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Somehow or other, Jacky Clotilde has returned to my life.

All of my readers—or should I say, both of my readers, ha ha—know that I am a novel-writing addict. To some extent, I write novels instead of reading them. I have written The End at least seventeen times, ranging from a novella (The Knot, about 50,000 words) to the two Clanish novels, The Tale of Countess Vivian at 240,000 words and The Life of Countess Tereza at about 200k. It’s also true that my drive to publish is not as strong as it could be. I have one self-published novel (Princess of Ghosts, thanks to my wife, the lovely Laura, who made it happen), and another novel (The Road to Bluehorse) accepted by PDMI Publishing, but still unpublished; I also don’t have an agent (unless you count the lovely Laura) but have been turned down by three of them. And yet I keep cranking them out.

Characters keep showing up and taking over my life. Between the time that Clay Gilbert and Rachel Andros set off from Earth in The Road to Bluehorse, and the time they came home to Azure at the far end of the Orion Arm in Friends of the Sky, Daisy Delatour and Lilah Bay showed up and made me write stories about them (Daisy in the Dark and The Dark Hug of Time, a title I stole from a Mary Oliver poem). Before that, there were the middle school wizards of The Lyceum of the Lake Winds; the big Medieval teenager Sophie in the realistic Dark Age fantasy His Daughter Sophie, the Elvish slut Ryel in Lovecraft’s Dream World in The First Six Pieces of Dream; and the jilted middle-aged Maine Medical Center-born Guardian Phil Postman in After Naomi.

And before that, there was Jacky Clotilde, earlier known as Jacky Danielle or Jacky Clothilde, that heartbroken time warrior, the third most powerful wizard in the Many-verse, finding her way through cosmic crises and unresolvable relationship issues, who between 2007 and 2012 made me write four novels and a novella, which took her from the day she parted forever from her true soulmate Nayori to the way she disposed of her life’s great enemy, the transcendent asshole Gremhar, to the strange evening when she carried the Twelfth Kronah Ring into a place beyond the reach of anyone, and to her partnership with the blond sea captain Ginger Glass.

Jacky is a time traveler. It should hardly be surprising that I’m confused about the order in which things happen to her. The first Jacky story I wrote, the NaNoWriMo product The Voyage of Ginger Glass, is actually the last one chronologically, but I still think it’s the one to read first. (But I’m not really sure.) Outside the neat cycle of loss to struggle to victory to new hope, the rest of her centuried life is completely confusing to me.

Along came the Daily Prompt. The first one I noticed was called “Eyes.” Jacky loved eyes. And from those three words came a little vignette about Jacky in a bazaar somewhere, chatting up an old scowler selling clot while she drew a bead on someone who was following her. I wrote “The Refuge” in the Montreal IKEA: Jacky escapes from something and finds herself inside the head of an old guy waking up. So far, I think I’ve got six episodes, each around three pages. More to come.

One thing I don’t know is what order they come in. You can decide for yourself. I’m soon going to put them together in a WordPress page, which will be among the links at the top of this page: Jacky Short.

My plan is to keep writing these little things, and every so often add an explanatory post like this one. I will also post political and cultural commentary every so often. Reading and writing, and teaching the writing of H. P. Lovecraft to college students, I build up a supply of strong opinions on what is and isn’t good writing. (And Lovecraft sometimes is and sometimes isn’t.) And living under the current regime, in February 2017, in the United States, I build up a supply of sharp and painful political ideas, and I need to vent those. And in a few months, I will probably give Daisy Delatour the reins again and let her tell, in first person present tense, her tale of dread and ennui as a college alchemy student. Working title: Girl Necromancer.

But for now, Jacky has the wheel. And you can see why. In an America taken over by a reality TV star in hock up to his fake eyeballs to the Russians and the far right, it’s going to take more than Gandalf or Dumbledore or the Doctor to make it okay.

It’s going to take Jacqueline Clotilde Snow.

So if you’re planning dinner or reading a book and suddenly, in the room with you, a woman appears out of thin air, a dark-haired woman with dark clothes and pale blue eyes to match the stone on her ring, and she says to you, “I need your help. You’ll have to come with me,” I say you should do it. I certainly would… though I would have to bring Laura along, and maybe Tan Kitty.

Enjoy, and please comment.

—Paul J Gies