Category Archives: Equus

When Words Collide 2017 Recap

What. A. Weekend.

I’m not going to even attempt to give a blow-by-blow accounting of When Words Collide because I couldn’t possibly. Not only would this post be impossibly long but my over-stressed memory is so bad these days that I would absolutely forget something or somebody and that would make me sad.

In fact, even while I was at the con if people asked how my weekend was going I would usually say “Ask me on Tuesday”. This weekend was fantastic, but simultaneously a bit overwhelming (which, really, is kind of my theme for 2017).

Well, it’s Tuesday so let me just say, my weekend was fantastic 🙂

First of all there was this:

"Believe" by Barbara Tomporowski

This year has been hard. I severely over-scheduled myself and the stress of that, coupled with dealing with some non-work things and a slight depression has taken quite a toll on me. I’m not going to go into details about that (that’s a topic for a different blog post) but, yeah, it’s been difficult. So when Barbara gave me a copy of this photograph which she’s entitled “Believe” along with some incredibly encouraging and supportive words I cried. It means more to me than I can put in words to have someone say, “I see what you’re doing. Great job. Keep it up. And also, are you okay?”

I’ll be framing this photo and hanging it over my desk.

Thank you Barbara.


And a special thank you also to Ellen who provided similar but different validation to my work and additional incentive to keep on keepin’ on. With your incredible energy, enthusiasm and propensity for thinking out of the box I can’t wait to see what you create in the years to come.

Ever since I launched Fae at my very first WWC it’s been a sort of tradition for me to launch each new installment of the Magical Menageries there. Equus was no different.

I mean, it was different, but we launched it there just the same 😉

This is what our panel looked like. Well, to be honest Megan looked a wee bit different in person than she does in that photograph. I can’t imagine why…*

We have, from left to right, Hal J. Friesen, Susan MacGregor, C.S. MacCath, M.L.D Curelas , Sandra Wickham, V.F. LeSann (Leslie Van Zwol and Megan Fennell, Pat Flewwelling, Chadwick Ginther and Cat McDonald.

In addition to Equus contributors there are two D is for Dinosaur authors included in that rowdy bunch.

The reading was awesome and included flying cellphones, yeehaws, accents galore, laughs and tears. I am so lucky that I get to work with such amazing people.

And then this happened:

I’ve never won a short story contest before, I was pretty stunned and kind of floated through the rest of the day in a weird state of shock.

In Places Between is a short story contest organized by the Imaginative Fiction Writers Association that is dedicated to the memory of Robyn Herrington. In fact, the dedication on the associated anthology which contains all the stories that were finalists in the contest says:

Dedicated to the memory of

Robyn Meta Herrington (1961 – 2004)

Who believed so passionately in paying it forward,

She still is.

I never met Robyn but after winning the contest dedicated to her memory I spent some time with Barb Galler-Smith learning about her. She sounds amazing and I can only hope people speak so highly of me once I’m gone as they do of her. Thank you, Barb, for sharing some of your memories with me.

Before the con was done I had one more panel. This one was with Mark Leslie where we talked about collaborative publishing and how Haunted Hospitals came to be. The panel turned into an interesting discussion between Mark, myself and the audience and was a lovely way to end the programming.

The next day was time to come home, and on the drive back to Edmonton with S.G. Wong she helped me unknot a really annoying characterization problem for a novel that’s been collecting dust on my desk for years. Now, I’m really excited to re-write the thing over the three day novel weekend (I’m not officially registered), which is a much better state of mind than the ‘What am I going to write? What am I going to write?’ one I had been in before that. So yay!

Overall it was an awesome weekend, made so by many, many people (most of which aren’t listed here by name because if I did this blog post would be far too long). If you organised, volunteered or attended When Words Collide thank you for helping make it an amazing weekend.

See you next year!



*Just guessing here but it might be because she’s a brat…

My WWC Schedule

When Words Collide is kinda my jam. Technically apparently it’s a ‘Festival for Readers and Writers’ but I just call it my favourite convention, and I go every year.

There is a ridiculous amount of programming at WWC. I’m not kidding. There are twelve separate programming tracks, and it’s not like there are three real program tracks and a whole bunch of filler. Nope. All of these tracks are packed full of awesomeness so I wanted a bit more time to take it all in. So this year my schedule is a bit more laid back than on previous years 🙂


1pm — Live Action Slush: Early Bird Edition (Fireside)

Bring the 1st page of your short fiction manuscript to be anonymously read aloud and
receive comments from our editors.

This was the first ever panel I was on (at WWC or any convention ever) and it was so much fun I ask to be put on it every year.

