Meet the Contributors: Fiona Glass

I suddenly realised I hadn’t done one of these myself, so here’s a few questions and answers that might shed some light on me and my writing process – and my favourite dinosaur…


What comes first, the plot or characters?

            Um, the plot? Probably? But then I need characters to drive the plot, and they tend to be suggested by the plot itself and what that needs, so they come along very quickly afterwards.

How many books have you written? Which is your favourite?

            Over the years I’ve written far more short stories than I have longer works. But I’ve still managed to produce ten books, of varying lengths, split between two different pen names. I write m/m romance as Fiona Glass, and dark crime and noir as Tess Makovesky, and have just merged the two in Tess’s latest comedy noir Embers of Bridges, which has a gay MC.

            I like pretty much all my books, but I think my favourite has to be December Roses, a gay paranormal romance set in a once beautiful English garden and featuring an injured soldier and the enigmatic, elusive musician he falls in love with. It was inspired in part by my favourite garden, Biddulph Grange in Staffordshire, a Victorian gem with areas based on different countries and dripping with jokes, puzzles and quirky bits and pieces, so the book’s setting was a joy to write about. And it’s the only one of my books that still makes me cry at the end every time I read it.

Can you share something about your current book that isn’t in the blurb?

            My most recent m/m romance, Ghosts Galore, is set in a haunted English manor house which owes a lot to the wonderful old Harvington Hall in Worcestershire. Harvington Hall was built in the 1300s and redeveloped in the 1500s to include simply masses of priest holes and hiding places, as the family who owned it were Catholics at a time when that religion was banned. It’s a fascinating place to visit, and some of its priest holes, loosely disguised, turn up in the part where MC Adam is searching for his ancestor’s missing paintings.

Can you share a snippet?

Here’s a bit that mentions one of the priest holes:

“They headed up the cellar steps at a run, but before they’d even got to the top Adam could smell tobacco on the air. He stopped. What is it? Delaying the search might be frustrating but Gramps had his finger—or what passed for it these days—on the house’s pulse. If he was worried then it was well worth listening.

            But the old man’s voice held no sense of alarm, just of bafflement. Are you sure about the priest hole, Adam? I don’t remember there being anything in there the last time we looked.

            He remembered the occasion only too well. It had been about six years ago, on a pouring wet Sunday afternoon, when he and Gramps had read the papers and got fed up with the endless sport on television, and gone off to explore. Gramps had been alive then, of course, and surprisingly agile for an old man, and one by one they’d clambered inside the tiny chamber to tap the walls. Adam had been full of some story he’d discovered in an ancestral journal about a hidden portion of the room that had been sealed for centuries, but although they’d knocked on every inch of wall they hadn’t found a thing. Adam had reluctantly decided the story was a myth, and they’d clambered out again and made toast in front of the fire for tea. Swallowing the sudden lump the memory brought, he led the way upstairs…”

What is the significance of the title?

            Ghosts Galore is the name of the fictional TV show that features in the book. A production crew from the show come to Adam’s haunted home, Greystones Hall, to film its paranormal activity over the course of a weekend, only to unleash a new and unpleasant spirit that wreaks havoc. It’s also a reference to the fact that there really are ‛ghosts galore’ at Greystones, since it’s one of the most haunted houses in England, as well as being a wry reference to the fact that the show’s producer Carl doesn’t believe in ghosts.

What were the key challenges you faced when writing this book?

            The main challenge was getting the details of the TV production right – the lighting, the cameras, the direction, the various people who might be involved. I managed to research some of that online, and also picked up hints from paranormal reality shows I’d watched myself. But I was also completely indebted to my friend Angela King (author of historical novel Blood of Kings) for a much greater insight into the way the TV world works.

Are you working on anything at present you would like to share with your readers?

