Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Nine Heroes For Free!

Yes, these are my swords.
No, you cannot touch them.
A long, long time ago, easily more than twenty-five years back (which is ancient according to my sons), I wrote a short story—Through the Sting of Fairy Smoke.  It was simple, straight-forward, based on a thumbnail understanding of samurai and medieval Japan, and riffing on a few themes of interest.  More importantly, the story was one of my first where a strong, female character kicked ass and took names.  Josai wasn’t the main protagonist in Through the Sting of Fairy Smoke, but she was important, and a protagonist in her own right.

Here’s a nice little sample that outlines exactly Josai:

“Stop.  I found the Marked man,” Josai said.  “Your so-called Circle had power enough to cover his trail, pay off enough people, and burn his possessions, but you didn’t dare get rid of a Marked.”

The blood in Pershin’s face drained, leaving him pale with a sheen of sweat on his forehead and lips.

“The Circle cannot be broken,” Pershin insisted, but his voice quavered as he spoke the words.

Josai’s smile came quickly, all feral teeth with no hint of humor in her gaze.

“It already is broken,” she replied.  “How do you think I found you?”

For the first time in their conversation, fear filled the tax collector’s gaze, and Josai knew she had found her leverage.

After Tears of Heaven was released, and before Hell Becomes Her, I was asked to submit a
Yep.  Nine.  Enjoy!
short fantasy story for a collection of new and upcoming authors.  Honored, because I was so new to the world of publishing, I didn’t really think I could live up to the other, more experienced stories that were sure to be submitted.  But . . . I agreed.

The problem came when I couldn’t find the full, original text of Through the String of Fairy Smoke.  The introduction to the characters and the rise of the conflict was intact, but there was no conclusion.  Tearing through all the old records (which makes it sound organized, when really it was just a pile of papers) turned up nothing.  I reached out to old friends and family members to see if anyone had a copy.  Nothing.

Finally, with the deadline rolling inexorably toward me, I did the only thing a writer can do: I wrote.  A new rising conflict, a new character, and a new conclusion.  It would never be what the old one was—those words are now lost forever.  The new conclusion was its own thing, and it turned out better than I could have hoped.

For free, you can now read Through the Sting of Fairy Smoke, along with eight other excellent examples of fantasy heroes found in Nine Heroes: Tales of Heroic Fantasy.

And if you’re so inclined, please leave a review.  Even if it’s to say you liked/loved the book and nothing more.  The more reviews a book gets, the more likely it is to see greater exposure through the Amazon algorithms.

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