I’ve been learning to draw, and while most of my work looks like crap, I do one occasionally that I really like. This is from an oracle deck called the Moon Deck. The card is No. 24, I love Myself Completely and Unconditionally. I hope you enjoy.
Are things really that different on the other side of the Atlantic?
I found a great channel on YouTube called Lost in the Pond. Lawrence has lots of videos covering memos between the U.S. and Britain that seem to have gotten lost in the pond. Check it out.
PROMPT: YOU’VE NEVER FELT THE SAME AFTER LEARNING MORSE CODE. THE RAIN KEEPS TELLING YOU TO RUN.
My response. I would love to see your all’s responses in the comments (no judgments on “your all’s,” please. I’m from Kentucky, and here it’s a totally valid phrase.).
TRIGGER WARNING: SENSITIVE CONTENT
I was conscripted into the military. We all were, really. The unit I was assigned to was being prepared for infiltration behind enemy lines, and I learned their languages. One of those languages I learned was a system of dashes and dots they called Morse Code, after the man who invented it. And it changed my life forever.
Ever since I learned it, I’ve heard messages in places that made no sense. The rain tells me to run.
.-. ..- -.
The treads of a tank rolling by tell me to hide.
…. .. -.. .
The drums played at a nearby temple tell me time is running out.
– .. — . / .. … / .-. ..- -. -. .. -. –. / — ..- –
Even the anchor chain of a ship in the harbor says to get away.
–. . – / .- .– .- -.–
This morning, as I look up to see two small planes flying over, a motorcycle goes by, and the engine growls that it’s too late.
– — — / .-.. .- – .
My world is suddenly filled with blinding light. When my vision clears, I see a strange cloud rising over Hiroshima. A blast of hurricane-force wind slams into me, and then I feel nothing at all.
I should have listened.
A dear friend has published a notebook on Amazon. My WordPress friends will know him as Pyrelle. Check it out! https://tinyurl.com/2n4k8spe
Again, hubby’s concept, my artwork. Free to use anywhere.
I made a meme. The idea was the hubby’s, the stock is from Shutterstock, and the manip is mine. I may start using this as a template for my random musings. She looks like me, so it fits.
Feel free to share anywhere and everywhere.
Hello, all! I hope everyone is doing well. My life is still a roller coaster, but at least things are moving along. We’ve moved into the new house and gotten rid of the two old ones, and it’s my greatest hope that someday we’ll clear out :devchesscoach:’s family’s crap sometime this year so we can finally put our stuff away. Not to mention getting everything we want to donate OUT OF THE FRACKING HOUSE! Anybody need a fridge?
The good thing about his family leaving the stuff in the house is the treasure. We’ve found so many things that we could sell, but also sentimental items, collections, and office supplies out the wazoo. We will never have to buy paper clips again. Plus, she left us a sewing machine and a plethora of thread, yarn, fabric, yadda yadda yadda. I’m going to have to learn to sew.
Sasha is growing up fast, and she’s absolutely the sweetest thing. We recently got her spayed, and the Cone of Shame didn’t slow her down for a second. She has weird sleeping habits, though . . .
I got a new toy–a Canon EOS 250D camera!!! I’m going to start playing with it today, and I’m hoping to upload some fantastic (or at least halfway decent) pics in the near future. Wish me luck!
Also, I’m still working on my controversial ESO time travel fanfic. It’ll be a while before I post it; I’ve started too many fanfics in ESO and just sort of abandoned them, so I want to get a good bit of the story under my belt before I start posting.
That’s it for now. I love you guys, and I will talk to you soon.
Schardein’s House O’ Madness has relocated. I may have mentioned in another post that my Mother-in-Law had passed. She had a very nice home, and hubby inherited a fourth of it. The other siblings agreed, and we bought out their portions and are moving in. YAAAAAAYY! Our other house was really crappy.
The problem with this house is that we have more stuff than house, which is bizarre, because it’s actually bigger. When we bought the other one, we combined three full houses worth of stuff, and my mom and our three kids lived there with us. The house was big, but we still had enough stuff that we needed a storage unit. I loved to put on my bios that we lived in a big, loud, crowded, messy, happy house. But the munchkins all grew up and moved away, Mama passed on, and they all left their stuff! Basically, the crowd left. So we still had all that stuff, plus fifteen years worth of new stuff.
