Your Story Deserves Better

Exactly six months ago today, I was basking in one of the most incredible sensations I’ve ever felt in my life. My short story, Continuum, was going to be published in a short story anthology by a publisher called Inkshares. We won The Nerdist Video Games Contest, and sold the highest number of pre-orders, which meant we’d receive full publication. As of today, you can still visit the page for the book where it’s the #1 Bestseller in Video Game related books. I have never felt as euphoric as I did on July 15th. I made a video in which I cried and poured my heart out about how good it felt to be accomplishing a dream I’d had my whole life at the young age of 25. I never released that video to the public, and given my news from this weekend, I doubt I now ever will.

Why? Because Inkshares emailed us this past weekend to tell us they were cancelling our book.

My first published work is getting ripped out from under me, and I refuse to pretend that I’m not simultaneously devastated and mad as hell.

Inkshares was a company that, this time last year, I believed in so fervently I could barely get through a day without telling someone about it. I sang their praises till I was blue in the face, and believed in them the way a kid believes in their parents. I thought Inkshares was it. My gateway to the world of being a published author. I had more hope than I can convey in words that this would be how my book got into the world. I believed this so much so that I ignored any opposing views that might suggest otherwise. How could a site that had given me so much (friends, a platform, hope) be so bad?

I look back on that time and long for it, because while the first five months were full of learning and growing and trying new things, every month since their change in management has been a nightmare for me and countless other authors, and given this weekend’s events, I can no longer stay quiet about it.

Now, please keep in mind as you read this, that my opinions are MINE. I’m in no way speaking for any other person who has ever been tied to Inkshares, mainly because some of them have had fine and dandy experiences. To them I say, that’s great. That’s not my experience, and from the conversations with friends, the emails I’ve seen (or lack of correspondence and transparency all together) on the parts of others, has led me to be utterly appalled at the way business is now being run. While there are perfectly lovely people working there, recent decisions have been made without any regard for the creators who fuel the site. Here is what transpired for me with them since things began to change.

In June of 2016, a small band of authors from Inkshares got the idea to write an anthology and enter it in the Nerdist Contest. Weary that perhaps an anthology would be unfair to other authors, several members of our group reached out to the staff at Inkshares (honestly can’t remember if it was 3 people or 5 people) and we were given the go ahead. Their staff was enthusiastic. Said it would be great. Several of said staff bought copies almost immediately. All of us authors were THRILLED when the book took the lead. We had done everything to make sure the company deemed this entry fair, and were succeeding.

In July, we won the contest. Our book sold over 400 copies to 366 unique readers. I cried and felt that immeasurable joy described at the start of this blog post. It was brought up that the new CEO of the company was less than thrilled at the notion of our anthology. But we had won the contest, which meant we would be published. All seemed well. We submitted our manuscript in August, then waited for news.

In December, we FINALLY heard from the CEO! He was asking us for a synopsis and a log line for each of our stories. While his email read like he didn’t even know we’d submitted our manuscript, we sent them anyway. Some in our group had hope that this would mean we’d soon have feedback on our pages. Some were frustrated that it took them this long to acknowledge our existence. I toed the line between the two, the optimist in me still really hoping I was wrong about my mounting fears that were based on bad experiences others at the site I knew were dealing with.

Cut to Friday. We received an email from the CEO saying our book had been cancelled. It was a flat dismissal, with no room for discussion. The basic issue was that some of the stories were not closely related enough to video games, which would make Legendary (the production house) frown on the submission as a “bait-and-switch.” He also claimed that, because the stories weren’t all video-gamey, that some readers would feel deceived by the anthology.

Why does that have anything to do with them publishing the book? We won the contest, they publish the book. Selling the intellectual property to a production studio is secondary.

The real kicker though, was this line:

“Some of you did write stories about video games, and I very much regret if you feel that you are being unfairly punished.”

 Basically, sorry not sorry to those of you who tried. Even though you did as asked, you don’t deserve publication because we as a company are too lazy to do our job and help you work through your manuscript to make it the best it can be for the readers who paid for it.

After hearing other stories of disappointment and hurt, many of which had to do with this obsession with IP sales, this felt like the nail in the coffin.

My story is not the only one. I have a list of friends with concerns regarding this site that’s as long as my arm, and while I would love to share more on that, it’s not my place. And I note again, I speak for NO ONE else in this anthology but myself. I know many of them will probably not agree with me sharing the information I have already, but I for one cannot continue to stay quiet about the way in which some authors I know have been treated. All of us in this anthology were cheated, and I don’t feel it was fair to any of us to have this taken away when the concerns expressed were something that could have been easily resolved.

