Liz's Looming Lunacy

An author trying to find her place in the world.

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Location: Bayport, New York, United States

Swain's world (The Cosmic Unicorn #1); A Day in the Life (Alternate Hilarities #3); The Lawnmower that Ate Manhattan (NIEKAS, I forget the issue); Spring Cleaning (Sound Waves); Shadow Play (The Parasitorium II: Parasitic Sands, 2007); Crow's Feat (Free Fall (February, 2007) Oh, and Obligatory Holly Lisle Affiliate Link for writing workshops and stuff.


Minor Correction

     Fellow Gentlebeings:
     That version of Spring Cleaning was not the original one that appeared in my campus litzine: I do have the original litzine, or a reasonable facsimile thereof, so I'll try to post it soon. It's the original story concept and, though the scenery is the same (New Orleans at Mardi Gras), the story is just a tad different (more a flash, really).
     My sincerest apologies.


Exercise: Write A Character That You Really, Really Hate

      This exercise involves a character profile. It can be in poetic, free verse or chart form. ;-)
      What do you hate in a character? What characteristics do you disdain, despise and otherwise despair of liking? Write a profile of a character that you can really, really hate.
      Not, take this character with all the traits, etcetera, that you hate, and give the character a redeeming feature. Does he or she write poetry, paint, bake cookies for orphans, help little old ladies across the street, and watch cartoons? Choose one activity or hobby that you love -- and give it to the despicable character that you've just written up.
      Can you think of a scene which might be as much at odds with the main persona of him or her and this secret, hidden good thing about him or her? Try to write one. How does he or she manage to talk themselves out of being painted a good person or "not all bad"?
      Have fun!

Elizabeth Anne Ensley.

The Last Great Mage [Original Version] Chapter One

      I decided to post a really, really crappy early draft to my LJ. This is a different viewpoint from the one I used for Guiles (whose name changed in my NaNoWriMo write-a-thon for the simple matter that I wasn't quite sure how to write the possessive for a noun ending in "s" and didn't want to hunt up a grammar source every time I hit one), who kind of died ni the original version but came back to life as the viewpoint character -- and also as a pivotal figure in the plot.
      BTW, when you come down to "that" line, I fully agree; "wispy-beautiful" is a crappy way to describe an elf. ;-)

Elizabeth Anne Ensley.

            By rule of council, so we tell
             All who sacred Sage-word hold
             Bards hallowed of mean and swell
             They thus guard the worldly fold
             To lead mankind in darkest spell
             Truth's sentinels, charging bold
             Thus the honor, ere night fell
             Deny not what this charge has told.

      Bard Vladmir Lee's head thumped on an overhanging shelf. The wagon threatened to tear apart from its framework. "Ouch," he steadied himself against the boards. The wagon roughly shook again. "I think this wagon needs a new set of springs."
      He leaned out and grasped the rungs of the attached ladder, gingerly maneuvering into the seat next to Sepelio. The Bard's servant guided the horses on the arduous road. His scabbard jabbed uncomfortably into his side. The wagon nearly capsized after hitting an unusually deep rut.
      "Sepelio, why does a road so well-traveled have to be so tortuous. With the traffic to Seadragon's, well, shouldn't it be a little flat?"
      "Begging your pardon, but you've traveled worse."
      "You've driven those roads. Okay." Lee sighed and, slightly reclining, surveyed the lands around them. "How much farther must we travel."
      "L'Adje is but an hour's journey more, Milord."
      "We ought to stop for a midday meal somewhere along this accursed, bumpy road before we get to the manse." Lee stretched his travel-strained muscles.
      "Milord, you may wish to put it off until we reach Lord Seadragon's. A band of marauding Orcs have been reported in this part of the land."
      "Are we to have this argument again?" Lee laughed, "You know that we are protected by the Doctrine of Bard's Neutrality. No one will bother us. It is not merely a gross offense with a harsh penalty, it's also considered bad luck. Such a reputation makes a would-be robber think very carefully about the perils, both real and imagined, and leave us alone."
      He readjusted his short blade, grimacing at the twinge from his back, against the hard wood of the carriage seat. "I need to stretch my legs. This research is arduous and monotonous, and hard on stiff muscles. But I need to write that Ballad."
       "Well then," Sepelio pointed at a flower-blanketed meadow just ahead. "There's a fair spot."
      "Excellent notion, Sepelio," Lee grinned. "Granted, travel rations aren't the most palatable of foodstuffs, but at least they fill your belly."
      "Milord, we still have some of those packages from the last township." Sepelio stopped the horses by the clearing. "Surely we may celebrate your arrival, so close to your objective."
      "Excellent notion, Sepelio," Lee jumped to the ground. "We'll have cold cuts and watereddown wine, and drink to Lord Seadragon's health. With the state of disrepair this road suffers, he'll need all the luck he can get. Let me give you a hand. I'll help with the supplies, too." He smiled. "The activity will be good, after all that time on the road."
      "As you wish, Milord." They climbed in the wagon and rummaged through the boxes which held all that Lee had gathered on his quest. There wasn't much in the wagon, so they didn't have to search long before finding what they wanted. The seven packages of cold-cut meats, a skin for wine, and a jug of water. Lee took them while Sepelio scrounged up some travel-bread, a knife, and two small cups.
      Leaving the wagon with their supplies, they found themselves encircled by a band of eight Orcs.
      "Milord," Sepelio looked at Lee, "So much for Bard's neutrality. What do you suggest we do now?"
      "It's time to count your blessings, Sepelio. At least this time, they're not wearing armor. And there's only eight of them."
      Sepelio dropped his supplies. The closest Orc jumped him. Dropping the skins and the cold cuts he carried, Lee drew his blade and sprang to Sepelio's aid.
      Another Orc leaped a split-second after Lee did, and landed face-first in the skin of wine.
      Lee pulled the Orc off Sepelio, then stood back-to-back with him.
      "We split! We stomp! We break in two!" The Orcs chanted in a macabre sing-song. One Orc charged Sepelio, who met the Orc's ax with his sword. Two more Orcs, emboldened by the melee, charged Lee.
      Lee met one Orc with a kick to the gut and, feinting to the right, a slash to the other's midsection.
      "Hey, Mush-for-brains," someone yelled from the far side of the field. "Why don't you play with somebody your own size for a change."
      Two of the Orcs turned. Lee strained to see who distracted the Orcs from their business. The two Orcs stomped through the wildflowers in the field toward the intruder. His perspective altered. Lee saw a diminutive figure, one easily dwarfed by the massive Orcs. The person was clad in a hodgepodge of chain and leather armor, so it was hard to see much detail.
      Lee hoped the reinforcement knew his business. The Orcs renewed their effort. Three more waited for an opening.
      After a few moments, only one of the three was left, and his attention was across the field, with the battle. Lee knocked senseless one Orc. The other Orc fought desperately, but Lee found an opening and parried, swiftly bringing down the last of his foes.
      Lee helped Sepelio dispatch his nemesis. When he looked up again, he saw the bloodstained ground where the other had fought and killed the Orcs.
      The armored figure had a surprisingly long stride for such a waif-like physique. It strode to the wagon. "Is everything all right?" A lilting alto voice asked them. Was this a lad, then?
      "Thank you," Lee said.
      "Arcadia, Arcadia D'Unther," she took off her helm, revealing long, blonde hair, oval, blue-green eyes, and pointed ears. "I'm glad to help," she said, smiling. "I have to go now. Goodbye!" She ran off, into the woods.
      Lee stood with his mouth open. She was magnificent, he'd never met a fighter -- or anyone -- like her before, in his travels.
      "Milord, we do owe her a vote of appreciation, but shall we go on to Lord Seadragon's now? Or will you stand there like a lovesick walrus?"
      Lee looked toward the forest into which Arcadia had disappeared. "An excellent notion, Sepelio."

