My grandmother was Native American, of the Chippewa (Ojibwa) nation. She raised me in my formative years. She was everything you’ve read, heard, or seen in oral storytellers of the first people of America. I begged a story out of her every night, and I usually got my wish–fireside tales that fired my imagination.
Now, I get to carry on her tradition. Oral storytelling has changed a little. With podcasts, you don’t get to see that fireside glow, the sparkling eyes, the dramatic gestures. The voice must convey all. And recording that voice is a challenge. You will put up with a rooster crowing in the background on a farm–you most certainly will not in a podcast (unless it’s a story about Old McDonald). So you read in your not-so-soundproof office, and reread, and reread, and reread until finally, you do one perfect take without interruption, without error. It ain’t easy, but the results are worth it.
So let me read you a story. It won’t be a story like my grandmother’s–she was one of a kind. But her blood is in me, and it wants to sing…
Wow! Third Flatiron Publishing produces three wonderful anthologies each year, filled with great stories by award winning writers. And then, at the end of the year, editor Juliana Rew makes her selection for their Best of the Year anthology. It’s a coveted spot–other writers have told me it’s on their bucket list to get in. Guess what? Aw, darn it, you guessed it! My story, “Beast of the Month” from the STRANGE BEASTIESanthology was selected for THIRD FLATIRON BEST OF 2017! It’s available now on Amazon. Just click on the hyperlink if you don’t believe me. Go ahead. Dare ya.
Here’s why editor Juliana Rew published them: “The 13 stories contained in the book are what we consider a representative sampling of the quality of stories published by Third Flatiron Anthologies.” And, on Amazon: “Ranging from science fiction and fantasy to horror and humor, these tales are both universal and unique. Contributors include John Sunseri, James Beamon, Rati Mehrotra, J. L. Forrest, Konstantine Paradias, Jean Graham, Jill Hand, Brian Trent, Ville Nummenpaa, Wulf Moon, Keyan Bowes, Vaughan Stanger, and Premee Mohamed. Edited by Juliana Rew.”
Congratulations to my neighbors selected for this prime real estate! I am honored to be in this anthology with you, and am grateful to Juli Rew for believing in my little mail order fantasy tale!
I’ve been gaming for a long time. My Dungeons and Dragons team used to travel to the original TSR headquarters in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, for the annual competitions. Once, we were one win away from having Gary Gygax as our dungeon master for the champion match. Alas, we did not win the tournament. I did, however, learn an important life lesson: NEVER launch a fireball in an ice cavern!
I was there at the release of the first MONSTER MANUAL…we no longer had to invent critters and their stats! Well, so we thought at the time. Seeing Gary Gygax DM for the final match was an incredible experience. With lights dimmed over the room, he had a skull on his command desk flickering with candlelight, and light from below illuminating his face in spectral glow. He had a powerful voice and a flair for the dramatic, but then, this was the guy that invented D&D. How could he not?
Twelve years ago I founded a gaming guild: TheForestGuard.com. TFG was an original guild from the start of the online game Guild Wars 1, and we trained for countless hours and fought with skill, grace and honor in Guild vs. Guild tournaments. When Guild Wars 2 came out, we immediately established The Forest Guard in the Northern Shiverpeaks server. The guild has been home to thousands of members over the years, 300 active at present. When we ran as a wolf pack against competing world servers, no one could stop us. We regularly accomplished what other guilds considered impossible, standing against all odds and winning because we fought like centurions. Just like a Roman legion, we NEVER let our standard fall! Our Wolf Banner above has always been the symbol of our ideals, and when we claimed a keep or tower, that banner flying above ensured that it was there to stay–every member of the guild made certain it was so.
TFG remains a premier defender in GW2 today. Our success is in basing both training and guild hierarchy on wolf pack stratagems, and I still hold the rank of Big Bad Wolf. Why wolf pack? This, from defenders.org: “You might have heard the expression ‘lone wolf.’ But wolves are naturally pack animals and they develop close relationships and form strong social bonds. Wolves often demonstrate deep affection for each other and may even sacrifice themselves to protect their family.” THAT is TFG, and you’ll find familial friendship in every member.
Our guild motto is: Good people first, good players second, and we are DAMN good players. We search for good people in the game. We hunt loyal players that show pride in what they do. We give them a home. They become family. Everything else can be taught.
