Patreon Exclusive: Getting to Be

Cartoon-style illustration of shrubs, roses and grasses growing against a grey stone wall. Scene is overlaid with the mint/light mint/white/light pink/pink stripes of the abro pride flag. The text Marchverse sits across the image in a white, fantasy-style type.

Even in Ihrne, young men idle together about the street, but something so ordinary becomes even more complicated when Harper learns why Mama wishes him to befriend anyone but Nevolin ein Yinne.

He’s never understood why people treat attraction as so powerful, constant and all-encompassing that it must be indulged beyond rationality.

Setting: Marchverse, two years before the beginning of the war referenced in Their Courts of Crows. The Different in Other Ways stories introduce a brand-new set of characters and circumstances; readers don’t need any familiarity with my other works.

Getting to Be takes place some days after Men Bound by Blood but, due to change of narrator, can (probably) be read with no prior knowledge of the first three stories. Readers should note, however, that this piece isn’t a stand-alone. In other words: many questions are raised, few are answered.

Content Advisory: References to classism; references to misogyny, cissexism, and heterosexism; casual references to sex and sexual attraction; casual references to romance, kissing and dating; vague/veiled/non-specific references to self-harm; casual references to blood, death, necromancy and decomposition.

Links: Series Master Post | Patreon

Previous: Booksellers Who Know Things | Men Bound by Blood | Jeile

Length: 3, 101 words.

Continue for Story Excerpt

Book Edition: Love in the House of the Ravens

Cartoon-style illustration of shrubs, roses and grasses growing against a grey stone wall. Scene is overlaid with the dark green/light green/white/yellow/gold stripes of the allo-aro pride flag. The text Marchverse sits across the image in a white, fantasy-style type.
Cover image for Love in the House of the Ravens by K. A. Cook. Cover shows a wooden bed set against a stone wall, with filmy curtains draped over the wall and bed. A translucent room divider is set off to the side, with a chest and boxes visible through it. The subtitle "a marchverse short story" is written in white handdrawn type. Title and author text is written in brown handdrawn type.

After seven years in Rajad, Darius has fallen out of love with the unattainable and avoided falling in love with the companionate. If he lives at arm’s length from passion, isn’t that better than risking the abuse his fellow mercenaries so eagerly deliver to an autistic who can’t quite fit in? But when the right person suggests a romantic relationship, “yes” still won’t grace his tongue, and Darius hasn’t the least idea why. He likes Harlow. Shouldn’t he want to love her?

The only thing he can do is turn to his old friends and rescuers, the Ravens. They have an answer if he can stumble his way through asking the question … but it may upend every truth Darius thinks he knows about himself.

Love in the House of the Ravens is a story about what it means to be aromantic and autistic when the world isn’t accepting of either.

Continue reading “Book Edition: Love in the House of the Ravens”

Pride Month Patch Tutorial: Pride Text

Six digitally-created versions of cross stitch pride patches, arranged in two rows of three, against a background of a textured partially-translucent aromantic pride flag. Text between the two rows reads Aro Pride Patches in black type. Patches include a rectangular patch in aroflux zigzag stripes, an idemromantic heart, an aro flag text patch reading "aro", a square in quoiromantic stripes, an arrow design in allo-aro colours and a second arrow in nebularomantic colours.

Last June, I broadened my tutorial series with heart patches that suit a range of LGBTQIA+ and queer identities. This year, I thought I’d continue this (short) tradition by going literal: three, four, five, six, seven and ten-stripe text pride patches that say … well, pride!

Four finished and one incomplete cross stitch patches sitting on a blue microfibre blanket. All feature the word "pride" sewn in the colours of the transgender (navy background with blue/white/pink border), rainbow (white background with white border), allo-aro (purple background with mottled pink/grey/mauve border), nebularomantic (mint background with darker mint border) and cross apothiromantic (yellow background, raw aida showing at the edges) pride flags. Each letter is outlined in backstitch and every patch but the apothoiromantic one is finished with a buttonhole stitch edging.