~ # ~

      "Sepelio, how much further do we have to go." Lee yawned, wondering if he'd still be awake when they arrived. Curiosity kept him awake. He wondered who the mysterious Arcadia D'Unther was and where she had learned to fight.
      "There it is, Milord," Sepelio pointed to an immense building, now visible through the forest ahead.
      "Good. I'd better get dressed to face Lord Seadragon." Lee grinned at Sepelio. "Don't pop the cart's wheels. I want to be fully presentable to Lord Seadragon."
      "As you wish, Milord." Sepelio replied.
      Lee climbed into the back of the wagon. He changed to fresher clothes and washed with water from a skin. He wondered about the resources in the library at L'Adje, and if Lord Seadragon would loan him the tome.

~ # ~

      "Can I help you?" A scruffy-looking servant with shaggy white hair and beard answered the door, growling.
      "Yes, please, my good man. I am the Bard Vladmir Lee, and I've come to see Lord Seadragon."
      "Lee, I'll take you to the receiving room."
      Lee followed the wizened old man. He wondered about the man's familiarity. It didn't bother him, but most servants were usually formal.
      Lee followed him to the conference room past several doors which connected to other rooms. A door on the south side of the wood-paneled room was ajar.
      The old man growled, "Lee, how can I help you."
      "Where is Lord Seadragon."
      The old man thumped his chest. "I'm right here!"
      Lee looked the old man over from head to foot. "Who are you? If you're Lord Seadragon, why did you open the door?"
      "I was there, and you were on the other side. If I hadn't opened it, wouldn't you still be outside? Wait a minute." The old man yelled, "Haramiko!"
      "Yes, dear," a comely brunette in priestess robes glided through the door that had ben left ajar. Lee noted that the door led to the library. No other room boasted floor-to-ceiling, wall- to-wall books.
      "Lee, this is Lady Seadragon," the old man growled. "Haramiko, who am I? The Bard doesn't believe me."
      Haramiko smiled. "Who are you today, dear? "
      "I'm Melvin!" The old man roared. "You should know me by now, we've been married for years!"
      Haramiko burst into peals of laughter at Melvin's outburst. "Yes, dear." She turned to Lee. "Please make yourself at home. Don't worry about Lord Seadragon, he has a strange sense of humor. If you'll excuse me, I have to get back to my research." She disappeared back to the library.
      A servant came into the room from the library, apparently sent by Haramiko. He waited quietly in the corner.
      "Lord Seadragon," Lee felt hotly embarrassed. Who expected a landholder, a Lord and Mage, to open his own front door. "I'd like to borrow a book from your library. I'm researching the time of the Abomination, for a ballad I'm writing about Bard Eko'ge, and the only known book which survives from that epoch is MISGUIDED VISIONS." Lee noted the servant in the corner started when he asked about the book. He filed it away for future reference. You never knew when such information would come in handy.
      "You're welcome to stay and peruse it, Lee."
      "May I take the tome with me?" Lee needed this book. It was the only known written record which survived. "I'm on Bard's business, and that way, I can read it at my leisure."
      Lord Seadragon growled thoughtfully. "Lee, I can't let that book out of my library, that's too dangerous. I can't let it out of my library."
      "Lord Seadragon, MISGUIDED VISIONS contains essential references to the period I'm researching. Is there nothing that could make you change your mind?"
      "No, but I do have another book which may help you. THE ANNALS OF BARD EKO'GE contain the same references."
      "You have THE ANNALS. I thought all copies of it had been destroyed in the uprising against Bard Eko'Ge 200 years ago."
      "I had thought so, too. Until I ran across it during the Campaign, six months ago. That's when I knew I needed an heir. So, will you bear my child?"
      Lee thought his eyes would pop out from his skull. "Lord Seadragon, I am not merely the wrong gender, I'm not that way inclined."
      "No, Lee," Lord Seadragon guffawed. "I mean, take her to Hawkes's school for me."
      "Guiles, please get Arcadia for me."
      "Arcadia," Lee whispered.
      Melvin smiled and took a skin from under his chair. He swigged at it, then offered it to Lee. "Want to try some rotgut, Lee."
      Lee almost reached for the skin. He saw Guiles shudder, and thought better than to drink from it. "No thank you, Lord Seadragon."
      "Perhaps later," Lord Seadragon growled. "Guiles, get her now, please."
      "Yes, Lord Seadragon," Guiles said, then left.

