The Fictorians

What’s Up, Doc?

5 September 2014 | 2 Comments » | Kim May

Back in high school I worked at Burger King. Since I was one of the few who could calculate the amount of change due without using a calculator, I was put on drive thru duty. A lot. So there wasn’t anything out of the ordinary when I took up my cramped post two days before halloween.

Two cars pulled up to the menu board and I dutifully took their orders. When the first car pulled up to the window I noticed that the passenger was dressed as a rabbit. He wasn’t wearing a pair of ears and glue on whiskers. It was a full body suit. I thought it unusual that they would be going to a costume party on a Thursday afternoon but whatever. It was close enough to Halloween.

I took their money, they took their food, and they drove away. The second car pulled up. Both the driver and passenger were dressed in red plaid hunting gear.

Before I could say hello the driver leaned forward and said “Be vewy, vewy quiet. We’re hunting wabbits!”

I couldn’t speak for a full minute. I was laughing too hard. If I tried to put this scene in a book it wouldn’t work. It’s so contrived. But dang! It was funny!

The Self-cleaning Dog

4 September 2014 | 3 Comments » | Gregory D. Little

Riley carOur dog is a weird dog. I know pretty much any dog owner would say that. I also know what you’re thinking based on the title of this post, but no, it’s not about how my dog licks himself clean. All dogs do that. But not all dogs carry their own bag of poop to the trash on walks the way our dog does. Have I got your attention yet?

Before I get a bunch of comments below asking for my address so people can ship me their dogs for training, let me up the ante. We didn’t have to train our dog to carry his own poop. He started doing it all on his own.

Let’s back up. As you can see from the picture, my wife and I have a yellow Lab. His name is Riley. He is, if I may be immodest on his behalf, exceedingly handsome and fiendishly smart. He also has a Lab’s compulsive need to have something in his mouth. Carrying things in his mouth on walks is heaven for him. As a puppy he would pick up big rocks and bring them home just to have something in his mouth. We still use one as a doorstop. Nowadays he’s more likely to pilfer toys or tennis balls he finds lying around. If we walk him to the local tea store or the local bakery to get cookies, he carries the bag home for us. He always has to be “coaxed” (bribed) to give up the bag if it’s full of delicious food smells.Riley1

Because we live in an apartment with only public spaces around us, we’ve always been diligent about picking up after him. We would carry the bag along, trying hard not to think about what was in it, until we reached the nearest trash can or dumpster. Then one day I noticed Riley staring at the bag after I tied it off. He made eye contact with me, then looked at the bag. He kept repeating the gesture, marveling at my stupidity, and as any dog owner will tell you, this means: “I want what you have in your hand.”

Not sure where this was going to go, I rolled up the loose end of the bag above the knot and offered it to him. He took it, seeming perfectly happy, and we marched on. At the nearest trash can, I told him to drop it, and he did. He’s been doing it ever since, and nowadays he even knows where all the trash cans are and will lead the way to the nearest one.

Most people who see this are incredibly amused. I’m not exaggerating when I say we’ve stopped traffic on multiple occasions. We’ve also met people who’ve never seen him but have heard of him. He’s a minor local celebrity. We were even asked if he could be the mascot for a city ad campaign to pick up after your pets.

We’ve also had a few people tell us it was cruel to “make” our dog carry his own poop bag. What they don’t see is how mad he gets during the times we don’t let him carry it. Sometimes the bag gets torn. Sometimes there is a trash can right next to us when he goes. One time I carried a torn bag to a trash can while he followed me indignantly and tried to steal the bag the whole way. After I tossed the bag, he tried to knock down the trash can to get it back.

So yeah, up there at the beginning of the post, did I say weird? I meant great. Our dog is a great dog.

When Purple Unicorns Become More – One Horn To Rule Them All

3 September 2014 | 1 Comment » | Nancy

Over the years the Fictorians site has existed we’ve talked a lot about Superstars Writing Seminar. This group wouldn’t exist without Superstars. It’s hard to explain how special this conference and the people who attend it are. But maybe, Lisa Mangum’s post below might give you some idea.

