The Worth of Hair

“Tell me if you’ve heard this one before.” Kika held up the knife the stranger had given her up to the light.  “There’s this mermaid, right? Can’t be more than fifteen, maybe even younger. One day she sees some bloke chilling by the ocean and what do you know the idiot falls in. She saves him, she leaves before he wakes up, but she’s already fallen in love. Somehow. Never understood that part.”

The stranger said nothing. Kika continued, silently admiring the skill that went into the short blade. “Anyway, the mermaid is head over tails for this guy. No idea who he is, what his deal is, but she’s already in love. Feh. Can’t blame her too much. I remember being her age. Love happened hard and fast back then. Love was everything. There was this guy back in my village named Hugin that…well. That’s a different story. Not the one you’re probably interested in.

So this mermaid, this sweet little thing decides to go take matters into her own hands. She swims to the very bottom of the ocean and meets with The Sea Witch. A creature so powerful you gotta say every part of her title with capital letters. She, The Sea Witch, makes a deal with the mermaid. In exchange for the mermaid’s voice she’ll turn her into a human.”

“Where are you going with this?” The stranger finally said, her voice raw. “You’re wasting my time.”

“Fine, I’ll skip a bit. Bloke was a prince, prince was already getting married, and just as the mermaid is about to jump back into the ocean and end it all her sisters show up with a way for her to come home. Do you know what they had?” Kika paused, knowing that the stranger wouldn’t answer. “A knife. They gave their hair to The Sea Witch and got a knife in return. The story goes on from there but honestly that’s where I lose interested. Me, I always wanted to know more about that knife. A knife made by The Sea Witch would be a powerful object. One made from the tears of the mermaid’s sisters, sharp enough that a teenage girl could kill with only the flick of her wrist. I’d love to see a knife like that with my own two eyes.”

Kika let a heavy silence fall between them as she ran a finger down the carvings on the knife’s hilt. It truly was a beautiful piece. The only flaw was the obvious bent tip at the top of the blade. The stranger was still staring at her. The stranger didn’t seem to be aware of how often one should blink. “So where did you get this knife, stranger?”

The stranger wobbled. She couldn’t have been older than fifteen. “It’s mine. I paid for it. It’s mine. Can you fix it?”

Kika nodded. “I ain’t The Knife Maker for nothing. Give me until sunset and I’ll have it as right as rain. I gotta ask though, how did you bend the blade like that?”

The stranger remembered to blink. “It fell into the ocean. Hit a rock. Are you sure it’ll be ready by tonight?”

“Sure will. Gotta close up shop in time for the big wedding celebration tonight.” Kika watched the stranger hobble towards the window. The streets were already filled with party goers, booze and music flowing freely between the dancing masses. “Ain’t every day that a prince gets married.”

She watched the stranger in silence as the stranger watched the crowds out the window. Couldn’t have been older than fourteen. It was hard to put an exact age on the stranger with that boyish haircut of hers. The stranger turned to face her. “How does the story end?”

Kika licked her lips. “I think you already know.”

For the first time since she arrived the stranger smiled. “Sunset. I will be back at sunset. Just in time for the celebration.” With those words the stranger limped out of the shop, legs too stiff to walk properly.

Kika wondered if she should stop her. Warn someone. Warn the prince and his bride-to-be at least. But she remembered what it was like to be that age. Love was everything.

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Hey

Hey, you

Have you had any water lately? Like a big glass. Eaten? Leftover Halloween candy doesn’t count. Like actual food-food. Doesn’t matter if it’s fast food or a TV Dinner. What about sleep? I know a lot of you were up really really late last night. Maybe take a nap, or even put your head down and rest for five minutes. Make plans to go to bed early. Take a nice, long hot shower too. Go for a walk outside. Close your eyes and breathe deep. Breathe in through your nose, hold, out through your mouth. Repeat until your heart calms down. Take your medication if you forgot to. Don’t worry, I’ll be here till you get back.

Welcome back.

Feeling more human?

Good.

