Equus Battle Royal – Round Five

Fourteen Equus contributors have agreed to pit the equine in their story against all the other horse-like creatures in the anthology and fight it out until only one is left standing. That victor shall win bragging rights… and maybe I’ll make a little ‘I won!’ graphic of some sort 😛

How it Works:

Each Tuesday the competitors will be announced and voting will open. Every vote a story receives counts as one point.

Wednesday, Thursday and Friday the competitors will each roll a twenty-sided die. The resulting number of points will be added to their own score. I will update the scores via a comment on the blog post and social media.

Voting closes on Sunday at midnight MST.

Monday the winner (the story with the highest score) will be announced and move on to the next round.

VS.

Story Title: A Complete Mare

Author: Tamsin Showbrook

Equine Combatant’s Name: Verity Marshall

Species: Norse God/Human hybrid

Strength: 16

Dexterity: 8

Constitution: 15

Intellect: 11

Charisma: 8

Special Attacks: High speed ram using the speed from all Verity’s eight legs.

Sleipnir Smackdown: a high jump into the air to land on the target, who then receives a pummeling from all eight of Verity’s hooves.

Special Defences: 360 degree vision.  Enhanced hearing and sense of smell.  Toughened skin which can protect against blades and bullets.

Note about character photo: Verity in her full hybrid state has four identical human heads, as well as four arms and four legs which end in hooves rather than hands and feet.

Story Title: Rue the Day

Author: Laura VanArendonk Baugh

Equine Combatant’s Name: Nova & Reaver (they’re a team)

Species: Unicorn

Strength: 18

Dexterity: 17

Constitution: 16

Intellect: 11

Charisma: 18

(per Pathfinder stats w/ D&D mod)

Special Attacks: Goring Horn (+8), Striking Hooves (+4)

These specially-trained war unicorns are skilled in the “airs above the ground,” or in RPG terms Acrobatics, and thus can Rogue their way across a battlefield to stomp you dead while simultaneously stabbing your buddy. And there’s not a thing you can do about it.

Special Defences: Magic Circle Against Evil, Too Damn Pretty To Die.

Evil Alignment creatures have difficulty closing distance against a unicorn. They also are a natural example of Reynolds’ Law, being Too Damn Pretty To Die.

Note about character photo: War unicorns were considered too fearsome to depict directly, so contemporary artists’ tended to render them in a very stylized fashion.

How to Vote:

Comment on this blog post with the title of the story you are voting for.

For example, if this week’s competitors were:

Star Wars vs. Star Trek

and you wanted to vote for Star Trekyou would leave a comment that said, “I vote for Star Trek.”

It’s just that easy.

 

Cast your votes now, and may the best equine win!

Round Four Results

After a week of dice rolling and vote collecting the results of round three of the Equus Battle Royal are in. It was very tight this time around, but in the end

Our victor is:

 

Story Title: A Mother Unicorn’s Advice to Her Daughter

Author: J. J. Roth

Equine Combatant’s Name: Mother “Badass” Unicorn

Species: Unicorn

She will be moving on to compete in future rounds, but not right away. Starting tomorrow our combatants will be:

A Complete Mare by Tamsin Showbrook

Vs.

Rue the Day but Laura VanArendonk Baugh

Swimming by Rimfy --> http://rimfy.deviantart.com/art/Swimming-245026984

Swimming by Rimfy on Deviant Art (http://fav.me/d41vs14)

Excerpt from “To Ride a Steel Horse” by Stephanie Cain:

“Not this time.” Jack King was a white-bearded guy of about seventy, with sinewy forearms and powerful shoulders. He was shaking his head. “It’s dead, Demeter. Threw a rod. That’s a whole engine rebuild. Don’t throw good money after bad.”

Demy blinked several times, staring at him. In six years, nothing had been too much for Jack to fix. She’d bought the used Triumph as an act of defiance in the face of turning twenty-five—her sister had laughed and called it a quarter-life crisis. That had been the only truly good thing about her twenty-sixth year. That had been the year the magic took her mother and sister both, but Demy had gotten through it because of the, well, zen of motorcycles.

“I’m sorry, D,” Jack said, patting her shoulder. “Go next door and make Bear feed ya. I’ll drop ya by home when I close up shop.”

Demy shook her head. Jack was open until seven, and it was already past six. She didn’t want to be stuck at home with five more hours to get past midnight—there was too much temptation there. As much as she’d refused to follow in the footsteps of her matriarchs, she hadn’t been able to part with the various magical paraphernalia she had inherited. If she were home when the witching hour of Samhain hit…

“It’s fine. I’ll get Bear to take me home when he closes.”

Jack’s thick, white eyebrows shot up, but he smirked. “Raise a glass for me, too, then,” he said. “Happy Halloween.”

Demy trudged across the parking lot, her boot heels grating on the gravel. There were two dozen bikes parked outside the roadhouse, mixed with a few trucks from local non-bikers, because Bear made the best breaded tenderloin in north central Indiana.

