Tag Archives: V.F. LeSann

Fire: Demons, Dragons and Djinns

This last weekend we launched Fire: Demons, Dragons and Djinns at When Words Collide in Calgary, Alberta and sold out of copies at the show.

And there were a lot of copies.

Like, a lot, a lot.

It set a new record for most number of books sold at WWC (or any single event) for me!

But, that’s not the point of this post. As much as I’d like to just dwell on that forever, life does move on and so must I… but I DO have good news.

Today is the official release day of Fire: Demons, Dragons and Djinns!

That means, if you pre-ordered it either it should be downloaded to your e-reader and ready to go or, if you got the paperback, it ought to be in your mailbox very soon.

Also? Reviews are starting to trickle in. Reviews like this one:

“Fire: Demons, Dragons, and Djinn is an incredibly eclectic and carefully curated collection of short stories… the entire anthology is a treasure of incendiary delights and terrors which deserves a permanent spot on your e-reader’s shelf.”

— Melanie S., Goodreads Reviewer

Yay!

If you haven’t picked up a copy yet, or don’t even know what I’m talking about, all that information is below, and both B&N and Amazon have ‘Look inside’ features in case you want a little taste before you buy.

To everyone who pre-ordered already, thank you SO much for your support. If not for you I couldn’t do what I do (and I love what I do), so thank you, thank you. I hope you love the book as much as I do 🙂

The ability for people to control (to some extent at least) fire has long been held as one of the major events that contributed to human evolution, but when fire eludes or escapes our control it is also one of the most destructive forces on earth. Associated with passion, power, transformation and purification, fire is a ferocious element with an unquenchable appetite.

Discover the power of Fire and the creatures that thrive on it in these twenty-one stories, including: the true inspiration behind Jim Morrison’s songs; a special weapon used in World War II; the secret in the depths of a mortuary furnace; a fantastical card game; and a necromancer out on what may be his last job.

Featuring: Blake Jessop; Kevin Cockle; Lizbeth Ashton; Dusty Thorne; V.F. LeSann; K.T. Ivanrest; Hal J. Friesen; Laura VanArendonk Baugh; Krista D. Ball; Mara Malins; Claude Lalumière; Susan MacGregor; JB Riley; Damascus Mincemeyer; Heather M. O’Connor; Gabrielle Harbowy; R. W. Hodgson; Chadwick Ginther; Wendy Nikel; Annie Neugebauer; and J.G. Formato.

 

Get Your Copy Now!

Direct from the Publisher

Electronic: Amazon Kobo | B&N

Paperback: B&N | Amazon

Fire Table of Contents

I’ve been stoked (heh) about this anthology from the very beginning for all sorts of reasons. First, because it’s the first volume in what I hope will be a new and awesome series. Second, because it’s my first foray into working with Tyche Books. Third, because it’s a super fun theme with tonnes of potential. Fourth — demons, dragons and djinn. I mean, c’mon!

But despite how excited I was there’s this stage that happens with every anthology I work on where I’m absolutely, positively certain that things aren’t going to come together and I’m never going to have a table of contents and even if I do it’s not going to do the thing justice and blah blah blah blah. You know what I’m talking about, if not specifically when it comes to anthologies than about something. It’s like Imposter Syndrome and ‘It’s always shinier in my brain than it is on the page’ had a baby and that baby moved into my brain and is having a never-ending temper tantrum. Yeah. That.

It happens every time.

And every time the baby eventually grows up and moves away and I realise that, actually, I’ve put together something special.

And each anthology is special in its own way.

The Fire baby (man I’m really milking this aren’t I? LOL) moved out quite a long time ago, actually, so I’ve had lots of time to really enjoy this anthology and really appreciate the things about it that make it special.

Fire is special to me for two big reasons.

First, the quality of the stories and their diversity in regard to tone, voice, point of view, theme and style is impressive. By my count, just off the top of my head and going by memory within these twenty-one stories six have demons, six have dragons and three have djinn. Some have all three. Some have none of those. Some are pretty subtle and others couldn’t be more in your face if they tried. There are fire critters I’d never heard of, and stories went in directions I never could have guessed at, and I love that.

