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Everything posted by Cia

  1. It's May... already?! How did that happen? I swear the time keeps flying by, but that just means we have to remember to take some time out to stop and enjoy ourselves. This month, that means you get to read Craftingmom's story, Lie of the Serpent. This contemporary crime mystery will hopefully keep you on the edge of your keyboard from start to finish! Lie of the Serpent Lie of the Serpent by Craftingmom Length: 70,591 Description: When Bryan finally finds the man he wants to be with forever, he thinks his life will be perfect. But it's taken time to convince not only Wyatt that he's sincere, but his own mother as well. Between Wyatt's anxiety to trust again after a brutal breakup with an ex, the ex still trying to wreck havoc in Wyatt's life, and Bryan's own mother's doubts, Bryan is over-stressed. So when Wyatt disappears days after their engagement, he's left devastated and confused. A Reader Said: I love all the books by this author and have read them all. This one was slightly different from her usual writings, but still a compelling read. I liked the storyline in this one because even when you find out who is the bad guy, you still can't see how the good guys are going to work it out in time. The bad guy isn't unexpected, but the lengths they go to are. As always a well written and thought out story from an imaginative author. ~ Caz Pedroso Don't forget to come back on the Discussion Day, Monday May 28th, to share your thoughts!!
  2. All you have to do is look at the title to know there's going to be a lot of *coughs* fun going on in this story. Because where there are stables, there are horses, and where there are horses, there are guys dressed in tight pants who ride horses... and... I'll let your imagination take it from there. Or, you could just go read Gabriel Morgan's Stonegate Stables if you haven't already! Length: 221,486 Description: Against the backdrop of a horse stable in Texas, Sean deals with the lives and loves of his friends and neighbors as he pursues the biggest prize in show jumping and works to keep his own relationship strong and steady. A Reader Said: I think this is the sixth or seventh time I've read Stonegate Stables, stem to stern. Delighted to do so again here at GA, discovering some new (to me) authors and writing. Gabe, I love your style, your honesty, your ease with which you create both the characters and the relationships. Most of all I appreciate your sense of normalcy that each of these relationships expresses, the richness of being true to one's nature and being engaged and contributing to community in the here and now. You're a model for the greatness of being within all of us in these stories, and I thank you! ~ Sclyburn If you want to spread the word about Gabriel Morgan's story, download the graphic below and add it to your signature! Make sure you come back on Wednesday to see the excerpt I chose to share!
  3. I read a writing tip today that seems sort of obvious... "Try to leave out the part readers tend to skip" (Elmore Leonard). But what part is that? It had to vary, but there's probably an overall consensus about the types of scenes or story elements that readers gloss over, skip past, or just stop reading. So share your thoughts to help GA authors improve our craft!
  4. Cia