Enter George Carlin. https://youtu.be/MvgN5gCuLac
The first thing we did was rent a dumpster for a week. We filled it up pretty quickly and rented another dumpster for the next week. It still wasn’t enough, so we resolved to rent one a week before we moved. And guess what: that’s right. It still wasn’t enough. But we had to be out of the house on a specific day, so we had to bring our junk–and a crap ton of donatables–with us.
And it gets better. All of my mother-in-law’s stuff is here, too! Almost nothing has been cleared out, so we’re having to go through her stuff and decide what to get rid of. I’m not just talking furniture here. I’m talking clothes, kitchen ware, cleaning supplies. Toiletries. Medicines. I found a bottle of liniment that I’m pretty sure is older than I am!
So. At the moment, our house is just as George says–it’s a pile of stuff with a cover on it. Every room looks like the warehouse from the last scene of Raiders of the Lost Ark. I wouldn’t be surprised to find the Ark of the Covenant in there somewhere.
Dumpster No. 4 is coming tomorrow, and we’re going to rent a U-Haul to take our donatables to the Goodwill (yes, we have that many). Maybe then we can find the stuff that matters. Like my socks. We have all our other clothes, but my socks have completely disappeared. Maybe they’re in the Hozone Layer.
I hope we find them soon. I’ve been wearing the hubby’s socks for days.
All that said, the house is absolutely gorgeous, and we love it. We’re whittling away at the stuff bit by bit, and we’re planning to have a gigantic yard sale. Hopefully soon, it will be clean and pretty and I can start playing ESO and writing again. Till then, say nice things about me, will ya?
So here we were on a Monday night around 8:30 or so, sitting on the sofa and watching Black Lightning, when the hubby turns to me and says, “What do you think of this little guy?” He hands me his phone, and there’s a picture of an adorable little Siberian Husky puppy. We share cute dog pics all the time, so I didn’t think anything unusual was going on. I responded with, “D’awwww,” and he said, “she’s available for sale not too far from here.”
We needed a new puppy like we needed a hole in the head. He had said so many times that we couldn’t afford another dog right now and that maybe we’d think about that down the line. But you never know when you’re going to fall in love, so I relented. I had wanted a third dog, anyway, although another Great Dane would have been my first choice. Long story short (too late), we drove to Mayfield, KY (which is apparently the worst place in Kentucky to live) and picked her up. How could we resist? I mean, just look at those blue eyes!
She’s four months old at this point, maybe 20 pounds, and she’s adorable. She’s a little scamp, though, too smart for her own good. She’s also very vocal and “talks” all the time, which is typical for a husky. The other dogs love her, especially Harley, and they play constantly. We all love our new baby and are looking forward to the day she is finally house trained!
This is just a general update on what’s been going on with me so I can keep everyone in the loop. Everybody knows that the world is falling apart around us, so instead of crying, let’s laugh a bit with a photomanip I posted a couple of years ago. Not my best work, but the message is profound–and kinda funny. It is, right? Right? RIGHT?
M’kay. Now that that’s out of the way, how has everybody been? Schardein’s House O’ Madness went through about eight weeks of utter hell, but things have calmed down a bit. There’s still a lot going on, but they’re potentially very good things, and at least we aren’t running around like chickens with our heads cut off at the moment. Here are some of the other good things I’m doing.
Vampire: the Masquerade
A friend and I are putting together a new VtM V.20 campaign out on Discord. We’re a ways off from getting it running, but if any VtM fans or other roleplayers are interested in taking a look, let me know and I’ll notify you when it’s finally up. Or, if you’re just interested in hearing our concept, I’ll be glad to share that, too. I think it’s a bit unusual, and people will probably either love it or hate it. As long as they don’t say it’s boring, I’ll be happy.
The new campaign will affect my “Something Went Wrong, Apparently,” fanfic so I’m taking it down. Hopefully I’ll be able to post some short stories or fanfic from our new campaign.
My Selene Stormblade fanfiction was a huge labor of love for me, and it was so hard to let it go. But I stopped playing Skyrim and began playing ESO, which is set about 900 years beforehand, so I had to move on. Unfortunately, the half a dozen ESO fanfictions I started didn’t go anywhere, and I’ve taken them down.
But. I’ve found a way to bring Selene into the ESO story (and hopefully Brynjolf at some point). It’s nowhere near canon, so if you’re an Elder Scrolls lore junkie, don’t say you weren’t warned. Constructive criticism is always welcome, but be kind and don’t tell me it’s not lore-friendly because you’ll already know that.
