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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/

Blog Tour Stop: Hope, by Grace R. Duncan

Cover art by Jess Small

 

First, of course, many thanks to Sara for giving me space on her blog today!

One of my favorite part of the writing process is research and more specifically picking out the locations for my stories. I love finding houses or apartments or hotels or whatever to set my characters loose in. I can spend ridiculous amounts of—sometimes too much—time poring over maps or travel guides to find just the right place.

Hope takes place in several different locations, but only a couple of them are long-term. The boys start in LA, in Miguel’s family home, though they don’t stay there for long (not even a full 24 hours before they get on the road). Over the course of the next two days, they pass through a lot of places, but it’s not until the end of the 48 hours that they land somewhere.

What led me here was the realization that I hadn’t actually named most of the packs in the Forbes Mates series. There was, of course, the Forbes pack, and I had Finley’s, Jamie’s, and Miles’s original packs. But that was about it. So, I realized I needed to find the packs Miguel and Luis would pass through, which finally helped me find the pack names and where they might land.

One of my favorite locations in all of the Forbes series is where the boys end up for a while. They find a place in New Mexico’s Gila pack (named after the Gila National Forest in the western side of New Mexico), in a small lodge outside of Silver City (and where the alpha and his mate are located).

 

Credit: Here

 
Bear Mountain Lodge (https://bearmountainlodge.com/) popped out at me. Bonus points because it had a very rich history, having changed hands and been used for a number of different things over the course of its history (https://bearmountainlodge.com/aboutthelodge/lodge-history/). What really struck me is that over the course of time there, all of the history could easily work for a wolf couple. In fact, Mike and Beth very well could have been the same owners, considering how they could have outlived the general residents and even gone away, then come back with none the wiser. While I don’t state their ages, Miguel and Luis both notice that they are somewhat older—actually showing signs of age, which says that both were at least past middle age for a wolf—likely more than 150 years old. The lodge itself dates back to 1910, which means that Mike and Beth could easily have owned it from the beginning.

I didn’t have a lot of time to describe most of the area, but I did include a few bits, including the lobby:

 

Credit: Here

 

The dining room:

 

Credit: Here

 

And while I don’t describe it, I do mention they have the opportunity to wolf out in the forest beyond the hiking trails:

 

Credit: Here

 

I had a lot of fun researching this one. Probably too much, but it’s definitely one of the perks of being a writer: being able to travel, even when you can’t physically visit!

Thanks again to Sara for the space and her time! Hope you enjoyed traveling with the boys. ❤

 

* * *

 

Hope, part of the Forbes Mates series
Length: 13,000 words
Genre: m/m paranormal shifters

 

Miguel Garcia and Luis Rodriguez have been best friends all their lives. For the last year, they’ve been hiding the fact that they’re also destined mates. When Luis’s family finds out, they kick him out. Miguel’s family would keep them… except their alpha has been known to be downright violent against gay wolves.

With the help of Miguel’s mother, they set out to find a pack that will accept them. They run into more that a few obstacles before they end up in Denver, at the national wolf headquarters, meeting the alpha prime. They’re stunned to find, not only offers to join more than one pack, but that their struggle can shine light on a bigger problem–and make things better for LGBT wolves across the country.

 

Hope is available on September 6, 2019 exclusively at Amazon and on Kindle Unlimited.

 

And check out the upcoming blog tour appearances below!

 

noh8About Grace:

Grace Duncan grew up with a wild imagination. She told stories from an early age – many of which got her into trouble. Eventually, she learned to channel that imagination into less troublesome areas, including fanfiction, which is what has led her to writing male/male erotica.

A gypsy in her own right, Grace has lived all over the United States. She has currently set up camp in East Texas with her husband and children – both the human and furry kind.

As one of those rare creatures who loves research, Grace can get lost for hours on the internet, reading up on any number of strange and different topics. She can also be found writing fanfiction, reading fantasy, crime, suspense, romance and other erotica or even dabbling in art.

Website FacebookTwitterYoutubeGoodreads

Cover reveal: Hope, by Grace R. Duncan

Sara’s note: Look at that gorgeous cover by Jess-Small.com! It fits right in with the rest of the covers for the Forbes Mates series. Though Hope can be read as a standalone story, it’s part of the Forbes Mates shifter universe, and takes place chronologically after the fourth book, Forgiveness.

Also, though this is a re-release/second edition of a story previously published in a charity anthology, it’s undergone significant edits. This edition of Hope has some changes and additions that seriously improve upon the original story (and I’m not just saying that because I suggested additions and helped with edits, heh).

