Category Archives: Original Fiction

Music & World Behind and Home Ahead

Sometimes a song plants the seed of a story in my mind. My earliest example is a songfic (in the “lyrics interspersed with prose” style of the early 2000s) for The Matrix set to When Tomorrow Comes by The Eurythmics. It’s lost to a dead hard drive from before I thought to back up my writing. My most recent song-inspired plotbunny (which I may never write) is a character study of Victor of Yuri!!! On Ice experiencing depersonalization, based on Billie Eilish’s disturbing Bury a Friend.

World Behind and Home Ahead, my contribution to Queer Sci Fi’s Migration anthology, is not a story born from a song. But several songs came to mind when I was editing and trying to decide on a title. Story titles that are excerpts from lyrics are something I’d seen a lot of recently and I liked the idea, especially because I find coming up with original title ideas difficult.

At first I tried to find something suitable from Christina Perri’s A Thousand Years. But though the song is lovely, it didn’t really make me think of my lady gays beyond a few concepts (being brave in part for someone else’s sake, undying devotion). And I didn’t like any of the lyrics for a title (One Step Closer was the closest and I didn’t feel it fit well enough).

A song that felt more thematically in line with the story was One Foot by Walk the Moon. I could envision my lady gays embodying the song’s characters, and my narrator being the song’s narrator, when I heard it a few days into edits (I took many more days editing than writing partly because I had many betas, partly because I needed a title and was indecisive). The song felt like it fit my characters fairly literally, even with the song’s characters being implied as a M/F couple, with the singer being male and referring to himself being king and his love being queen. My narrator is the kind of lady who cares little for traditional gender roles, so I doubt she’d mind being referred to as a king or queen! This song became a sort of anthem for the story, and I listened to it many times when finishing up edits and beyond.

But though the concepts (“us against the world” mentality, having each other’s backs, hearts/love protecting from loneliness/wilderness, one step at a time) fit the story I was telling, none stood out to me as a title.

I don’t recall what made me think of the line “home behind and world ahead” from a Tolkien poem/song (probably thinking of my bestie Grace Duncan sometimes using song lyrics as titles and being a major LoTR fan), but I remember having a eureka moment and looking it up to see if the opposite direction of travel was also in the song. It was. And as my narrator is traveling through the unwelcoming world to her new home with her lady love, “world behind and home ahead” became the title. Amusingly enough though, I haven’t listened to the song version of the poem since writing the story!

I hope you enjoyed this behind the scenes peek at the songs behind my lady gays!

Here’s more info about the anthology this story appears in, and where you can get a copy:

MI-GRA-TION (noun)

1) Seasonal movement of animals from one region to another.

2) Movement of people to a new area or country in order to find work or better living conditions.

3) Movement from one part of something to another.

Three definitions to inspire writers around the world and an unlimited number of possible stories to tell. Here are 120 of our favorites.

Migration feaures 300 word speculative flash fiction stories from across the rainbow spectrum,

About Queer Sci Fi Flash Fiction:

Every year, Queer Sci Fi solicits stories around a one-word theme. We receive hundreds of entries with almost as many possible interpretations, and we choose some of the best for this annual anthology. Migration is book five in this anthology series.

Where to find Migration:

Amazon Kindle: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07TX2WMXQ
Amazon Paperback: https://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/1732307563
iBooks: https://books.apple.com/us/book/id1471834289
Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/migration-j-scott-coatsworth/1132393683;jsessionid=E570B49A0E713D6F306BCAB9F9760EB4.prodny_store01-atgap10
Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/migration-19
QueeRomance Ink: https://www.queeromanceink.com/book/migration/

New release: Migration anthology, including World Behind and Home Ahead by Sara Testarossa

 
Big news: it’s release day for my first published story! I’m thrilled that my story was chosen as one of the flash fiction pieces for Migration, this year’s installment of Queer Sci-Fi’s annual anthology.

I’m honored to be in such good company – I’ve read and adored pieces by several of the folks whose stories are in this anthology. I’m looking forward to reading theirs, as well as those from new-to-me authors!

The profits for this anthology are used to keep QSF running. It’s a great community resource for authors and fans of speculative fiction featuring queer characters. More details on the anthology and buy links are later in this post, but before that, I want to talk about my journey to having my first original piece published.

J. Scott Coatsworth has invited me to participate in the flash fiction contest every year, and has always been encouraging about it. This is the first year that his message made me think, “you know what? I’m gonna do this thing.” So, thanks to Scott for the gentle nudge.