~ # ~

Guiles steeled himself to enter Arcadia's chambers. He'd preferred not to enter her chambers if he could reasonably avoid it, but there was no choice. He couldn't let Lord Seadragon know his reason for taking this job.
      "Lady Arcadia, Lord Seadragon wants to see you in his conference room." Guiles frowned at the trophies which hung on her chamber walls. He almost expected her chambers to be haunted with the spirits of her hunting trophies which hung on the walls.
      Arcadia was, like all elves, wispy-beautiful, in Guiles's opinion far too attractive to waste her time hunting animals.
      "What, I'm going to Bard Hawkes's school already." Arcadia sighed. "Gods, I'll sit for a whole year. No hunting, no action. No fun!"
      "Lord Seadragon wants you trained in the ways of this estate, Lady."
      If Arcadia had not been heir, and if he didn't have a job to do, he might teach her a thing or two. Now, he had to get her to Lord Seadragon. He didn't want to get the Lord suspicious. King Gottbicht was getting right impatient. He had to get his hands on Salathecea's grimoire, MISGUIDED VISIONS.
      "I know." She tossed her head and sprinted to the door. "But I don't have to like it."
      Guiles followed Arcadia to the conference room. He shook his head. He couldn't get used to the way Seadragon ran his hold. No grandchild of his would be so sassy!

~ # ~

      Guiles stifled a yawn. He listened to them arrange the Lady's trip to the Bard's College for a year's study.
      "Lord Seadragon, Arcadia will be a delightful traveling companion."
      The Bard frowned. "But we will not arrive at the College for some months. I am on bard's business, and I still have to collect more data before I may settle back at the College, read it, and assimilate what I've gathered, to write the ballad."
       "Oh, there's no rush, Lee." Arcadia smiled, her hands coyly hidden behind her back. "After all, we will, eventually, get to the Bard's College."
       "I knew you'd want to delay this, Arky." Melvin growled. belching, he refilled his mug, then guffawed. "Arcadia's sick of sitting still, so a cross-country jaunt will do her good. Maybe she'll fight a few orcs or ogres along the way."
      "But sir, the Doctrine of Bard's Neutrality protects us."
      Melvin smiled. "I know," he growled. "Get her to Hawkeses' School in one piece, and I'll be happy." He shook his head.
      "But the Doctrine didn't do us much good when the Orcs attacked." Lee protested. "If it hadn't been for Arcadia --"
      "I'll go pack, uncle." Arcadia left the room.
      "Guiles, please go to the library and get THE ANNALS OF BARD EKO'GE. It's on the eleventh shelf, on the fourteenth tier. You may wrap it in the dressing room."
      "Lord Seadragon, where is the dressing room. Why should I wrap it?"
      "That's right, you haven't been here all that long, have you? That's the room just to the left of the bookcase. I call it the dressing room because that's where we dress books for travel."
      "But the Doctrine didn't do us much good when the Orcs attacked." Lee protested. "If it hadn't been for Arcadia --"
      "I'll go pack, uncle." Arcadia left the room.
      Guiles's eyes followed her. At least she has enough in the way of women's skills to pack her own bags. Maybe there's hope for the huntress, after all.
      "Sure, Arky," Melvin said. He turned back to Lee. "How much sweetener in your tea, Lee -- Guiles, go tell Adsha we have company. Lee, did y' bring anyone with you?"
      "My servant Sepelio is in the wagon."
      "Okay -- Guiles, tell Adsha to set two more places."
      "Lo -- ah, Melvin, we don't want to put you to any trouble."
      "No trouble at all, Lee, we like company -- how else can we catch up on the news."

