Luna Station Quarterly is a speculative fiction magazine featuring stories by emerging women authors.
Now in our 8th year!

On the Books: Can I Use Someone Else’s Trademark in my Manuscript?

by Jacqui Lipton

Welcome to ON THE BOOKS, a new LSQ column that focuses on legal and business issues confronting authors today. In this column, I’ll be addressing issues that authors and other creative artists face in their day to day creative lives, with an emphasis on issues like copyright, fair use, trademark, privacy, and defamation law, as well as how to understand common clauses in publishing contracts. Hopefully the column will be fun and easy to follow – I’ll try to keep the info to bite-sized chunks in each post and always happy to respond to questions and comments.

I should start by noting that nothing written in this column is intended as formal legal advice and folks who need help with particular issues should consult an agent or attorney (or drop me a line if it’s about something I’ve written here).

Now that THAT legal stuff is out of the way, let’s talk about TRADEMARKS!

I’ve chosen trademarks as the topic for this first column because I’ve been answering a lot of questions in workshops lately about how trademark law works and when/how you can refer to someone else’s trademarks in your writing: for example, if your protagonist loves to drink Sprite or drives a beat-up Volkswagen bug, is it okay to refer to those trademarks in your manuscript?

The short answer is usually “yes”, as long as you’re not using the trademark in a way that might confuse readers about things like sponsorship or affiliation of your work with the brand. Let me explain what I mean by that.

Trademark law was largely created to prevent a competitor of the trademark-holder from using the mark in a way that is likely to cause consumer confusion about the source of a product or service: for example, if you make athletic shoes, you can’t sell them under the “Nike” label if you’re not the Nike Corporation, or licensed by the Nike corporation to do so.

When you use someone else’s trademark in your book, you’re typically NOT holding yourself out as being licensed by, or in any way related to, the actual trademark holder so in most cases it’s okay to say that your protagonist likes drinking Gatorade or eating McDonald’s.

However, if you use the trademark in a way that does suggest some kind of sponsorship or affiliation with the trademark owner, the issue may be murkier. Think about the movie, The Internship (starring Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughan). The plot of that movie so heavily revolves around Google that Google had to have given permission for use of its trademarks in the film and its marketing. In fact, Google reportedly did work with the film’s producers throughout the production process and were generally supportive of the project.

In your writing, as long as you’re simply referring to a trademark, without it becoming a central feature of your story, you probably don’t have a trademark problem. If you are concerned about any particular use of someone else’s mark, you should speak to a literary agent or attorney. However, you should never let fear of the law stand in the way of writing what you want (or need) to write in the first place. Legal problems can usually be handled at the revision or editing stage. Don’t let fear of the law be an excuse for not writing what you want to write at least in the first draft. That’s going to be my ongoing theme throughout these columns: remember that you’re a creative artist and you’re not expected to be a legal expert. If you have questions during the drafting, revision, or publication process, there will usually be someone out there who can help you, but don’t let legal worries stand in the way of creating your art in the first place!


Who You Gonna Call? The Diviners!

by Jen Gheller

One of the biggest problems about getting invested in a book series is having to wait. You’re dying to know what happens next and you desperately check Goodreads to see if the publication date for the next book gets updated. Then, finally, publication day arrives. You get the book, tear through it, and repeat the process all over again. Such was the case when I read Before the Devil Breaks You, the third and newest installment of Libba Bray’s Diviners series. At a whopping 552 pages, it’s much thicker than most YA books I’ve read lately, but that only made me rub my hands together like a fly. The more time I could spend with this new book before having to play the waiting game for the next one, the better.

This book was very well worth the wait. The series centers around Evie O’Neal, a teenager in 1920’s New York, with the power to glean the past from objects she touches. Her friends also have powers of their own and together they form a group called the Diviners, who find themselves battling sinister paranormal activity throughout the city, as well as an enigmatic entity known as the King of Crows. And, since it’s the ‘20s, they also have to grapple with Prohibition, social unrest, and the aftermath of World War I. Mixed all together, Bray’s readers are presented with plenty of fun, angst, romance, and chills.

