• Member Since 28th Aug, 2011
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Cold in Gardez

Stories about ponies are stories about people.

More Blog Posts181

  • 1 week
    Against Literalism

    “I think I see it,” Rainbow Dash whispered. She squeezed as low to the rocks as she could and crawled forward over the tumbled-down ruins of the jungle temple. “It’s just up ahead, in the nave.”

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    18 comments · 539 views
  • 3 weeks
    Who loves Sci-Fi (Spoiler: It's this guy)

    So, in the ten years I've been writing pony fan-fiction, I have had a persistent dilemma: I love sci-fi, but the MLP universe is intrinsically a fantasy setting. Many noble stories have bridged that gap, including some of my personal favorites (Kkat's Fallout, Iceman's Friendship is Optimal, and Arad's Stardust, as a small sampling). But except for a few scraps in my

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    16 comments · 403 views
  • 6 weeks
    Some original fantasy writing

    Normally when I write original fiction, it is strictly fiction – that is to say, not 'genre' fiction (i.e. science fiction, fantasy, etc). But I do love me some fantasy, so when the opportunity came to produce an original piece accompanying a favorite old game world of mine, I could barely pass up the chance. So if fantasy is your jam, you may enjoy this.

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    12 comments · 479 views
  • 9 weeks
    Romance Novels

    “What if,” Spike said, “Ginger Gypsy hadn’t been afraid to confess her love? Would you still hate her so much?”

    I frowned. “Hate is a strong word. I never said I hated her.”

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    24 comments · 638 views
  • 11 weeks
    Back to a more normal posting schedule

    Hey folks,

    I just published a pretty huge chapter in my favorite story, The World is Filled with Monsters. I have a good plan for the rest of the current act, and the rest of the story to follow.

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    26 comments · 547 views

Romance Novels · 1:47am Nov 23rd, 2021

“What if,” Spike said, “Ginger Gypsy hadn’t been afraid to confess her love? Would you still hate her so much?”

I frowned. “Hate is a strong word. I never said I hated her.”

He didn’t answer for a bit, focusing instead on the greenhouse workbench and the potted bonsai undergoing plant surgery. The bench groaned under the weight of the solid stone pot, roughly hewn from a locally sourced gneiss boulder by Spike’s teeth and claws. The tiny tree nested inside seemed delicate as a snowflake in comparison.

“Maybe. But you definitely said you couldn’t stand ponies who were shallow, deceitful, and what else? Callous?” Spike exhaled on the tip of his tiny scalpel until the steel tip glowed yellow, then swiftly sliced away a tiny scale of bark from the dwarf Everfree pine. A curl of smoke rose from the blackened scar his cut left on the slender trunk. “Give me about five inches of wire?”

I measured out a hoof’s worth of iron wire and snapped it free from the spool. The cold metal managed to resist my magic for a second before surrendering with a quiet, musical ping. “Cowardly, and I stand by that. She wanted all the benefits of a loving relationship but was afraid to take any risks with her heart, so she ended up leading Buttercup on and causing them both greater pain in the end. The fact that she lied throughout the whole book just to avoid having uncomfortable conversations made it even worse. It’s easy to sympathize with her, because everypony has to juggle their own feelings with somepony else’s at some point in their lives, but her failures all stem from who she is. Until she changes, she deserves to be unhappy.”

“Huh.” Spike twisted the wire into a loop with his claws and carefully wrapped it around the bonsai’s trunk. He tucked the free end into the soil between its gnarled roots. A few quartz pebbles concealed the support, and he stepped back to consider his work. “And this is your favorite romance novel?”

I grinned. “Yup. First one I ever read, too. Mom had a copy.”

“That’s a little weird.”

“What? That mom had romance novels?”

“That she let you borrow it,” he said. He picked the pot up off the workbench and set it back on the windowsill where it normally lived. “And also that your favorite romance novel features a mare you hate and who doesn’t end up finding love. It’s, like, an anti-romance novel.”

“But that’s what makes it great!” I helped Spike sweep up the loose soil from the workbench and pitch it into the sod. “Most romance novels are, to be honest, complete trash. The characters are insipid, the plot is as predictable as the train schedule, and nothing the characters do has any impact on how the story ends. The protagonist finds themselves in an unfamiliar environment, meets the mare or stallion of their dreams, becomes infatuated with them, makes some silly mistake that seemingly ruins the relationship, has an epiphany at their lowest point about the magic of love, and tearfully reunites at the climax. Or right before the climax.”

“Uh, ew.”

“Ew whatever.” I swatted his shoulder with the edge of my wing. It was like hitting a boulder. “I’ve seen your bookshelf. Anyway, Ginger Gypsy had the same shot at a happy ending with her lover as every other romance novel heroine, but the author ended up not giving it to her. Why? Because she didn’t earn it. She was too flawed, too hesitant and too afraid of being hurt to open up her heart. It was like the author wanted us all to know how he felt about the genre and provide a lesson for every romance-novel reading mare or stallion out there about how difficult finding love really is.”

