blog · original work · writing

Writing | Shadow of a Demon (or a Friend)

For the longest time, Emmaline thought that the shadow she saw on the edges of her vision was a trick of the light.

As a child, it had been a demon that dogged her every step, something to be prayed away by her family and church.  Then, during her teenage years, when life seemed to be at its absolute lowest, it was entirely gone from her.

As she grew older, it returned, leaping from a green exit sign to the dull metal of a guard rail while she drove down the interstate.  Emmaline barely gave it a second thought, believing that it was just a bird landing to rest it’s wings.

But when the shadow sat upon her desk, leaned over her shoulder, and whispered into her ear she knew it was no figment.  And she knew that it would no longer tolerate being ignored.

“It will hurt only for a moment and then your eyes will be opened.”  The shadow spoke into her ear, breath barely moving the hair curled there.

Emmaline wondered briefly what it meant before a sickeningly thin arm reached forward, hand curling around her jaw and turning her face towards the speaker.

The black of the shadow’s eyes seemed somehow even more deep than the darkest night and she found that she could not look away. As the sharp agony of knowing swept over her, Emmaline knew her life would never be the same again.

©2020 S Hostetter

“Guard Rail” by huminiak is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

original work · writing

Writing | The Morning After

“I think that it says an awful lot about your character, that you insist on keeping to your morning routine even knowing that the rest of your day is going to be completely off that routine.”

Quill hummed in response, moving from cobra into downward facing dog and breathing deeply as he did so.  He enjoyed the feeling in his muscles as they were stretched and the pull of muscles unfamiliar with the activities of the night before.  Quill absolutely loved performing his sun salutations the morning after getting laid, reveled in the way his body seemed to still be singing even so many hours after it had been overwhelmed with pleasure.

“You are extremely flexible. If I’d remembered that last night, we could have been a lot more creative.”

Quill grinned to himself, chuckling as he stretched and moved into a headstand.

“Well, if you’d been more awake last night, we could have been more creative. Instead, you decided not to sleep on your flight here and were too tired to do anything more than good old vanilla sexing last night.”

Ransom laughed, rolling back up onto the bed as he did so, and gazed up at the ceiling.

“I can’t believe that you can say ‘sexing’ with a completely serious face and while you’re upside down. But, I have to say that your morning after glow is coming in quite well.” He commented, turning his head to gaze appreciatively at his lover.

Quill rolled his eyes, praying for patience in dealing with the silly man, his best friend and lover, before the man had had his morning cup of coffee. Before he had his morning caffeine fix, Ransom tended to revert to his college-aged way of speaking. Quill couldn’t help but find it helplessly endearing.

©2016 S Hostetter

“A warm window view” by Mourner is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

blog · original work · writing

Writing | S'mores… the morbid way

“You know it’s sort of morbid that this is how we make our s’mores, right?” Ransom laughed, as he skewered another marshmallow bunny on the stick he’d found in the woods and held it over the fire.

Quill was having a difficult time not collapsing into laughter himself, as he watched the poor marshmallow bunny slowly turning brown and getting crispy along the edges. He reached into the bag for a bunny of his own and skewered it lengthwise on his stick.

Quill much preferred the vaguely burnt taste of marshmallow on his s’mores, so his bunny wasn’t allowed the dignity of a slow, well-toasted death.

No, Quill thrust his marshmallow straight into the flames and waited for the brief moment it took for the bunny to catch fire before pulling it back out and watching as it burned on the end of the stick.

“That is so evil.” Ransom laughed. He was grinning madly, as he watched his best friend staring maniacally at the burning and warping body of the marshmallow bunny.

It was something they had always clashed on, the proper way to toast marshmallows for s’mores, and as they’d grown older it had become less of a fight and more of a mutual disagreement with the other man’s preferred methods.

It was the only time that Ransom thought his normally safety conscious friend might have pyro-maniacal tendencies, when the poor, innocent bunny was casting light up on his face with the flames that were eating away at its body.

