Pride Month: Your Story Matters – Dr. Bakkalian

by Dr. Nyri A. Bakkalian

It matters, now more than ever, to uplift trans voices and read trans stories, and for us trans authors, to write those stories.

In Grey Dawn, we learn Chloë Parker Stanton’s view of the first day at the Battle of Gettysburg. On the second day, when the 20th Maine Regiment held the far left of the Union line, its situation was dire and its soldiers exhausted and out of ammunition. Its commander, Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain, took advantage of the courageous stand of friendly units beside his, and chose to advance rather than retreat, giving the fateful order of “Bayonet, forward!” His unit swung into action in a charge that drove off the Rebel onslaught and saved his position from being overrun.

Now is no time to retreat. Our lives are at stake, and if we are silent and passive now, those who would silence our voices forever will win.

Balance of Seven, as a trans-owned press, is committed. So, your stories matter. Together, we can win.

Bayonet, forward.

About the Author

Dr. Nyri A. Bakkalian is an Armenian American queer woman by birth and a military historian by training. She is proud to have called both the American and Japanese northeasts her home. She has produced nonfiction, fiction, and photography content for more than a dozen publications, as well as for Eisner Award-nominated author Magdalene Visaggio’s Kim & Kim. What’s her secret, you ask? Garlic and Turkish coffee (but really, mostly Turkish coffee). Come say hi to her on Twitter, Facebook, and Patreon at riversidewings.

About Grey Dawn

Grey Dawn is a tale of war, abolition, union, and women who forge ties that carry them from one life into the next. When the grey dawn breaks on a new era and a new cause, who can you trust to fight beside you?

Vermont Sci-Fi and Fantasy Expo

by Charleigh Brennan

Hi everyone!I wanted to update you all on how the Vermont Sci-Fi and Fantasy Expo went. In one word: Amazing!

In many words: I had so much fun. There were more booths than last year, I got to see some familiar faces from last year, and I made some really amazing new friends. I got to speak on a couple of panels. Both panels ran on both days, so I got to do them twice.

The “Creating a Character” panel was fun because I was on it with some of the same people I was on the panel with last year, and we got some really great questions. I mentioned the Brian Jacques Redwall series when someone asked about how to write non-human characters, which got another member of the audience really excited. She was so adorable and clearly read even more of the series than I have (it’s a fantastic series and I highly recommend it, btw.) There was another person who asked some fantastic questions, and when I talked to him later on, I was so impressed by the projects he was working on. I really hope to see him get published some day.

The second panel was “Mental Health and Gaming.” Anyone who knows me outside of my writing knows that mental health is my thing (or maybe my other thing. I have so many things.) The two other panelists were fantastic, and we had great discussions on how to utilize games to help treat things like trauma and mood disorders (both were developing therapeutic D&D style games) and we also talked about how games are a great place to practice positive cognitive and social skills in a low or no risk environment. They’re great for trying on personas and discovering sides of our identities that we don’t always get to safely explore in our day to day lives.

Someone randomly gave me a set of gaming dice with little pizzas in them (seriously cute dice!), I got to hang out with the sweetest therapy dog, I exchanged books with a fellow author, I bought some gorgeous wooden coasters, and I got to dress up, not in full cosplay, but in some fun costumey outfits.

I’m hoping to do more events, and if you know of any you’d like to see me at (and are within my budget, of course), let me know! I’m already in the process of looking at some library readings and may be looking at local renaissance faires or literary expos.

About the Author

Charleigh Brennan lives across the street from a cemetery. She’s grateful to have such quiet neighbors, as they give her plenty of time to be creative. Well, except when they get a little out of hand and knock items off her desk.

Charleigh has lived an unexpected life, veering off into odd and unexpected paths on more than one continent. She misses the temperate weather of her Northern California upbringing yet loves seeing actual seasons in her present home in New England. If only it didn’t snow for quite as long as it does. You can find Charleigh on Facebook page at charleighbrennanauthor.

About The Pizza-Pyre

Eighteen-year-old Josh Buckmilter knows what he wants: to level up his life. Go to college (+4 INT), get a steady job (+50 GOLD), and marry his dream girl, Harriet (+20 LUK). In other words, he wants a normal life, something he missed out on growing up.

But college is an epic boss battle he’s not ready for yet, not without some grinding. So while he saves money delivering pizzas in a car held together by duct tape and dreams, most of his thoughts center around gaming, pizza, and Harriet.

As far as Josh is concerned, pizza is a goddess and Harriet is her handmaiden. Much as he wants to, he can’t summon the courage to ask her out. But he’s not worried. With a little more grinding, he’s sure he’ll get there.

Until he gets a phone call that changes the game.

