Novel Monday: Storm Over Archaelaos – Chapter 4

POD Storm Over Archaelaos Ebook Cover 05
Description:
When Anwyn heard her best friend cursing over a letter from home, she thought it would be nice to give her a hand. A quick trip to a new country to protect Iola from an unwelcome marriage would be a chance to have fun while doing a good deed.

But the trip revealed plots against the Dana that Anwyn could never have anticipated. The simple trip became a complicated political trial that threatened not just the family’s fortunes but Anwyn’s safety as well. Stopping the Delbhana’s plot might be the hardest thing Anwyn had ever done but failure wasn’t an option.

Storm over Archaelaos is an epic coming of age fantasy set on the matriarchal world of Muirin. People of all ages will enjoy this thrilling adventure.

Storm Over Archaelaos

By Meyari McFarland

4. Nasrin

“It’s beautiful,” Anwyn commented as the Little Bird glided into Ryann Port at the southern tip of Nasrin.

“It is,” Aravel agreed, beaming.

Nasrin was much like northern Aingeal. It was mountainous, with tall pine trees climbing the steep hills. Rivers tumbled down the slopes in gouts and waterfalls that carved out narrow valleys for people to live. Much of the population lived towards the center of the island where hot springs bubbled up in the middle of muddy pools and the mountains had tumbled down into rolling plains.

Ryann Port clung to a tiny valley squeezed into a narrow cleft in the cliff-like hills. The town’s streets rose steeply, winding between the people’s tall wooden homes. Anwyn had been here at least a dozen times now, stopping on the way for longer voyages with the Dana ships. She’d gotten so used to the drawling accents of the people here that she no longer had any trouble figuring out what they said, no matter how slowly they spoke.

The port was full of smaller ships like the Little Bird, mostly local fish boats. A couple of bigger ships sporting flags from the Delbhana and Ntombi’s Third House loomed over them. Anwyn stared openly at the dark skinned women working the Third House ship.

Aunt Colleen was at the helm with Myrna. Captain Helene was still in her cabin. From what Aunt Colleen had said when she took the helm, Captain Helene’s broken nose was more like a broken nose plus broken cheekbones and a broken eye socket. Aravel had looked mildly apologetic about that but that was it.

“Heya!” the sailors on the Third House ship called as the Little Bird slowly went by, guided now by the little tug boat instead of its sails.

“Heya!” Aunt Colleen called back. “Good trading?”

“Very,” the mate or captain responded. Her teeth flashed white against the olive darkness of her skin. “Good trade to you, Dana!”

Aunt Colleen grinned and waved a salute that bumped one fist against her chest before thrusting it back towards the Third House ship. The mate or captain, whichever she was, grinned and gestured as if catching the luck sent back her way. When they slowly drifted past the Delbhana ship no such thing happened. The captain of that ship glared at them, her hand on her sword hilt while Aunt Colleen glared back defiantly.

The Third House ship was wide and flat, more like a barge than the sailing ships Anwyn was used to. Its dark wood was plain and sea-worn but still solid. In contrast, the Delbhana ship was a huge four-master with snow white sails and gilded trim on around the captain’s cabin. Anwyn wrinkled her nose at it.

“I suppose it’s pretty,” Aravel commented quietly.

“Hmph.”

“I think Rae would be spluttering about how thin the masts are,” Aravel continued. “They do look a bit spindly. Think they have enough supports to stand a strong wind?”
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Now Available: The Eternal Librarian!

POD The Eternal Librarian Ebook Cover 04
Description:
When humanity went to the stars they took many things with them. Brencis, the Eternal Librarian, ensured that they took the books. Unfortunately, humanity also took along their greed, their blindness and their short-sighted focus on all the wrong things.

The Eternal Librarian is a touching exploration of human nature, determination and the love of learning that is dedicated to librarians and book lovers everywhere.

Find This Story:

On Kobo $2.99 ebook
On Amazon $2.99 ebook or $5.99 TPB
On Smashwords $2.99 ebook
On CreateSpace $5.99 TPB

Another story up and ready! *cheers*

This one has some deep ties to my childhood, both in my family and in the community I grew up in. It’s dedicated to the librarian of our school and town library, a wonderful woman who very recently passed away. Honestly, it’s hard to imagine the world without her in it. She was such a huge part of my childhood–I wouldn’t be who I am now if it hadn’t been for her dedication and hard work making sure that there were books available even in rural small-town Montana.