“Yep.” Quill agreed.

He blew the flames out and watched as smoke continued to rise from the marshmallow bunny’s corpse. It was sort of sad, now that he thought about it, but Quill wasn’t about to let the guilt get to him. He reached over and picked up his prepared graham cracker with chocolate and smashed the bunny’s corpse right into the middle, grinning as the marshmallow started to ooze over the edges and strung out in the air between the cracker and the stick.

“You might be right, but this? This is the absolute best way to eat a s’more when you’re in the woods with the fire and fresh air. You really need that smoky flavoring, my friend, it makes the whole experience better.”

Ransom could fee his eyebrows raising at his friend’s words. “I think that what you really meant to say is that you need the flavor of charcoal in your diet, isn’t that right?”

“I have no idea what you’re referring to.” Quill responded. He took a bite of his s’more and let the melted chocolate and burned marshmallow ooze from the other side, watching as Ransom only shook his head in exasperation as Quill enjoyed making a mess of his treat.

Anyone who said a little crispiness was bad on a s’more, well, they were so very wrong on all counts.

blog · original work · writing

Writing | Fruit Flavored Kisses

Step one: Find a ripe piece of soft fruit, such as a plum, apricot, or mango. These fruits are soft and taste good.

It took a few days, but Anisa knew people and she knew how to use her status as a international celebrity to get what she wanted.

According to the information she’d found, a small number of ripe plums were exactly what she needed to perfect her skills. It just wouldn’t do for Anisa Hansen to be inferior in something she should have been well-versed in before she learned to drive. Although, seeing as she still hasn’t learned to drive a motor vehicle at the age of twenty one, Anisa isn’t putting too much faith in that.

She is, however, putting her faith in the fact that she is amazing at studying and coming out at the top of her class regardless of the subject matter. She is going to master this.

Step two: Bite a small, mouth-sized hole in the fruit.

Anisa ignores the stares as she tries, for the ninth time, to remove a small piece of plum. Really, this is much more difficult than the instructions indicated. The fruit is slightly malleable, and it tastes nothing like she had imagined it would.

Juice runs down her chin as Anisa bites into the plum again, picking delicately at it with her teeth. With the noise of the mess hall bouncing off the walls, she doesn’t hear the choked noise Gabe makes across the table.

Step three: Use this as the mouth that you’ll practice kissing with.

Anisa places her lips to the fruit, pressing gently and sucking up the juice that wells in the cavity she’s created. She pulls the plum away from her mouth and licks at her fingers, trying to remove the sticky juice from between them.

Step four: Kiss the fruit mouth gently. Try to establish a rhythm. Kiss the top part of the “mouth,” and then the bottom part of the “mouth.” For goodness’ sake, don’t eat your kissing partner.

She nibbles at the top part of the fruit and then moves her hand and repeats the motions to the bottom of the fruit. Anisa forgets for a moment, that she isn’t supposed to eat the fruit, that the plums are for practicing and the few she managed to obtain need to last. The flavor of the plum isn’t so bad anymore, Anisa thinks, as she runs her tongue along the tear in the fruit’s skin.

Step five: Use your tongue by gently pushing it into the flesh of the fruit. Remember to use the tongue sparingly. You don’t want to overdo it with the tongue.

She dips her tongue into the fruit, again and again, licking and tasting at it’s flesh and wonders why the kitchen staff hasn’t ever had plums available for them before. These are damned tasty.

Okay, so maybe Anisa gets a little carried away with step five, but who would dare blame her for it anyways? The plum is perfectly ripe, just tangy enough to make her taste buds sing, and Anisa can’t get enough of it.

She moans a little, quietly, under her breath and doesn’t think anyone around their table noticed.

Suddenly, the fruit is snatched from her sticky fingertips and before Anisa can even think to complain, she is being kissed.

