Wednesday, October 31, 2018

#QueerBlogWed: Paula's Prompt

On October 3, 2018, P.T. Wyant posted a prompt involving a deserted street, a flickering light, and a man in a cape.

I've had vampires on my mind a lot lately, plus, it's Halloween. This story was the result...

Christian could see Richard, spreading his cape like the wings of a bat before allowing them to fall, concealing the contours of his body beneath the flickering light overhead. 

No one else stood on the street. It was deserted except for Richard and himself. Very likely by design. 

Christian drew his own high necked coat closer, allowing the night’s chill to kiss his cheeks. This was as close as he would ever allow the night to get to him. 

For him, the night and Richard would always be one at some fundamental level. 

He reached up to squeeze the pentacle around his neck, allowing its angles to bite into his palm. It was a more reassuring holy symbol than a cross, not that he was sure he believed in either one of them. 

Don’t come closer. His spine tingled with the nearness of the man watching him in the intimacy of the fog. Don’t look into my eyes. 


He didn’t stop advancing toward the street light. It was after all, on his way home. 

Perhaps this was just another excuse. 

Fog rose around his legs, their feet. It enshrouded Richard like a halo, giving him the glamour that his kind always evoked in cinema. 

It was just an illusion, a trick. It still made his hairs on the back of Christian’s neck tingle, tightening other parts of his body into knots, kindling an excitement he’d never been able to resist. 

This was one of the reasons he’d fallen under Richard’s thrall in the first place. 

Just don’t look into his eyes. 

In spite of himself, Christian allowed his own to flicker to the black folds of the cape, enshrouding Richard. He huddled within, almost like he was shielding himself. 

The man lifted his head, allowing the dim light to illuminate his high cheekbones, clean shaven jaw, and a mouth equally inclined toward amusement or sensuality. 

Christian found himself examing the curve of those lips, the cleft of his chin before he pulled his attention away. Rouge reddened Richard’s mouth, making it fuller, emphasizing their pouting suggestiveness. 

Unless it was blood. It could be blood. 

“Poor little lost soul, so alone, so bewildered.” Musical, playful, yet not nearly as malicious as Christian had expected, Richard’s voice caught him, making his entire body tingle. “Why do you wander alone in the night?” He turned his head toward Christian, fixing his silvery grey eyes upon him. “Why won’t you look at me?”

“Excuse me.” Meaningless courtesy came automatically to Christian around his former mentor and teacher. He shouldn’t linger. He shouldn’t stop, let alone talk to him. “This isn’t a good time.”

“You’re always in a hurry.” Richard slumped against the post. “Always rushing off, trying to avoid me.” 

“Why shouldn’t I?” The words burst from his lips before he could think better of them. “I don’t truly know you, Dick. I never did.” Fear and desire warred with each other, leaving a bitter taste in his mouth. 

Christian reached up to touch his scarf. It hid the marks on his neck, the signs of Richard’s claim to him. They itched with a yearning which never left him. 

Richard never killed the ones he claimed, the ones who satisfied his hunger. He strove not to take life. He left marks, though, on everyone who crossed his path. No one he tasted ever got over him. He became an addiction his victims couldn’t escape.

Christian was no exception. Richard’s kiss sang through his entire body, making him yearn for more. Even now he longed to pull off the scarf and throw himself into his master’s arms. 

“No.” Christian turned his head, refusing to look at his master. “Not now. Please. Give me time.” 

He closed his eyes, half hoping Richard would refuse, that the vampire’s will would envelop him like rich velvet, allowing him to sink into his embrace, weightless and uncaring. 

“All right.” Richard backed away, gave Christian a little bow. “You may not believe it, but I love you.” The vampire pressed his fingers to his lips. “You were never simply a meal to me.”

“And I wouldn’t keep crossing your path if I wasn’t interested.” Christian opened his eyes, not looking at his master directly. He studied the tips of his shoes. “Please. Just give me some time to find myself again.”

“All right, my dear.” Richard backed away into the mist. “Time is after all something I have plenty of.” Sorrowful silver eyes fixed themselves upon Christian. “I just wish the same was true of you.”

The mist surrounded the vampire, swallowing him, leaving Christian alone. 

Christian shivered in the emptiness which remained, half wanting to cry out, to beg his master to return.

