Interview: Jessica

Today we’re joined by Jessica, who also goes by stormleviosa online. Jessica is a wonderful up and coming writer who recently had a short story published in an anthology. She’s currently a student studying English and writes in her free time. Jessica hopes to write longer narrative forms, such as novels and novellas, in the future. She’s clearly a dedicated artist with an incredibly bright future ahead of her as you’ll soon read. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I’m a writer when I have time but mostly I’m a student because education is important. I’ve written a few short stories and I’m currently working on longer pieces (novellas or eventually a full-length novel). I also write a lot for my college newspaper which I am also an editor of.

What inspires you?

I don’t really have a specific inspiration for my work. Some of what I write is heavily based on current affairs, particularly those I have an invested interest in such as the refugee crisis. I also write from prompts or based on other author’s works which includes dabbling in fanfiction. For my most recent piece of coursework, I wrote a short story based on 1984 with heavily implied connections to the Brexit situation in the UK.

What got you interested in your field?  Have you always wanted to be an artist?

It sounds cliché but I’ve been writing since I was a young child. I read a lot of books (and still do) which helped develop my skills and it escalated from there. I’m also useless at art so being able to express myself with words rather than images was important.

Do you have any kind of special or unique signature, symbol, or feature you include in your work that you’d be willing to reveal?

I like to write about things I am passionate about and problems that need to be resolved. Often, I try to include characters that are marginalized or misrepresented by the media to spread the issue to a wider range of people. It is something that challenges my writing but is very rewarding for me.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Don’t stop writing! If you truly feel passionate about it, write about it and don’t let anyone convince you it’s worthless. If you hit a writer’s block, work around it by writing something else. But at the same time, it’s OK to take a break if you need to. Your writing will only suffer if you work yourself into the ground.

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I’m an aromantic asexual.

Have you encountered any kind of ace prejudice or ignorance in your field?  If so, how do you handle it?

I haven’t encountered any yet although this may be because I’m not out to many people. My sexuality does make it difficult to write romantic subplots between characters because I don’t experience those kinds of feelings.

What’s the most common misconception about asexuality that you’ve encountered?

Mainly that asexuality is something you will grow out of. My parents don’t know I’m asexual but whenever I mention that I don’t want a relationship they tell me I’ll change my mind. It’s not a phase to grow out of and that’s perfectly alright.

What advice would you give to any asexual individuals out there who might be struggling with their orientation?

Don’t worry about figuring it all out right this second. You have all the time in the world to sort out what you feel and if you never find a label that fits that fine too. Any feeling you have is valid so don’t worry about categorizing them all right away.

Finally, where can people find out more about your work?

I don’t have much published work but my most recent is in the DoveTales anthology (published later this year) which is compiled by Writing for Peace. There is more information on their website or you can ask me questions directly via my blog (stormleviosa.tumblr.com). I sometimes write fan fiction on AO3 under an account with the same name (StormLeviosa).

Thank you, Jessica, for participating in this interview and this project. It’s very much appreciated.

Signal Boost: Special eBook Sale

Hello all!

I hope you don’t mind a small personal signal boost. A few authors from my publisher, Snowy Wings Publishing, were invited by another publishing collective to participate in an eBook sale (in the hopes of boosting our rankings a little, since we were all hurt by the Pronoun shutdown). I am also part of the sale.

I am so proud to be part of Snowy Wings (I seriously can’t believe I’m part of this collective with such a talented group of authors). Not all the authors taking part in this sale are ace, but every book has queer characters. And they’re all incredibly good and highly, highly recommended.

Anyhow, from January 26th – February 1st, you can get the following eBooks on Amazon for 99 cents:

SereFromtheGreen.Ebook

Sere from the Green by Lauren Jankowski (me!): There is a race that lives among humans, unbeknownst to them, called shape shifters, those that can shift from human to animal at will. Many protect the innocent on Earth and act as the eyes and ears of the guardians, divine beings similar to gods in ancient myths.

Isis is a woman who lives a normal life until the day she photographs a murder scene for her job. When the body disappears from her photographs, Isis is determined to solve the mystery. Her investigation uncovers answers about her own past and sets her on a journey that will change her life forever.

Cheerleaders from Planet X [Lyssa Chiavari]

Cheerleaders from Planet X by Lyssa Chiavari (my friend and fellow ace author): Laura Clark thought she was just your average college freshman—until the day she saw a cheerleader on a skateboard get into a superhuman brawl with a lightning-wielding stranger in a trenchcoat. And the weirdest thing of all? Nobody else saw it happen. Nobody, that is, except the beautiful but standoffish Shailene, one of the mysterious (and possibly super-powered) cheerleaders from Laura’s rival school, Bayview University.

