Round Five Results

 

Well, damn. It doesn’t get any closer than this.

When it was time to close the voting for this round one of the competitors was ahead by a single vote. Then I found a vote waiting in the ‘Is this spam?’ airlock for me to approve it. I did approve it and boom! Suddenly we had a tie.

So I opened voting back up again for a couple hours and… we still have a tie.

I didn’t have any system in place to deal with a tie.

Thinking on my feet I’ve decided to say the equine who got the most votes on the blog (rather than points via dice rolls) is the winner. That means our winner is:

Story Title: Rue the Day

Author: Laura VanArendonk Baugh

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

Species: Unicorn

Nova and Reaver will be moving on to the semifinals.

Starting tomorrow our combatants will be:

Beezus from “Neither Snow, nor Rain, nor Heat-Ray” by M.L.D. Curelas

vs

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

Excerpt from “A Complete Mare” by Tamsin Showbrook:

Its voice is drowned out by a scream. My own. I don’t know whether it’s my voice or the feeling of my chest splitting open but it’s the only thing I can hear. Falling to my knees, I lean forward and let my four arms take the strain of whatever’s forcing me open. I can see something emerging and then, like someone’s thrown a switch, my eyes stop working. The impression of what I last saw is still there, but even that’s fading. I’m conscious of being grabbed by the scruff of my neck, lifted up, and then the switch is thrown back on and my vision powers up as I swing back and forth in the gorgonite’s grasp, my feet catching on the path every few running steps.

What I see is crazy though. No human brain is built to see 360 degrees all at once, but that’s what I think I’m seeing—the fug of smoke, the side of the gorgonite, the Hall and the garden and behind us and to the side and—and I have to shut my eyes because it’s too much. My shoulders ache like they’re supporting an extra weight and, dreading what I’m fairly certain I’ll find, I raise my hands and press my four palms against four heads. They’re all human, but there’s four of them. Front, back, left, right. I can feel the rush of air on all of them now.

I have never hated my ancestors so much.

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!

Equine Battle Royal — Round One

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.

Story Title: To Ride a Steel Horse

Author: Stephanie A. Cain

Equine Combatant’s Name (if known): 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.

Story Title: Different

Author: Sandra Wickham

Equine Combatant’s Name (if known):

Species: Unicorn

Strength: 17

Dexterity: 13

Constitution: 15

Intellect: 16

Charisma: 17

Special Attacks: Rising up on forelegs, Stabbing Through the chest with horn

Special Defences: Any touch to the unicorn burns victims

And

Story Title: “Rue the Day”

Author: Laura VanArendonk Baugh

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

Species: Unicorn

Strength: 18

Dexterity: 17

Constitution: 16

Intellect: 11

Charisma: 18

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: “Eel and Bloom”

Author: Diana Hurlburt

Equine Combatant’s Name (if known): Eel

Species: limerunner (native Floridian cousin to the Scottish kelpie)

Strength: 15

Dexterity: 10

Constitution: 17

Intellect: 8

Charisma: 12

Special Attacks: Overrun (limerunner hooves are sharp and their kick can exert more than 200 PSI); Jawbreaker (limerunners have carnivorous teeth and strong jaws).

Special Defences: low-light vision, keen sense of smell, heightened stamina for long-distance running and above-average speed (~40 mph) for distances under a mile, dexterity in water or on land.

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 Battle Royal

Equally inspired by a conversation with Cat McDonald about which equine from the Equus anthology I thought could beat up all the other equines, and Hal Friesen‘s character Death Match events from a couple years ago, I present to you:

Fourteen Equus contributors have agreed to pit the equine from their story against the equines from all the other stories and fight it out until only one remains standing!

Dun dun dun!

This is going to be a whole lot of fun 🙂

Here is what the tournament looks like:

(Thank you PrintYourBrackets.com!)

Since those titles are abbreviated allow me to elaborate–the competitors are:

  • Lightless by K.T. Ivanrest
  • Rue the Day by Laura VanArendonk Baugh
  • To Ride a Steel Horse by Stephanie A. Cain
  • Neither Snow, nor Rain, nor Heat-Ray by M.L.D Curelas
  • Stars, Wings, and Knitting Things by J.G. Formato
  • Eel and Bloom by Diana Hurlburt
  • Above the Silver Sky by Daniel Koboldt
  • The Boys from Witless Bay by Pat Flewwelling
  • Different by Sandra Wickham
  • Riders in the Sky by VF LeSann
  • A Glory of Unicorns by Jane Yolen
  • The Last Ride of Hettie Richter by Cat McDonald
  • A Mother Unicorn’s Advice to Her Daughter by J.J. Roth
  • A Complete Mare by Tamsin Showbrook

The battle begins on May 2nd when I will post the character stats for the first two competitors and we will open up voting. Because guess what? You get to help choose the winner. You’ll be able to vote by leaving a comment on the blog post.

