flash fiction

The Sky-Child and other stories

Sky-Child Cover

The cover reveal was breathtaking, to be sure, but now it’s time to look beneath the beautiful surface, and speak of its soul, its stories, and its songs. First, taken one at a time…

*****

~ Song-o-the-Lute ~
A breathtaking free-form poem in its own right, worthy of esteem. Brief as the brush of fingers on strings, it is a worthy opening to this compilation, and worthy of mention. (Clearly it was so worthy I was overcome with its worthiness.)

~ The Sky-Child ~
The longest tale herein–and the aching, melancholy beginning to the life of one Gant-o-the-Lute. Long before rescuing Villem Deere on The Seventh Spell’s roads, or destroying unnatural rock formations in The Song Caster, the incredible bard’s life brimmed with music and yearning, sweetness and sorrow, and a remarkable fight against the mundane. A spin on Jack and the Beanstalk like no other, the giant is the least of the difficulties the minstrel-in-blue takes on. As a tiny taste of its quality, I give you the excellent reworking of the traditional fee-fie, foe-fum folderol.

“Fie!” said the roar. “Is it a foe who’s come?
Do I smell the blood of a mortal man?
If foe he be, his life’s the fee
For venturing here to challenge me.
If man he be, his life’s blood red
And bones will spice my stew and bread.”

This may be my favorite story in the whole collection, but the last gives it some competition. I suppose that, as cruel as it sounds, the suffering of the incredible simply takes my breath away. But then, ‘The suffering of the incredible’ might be a line to suit most of the tales here seen.

~ Still Broken ~
A hundred-word jaunt back to Sula and Villem.

~ Day Broken ~
A vignette set just before The Swan Prince‘s opening chapters.

~ Skie Welduwark ~
A vibrant myth of the kings of the sky and the world’s waking. I find that I always love following the (often harrowing) antics of the Welkens. Perhaps it’s one of those just-human-things.

~ Starheart ~
The two intertwined hearts of The Stone Kingdom exchange enchanting tales under a starlit sky. A myth of how the stone kingdom came to be, and a myth of the forging of Wilderhark’s nations are tailored around a gentle conversation, humming with love.

~ The Shining Son ~
A story with the regular beat of a fairy tale, of pride and jealousy in the heavens. I also get to see my favorite sneaky wind working terrible deeds, so this is a win for me.

~ Affected ~
Set first behind the stone eyes of Denebdeor’s children, we watch the chaotic beginning of The Seventh Spell unfold–then on to the woman behind the curtain, as it were, the witch behind most of the magic in The Wilderhark Tales. Then to Gant-o-the-Lute, and a quiet conversation with Edgwyn, of love and hope in the dark of night. And back at last to the thoughts of the children, awaiting the breaking of the seventh spell’s tangle.

A mini-anthology in itself, this short story following the seventh spell’s affected suits the melody of this collection perfectly; passionate, funny, sweet, melancholy, and hopeful.

~ A Gallivanting Soul ~
A lute’s music tells its owner a tale known to it alone, bringing the string of stories full circle and tears to my eyes–tears for love forever lost, and tears for treasure found.

*****

Seamlessly woven together in perfect order, this Wilderhark Tales collection can stand proudly next to any of the novellas. (A good thing, too; as book six-and-a-half, it will likely stand between The Surrogate Sea and the series’ final volume.) D. E. Shipley’s prose is beautiful and melodic, almost lyrical, her characters as lovable and exasperating as ever, (you know I’m looking at you, Lute–and a fine view it is, too,) and her wit as charming as ever.

A fantastic anthology for any readers, workable as a standalone, the abundant easter eggs would nonetheless be most appreciated by readers of the previous six Wilderhark novellas.

This lovely creation is available in Kindle and paperback forms on Amazon and on Nook with Barnes and Noble.

 

Part Five: A Tip of the Hat

A 100 chapter of a 1,000 word story. Here’s part one.

*****

He flew just above the ground, his feet barely remembering to brush the surface.

I tip my hat to nature’s law – I do not pay its tax,” he told her as he bounded through branches too thin to hold him.

He was forever being impossible. He slept too little, he danced too long. He leaped too high, floated for impossible moments against the sky, descended too lightly to the earth.

She asked how he managed to fly in the face of reality.

The trick is to be above such trivialities as truth,” he said, with a tip of the hat.

*****

To be continued.

Flashes of Fiction: It’s me.

Hey. Tirzah here.

