do something foolish like fall in love.

Ex. 3: This story begins when Shiloh heads to La Vie Café to meet with the Reincarnation Support Group (for women who believe they have been reincarnated) in Philadelphia. She claims that she is the reincarnated version of a man who died 25 years ago. 

4. Introduce the plot…but don’t feel you have to tell us everything. If you really want to summarize your entire story in 400 words, go for it, but it’s not necessary. It’s absolutely okay to leave us wanting more – you can treat this like a back-of-the-book blurb rather than like your cover letter summary. “The problems they face seem insurmountable…what will they do?” is a perfectly okay way to end your pitch, especially if you’ve adhered to our first three points and made it clear through your characters, setting description, and specificity that you do have a plan. Most of the pitches we’ve liked in the past treated the pitch as a teaser rather than as a synopsis or a book report. (Read the full pitches below for an idea what we mean).

5. How you write your pitch is almost as important as the actual story you propose. We want a compelling story, yes, but we also want to see – how do you approach character building? How do you work within a word limit? How do you approach building tension? Your story pitch is about the story you want to tell, but it’s also literally about how you pitch it. The classic AO3 “sorry I suck at summaries” isn’t going to cut it here: you have to take the dive and act like you know your story pitch is the coolest concept ever, and you are out to convince us it’s the coolest also. You love your characters? Tell us enough that we also love your characters and get invested in their fates. You built a lush world for them? Paint that world concisely and accurately with your words. You know that a reader who reads the first 1,000 words of your 6,000 word story will be so intrigued they won’t be able to put it down? Show us that by making the 400-word introduction to the concept so fascinating that we don’t want to put it down either. (Again, instead of excerpts, see the full pitches below.)

6. Don’t neglect your spelling and grammar. Good technical aspects won’t necessarily save a pitch that is flat in other regards, and poor technical aspects won’t necessarily sink a pitch that’s otherwise intriguing, but your attention to detail speaks to your genuine interest in working with us, and if the editing is poor, even if we loved your story submission and your pitch, we’ll worry ‘how much editing will this person really need to bring their story up to professional editing standards?” It’s definitely worth sweating the small stuff and getting your SPAG clean for your pitch as well as for your writing sample submission!

To boil these six points down to a tl:dr – we are looking for story pitches that are character-driven, keep in mind our main theme components (happy ending queer romance at masquerades or in masquerade-esque societies/settings), show that thought has been put into the details, and leave us wanting more!

Here are all the full pitches that we used for the above examples, and some we didn’t pull examples from. All are used with author permission and credited according to author request. If the story ended up in Add Magic to Taste, we make a note of that, but remember that we did not rate these pitches as part of our applicant review for that anthology. Not all of these authors were accepted to our first project, even though we love their pitches, but all of these authors are currently involved in the Press. (Many are in our upcoming anthology And Seek (Not) to Alter Me.)

*

Pitch by anonymous:

Sugar and Spice: Layla was born a witch—specifically, a witch who can make anything she touches taste sweet and delicious, which is a pretty lame magic to be born with. Her quest to trade it in for something cooler, or at least to learn some flashier spells, brings her to Sweetheart’s Cakery, a sweet and sugary establishment run by the most powerful necromancer alive. Stephanie Drybones, professionally known as ‘Sweetheart,’ has spent centuries honing her baking skills the hard way and isn’t impressed by Layla’s woes… but she is intrigued by Layla’s determination and acerbic wit. 

The two women make a deal: if Layla can produce a better sweet than Stephanie within a week, Stephanie will teach her some awesome spells to revive the dead in a sanitary manner, leech the warmth from her surroundings, and generally annoy the neighbors. If Layla can’t, however, she must come work at the bakery until she understands the importance of cake as a concept—which, considering how pretty and disarmingly nice Stephanie is, shouldn’t be a chore. Let the bake-off commence.

*

Pitch by Lucy K. R. (@/lucywritesbooks on twitter):

Airmid, an undercover health inspector with a love for busting the dirtiest cooks in the business, stops by her gleaming city’s newest restaurant: The Drakery Bakery. She can’t believe what she sees. The miniature dragons who work as everything from oven flames to waiters can’t be up to code, and no matter how delicious the pastries are she’s certain that a dragon shouldn’t be breathing on crème brûlées to crisp their tops. 

But Calida, the dragon mage who owns the place, gives her pause. She doesn’t know what brings her over to Airmid’s table, but she has to confess that she finds her charming. And pretty. And confident, and talented, and… One more visit couldn’t hurt before she calls in the health department, right? 

