(This is a mirror site of my webpage karenjcarlisle.com)

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Camp NaNoWriMo Round-up.

original post: http://karenjcarlisle.com/2016/07/31/camp-nanowrimo-round-up/

July was the second Camp NaNoWriMo for 2016. For those who have no idea what NaNoWriMo is, you can read about it here.  Camp NaNo has more flexibility.  Simply put, you nominate a set number of words to complete in one month. Minimum 30 words. You can write novel drafts, revision, poetry, scripts or short stories. You choose.
NaNoWriMo is not for everyone. I find it a useful tool; it is a kick in the butt - an incentive to avoid procrastinating. This Camp, I cut my word count to twenty thousand as I was having surgery in week three and would lose at least a  week and a half of writing time. As it was, my surgery was rescheduled a week earlier - so it was possible I would only have two full weeks of writing time (depending on my recovery).
Planned work was transcribing (and rewriting) several handwritten scenes, writing three scenes from notes, rewriting, editing and then tackling those last three critical scenes I had been putting off for months. The aim was to try to complete my work-in-progress three short stories and novella for my next book, Eye of the Beholder & Other Tales.
What I achieved:
camp 160711Week1: A slow start. Final rewrites and edits were done on the shorts.
Week 2: Several scenes were in limbo - some on first drafts, some on final rewrites. I worked my way through scenes 1-10 to final edits before I had surgery.
Week 3: Recovery time. This week was a write-off. Pardon the pun. The three short stories were passed onto beta readers.
Week 4: My brain is finally starting to work again. I finished another seven scenes to final edits. Two scenes were written from notes. This leaves the final scene and two clue-filled scenes left to write (I had left them to last so I wouldn't leave out any of the crucial clues).
160730Yesterday I woke, having dreamed the perfect final scene. I spent the day trying to recreate it; I managed the highest daily word count for the month: 3343. If only the words would flow like this, every day!
I even managed to do some formatting (non-NaNo assigned and not on the record) so I could assign my ISBN and register for Cataloguing-in-Progress with the National Library, ready for publication. This can take up to two weeks, so I had to get it completed to allow for time for submission and printing. That September launch date is looming...
For those in Adelaide, I am doing a pre-launch at the Aus SciFi club rooms on 11th September. The official launch is at the Steampunk Festival in September.
steampunk festival 2017 poster
A big thank you to my writing group for their helpful critiques, my editor, Sharon Kemmett, and my beta readers, David and Terry.

Saturday, July 30, 2016

New interview on 'Killing Time' Blog

original post: http://karenjcarlisle.com/2016/07/30/new-interview-on-killing-time-blog/

Hi everyone,
You can find my latest author interview on Amanda Howard's Killing Time Blog. Amanda is a 'True Crime Author, Thriller Writer, Youtuber and Caffeine Addict'. 
Amanda did a guest post here on 17th July - Rope: A History of the Hanged, Jack the Ripper and my life of crime-  helping me out while I was in hospital! (thanks Amanda). Amanda shares my fascination for the legend of Jack the Ripper.
Killing time blog interview Amanda Howard 160730

Friday, July 29, 2016

Photo Friday: Back on Track.

original post: http://karenjcarlisle.com/2016/07/29/photo-friday-back-on-track/

Two weeks since surgery: Brain is waking up. It's been a productive week and here's some pics to prove it.
Lots of writing. Formatted the title page of Journal #2 and sharpened my way through two pencils.
   sharpwriting_copyright2016KarenCarlisle Update160728
journal 2 title page_copyright2016KarenCarlisle

I've finally registered my own ISBNs for the Australian print editions of Doctor Jack & Other Tales and Eye of the Beholder & Other Tales.
And applied for Catalogue-in-Production registration with the National Library.
Lots of tea, surviving flowers from my hospital stay and...
  teaandTARDIS_copyright2016KarenCarlisle Flowers hosptial_copyright2016KarenCarelisle
an unexpected postal delivery. My Star Trek 50th Anniversary Uhura Barbie! I wasn't expecting for at least another week.
Photos:©2016 Karen J Carlisle & D Carlisle. All Rights Reserved.
If you wish to use any of my images, please contact me.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

I've got Cabin Fever. It's Driving Me Insane!

