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Orphan Scrivener Archive

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The Orphan Scrivener is published on the fifteenth of every other month, as a plain text email, free of photos, html and advertising.

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List of Essays

Eric's Bits

Character Descriptions
How We Write Together
King Cotton Comics
Sighting A Tree Frog
Historical Accuracy in Mysteries
Believing in Santa
Going to the Movies in the Old Days (U.S.)
Interactive Fiction
Working at Writing
Fantasy in Mysteries
Anachronisms in Historical Fiction
Santa's Longest Night
Who Was That Cat?
Louis H. Silverstein
The Writer's Ticker Tape Parade
From Typing Fingers to Broken Legs
Naming, and Renaming, Characters
Bad Reviews
Bordering on Fiction (about maps)
Wood You Believe? (about orienteering)
We All Have the Raw Material (writing nuts and bolts)
Writing for an Audience
A Spell Cast by Willows (favorite childhood book)
Red Star, Silver Lining (Musings on a review)
How Now Snow Plow?
Batting Ideas Around
Falling Into A Revery (about writing historical mysteries)
The Square on the Hippodrome (fact in history mysteries)
Don't Leap to the Wrong Conclusion (Bull-leaping. Fact?)
Salary and Egg Sandwich (Working at the law library)
The Giant Slingshot (Activities of a childhood club)
Little Nell's Gone Missing (Things Eric doesn't like to see in mysteries)
When I Had a Purple Head (Misadventures on the stage.)
Between a Turkey and a Hard Place (Reflections on the holidays.)
The Horror Behind the Curtain (Fear of photography)
Purple Stains, Purple Prose (How Julius Rosenwald and Sears kept the author writing)
The Vasty Deeps of Nothingness (Writing about ... nothing ....)
Working for Treats (Memories of Halloween)
Pillars of the Community (Using personal experiences in writing)
Street Seens (Recalling street people)
Brassica of Byzantium (Research and Roman cabbages)
Meteorite Memories, Sort Of (Vague recollections of unforgettable things)
Board With Life(The mystery board game Clue)
Spring Forward to Fall (Falling into autumn)
Fit to be Tied (Pondering neckwear)
Biscuits, Buns and Byzantium (Thoughts on promotion)
Curses Spring Eternal (Baseball and Byzantium)
Dark and Stormy Beginnings (Weather in writing)
A Clutch of Chamberlains (Fitting fiction to facts)
Stringing Listeners Along (A basement radio station)
A History of Histories (Our personal histories)
Tea at the Palace (A trip into town)
Chairman of the Board (remembering board games)
Burn-Out of Another Sort (writing rules, right or wrong?)
Returning to Reading (Reading more books)
Amusement for Inferior Minds (How to read mysteries)
Sent Under Plain Brown Wrapper (questing for books)
How I Became Invisible (memories of cold feet)
The Topless Towers of Weehawken (book & movie about Helen of Troy)
Nail that Tune (Songs from an old Victrola)
Lure of the White Worm (earliest memories)
The Fall Wall (thinking about time)
The Last Christmas Tree Standing
Writing About Writing
A Funny Hat Never Hurts (Mr Potato Head on writing)
The Talking Fish and the Remarkable Rutabaga (Adventures in self-publishing)
Whither Historical Weather (weather accuracy in historicals )
Evidence Santa Exists
They Drive You Up the Wall (rats in the walls)
Thoughts from a Brown Study (A Father Brown story)
Typewriter Heroes (Typewriters of famous authors)
Gone with the Whip (An amusement park)
A Nervous Squirrel (Nuts to hiding nuts)
Is the End Night?(Future of reading & writing)
The Scent of...What?(Mysteries of scents)
Some Mite Like It(Nasty foods)
Stick Figures to Schiele (writing vs visual art)
Jeepers Creepers (insect invaders)
On the Cat Trail (wildlife trails)
Headless in Brooklyn (remembering trash days)
Styx and Stones (Dante and pulp fiction)
School of Hard Rocks (gardening)
Tree in the Middle (a dogwood)
Crayolas and Cucumbers (where do you get your ideas?)
Fall in the Air (autumnal memories)
The Scientific Santa (Christmas presents past)
Updike and Me(reading John Updike)
Literature for the Little Gray Cells (science fiction and mysteries)
Behind (What Will Become) the Scenes (benefits of a publisher)
Those Three Fiendish Words ("back to school")
Humming While You Work (an ancient fridge)
Pseudonymn Secrets (why a pseudonymn?)
A Slave to the Screen(remembering TV)
A Dirty Story(remembering dirt)
Thirteen Guests for the Third Time(review of Farjeon novel)
Always on Sale(recalling departed department stores)
A Quest Ends (Sighting A Tree Frog)
Merry Mithras (An ancient Roman Holiday)
Ice-Bound Lucifer (winter fun)
Before Chicks Wore Minis (Easters long ago)
Some Ideas Got Broke (on writing a novel)
Lights in the Darkness (fireflies)
A Walk to the Graveyard (grave musings)
Santa Claus and Mr Hyde (Christmas contradictions)
A Very Peculiar Sheep(Reflections on the mystery genre)
Too Indecorous for the Living Room(Old book covers)
An Unmusical Brick(Musical misadventures)
King of the Wild Summer Vacation(collecting Davy Crockett cards)
A Nightmare at the Mall(A peculiar dream)
An Old-Fashioned Christmas(Christmas as I remember it)
Is it Out to Get Us?(when water pipes freeze)
Cogitating on A Touch of Death(review of a Charles Williams noir)
That Time I Set Fire to a Castle(making bad films in Super 8)
Captain at the Switchboard(adventures in telephoning)
I Licked the Stamp Habit(weird stamp collecting)
Bee Stings They Were Not (in praise of John D. MacDonald)
Companions of the Scourge of River City (French mystery writers)
Playing Chicken With My Memory (childhood sickroom)
Digital Fossils (visiting the past)
Crying for Werther (reading a classic)
A Proclivity for Purple (why I like purple) A Noteworthy Problem (adventures of a tin ear)