I’ve just started the story, and I’m going to get a few chapters under my belt before I post anything, mostly so I don’t have people faving it a year from now and waiting for new chapters that will never come. I haven’t even finished Chapter One yet, but it feels like coming home.
Speaking of coming home:
Hubby and I are still working on Book Two. It’ll be finished and published someday. I just know it.
SHAMELESS PLUG: In the meantime, if you haven’t read Book One, The Order of the White Guard, do check it out. It’s nearly ten years old now, but we’re still hawking it. Here is a preview, and here is the link to the page on Amazon. tinyurl.com/3lpne2wn For Kindle Unlimited users, it’s a free download. This is a second edition. We lowered the price and made a minor change, so if you’ve already read it and want to know what we changed, just let me know. If you order, PLEASE order direction from Amazon, not from the used and new links. Those assholes never even bought the book. And leave a review! And tell your friends!
Gambit, when he was alive, would “sing” along with the Jeopardy! theme. The music would start, and he would howl like you wouldn’t believe, stopping occasionally to look back at my mom, who would tell him how lovely it sounded. Then he would start again. Up to now, that was the most original thing a pet I’d had ever did. Until Harley.
I know people have talked about pets watching TV, but I’d never actually seen it. But here she is. I cast my computer monitor to the TV, and she will watch me if I’m playing ESO or something with a lot of movement. Or she’ll just sit next to hubby and me when we’re watching a show. That’s an adventure in and of itself, because our couch isn’t very big.
This is what happened the other day when we were watching a YouTube video of funny Great Danes. Mr. Bill was unimpressed.
We lost Sugar a few months ago. She had incurable cancer, and treating her, even just keeping her comfortable, was going to cost thousands of dollars, so we had to let her go. But she had lived a good, long life, most of which was with us. She was fifteen years old, and we had adopted her from friends when she was two.
I held her till the end, and then I cried my eyes out. But I’m a big believer in the Rainbow Bridge, and I know she’ll be waiting there for me.
“I could not help feeling that they were evil things–
mountains of madness whose farther slopes looked out
over some accursed ultimate abyss.”
After Alex hung up with the Sheriff, he made another call. A sultry feminine voice answered after a few rings.
“Bon soir, mon ami!”
“Bon soir,” he replied. “How is my favorite witch this eve?”
“Wicked,” she said with a giggle.
It was a conversation they’d had a dozen times in the past year or so. When she had changed her name last December, she had chosen Morgan after Morgan le Fey from King Arthur lore, but through endless jesting and teasing, they had somehow come around to the Wicked Witch of the West.
Alex loved this vibrant woman so. In 200 years, he had never met anyone like her. He had become jaded, aloof, and he would never have even thought of playful banter, with his childer or anyone else. But Diane would have none of it. She had rejuvenated him, forced him to come out of his shell and enjoy his existence again, and he had rewarded her with the Embrace. He counted the nights till the time her studies ended so she could rejoin him here in New Orleans.
“So. What’s going on in the Big Easy?” she asked, pulling him out of his reverie. “Anything juicy?”
He chuckled. “That’s one way to put it. You might be interested to know a couple of kine crossed my threshold tonight. They were looking for you.”
There was a pregnant pause on the line, and then, “Who?”
“She said her name was Margie.”
“I don’t know her.”
“Oh, I think you do. She claims to be your sister.”
“Oh, shit! Should I come home?”
“Not just yet. You must complete your studies, and there’s more to this. They didn’t say so, but a little telepathy told a much bigger story. Besides, we may already have a Masquerade violation on our hands. Let us not make it worse by letting your sister see what you’ve become before the time is right.”
Morgan let out a heavy sigh. “Gods damn it, I should have known she wouldn’t let it go. Let me guess: the boyfriend is really her partner, and they’re still investigating my disappearance.”
“Eh, yes and no. They’re investigating a series of murders that may be Sabbat related. I believe they used your photo to get a foot in the door here. I’ve phoned the Sheriff.”
“Alex, please don’t let him hurt them,” she entreated him with a quiver in her voice. “Please.”
“No one will hurt them, cheri, I give you my word.”
“Well, keep me posted and let me know if I should come home. Je t’aime.”
“Je t’aime aussi. Goodnight, my love.”
