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”

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”

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”

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”

Fiction: Luck of the Ball, Part One

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 tries to cultivate a persona of general obliviousness and genial curiosity, but ze awaits the day hir questions result in four intelligent witches wondering why ze doesn’t know the obvious.

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

Aro Week: Pixel Art Aro Slogans

Handdrawn illustration of a mountain road scene with trees in the foreground and bushes in the background. Scene is overlaid with the dark green/light green/white/grey/black stripes of the aro pride flag. The text Aro Worlds Resources sits across the image in a black, antique handdrawn type, separated by two ornate Victorian-style black dividers.

A chronic pain flare in January (extending into February) seriously disrupted my Aro Week content plans. In my scramble to change direction, I decided to replace one of my ideas with something fun: an image series of oft-spoken comments using my pixel-art alphabet. This post includes an absurd mix of positivity, identity labels and passive-aggressive expressions of aro frustration, because why not?

(Also, frogs!)

It should be noted that not all slogans will represent all aros. I’ve simply collected a list of common aro-community feelings and expressions, both as statements of pride and responses to aro microaggressions.

So if you want to The text "fuck amatonormativity" on a black background bordered with white. The letters are pixelated block-style lower-case letters horizontally striped in the green/light green/white/grey/black colours of the aromantic pride flag.

and celebrate some The text "aro awesome" on a black background bordered with white. The letters are pixelated block-style lower-case letters horizontally striped in the green/light green/white/grey/black colours of the aromantic pride flag.this week, you’ll find a variety of options below:

Continue reading “Aro Week: Pixel Art Aro Slogans”

Pride Patch Tutorial: Ace of Spades

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.

Because I find it easiest to sew my heart patches upside down, I’ve long thought that I should use these patterns to create an ace of spades design. Aro Week feels like the perfect time to take a cross-stitch pattern that isn’t particularly aromantic and transform it into the best-known symbol of aro-ace identity!

Four cross stitch patches, shaped like the ace of spades from a deck of cards, sitting on a blue microfibre blanket. Three of them have a thick buttonhole stitched edge, sewn on white aida; the fourth has a raw edge surrounded by decorative backstitching, sewn on purple aida. Flags featured: orange/yellow/white/blue/navy aro-ace flag (blue border), navy/blue/white/aqua oriented aro-ace flag (teal border), green/light green/white/purple (on purple aida). The last patch is a solid black with a white border.

This tutorial showcases the steps for making an ace of spades patch, with patterns available for flags with three, four, five and seven evenly-spaced horizontal stripes.

You’ll need familiarity with cross stitch (full and quarter crosses) and backstitch to make the raw-edged patches, along with a buttonhole/closed blanket stitch (or a neat over stitch) to make the closed-edged patch. The first instalment of this patch tutorial series demonstrates cross and blanket/buttonhole stitch, while the second covers backstitch.

One shouldn’t attempt this patch without first reading through my heart patch tutorial, which covers techniques for cutting, treating and colouring aida for making unedged patches. It also includes detailed photos showing how I sew a buttonhole stitch around curves, corners and indents, for those wishing a more finished-looking patch.

Continue reading “Pride Patch Tutorial: Ace of Spades”

Aro Week: My (Personal) Aromantic Manifesto

Handdrawn illustration of a yellow pasture against a background of hills and sparodic trees. Scene is overlaid with the dark green/light green/white/grey/black stripes of the 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.

Over the last few years, the aromantic community has seen a comparative outpouring of recognition. It’s less common to see multi-identity art posts that remember asexuals but forget aromantics; it’s more common to see LGBTQIA+ blogs, spaces and communities referencing aromanticism. On Tumblr, I can find a wealth of positivity posts affirming many aromantic-spectrum experiences and even resources that reference aromanticism. Our existence, individually and collectively, is no longer solely the province of obscure art and essays … or presumed to be encompassed by asexuality.

We have a long way to go in acknowledging, including, supporting and protecting non-asexual aros, grey-umbrella aros, loveless aros, fluid and flux aros, aros of colour, non-English-speaking aros and disabled aros. Many of our gains have not yet reached or served all aromantics. The online aromantic world of 2021, however, bears little resemblance to that of 2011.

Past Aro Week content centres on demonstrating our existence: what we are, experience, feel, need, deserve. Now, though, such explanation feels repetitive; in 2021, I yearn to look inward, to face the questions underpinning my essays and storytelling. What does my aromanticism look like? What understandings, beliefs and obligations do I consider an inherent part of my aromantic identity? What do I owe other aromantics? What do other aromantics owe me?

This manifesto–my manifesto–details my belief in the creation of aromantic identity and community that refuses repackaged amatonormativity, rejects sex negativity and celebrates our radical, queer divergence from normal. Built from the bones of my intersection of identities and experiences, this list is limited at best and blinkered by my privileges at worst. Nor have I lived up to all its goals, because I am as flawed and hypocritical as any other human.

It is the start of an attempt to answer one question: what do I believe, as an aromantic seeking to understand and conceptualise aromanticism?

Continue reading “Aro Week: My (Personal) Aromantic Manifesto”