Where Do You Get Your Ideas?

K. A. Laity

2013-10-23 16.44.20Every creative gets this question sooner or later: those asking think it’s the most natural thing in the world to ask about this ‘mysterious’ process. Those questioned, however, can’t help wondering where don’t you get ideas?! The truth is inspiration comes from the oddest things (that’s why we carry notebooks) but it can also be induced by filling your head with as much stuff as possible: reading, viewing art, watching movies, immersing yourself in wild nature or noisy city streets– wherever your muses lurk.

Owl StretchingHonestly, I often forget where I got ideas originally once they’ve passed through my brain to become stories. I can remember the hooks sometimes because they’re in the titles. Owl Stretching is easy because the name comes from Monty Python and, as I’ve written before, I started it the day Kurt Vonnegut died and I lamented the loss of the sad, funny books that he wrote…

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Five Gay Men I Lust After

Lady Smut

By Liz Everly

I confess. Like blog sisters Alexa and Kiersten, I don’t read m/m romances. But I love C. Margery Kempe’s writing—I will read Man City: Martin. It’s odd that I don’t read m/m. After all, there are so many gay men that I lust after. In my real life, I have several guy friends who are gay—all of whom are attractive, but we’re friends, so I don’t really lust after them. But there are several gay celebs that I’d not kick out of bed should the opportunity arise. Grin. Feast your eyes on my top five gay hotties way out of my reach–for more than one reason.

1. Ricky Martin. Who was not heartbroken when he finally came out? Oh. My. God.  I love to watch him move.

2. Andrew Scott. Sweet and naughty boy. Looks like he needs a spanking, doesn’t he? Me-ow.


3. Matthew Bomer…

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Airships and Alchemy 12.3 – Lintons Aloft

Kathryn 'Kit' Marlowe

2013-Winner-Square-ButtonIn the meantime, the brothers meant to be aloft as soon as humanly possible. They swiftly put away the toolbox and made ready to fire up the engine. Israel still flinched a bit whenever the engine began to belch out smoke, but they had had many safe flights since the disastrous fire back in Yorkshire, so his brother could not understand it and simply grumbled under his breath.

“Keep a watch on our things,” Edgar said needlessly to the French crew on the ground assigned to keep an eye on the brothers’ site. The two of them began to guide the ship aloft as the engine chugged away. Though their first interest had always been in speed, Israel had insisted on a little more attention being paid to safety.

But Edgar remained certain that they had the faster ship and he was eager to show it off.

“I can see…

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Chapter Twenty Nine

As the VN Mishima neared Earth, Jude took some time to contemplate her experiences over the past months and, if she was being honest with herself, years too.

In her journey to find a home, a purpose, a calling and a family there had been many falls and mis-steps. Her vagabond years, first with her parents and then on the road touring with the Flaming Hearts in her guise a Kiki and with Coop, followed by her decision made on a whim and for the want of something better to join up with Cee-Cee Incorporated. The people she had met there. The people she had seen come and go. In her wildest imaginings, she would never have figured out that she would find peace on a deep-space supply ship, working as an engineering technician -however junior she still may be, she loved her work – and in the arms of an enigmatic Irishman who she saw all too infrequently.

Certainly, there had been a lot of hurt and heartache along the way. From feeling like the third wheel in her parents’ marriage, losing her grandfather, things just not working out with Coop and the way that had not quite come to an ending (she remembered regretfully her ex-wife’s last words to her – “I won’t make the same mistake twice” – was that how Coop saw her? As a mistake?), poor James Wibberley now resting under his cherry tree – they had never it seemed stood a chance, her friend Glass, to the sweet but “it’s never going to happen” Bly and the horrible resulting mess that she had left Maxie and Neesh and their and Kristof’s children in. And more recently, the unfortunate George Niven, who she only knew for a few moments but felt too that she had let him down. Her life just seemed to be a series of “if onlys”. Over a precious bottle of Polish wodka, hidden away for such a night of contemplation and regret, she shared her thoughts and shots with Resnik and Roth.

“Don’t be ridiculous,” her young friend admonished her. “You’re too quick to put yourself down. Look at all the good things you have done.”

“Such as?” Jude poured another scornful glass from the bottle. The bison on the label seemed to be looking on her with equal measures of contempt and disdain. “What good have I ever brought to this universe?”

“Well, your music. That made, and still makes, a lot of people happy.” Resnik had, as promised back at the Institute, searched for and found Jude’s entire back catalogue and downloaded it all onto her pad. She had proclaimed it “cool” but had soon gone back to bombarding all who would listen with “Envision The Alamo” and their latest rumblings.

“That was a long time ago.” Jude had pretty much vowed never to sing again after Kristof’s wake and had thus far fended off pleading requests from Resnik and Roth, among others, to go back on her promise to herself.

