Category: Uncategorized (Page 2 of 282)

Crime du Jour, Day 6: Child Abuse

Please note: I avoided graphic depictions of child abuse!

Crime du Jour: 31 Days of Malfeasance, Misconduct, and Immorality

One crime story per day, all the way through October. Ebook to be published Nov 1. This will be under my mystery/crime pen name, Diane R. Thompson!


Crime du Jour #6: Child Abuse



The townhouse on Cheyne Row was the sort of house that one did not suspect of large rats, it having a distinguished Chelsea address. However, since the first of October it had been plagued with scratching and skittering noises behind the upstairs wainscoting, and Miss Angelique Nankervis was beginning to suspect the house of infestation.

Miss Nankervis, a young woman of wealth and character if not an entirely impeccable history (having been raised in Jamaica), first noted the noise on October first, the same day that her neighbors across the street, near the famed historian and philosopher Thomas Carlyle’s house, had some difficulty.

The difficulty involved a certain amount of womanish screaming of the name Aldrich, and a discreet amount of bustling by the servants from house to house. Miss Nankervis rang, and her man soon appeared. Mr. Parnell was new, and unused to her unusual ways, her unusual height, and her unusual appearance.  She had only just begun to set aside her veil in his presence, and reveal the burned, scarred features of her albino face. He seemed not to react adversely, but the real test would be one of his continued discretion.

“Mr. Parnell, whatever is the matter across the street?”

“Number three, miss, belonging to Mr. Woodbridge Thurston and his wife,” Parnell said.  “One ought not to listen to gossip, but it seems as though the Thurstons have lost a son.”

Miss Nankervis frowned at him. Parnell often stooped to euphemize.  “The son has died? Or has he been mislaid?”

Parnell coughed into his hand. “Mislaid, miss. His name is Aldrich.”

“Let me know if you hear any further gossip on the matter. Or the son is returned.”

“Yes, miss.”

By the time the rats had come to Miss Nankervis’s attention, several days had passed, and it was the sixth of October.  Miss Nankervis rang again.  “Mr. Parnell, have you heard the rats?”

“Yes, miss. But I didn’t like to say.”

“Mr. Parnell, I require that those about me present me with every sort of curious, inconvenient, or otherwise memorable occurrence.  Do I make myself clear? Now: the rats in the walls?”

“I have set out traps, but I have not caught a single rat. They’re clever ones.”

“Are you using poison?”

“Only just begun, miss.”

“Remove the poison from the traps at once, and replace it with good bread and cheese,” she said. “No crusts or mold. Perhaps a dish of fresh milk.”


“At once, Mr. Parnell.  I will brook no delay.”

Soon the household gained an additional member: a cat. It quickly became evident that the cat was too lazy to make an effective hunter, and, in fact, it would howl if not fed.

Mr. Parnell inquired whether Miss Nankervis should like to get rid of the cat, named “Dundee,” and obtain another, but she only said that Dundee would be sure to give perfect satisfaction, as long as Mr. Parnell baited the traps with good bread and fresh cheese, and was patient.

To which Mr. Parnell could only say, “Yes, miss.”

The next few days found the cat pacing about the townhouse, searching every nook and cranny for something to eat, for he was forbidden any food which he did not himself find.

On the afternoon of the eighth, the cook, Mrs. Iriye, came to report. “The cat’s not been fed, Miss Angelique, but it ain’t pleased with being treated like a common mouser, no indeed! It soils everything in my kitchen, just to spite.”

“I am sorry, Mrs. Iriye, but I ask that you be patient for a little longer.”

Mrs. Iriye patted her hand. “Never fear, I have faith in your little ways.”

Miss Nankervis smiled at her friend.  “And Mr. Parnell?”

“Putting out that good bread, you can see that it breaks his heart. But he ain’t poisoned it, or otherwise disobeyed.”

“Good. A day or two should see an end to this mystery, and to Mr. Parnell’s upset.”

