Tuesday, December 13, 2005

TIME FLIES WHEN YOU ARE HAVING FUN

Well time flies when you are having fun - so a bit of an update on what has been going on with me.

I have entered 2 more short story contests, finished my novella and am in the process of editing it for another contest (hopefully for publication) and have expanded my original Train story to do all 50 states as a series.

I've done an official review for The Secret Life of Mrs. Claus by Carly Alexander (can be found on www.armchairinterviews.com - under great reviews) and am about to do a few more reviews for the same site. Keep on the lookout for more reviews of stories as I get them (reviews are great because you get to do something you enjoy - read - and share that with others and I get to keep the books)

While editing my novella I will take a short break to write 2 more short stories for contests and hopefully will get published with one or the other of them (maybe both) as well as my second entry get published in the Dahlonega Literary Festival's anthology -- will keep you posted on how these go.

So since it is almost Christmas - hope you all enjoy the season and the holidays and have a blessed new year and come back and see what I'm up to next month - E :)

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Update and thoughts on the storm

First, my update. I have finished writing my first novella, topping off at about 37,000 words. Now comes the real work, the rewriting, editing, revising, reading, checking, rechecking, rewriting, et cetera. The story is finished - just have to wait a bit to come back to it and read it and start the hard stuff.

Now, Katrina - she was very bad. I think anyway we can help out the storm victims is worthy of us. If your work asks you to donate some of your PTO hours/monies, if you can afford to do so, do it. If you have clothing and other items that you can donate to Goodwill Centers or Salvation Army or even the Red Cross, please do it. If we all pitch in just a little, we can bring this disaster back under control and get back on our feet quicker, which in turn will bring down the gas prices again and we will all feel better about ourselves in the long run.--

I have yet to turn on the news because I really don't want to be depressed because of the victims there. So please - help if you can, any way you can, God bless you all - E :)

Monday, August 29, 2005

Submitted story

My first contest story submitted - will know by September 15 whether or not I placed or won the contest (if it wins, I get 6 weeks publication on 2 websites - plus 4 books)

Hope you all enjoy this - E :)




Train of Clues
by Elysabeth Eldering
(c) copyright 2005


"All aboard!" The conductor called out.

I ran down the steps waving my invitation overhead. "Wait!" I yelled. I'd overslept and had almost missed the party train.

"Hello, Mr. Brady," I heard Jason, one of the kids from our class, say to the conductor as he stepped onto the train. A pebble caught in my tennis shoe and I stumbled but reached the platform without a blowout. "Hope you've had a good summer so far," Jason continued.

I shifted Matt's present. Mrs. Patterson, Matt's mother, stood at the entrance and I assumed she was checking my name on the list as she marked the paper on her clipboard. I looked to see if I could spot Matt but didn't see him; he probably was on train by now. "Hey, Mrs. P.," I said breathlessly. "Any idea where we're heading?"

She looked up from her clipboard, "Why yes, Guy, I know where we're going but can't tell you. It's a mystery, remember?" She smiled at me. "Now, hop on; you're late."

I handed my invitation to the conductor. He looked it over and returned it to me. I stared at the thick, beige colored paper with the train logo stamped all over it. It had come in the mail almost three months ago and I had forgotten about the party until the reminder call came from Mrs. P.

I headed for the area of the train that was the noisiest, which turned out to be the dining car. I entered and checked out the other kids there. "Hey, Matt. Is this something or what?" I asked entering the decorated train car. I waved to some of the other kids and patted Matt on the shoulder, "How'd you rank getting the royal treatment? You'd think it was your birthday or something."

"Yeah, or something," Matt replied nodding his head toward the group of girls sitting at the table across from him.

"Nice."

I checked out the other kids; I counted nine, five girls and four boys, excluding Matt, Matt's sister, and myself. I wondered why Matt had invited Len, Stu, Jason and Jimmy, known as the "Geek Squad", but it was probably because we had known them all our lives. I did have to give Matt one thing though, he had invited four of the cutest girls in seventh grade, including Jolene, the girl of my dreams.

Mrs. Patterson stood at the front of the dining car, "Welcome to the mystery train, everyone. I had a great time planning this little adventure and I hope you guys have just as much fun. Before we get started, I need to divide you into teams. There are twelve of you, so each team will consist of two boys and two girls." I held my breath as she named who would be on each team and let it out rather loudly when she named Jolene as part of my team. I didn't even mind that Mary Beth, Matt's younger sister who just had to be at the party, and Len were grouped with us; all I could see was being with Jolene.

We moved to the three tables representing the teams, Mary Beth and Jolene sitting across from me and Len. I watched the girls as they chatted. They couldn't hide their excitement. I hoped Jolene was as excited about being teammates as I was.