We didn’t want this to just turn into a straight-up popularity contest though, so our competitors won’t just be sitting quietly and watching votes come in, they will also be stealing those votes.

Each Tuesday I’ll post that week’s competitors. Then on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday each of the competitors will roll a d20 (that’s a twenty-sided die for those of you who don’t speak that particular geek dialect) either in 3 dimensions or using Roll Dice Online. They will then steal that number of votes from their opponent and add it to their own total.

I will update those totals as a comment on the blog post as well as on social media.

Votes will close each Sunday at midnight MST, and the winner of that round will be announced the next day (Monday). Just in time for the next set of opponents to be announced on Tuesday.

If all goes well, and I counted correctly, the victor should be crowned the week before Equus comes out 🙂

Combat Schedule
May 2nd
To Ride a Steel Horse vs. Different
Rue the Day vs. Eel and Bloom
May 9th
A Glory of Unicorns vs. Neither Snow, nor Rain, nor Heat-Ray
Lightless vs. The Boys from Witless Bay
May 16th
Stars, Wings, and Knitting Things vs. Riders in the Sky
Above the Silver Sky vs. The Last Ride of Hettie Richter
The schedule after this becomes a bit more complicated because we need to know the results of the earlier rounds to determine who will be competing.
I am excited about this and can’t wait to get started. I mean, I will wait because I said we’d start Tuesday, but I’m anxious for Tuesday to arrive LOL
In the meantime, check out this slideshow of some of the competing character’s portraits!
Cover by Jonathan C. Parrish

Equus Cover Reveal

Cover by Jonathan C. Parrish

Is it a horse? A unicorn? A pegasus? One of the best things about this cover for Equus is that you can’t tell — but you know it is equine. The cover was done by Jonathan C. Parrish and I love it. I think the sparkles add the perfect fantastical element, the equine is beautiful and the white will stand out among the other covers of the series while still fitting in with them. It’s an awesome collection and I’m super happy that it has an equally amazing cover to go with the stories!

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, VF 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.

Pre-order your copy now:

World Weaver Press
Amazon
Barnes and Noble
Kobo
iBookstore

 

Add Equus to your Goodreads To-Read shelf now!

 

Equus Cover Wrap

 

Equus Table of Contents

Equus

It’s time, it’s time, it’s time!

I was telling the contributors to this anthology that I look at the TOC reveal a bit like the part of a show where the house lights go down and the curtain begins to open. Not wide open, just a peek — enough to whet your appetite and make you excited for what’s about to come next. This is me introducing you to the anthology… the cover reveal is, I dunno, the handshake perhaps? And the release is when you really get to know one another.

I love Equus. I think it’s the strongest anthology I’ve ever put together and I can barely wait for you to meet and fall in love with it like I have, but for now the introduction. The lights are going down… here’s your peek behind the curtain:

Equus Table of Contents

 

Stars, Wings, and Knitting Things by J.G. Formato

Eel and Bloom by Diana Hurlburt

A Complete Mare by Tamsin Showbrook

Neither Snow, nor Rain, nor Heat-Ray by M.L.D Curelas

Rue the Day by Laura VanArendonk Baugh

Riders in the Sky by VF LeSann

Above the Silver Sky by Dan Koboldt

A Mother Unicorn’s Advice to Her Daughter by J.J. Roth

Ladies Day by Susan MacGregor

The Boys from Witless Bay by Pat Flewwelling

The Horse Witch by Angela Rega

Eli the Hideous Horse Boy by Michael Leonberger

Different by Sandra Wickham

To Ride a Steel Horse by Stephanie A. Cain

The Last Ride of Hettie Richter by Cat McDonald

We Us You by Andrew Bourelle

Scatter the Foals to the Wind by Chadwick Ginther

Lightless by K.T. Ivanrest

A Glory of Unicorns by Jane Yolen

Release date: July 2017

Be sure and add it to your shelves on Goodreads in the meantime 🙂

Writers Learn Everything

Writers Learn Everything

by Laura VanArendonk Baugh

I write fantasy, so I have to do more research than those who write real life.

“Wait,” some protest, “there’s a lot of research required for historical, or military thrillers, or other real stories. But in fantasy, you can just make everything up!”

Well, I could, but you wouldn’t enjoy it as much. My job in speculative fiction is to make you believe something could be real, even when it clearly isn’t. That you know of. Yet.

If so much is real, and what is new fits so closely with what we know is real, then maybe, just maybe….? And thus, speculative fiction.

