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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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24 Hours to Go!

Well, technically there are twenty-five hours left in our Kickstarter, but! TIME IS ALMOST UP!

We’ve reached our first stretch goal, and we’ll be able to commission art for our back cover! Every single e-book will come with the graphic for the front and back cover, every print book will have full-color illustrations on the front and back, and backers at Levels 3, 4, 5, and 6 will get an extra art print featuring the back cover art! Gio Guimarães (Facebook (giovannabcg) | Facebook (giosdoodlesandartworks) | Instagram | Tumblr | Twitter) is the artist. Gio and DPP have already signed a contract, and once we have sketches to share we’ll give y’all an update!

We’d love to reach our next stretch goal, at $16,500, so we can give our authors and artists a raise which doubles how much they earn for their contributions to the anthology. You can help! Check out our merch, help spread the word about the campaign on social media, and – if you want a copy – make sure you buy your own!! This is your only chance to get And Seek (Not) to Alter Me: Queer Fanworks Inspired by William Shakespeare’s “Much Ado About Nothing” in print, and we’ve got a host of amazing merchandise for our backers too, so don’t miss out!!

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Our Second Kickstarter, Our Patreon, and More!

We wanted to remind everyone: our second Kickstarter is running for 6 more days. If you want to secure your own copy of And Seek (Not) to Alter Me: Queer Fanworks Inspired By William Shakespeare’s “Much Ado About Nothing” this is your moment – the print book will only be available during the Kickstarter! We’re at 90% of our funding goal as of about an hour ago, and looking forward to the moment when we cross the threshold! (Not “if,” definitely “when” – we’re sure it’ll fund, we’re just eager to start the official “WE DID IT!” celebration!)

Second, we are in the planning stages for our fifth, as-yet-untitled anthology – and you can get a say! Here’s what we know:

  1. Stories will all feature at least one main character who identifies as a gender identity outside/beyond the binary (genderqueer, genderfluid, non-binary, agender, bigender, omnigender, polygender, etc.)
  2. Stories will be optimistic/fluffy, and will have guaranteed happy endings!
  3. Stories will focus on positive family relationships – taking a loose definition of “family.” Found family? Yes. Platonic relationships? Yes. Extended family? Yes. Fostering? Adoption? Biological family? Family-of-choice? Marriage? Yes, yes, yessity yes. We want all the happy family feels.

What we don’t yet know is setting. That’s where you come in! 

You likely know that we have a Patreon that supports our overhead; essentially, Kickstarters/crowdfunding campaigns fund specific projects, while the Patreon keeps the lights on. The funds we get through Patreon enable us to keep our project costs down by covering the cost of software, hardware, supplies, staffing, and other core business functions.

Our Patrons get a lot of exclusive benefits – several of which apply to our crowdfunding campaigns!!

* all Patrons at our $25 level get a free copy of all “flat” merchandise from our crowdfunding campaigns, even if they don’t back the campaign!

* Patrons at the $10 and $25 levels can choose one free e-book from our catalog per month, which includes our crowdfunded works (once they’re officially published) – so, a $25 Patron could get all the flat merchandise AND the e-book from a campaign without even backing!

* Patrons at the $10 and $25 levels who DO choose to back the campaign also get bonus merch! For Add Magic to Taste, they got an exclusive magnet. For And Seek (Not) to Alter Me, they’re getting a sticker just for them! Which sticker? This one! Isn’t it cute? You know you want one…

* and lastly – finally coming back around to our fifth upcoming anthology! Right now, all our backers have the opportunity to have a voice in picking the setting! We’ve given them a choice between aetherpunk settings, solarpunk settings, or tidalpunk settings for our fluffy genderqueer found family stories. Did you love Add Magic to Taste? Well, we think this new project will be right up your alley – and now through tomorrow morning is your last chance to have a major impact on the anthology theme! 

So, take a look at everything we have to offer on Patreon and consider helping Duck Prints Press grow!

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Dialog Prompts: Creature Culture Clash!

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

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

“Well, about that … funny story…”

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

“I thought you were joking!”

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

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

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

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

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

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

“It’s death, obviously!”

“But they hardly did anything wrong!”

“Uhhhhhhh.”

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

“What do you mean, humans?!!?“

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

“How would you know?”

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

“You know, that joke is getting old.”

*

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

Now, go forth and write some things!!

*

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

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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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Story Ideas: Sappy Spring Emoji Prompts

Long time, no Sunday blog post, but we’re back with a seasonal collection of the sappiest, sweetest, emoji-inspired prompts that we could think of! Just imagine your OTP…

🥀: the flowers in my yard had all wilted and I didn‘t know what to do; luckily, you see me looking sad in my garden and come over to help out with your awesome green thumb.

💐: you saw me buy a bunch of flowers and were sad because you thought they were for someone else—surprise, they‘re for you!