No. He’d been the bedazzled victim for too long. It was true that he needed time to find himself again, to discover the person he’d been before he’d met Richard, or the person he could be after the overwhelming experience of the vampire’s kiss. 

If only it didn’t get so lonely at times, trying to find him. 

Monday, October 29, 2018

Secondary Characters Speak Out: Quartz and Matt

Quartz: Right, your story. You started out a secondary character in Fated to Darkness, but the story in which you play a central role, your scrib, eh, writer hasn’t given a title yet, eh? 

Matt: Well, technically, she has the title figured out for the first and third book in this series thus far. The first being Fated to Darkness obviously. I stay secondary until that third book comes along, which she actually has tentatively decided on a title for just a little while ago: Tainted Light. Originally, I was supposed to become primary in the second book. However, upon her completion of the first book she realized it was way too long and still needed some expansion for flow and impact and understanding purposes so now it's been broken up into Book 1 and Book 2, which is why I don't become primary until Book 3 now. *Frowns slightly*  

Daelyn: *Cringes behind curtain, muttering to self* Sorry... Naming and titling is hard and I don't know the meaning to short and sweet...

Quartz: About that writer of you…what does she do that’s truly annoying? Got any ideas on how to make her stop? (mutters) No, I’m not fishing. Not at all.

(There’s a sigh from backstage coming from K.S.…)

Matt: *Thinks for a second* Something she does that's totally annoying? I don't think she does anything that actually annoys me. Although, she does sometimes have trouble keeping my voice from sounding too similar to one of the main character's voices; that does annoy me to a degree. I'm not certain how I could stop that from happening. Maybe if I talk more in her head it would do some good, remind her who she's writing. 

Quartz:  It’s always good to make your voice heard. Don’t let your writer forget you…ever. (glares at the backstage) Ahem. Back to the questions. There’s a main character in your previous story, acting like that center stage belong to them. What irritates you most about them? What would you fix if you could?

Matt: There's actually two main characters in the first two books. Which one do you want me to talk about? Both? 

Quartz: Aye, by all means both. This is your time to speak out. Do it, lad. 

Matt: Alright then. The first would be Kailyn, my friend. She's young, has a stubborn streak thicker than a bull, and also has a tendency to dive headlong into trouble all by herself thanks to her hotheadedness. As you can probably guess it never ends well. If I could fix anything with her it would be to make her realize she doesn't have to do everything alone and that she doesn't always have to be this strong, unbreakable individual, even if that's how she was raised. The second one... *Huffs angrily and frowns, leaning over on his knees with grey eyes darkening, hands clasped* Her name is Ciara and she's about as evil a witch... *pauses* bitch as they come. Everything she does irritates and angers me. The woman has no heart, no shred of decency in her. She's cruel and vile and manipulative. If I could do anything to fix her for good it would be to drop her in Lucifer's lap and watch her suffer for once.

Daelyn: *Whisper-hissing from backstage* Psst! Matt! Secrets! Shhh!   

Quartz: Aye, there are some witches who can be true misery on two legs. I cannot count the ways I detest Oriana…(scowls) Right. We’re talking about you. What do you like about Kailyn since Ciara seems to be an overall pain in the arse…unless she has a few good points she’s felt like sharing. 

Matt: Ciara is a general pain in the ass; there's nothing at all I like about that woman and nothing I ever will like. Nothing to like about her unless you're as cruel as her. Kailyn, on the other hand... *Leans back in his chair again, relaxing* There's a lot to like about her. Kailyn became a little sister to me. She's got a big heart despite the hand she was dealt in life. She's kind and caring, loyal as a dog to those she lets into her life. While she may not believe it or realize it she's the strongest person I've ever met, capable of pushing forward even when she doesn't think she can go on anymore. *Frowns sadly* There's a lot of good in her to like, I just wish she could see it past the darkness.  

Quartz: Aye, I get where you’re coming from, lad, only too keenly. Hopefully Kailyn will find a little happiness in the darkness. It is possible, even if heartbreakingly difficult. Now this writer of yours is working on a book in which you get a bigger part. If you could change something in it, what would it be? While you’re at it, what would you go back and fix in The Dark Heir, what would it be?

