New Kinky Sword and Sorcery Project

In the course of editing and updating Polyamory and Kink, I hit a bit of inspiration in the section on Gor. Like a lot of folks, I see the appeal of Gor. It’s a fun kinky sword-and-sorcery idea. And for those of us in the Scene it offers a pre-built 24/7 TPE dynamic where you don’t need to come up with everything for yourself. Perhaps more importantly, it’s a dynamic that you can share with other people. An actual subculture, with all the awesomeness of finding a subculture where everyone shares your interests. Plus kink.

But Gor is, well, Gor. It’s a misogynistic bunch of not-particularly-good writing. In addition to the misogyny, it’s got a solid dose of racism and ableism as well. And the male supremacy, and gender binary-only schtick aren’t exactly subtle. As many folks who see the appeal of Gor, there are probably just as many who are turned off by that bullshit.

Anyway, I got to thinking that it would be awesome if someone wrote something like a queer, feminist version of Gor. And I got to thinking some more, and I got to thinking some more.

And eventually I thought

Mor

Mor is a collaborative writing project to create a world of kinky sword-and-sorcery, a queer, feminist kinky sword-and-sorcery. A website where a variety of authors will share their stories, all set in the same world.

For now, the site will have one new story a month. If enough authors submit enough stories, it will update more often. Eventually, I’d like to offer one new story a week.

Mor is an experiment. If there is enough reader support to start paying authors for their stories, it’ll be an ongoing thing. Ideally, I’d like to reach a point of having a forum or chat or something on the site for people to discuss the world, create their own characters, and generally have fun with it.

But start small, right?

The first story, Trevali’s Contract, is a safe-for-work introduction to the world. Other authors are invited to use it as a jumping off point for their own stories or create their own thing.

Readers are invited to come get a take, check out the Patreon, and subscribe, either to the posts feed or as a Patron.

I don’t have a lot of time and energy to put into this project right now. I want it to succeed, or I wouldn’t be doing it. But I can’t spend a lot of time time promoting it or rounding up authors and stuff. Whether or not it keeps going is up to you.

Like Gor but Mor: More Inclusive, More Accessible, More Ethical

We Don’t Know

We don’t know.

I hate liminal times. It seems I have been stuck in a series of liminal times since January. Always between where I was and will be and not knowing what I will find on the other side. Not even knowing which direction I should take. Stuck in the middle — go forward or go back, I could handle. But no, stuck in the middle, in the doorway, not knowing.

I’ve always said that I can change directions as many times as I need to as long as I know which direction I need to go right now. And I don’t, and I haven’t, and I don’t even know how to figure it out.

I thought I was done. I thought I knew, that things had been settled, I know what is happening. And just as one liminal time got resolved, another opened up and I’m back to not knowing, being stuck.

We don’t know how we will serve god until we get there — well and good. But I don’t even know where ‘there’ is right now, where am I supposed to going to? Which way is the desert where I go to serve god? How do I find it? Will I even know when I get there.

Fucking liminal times.

 

Yesterday I took part in a Zoom-conference “Torah, Poetry, and Chant” meeting run by my synagogue and led by our rabbi. The meeting included a chant and journaling based on a line from Exodus :

שָׁמּ ָ הבּ ֹאֵ נוּעַד ’האֶ תנַּעֲב ֹדמַ הנֵדַ עלֹא

Lo-nayda mah-na’avod et-Yah ad-bo’aynu sham

We don’t know how we will serve YHVH until we get there (Exodus 10:26).

It just really sums up everything right now.

Staying Connected During Social Distancing: Tips from an LDR

Social distancing and ‘shelter at home ‘ orders have left a lot of people isolated and cut off from their friends and support networks. My fam is actually dealing with relatively little disruption, in contrast, because our families and support networks have been largely long distance for going on a decade now. We’ve learned a lot in that time about how to maintain connection with people we can’t see in person. Today, I’m going to share some of what we’ve learned, in hopes it helps other people navigate the current crisis.

Let’s start with the basics:

Phones Are Your Friends

Folks have been using phones to stay in touch long-distance for over 100 years. Don’t be afraid to use them! But don’t be afraid to use them differently either.

