So you can read my books

Tuesday, April 20, 2010


"May it be when darkness falls,
Your heart will be true."

Darkness falls in all manner of ways. Disaster. Death. Disease. They play no favorites. Is any shoulder strong enough when the clouds cry?

I blend historic fact in with supernatural shivers, focusing on a battered man trying hard not to buckle under the darkness in FRENCH QUARTER NOCTURNE.

Each chapter begins with a true quotation of the times, then blends in with Samuel McCord's struggles with questions of honor and enemies in the shadows.



"The looting is out of control. The French Quarter is
under attack."
- New Orleans councilwoman, Jackie Carlson
{August 30, 2005 }

-- As Councilwoman Carlson spoke, President Bush was playing
guitar with country singer Mark Willis in San Diego. Bush
would return to Crawford, Texas for one more night of taking
it easy before cutting his vacation short.


As I made my way down the flooded street towards the Convention Center, I looked up at the full moon. It seemed closer than civilization or any semblance of rescue. If there was to be any help for those suffering at the center, it would have to come from me.

As I waded along into the night, the black mists curled and creamed in the humid darkness like an unspoken fear trying to form itself on the edge of consciousness. A trick of the thick air, the moon of blood leered down upon its reflection on the dark waters of the flooded street. Ripples of its long bloody image flowed from the floating dead body of a cat, looking like fingers caressing its kill. The cat’s death apparently hadn't been pretty nor was its corpse. The night became colder than it should have been. Much, much colder.

Rind, the Angelus of Death whose blood had mingled with mine ,whispered in words only I could hear. “At night the dead come back to drink from the living.”

I didn’t need Rind to tell me that the night was not my friend. Too much death had happened too recently. Spirits, lost and angry, were walking beside me. Torn clothing. Hollow eyes of shadows. Sharp, white teeth. Long, writhing fingers slowly closing and unclosing.

Because of Rind's blood in my veins, I could see them slowly circling, hear their trailing, splashing steps behind me, feel the heat of their sunken, hungry eyes upon my back.

Were they soul-echoes, mere refracted memory of a will? Or were there such things as literal ghosts? Just because I could see them didn't mean that I understood what they were.

I turned the corner and came upon the startled, fragile grace of a too-white egret standing alert in the middle of the flooded street, staring back at me. Its long sleek neck slowly cocked its sloping head at me. Then, gathering its huge wings, it launched itself into the air with its long black legs. I saw the spirits of the dead around me longingly stare after its curved flight of grace and freedom into the dark sky. I watched with them.

I felt a tug on my left jacket sleeve. I looked down. My chest grew cold. The dead face of a little girl was looking up at me. Or rather the face of her lost, wandering spirit, her full black eyes glistening like twin pools of oil. Her face was a wrenching mix of fear and longing. She tried to speak. Nothing came out of her moving lips. Looking like she was on the verge of tears, she tugged on my sleeve again and pointed to the end of the block. I followed her broken-nailed finger. I shivered.

She was pointing to her own corpse.

I took in a ragged breath I didn’t need to compose myself. The Convention Center would have to wait. I had sworn a long time ago that no child would ever ask my help without getting it.

A haunted singing was faint on the breeze. Somewhere the dead had found their voices. I nodded to the girl’s spirit and waded to her corpse, the force of the rushing flood waters having washed it up onto the sidewalk and against a store front where it slowly bobbed in place. I saw the girl’s spirit out of the corner of my eye, studying the shell of flesh she had once worn. Her head was turned slightly to one side. The expression to her face was sorrowful and wistful at the same time. She pointed again.

I followed the broken-nailed finger. A rosary all wrapped up in the balled fingers of her left hand. She gestured sharply, then looked at me with eyes echoing things I did not want to see. I nodded again and kneeled down beside the girl’s swollen corpse. I pried the rosary loose, wrapping it around the fingers of my own gloved left hand.

I looked up at the girl’s spirit. She just stood there frowning as if in concentration. Her brow furrowed, and her jaws clenched. I could swear beads of sweat appeared on her ghostly forehead.

I jerked as suddenly guttural words were forced from the long-dead throat of the corpse at my boots. “T-Tell M-Mama ... peaceful now.”

And with that, she looked up into the night. I followed her eyes. She was looking at the retreating body of the egret slowly flying into a filmy, billowing cloud. I looked back to her spirit.

She was gone.

“I promise,” I said to the empty night.

Where had she gone? Had her spirit held itself together just long enough to pass on those words of good-bye to her Mama? Was her soul flying alongside that oblivious egret slowly evaporating within the filaments of that cloud? Or was she finding out the truth about the Great Mystery that haunted me still?

I had no answers. Only more questions. Questions in the dark.


I am listening to SLEEPING SUN by Nightwish, an evocative Goth metal tune. In NEW ORLEANS ARABESQUE, Tarja sings this tune in Samuel's club at a time when his heart is breaking. Hope you enjoy this video :


  1. thanks for stopping by my blog and visiting.. I look forward to checking yours out.. going to do that now..

  2. Good Stuff! You have been bestowed an award on my blog:)

  3. I can't even begin to wonder what it was like in the aftermath. In reading enough of your work, I know you like to blend fact with fiction. I hope this was fiction.

  4. Love reading these excerpts Roland, thanks for sharing.

  5. This was sad, and a little confusing. Had she drowned? or was she killed?

  6. It's Bush's Fault?

    Does anyone miss Bush yet? Other than the political commentary, great dark side writing.

