Fae and Folly Cover Reveal

Fae and Folly is becoming its own thing. I’m developing a plot and everything guys, no joke! It’s even got its own little file on yWriter at this point, where I can get it organized for eventual kindle publishing. For now it continues to be published semi-weekly on this blog and on Wattpad, where reads are trickling in.

With the rising legitimacy of this series I was very pleased to learn from a fellow writer that cover artist Miranda Horton was offering free covers to a limited number of people in order to build her portfolio. After taking a look at some of her work, I anticipated that a cover by Miranda could only boost the readership for Fae and Folly on Wattpad. So far it’s doing its job. Seriously. Just look at it –

fae-and-folly

I couldn’t love it any more if I made it myself (actually, I’d probably love it less because I’m not a graphic designer!). Ms Horton was a delight to work with and I highly recommend her services if you’re looking for an artist.

Also, if you’re looking for the next scene in Fae and Folly, the wait is over. Check out Part 11 here on the blog or prettified on a Wattpad ap.

Serial Story: Fae and Folly Part 11

On Wattpad Part 1Part 2Part 3Part 4Part 5Part 6Part 7Part 8Part 9Part 10


The look the woman at the ground transit desk was giving me made me long for the perplexed suspicion of the TSA agents in the midwest. I resisted the urge to cross my arms over my chest, opting for the charming smile with easily-visible hands stance, hovering just high enough to see her eyes, but not too high.

“You said you were looking for what?” her forehead wrinkled, her sun-weathered skin plastered with enough makeup to make my own face itch. The brown eyes peering over her glasses at me were anything but understanding.

“We had a shuttle scheduled for 10:30,” I explained yet again, “but our flight was delayed taxiing in. We’d like a cab to the downtown Radisson.”

The cross in the center of her chest sparkled at me, and I imagined that her Jesus was up in their heaven sky-land laughing. “I don’t believe there are any cabs around with the right… equipment for your kind.”

Our baggage dropped on the ground when Caleb swooped upwards, perching in a way that was almost dainty.

“Marlene,” he said softly, calling the woman’s attention. I watched him, and for a moment was offended that he was butting in – but then I saw it, the faint sparkle when the light hit his eyes, a glow that had the quality of an intricately-cut jewel. Though Dy only rarely used her magick to curie favor with humans in my presence, I’d seen it enough times to recognize it. “It would be to your advantage to pick up that phone and call the nicest, Fae-friendliest cab driver that you can think of.”

Marlene’s eyes narrowed. “I don’t believe in special treatment-”

“It would make you righteous,” he continued, taking a new tack, “so much better than the lost Fae. So much more generous.”

Marlene blinked, and I could see the muse magick taking. She paused, catching her bottom lip between her teeth, and finally went to pick up the phone. The light went out of Caleb’s eyes.

“It will be just a few minutes. You can wait outside,” Marlene said, as polite as could be.

Caleb flashed the woman a peace sign, and I couldn’t help but snicker. Marlene didn’t even seem to acknowledge it.

I picked up my bag, carefully sliding the strap over one shoulder where it wouldn’t interfere with my wings. I stuck my thumbs in my jeans pockets and allowed Caleb to lead the way out the automatic doors.

A wave of heavy heat hit me in the face, and I coughed at the impact. Austin in the winter may as well have been Portland in the summer. I had been assured by the Granite glade that it should be “cooler” this time of year, but it was clear that our definitions of “cool” were somewhat different. It was sunny, warm, and just humid enough to be uncomfortable. The air here was nowhere near as clean as Portland’s; I’d taken a prophylactic benadryl before we touched down, yet I felt that I would be needing another sometime soon. Even Chicago didn’t seem to be as bad as all this.

I’d heard from several scientists that there was a crisis going on in the southern United States. They called it the second dust bowl – winters had effectively begun to disappear, and the pollution around southern cities seemed to be eating into the surrounding rural areas. The oil in the air here was thick, way beyond the usual Fae tolerance; we could handle hydrocarbons at the level usually found in nature, but this was several times normal. It was like breathing pure gas. It was no wonder that Houston’s glade had been abandoned two summers ago.

Caleb leaned up against a concrete piling, tying his black jacket around his waist. He rubbed his eyes with one hand.

“Itchy?” I asked.

“Burning,” he groaned. He drew a pair of rather dashing sunglasses from his backpack, looking so very out of place with his pale skin. “And you wanted to visit the south why, again?”

I squinted, taking my first look around the place. Austin wasn’t completely devoid of trees; I’d seen some from the air, certainly, and there were trees appropriately spaced throughout the medians in the roads and next to buildings. All the same, there was something so sad about the trees, compared to Portland and her rolling hills of endless firs. The poor things were in a battle with their environment. I shivered, feeling their ache in my bones. After our tree Fae magick session last week I’d been practicing my skills more often, and I started getting the weird plant-empathy that most pure tree Fae felt all the time.

“I’m not sure want is the right word,” I muttered, taking off my own jacket. In hindsight it was silly to bring a jacket at all. A young lady who looked like a hippie waif I might see on the streets in Portland passed by and slowed down long enough to smile and nod at us. I returned the gesture. “Why couldn’t we have gotten a girl like her at the transit desk? Austin is supposed to be the Portland of the south.”

“Marlene’s tribe lives up in the northwest, too,” said Caleb, his expression again unreadable under the glasses. “They’re just afraid to talk about it as much up there. They’re outnumbered. They’re outnumbered in this city, too, but step outside the limits and it’s a different world down here.”

“I have read books, you know.”

“Yes, but you haven’t spent time down here like I have.”

He was looking out at the trees, still, while I was twisting my eyebrows at him. “I didn’t know you spent time in the south.”

“Cally didn’t put me down here with you just because we make an striking couple,” his lips twitched on a grin, “You remember my father?”

“I think everyone remembers your father.”

He just nodded. “Howard Hughes didn’t always live in California. Hughes’ family was from Texas, and my family came over with them from Ireland back in the settling days. I spent some time visiting Houston as a youngling, before the Fae deserted it.”

“You still have family down here?”

“Techincally yes.”

“’Technically?’”

“I don’t consider everyone who shares my bloodline to be family,” he replied flatly.

“I see.” I wasn’t sure that I did, but it didn’t sound like he was ready to share many more ‘semi-secrets’ with me. Since our trip down to the Willamette glade last week we’d seen each other for brief periods in the IFA headquarters, but never really spent any time together. I think we were both avoiding each other, hoping that if we could leave things on relatively good terms we wouldn’t end up tearing each other to pieces at the climate change summit.

“Tell me,” I began again, “if muses can have that affect on humans, why haven’t we received everything we’ve asked for?”

“The more deeply-held the belief, the harder it is to inspire an opposite action,” Caleb shrugged. “There has to be a basic interest in whatever it is we inspire – for our friend in the airport, she has a basic need to feel that she has done good works. Muse magick brings basic beliefs to the surface to produce motivation. The idea was already there.”

“And the people we’ve been arguing with don’t have beliefs you can capitalize on.”

“Not when the incentives to continue their established policies are rooted in so many different motivations,” he paused, chewing on his inner cheek. “Most of what we’ve done in history has been easier than what we’re trying to do now. The skateboarding private that Cally told you about over dinner? He had an intrinsic interest in risk taking. I just… encouraged that behavior.”

I snorted. “I can’t imagine you playing tricks on people.”

“That sounds a lot like a challenge, Ms-” he caught himself, “Amelie.”

I was rather proud of myself for not rolling my eyes at him. We stood in sweltering silence for some time before we were approached by a lime-colored prius with a giant logo on the side reading The Green Cab. Caleb looked to me with a smirk.

“That’s inspiration for you,” he chuckled. I had a feeling that Marlene didn’t make many calls to the Green Cab.

“You two must be who I’m looking for,” a man hopped out of the car, casually dressed in khakis and an untucked white shirt. He was tan and fair-haired, young from afar but up close was clearly in his mid-thirties. He bent slightly at the knees to offer us each a hand to shake.

“I think so,” I said, squeezing his hand. “Amelie Fletcher.”

Caleb likewise introduced himself, allowing the driver to take the bags.

“I’m Jessie,” the driver said as we loaded up. I blushed when he opened the door on my side to help me with my belt. It wasn’t like we couldn’t ride in cars with human-sized belts, it was just less comfortable.

I closed by eyes, relieved to have a properly air conditioned environment. We hadn’t even been out in the heat for fifteen minutes and I couldn’t handle it. How was I going to handle an entire week down in this mess?

“The Radisson, right?” Jessie asked as he started pulling out.

“Downtown, yes,” Caleb replied. He looked surprisingly relaxed, watching out the window as the airport passed us by. “Appreciate the service.”

