Author feature – Wolf Killer by C H Clepitt

Wolf Killer is book three of the The Magic Mirror Collection by C H Clepitt. The collection jumps through history, retelling fairy tales with a queer twist. So far we have seen Beauty and the Beast set in 1930s France, and Snow White set during the Second World War spanning Germany and rural Wales. In this latest instalment retelling Red Riding Hood, we find ourselves in 1980s America, and on the hunt for a serial killer.
“Honey, it’s the ’80s. You need to find yourself a woman who can hold your hand in public, not one who calls you her ‘friend’ and keeps you away from her boss. You don’t need that kinda heartache. You think it’ll be OK, but it won’t, trust me. It starts to eat away at you.”
FBI Agent Clara Hunter might not be girlfriend material, but as Red soon discovers, if you have a serial killer on your heels she is just the woman you want in your life!

Clara took a deep breath before entering Aphrodite’s Bar. She hoped no one would recognise her from the night before. It was lunchtime. Different staff, hopefully. The woman behind the bar wore stone washed jeans with braces, a fitted white vest and sported a mohawk and nose ring that told the world not to mess with her.
“Help you folks?” She asked suspiciously as Clara and Marty walked in.
“FBI, honey,” Marty flicked out his badge with a flourish. He liked to pretend he was in a movie. “I’m Agent Keating, this is Agent Hunter.”
“We’re up to code,” the woman bristled. “Wanna see our liquor license?”
“Oh, no!” Clara moved forward in front of Marty. “It’s nothing like that…”
Just then she was interrupted by Red bustling in from the back room running her fingers hurriedly through her hair as she did so.
“Sorry, Jill,” she was distracted. “You know how Nanna is, I couldn’t get away!” She spotted Clara and stopped dead.
“You work here too?” Clara asked awkwardly.
“Need to keep up with the rent…” Red glanced between Clara and Marty uncomfortably.
“Knew I wasn’t losing my touch!” Marty grinned and elbowed Clara.
“Right,” she smiled awkwardly at him. “Sure does explain it.” She turned her attention to Jill. “You do bar snacks?”
“Wings,” Jill sounded baffled. “We do spicy Buffalo wings…”
“Great, we’ll order some wings and I’ll have a club soda,” she glanced at Marty who nodded. “Two club sodas and then maybe we could have a chat?”
“You have the best ideas!” Marty kissed her on the cheek. “I’ll grab that table there,” he indicated a small round table by the entrance, “and people watch. You do the interview.”
“You got it.” Clara pulled up a bar stool.
“I’ll get on that,” Jill opened two bottles of soda against the bar and poured them into glasses simultaneously. “Red can answer any questions you have.” She came out from behind the bar and crossed to where Marty had positioned himself, put his drink in front of him and headed to the kitchen.
“Official business?” Red asked as she glanced awkwardly across the room to Marty, who was studying the street.
“Yeah, it could be serious.” Clara lifted her briefcase onto the bar and unclipped it. Reaching in, she withdrew the photographs of the victims. “Do you know any of these women? Have they been in here at all?”
Red looked at the pictures curiously. “They in trouble?”
“They’re dead.”

Wolf Killer is released on 26 September. You can preorder it now!

A Bite of… C H Clepitt

Question one: Fairytales. How important do you think fairytales are in the 21st century?
I don’t know that fairy tales are important to the 21st Century in and of themselves. What I do know is that we all grew up with them and that none of them have any queer representation, and that IS important. People need to see themselves in their favourite stories and that’s what I’m doing with this collection.

Question two: Who are your writing heroes?
My writing heroes are anyone trying to put out own voices marginalised fiction when the odds are stacked against them. Keep doing it, we all need representation.

Question three: If you had twenty-four hours and three wishes to save the world, what would you do?
It would depend how the world was ending how I would need to wish. You can’t just wish willy nilly in the face of an apocalypse.

C H Clepitt says:
“I love the fact that historical fiction gives you a snapshot into an era that you may not have previous knowledge of. There’s something about reading a work of fiction set in a different time that is so much more immersive than just reading a history book.
“With each of the The Magic Mirror collections I have tried to write them in the style of the era, and Wolf Killer may be the most grown up yet. It deals with issues of queerness and identity the way the previous two books have not and I hope people enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it.”
You can keep in touch on Twitter!


Daily Drabble – Beer

August. A breathless night. Grandma shuffled onto the porch. 

With beer. 

It was icy.

“What? How?”

“Got the frigerator fixed.”

As we took the first reviving belt a voice spoke from the darkness.

