Some Fun Short Reads

Last week was a really bad week for many folks, for many reasons. I want to give all of us a chance to relax a bit. So I’m diving into my mason jar file and sharing some fun and interesting shorts. I’m putting these 5 snippets into public domain, so if you are a creator, feel free to have fun with them.

These were all written as part of ‘writing sprints’ where we were given a word and 15 minutes to write.

I hope you enjoy.

Airship — steampunk
Expelled — original world fantasy
Perplexed — contemporary fiction
Space junk — space fantasy
Spark — urban fantasy

 

Airship

Captain Haru Nagatsumi stood in the bows of his airship and enjoyed the feel of the wind in his face for the first time in 10 years. He’d first gone to England with one their cultural exposés, then found himself falling into the employ of the Count of Ambrey. Then he fell into the Count’s bed. With the Countess’ full approval. The affair, if he could call it that, had lasted three years, and every day of those three years he’d known it would someday end. Until three weeks ago.

Three weeks ago, Cherville had actually put down the newspaper at breakfast and out of nowhere said, “Look, old chap, you have to know by now that if it weren’t for the damnable law, I’d ask you to marry me. Since I can’t, the least you can do is take me home to meet your parents.”

Emelie was coming in from the kitchen with a plate of scones. Putting one on his plate she added, “Take us home, you mean.”

“Of course, dear.”

Haru fell out of his chair.

Remembering the scene, he smiled and muttered under his breath, “Damn all Englishmen and their stiff upper lip!” It turned out that Cherville had already bought a large airship for the trip, which brought Hoku back to the present moment.

“Cap’n!” a call came from the crows nest, “Ship a-port!”

Expelled —  original world fantasy

“Out.” That was all they said, and suddenly Danne found himself ejected from the only home he had anymore. He had gone to the headmaster, hoping to plead for another chance. But the door refused to admit him.

He hadn’t meant to blow up the alchemy classroom. It just…happened. Just like he hadn’t meant to frighten all the pegasi when it was his turn to groom them. Or turn all the food rancid while helping make dinner. And he definitely hadn’t meant to put invisibility powder in the laundry instead of soap. Who leaves invisibility powder sitting around the academy laundry room anyway?

It didn’t make any difference. After three years and fives of mishaps, they were done with him.

With nothing else to do, Danne wandered down the dirt road that ran past the academy. Sooner or later he’d come to a town—though he seemed to remember it had been a long way from the last town to the academy when he came here. NMIMY– No Mages In My Yard—was te popular sentiment in Carolia. And given his own mishaps, Danne couldn’t exactly blame them. But he’d need somewhere to sleep for the night…

“Are you done wallowing yet?” A voice squeaked in his ear.

“I’m not wallowing!” The little fire demon had started following hi around his first week at the academy—and for some reason never left.

“Sure, sure. Cheer up. I didn’t think we’d make it out of there alive. It’s a good day.”

Danne flicked the creature off his shoulder. A moment later the scent of scorched hair told him it had reappeared on his head.

“Yup, clear sailing from here. Gotta say, I’m impressed you stuck it out that long. Most cadets don’t last six months after management decides to get rid of them.”

Perplexed — contemporary

Marie’s eyes narrowed as she saw Paul and a strange woman laughing and holding hands outside the movie theater. She stormed up to them and slapped him. Hard.

“What the hell!” Hand to his face, he growled at her, “Marie, what is your fucking problem.”

“Fuck you,” she said, “Fuck you and the horse you rode in on. My sister is marrying you next week and you have the fucking balls to be out at the movies making kissy noises with someone else?”

The woman beside him suddenly started laughing. After a moment, Paul joined her.

“What’s so funny,” Marie demanded.

“Ah…” Paul’s laughing trailed off, “You know, I was sure this was gonna bite me in the ass, but I’m not allowed to tell you.” He shrugged a bit uncomfortably, “Call your sister and she’ll explain.”

And they just started walking off. Marie stared after them in shock.