Listen. I know you’re scared. The future is dark, scary and uncertain. Everything feels rotten inside-out. Hate, fear and ignorance is bubbling up through the cracks and threatening to engulf us. But I also know that we’re going to make it out the other side. Not without difficulty, not without injury, but we’ll make it through. Why am I so certain?

Because we have you.

You’re wonderful, you’re beautiful, you’re strong and you do great things. You love and are loved, you are willing to protect and fight for everything that you hold dear. And because we have you we all have something even greater: Us.

Together we can get through this. We can help those who need to be protected, love those who are threatened with hate, care for the hurt and stand for what’s right. No matter what happens we will make it through to the other side hand-in-hand. Your Big Sis Amber knows it.

Now go get that glass of water.

Breathe.

hug3

In Which Bisexuals Exist

The_bisexual_pride_flag_(3673713584).jpg

Happy Bisexual Awareness Week everyone! Did all of my Bi peeps get visited by St. Freddie Mercury ? I hope you left out some milk and cookies for him!

This week has inspired me to write a post about diversity in Sci-Fi and my own work, but then I spent a few hours walking around an Italian Food Festival eating pasta and ehhh I’m lazy. So instead have a list of characters in my various works that are bisexual. Also eating a plate of pasta, a rice ball, calamari AND a slice of chocolate covered cheesecake is a terrible idea. A terrible wonderful idea.

LET’S MEET EVERYONE WAVING THE BI-PRIDE FLAG!

I.L.E.X. from Echo of the Larkspur, a dangerous robot in gold and ivory

Talalelei “Jack” Matau from Cry of the Hawthorn, a muscle-for-hire turned prisoner turned pottery expert

Sprue, from Open Wide, a four-armed robot who is into magic in every sense of the word

Antonio Donofrio, from Freeholder, a doctor’s clerk with a heart of gold. Somewhere. I’m sure it’s in there.

Cassandra Wilkes, from Her Dark Throne, the goddess of the space between the stars

The Midwife, from S.A.G.E.’s Midwife Stories, who was said to steal the hearts of Queens and Kings alike in her youth

And Shelly from Unnamed Monster Project my Editor Is Talking Me Into Writing, a young woman in charge of an abandoned school with her own share of scars.

Of course there’s more diversity where that comes from but, like I said, lazy. So lazy.

 

“And when I got here I realized some of that blood was actually mine!” Rosaline said as she tucked in the bandage around her arm. “Not that much, but you know how Dr. Brook feels about open wounds.”

“Mmm-hmm.” Replied Antonio, who was not paying attention. It was amazing how much he wasn’t paying attention. He was clearly reading the newspaper, and even lifted up enough to use it as a shield between him and Rosaline. Yet she continued, her own focus far from the doctor’s office they were sitting in.

“Still! I wish he had lingered long enough to tell me his name. I think he may be related to you.”

That got Antonio to lower the newspaper. “What’s that supposed to mean?”

“You’re both-” Rosaline waved her hand in the air. “The dark complexion. Wavy black hair. Brown eyes. Weird little bump on the bridge of his nose. Sort of like the one you have!”

Antonio rubbed said odd little bump. It was, he knew, his punishment for actually asking a follow up question to Rosaline’s normal ramblings. At first he had been worried when Rosaline shown up at the doctor’s raving about angels and covered in scratches. But no. Of course it was just Rosaline being Rosaline. He dropped the newspaper onto the doctor’s desk, knowing that there was no way he was going to get back to it anytime soon. “So you didn’t get this mystery angel’s name?”

“No, I didn’t.” Rosaline said, her eyes distant as always. “They just asked if I was alright and ran off. Oh. They also asked if I had children.”

“So you were saved by a madman?” Antonio muttered. “He sounds perfect for you. You should have married him on the spot.”

“Hush.” Rosaline frowned. “I will not have you speaking about my guardian angel that way.”

“And now he’s your guardian angel?” Antonio asked.

“Maybe he is!” Rosaline begun packing up the various medical supplies she had laid out to patch herself up. “This is the third time I almost died this week, after all!”

“You didn’t almost die three times.”