Matt: *Sighs heavily* There's a lot of things I would go back and change or fix. My back story, for starters, I'm not proud of it. It makes for a gripping turn of events later down the line and brings along a major development and reveal for secrets, but I am not proud of it at all. It's a point of great shame and regret. If I could fix anything else in the series it would be giving Kailyn a greater confidence in herself. I would change all the shit Daelyn puts her through because she never deserved any of it. 

Quartz: Once again, I sympathize only too keenly, lad. Right. This question seems all wrong at this point in the interview, but the stupid scribbler is making me follow a script. (scowls) Any juicy stories about the other characters you’d like to share?

Matt: Juicy stories? *Looks perplexed* I don't think I follow what you mean by juicy. Stories aren't fruit.

Quartz: True, true…except when they are. Never mind if you have no idea what I’m talking about. Live in the head of a scribbler who writes ambient fantasy, kick down a fourth wall, you pick all sorts of odd…metaphors. (mutters) Maybe Christopher has been a bad influence on me…ahem. What do you planning on doing next? Aye, spoilers, we all know but maybe you could drop a hint?

Matt: Hmm... Next I plan on learning and teaching some new, lighter *gives a hint-filled glance up* lessons and skills. As to what kind of lessons or skills I mean, and with who, I'll leave you to ponder. There's lots of trouble to be gotten into. I can't give you a bigger hint than that I'm afraid. I also plan on collaborating with Kailyn to find a way to get our writer working more consistently on this series so it may see the light of day sooner.

Daelyn: *Nervously laughs* Oh shit... I'm doomed.

Quartz: Right, I tried asking Victor this. Maybe you’ll have some ideas you can share with both of us. How do you get that writer of yours to do something when she’s being distracted, stubborn, and uncooperative. Don’t tell me she’s not like that. They’re all like that. Except for Paula…Paula is almost as sweet a princess as my Fairest. 

Me: Would you mind not insulting every other author out there? They may not let you interview your characters if you’re rude.

Quartz: Bah. Courtesy gets you nowhere…except the hole of Forgotten Ideas lurking in so many authors’s head. The one you left poor Rhodry in, remember?

(There is a guilty silence behind the curtain. The rest we shall fill in, depending on Matt’s responses…) 

Matt: *Glancing between Quartz and you* Paula? I know that name somehow. 

Daelyn: *Snorts* Of course you do. You hear her name daily in my thoughts, or maybe you'll make the connection better if I call her mom instead. Either way, you better know her name. She's only the main reason yours and Kailyn's story ever took off as much as it did by getting me addicted to NaNoWriMo sessions. An addiction I am most certainly okay with... *Shakes head* Anywho, answer the question, Matt.

Matt: *Silently says a thank you to Paula then clears his throat and looks to Quartz* Okay, she's definitely like that. 

Daelyn: *Glares at Matt and huffs, crossing my arms*

Matt: To be painfully honest, I'm not good at getting Daelyn to do any writing when she's being stubborn. The ones capable of lighting a fire under her ass, sometimes literally, are Kailyn and Ciara. You can guess how Ciara might do that, all manners of threatening and cruel, although she rarely is the one to step in and force Daelyn along unless she's at a part that Ciara particularly enjoys in a twisted way. It's mainly Kailyn that manages to get her moving. This probably won't help you, I don't think, I don't know actually -- what are you? -- but being as the lot of us have magic there's numerous ways in which we can...motivate her, so to speak. Curses, bodily harm, all out brawling... Kailyn and Daelyn are known to bicker constantly up here. On occasion I have realized that making Daelyn envision the fantasy that encompasses the future of our series polished, published, and in her hands, and her hopeful success with it, is sometimes enough to bring the want and will back to writing and get her moving along excitedly again. I hope that helps in some way at the least.

Quartz: Aye, thank you, lad. If you’ve never seen a man as short as me or with so fine a beard, it’s because I’m one of seven dwarven brothers. I was unfortunate enough to be killed off in the backstory of Fairest (one of the fairy tales in Nine Star Press’s Once Upon a Rainbow), only to refuse to die in such a ridiculous manner. I’ll definitely take some of your advice in mind, hmm, give the scribbler some inspirational carrots instead of the stick. That might work, yes, it might…

K.S. (from backstage) So not a donkey…

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

#QueerBlogWed: Paula's Prompt

On September 26, 2018, P.T. Wyant posted at as her Wednesday Words prompt an octopus, a soldier, and a memory.

