Good day fellow Equestrian Literati.

The Everfree Northwest Writing Track has run into a problem. We have too many writing events to run for just a three-day con. And we don’t want to force people to stay up from dusk till dawn. That’s right, even with running events all day we could not fit everything in without overlapping the events we want to run, or having our events at awkward times.

So we came up with a solution, online pre-con panels. This means that we will stream panels once a month until the con using some of the same panelists that will be attending the convention.

The first panel, on Setting, will livestream on Saturday April 26th, 2014 at 7:30 PM Pacific Time on our YouTube Stream channel, EverfreeNWStream. A direct link to the stream will be provided on our social media a short time before the panel goes live. We have a crackerjack team consisting of Pen Stroke, Soundslikeponies, and Piquo Pie.

Setting, at its core, is “where the story happens,” but establishing a convincing setting is difficult work. Here, we’ll discuss how to make a believable world, how to take an existing one and make it your own, how to create a culture, consistency, the fanon/canon divide, and when/how to take a story away from source material without feeling forced.

Upcoming pre-con panels will feature, Plot, in May, and in June we will feature, Character.

Have fun and pony on. And as always, keep up to date on the latest EFNW news (like the direct link for the panel stream) by visiting our website, liking us on Facebook, and following us on Twitter and tumblr.

-Piquo Pie

when is it and where is it

Everfree Northwest 2014 takes place July 4-6 at the Hilton Seattle Airport & Conference Center.

For more information visit https://everfreenw.com/.

EFNW Fanfic Spotlight 2

Hi all, and welcome to our second installment of Fanfic Spotlight! I’m Xepher, and I’ve got another three stories for your reading pleasure: A gut-punch of a story about a stallion not really ready to be a father, a wonderfully thoughtful look at what immortality means in Equestria, and a superbly endearing tale of a robot filly becoming self-aware.

Of Little Wings

by RavensDagger

Words: 3,347 Complete: Yes

This very short story goes directly for the feels and delivers a quick one-two punch to the gut. It asks the very simple question: What happens when a stallion has a child and isn’t ready for the responsibility? What if that stallion would rather lift weights and hang out with his bros? What if…?

The premise of this story is a bit dark, but it’s impactful and an interesting look into the character of Snowflake (aka “Bulk Biceps.”) The writing is a pretty good overall, but several typos did sneak through the editing process. If you can overlook that however, and want a quick dose of feelings, then give it a shot.

Forever Young

by Hyperexponential

Words: 4,078 Complete: Yes

It’s a topic that’s been explored many times in ponyfic, and to me, one of the most interesting implications from the show: If Princesses and others are immortal, what happens to those who aren’t? This story takes a very intimate look at that question, framed in the friendship between Discord and Fluttershy.

I really enjoy the idea here, and the way the characters are portrayed with depth in this story. When the serious topic of death is broached, the thoughts are varied and realistic. Nopony just blithely assumes their viewpoint, but instead they all contemplate it reasonably. More importantly, when I finished the story, I was left “unsatisfied” at the ending, and at first this frustrated me, but then I realized that’s actually a good thing, and why I really like this story so much. Let me explain.

The thing about writing in a world of magic is that it’s always simple to solve every problem. It’s trivial to give any story a happy ending and to just “magic away” any causes for concern. What I liked about this story is that the author steadfastly avoids doing so. The ending is “unsatisfying” because it’s realistic. There are no easy answers here, there is no perfect solution. Death is an impossibly complicated subject, and it’s treated as such. So even though there is no “answer”, the story is in the characters dealing with the question as best as they can anyway. In that, it succeeds wonderfully for such a short piece.

Thunder Struck

by MerlosTheMad

Words: 46,447 Complete: No

Okay, enough with the thoughtful melancholy. Here’s a good one to cheer things up! When a strange lightning storm strikes her house, a young woman’s old toy robot suddenly starts asking questions much deeper than its simple programming should be capable of. Then even weirder things start to happen.

Yes, this is a Sweetie Bot story, but one approached in a very interesting way. The author manages to pack in so much cuteness and “d’aww!” moments that you may need to have some insulin handy while reading. There are tons of fun scenes, adorkable cuteness, etc. Watching Sweetie deal with “the cat” alone is worth the price of admission here. However, underneath all the saccharine charm is a deeper mystery of what happened, of what exactly this little pony robot is now that she’s more than just a toy.

The character cast is somewhat small, but all are very engaging. I really enjoy the ongoing development of Sweetie as a newly-self-aware AI, sort of part-child, part-pet, part-classic-sci-fi-computer. I also like the main character, Stephanie, and her logical, analytical approach to trying to understand the impossible things she’s witnessing, which stands in contrast to how most characters just accept “magic” when suddenly thrust into it. Some of the other “cast” are various other not-self-aware creations that Steph built, including her personal versions of HAL and GlaDOS, and readers who have at least a passing familiarity with those will find some great jokes and references scattered throughout. Such knowledge isn’t essential to the main story at all however.

While the story is still incomplete, the author has been providing regular (if somewhat slow) updates for quite a while now. The writing is, I feel, quite endearing, if a little repetitive at points. The overall premise and the sheer joy in some of the scenes completely outweighs any negatives though, and I always look forward to the next chapter of this one.

That concludes this week’s edition of the Fanfic Spotlight. You can check out last week’s recommendations here, and I’ll be back next Thursday with more to enjoy.

Cheers!

Xepher

Journey to Everfree Northwest: Horsing Around

Pinkie Pie is uneasy about attending Everfree Northwest. She doesn’t want a repeat of last year’s disaster with Chrysalis. But luckily, using a bit of strategy, Twilight is able to talk some sense into her.