I don’t come here to tell you, HATE INKSHARES THEY SUCK, because that is not true, nor is it fair. Plenty of people have had great experiences publishing through Inkshares, and I am sure those individuals will continue to defend them tooth and nail, as is their right. But it is also my right to tell another side of the story. A side some would rather have kept quiet. I leave it to you to decide whether or not to ever publish with them or purchase with them. But you cannot make an informed decision when all you hear is the sunshine and daisies side of the story, just as you cannot know everything from reading this overwhelmingly negative (and lengthy) blog post.

I just encourage that you think for yourself. Ask questions, ESPECIALLY when people are telling you not to. And know that if you are a writer seeking publication through Inkshares, you don’t deserve to be treated like this. You as a writer deserve respect and fairness and honesty, because these are things every human being deserves. You do NOT deserve to have your work dismissed and cancelled because it isn’t good enough for someone else, or because they don’t want to spend the time of day to help you publish the book you crowdfunded. Whether you write with Inkshares or not, your stories are worth fighting for. Your story deserves better, and so do you.

 

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Failures & Dreams

This morning, I’m waking up at the crack of dawn for a moment I’ve waited almost a year for. As the sun rises, and the crisp November air bites with both a chill and a promise, I’ll be off to see Hamilton in New York City.

Today also begins another NaNoWriMo adventure; my twelfth attempt in thirteen years. I’ll be taking the month to punch my rewriting efforts to warp speed, with the intention of completing the new draft of They Are the Last before the month is out. I’ve spent months chipping and hacking away at bits and bobs of a second draft, but now’s crunch time. Do or die. Write or—well, there really is no other option. There is no try, there’s only the words.

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And lastly, today is the day my Inkshares campaign should have ended, had I not cancelled in back in September. On the verge of such excitement and success and fulfilling of dreams, there is also a small sense of sadness that I didn’t accomplish what I’d set out to back in February with my campaign.

So many people, my hero J.K. Rowling included, have spoken on what it means to fail, and how it builds you as a person. Hank Green recently did a video about his own experiences “failing” at a convention that’s adored by hundreds. I “failed” at a campaign to fund a book, but made friends and connections and gained experiences that already have, and will continue to shape me. Some of the things I learned haven’t even fully hit me yet, and won’t until the moment is right. But here’s what I do know.

This year has been immeasurably incredible. I’ve fallen hard—my campaign, my financial instability as I search for a job that’s right for me, my depression and anxiety flaring up and making some days feel impossible to function through. But I’ve also seen and done things this year that I could NEVER have fathomed possible, with two whole months more of that to come with who knows what sort of magic.

I’ve dreamed of things, sometimes things bigger than the world has told me I should dare to. Last year, I said I wanted to see Hamilton. “IMPOSSIBLE,” cried everyone. Yet here I sit here with my ticket on my desk. I wanted to get my book published, but instead managed to be part of an anthology to be published by Nerdist Industries. I dreamed for so, so many things, because in my heart, a dreamer is what I always have been and always shall be. But in the process of bringing these dreams to life, there have been, and will inevitably be, more moments of failure.

I will fail, so I can savor the dreams. I will dream harder, so I know that when I fail, there’s still something to fight for.

“We do not need magic to transform our world. We carry all of the power we need inside ourselves already.” —J.K. Rowling

Happy NaNoWriMo, everyone. Here’s to the failures sure to come, and to the courage to strive for our dreams in the face of them. After all, there’s a million things we haven’t done, but just you wait…

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Never Again

My has it been a while.

In fact, this may be my longest break in blogging since March of last year if memory serves me. So in summary, this is what the heck I’ve been up to that has kept me away

  • Something I wrote is getting published.
  • Yeah, you read that first one right. I’M GETTING PUBLISHED. (#SorryNotSorry for my excitement at this) Myself and fourteen others teamed up and won an Inkshares Nerdist contest with our book, Too Many Controllers, which will feature my short story, ContinuumGo pre-order it so it can look shiny on your shelves when it gets released.
  • I was on a panel at San Diego Comic Con. Part of me is still wondering whether or not it actually happened or if I just had a five-day-geeky-fever-dream. That experience deserves its own post really, cause just… damn. What a weekend.
  • A NEW HARRY POTTER STORY DROPPED. Also expect an entire post forthcoming with my thoughts on that thing. Cause I have some. Many in fact. Not all of them nice, but most of them nice. And ALL OF THEM emotional.

Things in my life just seemed to escalate really quickly in the best possible way in July, and most of August has been me trying to just catch up with myself and register the honest to God miracles that popped into my life, like Too Many Controllers and my trip to Nerd-vana.