Second, there is a fantastic mix between authors I’ve worked with before and those I’m working with for the very first time. Working with people I’ve worked with before is always a bit easier–we’ve been down this road, we know what to expect. It’s comfortable, familiar. We know each other. We might even be friends. And working with new people is exciting, scary and new. I never know exactly how they are going to take my edits, or my sense of humour. In some cases we’ll meet for the first time at a launch, or event. It keeps me on my toes. This anthology has a great mix of comfort and fear… sort of like fire itself.

So without further ado:

Fire: Demons, Dragons and Djinn

 

“Magnesium Bright” by Lizbeth Ashton
“Bait” by Krista D. Ball
“Strange Attractor” by Kevin Cockle
“The Midwife and the Phoenix” by J.G. Formato
“The Djinni and the Accountant” by Hal J. Friesen
“Midnight Man versus Frankie Flame” by Chadwick Ginther
“Cold Comfort” by Gabrielle Harbowy
“Aitvaras” by R.W. Hodgson
“The Hatchling” by K.T. Ivanrest
“She Alone” by Blake Jessop
“A Girl, Ablaze with Life” by Claude Lalumière
“Old Flames” by V. F. LeSann
“Light My Fire” by Susan MacGregor
“Double or Nothing” by Mara Malins
“Aladdin’s Laugh” by Damascus Mincemeyer
“Cilantro” by Annie Neugebauer
“Breath of the Caldera” by Wendy Nikel
“Phoenix Rising” by Heather M. O’Connor
“Ring of Fire” by JB Riley
“Permanence” by Dusty Thorne
“The Second Great Fire” by Laura VanArendonk Baugh
Fire: Demons, Dragons and Djinn will be launched at When Words Collide in Calgary, Alberta this August 🙂

Freedom

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!

Younicorn?

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 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 rhonda.l.parrish@gmail.com 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
Amazon
Barnes and Noble
Kobo
iBookstore

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.

VS.

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!

Semifinals Round One Results

Wow. This was an exciting round with the competitors getting votes and passing the lead back and forth right up until the very end! When voting closed only one point separated the two equines!

The winner of the first round of the semifinals, and moving on to the finals is:

Story Title: Riders in the Sky

Author: V. F. LeSann

Equine Combatant’s Name): Peregrine

Species: Damned soul

Every person who votes has their name tossed into a virtual hat for a chance to win their choice of any of these unclaimed books. This week’s winner is Sylvie Stulic. Sylvie, please contact me to claim your prize 🙂

(More details and a larger version of this picture are available at http://www.rhondaparrish.com/incentive/ )

Starting tomorrow our combatants will be:

The War Unicorns from “Rue the Day”

vs

The kelpie from “The Boys From Witless Bay”

 

Excerpt from “A Mother Unicorn’s Advice for her Daughter” by J.J. Roth:

Hide in plain sight. Let the dappled light through the forest canopy color your whiteness with camouflaging shadow. Let stillness be your friend when the hunter’s horn or adventurer’s voice carries through the vegetal quiet.

Breathe without sound. Depend on secrecy and stealth.

Once you are sighted, the hunt begins. Once the hunt begins, you are vulnerable.

Be generous, but circumspect, with your gifts. Dip your horn in struggling streams when no one is looking. Draw its healing point along the withered bodies of sick ferrets and ailing fawns. Lay its curative spiral against the breasts of lost, unconscious humans, but stay out of their healthy fellows’ sight.

Cover your tracks as you leave. If caught, you’re more likely to be destroyed than loved.

This constant hiding may make you feel unreal.

This is normal.

If you like what you’re reading, you are going to love Equus. And good news — you can reserve your copy now to make sure you’re among the very first to get it when it’s released on July 18th!

Pre-order Equus now:

World Weaver Press
Amazon
Barnes and Noble
Kobo
iBookstore

Equus Battle Royal – Semifinals

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 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: 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.”

It’s just that easy.

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!

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