            Well, I ought to be working on a complete rewrite of Gleams of a Remoter World, my ghost-story novel set in Ireland, in order to turn it into a full-blown m/m romance rather than the bi/m/m it was when it was published. I’ve got a new name, Distant Voices, and a new cover, and had made inroads into the first couple of chapters. And then I got hijacked by an old 1950s-set story I wrote many years ago featuring a fey dreamer of a young man and a gypsy. The characters in that suddenly started yammering at me and I’ve rewritten several pages and added a whole new scene, and am hoping to have it ready some time in the new year. After that, it’ll be back to Ireland… I hope…

How many bookshelves are in your house?

            Nowhere near enough. All my family lived in homes that were overflowing with books and I’m the same. My husband and I have several hundred between us and are always looking for new places to stuff them into our small terraced house, with varying degrees of success. To (mis)quote Jaws, “we’re going to need a bigger house”.

What is your favourite dinosaur?

            The little chap pictured below (at Boulders Beach in South Africa). He came from the Natural History Museum in London many years ago, and has been all over the world. My husband takes him along whenever he travels for work, and sends back photos of him perched in various places around the local scenery. It always gives me a smile, even while I’m missing both of them!

Where can readers purchase your books?

            All of my m/m romance books (including December Roses and Ghosts Galore) are available on Kindle (and free on Kindle Unlimited). You can find a list of them at my UK Amazon page or my US Amazon page, or for a bit more information on all of them, head to my website.

            Two of my Tess Makovesky noir books (including Embers of Bridges) are also out on Kindle, while a third is published by All Due Respect. You can find out more at Tess’s website, or her Amazon UK or Amazon US pages.

Addison Albright: Adam’s Regrettable Tattoo

Back in the day Addison wrote a lot of short fiction to word and/or theme prompts from her readers. This little gem, which had to use the words ‘tattoo’ and ‘edit’ as well as a specific last line, is one of the results. I hope you giggle as much as I did! You can find more from Addison at her website.


Pic credit: Eduardo Vaccari on

“All done.” The tattoo artist gave Adam’s fresh art a final swipe with a cloth and handed him a small mirror.

Adam angled the mirror to check out his backside and gasped when he saw what the man had done. “What the hell did you write?” Adam instantly regretted his words. It probably wasn’t the most tactful way of handling the situation, but damn…

“Wha’dya mean? I just asked you five minutes ago if you wanted the name of the flower printed underneath the picture. You said, ‘yeah, sure.’”

Adam’s stomach clenched just thinking about how hard Steve would laugh at the way his nickname for Adam had been interpreted. “Is it too late to edit that?”

“I can’t erase it.” The burly guy’s face pinched as if he was insulted by the mere suggestion.

Adam took a deep calming breath and tried to be diplomatic. “Can you turn that last e into an a?” Because really, sweet pee was completely unacceptable, no matter how much it might upset the tattoo artist to have it pointed out.

The guy muttered something unintelligible and picked up his tattoo gun. Adam sighed and tried to relax. He would give anything to turn back the clock five minutes.

Jeff Baker: a gayer-than-you-think Laugh-in world

A thought-provoking article about the old US sitcom Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-in, which seems to have had hidden lgbt depths! Over to Jeff Baker to explain more:


Pic credit: Amazon UK

   “It’s a Coo-Coo, Bet-Your-Bippy, Sock-It-To-Me, Gayer-Than-You-Think Laugh-In World.”                          

            “Sock it to me sock it to me sock it to me sock it to me sock it to me…”—-Laugh-In

            You can’t look it up in your Funk and Wagnalls but the legendary comedy show “Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In” was probably a lot Gayer than you would think for a show that aired in the Sixties.

            The show, which aired from 1968 to 1973 was a fast-paced series of blackout sketches, topical one-liners and physical shtick, augmented by guest stars from Sammy Davis Jr. to Orson Welles and cameos from everyone from Gore Vidal to Richard Nixon (uttering the series’ catch phrase “Sock it to ME?!?”) And regular features like the Laugh-In News, the Farkle Family and the Party.

            And they managed to squeeze in more than a handful of Gay references into the mix.