5pm — Blue Pencil Session (Heritage)

Bring the first page or two of your manuscript (max 1000 words, typed, double-spaced) for
1-on-1 feedback from an editor.

These are booked ahead of time and I’m fully booked already (though there is usually a wait ist you can get on in case someone cancels). If you are one of the people coming to see me it’s a really good idea to send your work ahead of time so we don’t spend all our time together with me reading.


11am — Equus Book Social (Fireside)

Whether winged or at home in the water, mechanical or mythological, the equines that gallop through the pages of the Equus anthology span the fantasy spectrum. From steampunk-inspired stories and tales that brush up against horror to straight-up fantasy, one theme connects them all: freedom. Join several contributors (and a couple special guests)
as they read short excerpt from their stories.

This is going to be awesome. I’m just sayin’…

12pm — Tyche Books Presents (Fireside)

Tyche Books introduces new books for 2017. Join the editors and attending authors for teaser readings and Q&A.

Okay, so I’m not actually ON this panel, my book from Tyche is a 2018 title, however since this panel immediately follows the Equus panel I can’t see any reason why people shouldn’t just hang around and watch it too 😉

4pm — Edge Publishing Presents (Fireside)

I’ll be talking briefly about the upcoming Tesseracts anthology that Greg Bechtel and I just finished putting together. Mostly, however, there will be readings from Edge authors 🙂

8pm — Autographs

I will be taking part in the mass autograph signing as will many Equus and D is for Dinosaur contributors so if you have a copy of either anthology this is the best place to collect a whole bunch of signatures 🙂


2pm — Featured Author (Edge Publishing booth in the Vendor Room)

I’ll be spending an hour hanging out at the Edge Publishing booth in the vendor room. Last time I was the Featured Author I managed to wrangle two other people (Cat McDonald and Sandra Wickham) into joining me so we had a trifecta of awesome featured authors, so who knows what this year will hold? Swing by to talk about, well, whatever you wanna talk about. It’ll be fun 🙂

4pm — Collaborative Publishing (Fairview)

How HAUNTED HOSPITALS was born, created and developed (inspiration, origin story, how we divided the book up, and tools we used). This workshop provides insights on how to successfully collaborate on a writing project.

Haunted Hospitals wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for When Words Collide. Mark and I talk about it specifically and also more generally about collaboration 🙂

If you’re going to be at When Words Collide I hope to see you there! And please don’t be shy, even if we’ve never met before if you see me, please come up and say hi 🙂


To celebrate and raise awareness of Equus‘ release, some of the anthology contributors participated in a group interview. I sent them all several interview questions and they sent their responses. Instead of sharing one person’s interview each day, however, I’m going to share one question and everyone’s responses 🙂

I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t considered going with a Braveheart-type graphic for this one, but I resisted* 😉

Today’s question is…

Once the anthology was done and I was re-reading it for copyedits it occurred to me that though the stories were tied together by the equine theme, of course, they also had one other theme in common–freedom. Is that something you were consciously thinking about as you wrote your story?

“Hennessy and Peregrine’s battle for their freedom was always part of the plot, but certainly not the foundation of the concept! We both think it’s really cool that they all have a freedom theme though!”

V.F. LeSann

author of, "Riders in the Sky"

“I’m a total pantser, so I don’t tend to think about theme until after I have a draft of a story I want to tell, but once I had that draft, freedom was something I considered in my rewrites. Michelle’s theme song while I was writing was Van Halen’s “Unchained.””

Chadwick Ginther

author of, "Scatter the Foals to the Wind"

“Although it wasn’t what I was consciously thinking about when I wrote it, I find a lot of my stories are about freedom. The search for freedom to be is an intrinsic part of what it means to be alive. Well, it is for me.”

Angela Rega

author of, "The Horse Witch"

“Huh! I wasn’t consciously thinking about freedom, no. Which is sort of sad since one of my characters is a slave…”

K.T. Ivanrest

author of, "Lightless"

“I’m not surprised. I think a lot of people see horses as symbols of freedom.

As for me, freedom’s all I think about.”