“I’ll take them beers.”

“You gonna hafta come get em.”

Grandma dropped into her saggy old chair.

The guy who stepped into the lamplight was as big as a house and he had a Colt lined on Grandma.

But ten-gauge gauge trumps handgun, and Grandma right about blew a hole through him with the sawn-off she slid out from under her cushions.

“Cheers,” she said.

©️Jane Jago

Sunday Serial: Wrathburnt Sands 20

Because life can be interesting when you are a character in a video game…

Then the airship angled down and stopped abruptly. It had moored at a platform identical to the one where they had boarded. Back on solid ground again, even if it was only as solid as a path in the middle of a swamp could be, Milla breathed a sigh of relief. The other two were still going at it as they went down the steps from the platform behind her.
“…but the armour and defence rating won’t stack so you’re better off taking something to boost your dodge.”
“My agility bonus has maxed out my dodge to the hard cap. And you’re missing the benefit of having the extra HP.”
Milla cleared her throat loudly. “Fascinating as I’m sure all that is, where do we go now?”
Pew looked at her and then looked around as if unsure where they were.
“If we’re heading to Lustrous Lake we have to go through the griblin village,” Glory said, pointing to where the ramp up to the stilt-settlement was guarded by a skinny looking creature with a purple and green skin, clad only in a loincloth and holding what looked like a barbed fishing spear. “The lake’s just on the other side – on the edge of the swamp.”
But Milla was looking at Pew who had a stricken expression. “What’s the matter? Are you alright?”
“I’m KOS to the griblins,” he said in a strangled voice.
“Oh fracking frag!” Glory looked appalled “You’re not serious?”
“What does that mean?” Milla asked, feeling lost as she often was around Visitors.
“It means your boyfriend can’t go through the village without every fragging griblin attacking him on sight. But what I don’t get is how come you’ve not got the faction? Every toon on the server has griblin faction by your level.”
“I forgot I’d never done it on this toon. It was last expansion and I only started my ryeshor this expac.” He sounded so miserable that Milla wanted to hug him, but she felt a bit shy doing so in front of the sarcastic Glory.
“Then maybe we can sort that?” she suggested.
The other two looked at her as if she had turned into a swamp slug.
“Seriously?” Glory shook her head and laughed. “Do you have any idea how long it takes to grind up griblin faction? The devs put it in as a time sink for those who’d done everything else in game to fill in before the new expac came out. It takes days just to be allowed into the village and even then you can’t pass through without maxing faction and that’s another week of grind.”
Milla picked out the essential idea that Pew was not going to be able to walk through the village and wrinkled her snout in thought.
“So then let’s go around the village.” She gestured to the swamp.
“No!” The answer came in chorus.
“We can’t do that,” Pew explained. “There are wandering contested raid boss mobs in this part of the swamp and the whole place is set up so you can’t help but run into them. We’d never make it through.” His crest had deflated completely and he looked defeated. “I can’t even use an invis pot. The griblin guards’ll see through it.”
Milla stiffened her shoulders and heaved a sigh.
Visitors!
Which gave her an idea. The one advantage she had here was that she wasn’t one.

We will return to Wrathburnt Sands by E.M. Swift-Hook next Sunday.

Return to Wrathburnt Sands was first published in Rise and Rescue Volume 2: Protect and Recover.

Mellow September

Season of mists and mellow
The return of the school master’s bellow
And the post-summer holidays ‘Hello!’
As now life resumes again.

Time to start wearing a sweater
Time to feel cooler and wetter
September’s climate is better
Than summer’s hard blazing heat.

Apples on trees ripen brightly
Brambles grow blackberries rightly
Beech nuts and cobnuts fall nightly
September’s own proffered feast.

The sense of well-being is assuring
With this month the year is maturing
And winter we’re not yet enduring
Indian summer may come.

E.M. Swift-Hook

Weekend Wind Down – Outside and Between Time and Space

“A people who move not through space-time, but through the limitless dimensions which lie outside and between time and space.” 

Fun. 

Playing with impossibilities, as the concept bounced within, [^] modulated the parameters one chose to create new variations. Liberally hiving energy through the Concept’s limitations, perceiving the expansion patterns and wondering where the limits might expire. One’s engagement intensity peaked as a promising parabola extruded through multiple frequencies, tiering their continuity in a brilliantly original manner, so an alternative hierarchy of perceived order shimmered into reality. 

Delight. 

[^] released the unfinished concept and harmonized oneself with this new perception, strimming the drifts of ungainly chaos from the extreme boundaries one had created until the whole seemed honed to a viable core, budding into a new authenticity.

