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Re: [Jan 2017] - Urban Fantasy - Discussion Thread For those folks who've already given me the all clear to tease their stories, I'll be posting a teaser every day or three. I will probably circle back around to stories multiple times depending on how many submissions we get. So far, I think this is working really well!
January 20, 2017, 12:42:05 AM
Re: [Jan 2017] - Urban Fantasy - Discussion Thread
It's not.
I have a few ideas, but I don't really want to write. Or to be honest, I do want to write, but because I know that whatever I write ends up being... poop (like pretty much all the stories I have written for the contest in the past), I'd rather not.

uh.  no.

while i love being contrarian just because, this time, i can honestly say you're full of poop if you think your stories are poop.


January 21, 2017, 12:02:42 AM
Re: [Jan 2017] - Urban Fantasy - Discussion Thread
Y'all be makin me nervous. Why is everyone such good authors?  :-[

aha!  we're discovered!  it's all a clever ruse to get you to be nervous!

<insert cardboard villain laugh>

but, seriously -- no way, man.  we're all learning!  some of us have just been doing it a bit longer.  working up more entries.  eventually, you'll be there too!

but, to be honest, this is less a contest than a big ol' club where the only membership requirement is that you write a story.  stretching, challenging yourself, reading other interpretations of the same topic, critiques at the end, it's all a growing process.

we get excited when more people enter.  we get excited when other people read our stuff.  we get excited to practice.

winning?  meh.  whatever.  nbd.

working with a deadline?  awesome.

getting someone to read your stuff and give opinions on it?  awesome.

deconstructing others' writing and offering a critique?  awesome.

these are all things that will grow your toolset as a writer.  it's a super-fabulous thing.

tho, keep in mind, this is all coming from a guy who, while driving through the countryside, STILL points out the window and hollers, "look! horses!!"

yay!  mad props for having the courage to take the first step!

January 26, 2017, 03:31:11 AM
Re: [Jan 2017] - Urban Fantasy - Voting Thread ebook versions for all my friends!

kindle mobi:

generic epub:

word document:

critique sheet:

NOTE: Files with '-noauthor' appended only have the author
names listed at the beginning, on the table of contents.

February 02, 2017, 03:00:29 PM
Re: [Jan 2017] - Urban Fantasy - Voting Thread
Thanks @m3mnoch !

you're welcome!

(for whatever it is i did, but i'm sure it was AWESOME!)

February 05, 2017, 02:00:32 AM
Re: [Jan 2017] - Urban Fantasy - Voting Thread
I like your new story, Nora.

Don't worry, the guys are just being terrible teases and I'm playing along with them. I'm glad you enjoyed it, but I'm not fussed if they don't.  ;)

I hate all Nora's stories. Never vote for them.  ;)

February 08, 2017, 03:14:12 AM
Re: [Jan 2017] - Urban Fantasy - Voting Thread
you click on "remove vote" and vote again.

tho, that button only works if you click the checkbox next to "Demon-X".  just sayin'.

March 02, 2017, 12:57:07 AM
Re: [Jan 2018] - Rebirth/Renewal - Submission Thread The Keeper of the Queen Key
1484 words

Spoiler for Hiden:

At noon, I reached the top of the Turret of a Thousand Steps. My halberd, restored to its former glory, glittered in the sun as I strode across the grand causeway to the great domed Tower of the Clockwork Queen. Ancelagon the bronze dragon sat perched upon a battlement beside the great doors.

I spun my weapon. “Good as new. The Queen will love it.”

“For a little while,” the dragon rasped, staring as I passed. A staring dragon is unnerving, for they possess the scowl of an eagle, the eyes of a cat, and claws worse than both.

I frowned. “What—”

“Enter,” called the Queen in her musical voice. Over my shoulder I saw Ancelagon watch me unblinking as I stepped through the door.

Inside, the Clockwork Queen stood bathed in golden sunlight shining down through the oculus high above. She raised a gloved hand, scattering bronze sparkles across the shadowy pillars that formed a ring around the periphery. “Close the door, knight.”

I did then knelt before her.


I presented my weapon. “It is remade.”

She looked down at my halberd, then her sapphire eyes glanced up at me over the line of her filigree veil. “As are you.”

I smiled. “Indeed.”

“It is the way of the world. All things are made and marred, by mishap or violence or the slow decay of years. We preserve what we can, restore what we can. But all castles are sandcastles and soon humbled by the tide.”

“Not you, my Queen.”

She canted her head at me, and the gemstones in her crown dazzled my eyes. “You think not?”

“My Queen?”

“I am neither perfect, nor outside the cycle of the world.” She undid her veil, beneath which I had never seen. The bronze and gold of her face continued as I had imagined: a modest nose, lips, and chin - the face of a calm young woman, though she was as old as the Clockwork Keep itself, I supposed.

“Knight, do you see why I wear a veil?”

“No, my Queen.”

“If I had a mouth, a real mouth, I would smile at that. But I am not perfect, like you.” She narrowed her eyes, which I had always taken as a sign of a broader smile beneath. But I realized that was all there was. A minor element of artifice, a trifling limitation. But a limitation of artifice nonetheless.