Cat McDonald

author of, "The Last Ride of Hettie Richter"

“Yep! I actually have a passage where Demy’s thinking of the freedom she felt when she was on Foxy’s back, and how her motorcycle gives her some of that freedom back. Demy’s definitely still in pursuit of freedom in a lot of ways–freedom from her past, freedom from her sorrows, freedom from magic. Of course, we see how that works out for her. :D”

Stephanie A. Cain

author of, "To Ride a Steel Horse"

“Sort of. It was in the DNA at the time. I wrote this story in October 2016, literally the same week a certain American presidential candidate was caught on tape confessing to molesting women. The horror and nausea of that time period (that still hasn’t ended) is in Eli. I was also watching 70s films about fast cars and escaping from prison, too (specifically “Jackson County Jail”) and reading Bruce Springsteen’s biography, and being impressed by this overwhelming feeling — that the only thing that matters, politically or otherwise, is freedom. And I think every election cycle feels like that is on the line, no matter where you fall politically. All of that is in Eli.”

Michael Leonberger

author of, "Eli the Hideous Horse Boy"

“In an odd way, yes. The last book in my Tattooed Witch trilogy was published in December, 2016. In tone, the trilogy tends to be passionate and dark, exploring themes of love and death, in particular. I wanted to free myself from that – to write something much lighter – Ladies Day was the result. As writers, we all write what we are. I have a dark, passionate side, but I also adore the ridiculous. I had fun coming up with what I thought were silly ideas and scenes. I had been doing a lot of research on the Edwardian period for my upcoming novel. The Edwardians were all about having a good time, if we take King Edward VII, who was quite the playboy, as an example. Throw horses and the Edwardians together, and you have the Ascot. Mix in outrageous hats, snobbery, the marriage market, and cheating duchesses for fun. Add a dollop of magic. Why not?”

Susan MacGregor

author of, "Ladies Day"

*by ‘resisted’ I mean I spent a bunch of time trying to figure out how to add Braveheart face paint to the horse in the graphic at the top of the page before surrendering and just getting on with things 😉

If you haven’t done so already, be sure and pick up your copy of Equus today, maybe if it sells enough I’ll make enough money to buy some graphic design lessons 😉

…just kidding, that’s totally not what I’d spend the money on, but buy the book anyway LOL

Equine Experience

To celebrate and raise awareness of Equus’ release, some of the anthology contributors participated in a group interview. I sent them all several interview questions and they sent their responses. Instead of sharing one person’s interview each day, however, I’m going to share one question and everyone’s responses 🙂

Today’s question is…

Do you have any real-life experience with equines? Tell us about that.

“I’ve only ever ridden a horse once, up in some trails around Masanutten. And I was honestly struck by how often they defecate (and how often my horse would put his face in whatever the horse in front of us left behind). I bring that up all the time whenever I talk about horses in real life, both because I am immature, but also because that trip has some kind of magical significance for me: I read Annie Proulx’s “Close Range” on that trip, while listening to the Rob Zombie album “Educated Horses”. I think Rob Zombie is so cool, and that book was so gut-punchingly sad, and the horses were both so startlingly beautiful, while simultaneously hilariously indifferent to whatever emotions I might have been feeling — they basically called me on my crap. And somewhere in those swirling ingredients, I get a very specific nostalgic feeling unique to that trip. And I guess I associate it with horses. That is both the silliest and most honest answer I’ve got.”

Michael Leonberger

author of, "Eli the Hideous Horse Boy"

“Leslie – In my youth I rode a lot of horses and got bucked off a lot… I always rode the horses that other people didn’t want to ride, and there was a reason they didn’t want to ride them. I don’t get along well with equines. But I did perfect my landing!

Megan – Absolutely none. Considering my Albertan status, I think that’s kind of an accomplishment.”

V.F. LeSann

author of, "Riders in the Sky"

“Actually, I’m very very allergic to horses. I went to the Musical Ride once and was absolutely heartbroken when my eyes swelled shut. We always used to think it was the hay making me sneeze on hay rides, but nope.”

Cat McDonald

author of, "The Last Ride of Hettie Richter"

“My parents wouldn’t let me have a horse, but I took riding lessons (and went to horse camp) in junior high and early high school—got my first scar (and tetanus shot) when I was stabbed with a pitchfork while cleaning a stall. Since then I’ve only been trailing riding on and off, mostly on friends’ and relatives’ horses.”

K.T. Ivanrest

author of, "Lightless"

“My grandparents had some horses, but I’ve only ridden on a horse a couple times in my life. I did get it in my head that one pony would’ve looked better blue (my favourite colour at the time) but was thankfully stopped before I got the paint (or ended up bitten or stomped).”

