First Published: October 8th, 2015
Word Count: 250


Bean Sidhe

by Alexandra Erin

“Tall whipless double espresso soy mocha!”

“We’ve talked about this, Morgan.”

The barista blanched at the sound of her supervisor right behind her. She stood with a fixed smile on her face until the drink had been collected, then turned.

“Simon, I’m sorry,” she said. “It just slipped out! Force of habit.”

“It never should have become a habit in the first place,” he said. “You’ve worked here long enough to know the policy. We ask the guest’s name, we write it on their cup, we call it out! It makes people feel welcome, as if you’re treating them nice. It’s not rocket science. If it was, you wouldn’t be doing it.”

“Couldn’t I just be nice for real? I have… issues… with shouting people’s names. Julia never had a problem with my little quirks.”

“Yeah, well, Julia retired,” Simon said. “I don’t have a problem, either. You do, and you need to get over it right the fuck now.”

“You’re sure I can’t just call out the drinks?” Morgan asked.

“No. Names or nothing,” he said. “Do your job or hit the bricks.”

“Could I… practice with yours?”

“If that’s what it takes,” he said, rolling his eyes.

She called his name.

It didn’t take long for the EMTs to get there, but it was too late to do anything. The shop closed for the day, and Morgan knew it might be closed a bit longer, but when it reopened, no one would ask her to call out names.

REPOST: And So I’m Having A Wonderful End Time But I’d Rather Be Whistling In The Dark

(Originally published on May 21st, 2011. Picked up and dusted off because this nonsense is rearing its head again.)

I’ve got some twitter on my Yahoo yahoo on my Twitter giving me guff about the fact that I chose to live tweet the lack of an apocalypse last night.

Supposedly, I’m being intolerant of Christian beliefs.

Well, first of all, let’s make something very clear: the Rapture in general and Harold Camping’s incredibly specific version of it are beliefs and they’re held by people who are Christians, but they are not Christian beliefs in the way that, say, “Jesus is Messiah” is a Christian belief. We in the vaguely-Christian-by-default/Easter-And-Christmas/Secular-Humanist world are told by serious and passionate men who’ve given the matter a lot of study and a lot of thought and who care about the Bible more than we do that the Bible says this, that a literal reading of the Bible means we must believe that… and because we see little enough reason to care about the Bible in the first place and they’re clearly experts we take it as so.

I’m not going to go into all the ways that any of the various versions of End Times, Inc. absolutely fails at being based on a literal reading of the Bible. A better blogger than I (and one who has invested far more time in Bible study, being himself a Christian Evangelical) has done this at Slacktivist. You can pick almost any one of his Left Behind recaps to see examples of the kinds of weird leaps that End Times enthusiasts make and the contortions they go through to claim that they’re treating the Bible literally.

Simply put, someone who declares Revelation to be an allegorical fairy tale aimed at Christians in the opening centuries of A.D. is being more literal than someone who claims that all that talk of seals and judgments and horsemen and thunders uttering their voices means that there’s going to be an earthquake sweeping across the globe at 6 P.M. or someone who thinks it’s foretelling a Secretary-General of the United Nations becoming Emperor of the World (using all the authority of the Secretary-General of the U.N.) and declaring war on Israel.

Where are the thunders? Where are the horses? If we’re promised horses, we need to be given horses… that’s what literal means.

If you take it as an allegory, you can keep the whole of the text and assume that each and every part of it holds meaning. If you call it “literal prophesy” then you’re stuck throwing out most of it.

But I digress… all I really meant to do was spend a paragraph or two pointing out the difference between “What Harold Camping and his ilk believe” and “Christian beliefs”, so that I can show how disrespecting Harold Camping’s teachings is not the same as disrespecting Christians in general, Christianity, or Christian beliefs.

So here we come to the question: do Harold Camping and his beliefs not deserve respect and tolerance in and of themselves, Christian or not?

And I will answer that question: no, no they do not.

Folks, I feel a great deal of pity towards Camping’s followers, and I mean that in the kindest and least biting sense of the word. The spirit of simple human charity… the form of love that the Bible tells us is the greatest virtue, above faith and hope… demands nothing less. I try in my heart to even feel such pity towards Camping himself. I would encourage anyone who finds themselves dealing with Camping’s followers to be as charitable towards them as they can be. These are people who have been hurt. These are people who have had their hopes and fears manipulated, who have been brought to a crescendo of simultaneous joy and panic, and I can’t imagine what they’re feeling now.

But the thing is, we need to be able to laugh at Harold Camping and what he taught. This is terribly important, for two reasons.

