Check out Sneak Peeks of all the story illustrations from Crows on Heartstrings!
What is the difference between a female character and a male character in mainstream publishing? Well — that’s easy. The answer should be nothing.
It should be that male and female characters are both treated equally, but it doesn’t happen that way. Male characters are flawed but likeable. They struggle and are strong. Male characters are people. So what about female characters? It seems that today female characters are talked about in one of two ways, they are either the strong female lead or are a Mary Sue.
The trend now in female characters is that they need to be strong in all aspects, fierce, undeniably unbeatable. Why can’t we see female characters the way we see male characters? Flawed and strong? Why are female characters so extreme? What happened to real women? Are we not interesting enough to make real characters?
But, tip the scale in either direction, and critics will tell you your female lead is obviously inspired by the author and therefore a Mary Sue, OR has no flaws to be seen and is too good at everything, and therefore, a Mary Sue.
What about characters of racial minority? Or LGBT Characters? What happens then?
Well, we simply do not have enough of those.
Why is it so hard to get good female characters, POC characters, and LGBT characters in stories? Does mainstream publishing not think they will sell? If that’s so, then we need to look to self publishers such as Natalia Jaster and J.C. Lillis for help.
Self publishing isn’t the same as it used to be. Sure, you can get some pretty sketchy e-books. A lot of them seem to be just first drafts of novels. But what we need to start doing, is to use self publishing, and fund self publishers, so that main stream publishers know what we want.
If you agree with me up until this point, I have to share something with you. Crows on Heartstrings is a book of illustrated short stories, all centered around doomed love.
Our writers craft harrowing tales of families torn apart by entities unknown, lovers cursed by fairies, siblings fighting monsters, and more. No type of love is safe from our tragedies. Gay, straight, romantic, familial, friendly, no matter what your shape or color, we have something for you and we are coming for you. We also take our anti-discriminatory viewpoint and stretch it across genres. We have fantasy, sci-fi, supernatural, period, and contemporary pieces.
These aren’t just romances, they’re epic tales of doom. I can’t wait to steal your heart and shatter it a little!
And as if that isn’t enough, we have haunting imagery from only the most talented artists, just to twist the knife. Did you think we were done? Because we even have comics and poems, all doomed.
But it’s better to love and to have lost, isn’t it?
Crows on Heartstrings aims to treat it’s characters as the real, flawed, gritty characters we want.
Our gay characters do more than come out and suffer for it. Our women save the day in the real and complex ways that men do, and our POC characters do not die to enhance the arc of white male leads.
Crows on Heartstrings wants to show the world that stories can be marketable AND diverse.
We need to take what we want.
We need to create a demand for diversity in our books.
We need to write and appreciate characters who thrive or struggle in their own stories without depending on a cisgendered white male lead.
LGBT, Female, and POC characters are NOT plot devices. If you want to see all these things and more in your books and media, you must support small, self publishers where they offer it.
To learn more about Crows on Heartstrings and how you can help, pledge to our Kickstarter !
(article originally published on medium.com)
Here’s another one by Ashley Feemster for our Artist, Writer, and Curator, my story, Roses Grow for Mammet Men.
This is the perfect time for me to talk to you about my short story!
Roses Grow for Mammet Men is an Urban Fantasy set in New York City. Elves and Fairies are living among humans and they have more important things to worry about than hatred from humans.
Roses Grow for Mammet Men has everything you could want, romance, magic, treachery, and heartache. Dathi and Mercurie struggle with identity, war, and keeping the love alive in this twisty tale.
Malachi smirked a harrowing grin. Lucien let go of his bleeding chest and took off running. Malachi blinked from left to right, appearing on one side, then the other, turning Lucien around in circles.
Lucien backed out of the circle and sprinted back towards Elijah and his demon blasting gun, and lunged. Malachi was behind Elijah, reaching for his neck, ready to snap.
Malachi’s ink dipped fingertips found Elijah’s neck. Lucien caught him by the smallest finger and snapped it until it severed.
