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

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

Contributors to He Bears the Cape of Stars:

Contributors to She Wears the Midnight Crown:

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

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Additions to Our Management Team!

We just wanted to take a minute to draw some attention to the updates to our management team page as we welcome some new staff to our ranks! First, Adaille, who was a member of our founding team but had to take a step back due to personal reasons, will be returning to help with management and to do editing on our upcoming anthologies She Wears the Midnight Crown and He Bears the Cape of Stars. We also invited five specialists to our team. All are people who have worked with us before as authors, artists, graphic designers, or in other roles. We’re really excited that they each agreed to take on more active roles in the Press!

Transparent Duck Print Divider

Miss Aceriee is our art advisor, merch reviewer, and artist mentor. Biography: 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

Willa Blythe is joining us to help with our social media presence, event running, marketing, and communication. Willa made her storytelling debut at age 4 with indie smash, Sam the Stinky Skunk, and she hasn’t stopped writing since. Her first audience – her grandparents – shared a love of art and craft with her that remains central to Willa’s writing practice over thirty years later. Today, she lives in New York with her family, and primarily writes queer romance and speculative fiction.

Links: Personal Website | Twitter

Adrian Harley works with us as a copy editor. Adrian is an almost-lifelong North Carolinian and a fantasy fiction aficionado who didn’t start delving deep into fandom until adulthood. They are an editor of research by day and an aspiring novelist, also by day. They go to bed early. They have short stories forthcoming in OFIC Magazine and future Duck Prints Press anthologies. They live with their husband and a perfectly reasonable number of cats.

Link: Twitter

Hermit, whose name is Christine, does most of our manuscript text formatting and graphic design. Christine is a Canadian-based writer, fandom enthusiast and cooking afficionado. When she’s not working she offers custom typesetting for various projects because fonts are pretty and all the amazing stories that get created deserve to be made beautiful. She’s handled the typesetting of the previous DDP anthology as well as the press-related title “Commit to the Kick” by Tris Lawrence.

Links: Pillowfort | Tumblr | WordPress

Sunny Powell advises and helps the Press with graphic design. Biography: 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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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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Our Favorite Queer Books for Children

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

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

The list is in alphabetical order by book title.

A is for Activist

Author and Illustrator: Innosanto Nagara

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


The Adventures of Honey and Leon 

Author: Alan Cumming

Illustrator: Grant Shaffer

mlm, semi-autobiographical.

Book 1 | Book 2


And Tango Makes Three

Authors: Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell

Illustrator: Henry Cole

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


Be Who You Are 

Author: Jennifer Carr

Illustrator: Ben Rumback

Trans girl, supportive family. 


Charlotte, Wander On

Author: Matt Cubberly

Illustrator: Irina Kovalova

(you’ll have to read and find out!)


A Day in the Life of Marlon Bundo 

Author: Jill Twiss

Illustrator: E. G. Keller

mlm, politics.


Everywhere Babies

Author: Susan Meyers

Illustrator: Marla Frazee

wlw, mlm. Queer parents. Stealth.


The Frog and Toad Collection

Author and Illustrator: Arnold Lobel

mlm. Stealth.


Heather Has Two Mommies

Author: Lesléa Newman

Illustrator: Laura Cornell

wlw, queer parents


I Am Jazz

Authors: Jessica Herthel and Jazz Jennings

Illustrator: Shelagh McNicholas

Trans girl, supportive parents. Auto-biographical.


Intersectional Allies

Authors: Chelsea Johnson, LaToya Council, Carolyn Choi

Illustrator: Ashley Seil Smith

Intersectionality, focused on disability, race, and religion.


Jaime is Jaime

Author: Afsaneh Moradian

Illustrator: Maria Bogade

Gender non-conformity


Julian is a Mermaid

Author and Illustrator: Jessica Love

Gender non-conformity.


Llama Glamarama

Author: Simon James Green

Illustrator: Garry Parsons

Gender non-conformity.


My Friends and Me

Author: Stephanie Stansbie

Illustrator: Katy Halford

mlm, wlw. Queer parents.


Neither

Author and Illustrator: Arlie Anderson

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


One Dad, Two Dads, Brown Dad, Blue Dad

Author: Johnny Valentine

Illustrator: Melody Sarecky

mlm. Queer parents.


Quackers

Author and Illustrator: Liz Wong

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


Rainbow 

Author: Michael Genhart

Illustrator: Anne Passchier

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


Red: A Crayon Story

Author and Illustrator: Michael Hall

Trans children and/or children with trans parents.


She’s My Dad

Author: Sarah Savage

Illustrator: Joules Garcia

Transgender adult/parent.


The Story of Ferdinand 

Author: Munro Leaf

Illustrator: Robert Lawson

Gender non-conformity. Stealth.


Unicorn Day

Author: Diana Murray

Illustrator: Luke Flowers

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


We’re All Wonders

Author and Illustrator: R. J. Palacio

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


What Are Your Words? A Book About Pronouns

Author: Katherine Locke

Illustrator: Anne Passchier

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


What Colour is Love?

Author: Linda Strachan

Illustrator: David Wojtowycz

Diversity.


Worm Loves Worm 

Author: J. J. Austrian

Illustrator: Mike Curato

wlw/mlm. Gender non-conformity.


The Pea that Was Me Series

Author and Illustrator: Kimberly Kluger-Bell

Different kinds of pregnancies, including mlm and wlw parents.

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


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


So, what are your favorite queer picture books?

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Cover Reveal for “Add Magic to Taste”

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

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

Love wlw? So do we!

Love mlm? We’ve got you covered!

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

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

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

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

Learn more about this project:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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