On the next day, the ninth, Mr. Parnell reported that Dundee was nowhere to be found. Miss Nankervis told him not to put anything out in the mouse-traps until instructed otherwise.

That night, the house was awakened by the sound of Dundee yowling piteously.  Miss Nankervis waited until Mr. Parnell came to her door and knocked softly.


“You said to tell you if anything unusual happened, miss. And it has.  The cat’s screaming for food, as I’m sure you can hear.”


“…And he’s nowhere to be seen.”

Miss Nankervis had already wrapped herself in a black dressing-gown. “Then let us find him.”

The cat was soon tracked to a second-story wall that closely butted against the neighbor’s. The exterior walls of the townhouse were of brick, but within them were plaster and lath walls decorated with paper and wainscoting.

Miss Nankervis knocked upon the wall.  A distinctly hollow sound emerged.

“I thought there might be something secret about this room,” she cried happily.  “Quickly, everyone—search for a hidden panel!”

The panel was soon found, behind a waist-high bookcase that revealed a purring cat and a small boy named Aldrich, who had been moving about with a broken leg and several other grievous injuries that caused him to drag one foot, thus causing the mysterious scratching. He had—rather miraculously—come in via the roof.

Aldrich soon found himself en route to Jamaica, in the care of Mrs. Iriye’s nephew, Brantly James, along with Dundee, who had grown quite attached to the boy, in contrast to the poor boy’s parents, who had not.

Mr. Parnell helped spread rumors that the Thurstons had invested in a great deal of money in a Singaporean house of ill repute, and the couple soon found itself disliked both by the wealthy and their servants, a difficult state to survive on Cheyne Row. Indeed, the glee with which Mr. Parnell carried out his instructions firmly ensured him a place in that unusual household, for years to come.


The characters in this story are from a series of historical crime capers about Smoke the Orphan and her mistress, Miss Nankervis. You can find the first one, How Smoke Got Out of the Chimneys, here.


Geeky gothics and other strange & wonderful fiction: sign up for the Wonderland Press newsletter here. Includes two tales of Doctor Rudolpho, a teenaged fortune-teller who has the Sight.  If you enjoyed today’s story, please consider signing up!

You can find 2018’s story-a-day project, Tales of the Normal, here, and 2017’s story-a-day project, October Nights, here.





Crime du Jour, Day 4: Bribery

Crime du Jour: 31 Days of Malfeasance, Misconduct, and Immorality

One crime story per day, all the way through October. Ebook to be published Nov 1. This will be under my mystery/crime pen name, Diane R. Thompson!


Crime du Jour #4: Bribery



It started innocently enough. Caroline Byam, MD, an oncologist, worked for a multi-specialty physician practice, Grossman Associates, an affiliate of Freedom Health, in Massachusetts.  She was one of the new breed of doctors, the kind who stop to double-check drug interactions on their smart phones mid-visit. Caroline had charmingly crooked teeth, deep-set eyes, and a tendency to pull out most of the hair on her eyebrows, like Mona Lisa.  You couldn’t have called her pretty, though, and she didn’t have the right kind of smile. She had a boyfriend but she had never had much luck with men. They walked all over her.

One off-Saturday, she came in with a handful of other doctors to meet with some pharmaceutical reps.  They were hustling a new brand of fentanyl, a transdermal skin patch of synthetic opioid more addictive than heroin, as being a reasonably safe alternative to the current patch dominating the market.

Caroline’s supervisor advised the doctors to consider using the new patch, Moradine Transdermal, instead of the front-runner brand-name one.  Top prescribers would be considered to speak at a conference in Hawaii the following December, no vacation time necessary, all expenses paid. A bonus might be in the offering.

Caroline told herself she would try switching a couple of prescriptions. Cautiously. Some of these pharmaceutical reps were pushy, borderline unethical. But she would give the new drug a fair shot. The studies the reps had presented did look legit.

