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  1. Cia

    Chapter 17

    I couldn’t change genders; I didn’t have the right clothing, and I needed to be able to trade and travel without drawing suspicion like a woman or Being alone would. So I thinned out my body, growing a handspan taller than my own height. I focused on my hair, making it a truly unfortunate shade of red, and covered my skin in blotches. My looks would make me stand out even more than being a stranger, but no one would connect me to the bills with my true face. My clothes were nondescript enough to belong to any traveler, the blue linen shirt long since faded to gray and my leather trousers nothing remarkable. My boots were in a state, strapped in one place on the right one, and my cloak was also coated more in dust than true color. “Who’s in there?” Loud bangs on the door of the privy startled me. I knocked my elbow on the wall and cursed. “Just a moment. I grabbed my pack and slung it over my shoulder, then opened the door. “Sorry.” “This here ain’t no public toilet, Mister. Who do you think you are just barging in?” The man was holding a small polished club and had a gleam to his eye that I didn’t like. “Again, sorry. It was an emergency, and I spied the outbuilding through the alley.” I made a show of fumbling with my belt and the small coin purse I’d left hanging on it. The small copper bit wouldn’t hurt to lose. “For the owner, sir. Or you?” “Well, see as I might have had to fine you for public disturbance creating a ruckus using someone else’s privy and upsetting Missus Phillers, I suppose I can accept this instead.” The man snatched the copper from my fingertips and it disappeared so fast I knew for sure he was a human lawman. Only them and magicians could make that trick happen before your very eyes. “Thank you,” I said, bitter gall burning my stomach. “Can you point me to the purchasing establishment? I need to replenish some supplies.” “Hoity toity talk you got there. You wanna get some victuals or some herbals, you gotta see the store keep on High street.” “All right then. Thank you.” Being as the place only had one real street, with a few alleys the size of two men at their widest, perhaps, it wasn’t hard to figure out what I wanted. I hadn’t needed to ask, but it was always best to ingratiate yourself with the law whenever possible. “Don’t be sticking around too long, hear? We don’t need no strangers.” “I won’t.” I hitched my bag up on my shoulder again and took off back up the alley toward the wider road that they’d apparently felt they needed to name High Street. Well, I suppose one side did have wooden sidewalks put it in front of the store, and even stairs. My worn boots shushed across the boards quietly instead of clopping. “I hear a woman or a man in need of boots,” came a voice from behind row after row of shelves. “If I miss my guess, and I never miss my guess, you’ll be needing these.” A Being came out from behind the shelves. Not that I wouldn’t have guessed he was a being if I didn’t have magic myself. He looked human enough. No ears, no scales or fur or feathers. No fangs protruded from his mouth. His eyes sparkled a pale violet, but a rare human might claim that gaze. It was his aura. I could manipulate mine to adjust my form; it was part of how my magic now worked. The other side of the magic meant I could recognize others’ auras as well. Good, evil, human, Being, in-between… This one was definitely some form of Being. What are you? The question hung on the tip of my tongue, but I bit it, holding the words back. “How much?” “With the goods I think you will need, two silvers, five coppers.” “How do you know what I need?” I asked suspiciously. “Just a knack.” He shrugged. “You look like a traveler. I know what travelers usually buy. Food, medical supplies, more food. Boots after traveling over the mountain.” Haggling would just take longer, bring unwanted attention to me, and delay my departure. I had the coin; I also had several bags of gems and other tradeable items. Those would be best spent in a larger town or city to avoid speculation or possible robbery. “I have a list.” I fished it out. “We can handle that.” Huh? “We?” I handed over the list and took the boots. They were made of thick leather, but it was warm and supple in my grasp. “My helper.” Another Being came through the doorway and this one I recognized. “Maize.” I hadn’t changed my voice, but she’d seen my body change before. She gasped, dropping the list. “You’re supposed to be dead.” “Rumors of my demise were greatly exaggerated,” I said calmly. “I bet I could guess who told you that I died though.” Sodding bastard. “To hell with who. You’re alive.” She slipped under the counter and rushed into my arms. Her hold on me was tight enough to make my ribs creak, for all she appeared as a willowy, fragile human woman. I dropped the boots. Tree Dryads…. No one really knew all the different kinds or why they chose to leave their kith and kin and walk among humans, but that was what these two were. How strange. “Your tree okay?” I’d kept some humans from cutting it down. “Yes, thank you again! She is lovely, the harm barely even noticeable.” Maize beamed. “But life has not been easy for you.” “No. No it hasn’t.” “How can we help?”
