A New Start

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Hey all, it’s the New Year, and although I haven’t made any New Year’s resolutions regarding writing, I’m still making progress.

I have three different things happening right now on projects.

I’m on the editing stages on All the King’s Men, which is a cyberpunk novel. I just finished my second round of edits, so hopefully I will have more news soon on progress for that novel. This novel has been in the works for me for a long time, and it feels like quite an accomplishment to have it progressing.

Secondly, I have finished writing a dragon fantasy novel and I’m having it beta read by a few different amazing people. I’m letting that one be for a while before I start revisions and line editing. I wrote this one for 2015’s NaNoWriMo and it won. I’ve tentatively called it “Far Patrol,” although that could possibly change.

I’ve started writing the sequel to Far Patrol, and I’m only a few thousand words into that so far. If I’m writing a series, I want to have as much written as possible by the time I submit the first novel. I’m getting a bit ahead of myself, because Far Patrol is nowhere near ready to submit.

Lastly, I’m writing a short story for the Magic and Mayhem anthology, which is a charity anthology being written in order to help fund future Gay Romance Northwest initiatives. As I have attended all three meet-ups, I am definitely submitting something to help.

So those are my projects for this winter, so it should be a fun few months.

Another short announcement that I have is that I recently purchased a bookstore business called the Final Chapter, and of course, I am looking for LGBTQ titles so that I can make an LGBTQ section in the store, as it was sadly lacking one when I purchased it. I have a few books that I can donate as I’ve read them already, but hopefully I can get even more!

So that’s it for now, folks! I’ve been a bit busy, but hopefully I can get some more blog posts going now that all the kerfuffle of Christmas and bookstore bargaining is over with.

GRNW 2015 is coming!

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It’s that time of year again! Officially less than a month away from the Gay Romance Northwest conference in Seattle!

I always make a big deal out of this, because I love going to this conference. It’s only in its 3rd year running so far, but already, the Gay Romance Northwest meet-up is growing and changing. I’m so glad to be a part of this conference about LGBTQ+ romance and fiction. 

As usual, there will be a pre-conference meet-up the evening before and a book reading at Hugo House! Last year was a lot of fun, so I’m looking forward to meeting everyone there! Once again, the conference is at the Seattle Public Library, which has hosted for the previous two years as well. There’s going to be lots of fun panels and activities for readers and writers, including a Pitch session with publishers and a reader meet-up!

Afterwards, there’s going to be a book festival at Hotel Monaco

This year, I’m an Attending Author and have been invited to be on a panel. I’ll be driving down with my friend J.K. Pendragon and their boyfriend Laurence. J.K. is also going to be on a panel this year, which is exciting news for both of us. We’ll both also have booths at the book festival, so come visit us! I think we’ll be sitting at the same table, so it will be easy to visit us both at the same time.

If you love LGBTQ+ romance, then you’ve got to check out all the other Attending Authors as well! There’s lots of amazing authors attending, as well as publishers, editors, and cover artists! 

Gay Romance Northwest has opened registration already, and their early-bird deal is on until August 31st, so hurry and register early for the best deal! I’m ready to go, and there’s still a month till the conference.

Hope to see you there!

Hakusan Angel sale!

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Vector Graphic Design Button and Labels Template. Color paint spAs you may know, Less Than Three Press is turning six this month! So there are all sorts of prizes and sales going on to celebrate! There are three things you should know:

  1. All purchases for the month of April mean you are automatically entered into a draw to win a prize
  2. All books are 20% off for the month of April
  3. Every single day of April, a different book will be on sale for 50% off

Today, Hakusan Angel is on sale! 50% off my book all day today (April 26th)! Go check it out!

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Submission to a Publisher

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Okay, this is it. My post on submitting to a publisher.

Since I’ve actually only submitted to one publisher, Less Than Three Press, that’s what my post will mostly draw on for experience. Make note: my publisher is chiefly an online publisher and receives everything by email. Some big publishers require an actual, physical copy of your manuscript, a cover letter, an agent, and any number of annoying things.