Mary's Bits

Christmas Chaos
Ravens/Corpus Juris
Hadrian's Wall
Garden Gnomes and Mithraeums
Empress Theodora and the Duchess of Devonshire
First Footing on New Year's Eve
Going to the Cinema in the Old Days (England)
Roman Taxation
The Last School Holiday
Thoughts on a Story by M.R. James
Naming Characters
Fruit Gums vs. Wrapping Paper
Three For a Letter Rhyme
Some Ideas Take the Biscuit
Theodora, Champion of the Working Schmoe
Justin Time
Roman Around Camelot
Modern Statues Commemorating Ancient Romans
Baaaaa'd Crimes
Ancient Quit-rents
Changing a Bathroom Washer
How Dare You Call Me That? (historical figures named John)
Stomp A Reed's Hero (Justinianic anagrams)
Reading Doc Savage
Woolly Thinking (listening to radio with the lights out)
Making a Reader Atrabilious (esoteric words discovered while reading)
Youthful Fortitude (a snow fort)
Keeping Cool is a Sirius Business
Mything Links (Greek Gods in the marketplace)
What A Carry On (The Carry On Films)
Another Sort of Good Character (Victorian charities.)
Grinding Out A Living (Odd occupations)
Mayor the Best Man Win (Some British folk customs)
A Strange Case (Mary speculates about a 19th century murder)
Leaps, Foot, and Leaves (Misadventures in interpretive dance.)
Fruit of the Yule (Christmas memories.)
Speck-ulating About the Future (Odd methods of divination.)
A Stuck-up Family (The sticky business of wallpaper.)
Not Exactly an Open and Shut Case (Umbrellas in history and crime)
The Wild Side of Life (Backyard wildlife)
Stamping Out Crime (Detectives on Stamps)
Room at the Bottom (Professions in British sitcoms)
Cloak First, Dagger Later (Maybe)(Ancient curse tablets)
Crimes and Canonicals (Tales from The Newgate Calendar)
Remaining True to Type (Adventures with old typewriters
Neither Poisoned Nor Purloined (A 19th century forger)
Revere Revisited (A motorbike ride in the rain)
Forecasts for the Forecastle (Musing about the BBC shipping forecast)
Never A Doll Moment (A tale of childhood quarantine)
Can You Dig It? (Gardening in the city)
Footnotes on History (Tales told by shoes)
The Sands of Tyne (A trip to the beach)
Soot and Cinders (Steam trains)
Woollies Thinking (Remembering Woolworths)
A Bit of a Mistery (A walk in the fog)
Games for the Bored (remembering board games)
Bread and Cheese and Money, Oh My (old customs)
No Siren Song for Us (A tornado passes by)
200,000 Feet and Then Under the Sea (Launching a Rocket)
Unlucky Fourteen (solving an unfinished mystery play)
Elevating the Emperor (ingenious devices in historical writing)
Horses on the Half Shell (body wash, coconuts, etc...)
Quoth the Corvis G'is a Drink (Budgies we have known)
A Passion for Passion Fruit (Fruits Mary has known)
Cat-Astrophe (Our ancient cat)
Going Round in Circles (Two golden age mysteries)
Sweets, By Gum! (childhood candies)
Striking Thoughts(weather and lightning)
(N)or Any Drop to Drink(tale of a busted well)
