Red Unicorns

For the past several hours, I’ve been pacing and fidgeting around my computer, wondering if ten minutes is too short a time to wait before checking my email again. I went back on forth on the issue, and eventually decided that only waiting five minutes was probably fine. I’m pretty sure I started checking it every three minutes.

Last year, a call for submissions to an anthology went out to the alumni of Superstars Writing Seminars. I was an alum, but I hadn’t been keeping up with the others much over the past couple years, and I had my hands full with my own projects and living in a new country. I didn’t submit.

That anthology had one driving theme and one basic requirement: purple unicorns. While a fantasy buff, I hadn’t developed much of an interest in unicorns since I cracked open my first fantasy novel. I didn’t think I had a unicorn story in me.

Unicorns, man. Unicorns.

Even so, I watched the proceedings with interest. The anthology, called One Horn to Rule Them All: A Purple Unicorn Anthology, was released in August of last year by WordFire Press. It was well-received, and sales exceeded expectations. The stories were strong, the artwork (by the talented James A. Owen) excellent.

Its publication wasn’t like that of any other anthology, at least not for me. Many of the authors in that anthology were people that I had met and knew, and because of that, I was buoyed by their infectious joy. Even though I wasn’t a part of the anthology, I couldn’t help but feed off of the enthusiasm and excitement of those who were.

I don’t often feel regret, but at that time, I felt more than a bit. I wanted in, but I had missed my window.

At least, that’s what I thought.

A few months ago, another call went out, this time for Game of Horns: A Red Unicorn Anthology. I still didn’t have any unicorn stories in me burning to get out, but I decided that could be an advantage: I would write a unicorn story that wasn’t your average unicorn story. It wouldn’t be laden with castles or forests or young Tom Cruises in scalemail.

Thus was born “Scrapyard Paradise,” a post-apocalyptic alien invasion unicorn story. I can’t be 100% sure, but it might be the first of its kind.

I wrote it, polished it (with the help of my brutal, bloodthirsty comrades, the Tokyo Writers Workshop, as well as my parents — voracious readers, both of them), and sent it off. I also tried to forget about it while I waited, but that didn’t work out so well.

Finally, yesterday, the editor began to send out notifications in waves. I waited and waited and waited. No email.

Then she announced the table of contents for the anthology. “Scrapyard Paradise” was there. I checked and saw the email she had sent, confirming it. I was in.

There was dancing, and it may or may not have involved the Running Man.

I will probably share more about this later, but for now, please excuse me while I go watch Tim Curry in a devil suit.

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Spear Mother Sighting on Smashwords

Multiple sightings of the mysterious Spear Mother on the Smashwords publishing platform have been reported. While these claims have not been substantiated, information about the sightings has been leaked at the following web address:

Spear Mother: A Tale of the Fourth World at Smashwords

We advise you proceed with caution as the entity known as Spear Mother has been known to cause heightened emotions, increased brain activity, and (in outlying cases) titillation. You have been warned.

If the claim of the Spear Mother’s presence on Smashwords proves true, it provides incontrovertible evidence that the Spear Mothers are multiplying. The nation’s leading scientists have already issued a statement saying that this could lead to more sightings of the fabled being at Barnes and Noble, iTunes, Kobo, and other ebook retailers. Details of the timeline of such events are forthcoming, though one of the scientists who issued the statement (name withheld by request) said the effects would certainly be devastating.

“I can’t believe these Spear Mothers are running wild, completely unchecked,” he or she said off the record. “First Amazon, and now this? We’re looking at the beginning of a pandemic. I fear for the future of the human race. I really do.”

After the release of the statement, we reached out to the other scientists involved, but have received no response as of the time of publication. Local authorities have declared them all missing persons, and are currently operating under the assumption that the Spear Mother(s) have sought the scientists out and challenged each of them to one-armed arena combat deathmatches. At this point no bodies have been found, but funeral services will be held for them anyway at St. James Memorial Cemetery in Newdirk, New Jersey this Saturday afternoon.

New Release: Spear Mother

Cover art for the new release, Spear Mother.

Cover art for the new release, Spear Mother.

I am pleased to announce that Spear Mother, a new 24K-word novella, has been released for Kindle! I apologize that it has taken this long to release, and would like to thank everyone for their patience. I hope that, after reading it, you will feel that your patience has been rewarded. Although everything I have written is special to me (especially when it’s what I’ve written most recently), this one is particularly so. Evoking an emotion is one of the most critical and fundamental tasks of any art, and literature is no exception. While I’ve never been one to shy away from powerful emotions by any measure, with Spear Mother I had a specific goal in mind – to create a story that evokes deeper, more powerful emotions than anything else I’ve written. I feel I have succeeded, though I’d love to know your thoughts in the comment section (or, even better, please write a review on Amazon!).

In other news, I have moved back to Japan. There are many reasons for this, not least of which being Japan is just an awesome country, but there was a writing-related motive as well. One of the reasons I love epic fantasy is its incredibly broad scope, geographical as well as historical. Living in the most modern country in the world, one with a history that only went back a few hundred years, couldn’t really serve as a model for the timeless worlds that I like to create. America is a very young place compared to much of the world. And as much as I love books, I don’t use them to research cultures very often since it often seems so fruitless – I’m more concerned about the tiny details of how people lived than with the abstract and broad sweep of events that fill most historical books. That’s what I really want to know about, so I opted for a more hands-on approach. Thus I decided to pick up and move halfway around the world.

It’s paying dividends. While Japan is a modern country, with skyscrapers and tech companies and giant robos, much of it is very rooted in the past, which sure is useful for someone who wants to immerse himself in a wildly different culture. It has me thinking about those tiny details that I love in the best fantasy stories, the ones that make you believe you are really there in the place that the author is describing. Those details have always seemed so elusive to me before, and honestly the best of them were borrowed from other people’s imaginations (a practice I am shamelessly fond of). Now I get to steal them from my own experiences. Woohoo!

You will likely see them in some form in the new project (The Fall of the Moon – working title) when it is released. Speaking of which, a lot of development has gone into that project of a form that is very uncharacteristic for me – outlining. Plotting has always meant having a few dots in mind, representing key aspects of the story, with the connecting of those dots being done in the act of writing. While I have done some outlining in the past, it has mostly been at the chapter/scene level. This time, however, I have outlined the last third of the book. I was so astonished with how useful that was that I may be inclined to do it again sometime. We will see.

Until next time.