    Chapter 31

    “It doesn’t help when you provoke her,” Captain said. “She hates that the head of security has more say in the mission than she does as your second. She acts like I’m some newbie in the ranks, not a commander in my own right.” “She’s new.” “And that right there’s the problem.” Deke leaned forward. “This mission has always been different. The orders came down the pipeline instead of in person. You had to take this ship and a good third of the crew is new.” “They work for Central Command, just like we do.” Captain held up a hand. “I know, I know. That doesn’t mean they only work for Central Command.” “Obviously, or we wouldn’t have a murderer on board. Or a stowaway like the Trepharo.” I shivered and leaned toward Captain. He let me, and I inched closer until our legs and sides touched. Deke watched, but I avoided looking in his eyes, and he didn’t say anything. “Orders are orders. And ours were to infiltrate the station and rescue the prisoners there.” “On a station in a system that’s barely even mapped. How did Intelligence know the Brox Consortium had a lab operating there? Why send us on this ship when there were at least two other crews on ships with enough firepower and space to do the same job?” “We’ve talked about this before. We have the best track record for successful retrievals.” “Exactly. Retrieval. My teams had next to nothing to do. We secured the victims in the cells, brought them on board, cleared the station and grabbed files. No guards. No scientists. The station’s security systems were easily cracked.” Deke made a face. “All of them, offered up on a platter. Why? What’s the goal?” “Getting the Trepharo on a central planet? They’re even more dangerous than I am,” I said quietly. “On a ship this big, the null field would be too much to run without cause. Luca showed me the ship’s power cells and the schematics for the systems. A smaller ship doesn’t have that problem.” “But you would’ve been in close contact with them as part of the rescued group. You would’ve picked them out, just like you did yesterday.” I shrugged. “Maybe not. You have more room on this ship. And in the suit, I was shut down. If you hadn’t rescued me, and I hadn’t latched on to you?” It was one single moment, the fact Captain came to my cell, that he was the one who rescued me. “We would’ve gotten you out of it.” Captain rubbed his hand along my back. “And if you had? Without someone touching me? What would’ve happened?” I pointed at one of the ports in my head. “Would I have survived?” Deke raised his eyebrows, and Captain hesitated. “Look.” Deke spread his hands and leaned forward. “What it comes down to is this. Do you trust who gave you the orders to raid the station? Were they giving us orders to help Central or are they working with Brox? Did we take a weapon away from the Brox Consortium or are we bringing it straight to the people who are standing in their way?” “Those are very good fucking questions. Did the Trepharo have any information that might help me figure out the answers?” My stomach churned every time it was mentioned, but I swallowed and held on to the present, focusing on the touch of Captain’s body against mine, the heat of his palm resting against the base of my neck. I wanted to hear this, needed to. “Not a whole lot. I believe it was camouflaged as the crew member Kohen didn’t know that he heard talking with Kemit. The plan with the flame wasps was intended to send the ship straight to Central Core. To investigators. Higher ups. People who gave us the mission who’d want to figure out what went wrong and how you’d fucked up.” “So then it’s a plan to infiltrate the central planet.” “Maybe. Or they wanted us to bring it in and they’d issue orders then.” Captain’s body was tense against mine. “So, really, we have no fucking idea who the Trepharo is working for, what it was going to do when it got to the Central planet… nothing.” “Maybe Kemit will prove more malleable,” Deke said. His voice was dark, and I shivered. “There is evidence Ss’merit has been… friendly, with the Trepharo as well. I do not know if that was as part of its cover, or if he is part of the plot, but we will find that out. His actions are suspect too, especially with his interest in Kohen.” “I don’t like using you this way.” Captain rubbed a hand over his face. “We are not equipped to deal with spies. We put down resistance, capture and detain, and rescue.” “But we need answers. The Trepharo is too damn strong. Kemit is human. I can work with human. I had a team following him since we detected the Trepharo. I’ll have them take him in now and report back to you as soon as I have something concrete.” Deke stood and saluted. He turned and stalked out of Captain’s lounge, already intent on his duty. If nothing else, I was comforted by his willingness to do whatever it took. Maybe it was just loyalty to Captain, but it felt sort of like he was protecting me too. “What now, Cap—” “Everett,” Captain reminded me. My breath caught. I licked my lips. “Everett,” I repeated slowly. “What now?” “Now I craft my own messages. I have contacts outside of Command, a few palms greased in dark corners. I’ll make sure you’re safe, Kohen. Don’t be afraid.” “Just me? What about all the people the Brox Consortium could hurt?” Captain squeezed my neck. “On this ship? You are the most important thing to me.”
  5. I had no less than 3 PE classes today, plus 3 other classes to work through, plus the kids' track meet, plus I went to Costco afterward to order pizza and then pick up a few things while we waited for it to be ready. By noon I'd taken 8,054 steps, and right now I'm up to 15,328 steps. It dumped cold rain on us 3 different times at the track meet. I can't count the number of squats I did while measuring shot put for the girls. I may never. EVER. move. again.  :P

    1. Show previous comments  1 more
    2. Renee Stevens

      Renee Stevens

      Wow! Sounds like it’s time to try and sit and relax... 

    3. wildone


      Who was in the track meet, you or the kids :unsure:

    4. Valkyrie


      Time for a nice, hot bath :)

  6. Cia

    Chapter 30

    I love all the speculation!!! You guys are great, and you always have so many thoughts! @drpaladin and @Dr. John NYC Oh yeah, there is definitely more to come. We've had one attack for sure, and who knows what else has been going on and could be... definitely going to be tense as they get closer to the central planets. And, yes, Deke caught the Trepharo. Also remember, in chapter 22... this rescue mission is different from ones the Captain and his crew have taken on before. The order came down forcing Captain to take a bigger ship with some unfamiliar crew members along with his usual crew. So who can they trust? @glennish and @Butcher56 are right to question. @Puppilull It's kind of frustrating to me as the author too, lol. I am so limited in how much I can share because it all has to be from his point of view. We can't learn it until he does. Makes for a slow, loooong story. Ah well, all the better to enjoy each week, right? And we're getting into the action now! @Headstall Well you always know when another chapter will come, Gary, so I am glad I can provide more each week to enjoy! Thank you so much for reading, I know the word count makes it a frustrating story to follow. Same goes to you, @dughlas I've got you guys pictured in comfy recliners just chilled out until then, lol.
  7. Cia