* * *
Michael and Janelle waited twenty minutes for Mister Guidry’s return. They chatted quietly, staying in character in case he was listening. Michael finally got impatient and got up to go find their host, but the front door opened and two men came through the shop. He sat back down and eyed them curiously.
Both were wearing expensive business suits, and neither looked comfortable in them. One was imposing and looked like a hitman for the mob, or maybe a professional wrestler. He even had the blond hair and scarred forehead you might see on a seasoned veteran of the ring. He blocked the doorway, arms folded, and scowled at them. The other was smaller, with olive skin, tousled black hair, and a scruffy beard. And a warm smile. He had something Michael had never seen before other than on some ex-cons: face tattoos. The two marks were elaborate, both black and done in a flame motif. One of them crossed from his forehead to his left temple, and the other stretched from his lower right cheek down his neck.
“Ah, good, you’re here,” said Mister Guidry as he came down the stairs. “Mister Kai, what a pleasant surprise! I didn’t expect to see you here.”
The smaller man shrugged. “I was in the neighborhood.”
Guidry waved his hand toward the two on the couch. “Justin Schneider, Kai Kekoa, meet Steven and Margie Stanfield.”
“Oh, we’re not married,” they said in unison.
The wrestler stepped into the room and loomed over them. “I hear you’re looking for someone. And your search has led you . . . here. How did that happen?”
Michael wasn’t one to be intimidated, so he stood up. Schneider had barely given him room to move, but he did it anyway, pressing up against the larger man. “Dude. Why don’t you back up a bit? You’re scarin’ mah girlfriend.”
Schneider didn’t move, simply stood and glared down at him. Michael did the only thing he could think of. He climbed up on the couch and smiled down at the larger man.
Justin Schneider smiled back, but it was a cold smile. He still waited for Michael to answer.
“We’ve hit pretty much every occult shop in town,” he finally replied. “I think this is the last one we hadn’t been to.”
“And why the occult shops?”
Michael grimaced and regarded the giant suspiciously. He had conducted countless interrogations, and he knew one when he saw it. This gigantor was interrogating him. He couldn’t fathom why, unless he and Janelle had walked into some sort of trap. He looked down at Janelle, and she shrugged, so he told the truth. “Diane was pretty active in the occult community. We’re hopin’ we can find a connection somewhere.”
He turned his head toward Guidry, who was chatting quietly with Kai. “You said you could help,” he reminded the proprietor. “But I’m startin’ to feel like we’re helping you. What gives?”
Kai chuckled. “He’s not afraid of you at all, is he, Justin?”
“I bet I can make him scared.”
That would take some effort. Michael had seen a lot, and he wasn’t afraid of much, and certainly not any man, no matter how big he was.
“Now, now,” Guidry chided him. “Why don’t we take a beat and discuss ways we can help each other?”
Justin stepped back, and Michael sat back down.
“Your sister has been here,” Guidry assured Janelle. “She did not stay long, and I don’t know where she went.”
There was a tell, a minute tic of the eye, that Guidry probably didn’t even notice. But Michael did. Guidry was lying.
“Well, what did she do while she was here?” Janelle asked.
“Oh, just some shopping. Friendly girl, I remember that. Very pretty. You look very much alike.”
“And that’s why you had to call in goons?” she challenged him. “Did you think you were gonna need protection after you gave us such measly information?”
Kai smiled broadly and stepped closer, then sat down next to Michael. “My, do we have a pair here! Who are you two really?”
Michael furrowed a brow. “Whadda ya mean, ‘really’? We told you.”
Kai stared intently into his eyes for a long moment, then said, “I can spot a lie, too, my friend.”
“I’m certain you noticed his aura,” Guidry suggested.
“Oh, yes. Your aura screams . . . Michael.”
A chill went down Michael’s spine. “What the hell?”
“Somehow, I don’t think that was just a good guess,” Janelle accused the tattooed man. “How did you know his name?”
“Would you believe I can read his mind?”
“Not for a second,” Michael grunted. He held his gaze boldly, refusing to let this asshole know he was spooked.
“Clairvoyance, I’ve seen,” said Janelle, her heavy Cajun accent dropping slightly. “But telepathy is a myth.”
“Is it, though, Janelle?”
Schneider chuckled. “My size didn’t scare you, but that did, didn’t it? I can smell it on you.”
“I think it’s time we left,” Michael announced. He started to stand up, but Kai placed a gentle hand on his shoulder.
