Scarlet Letters

The not-so-private thoughts and rants of Elizabeth Donald, journalist/author and founder of the Literary Underworld.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016


Boy is famous for making me pause shows all the time so he can get a snack, run to the bathroom, split the atom, whatever. The joys of ADHD. Watching anything with the both of them is an exercise in patience.

BUFFY: *begins*
BOY: Pause. I need more food.
ME: And we are thirty seconds past the previouslys.
BOY: We took too long starting the episode.
ME: Whatever.
BOY: *goes for food*
ME: Bring me a milk.
BOY: No, because you didn't say please.
ME: Pretty please, with sugar on top, child of my loins, bring me milk.
BOY: Okay, I'll take that, but just this once.
ME: Smartass.

ME: *grabs single-serve bag of Doritos*
ME: *nibbles*
ME: *chokes* Aaah! I got the spicy nacho ones.
BOY: *snickers*
ME: Shut up! You have the regular. Trade?
BOY: *snickers more, passes me the bag* You know, they're not that spicy.
ME: Shush. I acknowledge my wussiness.
ME: *bites Doritos* Blech.
BOY: What?
ME: They're stale.
BOY: Yeah, they go stale sometimes.
ME: They're dated from 2014. How did they survive that long in this house?
BOY: ...
ME: That's it. I need chocolate chip cookies.
BOY: I just sat down.
ME: Fine. All you have to do is share your gingersnaps.
BOY: ... Can I throw them to you?
ME: Do not throw gingersnaps at me.

Also: We have way too much cake in this house. Leftovers from the Relay Cafe. Once upon a time I could foist them off on coworkers. Ah, the trials of working remote...

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Sunday, May 08, 2016

Guest Stars: Georgia L. Jones!

Today's blog post is brought to you by Georgia L. Jones, an amazing writer with Seventh Star Press, courtesy of Tomorrow Comes Media! Georgia is doing her blog tour this week sharing snippets from her terrific new releases, Legends of Darkness and Witches.

Guest Post from Kyan
(Character in Legends of Darkness by Georgia L. Jones)
 I allowed my mind to wonder back to a time that was so much like today.  My hatred for the humans around me was founded deep in my soul.  They deserve no more compassion than you would show a snake, slithering through the grass.  They all should die.

It was June 10, 1692, a day that will haunt me for as long as my soul exists.  That was the day that they hanged me for being a witch.  If they only knew, I thought.  Now I am much stronger than any witch I have ever known, and I have known a few. 

I owned a couple of bars, and didn’t want to act and dress according to their standards. I drank some, liked to play games, and had been married three times.  I did have company late at night, and yes, I even entertained men.  I had no husband; he had died, just like the others. 

As I look down at the black silk that encases me, I can only imagine what those Puritan, cob up their ass, women would say if they could see me now.  I love the feel of the material on as little of my body as I can afford.  I enjoy the way it caresses me as I move.  The feel of it rubbing my inner thighs with every step I take.

I may be dead. I may be a warrior.  I may never feel the love that I have always, dead and alive, yearned for, but one thing is certain. I can wear whatever I choose, and have what I want to possess.  I will take as much advantage of that as I can.  I thought of the town dyer that testified at my trial.  He had made public knowledge of my under things.  What business was it of theirs what I wore under my clothes? 

It had been an argument that I had with myself often at first.  I was angry at what had happened.  I felt the judgment that had been passed on me, unfair. 

When I first awoke in my current skin, I wanted to tear them all, limb from limb.  I wanted to show them the evil that lay within them.  I wanted them to know that Jonathan Corwin, himself, had lain with me, and drunk wine.  He had even indulged in shovel board with me on occasion.  It was too late though.  I had waited, and now to die another death would not be for any good. 

I turned my back on Salem Village and on Mr. Hale’s Church in Beverly, and never looked back.  I thought of when I went to Vicus.  The Danbue in the great forest there were kind and gentle to me.  They healed me, and gave me a name.  Kyan was what they called me.  I had enjoyed the name.
When I met Drake, it was in the early 1800s.  I can’t recall the year exactly.  I do remember the moment though.  It was right here in New York, while he was visiting the country. 

The first time I laid eyes on him, I was smitten.  I wanted him in every way.  I knew he would be my mate for all eternity.  His beauty has never been rivaled by any man in my mind.  His heart was better than any I had ever known.  He was the best of everything I had ever known.

