17 August 2016

Quick Hits

Hey! I hope you, uh, maybe liked that month-long story that I posted here back in April!

Since then I've been writing up a storm, enjoying ("enjoying") the weirdest, driest summer Southern Ontario's had for a while, and getting ready, among other things, to release a collection of previously published and new stories. (That's coming up shortly. I commissioned a cover for it that is TO DIE FOR. I think you'll like it. Furthermore...and this is just between you and's going to be free. These stories have just been kind of sort of sitting there, unread, for a while, and I want you to have them, if you want 'em, that is.)

In the meantime, I've had two ultra-short pieces published. The most recent is a reprint of "The Bell," just out from Digital Fiction Publishing. It features that old timey coffin technology whereby the buried person could signal the surface if there had been, you know, a mistake. But it's really about melancholy and helplessness. 

Via Snopes

A little while back, my 200-ish word story, "Status: Quarantined" was included in the AE Micro 2016 issue. This little gem of a magazine, published by the absolutely gorgeous AE: The Canadian Science Fiction Review, contains five ultra-short stories on the topic of Change. You can read my story here, or, you can print out a pdf of the issue and fold it into an adorable tiny origami book.

For my piece, I wanted to explore the transformative nature of parasites, and the behavioural changes some of them create in their hosts. I wrote about that from a host's perspective. The story's a little bit about biological imperative and altruism.

(You know about parasites that change host behaviour, yeah? If you don't, this is the cutest video I could find on the topic. Click at your own risk though. Watching that could cause YouTube to suggest utterly gross stuff to you for longer than you might like.)

30 April 2016


You can try to count down from one hundred by sevens, but you can't, not really. You stop at two, or you go too far and end up with a negative number. The ritual is broken.

What seemed to Celia like a green trap looks like paradise to me. You reach a limit in this world, and if you're lucky, you find a door.

I made a promise, written in mud, long ago. A trade: me for her. I didn't remember. I do now. It's time that I fulfilled it.

I'm leaving now. I don't think I'll be back. 

29 April 2016

You can't hang on to anything in the end.

Celia told me the story again. She says she's told me many times, since it happened.

I'm typing as fast as I can, to get it down before it fades.

One day, the last day we walked together, Celia stumbled off the trail, and landed in a green place. Tall strangers fed her herbs, and gave her sweet water. They told her she was theirs.

I don't remember that. I remember pulling her out of the mud, where she had fallen. A simple act.

According to Celia, it was a promise. 

28 April 2016

Xeroxed sheets appeared overnight on my refrigerator. Emergency phone numbers, schedules of appointments, information about what's wrong with me.

Celia is sticking to the clock doctor's program.

She knows another program is running, one that will trump whatever she's planned.

She was waiting for me in the living room this morning, perched on the couch with a cup of coffee. Neat. Efficient.

Last night--last night! I couldn't sleep in my bed. I had to go out, to lie out under the singing stars.

Celia gasped when I walked in. "I know, my love," I said. "I'm full of starlight!"

27 April 2016

Went to the woods again today.

When I arrived at the green place, the voices were clearer than they'd ever been. I'm not sure the words are English, but I'm beginning to understand. I fell asleep, in the grass, to the sound of the singing, the sun warming me.

I saw them. The owners of the voices, dancing on the edge of the clearing. They're taller than I thought they'd be, dressed in such colours.

I told them I would come back, and I would stay.

There's nothing for me in the world now, except pills and hopelessness. And Celia. 

26 April 2016

Very upsetting news today, at least, according to Celia. The clock doctor confirmed my diagnosis.

So now there are pills, three types, none of which I will take. I tried this evening, for Celia's sake. The pills dull the music.

Of course there is something wrong with me! I know that very well! I don't belong here any more. It's obvious. I don't fit, and haven't for some time, not in the world of grocery stores and appointments and seniors fitness classes.

Celia frets. She needn't worry. When I'm in that bright green place, I'm fine. It's where I belong. 

25 April 2016

Under the trees in summer, it's all shadows. This time of year, there's bright sunlight, and mud, and buds just beginning to unfurl, from the finger bones of bare branches.

It's beautiful.

The green place, miraculous with grass and leaves, has burst out with flowers, white snowdrops and purple fairy slippers. The air is filled with the scent of warm earth.

I stayed there all night last night, listening to the singers. I can almost make out the words now.

Celia is wrong to be afraid, but I can't tell her that. She still wants to live in the world. 

23 April 2016

Talked with Celia all morning.

She told me she hears the music too! Can you believe it?

She hears it wherever she goes. Always. She doesn't like it, though.

She showed me a raised bump on her ankle. It looks like a tiny hand print. She knows about that clearing, too. She turned pale when I mentioned it.