My piece is a F/F paranormal story. The contest description said that in the past a large portion of the stories had been M/M sci-fi, and that more variety of character identities and subgenres would be great. That, plus having already wanted to get back into writing queer female characters, was enough to decide on an identity to focus on. How to incorporate the theme came quickly to me, and I started out brainstorming a horror piece involving zombies. But it became clear that my ideas for that world were too much to put into a scant 300 words. So, I changed subgenres, and was able to write the first draft in one sitting. I won’t say more on the plot, because my hope is that part of the fun for readers will be picking up hints along the way until everything falls into place.

For weeks, the document title for this story was “lady gays”, because the phrase made me happy. But it didn’t sound like a title. I ended up nitpicking edits for days longer than the story needed, because coming up with titles is difficult for me. Grace Duncan – my bestie and one of my beta readers – lovingly suggested I just submit it because it was good to go. I explained I’d been stalling to buy time to decide on a title. I’d been brainstorming about song lyrics that might fit the story, because I’ve been reading a lot of great fanfics with song-lyric titles, but had come up empty. Then (possibly because Grace is a huge LoTR universe fan) I remembered “World Behind and Home Ahead”, a line from a Tolkien poem/song. It fit both the story and the anthology theme in general, so I titled the piece, quadruple checked that I’d followed all the formatting guidelines, and emailed the story to QSF.

I had a lot of support while working on this story – the aforementioned Grace and my fandom friends Sintina, Dommi, and verity (all of whom are folks whose writing I adore) were instrumental as beta readers and editors. I can’t thank them enough for helping me polish this piece. I also am so grateful for the more general feedback and cheering on I got from my partner, dad, coworkers, and a few other friends & family members who read it before I sent it in. I was overwhelmed by just how much people supported me, and now I’m a bit overwhelmed at the fact that I’m actually published!

And thanks to those of you who will purchase and read the anthology! My lady gays can’t wait for you to read their story.

(By the way, I still will be migrating to my new domain eventually, as mentioned in my last post, just not yet.)

And now, for more info on the antho, buy links, and a giveaway:

 

MI-GRA-TION (noun)

1) Seasonal movement of animals from one region to another.

2) Movement of people to a new area or country in order to find work or better living conditions.

3) Movement from one part of something to another.

Three definitions to inspire writers around the world and an unlimited number of possible stories to tell. Here are 120 of our favorites.

Migration feaures 300 word speculative flash fiction stories from across the rainbow spectrum, from the minds of the writers of Queer Sci Fi.

 

About Queer Sci Fi Flash Fiction:

Every year, Queer Sci Fi solicits stories around a one-word theme. We receive hundreds of entries with almost as many possible interpretations, and we choose some of the best for this annual anthology. Migration is book five in this anthology series.

 

Where to find Migration:

Amazon Kindle: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07TX2WMXQ
Amazon Paperback: https://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/1732307563
iBooks: https://books.apple.com/us/book/id1471834289
Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/migration-j-scott-coatsworth/1132393683;jsessionid=E570B49A0E713D6F306BCAB9F9760EB4.prodny_store01-atgap10
Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/migration-19
QueeRomance Ink: https://www.queeromanceink.com/book/migration/

 
Queer Sci Fi is giving away a $20 Amazon gift certificate with this tour – enter via Rafflecopter for a chance to win:

a Rafflecopter giveawayhttps://widget-prime.rafflecopter.com/launch.js

Direct Link: http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/b60e8d4774/?

Fabulous Five Blog Hop/Sugar and Spice

Hi folks! I just finished the first draft of my first original story in eight years. I meant to get this post done earlier, but the story has been consuming my thoughts and time. I was tagged by http://rupured.com/ to post this by the 14th. It’s technically the 15th where I am now, but better late than never, for a simple blog post on my own site, right?

What am I working on?

I just (as in, an hour or so ago) finished the first draft of an urban fantasy erotic romance story that I’m submitting to an anthology. It’s ~8500 words currently but the limit for the anthology is 8000, so I’ll be cutting the fat, so to speak. I sent it to a few beta readers and will be looking at their suggestions and editing in the morning, then sending it off, because the deadline is tomorrow (procrastination? what’s that?).

Sugar and Spice is in a world very similar to ours. The only difference is that magic and mages exist, though not everyone knows about them. It is the story of a transgender woman with a career in graphic design who decides to take a gamble and buy and take a magic potion to undergo a transformation to change her body’s sex. Her partner, a cisgender woman, is a loving and supportive barista. They have a bit of a sexual switching dynamic, sort of a D/s lite type of deal. I classify this story as erotica. Yes, there’s a plot, and conflict, but there are two sex scenes in the story that take up a big portion of the wordcount. One is pre-transformation, and one is post-transformation. One is in their shower, and the second is in the locked office of the coffee shop where the cisgender woman works. There are some references to pumpkin spice lattes that make me glad that it’s pumpkin spice season. I plan on treating myself to one tomorrow if I can find a place that has sugar free syrup.

