Happy Saturday! Here’s my #RainbowSnippets post for this week – if you’re new to this, Rainbow Snippets is a chance to read and share 6 sentences of LGBTQIA+ fiction every Saturday. There’s a huge variety from Steampunk, like mine, to Romance, Fantasy, Paranormal, Comedy and everything in between. You can join the fun and read all the other fabulous snippets at the wonderfully friendly and supportive official facebook group here 🙂
So, here is the next snippet from Jack and Marjory – my novella-in-progress which gives two of my Bi-Gendered characters a chance to tell something of their own little side-adventure, which actually had a massive impact on the history of Ire in a ‘behind-the-scenes’ kind of way.
If you missed last week’s snippet you can catch up here: #Rainbow Snippets: Jack and Marjory
If you want to start from the beginning you can do so here: https://blakeandwight.com/2018/09/29/rainbowsnippets-jack-and-marjory/
Jack and Marjory have landed themselves with an unwanted travelling companion and, in a sudden fit of paranoia possibly brought on by too much tea, they are trying to figure whether he is more than he seems… Apologies that this one is a cheeky bit over 6 sentences to keep things neat for next week…
“Demerara devised a chamber in which sugar-loving microbes were fed a solution of sweetened tea (also a left-over from the tiffin tables of the elite) and kept at a constant temperature of 131 degrees Fahrenheit. He then added the resulting sludge to the rancid cream in a second chamber, where the new mixture was deprived of oxygen and kept at a constant neutral ph. In just one week, the cream had yielded over eight times its mass in utilisable hydrogen gas! Can you imagine it?!”
“Not just now.” We was too busy imagining ways of escape… garotting the infuriating cretin with his own boot laces being one of them… no one, we felt strongly, had the right to hold us in such a quandry. But what to about it ? If he really was just a pitifully boring cove, murder seemed, perhaps, a little excessive (we should make it clear, Pal, that at this point we was naive in the ways of the world, had never actually dealt death to anyone and was subsiquently quite glib about contemplating it) On the other hand, if he really was one of Her Majesty’s Good Folk, or worse a wizard in disguise , we’d little chance of besting him no matter what we tried.
He shook his head “Here we are in the age of cream – locomotives, skyway trains, what next eh?”
We shrugged, “What next?”
He laughed, “Never a bad question that is it?” There was that disconcerting smile again.
being an entertaining and informative piece of travel writing by a couple of rogues on the run as they attempt to avoid the machinations of wizards, monarchs and a ruthless band of beatnik poets, deflect a civil war and deliver a priceless, historical tea set before the owner finds himself at the gallows.
Wishing you all a most splendiferous week and don’t forget to check in at the #rainbowsnippets facebook group for more fabulous snippets of LGBTQIA+ fiction 🙂
rainbow flower image courtesy of mariah22 at http://www.freeimages.com
book cover image by Renphoto
Greetings! Unfortunately there have been technical hitches abounding this week and last – laptops have died and other devices have proved unhelpful for most things other than facebook. However inktober has still happened as it’s non-tech dependent! So, here are the teabie doodles from the last few days.
The next 50 shades of tea sketch is here…
These will be painted in tea eventually, maybe next week.
And I’ve also been doodling some silly little Necromancers who are characters in the very last (probably) novella of the Ashton’s Kingdom series (which you’ll be pleased to hear I am NOT illustrating myself! lol) Here they are and below is the opening of that work in progress…
Thunder, Lightening, rain, hail, ominous fog and all the other things that accompany the beginning of an iconic horror movie or damn fine novel about Tea, Cake and lashings of Untimely Death, were occurring all over the little crag of rock known colloquially (and everywhere else) as The Skull.
Douglas skidded and stumbled over the vindictively slick cobblestones, cursing the length of his disgustingly sodden red robes, the ineffectual protection offered by his floppy wet cowl, the stupid little purse that dangled at his waist and was constantly expelling all his valuables into the muck, the fact that his favourite pocket watch had broken – again – and any and everything else that passed through his mind as he finally staggered, panting and wheezing to the top of the hill.