  7. Wow, lot of darkness inside and out. Very intriguing. Is this a serial post -- I mean, do you post a part of your book every time?

  8. Wonderful reading! Don't miss Bush in the slightest! Questions in the dark.

  9. ...tossing George into the scene, good stuff:) Thanks for visiting my blog & inviting me over. Your "voice" is sinister.

  10. Everyone, your comments mean so much to me. They help me to keep on when my spirit falters.

    LissaMe : Thanks for checking out my blog.

    Creepy Query Girl : Thanks for the award. I have to go to your blog and check it out. Thanks even more for visiting and commenting.

    Anne : Less was fiction than I would wish.

    Matthew : I'm glad you enjoy reading these excerpts. Thanks for dropping by to do so. And thanks more for commenting.

    Christi : It was a confusing time. So many died where it was unclear whether it was by drowning or by intent. I wanted to show that sometimes one of the raw aspects of death, is that you just will never know the full story many times.

    Walter : Katrina's devastation was made worse by both inaction and rash actions of those in power. I blame no one. I wasn't on board Air Force One, or in the Governor's mansion, or in the mayor's office. I don't fully know that side of things.

    I was on those desperate, dark streets after Katrina. It was chilling to look into eyes that had only thought they had known what having nothing meant. I had no answers when I was asked, "They really don't care, do they? They want us to die, is that it?" I just knew that if my blood courier job evaporated, I would be on the streets with them.

    Thanks for dropping by and caring enough to leave comments. It means a lot to me.

    hemapen : Thanks for enjoying my writing. I post a bit of everything I write : my historical fantasy, RITES OF PASSAGE, my middle grade fantasy, THE BEAR WITH 2 SHADOWS, and, of course, my urban fantasy, FRENCH QUARTER NOCTURNE. Come by again, please.

    Ann : Thanks for the praise. It is deeply appreciated. Bush's White House years produced so much death that it is hard for me to miss him. Like Sam McCord, sometimes all I have are questions in the dark and precious few answers.

    Thank you everyone for commenting. America is great because we can have different views but still agree to disagree and pull together as human beings doing the best we can with what we have. May your today be a good one, Roland

  11. Great lyrical imagery. It is one of my biggest weaknesses (imagery... adding a lyric quality to it would be almost impossible for me). Always impresses me when people can intertwine it smoothly into the flow. Nice.

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  13. You write so well! Thans for sharing that! And loved your info about u: Dreamer. Writer. I´m with you right there.

    Plus, I think we´re all mad anyway and the world is just a mirror. I for starters dont believe anyone who claims to be sane, to actually be it. So cheers to that! =)

  14. The little girl's ghost gave me shivers. Beautiful writing, full of emotion. Loved it.

  15. Roland, that was heartfelt and evocative. Your words flow like a stream of oil. Slick and smooth.

    Look forward to your next post. As always.

  16. I sure hope you get published, so I can read the entire book, and it better be a autographed copy. :-) by the is Gypsy doing? Tucker is doing great..he is inspiring me.

  17. This is very intense, Roland. Thank you for sharing it with us.

  18. Enya being one of my all-time favs you know. “Is any shoulder strong enough when the clouds cry?” You’re speaking to my hear here.

    “If there was to be any help for those suffering at the center, it would have to come from me.” Now I’m intrigued; I love a hero.

    “I didn’t need Rind to tell me that the night was not my friend.” Appropriate foreshadowing; a manner I can appreciate.

    “I saw the spirits of the dead around me longingly stare after its curved flight of grace and freedom into the dark sky.” Haunting and eloquent; makes me suffer just a bit with McCord. (except “I watched with them.” takes a bit of the power away)

    And then you broke my heart; and I loved every minute of it. But everything after ““I promise,” I said to the empty night.” was redundant; because you had already captured the beauty and loss of the moment, and it needed no further explanation.

    Egads Roland; if I were to read this in one sitting I’d need an entire box of tissues, and about two days alone with all those amazing characters. This is the type of novel that requires solitary devotion, and a place on my bookshelf where I can access it over and over for validation of several moods.

    I am in awe.

    And I’ve listened to that Night Wish song so many times I might have a story of my own brewing.


  19. Donna, your words mean a great deal to me. I see the validity of your criticisms. And they are correct within the framework of what you had to work with.

    McCord's entire life is a tapestry of irony.

    His Apache name is Dyami {Eagle.} He longs to fly away from the nightmare his life has become -- which is why he stares up after the soaring egret with the spirits of the dead. But he is bound by love to stay in the club named for his deserting wife.

    And as is fitting with the rest of Sam's life, there is an ironic secret to her desertion that will be revealed in the sequel, NEW ORLEANS ARABESQUE.

    I am touched that you were moved by my words, Donna. And I'm happy that NIGHTWISH stirred your imagination. Isn't SLEEPING SUN beautiful. And the music video caught me up, too. Good luck in composing your story is sparked in your creative mind.

    I was going to write something different in my blog tomorrow, but I've decided to show you a bit more after the scene you liked so much. I did not post all of Chapter Four, but I think you and my other friends will be able to follow the beginning of Chapter Five : THEY MOVE IN THE SHADOWS.

    Also I will post a music video just for you, Donna. Another NIGHTWISH selection, haunting and beautiful with scenes from LORD OF THE RINGS to boot. Roland

  20. I'm touched; thank you Roland.

    I wasn't sure I should add the critique bits, but your writings are so expressive, it pulls responses out of me. And that is the problem with critting random exerpts; without viewing the entire work, some things get taken out of context.

    Of course I left another comment on your Shadows post.