original post: http://karenjcarlisle.com/2016/07/24/ive-got-cabin-fever-its-driving-me-insane/

Well, what a week.
I've discovered new forms of pain, developed a (to be confirmed) allergy to psyllium and have been functioning on an excess of broken sleep for over ten days.
Concentration has eluded me. I sit in front of my computer and stare at a blank screen. My eyelids flutter and the world disappears. I wake after my nanna nap, wipe my eyes and frown at the screen. It's still empty.
So I try to catch up on some DVDs, but struggle to concentrate, miss all the vital clues and wake up with a sore neck, just as the credits roll up the screen.
My week has been full of increased fibre, plenty of fluids and pacing around the house. I'm growing sick of peppermint tea. If I have to eat one more apple...
I crave a thick juicy steak, with chips and chocolate cake and crisps and brownies and low-fibre, high fat, unhealthy snacks.
And to top it off, that psyllium allergy rash is wreaking its vengence!
Ha, I thought. I'll just pop down to the shops and buy a lemon meringue pie and that DVD that is on sale. Not so. No driving allowed. For almost six weeks. I'm trapped at home, waiting for my family to return from shopping and a Pokemon recky. More pacing ensures.
I have managed to do some writing. I rewrote a scene over the past two days. I shudder to think how coherent it will be when I return to it later.
Success! I have managed to do some formatting (which my Dearheart has double checked as my brain is still flitting around). The locum doctor is coming out to check on my allergic reaction and give advice on alternative fibre supplements to tide me through the next week or so of recovery. My family are making all the right consolatory comments and graciously doing housework, so I won't be tempted to lift heavy items.
I'm making a list of possible future blog posts. What would you like me to write about? Story background? Research I've done for my stories? Historical figures? More shorts? More costume posts? Garden posts (though I'm forbidden to do any digging or lifting)?
winter brainHelp me! I can feel the cabin fever creeping in as I pace around the house for the umpteenth time today.
I just need to get through this recovery phase and get my brain cogs working on full steam again!

Friday, July 22, 2016

Photo Friday: A Week of Pain and Hope

original post: http://karenjcarlisle.com/2016/07/22/photo-friday-a-week-of-pain-and-hope/

On Thursday 14th July, I went under the knife. I had a hysterectomy. This should sort out some of my escalating health issues, which have put me over three months behind on my writing schedule.
How inconvenient.
My fantastic surgeon tried valiantly to do keyhole surgery but, alas, I don't do things by halves. The cut was needed. Recovery time will be longer, but I will be at my book launches! (even if I am a little less perky than usual).
Here are the 'highlights' of the past week. (Don't despair; there are no gory operation photos.)
Post surgery: Lots of lying around feeling sore. I had forgotten how barren daytime, free-to-air television was. Caught up on Playschool, re-runs of Doctor Who, Vicar of Dibley, Starsky and Hutch. Watched a lot of ABC (good on you, Aunty!) Dearheart came to visit every day, after work, even when he was tired.
boredMeganTony Flowers_copyright2016KarenCarlisle
I downloaded Pokemon Go! to take the edge off the boredom. It's difficult when you can't get out of bed. And I couldn't visit a Pokestop, so I ran out of balls.
 poke1_copyright2016KarenCarlisle poke2_copyright2016KarenCarlisle poke4_copyright2016KarenCarlisle
Food: One can only have clear liquids and jelly for so long before one goes mad! Yeah for day three and real food. And lots of fresh fruit and side salads.
  dinner1_copyright2016KarenCarlisle breakfastJoyMissMAndy_copyright2016KarenCarlisle lunch_copyright2016KarenCarlisle
Visitors and surgery pressies were a god-send. Thanks to Joy, Anne and David, Miss M, Andrew, Margie, Megan and Tony.
 bookMargie_copyright2016KarenCarlisle JoyMissMAndy_copyright2016KarenCarlisle
Lastly the view out of the window:
Pre-surgery: The view from my window. The rainbow was a good omen.
Post surgery: What a beautiful weekend - and I'm stuck in bed! View of the Adelaide Hills.
Going home: Five days later - still beautiful skies.
going home MeganTony Flowers_copyright2016KarenCarlisle
Photos:©2016 Karen J Carlisle. All Rights Reserved.
If you wish to use any of my images, please contact me.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

I Never Met a Chocolate I Didn't Like

original post: http://karenjcarlisle.com/2016/07/10/i-never-met-a-chocolate-i-didnt-like/

July 7th was International Chocolate Day. Now that's a holiday I can relate to. In honour of the day, this week's post is about chocolate.
Whenever someone says chocolate, a voice inside me says:
"I never met a chocolate I didn't like.".

