Fantasy Art & Photography – Diversity?

Scouring the internet for fantasy writing inspiration today and despite spending more that 3+ hours looking at phenomenal photography it really struck me that there was nooooo diversity of any kind in this medium. I was looking for someone with a darker skin tone, and hoping for kind of an elemental feel or animal familiar vibe and there was just nada to be found. Pinterest and Google searches were both a complete bust no matter how many varied search terms I came up with.

I even tried a different angle, plus sized fantasy photography, and at least there I found this incredible mermaid photo shoot (link attached below) despite an overall lack of material. No big girls allowed again.

I was naively surprised by this.


Photo credit: Jess Summers. Here is a link to her great article on the making of this mermaid!


Fill: The One Who Cools

This fill was inspired by a prompt from Dreamwidth user Siliconshaman and fills the “Fog,” “Gothic,” “Wild Card – Wind,” “Regency,” and “Gods/Goddesses” squares in my 1-1-17 card for the Dark Fantasy Bingo challenge. 567 words – this counts as a “Straight Line” Extra for the bingo challenge since it uses 5 prompts in one fill!

The One Who Cools

The carriage horses’ hooves sounded a muffled beat against the cobblestones as dank fog twined between their fetlocks and blanketed all of New Street. Through the leaded windows of a private gallery the grooms and drivers could watch as the Birmingham Society of Artists laughed and toasted one another in high spirits, the golden glitter of recently acquired Egyptian antiquities on display in the background. Prize of place among the artifacts was the mummified remains of an influential pharaoh’s adviser complete with canopic jars and other funerary paraphernalia. A stable hand coughed, wet and thick, the sound traveling strangely within the growing bank of mist.

The swirls eddied and flowed higher around the horses knees and hocks, as a wind picked up, blowing from the North through the streets of Birmingham. As the night wore on guests inside the gallery began departing, women in their regency finery glittering in the light of newly installed gas lamps that clung to the Gothic architecture of the gallery on New Street, and men in their suit coats and top hats opening the carriage doors politely.  An amulet, set upon a low table strewn with several other priceless pieces, silently slipped itself into a giddy ladies reticule as she passed on the way towards the door.

Chatter among the guests was animated as they left the gallery, their spirits alight with the passion of inquiry and the fever for ancient Egypt that had grasped their imaginations. As they wound their way through the evening streets they paid little attention to the howl of the rising North wind, or the fog that was now as high as their horse’s withers and thick like a suffocating shroud. The amulet of fine sardonyx and jasper rattled in the bottom of Ms. Clarke’s handbag, the fine emblem of Qebui seeming to shine in the dim light of a home bound carriage.

The fog had swollen upwards, now smothering even the gas lights that marched along the arches of cast iron lamp posts. The wind had become savage and the horses feared to continue on their journey towards the Clarke estate. Something massive moved within the wind and fog, something old striding through the streets of Birmingham. And as the strange storm enclosed the carriage of Ms. Clarke, the driver swore that directly before his team of horses stood a massive Ram, with upraised wings and upon its neck four fearsome heads. The driver tells a tale of how this beast stood as if frozen in the fog and wind, with waters raging below his hooves, and right as he clambered down from his box to flee in terror into the mists that night, the Ram struck his hooves upon the cobbles, releasing a raging river that overturned the carriage and pulled under the horses.

The following morning dawn arrived bright and clear over Birmingham. A bright new day except for the discovery of Ms. Clarke’s carriage overturned in a puddle of brackish water just blocks from her home, the four horse team all drowned without signs of any further wounds, and Ms. Clarke herself asphyxiated and soaked through as if submerged many hours in her bath. As investigators begin the hunt for her missing driver, another seemingly unrelated complaint is received from the curator for the Birmingham Society of Artists; that of a missing Egyptian amulet believed stolen from their gallery opening just the night before.



Qebui – the Egyptian God of the North Wind whose name means “The One Who Cools.”

Researching this God brought me to the incredible amulet pictured above created by Deviant Art user warboar, and I knew I had to find a way to work it into a story.