In his town, a long-abandoned mansion sits at the top of a hill. Kids sometimes sneak in with their friends for thrills, and it’s known as a frequent party spot for the high schoolers.

Only, it isn’t abandoned anymore. Word around town is, a glamorous young couple has moved in: beautiful, suave, and wealthy.

Most importantly, the new tenants are hungry.

And they’ve called for a pizza delivery boy.

PRESS RELEASE: Bringing Bolivar Peninsula to Houston

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Bringing Bolivar Peninsula to Houston: Award-Winning Author Georgina Key to Sign Novel of Hope, Resilience at Blue Willow Bookshop

Houston, TX—Local author Georgina Key will be signing her award-winning book, Shiny Bits in Between, on May 21, 2022, at 1 PM at the Blue Willow Bookshop (www.bluewillowbookshop.com) in West Houston.

Winner of Best New Voice, Popular Fiction in the 2020 Kops-Fetherling International Book Awards and a Top 5 Finalist in the Author Elite Book Contest, Shiny Bits in Between casts a light on what it means to move forward after a life-changing tragedy. Set in both Houston and Bolivar Peninsula, Shiny Bits is a story of two women who regain their sense of self and hope through their connections with the Bolivar community.

“We’ve all been struggling during the past two years as we navigate our way through this pandemic. Always looking for those shiny bits in between the darkness is what keeps us going,” says Key.

Having relocated from her 1915 home in the historic Houston Heights to Houston’s historic Riverside Terrace neighborhood, Key’s commitment to preserving history through art remains at the forefront of her life. “Our house was built in the 1930s, and it was love at first sight for me. Places and respect for the lives of those who lived there are vital to me as both a writer and a lover of older homes and communities. My books center around this; whether they’re set in a remote community on the Texas Gulf Coast or in a small village in England, I write about places I know and love,” Key says. “Shiny Bits in Between is my love letter to Bolivar Peninsula.”

Blue Willow Bookshop, which will be hosting Key’s book signing, has been a community gem in West Houston since 1996. Named after the “blue willow” china pattern to reflect its comfortable, cozy feel, the bookshop is an intersection where local authors and readers connect.

“We love to connect readers and authors and are happy to welcome Georgina to the shop,” says Valerie Koehler, owner of the Blue Willow Bookshop.

“Living in COVID put a damper on travel and live events, but we’re back in full force now. It means so much to be sharing my story of resilience and transformation to a public audience for the first time in person. I’m a huge proponent of independent bookstores, and being represented by an independent press, Balance of Seven, it’s even more important to spread the word,” says Key.

For details on the Shiny Bits in Between live reading and signing, visit https://www.bluewillowbookshop.com/event/georgina-key-shiny-bits-between

ABOUT BALANCE OF SEVEN

Established in 2018, Balance of Seven, LLC, is a small independent press dedicated to keeping the magic in publishing. Our readers crave magic, and we aim to bring it to them by providing a platform for new voices and perspectives. We are owned and operated by a cis woman and a trans man: diversity and allyship are at the very core of our makeup. We bravely venture beyond genre; when publishing emerging voices, we find they often do not fit “inside the box.” Many of our books are award winning or #1 Amazon bestsellers, sometimes both. Come say hello to us and discover the book you didn’t know you loved at balanceofseven.com.

Reading is Magic Box – 40% of Each Purchase Supports Ukraine & Peace

by Sarah V. Hines

I wrote Hubris in a dark, bleak time in my life. I was dealing with unbearable struggles both inside and out. Hubris was a way to give a face to the pain and hopelessness that I battled with daily, as well as a discourse on the struggles humanity faced as a whole. I always meant for Hubris to be a statement to how difficult and yet how crucial it is to face the monsters that hold so much power over our everyday lives, who can act with impunity while innocent people pay the price.


We see a very real example of this in Ukraine today, as well as many places throughout modern history: the innocent people of a country must suffer, lives are sacrificed and courage is defined by everyday people’s resolve to stand up to face one madman’s ego and power. As the men and women of Ukraine—many of whom have never even served in the military—take on the monster whose power seems absolute, we see a struggle playing out in front of the world that has gone on for decades, sometimes with very little fanfare from our media. Today, we should recognize the horror and shame of invasions and occupations of people in Ukraine and around the world and stand strong in solidarity with those that fight for their right to exist.


In light of the invasion of Ukraine, I am honored to support Balance of Seven in their decision to donate 40% of all box sales to the charity Sunflower of Peace, who provides dire needed medical supplies to medics and doctors in Ukraine, saving lives when there is little time and resources to do so.