Lips are pressed firmly to hers and she can’t form coherent thoughts as those lips nibble at her upper lip, kiss her full on the lips again, before moving and nibbling on her full lower lip.

Anisa pants into the kiss, more turned on in this moment than she can ever remember being before. She is no longer ignoring the stares from the surrounding tables, in fact, the Australian has completely forgotten that anyone else exists in the world.

A hand curls around her neck and pulls her closer, guiding her, and tilting her head a little. There is a hint of tongue running along the seam of Anisa’s lips and she gasps open mouthed, desperate for more. And then there is a tongue inside her mouth, dancing with her own tongue, learning her in ways no one else knows.

When the tongue retreats, Anisa chases it with her own and maps out the warm cavity it came from.

Christ, she is kissing someone! Well he kissed her first but it is, quite frankly, the most amazing thing she’s ever done.

She decides that kissing Gabe is much better than kissing a piece of fruit.

©2020 S Hostetter

blog · original work · writing

Writing | Mythentario

Their meeting was the kind of slow-coming, unavoidable fate that one reads about in grand stories, but it was one that would shape the path of their combined future irrevocably.

Dylan couldn’t breathe. He was lying on the cold sidewalk outside of his apartment building staring up at the sodden, dark grey clouds hanging low in the sky.

He honestly had no idea how he’d gotten to be in this position.

“Oh, I am sorry!” A lilting voice said.

Dylan looked down, or rather up, at the owner of the voice. The blonde man was perched across his chest, slim wrists bracing him up as his hands pressed into the wet concrete on either side of Dylan’s head.


Their eyes met and Dylan couldn’t help but fall into those sea foam orbs, his discomfort at being knocked over and soaking wet falling to the wayside as he stared up at the other man.

“Umm, hello there. I think you’re the one I’ve been looking for.”

“One what?” Dylan found himself asking. He was beginning to question why the other man had yet to stand up.

And then he saw it. The tip of a tail peaking over the man’s shoulder, twitching slightly.

‘From nerves?’ He wondered. For all his knowledge of creatures, he had no idea what exactly the tail was supposed to communicate.

“You’re the one who let us go, my brethren and I… don’t you remember?”

And suddenly Dylan did. He remembered the almost suffocating humidity of that jungle night, the way everything went absolutely still, and how his heart seemed to want to leap from his chest at the sight before him.

As a Mythentario, he’d been hired to track and kill a ravenous nest of naga that had recently appeared in the area and begun killing livestock and stealing children.

Or so he’d been told.

What he had found instead was a small group of adolescent naga that had been offering shelter to those who’d been sold into slavery or suffered abuse. Both were crimes that had been ignored by those who held power in the region.

Mythentarios were not just hunters of demons and monsters, they were also keepers of the peace and were tasked with dealing out justice to those who broke the laws of the land.

That justice took the form of fever and boils in the guilty and those who had turned a blind eye. The perpetrators died painful deaths and those guilty of willful ignorance had been left with visible scars to mark their crimes.

Dylan returned home after making sure that the victims would be cared for and then he made the trek back into the jungle to see if he could locate the naga’s nest again but had been unsuccessful. It appeared that they had moved on once the Mythentario had taken care of things.

“I remember.” He said. “But I don’t understand why you’ve been looking for me. You didn’t wait for me to arbitrate for your group and it’s been years since that happened. What could you possibly want from me now?”

Their eyes met again and Dylan could almost feel a bit of the power the naga’s distant cousin, the gorgon, held as the world seemed to slip away.

“Of course I would search for you. You’re my soulmate.”

©2019 S Hostetter

blog · original work · writing

Writing | Fire Burning

The first time he saw Toni, it was at the local nightclub, Riptide.

‘So damn hot.’ Christopher thought, as he watched the stranger out on the dance floor, moving sensuously to the music.

“You should ask for a dance.” His friend and fellow firefighter, Simon, urged him.