She paused halfway across the parking lot and shoved her hands in her jeans pockets, tilting her head back to stare up at the stars that were beginning to appear. This bike had gotten her through the toughest years of her life. How was she supposed to just turn her back on it?

You could fix it, whispered a voice in the back of her head. Magic can do anything.

“Not anything,” Demy snapped, her voice harsh. It hadn’t brought her sister back. It hadn’t kept her mother from dying.

Facebook Launch Parties

I’m not going to bore you with the long story because this is a long blog post all by itself even without the detailed explanation. The short version is I’m writing a couple ‘How to’ type things for writers. One of those things is this thing about hosting a successful Facebook launch party for your book. Take a peek, give it a read and then give me a shout if you think of anything I’ve missed. This is my first draft (I know, I know…) so there’s still plenty of room for revisions and additions 🙂


Facebook Launch Parties

Facebook launch parties, like any event involving the internet and other people, have highly variable success rates but there are some things you can do to maximize your chances of having a fun and effective one.

The first thing you ought to do is define what your primary goal is. If you don’t know that how can you judge your success rate? Are you looking to just have fun and celebrate the book’s release? Want to generate ‘Likes’ for your page? Get reviews? Add subscribers to your mailing list? Sell copies of the book?

Bonus points to you if you create a measurable goal. “I want to add XX new subscribers to my mailing list” is a more meaningful goal than “I want to add new subscribers to my mailing list”. Similarly, “I want to sell five copies of my book between when the party begins and when it ends” is more helpful than “I want to sell more copies of my book” or even “I want to sell five copies of my book”.

As you plan, set up, host and contend with the aftermath of a Facebook launch party you’ll want to keep that goal at the forefront of your mind. It will directly impact all of the choices you make through the entire process.

 

Choosing a Date

Keep your goal in mind when you choose the date for your event. For example, if you want to increase your total reviews you could plan the event for a week or two after release but if your goal is to make some sales you’ll probably want to schedule the party to happen on release day or shortly after. Whatever your goal is you’ll want to pick a party date that is far enough in the future that you’ll have time to organize the event, maximize attendance and build some anticipation for it.

I’ve held parties that were all day long and parties that were just a few hours. I highly recommend the later. Day-long events might seem like a good idea but stretching things out too long means you rarely have multiple guest on at the same time so they can’t interact in real time and it also makes for a really long day for you as the host.

Given different time zones and people’s schedules trying to choose the perfect two or three hour window in the day can seem like an impossible task. Because it is. You’re never going to make everyone happy so my advice (barring extenuating circumstances) is to go with what works best for you. You’re probably the only person who is going to be there from start to finish so in this case it’s okay to be a little selfish.

 

Create the Event Page

Use a custom header for your event page. If you’re not awesome with graphics that’s okay, there are free services like https://www.canva.com/ that will help you look professional even if you don’t know how to do anything more than drag and drop.

Include all the information your guests will need on the event page(don’t forget the five Ws—who, what, where, when and why) and make sure you emphasize the ‘why’ part. Give your guest a real reason to show up. People are invited to tonnes of Facebook events every day so you need to find something to set your event apart from the rest. Are you giving away an awesome door prize? Offering exclusive content of some kind? Unusual access to the author/editor/publisher/contributors/artist/your dog/something? Games? Contests? Whatever the thing is that makes your event special make sure that is front and centre.

 

The Door Prize

I always offer a prize to the attendee who invites the most people to the party. The door prize is meant to be an incentive for people to spread the word and invite their friends (who will, one hopes, invite their friends. And they’ll tell two friends, and they’ll tell two friends…).

I try to make it something of value (this doesn’t have to be monetary value, just value to the person winning it) that is not the book I’m promoting. The exception for this might be if the goal of my party was to get more reviews, but otherwise I want people to buy the book not wait to see if they won it instead.

If you’re feeling especially ambitious you could also ask your friends who are writers (or create any sort of product somehow related to the book you are launching) if they’d like to donate prizes to the event as well. Done correctly this can benefit both parties—you get prizes and they get some promotion—but it will increase your workload significantly.

 

The Event Itself

Ideally the goal is to strike a balance between structured posts and unstructured conversation. You want to avoid having a stilted and dry event where you’re posting things and people are pausing in their scrolling for just long enough to click ‘like’ before continuing on. At the same time if the conversation turns into a free-for-all you are highly unlikely to accomplish your goals for the launch—you need to maintain some measure of control.

I aim for one post every ten or fifteen minutes and spend the time between those posts chatting in the comments of all the posts with my guests. I also consider it a total victory when I spot participants engaging with one another directly instead of always going through me—that’s how you know the party is actually a party and not just one big commercial for your book.