When girls start disappearing all over the City, Laura suddenly realizes that she may have seen more than she should. And if she wants to keep from disappearing herself, she needs to find some answers. But though Laura can’t shake the feeling that they’re somehow connected, Shailene is more than a little reluctant to share her secrets. With strange, bug-like creatures and a sinister man in a dark coat stalking her every step, Laura will have to uncover the truth fast if she wants to survive.

The fate of the planet just might hang in the balance.

Phoenix Descending Curse of the Phoenix [Dorothy Dreyer]

Phoenix Descending: Curse of the Phoenix by Dorothy Dreyer (a ridiculously talented author who I featured on my personal website: read here): Who must she become in order to survive?

Since the outbreak of the phoenix fever in Drothidia, Tori Kagari has already lost one family member to the fatal disease. Now, with the fever threatening to wipe out her entire family, she must go against everything she believes in order to save them—even if that means making a deal with the enemy.

When Tori agrees to join forces with the unscrupulous Khadulians, she must take on a false identity in order to infiltrate the queendom of Avarell and fulfill her part of the bargain, all while under the watchful eye of the unforgiving Queen’s Guard. But time is running out, and every lie, theft, and abduction she is forced to carry out may not be enough to free her family or herself from death.

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Let Me Fly Free by Mary Fan (a really phenomenal author who is a treat to read and should be on everyone’s shelves): Fire fears nothing. And Elaia is about to show her world that she doesn’t, either.

Like the rest of her kind, fire nymph Elaia is bound to her homeland, a forest whose borders were closed centuries earlier in a peace agreement between the humans and the enchanted creatures of the Terrestrial Realm.

But her heart is as restless as the flames she casts, and she secretly yearns to defy that order.

When a mysterious threat creeps into the forest, an invisible beast that leaves a trail of death in its wake, Elaia is determined to fight back and protect her people. But first she must learn what the beast is … and the answers lie beyond the borders of her land.

Defeating this evil means she’ll have to go outside the rules, but she’ll do anything to find the answers she seeks—even if leaving her homeland means not only breaking the law, but risking her own life.

Ballad of the Beanstalk [Amy McNulty]

Ballad of the Beanstalk by Amy McNulty (another fantastic author who should be on everyone’s bookshelves): As her fingers move across the strings of her family’s heirloom harp, sixteen-year-old Clarion can forget. She doesn’t dwell on the recent passing of her beloved father or the fact that her mother has just sold everything they owned, including that very same instrument that gives Clarion life. She doesn’t think about how her friends treat her like a feeble, brittle thing to be protected. She doesn’t worry about how to tell the elegant Elena, her best friend and first love, that she doesn’t want to be her sweetheart anymore. She becomes the melody and loses herself in the song.

When Mack, a lord’s dashing young son, rides into town so his father and Elena’s can arrange a marriage between the two youth, Clarion finds herself falling in love with a boy for the first time. Drawn to Clarion’s music, Mack puts Clarion and Elena’s relationship to the test, but he soon vanishes by climbing up a giant beanstalk that only Clarion has seen. When even the town witch won’t help, Clarion is determined to rescue Mack herself and prove once and for all that she doesn’t need protecting. But while she fancied herself a savior, she couldn’t have imagined the enormous world of danger that awaits her in the kingdom of the clouds.

A prequel to the fairy tale Jack and the Beanstalk that reveals the true story behind the magical singing harp.

I cannot state enough the quality of books from the authors in my collective. So if you believe in supporting indie authors and diverse characters, please grab a copy of these books and leave a nice review (seriously, I cannot state enough how vital word of mouth is to indie authors).

On a personal note, I hope a few of you are enjoying my novels 🙂

Again: this particular eBook sale is running from January 26th – February 1st.

Thank you, everybody!

Signal Boost: The Blood Prince

Hi everyone!