I’ve always loved the way Bray writes ghost scenes. Her characters’ fears are tangible, but the evildoers’ motivations are always made clear. Yes, they’re ghosts and they’re causing harm to our beloved characters, but they’re not wreaking havoc just for the fun of it. The ghosts that roam New York City in this book are being roused by the King of Crows and they want revenge for being forgotten. This is where the book really stood out to me. Although Before the Devil Breaks You is a fantasy novel, the historical details are on point. Bray doesn’t hesitate to dig deep into American history, which makes the book even scarier. The book is set in 1927, and while there are plenty of flappers, speakeasies, and jazz, Bray also touches on racism, the deplorable treatment of the mentally ill, and the eugenics movement that was very real. In between ghost hunts, power practice, and love scenes, Bray asks her readers to consider problems that are still relevant in our society. What happens to men when they are told they are entitled to the world? What becomes of the people considered unsavory, undesirable, or too different? How can we strive for drastic change while still remaining true to our own morals?

The stakes are high for the ragtag team of Diviners in their third adventure, but Bray never leaves her readers feeling hopeless. While there are some truly heartbreaking moments and nail-biting cliffhangers, it’s reassuring to know the Diviners always have each other’s backs. Libba Bray has made me cry many times (Going Bovine, The Sweet Far Thing, and the time I met her in person and cried in the bathroom afterwards), but most of all she reminds me that compassion and kindness can change the world, and that the power of storytelling is far greater than any silence.

Issue 032 is LIVE! Meet our cover artist: Miranda Meeks

by Anna O’Brien

“December” for Issue 032 by Miranda Meeks

Luna Station Quarterly is happy to announce that Issue 032 is now available! Grab a copy and dive into nine amazing stories by female-identifying writers that push the boundaries of speculative fiction, sci-fi, and fantasy. We have trolls, we have specters, we have the future of medical science, we have our first translated work (!), AND we have gorgeous cover art. In fact, we quite recently chatted with our cover artist, Miranda Meeks. Read more for what Miranda has to say about her art, creativity, and inspiration.

LSQ: Where do you get your beautiful, haunting ideas? What inspires your art?

Miranda: A lot of my ideas are inspired by various things, from photography, movies, music, classical paintings, etc. I’m especially inspired by images that tell a narrative or a story, without leaving too many clues as to what that story could be. I love hearing different interpretations of my paintings, which is part of the reason that ambiguity really resonates with me.

LSQ: Can you tell us a bit about your methods? How long does it take to complete a piece? What media do you most commonly use?

“Poe Sister” by Miranda Meeks

Miranda: Most of my pieces are digital, and they take anywhere from 15-50 hours, depending on the project, subject matter, etc. I’ve been fortunate to be able to experiment with oils these past few years as well, which has been really fun.

LSQ: There is a lot of animal imagery mixed into many of your pieces–snakes, wolves, a lamb… Can you tell us about why you’ve picked these animals?

Miranda: I really like certain animals and subject matter because they aren’t so exotic that I’ve never seen them before in person, or only at a zoo. I also enjoy drawing animals that have a lot of symbolism tied into their identities. When you draw a wolf, almost everyone has these pre-built ideas and biases associated with that wolf, so you’re able to convey mood and ideas without having to literally draw them out. Besides all those things, certain animals are simply a lot of fun to draw and paint.

LSQ: Regarding your cover for Issue 032, “December,” — can you tell us the story behind it? Who is that girl? Where is she? What’s happening or going to happen? Or do you know?

Miranda: For the “December” piece, I wanted to convey the idea that the girl is comfortable and strong, despite the snake wrapped around her neck and in her hair. I don’t know who she is or where she is, but I like to imply strength in the women I draw, despite their circumstances.

LSQ: Tell us a bit about your journey as an artist — did you anticipate being where you are today?