    I endured years of experiments at the hands of sadistic aliens. Barely eighteen, I've been rescued from the tiny cell and the years of enforced sensory deprivation. Lost, with no family or friends I can remember or would turn to if I could, I'm alone in the universe... except for the humans who saved me. The Captain. Zeke. Doc. A crew of misfit Rangers, a ragtag bunch operating just this side of legal--and often on the other side when circumstances are right--are not the kind to help someone “like me” recover. Captain wants to send me away, but I can't leave. No one else can touch me. He's it for me, the strength I can't function without.
  8. Cia

    Chapter 30

    I flexed my feet, my toes scraping along Captain’s hairy legs. I could move again, but I didn’t want to. Even in those cloudy memories I had of before the station, and my cell, and the tests, I couldn’t remember feeling like this. Happy, warm, no pain, no fear, no hunger. Thirst didn’t torture me with every dry breath. The only thing I could smell was the spice of Captain’s skin and the thump of his heart beat slow under my ear where I’d tucked my head under his chin. His arms were wrapped around me, one around my shoulders and the other anchored at the small of my back. We were naked, but that was just another layer to the perfection of the moment. It didn’t matter that I was folded against the ridges of his stomach or that his parts prodded my thighs. If I could freeze time and keep this moment forever, I would. Capturing the scent, touch, sound, even the taste as I gingerly dipped my tongue and took the tiniest sample of the salt of his skin, was paramount. Captain’s breath hitched. I froze, not breathing. His hand flattened between my shoulder blades. “Kohen? Kohen! Shit.” Captain leaned back. “Please breathe.” “What?” I asked on a breathy exhale, the word nearly indistinguishable. “Oh thank the fates.” Captain stared at my chest. “Take another breath.” “What’s wrong?” “You stopped breathing last night. I was trying to stay awake, to make sure you kept breathing, but I fell asleep. I’m so sorry. Are you okay? Does your chest hurt? Should I get Aparoe? I’ll call Aparoe now.” He reached out, and I latched onto his arm. “I’m fine. Nothing hurts. I just froze ‘cause I was trying not to wake you up. I’m sorry,” I said. “I didn’t mean to scare you.” He snorted. “Are you sure? You’ve gotten really good at it.” I glanced away from him, staring at hollow of his throat where the skin pulsed. “Sorry.” “Stop apologizing. It’s not like you do it on purpose.” After that, I didn’t know what to say. My plan to show him I could be mature and be a productive part of the crew, was as far as I’d gotten. Naked, in bed, with him naked too? So not part of the plan. Well, it would’ve been if I’d been going off my dreams. But even those hadn’t been this specific. “Kohen? Look at me.” I couldn’t. His fingers under my chin didn’t give me a choice. I kept my gaze around his nose, not wanting to look into his eyes and see that look I saw before. The one that said I wasn’t what he wanted. The one he probably had on his face when he’d been talking the last time he’d held me. “Kohen.” I couldn’t defy that voice. “You have nothing to be sorry for. You’re not the one who did this. Whatever happens, it’s not your fault.” “Okay.” What else was I going to say? No? Of course it is? I should’ve jumped out an airlock or off a cliff on a test? Never met you? I couldn’t argue with him. Not if that would mean he might let me go. “Why do I feel like that was too easy?” I shrugged. He sighed. “All right. Well, if you feel up to it, we need to get up. I need to contact Deke and my second. We’re approaching central space soon. There are things that need to be done before then.” “Like find out who Ss’merit and the Trepharo are working for?” “Yes. We need to know where the rescued people come from. What species, planets, and potential contacts we can reach out to find for them. Our reports will be read but there will be officials asking more questions.” My heart hiccupped, and I stiffened. “You have reports… on me? W-will I have to talk to strangers?” “Yes.” Captain said it slowly. His hand against my back stroked soothing circles between my shoulder blades. “Never alone. I won’t let you face any of this alone.” “Promise?” I studied his eyes, seeking the truth there. “I promise.” I scooted back. “We should get up, Captain.” “Everett.” Captain caught my hand and stopped me. “I’m not your captain. Not just your captain, anyway. No, I’m not kicking you off the crew. But if we’re alone, and especially if we’re naked, I need you to call me Everett.” An immediate denial sprang to my lips, but I studied him. The memory was hazy, but Aparoe had said something about helping him being hard, but why? It wasn’t physically hard—though we both were—but it was confusing. “I’ll try.” That was the best I could offer. When we met with Deke and Kekillill, Captain’s second, my nerves had started to jangle again. Not sure if it was the nerves about the Trepharo, or meeting someone new, or the inches of space between me and Captain. Kekillill was a female Verazoi. Her arms were covered in green tendrils that quivered when Deke sat down next to her. He brushed a hand over them as they hit his arm. “Take your hands off me!” she trilled. “You touched me first!” “Enough!” Captain barked out the order and they sprang apart. “Report.” “You first,” Deke said. “As it should be, security guard. The ship entered the edge of central space. The radioactivity of the Qlart system is blocking communication, but we should pass that in the next shift rotation. We’ll send reports at that time and wait for commands.” “Don’t send the reports until I clear it,” Captain said. Kekillill’s spots darkened. “Captain?” “Just a precaution as we finish investigating. I want to send complete files.” “Oh. Of course, sir.” “That will be all, Kekillill.” She glanced at Deke, her spots darkening again. “Are you sure?” “Yes.” “He’s staying.” Captain’s tone and the smug smile on Deke’s tone bothered me. Didn’t they trust her?
  9. Cia