  1. Scheduled calls/texts — I have regularly schedules phone calls each week with my aunt, one sister, and cuilmate. My other sister and I touch base through FB messenger each Sunday to figure out what time will work for us that week. This way we can be sure of giving each other our full attention and plan things to avoid interruptions. We’re typically on the phone together for at least a half an hour and Michon and I can easily be on together for 3 or 4 hours. (That call is scheduled for after the kids’ bedtimes.) I can’t text very well, but if you prefer texting to calls, don’t be afraid to schedule those too!
  2. Don’t just talk — Do you really think Michon and I spend 3 or 4 hours at a shot just chatting? Of course not! Over the past year we have: taken turns reading Tumblr posts to each other, sang to each other, read books to each other, read webcomics together, worked on writing a book together, and more. Michael and Jaid regularly watch YouTube and Netflix together. They pick a video, press ‘play’ at the same time, and enjoy.
  3. Just be — sometimes, it’s nice to just BE together. And can do that over the phone. Put on your headphones or ear piece, set the call going, and just listen to each other as you go about your day. You’ll likely find yourselves commenting to each other about whatever is going on with you, ‘I JUST washed the dishes this morning,’ ‘I’m so glad the store wasn’t sold out of these cookies,’ ‘What do you think, chicken or spaghetti for dinner?’ Sometimes, these little bits of normalcy and just being together can make you feel more connected than all the conversations in the world.
  4. Memerific — like I said, texting isn’t my thing. But nothing stopping you from having fun with texts as well. Trade memes back and forth, play word games together, take pictures of random stuff throughout your day. Have fun with it.

When Your Computers Combine…

Thanks to the internet, there are a lot more options for long distance social than every before in history. These options do require some comfort with navigating your computer — for many of them you need to install software and have a working headset or speakers and microphone. However, many of them also have app versions that can be installed on a smartphone or tablet with the touch of a button.

  1. Discord — Okay, so, those phone calls with Michon? Most of the time they are actually Discord calls. Discord is a program (and web app, so installation NOT required) for chatting and voice calls. However, it has two major advantages over the phone: it’s free and group calls/chats are ridiculously easy. There are two ways to use Discord.
    1) You can join or set up a ‘server’. A server is basically a dedicated invite-only chat house. Each server can have multiple ‘rooms’ (channels), each with different rules (so one channel can be NSFW and the others not). Channels can be text or voice, so you can have a voice channel where folks who want to catch up on family stuff hang out and a voice channel for discussing the latest game. Or whatever. If you have a large family or friend group, a server will be a great way to keep the group going at a distance.
    2) You can use it like any messenger program that allows group discussions. Become ‘friends’ with people, message them, have voice calls, add other people to the chat or calls as you wish.
  2. Zoom — Zoom is a program that allows for voice and video chat, and screen sharing. It is one of the easier options, because once you get installed, anyone who wants to talk can just send you a link invite. As soon as you click the link, the Zoom meeting room opens.
  3. Kast — You know the watch-videos-together thing I said Michael and Jaid do? Well, Kast (formerly rabb.it) was designed for just that kind of thing. You and your friend(s) would go into a ‘room’ together, the person hosting the ‘room’ puts on a video from a streaming service or Youtube, and everyone can watch the video together. I haven’t used Kast since it stopped being rabb.it, supposedly it also does multi-person video chat or will screenshare games you are playing now. Free and paid versions.

Roll the Dice

Okay, this is already a long post, so I’ll keep this last section short: there are lots of options for playing games together online. And I don’t just mean Fortnight. Steam Games has a ‘Tabletop Simulator‘ ($20) that “includes 15 classics like Chess, Poker, Jigsaw Puzzles, Dominoes, and Mahjong” and you can buy content for other tabletop games as well.

We Haz Farm!

Or, okay we will haz farm.

But, like, soon.


If you’ve been following along, you know that my polyam/chosen fam has been hoping to A) get a place big enough for all of us to live together and B) get such a place on enough acreage to get a small farm going. But our projected timeline was to have finances sorted out enough to start looking for a place sometime 4 or 5 years from now.

In late January, an acquaintance on the Fediverse approached me and asked if we’d talked about the farm he was trying to sell.

We hadn’t. I know about the farm, and had made sad noises over how there was no way we could get a mortgage yet, and moved on. Turns out, he and his fam are willing to offer rent-to-own while we build up our credit and such, and possibly an owner-financed mortgage depending on how things work out. And it’s in our budget.

We’ve been hashing things out, he and I and his wife (mostly I and his wife, actually), and last week Michael, Dilip Numetor Amelia Chetana Waller, and I went to see this farm and check out the surrounding area.

