The kids next door put on a “haunted trail” last night. The back corner of their back yard has lots of trees and fallen branches, in addition to all the fallen leaves. They cleared out a path and marked it with luminaries and creepy little signs, but overall, it was pretty dark. Then, while walking through the trail, the kids would jump out and scream at you. Pretty tame, right?
I paused The Blair Witch Project to go over there. Those little guys elicited some very real screams from me. Best Halloween ever, and October 31 isn’t for three days.
This photo was an accident. I noticed the hubby had placed an Amazon envelope just so in front of my owl pillow to give it a smile, so I decided to take a picture. But I was half asleep and didn’t turn on the light or the flash, and this was the result. This is mostly undoctored; I just changed the contrast a bit so you could see more of the dark spots. Nothing supernatural here (I checked), just some mundane objects and interesting lighting to make what I hope you guys agree is a really creepy tableau.
I got a message today that I had a new follower–thanks, healerrachel–so I decided to check my stats. For some amazing reason, I have 97 followers! WOO HOO!
Thanks so much to all of you for your support. I had no idea there were so many of you! With that in mind, I’ll start posting more, even if it’s just a random musing. If/when I make it to 100, I’ll try to do something special. I have no idea what form that will take, but I’ll think on it.
And yes, that’s me, about a million years ago.
What Am I Doing Today? Drinking: Coffee, the elixir of the gods Eating: Nothing at the moment Watching:The Man in the High Castle Writing: Vampire: the Masquerade Fanfiction Playing: Elder Scrolls Online and Vampire: the Masquerade
“There are horrors beyond life’s edge that we do not suspect, and once in a while man’s evil prying calls them just within our range.” H.P. Lovecraft
People live in one of two worlds: either they live in a safe fantasy where all is right with the world and bad things happen to other people, or they live in the real world. Michael Connor used to believe the “real world” consisted of those who wanted to–and would–steal, harm, kill, manipulate, wage war, and basically do all manner of evil things to suit their own agendas. It still did, he supposed, but it turned out there was another world, a third one, that he was not prepared for. And it had nothing to do with the gorgeous witch standing next to him.
From the outside, the storefront looked like your typical New Orleans occult gift shop. The display window was crammed full of creepy looking merchandise set against a purple backdrop, along with neon signs that read, “Tarot Readings,” “Discover Your Psychic Awareness,” and “Meeting Site for French Quarter Ghost Tour.” The sign over the door was not neon, and it was lit with only a soft-white bulb. It was hard to see amid the garish lights of the Quarter’s nighttime atmosphere, which Mike suspected was by design. The sign said “Mister Guidry’s Arcane Emporium” and had a tiny metallic symbol attached in the bottom right-hand corner. The symbol was a stylized sword with what looked like a halo around the hilt. It was so subtle that it was almost invisible, and Mike had to squint to make it out.
There were a dozen of these shops in the Quarter, and more than half of them were a front for some sort of organized crime syndicate or gang. At the very least, they were paying protection money to someone. Most of the others–most–were scams. According to Janelle, two or three of them were legitimate psychics or witches. Their readings were accurate, and their magickal items actually worked. This shop, however, was a mystery. It had been here forever, and the proprietor had kept his nose clean. The only stories that came out of this place were good reviews. Even Janelle, who was thoroughly dialed into the city’s occult subculture, knew next to nothing about the shop. That alone made Mike suspicious.
Once upon a time, the NOPD had gotten several calls a week about cults that were doing something nefarious; but more often than not, they turned out to be mundane, just not exactly Christian. People were more tolerant these days, or at least less fearful. When they did call, the cops were experienced enough to determine if there really was something nefarious going on or if the “cultists” were just doing their own thing. That said, they had instituted an Occult Investigations Task Force, the only one in the U.S. It consisted of a handful of uniformed officers, consultants, and researchers, most with some experience or knowledge of the occult. Janelle was one of four detectives working in the field, all of them with personal life experience in such a community.