Chadwick Ginther

author of, "Scatter the Foals to the Wind"

“Does asking my dad for a pony for every birthday and Christmas over the past forty years count? 😀

I came by my horse-craziness honestly. My mom had a pony named Foxy who was the basis for Demy’s beloved horse Foxy. As a kid, I traded cleaning tack and mucking stalls for riding lessons at our local stable. In high school I worked with someone who had horses, and I went riding with her a couple of times. After I graduated from college, I dated a guy whose parents had horses; I spent a lot of time with his parents and their horses, which I suppose he probably resented. I learned how to lunge a horse and clean hooves, did a lot more stall mucking and grooming, put up hay for the winter, and helped them build an addition to their stable. “My” horse was Glory, a beautiful gray half-Arabian mare. To be honest, I don’t miss the guy, but I still miss Glory.”

Stephanie A. Cain

author of, "To Ride a Steel Horse"

And, if you’ve been following this interview all week you know what I’m going to say next, but I’m going to say it anyway, because it’s my job LOL

If you haven’t done so already, be sure and pick up your copy of Equus today!

Equine Favourites

To celebrate and raise awareness of Equus’ release, some of the anthology contributors participated in a group interview. I sent them all several interview questions and they sent their responses. Instead of sharing one person’s interview each day, however, I’m going to share one question and everyone’s responses 🙂

Today’s question is…

Aside from Equus, what are your favourite equine-related books or short stories?

“When I was a kid, I devoured anything about horses. My early favorites were the books by Maguerite Henry, of course. I also liked the Black Stallion books, but my favorite of Walter Farley’s books was Man O’War. Tamora Pierce, while she doesn’t write specifically about horses, always has great horses in her books–Moonlight in the Alanna books and Peachblossom in the Protector of the Small series. In high school I loved the Mercedes Lackey Arrows of the Queen trilogy.

A few years ago I fell desperately in love with The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater, which I still think contains the scariest scene I’ve ever read. I have the audiobook, which is lovely, and also have the paperback–which last year I had signed when I finally got to meet Maggie!

Other horse books I loved so much I still own: Swampfire by Patricia Cecil Hass, The Blue Sword by Robin McKinley, The Last Unicorn by Peter S. Beagle, and The Horse and His Boy by C.S. Lewis (despite the problematic elements).”

Stephanie A. Cain

author of, "To Ride a Steel Horse"

“One of my favourite books of all time is one I acquired in my early twenties called The Unicornis Manuscripts: On the History and Truth of the Unicorn. I absolutely love the blur between reality and myth in this book.”

Angela Rega

author of, "The Horse Witch"

“Sleepy Hollow. The Headless Horseman’s Horse. I’m really thinking the movie here, because THERE’S a horse: black steed, snorting hellfire,literally galloping out of a tree. And the guy who rides him is a headless Christopher Walken? Perfect.”
Michael Leonberger

author of, "Eli the Hideous Horse Boy"

“I read Black Beauty until it fell apart when I was a little girl!”
Cat McDonald

author of, "The Last Ride of Hettie Richter"

“In junior high I read pretty much every Saddle Club book in existence and made it my life goal to eat ice cream like Stevie Lake; apart from those and Black Beauty, I haven’t actually read too many equine stories. But I did recently read Maggie Stiefvater’s The Scorpio Races—not at all the sort of horses I was expecting! *Backs away slowly*”

K.T. Ivanrest

author of, "Lightless"

Megan: Bahahaha! Oh no, you don’t have any!

Leslie: [Censored!!] I haven’t even read The Last Unicorn yet because you haven’t given it to me!

Megan: I lent it to my mom first! (Side note: Welcome to the gritty world of co-authoring. It’s basically just this, all the time.) For my part – absolutely, yes, The Last Unicorn is a must-read. The Unicorn Chronicles by Bruce Coville was a childhood favourite. Oh, oh, oh! And The Transfigured Hart, by Jane Yolen! Another elementary school fave!

V.F. LeSann

author of, "Riders in the Sky"

“Oh, the reading list of a horse girl! It’s a long one. Classics such as King of the Wind, my personal favorite Marguerite Henry, are obvious choices, but I’m also a fan of horse-heavy fantasy such as Wild Magic by Tamora Pierce, The Foretelling by Alice Hoffman, Bruce Coville’s Unicorn Chronicles, and Horsemaster by Marilyn Singer, with Audrey Coulthurst’s Of Fire and Stars being a recent new favorite. In nonfiction, there’s no better introduction to the Sport of Kings than Joe Palmer (look for his collection This Was Racing), and The Greatest Horse Stories Ever Told, edited by Steven Price, is a great round-up of tales about racehorses, warhorses, cowhorses, and more.”
Diana Hurlburt

author of, "Eel and Bloom"

What are your favourite equine books? Leave a comment to share them, and, if you haven’t done so already, be sure and pick up your copy of Equus today. It might be a new addition to your list! 🙂

Equine Attraction

To celebrate and raise awareness of Equus‘ release, some of the anthology contributors participated in a group interview. I sent them all several interview questions and they sent their responses. Instead of sharing one person’s interview each day, however, I’m going to share one question and everyone’s responses 🙂

Today’s question is…

What drew you to write about the type of equine that features most prominently in your story? If you were suddenly turned into an equine is that the type you’d choose to be?

