Tag Archives: One Horn To Rule Them All

Meet the Fictorians: Mary Stormy Pletsch

“Come in, — come in! and know me better, man!” -Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol

We’d love for you, our wonderful readers, to get to know us better. That’s why, each month, Kristin Luna will interview a member of The Fictorians. We’ll learn more about each member, such as their writing processes, their work, where they live, and what they prefer to drink on a warm summer’s day. We hope you enjoy this monthly installment of Meet the Fictorians.

Meet the Fictorians:

Mary Stormy Pletsch

Kristin Luna (KL): Hi Mary! How are you doing and what are you drinking presently?

Mary Pletsch (MP):I’m doing well and I’m drinking a can of Moxie. Let’s toast all the folks from Maine reading this and nodding. Everyone looking bewildered, head to Maine and see if you are among those lucky few who appreciate this delicious cola-type beverage.

KL: I love your love for Transformers. Please tell us when your love of them started and do you collect any action figures as an adult?

MP: Oh wow, in the fall of 1984 when the original animated series first aired. My Transformers and My Little Pony cabinets hold my life-long collections, still growing.

KL: How long have you been a Fictorian?

MP: I was here at the start of the site! I think that was 2010?

KL: One of the originals!

If you don’t mind sharing, where do you live? How does it play in to what you write about?

MP: I’ve lived in three provinces, but I do hold a special place in my heart for the Maritimes. I was proud to team up with my husband to write “The Island Way” in Tesseracts 19: Superhero Universe, which is a story about a superhero from Prince Edward Island caught between her family’s traditions and the opportunities she could find on the mainland.

KL: Your short stories have been in TWO unicorn anthologies: One Horn to Rule Them All and A Game of Horns. Tell us a little about both stories, and which one do you like best?

MP: Well, “Queen of the Hidden Way” in A Game of Horns is a prequel to “A Single Spark” in One Horn to Rule Them All. “A Single Spark” is the story of a young girl making her own destiny by joining a group of unicorn riders…and I really think that one is my favourite, because “The Unicorn Riders” is a game I used to play with my toys when I was a kid, and to have that mythology turn into an actual published story means a lot to me. Since the protagonist of “Spark” is a new recruit and not the group’s leader, I decided to make my second story be about the origin of the leader, who made her own decision to create the unicorn riders instead of fighting for her place on her nation’s throne. I like the way it turned out too, but as a prequel, it hasn’t got all the Riders in it yet.

KL: You’ve also had short stories in Apex magazine, Shock Totem, and other anthologies. What do you love about writing short fiction?

MP: I actually prefer long-form writing…novels and novellas. I like having the space for my characters to grow and change. I’ve learned a lot, though, from writing short fiction. Novels, by virtue of their length, are a harder way to practice building a story arc because they take so much longer to complete. And the word limits on short stories have done a lot to cure me of wordiness: when you’ve only got so many words to work with, you have to make every word count. I’ve also learned to focus in on primary characters and primary conflicts, and am less likely to get sidetracked by secondary characters or out-of-control subplots. This is why I recommend shorts as “learning-to-write” practice.

KL: That’s really interesting! So then what kind of stories do you gravitate toward writing and why? (Certain kinds of themes, protagonists, antagonists? Certain settings you seem to prefer?)

MP: I like to write military stories, but when I look back at my published works, they really are a mix. Every once in a while I get myself in the mood for a good creepy tale, but I’m not predominately a horror writer. I’m a sucker for tough older women and “found family,” particularly characters with a tendency to “adopt” younger characters.

KL: Are you working on any longer fiction right now or a book?

MP: I’m working on a book right now for The Ed Greenwood Group! It’s a space opera set in a “pulp sci-fi” universe: think larger-than-life heroes, ace pilots and rag-tag mercenaries, and a starship held together with baler wire.

KL: Sounds like a lot of fun! Are there any future projects of yours we can look forward to?

MPWell, there’s that book. 🙂 That should be coming out in 2018! I’ve not had as much time to write shorts this year now that I’ve got novels on my plate…but “Women in Practical Armor,” including my story “The Blood Axe,” should be out soon.

KL: What advice (that you’ve received) would pass on to a newer writer?