            Start with the cast: At least one of the regulars was openly Gay, Lilly Tomlin was an out Lesbian   whose partner (professionally and in life) Jane Wagner (they married in 2013) wrote her album featuring her Laugh-In character, five-year-old Edith Ann, even though references to their relationship were excised from a Time Magazine cover story on Tomlin in the 70s.

            Alan Sues never officially came out but was survived by his “partner” and he was typed in playing campy, flamboyant roles on “Laugh-In,” including a drag version of Jo Anne Worley. One of his characters is extremely notable.

            “Big Al,” the sportscaster played by Sues is flamboyant without being “swishy” but he loves the bell he rings for attention. (“Love that tinkle!”) His may be the first portrayal of a Gay sports-related figure who wasn’t suicidal. Also in a Western sketch, cowboy Sues ambles up to the bar of a Western saloon and orders “a frozen daiquiri.” Sues later played a flamboyant Peter Pan in a series of peanut butter commercials, but lamented that he was typed in comedy as he was adept at serious roles, especially on stage. One of his serious roles is in the anything-but-funny “Twilight Zone” episode “Masks.”

            Gays and “The Gay Liberation Movement” were occasionally referenced on “Laugh-In,” not always for a cheap laugh but for satire, especially in the news segment. There are several gags where a man turns out to be married to another man!  And there are a lot of jokes about England’s “Queen.” (When the QEII docked in San Francisco, their line was “It was the second biggest Queen” in the city.) But the show could go for the cheap laugh. In the first episode after the first performance of Tiny Tim, Dan Rowan says: “It kept him out of the service,” and Dick Martin quips “I bet the Draft Board burned HIS Draft card!” (Note: from all I know, Tiny Tim was straight!)

            “Laugh-In” was a product of its time; not just the liberated Sixties but the stodgy era of network TV and cheap-shot nightclub jokes. The show’s major flaw was too many fat jokes and short jokes. But the show could be forward-thinking and ahead of its time.

            In the sixties and early seventies, times for Gays were changing. And “Laugh-In” was ahead of the curve.

            You can bet your bippy on that!

Alexa Milne: The Rest of Our Lives

Here’s a lovely thought-provoking story about hidden identities from Alexa Milne, which forms part of a longer work. As Alexa herself says, “This short is an imagined scene from a story within a story. In my story While You See a Chance, Sion Goff, a writer, returns to Wales after twenty years in America, to solve a family mystery. He discovers the people he thought were his great grandparents, Emlyn and Moira Protheroe, were not who he thought they were. This is an extract from a chapter of Lyn and Mo’s story told in the novel, Nothing’s Impossible, written by Sion after he has made some surprising discoveries.”


Pic credit: crossdresser on

“Will there be anything else, ma’am?” Will I ever get used to being addressed this way? Mo settled onto the bed, pulling his nightgown around him.

“No. Thank you, Daisy. Is your room suitable?”

“Yes, ma’am. The other occupants are both ladies’ maids. One is French—hardly speaks a word of English. The other speaks like she has a plum in her mouth. They’re both fascinated because I’m American. When I told them I was from New York…” She fluttered around folding clothes, making sure everything was ready for the morning.

Tomorrow morning. The first real day of the rest of our lives. Mo swallowed down the lump in his throat. “Could I have a little water, Daisy? I’m still dry after the train journey.” Daisy poured a glass from the jug provided.

The door opened and Emlyn Protheroe, his whole world, his husband, stepped into the room. Daisy hurried away leaving them alone. Emlyn sat next to him, took his hand, and kissed every finger.

“Are you all right?”

Mo removed his wig and scratched his short hair. Despite the gown, now he was Ernest not his alter ego, Moira. When they’d first hatched this crazy plan, he’d decided it wasn’t the clothes but the long hair, beautifully styled as befitted the wife of a prosperous doctor, which truly turned him into Moira.

“I’m scared, Lyn. I’m scared someone will find out our secret and we’ll both be locked up. We should have stayed in America or gone to France where they allow people like us. It’s one thing to be your wife when you work in a hospital and no one expects anything of me, but here you’ll be part of local society. I’ll be expected to visit other houses, and entertain other wives, on my own. I know how things are done among the aristocracy, but how do I behave among these people? And Daisy knows nothing of the niceties of this life.”