  2. You can create collections that are public or private, ordered or unordered, to track lists of stories you'd like to keep track of on the site (such as a 'Loved, would read again' or 'Not really my style') https://gayauthors.org/stories/browse/collections/
  3. Did you catch this month's CSR featured story, Self-Portraits, by Richie Tennyson? Have you read the story? It's a quick read, for all that it is more than forty thousand words. Make sure you share your thoughts about the story or Richie's other stories. But first, as always, enjoy my interview with him! Are you a person who makes their bed in the morning, or do you not see much point? I do the most half-hearted feeble bed-making. I don’t see much point but I know I should at least try to be an adult. Have you ever gone out in public, realized your shirt is on backwards, and just don’t care? No, but recently I was out in public when I realised I was wearing a Harry Potter pyjama top. What’s something personal about you people might be surprised to know? I organise elaborate competitive Christmas Day treasure hunts for my family. The prizes are always terrible, such as framed pictures of my passport photo. When did you first decide to start writing? As soon as I could hold a pen. Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing? Sometimes it’s hard to gauge how much to “tell” the reader, versus whether the reader can make their own assumptions about certain things. Self-Portraits has some really… vibrant characters. Did you plot them all out before you write or did they come along organically as you started the story? The characters are mostly based on vibrant people in my own life, so they came onto the page organically. When you wrote the story, did you have the whole story idea from start to finish planned or did the characters take the story in any unexpected directions? The general storyline was planned from start to finish, but the Harriet character was totally unplanned. She just walked onto the page out of nowhere and took the story in a lot of unexpected directions. Self-Portraits really seems to have 2 similar-themed stories with different generations running simultaneously, influenced in different ways by their ages and experiences, with both the teens and the adults. Was this intentional? I hadn’t thought of it that way. Yes, both Richard and his mother go from being in a ‘couple’ to being ‘alone’ – and this plays out so differently, influenced by their ages and experiences. But the theme of powerful friendship/family love was intentional in both stories. What is your favorite scene in the story? The self-portrait itself. Is there anything you’d like to share about your current work or an upcoming story? I’m finishing a story called Happily Ever After, Ltd, which is about what happens when Prince Charming disappears from the pages of the Cinderella story. The fairytale company has to urgently find a temporary human replacement, but they don’t realise that the guy is gay. Don't forget to share your thoughts about the story!
  4. Did you notice other sidebar widgets aren't there? And Myr made the changes. I'm more for the "Authors really do the best when they are proactive in achieving their own success" camp. I like cross-featuring multiple forms content on the site with the widgets and automatic features and notifications, but I like to think if you're proud of your work and want others to enjoy it, you make an effort to get it out there as well.
  5. Or a link to all of them. Basically, the sidebar is one area where the site is helping promote authors and stories, members and blogs, clubs and topics, etc... to the community. As far as this topic being on topic, an author, representing other author(s) who then agreed, didn't like that their stories were being promoted for a shorter time frame due to the number of stories on the site that update frequently and how that impact their reads. The members want that lack of reads fixed (by putting the sidebar back to the same length as before). But, unfortunately, we as the site staff, have a reason to shorten the sidebar that is valid and necessary. So another member suggested alternate ways to improve readership that will require activity and interaction on the author's part instead of the site staff... and it's called off topic. Not really. It's two sides of the same coin. We help you, but you have to help yourself. I've said the exact same thing to many site authors when they joined and asked me for advice on how to be successful on GA. Authors cannot put their book on a shelf in a bookstore and expect readers to just find it. You cannot just put your story on this site and expect readers to find it either. Making use of the multiple features available to authors to help promote themselves is the way to gain readers and keep them. It takes work. Then, yes, you can get a little lazier about self-promotion... (sorry to all my readers, my life is crazy and admin, author, mom, educator roles often mean author slips to last). In the end, you have to decide what's important to you. Gaining more readers by making a little effort or being happy with what the site can do for you.