I have a very exciting signal boost today. An ace author has just released her first novel and it sounds fantastic! Marie Blanchet was interviewed on this site a while back (WordPress & Tumblr) has just released The Blood Prince, the first in a fantasy trilogy entitled the Scale Hearts trilogy. It has an aro-ace main character and dragons! What more could you want? 🙂

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Cover

Here’s what Marie has to say about it:

“Until two years ago, Rainbow was ruled by dragumens. Now, there’s a human Empress on the throne, and she rules with an iron fist. Breaking promises after promises, she controls the people with lies, taxes, and murder. Everywhere in the land, rebellion is brewing. Gangav, the fallen dragumen prince who wants nothing more than revenge, rallies humans and dragumens to his cause. Sasha, his best friend and fiercest supporter, is eager to help him and is spoiling for a fight. Alexander on the other hand never wanted to be a part of it, but finds himself with no other choice when tragedy strikes home, bringing the cruelty of the empress to his doorstep. When news of a spy amongst their ranks turns everything on its head and the sudden outbreak of a new illness threatens the safety of the rebels, the three of them must find a way to relocate their camp before they are discovered, or the rebellion may very well end before it even begins. The first book in the “Scale Hearts” trilogy, “The Blood Prince” is a story about dragons and rebellions, but also about inner strength and figuring out your place in the world.

It might interest readers of you blog to know that the main character Sasha is aromantic in the book, and has somewhat of a journey of self-discovery while working for the rebellion. Being ace but not aro myself, I have consulted with several aromantic betas to make sure that Sasha and her storyline was handled with care. 

The book can be found here: https://www.amazon.com/Blood-Prince-Scale-Hearts/dp/177511970X/

And here: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/760868

I designed everything in the book, from the cover to several character illustrations inside to the page layout and the map.”

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Map

Seriously, Blanchet’s artwork is absolutely beautiful:

alex
Alex
Anzuu
Anzuu
gangav
Gangav
Sasha
Sasha

So if you love fantasy and ace characters, this is definitely a book you want to pick up (and review and recommend).

Thanks, everybody!

Interview: Alexa Baird

Today we’re joined by Alexa Baird. Alexa is a phenomenal visual artist and writer who is so ridiculously creative. They’re a fellow indie author who has self-published a number of novels and novelettes, which can be found on Amazon (look them up and supported a fellow ace). They also has a wonderful webcomic entitled Selfinsertale, which looks absolutely fascinating. Also, they’re a fellow Star Trek fan, which is awesome. Alexa is so passionate and dedicated, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to them for taking the time to participate in this interview.

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WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

My main art is writing. I write and self-publish novels and novelettes about a wide cast of characters including humans, robots, and magical beings, sometimes all in the same book. I’ve even taken to illustrating some of my more recent novels though I’ve been creating visual art since childhood. I also like to create comics and started my current webcomic series in 2016.

What inspires you?

I always like to say that tea helps with my creative-tea, but a lot of my inspiration comes from conversations with my friends and the ideas we spark together about our characters, how various characters would interact, etc. A lot of my ideas come from the desire to see a specific audience reaction that I test run by sharing these ideas with my friends.

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What got you interested in your field?  Have you always wanted to be an artist?

Starting in elementary school, my family and some of my teachers encouraged my artistic pursuits, though growing up I would jump from visual arts, to crafts, to music, to visual arts again, and also to writing. I used to hate writing as a result of the standardized tests I had to take when younger, but after being introduced to the concept of fan fiction and original characters I started to spend a lot of time in middle school creating my own stories as a coping mechanism. Over time I stuck with it and created more and more stories and characters until I got to where I am today with my novels and comics.

Do you have any kind of special or unique signature, symbol, or feature you include in your work that you’d be willing to reveal?

It’s subtle and not always consistent, but in a lot of my novels or series I try to fit in the word “trek” at some point in it as a nerdy, small reference to Star Trek.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Don’t be afraid to try new types of art and don’t be afraid to change your mind on what sort of artist you are. Maybe you start out as a writer but you want to try making crafts and find you have more fun with crafts and don’t want to write any more. That’s fine! Do what makes you happier in the end. Or maybe you’re a musician who tries painting a few times but end up not liking it. That’s fine too! You gained experience just from trying something you don’t normally do. Or maybe you try all sorts of things and have several different types of art you like and want to pursue. More power to you then, buddy. Trying new things always gives you more insight, and if you find something you prefer to do over what you had been doing before then the insight you gained is one of exploring more about yourself and your desires.

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ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I’m ace and aro.

Have you encountered any kind of ace prejudice or ignorance in your field?  If so, how do you handle it?

I’ve mainly seen prejudice remarks said to others rather than to me directly but it’s always hurtful to see. I find the best way to handle it is to support those who deal with this ignorance to let them know they aren’t alone in their identity and to understand that while those who are hateful may be the loudest, they are not the majority and there are ultimately more kind people in the world than there are bad.

What’s the most common misconception about asexuality that you’ve encountered?

