Tag Archives: short story

December 2017 Story

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The empire of Rome has a gorgon problem.

Trapped in a loveless marriage to a heroic gorgon slayer, Iulia wants revenge for her husband’s thoughtless act of cruelty. She will do anything to see her husband laid low, even sacrifice herself on the altar of her own goddess. Trivia, the Queen of Ghosts, Mistress of Crossroads, and Blood of Witches is her only hope for justice.

Knight & Witch is a collection of short stories set in the world of SPIRIT KNIGHTS, a young adult urban fantasy series.

Available on Amazon and Kobo for 99 cents.

Book Review: Sky and Dew by @HollyHeisey

Sky and Dew by Holly Heisey – 5 stars

In the Hallows, words are magic, and words can kill.

Sky took a vow of silence and left the world above to keep her city’s magic alive. Now, she wanders the Hallows as an acolyte of the Lost Emperor – an unseen legend from another world whose words fuel the magic above. But when her lover breaks their vow of silence and falls deathly ill, Sky must descend to the deepest depths of the Hallows to beg the Lost Emperor’s help. What she finds, though, is a tragedy that spans centuries, and Sky will stop at nothing to make it right.

Part otherworldly epic and part nonbinary love story, Sky and Dew is a standalone short story.

An enchanting short story about love and loss, Sky and Dew masterfully depicts a fantastical place with very human people facing horrific choices. I wanted it to be longer so I could spend more time rolling around in the beautiful writing.

The magic is fascinating, the setting vibrant, and the characters complex. As I read, I couldn’t help but be reminded of the scene in 300 with the woman who was filmed dancing underwater to be the oracle. This story has nothing to do with that one, but it gave me the same sense of grace and wonder, mystery and horror.

I heartily recommend this story.

Book Review: The Disenchanting of Princess Cerridwen by @annathepiper

The Disenchanting of Princess Cerridwen by Angela Korra’ti – 5 stars

On a night when wild magic erupts and sweeps through the city of the Athoden Clan, the princess and shieldmaiden Cerridwen finds herself transformed into a man, and that none among her people remember her true self. None save the others of her people who are also transformed… and Damhnait, the blacksmith’s daughter. Can Cerridwen and Damhnait save the other transformed victims before their own people sacrifice them to appease the angry gods?

This is a story set in the same universe as the author’s Rebels of Adalonia trilogy (written as Angela Highland), and is set in the distant past of that land.

This short story is told in fairy tale style, delving into the curious experience of not feeling at home in one’s own body. Cerridwen’s experience is interesting. It’s also deftly woven and skillfully done. The love story is almost cruel for the discomfort it causes both the character and the reader. One part of me thought ‘oh, this makes everything easier for them’ while another part saw the predicament for the tragedy that it is.

I found the story moving and subtle, rich and clever, and I wish it had been much, much longer. These characters and their plights deserve more time in the sunshine. Please, Ms. Korra’ti, consider another story or two with Cerridwen and Damhnait.

This story is highly recommended for anyone, though some may not enjoy the fairy tale storytelling style. It happens to be free until 9/19.

No Honor Off the Pitch #flashfic

Looking over the competition, Alex felt confident this joust would go well. Last year, he lost to Count Estvern’s son by judge decision. This year, Brendan had been sent into the King’s Cavalry, the same place Alex would go after his eighteenth birthday in three more months. It left him as the one with the most to gain from a win and the most to lose without one.

“Boy, just make sure to–”

“I know how to joust, Father.” Alex stifled down a roll of his eyes so the Baron wouldn’t see it. He patted the neck of his horse, a steady beast he’d trained himself. “Is Mother here?”

The Baron of Killendy spat on the churned dirt, missing his polished black boot by an inch. “She’s off husband-hunting for your sisters.”

And, Alex suspected, looking out for wife material for him. His lip curled at the idea of scouting eight-year-old girls to find the one with the right breeding to be suitable for him in another decade. He’d marry whoever she told him to, of course, but he didn’t have to be happy about it. “Ah. I suppose this isn’t terribly important from her point of view.”

“Of course not. She’s a woman and can’t be trusted to understand what’s important.” The Baron rolled his eyes and turned away. “Don’t embarrass me.” With that rousing endorsement, he walked away to take his place in the box reserved for the nobility. His finery allowed him to claim the seat beside the Duke of Northlund and below the Duke of Cadogawr. Poorer nobles had to sit on the other end.

Alex noticed a woman with a young girl clinging to her red velvet dress as she sized him up. He nodded and pushed his visor down to avoid letting her see his revulsion at her obvious intention to catch his eye for her daughter. The woman leaned over and pointed at him. The girl nodded and smiled at him. Because he knew his part to play, Alex lifted a hand and waved to her.

Turning his horse away, he led the parade circuit of the pitch. He waved to the crowd, as was expected of him, and stopped to the side of the King’s booth. There, he waited while the rest of the jousters lined up. Beside him, the son of the Count of Endwyfr held the reins of his black stallion tight while it stamped and shook its head.

Alex’s chestnut mare stood rock steady for him. He had a thought to point out that the stallion wanted more lead, but if the boy didn’t know better, that would reflect on the Count. The Baron would enjoy taunting him for it.