“She will learn. And you will too. You’re forgetting, I was brought up among small town people. We agreed, Mo. This is the only way we can be together. To everyone you are my wife. We met in America when you were visiting your sister, fell in love, and got married. I’ve brought you back home to set up my practice.” He pulled a letter from his jacket pocket.

“This had been forwarded here for me. The agent has confirmed the house is ready for us. The rest of our belongings and furniture will arrive in a few days.” Emlyn opened his arms and Mo settled into them, letting Lyn’s strength soothe his worries away.

“A house. I’ll be the mistress of my own home. At least all that time I spent in the kitchens with the servants, hiding from my brothers, will have been of some use. And Daisy knows how to manage a house. We will need to find another servant. Daisy can’t do everything.”

“We were lucky to find her,” Emlyn said

“You saved her life. Without your surgical skills, she would have died. Maybe she’ll find someone she likes who, like her, will also have a reason to keep our secret. We could be one happy, queer little household.”

 Emlyn stood and pulled at his tie. Mo smiled and rose to face him.

“Here, let me help you, my love. You always were all fingers and thumbs. I remember that first day I saw you at school, hair stuck up on end, your tie askew, and in danger of tripping over your feet because your laces were undone.”

“I remember the first time I saw you too. I thought you were the most beautiful person I’d ever seen, but I had no idea why. I was a scholarship boy from a small rural town, and you, you were the son of an earl—Ernest Mowbray, son of the Earl of Wombridge.”

“The fifth son. No one cared if I lived or died, which has proved to be useful for us. They have an heir, a spare, one for the church, and one for the army, so me going off to America to make my own fortune was seen as a blessing.”

Mo helped Emlyn to undress, folding each piece of clothing as he’d seen done with his own clothes back home, until Emlyn, his beloved Lyn, stood bare-chested in front of him. He reached out and touched the man he’d adored. The man he’d given up everything for. The man he’d changed his life for. The man who, according to the certificate they’d obtained in America, was legally his husband, and he, the wife of Doctor Emlyn Protheroe, soon to take over a general practice in the small town of Cowbridge, back in Wales.

Mo ran his fingers over a nipple loving how Lyn shivered under his touch, then dropped to his knees as he’d done so many times before.

They set off for Cowbridge early the next morning. Daisy had dressed him, pulling the corset as tight as she dared and placing padding on his chest and hips. It had taken a lot of practice to get used to wearing it all. Every time Mo saw himself in the mirror dressed as Moira, he found it harder to see the man beneath.

Today, his blond hair was swept up under a brimmed hat decorated with a feather. He wore a wide skirt and fitted jacket in deepest blue to bring out the colour of his eyes. His feet were the biggest problem. Although slim, and not as tall as many men, they were large, so a cordwainer back in America had created several pairs of shoes for him with smaller, sturdier heels. He stared out of the window at the passing countryside.

“The locals will wonder who this vision is the moment you emerge from the railway station,” Emlyn said, folding his paper. “Hopefully, the cab will be waiting for us. I telegraphed ahead.”

Instinctively, Mo raised a hand to his mouth, but the glove stopped him biting his nails. He’d had his hand rapped so many times by his nanny, but he’d never been cured of the habit. As usual, Lyn missed nothing.

“Are you sure you’re all right?”

“Can we really do this, Lyn? I’m scared. I’m scared people will know. They’ll lock us up like Oscar Wilde.”

“If we want to be here. If we want to be together. We have no choice. I know this depends on you. We could always get off at the next station and turn around.”

Mo took a deep breath to settle his nerves. “No, I’m more scared of living without you. I know how much your work means to you. And I love you.”

Lyn took his hand. “And you are my life. Without you, nothing matters. You will be magnificent. I knew how great an actor you are from the moment I saw you play Viola when you were fourteen. This is just another part to play.”