Each post I make contains three things:

  • A picture
    • Something to catch my guest’s eye and make them want to stop and read what I have to say. Also, posts with pictures are more likely to be shared, which would be an added bonus, amirite?
  • The content of my post
    • I usually aim for 100 – 150ish words. Long enough to have something to say but not so long that people can’t be bothered to read it and just keep scrolling. When a post does have to be longer than 100 words I break it up into several smaller paragraphs rather than presenting my guests with a big ole wall of text.
  • Something intended to stimulate conversation.
    • More often than not this is going to be a question (“What do you think?” “What’s your favourite thing?”) but sometimes, like in the case of a post that’s a contest entry, it will be a ‘Post such and such’ in order to enter to win!
      • If you ask your guests a question pay attention to their answers. Not only because it’s the right and respectful thing to do (which it is–the same as in a three dimensional conversation), but also because they might provide you with fodder for a new post/conversation as well.
      • Regarding contest entries. Sometimes it’s fun to send people on scavenger hunts (‘post a picture of the actor you’d cast to play so and so’ for example) but you do need to be careful because if you send your guests away from the party, even just to a different browser tab, they might become distracted and not make it back.

Don’t be afraid to use all the tools Facebook gives you to make your party memorable. Facebook Live, photos, videos, polls, sharing—all these things can be combined in creative ways to make your party stand out from the crowd. Experiment. See what happens.

 

After the Party

You’re not done just because the party is. Close, but not quite.

The first thing you need to do is make sure that all your prizes have been won and the winners notified. You also need to send out those prizes and follow-up with the people who have donated prizes to make sure they’ve sent theirs out as well. There’s no quicker way to anger a guest at your party than to promise them a prize and then not deliver. And I very much doubt ‘Make people mad at me’ was on that list of goals you made before the party began, was it?

That’s the next thing you need to do—honestly evaluate the success of the party. Did you meet your primary goal? This is where you’ll be super thankful to Past You for setting specific, measurable goals. If Past You didn’t do that you may not be able to clearly determine how successful you were, but you’ll probably have at least a vague idea.

How did things go? What went better than expected? Worse than expected? Make a note of these things—really. Write them down somewhere—they will provide incredibly useful information for you when it comes time to plan your next Facebook launch party. That is, assuming you’re going to have another Facebook launch party.

Give that some thought too. These events are not for everyone. Some people love them, some hate them. Some do very well with them and some don’t. If you love Facebook parties there may be some reward for you just in having them, regardless of how effective they are. However, if you aren’t having a good time your guests will probably sense that which is likely to impact your results. But even more than that, if you’re not having fun maybe your promotional energies would be better funneled in a different direction.

In the end, like so many things in this industry, it’s all very individualized. The best way to discover if a Facebook launch party is the right thing for you, though, is to throw one.

Good luck, and have fun!

Cover by Jonathan C. Parrish

Equus ARC Giveaway

World Weaver Press is giving away six paperback advance review copies of Equus. In order to enter you need a Goodreads account and to a US shipping address.

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Equus by Rhonda Parrish

Equus

by Rhonda Parrish

Giveaway ends June 07, 2017.

See the giveaway details at Goodreads.

Enter Giveaway

It’s an unfortunate thing but shipping costs outside of the US are so prohibitively high that publishers really do have to limit where they can send ARCs. If, like me, you live outside of the US don’t despair — there is another giveaway coming up soon that you’ll be eligible to enter. Keep your eyes on my blog or subscribe to my newsletter to make sure you don’t miss the announcement 🙂

And if you do win don’t forget to keep your end of the bargain and leave an honest review in exchange for the copy of the book.

Thank you, and good luck!

Equus Battle Royal — Round Four

Fourteen Equus contributors have agreed to pit the equine in their story against all the other horse-like creatures in the anthology and fight it out until only one is left standing. That victor shall win bragging rights which is the best prize of all. Almost.

How it Works:

Each Tuesday the competitors will be announced and voting will open. Every vote a story receives counts as one point.

Wednesday, Thursday and Friday the competitors will each roll a twenty-sided die. The resulting number of points will be added to their own score. I will update the scores via a comment on the blog post and social media.

Voting closes on Sunday at midnight MST.

Monday the winner (the story with the highest score) will be announced and move on to the next round.

VS.

Story Title: A Mother Unicorn’s Advice to Her Daughter

Author: J. J. Roth

Equine Combatant’s Name: Mother “Badass” Unicorn

Species: Unicorn

Strength: 16

Dexterity: 12

Constitution: 9

Intellect: 16

Charisma: 12

Special Attacks: Self-esteem (psychic) – her certainty of herself makes her enemy doubtful and easier to attack; Mother-flurry (dark) – she talks at her quarry, giving them unsolicited advice until they flee for their lives

Special Defences: Camouflage (usable in forests only), stealth, running away at high speeds

Story Title: To Ride a Steel Horse

Author: Stephanie A. Cain

Equine Combatant’s Name: Aenbharr of Manannán

Species: Each Uisge

Strength: 12

Dexterity: 15

Constitution: 16

Intellect: 14

Charisma: 18

Special Attacks: Sharp teeth for ripping flesh; sticky skin to capture rider; eats cattle and humans.

