MSF&T: The Next Adventure

I said I wasn’t going to do a comic this year, and I meant that.

What I am going to do is a serial, published monthly.

Here they go again.

Volume One, Part One

Myck stood on the stairs and looked around the living room. The lights in the tree glowed softly, piles of brightly-wrapped presents catching the glimmers and reflecting them all about the room. Syd curled into her favorite corner on the couch, a cosy blanket wrapped around her legs. An open book rested on the sofa arm.

“I’m glad Dee is coming for the holiday,” Syd said. “I know dragons don’t like to travel, so this is a big deal.”

“It is,” Myck agreed. She cocked her head. “I just heard the garage door open.”

“Oooh, I hope they found a big enough ham,” Syd said. She shook her head. “I’d never really considered that birds are actually dinosaurs, which are related to dragons. Thank Sue that Dee told us before we got a turkey.”

Myck laughed and agreed. “It also makes me glad that I ordered that Sue the T-Rex t-shirt for her.”

“Murderbird!” Syd exclaimed. “Dee’s going to love it,” she added.

Jin appeared in the kitchen doorway, unwinding a very long scarf from around her neck and head. Behind her, Jeyn handed Eymi items to put in the refrigerator.

“How big a ham did you find?” Syd inquired.

“Huge!” Jin responded, having finally freed herself.

“20 pounds!” Eymi called from the kitchen. “Took some work, but we found one!”

“The holidays are going to be so much fun this year,” Syd said.

Jin came in and took a seat beside Syd on the couch. “Yeah, they are. And we’re at home, and not out running around on some weird quest.”

“You brought home the eggs that started it all,” Myck reminded the blonde.

“And bounced them,” Eymi added, having finished in the kitchen and joined her friends. She’d finally gotten the first part of the story out of Jin. Jeyn leaned against the kitchen door frame, arms crossed, waiting on the coffee she’d just started brewing.

Jin hmphed. “Well, we’re all home, and it’s the holidays. Nothing weird could possibly happen.”

Myck groaned and buried her head in her hands.

*  *  *

volume one part one illustration (1)
Christmas with a dragon – what could possibly go wrong?

“Come on, Dee, you have to hand out the presents. That’s what they’re for,” Myck coaxed. She stood slightly to the side of the dragon, who had placed herself before the tree and the pile of shiny boxes beneath it.

“Why?” Deirdre demanded. “They’re all right here, neatly stacked. It’s a nice, tidy hoard. Why would you want to mess it up?”

“Because everyone owns a piece of this hoard,” Eymi said.

Dee frowned, and her eyes turned dark with annoyance. “I know that. I read up on your holiday customs when you invited me. I just don’t understand why you’d want to mess up such a nice, organized hoard.”

“So, each person wants to have their part in their own cave.”

“But why? It’s so lovely just like this.”

“It’s how holiday hoards work,” Eymi said. “And part of that hoard is yours.”

“Mine? Oh, that changes everything!” The dragon used her tail to haul wrapped gifts out from under the tree. “How do I know which ones are mine?”

“They have tags on them,” Syd said. “Just check the tag for the name, and hand them out.”

Jeyn came in with a tray of coffee mugs. Dee started calling names and handing out packages.

For a while, everyone was busy fixing coffee to their taste, ripping paper, and exclaiming over the presents. Syd whispered to Myck, “I told you she’d love that shirt.” They both grinned at the excited dragon as she modelled her gift.

The last of the packages were opened, and Dee clapped her hands. “I brought gifts, too! I told you I’d read up!” Her tail twitched, and she closed one eye, concentrating. A moment later, a stack of wrapped parcels appeared in her hands. They were similar in appearance, all being blocky and rectangular, but some were smaller than others, some were thicker, some were thinner. Dee handed one package to each girl. Paper ripped, and cries filled the room. Dee had given each girl a hand-bound, leather covered book, with a tooled cover.

“These are beautiful,” Syd said, running her fingers reverently over the title of her book, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.

Dee looked at the gathering. “So, these are acceptable for holiday celebrations?”

“These are amazing,” Myck assured the dragon.

“So amazing, I love mine,” Jin echoed the sentiment.

The dragon smiled and nodded, satisfied. “Now, I believe the next part of this holiday of yours involves delicious roast meats?”

The girls all laughed, and everyone hurried to the kitchen.

*  *  *

Syd laid the book gently on the bed while she twisted to plump up her copious pillows. She needed more support. The book was gorgeous, but the thick paper and worked leather covers made it rather heavier than the paperbacks she usually read.