You’ll need familiarity with cross stitch (full crosses and fractional stitches) and backstitch to make unedged patches, along with a buttonhole/closed blanket stitch to make the edged patches shown above. The first instalment of this patch tutorial series demonstrates cross and blanket/buttonhole stitch, while the second covers backstitch.

For additional information on the stitching process for text patches, please see part one of this miniseries. Beginners should also read last year’s tutorial for an overview of materials, finishes, treatments and fabric/edging modifications.

Continue reading “Pride Month Patch Tutorial: Pride Text”

Fiction: Luck of the Ball, Part Three

Banner for Nine Laws: Allosexual Aromantic Fairy Tales. Image features a tree in the foreground, lanterns hanging from its branches, against a background of heavily-overgrown grey stone walls and archways leading into smaller courtyards. Vines and ivy cover the walls, archways and steps; an array of grasses grow around the bases of trees and walls. Text is set in a white, slightly-curving serif type; white curlicues matching the text, set in each corner, form a broken frame around the text.

A coven of gentlewoman witches seems like the perfect place for Luck Vaunted to hide from hir powerful brother, father and husband. Even better, the upcoming Guildmeet ball offers the new Luck the perfect chance to experiment with genderlessness, magic and sex, if only ze can avoid more sorcery-revealing accidents. Sure, the witches welcome hir with open arms, but after hir twin’s betrayal, how can ze risk trusting anyone but hirself?

When hir brother attends the Guildmeet, a lover expects romantic intimacy and a quest of boots threatens to reveal hir deceit, Luck can no longer outrun hir monsters. Hir only chance of escape: the Westhold coven. But how does ze ask, when ze has lied to them, too?

Some fairy-tale families are formed by blood or marriage. Others are formed by aromantic witches defending each other against respectability, amatonormativity … and the sorcerer potentate’s heir.

Luck listed every disreputable possibility, a litany birthed of desire and envy, on a scrap of paper nestled inside hir corset.

Continue reading “Fiction: Luck of the Ball, Part Three”

Pride Patch Patterns: (Remade) Aro Text

Six digitally-created versions of cross stitch pride patches, arranged in two rows of three, against a background of a textured partially-translucent aromantic pride flag. Text between the two rows reads Aro Pride Patches in black type. Patches include a rectangular patch in aroflux zigzag stripes, an idemromantic heart, an aro flag text patch reading "aro", a square in quoiromantic stripes, an arrow design in allo-aro colours and a second arrow in nebularomantic colours.

In my days of chronic pain and familial interruption, I found patch patterns easiest to create. I started by sharing a handful of new and expanded/variant pattens with my Patreon supporters … and then, on a bit of a Photoshop roll, reworked some of my older patterns with needed letter-shape and template changes.

(I created my original lower-case “aro” pattern before a complete lower-case flag-stripe alphabet with standardised letter width. Inconsistencies between old pattern and new alphabet, though, make it difficult to use said pattern as a base for custom lower-case text. Time for an update!)

Due to pain limitations, I again offer a collection of cross stitch text patterns without stitched examples. Folks wishing to stitch the “abro”, “aro”, “alloaro” and “aroace” patterns can find finished examples on parts one and two of my text patch miniseries, but please expect slight differences from the updated designs.

All previous patterns are available at my new pattern gallery or collected by format: letter/text and flag/symbol. Folks who need help with materials, stitching, finishing or attaching patches should check out my tutorial master page.

Continue reading “Pride Patch Patterns: (Remade) Aro Text”

Embroidery Kit Makeover: Aro Monstera Plant

Handdrawn illustration of a green meadow foreground with green pine trees growing against various green-hued mountain ridgelines. Scene is overlaid with the dark green/light green/white/grey/black stripes of the aromantic pride flag. The text Aro Worlds Crafts sits across the image in a black, antique handdrawn type, separated by two ornate Victorian-style black dividers.

