Harmony Ink Young Author Challenge

This is a notice that just came out from my publisher Harmony Ink Press.  It’s aimed at young authors between the ages of 14 and 21!

Harmony Ink Young Author Challenge

Edited by Anne Regan

Harmony Ink Press is looking for young authors writing in the LGBT genre! As part of our anniversary celebration, we are inviting young writers to submit short stories for our first Young Author Challenge.

Submissions between 2,000 – 10,000 words will be considered. Main characters should be 14 – 18 years old and can be gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, or still in the process of working out their sexual/gender identity. The story should portray positive LGBT characters who grow or change for the better in some way. See the general Harmony Ink submission guidelines for more information.

Authors can be between the ages of 14 – 21. If the author is 17 or younger, a parent or legal guardian will have to sign the publication contract should a story be accepted.

Selected stories will be published in an anthology to be released in both paperback and eBook formats. Winners will be announced as part of the Harmony Ink anniversary celebration in March 2014. Accepted authors will be paid a flat rate based on story length. Payments will range from $25 – $55. Feedback from at least one published author will be provided for all submissions.

Submission Deadline: March 15, 2014

Publication Date: July 2014

Send all submissions to anneregan@harmonyinkpress.com. Please include “Young Author Challenge Submission” in the subject line of the e-mail.

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Author Chat for James Erich on Harmony Ink Facebook page!

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Join me tomorrow (Thursday, 10/16) from 3pm to 6pm on the Harmony Ink Facebook page, as I discuss Gods, the third and final installment of the Dreams of Fire and Gods trilogy!

Win a free copy of “Seidman” today at 5pm EST!

SeidmanIf you follow Harmony Ink Press on Twitter ( https://twitter.com/HarmonyInkPress ), they’ll be giving away a free copy of my first YA novel about Vikings and sorcery, Seidman, tonight at 5pm EST!

Make sure to grab it quickly—the tweetaway only lasts 20 minutes!

If you’re not familiar with the novel, here’s the blurb and an excerpt:

BLURB:

In Viking Age Iceland, where boys are expected to grow into strong farmers and skilled warriors, there is little place for a sickly twelve-year-old boy like Kol until he catches the eye of a seið-woman—a sorceress—and becomes her apprentice. Kol travels to the sorceress’s home, where her grandson, Thorbrand, takes Kol under his wing. Before long Kol discovers something else about himself that is different—something else that sets him apart as unmanly: Kol has fallen in love with another boy. 

But the world is changing in ways that threaten those who practice the ancient arts. As Kol’s new life takes him across the Norse lands, he finds that a new religion is sweeping through them, and King Olaf Tryggvason is hunting down and executing sorcerers. When a decades-old feud forces Thorbrand to choose between Kol and his duty to his kinsman, Kol finds himself cast adrift with only the cryptic messages of an ancient goddess to guide him to his destiny—and possibly to his death.

EXCERPT:

After more than a week of this isolation, Kol finally reached the point where he couldn’t stand it anymore. So, late in the night when he was certain everyone in the hall was sleeping, he got up and crept to Thorbrand’s bed. He thought his friend was asleep and reached out to touch him gently, but then he heard the young man whisper, “What are you doing?”

Startled, Kol pulled his hand back. “I just wanted to see you,” he said, his voice sounding pathetic even to his own ears.

“I know what you want,” Thorbrand said harshly. “But you’re out of your mind if you think I’m going to….” They had never given a word to what they’d done together in the bathhouse, and he balked at naming it now.

“Not in my father’s bed.”

“I just wanted—”

“Go back to your own bed, Kol.”

Stung, Kol turned and slipped away. But he didn’t return to his bed—he couldn’t. He wasn’t sure what to do, but his throat was constricted and his eyes threatened to brim over. The last thing he needed was for the others to wake up and catch him sobbing. He grabbed his cloak and threw it over his naked shoulders. Then, trying not to make any noise, he opened the door of the longhouse just a crack and slipped outside.

The night air was bitter cold and the ground nearly frozen. He hadn’t thought to put his boots on, and it wasn’t long before his bare feet grew numb. He clutched the cloak to his body, shivering as an icy drizzle fell upon him.

But it was too late to turn back. The tears had overflowed and he couldn’t stop them from streaming down his face.