He rejected me, opening wounds that had been there, lying dormant, forever.  I could not just stand by and let him get away.  I tried in every way to impress him, to make him love me the way I did him.  Nothing worked, he simply was not interested in loving me, and I could never understand why.Somewhere between the battles, and Thomas showing up, I lost a part of myself.  I felt wounded and betrayed.  I felt alone, even with the clan around me.  My life seemed to be no more than it was on that fateful day in June, 1692, when my human life ended.  I still hide my true self every moment, to keep the secrets and the betterment of the humans; the despicable humans. They may as well have been the ones who hanged me that day.  They were just as shallow and thoughtless in their views and lives.

I often wonder why?  Why do they deserve my loyal protection?  Maybe it’s time for me to not hide the true me.  Maybe it’s time for me to live my life, the life that I have never lived; while alive, or in death.  Then Thomas showed up.

When I first saw him, I wasn’t taken aback.  He stood tall and handsome, but there was nothing particularly spectacular about him.  He seemed safe, and reminded me a lot of myself.  He didn’t carry compassion for the humans, and I was with him on that idea.  The persecution that he had endured had been much like mine.  We could talk openly with one another.  He understood me.  I never questioned that he was Atherian.  I knew that he was, there was none of our kind that wasn’t. 

As I spent more time with Thomas, I found great comfort in his ways.  I wanted the respect that he demanded.  We are great warriors, and deserved to be treated as such.  It only made sense that we would make our own armies to do our bidding.  I shared in his belief that we should be able to indulge in whatever activity we choose, with whomever we choose.

The first time we mated, I felt the power of him.  I could not be satisfied.  Even afterwards, I wanted more and more.  I wanted to feel the lustful sensation of release.  When his blood mixed with mine, as we intertwined our souls, I felt exactly the way I did the day that my head had been slid into the noose.  I could feel the life being sucked from me, and back into me again.  I felt contempt, hate, lust, greed, and envy.  I embraced the feelings.  The anger that has been held hostage inside of me was released.

As I sit here, I think of all of this, and I think of the future.  I see that I will never be with my beloved Drake.  He has found his mate.  I do, however, vow to destroy them.  I hate Samoda with every fiber of my being. 

Thomas and I, together, will raise an army.  We will reign over this country.  As our power increases, we will eventually rule over all humans.  They will be bred by, and for us.  Their very heartbeat will beat within us.


About the author: Georgia L. Jones was born in Columbia, Missouri on September 21st, 1968. In 1992 she settled in the beautiful Ozarks town of Lebanon, Missouri, where she has lived since.
At a young age Georgia learned the value of getting lost in a good book. She has always enjoyed reading and letting her imagination run wild. In her early teenage years she began to put her own stories down on paper as she plunked out the words

Over the years Georgia has harbored the dream of being a published author and written many short stories. On January 10, 2010 she embarked on the dream as she began to bring the characters from her first novel, Legends of Darkness, to life. Upon completion in June 2010 she realized that it was not a single book but a series, and created the concept of the series Remnants of Life.

On September 5, 2010 the Remnants of Life series was contracted through a small press publishing house out of Louisville, KY., and so her career began. Through that press, Blackwyrm Publishing, Georgia L. Jones published the first two books in the series, Legends of Darkness and Witches, took part in several anthology works both as an author and editor, and created a new character to add to her own multi-faceted personality, Smarty Mic Smartypants who endeavors into the more cynical and snarky side of life. In September of 2015 she became part of the Seventh Star Press family, which is based out of Lexington, KY. The second edition of the first two books in the Remnants of Life series as well as the third book in the series are currently contracted through them.

When her muse isn’t dragging her to lands unknown, you will find her hanging out with her family and friends in the Novalunium Paranormal Mansion, the 1840 farmhouse that she calls home, as well as home base for the small Paranormal Research Group that her and a couple of friends have founded. Find out more about Georgia on Facebook and the Tomorrow Comes Media Tour Page!

Book Synopsis for Legends of Darkness:  Dangerous Saviors...what would you do if your life rested in the hands of something that really wanted to EAT YOU...

Come journey through the realms of the next world where everything you know about Good and Evil are put to the test.