“Ah, well,” I could hear the smile in Jessie’s voice, “I was kind of excited to hear that two Faeries were looking for a ride. They say they have them out in the hill country, but I’ve never met any before now.”

“This state isn’t known for its welcoming nature,” said Caleb.

“Are you here for the summit?” his eyes glanced at us through the rearview mirror.

I’m not sure why, but his knowing where we were going made my heart skip a beat. I shouldn’t have been afraid of him – of anyone – knowing who we were and where we were going. It must have been all the catastrophizing in the media getting to me.

“We are.”

“I was hoping some of you would show up. I have a booth in the lobby.”

“You own this company?” I asked politely.

“Yes ma’am,” said Jessie, cheerfully enough. “It’s not much, I know, but we all have to do our part, right?”

I smiled up at the mirror, where he could see. “Every bit helps.” Maybe I wouldn’t need to worry so much – not about Jessie, anyway.

“Where are you two coming from?” he asked.

“I’m from Portland. Caleb here is from Vancouver.”

“Are you… bridgers? Is that the word?”

“Yes, we are,” I paused, “you weren’t worried that we were with the people who bombed Birmingham?”

When Caleb shot me a withering look I kicked him in the shin. I would say whatever I pleased, and I was liking this new approach of putting it all out in the open. I tried on the polite diplomatic scheme for a while, but in the end, it just wasn’t me. This was activist me, the one who spent a week in the Sacramento jail for orchestrating a sit-in against the burning rice field policies. I liked activist me.

Jessie just smiled, shaking his head. “Well if you were, would I really be your target? The Elementals went after humans who were going after the Fae. I feel pretty safe as a human ally.”

“Very reasonable,” Caleb interjected.

“Glad you think so.” He kept on glancing back at us, almost in disbelief. I laid back in my seat, pursing my lips. I never got used to being looked upon as some kind of celebrity. I couldn’t blame him, of course. I would probably be pretty intrigued by humans if I went my whole life hearing about them without seeing them.

Looking back out on Austin as the sky-scrapers appeared ahead of us, the fear started creeping in again. People of the Northwest saw their fair share of Fae, and even in Chicago, it wasn’t altogether unlikely to see a Faerie now and then – here, though, we were an endangered species. I think the last estimate put our number at about two thousand in Texas, the vast majority of those glade-bound. In the last hundred years those numbers had cut themselves in half as more and more of the elder Fae slipped into near-Earth, never to come back.

It made a person wonder why the southern Fae stayed here at all. That was one question I imagined I should keep to myself, at least for now.

“Is this your first time in Austin?” Jessie asked. We were turning off on one of the exits marked for downtown. For all its hype, Austin was actually a rather small city as Texas cities went. The internet informed me of this.

“It’s Amelie’s first time,” said Caleb. “I’ve been here a few times.”

“So you’ve been down sixth street.”

Caleb grinned, and I realized that I was watching him work his charms. “Of course. Plenty of aspiring artists around there. It’s the perfect place for a young muse.”

“A muse?” Jessie nearly lost track of the road with his excitement, hitting the brakes a little harder than I would have liked at the stoplight. “Are you both…?”

“Caleb is a muse,” I spoke up. “I’m a little of everything.”

“I read an article once about…” Jessie turned his head over his shoulder, appraising Caleb more thoroughly this time. “Wait, are you…?”

“Caleb McLain, and yes, I’m probably the one from the article.”

You inspired The Lost?”

I snickered in spite myself. Jessie was referring to Caleb’s relationship with a certain now-deceased screenwriter, Gregory G. Carrol, who wrote the most influential film since Star Wars. Caleb’s foray into artistic inspiration was short-lived; he couldn’t have been quite twenty when The Lost was released, and faded back into public policy thereafter, with a much louder voice once he was known for something. I got the feeling that The Lost was probably Caleb’s father’s idea, but I hadn’t asked him about it directly. Of all the things he’d done, that was perhaps the least interesting to me.

“Surprising, I know,” Caleb said on a laugh. “It was a long time ago. I didn’t write it, after all.”

“Oh, I know – I mean, well, I’ve read… geeze, I’m sorry.”

“You’re not going to offend us so easily, it’s alright. We’re like anyone else.”

“If you’re not easily offended then you’re not much like most people.”

Caleb chuckled. “Maybe so. You have me there.”

“So Jessie, how long have you had the cab service?” I asked, feeling much more at ease. I could see the Radisson coming up down the street, and wished it wasn’t so close. The Colorado River gleamed at us from over the bridge, putting me in mind of Portland – even though this place most certainly was not. It was relaxing to be in a nice, safe car with a nice, safe human. The more I thought about what we were doing, the less at-ease I felt.

“Oh, ever since I finished grad school,” Jessie’s wrist rested casually on the wheel. “I couldn’t find a job in my field, so I managed to put together a business loan and here we are. I have six cars that run the city and suburbs.”

“What was your field?”

The corners of his eyes crinkled. “’Energy and Earth Resources,’ believe it or not. I guess running a sustainable cab company was about as close as I could get.”

“Seems like that could be marketable.”

“Not if you want to stay in Austin. I probably should have widened my search,” he shrugged, “I like it here, though. I’ve lived here forever.”

Even though I had the same kind of connection to the northwest, I still couldn’t imagine a good reason to stay in this particular place. “I guess I could see that,” was the best I could manage.

Caleb just smirked at me with a yeah, right look in his eyes.

Jessie stopped the car in the little pull-through area, and he, too, looked sad to see us go. He helped us with our bags, and just for fun I let him watch me hover about a little. I didn’t need to show off, but the widening of his eyes was adorably child-like. Caleb handed off the IFA credit card (or maybe even one of his own, I supposed, since they seemed to be one in the same), and ran the transaction while I stood near the door.

“Hey, it was very nice to meet you,” Caleb reached out to shake Jessie’s hand. “If we see your booth tomorrow we’ll stop by.”

“That would be great!” he smiled at both of us, and behind it I could see a question he desperately wanted to ask but didn’t have the courage to say.

I was about to bring it up myself before Caleb opened his mouth. “Was there something else you needed before we go?”

“Well… it’s dumb. Don’t worry about it.”

“What is it?” I asked.

He thought about it for a breath or two before his shoulders slumped, surging ahead with abandon. “Okay, well, since I was a kid I always wanted to see magick. It’s dumb – really – I shouldn’t ask…”

Caleb looked to me and raised his eyebrows. I laughed out loud before throwing him my bag. “That’s all?” I scanned the parking area. There were a couple people unloading behind us – I was sure they would be imaptient except for the young children who were enraptured with our presence. I went on as if they weren’t there, finding a nice example of a tiny, young blue bonnet planted in one of the pots. True to season, it had yet to flower – though I wondered if it ever would in this heat. I motioned Jessie over, standing next to him to shield the scene from casual onlookers.

“Here,” I slid my hand to cup one of the stems, an end that would become a flower someday. Closing my eyes I strengthened the connection through the touch, feeling the energy of the plant as if it were a part of me, an extension of my hand. Softly, gently, I coaxed the energy up, a silent request, come closer, show me who you are.

The stem lengthened, the leaves brushing up over my palm. The stages of growth accelerated, and the tip developed a series of buds, then bloomed, until my hand was full; when I opened my eyes the delicate purpley-blue flowers looked back at me.

I rubbed them with my thumb, a note of thanks before letting them go. I looked up at Jessie sidelong, his excitement subdued under the layer of adulthood. Poor humans with their repressed selves – much as I valued their culture, some parts of it were so unfortunate. I could understand hiding sadness at times, but happiness should be shared.

He brushed the back of his fingers against the flowers in disbelief, as if he expected them to disappear. “That’s amazing.”

I hopped up and down in the air, still feeling the growing energy tingling through my muscles. “My grandmother could do much better than I.”

“Thank you,” Jessie bowed his head, “you didn’t have to do that.”

“Like Caleb said, it was really nice to meet you,” I reiterated, retreating away from the adoration. Funny, really, that he found it so impressive. Nan could have made the plant twice its size and made the whole thing flower. I was lucky that I got the one stem to cooperate.

Jessie waved us good-bye before going for his door. “Hope you have a good visit.”

“That’s the idea,” Caleb waved back.

As we watched him drive away I imagined my grandfather and what he would have said – There goes a once-and-always friend. The Fae believed that spirits sometimes traveled together in groups, and when the met briefly in life they could feel an old connection.

I wasn’t sure I believed that, of course, but if I did that would have been one of those moments.

“That was refreshing,” Caleb noted, heaving his pack over his shoulder. “Ready to go in?”

