So you can read my books

Sunday, April 18, 2010


As I drove home tonight, I studied the lonely strip of interstate ahead of me. I reflected on how it intertwined into the dark oblivion where the lances of my headlights died, much like our lives do into the unknown of our future.

I looked up into the sky. Great waves of clouds washed over one another in misty billows. It felt as if a night of dark intent was coming. No, more than that. As if an age of dark intent seemed to be crouching just beyond the known horizon. And I thought of the beckoning sea with her whispered mysteries and tragic legends.

And those musings led me to thoughts of my fantasy Titanic tale, RITES OF PASSAGE. The story of the cursed voyage of the transatlantic steamer, Demeter, in 1853. A journey where my hero of FRENCH QUARTER NOCTURNE first met the one great love of his life, the mysterious Meilori Shinseen, born of stardust and the sea. A passage where McCord fights his first duel with the enemy who is destined to become his life-long foe, DayStar. A being claiming to come from a realm beyond the boundaries of Time itself.

The weather was unseasonably crisp outside my van. Not at all like awakening Spring but more like the brittle chill of Autumn. And that in turn made me think of the scene in RITES OF PASSAGE where a wounded McCord walks through a plane of existence not of this world to discover the identity of a murderer that both friend and foe warn will destroy him. But not to do so would destroy the love of his life. And that means there is no question that he will walk this strange realm until he finds the truth that will save Meilori and destroy him. 'Fair Trade,' he thinks :


I expected to see a good many unpleasant sights when I walked into the darkness that lay beyond The Door of Nasah. After all, I had a Jesuit education of sorts, courtesy of the Soyoko from so many years ago. So I knew that nasah was ancient Hebrew for testing. It had been used to describe those poor wandering Israelites bickering and stewing their way across the desert to the Promised Land.

And you know how well that went for them.

But since this is me we’re talking about. I didn’t get a single one of the things I expected. Story of my life. And undeath.

I was walking in a place forgotten by feet. Or so it felt to me. The darkness slowly bled to a lighter hue of gloom.

I paused, brooding in this twilight world, not knowing where to place my steps. I strained my eyes. I could almost make out the smudged silver of a far horizon.

What had I said to myself earlier? That I figured the folks who entered this realm made their own walls. Maybe that was what I was doing now.

Was I walking through the burned-out ends of the smoky days of my past? A dark forest of memories was lanced through, not with sunlight filtered through thick branches, but with images of pain and struggle. My pain. My struggle. I almost felt the crunch beneath my feet of the withered leaves of others’s masquerades. I did seem to feel, like the lash of snapping branches against my cheek, the tiny thousand misunderstandings of my best efforts and the clumsy gropings of my heart to the life-hardened hearts of others.

I knew then that I was indeed walking through the Autumn world of my past, rising above the dark horizon of my regrets. The yellowed leaves of recollection curled up around me as I walked slowly forward : Sonora, England, France, China, Australia, New Zealand, and even India.

The light of love slipped through the black shutters of my guilt and loneliness. It was warm and emerald. The light I saw in the eyes of Meilori. My torch that I would carry in this darkness.

I kept walking. Images swirled around me. Revolving doors, showing the faces of an ever-growing army of enemies. Refracting light of clues, guesses, fears of the truth I finally realized I did not want to know.

Meilori’s eyes seemed to waver. I remembered her anger, her warnings, her despair. I clung to our bond, our love bruised but enduring, curling about my spirit like perfumed smoke rising from the embers of our hearts. I would endure. I had to endure. For her. For us.

Laughter. Cold. Brittle. Knife sharp.

It swirled all about me. And as fast as fingers become a fist, a chill blackness swallowed me. I slowed but kept moving ahead. I shivered. Not from the cold, but from a growing warmth within me.

I slowed even more. Meilori. Her velvet words spoke within my mind.

‘Beloved, wherever you are know this -- you are a great man.’