Christopher rolled his eyes at the suggestion.

“I can’t dance.”

“Yeah, right, I’ve seen you moving in the flames, don’t you give me that shit!” Simon laughed, “Go on!”

Simon pushed Chris roughly toward the dancing stranger and, once he started moving, Chris couldn’t stop his forward momentum. As if drawn my some magnetic force, his feet propelled him unerringly toward the object of his attention.

As he came close, emerald eyes slit open to meet his own, plain brown orbs. Chris could almost feel the sparks dancing between them.

“May I have this dance?”

At the time, he’d thought that was the most lame thing he could say.

“You can have all my dances, handsome.”

Yet here he was, eight years later, with Toni curled into his arms as they lounged in bed on a rainy, autumn morning.

©2019 S Hostetter

beautiful people challenge · blog · writing

Writing | Beautiful People #19

Do they want to get married and/or have children? Why or why not?

At this point in time, Quill does not see himself married with or without children.

Ransom, coming from a large family, would like to have a large family of his own.  He imagines a house in the country, filled with at least six kids, two dogs, and a variety of fish… Sometimes, he thinks he’d like to run his own farm and get away from city life altogether.

What is their weapon of choice? (It doesn’t necessarily have to be a physical weapon.)

Quill’s weapon of choice is words, of course.  Ransom prefers not to be in a situation that requires weapons… However, he is trained to use and owns his own firearms.

What’s the nicest thing they’ve done for someone else, and why did they do it?

Have they ever been physically violent with someone, and what instigated it?

A fairly easygoing person, Quill has never found himself in a position where physical violence against someone else.

A retired veteran, Ransom now works in the cyber-crime unit of a local police station. While in the military, he found himself in situations where physical violence was the only way to insure he and his fellow soldiers lived to see another day.

Are they a rule-follower or a rebel?

Quill is a strict rule-follower, he believes that if there is a rule in place that it must have been created for a reason.

Ransom is the rebel of their age-group and was an instigator of many “adventures” during their youth.  While he never broke any laws, Ransom is able to see when a rule is not good for a situation and react accordingly.

Are they organized or messy?

Quill is super organized except for when Ransom comes to visit and then all bets are off.  Shoes left in the middle of the living room?  You bet.  Socks hanging from the lamp in the entry way?  Yep.  Refrigerator all out of whack?  Definitely.

What makes them feel loved, and who was the last person to make them feel that way?

What do they eat for breakfast?

On mornings that he is scheduled to work, Quill has a breakfast of grape nuts cereal, some fruit, and a cup of fresh coffee.

Ransom is NOT a morning person. As such, he often just grabs a granola bar to eat on his commute and a cup of coffee when he arrives at the station.

Have they ever lost someone close to them? What happened?

Quill’s grandmother died of natural causes when he was eleven years old. They had always been close and he was absolutely devastated by her death.

What’s their treat of choice? (Or, if not food, how else do they reward themselves?)

Both men enjoy being outdoors and, whenever possible, escape from city life to hike through the woods, up a mountain, or just go camping.

beautiful people challenge · blog · writing

Beautiful People #18 | June Edition

What are their first childhood memory?

One of Quill’s most vivid childhood memories is of the day he met Ransom. It was at Ransom’s sister’s wedding and both young boys were tired (and a little cranky) from being dressed up all day long. Their mothers, who had been friends since college, encouraged the boys to play together for the afternoon.

When he remembers Ransom’s first words to him, Quill always as to stifle a laugh… “My sister just got married. I had to dress up all fancy and stupid, but it was nice, I guess. She won’t stop smiling. Hey! You wanna get married? We can be married and then you won’t have to frown anymore ’cause you’ll be happy all the time like my sister.”

What were their best and worst childhood experiences?

Quill’s best childhood experience was becoming a big brother and his worst was when he broke his arm falling out of a tree house.

What was their childhood home like?

