“I know,” I answer with a smile up at him. “Gran told me.”
That was before the world stopped spinning, of course. It had baffled scientists and everybody who knew—who thought they knew—how the world worked. The very stopping should have shattered everything. And then, by all rights, half the world should have roasted and the other half should have froze solid. There shouldn’t have been air, let alone anything else.
But none of that happened. Sure, the days were now a year long, meaning everywhere got six months of daylight and six months of night, and that caused a huge upheaval of everything. Sure, a lotta people and things died before we all adjusted, or so Gran says. But other than that--
Well. The world stopped, but people didn’t. We went on. And now father and I, among many, many others, pull the tides in on a regular schedule, to keep things growing and shifting properly, and to rock the world enough to keep it well, same as you would a newborn baby, hungry for touch as much as milk.
And when we pull in the tide and release it with our hooks, our bells ring sweetly, which pleases our tired moon and the creatures that live within it. They came out when the world stopped spinning, and best as anyone can tell, they’re the reason there’s any life still on Earth.
All they ask is for music in return. Song is the new currency, instruments more valued than gold or even food ever was, bards, musicians, and singers the lifeblood of society everywhere, dancers made holy. We keep the Moon’s beings happy and entertained, and they keep us alive and well.
Gran says there were a lot of wars and other terrible things, before the Great Stillness. There isn’t anymore. We keep going, with our bells and whistles and music for the heavens and the creatures who love it so.
It’s not a bad new world, to be sure.
[[ content warning: implied/referenced child death ]]
No one else sees her. No one else seems to remember her—but I do. I do. Annalise, golden haired Annalise, with her smile like the sickle moon in summer and her laugh like honey, rich and golden. Annalise, whose mother nobody knows. Annalise, the miller’s eldest child, first child, abandoned child, left on his doorstep one midsummer night with naught but a single golden feather in her tiny grasp.
Annalise, little innocent, little darling, little lost one. Her father delivered her to me when she was six summers old because there were golden feathers like the one she was found with sprouting from between her shoulder blades, and he was afeared for her in this sleepy little village where still waters run deep.
“Help her,” he begged at my wizened knee, the hedgewitch people only ever came to in secret desperation to solve their secret troubles. Fix her, he meant, and pushed the child into my gnarled hands.
Just as a I did for Frederica by Georgette Heyer, I wanted to write a book response for it. If you're wondering, a book response is a very casual book review (to me, anyway). There's nothing particularly in-depth about this response; I'm only commenting on the stories and poems I liked. There were a few I didn't enjoy, and I didn't feel like bothering with criticism or outlining why I didn't like them. So without further ado, let's dive in!
'Matriculation' by Elle Katharine White - this is a cyberpunk-esque, magic-meets-science, urban fantasy. The featured dragon is a mechanical marvel of invention, responding to code-like commands swiped onto its touchscreen-like control panel. There's also a charming gargoyle, a magical university with vaguely threatening undertones, vampires who are surprisingly kind for how mercenary they are, blood as currency, and themes of grief and loss and sacrifice throughout. I was immediately hooked, and I'd love an expansion into this world, as it closed on a bittersweet cliffhanger.
It was never meant to survive, is the thing. It was the runt of its litter, and we don’t keep runts. They’re not worth trying to keep alive, because if they manage to miraculously survive the first few weeks of their siblings battling for supremacy of the brood, they never grow very large and tend to be timid. Which means they’re not worth hunting.
But I’d felt sorry for the little thing, and had impulsively rescued it from getting eaten by its brother almost immediately after hatching. It had snuggled in my arms, only hissing a little, barely any acid dripping from its maw onto my thick leather gloves and vambraces. I’d been bringing it to the forge to let it warm itself in its depths when the soldiers came.
It’s the only reason I survive. The only reason we survive. When I hear the screams and shrieks of my family and our Questing Beasts alike, I grab my little beastie and flee out the back door of the forge to hide in the refuse dump.
Nobody spots me, nobody comes looking for me after they search the forge, but I’m able to hear everything.
There’s no one left by the time it’s safe for us to re-emerge. Just blood and bone, scale and fur, acid and broken bits of armour. My home is ablaze with smokeless mage fire, the only thing that can contain and kill our Beasts, besides iron.
I look down at the last legacy of my family, who looks up at me and rests her talons gently against the hollow of my throat with a soft little trill. Like she grieves with me. Like she grieves for me.
And in that moment, I swear to care for her. Swear to do everything I can to make sure she grows strong and clever and wicked. I will make the queen rue the day she tried to circumvent fate.
I name my little monster Ruin.
I'm hoping to write and share a prompt every other week this year! By 'hoping', I mean I'm aiming for it, but anticipate that this will be a slowly fulfilled goal.
Happy reading and writing!
[[ cw: non-graphic depiction of murder and death ]]
I made the knife from the gifted heartwood of my mother.
The mortals were slaughtering us for their uses, my sisters falling with terrible wrenching wails, one by one, to their axes, their murders utterly heedless to their cries or their pleas or their fury.
I could not bear to witness their suffering any longer so, greatly-daring, greatly-fearing, I left my tree unguarded and I ran deep into the Wood, where the shadows are dark as moonless night and my sisters are great giants, towering high, high above—until I came to my mother.
