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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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Autumn and a boy, part III

after Autumn and a Boy and part II

🍁

He was actually interested in her art, which she probably should have expected, and knew things to ask about technique and had interest in both her process and her decisions, which was a pleasant surprise.   It took her a while to pry them both away from talking about her art, and when she did, she found herself almost quoting that old saw “Well, enough about me, what do you think of me?”

“So, why do you like it?  My art?” she asked, feeling a little shy.  “I mean, I don’t think it was my pretty face that got you hiking till your feet bled, was it?” Continue reading

January 2018 Stranded World on Patreon

Hello my friends!  It has been an immensely weird month, but I did post a lot on Patreon.

Below is everything Stranded World I posted in January – some stories, some meta, a little more meta, and some links.  Winter featured heavily this month.  I find that interesting.

Free Posts

Mending Strands
The room felt wrong.  His sisters, Winter thought, might have said that it was creepy or oogy or sick, although sometimes sick was a good thing.

This Guy and Autumn could compare notes…
 5 Tips for Planning (and Surviving) a Mega Road Trip

Talk about a quest. Two years ago, Mikah Meyer set out to become the youngest person to visit all 417 U.S. National Park Service sites. Since then, the 31-year-old…

Metaphor for Stranded World?
There are not really enough pictures out there of strings of light or strings connecting people, so when I’m looking for pictures for Stranded World, I come up with some pretty interesting things.
All right, let’s talk about Summer’s clothes….
Winter’s Clothes
First, two notes:

One:  I think that Winter engages in a combination of actually knowing how to tailor his own clothing and using strand-working to make everything lie Just So, because I do not picture any of the RoundTree siblings particularly rich (Summer might be, eventually, but who knows?) but damn, the man dresses like a million bucks.

Autumn at the Ren Faire
I was playing around a little with Pinterest and Image Search today. 

Here’s some pictures that are pretty close to Autumn’s garb at the Ren Fest, although her costumes are almost always in red, orange, gold, and brown. 

The Stranded World
If you’re new to my settings, you may be wondering what this Stranded World is all about.

So here are a couple worldbuilding reposts talking about the magic of the Stranded world!

Small Town, USA
Autumn spends a lot of time in really small towns.  I mean, some of that is just that’s what she seems to like, but you’d think she’d spend more time in big cities that have big craft festivals, wouldn’t you?  I mean, she’s trying to make enough of a living to pay for the occasional inn or motel or Bed N’ Breakfast room, and those aren’t cheap.

I like small towns.

A long, long time ago
I can still remember how
Maggie’s Ell Jay made me think
And I knew if I had my chance
That I could make words sing and dance
And maybe make them think, too, for a while
.♪♫♪

Ahem. 

A long time ago, M.C.A. Hogarth posted something in her LJ about tropes she’d like to see.  One of them – which I have tried more than once to write – was about the young male (it might have been a mage?) recruiting the older female (fighter?)

Everyone gets their inspiration from somewhere; every setting has its seeds in something.Stranded – well, Autumn – came out of the book Blue Highways.

According to Wikipedia, this book came out in 1982.  I don’t think I read it that early at all – I would’ve been six – but someone recommended it to my father, and I read it.  I was probably in my early teens.

Locked Posts

For a portion of every year, Autumn lives out of her van, travelling from Craft Fest to Ren Faire to City Historical Days, selling her art and sometimes solving mysteries.

The first time Byron RoundTree saw the strands, he thought he was tripping.To be fair to By, he had been partaking in some interesting substances for the last forty-eight hours in a mostly-peaceful tribal gathering of people deep in a national park.

Curtains
🎭
Winter wasn’t surprised when he came in to find the new temp crying.

Their job wasn’t the sort of place that lent itself easily to short-term or temporary help, and yet their supervisor, intent on getting caught up on her filing, kept trying.

 

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Weaver of Threads

A long time ago, M.C.A. Hogarth posted something in her LJ about tropes she’d like to see.  One of them – which I have tried more than once to write – was about the young male (it might have been a mage?) recruiting the older female fighter? 

Anyway, I was looking through my archives and I found this first chapter, or so, of Fiametta, a Strand-Worker living up on the top of a mountain. 