Quill’s parents still live in his childhood home. It is an older, Victorian style house that was cozy when family came to visit, but still had enough space that people weren’t stepping all over each other. He enjoys being able to visit the house he grew up in and has many good memories that were made there.

What’s something that scared them as child?

When Quill was very little, he was scared that aliens would come and take him away in their spaceship.

As for Ransom? He always said that he wasn’t scared of anything, when he actually was a little afraid of the dark.

Who did they look up to most?

Quill has always been enamored with Amelia Earhart and would love to get his private pilot license and fly his own plane to different locations. Of course, he needs to somehow earn enough money to pay for pilot school AND the payment on a plane, lol.

Favorite and least favorite childhood foods?

Quill thinks that pie is the best thing in the entirety of the world and Brussels sprouts are from the devil. When he was little, Quill’s favorite pie was apple pie but his tastes have changed as he’s grown older and he now prefers strawberry rhubarb pie. His mother tried to feed him Brussels sprouts once and never attempted it again.

Ransom likes his mother’s chili the best. It is a recipe that’s been in his family for generations and he has grown up eating Mexican food. His Abuela has been known to rant for many minutes on the tastelessness of Americanized Mexican food. While he isn’t actually a picky eater, Ransom prefers a lot of meat in his diet and not so many vegetables. He has always taken a bit of convincing to eat anything green or leafy.

If they had their childhood again, would they change anything?

The only thing Quill would change about his youth is the year in high school where he was terrified that something was wrong with him, that somehow he was broken and that his brokenness would be found out and he’d be hated for it.

What kind of child were they? Curious? Wild? Quiet? Devious?

Quill was a quiet child, but extremely curious about the world around him. He was always getting caught in places that he wasn’t supposed to be because he would let his best friend, Ransom, talk him into exploring the woods near their houses.

What was their relationship to their parents and siblings like?

At first, Quill was jealous of all the attention his little sister was getting from the adults in his life. He had been an only child for seven years and suddenly there was this screaming, red-faced baby taking his parents away from him. It took a few months for Quill to stop feeling jealous and to understand that babies just need a lot of attention and that his parents still loved him. After ‘Lizabet grew out of her colicky stage, his parents would spend one-on-one time with Quill to make sure he didn’t feel left out.

Quill loves his parents and appreciates their support of him and his little sister. Even from across the country, he feels safe and loved because he knows that his family is there for him.

What did they want to be when they grew up, and what did they actually become?

Quill wanted to be a firefighter when he grew up and even though he went to school to become a librarian, he has considered becoming a reserve firefighter and working part-time at a local firehouse.

When he was little, all Ransom wanted to be when he grew up was a pirate! Sadly, he learned that piracy isn’t a legal way to earn one’s income and chose instead to go into technology. He now works with a police cyber crime unit.

beautiful people challenge · blog · writing

Writing | Beautiful People #1

The Beautiful People meme, created by the Paper Fury blog, is a way for writers to get to know their characters better.  When I found this meme, it looked really interesting and (though it took awhile to get started) I decided to start with the first edition.

Join me and get to know Quill and the other characters from my 398.2 novels…

beautiful people

What is their full name and is there a story behind why they got it?

Quinton Caldwell. His nickname is “Quill,” which he received from classmates due to the first and last letters of his name… Qui-ll.

How old are they, and when were they born?

Quill is 27-years-old and was born on December 21 during the winter solstice.

Describe their physical appearance. (Bonus questions: 1. What is their race/ nationality/ ethnicity? 2. Do you have a picture of them? If so, include it!)

Quill is happy to claim that he is five feet and eight inches tall, just a little shorter than his best friend Ransom. He has green eyes. If he could ever decide just what he wants to do with it, Quill would get his hair dyed anything other than the mouse brown it is now. He thinks it is boring and one-note in both color and texture.

Though they’ve lived in the United States for the last four generations, Quill’s family is of both German and English descent.

