Free Fiction Friday: Hide and Seek

Another blast from the past for Free Fiction Friday: I decided to revisit Muirin’s early stories with Hide and Seek. Hope you enjoy it!

Ebook Hide and Seek Cover 03

On the matriarchal world of Muirin, Dana Aravel was looking forward to a quiet afternoon spent knitting socks for his mother while everyone waited for the next ship to arrive in port. However his little sister Anwyn’s bad mood destroyed that hope. She was so cranky that Aravel knew there was no chance he’d get the quiet needed for concentration.

Instead, he proposed a game of Hide and Seek for all the kids in the Dana family with the reward of a special treat to the winners. He was sure that he and Cadfael could win the game but then he was distracted first by the possibility of cookies and then by the chance to right a wrong and make his Uncle Athol happy.

All Aravel had to do was convince the adults that a marriage between Athol and his best friend Ruark would solve all their problems. A deal between the Dana and Ruark’s family would benefit both sides as well as protect Ruark from the racial stigma he faced on a daily basis. It wouldn’t be easy but Aravel was determined to make Uncle Athol and Ruark happy, no matter what stood in their way.

Hide and Seek

By Meyari McFarland

Aravel hummed happily as he carefully picked up the white yarn and began working it into the blue ribbing he’d knit before going down into the offices for his daily lessons. It was lovely yarn, nice and thick for the socks he was knitting for Mother. The first sock had turned out very well, the leg and sole of the foot patterned with blue and white ‘X’ and ‘O’ shapes. If he managed to copy it properly, he should have a very nice gift for Mother to wear this winter.

The light coming through the window was wan and gray. His window seat was usually a lovely place to sunbathe at this time of day but it seemed like fall had come early. Instead of warmth, cold seeped through the window to chill Aravel’s left arm and leg. He tucked a pillow between his body and the window, smiling as that fixed the problem. If he kept working he might be able to finish the leg of the sock before it was time to help Father make dinner. Maybe they could have honey buns; Aravel loved how they tasted and smelled. Honey buns always made the house smell wonderfully sweet for days.

“I don’t want to stay in bed!”

Aravel winced and dropped a stitch on his knitting as Anwyn’s wail of outrage carried out of the bedroom and through their entire suite of rooms. He carefully picked the stitch back up but got the yarn tangled as he tried to continue knitting. His efforts to untangle the yarn sent one ball rolling off his lap onto the floor, much to Aravel’s dismay. Before it rolled too far, Aravel caught it so that he could rewind the ball before continuing to knit.

He couldn’t blame Anwyn for being bored and frustrated, even if her response to the restrictions made him wince. She’d been stuck in bed for eleven days now, only allowed to get up for trips to the toilet and for meals. The meals had been a new thing in the last two days after Doctor Bernice had visited and pronounced Anwyn’s stomach healed enough for sitting up and solid food. That was a lovely thing that they’d all celebrated with a special meal that Anwyn got to choose.

She still had the broken ribs and ankle though. Doctor Bernice had told Anwyn that it was going to be another month before the ribs healed fully and probably another month or two after that for her ankle. Anwyn hadn’t like that at all. She’d pouted every day since, trying to get out of bed whenever an opportunity presented itself.

“Annie, you’ll stay in this bed or I’ll call your mother up here to make you stay put,” Father said sternly enough that Aravel winced from his spot on the window seat.

“But I’m bored,” Anwyn whined at the top of her lungs. “I’ve read all my books and my back is sore from lying in bed and I want to do something, Father!”

“I know you’re bored, dear,” Father said almost as loudly as Anwyn. “You still don’t get to get up. You could take a nap.”

“But I’m not tired,” Anwyn complained in a tone that made Aravel feel as though his teeth were on edge.

“Doesn’t matter, you’re still not getting up, Annie,” Father said. “You’re staying in your bunk. I’ll stay with you and tell stories if you’d like.”

His tone wasn’t as soothing as Aravel expected. He sounded so annoyed that Aravel carefully finished winding his ball of yarn only to set down the sock he’d been knitting on the plush window seat. There didn’t seem to be any sense in knitting, no matter how lovely the yarn. He’d just make a thousand mistakes that would have to be unraveled and re-knit.

