All posts by Wendy Van Camp

Author * Poet * Illustrator

Author Interview: T.S. Valmond

Please welcome Author Shelina Valmond to No Wasted Ink.

I’m T.S. Valmond aka Shelina. I grew up in Minneapolis, MN, and have lived in three countries over the last ten years. I currently live in Alberta, Canada with my husband and our dog Cookie. My fandoms are Star Wars, Star Trek, and Firefly. When I’m not traveling in search of a beach somewhere to read, you can usually find me at a coffee shop or home working on my next book.

When and why did you begin writing?

I was four with an active imagination and a cast of invisible characters I spoke to on a regular basis. My teachers often encouraged me to write in school in order to curb my need to talk.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

First in the fourth grade when my teacher Mrs. Ardnt told me I was a writer. Then again when I finished my first Nanowrimo in 2009.

Can you share a little about your current book with us?

Ensign: A Starship Hope Prequel

It’s the story of how a young ensign comes to terms with her doubts and her father’s legacy to become the woman who’ll guide a remnant of her people to hope.

What inspired you to write this book?

I had the story idea during a 2015 CampNano. Then Discovery came out and I felt it more necessary than ever to have a black female captain and her story.

Do you have a specific writing style?

Yes. I’m not sure how to describe it but readers say things like: “Twisty, surprising, couldn’t put it down, etc.”

How did you come up with the title of this book?

It took a long time, to think of the title. I wanted a prequel to a series I’d already written. It made sense to tell the story of the captain’s past as a lead into the series I want to promote later this year.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

Yes, no one’s family is perfect, but they’re yours. Your family is either born or found out of life’s circumstances.

Are experiences in this book based on someone you know or events in your own life?

No, not directly, though it could be argued that each of my characters all have pieces of me. However, in this case, I believe Ensign Dana Pinet’s story is her own.

What authors have most influenced your life? What about them do you find inspiring?

The authors who have shaped me are the ones that drew me in with their worlds and characters. I’ve always been someone who picks up Nora Roberts and follows it up with Stephen Donaldson. I’m all over the map when it comes to genres, but the authors that have stuck with me are the ones who create the worlds I most like living in.

If you had to choose, is there a writer you would consider a mentor? Why?

There are so many but I think my current writing partner A.K. Duboff is someone I’ve learned a lot from lately and even before I knew her, I’ve tried to emulate her publishing career.

Who designed the cover of your book? Why did you select this illustrator?

The cover of Ensign and the entire series was done by Goerz Designs. I chose him because he’s a newer cover design artist and I wanted to get in before he got too busy and too expensive.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

Yes, WRITE. There are plenty of other things people will tell you to do, but if you haven’t finished your book yet and started publishing then make your writing a priority.

Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

I’ll keep writing books as long as you keep reading them. If you love them let me know by sharing them with your friends and leaving reviews and you’ll always get more stories from me.

T.S. Valmond
Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

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Ensign ~ A Starship Hope Prequel

Cover Artist:  Goerz Designs

This book is only available through her mailing list.

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No Wasted Ink Writers Links

Welcome back to another Monday of No Wasted Ink Writers Links.  This is a top-ten list of articles of interest to writers of science fiction and fantasy genre.  I hope you find them as interesting as I did.  Enjoy your week!

Amazon Editorial Reviews: Are You Using This Incredible Section?

Sci-Fi Tip: Futuristic Construction Technologies

Beyond Rome: Infrastructure in Ancient Civilizations

Convention Etiquette For Pros & Panelists

Writing Hacks: Keyboard Shortcuts

Building Arrakis: How Herbert Sabotaged His Own Ideas

History for Fantasy Writers: On Tree-Wrights and Others

It’s Time to Radically Rethink Online Book Events

Digital Printing: The New Normal

How Spec Fiction Helped Me Earn My (Rainbow) Wings by Deanna Rasch

Hello, Fellow Readers and Writers of Speculative Fiction!
Wendy and I were guests together on a recent recording of the Sci-Fi Roundtable Podcast. The episode centered around women writers of SF/Fantasy. Terrific conversation. A great connection between the guests. I’m jazzed to have been a part of it and hope that you tune in when it airs : )

Here’s the thing. I nearly didn’t raise my hand when the invitation to participate came out. It was a knee-jerk reaction to just step back. Bow out. Something I’ve gotten used to doing when something’s labeled “for women.” Because I identify both as a lesbian in orientation and beyond my female biology in gender – queer, genderqueer, non-binary are each cool with me.

Sometimes, it’s my own discomfort that gets in the way in certain circles of women. Sometimes it’s that of the women in the circle. Either way, it doesn’t always feel worth the trouble in some social situations. In this situation, I’m glad I raised my hand. Grateful for Wendy’s warm “come on in.” Not to mention her invitation to do this guest post.

Now, you came here to read a post about speculative fiction. And it’s Pride Month as I’m writing this. So, here’s the connection.
Like many queer folks—especially young adults of my generation (think Star Trek: The Next Generation)—I knew without a doubt I was not altogether comfortable in my female body. Along with the expectations of the time about being female. There weren’t identities available at the time to describe my experience.