“I’m not sure that’s why most ponies read romance novels.”

“Yeah, well, it wasn’t his best seller. There might be some cause-and-effect there.” We made our way out the crystal greenhouse and down the garden path on the south side of my castle. The humdrum buzz of a Ponyville afternoon filled the air, and a few passers-by waved to us as they crossed the town’s streets. I jumped up on a sun-soaked crystal bench and stretched out, letting the blissful heat from the mineral surface leech into my belly.

“Look,” I continued. “I don’t know much about love yet. Hopefully I will someday, but for now I’m just as clueless as anypony. And maybe it’s just a romantic delusion, but I want finding love to be hard. I want it to hurt. I want to fall and skin my knees and get my heart broken before I find the right mare to help me put it back together. Because if love isn’t hard, will I really value it? Or will I treat it like some cheap bauble and toss it away, never realizing what I had?”

Spike sat beside me on the bench. The crystal sang with creaks and groans beneath his weight. “If you’re worried you’ll make the same mistakes as Ginger Gypsy, I don’t think so. Most ponies have consistent characters – a mare who is honest with her friends and kind with strangers will probably be the same way when it comes to romance. Ginger Gypsy was consistently shallow, self-absorbed and shameless. So whether you find the right pony the hard way or the easy way, I think you’ll respect them and the relationship you create.”

“Aw, thank you.” I blushed. “You’re a pretty smart drake sometimes, Spike.”

“Eh, I try.” He burnished his claws on his scaled chest. “Anyway, how old were you when you read that book?”

“Uh…” What homework assignments did I hide that book in? Basic geometry, so… “Maybe nine?”

“Nine? Wow.” He was silent for a moment. “What about the, uh, picnic scene?”

The picnic scene. I feigned ignorance, tilting my head as though I had to search my memories for it, and that I hadn’t read those pages a dozen times as a teenage filly. “Oh, that one? I just thought they were kissing. And also that she had to pee really badly.”

He snorted. Jets of dark smoke wafted from his nostrils. “Sure, kissing. I can’t believe mom let you borrow that.”

“Oh, she didn’t. I stole it from her bookshelf.” I sighed. “She found it in my room a few years later. That’s how I got The Talk.”

“Oof. Well, at least your crime was suitably punished.”

“Eh, worth it.” I stretched my wings out, letting them catch the sun’s rays. ”It’s just, you know, a good book, even if I don’t like the main character. Ginger Gypsy has motives and hidden desires and contradictory impulses and a mix of good and bad traits. The things she says are contradicted by the things she does, because her actions are driven by her true character. That’s a real pony, Spike, not some shallow fictional character a lazy author strung together with catchphrases, stereotypes and a bingo card of popular tropes. We may hate Ginger Gypsy, but I love her too, because she shows that the author respects us as readers.”

“Do you wish more authors wrote unpleasant characters?”

“Well, maybe in moderation. But the alternative is—”

“Howdy, ya’ll!” Applejack suddenly shouted at us from the street running alongside the garden. She was hitched to her wagon, which was piled high with barrels of apples. “You want some apples?”

“Hey, Twilight! Twilight! Check this out!” Rainbow Dash called out overhead. She zipped across the sky, blasting apart the few clouds that interrupted the clear blue sky. “Ten seconds flat!”

“Um, excuse me?” A timid voice sounded beneath the bench. I craned my head down to find Fluttershy hiding beneath it, her wings wrapped around her like a security blanket. “Um, could you maybe tell Rainbow Dash to stop shouting so much? She’s scaring all my animal friends.”

“Animal friends?” Pinkie Pie’s head popped out of a nearby urn that was nowhere near large enough to contain the rest of her body. “Did someone say animal friends?! That means it’s time for a party!”

“Uh, the alternative is characters who are fun to read about, but don’t really challenge you,” I said. Rainbow Dash was still shouting something, and I had to raise my voice. “Like, they’re just pure sugar. To really appreciate a character, they need to taste a little bitter—”

“Apples, apples, apples!”

“Why, darling, must you be so uncouth? Oh, Rainbow Dash, you’ve ruined my mane again!”

“—a little bitter in order for us to really appreciate them,” I said. I realized, as I finished, that I was no longer sitting on the bench beside Spike. Rather, somehow, Pinkie had managed to drag me halfway across the street, and it seemed like we were just getting started. Rainbow Dash whooped and cheered, rolling in great loops through the sky above us. Sugar Cube Corner loomed ahead, already decked out with streamers and balloons for whatever party Pinkie had planned. Applejack hitched her wagon to the post outside the door and held it open for all my friends as we piled inside. I looked back toward my castle, and saw Spike sitting on the bench. He raised a clawed hand to wave, and I think he smiled.