Fill: Captive Apparition Divination

This was inspired by a prompt from Elzibelle on FB and fills the “captive”  and “apparition” squares in my 1-1-17 card for the Dark Fantasy Bingo challenge. This fill is 590 words, and is technically an off-shoot from a story snippet I wrote in February 2015 introducing the Witch Queen Shaela, and while I don’t think the story is going to go in that direction anymore, I’m still intrigued by the character, and excited her world made a reappearance.

Captive Apparition Divination

The Witch Queens have each possessed their own skills and talents, preferring certain styles and embellishments for their particular magicks. All are tasked with watching fortune and future closely to lead her people forward in prosperity, but the manners in which each accomplishes these royal duties are widely varied. Our current Witch Queen, Shaela, uses a classic tarot & is gifted with intermittent visions through her dreams, both practices of common occurrence amongst the Queens. In general, tarot cards, scrying of all kinds, readings of tea leaves or match sticks, runes and pendulums are all in the most highly favored classes, although some can be quite unique in the manner of embellishments used; Queen Amalyda’s Finger Bone pendulum was known as a gruesome but effective augur. Some scholars find the history of Royal Divination quite fascinating, and prefer to delve into the more bizarre and esoteric styles that have been used and recorded in the Royal Book of Divination.

Used only three times in our written and oral history has been the keeping of captive apparitions. The oldest is Witch Queen Estere who kept the ghost of her mother locked in a bottle of honey spirits, where it was said she had poured herself on purpose after killing her liver with the drink. Gaining the insight of realms beyond our own, while still easily communicating with talented humans, souls trapped between the worlds require a great deal of power to maintain, and raise a number of terrifying ethical questions if they haven’t volunteered for the duty.

The second instance of a similar divinatory tactic used by the Queens was the Crystal Oracle of Witch Queen Fevre. Fevre captured part of her own spirit within a scrying crystal by sacrificing the phallus she had been born with, but couldn’t incorporate into her magick or spirit, and placing it into molten glass. The polished orb was wrapped in layers of magick that protected the phallus from decay, and it was reputed to be both a nearly infallible whisperer of hard times to come, and also to have saved Favre’s life by saving her sanity. Once unburdened by its physical presence on her body Favre was one of the realms most content and happy rulers. The Queen and the Crystal Oracle were buried separately, against common custom, so she wouldn’t need to carry the burden further into the realm beyond.

Finally, the only other recorded instance of captive divination comes from Witch Queen Tuth, who summoned a minor demon and made a fairly simple deal. For agreeing to spend the duration of Tuth’s human lifespan trapped in a locked room of the castle, all reasonable needs and desires provided for but nothing tawdry would be tolerated, the demon would inherit all of Tuth’s powers upon her death. Perhaps a risky strategy had Tuth not been so mightily powerful herself, and had the deal not been so particularly good for the demon. In a lifespan that stretches millennia, where absorbing other’s power is the only way a demon can increase their own, spending the 33 years Tuth reigned as Witch Queen as a pampered house pet was very little for the demon to pay in exchange for what would likely have amounted to centuries worth of risky battles on its own plane of existence. Really, it could easily have counted the whole endeavor a vacation with profit! The deal worked out well for Tuth, the demon, and our Queendom, with the demon parting rapidly the day after Tuth’s death with no fanfare or desolation.

“Demifiction” seems to fit the genre of this piece best. It’s not really a story, but rather a bit of fictitious history for an imaginary world. Possibly excerpted from a text book, or the equivalent of a hobbyist’s magazine.

Fill: Wedding Wishes

This was inspired by a prompt from Marellene on FB and fills the “fog” square in my 1-1-17 card for the Dark Fantasy Bingo challenge. This piece is 866 words and went a bit off the rails for me to be honest; I was not expecting the story to lead where it ended.

Wedding Wishes

“What are you thinking about?” Mason hissed in my right ear.

“Hmm?” I murmured back distractedly, raising my wineglass to my lips and taking a small sip.

“What’s taken you so far away? You’ve hardly been present through the whole meal, wandered off in your own thoughts again.” Mason looked around the table, our parents and family spread around the large family style dining table that was set centrally in the restaurant. Our cousin, the bride with her handsome groom sat at the farthest end of the table, fawned over by their mix of friends and family.