Except in the world of spec fiction.

In retrospect, it’s no wonder I was drawn to alien species on my television screen. The ones who either refused or worked hard to fit in. To the stories in the classic SF novels slipped to me in school by the kindly nun who seemed, on some level, to get my difference. In them, I found glimpses of potential identities, relationships, family—even if it took backflips of translation to get there.

In a time and a place (Midwest, U.S.) without resources for folks of similar experience, those books and shows literally saved me. Transported me until I could resource myself. Until the wheel of time could turn a few more times to allow for changes and broader acceptance. Growing up and living in the margins like that is an experience of isolation and search for community. These stories—as story does—taught me the power of imagination in creating your place in the world.

These stories also gave me wings. Starting with the dragon wings of Anne McCaffrey’s Dragonriders of Pern series. Not only did they refer to the first gay relationships I’d seen in print; but a world with telepathic dragon companions in a lifelong bond with their riders was a balm to the loneliness of a queer teen.

That world inspired me to write the (very closeted) essay about SF/Fantasy that earned me a scholarship to a private high school my parents couldn’t afford. Which led to unanticipated opportunities for college and, eventually, an MFA in Creative Writing, which currently supports both my own writing and my work coaching writers and editing their work. Wings.

Ursula K. LeGuin and John Varley asked important questions in their stories about binary gender. Sexual orientation. And about relationships that defied the binary in a variety of ways. They each explored the concept of transitioning, as well, each through their unique lens. Reading The Left Hand of Darkness, The Telling, The Titan Series, and Steel Beach as a teen/young adult gave the beginnings of form to feelings I’d nursed for some time. A sense of freedom. Encouragement to keep exploring them, redefining them as culture allowed. Wings.

I’ve never stopped going to spec fiction for it’s brave explorations—and, yes, speculations–when it comes to the possibilities of relationship, cultural, racial, and personal identities. To Octavia Butler, Nicola Griffith, Margaret Atwood, Poul Anderson—the list goes on. How those identities often intersect with magic, technology, science, sociology in spec fic, to me, only expands the potentialities. Keeps giving me hope for a more accepting future. Authors like Charlie Jane Anders, Kameron Hurley, Becky Chambers, Akwaeke Emezi, Noelle Stevenson, J.Y. Yang, Tamsin Muir, and so many more are exploding that future into the present.

I hope you don’t mind that I got a bit personal in this post. Maybe it’s not what you were expecting. It may have even been a bit uncomfortable, for some. It’s important, I feel, as writers, to be reminded once in a while that we’re always writing for an audience—not only a market. That our audience can be counting on us to take risks and still be mindful in our representations. That our stories may be what some need, as well as what others want. To create space for #ownvoices. And when we, inevitably, show our growing places, our less-than-conscious spaces, that we accept feedback from those affected with grace, openness, and discernment.

And for the readers in us all: consider this a challenge to read—or keep reading—stories that have themes that trigger you. Characters outside those you comfortably relate to. Cultures alien to your experience. After all, that’s part of what puts the spec in spec fiction, isn’t it? : )

Diversity in the genre is increasing exponentially. It’s an exciting era for our favorite genres and the exciting hybrids that are emerging. We can appreciate our old favorites. And we can acknowledge that there were limits in some of the stories that excluded the participation reading invites of readers-in-the-margins.
We can do better—are doing better—as writers and readers. Becoming open to inclusion. I mean, if an institution like the Star Trek franchise can finally move closer to it’s vision and potential by acknowledging that Seven-of-Nine likes the ladies (without the translation I made in the 90’s)…well, it gives me hope. And wings as a writer. In the way spec fic always has.


D.M. Rasch is an author of LGBTQIAAP speculative fiction (and a sometimes poet) who lives in the Denver, CO area with 2 sister kittens who are pretty tough in the editing department. She holds an MFA in Creative Writing and balances work as a Creative Coach and Editor (as Deanna M. Rasch) with her writing in her business, Itinerant Creative Content & Coaching LLC . Find her work on the linked Amazon page and look forward to the upcoming publication of her YA novel Freedom’s Cost, as well as an appearance in the anthology, Innovation, Aug. 2020.
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Author Interview: Jonathan M Lazar

Author Jonathan Lazar describes himself as a queer and quirky, mostly fantasy writer that tries to break conventions but who also plays with tropes. He loves tea, making homemade pizza, and posting pictures of his cats on his social media accounts. Please welcome Jonathan to No Wasted Ink.

My name is Jonathan M. Lazar, and I am mostly a fantasy author. I say mostly, because I also write science fiction, and I have an LGBTQ+ romantic comedy available. I am self-published for most of my works, but I have been fortunate enough to have my Urban Fantasy series picked up by Kyanite Publishing. I am originally from Chicago, but have lived in Kalamazoo (Michigan), Springfield (Illinois), Saint Louis (Missouri), and currently live in overly sunny Tucson. My husband and I are owned by two adorable Siamese cats named Ping and Pong.