Aravel stared out the window as he put the pillow back where it belonged. The cold seeping in the window mixed with the sound of the rain pounding on the window and roof. There was no chance of going outside to play today. He’d have to find something else to do.

Aravel went in search of his twin sister Raelin. Their suite of rooms were warm and bright with a common room for eating and spending time plus a kitchen that was full of the smell of rising bread. He smiled at the sour-wheat smell of the bread dough, nodding that the towel draped over the bowl was damp enough before heading to the kids’ rooms.

Raelin would never hide in the little kids’ room, not with Anwyn and Father still arguing about what she could and could not do. She wouldn’t dare to invade Mother and Father’s bedroom either. None of them were brave enough to invade their parent’s sanctuary. That left the big kids’ room which was their older brother Gavin’s domain; unless Raelin had gone to talk to their cousins in other parts of the Dana Clan house.
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Worldbuilding Wednesday #71: Patience

Worldbuilding Wednesday #71: Patience

Welcome back to another Worldbuilding Wednesday! Today’s topic is something I’m still working on: Patience.
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Novel Monday: Repair and Rebuild Chapter 6

POD Repair and Rebuild Ebook Cover 05

Description:

Rebuilding the future that was nearly lost.

When the Tourmaline Seas limped back into port, everyone in Raelin’s family was stunned that she’d made it. She’d lost a mast and had so many holes in the hull that it was only with the Goddesses’ blessings that her crew and cargo had survived. More than anything, Raelin wanted to see her back on the seas, blue Dana sails snapping in the wind as her crew sailed around the world. To her shock, Raelin got to observe Mistress Chie, owner of Sunrise Shipyard, as she rebuilt the Tourmaline Seas.

Raelin’s joy in repairing the Tourmaline darkened as the Delbhana plotted to steal the Tourmaline away. When that didn’t work the Delbhana struck straight at the heart of the Dana Clan, trying to steal all the children, Raelin included. If she failed, Raelin knew that she might never see her family and home again.

Repair and Rebuild is a fantastic coming of age story set in the Matriarchal world of Muirin.

Chapter Six: Escape

“Hand it over,” Sinead snarled at Raelin.

“I’m sorry, but I can’t do that,” Raelin said in a loud clear voice that made the Guards watching wince. “It’s not mine. I’m just delivering it.”

“You little brat!” Sinead snapped. “Hand it over!”

“No, I’m sorry,” Raelin said more slowly and loudly enough that the people around them started muttering. “I can’t do that.”

Sinead grabbed the upper edge of the portfolio at the same time that two of her friends grabbed Raelin. One caught her arm while the second fisted her hand in Raelin’s hair. The other three glared at the Guards as if to forbid them from interfering.

Raelin shouted in pain as tears sprang up in her eyes. Sinead tried to pull the portfolio away from Raelin but she hung on until the one with a grip on her hair wrenched Raelin’s head so hard that she couldn’t hang on anymore. When Sinead finally wrestled the portfolio out of Raelin’s arms, Raelin screamed.

“Stop it!” Raelin screamed while twisting her body so that she could kick the girl holding her hair in the knee. “Give that back!”
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Free Fiction Friday: Sound of Obedience

Have a blast from the past on this one. Sound of Obedience was one of the first stories I put up. I’m still very happy with it so I figured I’d share it this week. I really have to get back to this verse and write more stories…

Sound of Obedience Ebook Cover 07
Description:

A generation ago America passed a law allowing a bankrupt person’s debts to be bought by rich Masters. The debt slaves then belonged to their Masters for the duration of the debt. Cain, a debt slave with the soul of a Master, was bought by the Master of Tucker Industries, Dave.

In each other they found what they had always been looking for. Cain found the perfect submissive while Dave found the perfect Master. Their private relationship has to remain their secret, requiring them to reverse the natural roles while in public.

That’s difficult enough but when the mysterious terrorist Black attacks a party they’re attending, Cain is injured and Dave has to protect his lover and secret Master. The party and its aftermath test their relationship, their acting abilities and their lives. Has Cain trained his lover and Master to play his public role well enough that they can both survive?