At Cowbridge, porters loaded their belongings onto the cab. After fifteen minutes, they arrived at their new home. Emlyn helped him out. He stood staring at the Georgian building with its symmetrical façade. Emlyn squeezed his hand.

“This is it, my love.”

Daisy fussed around, making sure the driver took the luggage into the house.

“We can do this,” Emlyn said. “We have to do this. Today is the first day of the rest of our lives.”

K.L. Noone: Meet the Contributors #4

Another chance to find out what makes our authors tick. In this case it’s K.L. Noone, with an entertaining and insightful look at the writing process. And unicorns. And a killer of a hook for a forthcoming (I hope!) book!


Hi there! This time it’s my turn to say hello and answer some meet-the-contributor questions, so…let’s get started!

When did you start writing?

Hmm…there might’ve been short bits and pieces earlier, but the first actual story I recall writing, I wrote in kindergarten—so I must’ve been about five years old? It was a five-page story—handwritten, but full pages—about a girl who loses a tooth, and the Tooth Fairy brings her a tiny baby unicorn instead of money. I honestly still rather like that idea.

What comes first, the plot or characters?

Characters…ish? No, characters, really. But the thing is that that’s sort of tied up with plot: what do they want? What do they need, which might not be the same as want? Why don’t they have it yet? What are they going to do to try to get it? How do they feel about it? How do they change on the way to/as a result of getting or not getting it? And then that gives you your arc.

I think plot essentially is character, for me at least, perhaps not for everyone—the literal physical actions are just the how of, er, how all that happens.

But then I am a very strange sort of person who tends to start writing in the middle of a book, often with a pivotal conversation or internal facing-a-challenge, which tells me some of the above—who are these characters and what do they care about this deeply?—and then I work forward and backward from there: okay, so how’d they get to that pivotal conversation or tipping-point? What happens next as a result?

How many books have you written?

Ah…nine novels, I think? Short stories…lots. Many. Lots.

Which of your books were the most enjoyable? Which is your favourite?

The honest answer is always “the current one, because it’s got hold of my brain!” Aside from that, though…I love my Character Bleed series, Jason and Colby and that huge epic emotional journey. That’s certainly by far the most words I’ve written about any central pair, and they just sort of live in my brain now. And despite the length those have all been oddly easy to write—like I just knew the characters so well, from the moment they turned up.

The other answer is, honestly, probably Magician—it’s the book that I say took me ten years to write, though that sounds like I was working on it continuously, which I absolutely wasn’t! But it is true that I wrote two scenes of it almost exactly ten years before I eventually went back to it—and those scenes are still in the book, because they were in many ways the heart of both characters. It’s so much a book about redemption and trying to rebuild your life, or rather to build a new life, after you’ve done everything wrong the first time round…it needed to sit around in my head for a decade and gently shape itself, I think. And then when it woke back up, it did that with a vengeance, and I wrote it in a couple months—it knew what it was, then.

It’s also a book about, to affectionately paraphrase Peter S. Beagle, heroes, and what they’re for.

Can you share something about your current book that isn’t in the blurb? Can you share a snippet?

Would you like something that most other people haven’t seen? It’s something I’ve been working on in the background very slowly—not a priority—but I’m having fun. It’s called Ember and Serenity, it’s m/m high fantasy romance, and it starts like this…

“Emberly Lyon, reshelving the third volume of Gruyere’s History of Empire, startled a book-thief in the back room of the King’s library at half-past three in the morning.”

What is the significance of the title?

It’s their names. Serenity’s is very ironic.

Are you working on anything at present you would like to share with your readers?

Several things! Chaos and Conjurations, co-authored with K.S. Murphy—that’s the Spells and Sensibility sequel. In Focus, which is Leo’s spin-off book from the Character Bleed series. Those are both m/m, and C&C is Regency-magic, and In Focus is contemporary. And, lurking in the back of my head, the third book in the Magician universe, which is about Lorre’s daughter (and is f/f!)…and Ember & Serenity, the one I mentioned above, of course…and then there’s the other high fantasy one, which I think of as sort of an adaptation of the medieval Sir Orfeo romance except it’s actually eventually polyamory m/m/m…

What are you reading now?

