Today is the last Sunday in December and in 2020. Christmas was just a few days ago. I’ll bet you ate more than you should. Am I right? But this season is, after all, a special time – surely we can afford to indulge ourselves a bit, especially after this very difficult year.
As we gather together and enjoy our holiday feasts, we may not realize how many people are going hungry this December. Even in the U.S., the richest country in the world, hunger is a severe problem, one that’s gotten much worse because of the pandemic.
Before I moved to Asia, I lived in western Massachusetts. Though the state is known as relatively wealthy, a center of high tech and higher education, in fact Massachusetts has seen the highest increase in the country of people facing food insecurity due to Covid-19. Now more than 1 million people in the Commonwealth are food-insecure. At this moment, one in five Massachusetts children will go to bed hungry, a more than 100 percent increase since the pandemic started.
So for today’s Charity Sunday, I’m supporting two local organizations from my old home, the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts and the Worcester County Food Bank. Both these charities have the same goal; to make sure people in their target communities don’t go hungry. I will donate one dollar to each of these organizations for every comment I receive on this post. So don’t be shy! Leave me a comment! Tell me what treats you enjoyed on Christmas, or who you spent it with, or what your hopes are for the new year that is just around the corner.
If you don’t live in western Mass, you might ask around about your own local food bank. I’ll bet there’s one serving your neighbors – people you may pass on the street daily without ever knowing they don’t have enough food to survive and thrive. Consider making your own donation, just as an acknowledgment of your own good fortune.
I don’t have a story about going hungry – well, there’s Slush, but I used that last month – so I’ll regale you instead with a new, exclusive excerpt from my steam punk erotica novel The Pornographer’s Apprentice. Enjoy!
She wants to build sex toys... if they'll let her.
In prudish, patriarchal Victorian England, nineteen year old prodigy Gillian Smith finds a secret society dedicated to the erotic arts. She’ll need both her intellect and her physical charms to earn the permanent position she craves.
If you like steam punk erotica with a kinky feminist bent, you'll love The Pornographer's Apprentice.
Ian and Archie appeared struck dumb with shock. Aside from their heavy breathing, the hall was silent. Gillian looked from one to the other, struggling not to giggle. Given how attractive they were, she didn’t want to antagonise them. Indeed, she might need their support for her Guild application. If so, she’d be happy to express her gratitude in a manner she suspected they’d appreciate.
Her own heart beat a rapid tattoo in her chest. The forbidden flavour of Ian’s spunk lingered on her tongue. Her undergarments clung damply to her loins as she shifted in the chair. Meanwhile, a fierce joy burned in her chest. She was free at last. She’d finally escaped the constraints of convention. In the Toymakers Guild, she could be herself rather than having to conform to society’s ideas about womanhood.
If she could get in…
Beep beep! The noise startled all three of them. His ravaged cock still dangling from his fly, Archie fumbled in his trouser pocket and pulled out something that looked like a pocket watch. He flipped open the cover.
“Archibald!” A woman’s voice, a bit tinny but perfectly intelligible, issued from the device. “Have you investigated the security breach?”
“Uh—Yes, Mrs. Featherstone.”
“And?” The auditory quality was sufficient for Gillian to detect the speaker’s impatience.
“It’s a girl—um, a young woman. Somehow she managed to solve the riddle and determine the passcode.”
“Indeed? I find that quite surprising.”
Gillian couldn’t suppress a smile.
“What does this young woman want?” Mrs. Featherstone continued.
Gillian rose from her seat and addressed the disembodied voice. “I’m here to apply for an apprenticeship, ma’am. I’d like to join the Toymakers Guild.”
“Oh, my!” Her soft chuckle did not disguise a hint of scorn. “How novel. Ian? Archibald? What do you think? Is this young woman—qualified?”
Ian tucked his half-recovered organ back into his trousers. “She might be, ma’am. We’ve been administering some preliminary tests.”
“Bring her to my office. Immediately.”
“Yes, ma’am.” He cast a look of worry in Archie’s direction.
“Then get back to the lab, please. Lady Marlborough is expecting her dual penetration device next week, but the last time I checked, you hadn’t even finished the mould.”
Ian elbowed Archie in the ribs. “You knew that sleeve wasn’t as urgent as the Marlborough commission,” he whispered. “Featherstone will wallop both our arses if we miss the deadline.”
“We’ll be there directly,” he added in a louder voice.
A click indicated the termination of the conversation. Archie snapped the device shut and deposited it in his pocket. “Let’s go,” he said, taking Gillian’s arm.
She wormed out of his grasp. “Just a moment.” She gathered her bag, slipping the book inside. “That amazing communication device—does it use radio waves? I’ve read about Hertz’s experiments, but I didn’t realise anyone had yet developed a working application.”
“To be honest, I haven’t any notion how it works,” Ian replied. “The Master invented it.”
“The Master Toymaker. The Head of the Guild.”
Archie’s uncharacteristically serious tone sent shivers of excitement down Gillian’s spine. “Oh! Would it be possible for me meet him? After I talk with Mrs. Featherstone?”
“The Master is a recluse,” said Ian. “I’ve never seen him, in the eighteen months I’ve been here.”
“Nor have I,” Archie agreed.
“In any case,” Ian continued, “I heard he was travelling. Apparently he often is. He expects Mrs. Featherstone to manage the daily operations of the Guild.”
“Which she does with an iron hand,” added Archie. “A hand that’s going to be tanning your bum scarlet if you don’t get our guest upstairs in a trice.”
Don’t forget to leave me a comment! And please visit the other authors who are participating in today’s Charity Sunday event, each of whom is supporting a cause close to her heart.