⛰️

There were those who had called Fiametta cruel. Back when her hair was still red, more than one man had accused her of enjoying the pain of others. She’d never denied it, finding that a simple smile made them far more uncertain than any argument would, and so had a reputation as a bit of a wicked woman.

She remembered, fondly, her favorite of those complaints…

read on… Continue reading

Blue Highways and Autumn at the Ren Faire – Stranded Meta

Everyone gets their inspiration from somewhere; every setting has its seeds in something.
Stranded – well, Autumn – came out of the book Blue Highways.

According to Wikipedia, this book came out in 1982. I don’t think I read it that early at all – I would’ve been six – but someone recommended it to my father, and I read it. I was probably in my early teens.
read on…

Autumn at the Ren Faire

I was playing around a little with Pinterest and Image Search today.
Here’s some pictures that are pretty close to Autumn’s garb at the Ren Fest, although her costumes are almost always in red, orange, gold, and brown.

read on…

Autumn and a boy, part II

after Autumn and a Boy

🍁

Autumn and Calvin shared a dinner of take-out pizza – the only delivery the small town had – in the cozy living room of the bed-and breakfast.

He told her about life in Lancaster and his job – tech support for the one university that town, a bit bigger than the place they were currently staying – sported.  She told him about the walk between Lancaster and Edmonton, and about the strange farmer who had stopped her to ask about her tattoos on the road, and then, in turn, shared her own.

From that, they talked about family, his and hers, and then, late at night, so late it was nearly morning, they talked about their love lives.

“Mine’s never been that great,” he admitted.  “I had one nice relationship, but that ended when she moved to California.”

“Oooh.”  Autumn hissed sympathetically.  “That’s never good.  Long-distance can be hard.  Mine – well, the way I am, almost every relationship is sometimes long-distance.”

“Do you ever stop moving?  Settle down for a little bit?”

“There’s two Ren Festivals I work, so I’m settled for a month and a half for each of those.  And generally in the winter I hole up somewhere long enough to paint and get a new stock going.  But most of the rest of the time I’m moving, finding new places and new stories.”

“You’re a troubadour.” His smile was broad and contagious.  “That’s wonderful.  A modern troubadour, with your stories in ink instead of song.”

Autumn couldn’t help the grin that grew across her face.  “Exactly.”

“And… in ink…?”  He reached out towards a tattoo that peeked out of her shirt, but stopped short, his hand falling down.

Autumn pulled her shirt aside to reveal the swirls and twists   that sat near her heart: each line was itself a pattern, but the whole made a stout, wide-reaching tree. “That’s my family, and my childhood, and my life.  I worked on that for two months, and it took almost that long to get it inked in properly.  There’s my brother, and my sisters, and my mother, and my father.”  She pointed to parts of the pattern one at a time.

“That’s a really complicated tattoo.”  He leaned in close, his breath warm on her collarbone, seemingly unaware that he was staring at the top of her chest.   “And,” he chuckled nervously, sitting back, “I guess it sends a clear message to anyone getting that close – you hold your family right near your heart.”

“Ah, they come first,” she agreed.  She’d had that argument once with Tattercoat.  She wondered if that was the moment when everything had started falling apart.  “They will always be first, but that doesn’t mean there’s not room for others.  I have skin left to draw on, after all.”

“And when you don’t have skin left?”

“Then I’ll have lived a long and full life, I believe.”  She smiled at him, a little shyly.  “You haven’t seen all my ink.”

He hesitated, clearly seeing the invitation and wondering – if he should take it?  If it was a trap or a test?  If it was polite?

“I would love to see more of your artwork,” he managed after a moment.  “You have some with you?”

She wanted to applaud and grumble at the same time.  She let the amused frustration show on her face.   “Of course.”

He smirked back at her, seeming to show some of the same.  “Yeah?  Up in your room?”  His eyebrows lifted: her move.

“They are.  I’ll be right back with my portfolio.”  She wiggled an eyebrow back at him.  

He actually chuckled this time.  “Why don’t I come up?  That way you won’t have to come all the way back down here with your art.”

“You do remember how I walk all over the country carrying that art?”

“Maybe you need a pack mule.  Like me.”  He winked at her.  

“Maybe I do.  Maybe I need a pack mule who doesn’t have a stone in his shoe.”  She stood up.  