Okay, so you’ve finished actually writing your story. You’ve gotten it checked over by beta readers, you’ve done revisions and several rounds of editing.

If you haven’t done all these steps, then don’t bloody submit it yet. It’s not actually done if you haven’t done these things yet. And don’t come to me and say that you’re good enough that you don’t have to do one of these steps. This is your work of art that you want other people to read and enjoy. You want to do everything that you can to make this work as best as it can possibly be. Especially do not skip editing it, because editors can tell, and they will hate you.

Okay, so now you are definitely sure that you are ready to submit it.

Right, now the first thing you do is go to the publisher’s website and make sure that you’re following all of their guidelines. If you are submitting to a collection, anthology, or a specific submission call of any sort, you should have already been here to make sure you were following thematic guidelines. If you are submitting to a romance publisher, some of them have guidelines on content. Less Than Three Press in particular does not allow any rape/non con, bestiality, tragic endings, and underage sex, etc. Make doubly sure that you have not included any of these things in your story.

Next, make sure you have the correct formatting guidelines down. These are usually very basic and easy to follow. Some of these formatting rules might require you to do yet another round of quick editing. Most changes will require nothing more than a quick “find and replace,” adding or taking out an indent, paragraphing, font change, or something equally simple.

Now you actually have to submit the thing.

Some publishers absolutely require you to have an agent. I haven’t had to use an agent for my work so far, but if the publisher says in their submission guidelines that you need one, then they’re pretty serious about it.

Okay, this is the part where you have to actually talk to the editor that is going to look over your manuscript and decide if they like your work. I know. This is the hard part. Please bring back the boring formatting, because this is terrifying.

Usually, you have to include your name, pen name (if you have one), your contact info, a summary of your work, word count, and a completed manuscript. Make sure you know the name of the person you’re sending it to, and their email. For Less Than Three Press, depending on if you’re submitting to a general call, a collection call or an anthology call, you might be sending it to a different editor.

Things you should not send to an editor because they are busy people and it will enrage them:

  1. an uncompleted manuscript
  2. an unedited manuscript
  3. ideas for a manuscript
  4. a manuscript that is already on submission to another publisher (unless the submission guidelines say that it’s okay)

 Double and triple check that you have included all the information that the submission guidelines require and that you’re sending it to the right place.

Press send.

Wait. Be patient, because the wait length for finding out if you’ve been accepted can be anywhere from weeks to months. Some publishers will send you an automated message to assure you that they received your submission.

Don’t give up! Whatever the outcome is, you made it to this step, which means you’ve come pretty far, in terms of writing.

Geek Out Sale!

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Just a quick announcement so that you all know!

Less Than Three Press is turning six this month, and as a reward to all of their loyal readers, there are sales going on all month!

As you can see by the banner, there is going to be a raffle and prizes and all sorts of sales. All books are on sale for 20% off! And every single day of April, there will be a different book on sale for 50%!

Pretty awesome, eh?

Today is the Geek Out Collection‘s turn to be 50% off! All day today (April 8th), the ebook copy of Love Rampage will be 50% off! Go check it out!

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If you buy any book during April, you will be entered into the raffle for a chance to win!

Choosing Your Publisher

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This is certainly a process, and is not done lightly.

I found my publisher, Less Than Three Press, because my good friend of ten years, J.K. Pendragon, recommended them to me.

However, I did not chose my publisher based on hearsay. I made sure that the publisher I had found was the publisher that I really wanted. There are a few specific things that I made sure to look for when I checked out their website.

Content: I am a writer of LGBTQ fiction and romance. I wanted to make sure that the publisher that I chose was aligned with my views on that. I’ve heard horror stories of other publishers that straight-washed good queer stories, or rejected stories based on queer content. Luckily, LT3 is actually an LGBT romance publisher, and is actively trying to expand their repertoire to include many different minority groups including trans and genderqueer stories, asexual and aromantic stories, and bisexual stories, not just gay and lesbian. LT3 also accepts many different sub-genres, which makes it easy for me to write fantasy and science fiction works with LGBTQ characters.