>>that seems to be very unstable, my kin{0ne}, you might try at least anchoring it in some known tier, offer some link to actuality. If not, you know it is gone<< 

The harmonization broke unexpectedly through the strain of focus in which [^] held the Concept and the whole wavered, releasing tendrils of minor tiered realities that slipped away diminishing the whole. [^] surveyed the remains with brief regret. No matter. One could play afresh. One snapped the energy away and the concept ceased. 

[+] exuded regret. 

>>that was beautiful, you could still replicate it and strive to stabilize the dimensionality. maybe make it less extreme. you are so much for always pushing the limits<< 

Amusement. 

>>that is where the beauty lies, [+] , spiraling up out, on and over the edge of possibility<<

>>except [v] would call that a waste of energy<<

But there was no reproach in [+] ‘s demeanor, one’s every perceivable parameter, arced back into affection. [+] shared the same disregard for tradition as [^].

>>waste is only ever in not doing what can be done<< 

[^] returned, shaping the communication with a prim trimming more appropriate to the narrow mode [v] always adopted, than one’s own open and thriving manner. 

Brief patterns of wicked appreciation resolved and dissolved between them. They were close kin, extended into the same dimensionalities on many axes and many expressions of energy, being and Consciousness. 

>>we should be Working, my kin{0ne}<< 

Regret. 

But [+] was right by Duty and [^] harmonized that between them, before shifting focus through multiple tiers and frequencies to relocate one’s Consciousness at the Work. It was impressive to perceive. Despite the ever greater restrictions on the energy that was being gleaned from the open tiers in the Symmetry, the 0nes were lavishing it here in a manner [^] found strangely unsettling. 

Desperation. 

Not one’s own, but there, percolating as a taint through their fellow Weavers. Most would be oblivious to it, focused on the Work, but arriving into the event, [^] observed it and, from their close resonance, felt [+] perceive it as well.

>>>>THIS IS UNACCEPTABLE. HERE IS YOUR PLACE<<<<

The communication was brusque and intrusive, lacking any real attempt at polite harmonic modulation, just thrusting into Consciousness with disregard for the impact. It was rude enough to be a deliberate insult, but [v] simply assumed one had every right to do so. This Work was under [v]‘s Authority. [^] and [+] were serving on that, constrained by Duty. But [^] and [v] held very different views of the purpose of Authority, which created an ongoing dissonance between them. 

Annoyance. 

>not now, my kin{0ne}< [+] cautioned gently, soothing the disruption and discontinuity that the intrusive surge left in [^]‘s Essence with deft weaving. >this is too important to all 0nes, they will not back your breach with [v] over something they would consider trivial when set beside this Work< 

[+] was right, of course, and [^] modulated back and offered a humble apologetic mien, which [v] harmonized as brusquely as one had slammed in one’s last communication. 

>>>the Work is priority under Duty<<< [v] declaimed, exuding arrogance and self-importance , dismissing the apology as if [^] was a newly budded sentience, still acquiring skills and not a fully extended individual, and a highly talented Weaver capable of encompassing and coordinating more in a single perception, than most 0nes could begin to imagine as possible. The lack of resonance was creating a strain in the Work and as [v] showed no sign of compromise, [^] had little choice except to submit, or risk a real danger of damage to the foundation of the Work. 

>focus, my kin{0ne}. Let it go, and focus. remember we do this for [=], not for Duty< 

>wisdom from you [+], as always< 

[=] was resonance bonded with [+] and [^] although they had not chosen to bud a new conceptual sentience from their bond. [=] was an Explorer and the one chosen to pass through a minute fissure to the tier that the Nexus they now wove would access. [=] was lost to them until it could be established.

For the sake of their bond{0ne}, [^] tried to focus. A gently soothing ripple harmonized between the two kin{0nes} as they began strimming and weaving with the others. Every 0ne seeking a suitable frequency in the dimensionalities open to each, striving to place the anchors where they could both meld in and draw out energy to power the Nexus they were creating. It was more difficult to find viable tiers; even [^] whose reach was amongst greatest of any 0ne, rooted each anchor with ever more difficulty. 

Something was amiss with the resonance here. Not just this Work, but through all the Symmetry. A memory bubbled within [^], recalling the content of the last harmonization one had shared with [=].