“Flying horses came about because one of the inspirations for my story was the myth of Phaethon driving the chariot of the sun. The starfire rose out of the setting and needs of the plot, and ended up being my way of connecting the horses more closely to the people than just “we need them for transportation and status symbols.” If I were turned into an equine, I could definitely go for glowing space Pegasus!”

K.T. Ivanrest

author of, "Lightless"

“I guess I wanted to write about a demon because of the combination of emotional and physical power they represent. Although I’d like to say “sure, becoming a demon would be neato!”, I think maybe I and most other people already kind of are.”

Cat McDonald

author of, "The Last Ride of Hettie Richter"

“I’m a huge fan of Irish mythology, probably because my genealogy is mostly Irish-German, but also because there are some awesome critters in Irish mythology. I particularly love the combination of flesh-eating and horse, because I’m a bloodthirsty little monster. I’m drawn to predators in the natural world–wolves, orca, birds of prey, snakes–and I love how the mythology of the each uisca turns an herbivore into a predator. In addition, one of my favorite books is The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater, which is basically the same mythology I’m using, even if she calls them capaill uisce.

So yes, all things considered, I think I’d like being an each uisce–especially since they have shapeshifting abilities, so whenever I started missing opposable thumbs, I could take human form. :D”

Stephanie A. Cain

author of, "To Ride a Steel Horse"

“I’ve mostly avoided featuring horses in my work so far–until I saw the open call for Equus which really got the creative juices percolating. As cool as it would be to capable of running on air or water, I think I’d want to avoid any kind of personal connection to Loki. I’m not sure I need my life to be that interesting.”

Chadwick Ginther

author of, "Scatter the Foals to the Wind"

“Growing up in Florida gave me a great love of water, fresh and salt alike. Nixies, kelpies, and capaill uisce popped up in fantasy stories and books of mythology I read as a kid, and caught my horse girl’s imagination. The stories I loved best as a young reader naturally feed my work as an adult creator, and I decided to play around with the idea of water horses local to my own landscapes: thus the limerunner, a water horse found in the marshes and limestone-rich springs of central Florida, was born. Though I enjoyed sketching out their relative trainability, vicious teeth, and cloven hooves, if I could be any equine I’d have to go with a beautiful Lipizzan (who can also be found in Florida!).”

Diana Hurlburt

author of, "Eel and Bloom"

“I have always been obsessed with the Elephant Man, and I think that obsession sort of led me to write about a deformed young man who believed himself to be the son of a pegasus — that that might help explain some of his deformities. Imagination makes the mundane or tragic possibly magical. I love stories about people who imagine themselves into places better than where they are, whose souls burst out of their bodies. The story of Eli asks if that backstory is real or not, but more importantly: does it matter?”

Michael Leonberger

author of, "Eli the Hideous Horse Boy"

“The Australian Brumby is a very special horse. They live in the wild without human interference but their population growth has become an issue and there has been much debate and conflict in their management and population control. On one hand they are a symbol of the wild and form part of the Australian identity; many of them were used as war horses in World Wars 1 and 2 on the other hand they are seen as feral creatures that damage the environment and require culling. It is a very sensitive issue and I found this dichotomy in their representation what I wanted to write about.

If I was suddenly turned into an equine in the real world, I think I might be a stockhorse with a heavy load in need of a shoe change, if I was turned into an equine in my dream world I would be a Pegasus that roamed the night skies and gathered stardust in my mane.”

Angela Rega

author of, "The Horse Witch"

Leslie: I wanted to do something against the grain for Equus, something less frilly and majestic, more fire and rock music. We debated Horsemen of the Apocalypse for a while, but then I remember the Nightmares from D&D and remembered that they were my favourite! Then we found a song – Ghostriders in the Sky – and we had our fire and our rock music.

Megan: That sounds very glamorous and triumphant. She’s leaving out the part where she was flopped over a pint moaning about having no equine inspiration.