Ooh, many books, as always! For fun, I just binge-read Jordan S. Hawk’s Whybourne & Griffin series (again), plus the new Gregory Ashe novel and short story collection, and the new C.S. Poe Memento Mori novel, which of course meant I went back and read the first one again too (and then read the second one again, and…). It’s occurred to me more than once that I love reading romance subgenres that I’m not particularly good at writing—Lovecraftian, or mystery-suspense, or slow-burn detectives falling in love, with detailed cases and also luscious prose…I think I just always admire authors who can do those sorts of things!

For scholarly research reasons, I’m reading Hadas Elber-Aviram’s Fairy-Tales of London: British Urban Fantasy, 1840 to the Present, and also a lot about semi-obscure Welsh folklore, for an upcoming book chapter contribution.

How many bookshelves are in your house?

Fourteen, of varying shapes and sizes! But it’s not enough—there are books in random places, on tables, on the board game shelves, in the guest room…

If you could live anywhere, where would that be?

Fictional, or real? Can I make someplace up? It’d be something like a cross between a hobbit-hole and the Trinity College Library and Venice, if that could be possible! Simultaneously cozy and snug and full of good things to eat, historic and graceful and spilling over with books (can it be a magical library? summoning anything I’d ever want to read?), and surrounded by blue water and sunlit bridges and midnight violin music.

Oh, and cats. One must have cats. Miss Merlyn the Big Black Cat would certainly agree!

Where can readers purchase your books?

Directly from JMS Books—all but A Prophecy for Two, my first novel, which was published with Inkshares—and also Amazon, Barnes & Noble, all the usual book-buying places!

Jeff Baker: All the Pleasures Prove

A magical short story (in more ways than one!) involving love, spells, and dragons. This is part of Jeff’s Food Garden Court series – don’t forget to check out his website for more.

As Jeff himself says, “The Food Garden Court and its denizens were created for a flash fiction picture prompt site (“Friday Flash Fics”) with the picture being a garden-area food court. I’d worked in one so a magical mall in a magical world seemed like a fun idea. I’ve written three earlier stories and the idea of Skid and T’amec being more than friends just popped into the most recent story, despite hints in the other two. It was fun exploring their relationship as well as the usual mall strangeness. Thanks for reading!


Pic credit: Laith Abushaar on

            The banners that hung around the Food Garden Court proclaimed “Dragon Sale.”

            Skid and T’amec spent some of the lunch rush assuring customers that the pet shop sold live dragons, but that Food Garden Court in the Mall wasn’t selling dragonburgers.

            “Wish the signs had been more specific,” T’amec grumbled.

            Skid grinned as he refilled the broth canister and gave an extra glance to T’amec’s lean, lanky frame. He’d been working there for over a year and had only noticed him like that in the last few months. T’amec saw him, smiled and gave Skid’s shorter, more muscular body the once over. He’d been feeling the same way.

            When the lunch rush was over, Skid and T’amec sat at one of the tables in the Court under a potted palminor tree and resisted the urge to tell passing mall customers they were eating dragon salad sandwiches.

            When they finished, Skid got serious.

            “Hey, I enjoyed going to the micaball game with you the other night,” Skid said. “In fact, I like doing about anything with you lately.”

            T’amec blushed. “Thanks,” he said.

            Skid took a deep breath. “But what if it’s not real?” Skid said. “The way we feel.”

            “You mean, like magically not real?” T’amec said.

            “Yeah, what if this is just magic and we don’t, y’know…”

            Skid left the line hanging there. T’amec slid his hand across the table to grab Skid’s hand.

            “What if we start officially dating and, y’know, get married and a year later ZAP! The spell goes away?” Skid said.

            “What got you started worrying about this?” T’amec said. “We’re taking this slow, remember? Got a good friendship and don’t want to wreck it, right.”

            “I keep thinking about that fae nest we took out a few months ago,” Skid said. “They enchanted you to do whatever I said…”

            “Yeah, I remember,” T’amec said with a shudder. “But that wasn’t a love spell.”

