Something Beautiful (SFW)

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Rainbow Advent 12

Hi, everyone! For those of you who are new to my blog, welcome.

It’s my turn to get a little festive today as I add my story to the wonderful Rainbow Advent Calendar. Click the banner above (or here for our wonderful Facebook gròup) when you’ve finished reading, to find more free stories from a variety of excellent authors throughout Advent!

This story features two of the characters from my debut novel, Submerge, but it stands alone, it’s safe for work, and it’s (major) spoiler-free. I’ll add a buy link at the bottom if you want to know more about how the two of them met. Meanwhile, the story itself is free, but if you do like it and want to show your appreciation in any way, please consider making a small donation to the NSPCC today. It’s nothing to do with the story, but it’s a charity very close to my own heart and they do great work helping children who need protection, often from those who should be doing the protecting. If not, no pressure whatsoever – as I say, this is a very short, very free story!

So, without further ado…

Something Beautiful
By Eleanor Musgrove

Jamie came home from the office party to find that Christmas had exploded in Miles’ living room.

“What on Earth happened here?” A pile of decorations – paper chains, by the looks of it, though the tangled mess was hard to conclusively identify – moved in the corner and a familiar bowler hat popped out of the top, followed by Miles’ face and arms.

“You’re home! I, er-”

“Hold on. Let me try out my deductive powers. First of all, your job search went about as well as usual.”

“Correct. Still a surprising lack of opportunities for former managers of disgraced nightclubs. Shocking, I know.”

“Sorry. So… you got fed up and bored, and you knew I’d be home late today, so you decided to go for a walk into town.”

“Yeah…”

“And in town, you were entranced by the pretty lights and the glitter and the tinsel and now here we are.”

“Good try, but you missed a bit.”

“Oh?”

“Yeah.” Miles shrugged. “I had an accomplice.”

“Who would help you collect this much shiny- oh. Gina.”

“Yeah… in my defence, she bought even more than I did. Her flat is going to be insane.”

“And yet I expect she’s managed to get at least one decoration up.” Jamie couldn’t help but smile fondly at the general mess Miles had made. He got it; Miles struggled to concentrate when he was having a tough time with his depression, and even just unpacking all the assorted Christmas tat covering the floor must have been a mammoth undertaking.

“After I unpacked it all, I started making paper chains and… I suppose I fell asleep.” Miles was obviously embarrassed, but Jamie thought it was adorable. “I only woke up when you put your key in the door.”

“Come on, then. If you can get out of that pile without ripping them all, I’ll help you put all this up.”

 

It turned out that Miles had actually bought more fairy lights than they had power sockets to plug them into – and that wasn’t even counting the strings of cheap, battery-powered bulbs he’d picked up at the local pound shop. They’d have to get themselves a couple of safe extension cords the following day. For now, even without getting all the lights plugged in, there was plenty to get on with. Miles must have made ten metres of paper chains before he’d fallen asleep, and although his flat was comfortably spacious, it wasn’t big enough to fit ten metres of paper chains across the ceiling without looking ridiculous. They hung them anyway, giving the living room the impression of a jungle with hanging vines in festive colours.

“Right. Tinsel?”

Jamie wasn’t sure where they were going to put it, but he took one end of a strand from Miles all the same. Eventually, they draped it along the edges of surfaces, wrapped furniture legs and – of course – stuck it around the frame of the painting on the wall. Miles, Jamie noticed once they’d finished, was also wearing a short length as a fantastically sparkly tie.

“Suits you. What next?”

“I, er, got some more baubles and things, for the tree.”

 

Jamie had bought their tree, a couple of weeks ago, and decked its plastic branches with lights and the handful of baubles he’d taken a fancy to in the shops. Miles had added his own decorations, but there hadn’t been very many of them. Too many were overtly Christian in theme, and since neither of them saw Christmas as a religious experience – the holiday was based in the wrong religion for both of them – it hadn’t seemed appropriate to cover their tree in angels and tiny baby Jesus figures that played Christmas hymns when pressed.