Royalties: I checked to make sure the publisher has a good royalty system in place. This makes certain that I am paid properly for my works. Make sure that you know the market before you decide on a publisher. Are they paying the standard royalties? How are they paying? Based on percentage, by the word, on a one-time payment/lump sum deal? Don’t settle on a publisher if you’re unsure of what you will be paid and how. Make sure you know how they mean to pay you as well.

Contract: A contract protects both the author and the publisher by ensuring that all the bases are covered. That includes making sure that there is a promise to publish your work, that you will do all the work required to have it published, and that your rights will revert to you after a certain period of time. This will include the royalty rates, deadlines, when your work will be published, when you will be paid (ie quarterly, monthly, etc). Read this very carefully, as you will have to ensure that you are protected in all circumstances. If you are unsure for any reason, get someone with a legal background to check it over for you.

Marketing: I always check to see how publishers are marketing their books. The one thing that I always check is to see how their website is run. If it’s accessible, easy to use, if I like how they’ve presented their books. How easy it is to make a purchase, if it’s easy to contact them. If they have any promotions or sales on, how interesting I find their collection and anthology calls. I also check to see which social media sites they use for marketing. Are they going to events, conventions or conferences? Check all these things out, because if you sign a contract with them and you want to be successful, you will have to be able to market efficiently, and it’s easier if your publisher also knows how to market their work.

Those are the main reasons that I went with my publisher, and I intend to stick by them. Not all small publishers are built the same, so choose wisely.

Title Creation

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Now, to talk about yet another part of writing that I really suck at. You guessed it! Making up a title. I really really have problems with coming up with a snazzy title because I’m always paranoid that it sounds dumb.

I cheat a little with titles. I always make my friends and fellow writers help me out.

I have six publications out so far, and all six titles were hard for me to come up with.

“Across Borders” was my very first title, and I have to admit, I was playing it safe with that one. I can’t claim that it’s a very inspiring title. It’s very straight forward and to the point. The story is literally about two lovers from opposing nations, so it really is, as it says, “across borders.” Very simple. At least it’s not ridiculous.

“Insanity Girls” was my next title. It shares its name with the name of the punk rock band that one of my characters is in. I liked the name “Insanity Girls” for a band name, I wasn’t so sure if it fit with the title of a story. I couldn’t really think up a different name, however, so that’s the one I stuck with.

“Rangers over Regulus” was the most difficult thing I’ve ever had to come up with. I made a mind map chart to try and figure out what kind of name would be good for this story. I asked friends. I banged my head against the wall. One of my friends suggested “Libby on the Range” as a joke, which I found funny because the acronym was LOTR (like Lord of the Rings. Sorry if that isn’t as hilarious to you as it was to me). That’s what Rangers was called for the first three months of its life. I finally did pick a name, and there are still a few people who don’t like the title.

Next up was Hakusan Angel. That one was slightly easier, because I was basing it off of a Japanese-type naming system. With names like “Gunslinger Girl,” “Sailor Moon,” “Boys Over Flowers,” and “Marmalade Boy” to go off of, “Hakusan Angel” wasn’t such a weird title.

"Love Rampage" mind map

“Love Rampage” mind map

Next came “Love Rampage,” which I actually turned into my publisher with the title “Unicorn story” because I couldn’t come up with a title before the deadline. Luckily for me, Less Than Three Press doesn’t require authors to come up with a title immediately and will even help you out with one if you need it. Not that you should be lazy and just let them make up all your titles, but if you’re seriously stumped, it’s not absolutely necessary to have one when you’re submitting your story. I think I came up with “Love Rampage” in a fever dream.

“Sky Knights” was the easiest title ever, for some reason. Obviously, since my characters are aviators, the “sky” part was easy. I wanted the title to convey that my characters are guarding their homeland, and to express their bravery. So I just mashed them together, and it turned out to be a title that said what I meant.

So there are all my stories for title creation. I think I might have made a post before about mind maps, but in case you’re interested, I’ll explain what that entails.

