Ladies and Gentlemen . . . We Have Fan Art

This is going to be a short one.

But an extremely essential one.

A month or so ago, a friend of a friend asked to read “Aixa the Hexcaster.” It’s a request I get pretty rarely, and I understand why: nothing is worse for a non-writer than reading a writer’s work, finding out that it’s terrible, and having no idea how to tell them that.

So, when this friend of a friend texted me–pulling my number from the group chain we’d both been a part of during trips to PAX–I was surprised. The last time we’d hung out (during the previously-mentioned XenoPAX), we’d chatted over the massive set he’d made for Frostgrave, and laughed at a genuinely chaotic game of Gaslands, but that had all been in March.

Still, cool. Always nice to be asked, so I sent over a link.

About a month later, he wrote back and said that he really enjoyed it–that the mythics reminded him of monsters from Kingdom Death, which is an incredible compliment if you’ve ever seen the miniatures from that game (they’re often weird, sometimes beautiful, but always amazing).

He also asked if I had plans for more, expressed excitement for what he’d want to see . . .

. . . and dropped this on me:

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This . . . is . . . the unnamed asphalt mythic from “Aixa the Hexcaster,” rendered by Jesse Smolover, whose work can be found at his site, JesseDraws. And, although Jesse is a friend, this is still technically the first piece of fan art I’ve ever gotten.

I cannot express how badly I freaked out when I saw this. This was not a commission; I didn’t even joke about him doing art for the story, because he’s a professional artist and I never even considered being coy about the value of his time. Still, this man, who probably has a ton of other projects he’s working on, made this piece because, in his words, my story inspired it.

I can’t put into words how grateful I was to hear that. Every little bit of encouragement counts, and this is a whole other, totally new level of it for me.

To paint a picture of how badly I freaked out:

  1. This is the wallpaper for my phone.
  2. This is the lock screen for my phone.
  3. Now that it’s on my computer, it’s probably going to be the wallpaper for my computer.
  4. When I first downloaded it, my phone asked me if I wanted to replace it with an image of the same name . . . meaning I had already downloaded it, out of sheer, lightning-fast reflex, and didn’t remember. I still saved it again, just to be sure.
  5. I have told almost everyone about it–even people who didn’t know I’m a writer and clearly didn’t understand how big of a deal it was for me.
  6. And, of course, I have been writing like an absolute mad man lately.

Finished a new short story and submitted it. Also building a plot for another short story, while doing essential research to finish up a third.

And, of course, I’m working out a plot for more “Aixa.” I always intended to, but it was always on the back burner, behind other, huge novels that I keep struggling with. The plan now: write a novella for “Aixa.” It’s going to take a while because that world is really important to me (part of the fear has always been fucking it up), but the challenge of doing something that’s consistently resonant–a story that can’t survive without really strong, complicated emotions–wound up feeling essential to my writing. Why would I shy away from a really intense, emotional story . . . when that’s what I should always be writing?

Anyway, thank you for stopping by and joining me for this insanely uplifting landmark in my writing career. I’ll try to be a little more consistent with updates, maybe working them into the new schedule.

But, regardless, until next time, take care and write well.

“Aixa the Hexcaster” has been published at Mirror Dance!

I said that I’d post again if I got published.

So, with a ton of self-control, I’d like to say that . . .

OMFG YOU GUYS . . . <clears throat> My short story, “Aixa the Hexcaster,” has been published at Mirror Dance Fantasy.

I have the privilege of sharing the Autumn 2016 issue of Mirror Dance with a bunch of stellar authors. Please check it out if you have a moment; especially because Mirror Dance, a fantasy e-zine devoted to publishing high quality short stories, does it all for free.

“Aixa” is set in a New York broken by a magical apocalypse, divided among the mythics–beings that crawled out of the earth when the old world shattered. More powerful than we are, possessing strange abilities we don’t understand, and enjoying an immunity to all of our weapons, mythics became our masters almost immediately, dividing the city into overgrown wilds that they control, and pushing us into scattered camps where they leave us be. Or use us for their wants and whims. But, no matter what they do, they always demand one thing from us.

The truth. Clean and cruel.

Aixa Silva, a sherpa who guides the uninitiated through the wilds, knows all of this well. But, even though she has no love for the mythics, she finds herself unwilling to fight them–even with her hexcaster–a weapon that she knows can harm them. For a long time, she wonders why.

This is the story of how she finds her answer. And how she learns to hate humanity’s new masters.

What’s Next:

When I wrote “A Long Break,” I honestly wasn’t sure I’d ever be published. Now, finally having a piece accepted for publication, I feel . . . I mean, I wish I’d somehow recorded my reaction to the acceptance letter.

I . . . freaked out.

It’s just . . . incredibly validating–and somehow humbling; I’m ecstatic to have finally made it here, but I also know that this is just a first step–one on which I have to build a foundation. It took . . . so much work to get this far, and it’s going to take so much more to get published again.

But now, knowing that I’m at least doing it right . . . I suddenly have the confidence to write everything. So many old story ideas have resurfaced because I have the privilege to consider them again.

Staying on point though . . .

  1. The blog’s back. I’m not sure what the schedule will be, but I’ll definitely post once a month, at least. I’m also going to go all in with series ideas I had (things like The Writer’s Gauntlet, and 30 Days of NaNoWriMo 2).
  2. I’m spending September and October polishing a single short story, “Lokisday,” and a single novel, Memory, both of which are in final tweak stages (although Memory is definitely veering toward, “Just send it out again because maybe too much editing is a bad thing” territory).
  3. I’ve also been working on a table top game. It started as a new puzzle to consider when I really, really didn’t want to think about writing anymore, but it’s snowballed into a complex rule set. A 100% complete version of the game, with board and cards, is still ages away from happening (especially if I’m doing the art), but I’m taking it seriously now. Seriously enough that I’m butchering some flash cards, writing stats and drawing sword-wielding stick figures on them, eager to finalize the rules and test it out.

That is to say that now, finally validated, I’m eager as hell to give voice to other stories. Stories that I finally feel like I can tell as cleanly and honestly as I’d always hoped. I still have to work on my craft–of course I do–but now I genuinely feel like I can become a better writer… and make a table top game… and do pretty much anything else I want, as long as I devote myself to doing it right. Doing it well.

So, that’s what’s next, starting with more submissions before NaNo hits again.

As for this post, that’s all I’ve got. As always, thank you for reading. And, if you must write, write well.