Samantha Garrett lives and dies a good life in the human world. She awakens a new creature, Samoda, a vampire-like warrior in the army of Nuem. She is forced to realize that she has become a part of a world that humans believe to be only “Legends of Darkness.” Samoda finds her new life is entwined with the age old story of Greed, Love, Betrayal, and Vengeance.

Join our heroine as she battles not just for her own existence, but for entire human race’s future.

Book Synopsis for Witches: The second book in the Remnants of Life Series follows the story of the Warriors in their age old battle against evil that constantly fights to take over the human world.

In Witches meet Kali and Seline, a set of seemingly human twins who discover their heritage, which is rich in the blood of the Strega. Learn about the Strega and the role they have played throughout history. Follow our heroes through southwest Missouri and beyond as they pursue the demons and unravel the puzzle that has Kali and Seline right in the middle of it.


Friday, May 06, 2016

I will turn this haunted house around right now if you don't behave

Living in a haunted house means there's never a dull moment.

Okay, in all seriousness, we don't really believe Isabel is real. Mostly. Probably. We know there was a woman named Isabel who lived in this house and was murdered here by her husband in 1911. Isabel suffered domestic violence of the physical and emotional varieties, and had made a friend of an independently wealthy, single woman who encouraged her to leave her husband, unlike the other oh-so-helpful ladies of the era who simply believed taking a smack to the face was part of a wife's duty.

As often happens even today, a woman trying to leave an abuser is most in danger on the day she leaves. He killed her, confessed, tried an insanity plea and it didn't work even back then. He was sentenced to 45 years, but his sentence was commuted after fewer than 10 years. He remarried and lived happily ever after.

No wonder she's pissed.

It was neat for two horror writers to move into a potentially haunted house. When my shoes disappeared shortly after we moved in - from the center of the living room - and reappeared a week later in the center of the living room, it was kind of funny. Plus we always have someone to blame: The car disintegrates new tires 18 months after purchase, and it's Isabel's fault! Computers died, as did the refrigerator, heating/cooling system, water heater, the air conditioner in my office, sewer system... And I suppose there could be a logical reason why my half of the closet spontaneously collapsed and Jim's did not.

She likes him. She really doesn't like me.

Sometimes things happen that make us question our unbelief, if that can be a thing. There are the occasional loud thumps in the night, and sometimes a door slams when everyone else is asleep or no one is near it. The first time that happened, it startled me awake. Now I just mutter, "Isabel, I'm sleeping..." It's a century-old house. You expect noises and funny air drafts. My office door closed itself last night while I was on the couch and Boy was in his room. Ghost, or an open window up in my office creating funny air pockets?

And there was the myriad of things that broke during the wedding, when the house was a circus with family and friends coming and going. Stair rail, closet rod, a dish or two. Isabel doesn't like a ruckus. My friend Sara brought us a lovely charm of friendship woven around the initial I, in the hopes of appeasing her. It disappeared mere hours after Sara gave it to me and has never been seen since.

I've been doing some research lately into Isabel's story, because I'm writing a short story loosely based on her murder. It's not exactly historically accurate, but then, I'm not writing history. I'm writing a version of her life and death that might or might not be what really happened. Only Isabel and her husband know exactly what happened that day. So I've been spending a lot of time thinking about her.

Then we had a bit of a nervous crisis. I was loaned a key. It was an important key. It had to be kept safe, and I put it in a secure front pocket of my purse to make sure it stayed safe.

It came time to use it today, and it wasn't there. I searched my purse. Five. Times. And I searched my computer bag, in which my purse usually resides. We searched every room of the house, the pockets of every pair of pants I've worn for the last ten days, the key dish, the desk, the car. We searched wallets and checkbooks and folders and the box we used to bring in the groceries from Sam's Club. We tore the house apart searching for that key, folks.

And then we switched and each of us searched the places the other one had already searched, for fresh eyes. Every receipt crammed in the car console is now in the receipt bag in the house. My purse and computer bag have never been so clean and well-organized. Every business card, receipt, lipstick and pack of gum has been searched and neatly replaced.


Jim and I were on the phone late Thursday night discussing the issue as I searched fruitlessly yet again.

