fantasy · flash friday · Short Story · Writing

Friday Flash: Dust Rider Born

Part six in my Friday flash series experiment! Parts one, two, three, four and five here.

Gazelle woke slowly, delightfully warm and dry and comfortable. She kicked at the blanket, but the whole bed shook and whined. It sounded like a pup.

Her eyes flew open. The sky overhead was a bright, cloudless blue. She sat up and froze. She lay not in her bed or even a patch of grass, but on a gigantic web stretching across the branches of dozens of trees.

A dust devil lay curled up across her legs. No, in her legs. No –

“It’s part of you now,” someone said.

She looked up to see the dust rider who had come to take her. “Part of me?”

“It will you let you go eventually.” His lips curved into an amused smile. “Like a boy’s balls dropping.”

“Like what?” What was wrong with this man?

“Until than you are joined at the tail. So to speak.”


He laughed. “Don’t kick your devil when he’s asleep. It bites.”

Joined at the tail? She eyed the baby devil and tried to move her legs. The wound-up dust devil uncurled a little and shifted; she moved forward on the web. And though she couldn’t see her legs, still the web felt rough and sticky under her.

The baby devil lifted its sleek, pointy head and yowled. It had a mouthful of sharp, white fangs.

“He’s probably hungry,” the dust rider said and pointed at the far edge of the web. “Take him over there.”

“How?” demanded Gazelle.

But the dust rider only smiled.

Gazelle took a deep breath and pretended her legs weren’t encased inside the dust devil. The baby devil responded, it’s head and body undulating under her. She grabbed on with both hands as it crawled forward to the other end of the web.

Large stripes of raw, bloody meat hung from thinner branches above them. The baby dust devil swallowed the carcass of a piglet whole. It turned than to look at her out of dark, unfathomable eyes and rubbed itself against her chest.

Gazelle gulped and touched its head. Only then did she realize her chest seemed to have gone flat. She frowned down at it. She even wore a flight suit, like the dust rider worn. But who -?

“It’s your skin now,” said the dust rider.

He had followed her across the web and now stood watching a few feet away.

“I – what?” Lord, but couldn’t she say anything else to him?

“Your skin,” he repeated. “We are not human anymore. Your breasts will come back when you give birth.”

She gaped. Not human.

“The stories are true. We really are gods. You are a very lucky girl, Gazelle, to be chosen.”

The End!

There might be people who want more. I know there could be more, that I could turn this into a much longer work. But, honestly, I am done. I want to get back to normal Friday flash fiction.

(Unless I turn this into a Tuesday serial. Still thinking about that.)

General · reading · Teaser Tuesdays

No Teaser Tuesdays

Today for the first time in months I didn’t do a teaser Tuesday. Teaser Tuesday is a weekly meme where you post two random lines from whatever you are currently doing. I have been doing it for nearly as long I have been clogging – a year and a half now.

I liked it because:

1) it offers a quick glismp into what the rest of the world is reading.

2) it lets me share my own current read.

I read about a book a week, so it works out well.

A lot of people don’t like because some people leave comments that are so generic it’s almost like they didn’t read your post as well. It’s like they copied and pasted the same damn thing in a couple dozen blogs.

That’s a valid enough complaint, but IMHO, my two reason are reason enough to ignore them. Besides, lots of people really do read the teasers.

But to actually participate requires more than writing a post and linking back from the Should Be Reading website. You have to comment on others’ posts as well.

It’s too much work now. I can’t do it. I want to – I think it really is a handy way to get an idea of what people are really
reading – but right now there is no way.

Maybe I will still do a “What I am reading” post. I don’t know right now. Something reading related, I just don’t know what.

Book Review · General · reading

Book Review: Clockwork Heart by Dru Pagliassotti

Blurb via Goodreads:

A steampunkish romantic fantasy set in Ondinium, a city that beats to the ticking of a clockwork heart. Taya, a metal-winged courier, can travel freely across the city’s sectors and mingle indiscriminately among its castes. A daring mid-air rescue leads to involvement with two scions of an upperclass family and entanglement in a web of terrorism, loyalty, murder, and secrets.

I liked Clockwork Heart. It’s steampunk. I can’t quite make up my mind whether it’s fantasy-type steampunk or science fiction-ish steampunk. Not that it matters overly much.

I liked Clockwork Heart for two reasons: the world building and the main character.

The world building is fantastic. The city and its inhabitants are made of castes, chosen after some test they take as teenagers. (I think as teenagers. Could be slightly earlier.) I didn’t see any hints that kid could be chosen into the ruling caste, but it seems possible to move in/out of the others after taking this test.

The main character is Taya, an icarus, someone who dons a flying suit and delivers messages. Like a glorified mailman. But the icarus caste are also trained in mid-air rescues. She is infinitely likeable. She falls into the company of an upper-class family as a result of a mid-air rescue that she did.

One thing I really, really liked are the computers. Most steampunk novels don’t have them. It’s called the Great Engine (there are a few smaller engines) and the programs are written on what sounds like punch cards. In my head, these computers are the size of whole rooms. Though the book talks about their gears and other steampunk-ish terms.