“My apologies, Michael. I truly didn’t mean to scare you. Sometimes, when the situation is right, I’m compelled to show off.” He looked up at Guidry. “I think we might be able to help each other out, don’t you?”
Guidry shrugged. “If you think it’s advisable. But I’ll need to make a call.”
“By all means, bring her here.” He turned back to Michael.
“Oh, God,” the big man groaned. “How many times have we had this conversation, only for it to end badly?”
Kai ignored him and turned back to the couple. “What do you really do, Michael? Police? Private investigator?”
Michael bit his lip so hard it bled, but the compulsion to answer was so powerful that he practically blurted it out. “NOPD. Eighth District.”
“And you’re working the Diane Stanfield case? Or is there more?”
Again, he felt as though someone were forcing the words from his mouth. “More. Some reports of human sacrifices.”
Schneider groaned. “Let me guess. Reports of people getting their heads bashed in. But when you arrived at the scene, you found empty graves.”
“We are so dead,” Janelle muttered.
* * *
The night is quiet as he and his team make their way through the city in the wee hours of the morning. Really quiet–too quiet. When the attack comes, it’s out of nowhere. His team, half a dozen experienced Navy SEALs with the acute senses of men who have spent years operating in the shadows, are taken completely by surprise.
Everything is a blur, and what he does see is terrible. So terrible. Monstrous creatures, fangs, claws, screams, sprays of blood. He shoots them, but it only makes them angry. Or worse, it makes them laugh. A head flies by, and his clothes get splattered with brains. Something grabs him from behind and bites him. He screams, fights, the creature snarls–
* * *
He opened his eyes and sat up in bed, a scream still on his lips. He was trembling and drenched with sweat, but the terror faded quickly. In the two seconds it took for him to shake himself awake and look back at Janelle, he relaxed and was fine. He didn’t even remember having a nightmare.
“What?” he asked abruptly.
“What do you mean, ‘what’? You were thrashing and screaming bloody murder. Scared the hell out of me.”
With that, he shrugged. “Dunno. I don’t remem–wait–how did we get here?” The last thing he could recall was that guy with the tattooed face sitting down next to him, and now he was at home in his own bed.
“I was going to ask you the same thing. I woke up when you started screaming, and I have no idea how we got here, either. Look at the clock.”
Michael looked over to see that it was 0500. They had entered Mister Guidry’s around 2030 last night and had been there about a half hour when the two men arrived. What the hell had they been doing for the last eight hours? A violent chill shook his entire body, and he began to hyperventilate. Sheer terror overtook him, and it was all he could do to keep from shrieking. He had felt like this before.
“Oh my God, oh my God, oh my God,” he whimpered over and over.
Janelle placed a gentle hand on his shoulder, and he suddenly realized he was curled up with his arms over his knees, rocking back and forth and dripping with sweat.
“Babe. Babe! What is it?” she prodded with a look of horror on her face.
He looked at her with bewilderment. “I don’t know. I honestly don’t know.” He turned and started to get out of bed when he noticed a piece of folded paper on the nightstand. He picked it up and opened it. It was a note, written by someone with a shaky hand.
“There is no way I’m calling that number,” Michael declared.
Five minutes later, he was picking up the phone.
November 11 is Veterans Day in the U.S. and Remembrance Day in Canada. It’s when we take time to remember fallen military personnel, but also the veterans and those currently serving. My dad and father-in-law both served in WWII. My brother-in-law is also a vet. My nephew is currently serving in the Air Force and flies the gigantic C-130’s. We’re very proud of him. I also have several good friends who are vets or currently serve. I’m grateful to all of you for your service.
But not just them. Thank you to all soldiers, sailors, Marines, airmen, veterans, and others who put your lives on the line every day to protect our country. Yours can be a thankless job, but you are the real superheroes.
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.”
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.
Here’s a little video of Harley giving attitude to Bryan. She always lets us know when she wants to go outside. Loudly.
Thought for the day:
In The Wizard of Oz, Glinda asks Dorothy if she brought her broomstick with her. She says no.
SHE BROUGHT THE WHOLE FREAKING HOUSE!
You can’t tell me there’s not a broomstick in that whole house. If not, it doesn’t say much about Aunt Em’s housekeeping, now, does it?
My entry for the Seven Deadly Sins contest on DeviantArt. Wish me luck. I worked hard on this, unlike Fred here.
Thanks to the following artists for the use of their stock.