I'm trying to write down everything she said, but I'm forgetting the details faster than I can type. That is strange, isn't it? The kind of thing that doctors who want you to draw clocks would agree is a cause for concern.  

22 April 2016

Sometimes I think Celia really does need to see a doctor. She is always tense and shaking, these days, always ready to burst into tears.

She noticed my new shoes right away. Her eyes went straight to the window. I knew what she was thinking. Yes, Celia, I found your horseshoe and broken file. And your scissors too.

She said something very strange. "You really don't remember." She said it more than once.

Then she stayed for the afternoon and the whole evening. I had to miss my walk. I wasn't upset, though. I can still hear that delicious music!

21 April 2016

Replacing the shoes wasn't an issue. I had a brand new pair in my hall closet. An experienced hiker knows she needs fresh shoes every six months.

The weather today! Balmy and windy, with white clouds whirling across the sky. I found the little clearing with no trouble. I settled on my back on the warm, dry ground, and watched the sky.

The music was louder. Did I hear singing? I thought I did. It followed me home, all the way.

The sun must have dazzled my eyes. Little coloured lights are still dancing at the corners of my vision.

20 April 2016

Quite sneaky, my Celia is. Clever.

I found what she buried. The little holes she made were obvious, badly covered, one in each corner of my property.

Here's what I dug up: a pair of rusted scissors. A broken file, the kind you use to sharpen a knife. A horseshoe! And the other half of the file.

Where in the world would Celia have gotten a horseshoe?

I took it all away, and threw it out in the neighbour's garbage.

On a whim, I checked my hiking shoes. Full of iron filings, poured under the insoles! Can you believe it?

19 April 2016

Pair of mourning doves in my front yard today. If I hadn't been at the window watching them, I wouldn't have seen what Celia was doing.

There she was, kneeling, in the southeast corner of my property, with a spade and gloves, tamping down the ground.

If it were anyone else, I would think maybe she was planting some spring bulbs.

I snuck out the back to go for my walk, before she could stop me.

I couldn't find the clearing. I didn't hear any music either.

Celia, what have you done? What did you bury in my good earth?

18 April 2016

Only Celia talks to me the way she does. Again, today, again: "Where were you yesterday? Where did you go?"

I was at her apartment for lunch. Why doesn't she remember that? I told her she needed to go to the doctor, if she likes doctors so much.

She got really pale and started to cry. She told me I came for lunch on Saturday, which I knew very well.

I don't think I understand the problem. It's clear as a bell to me. We sat in her apartment and had quiche and salad. I was nice. I am fine. 

16 April 2016

Ninety-three, eighty-six, seventy-nine, seventy-two, sixty-five, fifty-eight, fifty-one, forty-four, thirty-seven, thirty, twenty-three, sixteen, nine, two, and negative five!

There. I can count down from one hundred by sevens. I typed that very fast, as fast as any doctor could please.

I'll draw all the silly clocks they want me to. I am never going to agree that spending plenty of time exercising outdoors means that I am unwell. It's healthy!

I am never going to agree that I need to move into a home where they can keep a close eye on me. I would die in a place like that. 

15 April 2016

Music in the woods! As soon as I stepped into that little green clearing, I heard faint sounds, like tinkling bells. At first it didn't sound like a tune, but after a few moments, there it was! 

Somehow, the quality of light is different there, more golden. I don't know if that makes sense.

Since yesterday, more people have visited the clearing. I found lots of footprints, big and small, all moving in loops and circles.

I can understand the appeal! I lingered there for a long time myself, soaking in the light and shuffling my feet to the music!

14 April 2016

Lovely day, bright and warm. First walk of the year in short sleeves. I took water and snacks, so I could stay out a little longer. The trails are dry now. Just a bit of mud on my pant cuffs.

I found more circles, in an open green space tucked among the trees. Never been there before. A small private paradise. Beautiful!

I did check myself for bruises yesterday, after Celia left. I found one small one on the back of my calf. I must have hit a rock when I fell. Funny, it looks just like a tiny handprint!

13 April 2016

Kitchen floor gave me away. I didn't clean up after myself yesterday as well as I should have. I left muddy footprints on the porch stairs and in the kitchen, quite obvious in the light of day.

I'm fine, but that doesn't matter to Celia. She cried anyway, and got red in the face, and demanded to know what happened, and wouldn't stop asking.

Celia has always given in to fear. It's why we've never gotten along, not really.

I fell, and I'm fine, and no, I would not let her check me for bruises or marks or broken bones. 

12 April 2016

Just mud. Nothing to worry about. My clothes are in the washer now, and I've scrubbed my shoes, and had a bath.

Mud is very slippery. Much more treacherous than ice.

I've fallen before, many times! I'm fine, nothing broken. I must have gotten winded, though. I think I was lying on the ground for a while. It was dark when I returned.

