THE ORPHAN SCRIVENER -- ISSUE # SEVENTY-SEVEN -- 15 OCTOBER 2012

Summer has departed in a huff and autumn is thinking of packing its suitcase and leaving as well. The first hard freeze of the season slid down the pike as this newsletter was composed in our usual bi-monthly scramble to hit the issue date target. Indeed, if Orphan Scrivener had wheels by now we'd have collected numerous tickets for driving to the common danger. Subscribers are therefore advised to fasten seatbelts for a bumpy ride as they read on...


MARY'S BIT or DEAD MAN RIDING

It's no secret autumn is my favourite time of year. Mean to say, I've mentioned it often enough.

Thus I'm currently enjoying the annual treat of the slow wash of colour converting foliage to shades of lime, grapefruit, lemon, tangerine, and orange, a veritable citrus landscape if you will.

Lost September, ripe with sunny days and cool nights conducive to slumber, is but a glorious memory. Grey November, with its cold sheets and smell of smoke, is not yet here. But for all the season's simple pleasures -- autumn's bounty for us included sampling numerous new types of apples, of which Cripps Pink, Gala, and Fuji have become firm favourites -- for those who dislike winter, there's melancholy reminders in the bright tints of the sunset of the year that Dame Time proceeds on her inevitable journey.

Every day the black bat night flaps in earlier and departs later. Just the other morning, our bag o' rubbish was put out under the glimmer of a beautiful crescent moon riding atop the treetops in a star-spattered sky. We'd have admired it much longer if the predawn darkness hadn't been so cold.

For autumn also brings out multi-hued scarves and gloves and thicker sweaters. We know, subscribers know, we all know being as we're a knowledgeable bunch, that foul weather is coming with biting winds, numbed fingers, and coughs and colds.

Not to mention snow shovels, wet boots, and frozen pipes.

Well, except for subscribers living in a warmer climate. Even then there's a down side, for having once resided in Florida I can confirm rumours its residents have no autumn, the unfortunate devils.

Lots of citrus though. Many a garden gate had a table at which passersby could fill a brown grocery sack with grapefruit and pay only a dollar, and usually on the honour system at that.

To return to my duck a l'orange, as the French might have said but apparently prefer to talk about mutton. Doubtless subscribers will anticipate some of my favourite literary works treat of autumn. Charles Baudelaire speaks of the season's transient tenderness, a description hard to beat even with a large stick. The flaming glory of seasonal vegetation seemed almost painful to Edna St Vincent Millay, who described the brilliant colours of autumnal woods below grey skies and rising mists as all but crying with colour.

And speaking of crying, as I write the wind has risen into full cry from the north under a glowering sky about to fulfill its promise of cold rain. Generally we can expect more frequent wet weather as the month advances, soaking the countryside and bringing to mind Kipling's description of an autumn day when, under grey skies like today's, woods were rotting with rain. The familiar loamy smell of wet undergrowth is a dank miasmal odour accompanying his dead man riding to see his beloved once again.

It's a gruesomely appropriate image given just a couple of weeks hence Halloween will loom out of a darkness cluttered with drifts of dead leaves intent on clammily grabbing at the ankles of little trick-or-treaters as October itself breathes its last on its death bed to the castanet click of gnashing pumpkin teeth.


NECESSARY EVIL or THE BSP TICKER

A fair bit of news this time around, so on with the motley....

MEMO REF MEM or WHO IS M. E. MAYER?

We confess M. E. Mayer is us, so stop shining that light in our eyes! Thank you. And meantime we're thrilled to announce the British edition of the revised One for Sorrow will appear at the beginning of December with a spiffy new cover from major new publisher Head of Zeus, which is publishing John's adventures under the series banner Death in Byzantium http://tinyurl.com/8v7nkuu Subscribers can view our new covers in HoZ's spring catalogue at http://headofzeus.com/sites/all/files/userfiles/files/HoZ_Spring_2013_Catalogue.pdf not to mention those of other PPP stable mates writing historical mysteries -- Jane Finnis, Priscilla Royal, and Bruce McBain.

In passing, just a reminder American subscribers possessed of one of those new-fangled Kindle gizmos can still download a free copy of the revised Onefer via http://www.amazon.com/One-Sorrow-Chamberlain-Mystery-ebook/dp/B0015ACGQ0

THE BEST MANSIO NORTH OF LONDON or JOHN'S GHOST LAUNCH

Jane Finnis, mentioned above, is about to launch the Head of Zeus edition of Shadows In The Night. Originally appearing over here as Get Out Or Die, it's set in the turbulent province of Britannia on the outer edge of the Roman Empire. Aurelia and her family run an inn near York; "the best mansio north of Londinium," as Aurelia likes to claim; the tradition of British under-statement having clearly not developed yet. Though it's fifty years since the Romans invaded Britannia, tension still simmers, especially in the north. Aurelia is a Roman, but wants to live at peace with the Britons, and both Romans and natives are welcome at her inn. Then a traveller is brutally murdered, and a crude message is left: "All Romans Will Be Killed. Get Out Or Die"... Jane will be hosting the book launch from 7 to 8.30 p.m. at Waterstones in York on November 22nd but it is available for pre-order.

But what of ghosts, you ask? Well, through the kindness of Jane and HoZ copies of the revised One For Sorrow will be in evidence on the 22nd, about a week before its official publication date. So, lovers of Roman mysteries, be there or be square.