“Mal, this is not how we behave.” Lucien grinned, breathing into Malachi’s ear, pressing his own smudgy fingers into Malachi’s equally pasty white skin. “Tsk Tsk, big brother.” He sang and bit down hard on Malachi’s carotid artery. The blood rushed into his mouth, hissing a sour taste into his tongue and slid down his throat.
Lucien spat the thick black blood to the floor and threw Malachi down to the pavement with a hard crack.
“That’s my brother.” He stated, answering the question on everyone’s mind before joining him in a broken heap on the floor.
Elijah blinked, perusing the two bodies sprawled on the ground. It all went fast.
He brushed his neck with his fingers, shocked by how this Malachi had touched him. He glanced at Natalie, made sure she was still whole and not missing a limb. She appeared fine, but her eyes were pinned on the brothers. Then Elijah turned to Dahlia. “Are there any more of these brothers?”
“I’m sorry. Did he just…?” Dahlia walked a line of eggshells over to Lucien. Stunned by his savage attack, on his own brother, she gingerly knelt down behind him and placed a hand on his trembling shoulder. He was out, as out as he could be, with exhausted harrowing eyes unmoving in their sockets. Lucien’s chest rose and fell in jagged breaths, none of which seemed to fill his lungs.
He was breathing, at least, still alive, and not running around like a bat out of Hell. So Dahlia let him stay there on the ground, shaking, but considerably less manic than he had been seconds before.
“I have no idea if there are more. I just know that was an older one, not as much of a reliable model as Lucien here…” Her joke wasn’t funny. Lucien was sick, ill, crazed – and if they didn’t do something, Dahlia would soon run out of excuses to keep saving him. She couldn’t bank on there’s something about him. That meant nothing when something was being a murderous boy who heard voices.
“What do I have to do to persuade you guys to help me, help him? I think it could be a simple fix. His angel blood is distressed.” Probably a lot.
“How can we help?” Natalie set her grocery bag down and bent near Lucien, examining him. She wasn’t an expert in demons and angels. Elijah was. She glanced over her shoulder, giving Elijah a pleading stare, mouthing, “Help them.”
Elijah, recalling what Lucien had done moments ago, thought to help. Yet, why would he help these people – demons or angels – whatever they were? He had enough things to worry about. With a sigh, he muttered, “There isn’t much we can do about this.”
Welcome to the Lucien and Elijah serial by Aubrey Meeks and Julienne
The accompanying illustration was done by Aegisdea and I couldn’t be happier!
More of them! More Abominations?
Children of Lilith feeding on each other? What’ s happening with the Abomination Boys and how is Elijah going to get himself out of this one?
Lucien and Abomination Boys characters and writing © Aubrey “Meeks” Brown 2015
Elijah and writing © Julienne 2015
Cecil was made from fine cloth and someone else’s hair. Koda, his maker, didn’t know he could talk, or think, for Koda only concerned himself with hurting Dobri.
Dobri was a vicious boy. He was wealthy and spoiled rotten. Koda had yet to learn that you cannot kill people simply for being unpleasant, so to take Dobri’s life, Koda made Cecil.
Cecil burned for Dobri, felt his pain, bore deep gauges for him, knowing all the while he was killing him slowly and bearing the painful burden of it.
When Koda couldn’t stand to leave Dobri alive any longer, he heaved Cecil into his pack, folding and stuffing him until he fit. Koda left Cecil and slashed Dobri, tearing through Cecil as his knife dragged upward. Cecil felt the searing pain but couldn’t scream or cry out.
Dobri writhed in pain, calling for his mum, his family, everyone who coddled him. But they watched. They watched as he sputtered out.
Cecil’s heart broke for Dobri and soon, he found himself rolling from the pack, moving his legs on his own and walking curious steps to Dobri. He heard gasps as he stepped, felt stares as he bent down to embrace Dobri as his heart labored to push his blood through his body.
Cecil held him as he died, stroked his mess of black hair. He cried while he pondered why he got to live while Dobri died.
He pressed a kiss into Dobri’s head and jolted when a hand touched the hairs on Cecil’s head. Dobri yanked the hairs from his head, breaking the link between the real boy and the mammet man, so they each could find their peace.
-Mammet Man ©Aubrey “Meeks” Brown 2015