Our “Reading is Magic” box contains a copy of Hubris, as well as a handcrafted beanie, a handmade resin Libra pendant, a meditation for inner calm, and a holographic sticker drawn by yours truly. It is a great gift for readers in your life, as well as those that enjoy books about facing the monsters in the world. In these times, we need these folks more than ever.

About the Author

Sarah V. Hines was born in Ohio where she lived the first 17 years of her life before moving to Florida for a spell and then heading over to Washington, D.C. She is slowly working toward her bachelors in International Relations and Anthropology. She loves topics on fantasy, feminism and foreign policy. She also loves languages and is currently learning Russian, Spanish and Arabic. She is currently working on The Siren Tragedies Series, of which the first book, Hubris, will be published in April of 2022. Throughout the series, she combines various mythological themes to tell her stories.

About Hubris and the Reading is Magic Book Box

Telese’s yearning for freedom and Eric’s passion for knowledge bring them together in a dangerous alliance. They must challenge their old beliefs to bring together the warring Light and Dark Worlds, reveal magic to humans, and rally the Sirens against the father-leader who wrote their rules. Can Eric and Telese save humans and create a united, harmonious system of rule, or will the worlds they must align fall victim to their hubris?

40% of each purchase of the Reading is Magic Book Box will go to the Sunflower of Peace Foundation.

Each box contains:

  • A paperback copy of Hubris (The Siren Tragedies) – with signed bookplate
  • A hand-knitted “Read” cap
  • A “Saving the World One Page at a Time” 3” round holographic sticker
  • A handcrafted themed velvet charm bookmark
  • A “Find Your Balance” mantra card to help alleviate stress and heaviness
  • A sparkling indigo Libra (balance) charm, made of resin

READING IS MAGIC BOX WILL SHIP APRIL 2022

I Knew

by Theodore Niretac Tinker

A common question or conversation piece I hear around the trans identity is “When did you know?”

“When did you know you didn’t identify as the gender you were assigned at birth?”

“When did you know you were [insert preferred gender here]?”

“When did you know you were transgender?”

I have heard answers that range anywhere from childhood to late in life. I have heard people talk about their discomfort in their own bodies, their desire to live as another gender, their claiming of pronouns that were not allowed them in the beginning.

Yet when the question gets posed to me, I flounder. Because I didn’t accept myself as trans until I was about thirty and preparing for my wedding and my now-wife (who is also trans) and I decided that we wanted to get married as ourselves, with me in a suit and her in a dress. It was only within that two-year period of wedding planning that I accepted that, yes, I am a man.

But is that really when I knew?

As I explore my inner self and get more comfortable with who I truly am, I’ve come to realize that the knowledge was there long before I acknowledged it. Long before I had the words with which to acknowledge it.

I knew when I was twenty-five. I preferred men’s clothing over women’s—and not just because of the pockets, which are an entire issue all their own with which I fully commiserate. With plans to go to both my cousin’s wedding and a fancy writing event all in one weekend in California, I splurged on an entirely new outfit: gray pinstripe pants, matching gray pinstripe fedora, white button-down shirt, nice tie, and fancy black wingtip shoes. And for the first time in my life, I felt comfortable in fancy clothing. I might not have had the words to claim I was a man, but in that outfit, I knew.

I knew when I was eighteen. When another student gave a single presentation on how to tie a tie—on how to tie a tie!—I became so enthralled, my daily outfit for at least a semester became jeans, a t-shirt, and a tie—in a full Windsor knot, to boot. And not just any tie, but one that I matched with the t-shirt—the first time in my life I bothered to color-coordinate my clothing. I had to deal with questions, from classmates and family. I might have had difficulty explaining, might not have had the words to say who I really was, but in those ties, I knew.

I knew when I was twelve. When I first read Tamora Pierce’s The Lioness series, I grew so enamored of the concept of a girl pretending to be a boy that so many of my future story ideas were based around such characters. Eventually, I settled on Peace of Evon as the one such concept that I would nurture into a full series. And I might not have had the understanding to recognize myself in the anonymous king as much as, if not more than, the girl pretending to be a boy. But in the secrecy and dread of the true self being revealed and rejected, I knew.

I knew when I was seven. That was the first time I got my hair cut short—boyishly short. I remember wanting to look like my dad and being somewhat disappointed when the short haircut was still shaped as a girl’s cut. I would spend the next twenty or so years switching back and forth between long and short hair without really understanding why or being about to put words to the struggle. But in the image my father presented me, I knew.

So despite not understanding and accepting myself as trans until I was thirty, I’ve known for most of my life.

This is one reason I’m insistent on presenting my true self as an author and in the stories I write. Because even if people—children or adults—don’t have the words to understand or communicate who they are, they can still know. And the more representation of who they might be that they see in the world—in stories and in the authors who write them—the easier it becomes to accept and discuss.