~ # ~

      "Adsha, I don't get it. What kind of place is college for a Lady?" Guiles grimaced. "Lord Seadragon should let me teach her a thing or two, instead of sending her off to Bard's school. I'd teach Arcadia a thing or two about being a Lady proper, and not some insane killer lady. Huntress, indeed!"
      "It's not for us to question the Lord's ways. And Arcadia's a lovely lady! Why, I remember our hunting trip just last week, and she was a-proper as you please!" "Adsha, You're both bad! "
      "Guiles, stop your moans -- the Lord has his reasons for making her heir."
      Guiles groaned. "I wish I knew his reasons, then. Look at her!" Guiles paced the length of the kitchen. "She doesn't want to go spend her time stuffing her head with bard's nonsense. Why send her off to Bard's College?"
      "It ain't our place to question the Lord. He has good reason. Arcadia is a seasoned warrior, no doubt he felt that's what we need, what with Gottbicht's Thrallish raiders and all."
      "The Lord shouldn't encourage her. He should give her to useful, marriageable skills, like housekeeping, cooking, and sewing. It ain't proper for a Lady to fight."
      "Hold your peace, Guiles. You don't have to agree with the Lord. You just work for him. But you don't dare rub him wrong."


      "Lee seems pleasant enough, Hari. I wonder if he'll sustain it on the road." Arcadia smiled. She packed her bags. "Of course, he held up fairly well when the Orcs attacked. How often is a Bard's wagon attacked? I had a good workout before, though not like I prefer."
      "Bards are renowned charmers." Haramiko tied Arcadia's bedroll to her pack. "He'll manage. He was lucky you were around when the Orcs violated the Doctrine."
      "He intrigues me. I'm glad we won't go right to the College. I'll have to sit for a whole year there!" Arcadia folded her nightgowns. "Please send these bags ahead to the College. I don't want to lug too much excess baggage."
      "Now, Arcadia, you don't know how long this will take," Haramiko said. "Bard's business could take several years. Don't you want more clothes with you?"
      "Haramiko, I'll bring only what I need on the road. The rest can stay either here, or at the College."
      "Just think of the new friends you'll meet at College."
      "I don't need a babysitter," Arcadia said. "I can take care of myself."
      "Yes, but you're also Melvin's heir. He wants to be sure you travel safely. That's why he wants you travel with companions. The Doctrine of Bard's Neutrality . . ."
      "Is boring. The only time it's fun is when someone violates it." Arcadia stamped her foot, then sighed. "I like to fight my battles my own way, rather than trust someone else to fight them for me."
      Haramiko stowed Arcadia's bedroll with her gear. "Do you think you can trust Melvin?"
      "I have good reason to trust him. Otherwise, why let him send me away for a whole year. If anyone else tried sending me to Bard's College, I'd swear they're crazy."
      "Well, just watch out for Lee," Haramiko smiled. "Bards are notorious charmers."

~ # ~

      "Now, was that the eleventh shelf on the fourteenth tier, or the fourteenth shelf on the eleventh tier," Guiles mumbled. He searched for THE ANNALS OF BARD EKO'GE. "If it weren't for the pay, I'd quit here and now." How had an alcoholic become a landholding mage, much less the chair of the Conclave Convex. "It's beyond me," he sighed. Well, it wasn't on the fourteenth shelf on the eleventh tier, so it has to be on the eleventh shelf on the fourteenth tier. Probably next to the book chained to the shelf.
      Guiles tripped on the bottom rung, climbing down from the fourteenth shelf on the eleventh tier. "Damn! This library is too big to find anything." He picked himself off the floor and moved the ladder to the fourteenth tier. It wobbled a bit, but he couldn't waste time steadying it. Guiles climbed to the eleventh shelf, silently praying it wouldn't pitch him off.
      Guiles finally found THE ANNALS OF BARD EKO'GE. Out of curiosity, he looked at the book chained to the shelf next to it. A piece of parchment extruded from it like a page marker.
      "My god," it was MISGUIDED VISIONS, the very book he'd been hired to steal.
      "Damn!" He examined the heavy padlock on the ornate silver chain that shackled the book to the wooden shelf. "Damn, damn, DAMN," Guiles snarled.
      He climbed down the ladder and sidled to the desk. He roughly opened the drawer and threw assorted items aside. A pen, one sealed inkwell, a vial of paint, paste pot, and remnants of a sandwich went to the floor until he found a set of old Lord Seadragon's wire-rimmed spectacles.
      "Ah, this is just what I need." Guiles snapped out the lenses. He quickly broke the wire-rimmed frames and turned them to an improvised lock-pick.
      Guiles climbed the ladder again and carefully inserted the pick in the lock. He fumbled with the lock until, finally, it opened, freeing the tome.
      Guiles brought MISGUIDED VISIONS to the dressing room. He silently thanked Sabine, Mistress of Travels, that this country wrapped books securely to protect them for travel. The Lord wouldn't learn of its theft until he was well away. He slightly crumpled the parchment insert wrapping it. If it were a page, Gottbicht would be right mad if he took it out.
      "Well, now the bard's aide can pack you with the rest of his stuff." Guiles chuckled. "Lord Seadragon won't know you walked for a long while. I don't think he reads half what's in his library." He couldn't pack the Bard's book. Despite dressing, two books never sat well on each other, and would surely slide, spoiling his hastily-conceived plan.
      He left the library, and went through the kitchen. It was the shortest direction to the courtyard.
      "Guiles, what have you there," Adsha said.
      "It's the book we're loaning the Bard," Guiles said. "I'm to tell the Bard's aide they have an invite to lunch."
      "We're to have company for the midday meal," Adsha asked. Guiles nodded. "We've lacked new faces here for some time glad to have them!" Adsha exclaimed.
      "Good," Guiles said.
      Guiles went to the courtyard to give the book to Sepelio. He looked at the greenery, the shrubs and flowerbeds and the rest, to the cobbled lot where the Bard's wagon was set. The months he'd worked here, his disapproval of the way Lord Seadragon ran his household, had not diminished his appreciation of the grounds. Or of the manse itself, an impressively big, well-constructed building.
      He brought the package to Sepelio. "Here's the book, all dressed nice for travel." Guiles smiled. "Lord Seadragon's gave you and your Bard an invite to lunch." He turned back to the Manse.
      "Our lunch was interrupted, so I'm sure the bard will be pleased. We stopped earlier, but the Orcs had other ideas. If it hadn't been for the Lady's timely interruption, we wouldn't have got here."
      "The Lady," Guiles head snapped back to Sepelio.
      "Yes, she introduced herself before she left," Sepelio said.
      "What was her name," Guiles asked.
      "She said her name was Arcadia D'Unther." Sepelio smiled broadly. "She left the bard looking like a star-struck pup after she left, what with the mooning he did after the battle"
      "Ah, the Lady Arcadia indulged in a bit of sport before her lunch. I wondered why the Lord told her to exercise outside today." His mouth dried up. The Lady Huntress struck again. Arcadia's trophies haunted Guiles. Would the heads of Orcs now line the Lady's chamber walls?