That asexual people don’t belong in the LGBT+ community, usually due to people insisting that asexual people are actually straight. The most common misconception I see is that a lack of sexual attraction can let a person pass as straight, or that it means they actually are straight, and therefore that we aren’t queer enough to be part this community.

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What advice would you give to any asexual individuals out there who might be struggling with their orientation?

Asexuality is a normal and valid thing, and there are more people out there who are also asexual than you can count. Though the common statistic is only one percent of the world is asexual, that would still mean 76 million people in this world are also asexual, and I don’t think this takes into account those who due to societal norms don’t realize they are asexual as well. There is a large community here that can help and support you, and even if you can’t reach out to them personally they are still here if you ever need them and will be willing to help you as well.

Finally, where can people find out more about your work?

You can find my books on Amazon at http://www.amazon.com/author/alexabaird and my webcomic at http://selfinsertale.smackjeeves.com/ and bonus content at my Patreon at http://www.patreon.com/alexabaird

My main Tumblr and my Instagram username is allislaughter. And my Twitter is allislaughterEX.

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Thank you, Alexa, for participating in this interview and this project. It’s very much appreciated.

Interview: Fiona

Today we’re joined by Fiona. Fiona is a wonderful visual artist and writer. For writing, Fiona is working on a number of stories at the moment and enjoys writing a variety of genres. She’s no less versatile when it comes to visual art, doing both traditional and digital art. Her work demonstrates a keen eye and an amazing attention to detail, as you’ll soon see. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.

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WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I both write and do visual art. Both vary quite a bit as I am currently working on 3 extended stories/novels and all three are vastly different genres. As for visual art, I used to do a lot of traditional art in varying media (acrylics, graphite, pen, etc.) and most of it was as realistic as I could get it. Now I do mainly digital art mainly because it’s hard to get materials for other forms and Photoshop has an undo button… My style in digital art is still fairly realistic but more comic book like with lines and kind of soft cell shading.

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What inspires you?

I have never been able to give this question a good answer. I guess I’ll do ‘who’ inspires me because I’m honestly coming up with a blank for ‘what’ inspires me. Currently I am working on a Sci Fi story/novel and that was really inspired by The Martian by Andy Weir because I really like the more realistic type of Sci Fi where it could conceivably happen. In my digital art, my style was inspired a lot by Fiona Staples’ art (Fionas are generally gr8) though my style has evolved a bit and is far from just copying what she does. (Hopefully.)

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What got you interested in your field?  Have you always wanted to be an artist?

When I was a little kid I drew so much it was ridiculous. Whales mainly for some reason. I kind of lived in the middle of nowhere and the only thing to do was draw or read so I did that 24/7. I blame that for why I like to write, read, and draw to this day. I never really wanted to do art as a job, I’m more science minded, but since I could remember I’ve loved to draw and I started writing extended stories in probably 6th grade.

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Do you have any kind of special or unique signature, symbol, or feature you include in your work that you’d be willing to reveal?

Not particularly… my stuff is way too all over the place to have a connected symbol of some sort.

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What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

I know young artists have heard this time and time again but Practice. When I was younger I always was told I was good at art and it was just because that’s all I did. I never really took any formal art classes that would teach me how to draw (I did take some classes but they were more ‘studio time’ kind of things where the teacher didn’t actually teach anything.) I only started digital art the summer before last and already my stuff has vastly improved as I’ve gotten used to the media and practiced with it. Scrolling through my art blog you can see my improvement in digital stuff from my early posts to my more recent ones. Other than that I would just have advice for people who want to improve with anatomy which is take a life drawing class. If you can’t do that, watch a dance video or something and pause at different times to do drawings of different lengths. (10 seconds, 30 seconds, 5 minutes etc.) it really helped me a lot.

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ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I am sex repulsed and bi romantic (if you really want to get into it, demi romantic as well) basically I’m a massive amalgam of ‘hard to explain’ so I usually don’t go into it lol.

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Have you encountered any kind of ace prejudice or ignorance in your field?  If so, how do you handle it?

Well, as far as my art goes, I just work in my room and post stuff online so I haven’t experienced much in that regards. I’ve encountered it a bit with just people I tell I’m ace (which honestly, hasn’t been that many people) but mainly it’s just along the lines of ‘wait that’s a thing?’. Ignorance as opposed to being outright mean basically.

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What’s the most common misconception about asexuality that you’ve encountered?

Mitosis? Lol. No seriously I’d say the most common is that ace people are just people who ‘can’t get any’. Like, honey no. I just don’t want any.

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What advice would you give to any asexual individuals out there who might be struggling with their orientation?