    Chapter 29

    “What? Humans don’t bond.” Captain jerked back, and I whimpered at the loss of his touch. “Who cares about that in this moment? Put your hand back on Kohen right now,” Aparoe ordered. His hand was even warmer than before and shaking slightly. Or was I shaking? I couldn’t tell. But I could breathe, and the pounding in my head and ache all over my body I’d felt for the last few days started to ease. “It looks like he’s just having a panic attack. He’s had them before.” “Has he?” Lakshou asked. “Captain Querry, since you brought Kohen on board, I’ve gradually adjusted to the unique signature of his electrical signals. The machinery in his mind has been dormant, and still is, but the parts of his mind that hold alien matter have been changing. I’ve been sensing what I thought were his emotions. “But I don’t think it’s that simple. Did you ever determine what all they did to him, Aparoe?” Lakshou asked. “No.” Aparoe’s voice was a quiet murmur behind me. “It’s too complex, and I don’t have scanning equipment that sensitive. Plus, the testing it would require would be too traumatizing.” I was starting to resent that they were talking about me while I was right there, but when I tried to speak, I couldn’t. My chest was too tight, and all that came out was a strangled whine. “Captain, there is a psychic connection between the two of you. I can see the mingling happen the second you touched him. He was barely breathing.” “He’s still barely breathing!” “I think that’s because you aren’t touching him the… right way.” There was a choking noise. “I… What?” “Think about it.” Aparoe held something over my head that beeped right in my head. I flinched. “Good. Good.” “Think about what?” Captain asked. “They had him in a suit that deprived him of all sensory contact unless they had him on some sort of test, he said. Things they made him do, even if he didn’t want to. The suit, plus the machinery in his mind, plus the alien biological matter all through his limbic system. That controls everything from emotions, to behavior, to memory, to even the olfactory senses.” Aparoe was telling Captain to think about it, but now that I wasn’t in danger of passing out and the pain was lessening, my mind was working again and I was absorbing everything they said. The intense need I felt for Captain? The way his scent calmed and drew me to him? The way the aliens had been able to change my behavior and my memories? Wrapping up most of my childhood in a fog that only cleared in snatches here and there? What they’d done to me had done far more than given me strength and agility. I wasn’t human. I wasn’t alien. I was something completely other. And I knew, if Captain rejected me again, I’d die. “When you took him from his cell, he was in your quarters. In your bed. We did not touch him without gloves on after we took off the suit, since we worried about infection. But you touched him, talked to him. He would have naturally bonded with you. And who better? You care about him, Everett.” Aparoe’s voice held sympathy. “I know this is hard for you, and why, but this young man needs you. Your past is just that. He may be young, but he’s lived enough for several lifetimes. Why not give both of you a chance to be happy?” “But, if this is because of some weird biology… what if it changes?” Captain’s voice dropped at the end. “What if we get back to the central systems, some government official debriefs him and convinces him to let them study what they did to him, and they can fix it. And, when they do, this bond disappears?” “Kohen? Let some stranger convince him to let doctors poke around his brain and do surgery? Because removing the alien matter would be the only way to change it. And that would probably kill him because it is literally grafted to his own brain tissue as if it grew that way naturally.” “Fear, Captain Querry, that’s what you’re feeling. And hope. Try to let go of the fear and hold on to the hope.” Lakshou was using his meditation voice. “I’m not telling you to go to your quarters, or his, and have sex with Kohen. I doubt either of you are ready for that. But both of you need some skin-on-skin contact and some time to come to grips with all this.” “How am I going to explain any of it?” “Actually,” Aparoe said, “his brain activity shows that he’s been conscious the whole time. He’s just so physically overcome that he’s incapable of movement.” “Are you serious?” A hand touched my face, cupping my cheek. “Kohen? Can you hear me?” I wanted to answer Captain, but I couldn’t. I tried for the second best thing, opening my eyes so I could see him close to me, touching my skin, but my eyelids barely fluttered. I sighed. “That’s okay, Kohen. That’s enough. Rest.” Captain’s thumb brushed the underside of my jaw. “I’m taking him back to my quarters. Deke, resolve this situation with the Trepharo. I want to know everything it knows.” “Yes, sir.” Captain grunted as I was lifted into the air. “You’ve put on weight since the first time I carried you,” he said. When he set me down, I was surrounded by his scent, and I knew I was in his bed again, not on the couch. “Skin-on-skin contact, huh?” Captain chuckled, and it sounded off. “Well, here goes.” Fabric rustled, the bed shifted, and I rolled. Aparoe had cut off my shirt then wrapped me in a covering from Lakshou’s temple, so my skin was bared. Then I was chest to chest to Captain, my head tucked into his neck. Utter contentment.