            “I know, but we had to kiss under the moonlight to break the spell.” Skid said. “And we both liked that, right?”

            “Yeah, but…”

            “But that was the first time we…I…felt something other than just being buddies with you.” Skid said.

            T’amec smiled.

            “So, in case this is some kind of residual fae magic, I wanna check this.” Skid said.

            T’amec sighed. “My Grandma knows this ritual with lilac leaves and goose fat to find if your lover is sincere and…”

            “We’re not checking for love, we’re checking for magic,” Skid said. “We’ll do it scientifically. We’re still on break and the Augur’s shop is at the other end of the mall.”

            “We can’t afford the Augur’s shop,” T’amec said.

            “We get a Mall Employee Discount, remember?” Skid said. “Plus, I have that coupon I won a while back. So let’s do this, okay?”

            The Augur’s shop was dim and dank with neon signs on the walls breaking up the dimness. They told the young Assistant Augur their problem and more importantly showed him Skid’s coupon. The Augur rubbed his goatee, checked the coupon and said that a residual fae spell was unlikely but they could check for magic or enchantment of any kind.

            The process was, as the Augur said “Simple, but yucky.”

            The Augur cut off a lock of each of their hair and put them in separate bowls. Then Skid and T’amec each spat on the lock of the other’s hair. The Augur made a face as he picked up the bowls.

            “Should have the results back in a couple of hours,” he said.

            “We’ll be back when we get off work,” T’amec said.

            The two of them were laughing and walking along the upper level of the mall along the tall railing pointing at the signs when a green streak shot past them from the lower level. It circled in the air above them and they recognized it as a small, baby dragon.

            “The pet store,” Skid said. “Some kind of promo?”

            T’amec was about to answer when a shrill voice called out “My Dragon!”

            A little girl ran up the stairs, eyes on the circling dragon.

            “Dragon! Dragon!” The girl ran past Skid and T’amec only watching the dragon. When the dragon swooped low and then flew over the railing of the walkway the girl lunged for the dragon and hit the railing and toppled into the open space above the first floor. Skid had run after her, afraid of what could happen and he managed to grab her leg with both hands, but the weight started to pull him over too.

            “SKID!” T’amec screamed. He jumped and grabbed Skid’s feet as he was pulled over the railing. Bracing himself with his feet against the base of the railing, T’amec was able to hold on to Skid’s legs until several passers by were able to pull both Skid and the girl to safety.

            The little girl’s mother had run up and was holding her and scolding her through her tears.

            T’amec and Skid sat on the floor by the railing sobbing and kissing.

            “I love you. Oh, my Oaths, I love you!” Skid said.

            “I love you too,” T’amec said. “And you know,” he said with a laugh. “I don’t think we need to go back to the Augur’s.”

            They were laughing, crying and kissing as the dragon circled overhead.

Jay Mountney: Questions and Answers – a conversation in two voices

It’s poetry time again folks! And I’ll let Jay introduce this sweet yet moving piece herself.

I wrote this in a slash fanfic context but as I didn’t give the characters names it could apply to any couple involved in law enforcement or other dangerous occupations. The voices alternate and it should be fairly clear that one of the pair is naturally much more reckless than his companion. (So you could try guessing which couple I wrote it about; there are subtle clues in the wording.)

Guess away – I must admit I’m stumped! But I do love the poem.


Pic credit: Warren Wong on

So if I were to say to you, ‘Take care!

Protect that face and body that I call

my own, my world, my universe, my star,’

would you be thoughtful, heed my words of love,

draw back from conflict, take the quiet road,

or would you laugh and disregard my fears?


I’d rather take you by your willing hand,

pull you all helter-skelter down the way

of danger, laughing, yes, but smiling, too,

and leavening the peril with a kiss.

I think you’d follow me and soon forget

your fears, your very thoughts, your warning words.


I scarce can think. And if I followed you

all thought would soon be lost to me indeed.