After a moment she pulled out her cellphone, speed dialed her sister, “Sis, I’m really, really sorry, but I gotta tell you. I think you need to call of the wedding. Paul is cheating on you… Yeah, yeah I’m sure. I saw him coming out of the movie theater making kissy face with some stranger… you mean you knew about her?… I… yeah, I guess we can talk later… I int erupted your DATE- but Paul was just… your boyfriend… BUT YOU’RE GETTING MARRIED!”

Space junk — space fantasy

The aging satellite had circled the small green and white planet for millennium. It observed the rise of a dominant species, evolving for primitives bands to stone cities. The domestication of animals, the beginning of organized war.

Its masters, presumably, received the reports it beamed back, but no response ever came. It circled on, becoming erratic and unreliable. Micro pitting damaged its processors, batteries ran down and, as the solar cells lost alignment did not recharge.

More years passed, the civilization below continued to evolve. Finally the satellite stopped working entirely. It floated in space, an unusable collection of circuits and metal. Without rockets to stabilize its flight, its orbit degraded—a long, slow fall to the planet below.

Berchad was plowing his field, getting ready to plant the mage-touched rhubarb seeds. He ignored the flash of fire high above. The High Mage and Regus-the-Bastard had been fighting for a week already. He figured they’d still be going at it come harvest time.

If he’d looked up, he might have had some warning of the pile of molten metal which was about to crash into his just-planted turnips.

Spark — urban fantasy

Sometimes the most important things are small. Like the spark that lights a wildfire, the world is rewritten by the smallest chance.

“John, come take a look at this,” Sarah called from across the room. I took off my VR headset and leaned over to see her workstation without standing up. Rows of blotches on a dark background covered the screen.

“DNA from some of the stiffs?” She was frowning at the image and jabbing at keys.

“Do you have to call them that?”

Honestly, I wasn’t paying much attention. She’d interrupted my game. “So what’s the big deal?”

“Get off your butt and see for yourself. And stop calling them stiffs.”

I sighed and humored her. “Why not, they ar– What they hell?”

If you don’t know DNA, you wouldn’t have seen anything. Just blobs like some freaky modern art piece. Unfortunately, I knew DNA. I ran my finger down the screen, mostly to give myself something to focus on. “No way. No way this comes from the stiffs.”

She hit me. “Its logged. The samples are good, no contamination, clear chain of custody. These are the DOAs brought in this morning.”

“Look, Sarah, we’re supposed to be looking for what killed them, make sure it isn’t a new ebola or what not, maybe a virus got mixed in?”

She shook her head, and tapped her nail on the damning stat from sample 6. “A virus with 10,000 base pairs more than human DNA? This isn’t contamination, John.”

I stared at her, she couldn’t be saying…. “It has to be contamination, otherwise this stiff–”

“Isn’t human.”

Ah fuck. I knew, right then, I was screwed. The WereKing was so going to blame me for this.

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

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.

Planting Life in a Dying City: First Chapter (Draft)

That move I mentioned a couple posts back is happening this week and I didn’t have the time or spoons to write a blog post. So instead, here’s the first draft chapter of Planting Life in a Dying City


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 summer ended.

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 shor ttime 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 youngling 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 eirself 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 eirself 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.

Interactive Kinky Fic: an experiment

No blog post today, it’s been a shit week and the grief hit hard.

But I got a bit silly this morning and put a thing up on the Fediverse:

Walking down a residential street, you come across an …. Unusual display. First, stands a sign that reads “Ask — but no touching”. Next to the sign, a naked, blindfolded person hangs from a St. Andrew’s cross.

A few feet past them…

Read the full thing here. And if you have an account on a Fediverse instance, you can reply with what ‘you’ do and see what happens.

Gonna post these interactive kink bits once a week or so for the next month and see how it goes. If there is interest I might keep going.

Fantasy Twists Anthology Is Out!

Okay, so the announcement is a bit late, but better late than never, right?

Fantasy Twists anthology, the trope-pretzeling short story collection from Cuil Press, is available as of last Thursday. My own story, One Hell of an STI, is included as well as pieces for six other authors.