  10. Did you have a chance to read these short stories featured in Cris Kane's fantastical tale, X-Dream Makeover this month? While there is a common thread in all 4 chapters, they do standalone quite well, so I hope a lot of people got a chance to read at least one of the four. Did you have a favorite character? Makeover? Make sure you share your thoughts below in the comments, but first, as always, I grilled the author to find out a little more about him and his writing! If you had 30 minutes of free time, what would you do? Nap. What's your favorite room in your house? Do you plot or write there? The bedroom. That's also where my computer is located, so I guess the phrase "that's where the magic happens" actually applies in this case. The stories I've posted here are unusual for me in that I haven't outlined them in advance. I've come up with a premise and let the writing process tell me where it needs to go. That said, once things start to fall into place and a structure reveals itself, I end up jotting down lots of notes for events and details that should fall later in the story, if only so I don't forget them. What’s the best part of being an author? As many have said before me, I like having written more than I enjoy the actual work of writing. That said, my favorite part of the process is the moment when a particular phrase or sentence pops into my head or flows out of my fingers and surprises me. Something that perfectly fits the precise situation. Something that could ONLY work at that exact point in the specific context of the set of characters and circumstance I've put in place. Some realization that I would never have come to if I hadn't been writing this particular story. I don't feel like I can take much credit for such brainstorms, but I do feel lucky that I'm the first person who gets to enjoy them at the moment of conception. I hope they eventually give the reader a similar amount of pleasure. What kind of research did you do for X-Dream Makeover? Location? Theme? Character? The most helpful "research" for this series of stories has been my visits to San Francisco over the years. I don't live there, but have been there enough that I have a general lay of the land that I figure my sense of geography won't be glaringly off the mark. Otherwise, this group of stories didn't require a lot of intense research. Despite the fantastical nature of the transformations, I did try to treat the situations as realistically as I could, exploring the potential drawbacks that might come about if Mr. Lee's various potions and devices actually existed. The line in the first chapter, “So what is it you wish to have that your money cannot buy you?” feels particularly… sinister. Sort of in a ‘Beware, go no further, danger, danger’ vibe that directly contradicts the modern Mr. Lee we see at first. Did you deliberately merge these two natures of his character or did it develop organically as you wrote? From the very beginning, I wanted to paint Mr. Lee as enigmatic, leaving his origin and even his age intentionally vague. He might seem like a stereotypical "old Asian wise man" but he knows more than he's letting on. He's clearly putting on an act to some degree, speaking in a stilted manner and purposely coming across as less worldly than he actually is. From the get-go, I have him hiding a Whopper Jr. and a Mello Yello from his customer. I like that he's fundamentally a benevolent person, but with a sly sense of humor that he hides behind his created persona. Perhaps the key descriptor in that first chapter is "When you've been doing something as long as Mr. Lee, it becomes inevitable that you start to fuck around with the clientele, just to keep it interesting for yourself." I enjoyed taking his point of view, as someone who had been doing this a long time and had seen many situations, so little surprised him. He knows the pitfalls of his clients' requests because he's seen how wishes have backfired on people in the past who haven't thought things through. He also wants to stay under the radar, so it's to his benefit to discourage ill-advised transformations. Each chapter has a very different tale with insightful lessons the characters learn about themselves. What message do you think the story has, beyond ‘be careful what you wish for’? We all have things we would change about ourselves if we could, so there's a definite wish-fulfillment aspect to these stories. I would hope the stories also convey that sometimes what we think is a flaw could actually be a strength, or that often what we want to change about ourselves isn't actually what's causing our problems. In the end, hopefully the characters end up with a better understanding of their true selves. Nobody goes through an encounter with Mr. Lee without being changed, although probably not in the way they anticipated. Do you plan to write more stories for the people Mr. Lee helps? He's such a fun character to write that I would definitely go back to using him if the proper story presented itself. It helps to have an established character who we know can do fantastical