Whirling around the planet of my love

I’d come to see the wild raw atmosphere

as usual, familiar, naught to fear;

and caught up in your smile I’d laugh at death.


We’d welcome all the winds of danger with

a kiss of friendship and a loving gun.

Together we could make the stars our home,

forget mere mortals with their slow concerns.

We’d run from earthly plots and mundane crimes

towards the splendour of the undying sun.


And yet I have to spare a fleeting thought

for those we fight for, those who need our care.

Without that conscience which should underpin

our actions, would our feelings sour and die?

The stars might fail to note the earth’s concerns

but if we did not heed, could we still love?


My feelings are as constant as the stars.

Whatever creed or ethic underlies

our deeds I care not, only that you should

be mine, and follow where I lead and be

my constant sun, the light by which I steer

my life; my follower and my final goal.


I’ll follow you. I’ll chase you through the heavens,

careless of danger, laughing in your wake,

but if I am your sun then let my rays

shine on this earth and lighten what they see,

then we can watch and smile and kiss and dream

free in our starry skies, safe in our love.


Then take my hand, come fly with me and see

what wonders we can find, what legends make.

Let’s kiss and  let our love spill out and down

upon the lesser mortals if you wish.

So long as you are mine I am content

and will go gladly to our destiny.


Consider me content too, but I must

tell you again I’d rather have that face,

that voice, that body whole and in my arms

than gathering glory in the void of space,

so take me by the hand and lead me on

but listen when I say to you, ‘Take care!’

Kaje Harper: Lessons in a Monastery

Just because Halloween is over doesn’t mean we can’t run another ghost story, right? And this is a super one – really chilling, but with a nice sweet ending too. Many thanks to Kaje for submitting it; if you liked it you can find all her other books and stories here.


Pic credit: Kyle Bushnell on

A whisper of air brushes across my ear. “That’s the place.”

I whirl around, but there’s no one there. Dust motes dance in a beam of sunshine, the pattern lazy, ordinary, mundane. I must’ve been imagining things. I read a couple of monks’ diaries before coming on this job. I have a big imagination.

But as I check each tiny pane of glass in the damaged window and inspect the leading around them, the voice comes again, low and rough. “He had big hands. I’d watch when he prayed.”

This time I swing my fist as I turn, unnerved, angry. No one reels back from my punch but… Was there something there? Some resistance my hand passed through? My breath comes tight in my chest, and I put my back to the cool stone. The air hangs heavy, warmed by the sun. Nothing’s moving. But I have the impression of storm-clouds gathering, of a pressure that builds behind my eyes, in my ears. I try to call out to Jack, working a few rooms away, but the words catch in my dry throat and fall unheard in a scant whisper of sound.

Then a shape appears, a waver of mist, a haze of smoke. The form is smaller than I am, but somehow it carries the weight of a mountain. The face that coalesces has craggy brows, a full beard, a hawk-like blade of a nose. “Forty-one years.” His mouth doesn’t move, but the words are clear, if low. “We danced the play of denial, of want and need unseemly, reviled in the eyes of God. But he kissed me once, in this place, with moonlight streaming in that window. I have not forgotten.”

“Who are you?” I manage.

He goes on as if I hadn’t spoken. “There is no Heaven, to reward that abstinence. No praise and Hosannas to fill the place so long empty. Just regret. Forty-one years. One kiss. Take warning.”

He rushes toward me and for a moment I’m filled with the smell of unwashed man and woodsmoke and a deep, painful regret that plunges my heart into ice. I think I scream, but I can’t hear anything but a man’s harsh, sobbing breaths. And then he’s gone. Sunlight streams in an innocent monastery window, on a warm, pleasant summer day.

Jack charges around the corner, gasping for breath, hands outstretched. “Daniel! What’s wrong? Are you okay?”

For the faction of an instant, a strange light limns his hands, outlining those rough workman’s fingers I’ve so often imagined on my skin. And in that odd frozen moment in time, I gather the courage I’ve lacked for two years now. And say, “I’m okay. A passing chill startled me. Jack, have I ever told you how much I like your hands?”