Witchblood Excerpt
Here's an excerpt from the novel I'm currently sharing with patrons on Patreon.
“You know that's illegal.” Raven pitched his voice to cold authority.

His young aunt, Kestrel, didn't even bother to look up.

“Slipped my mind,” she replied to Raven, her tone absent, elsewhere. “I'll be sure to stop immediately.” She hunched in front of a flickering two-dimensional screen. The delicate wires of her custom control headset were almost hidden by her hat, not that anyone in the palace could do anything to her if they caught her. She and the queen had an understanding, and no one else had authority to prosecute her for her crimes.

Raven laughed as his aunt's screen froze on an image of two humans in historical garb, holding pre-Merge pistols.

“What are you sensing?” Raven asked her.

“It's just called 'watching' when it's only two-D with no stim,” Kestrel replied. “Pre-Merge television. I've been on a kick. How's your English? I'll put it on the speakers for you.”

Raven's English was decent. Unbeknownst to his mother, Raven spoke three human tongues. He didn't feel like sitting still just now, though—didn't want to be entertained.

Politely declining his aunt's invitation, he turned to leave Kestrel's “lab”—a room full of complex electronics in various states of repair.

“You're angry,” Kestrel said as Raven reached the door. When he didn't respond, she went on, “You always crack bitter jokes about the rules when you're angry. What did my sister do this time?”

Raven felt his shoulders sag, in something between relief and exhaustion. Instead of leaving, he shut the “lab” door and returned to stretch out in one of Kestrel's swiveling, cushioned chairs. His aunt's screen was blanked now, and she'd turned to give him her full attention. Her bright, black eyes observed him coolly from her slate-grey face. Kestrel almost never showed emotion.

Raven far preferred this to his mother's falseness.

“She dismissed my bodyguard,” he said. “Out from under me, with no warning.”

Kestrel raised an eyebrow. “Bearthew? Is this a survival test of some kind?”

Raven spread his hands and shook his head. “That's the best case scenario,” he answered. “She might just want me dead.”

Kestrel pulled up a blank, simple-looking program in the air between her own eyes and Raven's. She stared at it for a moment. A few words appeared in a tiny font, backwards to Raven's perspective, and were gone before he could read them as the program closed once more.

“I've made a note to look into it,” his aunt told him.

That was unsettling. “I thought you'd reassure me that my own mother doesn't want me dead.”

“I don't like the rumors lately.” Kestrel frowned. “Between the bay pirates and the rebel camps in Manhattan's ruins, anti-human sentiment is getting bad,” she said. “The Trads fear you, and the Rennies are scrambling to reassure everyone that their views are nothing like yours.”

None of that was news. Raven had trouble imagining even his mother wanting him dead over it. Before he could say as much out loud, Kestrel went on.

“Yesterday, I went out to do maintenance on my routers, and sissy dearest didn't realize I was on the roof,” Raven's aunt confessed. “I heard part of a meeting with the Duke about strife between the nine families, and I could have sworn I heard her say she thought someone was considering a coup.”
Kestrel sounded bemused, which was unusually emotive for her.

A nervous laugh escaped Raven. “That's far-fetched, isn't it? The nine families have shared power for millennia. The rotating monarchy is a stable system.”

Kestrel shrugged. “What's really stable, post-Merge?” she asked. “Half the elves and most of the dragons alive today remember a world with different maps, easier magic, portals to other realms, and no such thing as electronics. My sister is the first high queen to be born since the Event. There's no way our culture is done recovering from the shock of the change.”

She had a point, but . . . “That still seems extreme, even for the most rabid fringe-Trads.”

Kestrel nodded and sighed. “I hope you're right.”

“Well, whether I am or not,” Raven conceded, “it sounds like a shithole of a time to be without a bodyguard.”

“I don't trust them,” Kestrel said.

“Yes, well, people don't try to kill you as often as they do me,” Raven replied. “I've more than once had a use for a second pair of eyes to watch my back.”

Kestrel pulled up another program, a simple game with colored balls. Playing it idly in the projected hologram that hung in the air between herself and Raven, she shrugged again. “Who in the Void can you hire?” she asked. “You can't trust anyone in Fellveil right now, with Rowan acting this way. In the other eight states, well, which families are loyal to the oligarchy, and which have gone radical? And how will you know who's a Trad sympathizer and already wants you dead?”