>>we are becoming infected by Entropy, my bond{0ne}<< insisted [=], with a welded mix of sadness and anger. >>as an Explorer I see it more than you Weavers. I experience the tiers and return to Symmetry and each return confirms again my perception. the greed of the 0nes to encompass and draw in ever more of energy into the Symmetry is having the opposite effect. each new fissure in the tiers, supposed to bring in more energy, is opening us to parasitic reflux. I have perceived it, I have recorded it, but the Influencers will not receive my concepts<<

Swirls of antipathy and frustration curled between them. In empathy, [^] harmonized and soothed, but one’s own equilibrium was not easy to maintain. If what [=] perceived was as it seemed, then all 0nes stood in danger of ultimate dispersal – of becoming eventual victims of Entropy.

E.M. Swift-Hook

‘Wondrous Strange’ is the Fortune’s Fools origins story for Durban Chola. Read the whole story in The Quantum Soul anthology.

Changing Scene

It seems that nature’s aged somehow
Grown pale and brownly edged
The days have fluttered past and now
All the chicks are fledged
Ripe seed pods burst along the way
And spray their content green
While those who walk the path each day
Will see a changing scene
As yet the trees stand proudly leafed
And there’s no red and gold
Tween summer’s heat and winter’s grief
The year is growing old

©️Jane Jago

The Best of The Thinking Quill – XII

Bonjour my little love muffins,

It is one, the beloved and multi-talented Moonbeam Farquhar Metheringham IV, world-renowned author of the classic ‘Fatswhistle and Buchtooth’ and patient teacher who, via the medium of this ‘Thinking Quill’ seeks to inform, educate and excite – via the vulgar coils of the Interwebs  – the hearts and minds of a growing band of Readers Who Write.

Today, my Muse and I feel sportive and light and do gambol about in the water meadows of imagination in a harmony so perfect that to speak it is to mar its unsullied beauty.

Therefore, mes estudas, follow us quietly making your footsteps as gentle as the bleating lamb and as soft as the breast of the turtledove lest you dishonour the music of my life with your vulgarly large boots….  Ah yes, my children, follow in silence and  listen with care, for today we discuss the pinpoint of blue-hot flame that is literary erotica in all its fine forms.

How to Start Writing a Book – The Write Sex

It must be understood that the act of fornication, in its multiplicity of guises, is the engine that drives humanity to live out its mundane day-to-day existence in the hope that a glimpse, a scent, a touch, or a taste will donate to any given moment that sexual ecstasy for which it strives. Equally we must always take into account the sensibilities of our gentle readership and the rules that govern what may be said and what should only ever be hinted at.

We are, mes estudas, above the simply biological. We may not discuss the precise size and thickness of the male appendage, any more than we should even hint at the width/narrowness, hair/baldness of the female docking station. No. You may leave it to your reader to understand that tab A is most usually inserted into slot B (with occasional excursions into orifices C and D).

Your task as a purveyor of fantasy is to bring a flush to the cheek and a heaviness to the stomach of literature in such a way that the reader experiences those selfsame heats and twinges. A properly written scene of sexual tension should leave its reader panting lightly and susceptible to the merest breeze of sensuality.

Do not grasp your unfortunate victim by the genitalia and wrestle him to the ground with the sledgehammer blows of sexually obvious language. No. And again no. Rather scent the air with tender sensuality and slowly bring your reader to a climax only by the tenderest touches of the fingertips of perfect prose.

Build your scenes of human love with care, lest they tumble around your ears leaving you like a pubescent boy with damp pyjamas.

Oh yes, my students, who hang on my every word with the sort of open-mouthed excitement more usually generated by a pole dancer at an adolescent birthday party, lead your readership along the paths of sensual gratification by all means. But do so with the siren song of your creative juices, not by lassoing them with a string constructed of pubic hair and bodily secretions.

To finish this lesson. I offer a small extract from my own greatest work wherein our hero first feels the gentle tug of his feminine companion’s sensuality.

They came out of the desert into the fertile valley of the big river, just as the sun was dropping. Buchtooth kicked her camel until it knelt and leapt off the saddle throwing her clothing off as she ran towards the water.

“Come on Fatswhistle you ugly bastard, get off your frigging camel and get into this water. You smell worse than him.”

Fatswhistle followed his companion in a much more leisurely fashion. He was just removing his cracked leather boots when she threw herself into the water. Her back was broad and freckled and as she dived, the white globes of her arse were displayed to Fatswhistle’s suddenly interested gaze. He removed his clothing at a rather accelerated pace and hurried after her into the brown water.