“Oh, but maybe I need someone to keep the stones out of my hooves… okay, no.”  He chuckled.  “This is getting a little too out there even for me.”

“Oh, good,” she snorted.  “You do have a limit.  My room’s this way.”  She tilted her head, and he followed as she led up the stairs.  “Besides,” she threw over her shoulder, “it’s not like you can just take off and follow me around the country carrying my bigger pieces of art, even if I <i>did</i> have enough art to require someone else to carry it.  You have a day job and all of that, don’t you?”

“I do.  But I have vacation time.”

“That… that is an interesting definition of vacation.”

“Well, what about you?  Do you take time off?”

“Holidays with my family, mostly.  Ren Faires are weekends, so are most craft festivals.  I do business for the business during the week, or walk, or spend a day in a park drawing.”  She smiled at him.  “Let’s be honest, my life <i>is</i> a bit of a vacation.”

“And you were complaining about my definition of a vacation,” he complained.  “I mean, if I was following you around carrying things, wouldn’t I be having the same life-is-a-vacation that you are?”

“Well…”  Autumn thought about the town where she had almost been pulled into a mind-controlling net, or the town where winter had been roiling out of control.  There was the place with the feral strand-Worker who had been making random things invisible, or the time a kid had been pulled into cutting Strands for someone else’s world-ending plan.  “The thing is, it’s a vacation for me because of who I am, because I managed to find something that covers very basic expenses and lets me do things I enjoy.  It’s a lot of sleeping on the ground and bartering washing dishes for meals.  It’s a lot of walking – a lot of walking, even in crappy weather, and it’s a lot of working, even when it’s fun work.”  She held up her hands.  “I’m not saying you couldn’t enjoy it.  But… let’s start with this weekend, okay?  And then if you’re still interested – in me, or in this life -” and she wasn’t sure which one she hoped more for, or which one she felt was more likely “-then we’ll worry about something else?”

“I feel like I’m being dumped gently, which is interesting, because we didn’t get to the dating stage yet.”

“It’s more like… well, it’s definitely not being dumped.  It’s more suggesting that you’re not so much putting the cart before the horse as putting the cart and the horse before the road?”

“Well.”  He smirked a little bit, “I guess we’ll find that road in Clarenceville?  And then we can talk about the horse?”

“And now we’re back to horses,” she laughed.  

“Well, it’s better than being a mule.”

 
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Two Microfics/Tootfics From Last Night

I was feeling a bit meh last night, but I wanted to write *something*, so I took a couple prompts for toot fic – fic that fits in a 500-character toot on Mastodon. 

This is what I got.

👶

The thing about a baby was, it was literally made of connections. Polly finished spinning wool from her friend’s sheep, twisting into it a strand of the feelings she had for her friend.

She wound the yarn into a ball with sororal affection and the big-sister feeling that never went away, then reached for the line that connected the mother & father to the baby.

Babies were born of connections. She knit the echo of those connections into a tiny sweater of protection & love.

🐑

To @DialMforMara‘s prompt: Knitting with Strands. 

🖋️🖋️🖋️

“Damn.” The book hit the tile. “Fuck. Shit.” Amy’s arms went up. “This… fuck.”

“Fuck,” Tod and Amy saw eye to eye for once. “We can – can not…” The word he had need for was too long. Every word was too long.

“Draw!” Amy went to work with a pen on the tile. “Pic-”

“Icon.” Tod did the same. “Icon.”

The 👿 was the 1st of its kind to be sent to hell with a 😀.

👹

To @tomasino’s prompt

A grammatical demon has been summoned at Oxford and was let free accidentally by the lack of a third comma. It has already devoured all words longer than four letters.

For Eseme: Autumn and a Boy

To Eseme’s Request.  After all of the Tattercoats stuff. 

As the rain was coming down in torrents most often reserved for biblical events, Autumn had decided on staying in for a night, not in a motel — the town wasn’t big enough or on a major enough route for that — but in a bed-and-breakfast that didn’t seem too full of itself.  She was sitting in its common room — which still looked much like a family living room of 100 years ago — drawing a fantasy scene of the same room when the door swung open.

He looked drenched, drowned-rat incarnate, his jeans holding out from his legs like they were their own creatures.  He walked like his feet had moved past sore and on to misery a few hours ago.  