Special Defences: Can shapeshift between enticing human form and dangerous equine form; is an extraordinarily fine riding horse when it can’t see salt water.

How to Vote:

Comment on this blog post with the title of the story/stories you are voting for.

For example, if this week’s competitors were:

Star Wars vs. Star Trek

and you wanted to vote for Star Trek you would leave a comment that said, “I vote for Star Trek.”

It’s just that easy.

Cast your votes now, and may the best equine win!

Cover by Jonathan C. Parrish

Round Three Results

After a week of dice rolling and vote collecting the results of round three of the Equus Battle Royal are in.

Our victors are:

Story Title: The Last Ride of Hettie Richter

Author: Cat McDonald

Equine Combatant’s Name (if known): The Demon of Richter Hollow

Species: Demon

Photo courtesy of Worth1000.com

Photo courtesy of Worth1000.com

Story Title: Riders in the Sky

Author: V. F. LeSann

Equine Combatant’s Name (if known): Peregrine

Species: Damned soul

They will be moving on to compete in future rounds, but not right away. Starting tomorrow our combatants will be:

A Mother Unicorn’s Advice to Her Daughter by J.J. Roth vs. To Ride a Steel Horse by Stephanie Cain

Equine Battle Royal

Excerpt from “Stars, Wings, and Knitting Things” by J.G. Formato:

I didn’t tell him the news until I’d placed the last raisin in my oatmeal. The wise and wrinkled happy face I’d created was quite encouraging. “Marcus,” I said, waiting for acknowledgement and eye contact. His eyes were still mostly contacting the Wall Street Journal, so I cleared my throat and dinged my spoon on his mug. Announcement style.

He emerged from the paper and frowned at the ripples in his coffee. “Why’d you do that? I was reading.”

“Were you?” I asked, genuinely curious. I always thought his morning paper was like an adult security blanket. But instead of making him feel safe and loved, it made him feel all grown-up and professional. Ready to join the Rat Race. Reading it for fun was a totally different story and not nearly as endearing.

“Of course I was, Annie. Now, what were you going to say?”

“I think the house is haunted.”

“You think the house is haunted?

“Mm-hm.”

“Why?”

“Because I saw a ghost.” Why else would I think the house was haunted?

“Where?”

“In the backyard. It was kind of swooshing all around by the swing set.”

“So, really, you think the backyard is haunted.” He looked very pleased with himself, like he scored a point or something. All those years of law school must have really paid off.

“Okay, fair enough. If you want to pick nits, I think the backyard is haunted.”

“What did it look like? Your ghost?”

“It was white, of course. And shimmery. Oh, and it had wings.”

“Like an angel?”

“No, not like an angel. Angels don’t haunt people’s backyards.”

“Of course.” He smacked his forehead—but in a smartassy way, not an oh, duh kind of way.

Excerpt from “Above the Silver Sky” by Daniel Koboldt:

“What do you want for your birthday, Neshka?” father asked.

There was nothing I truly needed. The rain that fed our valley gave us grain and berries and dew squash. We had sheep and hogs for meat, goats for milk. Bees for honey, and a never-ending stream of cool clean water. But mostly, we lived on the mushrooms. Soon my father would begin to teach me the arts of mushroom-tending, and one day I’d take over for him. I watched a trickle of rainwater as it meandered down a stepladder of red-and-white toadstools, each one just shorter than the next, and told myself it would not be so bad. But my lips betrayed my heart to him, and I said, “I want to see the horses.”

“Neshka,” my father said, in his sternest voice. “You know better than to ask for that.”

“Please, father? I only want to look.”

“That’s exactly what your mother said. She only wanted to look, and then the horses took her away from us. Is that what you want? To leave?”

“Of course not.” My voice sounded as small as I felt.

“Good.”

A pool of vague sadness welled up in me, for I’d meant to fight harder to see the horses. He would say no, then I’d throw a fit, and we’d meet somewhere in the middle. Maybe that was creeping up to the edge of the prairie-lands to watch them from a distance. Maybe it was simply hearing the story once more about my mother and the time she rode one. But the hurt in his voice took me aback, and his accusation stilled the arguments upon my lips.

Not that it mattered anyway, because at that moment, the rain stopped.

The gentle patter of raindrops faded into silence, a numbness against my ears. The trickle of water on those red-and-white toadstools slowed, then died. My father and I looked at each other, then up at the silver sky in askance.

“Has this ever happened before?” I asked.

He frowned up at the sky. “No.”

Equus Battle Royal — Round Three

Fourteen Equus contributors have agreed to pit the equine in their story against all the other horse-like creatures in the anthology and fight it out until only one is left standing. That victor shall win bragging rights… and maybe I’ll make a little ‘I won!’ graphic of some sort 😛

How it Works:

Each Tuesday the competitors will be announced and voting will open. Every vote a story receives counts as one point.