Airmid finds reason after reason to give one more inspection rather than shutting down The Drakey Bakery, always hoping for one more chance to chat with its enigmatic owner. And as she does so, she finds a new appreciation for dragons, the deliciousness of imperfection, and most importantly for Calida— a woman as irresistible as she is lawless.

*

Pitch by Willa Blythe (@/willaablythe on twitter):

Merrily Berkshire finds her quaint, old fashioned town boring and dull, and her shifts at the local coffee shop are the most boring of all. She knows she probably shouldn’t do it, but to keep her busy she has begun practicing her spellwork on unsuspecting patrons: a bit of a brightening charm here, a wakefulness spell there, an enchantment to be more open, an enchantment to be more closed, an intention to draw in funds, a quick-but-unfortunate curse to cause unrelenting hiccups that she feels immediately guilty for… It passes the time, and she’s getting better at it every day. 

Then one morning, right in the middle of the dullest lull there ever was, the girl that works at the yarn shop across the street – the girl Merrily has been quietly pining over from afar since the first time she saw her three months ago – makes a dramatic entrance, slaps her hands down on the counter and says, very sternly, “It’s you, isn’t it?” 

Can Merrily right her wrongs and woo the yarn girl? Get your most beloved mug ready: it’s time for a tale of magic, mistakes, and making your own meaning when nothing feels like it means anything.

(A version of this story pitch is in Add Magic to Taste)

*

Pitch by @/theleakypen:

A Chinese fox spirit, a Russian river spirit, and a love story measured in coffee dates. 

Lara Yan spent one hundred years cultivating to human form and she’s not going to waste this opportunity just to tear out men’s hearts to steal more qi. She frequents the Chashka Kofe on Morskoy Prospekt, working on her papers for her Master’s in Philology — language, she thinks, is the best thing about having a human mouth. 

Alisa Rusakova just wants a cup of coffee before another long day diving for a sunken barge in the River Ob. She spends her days in the water, hiding her rusalka nature in plain sight. Gone are the days when she and her sisters drowned or tickled men to death and haunted mortal women for their combs. 

When they run into each other — literally — on the way to the coffee counter, they have no idea that they’ve finally met someone who understands what it is to straddle the world of the human and the monstrous, someone they don’t have to hide from.

(A version of this story pitch is in Add Magic to Taste)

*

Pitch by @/arialerendeair:

In a world where the Fae, the Magical, and the slightly-more than normal live side-by-side with humans as a part of their daily lives, I would love to tell the story of Xilmys (he goes by ‘Xee’) and Areon. Xee is Asexual, graduated from school a decade back, and works the Tea Shop his parents have owned since they moved there from the Fae realm four or five decades back. Areon, he, well, they, but that’s rather new, has lived in the city since they were a kid, and they have been getting tea (both literal and metaphorical) from the Tea Shop for years, always from Xee. 

The only thing larger than their tea addiction is their crush on Xee. Now, if only Areon’s hair didn’t turn bright pink every time they talked to Xee, giving away how embarrassed they were, that would be great! 

One day, though, Aeron walks into the Tea Shop, determined. Their hair is purple, and they manage to do what had been impossible. Ask Xee on a date. Or coffee. But not tea. Definitely not tea. 

Xee agrees, of course, and says that while he loves all of Areon’s colors – purple is his new favorite.

*

Pitch by Shea Sullivan:

Kyle hates that he has to put on his human skin every day and work at the coffee shop, but ocean jobs are reserved for those that can’t work on land. The bipeds assume he’s one of them. His friends at home don’t have the recessive gene that would give them skins. 

He really is a fish—octopus—out of water. 

Then he meets Nigh, a customer who hates the ocean but smells of kelp and salt and rides a skateboard like he’s underwater. He’s everything Kyle might want if he had time to do something foolish like fall in love.

(A version of this story pitch is in Add Magic to Taste)

*

Pitch by A. A. Weston:

35+ hedge witch who runs a bookstore (or similar) keeps magically bambozzling postal workers to deliver to the wrong address so she can talk to the cute owner of the bakery three doors down. Tooth rottingly sweet (pun intended) disaster gay/bi shenanigans.

(note on this one and the next that detailed, appealing, and plotty doesn’t have to mean long – it’s possible to get the entire idea across very succinctly and still have it be appealing!)