She made better points than Raven liked to admit.

“I'll figure something out.” He found that he'd run out of patience for the topic. “Tell me more about your human show there. Judging by the pistol-styles that's what? One century pre-Merge? Two?”

Perhaps he was in the mood to be entertained after all.
Patreon Launch!!! Woohoo!!!
Launching my Patreon this week, and philosophical ramblings (mostly) thereupon.
I’m super excited (read: terrified) to be launching my Patreon! Here’s the link to sign up: https://www.patreon.com/rhiannonlouve

<3 <3 <3 Join before Valentine’s Day, and I will write a short love poem just for you! <3 <3 <3

I’m doing something a little different from most writer Patreons I’ve seen. Mostly I just want to send people my stories, and this is my plan for how to do that. You can click on the Patreon link above to see how I’m going about things.

See, my whole life, I’ve been an anti-materialistic hippie freak. The problem is, that this does not pay rent or utilities, nor does it buy groceries. This is (indirectly) why we need UBI. But I digress. My real point is that I deeply believe in principles of trusting in generosity, like Amanda Palmer talks about, except that, from having spent most of my adult life hard up for cash, I understand that—as society currently stands—just trusting in generosity is an unrealistic way of life for most people. Most of those who manage it are coming from a place of more privilege than we realize.

As such, I have always struggled between a strong desire to give my work away for free and trust the universe to take care of me, and a strong desire to support fellow struggling artists by valuing art highly and demanding fair pay for content produced. And these two desires don’t mesh super well. They set me at odds with myself, constantly undermining my own efforts to build an audience OR keep food on my own table.

I’ve been deeply blessed and privileged in my life to have been supported more than once on this journey by dear friends who believe in me despite my internal philosophical paralysis (Chidi Anagonye is what ethics scholars are really, actually like, true story). And now I’m embarking on a new step of my path.

Patreon, I hope, will provide me with something of the compromise I’ve always hoped to achieve. It has a paywall, which isn’t my favorite, but due to that paywall, I don’t have to fear that I’m costing other creators money by undervaluing my own work (especially those creators with fewer life advantages than I have been lucky enough to have).

And after stories are released on Patreon, having been funded by my patrons, I hope to put a certain number of them out for free with a clear conscience. If my patrons generously put me in a position to be able to give the world a small gift of the fruits of my labors, it’s not that I’m giving it up for nothing. It’s that my patrons financed the present.

Depending on how well the Patreon does, I may even put all of my stories out for free (though patrons will always get early access, of course).

In other news (since I’m nowhere near my 1000-word self-limit for blog posts), the relief that comes with our nation’s current reprieve from fascist assault is already giving my brain space to worry about other things. For example, I’ve been having stress dreams about Israel and the West Bank. Consciously, I’m far more focused on problems here at home, but this isn’t even the first time I’ve dreamed about Israel. Apparently my subconscious is trying to tell me something. (I am not Jewish, or Muslim, and I have no relatives in the region: full disclosure.) I suppose I’ll have to write something about it once I figure out what my own mind is trying to communicate to me.

In the mean time, I’m just here, hiding from the plague, grateful for the good luck that allows me to do so, and angry at the social structures in place to deny such luck to so many others. My advice to those like me, who are able to work from home and take cover well away from the pandemic’s front lines: pester your representatives to get healthcare and vaccines to essential workers and poor communities. They all deserve hazard pay and then some. And tip servers and delivery drivers WAY more than usual. People need the extra.

And I guess that’s it for now. I plan to try to post a minimum of once a month, usually in the latter half of the month.

Much love to all of you reading this. Stay safe out there. Wash your hands. Wear a mask when you go out. Apply critical thinking to your news sources. Here’s hoping we can all hug each other again sometime this year. <3
First Blog Post of the New Website!!
Lessons from 2020, and more!
We have almost reached the end of 2020. Will we make it the last few weeks? Will the world end before we get there? It’s hard to say.