“Not that long, when you think about it,” Roth added helpfully. Resnik elbowed him and he piped down.

“You’re a good friend to us. You’ve helped make crew relations here on board between the top brass and the ones like us who get their hands dirty run a bit more smoothly.” Resnik added.

“Yeah. If I hear the name ‘Sadako’ I don’t think of some faded pop starlet…ouch…let me finish.” Roth had received another painful intercostal dig from his mate. “What I’m trying to say is, you’re not her anymore. Or the woman from the Tiandong.” He reached over and took her hand in his. “When I hear somebody mentioning your name or if I think of you, I go ‘that’s my trainee, my shipmate from the Mishima. My pal.”

“Oh Ally, you’re too kind.” Jude blubbered.

“And you, Jude, are drunk. And as your superior, I order you to bed. Now.” And he and Resnik eased Jude onto her bunk, slipping off her boots and pulling her blanket up over her.

“And remember, you have your love.” Resnik kissed the top of her friend’s head and left her to sleep.

Chief Mitchell assembled her small team in the crew lounge. She bade them all to take a seat. Jude pulled out a chair and sat next to Resnik, with Roth and Monks close by. Jude regretted not having had many opportunities to work with Serah Monks during this voyage out and back but sincerely hoped to rectify that in the near future, if the fates allowed.

“Well, we’re coming to the end of our first hop out to the Taurus sector. Reports from Captain Fern and her officers suggest that it all went well and I say so too. All systems seem to be in good running order and you’ve all worked really hard to deal with any issues that came our way.” She looked Jude square in the eye and nodded. “Well done, all of you.” She picked up her pad. “Now, Resnik and Sadako, you two will be more than glad to hear that both the Captain and I are more than impressed with your efforts up to now. In fact, it would be true to say that you’ve far outstripped our expectations. You’re the best two newbies we’ve had in Vale Navigation’s engineering team for a long time.” She smiled at Roth and Monks. “Well, at least since this pair of reprobates here. Suffice to say, we shall be sending glowing reports and congratulations back to your tutors at Cal-Gor and to the offices of Cee-Cee Inc. If you are both in agreement, we’d like to extend your placement here with us on the Mishima for the rest of your trainee-ship. And, if all goes well after that, offer you permanent positions with the company.”

Resnik and Jude both jumped up, hugged each other, hugged Roth and Monks and then, in the spirit of their joy, hugged the surprised chief as well. She laughed then made them take their seats again.

“I’ll take that reaction as a yes then? Great stuff. Now, I do warn you, it’s going to be harder work from here on in. Roth, Monks and I and the rest of the crew will be expecting great things from you, so you had better not disappoint.”

“We won’t.“ Resnik answered for both of them.

“Good. Now bugger off, the four of you. My leave started…”she looked at her pad,”…forty two seconds ago.”


Jude was packing away the last of her belongings when Nicholls popped her head around the bunk room door.

“Is it okay to come in?”

“Sure. I’m just trying to figure out how, without any stops except on the Sal, I managed to end up with more belongings than I started out with.”

The lieutenant came in and sat on Resnik’s bunk. “I find that too. Look, I just wanted to pop by and say cheerio. I know I was a bit of a cow when you first came on board. I’m sorry, Jude. I hope we can be friends.”

“We are. And don’t apologise. That’s all behind us.”

“Thanks. Being the comms officer, I know that you’re coming back with us. So I won’t say ‘goodbye’. I’ll say see you again soon.”

“You too, ship mate. And it goes without saying, but I will. Keep in touch.”


Disembarking from her ship back in the chilly port of Svalbard, Jude bade a fond adieu to her crewmates, until they met back again in three weeks for another long trip, this time to supply a team surveying Neptune . Alta Resnik was heading home to Poland and, Jude hoped, a happy reunion with Miro. She was under strict orders to give him Jude’s best wishes and a promise to all get together again soon. Roth was heading home to Scotland and his family. The hugs and kisses her and Alta shared made Jude think that whatever path their relationship would take, things were far from over for them. And so it should be, Jude chided herself – love was still a rare commodity in this cosmos. After her little pity-party a couple of nights before, Jude had promised that she would start trying to make some repairs, starting with her mum and dad and then, as time allowed, with Coop and if she could get in touch with them, the Shepherd-Moores too. But first, she had a date to keep.


Hennessey had booked them a night in a fancy hotel in central London and after a passionate reunion, they caught an early train to Ashford and from there a taxi to Newchurch. Using directions given to Jude by Clare Niven, they easily found the old church with the squinty tower. “We’re not religious but it’s where we were married and where I think George should be laid to rest, not out here in the bustle of Managua,” Clare had told her. They found a spot under a tree, among some snowdrops that were just beginning to flower. I hope you got your wings, Jude said to herself. They had booked into a little guest house in nearby Dymchurch so took a taxi back to there.


