Tag Archives: Peter S. Beagle

Anthologies

If you’ve followed this blog for awhile you have probably heard of Superstars Writing Seminars. Each of us Fictorians participated in the seminars and as such are considered Tribe Members. Not only did we get to spend several days rubbing shoulders with the greats like Kevin J. Anderson, David Farland, James A. Owen and many other top notch authors, we also have had the chance to meet one another.

Through Superstars I met my crit group. I also met the fine folks that started the Fictorians and through my association was invited to join. Another perk is the opportunity to participate in an annual anthology.

A few years ago, I hadn’t attended the most recent Superstars (usually in February, in Colorado). I followed a thread on Facebook introducing an anthology about purple unicorns. I couldn’t understand why, of all the awesome things to write about, would such a talented group of writers put out an anthology about purple unicorns. It seemed rather silly to me and I didn’t participate.

Later, I learned that the idea stemmed from a part of the seminar discussing the submission of what an editor/agent/publisher was looking for. If they want purple unicorns don’t write about dragons, even if they’re purple dragons. And don’t write about pink unicorns. Give them the best story you possibly can about purple unicorns.

When several of my friends and fellow tribe members were selected to participate in the anthology, I realized what I had missed. They were published by WordFire Press alongside Peter S. Beagle, Todd McCaffrey, Jody Lynn Nye and others. I kicked myself for not at least trying. Then I read the fantastic compilation of stories, one more unique than the next, each about a purple unicorn. It was incredible.

The next year, I didn’t hesitate to submit a story to the anthology about red unicorns. Even though I didn’t make the cut, the process was educational and worthwhile. I ended up selling my story to another anthology that will hopefully be released soon.

This past year I worked extra hard. The anthology went a different direction, dealing with dragons. It also took on a charitable purpose, named after a fellow tribe member who passed away. All profits support The Don Hodge Memorial Scholarship Fund, providing tuition to Superstars for those who are awarded funds by other tribe members. About 6 scholarships were awarded last year.

This time I made the cut. My story, HIS GREATEST CREATION, was selected alongside some incredible writers including Brandon Sanderson.

And now, in 2017, we are anxiously waiting the results of another Anthology, this one dealing with underwater sea creatures. My story, THE SHARK KING, has so far made the first cut.

Because of Superstars and WordFire Press, I can claim the status of a published author. It has been fantastic to participate in the process and learn from incredible people like Lisa Mangum who has edited all of the anthologies thus far. And each of the anthologies has been illustrated by James A. Owen.

So, if you want to write and you hope to get published, Superstars is the way to go. Not just for the anthology opportunity but because of all the training and awesome people you’ll meet in the process.

Jace KillanI live in Arizona with my family, wife and five kids and a little dog. I write fiction, thrillers and soft sci-fi with a little short horror on the side. I hold an MBA and work in finance for a biotechnology firm.

I volunteer with the Boy Scouts, play and write music, and enjoy everything outdoors. I’m also a novice photographer.

You can read some of my works by visiting my Wattpad page and learn more at www.jacekillan.com.

Meet the Fictorians: Kim May

“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 crisp Fall day. We hope you enjoy this monthly installment of Meet the Fictorians.

Meet the Fictorians:

Kim May

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

Kim May (KM): Nothing exciting. Just water.

KL: If you don’t mind me sharing, you live in the beautiful state of Oregon. Do you like living there, and do you find that it influences settings in your stories?

KM: It definitely does. Oregon has very diverse terrain which makes setting research much easier. I think tundra and tropical rain forest are all we’re missing. Plus there’s fun historical sites like the Shanghai Tunnels (which I did set a story in) and places so full of enchantment that it’s not hard to imagine fairies flitting between the firs.

KL: Besides blogging for The Fictorians, you have your own successful blog Ninja Keyboard. Tell us about it!

KMNinja Keyboard is where I post updates what I’m up to, new release announcements, general thoughts on the industry or a movie, or anything else I feel a burning need to talk about. I try to keep it all about me and my work. You’ll never see a political rant or religious treatise on my blog.

KL: You’ve been published numerous times in Fiction River. Tell about your stories and how we can purchase Fiction River.

KM: Fiction River is a bi-monthly short story magazine published by WMG Publishing. Each issue has a different editor and different theme that can be anything from historical mystery or thrillers to sci-fi and steampunk. There’s something for everyone! It’s a lot of fun writing so many different genres and it’s definitely expanded my capabilities as a writer. Before I got involved with Fiction River I never thought I could write anything other than sci-fi and fantasy. Now I can say that I have published stories of four different genres.