AND SPEAKING OF GHOSTS or THE PERILS OF READING ALOUD

In honour of Halloween, the content of King's River Life online magazine will focus upon the supernatural and related manifestations for the next edition or so. As if that were not chilling enough, from the dark recesses of Casa Maywrite creeps Or Equivalent Experience to gibber at readers of KRL's October 20th edition. Strange but true: the basic idea sprang from an advertisement calling for certain qualifications or equivalent experience in connection with an event similar to that described in this yarn. Point your clickers to http://kingsriverlife.com/ on the twentieth.

A REVIEW AND INTERVIEW or MORE FROM KRL

Mary was interviewed by Diana Hockley for the September 1st issue of Kings River Life, and the result lurks below Diana's review of Ninefer at http://kingsriverlife.com/09/01/nine-for-the-devil-by-mary-reed-eric-mayer-book/ Among other topics Mary touched upon mentors, writer's bloc, and how John reunited two old friends, not to mention a thought or two on where the publishing industry is going.

A LITTLE BIRD TELLS YOU or TWEETS ARE NEAT!

Or will be once we've got the hang of it and tidied up our act. Cue the trumpet fanfare to warn, er, announce we've both just signed up for Twitter. Since the lights remained on, we take it we have not succeeded in bringing down the national grid. In stumbling through the overgrown and thorny maze of getting a handle on how Twitter works, one of the first things we learnt was there are an awful lot of twitterers named Mary Reed. But should we be surprised? At one time there were three Mary Reeds in her immediate family. Accept no substitutes. Orphan Scrivener's Mary is @marymaywrite, while Eric's nom de tweet is @groggytales Send us a line, do!

PARTNERS IN CRIME or TWO FOR THE PRICE OF ONE

A while ago we submitted our patter after the style of Gilbert & Sullivan on, appropriately enough, collaborative enterprise in response to a call for thoughts on same. Our contribution was included in a workshop Pampered Pet mystery series author Sparkle Abbey gave at the Romance Writers of America conference in July. At present their workshop --- Sparkle is the pen name of Mary Lee Woods and Anita Carter -- is not available online but we hear they plan to upload it in due course, so we'll pass along news about that as it arrives. Meantime, our Partners In Crime can be perused at http://www.poisonedpenpress.com/partners-in-crime/ Our thanks to Sparkle for their interest!

LATEST PPP BLOGS or ROCK ON

On September 18th Mary, inspired by Graham Greene's classic novel of the same title, blogged about that esoteric, not to say eccentric, British confection Brighton Rock http://www.poisonedpenpress.com/brighton-rock/ and on the 18th of this month she will shake a tambourine In Praise Of Brown Paper. Interested parties should consult http://www.poisonedpenpress.com/category/news-and-blog/ on October 18th. If the subject of brown paper does not appeal, subscribers might care to glance over recent entries by assorted PPP authors posted on the same page.


ERIC'S BIT or A NERVOUS SQUIRREL

Every day a squirrel has been industriously burying nuts in our backyard, preparing for the winter. So much simpler than carting tinned beans home from the grocery. And cheaper.

Sometimes I envy that squirrel.

He doesn't wonder where the next dollar is coming from. He doesn't live by his wits. He has instinct to guide him. He does what needs doing without fretting about the future. Does a squirrel dread the approaching cold and snow? Does he worry about heating bills, frozen pipes, mortality, or the meaning of existence?

Of course not.

Well, I don't think so. Admittedly I can't know for sure what goes on in a squirrel's head.

Maybe he's digging an acorn hole and muttering to himself.

"Darn! Broke another claw. How the heck am I going to cling to icy branches if I lose all my claws on these ##$$&&!! rocks? Maybe I should be scouting around for an abandoned woodchuck burrow. Do I know a rabbit who needs a roomie?

"What does it matter if I won't be able to climb a tree by the time the snow falls? I'll never be able to find these stinking nuts anyway. I should've made a map. Needless to say I don't have the instinct to do that.

"Instinct! Bah! Like VCR instructions written in China.

"Even if I find these nuts they're going to be filled with worms. Ugh. How many have I buried? How many will I need, supposing half of them are inedible? Oh, wait, squirrels can't do simple arithmetic.

"Thanks instinct! Let me starve.

"I ought to be making a nest. That I have the instinct for. Yeah, just what I want to do, curl up in a bunch of sticks and dead leaves in the top of a tree in zero degree temperatures. Feasting on wormy, frozen acorns. Four months of #4@@!! acorns -- if I can find them -- and waiting for my so-called house to drop sixty feet to the frozen ground every time the wind blows.

"I'm not going to live through the winter. I know it. I'm going to starve, or freeze, or fall. That scabby black cat is going to get me.

"Oh dear! I had nightmares about that cat again last night. I can feel it watching me all the time. It's probably lurking right now. Did those ferns move? Ah, just the wind. Frigid. A winter wind.

"Hey, at least by December my lice go into hibernation. I ought to be stoic. Right.

"Marcus Aurelius, my ass. He should've tried living in a tree!"

Yes, for all I know that squirrel out there is nervous wreck. Now I feel much better.


AND FINALLY

Speaking of nervous wrecks, it seems only fair to alert subscribers the next Orphan Scrivener (acorns not included, no assembly required) will leap, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, into their in-boxes on December 15th.

See you then!
Mary R and Eric

who invite you to visit their home page, hanging out on the virtual washing line that is the Web at http://home.earthlink.net/~maywrite/ There you'll discover the usual suspects, including more personal essays, the Doom Cat interactive game written by Eric, and our growing libraries of links to free e-texts of classic and Golden Age mysteries, ghost stories, and tales of the supernatural. There's also the Orphan Scrivener archive, so don't say you weren't warned! Intrepid subscribers may also wish to pop over to Eric's blog at http://www.journalscape.com/ericmayer/


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