But hey! I have a new website. It’s kind of retro-90s, I think. It’s my obsession with purple. And soon I’ll have a Patreon. Links forthcoming. It will be mostly for novels, released a few chapters at a time. Game design tidbits and other randomness will make appearances (some posted here too). I’m a musician, a scholar, and a philosopher, so … this should be fun. Or pretentious. Or both! Whee!!

I will say, though, that 2020 has convinced me of a few things.

1) It’s important to stand up and stretch every half hour. As a person who works from home at a desk job, I was already doing this, but not reliably. Once quarantine happened, though, I started to have back and tailbone problems unless I stayed very strict about stretching. I also try to dance to whatever music is playing after my stretch. I think I’m both happier and healthier when I dance for 3 minutes a couple times an hour.

2) I have a good life. I have lost more or less nothing, personally, in the various 2020 disasters. I am grateful beyond all words, and I am not remotely free from survivor guilt in the face of how much so many others have suffered and lost. As a response, I donate as much as I can, to causes that I hope will ensure a better future for everyone.

3) Board games are better in person. I would not give up our online-since-March weekly Game Night for all the world, but dear gods I miss playing with physical cards and pieces. It’s kinda convenient when a computer does the bookkeeping for me, but I just think better with a physical board in front of me. I need the sound of the pieces moving and the feel of the cards in my hands to really know my strategy.

4) If I had a political party (which I never have) it would be the Movement For Black Lives (which isn’t a party). I watched a couple of their long-format political action videos on YouTube this year, and I have never seen another political party that hits the points I care about so well, and in a grounded, practical way too. White people need to get on board, because we will all be a thousand times better off if we put M4BL members in charge of everything. Like, everything.

5) Breathing is good. Poorly-regulated asthma can make deep-breathing cause panic instead of calm. As I wrestled my asthma under control this year, George Floyd was killed, like so many state-murdered Americans who die gasping for air. Covid 19 slew 1.5 million, all unable to breathe at the end, and summer flames brought smoke to block out the sun, choking everyone, and … Listen, I just want us to be able to breathe. Clean air is a human right. Healthcare is a human right. A house that isn’t on fire is a human right. Not being choked to death is a human right. Let the people breathe.

6) Walking in the park is a spiritual practice. We walk our dogs in a neighborhood park every night, and I got into a habit of pausing for a moment of communion with the local spirits. I’m feeling more spiritually in-tune than I have in decades. Fellow members of my congregation include a flock of night-quacking ducks and the occasional low-flying bat. The local nutria show interest at times, but I’m always moralizing to them about environmental concerns, so they aren’t as engaged. During the deepest phases of the spring quarantine, we even had guest testimonials from a pair of beavers and a coyote.

7) 5-htp has magic powers. Despite the horrors of 2020, I have had one of the mentally healthiest years I’ve had since my asthma first got bad over a decade ago. I am still horrified, enraged, and sickened by so much (so much!), but I am able to regulate, calm back down, find patches of hope (like the M4BL <3), and wildest of all, I can SLEEP AT NIGHT. Sleep is amazing. I highly recommend it!

8) I enjoy being alone. I’ll probably go through a social burst once it’s safe to do so, and attend a few parties, but honestly, if I could be in quarantine for six months of every year, I think I would be thrilled to pieces. Especially if I got to have a cuddly cat, cuddly dog, and spaz-monkey dog with me (for spice), as well as the love of my life upstairs. This is an existence to which I am extremely well-suited. I feel bad for the extroverts going through all this, but I sure ain’t one of them.

9) The apocalypse is here. Every empire falls, but not always with a bang. Ours is in the process of crumbling. We’re just deciding how painful the transition will be. We can embrace improved democracy and a groovy solar punk future, providing health and prosperity for all humankind, or we can cling to the past and end up with a global desert hellscape of constant war and universal deprivation. Or we can split the difference and compromise to a scary cyberpunk future, where the rich are despots and only the strongest of the poor survive, but at least we still have Internet. You, dear reader, must decide which sci fi setting you want to live in. Because you don’t get to keep the world you have. This era is kinda already over.

So there you have it; nine tidbits of the wisdom I have gleaned from 2020. I hope you find them useful!

See you next post! Stay safe, wash your hands, wear a mask when you go out. Much love.