My character has started a new weekly challenge for me. This task is to write a flash fiction piece of no more nor fewer than 100 words (commonly known as a drabble,) based on whatever prompt I find, every Tuesday.
Consider yourselves encouraged to write a drabble of your own, based on the prompt or otherwise inspired by the vignette below! 

Today’s Prompt, in honor of Deep Breath, Capaldi’s first episode as the Twelfth Doctor on Doctor Who, is:

Who?

*****

“Hi! Carla, hey, it’s me!” Pete started quickly up the steps, then forced his stuttering feet to slow. Decorum. She wasn’t a kid anymore; let her see that he wasn’t either.

She turned around, and the smile that hovered on her mouth was a half-formed question. “Hi…”

“Hi. It’s uh, me, Pete.” He swallowed.

“Where do we know each other?”

“High School? We… hung out, sometimes? At parties?” His words were a plea, now, a plea to have meant enough to her to be remembered.

“Ohhhh…. right…. It’s been so long.” She paused. “Pete who?”

*****

Flashes of Fiction: A Wind-Blown Reed

Hey. Tirzah here.

My character has started a new weekly challenge for me. This task is to write a flash fiction piece of no more nor fewer than 100 words (commonly known as a drabble,) based on whatever prompt I find, every Tuesday.
Consider yourselves encouraged to write a drabble of your own, based on the prompt or otherwise inspired by the vignette below. 

Today’s Prompt:

Reed

*****

A wind-blown reed stops to consider the wind.

Standing stern for a moment against the felt unseen, it wonders at the wind’s motive in blowing reeds about, or in blustering at all.

Water flows and serves the reed. Sun shines and serves the reed. Silt at the reed’s roots settles and serves the reed.

The wind, now, what does it do for the reed? Why does the wind, then, blow?

The wind laughs and dances, winks and whispers, tugs and teases.

Hearing no answer but the wind in the reeds, the reed realizes, and doesn’t, and sways in the wind.

*****

Flashes of Fiction: Disaster Readiness

Hey. Tirzah here.

My character has started a new weekly challenge for me. This task is to write a flash fiction piece of no more nor fewer than 100 words (commonly known as a drabble,) based on whatever prompt I find, every Tuesday.
Consider yourselves encouraged to write a drabble of your own, based on the prompt or otherwise inspired by the vignette below. 

Today’s Prompt:

Prepared

*****

I open the trunk of my car, and pause, the carjack catching my mind.

Always be prepared, it’s said. But what sort of prepared?

I was prepared for so many things. Fire. Gas leak. Tornado. Flood. Flat tire. Pink slip. Early snow. What do I mean, prepared? I thought about them, I put some protective props in place.

My daughter’s suicide, now. I hadn’t thought. I hadn’t put any props in place.

I touch the cold metal, sitting ready to help.Why not the flat tire, why not flooded or fired? Why never the things I’ve thought of? Why, why her?

Flashes of Fiction: Grapes underfoot

Hey. Tirzah here.

My character has started a new weekly challenge for me. This task is to write a flash fiction piece of no more nor fewer than 100 words (commonly known as a drabble,) based on whatever prompt I find, every Tuesday.
Consider yourselves encouraged to write a drabble of your own, based on the prompt or otherwise inspired by the vignette below. 

Today’s Prompt:

Vinegar

*****

They’ve said they’ll crush our rebellion like grapes underfoot.
I have no doubt of it, but one question that keeps me wakeful in my bed:

What will be made of my blood?

A grape on the vine may not care if it becomes vinegar or wine, but I am no such peaceful fruit.
I would be enduring bitterness on the tongues of my enemies.
I would be fire in the belly of future rebels.

So I suppose we are not so different, this fruit and I; we worry not that we will be crushed, but whether our seed will take.

Flashes of Fiction: Memory Pyre

Hey. Tirzah here.

My character has started a new weekly challenge for me. This task is to write a flash fiction piece of no more nor fewer than 100 words (commonly known as a drabble,) based on whatever prompt I find, every Tuesday.
Consider yourselves encouraged to write a drabble of your own, based on the prompt or otherwise inspired by the vignette below. 

Today’s Prompt:

Arson

*****

It was an odd and unobtrusive arson, they thought, as such crimes went. Just the one, just that year, no others to suggest a pyro on the loose. What vandal would dig and dampen furrows around their target for safety? And what vandal would target the barn, old as men’s memory, rotting and unused and falling down in the fields?

It had stood in a grassy no-mans-land-anymore, of service only to birds and cats and teenaged romantics looking for a spot not to be bothered. Nothing but a half-lamed repository of memories.

He’d thought that would’ve made the reason obvious.