Just having the jacket tied around my waist was making me sweat. “I suppose so.”

The inside of the Radisson was large and lodge-like, with appropriately Texan accents – antler chandeliers and stars here and there, as if one might forget what state they were in. The lobby wasn’t terribly busy yet – virtue of traveling on a Tuesday, I was sure – but the kids from outside were there, standing beside their parents at the desk.

A little boy about Caleb’s height was looking at him with giant, brown eyes, and much to my surprise (and my amusement), Caleb made a face at the child, his tongue stuck out and his eyes practically in different directions. The look lasted only a second before his face straightened out back into the lazy half-smile he usually wore.

The child’s high-pitched squeal of delight even made me grin. His older sister stood beside him, trying her best to look unimpressed, even as I caught a hint of pleasure. Repression started early.

“That’s not very professional, now, is it?” a voice came from our right.

Caleb and I turned at once to see a dark-skinned Fae, standing a little taller than Caleb, wearing a crisp purple-and-white striped shirt and newly-ironed pants. His wings were also purple with edges dipped black, his pointed ears clearly visible against close-cropped black hair. His clean professional getup made me feel even more travel-weary than I already was, with my jeans and t-shirt wrinkled from sleeping on the plane.

“Neo!” Caleb’s handshake was a half-clap as he folded Neo into a brief hug. “I didn’t realize you’d be here.”

“I just started bridging with the south a few months ago, and you never call,” Neo pulled away, his smile infectiously wide. “And who is this lovely young Fae?” He tipped his head amiably, “beautiful set of wings you have there.”

I fluttered them gamely, mirroring his tip of the head. “Amelie Fletcher, one of the northwest bridgers. Also new to the job.”

His eyebrows waggled up and down. “You must have talent. I’ve never met a bridging tree Fae.”

His comment could have been disparaging, but instead it was quite sweet – he meant it. “Well, that remains to be seen I think.”

“Plenty of time, plenty of time,” Neo cleared his throat, “I was sent to take you two to brunch, but I think it’s full-on lunch at this point.”

“Plane was late. ‘Technical delays,’” Caleb emphasized the latter with sarcasm. It was almost certain that the delay was because we were aboard. “If I’d known you would be here I would have called.”

“And spoil my entrance?” Neo gestured with flourish. “I think not. You two get checked in, I can wait while you change. We have…” his eyes darkened as he looked out the door, as if he could see something in the street that we could not, “a lot to talk about.”

‘The Aftermath,’ an Aia and Elden Cut Scene

I was overwhelmingly inspired this evening, my first totally free evening following the completion of wicked medical licensing examination part 3! Now that my exam is over my fingers are itching. This is a cut scene between Elden and Aia in Forsaken Lands 2 – you can read it here or not at all. 😉 Folks who have already read Broken may find this particularly interesting. There are minimal spoilers, however, if you’re super anti-spoiler you may want to avert your eyes for now.

I will be in touch later this week, you can be sure! More Fae and Folly is on the agenda. Until then…


“This girl you keep dreaming about…”

“Lyda,” when I said her name it came out all crackly, not smooth at all. I threaded my fingers in my hair like it would keep Aia from listening to my thoughts. I couldn’t tell when she was and when she wasn’t, which was about the most unnerving thing I’d ever experienced, let me tell you. Usually when a person unnerved me it made me avoid them, like the dealers on the streets that I wouldn’t even buy from because of their crazy eyes. Aia unnerved me like that, and at the same time made me feel a little better about myself. I couldn’t figure on why.

She shifted a little closer to me, the ocean wind blowing her hair so I couldn’t see her face. It was real dark out here in the middle of the ocean. The water below us was like an abyss, and in it I could almost see Lyda’s face. You could see anything you wanted down there.

“I don’t really mean to pry,” she started pulling her hair back in a bun the way she usually had it, “but sometimes you just… when you’re upset like that I tend to listen in. Makes me worried.”

I guessed if she could really feel and hear things the way she claimed to she would have all kinds of reasons to be concerned. I’d been dreaming about Lyda a lot lately, probably because I’d been half-sober most of the time since hooking up with Garren. Except that one night at the outpost, obviously, but that was just generally a mistake.

“Sorry,” was all I could say to that. I glanced to one side, thinking that maybe I could come up with an excuse to leave.

“No need,” her little smile was kind of cute, if a little sad. A lot of people smiled at me like that over the years. “I… am really curious about who she is. All I get are bits and pieces when you dream. There’s obviously a story there.”

She wasn’t asking for anything directly, which I took to mean that I could disappear right then if I wanted. Fool that I was, I didn’t leave. She kind of deserved an explanation after saving my ass all those times. Three times, I think. I was losing count.

“Lyda and me grew up together,” I said, and felt myself detach from what I was saying. I just went numb. “She was… my best friend. We were really close, till the day I left.”

“When you left home.”

“Yeah, then.” Aia knew most of what happened when I left Chall, or as much as I told anyone about it.

“So what’s the rest of the story?” She didn’t look at me, maybe to make me more comfortable.

I sighed. “I kind of… you know, I loved her.”

I had to shut my mouth, then, because I hadn’t said that out loud in a couple years at least. I’d told some guy once after we were together, cause he was asking about my history. It helped that I was drunk at the time. I wasn’t drunk now, though, so maybe that was why it felt like I’d just stabbed myself in the gut.

Aia just nodded. She had to have already figured that out from the dreams. I didn’t remember them all, but I know at least a couple were about the day I left, when I asked her to forget me. Sometimes I wondered if she really forgot. She would have been better off if she did.

“You keep dreaming about her in Feya,” Aia’s voice got very soft, almost too soft for me to hear. “I thought you grew up on the border.”

“Feya was the last place I saw her,” I reached in my pockets hoping to find some covash, distantly remembering that I’d already traded it away. My fingers fidgeted all around, like maybe if I fidgeted hard enough I would magically summon some of the stuff. I started speaking instead, and the words went way too fast. I didn’t even realize what I was saying as I was saying it. “Bout a year after I went in the wind I ended up in Feya. That was just before I went on my tear up the eastern coast, see, and I wasn’t doing so great. It was almost night…”

My breath hitched, and Aia was looking at me with those serious, piercing eyes, and I don’t think there was any way for me to run at that point. I had to keep going. “I knew where she’d be. Lyda was real smart, had an apprenticeship offer in Feya before I left. Wanted to be an alchemist. I went to lots of shops that day, but I was… well, high. About as high as I usually was back then, which was worse than when you met me, for sure. I had this dumb idea that I would walk up to her and say hello, you know, like nothing happened. So I ended up at this place that was down by the water, and I saw her. She had a basket in her hands, probably from the market, and she looked real good. She had new clothes and her hair was in a braid, which she’d never done before. I got all ready to go up and see her, and…” I shook my head. I wasn’t going to cry, not now in front of Aia, but if I was on anything I probably would have been bawling at that point. Thank the gods I had some restraint left in me. “I looked down and I was just a mess. I couldn’t walk up to her like that, filthy, piece of shit that I am. Then as I was starting to turn around – you know, to leave – this guy walked up to her. I don’t remember anything about the guy. I just remember that she smiled real wide, the way she used to smile with me, and she kissed him.”

I went quiet. It was a boring story, I thought, for anyone but me. Why should anyone get all excited about some girl they never even fucked kissing some guy? Lyda deserved to be happy. She deserved it a lot more than I ever did.

I don’t think Aia found it boring, though, with the way her eyebrows were all knitted together. “Skies, but that must have hurt.”

I shrugged. More than I can say.

“Have you thought about going to look for her again, now that you’re doing better?”

I managed to chuckle. “Sweetheart, I think you might be forgetting the week I’ve had. I’m nobody’s definition of ‘better.’”

“You’re never going to be perfect, especially not in your own head. That doesn’t mean you have to cut her out of your life forever.”

“It’s been four years, and I’m halfway across the world from her. For all I know she died along with everyone else in the earthquake.” I said it like it was a fact, easy, the way a person would talk about some random lurker on the street getting killed. On the inside it made my heart thump so bad I thought it might come out of my chest. I don’t know what I would have done if I knew for certain she’d died. I think I might have lost it again, the way I lost it when I was sixteen, and that could only be worse. I could do a lot more damage now than I could back then.

“Hm,” in her eyes I could see that Aia was coming up with some kind of plan, but I didn’t care to hear what it was. It was probably some high-minded idea that she could go find Lyda when we got back home. I didn’t want to tell her how frightened that idea made me, first because if Lyda was alive I would have to explain what happened to me, and second if Lyda was dead I would have to deal with the fallout of knowing.