Sound of Obedience

By Meyari McFarland

1. Obedience

“Quiet,” Cain said as he put his work out of his mind, abandoning the numbers and math of his accounting job to focus on Dave.

It wasn’t easy to set aside the role he had to play outside of Dave’s bedroom. If his family’s debts hadn’t been so high, Cain would never have become a debt slave.

The requirement to be servile and obedient grated against his more dominant nature, just as Dave’s more submissive personality ill-suited his position as Master of Tucker Industries. Neither of them was comfortable in the roles society demanded of them.

Not that any of that mattered once they were alone. Here they were both free to be exactly who they truly were. Cain smiled, allowing a long slow breath to slide through his nostrils as he listened to Dave behind him.

The faint creak and slither of rope painted pictures of Dave flexing as he tested the knots tied around his body. Dave’s breath puffed, rapid and shaky with combined excitement and nervousness. This wasn’t a game they played all that often. Nervousness was to be expected, if not acknowledged in his role as Dave’s secret Master.
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Worldbuilding Wednesday #70: Promotion, sort of

Welcome back to another Worldbuilding Wednesday!

I’ll probably have more thoughts about publishing next week or the week after. I’m looking at setting up a Patreon account (see yesterday’s post and comment if you have opinions, please) but I want to get a better understanding of that before I say anything other than ‘hey, this looks kind of interesting’. Which, hey, Patreon looks kind of promising for authors and artists looking to make a living from their art.

Advertising is hard. Promotion is hard. I don’t understand enough of it to really have a great opinion to offer you right now. But I can share my thoughts so far, under the cut. Personal opinions below, subject to change at any moment!
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Patreon Thoughts

Okay, I haven’t mentioned on here but I’m thinking of creating a Patreon for my writing. Because it looks like a pretty good way of going from just scraping by to actually making it with your art.

Now, I know myself well enough that I know I can’t say ‘this Patreon is strictly for this one ‘verse!’ My brain doesn’t work that way. I need to dance between ‘verses or I stop writing.

So.

Given that, this is the plan that I’d like feedback on.

Post something every Tuesday and Thursday (since I already have Mon, Wed & Fri filled on my WP site).

Tuesday will be a new chapter, fresh off the keyboard, of a book / novella. Maybe a short story but probably a book or novella.

Thursday will be background worldbuilding data, character sketches of that book, side stories or odd bits of text that don’t fit in the novel, plans for the future for the whole ‘verse, thoughts on the process for developing that story. Basically, cool random stuff I never get to share because people want the story, not all the stuff I create to write the story.

Saturday/Sunday, maybe 1-2 x month, I’d post a special post. Say… put up an ARC of the book once it’s finished so people can read and review. Or maybe do little videos / book trailers. Podfics of me reading passages of the book aloud? And of course, I could put up my sketches of characters, places, etc from the current book. Or maybe future books.

I figure that way people who subscribe would get regular value for their donation, which matters to me. I hate asking for money anyway so if I do this I want to make it worth people’s while.

Opinions? Feedback?

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Novel Monday: Repair and Rebuild Chapter 5

POD Repair and Rebuild Ebook Cover 05

Description:

Rebuilding the future that was nearly lost.

When the Tourmaline Seas limped back into port, everyone in Raelin’s family was stunned that she’d made it. She’d lost a mast and had so many holes in the hull that it was only with the Goddesses’ blessings that her crew and cargo had survived. More than anything, Raelin wanted to see her back on the seas, blue Dana sails snapping in the wind as her crew sailed around the world. To her shock, Raelin got to observe Mistress Chie, owner of Sunrise Shipyard, as she rebuilt the Tourmaline Seas.

Raelin’s joy in repairing the Tourmaline darkened as the Delbhana plotted to steal the Tourmaline away. When that didn’t work the Delbhana struck straight at the heart of the Dana Clan, trying to steal all the children, Raelin included. If she failed, Raelin knew that she might never see her family and home again.

Repair and Rebuild is a fantastic coming of age story set in the Matriarchal world of Muirin.

Chapter Five: Rebuild

“She almost looks like a ship again!” Raelin exclaimed as the final few boards were hammered into place.