JIM: We are going to have to search again in the morning when it's light, the house and the car.
ME: I am so not looking forward to the conversation I have to have if it's really lost.
JIM: Is there any place we haven't looked?
ME: Unless my purse has a hole in it and it literally fell out somewhere, no.
JIM: It has to be in the house somewhere.
ME: I even searched the... oh holy hell.
JIM: What?
ME: I found it.
JIM: What?? Where??
JIM: No fucking way.
ME: I am holding it in my hand.
JIM: Where in your purse?
ME: In. the. front. pocket. Right where I said I'd put it.
JIM: That is not possible.
ME: I know.
JIM: You searched that purse and that pocket five or six times. I saw you.
ME: I know.
JIM: I searched that purse twice! I checked that pocket and it was not there!
ME: I swear, I'm starting to believe.
JIM: This is scary! It wasn't there! I searched it!
ME: *at ceiling* Wench! Stop hiding my shit!
JIM: Shh, don't piss her off!
ME: You're right. Sorry, Isabel, I didn't mean to call you names but stop hiding my shit!

I have since replaced the key in an even more secure pocket of my purse, with a zipper across it. As I did so, I took a picture of my hand placing the key in the pocket and sent it to Jim, as witness.

 Sometimes I really have to wonder about those air drafts, you know?

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Thursday, May 05, 2016


Upon seeing a really cool Superman figurine...

BOY: Gawd, $90! I've got bigger action figures than that.
ME: It's not an action figure, it's a figurine. It's for decoration.
BOY: Whatever. I'm not paying $90 for an action figure I can't play with.


Other updates: Jim had surgery. A lump had developed in the center of his back the size of a baseball, and the doctor's in-office attempt to remove it was only partially successful. He got it down the size of a golf ball, but he needed an OR to get the rest. So Jim's surgery was about 11 days ago, and he was hurting pretty badly. He also had to be off work for nearly two weeks, so yay paperwork.

But he is doing much better, stitches were removed Tuesday and I get to finally pack away the first-aid kit. And I have made many jokes about a Cone of Shame, since he has a tendency to rub his back along the wall like a bear when the healing itches.

MAN: I am not a dog!
ME: We-ell...
MAN: Woof.

You've not experienced the true Antigone until you've seen it re-enacted and interpreted by Jim.

"Finally, everyone in the kingdom has gone to Creon and told him that people are sick, the animals are dying, he must relent and bury the guy! Even his own son says so! And finally he gives in, and says, we will bury him! And the son goes to the cave, where Antigone is imprisoned, because he's engaged to her even though she's his cousin, first cousin, ew, and they find that the rock has collapsed and Antigone has hanged herself! And there is Haemon-eggs, lamenting over her dead body! And Haemon-eggs attacks his father the king with his sword! But he's the worst swordsman ever, because he takes one swing and misses, so instead of, y'know, trying again, he stabs himself! Because Greek."

I reply, "Greek. Of course, the Romans just scrubbed the names off the Greek dramas and replaced them with Latin instead of developing a culture of their own. I'm still not seeing why Antigone reminds you of me."

"Because she defied the king! And nobody listened, so Antigone says, 'Screw y'all,' and hangs herself."

"Screw y'all" is an interpretation from the original Greek, I presume.


ME: I presume you had the presence of mind to bring your orchestra tux to school today for the concert, since your rehearsal call is at 5? Or are you actually coming home after school to rest first?
BOY: No, I was gonna stay here but I forgot my tux. (sorry...)
ME: So what's my incentive to bring it to school?
BOY: For me to look nice during my last concert of the year.
ME: Hmm. I was thinking more like you being nice to me.
BOY: Oh, okay. :)


MAN: I'll get lunch at the university.
ME: *stern look*
MAN: Don't give me the look of death and destruction!
ME: James.
MAN: It's my last exam of the semester, and I'm treating myself to a burger and fries at the food court!
ME: Well, "treating"...
MAN: Fine, "suffering," but it's MINE.
ME: And no caffeine!
MAN: Woman!
ME: Don't call me woman! No caffeine! Your blood pressure doesn't care that it's the last day of the semester!
MAN: Actually, the end of the semester might lower my blood pressure.
ME: Possibly. Now you won't have anything to fret about.
MAN: I'm going to start fretting about my summer school class.
ME: *searches for water squirt bottle* James!
MAN: Hush!
ME: You can't hush me, so quit trying!
MAN: I am King Creon, and this is my kingdom and I say hush! Which makes you my cousin, ew.
ME: Ew. Fine, King Creon, I'm still not Antigone, because I wouldn't go hang myself in a cave or marry my cousin, wuss.
MAN: Technically she didn't marry her cousin. But she was stubborn and hardheaded.
ME: I am not stubborn.
MAN: *look*

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Wednesday, May 04, 2016


PROM. Don't ask me how that happened. He was seven years old just the other day, and the only great wish he had was to meet Mickey Mouse (spelled Miky Maws.)

