Reader Survey Q&A

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Heyo Darksbane Fans!

Shei here. Yeah, I let the ball drop this past month. It got really busy and I soon forgot to make a post. Then I felt bad for not making a post…
Then I kinda avoided posting because I was nervous about making the post about forgetting to post…
TL;dr Sneaky self-hate/doubt-spiral. But I’m back!

And I come bearing gifts… or… answers.

So! You might have noticed we have a very important Reader Survey going on!

If you didn’t notice, please take this moment to notice and go take our Reader Survey! Doing so helps us better understand our reader base and how to give you what you want.
The survey is 100% anonymous (meaning I will not have a clue which answer comes from who and your email isn’t collected) which is awesome, right?

But it also kinda sucks, because it means those who put a question in the comments… I have no way to respond.
So I’m taking this blog post to focus on answering a few questions from our readers.

And after that, I’ll be talking about our new Patreon! (You can click this to jump to that if you want!)

Reader Q & A

Love your books 😉 was wondering if there will ever be trans rep in the Auralight or Dying Ashes books. Would be an interesting subject for either shifters or vampires, in either world. Keep up the good work!

Why thank you, AnonReader1! We love that you love our books!
To answer your question, yes, there is/will be trans representation in our series.
There are two trans characters in Bring Me the Horizon (Beyond the Mire #1) for starters, an FtM and an MtF who are a couple.
Auralight Codex has a trans character who you’ve already met, but you’re not likely to find out who that is for a while, if in this series.
However, there’s a reason we named that series like we did. Auralight Codex is a world. It contains more stories than just Dakota’s. In time, I plan to write other stories in that world, such as Auralight Codex: Sky Simms (who you might remember from Awakened!). And there is a trans character in Sky’s story, though I’m not telling who!
One of the neat things about a world with magic is that trans characters don’t necessarily face the same challenges as they face in our muggle-verse. But that also means it’s not always immediately obvious that representation has been made. Yet, I can’t imagine if a trans person had the magic power to just change their body that they wouldn’t take it and never look back. So who would know?
Meaning, it’s hard to show that kind of character until I get into the meat of their personal story where they are personally delved by very close people in their own lives. Capiche?

As for other trans representation, it’s likely. We love trans people, and have another series we’ve been planning in the background for a long while that will feature a trans protagonist. Just be patient! We’re on it, just takes time to write all this stuff! 🙂

I love the series as they are so far and the personalities seem to mosly suit the characters. What I’m worried about is seeing the same character personalities appear in every series which get’s a bit annoying[…]. There’s a very big difference with dying ashes and dakota which I’m very happy about and really hope you keep up. So far you guys are some of the best LGBT authors on my read list, just avoid rehashing characters and keep personalities correct to bios (i.e. upper class people don’t generally go slumming in bars, and wine drinkers prefer wine not ale[…], and this reader will be very happy to buy all your works.

More commentary but questions, but gives me an opportunity to throw a few responses back, eh?

I don’t think we’re gonna be bad about character rehashing. Our characters are really diverse. The one problem you’re going to run in with me is that I’m hopelessly snarky and I have a hard time not cracking wise every other sentence I write. And maybe that’ll get better as I grow more as an author?

Truth: I’ve only been writing professionally now for two years. And several months of one year barely counts because I was sick and not really writing much/at all. It takes time to develop one’s voice. I don’t pretend I’m the best author in the world. I’ve got a lot of learning and growing to do (and Anna’s probably always going to be better than me. She’s amazing!) but I do my best to entertain you guys with these ideas in my head.

I’ll keep my eyes out for rehashy-ness though. I think the main reason this was ever mentioned  (here and in a review otherwise) is because of Dakota and Riv (Bring Me the Horizon).

Both have short brown hair, big attitudes, and little frames, both are lesbians, and heroic, a bit self-deprecating. And they both have a disability. Crap.

Yeah, I can see your connection there. :/ And I’m sorry for that. But I assure you, it’s not indicative of what all my other characters are like. Riv just kinda leapt out at me to be written about when we were offered the deal with Amazon to write for Kindle Worlds. I had no pirate character. I wasn’t really interested in writing pirates. That sounded lame. But then the idea of a cyberpunk distopian world where everyone played a huge virtual reality MMORPG came to me… And I thought…. virtual gamer pirate? That sounds a lot more interesting.

So I wrote up the outline for an… honestly, looking back… very ambitious story to write within such a short time. (And because of this, I ended up having to cut it into two parts because I simply didn’t have time to complete the whole story by the deadline. Another issue I wanted to address somewhere, at some point. I’m sorry about that. Really am!)