And he looked familiar.  “Edmonton!”  She wrinkled her brow.  “Wait, not just Edmonton, either.” Continue reading

Patreon Posts – Crossovers

This is a weird one.  Today’s Patreon Sum-up involves three stories I wrote, not to prompts, but because they appeared to me.  All crossovers of one sort or another. 

 

Okay, so I’m working on my outlines for Finish It nanowrimo coming up in, well, November.  And I got to the one for Facets of Dusk and I started thinking about – well, the doors they might open

🚪

“Get us someplace with medical care!” Simon shouted.

“Someplace with advanced technomagical medical care.”  Aerich’s aristocratic snarl sounded panicked.

“Someplace they’re not going to shoot at us.”  Cole’s voice was calm.  But Cole, who had Josie in his arms, also sounded serious.

Read On


I blame this on my current marathon re-read of the Sandman comics.  

📚

On Halloween, 2011, when the walls between worlds were thinner than they had ever been, the woman called The Cat Who Walks Through Walls (because her Mentor had been fond of Robert Heinlein, in his day and in her day) left her kids with her sister, as per their arrangement, and slipped out between those world-barriers.

Read On!


Okay, I guess the theme is really talking to me this month. 

Here’s another bonus, spurred on but not really related to a line from a Popular Mechanics article I read last night: (paraphrase) “AI is going to make the Industrial Revolution look small.”

🤖

Autumn knew better than to grab the strands of the world too much around Hallowe’en.

Everything was thinner at that time, more responsive, more willing to bend and twist and open.

Read On!

Know When To Walk Away (Know When To Run)

Written to esemeprompt.  This comes after Tangles and Knots, Snarls and Combs

🔥

There were bits of Tattercoats everywhere.

Sometimes literally: pieces of his coat tended to come off in the strangest places, so that he was always sewing on new bits.  Sometimes figuratively: a book he’d left in her place or a letter he’d written, the smell of his particular musk in a blanket she’d put away.

Autumn did not know exactly what had happened.

She knew that Tattercoats had precipitously left Faire without a fare-thee-well or anything but the forwarding address of the itinerant courier network. She knew she was done with him, as if she’d woken up one morning and understood that pining was shredding her to pieces and she really needed to pick herself up and stop hurting so much.

The radio had played The Gambler and Autumn had nodded as if Kenny Rogers had been speaking right to her.  Know when to walk away.  Know when to run.

She burned his letters in the Moot Fire that they held every Thursday night to rid the air of “shit, drama, the modern, and the miserable.”  But she could still close her eyes and see that ridiculous smile. She could still reach over to the nightstand and see the little jewelry box he’d sent her for Christmas.

She sold the ring to a pawn shop and gave the money to a hunger campaign.  She dropped the skirt and the corset he’d given her in the Salvo box.  Maybe in a Faire town, someone would find a use for them.   The other gifts went to used book sales, sometimes the Salvo or Goodwill, a church rummage sale.

That left the things that belonged to him. A carved figure he’d bought from a vendor.  Three DVDs he’d brought over to watch and then left in her van.  A book on figure drawing that she was pretty sure he’d stolen. A vest of his.  His underwear.  A long green ribbon she was pretty sure was a token from another lover.

She burned the underwear, to a great deal of groaning, moaning, and laughing, using the longest tongs she could find.

The rest she wrapped up.

Carefully.

Three layers of shrinkwrap and then two layers of duct tape.

For every two items, then in a box.  Duct taped.  Then wrapped carefully in butcher paper with more tape than any three parcels needed.

She had a friend with curly, swirling, girly handwriting address the boxes, and then each one went with a different itinerant courier to a different drop spot.

They had to be light, of course.  She wanted to be careful, because the drop spots sometimes got wet.  Of course.

She wanted to irritate him, to get under his skin and make him twitchy, the way he was under her skin, the way she couldn’t quite wash him out.

She drew a long pattern of empty open roads and paths she hadn’t yet walked along her entire body, wrote his name on a piece of paper in her best handwriting, and drew a sketchy portrait that took in what she could remember of him.

She stood in the rain until the pattern she’d drawn on herself washed into the earth, watering the ground with her ink and her hopes and setting them free.

She stood by the fire and watched his face burn until it was ashes, and finally felt free.


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