The place needs some repairs, which owners are willing to do before we move in. Works out because it is better for us to move over the summer, when the kids are out of school.

At this point, we have a verbal agreement, but paperwork still needs to be signed and a few details hashed out. So things may still fall through, but we and the owners are moving forward on the basis that we have an agreement and we will be moving in sometime this summer.

Is much ecstatic-ness and squee-ing and ‘who gets which bedroom!!!’

All our plans are completely disrupted, of course. But in the best way possible.

The one sad is that Ericka won’t be coming with us. Literally a handful of days before the current owner approached me, she told us she had decided to go back to Texas. But she will be welcome to visit us and who knows what the future will bring?

Black History Reading List

I generally don’t say much about Black History Month because I figure it’s a time for me to shut up and listen. But on the subject of shutting up and listening, I figured I’d share a my black history reading list. Hot take: white folks who aren’t at least familiar with the titles and authors on this list probably don’t know enough about black history and experience to be talking about it.

Narrative of Sojourner Truth

Kindred by Octavia Butler

Souls of Black Folk by W.E.B duBois

Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly

Why We Can’t Wait by Dr. Martin Luther King jr.

Autobiography of Malcolm X

The Mary McLeod Bethune Papers or anything by Bethune

Assata: An autobiography

My Grandfather’s Son by Clarence Thomas

The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander

If you can, start reading these or other book about black history and experience by black authors. If not, at least take some time to Google the titles and authors you aren’t familiar with and read a bit about them and their work.

Brief Updates on Lots of Stuff

It’s been a overwhelming month. Lots of stuff, both good and bad. Here’s the round up of what’s been going on with my various life goals.

My Bookshelf: I’ve started getting back responses from beta readers for Polyamory and Kink. As usual, the folks doing beta reads have some great comments and suggestions and pin pointed some areas I missed.

Old ‘Woman’: I’ve made some real progress in reliable self care. The 99 Coping Skills list is an awesome you should check out if you need self care ideas. I’m also doing better at staying in touch with family and friends and making progress on compiling my to-read list instead of just having a pile of books in various places. Also… last week was the anniversary of my mother’s death. Lots of thoughts, probably make a blog post next week.

Generational Home: There may be some very big news on this in the next few months. Dilip Numetor Amelia Chetana Waller, Michael and I will be going on a trip the end of February, and if all goes well our plans for living together will jump ahead several years.

The Farm: See above paragraph. If the February trip goes well, I’ll share some details when we get back. My indoor gardening is on hold until we know for sure what’s happening.

Cuil Press: Once Upon a Green Rose is out on Amazon, and for the first time we enroleld a book in Kindle Unlimited. We really don’t like the whole walled-garden thing Amazon has going, but we also want to make our books accessible and, you know, at least break even. So we’re experimenting. Green Rose will be in KU for 2 enrollment periods, then we’ll pull it and put it up on other booksellers.

As always, drafts of my books are available on Patreon.

So if you want to read Polyamory and Kink before next summer, become a Patron.

Shabbat Story Time — Generational Home

Sometime in December, I decided it was time to start doing a regular storytime with my kids again. But I knew I didn’t have the spoons to do a nightly storytime. So instead, I started Shabbat story time.

At 7:30pm on Shabbat, Kid 1 and Kidling and I would gather on the couch with a couple of story books and I’d read to them. After the first week, I decided that I wanted to have a chapter book that we read some each week, in addition to the short stories the kids picked out.

So I pulled out Pratchett’s Wee Free Men and began introducing the kids to Tiffany Aching, Second Thoughts, Granny Aching, and the Nac MacFeegle.

The Blessing of Modern Technology

After the Shabbat candles comes Shabbat story time.

In spite of the long distance, Michon and I have always been able to maintain a close relationship. And since we met him, Dilip Numetor Amelia Chetana Waller and I have mostly done the same. But building relationships and family with kids long distance is a challenge of monumental proportions.

Sure, Michon and Kid 2 and Kidlet will (hopefully!) be moving down here over the summer. But however well the Kid 2 and Kidlet connected with me and Michael a year ago, without a car we haven’t been able to visit since last winter, and a year is a long time for kids.

But they remember us (and Kid 1 and Kidling remember and ask after both the other kids and Michon.) I wanted a way to keep all the kids connected to each other and the long distance adults in the family. It occurred to me that Shabbat story time might be the perfect opportunity.