Sheet lightening flared for a second, silhouetting the crumbling chapel as Douglas clasped the cold iron ring in the studded wooden door and, with a cautious shoulder, silently eased it open.
The eerie luminescence of a hundred flickering candles, vanished in an ebbing wave to be replaced by darkness and smoke and a smattering of accusatory choking noises.
Thunder shook the walls and lightening flashed again, gleaming on several stiletto thin blades, poised in mid air.
“Sorry,” Douglas ventured, shuffling sideways along what he hoped was the back row of folding chairs. There was an almighty crash as something large and metallic clattered to the flagstone floor. “Sorry! So sorry, Sara, er, Your Grace…”
“Late again Douglas, we have already begun the casting!”
Douglas gulped as tapers flared on either side of him and the candles were slowly re lit illuminating hundreds of furious faces all glaring at him. He fumbled frantically with the circular tin he had been cradling…
“I…. I brought cake…”
“What?” Archcleric Sara lowered her knitting needles and the rest of the assembled necromancers did the same.
“Sticky toffee double fudge triple chocolate tray bake with crystalised ginger?” he ventured, prising off the lid and offering the tin with a trembling hand.
General pandemonium ensued as the Necromancers all abandoned their half completed cast-ons and scrambled for a slice of Douglas’s offering.
Blessings on your brew and all your #inktober endeavours! 🙂
Good Morning Ladies and Gentlemen! Welcome back to Max and Collin’s indeterrably intrepid and frabjously furry parlour located somewhere within the irritable bowels of the splendidly scenic city of steampunk’d Lancaster.
True some have called it a devilishly delinquent dive, frequented by only the most diabolical demons, but we consider that such people are merely getting a little carried away with the festive spirit.
This morning we are feeling far too warm and fuzzy inside to be entering into the Halloween / Samhain / All Souls / Candy-fest / Thing atmosphere because we have just finished reading two of the most delightful books ever written and we would like to share those with you over a spot of Galli-Grey Regeneration Tea ( because, New Doctor and, of course, Earl Grey…)
George is a small grey bear of adventurous inclination and these two books detail two of his intrepid adventures. He is also a Ghost Bear – which is something really quite marvelous indeed!
In book one, George and his chums are kidnapped by wicked pirate squirrels and are forced to endure scathing reviews of their performances of Gilbert and Sullivan and in the second book our little furry hero pits his wits against the some sweet-toothed skulduggerists on planet Mars!
These heart warming illustrated adventures are beautifully produced and an absolute joy from start to finish. The urchins we read them to were beaming with glee throughout and there many excited squeals of delight, particularly at ‘the end’ !
We actually shed tears and the urchins literally leap up and down with excitement when we discovered the story-related recipes in the back cover of each book (you know how emotional we get about cake…) We will definitely be baking these soon and when we do we will post pictures in our elevenses slot (but not the recipes! You’ll have to read the books for those because the recipe is given as a little story which is just too, too adorable to miss!
There is enough warm-hearted, gentle but highly witty humour throughout both books to keep both urchins and adults chuckling and engaged from start to finish and they immediately became firm bedtime favorites.
If your own little urchins are of the intelligent and discerning sort who prefer A A Milne, Kenneth Grahame, Edward Leah or Lewis Carroll to the average uninspiring mass produced picture books on offer, then these are a couple of gorgeous gems to add to your storytime treasure chest.
As for us, we are still plucking up the courage to have those stern words with Montmorency about the flooding in here – our pig has set sail for the land where the bong tree grows and I believe we may be heading that way soon ourselves if Max doesn’t bail out fast enough. Still tomorrow we will share with you our #inktober tea painting efforts and inky things and a little bit of story to go with them.
In the meantime stay dry and warm and do remain always
Good evening and welcome to my awe-inspiring aethenaeum of praiseworthy pamphlets…or as some ridiculous personages have dubbed it – my lovely library.