The best proof of the caliber of these players? When I asked the officers to take over my leadership duties so I could write, they never complained, and have taken the guild to new heights as they organized and guided the entire NSP server. I have had the support of the entire guild, cheering me on in my writing as they’ve continued to uphold our wolf pack ideals. For their tremendous support, for each making TFG what it is today, I give this howl out to them. Go TFG!
As you may know, my humorous fantasy story “Beast of the Month” was published last month by Third Flatiron Press in their anthology Strange Beasties. That was the e-book edition. The trade paperback edition is now available at Amazon! If you’re like me, there’s nothing better than holding a book in hand…especially if a story you wrote is in that book! That’s a day to rejoice!
Let’s face it: writers deal with a helluva lot of rejection, which can surround them with negative energy if they let it. A writer spends hours, days, months, years buried away in their office, writing works they sometimes wonder if they will ever see the light of day. You send them out, tales you’ve put blood, sweat, and tears into, and most often–in the beginning–they come back to roost, leaving you wondering if you did something wrong, if the story wasn’t good enough, or if you just changed something might it become more sellable? … and down the path to madness ye go.
You really want your stories to sell. Why? It’s not just personal validation, proof you are what you believe you are, A WRITER. No, it’s really about COMMUNICATION. You see, to communicate, you need a message, a transmitter, and a receiver. A writer has a desperate need to connect with other human beings, a fire burning in them that says, I want you, my fellow that shares this world with me, to see and feel something that I believe is important. Often important enough to spend hundreds of hours writing, proofing, submitting to market, getting it back, and sending it out again. In the case of this story, two decades of that. Two decades of getting letters back from editors saying, loved this, really wanted to publish this, not quite right for us, hung on to it as long as I could trying to find a spot, you were number 15 of the 14 I bought, etc., etc. Can you believe it? These are wonderful signs, and you are grateful to the editors that took the time to let you know how close your story came. Still, it can make a sane man or woman crazy, but who says any of us are truly sane? Certainly not writers…there are many other endeavors that grant faster results and gratification and financial gain for far less effort. But that’s another story…
When you sell a story and people can finally read it, you’ve accomplished your mission. You created your message; the editor transmitted your message through publication; and the reader received because, at last, they can access and read it. Communication accomplished. If you’ve done a good job, you will evoke emotions in your reader, take them away from their problems to another dimension created by you, maybe even, if you’re lucky, open up new vistas in their mind and life they’ve never considered before. Countless writers talk about readers that came up to them, dog-eared book in hand, and said, ‘You have no idea what your story did for me in my darkest hour.’ Yes, that really happens.
Will this humorous fantasy story do that for you? Who knows? It’s deeper than you might think, if you dip below the surface. But if all I do is make you laugh, hey, laughter is magic. So is smiling. And if I can make you do that in what can be troubling times, mission accomplished. Message. Transmitter. Receiver.
My Amazon author page is here! Under the name, tada!, Wulf Moon! I figured it’s about time. People like knowing who is the guy that stuffed all these crazy creatures into their mind–probably because he’s the only guy with the combo to get those critters back out! Sometimes, they can’t help themselves, they just want more. Hey, I’m an acquired taste, like peanut butter and sushi.
I am getting a vision right now. Yes, it’s getting clearer. Ah, there it is. It’s of Steve Martin, ripping through a phone book, running a finger down the list, and then leaping up and down as he cries out, “I am somebody!!!”
Weird. I have no idea where that came from.
Oh, that picture up above? That’s my watercolor painting “Wolf Helm” based on an actual totemic helmet.
Strange Beasties is an anthology of short stories published by Third Flatiron Publishing, a SFWA professional rate paying market (thank you, Juli–you understand the hours that go into creating a well-crafted story). My humorous fantasy story “Beast of the Month” appears in this book, just released today on Amazon! You can get it now as an e-book, or if you prefer hard copy, the trade paperback will be available in about a week. Either way, check it out by clicking HERE!
I wrote this story some years ago at Rockaway, Oregon, a coastal writing retreat that the Eugene Professional Writers (WORDOS) go to once a year, to get away from writing stress by going to a beautiful ocean beach and then sitting in their rooms all day WRITING. Let’s face it: writers write. It’s the only way we’re truly happy. So at the end of Rockaway Retreat, we all gathered to see what came out of our heads. It’s not as gruesome as it sounds–there are many Nebula, Stoker, and Hugo winners in WORDOS. These folks are sharp shooters, and it’s where I cut my teeth.
