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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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Small Town, USA – a blog post on Stranded

Originally posted on Patreon.

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.

I grew up between three small towns, out in the middle of farmland (literally: My parents built their house on land my grandfather and his father before him had farmed, on a road my grandfather literally built as a high school summer job).  I grew up with a small-town library where the librarian knew me and I knew her, in the sort of place where a party really is a bonfire in someone’s backyard because, really, where else are you going to  go?  My parents grew up in small towns.  Pretty sure at least two of my grandparents did, too.  We’re small town people, rural people.

I have to admit, some stereotypes of small-town living (Everyone knows everyone, for instance) I never really understood.  I mean, I knew my neighbors, but in farmland, that isn’t all that many people.  And small towns these days often have housing tracts tacked onto the sides of them, apartment complexes, trailer parks.  So they’re not that image of small-town living that seems to permeate the media (And, to look at another setting for a moment, Regine’s vision of a small town with The Village outside of Addergoole)  The houses go back layer after layer from Main Street.  You go over the canal (in many cases) or the railroad tracks and you’re almost in another neighborhood.  But you’ll still run into people you know at the grocery store, at the Fireman’s Carnival (I haven’t written a story about anyone at a carnival yet, have I?), at the Canal Days Craft Festival (Where Autumn really ought to have a booth…)
Continue reading

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

Weaver of Threads – an unfinished story orig. posted on Patreon


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?  Maggie, do you remember?)

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. 

7/5/2011 is the last save listed on it. 

⛰️ 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…

Blue Highways – Other People’s Prose (A blog post for Patreon)

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.

The story, as I remember it, involves someone making their van into something like an ad-hoc RV and driving around the county – specifically on the back roads, the non-highways, the ones marked blue on old maps.

The idea really spoke to me, lodged in my mind.  Sometimes I would fantasize  – who am I kidding, would? – Sometimes I fantasize about loading up a van and doing travel writing, meeting people in small-town diners and taking pictures of little waterfalls you can only see if you take the back roads.

Autumn started out that, that and my wish to be able to draw and the small fantasy of living in a Ren Faire that I sometimes still indulge in.  I mean, Autumn as a character in a story started with a three-word-Wednesday prompt (abrupt, kernel, wield; I have no idea how I got from there to

“I heard you did divinations.”

“You want the blue tents over in Psychic Alley.”

“Not that sort of divination, not those fake-Rom shams. You do the skin-painting.”

But Autumn, travelling around to small towns and solving problems –

– she came from William Least Heat-Moon’s stories, traveling around the blue highways of America, meeting people, being harassed by the police, building stone walls.

I can’t promise it’s a good book.  I read it probably 2/3 of my life ago. But it definitely stuck with me, and in sticking with me, it gave us the core of Autumn and her travelling, mystery-solving ways.

But here’s a fun map of where he travels – I didn’t realize it was so large an area – http://littourati.squarespace.com/storage/moon-files/moon_map.htm

And here’s the Wikipedia page on it – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blue_Highways

This paragraph:

Stories that arose from Least Heat-Moon’s research as well as historical facts are included about each area visited, as well as conversations with characters such as a Seventh-day Adventist evangelist hitchhiker, a teenage runaway, a boat builder, a monk, an Appalachian log cabin restorer, a rural Nevada prostitute, fishermen, a HopiNative American medical student, owners of western saloons and remote country stores, a maple syrup farmer, and Chesapeake Bay island dwellers.

That almost sounds like a set of prompts for Autumn, doesn’t it?

Continue reading

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.”

 
 Want more?

 

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.