One is that if we treat his pronouncements with dignity, we are abetting him in the harm he does to himself and others…. him, and all the End Times prophets and profiteers who follow. He is a ridiculous figure. We must be able to acknowledge that. Will people laughing at him make him see the error of his ways? No, if anything it will probably harden his resolve. He expects that real true Christians will be persecuted in the End Times. But as in politics, we have to think of the “swing voters”… the people who could go either way.

A lot of us grew up with the received notion that the Bible is kind of important, and some people who are looking for answers might see a Harold Camping type as being a passionate and serious man speaking with a lot of conviction on a subject he’s studied extensively and he’s quotes and math–math!–that says he’s right.

We need to be unafraid to point out that the emperor has no clothes rather than letting him tell everything his own way.

And the other reason we need to be able to laugh has to do with those same received notions about the Bible and Christianity. A lot of us in the western world are sort of Default Christians, even if we’re agnostics or secular humanists. If you grow up as a Christmas-and=Easter Christian, if you have older relatives who go to church and give stern looks when you take the Lord’s name in vain, if you grow up in a culture where the Judeo-Christian God is the default for swearing oaths in vain in the first place and where Christian demonic and apocalyptic images and ideas are among the most popular wells to draw from for horror stories…

Well, in those cases it can be hard to ignore a Harold Camping completely. You may joke about it… you may laugh it off… but it’s there, in the back of your head: what if he’s right? Again we come back to the fact that Harold Camping cares more about the Bible than most people do. If you’ve never read the Bible or never made a serious study of it but you have the received notion that it’s kind of a big deal stuck in the back of your head…

The phrase here is “whistling past the graveyard”. You know intellectually that people do in fact walk past graveyards all the time and nothing rises up and grabs them. Even if you can’t empirically prove to yourself that there are no ghouls or ghosts or zombies you have to know that the graveyard’s been there for ages and there’s a road or sidewalk going past it so people do, in fact, go past it and some of them go past it at night.

But then you have to walk past it at night…

The moon is out. Or the sky is clouded over. Maybe the leaves are off the trees and there are bare skeletal branches. And you walk a little faster, or you walk with deliberate slowness to show yourself how unafraid you are… because you feel it. The dread, the horror, maybe not of any one particular thing that you think will happen but the fear that something could happen.

Harold Camping collectively walked us past the graveyard today, and we dealt with it the way human beings always have: with raised voices and forced cheer. It’s how we relieve tension. It’s how we banish the baleful spirits that we don’t really believe in but wouldn’t want hanging around our campfires all the same.

Does Harold Camping in fact deserve the kind of treatment he’s getting? I’m not prepared to say he does. Simple human charity says he doesn’t. It also says you don’t kick a man when he’s down. But he’s the instigator here, and he’s also one person. The needs of those he victimized… which includes anyone who has chuckled nervously while watching a clock today… outweigh his needs at this point.

POEM: Mind The Gap

First Publication: October 7th, 2015



By Alexandra Erin


There is a place between

where I was born

and where I live now

and there are no words

for how I feel about it


There is a space between

what I once was

and who I’ve become

and there is no way

to bridge that gap


There is a pause between

the moment I act

and the moment I think

and I’m not sure

what I can do about it


There is a gulf between

the things that I dream

and the things I can do

and I’m less and less sure

which even is which.




SHORT STORY: Made With Love

First Publication: October 5th, 2015
Word Count: ~1700



by Alexandra Erin

When I made Annabelle, I wasn’t looking for a companion. I hadn’t known at the time how much I needed one.

I didn’t think of myself as lonely as a child, even though I was frequently alone and didn’t have anyone who shared my interests. I was simply solitary. My interests were unique, or so I thought at the time. The adults in my life assured each other I would become interested in boys any time, and then some of them assured me it would be fine if I was interested in girls.

Mostly I was interested in making things, and in the strange blue stone that dotted the quarries and rocky outcroppings near our home, and in making things out of the stone.

Astralite, it was called. The star-stone. People used to think it came to the earth in falling stars, but that’s nonsense.

A geologist once told me we have no idea what made astralite form, but it definitely had a terrestrial origin. I don’t know that I could have articulated this as a child, but the way it appeared in veins running through the limestone certainly testified to that.

The name had stuck even after its celestial origin was disproven, because it was popular and evocative and it certainly fit in other ways. The luminescent qualities of the star-stone were one of its many notable qualities.

Despite the difficulties involved in commercial exploitation, high-quality astralite has always been in demand. I was fortunate that our local strain was not seen by anyone as particularly pure or interesting. It marbled our limestone with whisker-thin wisps, not great galloping rivers.