“Nothing. It’s not important Mason,” I retort in an acid tone. I glare at the fine cuisine that sits cold and congealing on my plate and take a larger than healthy swallow from my wine glass, attempting to push back the bile rising in my throat. I shouldn’t have come tonight; I shouldn’t have believed I’d be strong enough to ever get through this farce.

“Well you better knock it off, mom’s looking at you and I swear if you piss her off I’ll…,” Mason wore a scowl that spoke of the many ways well informed siblings can make your life unbearable, and I glare back, my lips tight with ire and my eyes just beginning to burn with resentful tears.

I push my chair back abruptly, the squeal made by the legs as they hang up on the wooden floor halting conversation momentarily as wedding guests glance up and then hurriedly away. Voices resume their chatter hesitantly the further I get from the table. I rush past servers and other wait staff as I hurry towards the stairs to the floor below, desperate for some air and a moment of privacy to attempt pulling myself together.

As I burst from the restaurant I look west towards the bay. Striding purposefully along the blacktop drive I move further and further away from the Mission Table and towards the gentle curve of Bowers Harbor across the road. Full dark has fallen while the bride and groom’s reception dinner is being held inside the light and safety of the old Inn, and the road as I attempt to cross it is now obscured by fog in both directions. I make it safely across and once I reach the edge of the sand where it turns into the lapping waves of the bay I gulp air liked I’d earlier begun gulping wine.

She’d stolen this from me, all of it. Scott and I had dreamed this up together on the night of our second anniversary, lying entwined on the bed of a cozy B&B in Arcadia, we’d painted a picture of what our wedding would be like, and it had been this, exactly this. I’d always loved the old Bowers Harbor Inn and we’d talked wistfully about being married there, on the grounds with the bay visible right across the street, the sun setting as we said our vows before twilight. We’d laughed about who we could invite to such a small venue, about our two families mingling and eating family style of the expensive cuisine, of spending the night on the Old Mission Peninsula and staying for there for the whole honeymoon, surrounded by the bay.

Then that year at Christmas he’d met my slut of a cousin and three months later I’d been dumped. Love at first sight they claimed, impossible to resist. Now she’d just ripped another dream from my heart. She’d stolen Scott and in return he gifted the whore with my perfect fairy tale wedding. I seethed with resentment and sorrow and a feeling of impending insanity like a storm brewing in the back of my brain. The grief of the last lonely year and the pressure of enduring this entire night made me feel blind and deaf and unhinged.

Looking up from where I’d been gazing sightless over West Bay I realized the fog had shrouded around even thicker, that the lights of the restaurant across the road were now barely discernible, and the road disappeared just a few yards to either side of me. But what became incredibly clear just a foot in front of me was the apparition. The translucent form emerged and I knew her immediately, the ghost of Bower Harbor, she stood in front of me and she stretched out her hand, laid it upon mine, and in a daze she drew me, still sobbing, across the fogged road. She brought me back towards my betrayers; my family and friends who all knew how much this had meant to me and came to celebrate for her instead. Who were all equally culpable in shattering my life.

I let the ghost pull me step by step back to the restaurant Mission Table, once the Bowers Harbor Inn, and before that the home of a woman scorned and betrayed much like me. And I gripped her lifeless ghostly hand and together, together we found solace for each other. Together, wrapped in the fog rolling off the bay, we set it all on fire, and burned my dreams to ashes along with everyone who’d ruined them for me, everyone who’d betrayed us, me and Genevieve.


The Ghost of Bowers Harbor is a real legend, although mostly debunked, and the restaurant and all named places are all real. I’ve eaten at the Jolly Pumpkin several times, which is the more casual dining establishment attached to the Mission Table, and I’ve seen several weddings in progress on the lawn just across from the bay. Its really pretty, like that entire area is, and my husbando is incredibly lucky to have grown up in one of the most gorgeous parts of Michigan.

Published in: on January 15, 2017 at 9:12 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Fill: Finder’s Keepers

This fill was inspired by a prompt from Dreamwidth user Ysabetwordsmith and fills the “slavery” square in my 1-1-17 card for the Dark Fantasy Bingo challenge. 564 words – This is set in the same universe as, and is a rough follow up to, the story snippet “Provisions.”