things, rather than having to come up with a brand new story device every time you want to bring about a magical transformation. I did write one additional chapter, titled "Where'd He Go?", which I consciously did not post as part of this series. I like it, but it's a bit darker and more cynical than the other four chapters, which I feel have a more consistent tone that allows them to hang together as a coherent group. That standalone chapter can be read here, along with some other transformation tales I've written over the years: https://www.gayspiralstories.com/newStory/show/2320 What other projects are you working on that you might like to share with us? I'm attempting to motivate myself to write a screenplay, so I haven't been too productive lately on the fiction front. I do have one story pretty well mapped out that could find its way to GA someday if I somehow find the time to write it. All of my stories seem to have an element of the fantastical, although it doesn't reveal itself immediately in this one.
  11. Who wants to play a game? The Idioms are Real is a fun game where you have to write a scene/story where the idiom means exactly what it says. I see lots of interesting worlds to come! If you want to play, just chime in (make sure you do an @ mention of my name so I don't miss your request to play) or PM me. I'm going to put them all in here as well so we can discuss/commiserate/laugh together. Because we need some guidelines and how-tos:1. Contact Cia (PM or @ mention here) : She will use an idiom random generator to give you your prompt2. You must use said prompt--whatever it is--in your story as if it really means what it says! So if you were to get it's raining cats and dogs... you must have characters somehow being showered with cats and dogs. Just how would that work? It's up to you! But the more fun, the better. 3. Write a flash fiction piece under 5k in length. No minimum word count required--but you can't just post the idiom, of course, lol. 4. Post the flash piece as either a solo story or a chapter to your existing flash fiction collection in GA Stories, but make sure it is saved as UNPUBLISHED. Do not set a date or time to have the story published. 5. PM Cia with a link to your flash fiction piece. The story title/author name and a link will be featured in a topic on the site as well as in the site's weekly newsletter. The deadline for the stories to be completed and posted (unpublished!) will be April 25th. Authors and their Idioms: Dolores Esteban: food for thought Valkyrie: jack of all trades Puppilull: all Greek to me MacGreg: crack someone up BHopper2: run out of steam Defiance19: long in the tooth northie: to steal someone's thunder mikiesboy: off on the wrong foot Renee Stevens: every cloud has a silver lining JayT: rise and shine Drew Espinosa: wear your heart on your sleeve Caz Pedroso: drink like a fish Timothy M: under the weather Comicfan: when pigs fly
  12. What would happen if it really did rain cats and dogs? Or if someone's bark was worse than their bite? Well, in this writing game, the challenge was to take the random idiom and make it "real". A bunch of authors from the site took on the challenge, and they're all ready for your reading enjoyment! Run out of Steam by BHopper2 A war rages in the Barony of Branister. After the Barony was invaded by Archduke Listerian, he installed a puppet King upon the Branister throne. Noble houses have risen up in a rebellion, and this is just one of many tales of the war. Outlook: Grey and Unsettled by northie Working at Merryweather's used to be a secure job. Now the weather market's been opened up, the competition from other companies is fierce. Wrong footed by mikiesboy Faris rolled off and put his arms around me. He drew me close, and I reveled in his warm sweating body, the evidence of our lovemaking. All at Sea by Puppilull “You should have seen me.” Belus spread his arms almost losing his balance on the table he was standing on. “There I was surrounded by no less than five.You Should Have Seen Me by Caz PedrosoSound of moving water. Something was touching his legs. Harsh sun beating down on him. What was he lying on? Sand? Was that sand? Papik and Kigun Inuk by Defiance19 Papik walked dejectedly along the arctic ice. The wind was howling and blowing in cold circles around him. He stopped at the floe edge to pull his skins tighter around his body. When Pigs Fly, A Lich Dies by Comicfan This story was written as part of the Idioms Are Real! Challenge. After being given the idiom "when pigs fly" I read a piece about Dungeons & Dragons in one of the forums and this story was born. Crack Someone Up by MacGreg From a dimly-lit booth at Ricci's restaurant, Jeremy dines on linguine and fine wine while waiting for the occasional client to require his expertise - but only on Tuesday nights, and only if the price is right. Jack of All Trades by Valkyrie “Welcome to All Trades Employment Agency. I’m Jack. It’s a pleasure to meet you.” The tall man reminded Chris of a beanpole—skinny, but not unattractive. Jack’s smile was that of a polished businessman, beaming but appearing to be genuine. Neural Boosters by Dolores Esteban “What about the data? Do we have results?” Professor Evans asked upon entering the room.
  13. Cia