“Those don’t exist,” Jamie had exclaimed, when Miles had told him as much. Miles had showed him the website. “Those shouldn’t exist,” he’d corrected lamely.

 

Now, however, Miles seemed to have come up trumps, with non-religious baubles covered in glitter in fantastic patterns and colours. He watched with interest as Miles blushed slightly before rummaging in a carrier bag, pulling out a long train of sparkly reindeer. They seemed to just keep coming, until finally the string ended with an equally glittery sleigh.

“It… er… it called to me.” Miles seemed utterly ashamed of the decision, but Jamie only cared for one detail.

“Show me that first reindeer.” Miles obliged, and Jamie peered carefully at its face. Then he looked at the second one in the string. “Yes. That’s good. They can go on the tree.”

“What were you-? Oh, it’s Rudolph! I didn’t even notice that. And the rest have black noses?”

“Of course. There can only be one Rudolph. Let’s see… if we start Rudolph just under the star on top, and then wrap the whole thing round…” They were lucky; when they reached the end of the string, the sleigh just rested neatly on one of the lowest branches.

“Perfect,” Miles told him happily, looking not only at the tree but at the festive chaos of the room around them. He was practically glowing, and it warmed Jamie’s heart to see it. Miles had told him once, during a particularly bad spell, that when he was struggling with the darkness in his mind it helped to see something beautiful. There was no denying that the flat had been transformed into something beautiful now. “Perfect,” Miles repeated, but Jamie shook his head.

“Not quite. Close your eyes.”

 

Miles narrowed his eyes before he closed them entirely, clearly a little suspicious. Still, he followed Jamie’s instruction and even tipped his hat forward a touch to ensure that he couldn’t be accused of peeking. Jamie made his way quietly over to his discarded jacket and reached into the inside pocket for the item he needed. He had to stand on tiptoes to tuck the sprig of mistletoe into a paper chain above Miles’ head, and it took a moment to get it in just the right position so that it didn’t fall out. Then he took Miles’ hat from him.

“Open your eyes, then.”

Miles’ eyes darted around the room, looking for any difference in his surroundings. It took a few moments for him to follow Jamie’s gaze upwards and spot the innocent-looking little plant hanging above his head.

“Oh. Yes, that really does make it-”

 

Jamie was impatient; he moved forward and pulled Miles into his arms, barely waiting for him to lean in before he claimed his lips for his own. By the time they broke apart, they were both a little breathless.

“…Perfect,” Miles mumbled, grinning like an idiot. Jamie was sure he was wearing a similarly dopey expression. “Where did that come from?”

“The mistletoe? I stole it from work. They really shouldn’t put it up at work parties, anyway, that’s just asking for someone to need a sexual harassment seminar in the New Year.”

“You stole it? From work? Remind me what your job is again, Jamie?”

“Oh, stop it, it’s hardly the crime of the century. Even we have to have fun sometimes. Do you like it?”

“It’s definitely staying here – and so are you.”

 

Miles wrapped his arms around him again, his embrace warm and comfortable amidst the riot of colour and light they had turned the flat into. Truly, Jamie thought to himself, this was something beautiful.

You can find out more about Jamie and Miles in Submerge, available here and here. If you’d like to make a donation to my chosen charity, you can do so online here. Thanks to Alex Jane for letting me join this wonderful project, and for organising the whole thing. Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays, everyone!

Rainbow Advent Calendar

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Patreon launch!

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Hi everyone,

It’s my birthday, which means it’s also launch day for my brand new Patreon page! Patreon is a platform that allows you to support creators in doing what they do best, by effectively giving them $1 (or more if you like!) now and then.

My Patreon currently works on a per-creation basis. I’ll be adding new free content at least once a month, at least for a while, and I hope to add about two pieces of paid content a month (until I can increase it to three; beyond that I’ll be switching to a pledge-per-month system so it doesn’t get silly for anyone). Everyone can see my free posts, but paid posts will be Patron exclusive.

Please go and check out the page – the free story is at least some indication of what you can expect from my writing – and tell your friends! I hope you’ll enjoy the content over there and, hopefully, renewed activity on this blog.