Once in a while, one of local groups garnered the wrong kind of attention. Six months ago, the task force started getting reports of a cult that was performing human sacrifices. One even said they had witnessed a gang smashing someone over the head and burying them alive. There was evidence of activity at the crime scene, and the ground had been dug up and then recovered. A dig revealed no body and, oddly, no forensic evidence whatsoever. It was as though they had dug the hole and then immediately covered it back up while wearing hazmat suits. It was unusual enough for the department to open an investigation, and after way too long, the search had led them here to Mister Guidry’s.
This case had turned into quite a saga. For Mike part, it had started with a standard murder investigation. He was a detective with NOPD’s Sixth District, and at first, it hadn’t seemed like anything unusual. It turned out there was a lot more to it, and he had been working the case for months, following one lead after another, until it had led him to the Eighth District and the French Quarter, where he crossed paths with Janelle. She was working the human sacrifice case and had been undercover for six months. It didn’t take much to figure out they were basically working the same case, so they joined forces–in more ways than one, but now wasn’t the time to think about that. They were on the job.
Mike and Janelle entered the establishment and paused just inside the door, arguing quietly. Mike was in his mid-30’s, red haired and green eyed, above average in height and solidly built, with a plain face and a pronounced slouch. He wore board shorts and a Hawaiian shirt, with Birkenstocks on his feet, small gold hoops in his ears, and a pentacle amulet around his neck. A fake sleeve tattoo covered his right arm. Janelle was a black-haired, blue-eyed beauty who looked like every sexy witch poster Mike had ever seen. She was fair-skinned and svelte, and she usually wore some sort of Bohemian style of clothing unless she expected to be running after a perp. Today, she wore a black spaghetti-strap dress with half a dozen tattoos showing on her arms. Some of the tattoos were real, but some had been placed there to enhance her look. Pentacles hung around her neck and from her ears. She was the epitome of a goth chick, and they made an odd pair. Then again, it was The Big Easy, and you never knew what you were going to see.
“We shouldn’t be here, babe,” Mike whispered with a mild Southern drawl.
“Pour l’amour des dieux, cher, how many times do we have to have this conversation?” Janelle replied in an exaggerated Cajun accent. “We’ve gotta find out what happened to her, Steven. It’s been months, and the cops aren’t doin’ shit.”
“Well, if these guys do know something, what makes you think they’re gonna tell us? More likely, we’ll end up like Diane.”
A man walked out of the back room and around the counter to join them by the door. He was short, maybe 5’6″ tall, with pale skin, black hair, and inky black eyes. He had a broad, friendly smile on his face as he approached. “Welcome to Mister Guidry’s. How can I help you?”
Janelle pulled a small picture out of her bra and handed it to the man. “We’re looking for her,” she said shakily. “Have you seen her?”
He examined the picture closely and then looked back at them, studying them as intently. “What’s your name, love?”
“Why do you want to know her name?” Mike demanded.
“Just courtesy, I assure you. I’m Mister Guidry.”
“Margie. It’s Margie. That’s Steven. Diane is my sister.”
“Yeah. Diane Stanfield.”
He peered at them for a long moment, and Mike got the distinct impression this creepy guy was reading their minds. Or just reading them. It could just be part of the occult shop’s schtick, but it didn’t seem like an act. Something was . . . off . . . about Guidry, and it made Mike extremely uncomfortable.
The proprietor finally handed the picture back to Janelle. “I believe I can help you,” he said magnanimously.
Janelle’s pale face lit up. “You’ve seen her? Where?”
“Let me make some calls.”
“Calls?” Mike repeated. “To who?”
“Follow me, please.”
“I don’t think–“
The compulsion to follow Mister Guidry was overwhelming, and Mike took Janelle’s hand and led her to the back of the shop to a waiting area with some comfortable chairs, several candles burning, and soft music playing “Something About the Way You Look Tonight” by Elton John.
“Have a seat,” Guidry instructed them. “I’ll be with you in a moment. There is coffee and tea on the sideboard if you’re interested.”
Janelle gave Mike a perplexed look, but she sat down and pulled him with her as Guidry ascended a set of stairs at the back of the room. “I get nothing from this guy,” she whispered. “You?”
