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“So,” Winter explained to his younger sisters, “the world is like a giant spaghetti squash.” He jammed his fork into their dinner. “Everything looks solid, right? But,” he twisted the fork, “if you grab things just the right way, you can see how it’s all made of long strands. Except in the case of the world, the strands are magic.”

His three younger sisters, used to taking Big Brother as the authority on everything, were still dubious.

The siblings Winter, Autumn, Summer, and Spring each manipulate and read the strands of the world in their own way, while attempting to live within the world as normally as possible. The Stranded World is contemporary fantasy, slice-of-life with a magical overtone, following the threads of their lives.

These stories are primarily one-shot pieces bouncing around the lives of the four siblings.


Good stories to Start With

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Family Distancing

Why, no, I’m not going through all my settings and seeing how they’d reacting to a pandemic.  I mean, well, maybe a little.  Any you want to see?

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Winter, Autumn, Summer, and Spring.

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“6 p.m. Eastern,” Summer was saying as Autumn logged on.  “You were early, Winter, of course.  Spring’s late, of course.”

“She is on the West Coast,” Winter retorted mildly.  He was wearing his work shirt and tie sans jacket and he’d loosened the tie.  The whole image looked very professional against his home bookshelf, if you ignored the fact that he was holding Tortuga, his half-grown cat, while Myrrh, his ferret, climbed the bookshelf and Dehradun, his kitten, napped on the laptop keyboard. 

Autumn giggled, even though it might not be kind. Of all of them, she’d have expected Summer to be the pet owner, not Winter. 

“She is,” Autumn agreed, “and being on time would disagree with her.  How are you both?” Continue reading

23 Days Before Christmas

Happy holidays to all of my lovely readers!

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It was cold. This time of year, Autumn would normally be heading South or heading home.

But when her flight had been delayed and then cancelled, when all rental cars were out and the train had a mysterious breakdown, Autumn took the hint the universe was dropping in her lap and took the convoluted bus route with all the overnight-or-longer layovers.

She had been a little concerned about the first town on her list, since a quick internet search had told her it had a population of just over a thousand, and shrinking. 

While she loved small towns more than most things in the world, in the last couple years, Autumn had been having a little more trouble finding, as it were, room at the Inn.

Airbnb turned out to be her friend, and although three of the five places available in or near North Van Der Zee were booked, and the fourth one look a little too questionable even for Autumn, the fifth one was open and even affordable, all things considered.  Continue reading

The Summer of Discontent

This is a Summer story and it turned out a little… um.  Not quite dark, but with dark-adjacent bits. While nobody in the story is either depressed nor suicidal, there’s frank discussion of both in the story.

Summer is Autumn’s middle sister; Bishop and Melinda are her partners.  Add first appears here. This story is contemporary with Graduation… or Not

“Summer’s sitting on the roof again.”

Add barely looked up from their homework. Med school was a bitch, and it left them impatient with dramatics of any sort.

“House roof or Bolsch Hall roof?” The house roof was lower but steeper and slicker, being the slate-shingled roof of an old Victorian in Collegetown.

“Bear Hall roof.” Melinda didn’t really have any more time than Add did, or than her partner Bishop did — he was at the library right now — or their other roommate, Carney. But it was her girlfriend, their girlfriend (but Bishop was busy) and something had gone weird with Summer in the last couple semesters. Continue reading

Worldbuilding Wednesday: Strands in Odd Places

So @Shutsumon started doing Worldbuilding Wednesday on Mastodon and that got me thinking and so then I started and…

well, here’s last week’s post. I’m going to try to post them a week after I toot (post on Mastodon) them.


Strands in Weird Places

In theory, Stranded World is composed of “Strands” which make up the connections of every thing and being to every other thing and being; certain people can see, manipulate, or read the Strands but they come into existence and eventually fade away on their own in a constant cycle of renewal. 

In practice, the Strands that strand-workers read/manipulate are like you took a page full of the very lightest pencil lines going everywhere and then added just a few bright marker lines: strong connections between people or between a person and an animal/plant/thing.  