Miranda: When I first went to college I thought I wanted to be a children’s book illustrator. That changed to wanting to go into editorial. Then a year or two after graduating, everything gradually shifted to doing book covers, which I am very happy with. I would not have guessed it 5-10 years ago, but I am so glad to be where I’m at now.

LSQ: What feelings do you want to invoke in us as we look at your work? What messages are you sending?

“What Lies Beneath” by Miranda Meeks

Miranda: I love the idea of bridging the gap between beauty and darkness. I hope to convey to my audience that there is beauty in those things that might be haunting or surreal.

LSQ: Where do you hope to see your art over the next five to ten years, both figuratively and literally?

Miranda: I hope to be able to improve my craft and continue to incorporate more traditional pieces into my portfolio. I hope I’m able to make series of pieces that really resonate and connect with people.

LSQ: Is there anything you’d like to tell budding artists? Words of wisdom?

Miranda: To artists who are just starting out, my advice would be to keep going, no matter what life throws at you. It’s been really difficult balancing family life with work life as I stay home with my two little kids, and although it feels impossible to get that balance right, it’s also fulfilling to be able to do both. It is somehow possible, if you just stick with it.

The Sea Below and the Sky Above – The Quest to Find Other Sentient Beings

by Elora Powell

We’ve talked before about how mankind looks for fellow sentient, intelligent creatures among the stars. Some think it’s plausible, some think it’s ridiculous. Whatever you think about SETI and real-world theories about alien lifeforms, it’s nearly impossible to deny that alien encounters can make for really interesting pieces of fiction. Science fiction doesn’t stop its search for intelligence at the earth’s atmosphere, though. What if we aren’t the only sentient lifeforms even on this planet? It would certainly bring up a lot of complications, due to the way humanity has treated other species. Who would it be, though? What would our intercultural relations be like? And how would we find out?

Dolphins and whales are one of the most common non-human earth species portrayed in science fiction as sentient. Biologists have speculated for a long time that they actually are quite intelligent and sensitive animals. In a way, they’re a bit like aliens, because they live in a world that’s challenging for us to reach – oceans and rivers. Could it be that our companions in the galaxy have been living beneath our waters all this time?

Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, while primarily a comedy about being displaced in time, is also an exercise in human humility. Spock chastises his crew mates in the beginning of the film when they assume that the message of a mysterious probe must be for them. What makes them think they’re the only ones worth talking to on the planet?

Douglas Adams features sentient and uber-intelligent dolphins in the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy trilogy. While the dolphins are far smarter than humans, their attempts at sophisticated communications are taken as no more than simple amusement park tricks, like whistling and jumping through hoops. Even more intelligent than the dolphins are the mice, originators of the entire planet, who are trying to figure out the answer to the most important question in the universe.

What does it all matter, though? It isn’t any different than us trying to find life out there in the universe, is it? I think the startling thing is how frequently we wonder if we are alone in the universe, or even on the planet. It’s like we know there has to be something more. Why does that question linger so long in our collective unconscious? What do we know that we can’t quite put our finger on? Who else is out there?

Happy birthday, Madeleine L’Engle!

by Jen Gheller

On this day in 1918, science fiction author Madeleine L’Engle was born. She is best known for her Time Quintet, especially the first novel, A Wrinkle in Time. Born and raised in New York City, L’Engle began writing at the age of five and never stopped, despite  discouragement from her teachers. As an adult, the temptation to quit writing returned after A Wrinkle in Time received over thirty rejections. Thankfully for us, L’Engle never gave up on this novel, and it was finally published in 1962. It remains her most well-known work.

What I like most about L’Engle is that she was a children’s writer who made me feel that she trusted me as a child reader. A Wrinkle in Time is, in a word, bizarre. It was like nothing I’d ever read before. There was a group of women who talked so strangely, a bodiless telepathic brain (yes, a real brain), and the dilemma of describing something to someone who’s never experienced that something before. It was my first time reading a book and thinking, “Hey, this book is weird. It’s really weird, but that’s okay!” L’Engle believed that children approached science fiction and fantasy more open-mindedly than adults, and as a child who read almost exclusively fantasy, I felt respected. She wasn’t just telling me a strange story, she was giving it to me, trusting me to imagine it.

