5 Year Anniversary!

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Hey all!

So, it’s my five-year anniversary for signing a contract with Less Than Three Press this month! It’s also Pride Month! Woohoo!

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Five years ago this month, I signed a contract for Across Borders, which is one of the novellas which is no longer in print. I’m going to do some major revisions on it and resubmit it! I’m very excited about this project.

Also, I want to hold a giveaway to celebrate my 5 year anniversary!

So, here are the details!

On June 10th, I will hold a draw for my book All the King’s Men. I will pick 3 people to receive a print copy, shipping included, to anywhere in the world.

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On June 17th, I will hold a draw for the anthology A Loose Screw vol 2 or Damsels in Distress vol 2 (out of print). I will pick 3 people to receive a print copy and you can choose whether you want A Loose Screw volume 2 or Damsels in Distress volume 2. 

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On June 24th, I will hold a draw for a $30 gift card and a $15 gift card to the Less Than Three Press book market. I will pick 2 people, the first person will be the winner of the $30 gift card and the second person will be the winner of the $15 gift card.

So, how do you do get into the draw?

All you have to do is comment below, and your name will be added to the draw. I will be using a hat to draw the names the old fashioned way. I will be using the same group of names for all the draws, so you don’t have to comment again to be entered again. Also, I will also be counting only one comment per person, so even if you do comment again, you will only be entered once.

IMPORTANT NOTE: If you share this post and link me to proof that you have done so in the comments, I will send you a FREE EBOOK COPY of Rangers over Regulus, which is no longer in print.

If you have any questions about the draw, please ask in the comments or email me at aa.powell.author@gmail.com

Good Luck!

Fall Projects 2016

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Hello all,

It’s been a while since I updated you all on the projects I’m working on. Sadly, it’s been a bit slow going because of grad school. It will probably continue to be a bit slow going as time progresses.

With that in mind, I have to say that I probably won’t do NaNoWriMo this year. Sadly, I will be mired in schoolwork during November, which will make it pretty much impossible to complete NaNoWriMo this year.

But on to other things.

I have several projects that I’m working on!

First, I submitted one of my short stories, 15 000 words, to Less Than Three Press for their anthology call Hearts of Steel. I wrote about knights on an alien planet trying to save someone from the death jungle that covers the entire planet. It was fun to write, less fun to edit, and nerve-wracking to submit. I haven’t yet received a response, but I have to wait a few weeks to hear back from them.

I wrote another short for a charity anthology that I was invited to be part of. I’m not sure how secret it is, so I’ll stay hushed about it for now. But it’s 7 000 words long, just a teensy one, so it was finished quite quickly.

I have a few different stories on the go right now. I foolishly started an enemy-to-lover story in which the main characters are forced to marry against their will. I think it will be fun to write, but I’ve only got about 8 000 words in. I’ll tell you all how that one goes. 

I’m also working on doing research for a greenpunk story set in an alternate Victorian London in which green technology became important rather than industry. That’s just the backdrop though, the real story is about a trans woman detective who is trying to catch a serial killer who is murdering prostitutes. This one is a lot more developed than the other one, mostly because I spend a lot of time thinking about it. Murder mysteries are hard to plot out though. This is a hard one to write on, because it’s so complex.

I’m working on the sequel to my ace aro dragon story still. It’s also slow going because I seem to have hit a wall, which is probably why I’m working on the other two more than this one. The first book is great, it’s all contained, it sets up everything, but now I’m floundering in the middle. I hope I’ll be able to fix it soon.

That’s it for now, I’m deeply mired in numerous projects as well as grad school. Hopefully I’ll get some time to write in between assignments.

Anyone working on anything interesting right now? Feel free to comment!

Read and Write with Pride

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Guess who’s going to Edmonton?

I’m going to be taking part in the Read and Write with Pride event taking place at Audrey’s Books Ltd on June 9th. The event starts at 7:00 and runs until 9 pm.

Read and Write Write With Pride-2 copy

So what’s going on?

Seven different local authors will be sharing their fiction, memoirs, and poetry. Who are those authors?

Heidi Belleau
Bio: Heidi Belleau was born and raised in small town New Brunswick, but now lives in Beaumont,
Alberta. A proud bisexual woman, her writing reflects everything she loves: diverse casts of queer
characters, a sense of history and place, equal parts witty and filthy dialogue, the occasional
mythological twist, and most of all, love—in all its weird and wonderful forms.
Chosen Work: Wallflower

Rob Browatzke
Bio: Rob Browatzke (born 1977) is a proud Edmontonian, proud homosexual, and proud writer. His reading and writing tastes vary though, so some books might take you on a comic journey through classic Bible stories, some might be filled with graphic sex and drug use, some might mash-up cherished childhood tales. You never know what you’re gonna get.