“Don’t know why you care so much about all this,” I shook my head, “my problems don’t have to be yours, too.”

“Would it make you feel better to hear some stories about my shitty past?” she grinned, and it made me snort out a laugh. I didn’t know she was one to swear at all, but maybe I was rubbing off on her.

“Maybe,” I said, more than happy to get away from all my own problems. “I wouldn’t guess you made the sort of mistakes I did, though. You’re a good person.”

The grin dissipated, and suddenly she was somebody else, somebody with a totally different story than the one I’d constructed for her in my head. The grin didn’t go away completely, but it changed to a new kind of smile, one that I’d seen on people who knew things that no one should.

“Sometimes,” she said.

Serial Story: Fae and Folly Part 10

Part 1Part 2Part 3Part 4Part 5Part 6Part 7Part 8Part 9


I found Caleb in the most likely place he’d be – the guest house up near the council chamber. I’d flown around the glade a bit before finally going up to his hiding spot, considering what I wanted to say to him, if anything. My aerial pacing had gone on long enough that clouds had gathered in the sky and a sprinkling of rainfall tickled my skin. It was now or not, I supposed – even the weather decided that I needed to make up my mind about which hut I would fly back to.

I could see the silver shimmers through the lit window and blushed when I saw that he was changing his shirt, his well-muscled back to the outside. I held myself on a breath just above the deck and spun to look away, but not before the sound of my wingbeats alerted him to my presence. The flooring creaked softly as he walked to the windowsill.

“If you guessed I was cursed with modesty then you guessed wrong,” he said wryly.

I sighed deeply and audibly, my arms crossed. How did Nan talk me into this, anyway? I looked over my shoulder at him reluctantly. His elbows were rested on the natural wood sill, shoulders bare. I raised an eyebrow, mildly curious as to whether he was even wearing pants.

“I was trying to be-” I caught myself, realizing that my attempt at a heart-to-heart was coming out more like a frustrated child instructed to say ‘I’m sorry.’ “…polite.”

He just blinked at me, unmoving.

“Can I talk to you?” And would you kindly put on a shirt?

“If memory serves we don’t do well with that, you and I. Of course it has been several minutes, so that may have changed.” He paused, as if to pull back from his excessive snark. He began again with a slightly kinder tone. “Sorry. We could try it again if you’re up for it. It would be nice if we established some kind of communication before Tuesday.”

“Tuesday?”

“I just got a text from Cally. She said that you emailed her earlier today and told her you wouldn’t call off the Austin trip.”

“No, I won’t.”

“You’re sure about that?”

I dropped down on the decking, arms still crossed. My body refused to relax no matter what I told it. “What business is it of yours?”

“Cally decided that if you go, I will need to go with you.” He promptly disappeared from the window, sliding to the side to mess with something on the small dresser situated next to the guest hammock. He wore pants, at least – something softer than what he’d rode up in, probably for sleeping.

My jaw slackened while he went about his business. “Does she think I can’t handle it by myself now?”

“You know that’s not it.”

Of course it wasn’t, even if that was the first thing that came to mind. Most likely she suggested it because traveling in pairs would be safer in some ways; someone around to make sure I didn’t disappear for some mysterious reason, as the Fae tended to do in places like Texas. “Bombing or no bombing, I will be fine by myself. I’ve been planning this trip for weeks.”

“And bombing or no bombing, I have a plane ticket to Austin and no interest in losing my job.” He wasn’t looking at me, still. He sat on the edge of the hammock, a jar of what looked like lotion in his hands. “We don’t even have to see each other outside of official business if that suits you.”

I considered asking him if I could come in. I almost did, but at the last minute thought better of it. This was one of my home glades. I could see the whole guest hut already through the window, so it wasn’t like I’d be exposing anything by barging in. I pushed past the generic tapestry and sat my behind in the reading corner, a fair-sized plush chair next to a sparsely stocked bookshelf. The guest hut was well-appointed, but lacking in any sort of kitchen. It encouraged guests of the glade to mingle with the locals.

“Are you an Elemental?” I blurted.

He paused with his fingertips in the jar, his eyes immediately hooded with suspicion. He licked his lips. “Excuse me?”

“You’ll probably lie about it if you are,” I hedged, averting his gaze while I dug myself out of my hole. “I suppose I hoped that if you were lying I would notice, so I may as well ask, then, in case you aren’t. Either way, at least if I say something about it we can stop this passive-aggressive thing, which I guess is more me than you-” I stopped myself. This was getting rambly. “You must think I’m quite odd.”

He frowned, wiping off his hands and setting the jar aside, his task no doubt unfinished. It took a while before he spoke.

“Well, that certainly explains a few things,” he groaned and rolled himself onto his back, the hammock swinging gently from the force. “Let me guess – Dyana is the one who has you worried about all this.”

“Yes,” I said, insecure with the answer. I could have said no, but then I wasn’t sure what good it would do to lie.

He nodded, eyes closed. “Among muses she has a reputation for knowing things she shouldn’t.”

My mouth went dry. “You mean it’s-”

He startled, his eyes fluttering open. “No, no. It’s not strictly true. She would be right that I’ve had intentional run-ins with the Elementals, and it’s true that I’m not one of the people who hate them. I find that the fine line between ‘not disagreeing’ and ‘not supporting’ is difficult for most people to parse, Fae and human alike.”

“You’re saying that you know who these Fae are and you haven’t done anything to bring them to justice,” I replied, hoping for clarification while unable to banish the disdain from my tone. My initial thought was that he was parts each wishy-washy and weak, but I realized that I probably needed more time to think about it than our conversation would allow.

“Not quite like that,” he said softly, his gaze unfocused. “If I’d known they were going to initiate the attack on Birmingham I would have suggested they find something with less loss of life. Barring that, I would have informed the human government,” he paused, “I didn’t know, though.”

“So you’re not… one of them.”

“I can tell you I’m not, but I don’t expect you to believe that.”

I went quiet, watching him rock in the hammock, hands resting on his abdomen, never looking directly at me. I ran down a whole list of things that might be useful to ask before landing on the one that stood out.

“Does the IFA know?”

“Just Cally,” he shrugged. “She seems to understand, at least enough to ignore it so she can benefit from my family’s wealth. The others – the bridgers – I don’t believe any of them know, save for you, now,” he chuckled, “which would make two semi-secrets you’ve discovered about me in as many days.”

“You didn’t have to tell me,” I huffed.

“I’m not certain I would lie if Peter or Alex asked me the same question,” he said, genuine contemplation in his voice. “I suppose I would if it was bothering them as much as it appeared to bother you.”

“You act like you’ve known this whole time and just waited for me to bring it up.”

“I wasn’t sure-” he hissed, and all at once it looked like his shoulders seized up. I found myself jolting to get up out of the chair – to do what, I wasn’t sure. He managed to shake his head when he saw me about to stand, his eyes closed as he breathed through the attack. “…but I thought this might be it.”

“Do you have some kind of medicine for that?” I bit my lip.

He nudged his head toward the dresser. “The salve helps. Cramping usually lets up after a day or so. I haven’t flown that far in a long time.” He pushed himself back up on a sigh, scooting so he could sit cross-legged while he reached for the jar. “Was there anything else you absolutely had to know before the morning?”

I shook my head slowly. It seemed that there were a few other things that might be nice to know before I went traveling across the country with a Fae I scarcely trusted, yet at the same time I felt some relief at hearing him explain things for himself. I didn’t want to believe that he was some kind of shady covert operative.

I wanted to like the guy, for what it was worth. That was the crux of it, I realized, in the midst of all the angst I’d developed in the last two days since meeting him – this need to redeem him in my own mind. Perhaps that was what made everyone adore Caleb McLain; some intangible thing about him that made people hope that he was better than he might really be. As I was thinking I could feel myself frowning. More irrationality.

Just because I wanted to like him didn’t mean I would take his statements at face value. He said I could ask Cally about it, and I had every intention of doing so.

I snapped back to reality when I noticed him awkwardly reaching around his back to apply the salve to his wing muscles. “Would you like some help with that?” I asked – blurting again. Perhaps that was another intangible power of his. I usually liked to think before I let go of my voice.

“No need.”

I couldn’t help but roll my eyes. “Just watching you is driving me crazy,” I approached him with my hand outstretched, “here. It’s my fault, anyway,” I smirked, “and I thought you said you weren’t modest.”

He gave me a look that I could only describe as petulant before handing over the salve. “You’ll want to wash your hands after touching this stuff.”

It smelled neutral enough, with the texture of body butter. I used a modified hover to hold myself in a seated position. It gave me a good view of his wing musculature – lean and well-developed, completely normal except for the painful bunching around the four wing stalks, black as the wings themselves. When I brushed my fingertips over the skin he bowed his head.