V.F. LeSann

author of, "Riders in the Sky"

Honestly, if I were transformed into some kind of equine I think I’d want to go for one of the shapeshifting varieties on account of the fact I’m pretty fond of having opposable thumbs. Aside from that, though, I’ve gotta say sparkly space Pegasus kinda sounds sweet…

If you haven’t done so already, be sure and pick up your copy of Equus today so that you, too, can discover the awesomeness of the equines these authors are talking about!


To celebrate and raise awareness of Equus‘ release, some of the anthology contributors participated in a group interview. I sent them all several interview questions and they sent their responses. Instead of sharing one person’s interview each day, however, I’m going to share one question and everyone’s responses 🙂

When I was a kid I used to play a game with my best friend, Linda, where we were both unicorns galloping around the school yard. Every day she described her unicorn self differently but I was always one of two things — a black unicorn with a gleaming silver horn, or a white unicorn with a shiny gold horn. I often imagined roses spiraling around those horns, and sometimes the colours of the blooms would change… but not often.

If you were to imagine yourself as a unicorn, what would you look like?

“My elementary school friend Amber and I used to play that we were unicorns galloping around the school yard, too! I wonder if this a product of growing up in the Lisa Frank era of unicorns.

When we played, I was usually a black unicorn with a white mane and tale and a white horn. I can’t remember what Amber’s unicorn usually looked like, or if she switched every day.”

Stephanie A. Cain

author of, "To Ride a Steel Horse"

” I want to have a candy-red horn! Like a twizzler, but maybe chipped a bit at the end. I love the original “Alien vs Predator” comic from Dark Horse, where the main Predator is called the “Broken Tusked Warrior” because one of his tusks is chipped off? So I want to be the “Broken Horned Unicorn”. But again, I want that thing red as blood – and not real blood, but Dario Argento “Suspiria” paint-blood red. And I want wings! Natch.

(And also maybe an eye patch, like David Bowie, because it would forever beg the question: “Where did you get that eye patch from? You clearly didn’t make it yourself, because you are a unicorn…who gave it to you?” And I would never answer it).”

Michael Leonberger

author of, "Eli the Hideous Horse Boy"

“I definitely played that game as well, with my friends “The Neigh-Neigh Club” (yes, really :P). My unicorn was always the very traditional gleaming white, but she had a purple horn that could make music.”

K.T. Ivanrest

author of, "Lightless"

“I used to play that game a lot! Back then it was an alicorn, because I also wanted wings, but these days I think I’d be something in a kirin style. Something just a little scaly and alien. Either that or just a big old thick-legged draught horse with a horn, like my favorite Magic card (Ronom Unicorn).”

Cat McDonald

author of, "The Last Ride of Hettie Richter"

Leslie: Unicorns aren’t my thing! I didn’t have a sibling close to my age. I would play Power Rangers sometimes…. Ninja Turtles…

Megan: Lucky for you, I used to play unicorns most days at recess in elementary school! I’d read the poem ‘The Lion & the Unicorn’ in a picturebook and thought of unicorns as ferocious, potentially militant critters. So on the playground, it was girls versus boys in a battle of unicorns versus lions. Looks didn’t matter as much as ferocity. So I’d be a battle unicorn; a fully-armoured lion-killer!

V.F. LeSann

author of, "Riders in the Sky"

What about you? How would you look if you were a unicorn? Leave a comment to share your answer–I’m sincerely curious 🙂

And, if you haven’t done so already, be sure and pick up your copy of Equus today!

Equus Release

I’m a mix of emotion right now. Equus is out. My beautiful, magical, melancholy anthology about horses and horse-like creatures is out. Which is awesome because I finally get to share it with the world. So I’m excited.

But I’m finally sharing it with the world, so I’m also nervous. What if people don’t like it as much as I do? What if it doesn’t sell? Doesn’t get reviews?

I’m familiar with that anxiety though, because I go through it with every book release. What is a wholly new experience for me is this — Equus is the final installment in this anthology series. So now the series has been released. It is done. And I’m not quite sure how I feel about that. I think it’s going to take some time to sort through.

In the meanwhile though, I’m proud and excited to share Equus with the world! Enjoy 🙂


Cover by Jonathan C. Parrish

There’s always something magical about horses, isn’t there? Whether winged or at home in the water, mechanical or mythological, the equines that gallop through these pages span the fantasy spectrum. In one story a woman knits her way up to the stars and in another Loki’s descendant grapples with bizarre transformations while fighting for their life. A woman races on a unique horse to save herself from servitude, while a man rides a chariot through the stars to reclaim his self-worth. From steampunk-inspired stories and tales that brush up against horror to straight-up fantasy, one theme connects them all: freedom.