Can’t wait for this to come out to get a taste of destined mates shifter goodness by Grace? Check out the rest of the series! Ditto for if after this comes out and you read it, you want more of the universe!

And now, on to more info and an excerpt:

Hope, by Grace R. Duncan
Cover Art by Jess Small
Genre: M/M Paranormal
Length: 12,000 words
Release date: September 6, 2019


 
Miguel Garcia and Luis Rodriguez have been best friends all their lives. For the last year, they’ve been hiding the fact that they’re also destined mates. When Luis’s family finds out, they kick him out. Miguel’s family would keep them…except their alpha has been known to be downright violent against gay wolves.

With the help of Miguel’s mother, they set out to find a pack that will accept them. They run into more that a few obstacles before they end up in Denver, at the national wolf headquarters, meeting the alpha prime. They’re stunned to find, not only offers to join more than one pack, but that their struggle can shine light on a bigger problem–and make things better for LGBT wolves across the country.

When they pulled into the Phoenix station, Miguel found himself annoyed that there didn’t seem to be anything nearby. He’d spent so much time in a city—a real, big city, with a McDonald’s and an In-N-Out on every corner—that to step outside and see nothing besides the bus station but an airport and desert was disheartening.

He shoved the thought off and found the text from his mamá with the Tonto alpha’s phone number. In a few moments, he had directions to a McDonald’s a little distance away by city bus and where to pick it up. They stored their bags in a locker and headed out.

But barely two hours later, he and Luis were once more waiting for a bus, this time with an even less friendly suggestion to move on. He couldn’t say the alpha was hostile necessarily, but the curled lip he got when he saw Miguel and Luis holding hands had said enough. The meeting had been very short, very tense, and ended with the alpha telling them there was a 2:45 a.m. bus from Phoenix going east and they “had better be on it.”

Miguel was already tired of that reaction. While the pack in Palm Springs hadn’t been nearly as mean, he knew quite well it was because they were same-sex mates. Three packs, so far—their original and two others—hadn’t wanted them.

“Maybe we shouldn’t tell them, Miguel.”

Miguel sighed and kissed the top of Luis’s head. “I was just thinking something like that. If we didn’t, if we maybe… made something up about why we left, perhaps we could at least stay for a while.”

Luis nodded. “We’ve only been gone, what… two days?”

Miguel had to think. “Just over twenty-four hours, actually.”

“Damn. It feels a lot longer.” Luis shook his head.

“It doesn’t help that we haven’t really slept. With any luck, Gila will want us. Or at least, let us stay for a bit. Maybe we can get jobs to earn some money.”

“That would be good. How much do we have left?”

Miguel pulled out the cash they still had and carefully counted it, while trying not to be obvious that was what he was doing. The bus station was fairly empty, but he didn’t want to start anything, especially because the best way he had to defend himself and Luis involved claws and fangs. “After the tickets to Deming, just over a hundred dollars. The tickets from Deming to Silver City are another thirty for the two of us. We could see about selling Mamá’s ring in Silver City, if we need to.”

“Let’s… let’s not do that until we are out of money.”

Hugging Luis close, Miguel nodded. “Yeah, I don’t want to either, if we can help it.”

They fell silent, occasionally glancing at the television in the corner, while keeping an eye on the Border Patrol officer sitting in another corner. They both had US driver’s licenses, but that didn’t mean much if he wanted to cause problems for them. He reminded himself to speak English. Then, trying not to worry, Miguel did his best to simply enjoy holding Luis. Luis’s breathing evened out, and Miguel did what he could to resettle his mate in the horribly uncomfortable metal nightmares they called bench seats.

He wasn’t sure if he was more relieved or more nervous when they could start lining up for the bus. He so wanted Gila to be where they could stay, if for no other reason than they could stop moving from place to place for a while. He buried both emotions so he didn’t alert Luis to anything, and they got in line.

 

 
noh8Author Bio:

Grace Duncan grew up with a wild imagination. She told stories from an early age – many of which got her into trouble. Eventually, she learned to channel that imagination into less troublesome areas, including fanfiction, which is what has led her to writing male/male erotica.

A gypsy in her own right, Grace has lived all over the United States. She has currently set up camp in East Texas with her husband and children – both the human and furry kind.

As one of those rare creatures who loves research, Grace can get lost for hours on the internet, reading up on any number of strange and different topics. She can also be found writing fanfiction, reading fantasy, crime, suspense, romance and other erotica or even dabbling in art.

Website FacebookTwitterYoutubeGoodreads

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/?

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