Sometimes a song plants the seed of a story in my mind. My earliest example is a songfic (in the “lyrics interspersed with prose” style of the early 2000s) for The Matrix set to When Tomorrow Comes by The Eurythmics. It’s lost to a dead hard drive from before I thought to back up my writing. My most recent song-inspired plotbunny (which I may never write) is a character study of Victor of Yuri!!! On Ice experiencing depersonalization, based on Billie Eilish’s disturbing Bury a Friend.
World Behind and Home Ahead, my contribution to Queer Sci Fi’s Migration anthology, is not a story born from a song. But several songs came to mind when I was editing and trying to decide on a title. Story titles that are excerpts from lyrics are something I’d seen a lot of recently and I liked the idea, especially because I find coming up with original title ideas difficult.
At first I tried to find something suitable from Christina Perri’s A Thousand Years. But though the song is lovely, it didn’t really make me think of my lady gays beyond a few concepts (being brave in part for someone else’s sake, undying devotion). And I didn’t like any of the lyrics for a title (One Step Closer was the closest and I didn’t feel it fit well enough).
A song that felt more thematically in line with the story was One Foot by Walk the Moon. I could envision my lady gays embodying the song’s characters, and my narrator being the song’s narrator, when I heard it a few days into edits (I took many more days editing than writing partly because I had many betas, partly because I needed a title and was indecisive). The song felt like it fit my characters fairly literally, even with the song’s characters being implied as a M/F couple, with the singer being male and referring to himself being king and his love being queen. My narrator is the kind of lady who cares little for traditional gender roles, so I doubt she’d mind being referred to as a king or queen! This song became a sort of anthem for the story, and I listened to it many times when finishing up edits and beyond.
But though the concepts (“us against the world” mentality, having each other’s backs, hearts/love protecting from loneliness/wilderness, one step at a time) fit the story I was telling, none stood out to me as a title.
I don’t recall what made me think of the line “home behind and world ahead” from a Tolkien poem/song (probably thinking of my bestie Grace Duncan sometimes using song lyrics as titles and being a major LoTR fan), but I remember having a eureka moment and looking it up to see if the opposite direction of travel was also in the song. It was. And as my narrator is traveling through the unwelcoming world to her new home with her lady love, “world behind and home ahead” became the title. Amusingly enough though, I haven’t listened to the song version of the poem since writing the story!
I hope you enjoyed this behind the scenes peek at the songs behind my lady gays!
Here’s more info about the anthology this story appears in, and where you can get a copy:
1) Seasonal movement of animals from one region to another.
2) Movement of people to a new area or country in order to find work or better living conditions.
3) Movement from one part of something to another.
Three definitions to inspire writers around the world and an unlimited number of possible stories to tell. Here are 120 of our favorites.
Migration feaures 300 word speculative flash fiction stories from across the rainbow spectrum,
About Queer Sci Fi Flash Fiction:
Every year, Queer Sci Fi solicits stories around a one-word theme. We receive hundreds of entries with almost as many possible interpretations, and we choose some of the best for this annual anthology. Migration is book five in this anthology series.
Where to find Migration:
Amazon Kindle: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07TX2WMXQ
Amazon Paperback: https://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/1732307563
Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/migration-j-scott-coatsworth/1132393683;jsessionid=E570B49A0E713D6F306BCAB9F9760EB4.prodny_store01-atgap10
QueeRomance Ink: https://www.queeromanceink.com/book/migration/
Hello, folks! It’s been so long since I’ve posted – a year and nine months. If you follow me on Facebook or Twitter, you may have seen an earlier version of this announcement in April. Hectic life stuff has delayed me, but I’m determined to post this before this weekend, when I’ll be attending Balticon. It’s a great convention for motivating me to work on projects old and new, thanks to helpful panels and spending time with awesome creative friends. My panel schedule is here and I’m also volunteering at the LGBT+ Tea Social.
So. The announcement. I plan to blog again, and with a somewhat different scope than my original intentions for this site. I started jotting down notes for posts on a work break back in February, and have since added to them and fleshed out details for some of the essays. Posting this intention is another step forward!.
I’ve been following so many blogs (mostly sex blogs, but some others too) for so long while letting my own lapse. I didn’t have much to say about my fiction writing or voice acting (my blog’s original intended topics) at the time. I thought I should work on my unfinished original fiction projects, and felt guilty for wanting to shift focus.
But I keep being reminded, by different people and things, that I should write what I’m inspired to, and that it’s better to write something than nothing. Right now, what I’m inspired to write are essays/blog posts and fanfiction (a totally separate thing I’ve started again, which is exciting to me).
I’ve previously blogged here about sex positivity and kink, and have many more ideas for posts on topics that often intersect and are important to me: polyamory/ethical nonmonogamy, relationship health, mental illness/health, kink, sex, sex toys, and my work in sex/kink education in a retail setting.
And I’m going to give myself the freedom to post about what I want to, even if it doesn’t fit into those themes. I care more about getting my ideas out there than I do about a coherent brand… that may change over time, but for now, I like keeping everything in one place. I plan to tag posts diligently so that people only interested in certain topics won’t have to wade through too much other stuff.
I don’t know yet when I’ll start blogging again in earnest, but thanks to two fabulous humans, my best friend and her husband, my new website is in the works over at http://saratestarossa.com/ (nothing to see there as of the time I’m posting this, as we’re working behind the curtain). I’ll leave this WordPress site up for the foreseeable future, so I don’t break any links, and so people can see I’ve moved. All the content on this site will be on the new one. I still have to figure out what to tweak on the site, as I’m shifting focus. I joke that my “brand” is a hot mess because I wear so many hats, but it’s true that it’s hard to encompass what I am passionate about, and what the site is about, in a quick tagline.
So, that’s my news! I’m not promising to post with any specific frequency or anything, but I plan to get back to putting out content when I’m able.
Current bloggers and any about to start: rock on! I’ll be joining you.
(TL;DR version: I’m planning to start blogging again, at http://saratestarossa.com. My current intention is to shift from this site’s original theme of being about my fiction writing and voice acting. I plan to focus my writing more on themes like polyamory/ethical nonmonogamy, relationship health, mental illness/health, kink, sex, sex toys, and my work in sex/kink education in a retail setting.)
Wow, I didn’t mean to let so many months pass without posting. Shortly after my last Free Fiction Friday post, I put maintaining a blog on the back burner because of life stuff and just took a long time to get willing to post again. I’ve been on Twitter and Facebook again, just not here. I just wanted people to know that I’m alive and well. I’d like to get back to posting something, at least free fiction and maybe other types of posts.
I’ve got a few projects in the works but nothing is very far along in terms of development or wordcount. I’m thinking about using Camp NaNoWriMo to help me get back into writing.
That’s all for now. Stay tuned for more posts!
I’m back for week fifteen of http://www.freefictionfriday.com! Today I’m posting something very different from everything else I’ve posted so far. It’s still fanfiction like my previous posts, but it’s not romance, erotica, or humor. It’s dark, and different from my usual writing style. Please heed the content advisories (they give away a lot but I’d rather over-warn than risk triggering people, because this piece has several potentially triggering themes/situations). It surprised me how dysfunctional and bleak the story ended up sounding, and I’m the author!
I wrote this story several years ago based on an odd, vivid dream that took place in the Naruto universe. When I awoke, I knew I had to turn the dream into a story. I typed notes, modified a few things from the dream to something that would be a story that made sense, and then let the words flow.
The protagonist is the first original character I’d written for a fanfiction piece in a very long time. I didn’t create her deliberately – she came to me fully formed in the dream. She’s… pretty fucked up in terms of her attitudes and actions/inactions. The other main character in this story is Sasuke (http://naruto.wikia.com/wiki/Sasuke). He’s a bit of a jerk in canon, and in this story, that still holds. This plot is in a divergence from the canon, as people familiar with Naruto will recognize. But it contains no plot spoilers for the series, beyond a bit of Sasuke’s backstory that’s revealed early in the anime/manga. This story can be understood without knowing the series (though people who know the series have an advantage in that the vocab is less unfamiliar).
Naruto, the world, and characters, belong to Masashi Kishimoto and I made no profit from the writing or posting of this piece.
ADVISORIES/CATEGORIES: dark story, kidnapping and rescue, unhealthy dysfunctional relationship (best described as quasi-Stockholm syndrome), not-so-strong female protagonist, jerkish manipulative male character, unplanned teenage pregnancy, discussion of pregnancy options (including reference to abortion) and prenatal medical care, mention of consensual sex between older teenagers (16M/17F), mentions of violence, minor character death, angst, introspection.
Potentially unfamiliar terms:
chakra – combined physical and spiritual energy contained in a person, necessary for performing techniques.
kunai – a type of knife used as a weapon.
sharingan – a rare ninja ability genetically unique to some members of Sasuke’s family. Can be activated/deactivated and has many uses, but they’re not detailed in the story.
ninjutsu – various ninja techniques.
taijutsu – martial arts ninjas use.
shinobi – ninjas in this universe.
Konoha – Sasuke’s home village
I hope anyone reading this enjoys it at some level!
She didn’t know what to call him. Her savior, her companion, her friend, her lover – none of those seemed to fit. There was only one thing he was to her that she knew for certain.
The father of her child.
He had happened upon her in the woods, while her captors slept. She was so drained of chakra at that point that they hadn’t even bothered to set up a watch rotation to worry about her escaping. He could have carried her out, chakra restraints and all, and unbound her feet and wrists when they were a safe distance away.
Instead, he purposely woke her captors, interrogated them, and killed them.
She was grateful to be rescued, but her first worry was that her savior would be no less cruel than the men who had kidnapped her. Killing the men who had been draining her chakra was the only way to keep her from becoming a liability to him. They would have hunted her down otherwise, for a while anyway. Someone like her with such vast chakra reserves was a rare resource, and they would not have parted with her, their personal chakra battery, easily. She understood that. It still bothered her though, the ease with which he had killed them. No hesitation, no mercy, just lightning fast speed and a kunai to the heart for each of them. He hadn’t even activated his sharingan.
He wiped his blade clean on the grass before freeing her.
He told her she was too weak to keep moving that night, and that they would stay there until morning. That way he wouldn’t have to carry her. He cut her restraints, then tossed her one of her captors’ sleeping bags.
They slept amongst the corpses, and she didn’t learn his name until the next day.
They ate the dead men’s food for breakfast, and took what looked useful from their supplies. Once he was sure she could move quickly enough to keep up with him, they set off in a direction of his choosing. He had asked her where she was from, but showed no intentions of taking her back to her village. It was just part of his fact gathering. For some reason, he thought it better to keep her with him than return her to her village, despite the fact that he would probably be rewarded for bringing her home safely.
She had no idea where they were, so she couldn’t just go off on her own. Despite the fact that her chakra reserves were huge compared to his, his ninjutsu and taijutsu were far superior to hers. And he had the sharingan.
So it was safer to stay with him, a potential protector, than to venture off and try to find her way home, from which she had been taken in a blindfolded, drugged state.
He told her just enough about himself so that she knew his mission. Kill his brother and restart his clan. When she asked where his brother was, he just told her they were on his trail. So she followed him, wondering what use she could be to him on his mission, and reminding herself to be grateful to be alive.
It was only a few days before they had sex for the first time. She wasn’t foolish enough to call it making love – there was no love between them, only desire and lust. She just didn’t know what his desire was for – her, sex, or the thought she did not even let enter her mind – restarting his clan. But that night, and the next, and those that followed, she didn’t care. She felt needed, wanted, cherished.
She knew she was pregnant only a few weeks later.
When she rebuffed his advances that night, he asked her what was wrong.
Sobbing, she told him, and he held her, stroking her hair as she wet his shirt with her tears.
He told her it would be all right. They would go to a doctor in the next town they reached, have her examined, and get her whatever vitamin supplements she needed. They would go to doctors for checkups as needed so they could make sure she was healthy during her pregnancy.
But what if she didn’t want to carry the pregnancy to term? She didn’t want to be a mother at seventeen.
When she said this, he pulled back as though she had slapped him in the face. He told her that it was her choice, but she could tell he was hurt and angry. It was only later, when she was less emotional, that she realized what aborting his child would mean to him. Her being pregnant was the symbol of his clan being reborn, and he couldn’t let that go.
She was a little over a month along when they first visited a doctor. The doctor pointed on the sonogram to the gestational sac where the embryo was growing – it was just a little dot. But she didn’t just see it as that. It was her child. His child. Their child. And she couldn’t kill it. She didn’t even know if she loved him, but she knew that she wanted to keep his baby.
When she told him she was keeping it, she could almost feel the relief radiating from him.
He bought her the vitamins the doctor recommended, and made a note of the next time they should head into a town for a checkup. He treated her to a nice dinner, and she almost felt as though they were a normal couple. Almost.
She was three months along when they finally found his brother.
He had her wait at their camp, not wanting her to be used against him. He left to pursue his brother at dawn.
It was dusk when he returned, covered in blood.
He sat numbly as she cleaned the dried blood from his face with a damp cloth. None of it was his own. She heard a small sound and looked around quickly before realizing it had come from his throat.
Soon, his whole body was shaking with his sobs, and she held him. She didn’t know what else to do; he had never been this vulnerable since she had met him. Making soothing noises like one would make to comfort a child, she just held him until he finally went limp in her arms.
They would never speak of that night.
The next day, everything was back to normal. He told her they would be heading back to his village with an appeal to withdraw his status as a missing nin and to allow him to reclaim status as the head of his clan.
Then, looking away, he muttered something about marriage.
To spare him the embarrassment of having to ask, she told him a clan couldn’t be just one person, and that she and their child would be part of the clan as well. If, of course, she could go back to her own village, let everyone know she was fine, and invite them to the wedding. She was a bit young to marry, but her parents would accept her decision. She just needed to know that she was not a captive, and that she was actually allowed to see her family and friends.
His reaction was unexpected. He actually apologized. Not for getting her pregnant, not for taking her with him across miles and miles on his quest, but for making her think she would never see her loved ones again.
She accepted his apology with grace, and more than a little relief.
They stopped in the next town to see a doctor. Everything was going well with the pregnancy, and she felt as though her heart had stopped when she saw the sonogram.
Her child actually looked like a baby. Not a dot, but a baby. She cried, filled with emotions she couldn’t describe, and he held her hand.
A few days of travel later, he told her they were almost home, and pointed in the direction of his village.
She stood and looked over at Konoha, just visible before the horizon. Was she making the right choice, keeping her baby, and staying with him? Why had he rescued her? Did he love her? Did she love him? Just what was he to her?
In a rare show of tenderness, he embraced her from behind and kissed her neck. He ran a hand gently over her belly, and interlaced his fingers with hers.
He was the father of her child.
And maybe that was enough.
And, there ends what I consider to be the most fucked up story I’ve written thus far. Let me know what you think!
Be Sure To Check Out The Other Stories:
Follow all your favorites and read the first 100 words of each story on the group’s website:
Welcome to my contribution to the Sex Positivity Blog Hop! Thanks to Grace R. Duncan for organizing it and everyone else for participating. Take a look at http://www.grace-duncan.com/sex-positivity-blog-hop/ to see who has posted already or will be posting in the last week. There have been some well-crafted, thought-provoking posts so far.
I am an unrepentantly sex-positive person. In my eyes, sexuality and sex are natural parts of the human experience. I am all for people having as much (or as little) sex as they want, with whomever they want, so long as everyone involved is able to and does consent to all activities. I’m a proponent of comprehensive sex education in schools, encompassing everything from STI and pregnancy prevention to discussion of healthy sexual relationships. I want the variation of sexual orientations among people to be acknowledged and respected. I’m hoping for a cultural shift where more people will see sexuality in a positive light, and at the very least accept that it’s okay for people to be sexual beings. A much-desired bonus would be people not having to hide that fact about themselves.
Unfortunately, in my home of the USA, there’s a frustrating dichotomy that’s persisted for many years. I can only speak from experience about this country, but some other countries have similar issues, I’ve read. Here, we have a sexually repressed society where (in my opinion) far too many people, especially people in positions of power cry out against underage and premarital sex, and try to restrict people’s sexual freedoms. And yet we have hypersexual representations of people both of age and underage in all facets of mainstream entertainment – movies, television, music, and books. A good deal of the sexual repression I’ve encountered is religiously, or at least morally based. In “polite society”, sex isn’t talked about. I’ve seen so many instances where sex is spoken of in whispers with nervous giggles instead of among close friends, or talked about in raunchy detail as a way of boasting. None of that is conducive to seeing sex as just a normal part of life.
I think most people reading this are at least somewhat familiar with those issues, and other posters in this blog hop have touched on them in more depth. So I’m not going to rehash that any further other than saying in my eyes, it’s a problem.
A good part of my sex-positive views started in childhood, due to my upbringing. I’m an only child, and I’m not sure if that has anything to do with it, but it’s part of my story. My parents raised me in a household without any particular religion, and the moral code boiled down to “do your best to be a good person”. My parents are body-positive and somewhat sex-positive. Casual nudity in our house was often the norm. They taught me that bodies were nothing to be ashamed of, and though nudity in public was not appropriate, in the privacy of our own home, it was ok. Naked bodies were not seen as inherently sexual in my home. So when one of us moved from a bedroom to the bathroom to take a shower for example, clothing was not a necessity. Sometimes one person would brush their teeth when another was in the shower in the same bathroom, no big deal. As I got older, when friends would be about to come visit, sometimes I’d have to warn a parent so they would be wearing more than just underwear when my friend arrived.
In terms of masturbation, my mom told me when I was a teenager that as a kid I’d fiddle with my genitals in public – kind of a precursor to masturbation – and she had told me that I could do it in my room or the bathroom at home, but not in front of other people. So, I grew up knowing masturbation in private was ok.
Every time I asked my mom a question about where babies came from or about sex, I got a slightly more detailed answer. The first time I asked, I was apparently two or so, and got a very basic response that satisfied me at the time, and I didn’t ask again until a while later. By the time I was on the verge of puberty, my mom gave me the book her mother had given her about babies and sex, and she also bought me a wonderful book called It’s Perfectly Normal, which I recommend as an excellent sex-positive, informative, accessible text for pre-teens and beyond. I’m not sure what ages it’s recommended for but I believe I would have been ready for it at about nine.
At some point I learned my parents were not against premarital sex – they’d lived together and been having sex for years before marrying. This made sense especially since neither of them had belief systems telling them premarital sex was wrong.
I was taught early on that there’s diversity in sexual orientations and that gay, bi, and straight are just different ways of being. A close member of my mom’s side of the family has been in a relationship with someone of the same sex for many years and they have children together. One of my dad’s closest friends and some people he worked with when I was growing up are gay.
All that, plus somewhat comprehensive sex education starting in my public middle school made me comfortable having sex for the first time when I was ready late in my high school career. Since then, I’ve become what I consider increasingly sexually liberated, and have found places in which I can discuss sex and sexuality openly: in LGBTetc groups at college, on writing and art websites, and in other online communities, as well as with some friends.
I consider myself fortunate to have been brought up in a relatively sex positive environment. A good number of people aren’t though, and were raised in cultures where any sex outside of marriage for any purpose other than reproduction is seen as wrong or dirty, for one reason or another. Posy Roberts talked about that on her blog (http://posyroberts.com/2014/11/13/kissing-sex-positivity-blog-hop/) and provided this resource for people recovering from growing up in purity culture: http://nosmamemovement.com/post/65361252152/the-purity-culture. I encourage passing this link along publicly to anyone you think it might help.
Given my history, and the fact that I like to be a very open person, the current societal mindset around sex causes some challenges in my daily life. I have multiple identities that I juggle and shift between. There’s often the question of “what can I share with whom?” because so much of what I do is related to sexuality, directly or indirectly.
As Sara the employee, it’s neither appropriate nor safe for me to bring up anything related to sex and sexuality at work. That is part of professionalism, yes, but also telling of general societal issues. I don’t want to talk about sex itself at work anyway, but the fact that I have to hide things about myself from my coworkers is somewhat interesting. Some of what I hide is about my personality, like my pansexuality, and the fact that I’m a kinkster. Some is around my views on topics such as LGBTetc rights, polyamory, and casual sex. Some is about my activities, such as my writing, beta reading, and editing erotic romance, or my activism related to sexual practices like BDSM and kink, and LGBTetc rights. A lot of my social activities outside of work are within my local kink community, so when I’m asked by a coworker what I did over the weekend, I have to reshape the truth so that I don’t reveal too much information that’s inappropriate for the workplace. I don’t mind this so much, really, and am okay separating my professional identity from my personal one. But I wind up with a lot less I can share with my coworkers than they can share with me. One coworker got engaged and we congratulated her. My partner and I collared each other with collars that can be worn as necklaces in vanilla settings, and that’s not something I can tell my coworkers about and expect congratulations.
As Sara the friend, I have fewer issues. Thankfully, my closest friends are sex-positive for the most part and I can at least talk a bit about topics related to sexuality with them, if not revealing details about my life in the world of kink or my sex life. I’ve grown apart from less sex-positive friends, and made a lot of new sex-positive friends in the kink scene and in the community of authors and readers of romance, erotic romance, and erotica. I remember feeling hurt years ago when telling one close friend from childhood, who had seemed more interested in sex than me years ago, about a new experience and being surprised and hurt when she said “woah, TMI, TMI”. I had thought this was someone I could talk about anything with, but apparently she had changed. And change happens. It was just a sad surprise that we no longer could talk about that sort of thing.
As Sara the family member, I’m closer to my parents than any other members of my family (I have parents, aunts, uncles, and cousins remaining, plus some more distant relatives). I don’t talk about anything related to sexuality beyond my activism and my writing/reading/editing with my parents and a few other close relatives. I did tell my parents when I started having sex with a boyfriend I’d been with for quite a while, and they were wary due to my age, though I was of the age of consent in our state. When I asked them how old they had been their first times, one parent had been a year older than me at the time, and the other had been a year younger. And though they weren’t thrilled about me being sexually active, they understood more where I was coming from, and were glad I was using safer sex practices. More recently, for some reason I felt the urge to tell my mom about getting into kink, and she was a bit worried about me – not because of the practices, but because she was wondering if my “thrill-seeking behavior” was a sign of mania, and correlated to my mental health issues. I managed to reassure her but we haven’t talked about sex related things since then.
I think I’ve gotten pretty good at not revealing too much information when I shouldn’t, but it’s been really freeing to have an increasing proportion of friends who are sex-positive and happy to talk about sex and kink. I am hopeful that efforts like ours in this blog hop, and those by others, will help bring about the shift for a society where humans sexuality is just seen as another part of the human experience. I don’t know how long it will take, or what efforts it will take, but I’ve seen more people speaking up just as I’ve seen more people speaking against it. Activism is hard work, but any little bit can help.
Thank you for reading and please be sure to check out the other posts on the Sex Positivity Blog Hop!