My Turn

As a writer, I have always agreed with J.K. Rowling on her words…

Words are, in my not-so-humble opinion, our most inexhaustible source of magic.

That statement has proven true in my life time and time again. For every word that has hurt me, there have been more that have healed. For all the words that cause me to doubt, there have been just as many to inspire, and it was three words my roommate said to me about two weeks back that ignited something inside me.

Our conversation wasn’t unlike many of the others we’ve had before. One of the biggest topics was my fear that I can’t do “this.” By “this”, I mean be a published author.

Waiting to hear back from agents is painstaking. Watching other debut authors bask in the glow of their first books is incredible. Feeling like I could never be among them even if I tried has been disheartening. But on this particular night, there was one thing my roommate said that must have been exactly what I needed to hear. With three simple words, he sparked a fire…

“It’s your turn…”

This struck me, and it is because of that conversation that a project that I’ve been working on for months is about to come alive in a way I had not originally planned, but which am now thrilled to pursue. It is because of those three words that I was able to find the courage at last, make this announcement, which I’m happy crying over as I type.

I’m publishing a book, y’all.

Allow me to (tearfully) present to you, Unraveling Light, my debut collection of poetry.

a collection of poetry

As of the time of this writing, you can click the above link and be whisked away through the interwebs to a Kickstarter campaign, where I am raising the set-up funds to self-publish the book this summer. My starting goal is only $900, which means if 36 people decide to pre-order a signed paperback right now (really, did I mention the link’s right here?) then that’s it. I’ll have the funds needed to publish, and the rest is just whipped cream and cherries.

As I’ve shared this news with friends and family in the past few weeks, some have expressed surprise that I write poetry. Trust me, no one is as surprised as I am that my first published work is going to be poems. For while I’ve been actively writing poetry for the past few years, I never would have dreamed when I started that it would ever be something I would want to share with others, because of how deeply personal much of it is. But as I’ve been chipping away at progress on my YA series, writing poetry has become a truly joyous outlet for me and has served as a magnificent means of self-expression. Putting together this collection, and subsequently finding a passion for doodling and word art that accompanies the poems, has been an unbelievable experience of growth, and so I couldn’t be happier to finally be ready enough to release it.

The campaign runs from today until April 25th, concluding on that date because that would have been my mother’s birthday, and she is the one to whom this book is dedicated. I tear up thinking about her, and wondering how she would feel to know that not only am I finally chasing my life’s greatest dream, but that I am doing it on my own terms. My mom always supported me, and I wouldn’t be the writer, dreamer, or person I am without her encouragement, even when the rest of the world didn’t believe in me.

Over the next few weeks, I’ll be sharing some teasers of the book here on my blog, but you can get more frequent updates by donating to the Kickstarter today so that you get notified as soon as something new develops with the project! For donating, you can get all manner of fun things from handmade bookmarks, to audiobooks, to signed copies of the book, and even custom art prints. By donating, you’d be helping me to achieve something I’ve dreamed about since I was a kid. So basically a ton of great karma on top of all the swag. A pretty sweet deal if you ask me.

I know there’s not many people who read this blog. I know that as far as the publishing world is considered, I am still a nobody. Hell, even when this campaign succeeds and the book is out there, it still isn’t likely to be a bestseller or to change the world. But it is my heart put to paper. As my campaign page says…

The words in this volume serve as not just the written sum of one person’s experiences, but as a celebration of surviving them.

As I begin this journey, I find myself so happy to have survived. I am so happy to still be writing. I am so happy to be alive to share this with you. I hope that whoever you are, stranger or friend, you can find some shred of magic in my words, and that through that, you can feel the same hope I feel as I put Unraveling Light out into the world.

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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.

 

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!

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!

– – – – –

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.

Next Chapter

Last night (December 31st, 2015) at 10:23pm, I did it.

I finished the first draft of my novel that I’ve been developing for the last 11 years. It’s done. I did it. See?

But is it actually done, done? Like ready to go off to the presses?

Sadly not. Before any of that kind of exciting stuff can happen, there’s the perilous journey of editing this baby, which is going to be about as emotional an experience as it was writing it, though perhaps for different reasons.

Over the next few months, some of those closest to me will read it and give me feedback, I’ll get some people who are actual editors to help the process along, and I myself will have to be critical of the work and rip some things in it to shreds. I’ve heard many a writer exclaim that the real novel comes out in the editing process, and lots of things that you may have found so important in draft one become unnecessary once you’ve gotten to the end and can see the big picture that is the novel as a whole. It’s going to be a new – and very different – experience compared to the creative rush that comes from filling a blank page with something. But as arduous a phase though it may be, its one I am incredibly excited for.

It’s the next chapter in the book of my life as a writer.

Which brings me to 2016. What will this year hold for They Are the Last? Will I find an agent? Will I change my mind and decide to self publish? Will I end up having to scrap it and start anew?

Who freaking knows?

It’s going to be thrilling and scary and fun and exciting and nauseating and probably lots of other emotions that I can’t fathom right now cause my brain is kind of mush after all I accomplished yesterday . . .

In short, 2016 is going to be quite an adventure, and while this book is taking up about 145678% of my headspace right now, there are also many other exciting things to come for me this year as well! (Some of which I will be writing about in blog posts to come later this week!)

I’m just really happy to say I’ve kept at it with this blog, and hope that 2016 brings about even more posts and continues to give enjoyment to the life of anyone who might be reading. And now I leave you with this, a delightful post I saw on tumblr this morning that perfectly captures how I feel about me, my book, my life, and this year.

Have a safe and blessed new year, everyone!