*sad sigh*

Anyway, I hope that you liked this one if you choose to read it!

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Free Fiction Friday: Fight Smarter

Fight Smarter Front Cover 09 300dpi

Description:

On the matriarchal world of Muirin, thirteen-year-old Gavin of the Dana Clan was painfully aware that he was being groomed for a powerful position in the family despite his gender. He wasn’t sure that he wanted it until he caught his younger sister Gwen helping their little sister Anwyn through the back hallways of the Dana Clan House, both of them injured and covered with blood.

Anwyn’s injuries and how she got them threatened to destroy the fragile peace their mother had brokered. The other powerful clans in Aingeal barely supported the Dana against their rivals the Delbhana after Anwyn’s adventure in the city of the Ladies. Between the threats the Delbhana posed and the rising violence Anwyn’s rival Siobhan had visited upon her, though, Gavin saw an opportunity.

If he could ride the tides of the confrontation correctly, Gavin thought that he could beat back the Delbhana and save his little sister’s life. If he failed everyone in the Dana Clan would pay the price, starting with Gavin himself.

(This story is appropriate for young adults and adults. It contains off-screen bullying resulting in severe injuries, matriarchal societies and one thirteen-year-old boy who takes on a very angry adult who’s trying to hide things. This is the second in my series of planned stories following Anwyn and her rather unconventional family.)

Fight Smarter

By Meyari McFarland

“You know you’re not supposed to get in fights right now.”

Gavin looked up from his job of sorting invoices, absently smoothing his kilt over his knees. His younger sister Gwen’s voice carried along the back hallway that ran past his little office. There was only one person she could be talking to about fighting: Anwyn.

Of the entire clan, his little sisters Gwen and Anwyn were the ones most likely to get into a brawl, so when Gwen slowly hobbled into sight a moment later it wasn’t a surprise that she was with Anwyn. What did surprise him was that Gwen was supporting Anwyn with an arm around her waist. It was clear Anwyn resented it from the way she tried to lean away from Gwen.

Both of them were filthy, covered in mud from the cobblestone streets. More worrisome, they both had blood on their clothes. Being covered in mud from a fight was normal enough for girls of the Dana family. Well, fights were common all over Aingeal, but even more common for Dana’s combative women. What was unusual was the amount of physical damage Anwyn had taken. Normally she won her fights easily.

Anwyn was cradling her ribs as if a few might be broken, but the scattered bruises and scrapes showing from under her short sleeved tunic and calf-length pants didn’t appear to be too serious. Unfortunately, her ankle wasn’t supporting her weight properly; it was swollen to the point that the laces of her sandal were cutting into the purpling flesh. Gwen actually appeared far more seriously wounded, given all the blood on her, but she moved easily enough that the blood soaking her vest and shirt had to be someone else’s.

“I didn’t start it,” Anwyn protested, full of seven year old petulance at being told that she taken the wrong tack yet again. “Siobhan started it! She was picking on the other kids. I just made her stop. Besides you hit her too, Gwen.”

“Well, yeah,” Gwen snorted. “She had you down, Annie.”

“I would have gotten up,” Anwyn grumbled, her cheeks going as red as Gwen’s bloody shirt. “As soon as I got her off my ankle I would have been fine. I didn’t need your help then and I don’t need help now.”

Gwen glared at her before shaking her head in disgust. It was only then that Gavin saw that Gwen had a beautiful black eye. Siobhan must have landed at least one good punch before Gwen managed to put her down.

She scanned the hallway ahead but ignored his little linen closet-turned-office. Its new duty was a recent change so Gwen probably forgot that he’d be here. Pride in his sisters’ strength flared for a moment. They were strong and fierce, able to defeat any challenge that came their way. His pride lasted only until he realized just how much trouble was going to come their way because of this. Gavin stood, stepped forward to where they’d see him and glared at them as they slowly hobbled toward his tiny office.