I started to protest but her soft words stopped me. ‘Hush, I do not have long before he senses I am talking to you. You are Samuel Durand McCord, beloved, and you are a great man.’

I could have sworn I felt the lingering caress of tender fingers on my cheek. ‘You turned your back on war to save a small boy. You fought cruel laws, usually to no avail. You have written no symphony but that of your deeds. You have written no poems outside words of comfort to those in pain.’

This time I did feel her lips on mine. ‘Yet you are greater than any general, any politician, any composer, or any poet I have ever known. You are great because you are kind when you could have so easily learned to be cruel. You are great because you love when so little has been shown to you. You are great because you are humble when you have the power to be a tyrant.’

I felt my nose tweaked. ‘And finally you are great, not because you never fail but to celebrate life, but because you never quit. Now, do not make me a liar!’

And suddenly the blackness was colder because my sense of her was gone. Snatched away like life by a pistol shot. DayStar must have sensed her talking to me. She could be in serious trouble. I ground my teeth. I had to get back to her.

But I figured turning back would only lead me to a deeper darkness. If there was one ugly lesson I had learned in all my wanderings and mistakes, it was that with life in general, and with DayStar in particular, there was no going back. None at all. No, I had to bull this one through to the end. Through to my end if everyone’s warnings were right.

But there was another lesson I had learned. The majority was usually wrong. Usually.

I took a firm step forward, and the ink shroud around me lifted. I was back in the Autumn world. But it no longer held any restrains of regret for me. How could there be any? Meilori’s love was here with me. And besides I had always liked Autumn despite its warnings of the white death of winter biding its time impatiently.

Autumn’s crisp breath stirred the unseen leaves with whispery lamentations. Their graves provided a crackle and rustle as my feet stepped upon them while I made my way through Autumn’s colors more than landscape. The very air filled my nose and lungs with the tang and wrinkling of leaf bonfires, of ripened apples making the heavy branches hang their heads as if in mourning for ice storms to come.

My ears prickled as I could have sworn I heard the leathery flutter of pheasant wings, the still happy liquid singing of a meandering stream, and the sad lament of a sparrow facing hunger. The red and gold of this world murmured to me of happier times as I had tramped lonely hills and haunted forests. And a peace filled me. The peace which is the reward of completing the long gauntlet of summer. The quiet dark that precedes the winter of the soul which lurks just around the next bend. A time for binding recent wounds and old -- and forgeting them, along with the misfortunes that had brought them.

I took another step. I stopped. Autumn had ended. My winter of the soul lay before me.

I lay before me.

I had gone into the past. Stepped right past the boundaries of time’s firm grasp. The evening of Rachel’s murder was bidding me a dark welcome.

An instinct born of this cruise told me that DayStar had not expected me to make it even this far. I stiffened. Cornered in fungus, his voice mocked me in the confines of my mind.

‘No matter, McCord. Now you end.’

I whispered, “Maybe si. Maybe no.”


I am of three minds like a winter tree in whose branches sit three blackbirds. Or of three novels actually : FRENCH QUARTER NOCTURNE, RITES OF PASSAGE, and THE BEAR WITH TWO SHADOWS. I wrote all three concurrently. Trust me on this, bloggers. If ever you are tempted to do such a thing, take two aspirins, go to bed, and pull the covers over your head. But it was instructive to do such a thing. When I wrote on one, a plot snarl from another would smooth out in my mind. And it helped me place in perspective the epic scope of my undead hero's long life.

Since at heart I am a romantic, I'm listening to Celine Dion singing -- you guessed it -- "My Heart Will Go On." In case you might want to listen, too --


  1. Thanks for visting and follow my blog.
    I like your post and I love Titanic:-)
    Wish you a great sunday from Norway.

  2. Wow! I'm impressed you can write novels at the same time! There's no way I could even contemplate doing so.

    Have a great weekend!

  3. Writing three novels at one time. Yes, i can see it. When inspiration hits you need to write as much as possible before it leaves.