If you are looking for creatively written stories inspired by some of your favorite tales as well as diverse characters you should check out Fantasy Twists from Cuil Press

from TheNerdyGirlExpress

I think my favorite part of the anthology is how varied it is.

While all the stories are fantasy, they range from fairy-tale retellings to superheroes. They explore, twist, and recreate, a wide range of fantasy tropes. Some authors took tropes so old they have become cliches and then fallen out of fashion and given them new life. (The scary old person next door) Some authors took tropes that will likely never go out of fashion and took them in a completely different direction. In my case, I took one of the most popular tropes of urban fantasy and turned it inside out.

The characters are varied as well, including werewolves, PoC, superheroes, trans characters, witches, fae, and a character I have been told is loosely based off of the Goblin Kin from Labyrinth. (See if you can spot him.)

Check it out today!

An Interview with Grandmother: Fantasy Twists Blog Tour

I love fairy tales. And I really like well-done new takes on old tales. So I was delighted when Kelseigh N. shared a very different version of “Red Riding Hood” with Cuil Press for our Fantasy Twists anthology.

When Desy starting putting together a Fantasy Twists blog tour, I immediately knew what I wanted to do. I offered to host a stop on the tour and said I’d do a character interview. Kelseigh was good enough to let me “sit down” with Grandmother and learn a bit HER perspective on things. Some of our discussion doesn’t sound much like Red Riding Hood, but that’s because there is a lot more to the story than you ever heard.

I hope you enjoy as much as I did.


Hi Grandmother, thanks for joining me today.

Why hello, Jess. How nice of you to take time out of your day to keep an old woman company. Or perhaps not so old as all that, eh?

So, one thing I can’t stop wondering—what’s with the red and blue cloaks? Is there a special meaning there, or are they just for convenience with the villagers?

A good question, that. Indeed there is, although the current villagers don’t know anything about it. Culture changes over time, you understand, and what once had a particular meaning shifts to mean something different. And we three, our cycle, we have been rolling along for a quite a long time.

But not to put too fine a point on it, from what I understand from the records of Grandmothers past and my own feelings that confirm it to be true, red was once considered the colour of youth, where blue was for those who had come of age. For the Girl and I, the division between those two roles isn’t so much dictated by age of course. But it fits well enough don’t you think?

When did you first notice the Girl? Was it something you gradually became aware of or just an instant realization that she was the one you were waiting for?

I would say the former, although it’s a much less clear-cut feeling than you may think. The three of us who make up the cycle, we are essentially the same people as we always are, but in many ways we are entirely new people every time. Memories don’t really carry well from our Wolf stage to the new Girl, but feelings and instinct…those are a much different matter. I had no idea when my Girl would come, only that she would and there were signs to look for. But in the end it was more a feeling that grew, until one day it dawned on me that this Girl out of all girls was the one I’d been waiting for.

Let me tell you, it was a relief!

Without giving too much away, can you tell us about the Wolf?

What can one say about their first love that doesn’t sound foolish to others? That she is a goddess? Perhaps she always was, in my eyes, even in her original form. Certainly she was as beautiful then as she is now, albeit in a different way. One hell of a kisser, too.

But I suppose you’re looking for something a little more objective. She is, at the heart of it, the embodiment and protecter of her entire realm. Both the things we humans would see as good and natural, or frightening and arcane, make her up and she does not judge either. She is the unseen danger that puts an edge on the villagers’ lives, and that too is a thing of value. She, that is the part of the cycle she occupies, has watched over the forest as long as there has been a forest to watch, or perhaps longer. I’ve thought long about it and discussed the matter with her, and neither of us are sure there ever was a beginning to what she is, although we each have our theories. Suffice to say she has effectively always been and always shall be, and so will the forest she guards.

How did you feel when you first became Grandmother?

Sad and happy, all at once. Excited. Terrified. Change is like that.