  6. There are a VAST number of guest readers who search story content they want to read, find results off GA that lead them directly to a story on GA, come to the site directly to that story, and then read it. They could give a crap about the community, current authors, currently posting chapters, etc... In fact, if you think about it, that's probably how a lot of people who eventually do join and become community members found the site: a search (or someone else searched/found the site and shared). I will read old content I liked and saved/favorited (I have a whole bookmark folder that I prune when I get broken links all the time) from years past on other sites all the time as well because I've been reading online for 10+ years. So it makes perfect sense that stories that aren't current get reads, and there's nothing "ridiculous" about it. As Myr pointed out, by reducing the forums, when logged out and having 15 different sidebar options, it creates a far different page than members might see if you have a different view. I wasn't talking about the number of Stories updates. I see more forums as an admin than members do so my page looks different as well. Members have to realize we aren't all seeing the same page at the same time and, as staff with long experience trying to make the site as "current" to the usage our data shows us, we don't just make flippant changes. This is a completely different complaint, which we ask that members put in different topics because if you bury multiple complaints in one topic, it can go unnoticed and then we get hit with "well, you ignored our comments here!"... I will address it, though, since multiple people seem to have the same misconceptions about the Clubs area. 1) If you look just above the clubs on a computer, they can be sorted by all sorts of things. Default is latest ACTIVITY. That doesn't necessarily mean you are going to see and notice the immediate post or content or membership activity that is bumping it on the list. You can also change it to Most Members, Most Content, etc... You can also choose to filter the clubs to just the clubs YOU are part of. 2) If we force the filters and organize and bury clubs, then we are going to be making people click through to find the content they want just because YOU don't want it. Or to have people complain that we're censoring the clubs to what we think important. Or the clubs that are buried or filtered into a sub-forum would then be too hard to find and people would complain about that. So can you see why all the clubs are visible and we have filtering options available and expected for members to use instead of us having to micromanage your site experience? Unfortunately, I'll tell you what it feels like as a site staff member right now... You're damned if you do and you're damned if you don't.
  7. People often feel that any change will be detrimental at first but if they look at the hard data, that isn't always true. If it can be proven that Authors are experiencing a significant effect, we always can revisit site decisions. Show us the data. Show us what the chapter reads were before the change and what they shifted to after the change. The data needs to be from stories that have been actively posting so the only change has been that aspect of the forum change. Not posting content consistently, changing stories, changing genres, etc... can also affect readership.
  8. What you see on the Forums page is not what Guests see. When logged out, you can see the smaller list of updates in the sidebar widgets actually coincides with the forums and club listing almost perfectly in length. It's pretty expected that members will use the follow option and notifications or Activity Streams. We do like to feature stories, but GA is a community, not just a reading repository.
  9. Did you catch Monday's blog featuring @Andrew Q Gordon short story, Archangel? This is an older anthology feature from the theme "Walk on the Wild Side". What does that have to do with angels? Hmm.... Well, I picked this excerpt because it doesn't show that, but I really wanted to feature some of the smooth flow of Andrew's work and how well he could craft characters and stories that suck in readers from the beginning. He has many popular stories featuring characters who are evolving into themselves, either as adults or... something else. Which is it in this story? Want to read more? Click here
  10. Cia

