Brown River Queen cover art

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Ectoplasm Stew

My fearless Writing Team at the ready.

First of all, as promised, a word count!

The new Mug and Meralda book stands at 9,001 words. Assuming a finished length of 80,000 words, that would indicate I am currently 11.25% done with the first draft of ALL THE TURNS OF LIGHT.

Eleven percent done. When I write it out like that my right eye starts twitching.

Only 89 percent to go.

Pardon me while I go outside and scream incoherently for a bit.


No news yet on THE FIVE FACES, not that I expected any so soon. Will post as soon as I know, though, so watch this space!


I've left the departed pretty much alone this week. It's been so hot I imagine even the most determined spectres, haints, haunts, and free-floating vapors took cover in deep shade anyway. I was planning a run to a cemetery this afternoon for some EVP work, but the heat brought on thunderstorms, so that will have to wait. Walking through rainswept cemeteries holding metal gear while lightning flashes about sounds like a good way to experience the afterlife first-hand, and I'm not quite ready to extend my research in that direction.

I did read that long before Konstantine Raudive accidentally recorded his first EVP voices, other people were actively trying to record ghost voices. In 1941 a photographer named Attila von Szalay tried to catch ghost voices using 78 RPM records as a recording medium.

That didn't work, but Attila kept trying. He switched to reel-to-reel tape and in 1956 finally had some success. My favorite bit is the "Hot dog, Art!" snippet, which he captured from a microphone which was housed in a sound-proofed box.

Someone asked me if I ever tried using a Ouija or spirit board in the course of my investigations.

The answer is no, I do not. Mainly because unless the planchette is able to move itself about, I figure any motion is due to the ideomotor response, or one of the participants fooling about. Dark room, candle-light, spooky mood -- is it any wonder that the planchette 'mysteriously' moves?

Show me one that scoots around by itself, and I'll take note. And look for magnets, but that's because I'm a suspicious sort myself.

There's another less scientific reason I won't use a spirit board, and it is this -- the things creep me out. Irrational, I know, but there you have it.

Yeah, this is me. Been working out.


I get a lot spam email, including more than my fair share of dim-wit con-artists out to sucker me into an advance fee fraud scam.

You've seen the emails too, I'm sure. Some yo-yo claims to have a huge sum of money, and they want you to help them move it. you are promised a generous cut of 70 million dollars, or some similar nonsense.

Of course, there is no sum of money. The people dumb enough to fall for the scam wind up sending the scammer hundreds or thousands of dollars in 'lawyer's fees' or 'storage fees' or 'international steel-plated demurrage fund stacking charges' or whatever made-up gibberish is en vogue at the moment. The money is sent Western Union, of course, so there's no tracing it, and no chance of recovering it.

Well, I'm no dummy, but sometimes it amuses me to play with these morons. So when I got the email below, I couldn't resist. Here's the first email:

Date: Thu, 08 Aug 2013 22:11:05 +0300 [08/08/2013 03:11:05 PM EDT]
From: Xingwu Wang <>Add to my Address Book
To: Undisclosed Recipients
Reply-To: wxingwu@yahoo.cnAdd to my Address Book
Dear Intending Partner
would like to discuss a project with you. Please email me back.
(1) Can you handle this project?
(2) Can I give you this trust?
I expect your urgent response if you can handle this project.
Best Regard's,
Thank You
Wang Xingwu

Wang, Wang, Wang. Mass-mailing strangers in hopes of finding a dunce among them is no way to go through life.

Here's the email I sent back:

Date: Thu, 08 Aug 2013 15:38:16 -0400 [08/08/2013 03:38:16 PM EDT]
From: franktuttle@franktuttle.comAdd to my Address Book
To: wxingwu@yahoo.cnAdd to my Address Book

Dear Exalted Significant Xingwu Wang,

I can handle this project. I can be given this trust. Let not your underpants pout, my friend, for together we shall amass and/or acquire vast sums of currency, see also moola, loot, cabbage, cash, greenbacks, Benjamins, coin. I see us as lifelong friends, Wang, lifelong friends who shall not want for fancy cars, new ice trays, and all of those little wax bottles of sugary candy water we can ever desire!