MP: Don’t be afraid to break rules. “Rules” that cause more harm than help don’t do you any favours. I don’t write every day. I don’t write when I’m sick. Writing when I’m sick creates pages of garbage I have to delete anyway, and delays my recovery, meaning in the end I’m farther behind for trying to write every day. Don’t get up and write first thing in the morning if you’re more alert in the afternoon: do your “mindless” tasks and get those out of the way first. Make the rules work for you, not the other way around.

KL: What’s your favorite Fictorians post that you’ve written so far and why?

MP: I’m happy with “The Semi-True Story” as an answer to the question about my writing process, which is informed by my reality without being a fully accurate report on it.

***

If you have any questions for Mary, please leave a comment below. Thank you for reading!

SSWS Writing Scholarship: Should YOU Apply?

We’re taught in school to always ask the questions: who, what, when, where, why and how. Today, let’s start with why.

job_huntHave you ever wanted to have one-on-one conversations with experienced, best-selling authors and be able to ask them anything? Have you ever wanted to meet a New York editor, an acquiring editor for one of the most successful small presses in the nation, or find qualified indie editors? Have you ever felt like having a larger community of dedicated writers around you might help improve your writing skills and your writing career? Does the business side of writing–working with agents, contracts, hiring artists and editors, marketing, etc–seem a bit overwhelming at times? Could you use information from people who know what they’re doing to help in your writing career?

If you answered yes to any of those questions, then you NEED to apply to the Superstars Writing Seminar (SSWS) scholarship. Here’s the link: http://superstarswriting.com/scholarships/ Seriously, go look at it right now.

2010 SuperstarsOkay, as for the other questions. What is SSWS? The most amazing writing seminar you will ever attend. I’m not just saying that, and no, I’m not being paid to say that. I attended the first SSWS in 2010. If it was mediocre or repetitive, I’d have only gone once. I’ve been three times. I plan on attending again. It is worth every penny, but if you earn the scholarship, your tuition will be free. Here’s what it says on the website: “The only focus at Superstars is to teach you how to have a successful writing career by sharing how those at the top of the industry manage their careers.” Take a look at the past classes, and I can only tell you that each year somehow manages to get even better.

Superstars Presenters April 2010Who? Anyone who hasn’t attended SSWS in past years is eligible to apply for the scholarship. The instructors are Kevin J. Anderson, James A. Owen, Rebecca Moesta, David Farland, and Eric Flint. To list their credentials would take the rest of this post. Guests include Toni Weisskopf (Baen books), Christine Monroe (the US Manager for Self-Publishing and Author Relations at Kobo), Todd McCaffrey, and Jody Lynn Nye. Again, I can’t list all their credentials. It’s just too much. Nope, I’m not done throwing out names. Past and recurring attendees include our very own David Carrico (author of 1636: The Devil’s Opera) and Brad R. Torgersen (multiple award nominee and winner) This is what Brad had to say, “This is not a craft class nor is it a critique workshop. It’s a no-holds-barred crash-course in how to perform and conduct yourself as a professional fiction author.” There are more quotes where those came from and you can find them on youtube, too.

When? The scholarship application is due by November 22nd. That’s this Saturday! The seminar will happen in February. colorado springsThat’s the perfect time so you’re somewhat recovered from Christmas, have your tax refund on its way, and are in need of a short vacation. The exact date for 2015 is February 5-7th.

Where? Apply to the scholarship from the website, but give yourself time to write a short essay and get a couple of referrals. The people involved in making this opportunity take it seriously. They want to give it to you, but you have to show that you really want it and are willing to do the work. The seminar takes place in beautiful Colorado Springs, Colorado. It’s a great place to visit, and airfare is reasonable.

unikarkadan2How? For the full story on how this scholarship came to exist, I encourage you to read the introduction to One Horn to Rule Them All: A Purple Unicorn Anthology. It still gives me a warm feeling every time I scan over the story again. Once the idea took root to fund a scholarship so aspiring writers could attend SSWS, people pitched in. The cover artist, the publisher, the editor, and the famous and not-so-famous writers all volunteered time and work for the sake of helping other writers find their dream. And even though SSWS attendees were competing with one another for slots in the book, we cheered each other on, critiqued stories to help one another, and as often happens with this group, we did all we could to help our writing friends succeed. opportunity knocksThat is a rare camaraderie to have with a group this size, but it’s there and it’s precious.

In conclusion: If you’re serious about writing, take the time, do the work, and apply for this scholarship. Hurry! You’ve only got a few days to change the rest of your life. Opportunity is banging at the door.

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

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.