Rob has been writing since he was able to pick up a pen, and is excited to finally be sharing some of those words with all of y’all.

He has been working the club scene in Edmonton since the late 90s, and that has definitely enabled him to create some authentic nightlife in his works. Four years sober as of March 2015, he thinks the stories he’s lived himself add some true color to the stories he’s now sharing with the world at large.
Chosen Work: Through the Mirror Ball

Sheldon L’Henaff
Bio: an author blogs through the age of sex, drugs, and techno
Chosen Work: Joy (Maybe This Christmas)

Marc Colbourne
Bio: Originally from Newfoundland, Marc Colbourne comes by his love of tea and storytelling honestly. His non-fiction and fiction addresses themes of social justice and LGBT culture and history. His latest book, Exiled for Love: The Journey of an Iranian Queer Activist, is the memoir of Arsham Parsi.
Chosen Work: Exiled for Love

Marina Reid Hale
Twitter
Bio: Marina Reid Hale is an Edmonton spoken word poet and writer. She can’t remember a time when
she didn’t want to be a writer (with the notable exception of a week in grade two when she wanted toMagazine, the Rat Creek Press, and the #yegwords Coffee Sleeves project, and she has co-written
plays for NextFest, KidsFringe, and OverActing Imaginations. She performs and competes at open
mic nights and poetry events all over the city, and was a 2015 Edmonton Poetry Slam semi-finalist.
Chosen Work: slam poetry piece

Laurie Macfayden
Bio:LAURIE MACFAYDEN has lived in Edmonton since 1984. Her second poetry collection, Kissing
Keeps Us Afloat , was released in September 2014 (Frontenac House). Her debut collection, White
Shirt , won a Golden Crown Literary Society award and was shortlisted for the Lambda Literary
awards. A painter, poet and photographer, MacFayden spent more than 30 years as a sports journalist and continues to work as a copy/web editor at the Edmonton Journal. Her poetry has appeared in The New Quarterly literary journal, FireFall, Queering The Way and DailyHaiku I: A Daily Shot of Zen; and has been performed in Edmonton’s Loud & Queer Cabaret and at Calgary’s Q The Arts cultural festival.
Chosen Work: Kissing Keeps Us Afloat

Alex Powell (pronouns they/them/their)

Bio: Alex Powell is an avid writer and reader of sci-fi and fantasy, but on occasion branches into other
genres to keep things interesting. Alex is a genderqueer writer from the wilds of northern Canada who
loves exploring other peoples and cultures. Alex is a recent graduate of UNBC with a BA in English,
and as a result has an unhealthy obsession with Victorian Gothic literature. Alex has been writing from an early age, but is happy to keep learning to improve on their writing skills. Feedback and comments as well as any questions are appreciated! You can reach Alex at aa.powell.author@gmail.com
Chosen Work: Sky Knights

 I’m really excited for this event, and I’m stoked that I was invited by Heidi to attend!

Anyone in the Edmonton area who is interested in attending, the event is at Audrey’s Books, 10702 Jasper Ave NW.

Here’s the Facebook event if you want to join!

 

 

On Not Giving Up

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Okay, so your submission to a publisher came back with a rejection. Not only does it happen to the best of us, it happens to all of us. The vast majority of writers have publishers reject one of their works at some point or another.

It doesn’t mean that you’re a bad writer, necessarily. There are many reasons for a publisher to reject work.

One of them is that the work that you’ve submitted isn’t exactly what that publisher is looking for right at that instant. Sometimes it’s harder to figure out what a publisher is looking for when they have a general call out. Try again. Just because that publisher rejected it, it doesn’t mean every publisher will.

It could be that the publisher has limited space, and that they can’t publish everything that comes their way, even if it is good. It might be just that they’ve decided to go with authors that they are already familiar with, or that your work is similar to another author’s, so they went with the other one. It happens.

And I know you dread to hear it, but sometimes it is because of the writing.

So, I have a couple of questions for you, if you suspect that this is the case.

How long have you been a writer, and how much are you practicing? I’ve been a writer since I actually could write, and I get feedback from fellow writers at regular intervals. Are you taking any writing courses or following any writing blogs? Getting advice from others who can give you critical feedback?

The only way to get better at writing is actually writing. I’ve looked at some of my old work, and it’s just horrendous. But that’s looking at it from now. You can only get better with practice. That, and reading. Please read as much as you possibly can, because that’s how you can tell if you’re improving.