I am the ghost known as Perilous Wight and here in the bowels of the city of Lancaster, in the disused tunnels of an underground train system that never was, I have made it my mission to collect every book that our self-proclaimed ‘supreme ruler f the universe’ and his mincing minions have banned from the bookshelves of the new world.
But this is not a public thoroughfare! If you have wandered in here on the ill-advice of that incorrigible octopus and its unnerving Gentleman Friend, let me advise you not to be so easily lured into a parlour by strange creatures promising cake. Well, you will find nothing sweet and alluring down here; here there is only the dark and the damp, the flickering of candlelight and the ceaseless toil of a man who did not re-animate from the dead to be pestered by people wanting bedtime stories!
But wait…what’s that you have tucked away under your arm there? A bottle of vintage port eh? Oh…. well, yes perhaps it is about time I put my feet up for a while, pipe and slippers and a little drop of something, the day has, after all been a long one. And I suppose I could read a very little something,
like this perhaps… I have been tirelessly working over the summer, interviewing, stalking … I mean studying… the Hex Slingers of Lancaster, compiling an anthropological study of the lives of those who use magic illegally in the curated back-alley fight clubs – why and how have they come to their present situation? What are their stories? Well, here at least, is one of them…
TALES OF STEAMPUNK’D LANCASTER
SERIES 1: TALES OF THE HEX SLINGERS
TALE THE FOURTH: by ALLISON SHEPHERD
“My brooch!” I yelled as Mariah’s twinklepuff slam hit me full force in the chest
and sent me hurtling backwards into the wooden crates at the makeshift
gayelle’s edge. I hadn’t anticipated Mariah’s last pattern and was now
scrambling to catch my breath and get back on my feet. My brooch had ripped
off my bolero as the twinklepuff spell had infused the fibres of the old velvet.
My grandmother had made that brooch for me from the cogs of a broken toy
train and an old yuletide ornament. She’d fashioned the cogs into an owl tying
them together with copper wire, and using tiny emerald crystals pulled off the
bauble for the eyes. Every afternoon after school I’d go to her rag-and-bone
shop tucked away down a narrow cobblestone alley to wait for my parents.
She’d make a pot of Earl Grey with leaves from her “secret supplier” and tell
me stories of when her mother baked double-layered sponge cakes with
strawberry jam filling, and lighter-than-air profiteroles filled with sweet gooey
cream. “Earl Grey.” “Strawberry jam.” “Profiteroles.” I hadn’t heard those
words in almost a decade. My owl brooch had become my talisman, my
connection to my past.
I tried to stand but sat down quickly as my vision blurred. Mariah? This
powerful? I couldn’t understand; she was a third-rate slinger at best, over
estimating both her charms and her spells. Something was different. The
sophistication of the twinklepuff weavings and glitter were not her. Someone
was helping raise the level of her usually amorphous, sloppily put together
concoctions. Who? And why?
It was odd when Mariah had drawn the wildcard for our slingoff but I had
missed a few of the preliminary fights when I had gone out of town. Maybe
she’d improved and been bumped up a couple garnets, I thought. This was my
livelihood, and sometimes it’s better to shut up and sling. Now, as I sat
befuddled trying to clear my head and weave my threads, I saw a glint of silver-
black emanating from Mariah’s perfectly poised hands. Mariah who could
barely make a pattern for a pink-and-gold unicorn spell slinging an
onyxmirrorpearl? With advanced finger positions? I sat spellbound and the
omp smacked me flat. Blood gushed out of my nose, ruby red against my white
pin-tucked shirtwaist. Before I lost consciousness, I saw Emily, the bookie,
collecting from the disgruntled gamblers.
Gill found my brooch, the emerald crystals winking in the twilight-find spell he
cast. The healers had tried to revive me right away but the omp had proved
beautifully formed and knocked me out for hours. I lost my deposit and got
nothing for the night. According to Gill, Emily had been apologetic but could do
nothing as an unexpected large bet against me had her scrambling for gilt. Gill
had taken me home and tucked me up in bed with a hot water bottle, three
pillows and my favourite fluffy wrap. I was still in bed when he came back with
my brooch. I tried to sit up but the wave of nausea had me lying back gingerly
on the pillows. I closed my eyes clutching my owl, my fingers tracing the
notches along the cogs, and started to cry.