    Threat Assessed

    Thank you! I still think this needs to be longer, I just never have the time to write more for it.
  14. Cia

    Chapter 28

    Oooh, just what could the null field do to him? I am so surprised you're the only one who mentioned that!! I loooove to try and hide little breadcrumbs in the story that only make sense later on. Those "Oh, wait, AHA!" moments are fun as a reader for me too.
  15. Cia

    Chapter 28

    You are very intuitive. Get out of my brain! Or maybe he needs someone who thinks of him first? Like the captain has been trying to do.... Awww, from you who does wicked and twisted so well, that is the ultimate compliment! <3 Probably put a wrinkle in that whole scenario. LOL
  16. Cia

    Chapter 28

    Oh, definitely shocking truth coming! I'm glad someone picked up on the PTSD-tones of the breakdown Kohen is going though, and not just a seesaw of emotional behaviors. Yes, he's been recovering and adjusting to freedom, but nothing is ever only a forward battle. He needs help, for sure. Remember, there are all sorts of aliens out there and all sorts of bonding. What happens with Lakshou for his patients isn't the same as for all other races. I do so love reading that it was unexpected! I thought I was trickling in little clues. More about it to come next week, of course.
  17. Cia

    Chapter 27

    I love reading all the comments and how you guys think about this story. Thank you, everyone, for reading!! And it really helps me some weeks to decide just which questions should be answered. As for the Trepharo, you'll get to see its form "later". *goes to look up salt hungry creature*
  18. Cia

    Page Views

    Story views tells you how many times people have caught a link with your title somewhere/somehow and thought it sounded interesting enough to click on it to explore further versus people who click on your chapters because they follow the story. The read counts on chapters being accurate is important because it is good to know how many people "try" your story with the first chapter compared to continued read counts. And while the story views is not a totally accurate count, as I can think of a lot of times I click on a story to bounce around chapters as an admin, it does give you a general gist of things if you're exploring what kinds of content catch the attention of readers. Certain lengths of titles? Tags used? Categories? Blurb information and length? If you're interested in trying to explore the way your story details can help your story catch the eye of readers (a tenet of marketing, and often an idea of what kind of content sells or garners more feedback for future writing), the story views is important to be separate from just counting up the number of times people click on the chapters. Overall, the way our story views and chapter view counts are counted is a simple way of letting those authors who care to put in the work to learn more about readers' preferences.
  19. @Defiance19 Awww, this wasn't supposed to be stressful! If you're ever playing a game and you're not sure of a rule, or if your story idea works, or... well, whatever, send me a PM! It might take me a day or so to get back to people right now since things are so crazy busy here in RL, but I'm always willing to give feedback to help authors understand the game idea or a rule.
  20. Cia