Lisa has loved and worked with books ever since elementary school, when she volunteered at the school library during recess. Her first paying job was shelving books at the Sandy Library. She worked for five years at Waldenbooks while she attended the University of Utah, graduating with honors with a degree in English.

An avid reader of all genres, Lisa crossed over to the publishing side of the industry in 1997. She’s currently the Managing Editor at Shadow Mountain. Lisa loves movies, sunsets, spending time with her family, trips to Disneyland, and vanilla ice cream topped with fresh raspberries. She lives in Utah, with her husband, Tracy. She is the author of the Hourglass Door trilogy and After Hello.

So, Lisa – When is a Purple Unicorn more than just a silly mythical creature?

***

one horn

 

I’ve been working in the publishing industry since 1997, and I’ve seen a lot of books cross my desk. I’ve even written a few books of my own. But I haven’t ever really edited an anthology quite like ONE HORN TO RULE THEM ALL. I mean—purple unicorns? Really?

Yes, really.

The genesis of the collection came about from the Superstars Writing Seminar. I was attending for the first time, and I was both impressed and amused by the fact that a purple unicorn was the example used to illustrate how to be a professional author. The idea was that if an editor asks you for a story about a purple unicorn, you better deliver a story about a purple unicorn.

As the conversation continued, I made a comment on the Superstars Facebook page about how now I kinda wanted to write a purple unicorn story. Enough people agreed with me and responded with title suggestions and more pictures of unicorns than I imagined existed. (Though, hello, Internet, so perhaps I shouldn’t have been surprised.)

The idea stuck with me, though, long after the seminar ended, and one day I emailed Kevin J. Anderson (cofounder of Superstars) and said, “This might be the stupidest idea ever—or the most brilliant.”

Together we hammered out a plan that would result in a collection of twenty stories about purple unicorns. I said I would donate my time to edit the anthology (including reviewing all the stories and editing them) if WordFire Press would publish it, and all sales of the book would benefit a scholarship fund for someone to attend next year’s Superstars.

I’ll be honest. It’s not like I had a lot of time to edit a 100K-word anthology in July. I had a novella of my own to finish writing, plus a Con to attend, plus helping my husband shoot his short film, not to mention all the work that comes with my full-time job as Managing Editor of Shadow Mountain Publishing. And yet…

I wanted to work on the project. I had such an amazing time at the Superstars seminar, and it was such a rich and fulfilling weekend that I wanted other people to enjoy the same thing. Plus, I had made dear friends with the other Superstars attendees, and I wanted to read the stories they would write.

So, as an editor, I asked for unicorn stories. And, as professionals, the Superstar authors delivered.

And oh, the stories they wrote! Some were funny, some were sad. I read stories about detectives and mobsters and fairies and moms and zookeepers and veterans. I traveled to distant planets, to Fairyland, to a Comic-Con.

It has been a joy and a privilege to work on this anthology. The stories are amazing, and best of all, with each book sold, we get that much closer to bringing even more aspiring authors into the Superstars Tribe as we help each other make the leap from amateur to professional.

Being a writer can be a crazy career choice. Publishing can be heartless. It’s a crazy world out there, kids. Best find yourself a Tribe—and bring a unicorn with you if at all possible.

***

 Thank you, Lisa. Purple Unicorns are everywhere. Pets and RenFest 8.14 004

She picked some amazing stories for the anthology. Kevin J. Anderson and the entire WordFire gang will be at Salt Lake ComicCon starting on September 4. Stop by the WordFire Booth to say “hi” and maybe help us fund the Superstars scholarship. If you buy a copy of One Horn To Rule Them All at the Wordfire booth I bet you can get several of the authors to autograph it. The book sells for $14.95 in paperback and $4.99 in E-reader formats:

If you (like me) aren’t able to attend the Salt Lake ComicCon this time, you can find Purple Unicorns here:

Kobo: http://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/one-horn-to-rule-them-all

(Kobo like Shadow Mountain is a Superstars Sponsor so if we can send love/ sales its way, that would be wonderful).