This bizarre poem came to me as a result...

Marching onward I continue
Reaching out with many arms
Seizing my prey underwater
Every fish is an enemy of the state
I devour them in the name of my aquatic queen 
Never questioning my ever seeking grasp

A memory nags me amidst my hunt
Of warm blood, pink flesh
Living on land
Perhaps it’s only a dream
It seems so unreal

My queen’s many eyes seek me out
“Soldier, do not be tempted by human visions
They would lure you into becoming part of their world
Even though we’ve lived beneath the water as long as we have
These creatures would fry and devour you with less mercy
Than you show the least of fishes
Do not trust their memories.”

My queen needn’t worry
Who could believe such ridiculous images
Of two legged creatures, frolicking in the sunlight
Always ready to collapse on their ungainly limbs

Yet I cannot help but marvel at this nonsense
Floating around like a memory
Do people of the sea dream of land creatures?
Do we sense their memories?
Or are their feelings polluting our waters
Like so much of their refuse?

Why do I enjoy raising a stiff human limb?
Popping one of my own into my mouth
Fried in the grease humans love
Only to enjoy the taste of my own flesh?

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

#QueerBlogWed: Return to Land

On August 22, P. T. Wyant posted at a Wednesday Words prompt involving a mermaid, a staircase, a father and a son.

I'd been thinking about pronouns long before my previous post. Here's a little story about a character who went from she to he. This young man has decided to embrace being 'he', although he's still getting used to it, along with his legs.

She gripped the staircase railing, trying to find her, no his balance in this new human form. 

“Is walking so difficult, my son?” The man waited at the bottom of the staircase, holding one hand outstretched toward her…him. Ready to catch his child if she..he…fell. 

“I’m not used to legs, Father.” Her tail had been more purposeful and powerful, propelling her with great force through the water. “Nor am I accustomed to manmade structures.” 

Both defy nature and the gods. It was on the tip of the former mermaid’s tongue to say it, but she stopped herself. 

He was one of the defiant now. A man. 

“You’ll adapt to them, given time.” Father’s hand was smooth, unweathered, except for calluses from writing. “This world is yours as much as mine. You were born to it.”

“I don’t remember it. I grew up in the waters and upon the shores.” All he had to do was close his eyes, to recall the stinging splash of salt water, the playful giggles of her sisters, inviting her to the games mermaids practiced in preparation for the ones they’d entrap mortal men within. 

Only she was no longer an aquatic predator. She…he…had found his legs. 

He had found his place, the human family he’d been snatched from as an infant. 

Resolute, he made his way down the stairs and claimed his father’s hand. It felt so warm, tingling with affection and love. 

Yes, this was something more mermaids never felt, even if flirted with the notion, delighting in it, like some bright, shining bauble, or a tear running down the cheek of a human. 

The young man savored the sensation, the warmth, feeling something soften in his once cold chest. 

“I’ve come home,” he whispered, marveling at the wonder of the words as much as everything else. 

Tears gathered in the corner of his father’s eyes. He didn’t let go of his son’s hand. 

If he’d still be a mermaid, she would would have dragged the man down into the watery depths. Perhaps this lord of this earthbound castle was aware of this, yet willing to be taken. 

He just wanted to pass on all he had to his child, to have someone he could leave his legacy to. 

This didn’t mean the lord was without tenderness for his offspring any more than a mermaid was without feeling for her prey. 

“Do you remember this place at all?” His father stroked his hand, gazing at him with anxious eyes. 

His son considered a comforting lie. This man might be happier with one. 

“I’m sorry, Father.” Honesty spilled from his lips, like water gushing out of a crack. “I wish I could remember it.” He lifted a free hand to caress the wooden carving of the railing. Such delicate grooves and whorls, creating a new shape, had it really been the work of human fingers?

Yes. This, too, was part of their world, this creativity, this transformative power to make something new of what already existed. 

“I’m willing to learn.” He met his father’s eyes, felt his heart beat a little faster, stretching his lips into a smile. 

This was human emotion. This was also part of his birthright. 