Never again do I hope to leave this much of a gap in my musings, mostly cause I enjoy sharing life experiences with you all. Hopefully now that everything has leveled a little once again, I can get back to telling you about the rad happenings as they’re happening. WHICH REMINDS ME.

Speaking of “never again”, I’M WRITING A NEW BOOK CALLED NEVER AGAIN!

What can I say? July did wonders for my creativity.

This weekend, I’ve proudly launched the first chapter of my first book I intend to be fully posted online through Wattpad, which for those not in the know is a site for writers to digitally share their work fo’ free. Never Again is something I’m tackling in this new way as opposed to seeking traditional book publishing of any kind first because it is essentially my first fanwork. I’m putting my own spin on one of my favorite heroes of all time – Peter Pan.

I don’t talk about my love of Peter Pan much, in the same way one doesn’t talk about having blood all the time. It’s just a thing you have that is part of you that never goes away. Peter Pan was my favorite movie as a 2 year old, and he was one of my most beloved heroes growing up, and in the back of my head, I’ve always wanted to write a story about him, his friends, and his adventures.

Thus Never AgainThe story begins with a lonely, depressed, and homeless teenage Peter, who for reasons I won’t spoil, agreed to leave Neverland to save the lives of some pretty important people. Forced to grow up, he befriends the only people he understands—orphans and runaways. One of these runaways is a young girl named Acie, who reminds him in so many ways of the friends he left behind. Meanwhile, back in Neverland, Tiger Lily, Tink, and their mermaid friend are trying to break the curse and bring Peter back, because Neverland finds itself on the brink of destruction, and they believe he’s the one who can bring back hope and help save the day.

This story has been fermenting in my brain for a few months now, and inspiration struck only nights ago. I’m not setting specific days or times when the story will be uploaded, mostly because I want this to be a work that just gets to be. I want to write it freely when I feel so moved, and not ever be put forth under any kind of stress. It seems to me the happiest way to write, and I so look forward to sharing it with the world, as opposed to keeping so much of it under lock and key as I must with my stories which I seek to traditionally publish.

You can read the first chapter of the story here, and meet my versions of Peter, Tink, and Lily. I want this story to bring a classic into the modern world, and tell a new story about a character I love, in a story that’s sans all that early 20th century misogyny and racism. (The fact that Tiger Lily never talks and her people are disgusting caricatures of Native Americans has always made me sick.) If you’ve ever read anything else by me, you know how important representation in stories is to me, so I couldn’t be more psyched to get rid of the dated stereotypes of these characters, and flesh them out as complex, fully rounded human beings.

Tomorrow I venture to New York City, so look out for a post about that adventure! In the meantime, I leave you with the first few lines of Never Again as a sneak peak, but you can find the whole of Chapter One now on Wattpad!

Never Again

By Elayna Mae Darcy

CHAPTER ONE

Never Again OFFICIAL COVER

LONDON

The boy stuck a cigarette between his teeth as Big Ben chimed twelve.

Midnight.

Another day.

Tourists with their selfie sticks ambled about Westminster Bridge as they always did, no one paying any mind to the tall, thin boy leaning over the edge having a smoke. He was as common a site as there was in bustling, downtown London. To the average eye, just another cheeky teenager in torn up jeans and a hoodie with too many patches. Just another boy with too much tousled blonde hair and a grin that mothers told their daughters to watch out for. There was nothing on his person to indicate that he was in a world he didn’t belong in-a world he never felt he belonged in.

But the boy who was never to grow up finally had, and all it did was remind him why he’d never wanted to.

“Oi! Peter!”

….

Click here to read the rest of Chapter One on Wattpad!

Happy Recommendsday!

One of my favorite things about the internet has been (and probably always will be) the way in which it allows us to connect with so many people who we may never have met. Its one of the biggest reasons that upon discovering Inkshares, I found myself feeling instantly at home. A network of authors trying to support other authors so we can all make each other’s dreams come true?

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Me at Inkshares

So in the spirit of that support, a few months back I did an event called #Recommendsday, where on Wednesdays, I would recommend some of the books that I most ardently believe people should check out and hopefully down the road, pre-order. That first time the recommendations were all via twitter, but I thought it would be more fun if instead of utilizing the fleeting nature of a tweet, I’d write about these authors books here on my blog for the sake of posterity, and so people always know these are cool books I think are deserving of some love! SO LET’S GET TO THE BOOKS!

PROXY
by Rebekka Leber

Tell a girl she’s  a god, and it all just goes to her head.

If you’re not interested in this book by the end of the first excerpt, than you must be leading a pretty blase life. I was hooked almost instantly by the Jessica Jones-y levels of badassery that seem to emanate from Max Lucas, the story’s heroine. There’s an interplay of modernity and antiquity, of gods and mortals, and as I mentioned when I first recommended the book upon discovering it a few months back, anything that tries to rewrite human history in a unique way is something I’m all about. This book begins funding in June, so make sure you’re following it so you know when it goes live and you can grab a copy for your shelf!