Comfortable again, she picked up the book to continue reading. The house was quiet; Dee had returned to her cave, declining to spend the night. Everyone else was in their room, reading the lovely books they’d been given. Syd angled the book so that the light from her bedside lamp spilled evenly across the creamy pages. The room was dark, except for her lamp…and the light in the closet.

“Grrr,” she snarled softly, annoyed at herself. “Amethyst, get up and turn off that light.”

The cat blinked his purple eyes and her and purred, but refused to move from the pillow. “Fine,” Syd said. “Guess I’ll do it.” She slung her legs out of bed and stood up, still holding the book. She marched to the closet, opened the door and reached up for the dangling string. She gripped it with her free hand then realized the light wasn’t coming from the overhead bulb. It emanated from the back of the closet, shining around the frame of a door that had never been there.

She couldn’t stop the panicked shout. “Myck! Help! Jin! Jeyn! Eymi! Someone, come here!”

The sounds of feet thudded in the hall, and soon the closet was filled with jostling monster girls.

“What’s wrong?”

“You okay?”

“What is that?”

The questions came so fast that Syd wasn’t sure who had asked what. She just replied to everyone. “It’s a door. In my closet. I’ve never seen it before.” She shrugged and looked over her shoulder at the girls crammed behind her. “My closet backs on the bathroom. This makes no sense at all.”

“So open it and see what it is,” Jeyn said, ever sensible. She leaned forward, nudging Jin out of the way, and clicked the handle. The door swung open on a sunny garden, the colors unnaturally vibrant.

“My closet backs on the bathroom,” Syd repeated. Her face had gone white. She clutched the book she’d been holding to her chest. “There shouldn’t even be a door here. And if there was a door, it should just show pipes.”

“No pipes. No wires,” Jeyn observed. She tucked her book under her arm, and leaned forward, peering past the frame. “No people. And it’s warm. Like summer.”

“Really? Just a garden?” Eymi stepped past Jeyn and looked. “I don’t see anyone, either. Huh.” She took another step forward and stood framed in the doorway.

“Eymi, don’t!” Jin cried.

Eymi half-turned and waved her free hand. “I’m not going in there,” she assured everyone. “I just want to see.”

The girls crowded closer, all them trying to get a look into the garden.

A wind gusted, swirling the plants, and tussling the girls’ hair. It blew in through the door, circled Syd’s room, then blasted back through the door – pushing the girls before it.

The door slammed shut.

“What was that?” Jin turned to see the closed door. “Oh no no no! No, don’t you dare!” She ran forward and grabbed for the handle. It didn’t click. The door stayed firmly shut.

She hammered on the door, kicked it, yelled, but it didn’t budge. Exhausted, she sank to the ground. “This is going to be another weird quest, isn’t it?”

“It’s the holidays. Nothing weird could possibly happen,” Eymi said, pitching her voice to a close approximation of Jin’s.

“Oh, so it’s my fault?” Jin said. She climbed to her feet and glared at her friends.

Myck nodded. “Yeah. It’s your fault.”

“Again,” Syd added.

~~To Be Continued…

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MSF&T Adventures #27

The Monster Girls are coming home!

This is it. The final installment. The Monster Girls’ adventure is done.

Making this comic was itself an adventure. I did it because I wanted to see if I could.

Apparently, I could. So, lesson learned. Many lessons learned, actually.

I discovered I can make and stick to a publication schedule. I can set and meet deadlines. I learned that I am able to work ahead instead of doing everything at the last minute. I learned that making a comic page – even if the panels are made via photo manipulation instead of actually drawing everything – is incredibly hard work. I found that I enjoyed it, but I’m not sure I could do it all the time.

The MSF&T Adventures comic was a side project for me in 2018. Another lesson I learned is that having a side project helps fuel the creative engine for your main project (my main focus for 2019 is to write Siren’s Secret, Book 5 of the Perfect Coven Series). When you’re stuck on one thing, switch to the other, and that will usually shake out a solution.

What I’m saying – in a rather roundabout way – is that while I’m not sure the Monster Girls are finished having adventures, any adventures they do have won’t be published in comic form (for now).

Goodbye 2018. Let’s see what happens in 2019.

 

Southern Goth in a Northern Town-December 2018: Blue Holidays

As I wrote last year, I do not like Christmas/the holiday season.

I deal with seasonal depression, the “holiday blues” as some people say. I just generally struggle, while trying to hide how I feel. Sometimes, I still manage to pull off some creative endeavor, sometimes I fail miserably, sometimes I finish a thing, but it’s not exactly right.

That said, I’m having a more than usual difficult time this year. I cry a lot. I have no energy. I’ve done no shopping. I can’t focus to write. I can’t even come up with a topic for this blog, except that it’s Christmas.