About the Author

Theodore Niretac Tinker is a worldbuilder. Words and worlds are his passion; quality and consistency, his goal. A three-time award-winning fantasy author, he has been through such a winding journey as an author that he wishes to help as many other writers and authors navigate the journey with ease and quality as possible. With a certificate in editing from the University of Chicago (home of The Chicago Manual of Style), Tod has spent the last few years achieving this goal by providing editing services for his fellow writers. His bachelor’s degree in mathematics gives him an eye for details, as well as the big picture, enhancing his worldbuilding skills. Tod supports his many literary endeavors with an endless supply of chocolate, which he hoards in his library alongside his books like any good dragon. You can follow Tod on Facebook and Twitter at @TNTinkerEditing for daily discussions under the hashtag #EditingTidbit. Check out TheodoreNTinker.com for more information on Tod’s editing services and available publications. Many of his previous fiction publications, including his Evon series and eleven short stories, can be found under his former pen name, Dorothy Tinker.

About Fiction Tinker’s Guide to Whimsical Worlds

The starting idea for a story may come easily, but many writers get lost when plunging into specifics. Which details should you seek on your quest to create a convincing world that enchants your readers? How do you keep from getting lost down the proverbial rabbit hole?

With his friendly and down-to-earth approach, Theodore Niretac Tinker-three-time award-winning author and seasoned developmental editor-will guide you through your journey to connect the dots, tie up loose ends, and gain new insights into your world. 

10 Ways We Are Different (And Why We Embrace It)

by D. Ynes Freeman

  1. We are owned and operated by a cis woman and a trans man. diversity, inclusion, and allyship are at the very core of our makeup.
  2. We are independent: an active member of the Independent Book Publishers Association (IBPA).
  3. We produce books that defy genre. When publishing new voices, they often do not fit “inside the box.”
  4. Most of our books are award winning or #1 Amazon bestsellers, sometimes both.
  5. Our Managing Editor has a degree in Applied Mathematics. the best of both worlds—a love of language and a keen eye for details.
  6. Our Publisher’s background is in audience marketing in traditional publishing.
  7. We happily READ LGBTQ+ submissions and are actively growing our BIPOC authorship.
  8. We don’t use the word “rejection.” If work isn’t accepted, we phrase it as nonacceptance.
  9. Most of our covers are custom illustrated by emerging artists.
  10. Without readers like you, we would not exist. Thank you for picking up our authors’ books!

The Evolution of Language: Gender Identity and Sexual Orientation

by Dr. Nyri Bakkalian

In Grey Dawn, we meet two transgender men from central Pennsylvania, Caldwell Simmons and Nate Yoder, who are Chloë Stanton’s bunkmates in the 17th Pennsylvania Cavalry. Just as Chloë learns, modern language on gender identity and sexual orientation is not the same as the language that existed in the 1860s, but that doesn’t mean that people with those identities didn’t exist.

So this week, readers, I’d like you to learn about a man named Albert D.J. Cashier (pictured, 1843-1915). He was from Ireland, and immigrated to Illinois with his parents at a young age. In 1862, he enlisted in Company G of the 95th Illinois Volunteer Infantry Regiment, and served through the end of the war, discharged as a private and a veteran of many battles, including the fighting at Vicksburg, Mississippi. And it wasn’t until a car accident, and then committal to a state institution because of dementia, that Cashier’s assigned sex was discovered, when he was 71. Modern language on gender identity and sexual orientation did not exist yet in Cashier’s time, certainly. But when we consider that there were more than a few women wholike Chloë does in Grey Dawn—briefly assumed male guise in order to fight as Union soldiers, it becomes all the more noteworthy that Cashier simply went on with his life as a man. This was not a game or an expedient means to him—it was an identity.

Some may think this surprising. But to me as a queer person, it is not so surprising. Language has changed, it has evolved. But as long as there have been people, we have been here.

We always will be.

About the Author

Dr. Nyri A. Bakkalian is an Armenian American queer woman by birth and a military historian by training. She is proud to have called both the American and Japanese northeasts her home. She has produced nonfiction, fiction, and photography content for more than a dozen publications, as well as for Eisner Award-nominated author Magdalene Visaggio’s Kim & Kim. What’s her secret, you ask? Garlic and Turkish coffee (but really, mostly Turkish coffee). Come say hi to her on Twitter, Facebook, and Patreon at riversidewings.

About Grey Dawn

Grey Dawn is a tale of war, abolition, union, and women who forge ties that carry them from one life into the next. When the grey dawn breaks on a new era and a new cause, who can you trust to fight beside you?