    Chapter 16

    Walking over the mountain wasn’t the best idea with two foals—one wounded—but it was better than going backward toward the cave and trolls. I wanted to stay as far away from the road near where the cave had been as possible. Who knew if the beasts had other partners who would come for the kidnapped Beings? There had to have been a reason they’d taken so many. Humans caught Beings, especially young ones, in order to kill them in their attempts to purify the planet. They killed them. They didn’t do whatever the boss, or master, or whoever-the-hell it was pulling the strings had been doing with the Beings kept in cages. So over the mountain was their best course. He did his best to forage for food for himself and his little side warmer. The others did the same for their needs; Londe found the most succulent treats for the young, encouraging them to eat. It was slow going, and I was exhausted. Sleep came fitfully. I expected an attack at any moment, and the tension got to the foals even when Londe and I tried to keep it light. Colete was skittish and Marces wanted to be fierce. “I will help you protect us, just like you used to do, Papa.” Bile churned in my stomach. At least it overpowered the hunger. Used to. Back when I was a unicorn, a white battle unicorn with a short mane and thick muscles. When I had my magic. My horn. I’d lost all that in an attack on the herd, when insane humans used a Being against another Being all in the name of their purity. The curse stole my form, my magic, and my home. I couldn’t live with the other unicorns; they shunned me for the taint draining me. It’d taken months of journeying, learning, and some sheer dumb luck to find another witch who had been able to seal breach slowly seeping away my magic and killing me and my mate. The spell she used changed me and my magic into this. I could change shape, but never to the form I craved with all my soul. Without that, I was nameless. Herdless. The foals knew me as Papa. Not even Londe would say my name. I hid my hurt from him, deep inside, but I’d become faceless to the herd. Leaving my mate and foals had been hard but leaving them orphaned because I’d killed their pater would have been worse. Londe was supposed to stay with the herd, stay with them, and they were supposed to be safe. But they hadn’t been. Once again, Beings had done what the humans failed—they took away that which was most precious to me. Just like the witch who took my soul, I would find out who was behind their kidnapping. Or they’d find me. I’d take advantage of that as well. Each night I sharpened my blades, polishing the edges. I stretched, flexed, limbered my sore body. Kept watch behind us and on the sky. We approached a small hamlet that boasted a tavern and a small market. I peered down from the edge of cover, the pass almost behind us. The forest bordered the short fields and a brook went along one side. With the sun shining down, grass waving, and people passing in bright clothes, it looked peaceful. Idyllic. Where was the rot in this peasant soup? “Can we go into the town?” Marces asked. “I don’t want to.” Colete’s voice shook as she quickly contradicted him. “No, you are not going into the town,” Londe said. “We need to avoid humans.” Marces tucked his chin to his chest and tried to bat his lashes. Those big, brown eyes did not tempt me to give him permission at all. “No.” “Daddy come?” My little sidekick, the locus, repeated that any time I brought him out of the cloak. His ears perked up, unrolling some to expose his eyes. That and yes or no was all about we could get him to say, at least that was understandable. Sometimes he sort of vibrated and made a humming call. “No, buddy.” I handed him over to Londe, tucking a blanket around him as I nestled him in the center of his withers. He collapsed into a small ball, his ears covering his eyes again. I sighed. Yet another problem I couldn’t solve. I pulled out the small pouch of money from the pack Londe carried. “Food. Clothes. Medicine. I’ll be back as soon as possible.” I also desperately needed new boots; I’d almost worn the leather off mine. Unlikely to find a tanner or cobbler in a town this size, though. Or readymade boots in my size. I entered the town cautiously, my cloak covering most of my travel-worn clothing. I kept my hood up until the curious gazes turned suspicious. Then I had to put it down. People who were up to no good hid who they were. The tavern was in sight, the store just beyond it, when I saw it. The post bills with my picture. Murderer. Thief. Well, the poster was right, but the image was too damn good to be anything but a simulacrum by a damn spellcaster. Damnation to all witchery—it always did me wrong. And I’d been justified in everything I did. But if I went near that poster, or someone who’d scrutinized it a few times came near me… It’d be over. I rushed through an alley into an outhouse. The stench was incredible. Time to shift, yet again. Time to lose more of the magic and more of my soul. It was the only way I’d be able to buy the supplies we desperately needed. Of course, I’d never told Londe what shifting did to me.
  11. @northie and @wildone That would be me, of course! We wanted the blogs to all have creative blog cover images. I sourced the image from pixabay.
  12. February is a month people tend to focus on that cute little angel with the diaper and wings, the bow and arrows... but Archangel is not about Cupid, oh no no no. What kind of angels? Well... Length: 10,683 Description: Everyone thinks Nick is the 'nicest guy they know.' But is he really as 'angelic' as they think? This submission is dedicated to Cia - who challenged me to write something for this Anthology. Hopefully it is worthy of she whom it is dedicated to. A Reader said: I loved the story. Especially the begining. It was fabulous. And then there was the twist. Like Trevor, it kinda threw me off, but I liked the ending. Perfect piece of work. Thanks for finding time to write, even when you were "pushed" into it. ~ Michael9344 If you want to spread the word about Andrew'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!
  13. @Albert1434 and @Marty and @Headstall Yes, the topics and posts work exactly the same way in Clubs as they do in the forums. The reason for the move is that we are trying to condense the forums to the ones that are being used and remove a lot of the 'dead space'. Forums are growing outdated, Clubs are more 'wave of the future'. Being able to drive traffic to clubs hosted by promoted authors who are active or those active chat forums that we can also combine into the Clubs, which are intended to be a 'social area' of the site, is a bonus. A benefit for authors is that gives promoted authors more freedom to 'customize' their club area (You're very welcome on the graphics, Gary!) to create different spaces for different subjects/topics as well as allow members to use some of the Club features that the forum software maker has been integrating for their club membership organization and notifications.
  14. Cia

    Chapter 20

    Thank you so much, Jeffrey, for re-reading and liking/commenting on the story. I am so glad you enjoyed it again. I try hard editing aloud with dialogue, and I'm always listening to conversations around me so I can make it flow as naturally as possible. (That might make me a little creepy, so thankfully I can write notes on my phone nowadays with no one the wiser, lol).
  15. Cia

    Chapter 15

    No... no mercy. Muahahahahaha!
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