Though I admit I draw the line at chocolate hot cross buns and croissants.
Some of you will recognise the quote by Deanna Troi of Star Trek: The Next Generation. In the same episode, The Game (1991), she said "Chocolate is a serious thing."  Deanna  knew the score.
Chocoalte cake is a favourite of Police Surgeon and detectiving cohort , Henry Collins, from my series The Adventures of Viola Stewart. I prefer dark chocolate (preferably at least 85% and Fair Trade).
And perhaps this isn't such a bad thing. And to prove it, here's some sciencey stuff.

The Science of Chocolate

Even science admits chocolate has health benefits. Though you need to consume dark chocolate with a high cocoa content. It's the cocoa that's good for you, not the sugar. Cocoa has been linked to:
  • improved mood (causes release of serotonin and endorphins - the feelgood hormones),
  • boosts cognitive performance (so do red wine and tea)
  • lowering blood pressure (due to flavanols),
  • preventing liver disease (due to improved blood flow),
  • boosting good cholesterol (due to polyphenols found in dark chocolate),
  • maintaining healthy vascular tone (lowering BP, opening vessels and antioxidants that reduce inflammation)
  • even improves the skin!
Bitter is better - containing more of the beneficial chemicals and less sugar (which is not beneficial).
I'm still searching for a Ktarian chocolate puff, Deanna's favourite:
"I don't know exactly what's inside, but I think it's made with seventeen varieties of chocolate."
-  Deanna Troi., Star Trek: The Next Generation: Liaisons (1993)

Bibliography - The Researchy Stuff:

  1. 10 reasons why chocolate is good for you
  2. Acute dark chocolate and cocoa ingestion and endothelial function: a randomized controlled crossover trial http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/88/1/58.abstract
  3. Chocolate Consumption, Cognitive Function, and Nobel Laureates http://www.biostat.jhsph.edu/courses/bio621/misc/Chocolate%20consumption%20cognitive%20function%20and%20nobel%20laurates%20(NEJM).pdf
  4. Cocoa, chocolate and cardiovascular Disease.  http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2797556/
  5. Cocoa flavanol consumption improves cognitive function, blood pressure control, and metabolic profile in elderly subjects: the Cocoa, Cognition, and Aging (CoCoA) Study—a randomized controlled trial. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4340060/
  6. Dark Chocolate and Cocoa May Reduce Blood Pressure
  7. Dark chocolate consumption increases HDL cholesterol concentration and chocolate fatty acids may inhibit lipid peroxidation in healthy  Humans.
  8. Effect of cocoa on blood pressure. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22895979
  9. Long-term ingestion of high flavanol cocoa provides photoprotection against UV-induced erythema and improves skin condition in women.
  10. Postprandial effects of dark chocolate on portal hypertension in patients with cirrhosis: results of a phase 2, double-blind, randomized controlled trial.  http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22811444
  11. Potential benefit of dark chocolate for liver disease patients
  12. Regular consumption of dark chocolate is associated with low serum concentrations of C-reactive protein in a healthy Italian population.
  13. The neuroprotective effects of cocoa flavanol and its influence on cognitive performance
  14. Why Is Dark Chocolate Good for You? Thank Your Microbes
Photos:©2016 Karen J Carlisle.
All Rights Reserved.
If you wish to use any of my images, please contact me.