“He seemed awfully eager to help. And there’s something about him I can’t put my finger on.”
“Eerie, right? Kind of . . . off.”
“My thoughts exactly.”
She tilted her head curiously. “We could be in the right place.”
“Keep your eyes open.”
She flashed a stunning grin at him, showing perfect, white teeth that her parents had paid thousands of dollars for. “Always do.”
* * *
Alex made his way upstairs, out of earshot, to his apartment. It looked how one might expect a French Quarter psychic’s home to look–baroque, with lots of deep colors, shelves full of crystals, herbs, potions, and several occult symbols hanging on the walls. It had been centuries since he had used such things, but they still made him feel at home, so he kept them around. Besides, the neonates seemed to appreciate them, as well.
He sat down at a massive, ornate desk and made a few notes in the laptop sitting to the right; then he picked up the phone and dialed.
“Davis,” a gruff male voice barked on the other end after four rings.
“Sheriff, it’s Alex Guidry. I have evidence that we may have a Masquerade violation.”
Not with me. At least, not now. This is the title of my new Vampire: the Masquerade fanfiction.
A unspeakable incident while Michael Connor was a Navy SEAL utterly broke him. Fortunately, he doesn’t remember it. He becomes a detective in the New Orleans PD and gets the attention of the local Kindred during a murder investigation. This story chronicles his adventures over the next thirty years or so, first in New Orleans, and then across the South.
Even if you’re not writing a romance, it’s possible one of your characters may be involved in a romance, or at least a flirtation. As an extension, if your character is in a romantic situation, chances are you’re going to write a love scene at some point. It could be something as tame as a first or last kiss or as graphic as porn. I’ve done both, but I usually stay somewhere in between and try to keep it PG-13. Usually. Again, I turn to real people here for inspiration (REMINDER: I won’t use names here, but if you want to know who I’m referring to, send me a private message, and I’ll be glad to share). If you have visuals of your character, study them and use them. If that person has been in a romantic situation, study it. No, I don’t mean Pornhub, unless, of course, you’re writing about a porn star. In that case, knock yourself out (18 and over ONLY).
A couple of reminders: “He” is my go-to pronoun because it’s easier than switching back and forth and using “they” or “their” grates on me. I also use the term “alternative lifestyle” as a catch-all for non-heterosexual interactions because I’m never sure what the current politically correct terms are. That said: Everyone should be able to love how he sees fit. There are no judgments here, and I expect none from my readers. If you’re offended by something, don’t read it. But don’t complain because someone is not offended.Continue reading →
When you first meet Indaenir in Greenshade, he’s a friendly, unassuming little guy who has no idea he’s about to become one of the most powerful people in the entire Aldmeri Dominion. Indaenir sacrifices himself to cleanse the blight from Valenwood. Following his sacrifice, he is revived by Y’ffre and becomes the new Silvenar.
The hubby had totaled the car (no one was injured) and had been driving mine to and from work while we waited for the paperwork. We got a new one (for us) yesterday, so I got my car back. Today, I decided to clean it out.
Inside, I found several empty water bottles, a fold-up hand truck, a golf club (he doesn’t even play golf), several USB cables, and a leash we had been missing.
It’s also the halfway point of Winter. We’re on the backstretch now, and Spring is in view. In Wicca, it’s one of the eight Sabbats on the Wheel of the Year, and we celebrate the Goddess Brigid. In Catholicism, it’s the Feast of St. Brigid. February 2 is Candlemas, the holy day celebrating the presentation of the baby Jesus at the temple.
As a Christopagan, I make my own rituals to incorporate both Wicca and Christianity. I’m still learning, and most of my rituals are really horrible, awkward FUBARs. My first Imbolc was no different.
Foolish-Hearts is another friend whom I follow on DeviantArt (most probably will be). She is a talented author and has a novel-length Skyrim fanfiction that she is just finishing up. She’ll be starting on a new one in March, and I’ll add that here when it comes out.
Her fanfiction Ancient Blood is sort of a spinoff of the Dark Brotherhood storyline with some very cool–VERY cool–twists.