“Blessed Ragna have mercy on both of your souls, you brawlers,” Gavin groaned at them. “Get in here before one of the adults sees you.”
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Worldbuilding Wednesday: Temperature

Hey, it’s a post! It’s a miracle because yes, the busy from last week (and the previous few weeks) hasn’t disappeared.

One thing that’s finally disappearing for me, though, is the unseasonably high temperatures we’ve been having in the Puget Sound. The temperature was a good ten to fifteen degrees above normal for over a month with absolutely no rain at all. Given that the Puget Sound is a temperate rain forest, no rain is a very big deal.

But today, at last, the skies are gray and the temperature is closer to normal. Not back to what it should be as there is still no rain but it’s still better than it’s been.

So! Today’s post is all about how your character deals with the temperature.

I’m a naturally cold person. You put me in an air conditioned office and I’ll pull on a sweater and have ice cold hands in minutes. My husband is a hot person. AC is heaven for him and he only gets cold when he’s sitting still for hours and the temperature is below 65F. When he went out in the 80-85F heat, he headed straight for heat stroke in a matter of minutes while I was happy and comfortable until I’d been out for at least half an hour.

Everyone is different. Your characters should have individual reactions to the temperatures around them, too. If they’re, say in a fantasy story, trekking across country in blazing heat, which one loves it? Which hates it? Who goes silent and pale, sweating until they suddenly pass out from heat stroke?

Or if they’re dealing with snow and ice, who complains viciously about it but copes well enough. Who sticks their cold fingers on the back of people’s neck? Which one is the one who shivers and shivers and whose teeth chatter endlessly even after they’re back inside and curled up next to the fire? How long does it take that one to warm up?

When I get truly chilled I can literally stay cold for hours while wrapped in blankets, even if the place is well heated. Sometimes all that warms me up is a very hot bath. Sometimes all that saves my husband from heat exhaustion or heat stroke is a cold shower.

Being unable to cope with different temperatures can add a lot to your story so do think about how your characters cope with the weather and temperatures they’re exposed to.

Good luck with your writing and I hope that your lives are much less busy and stressful than mine!

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Novel Monday: Storm Over Archaelaos – Chapter 3

POD Storm Over Archaelaos Ebook Cover 05
Description:
When Anwyn heard her best friend cursing over a letter from home, she thought it would be nice to give her a hand. A quick trip to a new country to protect Iola from an unwelcome marriage would be a chance to have fun while doing a good deed.

But the trip revealed plots against the Dana that Anwyn could never have anticipated. The simple trip became a complicated political trial that threatened not just the family’s fortunes but Anwyn’s safety as well. Stopping the Delbhana’s plot might be the hardest thing Anwyn had ever done but failure wasn’t an option.

Storm over Archaelaos is an epic coming of age fantasy set on the matriarchal world of Muirin. People of all ages will enjoy this thrilling adventure.

Storm Over Archaelaos

By Meyari McFarland

3. At Sea

“Come away from the rail, Ravi,” Anwyn laughed as Aravel leaned over the bow to rub the figurehead’s carved hair.

“It’s good luck,” Aravel insisted.

His little grin over his shoulder teased that it was far more a matter of teasing the sailors on board the Little Bird with glimpses of his ass and hints of the strength of his ankles than anything else. Anwyn snorted and grabbed the back of his vest to haul him away from the rail by force. When she looked over her shoulder most of the sailors were staring at Aravel with hungry but amused eyes.

“Quit teasing them,” Anwyn murmured to Aravel. “Captain Helene’s not going to let you fuck your way through the journey, Ravi.”

“Why does she have to be such a stickler?” Aravel complained equally quietly. “A little cuddling never hurt anyone.”

Spray splashed up as the Little Bird heeled into the wind. Aravel beamed, his hair in a loose braid down his back like a little boy instead of a bun as was appropriate for a young man of sixteen. He didn’t seem to mind wiping the salty spray from his face. Anwyn didn’t really mind it either but it was unusual for a boy to be so unselfconscious.

The morning was bright and clear with a stiff breeze that had prompted Anwyn to put on her heavier coat, the one that Cadfael had embroidered with interlinked geometric shapes around the collar and cuffs. Aravel had apparently decided warmer clothes was good too because his kilt was a heavy wool one with one of his favorite color-work sweaters over the top. It made the two of them considerably brighter than the rest of the crew in their Dana blue uniforms.