“Feeling better, love?” Hennessey asked Jude as they lay side by side under an old but cosy quilt.

“Yeah. Thanks for letting me do that today. It just seemed…well, the right thing to do.”

“Talking of which, I’ve been thinking…” Hennessey turned to face her.

“Don’t do that too much – you’ll wear out you brain cells.” Jude remembered one of her dad’s old sayings from their days on the road, one of many that he had used to say to her to cheer her up when she was feeling down or maybe a little neglected. She cuddled into Hennessey’s chest, listening to his heart beat steadily’

“Jude, I’m serious. Listen, please.”

“Okay. Sorry.” He sounded a bit put out. “Carry on, sweetheart. I’m listening.”

“Good. Now as I was saying, talking of doing the right thing…well…”

He was interrupted again, this time by Jude’s comm on her pad. She picked it up and read the caller ID on the display.

“It’s my mum. Do you mind if I take it? Only, you know, it’s hard to reach her at the best of times.” She pursed her kips in a mock scowl.

“Sure, go ahead. What I want to ask you will keep.”

“Thanks honey.” Jude pressed the ‘answer’ button on her pad.

“Hello Haha,” she began, using the affectionate term for mother instead of her mother’s name as was her habit. Building bridges and such.

“Jude. Thank goodness. Where are you?” Her mother sounded out of breath somehow.

“I’m in Kent, England. With Hennessey. I only got back yesterday. I’ve been meaning to call. What’s new?”

“Jude,” her mother spoke her name again, softly but with a crack in her voice. “It’s your dad.”

“Dad. What are you saying Mum? What about Dad?”

“Jude, my darling. Oh my love. Your dad. He’s dead.”

The end

Or maybe, just the beginning…

Chapter Twenty Eight

Following the excitement and sadness of the P-2490 incident, the crew of the Mishima settled back into the routines of being a supply ship for the Hibakusha Corporation’s latest venture in the Taurus belt. Jude found Roth to be an excellent guide and teacher, when he wasn’t sneaking off to canoodle with Resnik that is. Her bunk-mate and mentor’s burgeoning romance meant that the majority of her down time was spent alone, which fine by her, as it meant she could rattle off comms to her beloved Hennessey back home on planet Earth. The farther they travelled out, the longer it took for her messages to reach him and for his replies to get back to her. Still, this long-distance love affair seemed to be managing to keep its fire.

Jude’s involvement in the tragic case of pilot George Niven had meant that she and Corvette Lieutenant Nicholls (“call me Katie”) had a good working relationship now and the young technician often found herself being called to the bridge and upper decks whenever there was something that required engineering input. Jude raised this with both Roth and Chief Mitchell but her two superiors were happy that relations between above and below decks, in star ship parlance, were thawing.

“And you are doing good work too Sadako,” Mitch had told her. “Even the Captain has noted your diligence.” High praise indeed, Jude thought. Outside of the slight detour they had made, the ship had no scheduled stops on its way to the Crab Nebula. During their all-too-brief time together, Hennessey had extolled the wonders of travelling to and working around a neutron star and Jude was keen to learn and experience it for herself. A top of the line cruiser such as the VN Mishima had been designed and constructed to withstand the rigours of deep-space travel and exploration but there were still checks and adjustments that needed to be made on a daily basis. As the ship grew closer to the nebula’s pulsing heart, the radio static increased and the magnetic pull caused fluctuations which required Jude and Roth to be on call at all hours. As they grew closer to their destination, Jude would often sit between summons on the observation deck, marvelling at the beauty and wonder enfolding and unfolding around her.


They arrived at their destination and docked with the corporation’s elite survey vessel, the Sally Ride, Hennessey’s home and workplace when he wasn’t being retained for training as he was now, back in Gifu. It was a massive ship, more of a station really, in comparison to the Mishima. Although a working industrial vessel, its purpose being the harvesting and processing of helium from the gas-rich nebula, as it was home for long periods to a large crew, it boasted excellent facilities such as the gym where Hennessey had been working on his rather impressive physique, as well as a library, cinema and a hydroponic garden.

Jude, at her lover’s behest, went to look for his boss, one Chief Joss Bell. She and Roth headed to engineering to find her. Things were obviously more relaxed her on The Sal, as her crew affectionately dubbed their ship, as they found Bell and her team laughing and bantering away in their hub.

“Ah, strangers bearing gifts, I see,” Bell beckoned them over. Jude and her crew-mate had indeed arrived with boxes of various shapes and sizes, no doubt containing new tech as well as the obligatory hooch that lubricated the byways of space.