*

Pitch by G. Hendrickson:

A wlw bakery run by a witch and her familiar. A new customer has become a regular and the witch is besotted. Her familiar tries to get them together, even though she also loves her witch. Love triangle shenanigans are ended when the witch reveals she didn’t want to pursue her familiar because of the power imbalance. The new regular reveals they don’t want to choose between the two because they thought the familiar was just the messenger for both. The solution is a happy, bubbling bakery run by that cute poly-triad.

*

Pitch by Adrian Harley:

Maria Birch, former child star, ducks into Genre Blends Tea Shop on a summer afternoon to escape the prying eyes of paparazzi and be left alone for a few precious moments. She strategically picks one of the couches closest to the back exit and hopes her new seatmate won’t recognize her behind her sunglasses and floppy hat. But when her new seatmate burns her mouth on her tea and tears up staring at a crossword, Maria breaks her own isolation to see if she can help. 

Teravilis, a dragon shifter escaped from the government lab where she’s lived her whole life, is already feeling overwhelmed before a towering, beautiful woman sits down on the next couch. The wider world has too many people, too many pastry options, and too many crossword clues that make no sense. When Maria reaches out, though, Teravilis learns that some things outside a lab-controlled environment can still be simple. 

Will disgruntled paparazzi and furtive government agents interrupt this blissful afternoon? Not if a mild-mannered, glasses-wearing barista has anything to say about it.

*

Pitch by T. S. Knight:

This story begins when Shiloh heads to La Vie Café to meet with the Reincarnation Support Group (for women who believe they have been reincarnated) in Philadelphia. She claims that she is the reincarnated version of a man who died 25 years ago. Convinced that she is (or was) this person, Shiloh has discovered that her widowed wife is still alive and working nearby. Shiloh hopes that the support group will help her decide if and how she might talk to beautiful Aline. While the group of fabulous and predominately queer women are glad to chat, Shiloh quickly realizes that none of them actually believe in reincarnation and instead see the group as an opportunity to spend time together. Though these are kind and lovely women, socializing isn’t going to solve her frighteningly real reincarnation problem, but at least there are pastries and coffee and new friends.

(A version of this story pitch is in Add Magic to Taste; note that T. S. Knight requested and was granted permission to slightly edit this pitch from the original submitted one, as there were things in it that didn’t end up in the published version that they hope to use in a future story)

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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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Kickstarter Stretch Goal Update!

We recently crossed $18,000, which means we’ve hit two more of our stretch goals!

The first, at $17,500, means we can give our authors another raise – they’ll now each be paid 5 cents per word US, up to a maximum of $250 per story.

The second, at $18,000, gets more merchandise for everyone who bought physical merchandise! We’ll be producing a mini-book, sized A6 (4.1 in x 5.8 in/10.5 cm x 14.8 cm). It’s soft cover, roughly 20 pages, with a cover featuring one of Alessa Riel’s lovely edited photographs of model Zadya Cheysuli. We asked for volunteers from our 20 authors to create works, up to 250 words, for this book – drabbles, poems, and ficlets, either related to the stories they wrote for the anthology, or brand new (but still aligned with the Add Magic to Taste themes)!

So far, 12 authors have volunteered to contribute (four are already done!) and we’ve got a couple “maybe’s” as well. This is going to be a fun little addition to the anthology, and everyone at backer levels 2, 3, 4, and 5 will get it, at no additional cost!

(I’m still trying to convince Puck and Shea to let me print the “lik the bred” poems they shared on the Duck Prints Press Discord.)

Also – we haven’t completed the “cover” edit of the graphic, but here’s a sneak peek of the image we’ll be using (it’s also in our postcard set expansion, at the $23,000 stretch goal).

Our next stretch goal, at $20,000, will enable us to give our authors a raise to 6 cents US per word, and if we can reach $20,500, all backers at Level 2, 3, 4, and 5, will get ANOTHER reward – a Dux magnet (we haven’t decided which Dux yet…speak up if you have a preference!) – so help us spread the word about the Kickstarter, and if we can hit that amount before the campaign ends next Saturday at 11 AM eastern time, our backers can get even more Stuff!

(and don’t forget – our ultimate goal is to hit $25,000;  which will enable us to pay our authors the short story market (SFMA qualifying!) rate of 8 cents per word US. You’ve seen our teasers. You know how awesome these stories are. We want to be able to pay everyone every penny they deserve – and we think it’s possible, with a solid push this last week. So, if you, our wonderful backers thus far, know folks you think might like this anthology – please send it their way!)

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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 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…

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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.

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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

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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