Featuring nineteen fantastic stories of equines both real and imagined by J.G. Formato, Diana Hurlburt, Tamsin Showbrook, M.L.D Curelas, Laura VanArendonk Baugh, V.F. LeSann, Dan Koboldt, J.J. Roth, Susan MacGregor, Pat Flewwelling, Angela Rega, Michael Leonberger, Sandra Wickham, Stephanie A. Cain, Cat McDonald, Andrew Bourelle, Chadwick Ginther, K.T. Ivanrest, and Jane Yolen.

Get Your Copy Online:

World Weaver Press
Barnes and Noble

“All the stories in this collection are good.  Each author has a completely different take on where the animals live and how they behave.  It makes the stories surprising and unique.  If you like fantasy, magic, or horses, you’ll love this book.”

Journey of a Bookseller

Equus should be read by anyone who loves everything equestrian.”

Long and Short Reviews

“This was a wonderfully eclectic anthology, with practically any stripe of fantasy a grown-up weird horse girl could want on offer between the covers.”

T.R. North

“Generously infused with magic and mystery, these stories leaped off the pages and lingered in my imagination long after I finished the book.”

Tabitha Lord

Equus is a delight, with a unique take on an old subject. There’s a nice range of mood and subject, but the overall theme is well-explored and central.”

Jaym Gates, ed of War Stories

Equus is a delightful collection of stories…If you love horses and fantasy, this is definitely a collection for you.”

Nicki J Marcus

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?



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


“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.


Order Your Copy Now:

World Weaver Press
Barnes and Noble

Equus Contributor Blog Tour Wrap-Up

We just wrapped up the Equus contributor blog tour. If you missed out on this, never fear, I have links to all the posts for you 🙂

July 7th — Lightless Alternate Opening (by K.T. Ivanrest, hosted by Sarena Ulibarri)

July 8th — The Secret History of “Scatter the Foals to the Wind” (by Chadwick Ginther, hosted by Stephanie A. Cain)

July 9th — Frankenhorse (by Michael Leonberger, hosted by K.T. Ivanrest)

July 10th – Setting in “To Ride a Steel Horse” (by Stephanie A. Cain, hosted by Diana Hurlburt)

July 11th – Florida and Horses (by Diana Hurlburt, hosted by Chadwick Ginther)

July 12th – Four (and a half) Fun Facts About “Lightless” (by K.T. Ivanrest, hosted by Angie Rega)

July 13 – Helping Rhonda STARRING CAT (by Cat McDonald, hosted by me)

Take a little time to check out whichever posts you missed, and don’t forget to pre-order your copy of Equus so you’ll be able to read it on Tuesday!

Pre-order Equus now:

World Weaver Press
Barnes and Noble

Equus Battle Royal Winner

It was a very long, difficult battle, but after more than two months of slugging it out, round after round, the Equus Battle Royal has a victor:

Congratulations to Nova and Reaver for making it all the way through the tournament to come out on top, and congratulations also to Peregrine the damned soul who gave the war unicorn team some strong competition!

Please enjoy the short excerpt from each of their stories:

Excerpt from “Rue the Day” by Laura VanArendonk Baugh:

There was a small group gathered on the beach, half-ringed about a woman of perhaps forty, dressed in fitted skirts with her hair drawn back severely. Trainer Isabel, stablemaster and head of all the royal trainers, stepped close to speak with her, and Galyne thought they might have been sisters.

Then Trainer Isabel stepped back to join the half-circle. “We are ready when you wish.”

The sun dipped against the ocean. Rue stepped close to Galyne, keeping his eyes on the sorceress as if he did not trust her. Sorceresses had that effect on people, especially at first.

The woman spoke strange words in an awful voice and raised her bare hands against the wind and sea. She stood immovable on the wet sand, deliberately weaving her hands as if to pull the wind like wool or candy.

And then, as another wave rolled to break against the shore, Galyne saw a horse’s form in the waves, its mane rising and falling with the waves’ crests, though there was no flesh-and-blood horse there. The dread woman on the sand called again, and the head broke above the water, an ivory horn piercing the air.

The unicorn was the color of night upon the ocean, its mane and tail like foam lit by moonlight. It rose majestically from the waves and stepped onto the packed sand, arching its thick crest as if aware of its own powerful beauty. It paused before the woman who had summoned it from the elements and raked the sand with one magnificent hoof.

“Reaver,” said the sorceress simply, and the beast bowed its head in gracious acknowledgment. Trainer Isabel stepped forward, extending a halter of worked silver and gems, and the unicorn tossed its head, sending spray over the women, and then extended its neck to accept the halter.