Over the course of several summers, I collected slivers and dust and pressed them into molds of my own devising, stamping out the gears and shafts and other bits that would become Annabelle. I’d created the technique to make jewelry that I gave away as gifts.

Astralite has a tricky reputation for jewelry. My mother still has the first pendant I ever made, but everyone has heard about the rich lawyer who had astralite stones faceted and polished like gems set into a necklace for his wife, only for them to break apart completely before she opened the box. The world is full of stories like both of these: the cherished astralite heirloom and the junk jewelry that disintegrates.

Sometimes astralite is like the most solid of bedrock. Sometimes it is fragile as hematite, soapstone, or amber. People chalk this up to differences in composition or structure, though no one’s been able to reliably measure such differences.

Those who work astralite will tell you the truth, though most people think we’re just being romantic. It’s simple, though. You have to love it.

The proof of this sits next to me on the sofa every evening, and lays beside me in bed while I sleep. I pressed her parts together out of dust and scrapings, but in twenty-three years not a single piece has broken, not a single axle has cracked. There isn’t so much as a chip on the tooth of any of her gears.

People think I’m a genius. Even the ones who believe I’m a fraud—and that’s most people—think I’m a genius at it. Even making a person-shaped machine that can walk and speak like a person is something of a holy grail in the field of robotics, an area in which I have no actual expertise or experience.

If Annabelle were nothing more than a remote-controlled automaton and all those intricate visible clockwork pieces suspended inside the thin blue glowing wire frame that bounds her limbs were simply there for show, she would still be a triumph in both design and execution.

The truth is, I don’t know how I made her. I started with the simple idea for an astralite clock. The immediate inspiration for this was an old spring-driven alarm clock my parents had, which I had taken apart and put back together many times.

As soon as I started making the pieces, though, I found that they pulled me in a different direction. I started making more pieces, other pieces, and putting them together in the way that made the most sense.

I started when I was eleven. It took three years, during which time most of the adults in my life thought I was making an impressive sculpture. When asked, I said “Something like that.” I’d had a vague inkling in my head of what my labor was leading to, but it sounded ridiculous to say it aloud. I was making a person. I was making a girl.

People tell me she is a work of art. I used to correct them by saying that her creation was done out of love, but I’ve stopped, mostly because I realized that the two aren’t mutually exclusive.

Still, I don’t like to hear Annabelle described that way, as a work. “A thing of beauty” is another one that makes me see red, though that one is also applied to other women.

When I was a child, I made Annabelle the size of a child. Since then, I have grown and she has grown with me. She bathes in astralite dust periodically, according to her own unfathomable internal rhythms. She takes it into herself. She grows. She changes.

We are adults now. We live together, loving each other yet not quite lovers, at least not in the sense that my more prurient correspondents assume. They like to ask how we have sex. I used to ask them why they assumed that we do, but more often than not, this would only result in even cruder inquiries in the next follow-up.

I support my love and myself with my astralite art and jewelry, which I sell to a select clientele in order to preserve my reputation for quality. It’s not enough for the customer to love a piece in the aesthetic sense, or to love the idea of having it. There has to be real love attached to it, flowing through it.

Astralite needs love to survive when removed from its rocky womb.

That’s the secret.

That’s the key.

That’s why I can work it as easily as if it were soft clay, and make a sculpture you can’t dent with a sledgehammer. When my pieces leave me and go out into the world, though, my love for them cannot sustain them. They must go to loving homes. They must be purchased with love, given with love, treasured.

Annabelle helps me vet my clients. While my explanations of astralite’s nature are still regarded as new age fringe theories by many, they are known. So are the qualifications I set for buying my pieces. Many have tried to bluff their way through the interview.

Usually it’s obvious when someone is faking, covering their covetousness with cartoon hearts in their eyes. I can be fooled, though. People can even fool themselves. Annabelle, the treasure of my heart, is never fooled. Love comes as naturally to her as breathing does to you or me. If this means she does not often have to stop and ponder about its existence, it means she acutely notices its absence.

Even with the vetting process, I offer no guarantees with my work, as things can change and hearts with them. I’ve heard from people who received one of my pieces secondhand, often through a bequest or at an estate sale, only to have it fall to pieces. Usually they’re just complaining, but in a few cases a new owner has sought my help in establishing that the piece was a counterfeit so they could seek redress from the seller. I have no choice but to disappoint them again.