The sensible thing might be to go to the bathhouse. At least it would be warm there. But it would just remind him of Alfdis’s death and the fact that Thorbrand wasn’t with him. So instead, he climbed a small hill not far from the longhouse and sat down on the damp grass. At least this way he could tuck his feet into the folds of his cloak while he tried to make sense of things.

Thorbrand was chieftain now. And he was being forced to take on immense responsibilities. Kol understood that. But it seemed more had changed than he’d realized. He’d thought Thorbrand might be missing him, needing him. That he would welcome Kol holding him, if just for a short time. But….

“You idiot,” Thorbrand’s irritated voice cut through his gloomy thoughts.

Startled, Kol looked up to see a shadowy figure climbing the hill toward him. Unlike Kol, Thorbrand had had the sense to at least throw on a tunic and some boots, though he’d left his cloak behind.

“What in Hel are you doing out here?” Thorbrand growled. “It’s freezing!”

“Nothing,” Kol replied, struggling to keep his voice even.

Thorbrand snorted as he plopped down on the grass beside him, reminding Kol for a moment of Alfdis. “Nothing. Just sitting on cold, wet grass in the dark, crying like a girl. Some great sorcerer you are!”

This was too much. It was bad enough for Thorbrand to shove him away, but to come after Kol just to make fun of him!

Kol wanted to lash out at him, but before he could do or say anything, Thorbrand had pulled him close and was kissing him hard on the mouth. And it was all there, in that kiss—everything Kol feared had gone away. All the longing; all the tenderness.

When Thorbrand finally broke the kiss, keeping their foreheads touching so that Kol could still feel his hot breath against his lips, Thorbrand said, “Do you think I haven’t been going out of my mind too? I hate sleeping alone, not being able to hold you. But what am I supposed to do about it?”

“I don’t know….”

“I’m a chieftain now,” Thorbrand went on. “Or at least I’m trying to be. We’re not kids anymore, Kol.”

“What does that mean?”

Thorbrand gritted his teeth in frustration, unable to pull away. “Men don’t… want this.”

Kol looked back at him defiantly, watching while the stern resolution in Thorbrand’s eyes gradually gave way to desire. At last, Thorbrand pulled him close again, brushing Kol’s ear with his lips as he said, “Come on, then.”

He led Kol to the bathhouse, where they stayed until the lightening sky forced them to return to the longhouse. Fortunately, nobody had awoken yet, and they were able to sneak back to their separate beds without being discovered.

Guest Blog: Jamie Mayfield – Tackling Issues in LGBT YA Fiction

1078380_10151627199984685_2008443037_nI first heard the phrase “Issue Fiction” at RT earlier this year. It’s the concept of writing about things like eating disorders, drug abuse, self-harm, and other gripping issues facing teenagers into YA fiction. I attended a panel on the subject where they discussed how to approach such topics, and thought to myself – our kids have to deal not only with the same issues as an average teenager, but an entire layer of being “different” on top of that. Plus, being taught to hate yourself helps to manifest other behaviors that may not have otherwise surfaced.

As a YA author, I think it’s important not to gloss over these topics, but to give teens an honest look with consequences and solvable problems. Give them hope, but show them that sometimes, they have to work for it. Mainstream books like Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson or Willow by Julia Hoban show the depth of pain involved with self-mutilation while other books like All of Me by Maureen Stewart or The Best Little Girl in the World by Steven Levenkron talk eating disorders. Other books cover the spectrum of drug and alcohol abuse—all subjects that teenagers shouldn’t have to deal with, but do, every day.

1082298_10151627202829685_1571613525_nIn the Waiting for Forever series, Jamie battles a serious drug addiction. He makes some good choices, and some bad choices—both have consequences.  Teens who read the series learn that even good people make bad choices, and they have to live with those choices. Having sex, blowing off college, getting into porn, coming out, drugs, standing up for your friends, putting your life back together—everything has repercussions, some good, some bad. In A Broken Kind of Life, Aaron is recovering from a traumatic experience that many adults wouldn’t be able to come back from. He meets Spencer, a deaf classmate and finds the strength to fight his demons and persevere.