When K-Mart releases a set of $5 AUD embroidery kits, what’s a green-blooded aromantic with a thread collection to do but make them more aro?

The real truth: I kind of suck at freehand embroidery. Years of sewing dolls’ clothes shortened my stitches, narrowed my hems, extended my patience and failed to correct my crookedness. My grandmother, on the other hand, was a real-life stitch witch who never met a piece of cotton or linen onto which she wouldn’t embroider flowers! She passed before I was old enough to learn such magic from her, but I yearn to possess this myself. So when I saw K-Mart’s kits, I thought them a good opportunity for practice.

These kits feature simple designs in a minimal colour palette, making it easy to swap in pride flag colours:

A bamboo embroidery hoop sitting on a blue microfibre blanket. The hoop is filled with cream cloth featuring an embroidered monstera plant growing in a grey and white striped pot, with script text reading "keep growing" in black backstitch. The pot and the leaves of the monstera plant--sewn in light and medium green-are filled with satin stitch, while the black stems are sewn in repeated chains of very fine split stitch. All colours used in the piece are from the aromantic flag.

My finished piece is nice but not fabulous. I struggled to maintain even tension for the widest sections of satin stitch. My fabric had a few misprinted sections where the stems didn’t align, forcing me to widen them in places so they’d match up (but, alas, leaving the tallest stem cursed with crooked). I’m not sure if my slanted pot happened from further misprinting or my ineptitude. My backstitched lettering looks good, though … and I again have hoop art that’s wonderfully (but subtly) aromantic.

Random tips and observations:

Continue reading “Embroidery Kit Makeover: Aro Monstera Plant”

Pride Patch Patterns: Inset Rhombus

Six digitally-created versions of cross stitch pride patches, arranged in two rows of three, against a background of a textured partially-translucent aromantic pride flag. Text between the two rows reads Aro Pride Patches in black type. Patches include a rectangular patch in aroflux zigzag stripes, an idemromantic heart, an aro flag text patch reading "aro", a square in quoiromantic stripes, an arrow design in allo-aro colours and a second arrow in nebularomantic colours.

This patch isn’t new: folks who have read my second tutorial post may remember my using a patch with this design to demonstrate sewing a patch onto a bag. A year has passed since … one in which I kept forgetting to make a pattern.

I shouldn’t have, for this design does something new: combining two pride flags in one patch. As long as both flags have five horizontal stripes and share a same-coloured third/centre stripe, you can set a rhombus in the stripes of one flag against a background in the stripes of another. This small pattern is also easy to stitch up: no quarter stitches, lettering or zigzagging!

A square cross stich patch sitting on a blue microfibre blanket. The patch depicts the aro pride flag (green/light green/white/grey/black horizontal stripes) with a centre rhombus depicting the greysexual pride flag (purple/grey/white/grey/purple horizontal stripes) set so that both flags share the middle white stripe. The patch is edged with a thick buttonhole stitch in dark green.

You’ll need familiarity with cross stitch (full crosses) to make raw-edged patches, along with a buttonhole/closed blanket stitch (or a neat over stitch) to make the closed-edged patch above. The first instalment of my patch tutorial series demonstrates cross and blanket/buttonhole stitch; it should be read by beginners as an introduction to materials and processes.

Continue reading “Pride Patch Patterns: Inset Rhombus”

How (Not) to Ally: The Good and Bad of Allo-Aro Rep

Handdrawn illustration of a yellow pasture against a background of hills and sparodic trees. Scene is overlaid with the dark green/light green/white/yellow/gold stripes of the allo-aro pride flag. The text Aro Worlds Discussion Post sits across the image in a black, antique handdrawn type, separated by two ornate Victorian-style black dividers.

How (Not) to Ally is a series discussing the supportive content made by well-meaning asexual allies to allo-aros–and why some approaches still fail to recognise, promote, welcome, protect and include us.