This is why my story about mermaids required research into fox genetics and amazing corpuscles in elephant trunks. And for my D is for Dinosaur entry, I plunged into the following diverse topics:

  • the extremely rare Devils Hole Pupfish, found in a single geothermal pool
  • the history of Chinese bronze casting
  • the natural history of Kazahkstan
  • cassowary attacks
  • the horrifically destructive “Cultural Revolution” in China

Many of these were reduced in final editing so that the submitted story contains now only a reference or a quirky fact, but they are still the foundation for a more cohesive, structurally sound piece of totally-made-up fiction.

When the apocalypse comes and libraries are burning and you have to choose your team for survival, make sure to include a writer. Their brains are full of hidden and potentially useful information!

That+glorious+feeling+walking+into+the+exam+_f10fbb9f021258e27f46104cc668b8f8

Laura VanArendonk Baugh overcame the dubious challenge of having been born without teeth or developed motor skills to become an award-winning writer of speculative fiction, mystery, and non-fiction. Her works have earned numerous accolades, including 3-star ratings (the highest possible) on Tangent‘s “Recommended Reading” list. Her latest novel The Songweaver’s Vow releases February 21 and taught her about ninth century clothing dyes and building construction in Northern Europe. Find her at www.LauraVanArendonkBaugh.com .


D IS FOR DINOSAUR is available now!

dino500x750

Amazon (US) (CA) (UK)

 

We’ve Got Loki All Wrong

We’re going to take a short break from dinosaurs today to help celebrate a different book. The Songweaver’s Vow is by Laura VanArendonk Baugh. You should recognise her name by now (and not just because it stands out LoL) because I’m a pretty big fan of hers and have been lucky enough to work with her on several occasions. On this occasion she wants to talk about Loki. I’ve been reading a lot about Loki (in particular because I just finished putting together Equus and Loki has that whole ‘turned into a horse’ thing goin’ on), but also because c’mon! It’s Loki!

 

We’ve Got Loki All Wrong

by Laura VanArendonk Baugh

Photo by Gage Skidmore

Photo by Gage Skidmore

Loki is kind of a big deal.

From Diana Wynne Jones’ Eight Days of Luke to Neil Gaiman’s American Gods to Marvel’s Avengers films and comic Agent of Asgard, Loki has captured the modern imagination like no other Norse figure. And yes, Thor, sorry, but I’m including you in that. You may be Marvel’s nominal hero, but do you have your own imagine-pr0n Tumblrs? (Okay, you know what, you probably do, because Tumblr. Let’s just move on.)

Because Loki has been so popularly reimagined, however, it can be hard to get an authentic take on him. Even when he is the villain, he usually ends up something of an anti-hero, or at least a sympathetic and attractive villain. (See the Marvel cinematic universe for Exhibit A.)

A playwright friend who adapted Treasure Island for the stage commented to me on how difficult it was to “translate,” because the original audience viewed the pirates as villains while today’s audience (influenced by Pirates of the Caribbean, etc.) views the pirates as the heroes. That’s much the same thing here. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a big fan of Tom Hiddleston too! but this is not that Loki.

In the source material, Loki is not an anti-hero. He is a – what’s this blog rated? – he’s a turdblossom.

A Force of Destruction

1280px-Loki_taunts_BragiThough Loki is often canonically found in Asgard, he’s not a god. The word Jötunn is often translated “giant,” but that’s not terribly accurate; Loki and his kind are actually “devourers.” They are destroyers. They are the chaos to counter the order of Asgard.

And so all the crazy antics for which we know Loki best are not merely amusing tales – turning into a female horse and getting pregnant by a stallion, tethering a goat to his testicles, insulting all the gods and their guests in order – but a deliberate overturning of everything the original audience would have held as honorable and just and comprehensible. And Loki isn’t doing it to make a point, not seeking social justice or questioning social norms, he’s doing it because it’s his nature to tear down and it is fun – even when it has dire personal consequences.

I never planned for this book to give Loki a major role, because so many Norse-based stories are Loki-centric. But in the end, he had more to do with it all than I’d intended, because the one thing you can count on from Loki is that he will do whatever is least intended and most inconvenient.

When Euthalia’s father trades her to Viking raiders, her best hope is to be made a wife instead of a slave. She gets her wish – sort of – when she is sacrificed as a bride to a god.

Her inhuman husband seems kind, but he visits only in the dark of night and will not allow her to look upon him. By day Euthalia becomes known as a storyteller, spinning ancient Greek tales to entertain Asgard’s gods and monsters.

When one of her stories precipitates a god’s murder and horrific retribution, Euthalia discovers there is a monster in her bed as well. Alone in a hostile Asgard, Euthalia must ally with a spiteful goddess to sway Odin himself before bloody tragedy opens Ragnarok, the prophesied end of the world.

The Songweaver’s Vow released Tuesday, February 21, and is available at Amazon and wherever books are sold.