By bringing these issues out into the open and talking about them, my hope as an author is that teens will see themselves in these books and be able to find some peace within themselves. With a teen in the Harmony Ink age range, I want them to seek out help—a parent, a teacher, or some other adult they trust and find the help they need. For our LGBT kids—I want them to know that they’re not alone. There is an entire community of us all around them, and we love and accept them just the way they are. When they’re ready, we want to watch them shine.

Jamie Mayfield is celebrating the release of the Waiting for Forever series with a 12-week blog tour and giveaway. View the full tour schedule HERE. Comment on any blog tour post or tweet using hashtag #WaitingForForever to enter to win a Kindle! Drawing will be held on 8/15/2013. You must be 18 to enter and have a valid US mailing address.

About Jamie Mayfield:

1082776_10151627199644685_2134619801_nA survivor of the ex-gay residential institution The Sunshine Center, fictional author Jamie Mayfield went on to find his voice in novels. Always a great lover of books, Jamie found his passion as he began to pursue a liberal arts degree in creative writing. An avid reader, he’s a fan of gay romance, suspense, and horror—though not all in the same novel.

Jamie lives in San Diego with his fictional husband, Brian. He writes YA fiction as a way to let kids know that they have an entire LGBT family all around them. Above all, he wants them to know that they are not alone. It does get better.

Jamie Mayfield is a fictional character from the acclaimed Little Boy Lost series by female author J. P. Barnaby.

Website: http://www.JamieMayfield.com
Tumblr: http://JamieMayfieldYA.tumblr.com
Facebook: http://www.Facebook.com/JamieMayfieldYA
Twitter: http://www.Twitter.com/JamieMayfieldYA

Day of Silence flash fiction

SafeMy publisher, Harmony Ink Press, began posting flash fiction from Harmony Ink authors in honor of the Day of Silence on Friday, April 19th.

If you’re not familiar with the Day of Silence, it’s an annual protest that’s been held every year since 1996, when it was started by then-student Maria Pulzetti as a protest against bullying and harassment of LGBT students.  As stated in the wikipedia article, “Students take a day-long “Vow of silence” to symbolically represent the silencing of LGBT students and their supporters.”

Harmony Ink decided it would be cool to have participating authors write a flash fiction piece symbolizing silence in some way.  Mine was a modified excerpt from the third novel in the Dreams of Fire and Gods trilogy (called Gods), which is still being written.  You can read it by clicking on the image above.

You might ask, “Why did you wait until the 24th to post this, if the Day of Silence was on the 19th?”  Basically, I didn’t post until today because I was at a workshop with my publisher in Chicago over the weekend and between that and traveling, things have just been too chaotic for me.  Also, due to the large number of submissions Harmony Ink received, my story wasn’t put on the website until this afternoon.

I’ll close this post with a picture snapped at the workshop of some of the Harmony Ink authors in attendance:  Me (James Erich, looking like I just stepped out of the shower, because I had), Robbie Michaels, Madison Parker, Nessa Warrin (YA Coordinator), Jamie Mayfield, and Geoff Laughton.

“Dreams of Fire and Gods: Fire” has been accepted for publication!

I just signed the publishing contract for Book Two of my Dreams of Fire and Gods YA fantasy trilogy with Harmony Ink!  This one is simply called Fire.  I don’t exactly have a blurb yet, but here’s the description I included in my cover letter:

While Sael and his father, Vek Worlen, attempt to keep their respective cities from coming apart under the strain of frightening magical influences or being destroyed outright by the gods, Koreh is informed of an extremely dangerous plan that the Taaweh have to rescue their goddess from the Stronni:  a plan that only he and Sael can carry off.

In the meantime, a young man named Donegh begins to piece together what happened in Harleh Valley, as he makes his way through an increasingly alien landscape, intent on carrying out his mission to assassinate the Dekan of Harleh, Sael dönz Menaük.

Book One (Dreams) entered the editing queue last week and the cover is also being worked on now.  I’m dying to see what the art department comes up with!

Of course, this also means I have to finish Book Three.  I’ve begun it as a NaNoWriMo project this month, but so far I haven’t written much.  The problem is, I just finished (and submitted) an adult novel last weekend, so I’m a bit worn out creatively.  But hopefully, I’ll perk up and get moving on Book Three this coming week!