So I read my piece. Humor is a tricky thing to write–one woman’s funny bone is another man’s appendix. The only way to know if you pulled it off is if your audience of jaded Nebula, Stoker, and Hugo winners laugh. I am happy to report writers were rolling in the aisles, and paramedics had to be called in. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it! My favorite memory was when Bruce Holland Rogers (one of those Nebula, Stoker, Hugo winners) came up to me chuckling. That in itself was a good sign: Bruce is the strong silent type, with a universe glimmering behind eagle eyes. And then he made my year when he said, “I hope you find a market for that. That story deserves to be published.”
It took me awhile. I had so many near misses. I know because editors wrote back to me, saying they held onto it but couldn’t find the right placement, and were regretfully returning it (it even got semi-finalist in Writers of the Future). I’ll post some of those letters sometime, but honestly, the best of them was the one from Juliana Rew: Dear Moon, Congratulations, I’m buying your story!
Thank you, Juli, for giving that wandering beastie a home. And Bruce Holland Rogers, I can successfully report after twenty years, “Mission accomplished!”
P.S.: The editor, Juliana Rew, sent me this letter today. If you are a reviewer, details on requesting a copy are included below. And for those of you purchasing a copy, thank you! You make the writing world go round. If you’d be so kind as to post a review on Amazon or Goodreads (and I’d love comments here!) Juli would really appreciate it, it really helps! Thank you!
Third Flatiron’s Fall anthology, “Strange Beasties,” is now available
on Amazon at:
It is available free to Kindle Unlimited members. The trade paperback
version is publishing on Createspace and will be available in about a
week via Amazon.
The 18 stories contained in the book are largely dark fantasy, horror,
and humor, matching the reflecting the unsettling times we’re living
through (or hope to!)
If someone you know would be willing to write a review on
Amazon or Goodreads, please let me know. I’d be happy to
provide a free review copy. Please also give the book a mention on
your blog or website.
Are you a Star Trek fan? So am I, and here’s the cover of the anthology my story “Seventh Heaven” appears in, Star Trek: Strange New Worlds II, published by Simon and Schuster’s Pocket Books division. When first released, you could find it in any major bookstore. Now, you can find it on Amazon. It’s a Borg love story, what could be sweeter?
Actually, writing for the Star Trek universe is a challenge, and not just because Paramount owns Star Trek and has rules about their characters, the biggest being YOU CAN’T CHANGE THEM. Since you’re here, I’m betting you probably know something about writing. A basic part of what makes stories satisfying is that your protagonist starts out one way, and by the end of the story, events you have put him or her through have changed your protagonist. It’s called character growth, something we crave in people and may never see <evil grin>, something we expect to find in our fictional characters as they come out of the crucible we writers put them through and pin wings to their chest at the end (ouch!) and say, ‘Attaboy! You learned something!’ But how do you do that when, by the end of the story, you better have them looking exactly like they started out? Because if you don’t, Paramount is going to take that action figure out of your hands and put it back on their shelf and say, “Don’t you ever touch my toys again!”
Try it sometime. It’s one of the most challenging writing exercises you will ever do, and the only way you know you’ve succeeded is when they hand you a check and put you in one of their books.
They did a huge release signing for this one, at the biggest Barnes & Noble I’ve ever seen, in New York City. It was a lot of fun scribbling in fans books:
“Resistance is futile. You WILL be assimilated … but you’ll enjoy the ride.”
My humorous fantasy story “Beast of the Month” to be published this month by Third Flatiron Publishing, a SFWA pro rate paying market! The anthology is titled Strange Beasties and the release date is September 20, 2017 in both e-book and trade paperback. You can preorder from Amazon now by clicking here.
They’ve also chosen my story for a podcast at a future date, and have hired me to read it! I’ll keep you posted, and as always, if you can like or post a comment on Amazon about the book, it really helps. And please, do feel free to make a post here telling me what you thought of this tale about a mail order menagerie club that goes terribly wrong!
WARNING: DO NOT drink milk or other liquids within the proximity of dining friends while reading this story.