She prescribed the patch for several of her patients, and they responded well. Soon she had stopped proscribing the original patch altogether.

Until the day one of them, Fred Sweetser, started hallucinating while he was in her exam room.

“Almira,” he said, taking her hand gently in his, “you’ve come back.”

“I’m sorry?” she asked. “My name is Caroline.”

Almira was an unusual name; it had been her grandmother’s middle name, back in Pennsylvania.

“You have her smile,” Mr. Sweetser insisted.

She smiled at him. Mr. Sweetser was an old man, about eighty, and his prognosis wasn’t good.  He had recently lost almost twenty-five pounds and had had to be brought into her office in a wheelchair. But he was stubborn, not ready to relinquish himself to either hospital or hospice care. He lived in an assisted living facility nearby.

“Thank you,” she said. “Do I remind you of your wife?”

Mr. Sweetser smiled broadly, still holding her hand. He rubbed his silky, bony, almost printless thumb over the backs of her knuckles. “Did you think I wouldn’t recognize you? Even after all this time?”

She checked his chart: he was listed as widowed, his records linked to a Liz Sweetser, a former patient of Freedom Health (deceased).  “Almira” could be anyone. A daughter, a former mistress.

“Are you in any pain, Mr. Sweetser?”

“Not as much as I used to be.”

One of the rarer side effects of the transdermal patch was auditory and visual hallucinations, but she wasn’t sure whether Mr. Sweetser’s delusion could be considered as such. He might only have dementia.  Or simply be deluding himself over a fond memory and a faint resemblance.

“Have you had enough to drink today?”

He waved a hand casually.  “I’ll wait until I get back to the old folks’ home.  I don’t like to wet myself in front of pretty girls.”

“Are you feeling nauseated?”

He lowered his voice. “I’ve been constipated. The nurses are all trying to shove go-juice down my throat. You know, the stuff with prunes. And it gives me gas.”

She would lower the dose on the Moradine patch, she decided.  Mr. Sweetser had lost a good deal of weight. She scrawled a note that the patches should be lowered to 50 mcg/hr, but to contact her if Mr. Sweetser experienced any pain.

“But, Almira,” Mr. Sweetser said, “All of that isn’t important. I want you to tell Caroline that there is trouble coming.”

“I’m sorry?” Caroline asked.

Mr. Sweetser tapped his temple with his free hand. His watery blue eyes were distant, looking straight through her.  “Caroline is being bribed to prescribe certain drugs to her patients. You know I’ve always had the sight. If she doesn’t stop now, then some of her patients will die.”

Caroline’s heart seemed to stop beating. Her ears roared and she swayed on her wheeled stool.

Mr. Sweetser’s hand tightened on hers.  “I’m sorry. I’m not saying this just to hurt you. Tell her not to go to that conference. The one in Hawaii. That’s where they really pull her in, get her to start dealing to rich kids with too much time on their hands.” Mr. Sweetser brought her hand to his dry lips and kissed it.  “And that that boyfriend of hers. It’s either kick him out of the house now, or arrange for him to OD on some of those patches later. He’s a barnacle, and you got to scrape those off from time to time. Like you did me.”

He grimaced.

“She’s not a bad girl, Almira.  She’s like you.  A good heart but no angel. I’m sorry I did you wrong, Almira, but I wouldn’t lie to you now. Promise me, Almira. For old time’s sake.”

“I—I promise,” Caroline said.

Forewarned had been forearmed. Caroline avoided the opioid scandals that crashed Grossman Associates in 2018, established a reputation for integrity, and been hired on to a much better position elsewhere. Her boyfriend had screamed when his rich doctor girlfriend scraped him off her life like the barnacle he was, but she only smiled: he had no idea of the fate he’d avoided.

On Caroline’s next visit, her mother denied ever having heard about a “Fred Sweetser.” The visit after that, though, one whole photo album was missing from her shelves.