You must remember what I saw happen to the woman I’d loved for years. The two of us had more chance to be together before that day and I had a better idea what to expect, but it was still shocking. But now, so many years later what sticks with me are the happier thoughts. The sight of her, radiant in power, continuing the noble work of ages. Years of being together after that. Her wise counsel when it truly struck home that I was now responsible, alone, for the safety and welfare of the whole village, and for teaching my own Girl when I finally found her. She guided me through those early fears that I would not do as well as she.

I think it would have been a much harder transition without her there.

Okay. That’s all the questions I have. Thanks again for joining us.

Thank you as well. I’ve quite enjoyed our chat.


Fantasy Twists is available for pre-order on Amazon, B&N, Google, and Kobo. It’ll be out on Thursday. (I have a story in there too!)

If you want to learn more about Kelseigh’s work, check out her Patreon.

The Bargain by Jess Mahler is Now Available!

When I started writing The Bargain, I wanted a story with polyamory and kink (especially kink!) that I could relate to. All the femdom fiction I could find at the time was either straight pron or man-hating bitches or just flat out unrealistic and icky.

A lot has changed since then, and while femdom* still isn’t widely written, there’s a decent amount of it that I can read and enjoy.

The funny thing is that while I was actively trying to create a story with polyamory and kink, I unintentionally built my story around much more universal themes.

The kink is there, don’t get me wrong, and I think I did a good job with it. But the story… the story is about family. About what it means to be family. It’s about love and the different forms love can take. It’s about life after trauma, when you think the past is behind you but somehow it still manages to dog you around years after it’s “over.”

Most of all, I think it’s about choice. The most pivotal moments in the story all hinge on someone making a choice. Some of those choices are good ones. Some… not so good. But they all have consequences that ripple through the story. Including, of course, the choice to make a bargain…

The Bargain by Jess Mahler

It was supposed to be a straightforward sacrifice. After their mother was killed by Lord Oeloff, Mattin swore to do anything to protect his sister. When the fae lord came for her, Mattin traded his life and freedom to Oeloff’s enemy for the promise of his sister’s safety. He thought he was prepared for anything. Anything except what he actually
found…

It was supposed to be a political gambit. Struggling against Oeloff’s latest ploy, Jahlene found an unforeseen opening in the arrival of the bitter Mattin. Bringing the stranger into her household was a risk. Trusting him was a bigger one. To protect her family, Jahlene bargained with him. She never guessed how it would end…

Sometimes, what starts as a bargain, becomes something more.

The Bargain is a fantasy thriller exploring themes of family, betrayal, trauma, and sacrifice. It is an “own voices” book for polyamory, kink, and PTSD.

The Bargain by Jess Mahler

The Bargain is now available on Amazon

*Check back tomorrow for more on why my writing this for more femdom rep turned out to be somewhat ironic…

His Innocent Victim: A Free Fantasy Short Story

I have a small treat to share today.

As you may know, my fantasy thriller novel The Bargain is coming out on January 18th. To celebrate (and in hopes of wetting your interest), I’m making my short story His Innocent Victim available for free for the next two weeks.

His Innocent Victim is set 500 years before The Bargain and starts the story of Falthro and Dannel. Falthro is also a character in The Bargain. However, like some characters, he didn’t like his relatively small role and insisted on having his own story.

In theory, His Innocent Victim is the first in a series of short stories about Falthro and his household. I’ve got the second part written and will hopefully be publishing it sometime in February.

Enjoy!

His Innocent Victim

When the town of Oak Grove captures a child-killer, they petition the fae lord Falthro to find his missing victims. But before the council will release him to Falthro, they insist he swear by the Goddess to punish the prisoner for the deaths of the town’s children.

Falthro is oathbound, but his magic tells him the prisoner is innocent…

His Innocent Victim is a complete short story, the first in a series about Falthro and his victim, Dannel.​

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Fiction Friday: Give It to the Engineer

First entry          Previous entry

Ma’evoto strode through the clean room doors. He hadn’t felt so off balance since he started training as fighter, but the only sign of his discomfort was the off-beat rhythm his thumb tapped against the tips of his fingers.