~ # ~

      Lee and Sepelio jumped back, their chairs falling to the floor.
      Arcadia grinned. "Don't let our waiter Bitie startle you." She looked at Lord Seadragon. "Uncle, you didn't warn them you have Orog servants!"
      "Sorry Lee. Bitie works for me." Melvin growled in apology. "Bitie, we'll have a barrel of mead and some tankards after we eat. Bring us water first. The Bard and his aide are no doubt thirsty after their journey."
      "They're not Orcs," Lee demanded. After fighting Orcs on the road fewer than two hours before, Lee wanted reassurance that these were not the same creatures.
      "Orogs are a branch of the Orc race, but they are more intelligent than the majority of Orcish races," Haramiko said, a thoughtful expression on her face. "The Vrog-tal are a warrior race. They often hire out as mercenaries to support their families. Bitie has been with us for several years now."
      "Aye, and he's a fine appetite, too, like with his folk," Adsha beamed. "They know when a good meal's laid, and they honor their cooks well."
"Well, an army runs on its belly," Lee chuckled.
"I know that a Bard does, Milord," Sepelio added.


Yahoo opt-out of web beacons

I copied this from the oww-sff-writing list on Yahoo. ;-)


This is copied from the FUNDS FOR WRITERS Newsletter, Volume 6, Issue 4, January 23, 2005


      A lot of people do not like Yahoo's tactics, and sometimes they do get a little heavy-handed with their spam and cookie practices. Here is a little something to help you get rid of Yahoo interference in your Web surfing. Hope this helps relieve some of the frustration.
      Yahoo is now using something called "Web Beacons" to track Yahoo Group users around the net and see what you're doing and where you are going - similar to cookies. Yahoo is recording every website and every group you visit.
      Take a look at their updated privacy statement: about half-way down the page, in the section on "cookies," you will see a link that says "web beacons." Click on the phrase "web beacons." That will bring you to a paragraph entitled "Outside the Yahoo Network." In this section you'll see a little "click here to opt out" link. Click it.
      Then STOP. The button on the next page will opt you back in. If you read it, it says "Cancel Opt-Out." In this world of clicking twice to confirm anything, you might be tempted to click it, but it erases what you just did.
      Hope this helps keep you sane in this world of online spam and interference!


I hope this helps us avoid spam.

Wendy S. Delmater


     Okay, third person omniscient (viewpoint). I'd been confusing it with C3PO from Star Wars.
     They have been having a discussion on the OWW writing list without me the past few days on writing techniques, dissecting the openings and the like for current WIP.
     Exercises from James Alan Gardner seminar on writing prose.

Google search: writing "third person" omniscient.


I Finally Caved.....

     I just now purchased a Rider Waite tarot deck from One thing that possessed me to finally buy it instead of waiting for a promised but not delivered deck is the Earthly Charms workshop: Tarot for Writers. Here's the workshop description:
     "Ever thought about sacrificing a chicken to get rid of writer's block or figure out just where your characters were going? Try using the Tarot cards instead. Learn Tarot card layouts that have been specifically designed to help you in plotting, characterization as well as writer's block! You don't have to be a gypsy to read the cards!"
     To me, it sounds intriguing (and from prior experience it's as good a vehicle as any for plot divination).
     According to the site, the workshop is offered at a cost of $10 and begins in March.


No Good Deed Goes Unpunished

              I had Terror to the emergency room yesterday. They want her to see a doctor within he next two weeks to be tested for lime disease.
              We are not outdoorsy types. We were, however, taking care of two cats for well over a year (one died of a stroke, he was an old and fat little thing, the other was an old and scrawny, frisky kitten type who had more pent-up energy than any self-respecting cat (or person) had a right to -- well, we were only supposed to take care of them for a week. Kate was so upset when her father tried to calm her down by saying he would have her beloved cats taken to an animal shelter and euthanized...
              What were we supposed to do? Terror and Kate had been friends for years, survived and commiserated through their respective parent's separations and divorces (although Deb, Kate's mom, remarried and I didn't), and we couldn't stand to see her so hysterical. I could not help it either: when a child is hysterical, you Do Not Calm Then Down when you suggest killing their beloved pets. Even I know that, and I'm completely clueless when it comes to Parenting 101.
              Anyway, the cats had fleas, ticks and stuff (for indoor cats they were certainly buggy) and they shat and shed in the house so much (Garfield sat in the closet for two weeks straight, ate nothing, crapped on every inch of floor space), left fleas all over the house and (shudder) even had ticks -- they were indoor cats with no flea collars, but they shared a house with two dogs who were always outside and had little or no fleas and ticks, so that explains it.
              To make a long story short: if Terror has lime disease, we know where it came from.