Matt ended up on a team with the twins, Jennifer and Jason, not sure why. Maybe Mrs. Patterson didn't know that wasn't such a good idea as they would end up fighting and practically beating each other up before it was all said and done. Poor Matt, his birthday and he had to be grouped with the twins.

Once everyone had settled down, Mrs. Patterson pulled some sheets from her clipboard. From where I was sitting, they looked like pages from a dictionary, but when we received the papers, I saw it was only one page from a dictionary, the page containing the word "rule", which was highlighted and another sheet taped over the rest of the page. The second sheet had the rules of the game listed and at the bottom of the list was a folded up part which read 'CLUES".
Mrs. Patterson held up a copy of the page and read to us. "This is a copy of the page from the dictionary with the definition of 'rule'. Below the definition, I've typed in the rules for this game." She emphasized the word rules. "They are as follows: Rule number one, teamwork. Each team is expect to work together to solve the puzzle, so no leaving anyone out. Understood?""Yes ma'am," we said together.
"There are four items that each team must find. Each of the items for the team can be found in the train cars allotted to your team. Does everyone understand?"
Jennifer raised her hand.

"Yes, Jennifer?"

"I don't understand. All three teams won't be searching each car for the items?"
Mrs. Patterson shook her head. "No, each team has been assigned one car. All the items can be found in each team's car. You will find the same four items with the same clues. Is that clearer?"
Jennifer nodded her head.

"Everyone?" Heads were nodding everywhere. "Okay. Second rule. The group that finds all four of their items before the end of the train ride wins the game." She looked around. All the kids were chattering away, not paying any attention to Mrs. Patterson.

"Third rule. You must find all the clues to solve the mystery. Each clue will lead to an item and will also be a clue to our final destination. Fourth, all clues will be verified before determining a team a winner. Last, if no team has found all the clues or solved the final destination mystery, then there will be no winner and the trip will come to an end with a reverse journey home. This is about a two hour trip. Any questions?"

"Yes ma'am," I said. "What do we win if we win?" Mary Beth chuckled.

"The prize will be for all members on the team," she said as if she'd answered my question satisfactorily.

I groaned under my breath.

"Any other questions?" She looked out at the group.

No one else seemed to have any questions. I tried to mouth asking Matt a question, but Mrs. Patterson continued. "The first clue is at the bottom of your rule sheet." Now we were getting to the interesting part. "In each set of cars, there's an adult. Mr. Patterson is assigned to car one. Jackie, my sister, is in car two. Mr. Brady, our conductor, will be in car three. They won't offer you any help. They are only there to verify that you've followed the rules." She paused and looked around the room. No one spoke, so she continued. "When you think you've solved the mystery, you should come back here for my verification. You may not read your first clue until you are all at your assigned cars. Each adult will signal when you are in place and at that time, you'll be allowed to open your first clue." She nodded at the adults who in turn headed to the other cars.

"Everyone ready?" She smiled. We all nodded back. "Then happy clue finding." She waved her hands and we shot off in the direction of the numbered cars.

"How cool is this?" I heard Laurie say as her team headed off to the third car. I had to agree with her. It was a pretty cool idea -- riding a train, solving a mystery, being on a team with the cutest girl in the seventh grade.

"I think Mrs. Patterson's done an awesome job with this -- a birthday party on a train. Matt's a lucky boy. Wonder what gave her the idea," I heard Jennifer say as my team headed for the second car.

I turned toward Mary Beth. "Yeah, what gave your mom the idea for this?"

"Mom just wanted Matt's thirteenth birthday to be special. He's always wanted to go on a train and I love a good mystery, always have so a good combination, don't you think?"

I nodded my agreement. Matt had always been fascinated with trains and had told me when we were younger that he was going to take a train trip around the world, if he could. Well, at least a trip around the United States by train.

"Good afternoon boys and girls, ladies and gentlemen." The engineer's voice boomed over thePA. "Dinner will be served at six thirty p.m. We at Party Trains, Incorporated hope you enjoy your ride. In a few moment you'll hear the sound of the train whistle. When you do, the train will depart and the game will begin."

The engineer clicked the intercom off and in a few seconds, the whistle sounded and the train chugged slowly away from the platform, building up speed, heading to some unknown place.
I looked at our clue sheet. While we waited the go ahead from Mrs. P, I wondered where we were going. It had to be somewhere two hours from Creighton. Where are we heading? What were we going to do when we get there? Who would be the first to solve the mystery? The thoughts kept going through my mind. I wasn't the only one. The rest of the team members began asking each other the same questions I was thinking.

Mrs. Patterson's voice came on, "Okay teams, let the hunt begin. Open your clues."

I read the first clue, first to myself and then out loud. The clue was:

This item could be the result of a young girl's dream and hard work in class doing en pointe AND some people may even use this item to celebrate the awe of this picturesque wonder of the world.