“How does she do it?” Rue whispered.

“It’s a request,” Galyne said. “She invites a unicorn from the elements, but it is always the unicorn’s choice. She grinned. “You don’t argue with a creature of magic who has agreed to fight on your behalf.”

Reaver, gleaming with seawater and his new silver halter, walked away with Trainer Isabel. Galyne’s eyes followed them. “I hope I have a chance at him,” she said. “He’s gorgeous.”

“Like everything to do with unicorns,” Rue said, and there was a note in his voice which should not have been there.

Galyne looked at him, but he was watching the sorceress and Trainer Isabel, and she did not ask him to explain.

Excerpt from “Riders in the Sky” by V.F. LeSann:

The storm shook the tavern as it descended into the valley, drowning out most conversation between the women. Jovial whoops mingled with the wind and the distinct sound of iron hooves within the thunder. The hissing crack of a whip. Her shoulder ached fiercely.

The cacophony persisted for what seemed like hours and Delia eventually got to her feet, peering out through the boarded window.

“Should’ve been done by now,” she murmured. “Clouds are dipping low. Looks like we’re in the middle of the warpath.”

Her voice trailed off as she peered closer, her eyes widening in shock, oblivious to the boards bowing near her face.

Hennessy leapt to her feet, pushing Delia to the ground as the wood splintered. Delia’s scream was punctuated with another shout from within the tavern. She stayed crouched low, guiding Delia to the door as the storm whipped through the broken window.

“Delia?” someone bellowed, followed by the sound of snapping wood and another scream from a neighbouring room.

Hennessy kept Delia shielded as dusky wisps of cloud seeped into the room. She heaved the door open and launched them both onto the landing, slamming it closed behind them.

“We’re alright, Sergei!” Delia yelled, finding her voice. “Damn it.” She fumbled to tear the hem of her dress with shaking hands.

Instead, Hennessy pulled a handkerchief from her pocket and dabbed the blood dripping down the side of Delia’s face.

“I thought I saw a boy in the storm. West Osmond.” Delia winced at Hennessy’s touch, and took over, pressing the cloth firmly against her temple. “You can’t believe what you see. Sometimes the storm shows you things. Things to make you come out and get caught in it.”

Hennessy steadied the other woman and hustled down the stairs. A prickle of fractured memories made Delia’s suspicion feel true.

“I’ll be fine,” Delia assured. “We’ve got a bunker beneath the floor, but Sergei isn’t going to let you in after how the two of you got off.” Wind whipped through the exposed bar, slamming doors and shaking rafters. “There’s a tunnel, under the last table on your right. It leads over to the church. Father Monaghan will let you in. He can’t say no if you ask for sanctuary.” She gave a wry smile. “Old custom, but useful for us shadowy women.”

Delia quickly unfastened her cloak and tossed it to Hennessy before standing on her own strength.

“Take this and stay outta that storm, you hear?”

Hennessy clasped the cloak around her neck, running across the empty bar, and hauling chairs aside until she found the entrance to the tunnel. Slamming it closed above her, she fled into the earthy darkness.

‘Are you safe?’ Peregrine’s panicked thoughts flooded her mind. ‘Has the wind blown you out to them? You are very small, with only two legs…”

In a blatant and transparent attempt to get more votes I’ve also been giving away a book to random voters. This week’s giveaway was complicated by the fact my blog was down for a bit on Saturday and to fix it we had to roll it back to a previous version of itself. A version that didn’t include most of the votes that had been cast. Thankfully I had a physical tallysheet showing what the scores were, but not the individual voters.

I wanted to thank those voters who came back and commented to re-add their name into the draw, so this week I had Siri choose two random winners.

Sarah Miller and Rachel, Siri has chosen you as the winners of this week’s draw. Please drop me an email at to choose your prize and tell me where to send it.

On a related note, some of the other prizes have not been claimed and were won by people who didn’t leave an email address. So, if you happen to know Tobin Elliott and/or Sylvie Stulic give them a nudge in my direction, would you?

If you’ve enjoyed the excerpts from the anthology I’ve been providing through this competition, or hell, even #EquusFight itself, please consider pre-ordering a copy of Equus today. I’d really appreciate it — pre-orders are important.

Pre-order Equus now:

World Weaver Press
Barnes and Noble

Equus Battle Royal Finals

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.


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.

Story Title: Riders in the Sky

Author: V. F. LeSann

Equine Combatant’s Name): 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)

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.”

You may vote once each round, and each vote enters your name into a draw to win an awesome book (details here) so you could win alongside your favourite equine!

It’s just that easy.


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