SEVEN SHARDS: THE COLORS OF WINE
by C. Brennecke

The final revolution is coming. She could stop it…but should she?

Seven Shards is the book on this week’s list which has reached one of Inkshares funding goals to be published, but spend five minutes reading, and you’ll understand why. The prose Brennecke employs is enchanting and there’s an ever present feeling that you’re experiencing something ancient and forbidden as you read. This is the kind of book I can’t wait to have in my hands so I can curl up with it under some blankets and be whisked away to a fantastic new world. If epics like Lord of the Rings or Game of Thrones are in any way your thing, then Seven Shards should be too.

 DISSONANCE IN HARMONY
by Philip Wesley

Two adventurous souls find themselves entangled in a conflict started by the Gods ages ago.

This author’s got something seriously unique going on with a story that flashes between a mystical world with princesses and kings, and a modern day cop who’s just trying to do his best to be the good guy. It leaves you begging to know what the worlds have to do with each other, and how they’ll bleed into one another. There’s upbeat humor and an eerie sense of foreboding, two things that normally might not mix. But the way Wesley weaves his words, it’s sure to capture your attention and keep it.

JUMP THE GUN
by Suaine

Meg, a fighter pilot, and Captain Jasmin Pierce, the civilian commander of the Rheda, find themselves on a mission that spans more than just light years: there’s mystery, adventure, romance, discovery, danger and love for the stars.

Discovered this read through a really profound connection with the author, and upon checking out the first few chapters, I was thrilled to learn that the story was as epic as the person. An inclusive adventure through space, the first two chapters are wonderfully written, a mixture of light humor and serious consequences. These few minutes did what any good story should do, which was make me care immensely for its protagonists right from the jump. Chapters that end with cliffhangers and promises of an adventure across the stars makes this one of my current favorite picks on Inkshares.


Hope you enjoyed this week’s Recommendsday picks! Check back next time for more!

Editing So Far

A little over four months ago, in my post So It Begins, I wrote about launching into the brave new world that would be editing the first draft of They Are the LastI can say now with much certainty from the experiences thus far: editing is weird.

I thought then it would largely consist of combing through what I’d already done and just tweaking things and chopping bits out. What I’ve actually found is that I’ve had to rip the poor thing to shreds, tossing the bulk of it to the wind only to salvage the few gems that lay hidden in a good line of dialogue or a piece of important structure. At that time, I also had no idea I’d be discovering Inkshares. While I’ll admit that at times that has diverted my attention from the draft so I can focus on campaigning, Inkshares has also been a great service to the draft by way of providing me with the support of other writers who’ve given me some of the most insightful and helpful feedback I’ve thus far received.

Really, there’s been less editing than I expected and more just all out rewriting. Some days I get little glimpses of that special NaNo creativity where I just type like a maniac until the story’s been freed from me, but much of the process now is careful writing. It’s taking the ideas I’ve spewed out before and making them more coherent and beautiful. It really is like the refining of a diamond. I know that the story I’m trying to tell is this lovely thing buried somewhere in there, but I’ve got to cut and polish and cut and polish all of the roughness away to get there. It’s not anywhere near as easy or freeing as the initial draft, but I’ll tell you what, it’s making me a much stronger writer, and for that I’m grateful.

All of this is really coming out right now I guess because just this week, I made a pretty big decision regarding my editing process. The second draft I’d been working on since January 3rd? Baby is getting put in the corner and I’m starting it over.

During April’s Camp NaNoWriMo, I managed to make it to 35,000 words on that draft, but much of it didn’t get to incorporate the many aspects of feedback I’ve been receiving as of late. I’ve also in an exciting turn of events, begun reading again. I finished the AMAZING novel Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi, and am about half way through reading Gary Whitta’s book Abomination (an Inkshares book itself!) and just seeing other people’s finished novels has me realizing that my story has a long way to go, but it needs a new start.

So I’m scrapping what I’ve done and starting anew. This will be the second time in the last year that I’ve done that, but if we’re looking at my track record, this bodes well. I spent July to October of last year getting done a 44,000 word draft of They Are the Last which on October 31st, I decided to scrap in favor of starting the first draft over for NaNoWriMo proper. The draft I started the next day went on to be the first completed draft of the book. I’m taking this new beginning as a good sign for this rewrite draft that I’m about to hurl myself into.