Waiting for him was a woman who might have been the ultimate geek. Short cropped kinky hair paired with a long skirt of… indifferent style, and a sleeveless vest that gave full access to the sub-cutaneous circutry that crawled up her deep brown arms like tattoos. She had the far-off look of someone watching a retinal display. Probably display contacts. He knew she was a woman because her file said so—if it hadn’t he’d never have guessed. She didn’t wear a single triangle or star. Given geek culture that might be intentional or might be an oversight when she picked out her clothes.

The only thing that didn’t fit was the rabbit ears poking up out of her hair.

“Ms Malka.” He offered his hand

It took a moment, but her eyes slowly refocused. “Oh. Sorry.” She took his hand in both of hers. “Mr. Frederickson.”

“It’s Littlesun. Ma’evoto Littlesun” He tried to smile but it felt like more of a grimace. “I’m reclaiming my old name.”

“Oh. Sorry. Mr. Littlesun.” Her eyes darted around the room, and finally settled on something behind his left shoulder. “Um… I’m a bit confused. About why I’m here, I mean. And why this is here. I mean, top level clean room in government headquarters. That’s… like out of a thriller novel. And I’m kinda bottom tier over at ISA so really shouldn’t you be meeting with one of the…” she trailed off. Probably had been about to use a nickname the political appointees at the space administration wouldn’t like. Ma’evoto grinned.

“Please, don’t stop on my account. I have some less than flattering names for your superiors myself.”

Her mouth snapped shut. Opened. Closed. “Ah… well I don’t mean to suggest they are bad people you understand.” She was babbling now. “Not the best engineers maybe, but they know their jobs and they really are… I mean you don’t need to… that is…”

“Relax, Ms Malka. I’m not going after your colleagues. Some of them will moving to new jobs soon, but I’m not looking to make any more examples. One should be enough, don’t you think?”

“Ah. Yes.” She swallowed.

“Good.” He started the room’s standalone comp and inserted a filechip. “As for why there’s a top tier clean room in government headquarters—mainly to be sure there is one place in the damn building where people can’t be spied on.

“Take a look at this.”

A hologram sprang to life, a spherical space station with one large door and a number of smaller ports. Specs and calculations surrounded the main image.

Malka leaned in. “Nickle iron? An asteroid base? But what about… Oh, I see. Interesting.

“I didn’t take you for a fan Mr. Littlesun. But this looks like something out of Troy Rising. And if you are going to be that ambitious, why not the Death Star?”

“Because we have a chance—barely—of finishing this in two years. And both the old NASA engineers who dreamed this up and the author who wrote Troy Rising understood the importance of little things like having blast doors across your exhaust ports.”

By the time he finished speaking, Malka’s eyes were glazed again. “Two years. The engineering challenges alone…”

“You don’t need to worry about anything else. Funding, bureaucrats, politics—forget about it. Handle the engineering. I’ll see that everything else is taken care of. That’s not a license to spend money. But first priority is making it work, second priority is making it safe. Money is third.”

“It’s doable. Maybe. With the right team.” She hesitated. Refocused. “How will the team be chosen?”

Ma’evoto leaned against the wall and crossed his arms. The movement hid his sigh of relief. She was onboard. “Anyone at ISA that you want is yours. If there are outside people you need, put a list together and I’ll see what can be done. They’ll need to get security clearance same as everyone else at ISA. Don’t waste my time suggesting people you know won’t pass.”

There was a knock at the door. Right on time. He opened the door to let Deborah in. “One last thing. This is Deborah Wirth. She’s been in charge of my magical security, but she’ll be transferring to work on the battlestation as soon as your team is up and running. She’ll have her own team for integrating mystic defenses and other abracadabra into the station.”

Deborah, who’d told him the origin of that old stage conjurer’s phrase one drunk night, stuck her tongue out at him.

This time Malka’s mouth flopped open. “But… but… no one has ever made magic and technology work together.”

“That,” he smiled, “is an engineering problem.”

Deborah muttered something—he couldn’t hear what. A moment later, Malka’s bunny-ears started twitching.