Granted, it meant breaking my observance of being offline for Shabbat, but it is also a mitzvah to spend Shabbat with family. So…

Now at around 7:15 every Shabbat evening, I make sure that the sound input on my computer is set to headset, but the output is set to the speakers. Then I call on Michon on Discord and Kid 2 gets to pick one of three stories from the Standing on One Foot collection. (We’re almost done with that collection. I’m thinking Aesop’s Fables next.)

Sadly, we don’t have a way for Kidlet to pick out stories for me to read. He’s just not verbal enough for me to read off a selection to him and let him pick out a story. But he can listen, at least.

Then I read three or four short stories and a chapter from Wee Free Men. Well, usually a chapter. Last week the chapter was twice as long as usual and we had tech issues, so we stopped halfway through the chapter to continue next week.

Looking to Shabbats Future (and Future)

Michon and I have talked about how we can continue this evenings once they move down here. We’d already been talking about my household going to stay with them every weekend (leases allowing) once they move down here. So we’ll be able to continue Shabbat story time in person, instead of over the internet.

When we do, it won’t be just me reading. I’ve talked before about the role of traditions in keeping a family together across generations. Shabbat story time has all the ingredients for a good traditions. It’s not dependent on any specific person or people — anyone can listen and anyone can read (or tell stories that aren’t in books!) It makes people feel good. It’s easy for people to take part in (just show up! [or call in!]). And it can be adapted to new situations (move it to a new place, switch languages, move from reading to reciting, many options!). It’s all-ages friendly if you pick the right stories.

So, in the near future, we’ll continue this new tradition in person. And we’ll start adding in other readers, so story time doesn’t get intrinsically tied to me being the reader. If it continues to work as well in person as it has so far, then we’ll have a solid start on a new tradition. One that I, at least, can easily see myself enjoying for the rest of my life.

This post is part of the Generational Home topic.

If you are interested in fiction about chosen family and creating a generational home, check out my Patreon.

Planting Life in a Dying City Preview

A lot has been happening and I really should do a family or farm post, but I just don’t have the spoons. So instead, you are getting to see the first chapter of my bronze age low fantasy novel Planting Life in a Dying City. This is still a draft, so expect typos, misspellings, etc.

Lefeng: The Wave

A shaft of sunlight lanced through the forest gloom highlighting another empty snare. Lefeng shook eir head as ey pull up the small game snare and examined the grass rope. Somehow no one had seen that break in the canopy over the summer. They were lucky they snare hadn’t been sun-touched.

Ey coiled and stash the snare-rope it in eir pack with the dozen others ey had pulled earlier that day and the pair of lemurs that had been caught by two of the traps. Ey had been surprised to find that many after [sibling] ran the trapline two days ago. Lefeng was just as glad that ey had forgotten to pull the snares. It gave eir a chance to get into the foothills on eir own one last time before the winter started.

Ey moved with a ground-eating lope to the next snare, pausing on the way to pull leaves from a low growing mint plant to munch on and moisten eir mouth. The air was dry in the foot hills, away from the influence of the ocean. But ey only had a few more snares to pull and then ey could head home.

Tomorrow, the adults and near-adults like Lefeng would start packing for their winter travels. They’d follow the old ways, camping for a short time to gather food and supplies, then travelling on when the area they were in started to become depleted. Each year they travelled a slighty different path, giving the land time to recover.

The ground shook, making a stone under eir foot move. Ey fell to the ground. “Stagnant water!” ey cursed. That was the third shake today. The first one had been strong enough to bring down some of the young saplings. Earth shakes were a part of life. As the [priest] liked to remind them, even the earth is alive in it’s own way. But three in one day was unusual.

Ey stood and cursed again. Eir right ankle hurt when ey put weight on it. Checking the ankle showed that it was only swelling a bit. And it had held when ey put weight on it. Ey hobbled up to a straight sapling a short distance off the trail and used her handaxe to cut the sapling down and strip the branches from it. With this rough-made walking stick ey carefully continued down the trail carefully.

Ey had no intention of staying in the village this walking-season. And a bad injury would keep eir in the home compound this winter with elder, the young children, and some of the grandparents. Two of Lefeng’s siblings who were courting other family’s in the village and would be staying with their prospective-spouses most of the winter.