But I digress. The point is, Riv jumped out at me. I didn’t have a lot of time to nail her down and flesh her out. I had to write that story on a very tight deadline and I am NOT used to deadlines. I’m not used to them and I don’t like them. They crush me. But Riv wanted her story told, so I worked hard and did my best. Yeah, she might have seen a little personality seepage from Dakota, but I think the further I get into the meat of that story, the less you’ll think they’re the same. For instance, Dakota really wouldn’t be okay with piracy and half the stuff Riv does. Dakota’s more “neutral good” where Riv is definitely Chaotic. Good, neutral… Eh, I’d leave you guys to decide that.

So far you guys are some of the best LGBT authors on my read list,

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

keep personalities correct to bios (i.e. upper class people don’t generally go slumming in bars, and wine drinkers prefer wine not ale[…]

We do our best. We REALLY do. The rough part with this… is it’s surprisingly hard to know what people do who are outside of your social class. Disconnect runs both ways. Anna and I grew up poor. We lived in poverty for the majority of our life together as well. We’ve only recently begun to climb our way (tooth and nail) into the lower end of middle class (thank you so much, our dear readers). Meaning when we write about fancy rich people (like, say, Amorie) it’s actually really hard for us to get it right. We do our *best* to research and honestly, sometimes we spend more hours researching a scene than we do writing it by far. (Don’t ask me how long I spent researching the fine-dining scene in Blooded… And don’t ask me how hungry I was by the time it was over. Or how much I wanted to take a road trip to the restaurant I based that scene off of which is only a few hours away from my home…)

But we honestly struggle with this because you just don’t know how much you don’t know. You know?
I’ve never been exposed to a lot of cultures I might write about. And if you don’t know that there’s something you don’t know… how are you supposed to know?

So if I wrote about a wine drinker picking up a beer, I wouldn’t necessarily realize the mistake because I’m not a wine drinker, and don’t really know there’s a specific rule there.

Well, okay, I lied. I do like Arbor Mist Blackberry Merlot, but I’m definitely not a “fancy” wine drinker! That and everyone I know who drinks wine also drinks other alcohol as well.
So if there’s some culture of wine drinkers who would turn their nose up at ale… I’ve never seen it or been a part of it.

I’m not telling you there’s never a mistake made like that out of sloppiness, but I will tell you if I make that kind of mistake, it’s probably due to sheer ignorance on my part.

And I LOVE learning. So I’d LOVE to know that I made such a mistake so I can work on it in the future. But it’s really hard to know what you don’t know.

This actually happened in the first Awakened book when I wrote the airport scene. I’d only ever picked up a friend at the airport. I’d never been on a flight. So when I wrote how Dakota went through security… I really had it all wrong. Fortunately, my editor has been on flights aplenty and corrected everything I’d gotten wrong. (Thank you so much Jen!)
But had she never been on a flight either… I might have shown you guys just how silly and ignorant I was about airport security! And it would just have been because I had no way to know better.

So I understand your concern. I deeply understand it. But please cut your favorite authors a little slack. If they make a mistake like that, they probably really don’t realize it. On the other hand, we at least research everything we’re not familiar with as far as we know how. So if something seems a little out of place… might want to give it the benefit of the doubt til you’re through the book at least. We might have slipped in an oddity on purpose due to the story.

Keep writing…tell us more about your everyday world…what you like to do when not writing.

Okay, there was only really one question. But I’m still gonna respond to this.
Our everyday world is a spacious 3 bedroom 2 bath house on a quiet street one street over from a main thoroughfair in Florence, AL where we live happily with our daughter, our cat, and our dog. Well, I do at least. Anna hates my dog. She’s not fond of dogs in the slightest (total cat person) and she despises my pupper. She deals with him because she knows how happy he makes me. Velvet, our cat, is a sleepy slug with a big personality, and she comes to demand petting when she wants it, then finds a place to hide and sleep until next petting session. Toki, on the other hand, is always about, always underfoot, and likes to rub his fuzzy white body on Anna’s beautiful black skirts. -_-

Cupcake learning belly dancing at her computer. She constructed her costume herself.

We sit at a pair of computer desks side-by-side in our living room and write, work, research, and game together. When we’re not writing, we like to read, game, roleplay, and talk with each other and our daughter. We educate our daughter at home through unschooling, and that means there’s always something crazy going on at our house. Right now, she’s learning belly dancing, studying wildlife biology, and playing a wizard mmorpg where you answer math questions to cast spells. She’s also reading the second Warrior Cats series and writing her own book.

Our current gaming interests include The Division, Starbound, Overwatch, and the upcoming Mass Effect Andromeda and Ghost Recon Wildlands. Anna’s also playing Dragon’s Dogma for the second or third time (I’ve lost count) and I poke at Crush Crush and War For the Overworld. Ask us in a month and this will have changed, of course, but we love our gaming.