Her breath puffed in the air. It had gotten much colder over the last week or so, the weather promising snow that it hadn’t yet delivered. Raelin was glad. She wanted them to get as much done on the Tourmaline as possible before the winter weather closed in and made it hard to work. Mistress Chie had already said that they’d have a hard time with the glue and caulking once the temperature dropped too low. Cold and snow would slow their work dramatically.

“We’re getting closer,” Mistress Chie chuckled. “There are still the decks to install and the masts but the hull is getting there.”

One full month, forty days, after the Tourmaline had been brought into dry dock, they were finally getting to the point where she looked like a ship again. It made Raelin so happy that she didn’t mind running around constantly to carry Mistress Chie’s messages.

She was running farther now than she had in the beginning. Mistress Chie had her running to suppliers, to bring payments to the bank and to carry records both home and to the city court. The Delbhana had insisted on reports on what had happened to the Tourmaline Seas after their ship never made it to port.

“Damn meddling bitches,” Mistress Chie grumbled as she slapped the portfolio filled with the required reports shut. “I’ve told them before that they need stronger ships. Not my fault that they’re getting an object lesson on that.”

“Um, should I be the one to carry the report?” Raelin asked nervously when Mistress Chie shoved it into her hands. It was as wide as her forearm and as tall as her whole torso from chin to waist, plus being too thick for her hands to hold it easily. “I mean, it is the Delbhana requesting it and I’m Dana. They might try to say that I messed with the reports.”
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Now Available: Tales of Adventure!

POD Col 1 Tales of Adventure Ebook Cover 03
Description:
Meyari McFarland gathers together six stories of adventure in this first themed collection, Tales of Adventure.

Inside you will find a touching wedding anniversary gone wrong (Anniversary). The Web brings a struggle for survival where one wrong choice means death for everyone. In Bringing the Rains the adventure is one of seeking, and finding, one’s true identity.

Cloud Cover tells of a spy’s desperate risk and the dragon that carries her through. Then in Scavenger a young woman explores the depths of drowned Seattle for treasures left behind when the world ended.

Six stories. Six adventures. Pure excitement.

Find This Book:

On Amazon $6.99 ebook
On Smashwords $6.99 ebook
On CreateSpace $14.99 5″x8″ TPB

Yay, finally! I’ve been working on getting this collection up for weeks now. I’m glad its finally available for you guys to read and I hope that you enjoy it if you choose to do so! :D

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Free Fiction Friday: Child of Spring

Happy Friday! Have another chance to read my current favorite short story free for one week. :)

POD Child of Spring Ebook Cover 08

Description:

Meyari McFarland returns to the world of Mouse and Snake in a story of a found family and the cycles of life.

Ben’s terraced garden, cut high into the mountainside where few dared to work, was his pride and joy, source of his family’s food. Twenty years of working it had taught him every nook and cranny, leaving few surprises until the cool spring day he found a beaten and abandoned toddler by the blackberry bushes.

Child of Spring is a tender cyberpunk story of family, the bonds forged by working the earth together and the inevitability of death even in the far future.

Child of Spring

By Meyari McFarland

1. Summer

Ben slowly climbed the ladder-like stairs up to his precious garden. He’d cut the winding beds out of the steep rocky hillside twenty years ago with an old pickaxe and shovel, painstakingly reinforcing them with bamboo and lathe that he replaced as needed to make sure they didn’t collapse.

South exposure, sheltered by a mass of overgrown grapevine on the west and exuberant blackberry brambles to the east, his vegetables grew well. The rock wall behind each bed reflected the sun’s warmth, granting him extra growing time. Not many could say that. It’d fed his family well since that first year.

‘Course he had to haul the dirt up every single spring to replace what had washed away. Wasn’t any good dirt this high up in the mountains, just sand and gravel and shale that wasn’t good for much besides building walls. He hitched his backpack full of still-damp river silt higher on his back, groaning as his back protested.

The work was worth it for the food he grew. Taters grew well in cast-off pine needles but his precious tomatoes, carrots and corn wanted dirt. Anything that’d feed his family was worth the effort, no matter what his fool son-in-law said. That boy wasn’t going to last much longer. His daughter was too practical for that lazy bum.