That was the last thing Lefeng wanted. Ey was planning on marrying-in and spending the rest of eir adult life the way ey had spend eir years so far. And GreatWave, a child of a fishing family who had been courting Lefeng and eir siblings would be coming with them this walking-season. Ey was hoping to get some time with eir outside of the crowded confines of the compound. So no more falls!

A short time late, ey had finished pulling the snares and was headed home. The sun was setting—ey’s injury was making eir late. But there was still light to see by.

A half-mark from the village ey reached the lookout clearing. The hill top had been cleared of trees to give a clear view of the sea. The fisher families used it in storm season to watch for storms gathering on the horizon.

There were no storms today, but the sea looked strange. More like a mud puddle a child had jumped in, swirling around and full of debris.

Lefeng licked eir lips and looked harder. Ey had the best far sight in eir family, and while ey had never seen the sea like that, some of that debris looked familiar. Like the scraps of wood and sail that washed up on shore sometimes after a boat was caught out in a storm or wrecked by the one of the bright days.

GreatWave had gone out with eir family boat that morning. Ey told Lefeng ey wanted to feel the sea under eir one more time before spending more than half the year in the mountains.

Caution forgotten, Lefeng pelted down the trail, skidding and sliding in damp leaves and muddy loam. A short time later, ey burst out of the trees at the edge of the village and stumbled to a halt.

Everything was mud. Mud and dead fish and ragged stumps of wood where walls and homes had been that morning. Here and there, a lump sprawled in the mud, lumps covered with fabric and often trailing banners of waterlogged hair.

Lefeng stared, trying to take in what ey was seeing. It was like the entire village had been washed away. Step by step ey crept out into the mud. It sucked at eir boots and clung to eir legs.

The first body ey came to was the elder, TallDeer. Ey’s face was unrecognizable, but somehow ey was still wearing the silly bracelet of nuts and dried berries ey had worn for nearly twenty years. Lefeng sank into the mud next to eir and gently touched the bracelet. Lefeng had given it to eir, a chilidsh gift from a young child to eir favorite grandparent. TallDeer had promised never to take it off.

Now, Lefeng removed it for eir. “Journey long, Baba. Until I join you at the meeting-fire.”
Tears pouring down eir face, Lefeng forced hirself to stand. Somewhere, there had to be someone still alive. There had to.

When dark fell, Lefeng, retreated into the shelter of the trees and made a small camp. Ey forced hirself to eat, having learned well the lessons of the trail. Never go hungry when there is food, you don’t know when you will find more.

With dawn, ey returned to the remains of the village.

No one had survived. Most were simply gone, no sign remained that they had ever existed.

Where eir family’s compound had once stood were a few stumps from the fence and the wooden frame of the house. Scattered throughout the village where a few–a very few–things ey recognized as once belonging to eir family. Ey gathered everything ey could, both from eir family and others, that might possibly be useful.

The next day, ey spent gathered the bodies together on a pile with as much wood as ey was able to move. It had been over a year since ey had started a fire without a coal or spark to work with. And the wet wood didn’t want to burn. But the effort of getting the fire started kept eir from really thinking about what ey was doing.

About what ey would do next.

It was possible that others from the village had survived, but no one had been off on a long journey. Only the far-walking families regularly ever went further than a half days travel from the village, and they had all been here, preparing for the winter journeying.

Even the fishing boats returned each day except for their yearly trips up the coast to the big city. Anyone who hadn’t been in the village when… whatever it was happened should have returned by now.

Which meant Lefeng was completely alone.

Finally, the fire started. Ey sat upwind and watched it burn. Saying and singing the prayers that were meant to be said when the dead were buried, but there was no way ey, alone, could bury them all before scavengers became to bold for eir to chase away.
The fire burned long into the night and ey watched.

Find more of Lefeng’s story — and the rest of eir new family — on Patreon.

Once Upon a Green Rose — Queer Romance Anthology

Cover for Once Upon a Green RoseCuil Press’ next (and last for now) anthology, Once Upon A Green Rose later, is now available for pre-order.

If you like queer and queered romance (and aromance) you’ll like this collection of stories the RWA wouldn’t consider romance.

As I said, this is our last anthology for the moment. We hope to start doing anthologies again in the future, but we don’t have the spoons to do anthologies and novels, and we want to spend our time and spoons now focusing on novels.

Also, our money. Anthology authors need to be paid a flat fee. Novel authors get paid a percentage of the profits on the novel. Our last anthology didn’t anywhere near pay out. So if by chance you really like these anthologies, tell your friends to buy a few copies.