🌸: I had a bad day, but then you invite me to see the cherry blossoms together and I realize just how much I love you…so I spontaneously propose.

🌈: it‘s our wedding day and it‘s raining, this is the worst! But then you hold the umbrella over me and point out the rainbow arcing across the sky, and now I think this may be the best day of my life.

🌻: my sunflowers grew so tall that they leaned into your yard; I was worried you’d be upset but instead you say, “I like them there because they remind me of you.”

🌞: I know you‘re a summer person, so I‘ve been waiting for the first really warm day of the year to take you out on a picnic and watch the emerging leaves with you—and today is the day!

☔️: we meet for the first time at the bus stop when I arrive drenched and you extend your nice umbrella over my head without even looking at me.

🪴: honestly, I didn’t think you knew I existed, but when I got sick, you sent me a plant and a note asking me on a date when I got better. I still don’t feel 100% but the plant on my bed stand cheers me up every day.

🌼: you know I love flowers, but we’re broke and there’s no way you can get them for me…except you came home today with a bouquet of wildflowers you picked from a field and I’m so happy I could cry.

💫: you invited me out to look at the stars through your telescope on the first clear night of spring, and I want to support you and share your enthusiasm but it’s so cold I’m shivering…and so you pull me close, spread you coat wide so we can share it. Huddled wonderfully together, we can stargaze together.

🐚: the winter cold is lingering, but I’m thrilled because you’ve surprised me with plane tickets for a beach vacation!

🌬: the first big storm of spring catches me unprepared and everything on my porch flies away! I don‘t know what to do, but the next day it‘s all back on my porch with a note inviting me to dinner. You didn‘t have to go and hunt it all down just to ask me out for a date, I‘ve been fancying you for ages!

🐛: I’ve worried that you were going to break up with me at the end of the school year, but you just bought me a “watch these caterpillars grow into butterflies” kit and I know you’d never do that unless you planned to stick around to watch their metamorphosis with me.

🐣 : there are strange sounds coming from your apartment so one day I go to investigate and it turns out you? are? hatching? CHICKENS? in your one-bedroom apartment, what, why, OMG they‘re so cute??

🐇: I was kind of meh about this date but then it turns out your idea was to take me to an animal shelter to pet the bunnies. You tell me you love them and want to adopt one once you live in a bigger place, and you give me the most earnest, hopeful, vulnerable expression, and…okay, I think I may be falling for you kinda fast? Like, super fast?

(by @unforth and @alessariel)

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Prompt-a-Duck Masterpost: Feb 22, 2022

(a couple days late this time, sorry!)

Welcome to our latest Prompt-A-Duck masterpost, the weekly low stress prompt event run on the Duck Prints Press server for all of our authors and artists!

As an aside, we’ve made an AO3 collection where, once we get a spare few minutes, we’ll be making sure all the Prompt-A-Duck fills can be accessed.

This week, we had one word prompt and one AU prompt to choose from:

1. sybarite: a person who loves expensive things and pleasure

2. “We had a really bad break-up three hundred years ago, but neither of us realized the other was immortal until we met today while shopping for groceries” AU. Credit: https://dailyau.tumblr.com/post/667209828751572992/we-had-a-really-bad-break-up-three-hundred-years

Results:

Sarnakh: https://archiveofourown.org/works/37418728

Lucy K.R.: https://www.patreon.com/posts/63091773 (CW: a dead vampire victim and mention of hunting pigeons)

Zylaa: https://archiveofourown.org/works/37357432/chapters/93218782 (CW: mild references to past sexual activity)

As always, if you enjoyed their work, please give our authors some love!

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Prompt-a-Duck Masterpost: Feb 19, 2022

Time for the second week of our Prompt-a-Duck, the weekly low stress prompt event run on the Duck Prints Press server for all of our authors and artists!

This week’s prompts:

  1. Hatpin panic (or hatpin peril). All kind of needle craft also welcome, as this prompt was spawned by a discussion about the peril of little old ladies with knitting needles. If you want to read more on this phenomenon, follow this link: https://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/hatpin-peril-terrorized-men-who-couldnt-handle-20th-century-woman-180951219/ (CW: sexual harassment, period typical sexism).
  2. meet-cute or meet-ugly featuring the most awkward gift you can think of. Courtesy of a discussion in our general chat, this didn‘t have to be Valentine Day centered, but this prompt was spawned by an image of Valentine themed toilet paper, so make of that what you will.

And here are our results for this week:

Rebekah: https://rhosyn-du.tumblr.com/post/676497679679946753/by-the-pricking-of-my-thumbs (CW: animal harm, sexual assault, character death, implied murder)

Lucy K. R.: https://www.patreon.com/posts/62755250 (CW: violence, period typical sexism)

Thanks for participating and if you liked what you read, please let our authors know and consider giving us a like or a follow!

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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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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!