 

Elemental-5252-webLaura VanArendonk Baugh overcame the dubious challenge of having been born without teeth or developed motor skills to become an award-winning writer of speculative fiction, mystery, and non-fiction. Her works have earned numerous accolades, including 3-star ratings (the highest possible) on Tangent’s “Recommended Reading” list. Laura speaks professionally on a variety of topics throughout the year, including writing, fan costuming, and her day job as a professional animal trainer and behavior consultant. Find her at www.LauraVanArendonkBaugh.com .

 

Laura VanArendonk Baugh Reading

We’re going to be launching D is for Dinosaur here in Edmonton this March:

D is for Dinosaur

(Details here)

But because the D is for Dinosaur contributors are spread so far out across the globe (and there are twenty-six of them!) we couldn’t possibly include everyone. So I asked the other contributors if they’d like to record themselves doing a reading from their story and I’d share it on my blog.

Laura VanArendonk Baugh responded with a video reading… and she got a little bit more help with it than she’d anticipated. Check it out:

 

Laura VanArendonk Baugh overcame the dubious challenge of having been born without teeth or developed motor skills to become an award-winning writer of speculative fiction, mystery, and non-fiction. Her works have earned numerous accolades, including 3-star (the highest possible) ratings on Tangent’s “Recommended Reading” list. Laura speaks professionally on a variety of topics throughout the year, including writing, fan costuming, and her day job as a professional animal trainer and behavior consultant. Find her at www.LauraVAB.com.

Pre-order D IS FOR DINOSAUR for only $0.99!

(prices go up when it’s released tomorrow!)

dino500x750

Amazon (US) (CA) (UK)

E is for Evil

I’m excited to announce the theme for the next volume in my Alphabet Anthologies series will be:

E is for Evil

Oh man, I can’t even begin to tell you how excited I am about this one. The contributors to this anthology series never cease to amaze me with their clever and diverse interpretations of a theme and this one… well, I’m pretty sure it’s going to be a doozie!

Speaking of those contributors. For this volume the contributing authors, in random order, are Michael Fosburg, Lynn Hardaker, KV Taylor, Andrew Bourelle, Suzanne J. Willis, Samantha Kymmell-Harvey, Hal J. Friesen, C.S. MacCath, Michael B. Tager, Jonathan C. Parrish, Amanda C. Davis, Lilah Wild, Sara Cleto, Alexandra Seidel, Mary Alexandra Agner, Cory Cone, Jeanne Kramer-Smyth, Beth Cato, Laura VanArendonk Baugh, Megan Engelhardt, Gary B. Phillips, Brittany Warman, BD Wilson, L.S. Johnson, Pete Aldin and Michael M. Jones.

E is for Evil will be hitting shelves spring of next year, so we’ll all need to be patient while we wait for it, but people had been asking what the next letter was going to be and I was getting tired of saying it was a secret 🙂

Previous volumes in this series include A is for Apocalypse, B is for Broken, C is for Chimera and — coming out in less than three weeks! — D is for DInosaur.

D is for Dinosaur cover reveal

dino500x750

For the fourth installment of Rhonda Parrish’s Alphabet Anthologies, contributors were challenged to write about dinosaurs. The resulting twenty-six stories contain widely different interpretations of the dinosaur theme and span the spectrum from literal to metaphoric.

Within these pages stories set in alternate histories, far-flung futures and times just around the corner, dinosaurs whimper and waste away, or roar and rage. People can be dinosaurs, as can ideas, fictions and flesh. Knitted dinosaurs share space with ghostly, genetically engineered and even narcotic ones.

Teenagers must embrace their inner dinosaurs in order to find peace and belonging, a dying woman duels a God in a far future city that echoes aspects of our past, an abused wife accompanies her husband on a hunt for an ancient power and finds more than she could ever have imagined and a girl with wonderful magical powers stumbles across the bones of a giant long-dead lizard. And so much more!

Features stories by Alexandra Seidel, Pete Aldin, Beth Cato, Michael Kellar, Cory Cone, Simon Kewin, Samantha Kymmell-Harvey, C.S. MacCath, KV Taylor, Laura VanArendonk Baugh, Michael B. Tager, Gary B. Phillips, Michael M. Jones, L.S. Johnson, Brittany Warman, Hal J. Friesen, Megan Engelhardt, BD Wilson, Michael Fosburg, Jonathan C. Parrish, Suzanne J. Willis, Lynn Hardaker, Amanda C. Davis, Andrew Bourelle, Sara Cleto and Jeanne Kramer-Smyth.

This cover was designed by Jonathan C. Parrish using original artwork by Janice Blaine.

D is for Dinosaur will be available in February 2017. In the meantime, don’t forget to add it to your ‘Want to read’ shelf on Goodreads and LibraryThing!