There’s no possible way I could have known when I started revisions on January 3rd that before the year was half way through, I’d be in the throes of trying to get the book published. I mean seriously: the book currently has 133 pre-orders. Remarkable. Given that, God only knows where I’ll be come five months from now when the campaign for the book concludes. While I dream that by that day, I’ll have reached the pre-order goal to be published, I’ve no way of knowing which way the wind will blow. One can only hope that if nothing else, my draft will be further along and I’ll be ever the little bit wiser for it.


PS,

Speaking of the book, if you happen to see this post prior to the evening of Monday May 23rd, I’m running my first promotional contest! You can visit the official They Are the Last website for more details, but the prize is NAMING A CHARACTER IN THE BOOK! Plus every person who enters will receive a handmade bookmark. Click the image below to visit the official website, or click here to directly visit the CONTEST page!

contest promo

 

It Ain’t Over Till Hamilton Sings

Well everyone, it’s official! My Inkshares campaign has been extended to allow for more time to reach the pre-order goal of 750! In other words: They Are The Last being published is a very serious likelihood.

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The whole reason for launching this campaign was because I didn’t want to throw away my shot to get published, but if it means I have to be willing to wait for it, that would be enough.

By this point (if you’re a fan of the musical Hamilton) you’re probably wondering why all the references, both in the title and the above paragraph. Simply put, its because of when my campaign ends.

November 1st. The day I’ve got tickets to Hamilton.

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Me every time I remember I’ve got a ticket…

However, that’s far from the only reason I chose that day. For one, I needed a date far enough in the future that would allow me ample time to spread the word. I’ve got a few possible conventions I’m attending (can’t wait to share more on that later) I am planning to host some local events at cafes and libraries, and growing a following online takes time. All of these elements require playing the long game. None of this is going to happen overnight for someone like me who’s just starting out in the world of publishing.

But I’m okay with that. Alexander Hamilton himself started out as the bastard, orphan, son of a whore. If he could rise up and become a founding father, surely I can become a published author. As I said, I’m willing to wait for it.

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However, unlike Aaron Burr, my waiting for it doesn’t include waiting around and seeing which way the wind will blow. It’s going to require me to write like I’m running out of time, and to work NON-STOP. I’m ready for that. In fact, I thrive on that.

Another big reason why November 1st is perfect is a bit more obvious. That’ll be the kick off to NaNoWriMo 2016. If you’ve been around this blog for a while, you know that I tried writing They Are The Last in July 2015, and then started over on November 1st, 2015. The draft I started that day would go on to become the first completed draft of the story that I’d spent over 11 years working on. As a matter of fact, the night I finished that story was New Year’s Eve. I finished shortly after 10pm, and then headed downtown for a friend’s New Year’s party. However, since I had waited so late in the night, buses were running behind, so I rang in 2016 on a Philadelphia street corner, with fireworks bursting in the sky over the skyline, feeling on top of the universe, and with a song blaring in my headphones.

The song was My Shot from Hamilton.

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I mean COME ON!! Symbolism, anyone?

Everything comes into our lives for a reason, and at times that we could have never anticipated or orchestrated. Basically, I think it is no accident that I should discover a musical about an orphaned writer who rose above all adversity to make a mark on the world. Do I think I’m gonna go on to become a treasury secretary? Hell no. But I know what I want to do with my life; always have. Tell stories. I want to write like tomorrow won’t arrive, because the truth is, I need it to survive.

So the next six months are going to be major. In that time, I’m probably going to go through enough emotions to put me on the border line of spontaneously combusting, but I’m excited for it. I’m excited to see where I succeed and where I fail, and how I rise above any of those failures that may be thrown in my way. If Hamilton teaches us anything, it is that we are none of us perfect. But we all can do one thing – the best we can. Nothing can stop us from that.

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I’m ready to take this book to 750 pre-orders, and I hope if you’re reading this, you’re willing to help me get there. Alexander surely would not have gone on to leave his mark on the world without Eliza, Angelica, or his friends. The musical Hamilton would be nothing if no one cared about it enough to listen to it, see it, or talk about it. And so They Are The Last will remain nothing but an idea in my mind if no one wants to read it.

Here’s to the next six months. Right now, I’ve gotta get back to writing. See you on the other side of the war.

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(Psst, if you want to check out the Inkshares page for my book, click here…)

WSSF: Deus Hex Machina

TODAY ON WOMEN SLAYING SCIFI

Deus Hex Machina by Amanda Orneck

It is a refined skill to take radically different worlds and combine them together into a single seamless story, but honestly, Amanda Orneck is currently doing it brilliantly in her novel, Deus Hex Machina. The writing is rich with vivid imagery that paints a picture of an ancient Cloister, but not like the familiar kind that dot the European countryside. Hers is one filled with computers, where the Code replicates eternal. The Church of Technology is the religion of the day, and among its sisterhood, we find our heroine, Isidore RAM.