My parents were wizards, of course, fighting for Queen and country. They truly
believed that magic should be controlled and out of the hands of ‘ordinary’
people. My parents were strong weavers but by the time they disappeared (of
course) my abilities were rudimentary at best. I’d become a trope: orphan,
living with my grandmother, no magic. But as with my favourite fairy tales, this
was simply the beginning of the story.
My parents had taken an assignment to escort our Queen to Boss Town for a
diplomatic sojourn, or that was what the official correspondence claimed. We
knew better: an excuse for the elite to sample new-fangled sweet marvels and
magiscience tea twists. Mum and dad couldn’t say too much but they were
more tight-lipped than usual as they hugged me goodbye and dropped me off
at Gran’s. We never saw them again. I was fourteen.
Gran moved in with me. I finished school at sixteen and tried out for the
apprentice wizard programme. I didn’t qualify even though my parents had
been senior civil servants. Apparently, according to the report, I didn’t have the
“right attitude, and my spells were nonexistent.” Gran and I eked out a living
from the shop. I met Quelin her “tea supplier,” a jovial smuggler who was able
to find the choicest leaves for us, and sometimes, just sometimes, the tiniest
silver-sprinkled cupcakes. He’d never tell where he got them but always
tapped the side of his nose with his forefinger, “It’s best you don’t know, my
darling,” he’d say, “because if anything happened to me, you might be running
for your life from some nasty bits.” He’d glance across at Gran, who would
pretend to be engrossed with a length of glitterwool handicraft, or checking
her numbers in the accounts book. They thought I never noticed but I always
I had turned seventeen the year of the Youshallnevereatcake Spring, a short-
lived, half-hearted coup d’etat by a handful of boisterous youngsters. It was
quashed by the wizards within hours, the rebels marched through the streets
to the palace courts. I rushed home to tell Gran only to find her in the garden,
sitting in her favourite chair under the willow tree, a cold cup of Earl Grey in
her lap. She looked as though she were taking an afternoon nap, the breeze
ruffling her mop of curls. I clasped her inert hands, and wept.
I started hex slinging in the underground circuit soon after.
Of course my latent abilities eventually showed up, stronger than either of my
parents but without proper training and guidance, it was a mess. My early
slingoffs were either a triumph of a knockout, or me vomiting an endless
stream of bile in a dank corner, a side-effect of using pure, raw magic. Through
practice, and more practice, and much much more vomiting, I learnt to control
and weave almost beautiful hexes. I found a circle of friends who helped me in
the nine years since Gran died: Gill, Emily, Jendra. And I still ran the shop. It
didn’t make much but had become a safe place for us to meet to try out new
patterns and concoctions, catch up on gossip and, yes, of course, find a way to
bring back tea, cakes and magic: we’d been denied our right to a free life for
As I clutched my brooch in my hand, tears streaming down my face confusing
Gill to no end, I realised that Mariah’s win tonight had shifted our timetable. It
hadn’t been subtle, literally a punch to my gut. Someone had wanted our
attention. No longer was our light-hearted, drinking-after-a-slingoff chant of
“Tea, Cake, Magic For All!” a someday cake-in-the-sky dream; someone, or
someones, wanted us ready now. And I was terrified.
Allison Shepherd enjoys reading and writing speculative fiction, especially paranormal romance. She teaches at the medical school at the University of the West Indies, St. Augustine, and has had her work published in bmj Medical Humanities, Tales From the Fluffy Bunny, and is upcoming in Lycan Valley Press Publications “Darkling’s Beasts and Brews”. https://mh.bmj.com/content/43/3/e33 https://www.amazon.com/Tales-Fluffy-Bunny-Various-Authors/dp/1942450699
Good morning Ladies and Gentlemen! You find us this morning in a state of oaty bliss as we gleefully anticipate The Annual Wizmas Golden Spurtleglove Oatcake Championships (we understand you have something similar in your own dimension?)