Describe your character’s personality first in one word, and then elaborate with a few sentences.


When excited, Quill does tend to speak on the too fast side, but he is normally soft-spoken and is careful to enunciate his words clearly. Quill’s favored form of exercise is yoga and running. He wakes early in order to perform sun salutations each day and runs three times a week, weather permitting.

What theme song(s) fit their personality and story arc?

For the first book in this series, Adventures in Solitude by The New Pornographers fits best with both Quill’s personality and the arc of the story.

Which one of the seven deadly sins describes your character?

If pressed, Quill might admit to being greedy about his books.

If they were an element (fire, water, earth, air), which one would they be?

If Quill were an element, he would be air because it is able to move through and around things.

What is their favorite word?

Quill’s favorite word? That is certainly a difficult question, since all words are just a combination of 26 letters (in the English alphabet).

Who’s one person they really miss?

His best friend since childhood, Ransom Sanders.

What sights, sounds, and smells remind them of that person?

Being outdoors, in the woods, always reminds Quill of his friend. In their youth, Ransom and Quill often camped in their backyards, spent time in their tree-house, and explored the nearby forest.

beautiful people challenge · blog · writing

Writing | Beautiful People #17

The Beautiful People meme, created by Cait at Paper Fury and Skye at Further Up and Further In, is a way for writers to get to know their characters better. This entry is my first time actually linking to the meme, but be on the lookout as I fill out older questionnaires from the site.

Join me and get to know Quill and the other characters from my 398.2 novels…

beautiful people

How often do they smile? Would they smile at a stranger?

Quill finds himself smiling almost daily at the antics of his owl-friend, Des. He tries to be kind to strangers and hopes that by sharing a smile with someone, he can make their day a little better.

What is the cruelest thing they’ve ever been told? And what was their reaction?

The cruelest thing Quill was ever told was that he was an abomination and that he needed to be cured of his sickness. Even with the support of his friends and family, Quill continues to struggle with the memory of these harsh words. He has never reconciled with the Uncle who said these things.

What is the kindest thing they’ve ever been told? And what was their reaction?

What is one strong memory that has stuck with your character from childhood? Why is it so powerful and lasting?

The most memorable event of Quill’s childhood is his sister, Elizabeth’s first birthday. He remembers being confused (and frustrated) that he wasn’t allowed to have a piece of cake… even though ‘Lizabet was too little to have any. Ransom got some and he was only a little bit older than Quill. It just wasn’t fair to a seven-year-old Quill.

The reason he remembers this so well, is because it is one of the first times he was allowed to hold his sister without one of his parents helping him.

What book (a real actual published book!) do you think your character would benefit from reading?

“The Wisdom of the Shire: A Short Guide to a Long and Happy Life” by Noble Smith.

Have they ever been seriously injured? How severely? How did they react?

No, Quill has never been seriously injured. He was accident prone as most children can be and experienced his own fair share of scrapes and bruises, but hasn’t broken anything nor has he needed any surgeries.

Do they like and get along with their neighbors?

Back home, yes, Quill gets along with all of his neighbors. He grew up with many of them, so they are long-time friends of his family.

Quill hasn’t had the chance to get to know many of his new neighbors in the apartment complex in Montana. Some of them keep odd hours and others seem to party long into the night, so he isn’t sure if they will get along when they finally meet.

On a scale from 1 to 10 (1 being easy and 10 being difficult) how easy are they to get along with?

Those who have met him would say that Quill is fairly easy to get a long with. He can be a little withdrawn and quiet until he gets to know someone, but after that first hurdle is passed things tend to go smoothly.

If they could travel anywhere in the world, where would they go?

If he could travel anywhere, Quill would choose to go to Alaska. The landscapes are amazing and both the people and animals that call the area home are resilient. He would love the opportunity to spend time exploring and learning about the culture of the area.

Who was the last person they held hands with?

Excluding handshakes, the last person Quill held hands with was Ransom.