Wednesday, Thursday and Friday the competitors will each roll a twenty-sided die. The resulting number of points will be stolen from their competitor and added to their own score. I will update the scores via a comment on the blog post and social media.

Voting closes on Sunday at midnight MST.

Monday the winner (the story with the highest score) will be announced and move on to the next round.

credit: Dillan Formato

VS.

Credit: Worth1000.com

Story Title: Stars, Wings, and Knitting Things

Author: J.G. Formato

Equine Combatant’s Name (if known): Pegasus

Species: Pegasus

Strength: 13

Dexterity: 12

Constitution: 7

Intellect: 16

Charisma: 9

Special Attacks:

Cosmic Kick- Pegasus rears back and kicks with his powerful front hooves.

Double Team- The little Pegasus, Equuleus, swoops in for an assist. They attack together like some Nintendo Ice Climbers.

Tickle Torture- Pegasus shoots feathers from his wings and tickles the opponent into submission.

 

Special Defences:

Star Wall- Pegasus pulls the stars from neighboring constellations to create a barrier between him and his opponent.

Epic Flap- Pegasus flaps his mighty wings, propelling the opponent backwards and stunning them briefly.

Supernova- An explosive flare bursts forth from the stars, blinding the opponent temporarily.

Story Title: Riders in the Sky

Author: V. F. LeSann

Equine Combatant’s Name (if known): Peregrine

Species: Damned soul

Strength: 18

Dexterity: 15

Constitution: 16

Intellect: 13

Charisma: 12

Special Attacks: Iron hooves that get red-hot for kick attack. Stubborn horse-logic. Flame mane and tail for striking. Occasionally bursts into flame and moves at ghost-speed. He will bite. Plus when fighting demons.

Special Defences: Soul-bound and telepathically linked with a fully-armed and generally cranky Rider. Shared health pool with the Rider. Can look in someone’s eyes and judge the weight of their souls. He is not considered a living creature (damned/undead)

And

VS.

Story Title: Above the Silver Sky

Author: Dan Koboldt

Equine Combatant’s Name (if known):

Species: Equus argentum volantes

Strength: 10

Dexterity: 10

Constitution: 8

Intellect: 8

Charisma: 9

Special Attacks: Road apples from above. This horse can fly, and when high above his opponent, he’ll do what horses do best.

Special Defences: Herd defense. This horses’s band-mates are always on guard, making surprise attacks all but impossible. When you do attack, you’ll have to catch him first. That’s not easy, because he can fly.

Story Title: The Last Ride of Hettie Richter

Author: Cat McDonald

Equine Combatant’s Name (if known): The Demon of Richter Hollow

Species: Demon

Strength: 18 (The demon takes the shape of a plough horse of abnormal height and strength)

Dexterity: 7 (It has hooves)

Constitution: 18 (Just huge man)

Intellect: 4 (The Demon of Richter Hollow is a creature made entirely of hate. It lacks any other decision-making or problem-solving skills.)

Charisma: 14 (The Demon of Richter Hollow is magnetic in the way all hate is.)

Special Attacks: None.

Special Defences: The area surrounding the Demon of Richter Hollow is hot, so hot that vegetation scorches and burns, wood catches fire, and water boils.

How to Vote:

Comment on this blog post with the title of the story/stories you are voting for.

For example, if this week’s competitors were:

Star Wars vs. Star Trek

and

Pirates vs. Ninjas

and you wanted to vote for Star Trek and Pirates you would leave a comment that said, “I vote for Star Trek and Pirates.”

And you don’t need to vote for something in each bracket–if you didn’t have a preference between Star Trek and Star Wars you could totally just vote for Pirates.

It’s just that easy.

Cast your votes now, and may the best equine win!

Round Two Results

After a week of dice rolling and vote collecting the results of round two of the Equus Battle Royal are in.

 

Our victors are:

Story Title: Neither Snow, nor Rain, nor Heat-Ray

Author: M.L.D. Curelas

Equine Combatant’s Name (if known): Beezus

Species: Thoroughbred cross

Kelpie by Kasey -- http://kasettetape.tumblr.com/post/96373863232/this-was-just-supposed-to-be-a-sketch-but-then-i

Story Title: The Boys from Witless Bay

Author: Pat Flewwelling

Equine Combatant’s Name (if known): unknown

Species: Kelpie

They will be moving on to compete in future rounds, but not right away. Starting tomorrow our combatants will be:

Stars, Wings, and Knitting Things by J.G. Formato vs. Riders in the Sky by V.F. LeSann

and

Above the Silver Sky by Dan Koboldt vs. The Last Ride of Hettie Richter by Cat McDonald

Equine Battle Royal

For now, let’s enjoy short excerpts from the stories whose equines were eliminated in this round–because even though they didn’t prevail today they are great tales, and they’re all good equines, Bront.

🙂

Excerpt from “A Glory of Unicorns” by Jane Yolen:

A tapestry, a tempest, we

Have nothing sentimental. See

That herd of odd-shaped stallions cross

The valley, sort of, kind of horse

With horn.

