So you can read my books

Monday, October 5, 2015


My last post, I spoke of Damyanti's excellent post musing on how the fragmented identity of the world may well spell its doom:

But the fragmented identity of your novel's characters may doom your novel as well.

Your characters' identities must be crystal clear in your mind and 

make sense to your reader else your tale will seem flat and phony.

Each person in the world, no matter his or her actions, feels justified, the hero of their own tale.

So, too, must each character in your book.


Risk Level Has to Match 

A Character’s True Nature


To have an engaging novel, 

there must be an over-riding risk level 

to the actions of each character as they pursue their goals.


A villain isn't evil for evil's sake --

in fact, she or he may think they are quite justified in their actions.


Every character in William Shakespeare’s plays has a “fatal flaw”: 

a personality flaw that will cause the character to fail, 

that Achilles’ heel that the antagonist will exploit.  


When you are building your own characters, 

think about what sort of flaws they have.  

The flaw should make sense for the character, 

as in, it should be related to their background/beliefs.  


You can’t assign flaws arbitrarily—

the flaw should arise from the circumstances of your character’s life, 

where they are, who they know, 

how they were raised and how they’ve been treated.




Blake Snyder wrote a great book, Save the Cat.

It was about screenplays but what he says easily applies to our own novels.


A reader determines a character's nature by her or his actions.

And you sketch your character's nature deftly by the reader's first meeting with her or him.


Two of my major heroes are Wolf Howl and Samuel McCord, known as Dyami by the Lakota.

Here is how I painted their different but heroic natures and flaws in this Holiday tale:



I studied Dyami ...

 the Whites here in New Orleans called him Captain McCord ... among less cordial names. 

 I flicked my eyes to Mesmer, the fabled cat who owned this French Quarter restaurant. 

 I wondered what Dyami saw when he looked at her.

 Being the last Lakota shaman, I saw something ... someone quite different. 

 Dyami cleared his throat, "Wolf Howl, I know you don't celebrate Thanksgiving ...." 

 "Thanks-Taking," I corrected.

 "The Indians gave those Pilgrims food to keep from starving, and afterwards, 

the Whites thanked every tribe they met by taking everything from them they wanted: land, children, a future."

 Dyami sighed, 

"Long before the White Man arrived, the Delaware warred with the Iriquois; 

the Crow with the Cree, the Navajo with the Hopi ...." 

"Oh, yes," I said, 

"let us talk of the Hopi, who graciously welcomed the Spanish explorer, Garcia Lopez de Cardenas, and aided him on his way." 

Mesmer growled low in her throat, matching my mood, 

"And in gratitude, the Spanish occupiers enslaved the Hopi populace, compelling them to endure forced labor and hand over goods and crops." 

 Dyami shook his head. 

 "I wanted to bring you here to thank you for all you did for me and New Orleans, not ...." 

 I shook my own head. 

 "I did not do it for the Great White Father, but for those young girls you placed under my protection."

 {Check out END OF DAYS

Buy the Kindle for $2 and get the audio for just $2!

Dyami said, "I will get Bush to call off his dogs for all you did." 

 I laughed without humor. "He hunts you now." 

 "I'll think of a way."

 I nodded, "I know you will try, but ...." 

A hollow-eyed white man burst into the restaurant, waving a poorly maintained automatic. 

 "I want all your money!" 

 It hit him then that despite the smell of food from the kitchen, there was only me, Dyami, and a cat to rob. 

"Well, shit!" he eloquently said. 

 I looked to Dyami, 

"Like all white men, he thinks a gun in the hand means the world by the tail." 

"That gun's pointed right at you, Injun!" 

 I studied this white man, trying to decide just how painful to make his dying. 

Dyami was looking out past the swinging door and sighed, 

"Wolf Howl, he has a frightened wife and hungry daughter out there." 

 I muttered, "Life conspires to take away all my joy." 

I met the man's uncertain eyes. 

"I tell you what: I will buy that poorly kept gun of yours for a thousand dollars." 


 I gestured with my fingers, turning the silverware in front of me to gold-ware.

 "It is yours ... on one condition." 

 "Wh-What condition?" 

 "That you bring your family in here to share our food." 

 My words seemed to hit him like a fist, and he looked miserable.

 "I ain't never done anything like this before but Katrina's put us out on the streets. I was at my wit's end." 

I thought that it had not been a long trail but kept that to myself. 

 He softly, hesitantly placed the gun on the table, and I slid the gold utensils to him. The White Man tucked them quickly into his pockets. 

 "W-Why are you feeding my family after what I tried to do?" 

 I flicked my eyes to Dyami. "Tradition." 