Since then, people stop to look at her wherever she goes.  It’s that half-satisfied, half-ironic look of hers. She’s not pretty, but she has the right kind of smile.

That Mona Lisa smile.



Geeky gothics and other strange & wonderful fiction: sign up for the Wonderland Press newsletter here. Includes two tales of Doctor Rudolpho, a teenaged fortune-teller who has the Sight.  If you enjoyed today’s story, please consider signing up!

You can find 2018’s story-a-day project, Tales of the Normal, here, and 2017’s story-a-day project, October Nights, here.


Crime du Jour, Day 3: Arson

Crime du Jour: 31 Days of Malfeasance, Misconduct, and Immorality

One crime story per day, all the way through October. Ebook to be published Nov 1. This will be under my mystery/crime pen name, Diane R. Thompson!


Crime du Jour #3: Arson



Someone rings the doorbell downstairs. It’s three o’clock in the morning, and there’s an empty spot on the bed beside me, and no light on in the bathroom.  I get up and go downstairs. My wife Judy’s shoes and purse and a clay-colored jacket of hers are all missing. I answer the door and it’s a blonde heavyset man in his fifties. He’s wearing a t-shirt with a fire department logo and Carhartt pants.  He smells like smoke, and my guts just fill up with lead.

“Are you Isaac Eudy, Jr.? Are you the owner of 267 Attleboro Place in Mooresville?”

I own several rental properties in that area, so I say, “Yes, sir.”

“I’m Investigator Herlocker with the Mooresville Fire Marshall’s Office. There is an active fire at 267 Attleboro Place.”

I sigh. I have always had a feeling about that place, that sooner or later it would be trouble.

The investigator asks, “Is your wife at home?”

I say, “I didn’t see her when I got up a second ago, and her purse and shoes are missing.”

“If you will come with me, sir, I need you to identify whether or not we have found your wife.”

On the way from Charlotte to Mooresville, for nearly fifty minutes I try to reach my Judy, but she doesn’t pick up the phone.

My renter’s name is Oscar Van Pelt, he’s about thirty-five years old, and I’d have to say a real spoiled shit.  He’s in the right neighborhood for his personality, though. Trump owns a golf club out there, if that gives you a picture.  The house has a swimming pool and it backs out onto Lake Norman.  Insurance-wise, that house is worth about four times the value of where I live in Charlotte. That house has marble countertops, an open-plan kitchen, gray walls inside and out, and lots of windows.  I bought it because I could get eighty-five hundred a month for rent.  Oscar Van Pelt is in the film industry of North Carolina, although he is not from here.  His contract is for one year.

When we get to the house, it is surrounded by so many fire trucks that we cannot find a place to park. About half the house is completely gutted. It is a loss. The investigator takes me to a van belonging to the North Carolina OCME, which is the medical examiner, and they have her in a black bag, which looks too thin. That bag is thinner than a zip-up garment bag for a clean suit.

Seeing her shakes me up. I cannot believe it is Judy. She isn’t wearing her wedding ring, although you can’t tell to look at her, she’s so burned up. The tech in the van has to run a probe along her finger, to show me that the ring is missing.

“That her?” Herlocker asks.

I go, “I can’t tell.”

“Look again,” he says.

I say, “I think that just might be her jacket, but—”

“Any identifying marks?” he says.

“Other than her teeth? No, she didn’t have any moles or nothin’. You better call her dentist.” I give Herlocker Judy’s dentist information, and he says he’ll be in touch.

I call my insurance agent.  Then I call Judy’s mom. “What was she doing over there?” she asks. I tell Judy’s mom that nobody’s sure if it’s Judy yet. “Oh, it’s her,” she says. “I had a feeling in my gut earlier, like when she used to sneak out of the house when she was thirteen. That girl was always trouble.”

It’s Judy, all right. She was strangled, before she was burned.