Never mind. I must have left the house late. I let the day get away from me.

My hair had so much mud caked in it! The bath water was quite brown, by the time I finished.

11 April 2016

I'll let you in on a secret. These posts are exactly one hundred words each. And another thing. Look at the first letter for each day. See a pattern?

Don't tell anyone if you don't! They'll think there's something wrong with you, and whisk you away to an annoying doctor.

This writing takes focus. I couldn't do it if there were something wrong with me.

I will take the test over again. I told Celia that. She said I've taken it three times, and gotten it wrong every time.

I don't know when she decided to start lying to me.

09 April 2016


This is what Celia says: "You need help Mom!" Over and over.

Apparently my clock drawing was inadequate. Apparently I failed to count backwards from one hundred by sevens with sufficient speed and accuracy. According to the doctor.

I don't feel like I need help. I feel like I need to go for a walk.

Celia is lying. She said I was out for eight hours yesterday, until well after dusk.

Nonsense. It was just my usual walk, an hour and a half, at most. Nothing happened whatsoever. I was very hungry when I got home, but that's all. 

08 April 2016

Great walk today! Things are changing fast, starting to grow. Garlic mustard, which is everywhere on the ground in the woods, is greening up. The pioneers brought it here. It's an invasive species. Like people, I suppose.

Celia isn't talking to me.

Yesterday, I reminded her of how she always used to be so afraid of the woods, how funny she was about it. She turned rather pale.

There are people who like it, and people who don't. That's just the way things are. 

Celia's wrong to be afraid. The woods are beautiful and peaceful. I could spend hours there.

07 April 2016

For a long time, Celia and I walked together.

Around the time she turned twelve, she grew afraid, and refused to go with me any more.

Well, I say "refused." She screamed when I asked, tears streaming down her face. She begged me not to  go.

But I always walk. I started doing it on my own.

That first year was very difficult. Celia would grip the back garden gate, her knuckles white, face blanched, and watch me leave. Hours later, she would sometimes still be there, shaking and crying, saying, "Mom!" over and over, as she watched me return. 

06 April 2016

Explanation might be necessary after my last post.

Celia worries.

(I call her Celia. Not her actual name. She did go through a Celia phase, before she settled on the name she uses now. No one remembers her original name, except me. I'm not allowed to speak it. If you know me, that might be a giveaway. You don't, though. Don't worry. No one knows me.)

She would be furious if she found this.

I can't say what happened to Celia, but I will say that there once was a little girl who loved the woods, and then she didn't.

05 April 2016

Down by the creek bed, I found another circle, five feet across, in a flat hollow spot. Couldn't miss it. The snow is melting. The ground underneath is thick with mud. Whoever left the footprints pressed the snow down, staining it. 

Celia thinks I shouldn't go for these walks. She wants me to attend fitness classes at the Seniors Centre. I need to be out, in the fresh air, not splashing around in some pool, while a cute young thing urges me not to hurt myself.

Celia doesn't like me going down there. I think she's jealous of the woods. 

04 April 2016

Celia took me to the doctor today. I don't understand why I needed to go. I really am fine. I walk every day. At least, I do when I'm not stuck in some waiting room.

I suspect Celia might be a hypochondriac.

The doctor asked me to draw a clock, of all things. I asked her if she needed to go back to kindergarten, if she couldn't remember what a clock looked like. No one else thought that was funny.

By the time we finished lunch, it was 2pm.

"I suppose you'll miss your walk today," Celia said. The nerve!  

02 April 2016

Bit of a battle, getting out for my walk today. Celia showed up, right before I was ready to go. She knows I always go late morning. That's been my routine since she was a little girl. I used to carry her in a sling, until she was grown enough to keep up with me.

Today she argued, shouting about how risky it is, as if I would ever get lost in the woods! She used to love going there. When she was a baby, she would shriek and point at the bushes. That's right, I would tell her. Fairies!

01 April 2016

A strange discovery in the woods today: footprints in the snow, tracing a circle about three feet in diameter. Not left by a child: the boots were large, the treads as thick as the ones on mine.

The snow still falls, and is deep, despite the fact that it is, technically, spring.

The footprints overlapped, tracing the same circle over and over, in a clear patch to the side of the trail. I admit I stood and stared at it for a long time.

Who would do that? Who would step in a circle like that?

I might never know. 

20 March 2016

A to Z Theme Reveal

Hello! I'm Elizabeth, and I write fiction. There's a (mostly up to date) list of stuff I've written here, if you're interested.

I've done A to Z to varying levels of success in past years, but this year I decided I would actually, you know, use this space to bring my fiction to the foreground. So I've written a story, a complete arc that I'll tell throughout the month. For each day of the challenge, I'm going to release a new, very short, chapter. It's all first person, from the point of view of someone using this space to communicate to her online audience.