I’m really bad at giving advice like this lol but maybe just that a lot of people feel the same way you do and those who say it’s fake are just as ignorant as someone who looks at some characters in a language they don’t speak and insist that therefor, it isn’t a language. (Basically, those people are just ignorant and you should ignore them). Don’t ask me advice about coming out because I am just as lost about that.

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Finally, where can people find out more about your work?

My main blog is kvothe-kingkiller, my art blog is cork-run and I’m uploading one of my stories chapter by chapter as I finish them, both on my fictionpress account (cork-run) and AO3 (cork_run)

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Thank you, Fiona, for participating in this interview and this project. It’s very much appreciated.

Signal Boost: Book Trailer

Hey everyone!

I have a super awesome book trailer and an announcement concerning the eBooks of my series.

BOOK TRAILER

A while back, I interviewed a fantastic up and coming filmmaker for this site, Britty Lea. I was struck by her creativity and just the fascinating visuals in her short films. I remained in touch with her (she even moderated this blog for a bit). Recently, she started doing some freelancing and mentioned wanting to get into book trailers. I can’t even begin to describe my excitement at hearing this and soon commissioned her.

And man alive, did Britty deliver! Check it out:

If you’re interested in commissioning Britty, and I cannot recommend her work highly enough, check out her personal site (https://www.brittylea.com/) or her Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/brittyleafilm/). She’s a phenomenal filmmaker.

EBOOKS

I’m going to try not to swear, but no promises 🙂

Like numerous indie authors, I was selling the eBooks of my series through a site called Pronoun (which was part of MacMillan Publishing). MacMillan, without any sort of warning, decided to shut down Pronoun permanently. Thereby screwing numerous indies.

A week into marketing and I lost my rankings, which are important to indie authors, because of this. I’ve been forced to move my eBooks onto Kindle. For the foreseeable future, they’ll only be available on Kindle (I sincerely apologize for any inconvenience). The paperback distribution will be unaffected and still widely available.

However, this is a setback and a really frustrating one. People, I really, really need support in the form of reviews and signal boosts. And, of course, I need people to buy my books.

If you’re interested in physical copies, after Sunday, they’ll be available on my Square Store for convention prices (which are a little cheaper than online distributors and the money goes directly to me).

Thanks everybody! 😀

Interview: Ella

Today we’re joined by Ella. Ella is a wonderful visual artist and a prolific writer. Xe do a number of forms of writing including short stories, poetry, and novels. When xe are not writing, Ella loves to do visual art. Xe are a versatile visual artist, doing everything from painting to graphic art to ink illustrations. It’s clear xe are an incredibly dedicated and passionate artist, as you’ll soon see. My thanks to xir for taking the time to participate in this interview.

cursedknight
Cursed Knight

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I write novels, short stories, freeform poetry and songs as well as ink illustrations, graphic art, paintings and concept art.

What inspires you?

Both the natural world and much of architecture. I draw from the westerns, horror, steampunk, fantasy and post-apocalyptic genres for concepts, palettes and settings.

What got you interested in your field?  Have you always wanted to be an artist?

As soon as I was able to hold a crayon I’ve been drawing, and when I was able to write I began writing. I’ve been doing this for almost my whole life, and I’ve always wanted to make it my career.

danteillustration
Dante illustration

Do you have any kind of special or unique signature, symbol, or feature you include in your work that you’d be willing to reveal?

None that I can think of, which is a shame. I should come up with some.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Practice your craft. Get the basics down, know the bones of what you’re doing, and you have to know the rules before you break them. Once you know them? Go wild. Everything takes time to learn, and nothing is going to be completely how you want it at first.

hunter
Hunter

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

Asexual, though I’m probably closer to demisexual or grey-asexual.

Have you encountered any kind of ace prejudice or ignorance in your field?  If so, how do you handle it?

I’m insulated enough that I haven’t dealt with it as a confrontation thing, but I do experience the vast misunderstanding and ignorance about asexuality a lot.

What’s the most common misconception about asexuality that you’ve encountered?

Either the celibacy misconception or just not knowing what it is.

What advice would you give to any asexual individuals out there who might be struggling with their orientation?

It’s okay to be like this. You aren’t broken, or flawed, or sinful for being like this.

Finally, where can people find out more about your work?

You can find me on Tumblr at blackcatwhitewolf.tumblr.com, my art blog, or on Deviantart, also blackcatwhitewolf. My AO3 is potato_being.

quothetheraven
Quothe the Raven

Thank you, Ella, for participating in this interview and this project. It’s very much appreciated.