I didn’t recognize my own wife.

They found two gallon-sized jugs of liquid paraffin in my basement, and paraffin and empty jugs of the same brand all over the basement of 267 Attleboro Place.  They found some of my fingerprints on the utility room door in the basement.  Judy’s fingerprints were all over the tub in the master bath, and her cell phone was tracked going to the Attleboro place at 11 p.m.

I turned in early that night.  I thought Judy had too.  We were both in bed by nine.  Judy snores, so I sleep with earplugs in.  I made her supper that night.  We ate together. I made her oven-baked fried chicken and glazed carrots. You just throw it all into the oven, and it takes care of itself. They said she had chocolate-covered strawberries in her stomach, when they cut her open.

You get into middle age, you stop worrying about your wife cheating on you. Or you cheating on your wife, for that matter. I think she was mad I was taking her for granted. Or else she was just plain bored. The police went over her phone records and text messages. She had called or texted Van Pelt about a thousand times.

And I didn’t know it, or even suspect.

Van Pelt got out of the burning house with minor burns and smoke inhalation. He had to be dragged out of the master bedroom. He said he had never seen my wife before in his life, although Judy’s vagina said otherwise. And then he said, he had no idea how she had gotten into his basement, with or without fourteen jugs of liquid paraffin.

At the trial, it came out that the 911 call had come in at two-fifty a.m.

When it was my turn to get questioned up there on the stand, I interrupted the prosecutor:  “I just have one question for you, sir.”

He was one of those kids who still think they know everything. “Yes, Mr. Eudy?”

“Just how did Investigator Herlocker get to my place in Charlotte by three a.m., if the call was at two-fifty? Because 3 a.m. was the time that I started trying to call Judy, non-stop, as my phone records will show.”

And that was when the case fell apart.



Geeky gothics and other strange & wonderful fiction: sign up for the Wonderland Press newsletter here. Includes two tales of Doctor Rudolpho, a teenaged fortune-teller who has the Sight.  If you enjoyed today’s story, please consider signing up!

You can find 2018’s story-a-day project, Tales of the Normal, here, and 2017’s story-a-day project, October Nights, here.



New Release – Blood Moon: A Gathering of Beasts

Blood Moon: A Gathering of Beasts

Universal Book Link | Goodreads (reviews)

When the sun has set, when the moon is full, the shapeshifters gather—wolves, cats and totemic creatures, nightmares and revelations.  Seeking answers, seeking revenge, seeking a cure to affliction, seeking blood, seeking answers or seeking love—a gathering of beasts abounds. Dare you walk beneath the moonlight?

Containing my short story (as De Kenyon): “Beware the Easter Moon.”

Colin’s tired of his mean, bullying Grandpa stealing kids’ chocolate Easter eggs. So he hatches a plan to make his Grandpa eat one of last year’s Easter eggs. One of the regular kind. That stinks when it gets rotten.

It was a terrible plan. But it was also a great plan.

He just shouldn’t have gone outside at the farm to get the egg on the night of the full moon before Easter, when the wolves howl and the thing downstairs is ready to pull him down into the deep, dark drain hole in the basement…


New Interview at Library of Erana

I have a new interview up for the Blood Moon Bundle, which includes a short story under my middle-grade pen name, De Kenyon, titled “Beware the Easter Moon”:

If you had to pick 5 books to take to a desert island which 5 would it be? How long am I going to be stuck on this desert island, anyway?

Assuming that a) they have to be paper books, and b) that I don’t want to use one of my choices as something like How to Survive on a Desert Island, today I’m going to say:

Click here to find out 😛

A Non-Awful, Brief Guide to Writing Short Social Media Advertising Posts

I had to write up a short guide to writing tweets/short social media posts for a group of writers, and it didn’t turn out awful–so I think I’ll share 🙂


  • The elements of a decent social media post are text, hashtags, and link.
  • All elements together should be fewer than 280 characters, which you can usually test in your word processing program by highlighting the text and checking the word count. (In Word 2007, it’s under Review | Word Count.)
  • A Twitter tweet is okay to use for Facebook as well, although you may want to remove hashtags if you don’t like the look of them.