"Hey guys, how about we concentrate on finding the items first and then work on the clues to our final ending place after we find all the items?" I asked the group. Everyone said this was a capital idea.

We studied the clue. Len and I were probably the least likely to get this but Jo really pulled it through. "Look," she said, "these words, en pointe, are French and we use them in our ballet class. Something like this," and she stood on her tippy toes and moved across the floor. I stared in awe as she gracefully floated across the moving train to the best of her ability without ballet shoes. She definitely had the lines of a dancer, long legs, long body. "It translates as 'on point' which is the toe part. So maybe we need to find something to do with ballet."

We searched about ten minutes and finally found a ballet slipper, a bit nasty with its sweat stains. We marked item number one as a stained, sweaty ballet shoe.

"Mary Beth, yours?" Len jerked the shoe from my hand.

"NO!" She screamed.

"Okay, listen, Len, no horsing around. Give me the shoe back and let's find the next thing." I held out my hand waiting for the slipper but Len had other ideas, prancing around trying to imitate Jo's graceful ballet moves. "Come on, Len. Don't you want to win this game? I know I do, so let's have it now."

Len gave up the ballet shoe reluctantly.

The next clue read:

This small to large item can be placed on the body and can depict a picture of anything and everything AND the picture depicted here is NOT the place we are going but could represent a person's name.

Len mentioned, "I saw an envelope earlier but didn't open it. Thought it was something to throw us off. It was over in the little hard to reach place by Ms. Jackie."

Backtracking to the cubby where the envelope was hidden, Len pulled it out and opened it, and sure enough, it was a small piece of paper with one of those temporary tattoos. This one was of the State of Washington.

"A tattoo, how lovely," Jo quipped. "I don't see how a tattoo is going to get us anywhere."

I pulled out the paper from the envelope and read it to the group, "This item is worn by some actors to look glamorous or to play a role in a movie or can be worn by non-actors to protect their head AND in the days of yore, this item was worn by very distinguished persons, mostly men, who held political positions."

Mary Beth and I looked at each other and shrugged our shoulders. This could have been anything from clothing to hair pieces to jewelry. I think the part that was throwing me off was that distinguished persons wore them. Len and Jo suppressed giggles.

"Okay guys, what's so funny? We need to solve these clues and not joke about things. I really would like to win, although I think Matt has the edge being that he is the birthday boy and that your mother planned all this" I looked straight at Mary Beth, stressing your. "Mary Beth, do you know what direction we are heading?"

"No, smarty pants. And if I did, I wouldn't be allowed to participate." She stuck her tongue out at me. "Mother planned all this while we were in school or not at home. She's been very secretive but I think it has to do with a history lesson. After all, why bring Mr. Brady along if we aren't going to do some history or something?"

"Okay, so maybe you don't know but I'll bet Matt does and their team will win if we don't get a move on it and find the stuff to find the clues. So, come on guys, share the joke, Jo and Len."
Len spoke up, "Actually, it was just something we remembered from class not too long ago. Mr. Brady was telling us that back in the old days, all the men wore those powder wigs, so they all looked alike and there was no way to tell them apart except from the front."

"Oh, that's good then, so we are looking for a wig of some sort," I said. We went right to the little closet in the far corner, tried opening it but it was stuck. Len kicked the bottom of the panel and the door popped open. There inside hanging on the coat hook was the wig. Taped inside the wig was another sheet of paper with another clue on it.

"Ewww, a smelly wig, probably worn by your grandmother, Mary Beth," Len joked around while pinching his nose and holding out the wig.

"Come on, Len, quit teasing Mary Beth. We don't have much time left and we need the items so we can figure out where we are heading." I snatched the wig from Leonard and read the next clue, "Many little girls play with this item but nature or siblings or pets can be cruel creatures at times AND our destination was "a head" of its time."

"Okay girls, you should know about this one since this is something girls play with. What is it?" I looked from Jo to Mary Beth, waiting for the answer.

Jo and Mary Beth answered at the same time, "Dolls."

Mary Beth's voice changed ever so slightly, as if she were about to cry, "Matt has been very cruel with some of my dolls. Even the dogs have had their fair share with them. No wonder Mother was gathering all my broken toys and dolls. She wanted them for this party. See that top over there -- the spinner is crooked and it won't spin any more. That jack-in-the-box -- won't pop up like it should. I'm pretty sure she gathered some of my broken dolls, well -- at least the ones missing their heads. So we are looking for some dolls missing their heads, or a doll missing its head."

"That's good. We now have the last item with a good chance to get this solved before reaching the mystery place. Let's just hope no one else finds these things before we do. Now, chop chop, let's find that stupid doll," I told them. .

We searched high and low and were about to give up when Len sat down on a bench and reached under it, feeling around. He pulled out a Barbie that had been taped to the underside of the bench. How lucky for us, it was a headless doll and could have been a Barbie.