My favorite scenes:

1)      The mid-air rescue at the beginning of the book

It’s just so exciting. There is a heart-stopping fall. I have to say, I couldn’t perform stunts like that.

2)      The clockwork heart moment at the end of the book.

I expect the title comes from this last scene, and, yes, the title is quite perfect. This is the sweetest moment in the whole book.

The book is fast-paced, fresh and has a bit of a romance. Not much of one, maybe not enough to interest romance readers who mostly look for the romance. But it’s a strong subplot.

I just wish the main character’s motivations were clearer. She investigates the death of someone she was kind of having an affair with. For the sake of the plot, she has to do it.

But in emotional terms, I am not so sure it makes sense. She is sad and grieving and all. But she didn’t know him long enough to develop a strong attachment; he isn’t the love of her life. Plus, she falls in love with his brother so quickly afterward.

It’s almost like a setup for getting into a relationship with the brother. I just think it’s odd and now the whole relationship is stuck in my head.

BUT the book is enjoyable and fun to read. I look forward to a second book.

fantasy · flash friday · Writing

Friday Flash: Dust Rider Eaten

Part five in my Friday flash series experiment! Parts one, two, three and four here. Part six next week. 😉

He freed Gazelle and she jumped down. The dirt was firm, undoubtedly tamped down from the passage hundreds of dust devils.

“That way.” The dust rider pointed at people clustered around the bonfire. “Go.”

She hoisted her bag over one shoulder and walked. She was stiff, achy and cold from the long ride. She hoped she could sleep soon.

She pushed as close to the fire as she dared; it felt good on her chilled skin.

“Careful!” A boy about her own age grabbed her elbow and yanked her back.

“What -”

“You almost stepped on them.” He pointed at the ground.

Gazelle looked down. Eggs. Large, sand-colored, vibrating eggs lay in a heap. They were so close to the fire it was a wonder they didn’t burn. Or cook. Maybe this was an odd dust rider cooking method. She thought longingly of scrambled eggs.

She didn’t know how she’d missed them before.

Even as she watched, a tiny crack appeared in the egg in front of her. A small bit of shell fell away and a slender brown tail slipped through. It waved wildly, banging itself against the shell, and the shell broke apart. A small, glistening wet dust devil cried into the night air.

Gazelle gaped. A dust devil hatching. Who would have guessed?

All around her, the other eggs hatched. Soon the air was filled with the shrill screeching of the new-born dust devils.

The one she was watching suddenly quieted, studied her with one blue eye and then leaped at her. She stumbled back and threw up an arm over her face.

Claws tore into her scalp and sharp teeth tore into her shoulder. Gazelle screamed. It thrust its strong, slender tail into her mouth.

Gazelle scrabbled at the creature. But her fingers slipped on the wet scales and she could not pull free.

She bit the creature’s tail and sharp pain bloomed on her shoulder. Her sight went dark and she knew she was dying.

They’ll tell Papa I died during training.  

The baby devil spit saliva on her shoulder. It rolled down her back, leaving only cool numbness behind.

Treacherous Rider.

General · reading · Teaser Tuesdays

Teaser Tuesday: Armed & Dangerous

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading.Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

Zane had to fight back a jangle of nerves. He had to believe that the CIA agents after them wouldn’t hurt anyone unless they were in the path of Julian Cross. Deuce would be fine. He hoped.

– Armed & Dangerous by Abigail Roux

fantasy · flash friday · Writing

Friday Flash: Dust Devils’ Lawn

the devil’s lawn

Part four in my Friday flash series experiment! Parts one and two and three here.

Gazelle handed the dust rider her single knapsack and watched him strap into the dust devil’s harness. She wore her heaviest canvas jacket and wondered how a dust rider could be so daft as to insist on something so heavy in summer. She was going to melt like a pat of butter.

The dust devil flicked long, curling ears at his rider. He smiled, patted its head and spoke to her. “Climb on up. I will strap you in first.”

Mud-colored spines ran along the sides of the devil. She put one foot on it and clambered up to the saddle. The dust rider showed her where to put her legs, then looped a harness over her shoulders and leashed her to the saddle. Like she was a cow or something, too stupid to know when to stay still.

She scowled at it. The leather trapped her as surely the gold paid for her.

The dust rider hoisted himself in front of her and strapped himself in. He did not, she noticed sourly, use the shoulder harness on himself.

He caressed the dust devil’s ears. “Fly!”

It reared up, roiling under her like a fishing boat caught in a storm. Gazelle fisted her hands, fingers digging into her own skin. She would not clutch at the dust rider. She wouldn’t.

Miles of long, sleek brown skin stretched out behind her. The wind from the dust devil’s launch rocked tree branches and blew her mother’s skirts up.

She watched her family farm become smaller and smaller until it was a mere spec on the ground. They flew above the clouds and she could see nothing but white fluff. Her ears froze and then burned. The devil was a comforting warmth under her.

Gazelle didn’t know how long they flew, but the sun set. The rider handed her some hard biscuits from somewhere.

It was still dark when they started descending. There was a gigantic grassy space, enclosed by wire fences and lit by dozens of torches. Many dust devils gathered on the ground. A small group of young people like her huddled in the middle, close to a big bonfire.