“What’s in it?” I asked, distracting him as I rubbed the salve in.

“Anti-inflammatories, for the most part,” he replied mechanically. “A family recipe, as it were.”

“How’s that?”

“When I was diagnosed my father spent a great deal of money and time on searching for a cure. We didn’t find one, obviously, but they did manage to come up with some salient therapies.”

I narrowed my eyes even though he couldn’t see my face, swirling small, thoughtful circles with the salve while my gaze wandered the lovely, dark arches of his wings. “Did they… experiment on you?”

His laugh was devoid of light. “Astute. It sounds so medieval when you say it.”

I wondered, all at once, if his outlook on the Elementals and everything else might have been different if he didn’t grow up knowing he had MRPS. Flight was one of the things that defined us, made us different than humankind – our culture was much more accepting and relaxed than their society, and most of us believed it had to do with flight. It was one of the few ancient Fae beliefs that I ascribed to. Caleb had grown up knowing his wings were a curse – something that made my own wings shiver.

“Can I ask how long you have?” I said after a time.

“You can ask anything you want,” his voice was smooth, “twenty years, give or take, before I won’t be able to fly at all.”

Twenty years before the pain becomes debilitating. I knew that was what it really meant. Twenty years was nothing in a lifespan as long as ours. “That’s so… soon.”

“Most cases in our generation are rapidly progressive.”

“You say that like it doesn’t bother you.”

“It bothers me plenty, but what good what it do to get upset over it?” He looked at me from the corner of his eyes, “you could spend your life consumed by hating the color of your wings, but that wouldn’t make them change.” My cheeks betrayed me with a blush. His enigmatic smile blossomed. “I didn’t mean you specifically. Your wings are…” he swallowed, trailing off without resolution. He waved me off gently.

I snapped my wings in close to my back, dropping from my hover. I set the salve on the table. “Will that do?”

He rolled his shoulders gingerly, turning to plant his feet on the floor. “It’s much better. Thank you.”

“Well…” I cleared my throat, awkwardly shifting my stance. “You’re welcome.”

His dark eyes looked me over, as if he was deciding something. I couldn’t come up with anything to put in between the silence, relieved when he finally filled it himself. “Like I said, you should wash that off.” There wasn’t any running water in the guest hut.

“Ah, yes. I meant to visit the water nymphs anyway.” I started to drift toward the door, feeling him watch me. “Landsong will want to have breakfast in the morning. He always does.”

“I’ll be there.”

“Good.” I slipped through the tapestry without another glance at him, and in my head it felt like a retreat.

Muses were such complicated folk.

Kickstarting Diversity in Fiction: An Interview with S.E. Doster

Recently I’ve had the opportunity to connect with fellow fantasy author S.E. Doster, writer of The Alliance Series. Her first book, The Alliance: Bloodlines, tells the supernaturally-charged story of unlikely heroes and their fight to take back their city. Doster is now working on the sequel, Drakon, while she is running a Kickstarter campaign to support her upcoming Sacrifice novel. She, like myself, is a strong supporter of character diversity in genre fiction, and took the time to answer a few questions about the topic and her latest work.

Tell me about Sacrifice and your Kickstarter. What inspired you to go the Kickstarter route?

Traditional publishing can be a hard industry to break into, but trying to find a home for such a diverse novel proves to be even harder. I originally intended my first Kickstarter to be one of my comic book projects, but the passionate enthusiasm of my beta readers convinced me to try Sacrifice first. I self-published the Bloodlines novel with a meager budget and the help of friends, but the overall quality of the product suffered. I wanted to give Sacrifice professional editing, formatting and cover design, but each of those come with such costly fees.

Sacrifice is an Urban Fantasy thriller that involves meta-humans and supernatural creatures. The story includes the romance of a lesbian couple, but that factor doesn’t define the story. There are gay and straight characters of all races, but it’s shown in a community that already accepts equality.


Diversity in literature… what are your thoughts on its importance?

I think it’s very important that we work to increase the diversity in literature. There are so many groups of kids that don’t get to see main characters like them. It sends the wrong message when bookshelves are filled with books that contain mostly straight, white male protagonists. Characters of color or even queer characters seem to fill the much smaller roles in novels, but how does that even make sense? Mainstream literature shouldn’t be filled with primarily straight white characters because the world is not made up solely of straight white people. I have a very diverse group of friends of all races both gay and straight, so I decided to write a book that reflects real life for me.

Over the last few years we have seen a small increase in diversity on television, but the publishing industry seems stubborn to accept the change. This is a vicious cycle that needs to be broken, or we’ll continue to give future generations literature that does not reflect real life or teach equality.


How do you think independent authors impact diversity in literature?

Indie authors have the ability to be their own boss, and choose to include diversity that maybe wouldn’t be accepted with a traditional publisher. They can write without fear of an editor demanding changes to avoid too much risk. I’ve seen many indie authors embracing diversity, some are writers like me that don’t want to wait for publishers to wake up and smell the diversity (pun intended) so they create the stories they want to read.

The one negative impact I see with indie authors is the percentage that lacks the polish of a traditionally published novel. I want to read LGBT fantasy novels, but I’m usually discouraged when I search Amazon or Goodreads for LGBTQ or lesbian fiction. I usually locate novels with poor reviews and covers, which makes me incredibly sad. The stories may actually be wonderful on the inside, but poor editing, formatting and covers can still be a detriment to sales and reviews.

I know how tough self-publishing can be when you’re paying out of pocket, and I understand why some indie authors settle on quality, but this is why the Kickstarter was important for Sacrifice. We need more quality diverse novels if we hope to see them hit the shelves of our favorite book store.


What can readers do to help promote diversity? What can writers do?

Readers can send letters to publishers to demand for more diversity, and support books that are diverse. There are some campaigns right now that promote diversity, and one of them focuses on children’s literature. You can find their site here: http://weneeddiversebooks.org/ This group offers great suggestions for diverse YA and children’s books.

Writers should make a conscious effort to bring diversity into their own stories, as well as supporting fellow writers who do the same.


How can we help with the Kickstarter, and when do you expect Sacrifice to come out?

Every little bit helps with crowdfunding. Like and share the Kickstarter post on social media. Tell your friends and family why diversity is important, and donate to the campaign if you can! Every single dollar helps. If every single person who saw my Kickstarter could donate just one dollar, (which is less than the price of one soda or cup of coffee) and asked/shared with their friends, we could make self-publishing Sacrifice a reality.

The Kickstarter launched on September 4th, and still needs your help to be successful!

Many thanks to S.E. Doster for participating in the interview! I for one am very happy to support her cause for all the reasons she’s given. As I’ve said before, media is an incredible vehicle for self-discovery and change; by promoting diversity in our entertainment we expand our own ideas of who we are and what we can be. Please visit the link above to donate and/or share her message.

Advanced Review – “A Veil of Secrets” by Hailey Edwards

While book reviews are not typically part of my blogging bag (honestly, I don’t know that I have a typical anything on this blog so far), I recently got the opportunity to read an advanced copy of Hailey Edwards’ latest book, A Veil of Secrets, due out in December of this year. Ms Edwards is the author of the Aranae Nation and Daughters of Askara series, both under the umbrella of the fantasy/romance genre. I’ve been a fan of Ms Edwards’ work for a while now – I picked up the first Aranae book, A Hint of Frost, two years ago when I was just starting to expand my literary tastes from straight-up fantasy into stories with more of a romantic twist. I’ve now read every book in between (there are 8 of them at this point, I believe, counting this latest piece) and enjoyed each of them.

Thus it is my great pleasure to offer my review of A Veil of Secrets. If this story sounds interesting to you I’d encourage you to use the next couple months to catch up prior to the December release!

Although I have made every effort to leave out major plot points, there are potential spoilers ahead. You have been warned.


The world of the Aranae Nation, for those unfamiliar with the series, is dark indeed. This isn’t a bunch of fluffy romance, nor is it a plotless pages-long sex fest (though some of the scenes are quite steamy, which I don’t mind a bit). This series has a central plot involving a deadly plague which is wiping out whole towns of people and animals alike. The Aranae themselves are unique, with spidery qualities including fangs and the ability to spin thread. They are divided into tribal groups, each of them with their own codes of honor and skills. The Mimetidae, for example, are a war-like people (think semi-Klingons, if you will), willing to eat the flesh of their enemies, while the Salticidae are relatively peaceful agricultural-types, and obligate vegans to boot. Given the complexity of the world, I definitely recommend reading the preceding books prior to picking up Veil. Veil builds on the plot from the prior books, and offers much insight into the origins of the dreaded plague (you won’t hear those secrets from me, though – you’ll have to read to find out).