Don’t give up on writing because you got one rejection letter.

Other questions to ask yourself:

  • is my story predictable or typical? What can I do to change it up a bit, to make it different from all the other stories?
  • did I revise my story? How is the pacing, are there unnecessary scenes, or did you leave any out?
  • how’s your opening chapter? Do you have a good hook? What kind of scene do you open with? A lot of editors judge a book by its first chapter, and if that doesn’t impress them, they won’t read any further.
  • did you edit properly? Remember when I said editors can tell if you didn’t edit it? Yeah, they really really can, and dislike it immensely.

Any way you look at it, you shouldn’t take a rejection letter as a cue to throw in the towel. It is not a sign of failure unless you give up afterward.

Never think that writers are born. Writers create themselves.

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.

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.”

The Nightwitches

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I’m still talking about some of the research I did for writing Sky Knights, which is being released on March 25th.

My last post didn’t really touch on the actions of the Night Witches, because I wanted to save it all for this one.

nightwitches

Let me tell you about the Night Witches, or the Nachthexen, as they were known in German. The Germans named them such, because their planes coming in for a bombing run sounded like the whooshing of a broomstick. The Germans were terrified by these nightly assaults, as well they should be.

Marina Raskova

Marina Raskova

The 588th Night Bomber Regiment was one of three all-female air regiments in the Soviet Union’s 4th Air Army. All three regiments were created because of Marina Raskova, who used her influence with Stalin to convince him to allow their creation. The formation commander was Major Yevdokia Bershanskaya, an experienced pilot.

In October of 1943, the 588th was renamed the 46th Taman Guard Night Bombers Aviation Regiment, in recognition of their victories over the Taman peninsula.

Pilots in front of the Polikarpov PO2 biplane

Pilots in front of the Polikarpov PO2 biplane

The Nightwitches flew tiny little wooden biplanes that were meant to be used as crop-dusters or for training. They were very slow, but had a few very notable advantages. One of which was that the highest speed of the Polikarpov PO-2 was still slower than the stalling speed of both the Messerschmitt Bf 109 and the Focke-Wulf Fw 190, the two German planes in most use. Another was that they could absorb quite a large amount of damage before going down.

There were a couple downsides. One, the plane could only carry two people, and the cockpit was open. Another was that the Polikarpov PO-2 didn’t have any navigation equipment, radar, radio, or even parachutes. It could only hold six bombs at a time.

Nadezhda Popova

Nadezhda Popova

The Nightwitches used a certain tactic against the Germans that was not only very effective in hitting bombing targets, but also in terrifying their enemies. This tactic was to cut or idle the engines of their plane, swoop in without the sound of their engine to give them away, drop their bombs, and then restart their engines in mid-flight. So the only warning that the Germans would get of their enemy’s incoming bombs was a swooshing noise before incendiary death came down upon them.

One of the most highly decorated members of the Nightwitches was Nadezhda Popova, the leader of the 2nd Women’s Regiment, who was given the distinction of the Hero of the Soviet Union, the Gold Star medal, the Order of Lenin, and three Orders of the Red Star. She made a total of 852 sorties over the course of the war. She was shot down three times, but was never badly wounded. Once, she made a supply run to drop food, water, and medical supplies to trapped forces and nearly didn’t make it back. On her return, she found her plane riddled with bullets, including her helmet, and her map! She survived the war, and lived to the ripe old age of 91.

Yevgeniya Rudneva

Yevgeniya Rudneva

Another of the Nightwitches was a navigator named Yevgeniya Rudneva, who was also decorated with the Hero of the Soviet Union. She was a third year university student studying mechanics and mathematics at Moscow State University when the war broke out. She was also a member of the Astronomical-Geodesical Society and Head of the Solar Department. She wrote to the head of the Astronomy department to tell him she was defending the honour of the university, as the Germans had dropped bombs on the university faculty building. She and her pilot were taken down by flak on her 645th combat mission.

These are just two examples of members of the Nightwitches, one pilot and one navigator, just like my characters Dounia and Ira.

I found out while researching that in 2001, there were plans to make a movie about the Nightwitches that fell through because American studios didn’t think it was feasible to market a movie in which the Nazi advance was halted by a bunch of teenage girls. It’s no wonder that women’s history is mostly forgotten if their stories aren’t told alongside men’s.

But I’m here to tell you that it did happen, and those ladies were pretty heroic.

My upcoming release of Sky Knights, starring my lesbian aviators Ira and Dounia, is to be released in just a few days. You can still preorder and save 15%.