“Yay Christmas,” I say, in my best Eeyore voice.

So have this Christmas postcard instead, and I’ll be back in January, hopefully in a better place. Maybe there will be snow and that will help.

Photo Dec 16, 10 40 04 PM (1)
I’m aware that the snow is pristine. No footprints because everyone has wings!

Southern Goth in a Northern Town-November 2018: It’s Thanksgiving, Let’s Talk About Food Again

It’s Thanksgiving month in America and that means gluttony!

Or being thankful for things. Depends on your mindset, I guess.

My mother usually took care of the Thanksgiving preparation, with “help” from my sister and me. (To be fair, when we got older, we actually did help, so maybe the sarcasm quotes aren’t entirely accurate). The dinner was very traditional – turkey and dressing (or stuffing, depending on where you’re from), gravy, mashed potatoes or candied sweet potatoes (depending on Mom’s mood that year), green bean casserole, rolls, pie and/or cake, and her much beloved banana pudding.

She made the dressing using a recipe that I think she said was my grandmother’s. To be honest, it kind of looked like a “this is what I have on hand, this is going in the damn turkey” kind of thing, but I loved that dressing. It was a sage dressing, which my father hated, but since he didn’t do the cooking, well….

The dressing consisted of crushed saltine crackers, oysters (though she stopped adding oysters when I started dating Der Mann, as he is deathly allergic to bivalves), boiled  and chopped chicken/turkey livers, onions, celery, more stuff I can’t remember, spices, and sage.

Oh yes.

It was a sage dressing. Remember this. It is important.

My mother passed away in March of 2013. Accordingly, come November, I decided to host Thanksgiving at my house in Atlanta, get Dad and Sister away from home. It was just Dad, Sister, me, Der Mann, and Mickie, and a couple of friends that said they might drop by later in the day. I got a turkey breast, a small ham, some pies, some vegetables, and the stuff to make dressing. Thanksgiving was at my house, and I was determined to do it like Mom did.

This was a bad idea.

This idea led to the Great Dressing Debacle of 2013.

As a caveat to what’s about to happen, remember two things:

(1) I never really paid much attention to what Mom was doing with the dressing; my job was to gleefully smoosh sleeves of saltines, chop onions, celery, and whatever else she handed me, watch the livers to make sure they didn’t boil over, and to taste test; and

(2) I come from a large Southern clan. On Thanksgiving, the immediate family would sit down to eat at around 1:00 p.m. (though no one ate much at the actual meal), but all during the day, aunts, uncles, cousins, neighbors, and friends would drop by. No one sat down and ate a plateful, but everyone could usually be persuaded to take, oh, a slice of turkey and a roll, or a spoonful of dressing and some sweet potatoes, and no one ever turned down a bowl of banana pudding.

Because of the visitors, everything was made on a large scale. Remember this. It is also important.

See, the thing is – Mom never wrote down that dressing recipe. But I really wanted to make it (mostly because it was the only kind of dressing that I had any idea at all of how to make). So, I went to work and crushed and smooshed and chopped and mixed, and and then I had to add the seasonings, meaning the sage, mostly.

Most of us are familiar with this: Small ground sage

Well, Mom always said she used a lot of sage, so I had this bad boy on hand. Ground Sage

I wasn’t sure how much to put in there, because Mom never measured; she just dribbled, stirred, and got me to taste-test. So, Sister came to help me out, and bless her, she tried.

Sister added the sage, and I didn’t think it was enough, because Mom always said “a lot” of sage, but Sister insisted it was fine. We stirred, and tasted. I didn’t think it was sage-y enough. Sister pointed out that (a) I’d been cooking all day and my taste buds were numb, and (b) that the flavor would come out more as the dressing cooked.

Then she made The Mistake.

She left me alone in the kitchen.

That afternoon, when I took the pan out of the oven, I knew. And so did Sister. She didn’t even have to ask what I’d done.

It was…words can’t do it adequate justice. Instead of being nicely browned, the dressing was green. Not an appetizing green, either. Hulk green. And it tasted as bad as it looked.

So

incredibly

bitter.

I was devastated. Cue the tears and hysteria. Der Mann and Moonbirdie thought they could fix it for me. They put some in a bowl, added some honey, and voila! The honey cut the bitterness!

So they went to work on the rest of it. Almost an entire quart-sized mason jar of honey later, it was edible!

For three bites.

After that, well….

Sick Emoji 2
Yep, this is an accurate depiction of the face I made after three bites of that dressing.

And that is why, when I cook* for Thanksgiving, we have ham.

*I haven’t since then.