I lowered my eyes to her shining bronze feet. “Why do you show me this?”

She stepped closer and grasped my shoulders, looking up at me with her perfect golden face. “Because I need you to understand what I am, and what I am not, so that you can help me in a great task. So great, in fact, that I would not command you. It is too much to ask, even of a knight. Will you help me of your own accord?”

My breath caught in my throat. “You know I will.”

“I knew.” She stared up at me for a moment longer. The twirled copper and gold wire of her hair shone in the warm sunlight. “The weightiest questions are always asked with the answer already known.” She released me and walked to the door. “Come. I haven’t much time.”

Dumbfounded, I followed her out and across the great causeway, down the Turret’s thousand steps, and then further down into the deeps of the Clockwork Keep, far below my deepest errands. There, the great gears and cams of the keep turned and clanked and thudded. At the bottom, we came to a stout door, marked with the Queen’s seal.

She nodded and I pushed open the door, unleashing the slow but thunderous racket, like an immense bag of silverware falling slowly down an endless stair.

Inside, huge shafts anchored in gears the size of wagon wheels passed through the room horizontally and vertically through holes in the walls, ceiling, and floor. Countless gears clacked through innumberable cycles. What the shafts turned, I did not know, but I imagined they opened and closed the gates and raised the four enormous drawbridges that led to the Thousand Thousand Roads.

It was too loud to speak and be heard, so she pointed at a row of great bronze vats covered with oak lids. Each held an enormous amount of clear, scentless oil. Large ladles hung from each. She walked to the shafts and gears, gesturing here and there. I noticed the shine and realized the oil was for the shafts.

She led me out and closed the door behind us. My ears rang from the noise.

“Yes, it is a noisy place. You must apply oil where I showed you every month, or the Keep will die.”

“Die?” I laughed. I had never thought it a living thing.

She led me all the way back up to her tower.

Ancelagon sat beside the tower door and bowed low. “Farewell, my Queen.”

“Farewell, Ancelagon!” the Queen said, while I just gaped. She embraced the dragon, then went inside.

Ancelagon blinked then nodded toward the door.

Inside, the Queen drew open a curtain and revealed a broad table, on which lay a being like herself. But while the Clockwork Queen was gold and bronze with hints of platinum and copper here and there, this clockwork lady was wrought entirely of shining silver and mirror-chrome.

“What do you think of her?”

“She is beautiful,” I said. “But not as fair as you. And she has no veil.”

The Queen opened her hand. Her platinum filigree veil lay in her gloved palm. “This is my gift to her. Give it to her when she wakes.” To my amazement, she opened a panel in her breast. Within, I saw the end of a small key set within a complex mechanism: the heart of the Clockwork Queen. It turned slowly while I stared.

“Give it to her yourself, my Queen.”

The Queen only shook her head slowly. Had she a mouth, I was sure she would have smirked at me. “I cannot, for there is only one Queen Key, and I have been its keeper for the time allotted to me. You shall be its keeper and use it to wind my great task – my heir.”

“But,” I stammered, “you are immortal! You’re timeless. Without you, the Clockwork Keep stops, and everything...”

“Everything ends, yes. I know. And though you are not wholly wrong, Sir Knight, you are only half right. I am immortal because I cannot die – but that is only because I am not alive, or at least, not alive like you. But as long-lived as I am, I am not timeless. Nothing is.”

“But,” I went on, unable to accept what she was saying. “The Keep needs you.”

She laughed then and set her hand on my shoulder. “The Keep needs only oil. The errands and tasks of the Queen are all artifice.”

I frowned. “Then why have a Queen at all, then?”

“Because the Keep serves people, and people need to believe that there is someone guiding things.”

“But if that’s not true, it’s just a lie.”

“Not a lie – artifice. Lies deceive to serve the liar’s purposes; artifice deceives to serve the deceived. It is not real, but that does not stop it from fulfilling its purpose. The Clockwork Queen does guide things – just not the way people think. My rule is not real, but my purpose is. I do guide the people who come here – but it is they who rule, though they know it not.”

“Why not tell them?”

“Because believing that I am the incomprehensible, incorruptible wheel that turns things convinces them that they are not. They leave their squabbles and greed and pettiness at the gates because they believe ... what they believe. What they believe is not important - that they behave as their best selves when they come here - that is very important. Without a Queen, this is just a place. With a Queen, the Clockwork Keep is where the sun rises first and sets last – and in such a place, the realms of men share ideas and exchange that which is most crucial of all.”

The prospect of losing my Queen clenched my jaw so tight my teeth were grinding. “And what is that?”

“Hope,” she said. “You must teach her this. That is the mission I call upon you, the Keeper of the Clockwork Queen, to accomplish.”

I wanted to refuse, in the vain hope my wishes would change the way of the world. But I had given my word.

“Farewell, Knight. All things end, even I. There can be no beginnings without ends, and a world without beginnings would be sadder still. You remain the finest of your kind, and I am very fond of you. I made her to match your weapon. Serve her well.”

“I will,” I said. And I did.

January 14, 2018, 10:56:25 AM