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Month: December 2017

Buri and the Winter dark

Buri took his wet boots off, climbed up on the stool by the fire, and hung them up to dry on the smoke rack.
“I hate this.”

“It will be better when snow comes,” his mother said. “Dryer and brighter, and the cold bites less.”
“Soon,” Buri nodded.

But no snow came. Every day Paws, the old cat, looked out the door at the grey and rain, and gave Buri a disapproving stare.

Then one night, Buri woke up with the cat sitting on his chest.
“Get dressed,” Paws hissed.
“Wha- why?”
“To find Winter.”

Buri quietly followed Paws to the door, lifted the latch, and paused. The moon shone on an unfamiliar, snowy landscape.

“Am I dreaming?”
“It’s a door,” Paws said, “it can open to anywhere. That’s what they do.”
The cat stepped out. “Let’s go.”

Buri closed the door behind him. “So where are we?”
“In the land of Winter.”
“Are we allowed here?”
“I’m a cat,” Paws said.

The hard crust on the snow was strong enough to walk on. Paws led Buri up a ridge, from which they could see a grand castle.

When they got closer, they saw the castle was in disrepair; turrets fallen, the gates askew.
“This is not good,” said Paws.

There were icicles hanging from the roof.
“Those shouldn’t be there,” Paws said.
“Why not?” Buri asked.
“We must hurry!”

In the great hall, a pale figure in once-white robes sat on a throne, a diamond crown in his lap.
“Hail Winter,” Paws said.

Winter gave the cat and the boy a tired look. “I am busy. Go away.”
“You are missed,” Paws said.
“You lie. You are a cat.”

Paws tilted his head. “So I hear.”
He turned to Buri and whispered, “Be kind, be patient, and close the door behind us.”

“What?” Buri said.
“An ill shadow lurks here. I’ll try to lead it away, so you can talk.”
Paws nodded to a side door. “Go.”

Buri hurried to the side and looked back. A sinuous shadow crept over Winter’s neck and ear as Paws approached.
“Go away.”

Paws ignored Winter’s words, but crouched down, tail wagging, and stared intently at an ice shard in front of the throne.

Paws pounced. The shard shot away. He ran after, slipping on the icy floor. Winter watched his antics and began to smile.

The shadow seemed to pull darkness in. It grew, took the shape of a huge dog, then leapt at Paws.
“Go away!” it roared.

Paws ran towards the door. Buri pulled it open, waited for the dog to chase Paws through, and slammed it shut behind them.

The hall felt less gloomy as Buri walked to the throne. “I miss you.”
“Why?” Winter said.
“Snow makes the world brighter.”

“The days are so short, my snow won’t make a difference,” Winter said.
“They grow longer,” said Buri.
Winter looked at him.

“I heard nobody likes me,” Winter said. He weighed the crown in his hands.
“I do,” Buri said. “That’s what I came to say.”

“You don’t have to come,” Buri said, “or stay long, but we’d be glad to see you.”
He bowed, and walked out of the castle.

Buri found the door in the snow, and it still opened to home. He sat to take his boots off, and Paws jumped up on his lap.

Boy and cat sat in silence, listening to the fire. After a while, there was a soft whisper outside, as snow began to fall.


This story was serialised in 25 daily tweets from MicroSFF, December 1st to 25th, 2017, tagged with #AdvenTale.

Regarding Patreon fee changes

Update: Patreon have backed down, and will not implement the controversial changes I talk about below.

Patreon are changing their fee policy, in a way that is going to make small pledges of one or two dollars disproportionally more expensive for patrons (note that the first graph in that blog post is misleading, as it hides the fact that they will charge patrons more than they currently do). A lot has been said (see Engadget, Fortune, The Verge among others) about how this is affecting patrons and creators, but Patreon have insisted they will go ahead with it.

Looking at my list of patrons charged for November, 90% are supporting me with $1 or $2. Since the upcoming changes were made public in the middle of this week, 9% of my patrons have dropped their support because of this new fee scheme (there’s an exit survey to fill in when you stop supporting people, which is how I know).

Now, I have a full-time day job which pays the bills, so this is not a financial catastrophe for me. I use the kind patronage of my patrons to pay for little treats that improve my day – coffee and cake at a cafe, cinema tickets, books – and art commissions illustrating some of my stories. And I have been saving up to be able to pay for an assistant to help me run a kickstarter related to my stories next year.

So. If you need to cut down on the number of creators you support, or decide to leave Patreon completely in protest, I understand, and I don’t blame you. I will miss you, and if you decide to stick around I am, and will continue to be, grateful. But you must take care of yourself and do what is right for you.

For alternative ways to support me, you can buy me a coffee on Ko-Fi, or set up a regular donation on LiberaPay (€). Whatever you do, I hope you will continue to follow me on Twitter, Tumblr, Mastodon, Facebook, or Google+, and that you will continue to read and share my stories.

Many thanks.

Announcing AdvenTale 2017

As is traditional, I will post a 25-part serial story, with a daily episode posted at 5pm GMT, in the run-up to Christmas. The episodes will be limited to 123 characters each, as they will be numbered and tagged with #AdvenTale (that’s the tradition, so I’ll stick with it despite having more characters on Twitter now). I hope you’ll enjoy it.

(I hope I’ll manage this. Last year I wasn’t sure I could fit the story I wanted to tell in the limited space. This year I only got the idea a few days ago, and will be playing catch-up. But the first episode is written and ready to go, at least.)

I’ll post the collected story after the last episode is sent, on Christmas Day.

Last year’s: Unn and the cold fire

The 2015 story: Gry and the Mountain King

The 2014 story: Moa and the lost sun

And the 2013 story: Tam and Lin and the Queen in the heart of the forest

Unrelated stories will be posted when an idea strikes, as usual.