“Why, what’s wrong, darling?” Rarity said. She helped pry me out of Pinkie’s iron grasp, and we caught our breath at a table by the door. “You looked a bit wistful there for a moment.”

Wistful? Me? I shook my head. "Sorry, just thinking about books."

Rarity smiled a wry smile, one half of her mouth lifting a hair higher than the other. “Books, of course. That’s our Twilight.”

Yeah, that was their Twilight. I wondered if the thought should hurt, and decided after a moment I didn’t care.

Sometimes sugar just tasted sweet.

Comments ( 24 )

I'm not done reading, but this paragraph:

“Look,” I continued. “I don’t know much about love yet. Hopefully I will someday, but for now I’m just as clueless as anypony. And maybe it’s just a romantic delusion, but I want finding love to be hard. I want it to hurt. I want to fall and skin my knees and get my heart broken before I find the right mare to help me put it back together. Because if love isn’t hard, will I really value it? Orwill I treat it like some cheap bauble and toss it away, never realizing what I had?”

literally sounds exactly like my best friend, minus the gayness. Unsurprisingly, she has huge Twilight Sparkle energy

The nice thing is that depth of flavor is very much an option with these girls. You don't have to go for the pure-sugar option, which makes it all the sweeter.

Also, there was a fascinating period of uncertainty where I had no idea who was talking to Spike. My first thought was Rarity, which probably says more about me than the piece. Thank you for this.

I respect the sentiment, that the show proper has the characters as a bit one dimensional but still pleasant to watch. I do feel as if the story being discussed is a reference to something, but can't identify what. I also like the notion of the two characters who will probably live for centuries doing Bonsai, even if it seems slightly odd for Spike. Though, as he's older, it's not that strange for him to have grown into it. Good bit of simultaneous appreciation and criticism of the show.

Is that a clip from the story? Either way great read. Ty.

Oof that ending, there's the Cold in Gardez wry observational humor we know and love

I was waiting for the reveal it was Alicorn Starlight. But heard it in Twilight's voice, so I guess she felt right all along.

A friend who is an amateur vintner told me of a study in which adult test subjects were given gradiated solutions of sugar and water up to the limit of solubility. They found that there was a "threshold of sweetness" past which the subjects couldn't tell which was the sweeter solution. And below that there was a "threshold of disgust" past which sweeter solutions became unpalatable.

Then they tried the same experiment on kids.

They found that *children* could detect the sweeter solution up to the limit of solubility and would invariably prefer it.


First person Twi in my blog feed? Thank you Monday! Now to read the first bit--thanks for the link in the last comment.

Thanks for writing. :)

I've always found the fact that I still love super sweet drinks and sugary candy to be super telling
Also u should unblock me bby

We've come a long way from getting it on like balloon animals. But maybe not that far after all. Squeak.

You got to publish these as a proper story more, so I can fave them properly. :raritydespair:


This one will go in Starlight & Pals at some point.

Sounds like a bunch of stuff most people already knew, but it's always nice to see that sort of thing confirmed rather than busted.

This is pure gold.

FYI: Sometimes love is unearned, and just comes around the corner like a runaway bus. (holds up hand) I can state this (metaphorically) from experience.

First thought was Twilight but then you mentioned the Crystal greenhouse and Crystal bench so I considered Cadance, which made the story take on a whole different meaning! The idea of the Princess of Love discussing how certain ponies don't deserve happiness until they work on themselves and earn it? Interesting!

I liked this a lot. The differences between what a pony says and how they act is important but it makes me wonder if the other girls aren't as shallow as they're supposed to appear, after all from their perspective it's just Twilight "talking about books" again. That last line makes me think you're giving them permission to be shallow perhaps, you don't always need to be thoughtful and serious. Let yourself enjoy the sugar.

One great tragedy of non-pony prose is, you'll never see any character with a name as intriguing as "Ginger Gypsy."

Like riding a bike, eh?

There were a lot of nice turns of phrase in this, and the narrative flow felt on par with your usual. And the sentiment of the piece was comical with a nice bit of sentimentality that really gave a three dimensionality to its message.


Until she changes, she deserves to be unhappy.

God, if this isn't a central theme of my current story put into words.

Indeed! Even if it's a bit short for a normal episode, it can be from when Starlight & Pals' production company is experimenting with mini-episodes, Internet shorts, or something like that. :twilightsmile:

I guess this is why some people like Charles Dickens. :twilightsmile:

I'm in this and I'm not sure if I like it or not. :trixieshiftright:

Though more seriously. I did enjoy this. It was a nice little read. Been a while since I read some pony fiction.

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