On the other hand, I’ve received many kind messages from people who have found a secondhand treasure which appeared pitted and pocked but which cleaned up more nicely than they would have thought possible with a little tender love and care, or who inherited a cherished keepsake from a family member and want me to know how they feel closer to their loved one than ever when they wear or handle it.

I also receive several inquiries a week asking me for instructions on how to build another Annabelle, along with offers to buy her or requests that I make her available for an in-depth examination. I used to try to respond to these, but now I don’t bother.

It’s not even the volume of them. It’s the fact that even explaining that she is a person whom I love feels like I’m granting too much legitimacy to the premise that she’s not. It wears me down.

I couldn’t tell someone how to make another one of her. I don’t think there could be another one of her, any more than there could be another one of me, or you, or anyone else. I doubt copying her framework or the pattern of her gears would create a spritely blue glowing woman who laughs at my jokes and shares my fears.

The mechanics by which her physical form were constructed hardly matter. That’s not what made her. Sometimes, when I receive a query about her origins that is neither presumptive nor insensitive, I share what advice I have to give on the subject, though to my knowledge no one has yet succeeded in making another living being out of astralite, at least not on purpose.

I did receive an email yesterday from a hysterical mother whose daughter had found one of my tiny carved hummingbirds with its wing broken off. The girl had pressed the pieces back together. She wants to be a veterinarian, her mother said, and she cooed over the poor broken thing, and made it a tiny bandage, and kissed it better, and now a tiny blue hummingbirds follows her around, flitting around in circles around her head and watching over her while she sleeps.

Her mother wanted to know if this is normal.

I told her it’s natural.

Quick update…

…so the people who follow what’s going on solely through my blog will know that my travel went well and I arrived safely: my travel went well and arrived safely. One silver lining to this particular tropical storm system: because I arrived ahead of schedule, I’ve had more time to spend with my father.

My father describes himself as the worst writer in the family. This might be an instance of a person blessed with faint condemnation—he is certainly a masterful storyteller—but it’s certainly not a thing he feels called to do. He’s more in the business of business. The interesting thing is how much I find that the things he says about it translates to both the business side of art, and to creativity.

I told him last night I love reading his advice to his clients. If the making piles of money for himself and his customers thing he’s got going on doesn’t work out for him, he could seriously turn out some impressive motivational posters and advice books.

Between last night and this morning, our conversations have helped some things that were pretty shapeless in my mind to gel up quite a bit, and given me more confidence about some of the directions I’ve been moving in.

So that was a huge positive note to end a stressful and tumultuous time.

With most of two work days already lost and my typical post-travel fatigue and spaciness, I’m just declaring this week a casualty of the storm. I’m going to spend the day relaxing with my parents, dinking around creatively in the presence of fresh air and sunshine, and figure out what’s happening next week next week.

Up in the air has landed.

Okay, so, that thing I had alluded to in my status post this morning? It’s settled itself. I’ve had a scheduled trip to see my mother set for this weekend, but with newly-minted hurricane Joaquin set to either come in or throw a bunch of rain down our mountain roads as it passes us by, it’s kind of a now-or-never thing. So now instead of leaving Saturday, I’m going to be leaving tomorrow morning. It’s going to be hectic as heck, but better safe than sorry. There may or may not be things of the days for all days in the very near future.

STATUS: Wednesday, September 30th

Quick Update

Well, the crisis I reported yesterday is past. You know, every time I rattle the cup, whether it’s for an emergency situation or not, some rando (as they say dans la belle internet) is bound to pop up with a snide comment about “e-begging” or “hipster welfare”, but 9 times out of 10, the biggest contributions come with notes attached saying things like, “I’ve been reading your work for years and it’s time I paid something back.”

The people who criticize these kinds of transactions often claim to be proponents of the free market, but they love to argue with the specific results the market provides.

But enough dwelling…

The Daily Report

So, I had been planning to announce a decision regarding my plans for next week today, but things are a bit up in the air for me right now in a very literal sense, as these plans currently hinge on the behavior of a massive weather system that’s hanging out off the eastern seaboard. Next week might end up being a light one where I’m focusing my energy elsewhere, or it might be a normal week, or it might be a mix of both. Can’t tell you.

I am very excited about a couple of different things, including a brand new story and one that I think has been percolating for well over a decade now, that I’d even written drafts of before. I’m also excited about A Wilder World. I feel like I have a game but organizing it is tricky, and that’s coming together. The morning walk is really helping me gel creatively in a way that I haven’t been.

The State of the Me

I’m feeling great… better today than I did yesterday morning, and that was pretty darn good, flu shot side effects and all.  I’m more or less back where I thought I was financially… a little surplus-y at the moment, but ending the month of October in the black and stable. Brain firing on all cylinders. Body performing adequately.