Of course cake is illegal here in Ire but oatcakes (those foul impostors ) are permitted ‘in moderation’ provided salt is used to flavour them and not sugar.
If you are not sure what spurtle gloves are let us enlighten you – the spurtle glove is an oversized oven mitt used for oatcake flipping and a golden one is made in Lancaster every year and given to the contestant who can faultlessly flip the most oatcakes in six minutes.
The judging is conducted by three highly trained oat flip observers and presided over by Lord Ashton himself but there are also smaller prizes for the most original oatcake creations and these are voted on by the general public.
Last year some of the winners in the Innovative Oatcake Recipe section included Chorizoat Cakes, Plum Compoat and Chocoloat pudding.
The best part by far, though, was the riot which began when the voted winner of the Oatcake Sculpture section (a truly gargantuan oatcake with a smiley face put on with raisins) was declared by Lord Ashton to be “An offensive and infantile attempt at insubordination and mob-rule.” He then proceeded to disqualify the oat face (an irony which will probably only be appreciated by our British friends) and award the prize to a detailed oatcake sculpture of Lord Battenberg, the noted explorer, instead.
Lord Battenberg’s donations to Ashton’s extensive collection of arthropods is no secret and the furious crowds stormed the stage, seized the judges and began hurling lumps of the hated Battenberg into the River Lune. In the end Ashton had to call his man eating Liver Birds and we all fled for our lives… but it was worth it. All jolly good fun!
It is frankly difficult to imagine a scenario that would upstage that little fiasco but we are keen to see if Penny is up to the task. In the meantime we wish you a delightfully oat-free elevenses, crammed with illicit sponge and belligerent fancies and we leave you with this little message from our festive parlour companions, the dust cats…
“AND THAT, COLLIN, IS WHY I NEVER SHOULD, NEVER DO, AND NEVER SHALL AGAIN WEAR DRESSES IN PUBLIC! … oh, I think that’s the door, would you get it? I need to wash the seaweed out of my hair…”
Good Morning Ladies and Gentlemen, is it really that time already? Well do please come in and pull up a crate of lemonade to sit on. Please excuse my irate friend, and the superfluous amounts of cake… what’s that? No amount of cake can ever be considered superfluous? Well you could well be right! Our lovely werewolf butler Klapka has utterly outdone herself using up the last of the bounty from our deflowering exploits last week and I have to say that cake is perhaps a safer use for them than magical-cure-alls ; although Max does seem to have made enough cash to meet the rent this month he certainly doesn’t appear happy about this method of monetary acquisition.
But where are my manners? Please, help yourself to some fabulously floral fayre (click each picture to visit the recipe) …
And of course we mustn’t forget some music to accompany us as we tuck in to these delightful treats…
We wish you all a delinquently delicious afternoon where all your deflowering endeavours pay off and no amount of social or financial pressure forces you into or out of a dress. Mrs Baker will be in her soup kitchen tomorrow but I’m afraid we will not be at home next week as we are visiting your dimension for the delights of the London Comic Con, but we will be back again the week after so, until then, please be always
Good morning Ladies and Gentlemen I hope you are all feeling extremely eleven o clockish because the time is of course eleven o clock and we have some audaciously awesome elevenses to share with you all, but whilst our lovely werewolf butler Klapka is dishing it up, let me take a moment to inform you of some developments in our subletting cushion enterprise… this note was delivered to Max on the corner of Baker’s Row at midnight…
Hmmm… what sort of a gentleman requires manacles? Perhaps we would do better not to enquire… in fact perhaps we should endeavour to be out when he calls… mind you, manacles would come in useful around here, Montmorency certainly needs locking up, and Klapka too has her off days… ah well, best not to berate the cook before we have eaten eh? Let us see what she has cooked up for us this morning…
This gorgeous rhubarb tart is the brain child of Allie at Baking A Moment click on the picture to see her lovely recipe and bake this amazing spring time treat for yourself…or have your butler make one for you…
Now then all we need to do is tune the Spirit Radio in to some delightful steampunk music to while away the morning…
Ah,steampunk spies by Derek Fiechter We wish you a delightfully unfettered afternoon and until we see you again, please be always,
Good morning Ladies and Gentlemen I hope you are all feeling extremely eleven o clockish because the time is of course eleven o clock and our lovely werewolf butler is simply straining at the leash to batter down our parlour door and assault our table with her culinary creations…
Oh dear Goddess just look at these jammie dodger bites from Katie Cakes they remind us partly of Dr Who (Tardis destruct button?) and partly of Alice in wonderland! Click on the picture to go to Katie’s recipe.