On to more book-specific details…

One of the things I love about Edwards’ work – the reason I easily blast through each installment of the series – is that she has a talent for grabbing the reader immediately. She accomplishes this beautifully in A Veil of Secrets, perhaps moreso than in any of her other books. From page one we are plunged into the world of Marne, the female protagonist with a rather unfortunate secret, Edan, her aggressive and super-protective brother, and Asher, a guard who is accompanying Marne and Edan on a journey through the dangerous veil, a sort of metaphysical barrier between where they are and the city of Beltania. Marne and her brother are trying desperately to survive after Marne was turned into a harbringer, a dangerous creature best known for flying around killing and eating people, a reputation of which makes it difficult for Marne to exist freely as who she really is. The difference between Marne and your typical harbringer is that she didn’t make the full transition into paranormal killing machine – she instead walks the earth dependent on injections to keep her alive and sane. She and Edan are seeking refuge in Beltania with the hopes that they will be able to have some kind of fresh start in life, away from their unpleasant pasts.

Now, I started this book while at Penny Arcade Expo, a geeky con for fans of video and tabletop gaming (brief tangent incoming). My husband had gone to a panel on some RTS game that I wasn’t really into, so I was sitting comfy in a hotel lobby with my tea and tablet, pleased to have a little down time in which to read. Within the first several pages I found myself deep in the action, fighting off harbringers with Marne in the veil. It was that lovely feeling when you’re really into a book, and your consciousness is hovering somewhere between you, the pages, and the characters…

…then a siren came blaring through my trance, and when I looked up I was a little surprised that I was still in Seattle. That’s the kind of reader-grabbing that I’m talking about here, and that was when I realized I was going to have a hard time putting the book down.

The romance in Veil is absolutely adorable. As stated above, Edwards likes to write romance with a central plot, so the physical romance is towards the end, but well worth it. Marne is a woman with a great deal of strength who demonstrates a clear arc from relative dependence on her brother to a new-found comfort with her abilities and independence, which I find very appealing in my romancy stuff.  Marne is no damsel; she easily stands beside her warrior male counterparts. Several characters make re-appearances from prior books to good effect; I particularly enjoyed seeing Pascale with Lleu, two side characters who offer bits of comic relief and witty banter throughout.

If I have any criticism (and I add this so I don’t come off as just an excited fangirl) it’s that at times I felt a little lost in the settings – I’m very visual and like to get a better handle on what I’m looking at and where people are, which was occasionally lacking. There’s a balance between being overly detailed and leaving a majority of the setting to the reader, and I feel like Veil is more on the reader-insert-details spectrum. Since my concern is always characters first, this was by no means significant enough for me to down-rate this book.

Want a number? 5 out of 5 stars. Two thumbs up. Too many character-driven giggles to count. Interested? Go read it, folks.


Alright! Hopefully that gives you a little something to go on. In other news, I will be posting a Q&A with S.E. Doster in the next several days regarding the kickstarter for her book (coincidentally named) Sacrifice. Also on my agenda: finishing Forsaken Lands 2 (good gods above please let me finish the draft this month) and another installment in Fae and Folly.  I’ve got 4 more days before I go back to the medical grind, and I plan to spend as much of that time writing as I can. Peace.

Serial Story: Fae and Folly Part 9

Part 1Part 2Part 3Part 4Part 5Part 6Part 7Part 8


When I first became a bridger I have to admit that the prestige was part of the decision. Bridgers that I’d met – and certainly the stories I’d read about Caleb – made them out to be these elusive fixers. They got things done, talked with some of the most powerful people in the world (Fae and Human alike), and traveled all over the place to get things done.

Elements of that were present in the work, of course, but nothing prepared me for how tiresome phonecalls could be. I didn’t mind talking to people in person, but calling a person on the phone seemed like such an intrusion into their privacy, and took away all opportunity to gauge facial expressions. Skype helped with this, but most major news media places shied away from skype calls. Probably something about not wanting to be recorded while they were doing whatever they were doing.

I could have cried when the deluge of phone calls, emails, and internet research finally, mercifully came to a conclusion. It was 5 pm pacific time, which meant that most of the offices around the west coast were closing and it certainly meant that the east close was ending their day. We’d established early in the day that Caleb, Landsong and I would take the day shift for the western bridgers; Peter and Alex were slated to take over any new emergencies after us. It was one thing after another – this outlet talking about the Fae as victims, this other one nearly uttering the word “terrorist” in the same breath as our people. To our knowledge the terrorist label was mainly being applied in the blogosphere, a sector of the media we had very little control over. The television outlets were complying with our desperate requests to keep the tone neutral – for the moment.

I knew it was going to get worse, though. After the initial gratuitous shots of the burning buildings and families of those who died they would have to move on to making new tragedies; likely of a religious nature. I was certain that the next group of speakers on the media’s list consisted of reverends and pastors, a group we historically clashed with on a regular basis. There weren’t many large blocks of strongly religious people who were strictly comfortable with the idea of the Fae. Most of us still saw ourselves as demigods, a direct contradiction of the many monotheists on the earth. This belief my people held was really a two-fold disadvantage; we angered both the religious and the non-religious or scientific community with our “magick.” I tended to side with the scientists, who insisted on a mundane explanation for our extraordinary feats.

As I’ve said before, I’m not much like the other Fae.

I was about to jump off of the council chamber porch to glide to the ground when I paused. Caleb was following me out of the hut, just as stiff and bleary-eyed as I was. It was already getting dark, which suited me fine truth be told. The nip of the cold on my skin and the sight of the stars above – almost totally untouched by city glow this far out of town – felt like freedom to me. They didn’t name me Starhunter without cause.

Caleb shrugged into his jacket, hands in his pockets. “Don’t stop just for me.”

“I can walk down-“

“I’m still Fae,” he raised an eyebrow, “if it didn’t hurt so damned much I’d do the same thing. Just go.”

I clamped my mouth shut, and knew instantly that if I stayed and walked down with him he’d be perhaps more irritable than he already was. I nodded, turned back to the edge, and leaped off.

No matter how many times I’d done it, I never got rid of the heart-stop-in-the-throat feeling of free fall, and I’d never want to. I held out my hand in front of me, the gold shimmers turning to silver in the night. I grinned, blissfully dizzy on the high of flight, and canted my wings just so to bring myself up, whipping my body in a u-shape a few feet off the ground. I closed my eyes, my wings easily keeping me airborne and upright. The new cold from the fall made me shiver; it was getting downright frigid.

Most of the tree Fae had gone inside for the night. Tree Fae were of a sun aspect, and tended to avoid the night when they could. Me, though, with my half-water Fae tendencies, was just as happy in the dark as I was in the light. Muses were like that too, from what I knew of Dyana – she was pretty adaptable, though I tended to get the feeling that she liked the night more than the day. That might have just been her though.

The Fae lights on the edges of the bridge gave off just illumination for me to see Caleb’s face, his lips twitching in a new smile. He’s checking me out?

I shook my head. Probably just the light.

I swooped upwards before dropping down beside him, letting loose a contented sigh.

“Feel better?” He asked softly, continuing his stroll like nothing happened.

“Much,” I rubbed my arms, coaxing the warmth through the fabric. “My grandmother’s place is through these trees, here. You’re welcome to join me. I’m sure she has food ready.”

I almost winced after I said it. Inviting him to Nan’s home seemed to somehow breach that personal gap I’d been trying to maintain with him – though I supposed that the gap had been crossed back when I spent the morning hugging his backside to maintain balance on his motorcycle.

Though, to his credit, he seemed to notice that crossing of boundaries with the way his half-smile disappeared. “I assumed I would meet you again in the morning to conduct our original business.”

“Original…? Oh, yes. The tree Fae tour and all that. Renewable energy.”

“Indeed.”

“Like I said, it’s up to you.”

He was still walking beside me, even with his lips in a tight line on his face, considering.

“What would you do alone, anyway?” I began thinking out loud, and once I started I saw no point in stopping. “Something tells me that you’re the brooding kind of Fae.”

“You have many opinions about me for someone I met just yesterday.”

“You mean to say my opinions are incorrect?”

“Some of them, perhaps.”

“So brooding it is,” I chuckled.

At that I finally got another smile. “I’ll go with you if that is what you like, Ms. Fletcher.”

“It’s Ms. Fletcher again.”

“Extenuating circumstances robbed me of my better judgment. It was always Ms. Fletcher.”

“Does that mean I should have been calling you Mr. McLain this whole time?”