Friday, July 8, 2016

Flash Fiction Friday: Cubicle #6

original post: http://karenjcarlisle.com/2016/07/08/flash-fiction-friday-cubicle-6/

Another Chuck Wendig Flash fiction challenge. The theme was Insomnia: "Insomnia must figure in your story in some way." (1000 words).
Cubicle #6 was inspired by my stay in hospital on 4th July. Not my usual style. I hadn't slept for two days due to pains in my back and arms. Heart issues were ruled out - pinched nerves, extreme muscle tension. Oh the joy of back issues and anxiety!
© 2016 Karen J Carlisle
Ping. Four hundred and fifty-one.
Ping. Four hundred and fifty-two.
Ping. Four hundred and fifty-three.
The sound echoed through the Emergency ward.
Ping. Four hundred and fifty-four.
Ping. Four hundred and fifty—
Jane clenched her fists and groaned. Each ping was a crowbar thrust into her temples. She peered at the heart monitor.
2.00 am.
She clutched her arm and peered over the end of her gurney. K: Large orange numbers marked/denoted/numbered her cubicle: '6-0'. Speckled grey linoleum lined the floor and seeped the bottom of the walls. Concertinaed curtains wafted in the artificial breeze of the air conditioner, trans-illuminated by the harsh fluorescent lights in the Nurses’ Station. Shapes formed in the imperfections of the re-constituted material – a face, a tree, a space ship, a doughnut.
Jane’s stomach gurgled. She glanced at the monitor.
3.00 am.
Jane yawned and surveyed the room.
A pile of folded cotton blankets sat on the chair beside the bed. Jane counted them. Five. Why white? They would be hell to clean. I’m glad I don’t have to do the laundry.
Reflections shone in the chrome of the chair legs. Shadows flashed along the tube as nurses flitted past the other side of the curtain.
Her eye tracked up to the shelves above the chair. Three boxes of disposable gloves – small, medium and large, a box of tissues and five Emesis Bags. She grabbed one of the bags. She twisted the neck of the bag just below the circular plastic collar.  Clever design. How many ways could she knot the bag into the nifty ‘lockable twist ‘n’ seal’ feature?
Pain clawed out from under her shoulder blade, escaped down her left arm, fingered around her elbow and spewed along her forearm to the wrist. Her fingers cramped.
4.00 am.
A buzz vibrated through her arm. Air clicked. Jane sucked in a breath, through gritted teeth. The cuff tightened. She concentrated on the muted voices outside her cubicle.
“It’ll be okay.” The man’s voice was tired, shaking – old.
Jane’s arm throbbed.
A muffled sob from the next cubicle.
Tighter. She held her breath. The cuff released and hissed.
The curtain swished. A flash of blue entered the cubicle.
“Hi, I’m Josh. How are you feeling?”
“Tired,” replied Jane. “I can’t sleep.”
Josh wiggled the wires attached to her chest and perused the monitor.
His pen clicked on the clipboard.
“Try to get some rest. The doctor will be in soon.” He slipped out past the curtain.
I’m trying.
The curtains swished in the next cubicle.
“Hi, I’m Josh. How are you feeling?”
The man mumbled a reply.
Jane’s eyes refused to close. She sighed and scanned  the posters. Apparently it was
‘OKAY to ask STAFF
To WASH their HANDS’.
Another listed the Emergency Response Criteria and a green heart declared the cubicle to be a ‘Heart-Cardiac-protected electrical area’.
She glanced at her phone. The green message light flashed.
At least the phone still worked.
She slipped the phone closer and pushed a button.
5.00 am.
Pip. Pip. Pip. Another machine!
Jane frowned.
Pip. Pip. Pip.
Pip. Pip. Pip.
She buried her head deeper into her pillow. Pain thumped in her shoulder. Her arm burned and the back of her hand itched where the catheter had been inserted. Liquid dripped unseen, behind her head.
For God’s sake!
A phone trilled. Murmuring voices drifted into the cubicle.
“Who's next?” Shoes slapped on the linoleum as the voice faded into the distance.
Jane turned her head toward the monitor.
5.30 am.
Pip. Pip. Pip.
The trifecta of pips quickened, slurring into one long, ear-piercing note. A nasally voice crackled over the P.A. It sounded like a supermarket announcement.
Price check, cubicle six. Jane chuckled.
“Code Blue, cubicle five.”
A rubber sole squeaked on the linoleum.
“Please, not yet.” The old man’s voice cracked.
The machine silenced.
The man sobbed.
Jane bit her lip. Had someone…?
The pain returned, radiating into her back, crawling up her neck. Pins and needles pricker her fingers.
Jane’s heart skipped. She grabbed the call button.
A shadow crept along the curtain. It slid open, rattling like beads.
“Hi, I’m Doctor Wallis. How are you feeling?
“My arm hurts,” replied Jane.
The doctor scanned her notes, raised an eyebrow and stepped behind the gurney, out of sight.
“How long since you slept?” he asked.
Pip. Pip. Pip.
“Three days.”
“You must rest.” His voice was calm, almost hypnotic.
Pip. Pip. Pip.
Jane licked her lips. “I can’t.”
“You’re in safe hands,” he said.
The needle tugged in her hand.
Pip. Pip. Pip.
“We can’t do anything until you sleep.”
Jane’s eyelids flickered.
“What if I don’t wake up?” Her voice was slurred.
Pip. Pip. Pip.
Pong. It echoed like a sonar, searching for its prey.
Jane closed her eyes.
Photos:©2016 Karen J Carlisle.
All Rights Reserved.
If you wish to use any of my images, please contact me.