We meet Isidore on the Grid, experiencing an ancient version of New York City’s Harlem that is made up of numbers and code. Isidore is a Hexer of seemingly incomparable skill, who encounters something unexpected, and seeks out her mentor for help. In that way, it’s a classic tale, but the telling of it is something you’ve never seen done before. There’s ancient mystery mixed with advanced technology that’s beyond our time.

It had me immediately hooked, and if you give it the chance, I hope you’ll find the same for yourself. This Bechdel-crushing adventure isn’t one to be left unread.

From Amanda Orneck

Women Slaying SciFi is about women supporting women, therefore each featured author is asked the following question about why female narratives and authors matter . . .

Why do you think female authors and protagonists are so important to the future of sci-fi?

“I think female authors and protagonists are essential to the future of SciFi because, really, they are essential to the future.  The female mind is just built differently than the male one, is more collaborative, faster to make nonlinear decisions, better and handling complex multithreaded tasks.  It’s how we are built.  It’s exactly these sorts of minds that our future world will need.  We are living in a global economy, one that is pushing toward interstellar flight and habitation. In these situations having women making quick decisions will be key to our future success as a species.

Now how do you build a future populated with strong, stakeholder women making important decisions that will diversify our people and spread them amongst the stars? You plant the seeds of inspiration in today’s fiction.  In some way I think that we are creating the literature that will inspire the next generation (or even that beyond the next) of women to dream of being the leaders and the achievers.  That is a powerful position to be in as a creator.  We can build worlds that get the future of our reality jump started.

It’s all in the power of the reader’s imaginations. We can shape what they perceive as normal by providing strong, complex women as lead characters, and as stepping up as women who can build complicated, important worlds. This is where I want to take a moment to defend liberal arts.  Yes, STEM education will help our girls to learn to be scientists, but it’s creative writing in the hands of women scifi authors that will show them what is possible with those educations.” —

Follow Amanda Orneck on

Inkshares  |  Twitter

– – – – –

 

Screen shot 2016-03-26 at 11.28.13 AMAmanda Ornecks’s novel, Deus Hex Machina, is currently available on Inkshares! Check out the links below to read the first chapter and pre-order the book in e-book or paperback form!

Read Chapter One

Pre-order Deus Hex Machina

WSSF: Lucky

TODAY ON WOMEN SLAYING SCIFI

Lucky by RH Webster

The thing that makes me marvel at Webster’s space opera, Lucky, is just how quickly she manages to pull you into the story. The current first four chapters take all of 17 combined minutes to read, but by the time you’ve finished, you’re distraught that there isn’t more! I don’t remember the last time I read something that made me care this much about fictional characters in so short a time frame.

Lucky begins with Felina, a bartender who’s happy to have her brother come see her at the cantina where she serves as an indentured servant to a mysterious woman named Rosa. Within the first few paragraphs we learn that people on this space rock speak Spanish, which immediately lets you know you’re in for a diverse and inclusive narrative, which is so incredibly important. #WeNeedDiverseBooks

From there, the story takes a sharp turn for the worse, and Felina is thrown into a terrifying situation. If the story hasn’t captured your attention by this point, you might want to check that you’re still among the living.

Lucky is everything you loved about Firefly, except its the crew of the Rosebud that you fall for. Trigg Donner is a Malcolm Reynolds for a new generation, and the titular character, Lucky, (full name Cassandra Luckenbach) is so relatable, despite the fact that her attempts to get into grad school just happen to take place in space.

Webster’s story is absolutely worth every minute of your life it takes to read, and is the kind of book I can’t wait to hold in my hands and add to my shelf. So seriously, what are you waiting for?

From RH Webster

Women Slaying SciFi is about women supporting women, therefore each featured author is asked the following question about why female narratives and authors matter . . .

Why do you think female authors and protagonists are so important to the future of sci-fi?

“Firstly, I consider science fiction to be an important literary and film genre. I think in a way, science fiction is as much of a reflection of the author and the time in which it was written as it is a vision of the future to come. So many science fiction and dystopian future novels have been written that have either predicted what was to come (Fahrenheit 451) or have scared the populace into avoiding that fate at all costs (1984) that it’s impossible to ignore the impact of science fiction on our culture.

Secondly, as for female science fiction authors, I feel that it is a mistake to exclude nearly half of the world’s population from writing and publishing in a specific genre because it’s just not a “girly” thing to do. I cannot tell you the number of times I’ve been in the science fiction section of a store only to get eyeballed by the guys in the same section. Most of them thought I was “faking” my interest in science fiction to pick up dates. (AS IF.)