“First there was that fire at Moors-”

“There was a minor fire in the kitchen and it was put out instantly-”

“Then there was that bale of hay that almost landed on my head-”

“Your own fault for walking under someone trying to lift a bale of hay into a second story window, which I still don’t know why they were doing that-”

“And!” Rosaline said sharply, “This runaway carriage makes three!”

“Fine, fine.” Antonio grumbled. “You met your guardian angel and now he’s off bleeding somewhere in the snow. Truly a poetic image to behold I’m sure. One that would make the great artists of old weep. Now if you’re done patching yourself up we really need to finish cleaning before Dr. Fisher returns and-” He paused, his eyes meeting Rosaline’s.

She was frowning.

“No-” Antonio started.

Her lower lip was trembling.

“No no.” Antonio stood up from Dr. Fisher’s desk. “We are not-”

“We have to go find him!” Rosaline slid off of her stool. “You’re right! He could be out there! Bleeding! Freezing! Dying! Oh God! What a fool I’ve been! Grab your coat, he might not have gone far!”

“Rosaline-” Antonio recoiled as Rosaline slammed the doctor’s black bag into his stomach. “Rosaline, Dr. Brook said to stay here unless it was an emergency-”

“This is an emergency! Someone out there needs medical help!” Rosaline grabbed her heavy wool coat off of the coat rack and tossed Antonio his overcoat. He didn’t catch it.

“We need to at least close up the office, post a notice to let people know they can visit Dr. Fisher down the street if needed, and WHY are you taking the axe?!”

Rosaline leaned the rusted axe against her shoulder. “Because I might need an axe, Antonio.” She replied, giving his name the same inflection of the word idiot. “And you’re going to be busy carrying the bag. Now hurry up before the tracks are covered!”

“What if someone comes here for help? Rosaline! Wait” Antonio shouted, but it was too late. Rosaline was already running out the door into the snow-covered world.

Freeholder: A Time Travel Story – Prologue

I will always remember the first time I met Sam. Nor will I ever forget the first thing they ever said to me.

“Look out!”

I  will also never forget Sam slamming into me hard enough to push me out of the way of a carriage, and then both of us falling straight into a rose bush.

But where are my manners? My father always said that a lady should first introduce herself before launching into stories that no one in their right mind would believe. They will still think you’re crazy, but at least they will hopefully be polite and call you by name as they kick you out. I can tell you from my own experience there is nothing worse than being called crazy. Except non-existence. That was unpleasant.

My name is Rosaline DuCarmont, of the DuCarmont Estate. You may know of my family since it is the oldest in our quaint town of Freehold. We may not be the richest family, or the most powerful, certainly not beloved by the community, but we are the oldest. Our line can be traced back to the Norman Invasion in which I always imagined some big burly Viking shrugging his shoulders and saying ‘I guess I’m a DuCarmont now”.

Of myself I am not too sure what to write. To my parents I am a good daughter. To my older brother I am an annoyance and to my baby sister I am a chew toy. My boss tells me I’m hard working and my coworker says my handwriting is atrocious. I had a schoolteacher once say I wouldn’t live past age twenty and a doctor say I’ll live to be ninety at least. I have heard myself described so many ways but the only one that ever truly fit me was how Sam described me at that very moment.

“You okay? Wow. You’re lucky I was here, huh?”

I was lucky.  And Sam was beautiful. Dark skin framed by the early morning light, black curls drawn down by drops of blood, soft brown eyes being momentarily passed over because I was far too distracted by the blood.

“Good heavens!” I said, proud that I could form words with this heavenly figure on top of me. “You’re bleeding!”

“Not important!” My savior snapped in a tone I was not exactly happy with. “What about you Rosaline? Are you okay? Missing anything important? Is any of this blood yours? Have you had any children yet?”

“I think it’s all yours.” I replied. Those eyes I had only briefly thought about certainly were rather wild looking. I sat up as gently as one could while surrounded by razer-sharp roses tugging at my dress. “Wait, did you say about children?”

“Nothing! Nothing. I wasn’t even here.” With those last words Sam, although I did not know their name at the time, rolled off me. I had only seconds to take in the odd clothes (which were now ripped and stained) before they ran down the street in the opposite direction where the carriage came from. They bounded away like a gazelle, filled with a passion that to this day I have only begun to understand. As the first snow of the season began to fall I realized two very important things. One, I was in love. And two, I was now horrifically late for work.