    Chapter 28

    “Null field engaged. All vulnerable areas of the ship have been sealed off. We’re going to start hunting on the level Kohen is on, as well as his quarters, and the level where the other rescues are sequestered. I’ve sent three teams, but with the null field, he’ll be aware that we’ve discovered his presence on board.” Deke’s methodical report reassured me, but I couldn’t relax. Not until they had him. It. They had no real gender characteristics when they were in their true forms but the bodies it had been using to follow me had been male, so it was probably male. Then again, the crew was mostly made of males, so it made more sense to have that form to avoid standing out. So it could be female. And none of that mattered at all. It was just a distraction so I wouldn’t have to think about that thing coming near me, and my growing fear this was just an elaborate trap. Could they have created an entire ship, a planet? Fooled me that well? How could I know different? “Kohen, you need to breathe.” Lakshou’s quiet voice startled me. I gasped, and my chest hurt. I let the screen fall to my lap. “That’s it. Keep breathing.” “What’s going on? Kohen?” Captain’s voice came from the screen, and Lakshou picked it up. “He needs a moment, Captain.” “Did something happen? Deke, send someone to guard Lakshou’s quarters.” “Not as far as I can tell.” Lakshou watched me, his horns glowing, but nothing could ease the doubts that swarmed and overwhelmed me, just like those flame wasps had covered Holldu’s body in stinging welts, leaving behind a poison that killed him. “Deke—” “I already sent someone, Captain, but they’re trying to be subtle. Relax, no one is knocking down the door to hurt your boy.” Their voices faded out, and I just let go. Since I’d let Captain take me out of that tiny cell, a lot had changed. No more suit. I now knew that I was different, and why, if not exactly how I was different or what I was capable of. The things I thought were tests were memories, which I sort of thought I’d always known but couldn’t handle. I had a job, friends, and I’d touched and hugged a man—who’d hugged me back—just because I wanted to. But all I thought I knew balanced on a single thing… could I trust my own mind to know what was true? Was this a fantasy? A nightmare? I’d been afraid I’d hurt someone, that the scientists and people would use me against the ship’s crew. Then we learned there were people on the ship working with the same people who tortured and abused other races for power. How could I help find out who was behind all that, if I couldn’t even trust that the walls around me and the people I saw were real or not? I curled on my side, hugging my knees to my chest. A light covering fell over me, but I didn’t move. Sleep would have been a blessing, but the vise around my chest only grew tighter. It was hard to breathe, so I had to focus on each breath, pulling one in and pushing the next out. A whole shift could’ve passed for all I knew. Lakshou kept the screen on, the vid link active between him and Captain and Deke. The reports meant next to nothing until I caught a note of triumph. “Got him!” Captain said. “He was trying to hide, but a crew member sniffed him out thanks to Kohen’s description of his scent. Thank you, Kohen.” Even if I wanted to, I couldn’t talk. I could barely breathe. Lakshou had been giving me space, but he brought the screen over so Captain could tell me thank you, since he thought I hadn’t heard him. I had, I just… I couldn’t…. “Kohen? Kohen!” Lakhou’s voice rose, and he shook my shoulder. It only made it harder to focus on the in and out. I was getting tired; maybe I’d just stop. Just for a little while. “Captain, he’s barely breathing.” “Overriding remaining lockdown protocols. I’m sending Aparoe and a medical team now.” Captain’s voice shook. Was he having trouble breathing too? Maybe it was something to do with the air. Surely they’d think of that, if we were being attacked again. Lakshou stayed by my side until the door to his meditation quarters slid open. He started to protest but stopped and sank to his knees when Aparoe came inside. Almost immediately after, Captain entered. He was breathing in great gasps, and I grew worried. As worried as I could be, as tired as I was in that moment, I couldn’t say or do anything to show it. But they needed to check Captain out, then run a diagnostic on the ship, not bother with me. Something must have been done to the environmental controls. I’d just been in the system, so I knew it hadn’t been properly maintained before this flight. Aparoe began running tests, just like they always did. I’d grown used to them, enough not to flinch away. Nothing Aparoe did gave any answers. The screen waved over my body remained stubbornly silent. I couldn’t tell Aparoe what was wrong, not matter how carefully I was cajoled. My lungs stayed tight, my chest screamed, and the room grew darker. And darker. And then a warm hand touched my shoulder, and peace and ease radiated from that gentle touch. I gasped in a loud breath, air scraping by my strangled throat. Lakshou’s gasp drowned out even that harsh sound. “By all that’s holy, you’ve bonded!”
  21. I go to bed about 10 PM, Pacific time. Is that enough? If you need further discussion, feel free to PM me.
  22. Cia

    The Martian

    I like where he dips the potato in Vicodin "because there's no one here to stop me and I ran out of ketchup 7 days ago".
  23. Cia

    Latest Story Updates

    How did you add the chapter? That's vital information that must be shared for us to have any hope of helping but people continually forget to give us all the information we need to look into problems. Did you add the chapter to your story and publish immediately? Post-date? Add it unpublished and then use the drop menu to publish it? Use a computer, a tablet, a phone? What browser? Did anything happen differently from times before when the chapter saved? The more you share, the more we might be able to figure out what happened to prevent your story from announcing in the recent updates list.
  24. Oh, those tumultuous days of teenage angst, as the high school years are winding down and graduation looms--real life is coming. How do they bridge the gap between child and adult? Well... Yeah, so it's not necessarily a complicated question. But then again, for some, it's not that easy either. Check out this great short story by Sara Alva, that just so happens to be our featured Classic Author story this month. No Strings by Sara Alva Length: 11,010 Description: Josh's friend has made an important life decision. Given the opportunity, will he make the same one? Some Readers Said: Really cute tale with some interesting switches, role reversals and a clever take on strings attached. Thoroughly enjoyed it. ~ Bill W The story is powerful and impactful without the length, something I hadn't expect Sara to be able to grasp immediately since her last story was technically a multi-part story. ~ JT Oh. My. God. I am literally the slowest person on earth. I FINALLY GET WHY BRENNAN TIED THEIR SHOELACES TOGETHER LOL, I think I read it too fast the first time around. OH GOD SO ADORABLE *dies* ~ Luc Rosen If you want to spread the word about Sara Alva's story, download the graphic below and add it to your signature! Make sure you come back on Wednesday to see the excerpt I chose to share!

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