Cyberpunk novel mind map

Cyberpunk novel mind map

Basically, it’s a word association type map. You write down the themes of your story in bubbles and then make little off-shoots of words that are associated with that theme. If I were to make a mind map for “Sky Knights,” I would have put “aviator” in one bubble and “sky” would be one of the off-shoots. Then you look at all the words you can come up with and try to combine them to make a title. Sometimes it doesn’t work, as in the case of “Rangers over Regulus.”

Sky Knights Release!

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Hello everyone!

Today my Second World War novel Sky Knights is being released with Less Than Three Press.

Sky Knights is about two Soviet aviators during the Second World War who have to face all sorts of trials as they fight the Germans as night bombers in the all-female regiment known to the Germans as the Night Witches.

Sky Knights is a historical fantasy, so there is some magic thrown in there, making some of the Night Witches actual witches.

The official summary:

Dounia and Ira are part of the Nightwitches, an elite squad of night bombers determined to help bring down Axis forces. They are proud and fearless—until tragedy strikes and their plane is shot down behind enemy lines, and their determination may not be enough to get them home safe.

Genre: Lesbian romance, historical fantasy, World War II historical fiction

25 000 words, some explicit content

Sky Knights can be purchased as an Ebook HERE

Sky Knights is also part of the Damsels in Distress collection Bundle 2

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Russian Women in the Military

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If someone asked you whether or not women were allowed in combat roles during the Second World War, what would you say?

Most people would answer no.

But actually, the answer is yes. During the Second World War, Russian women played a huge part in fighting against the Germans, in both non-combat and combat roles.

"Fighting Girlfriend" the T-34 driven by Mariya Vasilyevna Oktyabrskaya

“Fighting Girlfriend” the T-34 driven by Mariya Vasilyevna Oktyabrskaya

I have a huge problem with the history of women being erased, and I would like to share with you some of the research I did while working on my upcoming release Sky Knights.

At the start of the Second World War, the Soviet Union didn’t want to allow women in the military. Never mind that many women of Russia had fought in previous conflicts such as the February Revolution, in which fifteen formations were created – including the 1st Russian Women’s Battalion of Death. Women had to petition for their right to fight alongside their male counterparts.

Thousands of women volunteered to fight and were rejected, when the Germans started Operation Barbarossa in 1941. However, numerous losses in the early days of the war made the top brass change their mind.

Soviet women snipers

Soviet women snipers

Women filled all types of different positions, from non-combatant roles to combatant.

I wanted to tell a story about some of these women, who were every bit as heroic in real life as one would expect them to be in a fictional novel.

Women were nurses. They had to carry weapons with them to protect their wounded charges as they rescued them from the front lines. Natalia Peshkova was one of these nurses, who was not only wounded three times in the line of duty, but was once separated from her unit and had to disguise herself in order to make it back safely. She was awarded an Order of the Red Star for bravery.

Women were tank drivers. Mariya Vasilyevna Oktyabrskaya is one example, the first female tank operator to win the Hero of the Soviet Union medal. She was the wife of a military officer who was killed in combat. She sold every last one of her possessions in order to donate a tank to the military – under one condition: she got to drive it. She named her T-34 “Fighting Girlfriend” and fought in many battles that established her as a skilled and fearless driver. She would jump out of her tank during battle and repair it if necessary, in spite of danger to herself and orders not to. She was hit in the head with shell fragments in battle, and died after two months of being in a coma.

sovietpartisansWomen were snipers. An example is Lyudmila Mykhailivna Pavlichenko. She was born in the Ukraine, and studied history at Kiev University. She became a sniper, and her number of confirmed kills was 309 by the end of the war, 36 of which were enemy snipers. She became an instructor, and trained Soviet snipers until the end of the war. She fought even more fiercely after her friend and fellow sniper Leonid Kutsenko was badly injured in battle and later succumbed to his injuries.