There was so much to learn. 

The former mermaid had a feeling he was going to be too occupied to miss his former games. Not that he had any desire to resume them.

Time to start a new life on land. Hopefully the land was ready for him.

The young man’s smile widened. 

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

#QueerBlogWed: Paula's Prompt

On September 19, 2018, P.T. Wyant posted at the Wednesday Words prompt, "It's better to ask permission than to ask forgiveness".

I've had cause to think about this recently. I used the wrong pronoun for an online friend recently. They were very nice about it, but I'm feeling quite abashed and insensitive for making such a mistake.  :(

Writing is often how I process my mistakes. I wrote a poem about pronoun usage, thinking about this with Paula's prompt. I wished I'd asked for permission rather than forgiveness. Alas, it's too late. Like I said, I think (hope) my friend has forgiven me. Still I feel ashamed. Especially considering how hurt many people have been by this particular error.

Yes, I'm taking back my blog to write this poem and my characters are letting me. Although one of them is nudging me to let them explore this issue themselves since they've had to cope with this mistake. I may use this prompt again in the future for their sake.

I can’t believe what I just assumed
Something made me think of you as ‘he’
I can’t even recall what it was
A fleeting memory, a distant reference
Perhaps someone else’s assumption
Such a small word
As tiny as a bullet, yet it can make a tearing wound
Carrying meanings which rip us to shreds
Associations, presumptions weigh it down, crush us beneath
The heaviness of backage we may not want to carry
Perhaps you got tired of lugging it around
Or perhaps no one noticed this part of yourself
I didn’t see it either 
Rushing around, tweeting like a demented bird
Moving forward, moving fast
Running through a rat race of deadlines
I must seize time to stop and reflect
How we address our colleagues?
What’s the courteous response? 
I don’t mind being called sir, my lady, or my lord
Once I finish being tickled, I should worry
What expectations come with such lofty titles?
Am I expected to account for the crop failures
Chase the bandits off people’s lands
Expectations walk hand in hand with address
I’ve been she, he, and they, not minding any of them
Sometimes I even consider myself an it
I’d rather you used words I recognize 
I doubt and question presumptions about every pronoun
Not everyone feels the same
Pronouns have power
Casting a thousand nuances
Painting shades which cover individuality
Better to ask what you prefer 
She, he, they, or something else?
Than to simply use and assume
It’s better to ask permission than to apologize
Sometimes it’s too late to anything else
All I can do is cringe, watching an old wound bleed
A wound I never intended to re-open
Causing deeper pains to ooze out
The only thing I can do is learn
Hoping I’ll be forgiven
Next time I won’t presume

I’ll ask. 

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

#QueerBlogWed: Residents of the Tower

On September 5, 2018, P.T. Wyant posted at a Wednesday Words prompt involving a gargoyle, thread, and rain.

This made me think of Rhodry Mavelyne (whose handle I use all over social media) and the special relationship he had with Imp and Smirk, the guardian gargoyles in the Library at the Keep.

I decided to take Imp and Smirk over to Daeric's tower in the world of A Suitor's Challenge and Trouble at Caerac Keep. I figured they could guard the library my cranky wizard was hoarding within his walls.

Once again, the Rhodry of this universe, Rhodry Nevalyn feeds the gargoyles coal and brimstone. Once more, the gargoyles show a different side to him that they do to a lot of people...

Rain fell from above, dripping off the stone heads of the creatures crouched in the eaves of the tower. They leered with monstrous faces at those who passed Daeric’s threshold, anyone who dared to enter his sanctuary of knowledge. 

These gargoyles could sniff out ill intentions in those who would intrude, those who threatened the safety of those who’d claimed the protection of these walls. 

I might be one of the few people who’d seen their more playful side. That Imp, the smaller of the two gargoyles would dangle a thread right under Smirk’s nose’s, wiggling it. I was never sure if she was trying to tickle her companion or simply tease him. 

Smirk grinned back at her whenever she did this. Smirk always grinned, even if it was a smile filled with pointed teeth. Whatever the rest of the world did was a joke to him. He’d wait, pretending he didn’t notice the thread until he snapped at it. 