I’m currently reading The Revanche Cycle series by Craig Schaefer. I’m on book two, The Instruments of Control, and seriously can’t put it down. This is an incredible fantasy series with political intrigue and great characters. I think of it as Game of Thrones without the extreme violence and torture (I loved all the intrigue but couldn’t handle the level of violence. I’m too squeamish. Eeeeep!). Which is awesome because I can’t handle that stuff. I also read Schaefer’s Daniel Faust series (which is what got me into him in the first place) but I’m all caught up on that. Anna’s just finished his Killing Floor Blues, and is currently reading Skyblade’s Gambit by our friend Robert Dahlen (another in the Kindle World we wrote for!). Beyond Schaefer (who I can’t get enough of), I’m currently waiting for Book 3 of Patrick Rothfuss’s Kingkiller Chronicles, Book 3 of Brandon Sanderson’s Stormlight Archive, book… um… the next Dresden Files book by Jim Butcher, and the next Mercy Thompson entry by Patricia Briggs, plus anything by Barbara Ann Wright this year!

Beyond those things, Anna also has two interesting hobbies. She spends an hour daily educating herself on politics, news, and interesting subjects on Quora, and another hour collecting anime artwork and curating her own “personal museum” of art (her impressively massive screensaver and desktop collection) that is really only for herself. She has, last I looked, over 30 gigs of pictures in that collection. It’s a major passion of hers and it makes her happy.

Anna is far more structured than I am. I like to learn too, but I tend to just follow my whims and spend a couple hours pursuing an interest as it comes to me rather than making a daily practice of learning for an hour. We’re very different in our approaches to basically everything. 🙂

I’m passionate about singing and performing. I sing daily and perform whenever I get a chance. Sometimes karaoke, sometimes just singing what’s in my head or singing along to Spotify.

I’m also passionate about language, cultures, art, space, music, stars, rainbows, color… I’m a passionate person in general. 🙂

We also spend a deal of time with Rune’s friends from the library. They like to hang out at our house for sleepovers. We sing karaoke, watch movies together, and generally have a great time. Pizza is often involved.

Glorious, glorious skirts.

And beyond that, there’s only one more thing I can think of to mention right now. Lunch hour. Anna and I have a passion for good food. Especially Anna. I think this shows a bit in my writing because when I write about food, I tend to share a bit of that passion by trying to convey to my readers a sense of the experience of eating good food. Every day, Anna and I go out to lunch with Rune and we spend an hour eating and discussing our books, our publishing work, basically we do business lunches. But we go to different places, try different things, and do our best to keep adding new experiences. This is an interest we share and love, and we hope to keep expanding our love of good food as we travel one day in the future to other states, and eventually, to other countries.

 

Really, we’re just weirdos with free spirits, fun-loving attitudes, and colorful hair despite the goth wardrobe. Heh. 🙂

Did I mention that Anna wears pretty skirts?
Seriously, look at that. 🙂
(I didn’t cut her head off on purpose. She asked me to take a pic of her new skirt. Shhh!)

 

Finally, I’m going to talk about our new Patreon!

We set up a Patreon by popular fan request. We’re offering a few minor perks (because so far we haven’t thought of much we can do) but mainly this is here because there are people who ask us what they can do to help further our cause (creating great diverse fiction for you guys!) after they’ve bought the books, left reviews, and told their friends. So we decided to create a Patreon where you can support us for some fun little perks and help us grow Darksbane Books into all it can be.
Money from Patreon will mostly be used to buy advertising, cover publishing costs, and generally speed up our processes by outsourcing more of the work so we can focus on the thing we do best: writing! If I can get enough from Patreon to hire a marketer, I’ll devote way more time to writing and way less time to working on the things I’m not as good at so we can get you guys more of what you love.
So if you want to support us on Patreon, go check us out and see what pledge level you’d gladly support us at. We don’t expect this from you. We’re floored that people have requested it. But if you have a few spare bucks a month and you’d like to support bringing more diverse, representative fiction into the world, we’ll definitely appreciate it!

Thank you so much!

 

And I’ve run out of things to talk about, so I’m gonna wrap this up. Again, if you haven’t taken our reader survey, PLEASE go take it! It will help us more than you know and it will only cost you a few minutes!

Thank you as always! Until next time!

 

 

 

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One thought on “Reader Survey Q&A

  1. Cats are for helping with Flying 😀

    also do keep writing these– it’s always always good to see posts–even if no one comments. 🙂 A “state of the author” so to speak 🙂

    BTW, I read that sanderson? has Stormlight 3 planned for this year. 🙂 I also need to read some of the other stuff he’s put out. He hasn’t been sitting idle! I’m pretty sure he’s some kind of robot 🙂

    On that note, New Mercy Thompson in March. 😀 Yay!

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