Prom is a much bigger deal than it was when I was a young lass. Tickets are much more expensive, and it's like this giant all-day thing. Ian's girlfriend, Caroline, is a charming and sweet girl (plus theater geek and sf nerd, so we like her). Poor girl spent half the day at the salon! I think I went to a hairdresser or something...

Exploring the costs of tux rental left both me and Ian in palpitations - poor boy earns about $55 a month from his various "employments," so a $175 rental plus $40 in flowers plus $50 for the prom ticket plus $15 for after-prom was a tad daunting.

But since Mom is a super genius, I found that tux rental places sell their unwanted tuxes on eBay, usually when they get some minor problem. I found a tux in his exact size for $35. Perfect condition except for a slight tear at the waist, which we took to the same lovely seamstress who altered my wedding gown. If I had the slightest idea what I'm doing with a needle, I probably could have fixed it myself, but I can sew on a button and that's about it. Plus, he gets to keep it!

He did buy a dark red bow tie on Amazon that matched her dress more or less perfectly. Aw.

The day of the prom was scheduled to be dark and thunderstormy. This was a problem, because we had planned to do pictures at the Gardens at SIUE, which is the same place where Jim and I had our wedding pictures done. However, two problems loomed: The Gardens is the single most popular photography spot in town, so we'd be standing in line; and the storms.

The day was dark and sprinkly. And as we began getting ready, Boy confessed that he had invited his various miscreant friends along to the photo shoot. Suddenly I'm doing photos for a dozen kids. Oh, really? Commence the group chat, which is apparently how kids communicate these days - what, nobody passes notes anymore?

So we developed Plans B, C and D. Since the Gardens were likely to be crammed with prom families, we determined Plan A was now the lovely fountain in front of the library, if the weather was fair. If it was sprinkly but not outright raining, the pavilion in Leclaire Park overlooks a lovely lake and fountain. If it was pouring, well.... Everything pretty is outdoors or out of town!

I sent a panicked text to two photographer friends. One suggested a spot on the second floor of the college library that can make for neat photos. The other suggested the bus station - no, really! It's covered, there's an "Edwardsville" sign at one spot, and the architecture is pretty nice, actually.

While checking out those spots, we saw that the Wildey Theater had opened its doors. See, back in the 1950s and 60s, the Wildey hosted the prom. They rolled out a red carpet, and the kids strolled in past parental paparazzi. They were announced by couple, and it was a big deal for the town.

Well, Edwardsville High School now has something like 2,500 kids. There's no way the Wildey can hold all those kids. For perspective: Our wedding reception was in the larger ballroom at the Wildey, and it was full with about 100 guests. The actual prom is held at a convention center in Collinsville.

But they had put the prom up on the marquee side, and opened doors for photos.

As we finished our preparations, Ian was begging the skies to stay clear. I told him he should strike a deal with God that if the weather cooperated just through the photo shoot, he would be on time for his classes the rest of the semester. "I can do that," he said.

What do you know? The skies opened up as we were picking up Caroline and caravanning with her and her mom to the park. Sunny and lovely just long enough for the shoot.

So we were at the fountain, with couple and single shots there and under trees in the park. Then we waited on the Miscreants, but they never showed. Ian said they were all running madly about town trying to get ready.

So we went on to the Wildey. We shot under the marquee, on the stage, and at the ticket booth. It was really lovely, and made it very special for the kids - in particular since they met working on plays, and because it was their one-month anniversary. All together now: Aw.

After that, who cares? Okay, they did. The prom was lovely, by all reports and from the photos shared. Dancing and silliness and romance of the teenage variety.

And once prom was over, we collected the kids and delivered them to the after-prom, which is a five-hour mini-carnival inside the school with food and games and prizes and silliness in a safe, supervised, drug-free environment. Not that we don't trust the kids, but.... Oh wait. Reporter. I popped for the after-prom tickets myself.

Then Boy slept nearly twelve hours. Can you blame him?