             The doctor's office returned my telephone call.
             Fortunately, they managed to get her an appointment sooner than March 7.
             Her (revised) appointment is now on next Wednesday (January 27?) at 3:00 in the afternoon. We'll find out after that if she has lime disease or some other problem.

Edited for Update


             We don't have the fleas here. Believe it or not, I did the "shallow pan with soapy water" thing, although I used a candle in the center of the water and it worked. Also bug bombed -- that was all before we moved to the flat last April (none of them followed us here, thank Ghu: I know because I tried the pan thing again, and no fleas, not even Jason and golden ones).
             I don't know whether to hope for lime disease or something else, because she's had quite a few problems and although the symptoms do seem to fit lime disease (she did some online research before we went to the ER yesterday) then if it's not that... I hope it's not any worse, let's put it that way. Better the Snape you know than the Lockhart you don't, right?

             I have done no work on my character species list yet today. I have been too busy replying to email. I have worked out the species name, spelling variations for male and female within the species, and some physical characteristics.
             I have also included fodder for the prequel which I will not even touch with a ten-word pole, except for quick notes here and there, and perhaps some snippets, until after I finish writing the story. It is, after all, a separate story, with a separate set of circumstances for the characters and individuals involved.


the Persistence of Memory

               For the longest time, I knew it as the huckster's room. You could find one at any given convention. Imagine my shock and dismay when I learned that we were not supposed to call them _huckster's_ rooms any more since the term was now derogatory (I had always thought it was both fun and unique) and that we were henceforth supposed to refer to them as _dealer's_ rooms.
               I feel a similar sense of disorientation here. Is it a critique or a beta? o0;; Which term is preferable, and can someone tell me why? Plus, does anyone know when and how this happened?

Mysterious Fan Marks Poe's Birthday

They posted this to one of my Yahoo lists. It's 'lifted' from elsewhere. but it's still interesting.

Mysterious Fan Marks Poe's Birthday

Wed Jan 19, 7:16 AM ET U.S. National - AP
By KASEY JONES, Associated Press Writer

          BALTIMORE - The mystery man was dressed for the cold rather than tradition, and some spectators were not quite as respectful as in years past. But for the 56th year, a man stole into a locked graveyard early on Edgar Allan Poe's birthday and placed three roses and a half-empty bottle of cognac on the writer's grave.

AP Photo

          Jeff Jerome, curator of the Poe House and Museum, who has seen the
mysterious visitor every Jan. 19 since 1976, gathered with about 20 people Tuesday night to glimpse the ritual.
          "It was absolutely frigid," Jerome said of the sub-20 degree temperature.
          No one, not even Jerome, knows the identity of the so-called "Poe Toaster."
The visit was first documented in 1949, a century after Poe's death.
          This year, the visitor arrived at 1:10 a.m. in a heavy coat and obscured his face with a black pullover, Jerome said. He was not wearing the traditional white scarf and black hat.
          "He put the roses and cognac at the base of Poe's grave and put his hand on top of the (tomb) stone. He paused and put his head down," the museum curator said. He left after about five minutes, Jerome said.
          The visitor's three roses are believed to honor Poe, his mother-in-law and his wife, all of whom are buried in the graveyard. The significance of the cognac is unknown.
          People who stand vigil usually respect the visitor's desire for anonymity, which, along with the visitor's quick moves and the cover of darkness, have kept his secret well.
          But this time, some spectators "created a nuisance," Jerome said. Some entered the locked cemetery; others confronted Jerome after the stranger had departed and demanded that he reveal his identity.
          For decades, a frail figure made the visit to Poe's grave. But in 1993 the original visitor left a cryptic note saying, "The torch will be passed." A later note said the man, who apparently died in 1998, had passed the tradition on to his sons.
          Poe, who wrote poems and horror stories such as "The Raven" and "The Telltale Heart," died Oct. 7, 1849 in Baltimore at the age of 40 after collapsing in a tavern.
          Bethany Dinger, 32, first became fascinated with the writer while doing volunteer work at the Poe House in high school. Wednesday was her third time watching the ritual.
          "It's always amazing - you know it's going to happen and then it's just wow, he's here," she said. "We're just so in the moment - there's no talking" while the visitor pays homage.


Spider Soup and Other Mysteries

         Some years ago when I had both the runs and the vomits and missed Christmas with the family because of it, after my trip to the emergency room the doctor recommended that I drink flat coke to avoid becoming dehydrated. Some peopel do have an adverse reactino to coke, as some people, somewhere, wil lhave an adverse reaction to something or another in their lives: but it did actually help me back then.
         And no, I hadn't been eating Campbell's Spider Soup/ (You remember those old Mad Magazine things, one year back in the '60s they parodied the soup can labels, and of course Joe and Ed put that one on a can of Campbell's and asked me if I wanted to try it. XP I knew it wasn't really spider soup but if it had been lima beans, well, ick.