Another great thing about Fiction River is because they’re published like books, none of the back issues have gone out of print! They’re available for purchase online on Amazon, iBooks, Kobo, and on the Fiction River and WMG websites. Reader’s Guide and Powell’s stores in Oregon have print copies of the issues I’m in on hand as well.

KL: Of your short stories published, which one is your favorite and why?

KM: Gosh! That’s like picking a favorite chocolate bar! I love all of them for different reasons. I love Blood Moon Carnival because that’s the story I channeled my grief for my 19 year old cat into. (She died the day I finished it.) I love Void around the Sword’s Edge because it’s my action packed “stripper saves the world” story. Moonshine is a tribute to my favorite grandmother. The Fukuda Cube was my first RPG tie-in story, and it was by far the most challenging to write. In Keep Portland Weird I got to do an ode to Pacific Rim in Larry Correia’s Monster Hunter universe. In When A Good Fox Goes To War I got to play in feudal Japan, and Schrodinger’s Bar has my coolest ending!

KL: All of those sound really fun and interesting! Are you working on any longer fiction right now?

KM: I am! I’m finishing up two novels. The first is a new adult contemporary fantasy that I’m going to indie publish sometime next year and the other is a techno-thriller I’m going to pitch around.

KL: What are some of your writing goals for 2017?

KM: I just want to survive 2017. I’ve got three short stories and a novel coming out next year…and that’s just what’s on my publishing schedule right now. I’d also like to write the sequel to the new adult book I mentioned earlier. That’s all in addition to working a full-time day job and managing my arthritis, which are exhausting by themselves.

KL: What’s some of the best writing advice you’ve received so far?

KM: This is something I’ve talked about on this blog and on my own. It’s WTFS. Write the (bleep) sentence. I used to spend so much time agonizing on what the perfect phrasing would be or if description A was better than description B. I needed to understand that a first draft is just that: the first of many drafts. It doesn’t need to be perfect right away. It’s better to put something, anything, on the page and fix it later.

KL: What writers are most influential to you and why?

KM: Anne McCaffrey, Brandon Sanderson, Jacqueline Carey, Peter S Beagle, Mary Robinette Kowal, and Patrick Rothfuss are my favorite storytellers. I easily get lost in the worlds they’ve created. Choose Your Own Adventure books were pretty influential too. As a kid I read each of them three or four times. The first time I’d find the ending I liked best and then backtrack to find the path I had to follow to get there. After reading it that way I’d re-read it to find out why the other paths ended the way they did.

KL: What is your favorite Fictorians post so far?

KM: My first post is my favorite: Stockholm Syndrome Barbie. It’s a slice of me with a cherry on top. Stockholm Syndrome Barbie – The Fictorians.

***

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

Coming Late to Wonder.

I “discovered” Science Fiction and Fantasy later than you might think. Sure, I read all the Dr. Seuss books, Magic Elizabeth that included a doll who may or may not be magic, and The Bridge To Terabithia, and loved its magic. I read the Lord of the Rings series and The Hobbit as a hand-me-down book from my brother. I read Vonnegut as a hand-me-down book from my father. In fact, I still have most of those early Kurt Vonnegut books on my shelf.

But when high school rolled around, I fell out of love with fantasy. Why? Well, my brother is six years older than I am, and I definitely had younger sibling syndrome. Paul read Stephen King so in sixth grade I picked up my first Stephen King novel – Carrie. I read almost exclusively horror (I made exceptions for the Star Wars books – little knowing that I would one day be friends with a number of those writers) until my sophomore year of college. I think I read every vampire story published at the time, and those vampires weren’t ones you wanted to take home and cuddle.

River of the Dancing GodsI wrote until my sophomore year in high school. By then I had written a novel to help me move beyond some bad things in my life., and four fan fiction – Battlestar Galactica and A-Team – romance novels. Yes. Dirk Benedict was dreamy. Le sigh!

Anyway . . . Campfire of America had published one of my short stories. Writing and drawing was part of who I was. But after a bad experience with my then English teacher (which is a topic for another day), I gave up writing. After all, an adult – my English teacher even – had told me that I couldn’t do this.

So, fast forward four years. That college summer I was fortunate enough to work at Bush Gardens, Williamsburg in its Live Entertainment Department. What does that mean? I worked in the theatre running a spot light. One of my friends there was an avid fantasy reader. There’s a lot of downtime between shows. So, he started lending me books. The first one was The River of The Dancing Gods by Jack L. Chalker. If you don’t know the series, it’s well worth checking out. In brief though, Joe, a truck driver, picks up Marge, a hitchhiker. Throckmorton P. Ruddygore–a stranger who met them on a road that wasn’t there–tells them they have 19 minutes before they die in a car accident or, they can come with him to another world over the Sea of Dreams. They chose to go with Throckmorton and get to chose their new forms from, essentially, the Dungeons and Dragon class list. Then things get interesting. From there I dove into Terry Pratchett’s DiskWolast unicornrld – The Light Fantastic and The Color of Magic.