“You’re cheerful this morning,” Aunt Colleen said to Aravel as she came up out of the hold, a clipboard in her hand. “Enjoying yourself?”

“Yes, ma’am,” Aravel laughed as he hugged her. “Oh! You’re checking the inventory? What are we taking? Are we stopping anywhere else along the way? What are we hoping to trade for?”

Both Anwyn and Aunt Colleen laughed at Aravel’s excited questions. It was much better than Cadfael’s flat refusals to leave his cabin while at sea and the sea sickness that always haunted Caddie. Aunt Colleen led Aravel away from the rail, explaining that they were stopping at Nasrin and several of the northern Minoo islands before swinging around the bulk of Minoo to make their run down to Archaelaos.

The island of Archaelaos wouldn’t be the last stop either. They were supposed to head onward to Azar and west to Grainne before following the Aingeal coast back south to Aingeal City. Anwyn was a little surprised by that. The Little Bird didn’t usually make such involved trips.

“But what are we trading for?” Anwyn asked as she trailed behind Aunt Colleen and Ravi. “The Little Bird can’t carry that much.”

“Mostly jewelry, books and fine goods,” Aunt Colleen explained. “This is more an exploratory trip than a trading trip. We’re to search for things that might sell well back home or with our other trading partners. Should be fun. I always enjoy trips where I get to try new things. You’re still to keep an eye on our boy here, Annie. No letting him wander off with some handsome young lady, now.”

“I’m not going to have any fun this trip,” Aravel groaned so dramatically that the sailors up in the rigging laughed.

“Sails,” Captain Helene called so sharply that the laughter immediately died.

Aunt Colleen tugged Aravel into his cabin so that they could go over the plans in enough detail to satisfy Aravel’s curiosity. Anwyn didn’t follow. She climbed the stairs up to the wheel, taking up a post to the right of Captain Helene. Her lips were so tightly compressed that Anwyn knew there was a rant coming. Better she get it than Aravel.

“That boy should not be on my ship,” Captain Helene growled.
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Free Fiction Friday: Mods

POD Mods Ebook Cover 08
Description:

Bot smasher Nakato dedicated her life to taking the broken tech other people had abandoned and turning it into robots designs that the world had never seen. Only two things drew her from her home high in the Web: her best friend Rafah and commissions for customers she liked.

Those two things drew Nakato out of her comfortable rut when a commission for prosthetic arms for the orca War Tooth revealed just how much she had left to learn at the same time that Rafah fell into an abusive relationship that threatened her very life.

Mods is a thrilling cyberpunk story set in the Mouse and Snake universe that’s sure to excite.

Mods

By Meyari McFarland

1. Customer

Nakato stretched, her spine popping. Her nest was quiet. Better be given how much she’d paid to soundproof the spherical walls when she added on her workshop. Thick white sheets of insulation hung between radiating struts that supported the nest’s shell. Her tiny living area wasn’t half as quiet or secure, only having a fiberglass shell instead of synth and the lightest of insulation between shell and struts. Didn’t really need to be ‘perfect’ for Nakato. After all, it was just a place to sleep and keep Nakato’s meager supply of clothes, food and overflow tools.

It was her workshop that counted. She smiled as she looked around, working her shoulders and shaking her wrists to get rid of some of the ache from hours of close work. Thirty feet diameter, solidest walls possible, insulated perfectly; Nakato’s workshop was a top of the line nest suited for a family of six. It was perfect. The anchors she’d had installed to hold it in place were best on the market, too, and she’d had the place wired with the best computer system there was.

Nakato would live in here if it wouldn’t displace her tools and supplies. Shelves curved around the walls from floor to ceiling, secured between the heavy struts supporting the spherical shell. Each shelf held carefully secured boxes of parts, tools and completed sample bots she’d made for testing purposes. The only place that was open was the floor that dropped open so that Nakato could lower her bigger bots down when it was time for delivery. Wasn’t sure how that’d work when it was time to test her new orca-bot but Nakato’d figure out when it was time.

At this time of day, hours before dawn on a day that promised to be blustery early and clear later on in the afternoon, there wasn’t another person around outside. Or inside. She didn’t let many people into her workshop which might explain the persistent smell of sweat, grease and fried electronics. Every time Rafah came over her nose wrinkled as if she couldn’t stand the stink.