Something else that always stuck out to me was Meg, L’Engle’s protagonist. She is a young girl who doesn’t like herself. She’s good at math but not so much other subjects. She’s awkward, doesn’t get along with others, and feels like the misfit of her family. And yet the things she doesn’t like about herself, such as her stubbornness and rudeness, are what help her prevail over the evil brain (again, what?) in the end. I’ve read plenty of books where the heroine was independent and plucky from the start, using her wits or magic powers to overcome her adversary. Instead, L’Engle presented me with a girl who was more like me. She feels uncomfortable with herself, with her place in her family, and among her peers. She has no magic powers. Yet she stands up to the brain (the literal brain) and beats it by being her old stubborn self. As much as I liked fantasizing about magic and pretending I went to Hogwarts, reading about an ordinary girl in a highly unorthodox situation was just as captivating.

In honor of this cherished author’s birthday, why not head to your local library and pick out some of L’Engle’s other novels, such as The Arm of the Starfish, The Small Rain, or The Other Side of the Sun? She also published a few poetry titles, such as A Cry Like a Bell. Or, brush up on A Wrinkle in Time in preparation for the movie coming out in 2018! It’s got an all-star cast, including Reese Witherspoon, Mindy Kaling, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, and Oprah. Yes, that’s right, Oprah. I’m looking forward to seeing how the cast works with this strange and wonderful tale, and I hope the result is something Madeleine L’Engle herself would be delighted by.

Author Interview: Che Gilson

by Wendy Van Camp

Author Che Gilson likes to make the small epic and the epic small. She is a YA fantasy author from the Pacific Northwest.

Hello! My name is Che Gilson and I write things and draw things. Some of those things get published which is really, really nice. I also love to draw and paint. I mostly work in watercolor and who knows–perhaps you’ll see my work in the art show of a fantasy convention you go to! I’m also quite the nerd. I love TV, movies, manga, anime, and reading. I collect Asian Ball Jointed Dolls and one of my current goals is buying a smart phone so I can play Pokémon GO… and also so I can get a credit card reader for conventions… but mostly Pokémon…

When and why did you begin writing?

I’ve been creating stories since I was a child. I loved the writing prompts in English class and I loved to read. My original goal was to write and draw my own comics but in art school, I discovered my attention span for comics lasted about 12 pages. I then wrote some graphic novels but unfortunately had difficulty finding an artist to work with consistently. It didn’t help when Tokyopop shut down either. So I began to write more and more prose. It was something I’d done all along, but I finally really decided to work at it because it was the only way I was going to be able to tell MY stories, no artist required.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

I’m not sure. I think I felt “officially” like a writer when I wrote Avigon, my first graphic novel, illustrated by Jimmie Robinson. I finally had my name on something and that something was in stores. That was the first real success I had getting my words out in more than a zine.

Can you share a little about your current book with us?
Aside from my usual line about Tea Times Three being a book about tea, witches, yummy food, and small towns–I really consider it a book about a town. I made up a fictional Maine town called Midswich. I picked Maine because it’s not a heavily populated state and because I have an obsession with the East Coast even though I’ve only been to New York City once in high school. But the East Coast looks as close to Europe as you can get and originally I had wanted Tea Times Three to be set in England. I made Midswich a tourist town that had designed itself to look like a British village. I got the idea from Solvang, a Swedish styled town in California. There are multiple POV characters, magic, and a hint of romance.

What inspired you to write this book?

FOOD! This book is my ode to all the food I can’t eat anymore because I am allergic to everything! Other ideas went into it as well. I love what I like to call “Eccentric British Village Comedies” though all my examples of this “genre” are American or Canadian–TV shows like Northern Exposure and Corner Gas. Things that revolve around small towns and shenanigans where everyone pretty much knows everyone. I also adore witches. I joke that my default mode is “witch.” And tea which, aside from water, is my favorite beverage on earth. It’s pretty much the only thing besides water that I drink. So I put into Tea Times Three all the things I love: food, small town shenanigans, tea, and witches.