Imp hopped back, fluttering her bat wings, forcing Smirk and I to duck to avoid them. I’ve never seen her take flight before, not in all the years I’ve lived in this sanctuary. Nor have I seen Imp or Smirk show any interest in going anywhere. They’re content to crouch in the eaves of Daeric’s tower, fooling many into thinking they’re stone. 

“They were once Corwyth’s pets.” 

The gargoyles stilled, lowering their heads, acknowledging their master’s presence. I bowed, feeling a bit awkward. 

Daeric didn’t even look at us or acknowledge our reactions. He moved to the railing, enchanted to keep the world out or unwary apprentices from falling to their death. It didn’t mean you couldn’t see the world.

Caerac Keep spread out below, a series of shingled and thatches roofs, cut through with cobblestone streets. Above everything loomed the Earl of Caerac’s castle, its turrets facing us across the land. 

“He animated these gargoyles to be the eternal guardians of a temple of knowledge, where collections of books were gathered.” He turned from the view back towards the shadows which concealed the staircase, leading down into the library of the tower. “Even when Corwyth was a mortal cleric, he detested book burning, deemed it a mortal wrong equal to any act of disharmony the Order of the Dragon warned him to avoid.”

He slumped a bit against the railing, returning his attention to the panaroma below. 

“I didn’t realize he cared so much for books,” I ventured when it was clear Daeric would say no more unless prompted. 

“He wished to create a champion for the written word, someone who would fight for the knowledge trapped and helpless within their pages.” Daeric lifted a hand and studied his own broken nails, in need of a manicure. 

It was a relief to see his hands were as dirty as mine. It gave him a humanity his searing blue eyes, delicate jaw, and luminous golden hair distanced him from. 

I’ve been told I resemble him, in my hair and my eyes. If I do, I’m more like an unkept, awkward copy. If I have any beauty, I have yet to figure out how to channel it into my face and bearing, to strike awe into people’s hearts the way he does. 

I just make them uneasy. 

“The gargoyles are champions?” I glance at Imp and Smirk. They continued to hang their heads in a cowed fashion.

If we’d been alone, the three of us, Smirk might have rolled on his back, begging for a belly rub until Imp gave him a jealous swat. Seeing them so still was disturbing

Was this what most guests saw when they came to the tower?

Was this is the face they showed intruders?

“The gargoyles will rip anyone from limb to limb who’d desecrate my library or menace my charges.” Daeric raised a hand to run through his sun kissed hair, a moment of vanity even he might be unaware of. “They’ll devour flesh, bone, and stone, leaving no trace of our enemies behind.”

“Perhaps but they’d much prefer coal.” The words slipped out with an unguarded honesty. “Brimstone is their favorite food.”

Intense sapphire irises ringing pupils which contained a darkness common to every human fixed themselves upon me. “You’ve been feeding them. Keep at it, Rhodry, and they’ll lose their edge. Worse, they may confuse you with the rocks you give them.” The darkness swallowed the edges of the blue, transfixing me. 

I flinched, yet found a retort. “Imp and Smirk have never harmed me nor shown any intention of doing so.”

“You love books. You’d never harm my collection.” Daeric raised his arm, dark blue cape spilling over his sleeves. “Perhaps feeding them other things besides flesh has dulled their instinct.”

“You’d have me starve them?” I glanced back at the basket, tucked away behind a beam. 

It was filled with coal and a few pieces of brimstone. They gave off a scent distinctive to a gargoyle. Smirk ought to have perked up his flopping ears at the promiximity of such a treat. Imp ought to have sniffed all over the upper level of this tower, trying to find the tasty rocks. 

“Don’t soften them.” Daeric folded his arms and regarded the two gargoyles. “The safety of this tower depends on how dangerous they can be.” 

He turned to descend the stairs, his dark cloak billowing behind him. He paused for a moment. 

“Corwyth liked to feed them, too.” He didn’t turn around, didn’t look at me. “They behaved in an affectionate manner toward him I’ve never seen them show to anyone else. Not until you started feeding them.”

I swallowed, watching him descend.

The gargoyles raised their heads with timid caution at their master’s departure. 

“Well.” I swallowed, glanced in the direction of the basket I’d left up here. “It would be a shame to waste all that coal and brimstone.”

Imp skipped a little bit at my words while Smirk’s grin widened.