Thanks, and talk to you soon!

Apologies

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Hi everyone,

Sorry for the radio silence – and I’m also sorry that I can’t promise it won’t happen again. Unfortunately, my life is going through a very hectic period, so I’ve barely had chance to write recently (though I did write 7000 words for Camp NaNoWriMo in April) and I have had no idea what to blog about.

Currently I’m working on short story submissions for Manifold Press’ two upcoming anthologies – No Holds Bard and Call to Arms – and continuing with A King’s Ransom. The latter is running long, the former is running short, and the one in the middle just really needs beta reading. Hopefully I’ll have some updates for you relatively soon, but I can make no promises!

Thanks for bearing with me, and hopefully I’ll talk to you soon!

A week of few words

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Hi everyone,

I’ve written relatively little this week – 3861 words, mostly fanfiction – but I’ve been working pretty hard on some world-building for A King’s Ransom and working out some projects I want to get back to. Was I running this blog yet when I started writing The Cold Light of Day? I think I was. I always meant to get back to it, and then life got in the way, but I’m bringing it back into my rotation of WIPs.

I’m also going to set about learning the tricks of self-publishing, partly because those will be useful transferable skills and partly because it might allow me to put out new releases more often. We’ll see how that goes.

Talk to you soon!

Variable Word Count…

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Hi everyone!

I’ve been beavering away on A King’s Ransom but my word count has been pretty low this week. I’ve been throwing myself into some world-building, because A King’s Ransom takes place in a sort of alternative Britain (branching off from our own reality in the Stuart era) so I’ve been working out some of the differences. It also involves rather a lot of royalty and, indeed, some studies of history, so it’s important for me to work out, for example, the chain of monarchs leading down to my protagonist’s family. It probably wasn’t necessary to trace it all the way back to Queen Anne, complete with both a timeline and a family tree, but there we go. It’s nice to have it. It’s definitely not going to be necessary to add all the spouses in, but I’m probably going to do that anyway. Oh well…

I’ve actually written about 3012 words this week, which is more than I thought!

Does anyone else get a little carried away with their world-building and end up spending a lot of time on little details that aren’t massively crucial to the plot? Is that a good or a bad thing? What do you think? Leave a comment and let me know.

Talk to you next year!

Just in time…

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Hi everyone,

I am really bad at this regular blogging thing. Apologies. This is just going to be a flying visit because it’s been a mad week and I am exhausted.

In the last week I have written 4899 words, for a total of 29331 this year. My Thursday project was A King’s Ransom, of which I think I have now written the whole prologue! Other than that, I’ve been working on Sprawl – I have now reached chapter 12 of an estimated 22, but might switch to a different primary project (either A King’s Ransom or Father Didn’t Dance, in all likelihood) for a little while soon. We’ll see how I feel when I come to write tomorrow!

Talk to you all soon!

Paperbacks + a change of plan!

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Hi everyone,

Well, I’m sure you’ve noticed that, once again, it is not Friday. I seem to be having trouble remembering to post on a Friday, so I’m going to move my weekly blog to Saturday in the hope that it will be easier to fit in. I apologise if it does jump around a bit, though – life can be a bit hectic at the moment, so I have to try to fit things in where I can.

On to word counts and projects! I have written 5282 words over the last week, most of them on Sprawl, my hopeful Submerge sequel, which I’m about halfway through. On Thursday, I took a break to work on An Englishman’s Home. I wrote a total of 22036 words in January, which is about half of what I’d usually write in a NaNoWriMo month and probably a lot more than I would have written without my 500 word goal. So far this year, I’ve written nearly 24 thousand words (not including the odd bit of fanfiction)!

I’ve also finally finished proofreading the paperback edition of Submerge, which is very exciting. I know several people wanted to read the book but prefer tangible books to the e-versions, so with a lot of help from Manifold Press, I have now got it sorted out. I’ll be releasing the book for sale on the 7th of February, so watch this space for a one-off blog post then!

Talk to you soon!