Yes. It was Fate that brought us together, to conduct this spiny, quartz-encased business. You see, Wang, who is called Wang, I have made a decision -- I shall put my trust, my whole trust, all eighteen English pounds of it, in you. I shall see this business through, come Hell, high water, surly waiters, or inclement humidity! Nothing shall stop us from achieving the achievement of having achieved that to which we aspire to achieve!

Trust me to handle this important project, which requires much trust. Trust is a weighty word, my friend, but it is a word I know how to spell. T - R - U - S - T. Trust. Not truste or truust or trooste or even terust, but trust, plain and simple.

Let us discuss details so that we might work for our mutual linear fully clothed gain.

Frank F. Frank, Director
Frank Global Industries

Now, you might think most scammers would be put off by the tone and content of my reply. But not friend Wang, who is only to eager to get things started! 

Here is his reply to email. I'm deeply hurt, because it's obvious he didn't even read my reply. But decide for yourself:

Date: Sat, 10 Aug 2013 18:09:00 +0800 [08/10/2013 06:09:00 AM EDT]
From: Xingwu. Wang <>Add to my Address Book China
To: Undisclosed Recipients
Reply-To: Xingwu. Wang <>Add to my Address Book
Dear Friend,
Thank you for your reply to my first email. I needed to be very sure of you before I disclose my identity for confidentiality purpose. I would also like you know that this transaction is 100% risk free and legal.

I could not give you my true details in my first contact because I felt it would be huge surprise for you to receive such email from a serving customs controller of the People Republic of China Customs. Now that you have replied the correspondence with interest I will give you more information about myself and the business.
My name is Wang Xingwu (customs controller of the Peoples Republic of China Customs).

<BLAH BLAH BLAH I cut a page of scammer-speak nonsense here >>

Thank you Once again and I look forward to a good business relationship with you which would be of much benefit to both parties. 

Looking Forward to your Response

Wang Xingwu

Wow. What a sweet deal. I get thirty percent of forty million dollars. I could use an extra 12 million bucks -- I have expensive tastes where socks are concerned -- so here's my heartfelt reply:

Date: Sat, 10 Aug 2013 16:26:21 -0400 [08/10/2013 04:26:21 PM EDT]
From: franktuttle@franktuttle.comAdd to my Address Book
To: Xingwu. Wang <>Add to my Address Book

Dear Trusted Sequential Combine Wang,

I was so excited to receive your email. And I understand your need for a trusted and reliable partner in this business.

I believe I am the very person you seek.

Can I be trusted? Yes. Yes I can. You see, although the world knows me as Frank F. Frank, wealthy philanthropist and corporate giant, my secret identity is that of....

....the Nightcrawler.

Yes. That's right. By day, I run a successful multinational conglomerate specializing in the manufacture of volatile chemicals and flimsy lingerie. Or maybe its flimsy chemicals and volatile lingerie. I'm so busy rolling in enormous heaps of cash I seldom get down to the manufacturing floor these days. 

By night, I don the black body-armor of the Nightcrawler, and I venture forth from my secret lair to fight crime. Perhaps you have heard of my heroic exploits against the Gang of Elderly Pensioners, or my mighty triumph over Mrs. Baker's Second Grade Art Class?

I thought so. My defeat of the Surly Parking Lot Attendant on Fifth and Holmes street was particularly impressive. He will never again insist on exact change while I have a rubber mallet and a stingray in my utility belt, I can tell you!

So I have already shared with you a secret. I did so because I trust you. I am the Nightcrawler, champion of Justice, defender of the weak, part-time library assistant (paid). 

Do you trust me now?

I ask that you keep my secret identity safe. My life is in your hands now, friend Wang. If the evil crime-lords of the Dark Brotherhood were to learn the Nightcrawler's secret identity, I would be dead before sunset.

Now, as to this business.  How do we proceed? I have the resources of Frank Industries at my disposal.

I await further instructions.

Be safe, my friend.

The Nightcrawler

Will I hear from Wang? Will we proceed with this 100% legal and totally non-criminal enterprise unmolested by the evil forces of Cub Scout Troop 66A, or the staff of Larson's Big Star Grocery Store?

I'll keep you all posted!

Now I should get back to work. I suppose I'll have to keep my day job until Wang comes through with my twelve million...

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