  • The focus of a tweet should be on the benefit to the reader, not on the features of the work, like the author names or even the title—unless you have a Stephen King story, in which case, use the name.
  • If you’re not sure what benefits or features means here, they are terms from writing ad copy. I recommend reading The Copywriter’s Handbook by Robert Bly.
  • In short, start with what a demonstration of what makes your story fun to read (benefit), not with information about the story (feature).
  • Don’t tell the reader “it’s fun.” Show them.
  • Don’t describe the plot.  That’s a feature, not a benefit.  See below for more on benefits.
  • It’s always better to be a little melodramatic, silly, sly, clever—personality is always better.
  • Example: “Driving through the rain at night along the streets of Minneapolis, a dark figure jumps in front of her car: a minotaur” vs. “I WROTE A 12K URBAN FANTASY STORY ABOUT MINOTAURS PLS READ.”
  • Don’t worry too much about keywords.
  • Don’t be afraid to post test tweets live on your own account. This will immediately reveal all typos!


  • Popular hashtags on Twitter come and go, but are a useful way to sum up key features, like genre.
  • Try not to use more than 2-3 per tweet.
  • Some recommendations: #urbanfantasy, #uf, #books, #bookworm, #contemporaryfantasy, #amreading, #anthology, #shortstory
  • You can also use elements from that story, e.g., #witches, #motorcycles, #secretbaby.
  • Try not to use the same hashtags every time, but keep a list of handy hashtags and rotate through them.


  • The shorter the link the better.
  • Recommend do not use link shorteners except on sale links (Amazon, Kobo, etc.).
  • Shorteners like don’t help advertise your website!
  • Sales links should be Books2Read links so the reader has one click to get to a buy link.
  • Test the link!

A brief word on the benefits of fiction:

  • Put most simply, what stories sell is emotion. Don’t be afraid to toy with audience emotions in a tweet: that’s what the readers want.
  • The benefits of reading fiction are (roughly): escape, empathy, wish fulfillment (like punishing the bad guys, but this goes all kinds of directions), excitement, the feeling of falling in love, new experiences, laughter, making the reader feel smarter/stronger/more attractive, even demonstrating what not to do (as in 1984 or whenever the characters split up before going into the haunted basement).
  • More specifically, some of the benfits of urban and contemporary fantasy (for example): making our ordinary world more exciting (sort of an escape), empathy with the misunderstood (whether that’s an ogre or a single mom is up to you), wish fulfillment (overcoming beaurocracy, justice for the underdog, downfall of the arrogant), feeling supported by chosen families (or redefining the support you get from a birth family), choosing one’s own identity, learning to come to grips with difficult situations.  Feel free to generalize more 🙂
  • For the sake of Twitter, stick to one type of benefit per post. You can write multiple tweets on a story/anthology for sale, but each tweet should focus on a different benefit.
  • In the example, the minotaur/Minneapolis tweet focused on “making our ordinary world more exciting.”


  • Write one tweet per work that you’re trying to sell.
  • Only write 2-3 tweets at a time.
  • Priority: the first book in a series.  Next priority: Anything you’re selling for over $2.99.
  • Save the tweets to a file.
  • Sign up for a social media posting program’s free program (like Hootsuite) and schedule some posts for the coming week.
  • Set yourself a reminder to schedule more posts next week.
  • Every time you schedule more posts, write another tweet.
  • The new tweets help you practice and provide different text you can rotate through.

Not the greatest guide ever, but at least it’s short!  A note on The Copywriter’s Handbook: it seems dull and irrelevant for writers of fiction; the examples are all based on writing advertising copy.  Please take the time to read and talk yourself through just what your book is selling–this will help not only with ads but queries, synopses, talking about your book in public, and all sorts of things.

