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From “The Witch’s Son”

IT CAME AS only a small disappointment and no surprise at all to the witch when her son announced he would set off on an adventure. “I will become a great hero, if only I can find some monsters to defeat,” he said, sixteen and still green as a sapling. “May I please have a lunch for the journey?”

Certain traditions refuse to be set aside lightly. The witch had been careful to pick a suitable location to build a typical cottage. In an oak forest, the trees all draped in moss, the cottage looked like something abandoned and forgotten since its first completed day. Far enough from any village that it took good, honest effort to reach it, the cottage attracted only the truly desperate.

The witch dealt in desperation: the unhappily married and the terminally ill and the ancestrally cursed. The witch maintained a decent reputation for indecent deeds. She got a child by illegitimate means and raised him with the intention of passing along her ways. It was very much the ordinary way of doing things.

Tradition, however, knows well to fear the willfulness of youth, for nothing in all the world has felled it faster than a green and wild dreamer. Despite her best efforts, the witch’s son had no mind for magic. He sooner tried to balance stacks of grimoires on his head than read them. Lessons in the uses of herbs ended with the plants trampled by his ever-running feet. He scared birds and beasts away with his battle cries and waving wooden sword. He refused to see or hear, touch or smell, so busy searching for the world he missed it entirely.

The witch knew he would not be deterred, and he was too proud to take the protections she could offer. While he talked himself breathless about the adventures in store, the witch packed him food for many days, clothing, her best and sharpest knife, flint and tinder: all the things he would need and would not think to bring. In the deepest, most lint-padded corner of the pack, she buried a charm.

“He is a fool,” she whispered over it, voice drown out by her son’s chatter, “but he is mine. Keep him safe. Let him go unnoticed where he may, let those who would do him harm keep their distance, let any who attack him be made weak.” The witch sent her son off with a full belly, a kiss, and that blessing, as much protection as any mother may grant.

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What You Can’t See Can’t Hurt Them

monster making AMZ cover 1If you needed to start life over in a better place, Darby-on-the-Sea might not be your first choice. Minna has been on the road for days, though–alone, exhausted, and living intentionally blind. By now, she’ll take whatever help she can get, even if she doesn’t believe she deserves it.

His footsteps across the boards gave Minna her only warning, for he took hold of her elbow and hauled her after him without so much as a by-your-leave.

“My darling child, you might have been killed, standing in the street like that.” Still holding her by her arm, he directed them up the street toward his own house.

The villagers in Darby have good reason to distrust strangers. With the rocky island off their coast home to monsters, it takes a special sort of hero to win their approval. Minna, anxious, shy, and obviously fleeing misfortune, just doesn’t fit the bill. Pinewood does.

“Weren’t no wolf, sir,” the man began as though halfway through an argument. “No wolf as I know can open pen gates, nor lock sheepdogs in the barn without a hair out of place on them.”

Pinewood began pulling on the leather coat hung by the door and pushing feet into boots, even as they said, “A human, then.”

“Any human who could tear apart a ewe like that—well, I’d say that monsters come in all shapes, then. Please, you will help, won’t you?”

The offer of shelter and rest is too tempting for Minna to resist. Worst of all, Pinewood offers Minna a friendship like she has never had before. She knows, though, that one wrong look could bring it all down in flames. She knows what will happen if a hero finds out the truth about her.

Her secret revealed, she waited in her self-imposed darkness—for the blow of a hatchet, or a hunter’s knife against her throat, or any of the thousand other deaths she imagined earned Pinewood their reputation and their keep within the village.

Monsters of Our Own Making, a story of losing everything and finding where you belong, now available for purchase in my shop for all ebook formats, on Amazon.com for Kindle, and on Barnes and Noble for NOOK.

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Mops and Magic Just Go Together

Wireless Mice AMZ cover 1It’s not easy being the new witch in town. Aisha wants to make the perfect first impression by finding a neighbor in need of magical help. Too bad her familiar just came home with a stolen robotic vacuum.

The cat hopped down and spat a small black triangle onto the bed.

“Ew, Jasper, what’s that?” Aisha scuttled back as the object flopped itself over and started trundling across the bed on…little wheels? “That’s a ChurchMouse, isn’t it?”

The vacuum’s owner has bigger problems to worry about, though. With an angry appliance flooding his house, Ben’s happy for any help–be it magic or a mop–he can get.

His eyes looked wide and panicked. Aisha hurried to yank a towel out from under a protesting Jasper and toss it into the slowly shrinking puddle. With a towel under each foot, the man skidded around the laundry area, even as he asked, “Can I help you?”

Aisha has her chance to help at last. If she can’t figure out what has this washing machine so cranky, though, that chance will slip through her water-logged fingers.

The only warning was a rumbling in the pipes and a too-late yelp of alarm from Ben. A jet of water shot from inside the washer, hosing Aisha down.

“Oh, hell no.” She planted her hands on her hips. “Now it is on, buster.”

Wireless Mice & Washing Machines, a story of annoyed appliances, interfering familiars, and solutions both magical and mundane, now available for purchase in my shop for all ebook formats and on Amazon for Kindle.
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Just Discovered In Open Space…

forecastAMZcoverWhen your daily grind involves traveling to new planets and being the first human to set foot on them, it can seem like nothing in the universe will ever surprise you again. Irina, with her partner Milo, freelances as a miner of exotic, exo-solar materials. She thinks she’s seen it all. She’s about to discover how wrong she is.

Magnetic radiation streamed around us and off into open space. The normal solar wind pattern had been disrupted, though, by a thick stripe of purple out ahead of us.

“That’s weird, right?”

The adventure Irina wished for might shape up to be the wrong kind: deadly. Investigation of an anomaly in space earns her an unexpected new companion in the void…and a ship which could fail before any hope of rescue or escape.

“What’s happening?” I asked as I broke into a jog.

No shaking, shuddering mess marked whatever had gone wrong. Accidents in space came quietly. The lights faded and went out. Though I couldn’t see anything, I knew the ship’s communications had gone down with them. External sensors had almost certainly cut out as well. With a series of hollow thunks, the big mechanical systems that generated the ship’s artificial gravity came to a halt.

Malfunctioning ship. Unresponsive mining equipment. Something very large and very live in open space. Irina just stumbled into all the excitement she could hope for. Now she just has to survive it.

“It’s no good,” I said when Milo continued to demand that I return. “There’s no way I can get back before it reaches me. I’ll probably just end up spacing myself if I try. I’m gonna go with the ‘don’t make any sudden moves’ tactic.”

Local Forecast, a story of rediscovering your sense of adventure AND living to tell the tale, now available for purchase in my shop for all ebook formats and on Amazon for Kindle.
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Work Ethic

Let me say
I’ll take no more rest days

Let me break down
Reacquaint myself with scabbed knees
The busted knuckles and bloody teeth
Of my sharp-edged youth

Let me fall apart
Indulge in turning circles
A mind dizzy and heat-stroked
Running alien mathematics

Let me say
I’m done with dozing

Let me overthrow
The weights around my wrists
Flip the tables where
I’ve nodded off mid-word

Let me push back
The lazy ooze of good-enoughs
Shot through with hesitation
Fear of saying what I mean

Let me say
Today I work

Let me do it for good reason
Burnt up from lighting fires
Under this tired old ass
Turning circles into spirals

Let me feel the hurts
Cracking shins against deadlines
Dying of something better
Than overstaying my welcome

I’ll take no more rest days
I’m done with dozing
Today I work

(“Work Ethic” cross-posted to Tumblr)

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