When and why did you begin writing?

Funny story actually. Back in the third grade we had a homework assignment to use as many of the weekly spelling words as possible. I used all ten, in what would now be considered a fan fic. I wrote a very terrible Power Rangers story, I don’t remember what it was about now. My teacher said that I would go on to win an Oscar (I am still waiting for that to happen).

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

I can say I first considered myself a true writer, after my first NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) way back in 2008. This was when I wrote my first 50k word novel for a fantasy series I only had notes on. Prior to that, everything was notes, or attempts at short stories.

Can you share a little about your current book with us?

This book and the entire Gehenna Cycle series actually, takes place in the far, far future of my science fiction series, the Terran Rising series. I know crazy, magic in a science fiction series, right? But I found a way, one that will eventually be explored not only as I get the science fiction series available, but as I continue on with the Gehenna Cycle. So stay tuned.

What inspired you to write this book?

Fate of the Flame is actually the third book in the Gehenna Cycle that I wrote. During my first NaNoWriMo, I wrote, Shadow of the Queens, which is the second in the series, and then during another NaNoWriMo I would go on to start the third book in the series. However this was always the intended first book in the series, chronologically. I knew the characters, the world, and the idea, but actually writing it down, took a very long time, mainly I had to figure out how they got from point A to point B and met everyone in-between while still staying consistent with the world I had built.

Do you have a specific writing style?

For many of my works, I am a sucker for the small details. I love describing the way the suns rays hit fabric, water, or a window. I love describing the way a piece of clothing moves in both the wind and as someone adjusts themselves, or the smells of the building or what’s in a cup. I like to fully immerse not only myself but my readers in the world. I find this adds such depth to the world that I am building.

How did you come up with the title of this book?

Fate of the Flame was determined as the ultimate title, since the novel revolves around the Augur prophecy that details the Order’s fall by the hands of the Boy with Sapphire Eyes. Wish there was a more hidden meaning behind that, but its not. Sometimes titles naturally manifest and are in direct correlation to the novel’s happenings and sometimes, they are more symbolic. Though I can say the original title of this book was almost Destiny of the Flame.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

This novel is an epic story with a prophecy, and through out the entire book, there is the theme of lies vs truth. As the religious, Order of the Unnamed Goddess will do everything they can to keep power, and are not below lying to the populace.

Are experiences in this book based on someone you know, or events in your own life?

I want to say outright no, as this book is part of my epic fantasy series, however, this series started off as a very terrible fantasy story involving myself and my friends (back in high school). So I do see myself as my MC, Bastian. Also because I was the main character when I first wrote the story… then reworked it to make it what it is today. Very little, aside from some names that remain.

What authors have most influenced your life? What about them do you find inspiring?

Most definitely this would have to be Roger Zelazny and his Chronicles of Amber series. His writing made me realize that fantasy can have elements of science fiction and vice-a-versa, which plays heavily into the Gehenna Cycle.

Who designed the cover of your book? Why did you select this illustrator?

My cover designer was OlivaProDesign on Fiverr. I have used her for several other of my novels, including my fairy tale fantasy series Bound by Wolves & Roses. She is both professional and as you can see, just fantastic. I chose her, because as an independent author, it can be difficult to get fantastic covers for a relatively low-cost. This satisfied both requirements.

I am also going to throw a shout-out to my amazing editor, Katlyn Webb of Ambition Editing, LLC. I found her on a whim, or she found me. But she has been instrumental in editing many of my works, including Fate of the Flame.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

My advice has to be keep writing, make a doable word count goal. Start small and build up, and most of all, get that first draft done! You will always hear that your first draft is crap, and I have plenty of crappy first drafts. Your first draft is just to get your work finished, everything after that is perfecting the work.

Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

I always love hearing from everyone. I am quite chatty on Facebook, Instagram & Twitter, regarding writing, my cats, food, tea, and endless array of topics. Feel free to comment on my posts, tell me what you love, what you hate. Sign up for my monthly newsletter and get a free novella. Also don’t miss out on my author page on Facebook, because that’s where I also occasionally run the bulk of my contests.

Jonathan M. Lazar
Tucson, Arizona

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 Fate of the Flame

Cover Artist:  OlivaProDesign
Editor: Katlyn Webb (editor)
Publisher: Kyanite Publishing

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No Wasted Ink Writers Links

Welcome to No Wasted Inks Writers links. This is a top ten list of writing articles for the science fiction and fantasy genre. Most of these are general writing links or articles to help with research. I hope you enjoy them!

Getting Married in the Middle Ages

How to Use Mind Mapping for Better Writing

Make Your Own Book of Spells: How to Use Grimoires and Unholy Scrolls from Ancient Tombs

Museums in Science Fiction and Fantasy

Why Fantasy and Science Fiction?

10 Ways to Be an Environmentally-Friendly Writer

Do a Best Day and Worst Day For Your Characters

Five Cool Storylines That Went Nowhere

Deity as Celebrity — Crafting a Myth Cycle

Navigating (and Writing in) a Corona-Colored World