Good luck!

The world is madness which can only be combatted with sly nonsense.  Read the latest at the Wonderland Press-Heraldhere!

New Release: Water Faeries (A Procession of Faeries Series)

A Procession of Faeries #4: Water Faeries

Universal Buy Link | Goodreads (reviews)

On a rock by the shore sits a mermaid fair 
Dreaming of her lost lover as she combs her hair 

Kelpies, and selkies, and the great snakes of the sea 
All stop and listen as she sings of a love never to be 

For the sailor she saved from those dark, storm-tossed waves 
Got back on his ship, and sailed away 

Now the mermaid’s alone, with broken-hearted dreams 
And far, far away the sailor stares out at the sea 

Fifteen stories about mermaids, kelpies, and other magical water creatures.

What if the Loch Ness monster is more than a myth?

Where did the Lady of the Lake go after leaving Avalon?

Can a mermaid ever truly leave the sea, and follow her lover to land?

This collection includes fifteen tales about sirens, kelpies, mermaids, sea monsters, naiads, and other enchanted creatures of the water.

Enjoy the magic and wonder of these watery tales of Faerie!

New Release: Temper & Temperance

Universal Buy Link | Goodreads

Once upon a time…

Napoléon Buonoparte did not ally himself with the armies of France during the French Revolution, but sought power instead in Britain, where his subtlety and planning was met with reticience and phlegmatism.  The British feared Napoléon’s infamous Corsican temper, and worried that it would lead him to vendetta–and not capable leadership.  Would he betray them to France unintentionally?

Although he had proved himself capable in various matters, Napoléon knew that he would be once again tested before the British would commit.

His plans hung upon the outcome of a single ball:  a man who could not organize a pleasant country ball surely could not be relied upon to lead an army.

His plans were in place, his resources martialed…

…and then he met a bookish young woman named Jane Austen.

This short, sweet romance is an alternate history of what might have happened, if Napoléon had not met his Josephine and gone to France, but allied himself elsewhere.  

Napoléon Buonaparte, of Casa Buonaparte, in Ajaccio, Corsica, was a man of such seriousness of character that, once he had decided that Corsica did not belong to the French, he could not rest until he had himself taken possession of it.

The inhabitants of Corsica are well known for their tempers, which sometimes erupt into that particular Mediterranean code of honor known as the vendetta.  It is widely agreed that if only the inhabitants of that island could agree to end their disputes, they are of such a particularly assured and inflexible character as to be able to conquer the world.  But, as the people of Corsica like to say, no-one can hate a Corsican like another Corsican, and the feuds that might have conquered Europe are instead a source of grief for the mothers, wives, and families of those noble souls over-afflicted by their own honor.

Therefore Buonaparte, not having a disciplined army of Corsicans with which to expel the French, turned to the British in order to obtain one.  The British had already put off answering the Corsican Question, as it was called, during the French invasion in 1769 (which also happened to be the year of Buonaparte’s birth), and found themselves similarly unable to resolve it when first Buonaparte began to ask it again during the years of 1789 to 1792.

For if the character of a Corsican is marked by his temper, then the character of the Briton shall be known by his reluctance to have one, and to remain untouched by questions of justice and injustice, until such a time as it must be answered upon his own soil, whether in Britain or her colonies.

The British, as led by Prime Minister William Pitt the Younger, almost began to think of taking it upon themselves to answer the Corsican Question in 1792 after the Battle of Valmy, in which the Prussians narrowly defeated the French.  But we had soon once again resolved not to be too hasty, having only had twenty-three years in which to debate whether or not to assist the Corsicans in throwing off their French masters.