“Shows what she knows,” Nakato muttered as she slid backwards along the gentle curve of the nest’s floor towards the drain. It took her out of the slowly forming orca-bot’s shell. “Her place always stinks of pollen and wet soil.”

Her back cracked again as Nakato rolled to her feet. There was nothing worse than kneeling inside of a bot as she hooked up its nervous system. Always made her wish for that beautiful lab on the mainland that the big multinational corps tempted her with. Solid ground, no nest shifting in the wind, enough support structure that she could build her dream horse-bot and then enough room that she could ride it as it tested its functions out. She snorted and grinned, tasting dripped lubricating oil on her lips.

“Keep dreaming, girl,” Nakato said, amused.

It wasn’t going to happen. Maybe for Rafah, not that she’d ever leave her cozy little nest perched high in the upper levels of the Web amidst the grapevine and blackberry brambles. Rafah was small and sweet, cute in her sometimes-worn, sometimes-not, hijab. Nakato was never going to be anything other than a big bot-smashing black girl to the land-dwellers, no matter how many awards she won for her AI work.

“That’s fine,” Nakato murmured as she took her welding glasses off and shoved them into her hair without regard for whether they had oil on them or not. “Rather bash my bots out here and do people some good than be a corporate slave creating war-bots to be destroyed.”

*You always talk to yourself?*

Nakato jerked as she whirled towards the still-sealed door. No one was there. The seal around the door, the security system that Rafah’s mother had helped Nakato design, was still green all the way around. She frowned. No one could have gotten past her security system so what the hell?

No one could have snuck in. Nakato wasn’t half as oblivious as Rafah when she worked. She would have noticed someone physically entering. Even if they’d hidden on the shelves built into the walls, tucked themselves behind the carefully organized bot parts, Nakato would have seen them. She’d designed the workshop shelves to make it impossible for anyone to jump her, after all. Not going through that again.

That meant someone had hacked her system. Whoever it was, was watching her on her system feeds. Or they’d hacked her personal cybernetic mods, the eye mods that let her see to microscopic detail, the computer linkups that let her tap directly into bot programming with her mind. If they’d gotten into Nakato’s body mods then she was fucked, even with the firewalls she had around her brain implants.
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Ah, the busy.

The busy is back. Or, more accurately, it never left. This week has been exceptionally busy both at home and at work. Today I’ve spent the entire day being dragged in twenty different directions at once which really gets ridiculous after a while. There’s only so many ‘no, do this rush-rush-rush instead!’ that you can have before you roll your eyes and just keep working until you manage to finish ONE THING. JUST ONE THING, DAMN IT!

*Huffs*

So yes, I’ve been too busy to get a good Worldbuilding Wednesday post written up. Instead let’s riff on the theme of busy-ness!

Take your main character. Give them a problem. Well, you probably already have. That’s what a story is. Make that problem worse. Give it much bigger consequences than they anticipated. Now take away some of their support so that they have to deal with it by themselves or with inadequate resources.

Now.

Interrupt them. Throw another problem at them. Have someone come in and demand that they deal with this issue, probably a much less important issue, RIGHT THIS VERY MINUTE WHAT ARE YOU DOING THIS IS FAR MORE IMPORTANT THAN THAT THING OVER THERE! Make it so that they can’t ignore the interruption.

Interrupt them again. Throw another problem at them, one that someone they care deeply about thinks is desperately important. Make it a real problem, one that their loved one is deeply embarrassed to bring to them. Make them want to fix it.

Give them a chance to work on their loved one’s problem, get just a bit of a leg up on it, all the while aware of the VERY BIG PROBLEM WHAT YOU HAVEN’T FIXED IT YET and their original problem, too, and the ticking clock there.

Interrupt them again.

If your stress level is rising around this point then yay! You’re doing something right. Or I am. Whichever.

Give them something irrelevant to deal with, an empty belly, a full bladder, a minor wound, a crying baby that won’t hush. Something minor and annoying and absolutely impossible to set aside and ignore.

And just as they try to fix that irrelevant something…

…you guessed it, interrupt them again.