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Of Tesla, Hawthorn and Tea

original post: http://karenjcarlisle.com/2016/07/03/of-tesla-hawthorn-and-tea/

This week I took on a short story challenge. It was a perfect example of following the carrot and the serendipity that ensues.
Here's an insight to how my convoluted brain works, how the ideas-research roundabout works.
  • The spark: I was given the 'seed' for this story: A mysterious journal is found.
    I hoped to relate the short to one of my current works-in-progress - a paranormal Victorian mystery I have planned: Wizard of St Giles.
  • Starting point: Wizard already had two main characters: one a priest, the other a hunter of the supernatural. I knew I wanted Tesla to cameo somewhere in the story - as his electricity (illegal in my steampunk world) would be a key plot point to our heroes' tactics.
  • Already written: I'd written a short, Blood Moon Rising, introducing the hunter, Martine.
  • What to add?: Why not an origin story, to explain how the priest came to his present circumstances. Why would he choose to go down that path?
  • Tesla Cameo: I wanted Tesla somewhere in the story. When I started writing The Department of Curiosities I decided steam technology came to the fore as electrical energy had been outlawed. I had a vague idea how this came to be, resulting in Tesla fleeing to America (because of his experiments). I had planned this to be explored in a third series in my steampunk world, The Wizard of St Giles.
  • Time for a cup of tea and prepare for story research.
  • Serendipity #1: As fortune would have it, these two books were on the library re-sale. Perfect timing!
  • Setting: Wizard was set in England. The closest Tesla had been was Paris. Martine is from Paris. Therefore Journal de la Lumière would be set in Paris. No brainer.
  • Time for another cup of tea.
  • Serendipity #2: Paris is a big city. Tesla lived on Boulevard Saint Marcel in the Latin Quarter where many students and professors stayed.
    Ah! One of the characters will be a professor. It was likely he would know and work with Tesla on his illegal (and secret) experiments.
  • Further Questions to Answer: Wizard's priest character didn't know of events happening in Paris. Why would he go to Paris? What was his connection? What would prompt him to start his quest?
    What if... his sister was married to a French professor?
    What if he accidentally discovered the necessary technology co-created by his sister's husband?
    What if her husband died mysteriously after Tesla fled to America to continue his experiments?  - Cue the supernaturals.
  • Definitely time for a cup of tea.
  • Serendipity #3: Research facts found: Tesla was Serbian, spoke eight languages (including French). He rarely wrote his own notes, as he had an eidetic memory. He was fastidious and his father was an Orthodox priest.
  • Decisions relevant to story: Eastern Europe has a wealth of legends.  Perhaps Tesla knew of these, particularly as his father was a priest.
  • Serendipity #4. Research on specific supernaturals: What kills them? I chose the Serbian method (in line with legends Tesla may have known from his homeland). The specific wood used in Serbia was Hawthorn - perfect to make the protective crates (explaining why the technology had not been retrieved as yet).
  • Hawthorn flowers, also known as Mayflowers, and berries stink! Like the dead. Perfect for olfactory descriptions.
  • Time for a celebratory cup of tea with bonus dark chocolate.
A long, convoluted journey finally wound its way back to the priest character in Wizard, providing connections between the characters in Journal de la Lumière and the parent story and hints at the reason why he chose his quest.
I love the serendipity of finding a fact, which sparks an idea, which (in turn) leads me on a trail of discovery. So many of my stories get filled with little tidbits I find on my journey.
All photos: ©2016 Karen J Carlisle. All Rights Reserved.
If you wish to use any of my images, please contact me.