The other thing that happened that year to reintroduce me to the fantasy genre was I watched The Last Unicorn by Peter Beagle on VHS. For lots of reasons that story became very important to me. When I was checking out the fantasy novels from the Williamsburg, VA public library, I found The Last Unicorn as well. While it’s not my favorite Peter Beagle book – that distinction goes to A Fine and Private Place-, it and River of the Dancing Gods were the one changed how I thought about fantasy novels. Not only could these novels entertain, but they had meaning outside the pages. They could touch the heart and change lives.

I was lucky enough to purchase some of the original animation cels from the movie version of The Last Unicorn from Ebay and other sites. When we moved into our current house almost 13 years ago, I used those cells to paint a mural from the cel of the unicorns running on my sons’ bedroom wall. It was a bit heart breaking IMG_0163when they were no longer “babies” and we had to paint over the unicorns.

Still, it took me some time before I started thinking, “I can do that” again. But the desire to write again took root. I’d find myself day dreaming about worlds that didn’t exist anywhere except my head. While I had a job offer from Bush Gardens for the next summer, I had to turn it down because Mom had moved to Florida for a job needed surgery which would render her somewhat helpless for a few weeks, and Dad’s job kept him in Massachusetts. As life worked out, Dad quit his job and moved to Florida so my help became unnecessary. Dad’s move did let me take the evening shift at Universal Studios, which had just opened. I think I read every science fiction and fantasy book in the Dr. Phillips branch of the Orlando public libraries that summer. Slowly, I was putting together my fantasy world from bits I liked in this story or that one and what I didn’t without even knowing it. To write in any genre, you have to read extensively. Both inside your genre and outside it. I was doing my research.

It would take years after that summer of Dancing Gods and Last Unicorns before the seeds planted burst into a riot of colors, and I would start writing again. My first magician born a strong resemblance to Schmendrick. My first heroine confronted the same lies to herself that Marge did – what you said you wanted to be versus what you knew in your heart you were.

When I look back and ask myself why I’m a writer, I always come back to that summer in Williamsburg. The epiphany from it was slow in coming, but it did come.

Relationship Rumba

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Okay, before you can go to the conventions and use your elevator pitch like we talked about last month, you have to write the story. This month we’re going to focus on the craft aspect of writing. Because it’s February, and for some reason this month bring about images of mostly naked babies holding bows. we’re going to focus on relationships. Don’t groan – we aren’t going to spend the entire month talking romance, although it will be a topic this month.

Think about the stories you love. What made you love it? Not the plot. Not even the special effects. It’s the characters and their journey that takes a story from like to love. Some of the all time most loved stories include Gone With The Wind, The Wizard of Oz, Charlotte’s Web, and To Kill a Mockingbird. Action adventure movies can be loved, but it seems to me that only happens when there’s something extraordinary about the character dynamics. Well loved stories, regardless of genre, all have one thing in common – characters that stay with us long after we close the book.

I’m going to use one of my favorite books – The Last Unicorn by Peter S. Beagle – as an example of what I mean. Each of the characters, even the unicorn, is flawed. Schmendrick the Magician (and I didn’t have to look up how to spell his name even though my spelling is atrocious) can’t actually work magic. He’s the incompetent fool, the disappointment and the failure. He can’t touch the unicorn. He joins her quest to benefit himself, not because it’s the right thing to do. Yet, he still finds the strength to get up each morning and try to be a true magician. Molly Grue lives with bandits. She’s brash and a bit crude. Yet, her heart is pure enough to see a unicorn. King Haggard has everything, but can’t feel joy or love. The unicorn is immortal, but she doesn’t know love or regret. A misfired (or not) spell robs her of her immortality. Over the course of the story all four of these character (and Prince Lir) confront who they are. All are searching for something more than themselves. All but one changes.

Why is this one of my favorite books? Because of the depth and beauty of the characters and their interactions. Peter S. Beagle’s A Fine and Private Place is also on my most favored books list for the same reason. I wanted the good guys to win. I wanted the bad guy to get his comeuppance.

How did Peter Beagle and all those other writers create such memorable characters?

Well, that’s what we’re talking about this month.

This month we’ll look at creating a complete characters, the “good” bad guy, and believable character interactions. We’ll spend some time on Romance in deference to St. Valentine’s holiday. But also platonic relationships between the characters and conflict in general. Please check out posts over the month, and remember it’s not too late to get that box of chocolates.