Originally I had planned Tea Times Three as a comic book set in a little English village and the witches were much younger. I was aiming for a middle grade audience of kids 9 to 12 and maybe some shojo fans. But then Tokyopop folded and I had to re-imagine it as something else entirely. It took several years and some sage advice before the novel version clicked in my head and I started writing it.

Do you have a specific writing style?

I strive for clarity in my writing. I’m not sure that’s a style, but that’s the approach I take. I want the writing to be clear, I want the characters to be interesting, I want to express myself in a way that is easily understood. I hope it’s interesting and I hope people enjoy it and that’s really what I want.

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

That was really simple. I used the name of the tea shop the three witches open in the town: Tea Times Three. And if I’m being utterly honest the name of the tea shop is a nod to Charmed, the TV show. Piper [from Charmed] opened a club named P3 which was a reference to the sisters’ “power of three” and their names which all began with “P”. This is actually the super nerd origin of the title I’ve never told anyone else!

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

One of the major themes in Tea Times Three is tolerance and intolerance. The majority of the town is nervous when witches move in and it takes a few people standing up for them for people to start changing their minds.

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

Not especially, though I put a lot of myself into my books. I tend to give my characters all my worst personality traits and then make them bigger (the traits, not the characters). Or I give them personality traits I WISH I had–like optimism! Though I do know what it’s like to move into a new town and to live in small towns. All the food in Tea Times Three is either based on things I’ve eaten, or things I’ve seen on TV. One of my beta readers pointed out that I had described the flavor of Earl Grey tea wrong and in fact I had never drunk Earl Grey before. So I went to the grocery store and bought some. Turns out I LOVE Earl Grey and it’s become one of my favorite teas. I also rewrote my description of the flavor.

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

In college I took a creative writing class and the teacher kept telling us to read Raymond Carver. So I went to the bookstore, grabbed a collection of Raymond Carver off the shelf, sat down, and read. It blew my mind. The diamond clarity of the prose, the sense of so much going unspoken, the stories of small, intimate, painful moments, took my breath away. After that I wanted to write like Raymond Carver. I did, too, in as much as my smaller talents could manage. It was another writer friend of mine who took a look at my prose and said, “You need to describe things more, what the hell is this?” (I paraphrase). For love of Raymond Carver I stripped my prose down to the bones, then after talking with that writer friend I started to build it back up again.

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

Yes! Suzanne McLeod. She’s a British urban fantasy author and you should go check out her Spellcrackers series! I met her through a LiveJournal group for urban fantasy authors called Fangs Fur Fey. She posted that she was having trouble with her book and was looking for a cheer partner to swap snippets with. I had been working on Tea Times Three for awhile and was stuck on that manuscript as well. So I replied to her and we began exchanging bits of our books. We still email back and forth and encourage each other to this day! She has provided the most ridiculously good edits on some of my shorter works and has encouraged me to keep writing for years.

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

I designed the book covers for Tea Times Three and my earlier urban fantasy novella Carmine Rojas: Dog Fight, though for Tea Times Three I commissioned the hand lettering you see on the cover. The lettering was drawn by Courtney Kilpatrick of Typecast Lettering. I found her on Etsy. I had a very strong vision of the Tea Times Three cover–I even had the clip art picked out years before it was published. I thought I might have to self-publish and I wanted to be ready. Having the title handwritten was inspired by Book Cover Archive which showcases the covers of literary novels and has an extensive gallery of beautifully designed cover work.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

Don’t give up, but be ready to go with small presses and indie publishing. Write what you want, what inspires you. If you love it, chances are others do, too.

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

You’ve probably heard this from other authors, but if you like a book, leave a review! It doesn’t have to be brilliantly written. A simple “I liked it” is great. Small press and indie authors live and die by the kindness of readers.