She was singing tunelessly and washing her long carrot-orange curls when he waded over to her and sat down. The river mud felt like silk under his buttocks and he picked up one of his own feet and looked between his toes. He watched his companion from under his eyelids finding her heavy breasts surprisingly exciting as they dipped in and out of the water. He scooted closer and put out a tentative hand. She snorted and wrung the water out of her hair. Emboldened, he touched the freckled skin on her shoulder. She jumped and swore, dunking him under the water until he saw stars..

“Gerrof.”

Farewell for now dear students!

Moonbeam Farquhar Metheringham IV

You can find more of IVy’s profound thoughts in How To Start Writing A Book courtesy of E.M. Swift-Hook and Jane Jago.

Daily Drabble – Saddlesore

Rupert booked them a holiday. 
It sounded romantic, until Laura found out that the Camel Trail has nothing to do with camels and everything to do with cycling. Seventeen bloody miles of cycling.

There was worse to come. She learned that the next day they were to pedal thirty miles from Padstow to Fowey. 

Breakfast time, bright and early, and Laura was nowhere to be seen. Rupert went to wake her, with an indulgent smile on his big red face.

The note read ‘Camel Trail gave me Camel Toe. Gone home…’

As far as I know they never spoke again.

©️Jane Jago

Coffee Break Read – An Unexpected Event

His smile became feral and he pulled her out of the seat into his lap. ‘Are you talking about something like this’ he whispered as his hard, scarred, soldier’s hands reached inside her robe to caress her naked skin.
‘Oh yes. Something very much like that. Only fiercer…’
He responded by tearing her robe from her shoulders and burying his face in her small breasts.
‘Will I ever get enough of you?’ he groaned.
She bit him, hard, by way of a reply.
A good while later they lay entwined and he idly ran his hand up and down her slender back.
‘Goodness me, Princess Ida. You do fuck remarkably enthusiastically for a lady of quality.’
She snickered and looked through her eyelashes at him. ‘My Lord will have his joke at the expense of a poor innocent girl’ she replied in a very good approximation of the voice of a empty-headed excessively genteel city girl. Then she pushed him onto his back and lay across his body so they were nose to nose. ‘Why have I never wanted anybody but you?’ she mused in a soft voice.
‘Got me beat. Must be innate bad taste on your part. You could have had any man for the crooking of your little finger. But you chose a paid assassin twenty years your senior. There’s just no accounting for the female of the species.’
‘Ain’t that the truth. Are you glad?’
‘That’s a stupid question if ever I heard one. I’m more than glad. You are the most beautiful woman I have ever seen. You are intelligent, and funny, and vicious enough to be a match even for me. Plus, I love you almost beyond reason. But why are you making me say that now?’
‘Because I have something to tell you, and I don’t know how you are going to react. I was softening you up.’
He laughed, then with a lightning twist of his hips he reversed their positions before grinning down at her.
‘Out with it.’
‘I’m pregnant.’
For an instant he neither moved nor breathed.
‘Do you mind saying that again?’
‘I’m pregnant.’
‘That’s what I thought you said.’ He shook his head like a dog coming out of the sea. ‘That’s unexpected, after all this time. I’m sure I’ll be happy about it when it has sunk in. For now, why were you unsure of my reaction?’
‘Well. We are right in the middle of the most dangerous thing we have ever attempted. And I’m essential to the plan. So I thought you might think pregnancy would mess up the plan, or that I should go home and wait for the baby like a proper wife would. Or a thousand other things…’
‘Silly. Pregnant or not we’re in this together, like we’ve been in everything since I threw you onto Ali’s bed and screwed both our brains out. I love you, you silly woman. And we’ll just work around junior.’
She gave a great sigh of relief and wound her arms around his neck. ‘I should’ve trusted you shouldn’t I love? It just knocked me for a loop. We’ve been together twenty years and not a sniff of a pregnancy.’
‘Indeed. But one can’t predict these things. Do you think we’ll be crap parents?’
She laughed shakily. ‘Possibly. But any child of ours will probably inherit all our our worst character traits, and need our sort of crap parenting.’
‘It will, but we’ll love it anyway, won’t we?’
‘Yes. We will.’


From Billion Dollar Mountain by Jane Jago

Daily Drabble – Superior

The face smiled, belying the words it spoke.
“We have decided it’s not in our commercial interests to allow you to continue to use those chips in your tech.”
Targena drew a sharp breath.
“Is there nothing we…?”
“The decision’s been taken at the highest level and is final. All future shipments are cancelled.”
A moment later the smiling face vanished from the screen.
Targena sighed then picked up her phone and spoke into it.
“You have your funds, professor.”
It took less than a year to develop a superior chip and wipe the smile off that face for good.

E.M. Swift-Hook

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