Amazon: One Horn

Barnes & Noble: One Horn To Rule Them All. 

Hair Popsicle

2 September 2014 | 2 Comments » | clancy

Imagine this as hair…

I grew up in Fairbanks, Alaska. We moved there when I was ten. And as much as I hated it at the time, I grew to love it more. One of the reasons was all the incredible stories that I can tell for having lived there for a decade.

My favorite and the one that most people find bizarre is the Hair Popsicle story which believable or not, I may still use in one of my stories.

I lived at twenty-two and a quarter mile Chena Hot Springs road. The only place this road ran was the fifty miles from Fairbanks to Chena Hot Springs. There was a road that t-boned it and cut over toward North Pole (an actual town and home of the Santa Claus house where you could have letters from Santa sent to children with a real North Pole postmark). To get from where I lived to my high school was a twenty-five mile trip one way. The school bus was driven by a neighbor who lived a few miles further up the road at the end of the paved and populated part of Chena Hot Springs road. She would keep the bus at her place overnight, drive it the one way picking up kids and then not return it back out there until after school when she dropped us all off. There was a definite small town feel among all of us who lived in that fourteen mile stretch of Chena Hot Springs road.

Why all this background? To set the stage. The bus driver didn’t just leave if you were running a few minutes late because the winter weather in Alaska, which was most of the school year, didn’t really accommodate waiting on the road for the bus. It was cold. And dark. In order to get us to school in time we were catching the bus at something like 6am. Truth be told, in the heart of winter, it was mostly dark twenty-four hours a day. So, the bus driver would hit the end of my driveway and honk, wait for me to run up the drive which was almost a quarter mile long, and I’d catch the bus.

Life in Alaska is a little different from anywhere else I’ve lived, and I’ve lived in eleven states. Alaska is unique.

More setting – stay with me. Because we lived in Alaska and Alaska gets cold, our school didn’t officially close down until the temperatures hit sixty below zero. Mind you, back in the Portland area of Oregon, where I used to live, if it snowed two inches, everything shut down. In Alaska, “home of the individual and other endangered species”, school and everything else went on until it hit -60°F and forget how much snow there was because we would still have four feet on the ground in April. Also, keep in mind that freezing is at 32°F. Sixty below is a full ninety degrees colder than freezing. At -50°F it was optional to go to school and the parent’s decision. I have been to school when it is optional.

This one winter, we had a long spell of cold that was in the -40°F range. This is where you can hardly breathe for the cold air hitting your lungs. I was running late that fateful morning and by the time I got out of the shower I had minutes to get dressed. I heard the bus honking as I was combing my long straight hair that was still almost dripping wet. I pulled on my boots, grabbed my coat and ran. No hat, no gloves. I didn’t even do up my coat. I just ran because I couldn’t miss the bus. Halfway down my long drive way, my hand came up and hit my hair.

You know how long hair, when wet, hangs in icicle like clumps? Yeah, that was my hair. And it had frozen in the few minutes it took to get halfway down my drive way. And frozen stuff that is hit, breaks. Yep, I broke my hair. Cursing, I grabbed the frozen hair Popsicle from the snow and ran on.

Once on the bus, I was able to truly assess the situation. I was holding an icicle of hair about an inch in diameter at the widest part and about eight inches long. It had snapped off straight, right below my ear. As my hair thawed on the ride to school, I realized how bad it was. Do try to imagine it if you can. All day at school I got teased and then had to get a horrible shag haircut to minimize the damage done.

Needless to say, I was more careful in the future, and I got a cool (get it… cool… lol) story out of it. Can’t wait to hear more tales that are stranger than fiction.

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