Excerpt from “Lightless” by K.T. Ivanrest:

Already Fulsa was halfway across the room, nerves coursing around his stomach while he unbuttoned his shirt and tossed it on a nearby chair. Immediately the room grew lighter, and desperate hope fired in his heart. Perhaps he was brightening after all. Perhaps his nightmare was finally over.

He slid a sheer coat across his shoulders and then studied his hands, but could discern no difference in their glow. Here in this secluded tower with only Phaios for company, he had no way to determine whether there had been any further dimming. Beside the lightless slave he always looked radiant, so bright he could almost forget what was happening, and then the empress would visit and he’d see just how quickly his dignity and worth were seeping out of his skin.

A last glance out the window while he clenched his fists and tried to calm his heartbeat. Another last glance toward Phaios, whose silent nod spoke more clearly than any words.

Then he knelt before the door and waited.

Aithra’s footsteps were mere tps on the polished stone, her presence announced instead by the brilliance which preceded her up the staircase, pressing away the shadows with proud disdain and careless ease.

“Your Majesty.”

Her gossamer coat rustled softly, scattering specks of light like jewels for the less fortunate. Even knowing how much of it was unnatural, he envied her splendor. To have so much to shed…

Equine Battle Royal — Round Two

Fourteen Equus contributors have agreed to pit the equine in their story against all the other horse-like creatures in the anthology and fight it out until only one is left standing. That victor shall win bragging rights… and maybe I’ll make a little ‘I won!’ graphic of some sort 😛

How it Works:

Each Tuesday the competitors will be announced and voting will open. Every vote a story receives counts as one point.

Wednesday, Thursday and Friday the competitors will each roll a twenty-sided die. The resulting number of points will be stolen from their competitor and added to their own score. I will update the scores via a comment on the blog post and social media.

Voting closes on Sunday at midnight MST.

Monday the winner (the story with the highest score) will be announced and move on to the next round.

VS.

Story Title: A Glory of Unicorns

Author: Jane Yolen

Equine Combatant’s Name (if known): A glory of unicorns

Species: Unicorns

Strength: 18

Dexterity: 14

Constitution: 15

Intellect: 16

Charisma: 16

Special Attacks: Can hypnotize with the rhythm of their hooves, are a tempest of flesh and blood, sinew and horn. The herd can trample and pierce, turn like a page and appear anywhere at a thought.

But their horn is proof against poison and can cure any ill-gained wound for foe and friend alike, especially if it is brought against a young horse. Or young page.

Special Defences: Have the ability to mesmerize lesser beings and make them question their reality (and the unicorn’s very existence). Run in a herd making individuals difficult to target. Vanish in a heartbeat.

Story Title: Neither Snow, nor Rain, nor Heat-Ray

Author: M.L.D. Curelas

Equine Combatant’s Name (if known): Beezus

Species: Thoroughbred cross

Strength: 18

Dexterity: 18

Constitution: 12

Intellect: 7

Charisma: 12

Special Attacks: Beezus’s Thoroughbred blood has gifted her with speed. She can start and stop on a dime. She also uses her fast breaks for surprise attacks, quickly closing the gap between her and her foe. Once Beezus has brought the battle to her enemy, she will crush their skull with her hooves. Beezus’s speed also makes her ideal for delivering payloads.

Special Defences: Beezus has highly developed senses, especially her hearing and sense of smell. Those senses aid Beezus’s tactical skills, helping her choose the ideal battle grounds. Her natural agility, honed by her field-hunting training, allows her to elude attacks. In tight situations, Beezus will employ deadly force with her teeth and hooves.

And

VS.

Story Title: Lightless

Author: K.T. Ivanrest

Equine Combatant’s Name (if known): Sona

Species: Selphoros (space pegasus)

Strength: 15

Dexterity: 16

Constitution: 12

Intellect: 5

Charisma: 10

Special Attacks:

Wing Strike: A strike to the opponent with the wing(s); can only be used while the selphoros is on the ground

Capriole: A midair strike; the selphoros leaps into the air and strikes out with the back hooves

Plummet: A flying attack in which the selphoros flies above her opponent and drives downward—can be used to knock a flying creature off course, or to crash down upon a creature on the ground. It hurts. A lot.

Special Defences:

Starfire: A selphoros’ fiery coat will burn any creature which comes into contact with it; the longer the contact, the higher the damage

Story Title: The Boys from Witless Bay

Author: Pat Flewwelling

Equine Combatant’s Name (if known): unknown

Species: Kelpie

Strength: 13

Dexterity: 9

Constitution: 12

Intellect: 16

Charisma: 16

Special Attacks: Super sneaky musical abduction attack! Underwater zombification of enemies!

Special Defences: Superglue skin, now with more hazardous waste slime!

How to Vote:

Comment on this blog post with the title of the story/stories you are voting for.