His wings shivered, and his expression went unreadable. We were nearing my grandmother’s hut, just two more bridges over. A stray water nymph waved at me – one of the older nymphs who had taught me to manage wings underwater – and I waved back, over Caleb’s shoulder. Her blue-green hair and see-through wings were stunning in the evening light, her skin pale with just a tint of gray. I could spend weeks just visiting all the people I knew in this glade.

“Caleb is fine,” he said mildly, briefly following my gaze to the nymph I’d been waving at.

“Likewise, Amelie would be fine. We’re supposed to be colleagues.”

“As you like it.”

“I thought we were moving past that thing where I give you a chance to share your thoughts and you just brush it off.”

“I think that some leniency might be in order, don’t you?”

The darkness in his eyes cut me right in my center. Perhaps. I didn’t like to think about it – 241 people had died, by the last count. The Elementals had taken responsibility for it, and taken it gladly. They had no shame.

I still couldn’t believe that Fae could be responsible for that kind of loss of life. By virtue of existing we are forced to kill – plants, bugs, the occasional unruly creature that threatens us, but killing for the sake of doing so, to prove a point

It didn’t make sense to me. I spent the entire afternoon trying to cover it, and I still couldn’t quite grasp the concept myself. Part of me didn’t want to, anyway; if I came to understand it then it would mean seeing the world in a new way, and I wasn’t ready for that. Not yet.

Light licked out from underneath Nan’s elaborate tapestry when we reached her door. Her hut was one of the odd ones, built originally with one room but later expanded to three, the extra rooms connected by magick-linked vines which might have been part of the tree structure. I smirked to myself, noting the rickshaw construction. I was convinced that when Nan passed on to the fifth earth her home would fall apart. Only she could keep this structure contiguous.

“You hungry, Star?” my grandmother asked. Even with the tapestry closed she must have seen the shadows of our feet. She was observant like that. Caleb startled at her apparent clairvoyance.

“A bit. I brought Caleb along, if that’s alright.”

“Sure it is!” I could hear the wooden scrape of plates as she pulled them down from her shelves.

Nan’s home was almost as familiar to me as the nymph grotto I grew up in, with its various nick-knacks, tapestries, and natural implements hanging from the ceiling. The shell windchimes tinkled out entry, singing in my head – home, safety, warmth.

The room was crowded with Nan’s possession around a circular center table, overflowing with enough nutcakes, blackberry jam, and wood berries to feed half the glade. My face flushed with anticipation. She made all my favorites.

Nan turned around, kettle in hand to make tea. “Jasmine?” she asked me, as if she expected me to object. She knew I wouldn’t.

“I’d love some,” I told her.

“Caleb, do you like jasmine tea?”

“Jasmine would be fine, thank you,” Caleb said smoothly.

I sat down at the table, obliging myself to one of the nutcakes. The taste of hazelnuts and cinnamon was absolutely luscious, and I was starving after spending so much time working the phones. The Fae of the glade could complain all they wanted about human societies and their unnatural dissemination of produce and spices – cinnamon was a living being’s right as far as I was concerned.

Caleb sat beside me, his movements clipped and ill at ease in Nan’s house. Nan was so casual that it was beyond me to imagine anyone being proper in her home.

“Do you like nutcakes?” I asked, too tired to keep myself from adding, “or is that too personal to share?”

As if to spite me, he reached for one of the glistening confections with one eye on me and took a bite so large as to border on rude. I leaned back in my chair with the most skeptical look on my face that I could muster. Every so often he showed that glimmer of being down to earth – and damned if it wasn’t awfully attractive on him.

“Did you figure things out?” Nan asked mildly. She set a mug down for each of us and poured the water in, the scent of fresh jasmine instantly relaxing my muscles.

“I don’t know about that,” I breathed. “Things… aren’t looking good right now.”

“It’s messier than anyone in the IFA would like,” Caleb added. “It may be the worst incident we’ve had, but we’ll get through it. I’m sure of it.”

“What happened?” Nan asked, sitting down at the table. Her earthy brown eyes were wide and concerned. I couldn’t remember the last time she’d expressed an interest in the political happenings outside the glade.

“Some Elementals in Birmingham decided to protest the recent encroachment on their glade by destroying the company headquarters of the construction firm. Lots of people… died.”

Nan’s gaze fell. “It’s been a long time since so many Fae fell tainted.”

“I wouldn’t assume they were tainted,” Caleb said over the rim of his cup.

The statement jostled me so badly that I couldn’t quite put my finger on what made me so surprised. It seemed wholly incongruous to say such a thing. “…what?” I managed to choke out.

“Tainted is a spiritual term. I simply don’t think we need to seek a spiritual answer to a rational question.”

“There’s nothing rational about what happened,” I snapped, and even I was a bit uncertain about defending what he rightly called a spiritual assessment. Nan raised her eyebrows. “If they weren’t tainted then you’re arguing that they had good reasons for what they did.”

“I didn’t say the reasons were good or right.” Caleb cleared his throat, tipping his head in deference to Nan. “I don’t mean to cause a dispute at your dinner table. You are terribly kind to open your home to me and I’m afraid I’ve spoiled that kindness.”

Something about the way he said it made it feel like I had caused him to spoil the kindness, making it in fact my fault. His words didn’t say it, but it was an attitude thing – or maybe I was imagining it. Whatever it was, it sucked the attractiveness right out of him, leaving me with that uneasy feeling I’d had about him since he walked into the conference yesterday.

“I am just glad that the two of you are working on the situation,” Nan took a nutcake for herself, spreading it with jam. “If you’re anything like Starhunter I know you’ll find a solution.”

Caleb flashed a hesitant smile. “All the same, I should probably go.”

“No, no,” Nan waved a hand, “you haven’t even finished your tea. I was just going out to meet Rosedancer. We neglected one of the nurseries this morning with all the activity.” She fluttered up into the air. I often marveled at Nan and her agility – she moved with the grace of a Fae much younger than I knew she was. She was remarkable that way. “I want it to look nice for you in the morning. I’ll be right back.”

Before I could protest she had zoomed out the door. I narrowed my eyes at her path. She was leaving me alone with him – deliberately.

Oh, Nan, you’re such a matchmaker. If only her matchmaking was more attuned to my match preferences.

“Your grandmother is lovely,” he said in a way that was genuine – as genuine as anything I’d ever heard from him.

“She is.”

I let the silence run long, hoping that he would suffer for it. I was just a bit disappointed at how he appeared more amused than disgruntled for my efforts. The amusement he showed was just the slightest flicker of his eyes; almost impossible to perceive.

“You’re angry with me,” he finally broke the silence.

“You could have just agreed that what they did was terrible,” my defensive posture was clanging to my own ears. I was tired. I shouldn’t have been arguing with anyone in my state.

“Loss of life is always regrettable. I would never mean to imply that it isn’t.”

“And still you won’t blatantly state that they were wrong.”

“The world is a lot more than right and wrong right now. We’re just here to deal with the reality of keeping up an image – that’s our job. Judging the actions of others isn’t a part of that.”

“I’m not talking to you as a bridger. Don’t you have personal feelings about anything?”

His shoulders inched subtly closer to his ears, and his mouth failed to move. He had nothing to say. I had… offended him?

I blew out a breath and closed my eyes, which stung with the pain of too many hours spent pouring over news reports and blog posts. “I don’t know why all of this had to happen here, with you.”

The sound of him rising from the table grated on my ears. He took another sip of the tea before turning his back.

Part of me wanted to tell him to go – that he was just annoying me at this point, and I never should have invited him in the first place. The other part – I assume the part that invited him here – was causing a most unpleasant stabbing feeling in my chest.

“Wait-” I started.

“Good evening to you, Ms. Fletcher.”

“It’s Amelie.”

“Clearly not.” He never even turned around to look at me.

I took solace in the fact that I didn’t spring up to grab him, even though that stabby part of my brain (or humans might say, my heart) wanted to do it. It made no sense.

What he’d said about the Elementals was odd, just as odd as everything else he did. How on earth did he get his reputation? I shook my head. There was too much going on here.

“I…” Don’t tell him you’re sorry. You have nothing to be sorry for. He should have just agreed that the other Fae were tainted. He probably is one of those radicals, and you want nothing to- “I’m sorry if I’m the reason you’re leaving.”

At times like these, I wished that I would listen to myself. Even as I said it the apology felt thick and unwelcome in my throat.

There was a hitch in his step, and even through his jacket I could see the wing muscles in his back clench. My own muscles twinged in sympathy when he braced himself with one hand on the wall. His head bowed.

I blinked. My mouth dropped, and my heart thumped irregularly in my chest. No wonder he’s not thinking clearly. Who would? I scrambled up from the table towards him. “Caleb-”

Nan nearly bowled him over when she came through the tapestry. He stumbled briefly enough that only I would notice, dodging out of her way. He stood straight, for all it might have cost him.