“On the north end, Alexander of Killendy!” The King’s Seneschal, an aging jester in King Brannon’s green and black, boomed his announcement out, sending the crowd into an anticipatory hush.

Alex urged his mare forward and waved to the crowd. As he snapped her reins, his steward hurried to the north side of the pitch with his lances and shield. He wondered why they chose to send him out first, since they had to know he’d win today. The best usually waited until last.

“On the south end, Kevin of Orilwyn!”

The boy who wrestled his horse to the opposite end of the pitch, the son of a Count, made Alex’s blood boil. He and his father both had been insulted by this first match against a fourteen-year-old with no experience. Alex scanned the box and saw his father reach the same conclusion. To his surprise, the Count of Orilwyn had gone pale, suggesting the King chose to use Alex to punish Orilwyn for some reason. Mother would know why–she kept up on all the gossip.

“Don’t kill him,” Edward suggested as he handed Alex his shield and lance.

“It’ll be hard to avoid, but I’ll do my best.” Alex hefted his lance and watched Kevin fumbling with his own. He’d meant his response in jest, but as he noted how poorly the boy held his shield, he genuinely feared Kevin could be killed in this contest designed to entertain the commoners and designate the pecking order among the noble sons.

“Riders to your marks!”

Alex’s mare snorted. He lowered his lance across her neck and braced his shield. When the Seneschal blew his horn, the mare launched into a gallop without needing to be spurred. Kevin’s horse fought him and only lurched in the correct direction for two steps before Alex’s lance slammed into Kevin’s shield with a thunderous crack and knocked him ten feet back to land in the soft dirt. His head clanged against the ground and the boy lay still.

The mare whinnied and pranced for the roar of the crowd. Alex pushed his visor up to smile and wave, and noticed his father taking the opportunity to shout angrily at the Duke of Cadogawr. At the other end, the Count of Orilwyn jumped to his feet and gripped the railing with white knuckles.

Kevin’s steward reached the boy and pulled the shield off his arm. He struggled with the boy’s helm, prompting Alex to urge his mare to their side. “Is he breathing?”

“I can’t tell, m’Lord.” The steward fumbled with the helm still.

Alex tossed his shield and broken lance and swung off the mare. Taking a knee beside the boy, he shooed the steward’s hands away and gripped the helm. “Have you never squired a joust before?”

“No, m’Lord.” The steward’s face turned pink. “It’s our first match ever.”

Yanking the helm off, Alex flung it aside and patted the boy’s cheek with his gauntleted hand. “He should have declined the invitation until he could run in a smaller match.”

“I don’t think the Count had the option, m’Lord.”

That news raised one of Alex’s eyebrows. He’d never heard of such a restriction before. Standing, he raised a hand for quiet. “He needs a Healer, Your Majesty.”

King Brannon waved a bony hand to allow the intervention. As his hand fell back into his lap, he met Alex’s gaze and the old man’s mouth quirked into a cruel smirk for half a second.

The expression cemented the suspicion he’d been used as a tool to shame Orilwyn. That thought left a sour taste in Alex’s mouth. His steward handed him the reins for his horse and he turned away, content to let others handle the boy. Nothing else would consume him half so much for the rest of the day, though, as discovering why Kevin had to be humiliated and why he’d been chosen for the task.

Book Review: Tales From the Dreamtime by @cjjasp

Tales From The Dreamtime: Three Modern Fairytales by Connie J. Jasperson – 4 stars

Three grownup Tales from the Dreamtime in one novella…

A conversation with Galahad,
A prince on a quest and a goddess in mourning,
A stolen kingdom and the Fractal Mirror.
Three tales of wonder and great deeds
Three tales of heroes and villains.

Open the door and enter the Dreamtime, the world of fairytales, the flower of all that is delightful and mysterious, frightening and amazing.

I have to say that the first story is well worth the price of the book, in either format. It’s a delightful re-imagining of a slice of the Holy Grail legend. The author creates a character out of Galahad that I’d like to sit down and have a chat with. Oh, wait. I already did, in this book.

The second story didn’t do much for me, though it’s cute and clever. This one suits the ‘fairy tale’ descriptor well, as it follows the format of a storyteller relating a tale, as fairy tales often are.

As for the final story, it’s charming and the reluctant prince is someone I could get swept away by. His princess is a scrappy, resourceful girl who I cheered for. My only disappointment is the flipping back and forth between showing and telling, of which there is more of the former than the latter. Even so, I enjoyed this final story quite a bit.

I recommend this for folks who like light fairy tales without the saccharine commonly offered for little kids.

Shadow & Spice is now available

Cats! Shadow & Spice is a short story about cats. Familiar cats, specifically. Shadow, who was born in Damsel in Distress, isn’t just any old cat, and it’s actually kind of sad, in some respects. He can’t just hang out with regular cats anymore, because they’re dumb. He’s been gifted with human level intelligence, among other things. Aside from his pet human Connor, he has no one to talk to.

Until now.

This story was a joy to write, and I hope it’ll be at least amusing to read. Unlike Damsel, this tale isn’t dark or particularly poignant. It’s just a lonely guy, trying to do some good in a world that doesn’t notice or care much. That lonely guy happens to be a cat, so he’s got some peculiar ideas, and some unusual limitations – like not having thumbs.

Now available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, and Inkbok.