This is for a Dark Fantasy challenge, and there’s some active and referenced abuse happening…

Finder’s Keepers

The collar, soft supple leather bolted to the wall by a chain of fine gold lengths, chafes her neck until it forms blisters that seep. His hands caress her flanks in barely there flutters of sensation leaving black scorched skin; cauterized her flesh sizzles and smells of cooking meat. His laugh is soft and intimate and she cries out in agony.

She’s an embodiment of purity, gentleness, and freedom, and to be enslaved in any way is anathema to her spirit. To be made bare to the touch of this evil is enough to drive her nearly out of her mind in fear. What he did with her pain after, the way he used her, that made her feel as if the evil had seeped deep into her own heart and even if she could escape she’d never be clean of it.

He’d caught her grazing in the suburban park she used to meet human children, special girls and boys who still believe the true tales of the wood. That park was no longer much of a wood, but the Human Realm had deserted the wilds in favor of concrete and steel, so she’d adapted to the loss and found new ways to make friends. She never calculated the danger to herself in the new space, how bound by roads on all sides it could become like a small fenced paddock, containing her frightened run long enough to allow capture. Dragging her into his carriage of metal she was helpless from there, her wits momentarily lost to flight fear, and her magic dampened by the iron’s cousin. She’s susceptible to all of the ways humans have to fight and hinder the Otherworldy, and this gave him plenty of ways to make her his slave.

The first time she summoned an Elven boy. It was an unconscious act, one made in mortal peril as the wounds covered most of her hide from where he had grabbed her around chest and rear, and she regretted calling them almost immediately. Now she wishes she’d allowed her own demise that first night, before he knew her secret, in order to have saved herself from enslavement, and all the lives of the children that came after. So many, many, children. He had still been present in the bowels of his den where he had chained her to the wall when she first summoned one of her special friends, someone who she had hoped could heal and free her, but unfortunately it was the unicorn Orissa who helped the human predator find new and easy prey. Watching from the shadows he’d snatched the Fae child as soon as the healing was complete and what he wrought upon the boy was unspeakable. She’d cried in shame for her part in their suffering before it ended.

He delighted in causing her damage so softly. He saved the brutality for the young ones, and laid his hands on her hide only in the most delicate patterns, sometimes taking days to build the torment until Orissa unwilling gave in to his demands to summon a new plaything. She wished for death, which she believed would be the last pure, gentle, and free thing she could ever touch again, because what he had found that day in the park he had kept, the children she called he kept too, and what he kept he utterly destroyed.


Orissa – Otherworldy Unicorns make friends with any young creatures, including young humans, who they used to see more of before the Human Realm became so inhospitable. Their influence traditionally ends once an individual’s “Purity” is lost, which has historically been interpreted to mean virginity, but there are far worse ways to become impure than something as natural as sex and desire.


This fill was inspired by a prompt from FB user Sarah Becca and fills the “hunter” square in my 1-1-17 card for the Dark Fantasy Bingo challenge. 365 words – This already has a planned follow up of sorts in “Finder’s Keepers” which is the fill I’m working on for Ysabetwordsmith’s “slavery” prompt.

This is for a Dark Fantasy challenge, and there’s some frank sexual language and references to Terrible Things happening off the page.


She considered how doing what it takes to fly under the radar in modern society sometimes made her feel like the monster humanity had painted her kind for generations. Human law, at best meant to protect their own more vulnerable members, inadvertently made meeting her needs much riskier. So in order to make a fast getaway she brutally aroused the nice policeman, who was honestly just trying to talk the young woman out of “working the streets” for her own safety, until he was so incoherent he couldn’t remember who he was let alone who she had been. Then she left him like that and ran, feeling dirty and cheap.

She preferred to use the Allure only when feeding or hunting and providing a very happy ending indeed when it was of mutual benefit to her and the meal. Using it to trick her way out of being picked up for solicitation seemed low and mean spirited. They weren’t feelings she was particularly used to and she mentally planned on avoiding experiencing them ever again.

But she couldn’t leave this area yet. She’d been sent on a mission from the Otherworldly Council and before she could safely begin her hunt she needed to score a light snack. A quick seduction, fast sex, and an acceptable amount of energy transfer if she lucked into finding a client who liked giving it in any of the ways she liked taking it, and then she’d be ready for part two of her evening. The important part.