Mary Beth stood staring at the item, "When did that happen? That doll was in perfect condition just a couple of weeks ago." She wasn't really speaking to us because she knew we couldn't answer her. "I was just playing with Hawaiian Barbie and Ken, what not even a month ago. Dang Matt. I'm going to make him pay for that. I've got a ton of other Barbies missing heads, from him and the dog, why did he have to behead her? She was my favorite. He'll pay when we get home."
I quickly wrote the items on the list -- a stained, sweaty ballet shoe, a temporary tattoo of Washington State, a wig, and an unfortunate casualty, the headless doll.

Jo started rereading the clues to try to figure out the destination. "Hey, listen -- what do you think of this? Since each clue has two answers, partly leading to an item and then partly leading to the ending place, how about this -- the ballet slipper could represent dancing and celebrating. I know the Indians are still big into dancing, so do you think the first part would be somewhere close to an Indian reservation? Just a thought, dancing, celebrating, Indians, could be. We are heading to a place none of us have been before."

Mary Beth and Len just nodded. I looked at her like she was crazy. "How can you get the Indians out of that? And what is so special about the Indians? They aren't a wonder of the world, not even close. I think dancing has something to do with it but the Indians don't fit."

"Okay, I'll give you that the Indians aren't a wonder but let's look at the rest of the clues and maybe we can figure this out. Wonder how the other teams are doing. Too bad we can't check on them."

"Only thirty minutes left until we stop at the destination. If you have figured out the clues and the destination, you need to get to me soon," Mrs. Patterson's voice echoed throughout the car.

"Oh boy, time flies. We need to hurry up and figure this out. So what's the next thing? What can we say are the clues to destination?" I looked at the group, trying to get them to focus. "Guys, this isn't funny. You all just heard Mrs. P. We have very little time left."

Jo read the clues out loud, "Dancing or celebrating at this wonder of the world, a picture depicting Washington but could represent a person -- like George Washington, wigs worn by political men of the day, like George Washington and others wore long ago, and the last one really cracks me up, the destination is "a head" of its time."

"Well, Jo, maybe you can figure out this ending place. You seem to know a lot about the items, so come on, where are we going?" Len asked.

"Washington, wig, headless -- no head, ballet. That doesn't fit." Jo thought out loud.

"Yes, dancing heads, or dancing headless dolls, with wigs? I don't think that works," Mary Beth chimed in.

"Yeah, everything seems to be in groups of four. So we are looking at four clues, four items, a place with four ..." I added.

"Didn't Mr. Brady talk about a Native American dance celebration in class last fall? I believe he did. Don't you remember, Len, when he told us about the trip he took last summer? Seems he said the dance was only held in the summer during the time of the Summer Solstice. And guess what, today is the first day of summer, so it must be the Summer Solstice. I think I know where we're going now."

Jo leaned over and whispered to me what she thought was the destination. I agreed. It made sense when she said it. We whispered our answer to Mary Beth and Len, who wholeheartedly agreed.

"Okay, then let's go see Mrs. P. We have a mystery to win." I lead them up to the front of the car towards Ms. Jackie.

We approached Ms. Jackie and had our answers verified. She allowed us to go through to the dining car. Matt's team was still in the first car finding things, so we knew we had a chance.
When we got there, Laurie's group was discussing the findings with Mrs. Patterson. We must have been so deep in our clue-solving that we didn't even see them come through our car on the way to the dining car. Mrs. Patterson was smiling at Laurie. It was then I knew we hadn't won. I brought the list to Mrs. Patterson. She looked it over saying, "Yes, Guy, this is correct but as you see, Laurie and her team were here first. They arrived not more than two minutes before you did."

We were that close to winning, but it wasn't a total loss. Dinner on the train was great and we arrived at the destination and it truly was awesome. To live only a couple of hours from one of the great wonders of the United States was so cool, and to think no one in the group had ever visited this area.

The grand prize for the winning team was participating in the Sun Dance ceremony with the Sioux Indians. The rest of us still got to watch this awesome, great tribal activity that the Sioux perform every year.

We thanked Mrs. Patterson for the wonderful train trip and allowing us to experience a piece of American History.

Where did we end up?












From the clues, we were in a state that has a wonder of the world; the wigs and tattoos should have lead you to Washington NOT the state but depicting a person as per the clue. The headless doll was a lead in being "a head" before its time. I hope you all guessed that we ended up at Mount Rushmore, which is a wonder in itself.

Amazing Fact: In the fourteen years it took to carve the mountain, using tons of dynamite and chisels and hammers, there were no deaths. This task did result in some injuries but no one died while working on the carving. (This has nothing to do with the story in itself other than giving you some information on the carving of the stone.)

Monday, August 15, 2005

Welcome

Greetings. I hope you like my page and hope you will provide some feedback on my stories (as they are posted) and my site in general. E :)