Friday, July 1, 2016

Friday Flash Fiction Challenge: Journal de la Lumière

original post: http://karenjcarlisle.com/2016/07/01/friday-flash-fiction-challenge-journal-de-la-lumiere/

This week's flash fiction challenge was again issued by Terribleminds' Chuck Wendig: FIVE RANDOM STORY SEEDS (up to 1500 words). I chose to randomly pick one of the five 'seeds' and got #3: A mysterious journal is found.
I decided to write a short story based in the world of one of my planned works-in-progress - working title, The Wizard of St Giles.
Journal la lumiere snippet
Journal de la lumière
© 2016 Karen J Carlisle
 Rain pattered on the closed shutters. Fingers of light clawed through the slats, piercing the gloom of the townhouse. Muffled hooves clopped along the boulevard. The world moved on.
Inside, all was silent. Ghost-like drop cloths obscured years of memories. Furniture. Keepsakes. Research.
Gone was the endless parade of hopeful students. Gone were the servants. Gone was… Francois.
His sudden demise had changed everything. The Sûreté had given up on the investigation but there were so many unanswered questions.
Elizabeth’s footsteps echoed through the foyer, clattered on the steps spiralling down to the dim service passage. She lit an oil lamp, wiped her fingers on her skirt - the soot invisible on the black silk – and shuffled into the darkness.
Keys jangled in her hand as she regarded the locked door. The cellar had been Francois’ domain, his personal research laboratory. Only once had she ventured into its depths.
She closed her eyes. His anaemic face still haunted her nightmares, frequented her daydreams.
So pale… A tear crept down her cheek.
Somewhere in the cellar was a box of mementos. Francois had gone to retrieve it on the day he…
Elizabeth fidgeted with the keys. She had tried to ignore it when his research had been entrusted to the university, tried to forget it when his possessions had been packed away, tried to obliterate the memories.
Her brother, Xavier, was arriving this afternoon, to escort her home to England; this was her last chance. What had he been doing?
Elizabeth took a deep breath. The key clicked in the lock. She had to know.
Narrow stone steps led into the cramped cellar. Mountains of crates and jumbled paraphernalia lined the walls. Her eyes glanced over the dark stain on the floor, near the overturned chair, and avoided the deep gouges in the splintered wood of the workbench. She had to find that box.
Elizabeth skirted the cellar edges, examining labels, rummaging through contents until she found a curious tag, attached to a pale crate by a rosary:
To: Father Xavier Andrews,