A (H)arrowing Crime (A Golden Age book review)
Deadlier Than a Poker (deadly fireplace furniture)
Dialling Up a Motto(sundials)
Bagging the Royals(royal sightings)
An Eyewatering Epic(adventures in plumbing)
Send for the Electric Corset(Victorian nostrums)
As Cool as a Colander(A homemade shower)
Dead Man Riding(A portrait of autumn)
Tintinnabulation Prognostication (Pantomime time)
Masking a Mystery (Mysteries inside cereal boxes)
All Creatures Great and Ghastly (Creepy house invaders)
A Hopper, A Skip, And A Jump (About four paintings by Edward Hopper)
Budgie in a Box (moving day)
A-Maze-Ing Musings (mazes)
The Rolling RS (remembering teachers)
An Eggshell-ent Custom (witches and eggshells)
A Canine Plan (secret messages and codes)
Moving a Rubber Tree (computer woes)
Careful With That Christmas Cracker (M.R. James' unwritten stories)
A Trio of Assassin Trees (menacing trees)
About Ready to Snap (making brandy snaps)
Oil Drops Kept Falling on Their Heads (old fashioned street lamps)
A Pebble in the Well (well repairs)
Define in Twelve Words of Less After the Fashion of this Title (authors define pleasant afternoon)
Let Us Now Praise Famous Meanies' Ends (deaths of Dickens' villains)
The Fete of the Cake (traditional British fetes)
Waxing Enthusiastic (about waxworks)
Drop the Slopkettles (about coffee)
Nice Girls Don't Show Their Ankles (lessons from mysteries)
Ukulele Regrets (talents I wish I had)
Merci Bouquet(free offers)
Please Do Not Send Elephants(menaced by a light fixture)
A Penguin in a Fir Tree(Christmas tree ornaments)
Should Accumulations of Books be Avoided(Lessons from M.R. James)
I've Had a Few (Regrets)
Tormented by a Red-Headed Devil (battling a woodpecker)
The Grim Reaper's Lawnmower (battling a lawnmower)
Limburger or Lappi (dealing with reviews)
Still a Favourite After Many Years (Little Women)
Before Ceiling Cat (Reflections on ceilings)
Avoid That Isolated Residence!(Old dark house films)
If You Were a Ghost(Starting conversations with strangers)
When Appliances Go Rogue(When kitchens attack)
At Least There Were Trees in the Cemetery(Memories of cemeteries)
Don't Leave Home Without One!(Barometers in film and fiction)
That Was a Close One!(when appliances conk out)
Avoid Stepping on Frogs!(magic in life and fiction)
Do Not Try This at Home (research resources)
Creating Illusions Without Turtles (do it youself magic)
Geordie Reggae? It's a Thing! (a Newcastle music show)
An Exciting Thanksgiving Week (water heater woes)
Reflections on Mirrors (all about mirrors)
Never a Doll Moment (childhood quarantine)
Adressing History (address books)
When the Light Fails (goodbye to an old fridge)
A Tale of Two Ladders and Some White Paint (adventures in sun porch painting)
Ah, The Dreams of the Young (musical miscues of youth)
A John the Eunuch Chronology

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