“The devils’ lawn!” the dust rider announced.

As a side note, I think this one might be least stand alone out of all them so far.

General · Writing

Why Not to Use Pen And Paper to Write

Last fall, I dedicated a single subject spiral bound notebook to my flash fiction.

It is presently lost. I imagine it will turn up somewhere. Probably months from now, when I remember nothing about the half-finished flash fiction in it.

That’s the way it always happens. I don’t know how many notebooks I’ve lost track of. Oh, they usually turn up again, but by the time I find it again, I’ve lost hope and started another notebook for fiction. I’ve had marble notebooks, spiral notebooks, those little folders that you can turn into notebooks by slipping loose leaf paper into fasteners/prongs/whatever the are called.

I’ve lost lots. I don’t even know how many. IMO, this is the single best argument for not writing with pen/paper.

(Aside from the fact I dislike transcribing everything to a word file. Feels like duplicate work.)

I’ve never lost a flash drive or any other file on my computer. Even if I forget where it’s saved – never happened! – a computer search is easier than searching every nook and cranny in the house.

But sometimes you just need a pen in your hand, you know? Sometimes it works better than a keyboard. I wish that wasn’t so. I am just grateful I am not often inspired to write with pen and paper.

But if I don’t find the damn notebook soon, I am never getting a notebook for fiction ever again. Never!!!!

fantasy · General · reading · science fiction · Teaser Tuesdays

Teaser Tuesday: Clockwork Heart

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

* Grab your current read
* Open to a random page
* Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
* BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
* Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

My Teasers:

He walked up, the dress draped over one arm. “You don’t have a choice. Cassi, I’m going to sew her into this. You’ll have to cut her out of it tonight. Use the back seam.”

– Clockwork Heart by Dru Pagliassotti

Book Review · fantasy · reading

Book Review: Fair Game by Patricia Briggs

From Amazon:

They say opposites attract. And in the case of werewolves Anna Latham and Charles Cornick, they mate. The son-and enforcer-of the leader of the North American werewolves, Charles is a dominant alpha. While Anna, an omega, has the rare ability to calm others of her kind.

Now that the werewolves have revealed themselves to humans, they can’t afford any bad publicity. Infractions that could have been overlooked in the past must now be punished, and the strain of doing his father’s dirty work is taking a toll on Charles.

Nevertheless, Charles and Anna are sent to Boston, when the FBI requests the pack’s help on a local serial killer case. They quickly realize that not only the last two victims were werewolves-all of them were. Someone is targeting their kind. And now Anna and Charles have put themselves right in the killer’s sights…

I loved loved loved Fair Game.

There is a murder investigation; Charles has serious issues with guilt over being his father’s henchman. Anna is worried about him and somehow ends up speaking with the humans about the murders, with Charles as her bodyguard.

The story is fast and tense and leaves you wanting to know what happens next.

What I liked best: the ending. It was spectacular. The legal court provides a silly (and predictable lol) ruling regarding the fae. A fae lord retaliates. His actions strike me as quite just. I think the schism is going to be permanent and provides for very interesting times ahead.

There are lots of other goods parts. Watching Anna confront the Marok? Fantastic. I mean, no one confronts him.

Charles has a lot of issues in this book. It’s been building and I suppose it’s only natural. One of the werewolves he killed kind of had it coming, but someone else made it sound like he didn’t. Charles fell for it, until yet another werewolf pointed that the punishment would have been the same even before the werewolves came out to the public. It was hard for Charles to see that.

What I don’t understand: Throughout the book, Anna kept telling everyone all the weakness of werewolves. Why? There was no need for her to reveal half as much as she did and I still don’t get why she did it. She told the agents how to behave around Charles and made him sound out of control, which he isn’t. Close to edge, yeah, but still in control.

fantasy · flash friday · Writing

Friday Flash: Dust Rider Bought

eye of the devil
Part three in my Friday flash series experiment! Parts one and two here.

“Gazelle!” her mother called.

She took a deep breath, wiped her hands on her gray cotton pants and walked out the front door.

Up-close, the devil was very impressive. Scary. It turned a single, window-sized, cloud-colored eye toward her.

She stopped at the edge of the porch, staring. Even wrapped around itself like a snake, it was bigger than the house.

The leather-clad dust rider smiled at her. “Gazelle Root?”

She raised her chin. “I am not going with you, sir. My life is here.”

“Gazelle. Don’t be ridiculous. It’s a great honor.” Her mother turned to the dust rider, a greedy glint in her eye. “How much is the family’s compensation?”

“Why don’t we talk about that? Inside?”

“Of course. Gazelle, make tea.”

Fuming, Gazelle turned on her foot and stormed to the kitchen. The sitting room was steps from it and voices carried clearly.

She scowled at the pot of boiling water and pictured dumping on the dust rider’s head. Maybe her mother’s, too. Her father, too, for saying nothing at all.

She took a deep breath to calm herself, prepared the tray and carried it into the sitting room.

“Good news,” her mother said. “We settled on 5000 golds for you.”

“I wish you joy,” snapped Gazelle.