But just before we fill our faces with these divine treats, let us tune in our spirit radio and find some awesome audios to usher in the afternoon…
Splendid! We wish you a truly scrumptious afternoon filled with tasty treats and until we see you again please, be always,
Good morning ladies and gentlemen I hope we are all feeling extremely eleven o clockish because it is of course time for elevenses and our tentacles are all of a tremble with excitement because we have received a very wonderful present from our dear friend Mrs Nimue Brown …
Obviously she was aware of my recent ordeal at the mercy of that psychotic scarecrow and sent me this stunning portrait to cheer me up, I just adore the colours and details, especially the little spoon tucked into my top hat, it has absolutely made my day! And because we are hopelessly besotted with Mrs Brown’s gloriously gothic island of Hopeless Maine, let us tune in our spirit radio to listen to some of their glorious filk music right here….
And to accompany it I see our lovely werewolf butler, Klapka , has brought us something mouth-wateringly sumptuous this morning.. lavender honey cake from the wonderful kitchen of sprinkles for breakfast, this looks absolutely divine and you can find the recipe by clicking on the picture link.
Now there is nothing left to do except wish you all a most delicious afternoon filled with all your favourite fancies and we hope you will join mrs baker in her soup kitchen tomorrow when she will be joined by steampunk creator, Kaydance Heggarty, so until we see you again please be always
Good morning ladies and gentlemen I hope we are all feeling extremely eleven o clockish because the time is, of course, eleven o clock and we are ferociously armed to the back teeth with tiffin but, before we launch our assault upon our stomachs, let us take a moment to perform our sacred tea ceremony for the month of march…
March was invented by The Powers That Tea, so that all honest tea fiends might have one sacred month in the year when we can inflict massive amounts of joy and jubilation upon the rest of humanity and try to convert them to our divine cause.
The Sacred Tea for March is ALL TEA.
Ceremonial Garb: The Mad Top Hat
The Scared Ritual for the first of March is as follows:
There is only one leaf, and its name is ‘all leaves’
There is only one kettle, and its name is ‘all steams’
There is only one pot, and its name is ‘all pots’
There is only one cup, and its name is ‘all cups’
There is only one brew, and its name is ‘all brews’
I solemnly swear to accept the gift of the month of March as a month for spreading mischievous amounts of joy and tea-inspired jollity to those around me. I will honour the Powers That Tea by drinking All Tea with respect and acknowledging that tea is a divine gift to all, not to be hoarded or monopolised by one group of greedy guzzlers. As a mark of this vow I will wear my Mad Top Hat every day during the month of March.
There, now that we have the formalities out of the way we can indulge our true motive which is of course to get all punked up in fabulous hats! So we have scoured the aether far and wide for the best Milliners available and here is a selection of the delights we have found…
And right on queue here comes our delightful werewolf butler with this amazing top hat cake tutorial from Bake King… because there’s no batter way to celebrate the month of madness that with a mad hat cake!
And finally all we need is some awesomely audacious audios to usher in the afternoon, so lets tune in our spirit radio and see if we can find sort something hattish …oh here we are, here’s a fantastic tune for any Potter fans out there…
We wish you a marvellously mad afternoon filled with as many millinery delights as you desire and until we see you again please, be always,