 As the man rushed out to gather his wife and child, Dyami smiled sadly at me, and he said what I could not bring myself to, 

 "Happy Thanksgiving." 

For more of Wolf Howl, read THE LAST SHAMAN:


Damyanti wrote a fascinating post on her DAILY WRITE:

It was on Man's fragmented identities and dueling world-views

that inevitably ended in blood being spilled and innocent lives being mangled.

In such an inter-connected world as ours has become, she asked is there any hope for humanity?

On the world stage, I believe there is none.  

Our technology has grown beyond our maturity to use it wisely.

On the individual level, there is some if we strive to be the change we wish to see as Gandhi urged.

But hope for the world?

People rightly denounce Hitler, but Stalin murdered millions more and ruled for a much longer time. 

Putin has risen to power on the heaped bodies of his rivals.

Hope for the world?

Is there any?  As Sci Fi and Scary wrote on Damyanti's blog --

there is hope for this planet since it has endured ice ages and comets/asteroids ending most life on it.  

 For Man?  Not so much.

In the septic tank of politics, the biggest chunks always seem to rise to the top.  Yet, think on what Gandhi wrote:

“When I despair, I remember that all through history the way of truth and love have always won.

There have been tyrants and murderers, and for a time, they can seem invincible, but in the end, they always fall. Think of it--always.”

Still in the meantime, millions have perished in terrible ways.  

And the headlines, written in innocent blood, tell us it is still going on.

Do you know the largest concentration camp still operating in the world today? 

The Rosebud Reservation --

which includes the Wounded Knee massacre site. 

No barbed wire is needed for it is surrounded by miles of harsh desert. 

I remember my half-Lakota mother stopping at a gas station and seeing the sign: "No Dogs or Indians Allowed."

Mother cried silent tears, for she had wanted to shield me from the bigotry of whites for a bit longer. 

I just laughed: I found the company of most dogs better than that of most humans.

Most of you that read this the Lakota would call  Wasi’chu.

 Wasi’chu is a Lakota word that means “Non Indian” but another version of this word means “Takes the best part of the meat.”  

That is what will doom Man,  “The one who takes the best part of the meat.”  

It means Greedy. Greed will kill us all if we do not fight it.

I agree with Alex on Damyanti's blog:

With God there is always hope.  I can imagine the rolling eyes of some who just read that. 

The Lakota call God the Great Mystery,

and though only part Lakota, I often call him that, too, since what He is up to is usually a great mystery to me -- one such mystery is why He made us at all.


They insist on being oblivious to the obvious. 

In a world where they comfort their memories of being shabby by making of this wondrous world a maelstrom of meaninglessness. 

And in such chaos, how could there be God or His rules to live by? 

Yet their own scientists show the fallacy of this thinking with their Chaos Theory.  

 We must sometimes give the Great Mystery indigestion.

Great Mystery.  What is that name really?

Only a sound for what cannot be named or spoken or expressed in any correct way in human language

for He who sang us into being.

May each of us choose to identify ourselves as champions of the Great Mystery --

and be agents of healing in a diseased world.

Sunday, October 4, 2015


Mythology is not a lie.

Mythology is poetry reaching out with words and images 

to search out with our innermost being, 

seeking to touch the face of the Great Mystery, who is beyond words, beyond images.

whose Song breathed us into being.

The Truth of what Lies Beyond lies in a realm murky and timeless.  

Mythology pitches our minds past those boundaries of clumsy words and images

 to sense what cannot be conveyed with mere tongue or pen.

We need myths that will link the individual, not with his tribe, but with the whole planet ...

for Man is the sick animal who does not know what to do with himself.

Follow the path of myth and doors will open that you had not noticed were even there.

A special treat today.


I am Wolf Howl.


When you are living it, you do not realize it.

Looking back, I realize I was living a fairy tale of how I felt life to be.

Those memories, for what they are worth, for what they may recapture, 

are glimpses of attitudes and times that are gone forever from this world.

For so long the White Man has suckled on fear and fear alone.  

Yet nothing good is produced from fear.  Its children are Cruelty, Deceit, and Suspicion ...

germinating in the darkness of souls grown numb.

And just as surely as the White Man is poisoning the air with his factories and machines,

tainting the oceans with his radioactive wastes ...

So is he poisoning his soul with his fears, his greed, and his denial of all but his ambitions.

Come with me now to a Time that Once Was, a Time you no longer remember ...

the Time of ...


Saturday, October 3, 2015


Marianne Williamson once wrote:

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.

 It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us."

To which my Artful Dodger hero, Victor Standish, snorts, "Bullshit."

And me?  What do I say?

"A child's fear is a world whose dark corners are unknown to grownups. 
It has its sky and its pits without bottoms, a sky without stars, deep caves into which no light can ever reach."