It’s now not uncommon to see alloromantic allies asking questions about how best to write (or not write) aro characters. It’s also not uncommon, in response to open questions or in discussing a-spec and/or aro representation, to see not-allosexual aros and alloromantic asexuals reference allo-aros in their answers. Writers should include and depict a diversity of aros in their works, so we do need our asexual kin to remember us!

Unfortunately, most discussions argue that good allo-aro representation encompasses the following:

  • Sex occurring in the context of close, intimate, “serious” relationships or partnerships
  • Emphasis on monogamy or exclusivity
  • Idealised, non-harmful depictions of sexual relationships
  • Emphasis on possession of meaningful, intimate bonds with other people
  • Capacity and desire for friendship and emotional intimacy
  • Emphasis on ability to love and experiencing love for others
  • Focusing on non-sexual thoughts and experiences
  • Avoidance of sexualisation
  • Emphasis on healthiness and “wholeness”

When I look upon such lists, all I know is this: they do not include me.

Continue reading “How (Not) to Ally: The Good and Bad of Allo-Aro Rep”

Pride Patch Patterns: Aro (and Not Aro) Text

Six digitally-created versions of cross stitch pride patches, arranged in two rows of three, against a background of a textured partially-translucent aromantic pride flag. Text between the two rows reads Aro Pride Patches in black type. Patches include a rectangular patch in aroflux zigzag stripes, an idemromantic heart, an aro flag text patch reading "aro", a square in quoiromantic stripes, an arrow design in allo-aro colours and a second arrow in nebularomantic colours.

I have patterns I created for testing my new pattern template, patches I made but didn’t post about, patches I sewed onto my pride patch jacket but missed out on becoming tutorials, and patches discussed in previous tutorials that I mean to make for myself. It felt like time to make a post!

A cross stitch patch sitting on a blue microfibre blanket. The patch is a rectangle bearing text stitched in pride flag coloured stripes against a solid-coloured background and a matching embroidered border. Text reads "abro" in abro colours and block capitals with a dark purple background and border.

Folks who wish to find all my text patterns without having to scroll through tutorials and explanations can do so on my new text patch master page. Patterns are listed in alphabetical order (with my alphabet patterns at the end), while all sub-headers link to the tutorial posts featuring said pattern.

Please note that this post does not include photos of the other patches. They either don’t yet exist or were made as gifts by someone who forgot to first take a photo…

Continue reading “Pride Patch Patterns: Aro (and Not Aro) Text”

Fiction: Luck of the Ball, Part Two

Banner for Nine Laws: Allosexual Aromantic Fairy Tales. Image features a tree in the foreground, lanterns hanging from its branches, against a background of heavily-overgrown grey stone walls and archways leading into smaller courtyards. Vines and ivy cover the walls, archways and steps; an array of grasses grow around the bases of trees and walls. Text is set in a white, slightly-curving serif type; white curlicues matching the text, set in each corner, form a broken frame around the text.

A coven of gentlewoman witches seems like the perfect place for Luck Vaunted to hide from hir powerful brother, father and husband. Even better, the upcoming Guildmeet ball offers the new Luck the perfect chance to experiment with genderlessness, magic and sex, if only ze can avoid more sorcery-revealing accidents. Sure, the witches welcome hir with open arms, but after hir twin’s betrayal, how can ze risk trusting anyone but hirself?

When hir brother attends the Guildmeet, a lover expects romantic intimacy and a quest of boots threatens to reveal hir deceit, Luck can no longer outrun hir monsters. Hir only chance of escape: the Westhold coven. But how does ze ask, when ze has lied to them, too?

Some fairy-tale families are formed by blood or marriage. Others are formed by aromantic witches defending each other against respectability, amatonormativity … and the sorcerer potentate’s heir.

One must possess a sense of self to flee entrapment by expectation.

Continue reading “Fiction: Luck of the Ball, Part Two”