The French, in honor of their narrow defeat in Valmy, began to reverse or at least reconsider some of the changes wrought by their Revolution.  Many of the worst excesses of the Ancien Regime had been ameliorated and the Third Estate had taken control of the government, and so Louis Capet, much like a badger that has dug itself under the foundations of a house, was left at Montmédy, well-watched by the dogs, that is, the regular French army.

Meanwhile we Britons, shocked by the intemperate treatment of the French royalty by the French, finally began to wonder if the French Question should be addressed, and rather sooner than later.  Mr. Pitt’s government resoundingly vowed to hedge their bets and undermine the most radical and violent elements of the French Revolution by supporting those who would resist them, at least in sending them whatever aid should be determined to be as clandestine and as cheap as possible.  Of course, by the time the funds were applied, the main concern was no longer the French and their cries of Liberté, égalité, fraternité! but the Prussians and their push to annex all of Europe and parts of Russia as “traditional provinces of the Holy Roman Empire,” while denying Rome and unifying the Protestant churches in the lands so taken.

Once again, Napoléon began to press for an answer to the Corsican Question, this time promising to send such Corsicans who had proven themselves skilled at the vendetta into lands controlled by the Prussians to cause trouble there.

Thus it was in September 1795 that Mr. Pitt asked his cousin Lord Grenville, the Foreign Secretary, to have a word with Mr. William Wickham, a commissioner of the bankrupts, to place a certain suggestion into the ear of Buonaparte, that if he were to present himself on a certain date in December of 1795 in the town of Basingstoke, Hampshire, at the home of Edmund Fry, a type-founder to the Prince of Wales, then he should be almost certainly assured of the practical details of his plans reaching the ear of the Prime Minister, sooner or later.

In order to prevent any suspicion of collusion between the Corsicans and the British, Mr. Buonaparte, who was the son of a well-off family in Corsica, took a house in Basingstoke in order to see whether he liked the area and the shooting.  He firmly denied any intentions of finding an English wife, which meant it quickly became established fact that he intended to take one.

The inhabitants of Hampshire, being firmly convinced of the superiority of the views, the comfort of the house that Mr. Buonaparte had taken, and the fine appearance and temperament of their daughters, accepted Mr. Buonaparte into the community under the unspoken condition that he choose from among them a sensible and pretty young wife.

To read more, click here!

For Writers: The Grain of Salt

So if, as a writer, you’re supposed to take feedback from readers, critique groups, reviewers, etc., with a grain of salt, what is that grain of salt?

My thought is this:

“Would the suggested change help satisfy my readers?”

I think that’s it.

Next time you get a comment you’re on the fence about, ask the commenter (unless it’s a review; just leave that shit alone),

“How will this help satisfy my readers?”

If they can’t explain, or if the answer is, “But that’s how you do it” (or “But that’s what’s grammatically correct”), then ignore it.  If it points back to some kind of arbitrary rule or system, but not back to a reader, then it’s ego and bureaucracy talking, not inspiration.

The world is madness which can only be combatted with sly nonsense.  Read the latest at the Wonderland Press-Heraldhere!


New Release: Silver Linings, an Uncollected Anthology Issue!

Uncollected Anthology: Silver Linings

Universal Book Link | Goodreads (reviews)

Discover how to negotiate with demons and survive a night on the street. Sniff out a pesky ghost or hunt down a creature at night. Attend a fairy ball, overcome inner darkness or speak with the wind.  7 stories about the one thing in the dark that pulls you onward: hope!

Featuring my story, “The Coffee Shop Ghost”!

Pink-haired goth Tiff Cordero isn’t a witch.  She’s a clairaliant, someone who smells spirits. And she’s been hired to sniff out a ghost who has recently started to give migraines to the patrons of a local coffee shop.

Only problem:  nobody’s died anywhere near the building recently, no one has cursed the place, and the only odor Tiff can pick up is the smell of burnt plastic.

If she can’t solve the case, all the cool patrons will ditch the coffee shop—and it’s already in a neighborhood getting updated and plasticized out of existence.

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