Denise Covey and Yolanda Reese are doing the WEP HALLOWEEN CHALLENGE starting October 21st.

To start the fun you can:
1.    share a favorite frightening tale, movie, novel, photograph or painting that will leave us quaking in our boots
           2.    in a short paragraph describe how it scared you, and why it did and or still does today.

 I've already written my 1000 word entry, but I thought I would share with you my worst fear from childhood and the genesis of Victor Standish.

Mother was half-Lakota and my first teacher.  She told me over and over:

“Courage is not the absence of fear, 

but rather the knowing that something else is more important than that fear.” 

"What is that something else, Mother?" I asked the first time.

She tweaked my nose and smiled, "You will find that out when you have to be brave for another."

 But Mother was human and fell in love with a man who turned out to be alcoholic and mean-spirited.

She tried to make the marriage work but finally divorced him.  Shortly thereafter, he charmed my baby-sitter into taking me.

He left me on the worst street in Detroit.  

I remember running after his car, screaming, "Daddy!  Daddy!  Daddy!"

As the air burned in my lungs, I saw his car become tinier, tinier, and finally disappear.

Then, I noticed the rough street punks noticing me, and I remembered something else Mother told me:

"Running only makes you taste better to the wolves."

I stopped running and forced myself to walk slowly in the direction my Father's car had gone.  

I was six years old and all alone on the street in Detroit that claimed a life every night.

With dry mouth, I saw several of the street thugs were following me.  

I decided walking a little faster wouldn't hurt and letting them catch me might hurt a lot.

I heard a little dog yelping in pain around the corner.  

As I rounded it, I saw another punk kicking a small dog as an old woman in a wheelchair screamed.

"Leave him alone!"

I wanted to run away when I heard Mother in my head.  

"You will find that out when you have to be brave for another."

My hand went to my right pocket, and I fingered the weapon Mother had given me for when she had to work.  

Our own street was rather rough, too.

I forced myself to speak loud, "Leave the dog alone!"

The thugs behind me snickered and slowed to watch the fun.  The dog-kicker glared at me.  "Who's gonna make me?"

I pulled out my water pistol.  "I will."

He laughed,"With water?"

"With bleach!"

I shot him smack in the eyes and took the handles to the old woman's chair and pushed for all I was worth.  

I figured the dog had four legs to my two and could make do on his own.

The old woman added her own hands to the wheels, and we sped down alley ways until I was dizzy and lost beyond all hope of finding the street where my father had dumped me. 

The dog kicker suddenly had other things on his mind.  

The others were too busy laughing at the guy clawing at his eye and screaming to chase us.

That was how I met Maudie and little Tufts.  

She irrationally feared uniforms, 

and it took her six weeks to overcome that fear enough to lead me to the local Salvation Army branch.

I still dream of that time sometimes when my sleep is troubled.  That dream country is always the same.

It is a country where it is always turning late in the year ...

a country where the buildings are fog and the streets are mist ...

where noons go quickly, dusks and twilights linger, and midnights stay forever. 

That country is composed mainly of cellars, sub-cellars, coal-bins, closets, attics, and pantries faced away from people and knives. 

It is a country whose people are winter people, thinking only winter thoughts. 

Where people pass at night down slick alleys 

and sometimes there are cries of pain and the sound of a body hitting the wet pavement. 

A part of me still lives frightened and shaking in that country and always will.

I tip my hat to Maudie and Tufts in FRENCH QUARTER NOCTURNE and END OF DAYS.

And that is my memories of childhood horror.

Friday, October 2, 2015


Peeple — basically Yelp,
but for humans --

is coming to rate you from one to five stars.  Sigh.  It had to happen and is coming late November.

You will be able to assign reviews and one to five star ratings to everyone you know: your exes, your co-workers, the old guy who lives next door.

You can’t opt out — once someone puts your name in the Peeple system,

 it’s there unless you violate the site’s terms of service. And you can’t delete bad or biased reviews — that would defeat the whole purpose.

Imagine every interaction
you’ve ever had
suddenly open to the scrutiny of the Internet public.

 Peeple is indicative of a sort of technology that values “the information content of the web over individuals;”

 it’s so obsessed with the perceived magic of crowd-sourced data that it fails to see the harms to ordinary people.

 There’s no way such a rating could ever accurately reflect the person in question.

 Cordray, one of the two creators, hypes it on YouTube,

where she’s publishing a reality Web series about the app’s process.

 “It doesn’t matter how far apart we are in likes or dislikes,”

 she tells some friend at a bar in episode 10.

“All that matters is what people say about us.”

I was taught it was
the other way around,
weren't you?