Last year, I participated in the Goodreads M/M Romance Group's annual writing event, Don't Read in the Closet. Last year's event was called Love Has No Boundaries, and the story that came out of that was Human Frailties, which I later expanded into the romantic fantasy novel Human Frailties, Human Strengths. This year's event is called Love's Landscapes, and I'm participating again.
In this event, group members are encouraged to submit an idea/prompt for a M/M romance story that they would like to see written. Members find a photo or picture of one or both of the characters in the story, and write a Dear Author letter explaining what kind of story they would like. Some of these prompts end up being quite detailed, others are extremely open-ended, leaving much up to the author.
The group moderators then post the Dear Author letters, which are open for claiming by any writers in the group who would like to try fulfilling the prompter's request. Finished stories are due by May 1, and these stories will be posted in the group's discussion boards throughout the summer months and will also be made available for download on the group's website like they were last year.
The prompt I claimed this year will be another fantasy story, and here's a little taste...
“…Seb and Nida will spend the nights in their cottage, as usual. That means you’ll be alone at night.” Master Rikard’s bushy black eyebrows wriggled across his brow as he spoke. A mind-picture slowly swam through the haze in Khy’s head. He closed his eyes trying to hang onto the image.
Black… fuzzy… caterpillar… crawling across the Master’s face… or had it been a leaf? He frowned, eyes still closed. Had he been helping Seb pull up carrots? Or was it potatoes? Had that even been yesterday? Maybe it had been—
“Khy!” Master Rikard’s voice lashed through the air like a whip.
Khy looked up and blinked, his mind-picture of the caterpillar shattering into tiny pieces as he struggled to focus on the Master.
“Yes, Master.” Khy’s own words sounded dull and slurred. He couldn’t make his sounds come out all crisp and clean the way everyone else could. His tongue just wasn’t fast enough.
“With any luck, I’ll be back in a few days. I’m not happy about leaving you alone at night, mind, but there’s no help for it. With half the village down with the fever and the brothers run off their feet tending the sick, I can hardly send you to the monastery. Do your chores, take your medicine, and mind Seb and Nida. Do not make me regret leaving you in charge.” With that, Master Rikard strode out the door and was gone in a swirl of dark robes and darker temper.
Khy stared after him, blinking and trying to remember exactly what the Master had just said.
Something about charging…
He frowned and smacked the side of his head with his fist. Master Rikard sometimes did that for him when it took him too long to think about things. It was supposed to make him think faster and smarter. Khy wasn’t sure that it helped. Except for hurting, it didn’t feel any different from his normal thinking, all thick and slow, as if someone had poured honey into his head.
He stared hard at the door and tried to gather together the pieces of his thoughts. No matter how hard he tried, he couldn’t quite recapture the words the Master had said. He had to go all the way back to the caterpillar. He smiled as he watched the way its little feet gripped the twig. And then Master Rikard had shouted… and all the pieces of the caterpillar picture had scattered in his head, and--
Khy’s breath caught in his throat and his heart skipped a beat. The Master really had said in charge.