Everfree Northwest Fanfic Spotlight

Welcome to the first of our new weekly series of story recommendations! I’m Xepher, part of the 2014 writing staff for Everfree Northwest, and every Thursday, from now until the con itself on July 4th, I’ll be using this place to showcase excellent fan fiction pieces for your reading pleasure. To do this, I’ll be drawing both on my own favorites, as well as recommendations from the rest of the EFNW staff and our excellent community of writers and fans.

In general, I’m hoping to focus on stories that may not be as well known. While we all love “Past Sins” and “My Little Dashie,” most of those exceedingly popular stories are better found by simply visiting the top stories list on FimFic. (Seriously, there’s some real gold in those first few pages.) Not that we won’t occasionally have some popular stories in the mix as well, but ideally, everyone will be able to find something new worth reading every week. To that end, I’ll be striving for variety in the stories themselves as well, both in length and subject matter. Whether you’ve got twenty minutes or twenty hours, and no matter who your favorite pony is, hopefully you’ll find something to enjoy each time.

This week, we have three stories: An elegant and touching look look at the Royal Sisters, a novella-length epic showing Cadance’s deeper connections to the world and her influence on history, and a short, funny sci-fi crossover with the “Culture” series.


The Celestial Mechanics In Midsummer
image

by TwilightFlopple
Words: 8,716 Complete: Yes

I first read this story over a year ago now, but it has stuck with me ever since. It is, on the surface, just a few simple days with the Royal Sisters, and their thoughts on one another. That is, it’s what’s called a “slice of life.” But that term seems to find use for anything shy of an epic adventure these days, becoming a catch-all for most any middling story without a strong plot or direct emphasis on something else. It has become generic and bland. Yet when executed properly, “slice of life” can be most amazing, and it is stories like this one which truly exemplify the form.

This story is a slice of Life-with-a-capital-L, full of words and phrases bursting with the visceral and the sublime beauty of existence. It frames not only the wondrous joy of sisterhood, but the heavy burden of long life and regal station as well. Composed of a mere eight thousand words, this tale can easily be enjoyed in the spare moment of an afternoon, yet the rewards for the reader belie the short length. Every sentence feels lovingly crafted, and I am struck by the curious sensation that many of the scenes are not actually written at all, but painted directly upon my inner eye. The author’s grasp of detail and descriptive language is impressive, leaving me with not just a vision of Equestria, but a sound, taste, and smell of it as well. Between it all we are given a picture of Luna and Celestia that is at various times humorous, loving, melancholy, regretful, and joyous. In short, we are given a picture that is deeply real.

That is not to say that the story is perfect. Like all works, it has its rough spots, but overall, the worst I really see are deviations in tone, and other minor incongruities. I would argue that the low points here could stand as high points in other, also-genuinely-enjoyable stories, and it’s only their contrast with the more perfectly executed scenes and phrases that makes them seem like errors at all here. As such, I can heartily recommend that anyone with a half hour to spare read, “The Celestial Mechanics in Midsummer.”


Calling You
image

by AugieDog
Words: 42,187 Complete: Yes

"Calling You" is a very well executed vision of the ten centuries during Luna’s banishment, focusing on Cadance. It showcases a very amazing head-canon, expertly tying many seemingly disparate portions of Equestrian history together, and showing a much, much deeper role for Cadance than "just" the princess of Love. It brings together direct ties with the Elements, changelings, Bearers, and the world itself.

I hesitate to say too much more, as part of the excitement of this story is seeing the complex, interweaving events unfold as you read. Suffice to say that if you have an afternoon or three to spare, and want to read one of the more unique and internally consistent Equestrian histories, you really should give this one a try.

Full disclosure, this is technically a sequel to a short (less than 10,000 word) story, “[url=https://www.fimfiction.net/story/32544/the-birth-of-harmony]The Birth of Harmony[/url]” and normally I would not recommend a sequel as a starting place. However, in this case I feel the first story could be merely considered a prologue to this one, and is not, strictly speaking, a necessary read (though it is certainly enjoyable as well.)


The Curious Incident of the (Robot) Dog in the Nighttime
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by Bradel
Words: 4,395 Complete: Yes

And now for something completely different! This is a cross-over with (the late) Iain M. Bank’s “Culture” series of science fiction novels, showing two Culture emissaries working undercover in Ponyville. At its heart, this story is basically a comedy of near-errors, with a couple of fun surprises. I’m specifically recommending this one because, while short, I feel the author captures the perfect blend of Culture and Equestria with his writing, keeping things light enough, while still having a coherent and plausible (for certain definitions thereof) plot that I actually wanted to see play out.

While I think some of the jokes and details will make more sense if you’ve read any Culture novels before, I don’t believe prior knowledge is truly required to enjoy this story, just a love of pony and science fiction.

That concludes this week’s story recommendations. Thank you all for reading, and I’ll see you again next week, with more fan fiction to enjoy!

Cheers!
Xepher

ADORABLE MONDAY
I think this is cute, don’t you?
(source)Artist: johnjoseco

ADORABLE MONDAY

I think this is cute, don’t you?

(source)
Artist: johnjoseco

Remember that video promo we did a while back.

We made another one.

Stay tuned, ponies.

Ponystock 2014 Applications are Closed

A big thank you goes out to everyone who applied. We’re working hard to bring you the best show possible, and we can’t wait to show you what we’ve got planned. See you at the con!

We’ve scheduled Everfree Northwest 2014’s official Meetup! If you’re a member of meetup.com, feel free to RSVP!

Check out the results of our recent pony fanfiction contest!