Fireplace, grate, TV, TV stand, glass, remote, tile floor, and carpet all taken by me
Skeleton by markopolio-stock on DeviantArt – https: //www.deviantart.com/ markopolio-stock/art/Skeleton-Dead-JPG-40671944
Chair by Jack-Off-Jill;666 on DeviantArt – http: //fav.me/d1cj282
End Table by ED-resources on DeviantArt – http: //fav.me/d29hono
Test Pattern by AliasPercival on DeviantArt – http: //fav.me/ddastnw
Cobweb brushes by tigers-stock on DeviantArt – http: //fav.me/d99v8c0
Cobweb brushes by poisondropstock on DeviantArt – http: //fav.me/d1vk7ge
Cobweb brushes by fire-fuel on DeviantArt – http: //fav.me/d5uojvt
Rats purchased from Shutterstock
Skull Wallpaper purchased from Shutterstock
Spilled Whiskey purchased from Shutterstock
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.
Photomanipulation by me
Screenshots © 2020 Zenimax Online Studios
Card created at www.mtgcardsmith.com
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.
And a grenade.
I love my husband.
Imbolc starts at sunset on February 1 and goes until sunset on February 2. Yep. It’s Groundhog Day.
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.
Not that kind of boobies. Get your mind out of the gutter.
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.
For everything you have your character do, or for everything he is, ask yourself why. Examples: Why did Bellamy sneak onto the drop ship (The 100, TV show – https://www.imdb.com/title/tt2661044/?ref_=fn_al_tt_1)? Why would Stefan reject his Nazi lifestyle because of a woman (Lightning, Dean Koontz – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lightning_(novel))? Why was Carrie White’s mother such a religious fanatic (Carrie, Stephen King – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carrie_(novel) and https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0074285/?ref_=fn_al_tt_1)? And so on.
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.
The Lovers card implies sexual attraction, beauty, love, and romance. It can represent the drawing together of opposites.
Thanks to the following artists (all on DeviantArt) for use of their stock:
Taylor and Carrie Anne is a composite of these two photos by linzstock – https://www. deviantart.com/linzstock/art/Studio-Shoot-21-131280430, https://www. deviantart.com/linzstock/art/Studio-Shoot-20-131280343
Satin texture in Carrie Anne’s dress by smevstock – https://www. deviantart.com/smevstock/art/satin-92829553
Lace texture in Carrie Anne’s dress by surfing-ant https://www. deviantart.com/surfing-ant/art/Textures-Blue-Lace-38324094
Angel by kirilee – https://www. deviantart.com/kirilee/art/Angel-10-510147672
Sky by cattycass – https://www. deviantart.com/cattycass/art/blue-sky-82764087
Wreath by zememz – https://www. deviantart.com/zememz/art/Wreath-FREE-Content-756857875
Flowers on wreath by me
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.
Aspen by me
Rainbow and sky by billynikoll – https:// www.deviantart.com/billynikoll/art/Rainbow-429592516
Dragon by elevit-stock – https:// www.deviantart.com/elevit-stock/art/E-S-Blue-Dragon-342143663
Volcano by iconmalleni-stock – https:// www.deviantart.com/malleni-stock/art/Tenerife-Stock-254-740704652
Meadow by CHOAMStock – https:// www.deviantart.com/choamstock/art/Context012-51356958
Infinity Symbol purchased from Shutterstock
The Queen of Cups is compassionate and sensitive. She is fair and honest, possibly a psychic or healer. The card may represent a mother figure, a female ally, tender love, spirituality, or devotion.
Thanks to the following artists (all on DeviantArt) for use of their stock:
Model and bunny by lisajen-stock – https:// www.deviantart.com/lisajen-stock/art/White-Rabbit-1-84090175
Garden by lormet-images – https:// www.deviantart.com/lormet-images/art/Lormet-Oriental-Garden-0590-01sml-449509777
Balcony by ashensorrow – https:// www.deviantart.com/ashensorrow/art/Premade-Background-186-140009541
Table by c-and-n-stock – https:// www.deviantart.com/c-and-n-stock/art/Grecian-Table-Stock-I-133846796
Goblet by me
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”)
Thanks to the following artists (all on DeviantArt) for use of their stock:
Leon and swords by mjranum-stock – https:// www.deviantart.com/mjranum-stock/art/Mulch-r-1-257782232
Sunrise by maplerose-stock – https:// www.deviantart.com/maplerose-stock/art/Sunrise-1-99566319
Room by peace-of-art – https:// www.deviantart.com/peace-of-art/art/Places-BG-71-60206476
Concrete floor by cimarron29 – https://www.deviantart.com/cimarron29/art/Cracked-Concrete-floor-348724634
The Chariot is a card about overcoming conflicts and moving forward in a positive direction. The seeker needs to keep going, and through sheer hard work and commitment, he or she will be victorious.