In other words, a different voice, with a different set of experiences, will be taking over this blog for the month of April. My plan is to answer all comments in that voice for the month, a way this is hello? And goodbye. I hope you enjoy it! I can't wait to visit yours and see what you're doing.

02 March 2016

Robert Eggers' The Witch

This isn't a review site, so I'm not going to, uh, review The Witch. I do want to talk about it from a craft perspective, however, because it was absolutely fricking stunning, and deserves all the support, and a bunch of awards. All the awards. 

I could talk about a great deal that I absolutely loved about this film. I think, as a (former) Renaissance scholar, I'm fairly obligated to like it? From the dialogue, which emulates Jacobean English in a very authentic sounding way, to the old school Renaissance witchery, it was so far up my street, it opened my front door, offered me a cup of warm goat's milk, and is now my roommate. I could say a lot about its incredible aesthetic and the familiarity of the woods where it was filmed and the way those woods are now super super creepy to me. Yay! I would also praise its lack of jump scares and the way the fears it evoked were so essential to the experience of being human, it barely required its supernatural elements.

But I want to talk about its characters, or rather, about how it drew those characters. 

It would be easy, in a film that featured a Puritan family cast out of its New England settlement (for being too Puritan? Not Puritan enough? the answer is unclear, and does not matter to the story), to fall back on lazy stereotypes. It would be easy, super easy, especially in the context of a film about women and their power (or lack thereof), to make the father a thundering, Bible-thumping patriarchal monster, and the son a little monster in training. It would be easy to make the teenage girl petulant and hungry for something different, and the mother a powerless wreck. 

The Witch never, never allows itself to be lazy. 

It never forgets that before whatever else they are, its characters are human beings with close, loving bonds to each other. It never forgets that above all else, these are people in trouble, caught in a terrible situation that might have, at one point, been of their own making, but has gone far, far beyond that, into something completely obscene.

Instead of a thundering, Bible-thumping monster dad, we have a man who is trying to hold his family together, trying and failing, disastrously so, to make their farm work. He's as scared as anyone else about what's happening, and it shows. The older son is as caring and earnest as any of the other characters, even as he's clearly conflicted about the white lies that circulate all around him, and his budding sexual interest in his older sister. The teenage daughter--and our point of view character--struggles for autonomy even as she plans to fight to stay with her family, and, eventually, struggles to be believed. Everyone in this film has multiple motivations running simultaneously, and, with each new development, as the trouble deepens, each one of them ticks over into a new mode of being, more desperate and frightened than they were before. 

Never--and if you know horror movies, you know how hard this is to pull off--never do they lose their humanity. Even when it might be better for them if they could. This film hurts as much as it frightens. That's saying something. 

I can't say enough about how wonderful The Witch is. As a study in finely drawn characters (the finest), it's worth having a look. 

26 February 2016


I've often sighed audibly and lamented the fact that there are not enough opportunities for writers to just...fight each other. To battle it out in the pit, UFC style. If the end of the world as we know it would mean that someone would instantly erect the Thunderdome, I would be all for it.

In the meantime,


It's a really cool thing, and has been going on for a while, and is only getting cooler. Follow #writeclub2016 for updates!

22 February 2016

"The Bird Marriage" at Enchanted Conversation

Saint Valentine is weird.

First of all, that should be "Saint Valentines." There were a lot of them. At least eleven, apparently, one of whom might have been martyred for marrying couples in the Christian tradition.

The association between Valentine's Day and romantic love is something that a lot of people trace back to Chaucer's Parlement of Foules (Parliament of Fowls), in which he wrote that Valentine's Day is when birds choose their mates. Some people have argued that this statement hearkens back to some deep cultural tradition. It's entirely possible he made it up.

Chaucer, pictured here pointing at some other stuff he made up

Valentine's Day overlaps with the Roman feast of Lupercalia, a celebration involving purification, fertility, ritual sacrifice, nudity, and, as far as I understand it, at least a bit of spanking. (*That might be a misinterpretation but it sounds more fun than lining up to be swatted by fresh goat and dog hides.*)

I adore the idea of modern traditions that overlap with and only barely obscure pagan origins, and I even more powerfully adore the idea that there are beings that somehow still lurk in the shadows, pushing us along at these festive times of year, helping this sorry old world roll forward.

So, I wrote a story about bird marriages, dark incantations, and spells involving candy hearts. It's also about what happens after the happily ever after.

If you'd like, you can read it here: "The Bird Marriage" at Enchanted Conversation, as well as the other fabulous stories from their February Valentine issue.

10 February 2016

In the Name of Resurrecting this Blog, I

...signed up for April A to Z. This bodes well: