Please hug the robot

My latest publication, Free Hugs, is now available to read or listen to at Metaphorosis magazine. I wrote this story in early days of this never-ending pandemic and it began as a response to several of my elder family members lamenting not being able to hug their grandkids. It was such a small, human lament, that I wound up writing a draft about an engineering grandson who designed a special robot to go give his Gram a hug on her birthday. He padded the bot’s chest and neck so that if she closed her eyes, it would feel like a real hug. Then, the idea kind of took on a life of its own, caught up in capitalism, the hugbots got sensors to measure happiness hormones, and suddenly they were EVERYWHERE.

And, you know, that story just never quite grabbed me. It seemed like something everyone would be writing during lockdown, so I put it away and went back to my pandemic depression. It wasn’t until I started wondering what would happen to all of those robots after the pandemic was over that I found the story I wanted to write. Free Hugs is that story. I hope you like it, I hope you’re well, and I hope you stay that way.

Photo by Kindel Media on

Inktober’s continuing adventures through the universe

I’m muddling through Inktober 2019 Writer’s Edition, which is rather new and diverges from solely drawing to writing a 50-word story based on the official Inktober’s prompts. Inktober’s having the same ups and downs I’ve come to recognize from NaNoWriMo, moments of fun, crushing self-doubt, why am I doing this, a place of magic beyond the plateau, and… well I’m hoping it ends with the same sense of creativity I get from NaNoWriMo. I’ll let you know once I reach it. The following are my entries for the past week, from day 16-23. You can see my earlier entries by clicking here,  here, and here.

Because these stories are meant to exist as unrelated snippets, I’m including a photo that suits the story’s mood before the story itself, as something of a palette cleanser. They run a wild gauntlet of un-relatedness, but here they are. I’d love to hear your thoughts on them and please drop your @’s in the comments if you are Inktobering yourself so I can follow your adventures.

Day 17: ornament

white smoke
Photo by Snapwire on

With relief the Ambassador shed her body, strange ornament of solid flesh, at the end of her workday. Her ghost stretched, floating free. What a hindrance bodies were, yet so necessary in dealings with these solid, carbon-based life forms. It was strange to think she was once one of them.

Day 18: misfit

silver metal round gears connected to each other
Photo by Flickr on

She inspected the device, knowing it instantly. Its core was carved from the hearth stone of a misfit moon, pistons from the mechanimals of Titan, and a human heart to pump the fuel. Her heart. She’d found it at last. She transferred the credits to the peddler. “I’ll take it.”

Day 19: sling

active ash cloud ashes blaze
Photo by Pixabay on

“I used to sling boosters in the asteroid mines,” she told them, taking the explosives and tucking them into her bra. “I’ve got this.” She dove from the cliff, mechanical wings unfolding and catching the upstream as she soared over the slaver’s camp, the first explosions rising in her wake.

Day 20: tread

brown mushroom on green grass
Photo by Katalin Rőfös Horvát on

“Careful,” she touched his arm. “The moss releases a toxin when you tread upon it.”

“I didn’t know you cared.”

“I assure you I don’t, but neither do I care to die at your side.”

The Queen’s words echoed in his mind. “Kill her. No matter the sacrifice, make it.”

Day 21: treasure

close up photography of adult golden retriever
Photo by 42 North on

He lowered his blaster to aim at the Andromedan’s third heart. “I don’t give a damn what you do with the treasure but you are not taking my dog.” The yellow lab peered up at him with adoring eyes.

The Andromedan sighed and lowered their weapon. “Can I clone it?”

Day 22: ghost

silhouette of person
Photo by Bestcaption_mph on

The note fluttered with grace to the ground. The Ambassador’s ghost escaped like a breath on a winter morning, her body collapsing to the floor like so much meat. There would be bruises in need of explanation come morning, but she dared not refuse a summons from the Soul Keeper.

Day 23: ancient

architecture bones building city
Photo by Pixabay on

“Crushed beneath the woolly mammoth we found this ancient body, preserved in the peat. We radiocarbon dated the remains and it’s as old as the mammoth, but here’s the thing, this corpse had a pacemaker. My thesis advisor says I’m not allowed to say it was a time traveller, but…”

that’s it so far, folx. Happy writing!

an Inktober collection

Earlier this month I committed to Inktober: Writer’s Edition, which has me writing a 50-word story every day, following a list of prompts you can read here. You can read my previous week of stories by clicking here.

Here are my stories from this past week, interspersed with palette-cleansing photos for your viewing pleasure.

Day 10: pattern

air air pollution climate change dawn
Photo by Pixabay on

Her gaze traced the pattern of smoke stacks on the horizon, each one belching poison into the atmosphere. A factory planet, built for production, left to robots to run when the air became toxic. She tied a scarf over her mouth and nose and cursed her luck for crashing here.

Day 11: snow

photograph of happy children
Photo by samer daboul on

Glowing green particulates fell like snow onto the streets overnight. Children scooped it up, packed it tight, and threw green snowballs of it at each other, giggling, innocent. The teachers bit back their warnings. They’d all be dead soon, after all, best let the children have one last good day.

Day 12: dragon

city near mountain during golden hour
Photo by Roberto Nickson on

Coils of smoke rose from the broken city like dragon’s breath, the sunset bright with flames of colour. She fixated on the hue of burgundy ribboning across the clouds, memorizing the colour of freedom. A far explosion brought a smile to her lips as she began to count the dead.

Day 13: ash

photograph of a burning fire
Photo by moein moradi on

She stared into the ashes long after the fire’s fuel ran out and cold crept inside her bones. A small collapse of ash startled her to stabbing at the cinders with the knife she’d used to kill him. His teeth grinned from the ashes, promising he’d never let her go.

Day 14: overgrown

person holding container with seaweed
Photo by Chokniti Khongchum on

Shattered petri dishes lay across the laboratory floor, their samples long overgrown the agar and spreading in fungal clumps. He sobbed with relief and flicked at the green until a cloud of particulates released. Snorting up the spores, his eyes rolled back as a deep sense of peace overcame him.

Day 15: legend

woman playing electric guitar on top of rock formation
Photo by Stephanie Souza on

He hit the chords power-hard, eyes shut, hips thrust forward, the song he played a legend. The final riff echoed off the Starcruiser above him and he rose his hand, horns up, to listen as they faded. He nodded, satisfied, and put away his axe. Another planet introduced to Zeppelin.

Day 16: wild

adult alone autumn brick
Photo by Pixabay on

Watch how he waits, deep in the wild recesses of his own mind, until the first flash of feral anger eases and the bright sludge of adrenaline fades. For a place safe to think, to consider, to plan, and bring the darkest ruin to his enemies. Run while you can.

Are you participating in Inktober or Writober as a writer or an artist? Feel free to drop your @’s below so I can follow along.


my Inktober adventures

I’ve signed myself up for the Inktober 2019 Writer’s Edition, which is rather new and diverges from solely drawing to writing a 50-word story based on the official Inktober’s prompts. The following are my entries for the past week, from day 2-9. You can see my day 1 entry and read the full list of the month’s prompt by clicking here.

Because these stories are meant to exist as unrelated snippets, I’m including a photo that suits the story’s mood before the story itself, as something of a palette cleanser. They run a wild gauntlet of un-relatedness, but here they are. I’d love to hear your thoughts on them and please drop your @’s in the comments if you are Inktobering yourself so I can follow your adventures.

Day 2: mindless

heart shaped red neon signage
Photo by Designecologist on

The fairy stroked the zombie’s face. “They’re mindless not heartless. That’s what everyone gets wrong.”

“What is it with you and the undead?” asked her father. “First that vampire, now him.”

“You did necromance me from the grave when she was five,” said Mother. “Children pick up on these things.”


Day 3: bait

2019-01-11 09.25.42.jpg

“Just a little dunk for the greater good,” said the fisherman. “Everyone knows they can’t resist the bait of a prince.”

Into the water splashed the Prince, cursing his birthright and this superstition. Mermaids weren’t emptying their nets, it was –

His thoughts scattered as a little mermaid grabbed his hand.


Day 4: breeze

love couple sunset sunrise
Photo by on

The wind picked up and he awkwardly put his arm around her so she wouldn’t freeze. He should say something. Something clever. “So… do you ever wonder if maybe meteor showers only exist because a black hole sneezed?”

She smiled, her eyes shining. “I think about that all the time.”


Day 5: build

it me

Build a world from a thought, give it life, give it death. Keep it secret. Build it bigger, amplify its strangeness. Stranger still. Fold it inside out, right again, and somewhere in the creases watch its people unfold, half-formed, un-complete. Keep them secret. Amplify their strangeness, finish them with want.


Day 6: husky

photo of person standing on crashed plane
Photo by Frederik Sørensen on

Burly Jane and Husky Hester stroked their beards and contemplated the wreckage of Hester’s starcruiser, planets away from nowhere.

“Helluva first date,” said Jane. “Usually I just say I’m out of fuel and make my move, but you’ve straight up crashed. I admire your commitment to getting in my pants.”


Day 7: enchanted

sky lights space dark
Photo by Pixabay on

The planetoid mass was enchanted by the star, circling ‘round for a closer, better look. Non-committal, careful, until a solar flare burst forth and danced an aurora ‘round the mass’ atmosphere. Bewitched, the mass fell into orbit, clutched by the star’s gravitational embrace, and spun themselves into a solar system.


Day 8: frail

white bedspread beside glass sliding door
Photo by Lina Kivaka on

He peered down at his suddenly frail physique, his sculpted pecs sagging, nipples turned downwards, his hard-won abs a blob of gut hanging over his hips. His manhood – he couldn’t look. “Why?” he asked her.

The succubus struggled into her underwear and shrugged. “Maybe I like you better this way.”


Day 9: swing

metal chain in grayscale and closeup photo
Photo by Luděk Maděryč on

A porch swing rusted on the rain-battered decking. In next week’s storm its chain would break, sending the swing through the rotten boards and catching the attention of the building inspector who would condemn the house. For now it caught the sun and its old chain wheezed in the breeze.

Thank you for reading!

art where it isn’t supposed to be. Plus a TARDIS.

I spend a large chunk of my time making art, so when I find art unexpectedly, it runs shivers into my soul like the first trill of a songbird in spring. Some art forms deliberately make the viewer uncomfortable, and street art is an excellent medium for this, while others settle into their natural landscapes like a bird onto a branch, reminding me that we can be a part of nature too.

This cheery stone greeted us from atop a post at the entrance to a popular hiking trail:


and then there was this:


and this:


and this dark wonder of low tide beachscaping:


The next bunch we found at Barn Marsh Island beach near Cape Enrage, NB (Canada).  The TARDIS and dalek were built in 2017. You can’t see the dalek’s eye stalk because I prioritized safety (the cliff in the back is unstable) so you’ll have to trust me it’s there. I’m guessing the left-most sculpture relates to the Doctor Who theme as well but I haven’t figured it out yet. As it’s more rickety than the others, it may have been added by another artist later. There’s actually driftwood inside the dalek and the TARDIS to keep them sturdy, and they were SOLID. They lasted a full winter of nor’easters, blizzards, and storm surges before disappearing early in the summer of 2018, and I still suspect someone might have kicked them over at that point.


These next two are from the same beach, same spot, just this past week. I like to think it’s the same Whovian artist because of the style and the use of driftwood to balance the rock.


above is the side-view, and this next one is looking head-on at the wall with the Bay of Fundy behind it. Gorgeous.


Do you find art in unexpected places? I’d love to hear about it if you do.

In writing news, I have a sci-fi drabble, or 100-word story, in the Storming Area 51: Survivor Stories anthology from Black Hare Press and we hit #1 on Amazon in the U.S. last week. Woohoo! You can read the reviews and learn more about the book by clicking here.

a poem that won a fox

I am pleased to announce that my writing has won me a fox. There is a shockingly tiny group of fox-winning writers out there. This is definitely going on my CV, right next to ostrich herding and singing lullabies to a sick lion.

Okay, it’s not a real fox. They belong in the woods. I won a felt fox by fibre artist Bella McBride. Our local CBC’s radio show The Shift held a contest for listeners to write in with a name and a story for the fox. Many of the entries were read on the air (including mine – squee!) and Candace Hare, director of the Nashwaaksis arm of the Fredericton Public Library, was the judge.

I listened to the show last Monday, shoulders tight and nails nibbled. Finally, they announced the winner – and it was me! I got an extra thrill as they discussed the highlights of my entry on air and giggled over all the parts I wanted people to giggle over.

My fox arrived by courier and is now presiding over my writing desk as muse and writing trophy. There isn’t much money in fiction writing, but there are wicked perks where you least expect them.

2019-04-17 16.33.00.jpg

Here’s my entry, which is a light-hearted bit of fun I hope you’ll enjoy reading as much as I did writing it:

Red O’Sullivan, the CBC Fox

Red O’Sullivan was an urban red fox

Who lived near the library in an old cardboard box.

He listened to the CBC on his phone

Sipping coffee and wishing for a show of his own.


Red worried a great deal about climate change

And found human indifference incredibly strange

So he started a podcast to vent his rants

And recorded it from home where he didn’t need pants.


The CBC staff liked his podcast, you see

And invited him over as an interviewee

He arrived on time in his orange fox fur

Only to hear, “You can’t go in there , Mr. Fox, Sir.


You are naked,” said the security guard.


“I’m a fox,” answered Red, nervous and swallowing hard,

“I’ve an interview at two. Please, let me through.”


“I can’t let you in naked. You need clothes, you do.”


“But this is my dream job – the first fox on air!

Is there possibly anything inside I could wear?”