Ben wheezed as he counted thirty, thirty-one, thirty-two. Thirty-three steps. He stood for a long while, waiting for his old heart to stop pounding and the chilly morning air to fill his lungs right. His eyes traced the tiny shoots coming from his onions and garlic beds, the mound of pine needles over the growing potatoes.

A tiny footprint stood in the middle of his asparagus bed.

He froze, blinking at that footprint for the longest time before he realized that it was real. Ben eased the backpack off, careful not to make the plastic lining rustle. Other tiny footprints led towards the blackberry bramble. Not one sat on top of a sprouting plant. He followed their trail, walking along the edge of the retaining wall, only to freeze as he saw a toddler curled up in the warmest spot in his garden, her fluff of kinky black hair matted with blood.

The girl’s skin was darker than the earth she’d curled up on, black like the night sky. As he eased closer he saw that her skin was speckled with lights like stars, too. She looked like someone had wrapped the night sky over her body before deciding that pulling the stars down was an abomination.

Bruises marked her little arms and legs, muddying the stars of her skin like clouds across the sky. Her dress, made of an old piece of tarp roughly tied into shape, was torn, ragged on the edges. Ben frowned. Altered or not, the child didn’t deserve to be beaten until she ran away to the mountains.

“Hey there,” Ben said low and gentle, same as he crooned to the chickens and geese his daughter raised. “Hey there, baby.”

The girl started and gasped, head coming up as the darkness fled from her skin as if it was spilled ink draining off the side of the table. Her stars remained, more subdued against her mahogany, oak, ash, pale skin as white as the snow that had covered his garden not too long ago. At the same time her eyes went from black to brown, hazel, green into the palest of pale blues, like the faint color of the water burbling down the waterfall on the other side of the blackberry bramble.

“Well, then,” Ben said, crouching down so he wouldn’t loom over the girl. “Hello. I’m Ben.”

She shook her head ‘no’ only to gasp quietly and clutch her head. Tears trembled at the corners of her eyes. He could just barely hear her breathy whimpers. As pale as she was now the blood on her matted hair showed clearly. So did the bruises, stark lavender against her pale, sparkly skin.

“Ah, baby,” Ben sighed. “I’m an old man. Not gonna hurt you. Just worried about you.”

His gentle tone prompted a sniffle and a much more cautious headshake ‘no’. Ben chuckled. He stood up, knees and back creaking and popping so loud that the little girl stared at him with her mouth pursed in a little ‘o’. When he stretched, rocking side to side, and set off another wave of pops that echoed in this little corner of the garden, she giggled near silently.

“Am too worried,” Ben told her. “Gonna sit on the stairs for a bit, baby. Thanks for not walking on the shoots. They’re food for my family, come fall.”

Ben made his way back to the steep stairs, sitting on the top step with a cautious sigh. It was a bit loose this year. The wide shale slab had flaked away long the edges over the years since he’d placed it, rounding until it didn’t wedge securely into place. Probably would be a good idea to go find a new one, haul it back and chip the edges away until it fit perfectly. He ran his fingers along the crumbly edge of the stone. Maybe later, during the summer heat. Too much to do right now.

The valley below hid behind low clouds, tops of the trees poking out in places. The other mountain peaks loomed like islands in a pale ocean that stretched to infinity. This high up the smell of pine mixed with rain not quite falling was gone, replaced by wind and earth and after a few moments the faint smell of the blood marking the girl’s head.

She crept over to crouch just outside of arm’s reach, skin how tanned as his, the sparkling stars dimmed to something that could almost be mistaken for droplets of water on her arms. He frowned at the way she rubbed at her hands, silently scrubbing as if to make the stars go away.

“Got an apple,” Ben said as he pulled it from his pocket. “Not fresh but it’s food. Want some?”

Her eyes went wide, hands stilling for a moment. She shook her head ‘no’, then nodded ever so slightly, then shook ‘no’ again while sucking on her bottom lip. Ben chuckled and carved a slice off the apple, slowly munching on the grainy sweetness. His bit had a little bruise but it was still good, not rotten. He cut a second one, set it down on the step as far as he could reach without leaning closer to her. It was close enough to her that she could grab it without getting in touching range.