The importance of female protagonists in science fiction is tied closely to the need for female authors. Think about it: as girls, who did we want to identify with in science fiction films? Princess Leia. Ripley. Sarah Connor. But, to be honest, the majority of strong protagonists have been male while women have been used for eye candy or plot twists (think James Bond movies). In a genre where anyone can be anything, why are the boys getting to run around and play hero and the girls are wearing tight clothes and just there for fanboy gratification?

I want to see a future where young girls and women can watch TV and read books where a strong female protagonist is present because she has value to the story, not because she looks sexy in a jumpsuit. I think that future starts with us, as women and female authors, and I think it continues with our protagonists that we create. I have created three female protagonists now (Lucky, and two unpublished characters named Jael and Allegra). They have their flaws, true. Sometimes they get squeamish if they see something gross. But at the end of the day, they’re as intelligent and as brave as the men they work with. And those are the sorts of women I want my little sister to be able to look up to and say, I can do that.” -RH Webster

Follow RH Webster on

Inkshares  |  Facebook  |  Twitter

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RH Webster‘s novel, Lucky, is currently available on Inkshares! Check out the links below to read the first chapter and pre-order the book in e-book or paperback form!

Read Chapter One

Pre-order Lucky

Women Slaying SciFi

For a myriad of reasons and a great deal of deep seeded issues that would take years worth of blogging to unpack, there seems to be a pretty sweeping misconception that Science Fiction stories are for men. From guys who think we’re all just interested in SciFi because we’re trying to get their attention, to executives at Disney thinking no one would want Rey merch, (REY IS EVERYTHING, HOW DID THIS HAPPEN??!!?) its something that’s hard to ignore. Who wants to have their passions called into question because of someone else’s insecurities. Seriously, who I ask you?

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The truth is, women fucking love science fiction, and this is a stereotype that needs to end like, 50 years ago. Not only do we love these kinds of narratives, we also love creating them. For goodness sakes, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein is considered to be the first science fiction novel – how can you tell women we can’t be part of a genre we invented?

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So given all of that – AND the fact that March is Women’s History Month – I will be doing something special here at Elayna Musings by highlighting the works of some of my fellow female authors participating in the Nerdist Space Opera Contest on Inkshares, where my book They Are The Last is currently in the running be published.

When I first joined the contest, I couldn’t help but notice that women make up pretty small fraction of the 89 authors currently competing for publication, and so I thought what better way to show these incredible stories some love than by featuring them here! There are several author’s books that I’ll be featuring, and each post will not only tell you about their story and why you should support it, but you’ll also get to see these amazing ladies answer the following question:

Why do you think female authors and protagonists are so important to the future of sci-fi?

Nothing excites me more than discovering new, complex narratives written by women and about women. It’s become easy for so many men (and sadly even some women) to throw in an obligatory female character to support the men around her, usually have her wearing some kind of skin tight spandex, and then most likely, kill her off to further the man pain. I’m not about it y’all.

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Rey ain’t about it either.

These authors you’ll be seeing featured are forces to be reckoned with, and their representation of women in the genre is so tremendously on point. First post in the series goes live tomorrow, so be sure to check in to hear all about RH Webster’s book, Lucky!

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Book

Elayna’s debut novel, ‘They Are The Last‘ is currently available on Inkshares! Check out the links below to read the first two chapters of the first book in this upcoming space opera trilogy!

Chapter One
Chapter Two

Pre-order They Are The Last

12 Years in Alteria

Get your flux capacitor and TARDIS ready, everyone. For today’s post, we’re going back in time. To when, you ask?

February 9th, 2004 at 10:13am. Room 107 of East Norriton Middle School.

I was 13, sitting in class with a teacher I didn’t much like for a subject I was rubbish at. The few days prior to that, I’d made the decision that I wanted to write a story. Heavily influenced by the magic of Harry Potter and the space and time travel in The Pendragon Adventures – a YA series you should absolutely look up if you’re unfamiliar – I knew that I wanted the story I’d be writing to be some combination of the those elements. Science-y magic, if you will.

I came up with a character to lead this universe, Piper Anderson, who was so named because Piper was my favorite girls name, and Anderson was my 7th grade English teacher’s name. Next, I realized Piper needed a universe to belong in – a world. Sitting in that math class, I tried to come up with a name. Something original. But with nothing around me but other disinterested classmates and a teacher droning on, there wasn’t much for inspiration. So I worked with what I had . . . my math worksheet.

I started using different words from the instructions on the page, combining them in scribbles at the bottom of a piece of paper that I have sadly since lost. I rearranged words and letters, until at last, I jotted down a word that just worked. It clicked.

My world would be called Alteria.