Plans For Today

I’m doing the writing equivalent of doodling until lunch. After lunch, I’m going to spend some time on A Wilder World before settling into Tales of MU at the end of the day.



By Alexandra Erin

First Publication: September 29th, 2015

Word Count: ~500




The wind carried the strange chemical signals away from the crater. The signal-cloud was too light and dispersed to be sensed through the visible spectrum. The molecules it contained were heavy enough to fall like a soft rain in its wake, though, creating a trail that the hive’s scouts discovered.

An individual ant was not equipped to make sense of what it was detecting, any more than an individual rod or cone in a retina can read a book. The first scouts who found the alien scent-trail stopped in their tracks. If they had been people, their reactions would have been as though they’d just read a sentence in which all the words were correct and in the right order but it still didn’t make sense, or as though they’d just heard something that had the tone and cadence of speech but wasn’t.

An ant is not a person, though. An ant isn’t even a mind. It’s more like a slow moving set of impulses in a larger neural network. The ones who found the trail retreated to the hive, where the information could circulate amongst the All. None of the individual ants knew what the signals were. No one could make sense of it.

The All could, though. The All knew what it was looking at.

Ah, the All thought. Chemical formulae. Interesting.”

The hive reached itself out to follow the trail to its source. By the time they reached the crater, the source of the trail had been packed up and carted away by the pesky bipedal monominds who got in everywhere and poisoned everything. The hive did not care. It trusted that if they even noticed the signals, they would have no clue how to read them. All the important information had suffused the soil around the object.

Instructions. Recipes. Technology.

The hive was cautious, but curious. It was always interested in improving itself, and all the necessary ingredients could be harvested or refined easily enough. There were enough young that some could be fed a formula from the stars to see how it would affect their growth. This sort of applied biochemistry was the colony’s stock in trade.

Scouts from other hives began to arrive at the crater. The All of the first hive briefly considered the merits of combat, but discarded it as an option. The markers had dispersed too widely to keep them a secret and there was no hope of defending so wide a territory as the landing site. Better to withdraw and begin applying the new knowledge. If it provided any advantage, then the first hive to develop it would have an edge over the others.

Among the monominds, the message eventually went out that the meteorite had shown traces of an interesting organic compound. This sort of thing was reported often enough that it provoked more debate over the likelihood of terrestrial contamination than it did excitement over the potential implications.

While the monominds bickered, the hives decoded the recipes and synthesized new compounds. The next generation of queens were showing some fascinating potential, and that was saying nothing about the warriors…

STATUS: Tuesday, September 29th

The Daily Report

Big thank you to everybody who sent me items on my wishlist and/or tips in the past week. I have a good supply of the pills I need for now, which puts me on firmer ground for dealing with the other issue, which is the money.

I thought I was going to be on fairly stable ground going into October, until I checked my bank statement a moment ago… I screwed up the timing of payments during a period where depression and anxiety kept me from keeping a close eye on my bank statement, and now the balance is negative enough that it’ll swallow half of my Patreon payout for the month.

So I’ve got to keep rattling the cup. If you’ve been thinking about buying any of my ebooks, you can help out by buying them directly. Joining me on Patreon doesn’t do anything immediately, but will help out in the next few days, and it’s especially appropriate if you’ve been enjoying my Thing of the Day posts and wish for me to keep making them.

This is the serious danger of scraping by month to month, and why I’ve been holding out for when I start seeing larger Amazon payouts for at least a few months starting with the end of October. I have reason to hope that there will be an enduring lift even after the surge has died down (as this is how it’s gone in the past, with smaller surges), but even without that, just having extra money sitting in my account so I don’t have to choose between late fees/outages or overdraft charges will make a huge difference.

But that’s the future, and I have to make it there. I’ve got a couple of things on the cusp of being ready for sale that I’m going to try to push through ASAP now (like MU Omnibus VI, the last part of the first volume) in the hopes of getting more of a boost. But right now, what I really need is $200-300 in a hurry.

If you’ve particularly enjoyed my bits of poetry or stories like “The Hoard Most Precious” or you got a chuckle out of my Sad Puppy Book Reviews, please show it and chuck something in the jar.

The State of the Me

Believe it or not, I’m having a pretty good day otherwise? I got out the door on time, started work at time… I didn’t make a status post until now because I found myself with more creative momentum than (non-fictional) things to say. I’ve got enough of my daily braining pills that I can afford to brain fully on a daily basis.

Plans For Today

See above.