Thanks to the following artists (all on DeviantArt) for use of their stock:
Tunnel by fairygoodmother – http:// fav.me/d24rc6d
Fairy Ring by moonchilde-stock – https:// www.deviantart.com/moonchilde-stock/art/Fairie-Ring-II-88790897
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:
Models Terra and Moe by falln-stock – https://www.deviantart.com/falln-stock/art/Terra-and-Moe-in-Dresses-20-32299953
Water by simplybackgrounds – https://www.deviantart.com/simplybackgrounds/art/Water-Texture-49283686
Rocks by presterjohnstock – https://www.deviantart.com/presterjohnstock/art/Precut-Stones-324617908
Grass by beautelle-stock – https://www.deviantart.com/beautelle-stock/art/Grass-63296452
Wizard’s Circle by frozenstocks – https://www.deviantart.com/frozenstocks/art/UNRESTRICTED-Wizard-s-Circle-305872840 (be sure to follow the link and check out this piece because my work covers up the best parts)
Cups by me.
Among other things, the Swords is a suit of strife. The three represents a painful loss, loneliness, grief, and heartbreak.
Thanks to the following artists for use of their stock (all on DeviantArt):
Heart by elevit-stock – https://www.deviantart.com/elevit-stock/art/E-S-Bloody-heart-347362361
Tornado by ashensorrow – https://www.deviantart.com/ashensorrow/art/Premade-Background-1289-216622320
Rain by dbszabo1 – https://www.deviantart.com/dbszabo1/art/misc-rain-element-png-309954950
Center sword by lazybonesstudio: – https://www.deviantart.com/lazybonesstudios/art/STOCK-OBJECTS-0019-170231328
Other two swords by me.
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):
Max photograph by me.
Dancing doggo by jaded-night-stock – https://www.deviantart.com/jaded-night-stock/art/Dog-Stock-Dancing-363196891
Mask by lilystox – https://www.deviantart.com/lilystox/art/Mask-58420207
Lighthouse by ShawnaMac – https://www.deviantart.com/shawnamac/art/Peggys-Cove-Lighthouse-Stock-531776520
Sky by photohouse – https://www.deviantart.com/photohouse/art/Bright-Sky-5-Into-the-sun-61147181
Water by the-foolish-princess – https://www.deviantart.com/the-foolish-princess/art/Seascape-206171890
The Moon represents imagination, dreams, instinct, intuition and fears. Prepare to be both inspired and frightened. This can also be a card of mystery and the unseen.
I’ve done several tarot decks, and it always seems I start with The Moon. I do have a love affair with The Moon, but I never actually noticed the pattern until now.
Thanks to the following stock artists for use of their work:
(all stock is from DeviantArt)
Full Moon: https://www.deviantart.com/mabaxter/art/New-Moon-440712648
Crescent Moon: https://www.deviantart.com/justiej/art/PNGS-Crescent-Moon-160699728
Bow and Arrow: https://www.deviantart.com/cgartiste/art/Angelwing-407405346
Night Sky: https://www.deviantart.com/arwenarts/art/NIGHT-CLOUDY-SKY-STOCK-132265243
2018 did have one major bright spot. We adopted Harley. The Great Dane puppy was 17 pounds when she was 12 weeks old.
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.
The lady has a visitor in the night. Is she about to die, or is she simply the Reaper’s girlfriend?
Thanks to the stock artists.
Reaper by me (model is the hubby)
Lady by cathleentarawhiti on DeviantArt – https://www.deviantart.com/cathleentarawhiti/art/On-the-fence-12-285683839
Sky by margarita-morrigan on DeviantArt – https://www.deviantart.com/margarita-morrigan/art/night-sky-455274883
House by wintersmagicstock on DeviantArt – https://www.deviantart.com/wintersmagicstock/art/DSC-0339-Ivied-Balcony-Rome-1-773776904
Scythe by fantasystock on DeviantArt – https://www.deviantart.com/fantasystock/art/Funerium-Weapon-Dragon-Scythe-59921616