For example, if this week’s competitors were:

Star Wars vs. Star Trek

and

Pirates vs. Ninjas

and you wanted to vote for Star Trek and Pirates you would leave a comment that said, “I vote for Star Trek and Pirates.”

And you don’t need to vote for something in each bracket–if you didn’t have a preference between Star Trek and Star Wars you could totally just vote for Pirates.

It’s just that easy.

Cast your votes now, and may the best equine win!

Equus Fight Round 1 Results

 

After a week of voting and rolling and social media pleas for support round one of the Equus Battle Royal has come to an end.

 

Our victors are:

"Swimming

Story Title: To Ride a Steel Horse

Author: Stephanie A. Cain

Equine Combatant’s Name (if known): Aenbharr of Manannán

Species: Each Uisge

Story Title: “Rue the Day”

Author: Laura VanArendonk Baugh

Equine Combatant’s Name (if known): Nova & Reaver (they’re a team)

Species: Unicorn

They will be moving on to compete in future rounds, but not right away. Starting tomorrow our combatants will be:

A Glory of Unicorns by Jane Yolen vs. Neither Snow, Nor Rain, Nor Heat-Ray by M.L.D. Curelas

and

Lightless by K.T. Ivanrest vs The Boys from Witless Bay by Pat Flewwelling

Equine Battle Royal

 

For now, let’s enjoy short excerpts from the stories whose equines were eliminated in this round–because even though they didn’t prevail today they are great tales, and they’re all good equines, Bront.

🙂

Excerpt from “Different” by Sandra Wickham:

Nerves made my palms sweaty and Kyra’s tiny hand slid out of mine… She ran in her lopsided way, straight toward the unicorn.

“Kyra, stop! It will hurt,” I yelled. Kyra ignored me and threw her arms around the unicorn’s lowered neck.

Time slowed as my daughter’s face buried into the unicorn’s mane and I braced for the screams that didn’t come. The mere touch of the unicorn should’ve had her skin burnt to blisters but Kyra only giggled.

“Kyra, come.” I rushed forward to detach her.

“Leave her,” the unicorn said, her voice beautiful and powerful. “Shall we sit, little one? It is not often I meet someone pure enough to hold me so.” My soul filled with light at the kindness in her tone. While Kyra clung to her the unicorn lowered herself, gently easing them both to the soft grass beneath.

Kyra laughed with pure delight and I felt the same giddiness rising inside of me. It was a moment of pure perfection. The unicorn lifted her head and met my eyes. For a moment I couldn’t breathe, couldn’t tell if my heart still beat. Those eyes held centuries of wisdom and a deep magic I could almost see but never understand.

“What do you wish of me?” she asked.

Excerpt from Eel and Bloom by Diana Hurlburt:

The starter’s bell sounded, its deep, echoing boom a world away from the high-pitched shrill of the Thoroughbred track bell. In the same moment, without so much as a wink of warning, the sky opened up. The dust-lit air of the track became rainlight, the lamps spaced along the outer rail sputtering and hissing. Eel leapt forward. His neck pumped and strained against my hands, and I leaned in, forcing my weight down to check him. Sloppy track was no concern for limerunners; in fact it was a blessing, or would’ve been, had not all limeys been mud freaks by birthright. If the sudden slick surface let Eel run faster, well, it was helping his fellows, too…

The cheers and howls of the bettors followed us up the chute and into the woods, the flat accent of the race-caller sinking into bark, muffled by pine needles and sand underfoot. The rain, I could tell, would be a cloudburst and then naught.

A body slammed into us, and my right knee wrenched. Will and Sandy had started off on our right down the track, but once in the woods there was no semblance of order. As long as the limerunners stayed on the path, fair was fair. No lanes, no protocol, nothing but race-riding. Wan moonlight flashed on Hank Fremont’s teeth as he pressed his mount close to Eel, and I decided right then that whoever won, it wouldn’t be Hank. It was time to go to work.

5 Picture Books touching on Biracial Asian Identity You Should Read to your Children

My blog is going to be pretty Equus-centric for the next few weeks, but for today we’re going to press pause on that so I can share this guest post from K. Bird Lincoln. I met her when she submitted a manuscript to WWP that I just had to have. I’d have never even thought to put ‘Urban fantasy that uses mythology beyond the usual vampire/werewolf variety’ on an editorial wish list but Dream Eater was all the things I wanted from an urban fantasy.

This post isn’t about her book, but the main character of Dream Eater is biracial so the connection is there 😉

5 Picture Books touching on Biracial Asian Identity You Should Read to your Children—and Make Me Cry

by K. Bird Lincoln

Ariana Miyamoto was crowned Miss Universe Japan in 2015. She’s biracial. This was a big deal—since for many Japanese folks, being Japanese encompasses both race and culture. Take the Zainichi Koreans, they’re still treated as non-Japanese by many although through my U.S. eyes and ears there’s no way for me to tell them apart.