Writing In General & Sanity Clauses In Particular

         I only have one thing up; the page to Writing Flash fiction Using Bubble Diagrams.
         My first piece of flash fiction was written using that for a guide, just before taking an online course taught by Pam Casto on writing flash fiction. It was rejected once (I submitted it for consideration to a literary anthology) with a return note saying the editor loved it but it didn't suit their needs for the anthology. I have several to submit, plus some marketing research to do, but I have to get through at least the next week or so first.
         For SW I already had the name of the character central to the series, since the whole thing began with his apprenticeship to one of the non-human races with very strict guidelines as to who could apprentice to one of their mages) one apprentice per mage per lifetime folks, of whatever species apprenticed to the mage: no exceptions.
         Well, the short story from the Cosmic Unicorn that this was based on, the character was a fully-grown mage who happened to be an ogre, taking on three (and ultimately, four) apprentices (not being the same race as his own Master, the ogre-mage was allowed to do this after some considerable offscreen debate).
         It turns out now that perhaps the race wasn't the right one for him (even tweaking can only take one so far), so I'm going to use the dictionary and thesaurus to try and create an entirely new character race that I can work with for him.
         Writing is fun, osn't it?


15minuteficlets picture challenge #17

Submission: Potter/humor
Rated G
Pairing: None
Summary: It's not late, I'm just sleepy, but this is what cropped into my head, this scene, short as it was. ;-)


      Noah Grey stretched out his paws from his perch and surveyed his domain. He was Cat. Humans served Him.
      That is, until Minerva McGonagall came into his life. Humans weren't usually so interesting, but this one was special.
      A cat who lived among humans as one of them. Once in awhile he asked himself 'why bother?' but he knew the answer to that question well enough. He felt the grasp of creeping tendrils of boredom too. There was just so much of the affection and devotion of humans that he could tolerate before he had to leave their presence for a quieter space.
      Yet this McGonagall--no, the name Minerva seemed to suit her better, it felt more properly feline to him. He had known another cat by that human-applied name once, a beautifu Siamese whose ocean-green eyes had made him think of freshly caught tuna.
      Ah, he could use some tuna now. He arched his back, letting Minerva stroke his back again before leaving in search of a saucer of milk. One day she would learn to live like a proper cat, he was sure of it, but until then he would relish her visits to his mistress.


The Writer's Cramp: My Response To The New Prompt

The New Prompt is:

          Your dog is going through a mid-life crisis... you know this because the animal shrink at the local mall has told you this... what does this "professional" fraud tell you how to cure your dog.

          "Well," Dr. Milkbohn rubbed his chin with his left forefinger, his drooping, shaggy mustache dusting its fingerprint as if to wipe it off this diagnosis. "He actually thinks he's a she. I'd recommend a pink tu-tu and collar, to start."
          Now, where had I heard that before...? "Doctor, I thought you said you were going to tell me how to cure rather than embarrass my dog."
          Dr. Milkbohn shook his head. "Lady, he thinks he's female already, so it won't embarrass him. I also recommend that you come in for counseling about three times a week."
          Monty looked at me with big, pleading puppy-dog eyes. I knew how he felt. "No thank you. Anyway, Monty and I both hate pink. You know, my ex bought me a pink teddy that Monty not only tore to pieces, he also managed to use the trash compactor ro dispose of the carcass. Good thing too -- horrid color, pink."
          "But pink is soothing for the soul."
          Shaking my head, trying not to snicker, I rose from the chair. "No thank you, Doctor." Keeping what little dignity was left to us by this "doctor's" diagnosis, Monty and I held out heads high and left the consultation booth.
          I scratched Monty behind the ears. "You were right, he is a looney."
          Monty barked a laugh.


Write It Now Competition

Ms. Young:

I figured if you read my Blog, maybe other people are lurking hereabouts too. ;-)

----Original Message Follows----
From: "Editor"

I read some of your blog. Love your titles - Alternate Hilarities, The Lawnmower that Ate Manhattan. Funny stuff.

I hope you'll share the following with your writing list. It's a great opportunity for new voices to get some big attention.

Thank you!
Roxyanne Young
Editorial Director,

CONTACT: Roxyanne Young
Editorial Director,

ARE YOU READY TO W.I.N.?’s Write It Now Competition Brings Out the Cream of the New Writing Crop has launched their second annual Write It Now! Competition, with bigger prizes and a longer entry period. “Our 2004 competition was a huge success,” said Editorial Director Roxyanne Young. “Of last year’s W.I.N.NERS, at least three are under contract, one tells me she’s being recognized at conferences, and others have had their full manuscripts requested by editors. Others have written to tell me that they are taking themselves more seriously as professionals, and that makes me happiest of all. It’s our goal to encourage new voices to develop their skills and submit their work to publishers.”

Henry Holt’s Reka Simonsen is returning this year to offer editorial reviews to our W.I.N.NERs. “I look forward to seeing what talents you discover!” Simonsen said.

Anne Bowen, sold her W.I.N.NING manuscript, HARLEY HARRISON, TATTLE TALE, to Albert Whitman Publishers! “I do think it helped a great deal that I could say my manuscript took first place in the W.I.N. contest in my cover letter,” Bowen said. Other W.I.N.NERS have sold their manuscripts, too. Tammi Sauer was offered a contract for her picture book, COWBOY CAMP, after she told the editor who’d had it for some time. Others have had editors request the full manuscript after offering an editorial review as part of their prize package. "My win in the W.I.N Competition gave me the validation to submit my work to publishers," said Jennifer Roy, author of GROWING UP IN THE LODZ GHETTO, which placed in the mid-grade category. According to Jen, she first had interest from Dutton, who wanted her to revise it using free verse and as she was considering it, her nonfiction editor at Marshall Cavendish (Jennifer writes educational books) asked to read it out of curiosity. This editor passed it along to Margery Cuyler, their fiction editor, who loved it and bought it in September!
Ruth McNally Barshaw, whose cover illustration, “Jibby and Louise” took third place in the Illustration category, recently shared this: “The W.I.N. contest meant an awful lot to me. I used it all year in my cover letters and queries. It gave me a lot of confidence…I sent “Jibby and Louise,” along with 6 other sample art pieces, to Candlewick and they picked out that painting as what they wanted to see more of, so I spent all year creating more…and now I am ready to market my work like crazy!”