“There’s a green coat and hat in the lost and found,

And this CBC t-shirt’s been lying around.”


They nabbed some suspenders and a pair of pants

From a fan happening by who enjoyed fox’s rants.

A scarf from the guard and his look was complete,

Red the fox went inside to his interview seat.


He answered questions in a confident voice,

Leaving his interviewers no other choice.

He was hired at once to the CBC team,

You can find him there now, he’s living his dream

In a lost and found coat and lovely green hat,

Sipping coffee and hosting a climate change chat.

2019-04-17 16.30.05.jpg

a Valentine’s day missed connection

Missed Connection – Centennial Park

For years I fed the birds at your feet from the little bench across the path. I hope you could hear their song when you were made of marble, or plaster, or whatever it is statues are made of.

This morning, as the sun shone and the songbirds clung to your outstretched fingers, trilling their song, you came alive. I thought my heart would burst. You were always grey, and suddenly your dress was scarlet and your skin flushed with color. Scratches marred your fingertips where the birds clung too tight. Anyone else would have shooed them away, but you didn’t. You waited until they took wing on their own. I think you must be the kindest soul I’ve never met.

Too shy, too damned afraid, and too unworthy, I watched you walk away unable to find the words to say I love you.

Later, I wondered.  I imagined you were under a terrible curse that finally broke. What if true love broke the curse? What if my love set you free and I was too afraid to speak to you? If there was ever any magic in this world, please. Give me another chance.

I’ll be waiting in the park where your statue once stood. I’ll be there every day from now until forever. You’ll know me by the crimson rose I’ll wear in my lapel. Please come. I miss you.

black and white girl grass lady
Photo by Mikes Photos on

the mother Medusa

I am Gorgon. I spelled and cast all through my pregnancy to keep my daughter from my curse. This endless loneliness. The complications of her conception. She was born, whole, uncursed, her head of hair a joy.

I locked her in a spell of blindness for her childhood to keep her safe. There are those who thought me cruel. Perhaps not cruel, but selfish. For twelve years I had the daughter I always wanted, the cuddles, that precious breath of unconditional love.

When she first bled the spell unraveled. She knew it would happen. She gained her sight but lost sight of me. I hid in my shame and my snakes and she was safe. I loved her from afar. We sent each other messages and letters filled with love.

But I did not wish to miss her wedding. I had a tinker make a glass of mercury and silver, a strange alchemy of reflection. I saw her wed her love, aglow with life and promise, everything I wished for her.

I lowered the mirror, foolish and sorry for myself, and brought it up too fast, catching a glimpse of my own unfamiliar face.

And turned to stone.

I did not know my victims were still conscious, screaming from their mortared prisons. The mirror dropped, shattering on the ground, one last reflection of her smile, before it turned to screams.

Now, I sit, a decoration in her garden. The first time she’s seen me, I suppose. I watch over her and my grandchildren. One of them born with snakes of her own…

woman statue with bird bath
Photo by Ralph Chang on

when the Moon came for dinner

We invited the Moon for dinner last week. To our delight, the Moon accepted our invitation and was courteous enough to shrink down for the event. I served a meal of mulled stardust and broiled comets from a recipe book I bought in a dream when I was seven.

The girls, of course, wanted pictures and the Moon obliged. I must say, I am happy with how they turned out. It’s nice to have memories of special guests the girls can look back on once they’re grown.

2019-01-17 11.01.01.jpg


Little Nim, who rarely stays up late enough to enjoy the night sky, marveled at our guest and screamed when we tried to take them away.

2019-01-17 10.59.44.jpg


Evening, who can often be seen waving to the Moon and shouting “Hi, Moon!” every chance she gets, was especially joyful to see her friend up close.

Toys were pulled out and stories created. Evening insisted the Moon must have dragons, and the Moon did not disagree. Blizzard the cat wanted in on the fun and investigated Evening’s carefully staged dragon silhouette.


Shortly after taking this photo, Blizzard snapped up the dragon in his fuzzy jaws and ran off with him. Much hissing and fire-breathing ensued. I was embarrassed over the cat’s behavior but the Moon insisted it was the most excitement they’d had since the Pleiades passed through last month.

Blizzard returned with whiskers singed and bent. We haven’t found the dragon yet but we can hear him in the basement at night, breathing fire and munching stolen cat food.

Nim cried when it came time for the Moon to leave. Evening gave them a hug goodbye. I packed up the leftover comets and sent them along in case the Moon got hungry later. We stood on the porch and watched the Moon float up into the sky.

“Can we invite the Moon for dinner again, Mum?”

“That’s up to the Moon, dear.”