And before you point it out, yes, I totally missed that Sam had said my name.

In Which I Write a Lot

Ah, gallbladder pain. Nothing like a stabbing sensation to wake you up in time to see the sunrise. Since I’m up anyway, how about I catch everyone up on how my projects are going?

  1. Echo of the Larkspur is back from my editor! It’s so freakin’ professional now! I do have one section that needs major edits, but beyond that I am dangerously close to saying this is finished! For now.
  2. Cry of the Hawthorn is currently in alpha. Which means that a dear internet buddy, Dangersocks, is helping me patch it together so it can be read by my beta readers. Why do I need to do that, you ask? Answer: At one point I spelt ceiling “cebling”. Trust me, I need the extra hand. If all goes well Hawthorn will be ready for beta reading by the end of the summer.
  3. In interests of keeping my writing skills sharp I have decided to start two, yes TWO, serials! My goal is to write something that doesn’t need a lot of planning or thought to the plot or characters. Think of it as a snack between meals! If all goes well each story will be updated once per month. They are:
    1. Freeholder: A Time Travel Story. Taking place in my hometown of Freehold NJ in the 1890s, this story is more or less an excuse to shove as many time travel tropes together as possible. Featuring dance numbers, too many paradoxes, and if all goes well at least one sword fight.
    2. Cassandra on her Dark Throne. This is the story of Cassandra, a dark Goddess who deals with those who have lost everything in the name of love. She is also really, really bored most of the time. Although this is a practice in horror writing I have to confess this is also a romance, and dangerously close to slice-of-life. In hell.\
  4. And for those who want early access to my serials, please consider donating to My Patreon! For a dollar a month you can read my stories and get updates before I remember to update my blog!
  5. I’m also writing fanfic again. What? I’m a fangirl. Of *course* I write fanfic.

Well I can see the sun now, so I think it’s time to go lay in bed (in pain) instead of sitting at my computer (in pain).

Stupid flesh body.

In Which I Shoot a Gun

I am not a gun person. I have never been thrilled at the idea of being close to guns or guns being fired. They are loud, dangerous, and take way more effort than I am willing to put into nearly anything. I once drove out of my way to get dinner at McD’s because I was too lazy to get out of my car and walk into a Wawa. I am that lazy. But my plans of never being near a gun being fired were dashed because of one man: Reyes Santos.

Reyes

This asshole right here.

Reyes Santos was born on Mars ‘Edelweiss’ Colony in the year 2289. After years of working in the pharmaceutics field he has found himself working at the Iris Colony as a caretaker for I.L.E.X., a highly advanced repair robot. His interests include banjos, fancy teas, and guns. He really likes guns. And as I worked on his character I realized all I could picture for shooting a gun was a grey L-shaped block that went pew pew pew. Research was needed.

I went with my brother (who had a little gun experience) to Short Shot Pistol Range, a place with not only great reviews but, most importantly, a groupon deal. I walked in and told the very nice muscle-bound tattooed man behind the counter that I had absolutely no clue what I was doing and I needed the babiest gun they had. After I signed a “I promise I am not crazy” document I was given a .22 and shown to our stall.

A very nice man with very tiny hands went over everything I needed to know. How to load the bullets, how to hold the gun, the proper stance, seriously don’t hold the gun like that, watch your thumb, take a deep breath and pull the trigger. All punctuated by the gunshots of the other shooters on the range. I took a deep breath, took another deep breath, readjusted my hands yet again and pulled the trigger.

HOLY CRAP IT WAS AWESOME

It was all pew pew pew and then I got a whole bunch right in the middle and PEW PEW PEW!!!!! So yeah I can totally see why people shoot guns. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not going to run out and buy a million guns to put in my tank. But I would totally go back if the groupon is good enough. And I’m happy to announce I also got enough information for Reyes! Now I can talk about the scent of gunpowder, the loud explosions, the freaking casings smacking me from the booth over, and most important part of using a gun: Eating red meat.

Because of course we went out for steak afterwards.