Happy Watermaidens Day

Today is, by decree fee, the day of the watermaidens – and this year, the watermaidens intend to invite a unicorn or two to their celebrations.

Such invitations are rare events – sometimes happening only once a century, if then.  It is not that the watermaidens dislike unicorns, precisely – indeed, some have even opened their springs and ponds and lakes to the delicate yet wild creatures from time to time, when the unicorns need to refresh themselves in cold water.  A few watermaidens have even entered into long friendships with unicorns, guarding the creatures with their magics, or beckoning young people to come closer, and place their chests against a unicorn’s horn.

But watermaidens, like unicorns, tend to be solitary creatures, and when not solitary, tend to enjoy certain activities not entirely approved of by the more proper unicorns. Not that all unicorns demand chastity – far from it – but many of the older and more traditional unicorns do feel that it is their duty to uphold the standards associated with them. And although few watermaidens continue to practice their ancient art of dragging mortals down into the water depths – in part because many of them have no depths to drag mortals into – the very existence of that tradition causes even the most frivolous, unconventional unicorns to shudder. Nor do watermaidens, for the most part, care to venture into the deepest parts of the forests and meadows where unicorns hide or dance – they are not comfortable leaving their waters for long.

(Indeed, even on this day, many watermaidens will remain under their frozen lakes, or hide in seafoam – they prefer their comforts, those watermaidens.)

This, of course, makes it rather hard to invite the unicorns to their celebrations.  Without knowing precisely where the unicorns live – and with no safe way to travel there – messages must be sent instead. And the watermaidens, of course, have never been overly fond of paper and pen – paper tends to disintegrate, if in their hands for too long. A few of them do have cell phones – but those phones rarely survive long in their watery grasps. Most birds cannot be trusted to send messages.

Still.

The watermaidens have their ways of leaving messages on starlight and the wind, on moonlight and clouds.

And they know how to sing to the unicorns.

So as you travel today, keep an eye out. That white flash – that gleam of light – it might be nothing more than a reflection of sunlight, or some creation of mortals, or an optical illusion.

Or it might just be a watermaiden dancing with a unicorn.

2017 Roundup

Time for the obligatory end of year round up of Various Things I Published/Was Involved in During 2017, a year where we learned that if you don’t write all that much in 2016, you won’t publish all that much in 2017.

I know. Who would have thunk?

But it wasn’t a completely empty year either, including, as it did:

One novella:

Probably the publication I was proudest of this year, an epic, novella length poem (yes, about 28,000 words), Through Immortal Shadows Singing, published by Papaveria Press.

Available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble and multiple other outlets. The SFPA reviewed it here, and a few Goodreads readers chimed in here.

One short story:

You Will Never Know What Opens, in Lightspeed Magazine, December 2017. Portal fantasy. Hasn’t been out long enough to garner that many responses, but Charles Payseur was kind enough to give a thoughtful review here.

Six flash fiction pieces – not all of them in Daily Science Fiction!

The Lion, in Daily Science Fiction, March 2017.  A little fairy tale.

We Need to Talk About the Unicorn in Your Back Yard, Daily Science Fiction, April 2017.  Humor. Possibly my most popular short fiction piece from last year. An audio version is coming up from Toasted Cake, but in the meantime, if you missed it, it’s a short read. I promise.

The Witch in the Tower, Fireside, July 2017. One of my personal favorites from the year. Another little fairy tale.

Stealing Tales, Daily Science Fiction, November 2017. Another little fairy tale.

“Gingerbread Smoke,” in Typhon: A Monster Anthology Vol 2., by Pantheon Magazine. This was probably the hands down hardest piece of mine to find this year, bar none, but I promise: the anthology really truly is available through Amazon now, and is forthcoming from other outlets shortly, and the anthology overall is well worth the hunt.

Pipers Piping, Daily Science Fiction, December 2017. A little Christmas story.

Five poems:

The Study, in Mithila Review: The Journal of International Science Fiction and Fantasy

The Stained Oak Leaves, in Umbel & Panicle.

Euryale at the Shore, in Polu Texni

Hunter, in Mythic Delirium

Burning, in Wild Musette (this one is literary/non-speculative)

Related Work:

On Fairy Tales: A weekly essay series on Tor.com discussing fairy tales and various works inspired by fairy tales.

The Pixar Rewatch. A sequel to the 2015-2016 Disney Read-watch, this monthly essay series on Tor.com explored the Pixar movies – discussing development and financial details, animation, other tidbits and of course the films themselves.

The Secret of NIMH.  Another add-on to the Disney Read-watch, this essay appeared over at Uncanny, and focused on Don Bluth and his first animated picture.

And speaking of the Disney Read-watch, the very last post in that series – a wrap-up post – appeared in January 2017, making the entire series – technically – still eligible for Best Related Work awards.

And one more essay: Where Should You Start Reading the Chronicles of Narnia, which generated several comments.

Dramatic Presentation (short)

Deathlight, which originally appeared in Lightspeed back in 2016, was turned into an audio play this year by Fancy Pants Gangsters.

Onwards to 2018!

Unicorns, plus, Deathlight is now an audio play!

Up at Daily Science Fiction this morning, a little thing I wrote about a homeowner association and a unicorn. Enjoy!

Also, if for some reason you missed my story, Deathlight, out in Lightspeed Magazine last year, it’s now been turned into an audio play by the folks over at Fancy Pants Gangsters. They have a number of other short audio plays up at their site as well – enjoy!

 

The Lion

The Huntsmen was one of those stories that I wrote because the general concept wouldn’t stop nagging at me: how did the princess of the original tale, collected by the Grimm brothers back in the early 19th century, manage to find eleven women who looked just like her?  (It was only after I finished the story that I remembered that the majority of people at the time had no access to corrective lenses, so many people would have been too nearsighted to tell the difference.) And why go to so much effort just to get an unfaithful lover back?

I was so focused on those questions that I more or less ignored the other oddity of the tale – the sudden, never explained entrance of a talking lion. But as I shuffled the lion to the side, he started nagging at me too.

This is the result.

It’s an example of how very often, when writing one story, another one appears. At least in my case.