Authors and illustrators are invited to enter their works in six categories: Young Adult, Middlegrade, Picturebook, Non-fiction, Poetry, and Illustration. The entries go through three tiers of readers to make the W.I.N.NERS list, all professional, published, and some award-winning, authors and illustrators. This year’s judges include two-time Coretta Scott King Award Winner Nikki Grimes; Terry Davis, considered by many to be the father of young adult literature; the funny and charming author-illustrator Katie Davis; legendary freelance writer and online PR guru Kelly Milner Halls; and Alexandria LaFaye, winner of the 2005 Scott O’Dell Award for Historical Fiction. The Grand Prize W.I.N.NER will receive $500 cash, a copy of the 2006 Children’s Writer’s and Illustrator’s Market, and an editorial review from one of several elite editors who have agreed to read and comment on their work. 1st placers will receive $50 case, the 2006 CWIM, and an editorial review, as well.

Complete rules and entry forms are available at
Entries must be postmarked by February 28, 2005. Winners will be announced July 1 on

# # #

Roxyanne Young
* Are you ready to W.I.N.? Enter the Write It Now Competition at Grand Prize is $500, a 2006 CWIM, a one-year subscription to the Children's Book Insider (Online Version), and an editorial review of your W.I.N.NING manuscript! Entry deadline is February 28, 2005!
* Editorial Director,
* Founder, - named one of the Top Ten Writer's Web Sites by Writer's Digest, October 2004
* Free Newsletter offering news and tips on Web site management, online PR, domain name, online copyright protection, and much, much more:

"If we did all the things we are capable of doing, we would literally astound ourselves." - Thomas Edison. Let 2005 be your year to astound


New Things in My Life

The strangest dream I ever had was just a couple of nights ago. You see, I have some of a bottle of Palmolive dish soap under the kitchen sink. It's one of the scented ones and I figured the occasional aromatherapy while washing dishes Was Not A Bad Thing. Well, in my dream, a friend of Terror's had taken it from under the kitchen sink and was using it as, of all things, a skin lotion.


Novel Ideas

     Some writers have diversified and adapted their stories towards a video gaming audience -- something translatable to the screen. In a sense it doesn't seem much different from writing for the movies.
     Fashions, themselves, also come and go. Books may be out of season now, but they will come back into fashion again, eventually. You see, not everyone can afford either a computer or online access. Some barely afford it.
     The condition of literacy in the United States has deteriorated in a rapid spiral since I first learned reading at my older sister's knees back in Oregon (phonetic, of course -- another 'fashion' that comes in and goes out of style). A the same time that it has deteriorated, there is a rise in the number of folks who come to reading relatively late who somehow failed to learn it wile they attended elementary school. We also have the foreign immigrants who are now learning English as a second language (ESL).
     Curiosity, a sense of wonder, a delight in the written word: these are all things that come in and go out of fashion. There are folks who read a book before seeing a movie (I swore that off after the first Star Trek movie because the latter fell short of the former, but I never quite hardened my resolve enough to carry through on it), there are folks who see the movie and then read the book (sometimes I actually manage to do that).
     And then there are folks who figured that, since they saw the movie, they do not need to read the book. I pity these folks, because +books are so much, much more than a string of images stretched across a screen. Books tell us the nuances that movies cannot -- what a character really feels (assuming the character is the viewpoint), what the story really means, how parts of the plot tie together that they may have abandoned for the movie due to "time constraints".
     A movie is a facsimile. A book is the canvas upon which the true portrait is hung. That's why it will eventually come back into fashion.
     At least, in my humble opinion. ;-)



     Have you ever noticed that the most comprehensive outline or synopsis you can come up with a book involves either one character or a personification of the major events?
     I've been reading a lot of articles online about writing them and this seems to be the case (although with multiple VP characters I think it helps to do a subsidiary outline for each character and their plot arcs).
     The major thing with either a synopsis or an outline is to keep it short and sweet, something you can use to stay en route during the course of your journey. I do have the character plotlines and arcs (or else I come up with them as necessary) to refer to when I am working with that particular character.
     Cheating? I don't think so; but figuring out how to get from here to there is sometimes so different from actually making the journey that you have to be flexible enough to improvise when the need arises.

Elizabeth Anne Ensley.

Subsidiary: Advanced Session IV.


Why am I lurking online, waiting for stupid email to acknowledge my existence, when I could be writing?

Life sucks. Xp


Howl, yowl, full moon's call
Beckons, recognition of
That monthly cycle.

Elizabeth Anne Ensley
Wednesday 05 January 2005.



Free Image Hosting at

Character Generating/Profiling

I just started a new Yahoo group dedicated to the care and feeding of characters. *grin* Actually, it's devoted to the development of characters for our fiction.

I also posted a writing exercise using the character sheet too, that it might be a good idea to familiarize yourself with it by filling one out for yourself first. If you're not familiar with the character sheet and perhaps you're a bit nervous about it, then it could be fun, as well as a chance to familiarize yourself with its function and purpose.