Here are the first few chapters of Ancient Blood and some of my favorite artwork. Be sure to check her page out, especially if you’re a fan of Skyrim, and especially Cicero. Just a note: there may be spoilers in the pics, so follow them to her page a your own risk.
(1) Two of the main characters in The Order of the White Guard are Logan Blevins and Peter O’Neill.
(2) NCIS Los Angeles is my current favorite TV show, and Bryan are binge watching like crazy. Last night we were watching an episode, and Callen, who is one of the main characters, went undercover as an attorney. His name was . . . wait for it . . .
I literally screamed, and I laughed so hard that I almost fell out of my chair.
Ellysiumn is a friend on Deviant Art (Ellysiumn). He’s an amazing photomanipulator, specializing in wallpapers. They’re fantastical with lots of color and contrast, and the pieces speak to me in a way few other artists’ works do. Here are a few of my favorite pieces of his work, but be sure to check out his whole gallery.
Sugar is 15 years old now, but I wouldn’t call her an old lady dog. She still chases the younger dogs around the back yard at high speed and jumps a foot or so in the air when it’s time to eat. She’s a good girl.
Mr. Bill is a frequent visitor to Schardein’s House O’ Madness. He never lasts long, but for a few weeks, the house is filled with the cries of, “OH, NOOOOOO!” At least until the sound box breaks. This Mr. Bill lasted about five weeks. Doesn’t Bob look proud?
I saw Jesus Christ Superstar Friday night, for the fifth or sixth time, with my daughter. It was a really great production.
A few details:
There is a line in “This Jesus Must Die” that says Jesus is cool. He certainly was here. He sported said man bun and played the guitar, and, honestly, he was pretty damn hot. Then again, most of them were hot. My daughter whispered, “I don’t know about you, but these guys are really doing it for me!”
In further news, Pilate did a mic drop, Herod looked like Eddie Izzard in drag, and they flogged Jesus with glitter. And it was still painful to watch. We had a very happy moment when Jesus and the Twelve (and Mary Magdalene) sat down for the Last Supper in the exact pose as Da Vinci’s painting. It was a work of art (see what I did there?)
There was this one woman whose only role in the show was to dance really weirdly. Not sure what was up with her.
In order to understand a character, a reader should know why that character is the way he is, and this is where the backstory comes in. Even in real life, there is no black and white, and few people are irredeemable. Even the evilest individual has something in his life that can make him seem more real and more human, if not more sympathetic (an explanation is NOT an excuse), and no hero doesn’t have a skeleton or two in the closet, even Steve Rogers (I can’t think of any, but I’m sure he does).
Life experiences make us who we are, and the same is true for your character. That doesn’t mean he can’t be despicable. You want your reader to be glad your character gets what he deserves, whether it’s happily ever after or shot and beaten to death by rebels and getting sodomized with a bayonet while pleading for his life (not my concept–look it up). Or just sent to prison if you work for Disney. But if they don’t know why that character grew to be the person he is, they won’t be as invested in the outcome.
Oh, no, it’s the “DREAM CAST” article! Yep, it sure is.
Every character I have ever created, all the way back to my first story as a child, was based in some way on someone I could see and watch. Some are based on people I know in real life, but I also use celebrities or fictional characters from TV, movies, and videogames–and to be honest, a handful of professional wrestlers. The reason I do this is simple. I’m a visual person, and having someone or something to look at helps me write. In addition, it’s easy to people watch when they’re plastered all over every screen in the world. I use some people for their faces, others for their personalities, and others simply for the way they move, and one character might be based on three different people.
A friend on Deviant Art was taking requests, and I gave him pics of the doggos. This is what he sent back to me. Isn’t she beautiful? Thanks so much to https://www.deviantart.com/petro66 for this beautiful piece. Check out his gallery. He’s a very talented artist, and I love his work.
Strength is a card of the spiritual over the material, love over hate, the triumph of a higher nature. It indicates someone who has the ability to soothe others’ grief or solve their problems. It represents courage, will, quiet inner strength.