It’s hard for many Americans to understand this view of nationality without a bit of extra thinking. I mean, imagine if Irish Americans, despite living in the U.S. almost their whole lives, were treated as second class citizens…oh wait, yeah that actually happened.

Anyway, back to Ms. Miyamoto. According to a New York times report, she frequently gets asked ‘What part of you is most like a Japanese?’

What kind of a question is that? How do you even answer that graciously? (Apparently Ms. Miyamoto says “I am Japanese”)

I mean all the erroneous and bigoted assumptions underlying that question! I’ll tell you what kind of question that is…it’s the kind of question that I worried about my own children encountering if Tokyo Boy and I decided to live in Japan. For economic/job-related ones we didn’t end up in Japan, but as an outsider/geek/nerd myself, I think I was hyper-sensitive to the possibility my daughters might have to deal daily with outsider status.

They still have to deal with being biracial here in the U.S., especially after moving from diverse Portland, OR to more or less whitebread Minnesota Prairie. But hopefully, the issues here are a bit easier to work through.  I recommend Half and Half as book with a variety of perspectives/races addressing this issue through personal experience. Or, if you’re like me and prefer narrative-driven treatments of major issues, I recommend Jamie Ford’s Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet as a particularly telling tale about Asians and U.S. History.

When my first daughter was a baby (so live over a decade ago), I was teaching at an international university in Chiba Prefecture and taking an online course in multimedia. We had to design a website as part of our final for the class. I created a resource for multi-cultural U.S./Japanese families (somewhat outdated now) for baby’s bedtime.  Here are the children’s books that I found that touched on some of the experiences that I knew my daughter might encounter. But the books are great for children of any background or social class growing up in the states to have a wider appreciation for the world.

And great for grandparents for the same reason. And many of them I can’t read out loud because they will make me cry—both for the beauty of the tender diversity portrayed and for the sadness that there is a sense of otherness at all.

Two Mrs. Gibsons
Toyomi Igus and Daryl Wells
Children’s Book Press

This book portrays a Japanese mother living in the home of her African American mother-in-law. It compares cooking, clothes, and lifestyles from the perspective of the child. It never fails to make me cry when we get to the ending: “They were very different, but they had a lot in common. They both loved my father and they both loved me.”

 

How My Parents Learned to Eat
Ina R. Friedman and Allen Say
Houghton Mifflin

Okay, this book doesn’t have the most engaging illustrations. Also, it has a very simplistic view of some things (American sailor trying to eat sukiyaki with chopsticks without mention of the touchy cultural and political situation a relationship between an American G.I. and a Japanese woman would have had back then), but I like it because once again it’s a story told by a child who takes for granted that people are different and do things differently without making too big of a deal about it.

 

Bon Odori Dancer
Karen Kawamoto McCoy and Caroline Yao
Polychrome Publishing

The book has beautiful illustrations. The portrayal of a Japanese/American girl with a bunch of other ethnically varied (different colored hair abounds) girls learning a traditional Japanese Obon dance in the U.S. in a matter-of-fact way really appealed to me. It’s a story about a girl and her love of dance rather than a big deal about identity.

 

The Wakame Gatherers
Holly Thompson and Kazumi Wilds
Shen’s Books

I never fail to geta tight throat and wet eyes reading this booki. It’s the story of Nanami-chan, and the day she goes with her grandma and ba-chan to the beach to gather wakame. She has to translate, forgets to speak the right language to the right person sometimes, and also touches on feelings left over from World War II. Excellent, excellent book. This one is always especially meaningful to us because the father is Japanese!  (Check out author Holly Thompson’s excellent explorations of identity in her YA fiction as well like “The Language Inside”)

 

Yoko
Rosemary Wells
Hyperion Books

Rosemary Wells is beloved for Max and Ruby, but what a pleasant surprise for me to find this tale of a little girl (well, cat) who is ridiculed by her schoolmates when she brings sushi for lunch. Ouch. A little close to the bone, there? How many conversations have I had with other bicultural moms about this very topic? Either too American lunches at Japanese school, or too Japanese lunches at American school. I like this book because the mom is clueless, and while the teacher wants to help by starting an “international day”, there is no real solution to Yoko’s problem. She does make a friend, though, when one of the other students is hungry enough to try the sushi, and so things turn out okay.


K. Bird Lincoln is an ESL professional and writer living on the windswept Minnesota Prairie with family and a huge addiction to frou-frou coffee. Also dark chocolate– without which, the world is a howling void. Originally from Cleveland, she has spent more years living on the edges of the Pacific Ocean than in the Midwest. Her speculative short stories are published in various online & paper publications such as Strange Horizons. Her first novel, Tiger Lily, a medieval Japanese fantasy, is available from Amazon. She also writes tasty speculative and YA fiction reviews under the name K. Bird at Goodreads.com and maintains an author page on Facebook.

Her novel, Dream Eater, is about a half-Japanese college student discovering her mythological parentage:

Find it Online:
World Weaver Press
Amazon
Barnes and Noble
iTunes/Apple iBooks
Kobo