“You’re leaving so soon? I was hoping to get to know you.” Nan puzzled.

“I would love to stay, but I have a few more phonecalls to make,” he cleared his throat, “I look forward to talking with you tomorrow.”

With that he left, his boots clopping across the wooden boards and over the bridge. I was frozen in place, one hand on the table. Nan turned her gaze on me.

“You two were having a spat, I’m guessing?” she asked.

“I’m not courting him, grandmother,” I rubbed my temples, feeling the tension all through my neck and my back. “This whole thing is a mess. No one is thinking things through right now. This afternoon was bad… we spent so much time just trying to hold back the waters. I don’t even know what our role is tomorrow, or next week, in Austin…”

Her thin, cool fingers brushed my arm. I swallowed, looking up at her. “Star, I can’t help but think that you and that boy should stick together in times like these. People like you are special. Something must make him special, too.”

“You’re focusing on him when the real problem-”

“Are you going to try to tell me that the explosion is the ‘real problem?’” she cocked her head to the side, “there’s something about him, isn’t there?”

“I think he might be a very bad person, Nan. That’s the ‘thing’ about him. I don’t know who to trust right now. Dyana somehow knew this was coming, and she thinks… maybe Caleb knew even better.”

“Maybe you should tell him that.”

“Nan-”

“Didn’t I try to teach you to say what you’re thinking?” the glint in her eyes was full of Fae mischief, the same glint she wore when she hassled the nymphs and played tricks on the humans. “It gets me in trouble, but I always say what I think.”

My mouth clamped shut, my thoughts spinning.

“I’ll save you a snack for when you get back.” She withdrew her touch and put a lid on the blackberry jam, a hint of sass in her step.

Perhaps Nan and I have a few too many things in common, I thought as I fluttered through her doorway back into the night.

A silly post: It’s not my fault, really.

Note: the “I” in this post is me – the blog writer – rather than Amelie. *not a Fae and Folly scene* …sigh.

“Hey muse!” I sit down at the table with a bowl of freshly-cut yellow watermelon from the farmer’s market, all glistening and summer-wonderful. Clad in my self-dyed sarong with my hair tied back in a bandana, I look the picture of an exhausted hippie waif. “So, I’ve got two hours before I have to go to sleep and wake up to do my job, which I’m really not liking at the moment. Seems like now would be a great time to work on some Fae and Folly, don’t you think?”

The Inconvenient Muse smiles in her enigmatic way, taking the fruit in hand without consuming it. She scrutinizes it as she might look over my request in writing. “No, I don’t think so. Not tonight.”

“I’m really liking this faerie idea-“

“How about the last scene of your third novel instead?”

“Muse, we’ve been over this. I’m still working on book two. I’d prefer some Fae and Folly, but if you want to work on Forsaken Lands 2…

“I think it’s book three time.”

“You’ve got to be kidding me, Muse. This isn’t funny.”

She bites the watermelon, licking the sweet juices from her lips. In her sunfire eyes I see that she has again found my request lacking. “If you don’t write it down now I’ll never give you this idea ever again.”

“Muse!”

“You came to me for help.”

Welcome to my evening.

Suicide is (not) Painless

This is probably a giant bandwagon that I am getting on here. With the recent devastating loss of Robin Williams – one of many great artists to fall to suicide (I should say presumed suicide, since they are still examining the evidence to this point) – came a slew of facebook and twitter posts about the national suicide hotline and depression/mental health awareness. There are thousands of people out there talking about this issue right now, probably saying many of the things I’m about to say.

I don’t mind being one voice among many on a topic for which there are never enough voices.

At once it seems strange that there aren’t enough voices – it seems like there should be plenty, just based on my own personal experiences. I was introduced to the idea of suicide when I was quite young – probably five or six, due to some interactions with a habitually suicidal family member. I saw the anguish that this person went through, and experienced my own every time they said they were thinking of taking their own life.

I remember the day I learned that one of my classmates killed himself – we were fourteen at the time. I remember my friends from high school who lived in horrible situations where they frequently thought of suicide, cut themselves, called me in the middle of the night in tears saying that they just couldn’t take the pain anymore. As an adult in healthcare I’ve seen many people who were contemplating or had attempted suicide, and witnessed one death by suicide – the person who died surrounded by weeping friends and family. I didn’t know this person and never got to talk to them, yet I stood outside their room and cried, wondering what must have gone through their head the moment before the gun went off. Did they think their family was better off without them? Was the pain of breathing so great that one more breath would have been too much?

Would it have helped even a little if I’d met this person a day before and somewhere else?

Perhaps I grew up in a particularly bad place for suicidality – perhaps I just happen to attract people to my life with this particular experience. Certainly as a healthcare professional I willingly expose myself to it, and hope that I can make some small difference in my clinical role. It seems to me that more people should be speaking out about this topic, and more should be understanding when a stranger, friend, colleague has the courage to speak up and say, ‘I’m depressed, I need help.’

Sadly it seems that our world does not respond well to these cries. If you look around the internet for a minute you’ll see strangers posting into the ether asking for help, met by other strangers internet-shouting to ‘get over it!’ or calling these people selfish, worthless, failures. I first encountered this in real life during my early pre-med years while volunteering in an ER with some other pre-meds. One of my patients was a woman who had attempted suicide. My pre-med colleague was also on the case, and she said some things I’ll never forget.

“I don’t understand why they don’t call the police,” she said disdainfully, her eyes narrowed with what I can only describe as disgust. “That woman should be in jail.”

Never in my life had it occurred to me that the reaction to ‘this person was so distraught that they saw no alternative but to slit their own wrists’ would be one of disgust and punishment. Naiive little me, I suppose, I fought back with my words, demanded that she see how this was not a moral failing or a matter of choice – attempting or completing suicide is the endpoint of an awful series of events, and if the person who has done it thought there was any other way, they would have chosen it. We are hardwired to live. Taking our own life means that something has gone seriously wrong.

I call this post “Suicide is (not) Painless” because I know – quite intimately – that it isn’t. Suicide is the ultimate culmination of years of hideous pain; when it is completed that pain ripples out to dozens and maybe hundreds of people. In cases where the people driven to take their own lives are great artists who brought us joy and wonder, this pain is amplified to thousands. Nothing about suicide is painless – and nothing about it should be shameful, either, even though we as a society have made it out to be.

If you need help, please ask for it from people you know will be sympathetic – close friends, a therapist, a doctor, the national suicide hotline if you’re in a pinch (1-800-273-TALK) or the boys town national hotline if you’re a teen in trouble (1-800-448-3000). You are not bad, wrong, or selfish. The pain is real.

Thanks for the laughs, Robin Williams. I hope you find joy somewhere out there.

Wattpad – Because it’s Pretty

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http://w.tt/1owiq8U

Alright. All you’ve heard from me is Faerie-this and wings-that for a while – if you’re still wondering why I’ve gone so far into the world of glitter and magick I would point you in the direction of this post. I’m on week 6 of Internal Medicine crazy times, with only 2 weeks left. Two weeks left, people! I cannot describe to you how much I’m looking forward to my first weekend off. It’s… it’s like…

See, I can’t do it. It’s probably all the sleep deprivation sapping away my language centers. Anyway.

In an effort to make Fae and Folly more cohesive, I had the stroke of brilliance to add it to a place called Wattpad. If you haven’t heard of it yet (and I’d be surprised if you haven’t – it’s kind of a big deal), it is a website for sharing free stories with people around the world. Many of the stories on Wattpad are serial in nature; some are by big-name authors you’ve heard of, but most are just regular folks trying to share the written word. What’s cool is that it’s easy to access and totally free, which I’m always happy to support. Adding F&F to Wattpad also gave me an excuse to cobble together a little “cover” for Fae and Folly, seen above. Not so bad for a hippie doctor chick with very little graphic design experience, if I do say so myself (and I do).

Forsaken Lands 2 is going perhaps slower than it was at the beginning of this 8-week internal med stint, and I truly feel sad about that. I’ve had some awesome inspiration for Les’s scenes lately but none of the energy/focus I need to actually produce anything of merit – hopefully that will change here shortly as I transition into a more humane schedule with weekends. Seriously. Weekends are amazing. I miss them so much.

Did I mention that fatigue causes me to have very loose associations? Mm, yes – well, it does. I should probably stop talking now. 😉 If you haven’t checked out Wattpad yet, I encourage you to follow the link and see what it’s all about! …that and check out Fae and Folly. It’s quite adorable.

See you on the other side, folks.