The model is my daughter Aspen, who embodies all of these things. She’s the overachiever of the family, a loyal friend and confidante, a little mother since she was old enough to walk.
Thanks to the following artists (all on DeviantArt except for infinity symbol) for the use of their stock. If you want to follow the link to the image, remove the space before the www.
The Two of Swords represents a decision, perhaps one the seeker is struggling with or has been avoiding. Also, the seeker may be putting up emotional barriers that he or she must break through to move forward.
(NOTE: If you want to follow the link to see the original images, take out the space before the “www”)
A card of friendship, partnership, and harmony—with each other, with oneself, and with all of nature. It represents two opposing forces uniting to make a glorious whole. It could mean romantic love, marriage, or a group of like-minded individuals.
Thanks to the following DeviantArt artists for use of their stock:
This is Max, affectionately known as our “idiot child.” Totally in jest, mind you, except when he loses a $50 con badge or swallows a quarter. He’s graduating from college in May, and I’m happy to report he has much more common sense these days. He’s my favorite, of course, as are all my kids.
As for the card, The Fool represents folly, innocence, lack of discipline or restraint. Possibly a crossroads, a variety of paths to choose from. It’s a clean slate, a fresh start, full of potential.
Thanks to the following artists for use of their stock (all from DeviantArt):
Here it is, New Years Eve, and my agoraphobia has kicked in, so I’m chickening out on going to the wedding of a beloved niece. Really crappy way to end 2018. With a few exceptions, the year was one big disappointment, and I’m glad to see it go. We lost a puppy, unsuccessfully tried to sell our house, and alienated some family members. I hope to the Divines that 2019 is better than the last few years have been.
2018 did have one major bright spot. We adopted Harley. The Great Dane puppy was 17 pounds when she was 12 weeks old.
She had her first birthday on November 13, weighing in at just over 110. She is the world’s biggest lapdog, and she takes up more of the bed than the hubby and I do. She and the others get along great, and they bring us a lot of joy and laughter.
The sad part is we lost one this year. Gambit was about 17 when he died in the spring, and I miss him so much, but it was his time. The vet referred us to a veterinary funeral home and they took good care of him. They gave us ashes, pieces of his fur (not creepy), footprints, and a beautiful throw with his picture on it. A great way to remember him.
So I’m officially old now. My daughter Aspen graduated from college last spring, and the other two are hot on her heels. Max will graduate this spring, and Michael should graduate the next. It’s unsure with him because he started college as a junior (he’s a genius) and is majoring in more than one thing.
Social media also been a bright spot for me. I hit DeviantArt, Twitter, Enjin, Facebook, and Discord every single day. I’ve found new friendships, developed existing ones, helped a few in need (I hope), and celebrated their successes. I’ve also developed friendships through ESO and here on WordPress (love you, Karine, Pyrelle, and Elspeth). My online friends make it easier to get out of bed. I have also made amends with a brutal enemy, and we’re on the way to being good friends again.
So. While I was sitting here pondering seppuku over missing the wedding, I was working on my latest photomanipulation. I needed to find some stairs, so I started browsing stock on DA. And then realization hit me: I post so few manips because it takes me forever to create them. Why? Because I’m so fickle when looking for stock! I had a manip 85 percent done when I discovered a couple of great stock artists I hadn’t seen before, and suddenly I’m like, “Oh! I have a better idea! I’m going to replace this component altogether!” This was a component I had been working on for a couple of weeks, copying and pasting pieces from several stock images and getting them just right. Woo hoo! I may still be working on this piece in February, but when I finally finish it, I’ll be happy with it. Or I’ll start all over again and post it in April!
In 2019, I plan to lose weight, get out of the house more, fix the house up so we can sell it, post more artwork and stock images, write more (including fanfiction and hopefully getting Book Two closer to publishing), and play more ESO. My faith is evolving, and I hope to learn more and channel my new beliefs into something useful and uplifting.
In the meantime, Sugar, Harley, and Bob say Happy New Year, as do the hubby and I. Love to you all.