Took Ben slowly eating another slice for the little girl to snatch up the apple slice. She ate it quick and messy, shoving it in her mouth and chewing loudly. Every bite made her wince a little as if her teeth hurt. As bruised as her head looked Ben could easily believe that she had loose teeth. He cut more slices, feeding her three quarters of the apple. She gnawed on the core, too, reducing it to little more than a scrap of white wrapped around the seeds with the stem bit dangling from it.

“Toss it in the heap,” Ben said when she paused. “It’ll make for nice healthy plants next year.”

She blinked and then carefully tucked the apple core into the compost heap, patting it into place with a firm little nod that made her sway and moan. Her skin shifted from brown like Ben’s to black as night and then back to a dusky olive that nearly matched the color of the compost, thick with new weeds and pine needles Ben had gathered a week ago.

“Good girl,” Ben said. “Got some work to do. You can stay and watch if you like.”

That earned him several rapid blinks and the pursed lips again, as if he’d said something completely incomprehensible. Ben groaned as he lifted the backpack full of silt, his knees popping like gunshots as he straightened up. The girl giggled and watched him, quiet and still, as he carefully transferred the precious silt into its new home in the bed where he’d plant squash, beans and corn later in the season.

Good rich soil should help the plants grow. He always had trouble with the corn, never got more than a handful of ears. The terraced beds weren’t wide enough for the corn to pollinate properly. Even with Ben carefully transferring pollen from stem to stem corn just didn’t thrive the way it should here. But he got enough and it served as living poles for the beans while the squash grew fast and fruitful underneath them. It worked well enough.

“That’s that,” Ben sighed once the last of the soil had been transferred and dug in. “Give it a couple of weeks and I’ll bring my starts up, plant ‘em and see what I get this year.”

The little girl had curled up close to the compost heat, leaning into the heat it threw off. Her skin was almost normal colored now, plain old brown with those tiny not-droplets dappling her bruised arms. Ben nodded to her as he closed up the backpack, carefully settling it on his back.

“Gonna go home now,” Ben said. “Welcome to follow along. My daughter’s not a bad cook. That husband of hers isn’t the best, lazy bum that he is, but you’re welcome. It’s my house, not his. Haven’t had any kids around since my daughter grew up. It’s kind of lonely.”

She shivered, sucking on her bottom lip while scrubbing at her arms again. Ben nodded. No surprise the poor thing was worried about her alterations bringing trouble. People could be stupid. Not like the child had chosen it, not at her age.

“My daughter has gills,” Ben said. He chuckled at her wide eyes going white-blue again. “Wife had webbing between her fingers. She was a diver, used to swim right down under the ocean to catch us fish. Shark caught her about eight years ago. That’s life. Even the boy’s modded, jacked into the electronics the rich folk use.”

The girl pointed at Ben, one little finger circling as if to hesitantly, shyly, ask what Ben’s mods were.

“Don’t have any,” Ben sighed. “Never could do it. Didn’t have the money. Didn’t have the time. Too busy growing food and making things for my family. I’m just me. Old man with worn out joints and a garden to tend.”

He got a dozen rapid-fire blinks back as she sucked on her bottom lip. Ben chuckled, sighed at the long walk home and then shrugged. She stared up at him, skin sliding back to the black-night-with-stars that she’d had when he first saw her.

“Welcome to follow if you want,” Ben said. “Or not. Your choice, baby.”

Ben set off down the stairs, cautiously easing down them sideways, good left foot going first each time. He was a decade past taking them one after the other. He was on step nineteen when the little girl scrambled down the top step to follow him.

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Worldbuilding Wednesday #67: How Do I Do This Thing? (Last Part!)

Welcome back, everyone, to the last installment of How I Do This Thing! This one is a good bit different from the other installments. I’m not going to give you any hard and fast rules or instructions in this one.

Why? Well, this week’s installment is what you do now that you have your story up on Amazon, Smashwords and CreateSpace. Your choices now are far more varied and depend entirely on what you, the author, want to do.
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