*laughs* This is where you’ll really see your character’s metal. Shove all the busy, all the interruptions, all the problems at them and then make it impossible for your character to juggle them all successfully.

Then write as fast as you can to capture the fall-out because I guarantee you that by that point the reader is right there with your character.

Off I go to juggle my interruptions, annoyances and DO THIS RIGHT NOW OR THE WORLD IS GOING TO END problems. Good luck with your writing and your week–I hope it’s less stressful than mine!

(And yes, this post totally qualifies as the minor something impossible to ignore up there. I’ve had a lovely day so far. Here’s hoping my day gets less busy from here on out and yours too.)

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Novel Monday: Storm Over Archaelaos – Chapter 2

POD Storm Over Archaelaos Ebook Cover 05
Description:
When Anwyn heard her best friend cursing over a letter from home, she thought it would be nice to give her a hand. A quick trip to a new country to protect Iola from an unwelcome marriage would be a chance to have fun while doing a good deed.

But the trip revealed plots against the Dana that Anwyn could never have anticipated. The simple trip became a complicated political trial that threatened not just the family’s fortunes but Anwyn’s safety as well. Stopping the Delbhana’s plot might be the hardest thing Anwyn had ever done but failure wasn’t an option.

Storm over Archaelaos is an epic coming of age fantasy set on the matriarchal world of Muirin. People of all ages will enjoy this thrilling adventure.

Storm Over Archaelaos

By Meyari McFarland

2. Packing

“I am so glad that I don’t have to go,” Caddie sighed as he folded Anwyn’s clothes for her.

“I’m so excited!” Aravel said with a grin at Anwyn that she echoed. “This is going to be so much fun.”

“Your idea of fun leaves so much to be desired,” Caddie grumbled. “Hauled off to another country, one that has barbaric customs and traditions, told to negotiate a deal that you know nothing about with people none of us have ever met, and you have to do it in a language you don’t even speak!”

“I know,” Aravel crooned, clutching a shawl to his chest while beaming. “Isn’t it wonderful?”

Anwyn broke up laughing at the look of sheer disbelief that Caddie leveled on Aravel. They both glared at Anwyn for her laughter though Aravel’s glare only lasted a few moments before he started giggling. Cadfael grumbled under his breath as he finished folding the last couple of shirts for her. He never let her pack her own things if he could help it. According to Cadfael, Anwyn was incapable of being organized.

He wasn’t completely wrong. Cadfael had managed to get twice as much into her trunk as she had before he showed up. Aravel’s trunk was larger, of course. His folding wasn’t as precise as Cadfael’s but he still managed to get more than enough into it. Rather than get into the middle of the boys preparations, Anwyn sat on her bunk and listened to the two of them argue with each other.

Their littlest brother, eight year old Andros, peeked in and then scrambled up on Anwyn’s bunk with her. He snuggled next to Anwyn while staring silently at Aravel and Cadfael’s companionable argument about whether sea air was ‘refreshing’ or ‘horrific’. After a moment Andros poked Anwyn in the side.

“Are they angry?” Andros whispered in the sort of not-whisper tone that was guaranteed to get everyone’s attention.

Anwyn grinned at him, using the same not-whisper to reply. “Nah, they’re just teasing because Ravi’s going on a trip with me. Caddie gets to stay home.”

“Oh,” Andros breathed, his eyes sparkling with laughter especially as both Cadfael and Aravel turned to look at them. “They’re happy then.”

Aravel burst out laughing as he pulled Andros off the bunk and into his arms for a series of raspberries blown against his cheeks and neck. Andros squealed and laughed, kicked and laughed, squirmed and escaped only to squeal again as Aravel lunged at him with a grin. They tore off into the kitchen, both laughing despite Father yelling at them not to run around in the house.
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Now Available: Into the Wave!

POD Into the Wave Ebook Cover 03
Description:
Piloting was dangerous, especially when you grieved. Keola knew that better than most. The Wave drive affected electronics, making them unreliable. It also affected human minds, sending them chasing after memories and too distracted to pilot the ship.

It didn’t matter. Keola had a job to do and her grief at the loss of Scarlett would have to wait until she rode the Wave all the way to the end of the line.

Into the Wave is a thoughtful science fiction exploration of surfing, science and the nature of grief when you have nothing to grieve over that is sure to stick with you.