Women were partisans – those who fought guerilla-style warfare in order to disrupt supply and communication lines. One of the most famous partisans was a woman named Zoya Anatolyevna Kosmodemyanskaya who carried out dangerous missions behind enemy lines. During one of these missions, she is said to have been captured by Germans and tortured for information. She didn’t give the Germans any information, including her name. She was executed, and is said to have said to the Germans before she was hanged: “You’ll hang me now, but I am not alone. There are two hundred million of us. You can’t hang us all.”

sovietaviatorsAnd yes, women were aviators. Some of the real life female pilots during the Second World War enacted feats of daring just like Ira and Dounia do in my story. Lydia Vladimirovna Litvyak was the first woman to hold the title “fighter ace.” She was awarded the Order of the Red Star for her valour in battle. One of the pilots of a German plane she shot down wanted to meet the pilot that had outflown him, and refused to believe it was her until she described their dogfight in detail. Her aircraft was shot down, and her fate remained unknown for a long time. She was posthumously awarded Hero of the Soviet Union by Mikhail Gorbachev in 1990. She was known as the White Lily of Stalingrad.

I’ve told you the very brief accounts of several of these heroines of Russia during the Great Patriotic War to show readers that my account of the bravery of Russian women is not exaggerated in the least. Nor is their number. 8% of Soviet forces were women by the end of the war.

Hero of the Soviet Union medal for bravery

Hero of the Soviet Union medal for bravery

And for all their bravery, many of them have been forgotten, as their part in the war was deliberately overlooked by those in political power. Many women who received medals during the war couldn’t wear them after the war for fear of being stigmitized rather than lauded as heroes.

For my part, my novel Sky Knights is an attempt to bring attention to women in history, because so often, their stories aren’t told.

World-building on my Current Project

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I’m at that stage of my current project when I’ve just finished with my preliminary world-building and starting to write. World-building is important for the writing that I like to do, which is fantasy and science fiction, because neither of these genres come with a built-in framework like contemporary work does.

There are so many things that one has to consider for world-building, and these details might not even make it into the story.

The story I’m working on right now has dragons that interact with humans. They are on a somewhat equal political and social standing, which affects how this world developed, and how it develops in the future.

Questions I have to ask myself:

How does having aerial power affect their world?

Why are dragons and humans on equal political and social standing?

What kind of social structure does this world have?

Is that social structure different in other parts of the world?

Industrial_revolutionThere are many, many more questions to ask than just that, but those are an example of the types of in-depth questions a writer must ask themself. This world isn’t just a facade, it must still be able to function if you go rooting around behind the scenes if you want it to feel real to the reader.

My setting is an important thing to consider: where is this story taking place?

I’ve decided on a late 18th century to early 19th century European-esque country. What does that mean? This is the Industrial age – think trains, factories, advances in science and medicine, fancy balls. It is also the age of revolution – The Revolutionary War took place in 1776 and the French Revolution in 1792-1802. This is Romantic era literature – Jane Austen, William Wordsworth, Mary Wollstonecraft. This is the age of Mozart and Beethoven.

pride-and-prejudiceNow imagine that, except dragons.

Think of steam power created by dragonfire. Think of the fact that the easiest way to travel, move goods, or explore is to hire a dragon. Think of the type of building that would need to exist in order to house dragons.

I wanted to explore the idea that dragons can have a social hierarchy similar to humans, and that there are dragons that have privilege and dragons that are working class. After all, this is also heading into the age of worker’s rights.

It’s a lot of work to put together a world like this, and it should be mentioned that not everything a writer thinks up will end up in the novel. I am in the middle of inking a map for this world, and most of the story takes place in the northern half of the continent. However, I know where all the cities of this world are located, what those cities do for revenue, and what path a dragon would take to get there. But no one really needs to know about exports out of a southern port town, do they?

I also may have accidentally created a family lineage that is far too complicated that won’t really be explored in the story that much. That was probably a mistake I will have to fix later.

If a story is supposed to seem as authentic as possible, a lot of world-building needs to go into it.

That’s it for now. I hope a lot of you are out there writing about fantasy worlds!