She was the eldest of the trees of our Wood, first sapling of the sun, whose limbs were the same gold as our father, and whose roots reached far into earth, even unto the realm of the dead. I crawled into the tunnels of her arching, tangled roots and prostrated myself before her, and I begged her for some way to save us all.
In answer, she rent herself asunder with a great groan, her golden sap-blood rushing down her trunk and over my hands like honey, and revealed the sacred heartwood of her innermost self. She bade me tear a portion of herself away for my use, and I did so, for at her core my mother is soft as a new shoot, though she is stronger than stone and storm without.
With the gift of her heartwood, I sang a dagger into shape, keen-edged, bleeding still, shaped in the hilt like my mother and her lover, the Owl god.
With my weapon in hand, I kissed my mother and left for the very edge of the wood, where the corpses of my sisters were piled and awaiting desecration. And in the night, while the mortals slept, I slit their throats—a merciful death, more merciful than they deserved.
The blood of the dagger and the blood of the mortals mingled, and where it touched the earth, flowers bloomed. Lilies the crimson of mortal blood, with a heart the gold of my mother’s, sprang up. Lilies, for death and mourning. For remembrance.
Hello hello and happy December! It's nearly the end of 2023 and I have some updates for you from the writing front!
First off, Tinyletter is closing as of February 2024, so I will be moving my newsletter...elsewhere. I haven't figured out where yet, but if you have recommendations, do drop them below! (Not Substack).
Secondly, and more excitingly--I finished drafting Legends of Mourra, Vol. 1! My goal for the past several years has finally been achieved! All thinks to a little something called zero drafting, introduced to me by a writer I follow over on tumblr called @bebewrites. Here's what she had to say on how she zero drafts:
Hello hello! Having recently revamped LofM's beginning and overcome some issues I was having with the manuscript, I wanted to share a bit that I'm really happy with! Please enjoy this first draft of the prologue of my fantasy series, a retelling of the first frame narrative of One Thousand and One Nights (aka Arabian Nights). I'd love to know what you think of it!
Once there lived, in the kingdom of Mourra, a woman as beautiful as the night sky. Her face was as round and bright as the faces of the moons-in-full, her eyes the pale grey of starlight, her hair as dark as the space between stars and falling in a lustrous veil to her feet, with beads of pearls woven through the strands. Her name was Nur-al-Hayat, and she was a poet and songstress of surpassing ability, her voice so lovely it was said to tame wild beasts and move even stone to tears.
Hello hello and happy November! It's been a hot minute since I've posted directly to this blog (I'm much more active on tumblr and send monthly updates via newsletter, which you can sign up for here), but I wanted to share a few things in longer form here.
Firstly, I'm doing NaNoWriMo! Or rather, my version of it, as per usual. What that means is, I'm not aiming for any specific wordcount and I'm not even aiming to write for any specific amount of time. Rather, I'm aiming to just write daily and to work specifically on LofM before I work on anything else.
Initially, I'd had the highly aspirational (and highly unachievable) goal of focusing solely on LofM from the beginning of October to the end of December, in the hopes of finishing the second 1/3 of this novel. That...didn't pan out. But I'm happy to say that my 'chill NaNo' goals are mostly being met. There have been two or three days so far where I haven't written, but those days coincided with a pet emergency, family obligations, and getting sick, so I'm taking it easy on myself.
Speaking of LofM though - on November third I had a crisis about it brought on by 1) being sick 2) being stressed and 3) being stuck on the WIP. I am now 1/3 of the way through the manuscript, and I was not liking how it was panning out, for reasons that have nothing to do with it being a first draft and therefore understandably rough.
Laika, a werewolf, lives in an old manor house that is either sentient or haunted, along with a debonair dwarf, a recalcitrant selkie, a shy orc, and a grubby cryptid of an elf. That's a lot of personalities for one house—and then one night she stumbles on a miserable vampire named Kyle, who's just been kicked out of his nest by his sire.
Laika might have a bite just as bad as her bark, but she's not so heartless as to let a vampire face sunrise with only his snapback for protection...so she invites him over.
These are their (mis)adventures.
Reflective of my headspace of late, I've taken to writing short excerpts for Glitch wip and [mostly] out of order bits for Oracle wip. I've also done some brainstorming for my Reaper wip and written odds and ends for wips that don't exist yet. Here's everything so far, in case you missed it.
in which there is a cyborg named sacha and a shapeshifter named cipher
[[ cw: cyborg slavery and related issues of agency ]]
.01 -- sacha’s jerked rudely and abruptly out of stasis, which immediately puts her on the alert because fitz may treat her like a thing, mostly, but he wakes her like he would anyone, with a nudge to the shoulder and not a zap to her temple port.
her eyes fly open and she’s met with a figure dressed in and masked by glitch-wear, which only heightens her alarm. her arm whirs as it calibrates, the pump in her heart picking up speed and filling her with adrenaline. she doesn’t swing immediately only because she doesn’t have enough intel on what’s happening to know if that’s the right move.
the stranger raises his hands palm outward in that universal sign that means ‘i’m harmless’ and also ‘don’t attack’.
Welcome to the blog!
Featuring prompt fills, excerpts from my wips, posts about my writing process, and more.