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Time for a new weekly writer’s roundup of my works-in-progress and those ready to read!

Much movement on the writing front this week! First, I finished a fifth and then a sixth draft of Tears of the Joyous Mare. I think it’s ready to share publicly now, so I’ll be putting it up on Aethereal Engines this Saturday! I’m excited to do so, as I haven’t posted a story there since the end of May and a new one is way overdue. I also think this is a strong piece of writing, and all of its reviewers so far have really enjoyed it.

I’ll be presenting it as a one-shot and posting a preview of the first few pages tomorrow. It’s a short story that’s almost six-thousand words long, and although that’s long enough that I could have broken it up into a couple segments, the flow of the piece wouldn’t sit well with that. My readers have also waited long enough for a new story, so I’m giving you a complete one all at once. ;-)

What’s it about? Well, I’ll say more in tomorrow’s preview… But for now I’ll say that it’s a story set in my world of Burus that opens in mystery, and ends with a very human truth.

Having gotten Tears into shape, the next logical thing for me to have done would have been to write that new opening chapter for The Unicorn Hunters and revise the rest of it. But the words weren’t flowing. I’ve been putting a lot of pressure on myself to get the stories for the book done. Although I love The Unicorn Hunters and think it will be a great story once I fill it out, I also think that I need to take a break from it and its setting of Burus in general for a week or so. I need to give my strained creative muscles there a rest… so that I can return to it with renewed enthusiasm and fresh eyes.

So I decided instead to start writing something quite different: an idea that has been in my head for more than half a year. Previously unnamed, its title came to me almost as soon as I put down the story’s first words: Vivian’s Last Cigarette.


It’s an idea I came up with after crafting a writing prompt that’s currently being used as the monthly challenge on the Fantasy Writers forum I help to moderate on Reddit

Your Challenge this month is to write a story containing fantasy elements set sometime in the decade of Earth’s 1980s. This could be an alternate world where some things are different, but the setting must be easily recognizable.

I really didn’t have any set ideas for a story of my own when I jotted down that basic premise. But the other moderators agreed with me that it was a good challenge prompt to coax authors out of their preconceived fantasy writing comfort-zones. However, my tenth birthday was in 1984, so that decade also encompasses the most memorable aspects of my childhood as well as the trying years when I began adolescence. Those experiences color that time in my memory with a hopeful magic… and painful depths of rejection, isolation and regret.

1989 was the year I started high school. It was also the year that the first edition of Shadowrun was released, and I bought the hardcover with my lawn-mowing money quite readily. The concepts that game introduced me to and the stories it told had a huge influence on me at the time that continues to this day. In particular, its idea of our modern or future world turned upside down by a return of magic along the lines of what you would find in a fantasy bestseller really stuck with me.

How would people react? How would our world change? There are a million possible answers.

These questions came at a time when I was questioning my own identity… Feeling the mismatched disconnect with society, family and ourselves that I suspect we all do at some point during the growing pains that change us from children into adults. So when I started this story, I looked back over a gulf of more than twenty years… and found its emotional heart.

Vivian’s Last Cigarette takes place in a 1989 that was, and yet never was. A world of Cold War and economic tensions that was pulled taut when animals, and then humans, began to fall ill and mutate a few years ago. Assuming forms that run the gamut of benign beauty to deadly horrors, society is shaken across all boarders by it’s new and emerging members… Labeled, fairly or not, with names like Elf, Dwarf, Goblin or Orc.

Viv_Liner_TwiBut the story I’m writing now isn’t a story of the sweeping global events in this world. It’s a story of hardcore punk, orcs, and unlikely teenage love between a D&D nerd and foul-mouthed, homeless metalhead. It’s about loneliness and fear. And hope. It is, in short, a story I would have written in high school if I’d had the talent and experience to do so. Regardless, it’s definitely something I would have loved to have read back then as well.

The writing has just flowed out of me on this one… hitting forty-five hundred words and two chapters in four days. I’m not quite sure what its final length might be, but I may be halfway done. Here’s a sample from the first page:


It amazes me how when a story wants to be told, it sometimes just bursts out of me like this. Inspiration is such a powerful thing! And with every word I write of Vivian’s Last Cigarette, I feel renewed. Not only as a writer, but as a writer looking at his past and present and seeing how they still live hand-in-hand… in a better way than before.

Alright, time for me to stop blogging and get back to writing some more fiction! Take care!