London, England.
Elizabeth bit her lip.
Xavier? Why would Francois address a box to her brother? She cracked open the crate. A faint odour of rotting flesh clawed at her eyes. She wrinkled her nose and peered into the crate. It smelled like dead rat.
Books filled it to the brim, many untitled. Book after book was retrieved from the depths, flipped through and stacked in a pile beside the box. Most were in Francois’ hand.
Elizabeth delved deeper. Her throat tightened. The stench clung to the books. Her fingers brushed against bristles. Her hand flinched, skin crawled. She swallowed and lifted another book, hoping not to find a dead rodent. She had to know.
What was in the box?
Wedged near the bottom of the crate was a rough hessian pouch, bound to a yellow leather bound journal with a rosary. Elizabeth extracted the pouch from the rosary binding and pulled its strings, to reveal the contents. Dried berries and delicate flowers trickled from the pouch. A wave of nausea drifted over her.
Elizabeth retreated, beyond the emanations of the desiccated confetti, and unwound the rosary from the journal. The leather was soft, and smelled of Mayflowers. A portable mirror was inlaid inside the back cover. She turned the pages, her fingers only touching the pages as long as necessary.
It was written in dual hands: one was unfamiliar, seen in an occasional entry or scribbled in a margin. The other was Francois’ studious scrawl, with enthusiastic gouges into the paper. Elizabeth smiled, remembering the passionate gleam in her husband’s eye as he chased an enigma.
She dabbed her eye and scanned the pages, full of experimental notations, technical diagrams until she found an entry, dated a few months ago:
 Nikola has managed to procure the needed equipment. The Sûreté followed him again today. We have now taken precautions to secrete the machine and are in accord. We tell no one of our experiments, not even Elizabeth. It must remain secret. I will not risk her imprisonment for mon décisions téméraires.
 Monsieur Nikola Tesla? She remembered a tall man – polite, with fastidiously trimmed moustaches and an incessant drive to work into the early morning hours. He’d worked in the laboratory for months, then a week ago he missed dinner. She had never seen him again.
Elizabeth turned the page. A folded note fluttered to the floor. It was a diagram of the cellar, showing a secret alcove beyond the crates by the far wall. She retrieved the oil lamp and squeezed past the barricade.
A pair of sconces protruded from the blank wall. Elizabeth eyed the crates behind her, and frowned. Surely, any light would be blocked by the barricade.
She re-examined the wall. There should be a door, but there was none. No handle, no seams. She consulted the map. The left sconce had been drawn in a different ink. She yanked on the fixture.
Cogs whirred. Gears clunked. A section of wall detached and slid to one side. Elizabeth peeked inside. A shrouded shadow loomed in the corner of the chamber. Again, the stench invaded her nostrils. She edged the lamp closer. Hawthorn berries and dried Mayflowers wreathed the large canvas-covered intrigue.
Elizabeth held her breath and grabbed the canvas. It slipped to the floor, revealing a contraption - a. metal cylinder propped on a mahogany box by four brass columns. Wires protruded from each end of the cylinder, coiling up to two terminals mounted on top of the cylinder. Coils sat between the four columns attached directly to the box. Insulated wires hung loose near three metal switches on the front of the box.
Elizabeth gasped.
An Electrical Current Machine! She had heard about them. They were dangerous – and illegal. What were you up to, Francois?
She ran her fingertips over the machine, tracing the smooth metal and glass and polished wood of the box-base. A side panel moved under her finger. More papers were wedged inside. Elizabeth examined the diagrams.
Curious. She smiled. No one would know if she just…
The instructions were easy to follow. Elizabeth attached the two wires to the two top box switches, and flipped the (naked) bottom switch. The contraption hummed. Was it a form of steamless generator?
Elizabeth licked her lips and flipped the left switch. A spark of electricity bridged the gap between the terminals. The hairs on the back of her neck stood up.
Her eyes widened. She consulted the notes, took a deep breath and flipped the remaining switch. Another spark, of brilliant blue, leaped the gap. It crackled and hissed but remained intact. The chamber smelled like the crisp air after a thunderstorm. Elizabeth grinned.
“But what does it do?” she cooed. She snatched up the journal and devoured the words.
 Nikola was followed again today. There are more of them now. Paris is no longer safe for him. He has secured passage and will arrive in America on the 6th.We will work separately as long as we are able. Perhaps one of us can find the answer.
 A click in the cellar caught Elizabeth’s attention. She shivered and glanced over her shoulder. The cellar was dark. She was alone.
Alone… The dark had a way of playing tricks, but not to worry; Xavier would arrive in a few hours.
She returned to the journal: The next entry was less than a week old.
I was attacked by – something fiendish. I have not seen its visage before. The apparatus acted strangely in its presence – flickering and sputtering - as if the creature were consuming the energy. Fortunately, Nikola arrived and fought off the creature. We searched the entire house. It was gone.
Thankfully, Elizabeth was having tea with friends. All was secure before she returned.
Nikola was tardy, as his boat ticket had been stolen. It can’t be a coincidence. We have taken precautions- hidden the machine and protected the journal A box of Hawthorne has been ordered.
Another click, and a shuffle. Elizabeth flinched. It was closer this time. She peeked around the edge of the doorway. The cellar was dark. And silent. The contraption’s buzz faltered, the blue spark flickered.
The journal fell from Elizabeth’s hands. A chill breeze wafted past her cheek. She peered into the darkness.
Elizabeth retrieved the journal and wrapped the rosary around her fingers. Another breeze caressed her neck. The lamp flame died. The contraption’s eerie glow filled the chamber.
The spark faltered. Elizabeth gripped the pale wooden beads of the rosary and held her breath.
The contraption’s hum faded. Its spark fizzled.
A chill drifted into the chamber.