This story really surprised me, because is nothing at all like what I thought my first piece for submission would be. I temporarily put aside my idea for a M/M/M BDSM polyamory novel (which I’ll still be writing, with two others authors) when I had several inspirations at once for this story. I wanted to have a bit of a focus before writing, and decide where to submit it before writing it, so I looked at Cirlet Press’ website. I’ve been listening to a lot of their stories on the Nobilis Erotica Podcast (http://nobilis.libsyn.com) and have learned they are a good company to work for, so I decided to look into their calls for submission. The one for the Coffee – Hot anthology seemed like it would work quite well for my story; all I had to do was weave the coffee theme into the setting.

How does my work differ from others in its genre?

This is a tricky question to answer because I don’t stick to one genre, exactly. Most of what I’ve written over the last eight years has a sexual or romantic element to it, but some of what I write is humor, some is erotica, some is romance. Sometimes it’s hard to tell if my romance counts as erotica or not, because even when I write a story with a heavy focus on plot and emotion, there’s still plenty of steamy sex. That being said, I think my work is different from a lot of others in a few ways.

I plan to write all kinds of gender combinations in my stories. A lot of people stick to M/M or M/F or F/F… not me. I’ve written M/M, M/F, F/F, and M/M/M so far. I have written a transgender character, as I described above. I plan to continue to write all kinds of relationships and characters that fall under the LGBTQetc rainbow… and some heterosexual stuff too. I prefer to be inclusive rather than exclusive. It’s funny, though, because I spent years writing M/M exclusively, but returned to my M/F roots when I had a dream that just had to be written as a story. Since then, everything was M/M again for a few years, until some recent nonfiction that I wrote based on personal experience (M/F and F/F/M).

I’ve written polyamory and BDSM/kinky stories. I plan to continue to write both, sometimes in the same story. The difference between me and some other authors in this regard is that I actually practice BDSM/kink, and am in an open relationship where multiple romantic partnerships are on the table as a possibility. Poly and kinky are not always intertwined, but they can be, and I’m writing about them together because I learned about both at the same time. Because of my involvement in the kink scene, I know a lot about polyamory, from talking to friends who have been navigating the world of ethical nonmonogamy. And even if there’s an activity in BDSM that I’ve never done myself that I’m interested in writing about, I probably know someone who’s tried it and can ask them about it.

I am absolutely unapologetic about writing extremely graphic titillating sex scenes. Even my sweet, fluffy romance has smut in it, and I’m proud of it. I see that from some other authors, but not a huge number of them.

I write some relationship dynamics that are taboo. or at the least make some people uncomfortable. One of my most popular fanfiction stories deals with a teenager seducing a man over ten years his senior, who has a position of authority over him. I’ve also written some things that, were they not fiction, would be illegal to do in real life *wicked grin*.
Why do I write what I do?

Quite simply, because it’s fun. I like writing sex. I like writing interpersonal interactions and intrapersonal musings. I like writing silly dialogue. I like writing angst. I like writing romance.

How does my writing process work?

It depends on what I’m writing and on my mood. For short pieces, sometimes I just sit at the computer, start at the beginning, and write until the story’s done in one sitting. For longer pieces, I often write outlines (anywhere from a few phrases for each scene to full descriptive summaries) and then flesh out the prose of individual sections, not necessarily in order. For example, for my first longish fanfiction piece (about 10,000 words), I started in the early middle, skipped to the early bit of the end, then moved on to the beginning, and filled in the gaps afterwards. I can write linearly, but if I’m writing on my own rather than collaboratively, I like having the freedom to bounce around as inspired, jotting down phrases and sentences that I like for different parts of the story and coming back to them later.

Also, I usually write on the computer. Occasionally I’ll handwrite, but I type much faster, so if a computer is available, I’ll use it.

Who’s next on the blog hop?

Sometime the week of September 15, the hop continues with these stops:

http://www.grace-duncan.com/graces-blog/

http://saraste.wordpress.com/

http://andrewqgordon.com/

http://fairybright.wordpress.com/

To hop backward, head to http://rupured.com/2014/09/fabulous-five-blog-hop/ where I’m tagged. Thanks for reading! Now I’m off to sleep! It’s past my bedtime.

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