This chief looked them both over. “Now, as handsome a lad as you are and as progressive a fellow as our Henny is, I doubt you are his sweetie,” she said to Roth. ‘Henny’, Jude smiled at her partner’s nickname. “So you must be Ally Roth. Welcome.” Then her eyes fell on Jude and she grinned. “Folks, the Belfast boy was not exaggerating. You, my beauty, must be the famous Jude. Pleased to set eyes on you at last.” The chief extended her hand, which Jude took then found herself being pulled into a warm if unexpected hug.

Once released, the questions began. “How is my boy then?”

“He’s good. He says to say ‘hi’.”

“Grand. Jammy wee toe-rag, getting sent back HQ to do some training while we poor workers are left here.” She laughed loudly as she saw a worried look pan across Jude’s face. “I’m only having you on, petal. We love Henny here and he deserves to have his work recognised. I need to watch my step though – I get the feeling he’s after my job.”

Bell motioned to one of her team. “Kubo, you take Mister Roth here off to see the bending magnets, right?” Roth beamed, keen to see the tech he had requested.

“And you and I,” she said, taking Jude’s arm and leading her off, “are off to see my pride and joy.”


At the core of the Sal was her central circular particle accelerator which powered not only the ship but also its large helium harvesting “scoops” and its processing and storage units. Developed along similar lines to the still operational Large Hadron Collider back on Earth but using technologies to make it much more compact and thus viable for interstellar use, it was, to Jude’s relatively novice eyes, spectacular.

“Hennessey had described this all to me, but it’s beyond my imaginings.”

Bell beamed like a proud mother. “She’s just fantastic. Runs like a dream. Here, come see the scoops in action.” She led Jude to a large window, from where Jude could watch the huge polonium balloons in action. Beyond them, she could see the bright indigo and violet heart of the pulsar.


“Beautiful.” She was truly awe-struck at the spectacle before her.

“Ain’t it just?” Bell remarked. “Now, time for the gritty stuff. Tell me more about you and my starry-eyed friend.”


Its payload transferred successfully, the Mishima and her crew prepared to leave.

“It’s been real nice seeing you,” Bell said to Jude. “Give my regards to that scallywag Henny and tell him to haul his sweet ass back here ASAP.” She gave Jude a final farewell hug. As she held on Bell whispered “I know you are contracted to Vale but if you ever get itch y feet, give me a call, you hear?”

“Yes,” Jude said. I will.



Settled back on board, Jude and Roth reported back to Chief Mitchell, who had stayed on board, ostensibly for maintenance checks, but the whole crew knew it was so she and Ferns could have some well-earned time together. They both raved about the systems on the Sally Ride but were equally glad to be back on their ship. It’s nice to think of the Mishima like that, Jude thought – “my ship. My home.” After all of her trial and tribulations of the past year or so, it was a good feeling to have somewhere she felt she belonged at last.

Once they were heading back, regular messages from home began flooding in.

“Ooh, I’ve got one from Miro,” Resnik told Jude excitedly. “He’s going to back in Lodz for a spell when we return.”

“What about Roth?” Jude asked her.

“A woman can have two boyfriends at the same time. It is nearly the end of the century you know.” Resnik laughed.

“You go, girl.” Jude encouraged her.

“And anyway,” Alta added, “Ally is going home to see his husband.”


Jude went to see her pal Nicholls in comms. Using her skills and some co-operative re-wiring of the systems, they were able to establish a clearer connection with both sound and vision to Earth while still some light years away. Lieutenant Katie patched the signal down to Jude’s screen at her work station.

Hennessey’s familiar features appeared on the monitor.

“Well hello there sexy. Am I glad to see you again.” He smiled warmly across the interstellar miles. Jude’s heart skipped a beat. The moustache and goatee were one and an even more handsome man had emerged.”

“Hello to you too, gorgeous. Or should I say, Henny?” she teased.

“Oh good grief.”

“My thoughts too. I can’t see you as a ‘Henny’ somehow. Hennessey, yes. But ‘Henny’ – you sound like a small chicken.”

“Oh shush. You know I’m not a wee chicken. A large cock maybe…” He winked mischievously.

“Easy there tiger.” Jude laughed, enjoying their easy banter. “Now, will you still be Earth-side when I get back?”

“Yeah, I have a few more weeks here then I’m back to the Sal. But I’ve made it clear, I’m not heading back out until I’ve had some quality time with you.”

“Good. I miss you, lover.”

“I miss you too, my darling. Where do you want to meet up this time?”

“Have you ever heard of a place called Newchurch? It’s near the Kent coast. We could meet in London and head there.”

Hennessey shook his head. “Nope, never heard of it but it sounds fun. Any reason why you want to go there particularly?”

“I have an errand for an old friend.” Jude looked over at the small urn on the shelf, which contained George Niven’s ashes. “I’ll tell you about it when I see you.”