As a succubus Carnelle was rarely called upon to complete Council business, only occasional covert operations, frequently blackmail of a human in power set to change their laws in a way that would prove detrimental to Otherworldy kind yet again, but tonight she was hunting a human predator who’d developed a disturbing little fetish for kidnapping and molesting the young daughters of Otherworldly households. How he’d gone from the monstrous habit of molesting children of his own species to those of the hidden realm no one had figured out as of yet but the Council believed this was the area of the world she’d be able to meet him, Hunter to hunter.


Carnelle – Mostly wishes humans would leave her in peace. As a succubus she has to interact with them much more than many kinds of Otherworldy peoples, since they’re her main food source. Drawing energy from sex and sex-adjacent activities, she misses the good old days where she could be a prostitute in peace. Unlike the human stereotype of a monster that devours a man’s life force until he is a worn out husk, she only needs the energy raised by a good tussle between the sheets once or twice a week to sustain herself, more if she’s planning something stressful like a prolonged Hunt in the human realm.

Fill: Seeking

This fill was inspired by a prompt from NG_Moonmoth on Dreamwidth and fills the “guide” square in my 1-1-17 card for the Dark Fantasy Bingo challenge. We made it to 266 words – hope you enjoy it prompter!

This is for a Dark Fantasy challenge, and it hints at darker days to come.


It itched and burned inside my soul, a raw spot that never could be soothed. The rough unfinished home where my Guide was meant to live, an empty burrow dug into my being but never filled.

Between two and twenty went the common wisdom, although there were outliers of course. Children born with a Guide appearing nearly the moment they vacated their mother’s womb, or a wise woman of fifty who suddenly drew forth a Shamanic Second Guide. But I’m sitting here in the dank cellar below my village temple at twenty two years old and there’s no peace for me, no Guide to show my way.

So I’ve gathered up the herbs, the oils, the stones, and I’m choosing what the Temple Mother calls “pure mad idiocy” over waiting another day for a Guide that’s late in arriving. I’ve made my decision to summon myself a Guide in secret, using the spell I’ve researched exhaustively every moment since I turned twenty and was turned away from the Sisterhood bereft. My place was meant to be among the elite of the Temple, not tossed out in the street as Guideless and undeserving.

So I’ll just find myself a Guide. Why keep waiting, bleeding around that hole inside my heart for what apparently never wanted me from the start. There has to be a Guide out there as frustrated as I am waiting for the perfect soul to come along. I can feel that there is, a powerful Guide waiting just past the veil, waiting for me, to heal me inside where I itch and I burn.


What I know about this world so far is nearly nothing. We don’t even have a character name yet, but their motivation is clear & likely to have unpleasant consequences.

Published in: on January 3, 2017 at 6:29 pm  Leave a Comment  
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January Dark Fantasy Bingo Card

This is my prompt card for the January 2017 Dark Fantasy Bingo challenge at the AllBingo site.

I’m reaching out to friends and family to make Dark Fantasy suggestions for any word or phrase on the bingo card that strikes their fancy and I’ll write at least 200 words of story based on their suggestion combined with the prompt word they chose. Prompts that have been spoken for will be turned Purple so it will be easy for everyone to keep track of whats already spoken for, and I will have all requested fills done by the end of the Challenge which is 1/31/2017.

200 words may not end up being a complete story in and of itself, but I’m using this exercise as a way to increase my writing capacity, so I’m making sure to set reasonable goals that I’m likely to reach rather than crashing and burning right out the gate!

I don’t have any regular story series that I write which are dark fantasy, or any fandoms that I regularly write in, but suggestions can include those if anyone likes.

Lets have fun and make a Bingo!

Fog Alternate reality/universe Blood Fairy tales Captive
Apparition Gothic Historical Hunter Chains
Telepathy Fear WILD CARD – WIND Paranoia Hell
Disappearance Moans Slavery Regency Spirits
Devotion Guide Forgotten Visionary Gods/goddesses
Published in: on January 1, 2017 at 6:04 pm  Comments (12)  
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