And so I opened my notebook to a blank page – a page I still have – and jotted down the date, time, place, and just above it a phrase. Alteria: The Adventure Begins. Below that, a chapter title. And below that? A horribly cheesy first line that only 13 year old me could have come up with.

Piper Anderon looked like your typical 17 year old girl. But she wasn’t.

Yes, in the first line of my first book, I spelled my own character’s name wrong. DERP.

The rest of that year was spent coming up with alien races, doodling notes, and handwriting pages upon pages of story. That November I decided to write a prequel to this first Alteria story, and the result was very first NaNoWriMo novel called The Waters of Nen. As anyone who’s read this blog before knows, NaNoWriMo is the other thing I’ve been spending the last 12 years doing.

The ensuing years after 2004 saw much of my free time being consumed by coming up with grand ideas, some of which stayed, and some of which went back into the communal creative consciousness for someone else to grab. But even when I came up with something bad, I’d just scrap it and keep going. Most people are still surprised when I tell them the story is as old as it is, usually asking things like, why didn’t you get distracted and just stop writing? I can without a doubt say one of the biggest reasons was an incredibly kind and endlessly encouraging middle school librarian who told me to keep at it. (Spoiler: When I get to write a dedication to this book one day – you can bet she’ll be in there.)

High school saw me getting into other projects, trying new things, and you know, learning how to be a person. Then in college, I was so caught up in the incredibly exciting task of learning to be a filmmaker. While those years were amazing and shaped me so much as a storyteller and creator, Alteria spent much of that time on a shelf, waiting until I was ready to tell the story as it deserved to be told.

Flash ahead to 2015. At the conclusion of one creative project, I found myself wanting to take up the mantle of another one. I debated relentlessly in my head as to which story I should work on, and carried the dilema with me when I went to London and Edinburgh in April for my own adventure. I sat in the very cafe where JKR wrote her much of Harry Potter, thinking about Piper and Alteria, and wondering: is it their time? Am I finally ready? As I walked home that night, mulling it all over, I stopped by a shop, looking for a souvenir for the friend who helped me get there. In that store, I saw this . . .

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I took the hint. I went back to Alteria.

I spent July to October writing the first 44K words, then November and December I began a new draft which I completed with less than an hour to spare of New Year’s Eve. I rang in 2016 standing on a street corner waiting to catch the bus to my friends party, because I HAD TO finish my book first. Watching fireworks explode over the city skyline, happy drunken cheers all around, and with Hamilton the Musical‘s song My Shot blaring in my ears, I gotta say – that was one of the most surreal and profound moments of my life.

Which brings me to 2016. A new year, new beginnings, and a new chapter in the life of my story. And now – a new challenge.

This time last week, I was working on revising my draft, with no idea when I’d ever be published, or hell, even how I’d be published. Would I self-pub? Find an agent? I was preparing myself for all possible avenues I could think of. But as I’ve discovered is the pattern in my life, God usually tends to answer my prayers in the one way I that I could have never expected or prepared for.

Along came Inkshares. My friend – bless her heart – sent me a link to a contest called The Nerdist Space Opera Contest, run by the magnificently wonderful Inkshares website. The rules? Get my book to be one of the most pre-ordered books by March 15th, and I get published. That’s it. I’d be a real live published author, and one of the top 3 items of my bucket list would get to be checked off when I’m only 25. Talk about blessed.

So here I sit. My story turns 12 today. 12 years of my life spent with my head lost across the stars in a world I love, which no one ever used to know existed, until now. Now, Piper’s story isn’t just mine. It can be yours too. I imagine this must be what a parent feels like seeing their kid off to school: thrilling, exciting, nerve-wracking, happy, overwhelming, etc.

I don’t know what’s going to happen with this contest or my story will find itself in the winners circle, because to be honest, SO MANY OF THESE BOOKS SOUND SO GOOD. But the great thing about Inkshares is, even if I don’t win the contest, I still have until May 4th to sell 750 pre-orders, and if I do that, my book will finally be on your shelves.

Suppose it is fitting that a post with the words 12 Years in the title should take a while, but if you’re still reading, thanks for sticking with me. Not just in this blog post, but in life. On this crazy journey I’m on to live passionately and fiercely pursue my dreams. I hope that if you’ve gotten this far, you’ll take some time to check out this story that’s meant all the worlds to me. You can read Chapter One here.

If you’ve been there at any time in any way for these past 12 years, I thank you. You’ve become part of the story between the lines inherently by being in my life. As for the rest of you, Alteria will be waiting.

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Update: As of September 14th, 2016, Elayna cancelled the funding campaign for They Are the LastRead her official announcement here. Readers can still visit theyarethelast.com to learn more about the story.