For instance: I have a very strong connection with my husband, a rather strong connection with my cats, and rather strong connections with my grandparent’s house/farm. Compared to my connection to the guy sitting across from me on the bus, the cat I saw at the winery the other week, the apartment we lived in for a couple months when I was 20, those connections are going to be thick and easy to pick out. 

Sometimes, you end up with “Weird” connections:

People who met for three minutes at a bus stop who form a Strand so thick it pulls them back together, so that they reinforce that strand, so that it pulls them together again. 

A place that takes on so much of its own character that it holds on to connections; not only do people remember it for a long time, but it remembers them, and so the strands are no longer dependent on living memory. 

A moment in time will, on very rare occasion, create connections, which form a line between all of the people experiencing that moment and anchor people to that moment.  In some cases, it makes time warp strangely around it, such that even thinking about it for too long can create wrinkles much later on. 

Sometimes you end up with places, or animals, or plants that somehow not just form strands — since everyone and everything can do that to some degree — but manipulate them. 

There’s a tree in the middle of a forest that likes to loosen some bonds and form others, and you never know until you climb up into its branches which might happen. 

There’s a cat who wanders the suburban evenings tangling strands up, leaving a wake of small chaos behind her and caring about as much as she’d care about a ball of yarn. 

And there are events which are so tangled up from their very creation that just moving towards them — Burning Man, but only sometimes, for instance; certain marches on certain places; certain prayer circles and certain parties — changes the person moving, for better or for worse. 

The Great NanoWrimo Prompt Call

Turn, Turn, Turn

Originally posted on Patreon in October 2018 and part of the Great Patreon Crossposting to WordPress.

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Something about Autumn tends to lean towards long stories, I suppose.  

Here’s Autumn in autumn.

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By the nature of her travels, Autumn tended to see places, if she saw them repeatedly, during the same season every year.

So she might have been forgiven for missing this particular place, since for five years, she saw it only in the stage when spring slides into summer.

She thought it a particularly bright place then, cheerful and full of excitement and a little bit too chaotic for her tastes, even when she was feeling a little excited and a little eager.  She would stay a night, dance in their party – there always seemed to be a party – and move on with a smile, leaving behind one more drawing in their bustling bar.

It was autumn now, coming into the time when she would have to go further south or find a warmer place to settle for a few months, and a broken part in her van had pointed her in a direction she would not normally have taken. Continue reading

A Splash Of Color

Originally posted on Patreon in September 2018 and part of the Great Patreon Crossposting to WordPress.

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This story is not, per se, for this month, but since it’s about Autumn, here it is. This is because Eseme made an Autumn doll, but her hair faded, leaving me with the urge to write a story about Autumn’s hair fading. 

The working title of this story, right up ‘till today, was ‘Autumn Hair.’

At over 7000 words, it’s a bit of a read. 

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The fest was just beginning Day Four — Thursday — when Autumn came into town to set up her booth.  That was within the festival rules; as long as you were there for the weekend and as long as you paid for the time you were there, you could show you whenever.  It was part of what had attracted her to the fest in the first place.

She unloaded her gear from the back of her van, set up her tent, and, from the pleasant shade of its canopy, looked around. Continue reading

Something Hungry

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“What… what is this thing?”

“It’s a van.”  Autumn looked at her sisters in confusion.  “You know, driver goes here, then park, sleep goes back there?  Art supplies in the middle, passengers hold on for dear life?”

“Autumn…?” Spring raised her eyebrows.  “Have you looked at this thing?”

“I had Cousin Jimmy look under the hood for me and Aunt Caroline did a thorough inspection…?”  Autumn was hovering somewhere between offended and worried.  “Guys, the paint is a little esoteric but it’s my van, it has to be a little weird.”

“No, no, I like the paint.”  Summer patted the side of the machine lightly.  “Good van.  It looks like the dappling of sunlight on the forest floor.  Autumn, when you were painting it, did you, ah, did you paint it?” Continue reading