Che Gilson
Salem, Oregon


Tea Times Three

Cover artist: Courtney Kilpatrick
Publisher: Black Opal Books


The Blog is Back!

by Anna O’Brien

Hello, dearest readers!!! After a hiatus, the Luna Station Quarterly blog is BACK and full of fun and tricks. We’ve got some of your favorite bloggers in line to continue their wonderful reviews and excellent essays, some new faces to delve into amazing new topics such as women in Greek mythology, heroes, and fan fiction, and some new staff to meet and greet! So, put on your party hats and let’s get started!

Firstly, there’s a new blog team in town. Here’s the starting lineup: Anna O’Brien is our managing blog editor. She hails from central Maryland and drinks too much coffee. Linda Codega and Jen Gheller are our blog editors, coming at you from New York state and New Jersey, respectively. Linda loves modern media, and can be found working on her podcast or writing scripts. Jen is a fan of witches, faeries, and all things magical, which will be making frequent appearances in her posts. Good things happen in threes (we’re thinking Musketeers, not so much stooges or blind mice…). We aim to please, but, more importantly, are setting the bar to entertain, enlighten, and encourage, so if you have questions or comments or are interested in being a blogger, please let the team know.

Secondly, here’s what to expect. New posts will appear on weekday mornings. As we continue to grow, our post schedule likely will, as well. A well-known mix of reviews (old books! new books! graphic novels! more!), author interviews, and essays are what we have up our sleeves for starters. We’d also like to encourage community in this venue–have something to say? Post it in the comments section and let’s start a dialog. Fall in love with a blogger’s writing? Visit her author bio and catch up on her other work. Additionally, we’ll be delving deep into the Quarterly‘s current issue — here’s a plug to keep your peepers open for this Friday, December 1, as we release Issue 032 (more party hats) with Issue 032-specific interviews sprinkled over the coming weeks.

Thirdly, ah yes… social media. We continue to post news and fun gifs on Twitter (@lunaquarterly) and intrepidly step into the deep that is Instagram (@lunastationquarterly) and Facebook. Join us in the fun as we continue to build, so keep checking in for new content.

Finally, we’d like to thank our bloggers, Quarterly authors, staff, and readers for their understanding, support, and inspiring creativity that continues to foster a welcoming environment for female-identifying writers and their work. Let’s continue to push things forward and have some fun along the way. Won’t you join us?

The Print Edition is now LIVE!

by Jennifer Lyn Parsons

Thank you all for your patience while we sorted out the issues with our printing service!

Those of you wanting a beautiful hard copy of Issue 031 can now have your wish fulfilled!!!

The best place to go is the direct purchase page. We get the most financial support when you buy that way. Here’s a coupon code for 10% off: YG3XASCL

If you prefer, you can purchase the print copies through Amazon as well.

Want more details on the issue? Just visit the Issue 031 page.

Thanks so much for your support!

Issue 031 is now live!

by Jennifer Lyn Parsons

Stories are part of what make us who we are. They help us take the temperature of the human spirit. Right now women all over feel like the world is out to get them (and some cases, it is) or that they don’t matter. It’s times like these where LSQ feels more important than ever.

We’re here to tell stories. Tales written by women writers whose voices are diverse, amazing, beautiful, funny, harsh, and everything in between. I invite you in to read what this group of women has to say.

Think these stories and the others on this site are important? Buy a print copy or digital edition. Support us on Patreon. Spread the word about us. We’ll be here regardless, but with your help we can amplify these voices and empower the women who write them.

Watch this space!

by Jennifer Lyn Parsons

Issue 031 will be here soon!

Due to the Labor Day holiday in the US (and I do hope all your laborers of every stripe get some rest this weekend) we’re putting a slight delay in releasing our next issue. Watch for a new batch of stories on Tuesday!

In the meantime, I welcome you to enjoy the many fine issues here on the site, and if you’re traveling, be safe and consider taking along one of our digital editions!

Thanks so much for your support of LSQ and have a great weekend!!!