Find This Story:

On Kobo $2.99 ebook
On Amazon $2.99 ebook or $5.99 TPB
On Smashwords $2.99 ebook
On CreateSpace $5.99 ebook

Whoot! Got a new short story out and it didn’t take a week to get the post up! XD

(Yes, I’m claiming that with pride. The last few things I published did take too long.)

Anyway, this is a new short story with lesbians, grief, and surfing as a mode of interstellar travel. Or at least as a method of dealing with the faster than light drive. Hope you enjoy it if you choose to read!

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Free Fiction Friday: Late Arrival

POD Late Arrival Ebook Cover 02

Description:

When Lusala was small his big sister went into space to explore and find new worlds for humanity. It’s been five years for her, fifty for him. But now, finally, Osumare was home, so very late. With everything that had happened, Lusala worried that her return would be too little to bridge the gulf that had grown between them.

Late Arrival is a science fiction examination of the price of space travel on those left behind that you will remember for years to come.

Late Arrival

By Meyari McFarland

Lusala stood on the dock, staring up into clear blue skies that stretched forever. Blue above, blue below, both filled with dark horrors that made his knees tremble and his hands clench into fists. The chill of the light spring breeze felt too much like the cold of space, of vacuum, of bodies floating slowly turning as blood drifted like cabochon rubies scattered across black velvet.

Copper bloomed on his tongue. No. Not today. Not when Osumare was finally coming home. He wouldn’t let the memories overwhelm him today. He’d never told her how Mother and Father died. No matter what, he never would.

She’d gone so far and done so much. Osumare didn’t deserve the guilt for being gone when it was Lusala’s mistake that led to their deaths, to Ndidi’s injuries, to his own retirement from all space-based work. After overcoming everyone’s perceptions of her as African, as trans, as too-smart, too-determined, too-perfect, too-everything, Osumare could believe that the deaths were nothing more than happenstance. Lusala could give her that easily enough.

He could just hear the whine of a shuttle’s engines decelerating from planetary approach, way off over the water and so high that his eyes couldn’t pick out anything. No graceful swoop of vanes like the sails of an old wooden ship, no flicker of movement. Not a surprise when he’d left his glasses back on the bedside next to Ndidi. Lusala probably wouldn’t see the shuttle until it was at the end of the dock.

What would Osumare say?

His hands curled around the head of his cane. When she left Lusala’s hands had been small and soft, a child’s hands with pale palms and dark backs that looked as smooth as silk. Now his hands were gnarled, scarred from his long career of work in low orbit. His thick black dreads had long since turned into a white coat of fluff over his scalp and his skin hung loose over his bones. He’d lived entire lives while Osumare was gone.

She’d promised to come home on the first ship. And then the second. He’d stopped listening after the third promise after he was out of school, college, graduate school. Whatever she’d found on the other end of the universe was more interesting than coming home to visit.

He didn’t expect her to stay, not after he’d seen her excitement at the ship, the stars, the vastness of the universe that had always given Lusala nightmares. Staying was for people who enjoyed the tug of gravity, who liked the feel of dirt under their nails, the smell of leaves after a rainstorm.

No, Osumare was made for the exploration program where every planet was new, every sunset a wonder. So many messages, all of them raving of the new things she’d seen, places she’d gone, things she’d done. By the time he met Ndidi at the back of a tiny bar in the moon’s spaceport Lusala had reconciled himself to Osumare never spending more than a day or two on any planet, much less Earth.

Lusala was made for solid ground, a quiet life, Ndidi by his side as they tended their little garden, their tiny house, their many programs that monitored the sun, the stars, the shipping lanes for threats of all varieties. The shift from space to shore had been necessary after Ndidi’s accident but Lusala had never regretted it.

He found joy in the slow ever-changing drift of the seasons. They had planted an apple tree together after they bought the house on the edge of the lake, one that promised to give crisp green apples for pie, for butter, for eating fresh off the branch. It had been just two inches shorter than Lusala that first year. Now it stood twenty feet high and gave so many apples that their neighbors had to come help them pick.

“You forgot your glasses,” Ndidi called from the shore.

“Didn’t want to wake you,” Lusala called back.
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