    I wrote 13 novels in two years. Now I look back and can't believe I had the energy to do it. It's like someone else came up with all those ideas. Energy spurts are like that.

    Of course, your energy is probably directed by a full moon. Scary and great writing.

  4. "You are great because you love when so little has been shown to you"

    Well that says it all right there doesn't it?

  5. Wow! Powerful writing Roland! Thx for posting and also for visiting my blog! Have a great w-end!

  6. I've written two stories concurrently, but never three. Kudos. Currently, I'm writing my new WIP and jotting down plot ideas for five other books when they come to me, held in a different file called, most imaginatively 'other plot ideas.'

    Whenever you're ready to send me some stuff to beta, just email me. It's my name @gmail. If you're a link person, my email is on my profile.

    As always, your writing is amazing and unique. In my heart I know you will have great success one day.

  7. I've written both fiction and non-fiction at the same time, but writing two fiction pieces at the same time, let alone three, would mess with my head!

  8. I can work on a nonfiction and a fiction at one time, but would not try to tackle two fictions! Congrats on writing 3 simultaneously.

    Straight From Hel

  9. Hi Roland -- Thanks a bunch for dropping by and following my blog. I like your mini-profile about loving laughter and understanding that the world is mad. I can identify with that. I'll be back to read more from your posts -- there are also some intriguing titles in your archives that I'd like to explore.

  10. It's spooky for me to drive on a lonely road at night! I read somewhere that James Patterson writes several novels at once, and has written in multiple genres, so I bet it's the way to go.

  11. Isn't it cool how doing ordinary things like driving makes us think of the extraordinary things in our heads? I love that.

    I also love that you're a romantic. I haven't listened to that Celine Dion track in years.


  12. Roland, you are a wordsmith. In the every sense of the word. That piece was truly wonderful.

    I also love Celine Deon. She has the voice of an angel :)

    Look forward to visiting here often.

  13. God, that was beautiful. Every bit; from the drive all the way through the video. This, however struck me the most: I was walking in a place forgotten by feet.

    It blows me away that you wrote three at the same time. I barely work well on revising one and writing a second. Kudos.

    And thanks for the inspiration.


  14. Spiderdama : Happy Monday to Norway from Louisiana. Thanks for dropping by. Don't be a stranger, hear?

    Tali Roland : I didn't do 3 at once on purpose. It just sorta sneaked up on me. Like the flu.

    Walter : 13 novels in 2 years? You have me beat. Good sales on all your novels.

    Anne : Your praise means a lot to me. Samuel McCord is much better than I am. But I try.

    Jessica : Thanks for the praise. I just visited your blog again and, due to weariness from my 21 days straight at blood-running, I called you Jennifer. I'm still red-faced. In revenge you can call me Ronald.

    Chrisit : Plot ideas for 5 books. You're the woman! Your kind words about my writing is deeply appreciated. Thanks for offering to help me polish my work.

    Helen : Fiction and non-fiction at once? That is some accomplishment. May your work sell quickly.

    Patricia : Thanks for dropping. Even more for liking what you read and leaving a comment.

    Aubrie : It can be spooky driving these rural roads late at night with the misty fog boiling all around me, not being able to see past my hood. But people bleeding to death need me to be brave. Good fortune with all your dreams. Visit me again, hear?

    Jai : If you like Celine Dion, you're a romantic too. We romantics have to stick together. Take a listen to SLEEPING SUN by Nightwish. I think you'll l ike it. It's 7th on my newly installed playlist.

    Wendy : Thanks very much for calling me a wordsmith. That meant a lot to me. Maybe I can convince Peter Jackson to do a movie of RITES OF PASSAGE and get a chance to see New Zealand? Hey, a writer can dream, can't he?

    Donna : When you said my writing was beautiful, it, too, meant a great deal to me. I struggle so to get my words just right. Thanks. And you, and all my cyber-friends, are an inspiration to me.

    May The Father grant us all enough light for the path ahead and enough strength for the next step upon it. Have a great week, all, Roland