So you can read my books

Saturday, July 9, 2011

THE GHOST OF MARLENE DIETRICH_ a visit, a lesson on writing, and wicked promises

The ever-entertaining Henry Mazel has written a provocative post, THE SECRET LIFE OF MARLENE DIETRICH (Her ghost pointed it out to me) :

Henry has also written a thrilling book : THE PLOT AGAINST MARLENE DIETRICH :

Now, on to my ghostly midnight visitation --

The sound of a book hitting the floor hard awakened me. I pried open protesting, heavy eyes. They flew wide when I saw her.

Marlene Dietrich. Or her ghost, actually.

In a frilly black night wrap and not much else. She rose like the spirit she was, picked up the book and threw it down once more. Harder.

"Deine mutter hurt in der stadt!"

"Ah, do I want to know what that means?"


She spun her ghost chair around, sitting with easy grace upon it so she leaned upon its high back, and looked hotly down at me. "HOW TO SELL A MILLION eBOOKS! Its author ... oh, there are no good English words. Dorf trottel!"

Marlene smiled wickedly. "And no, you do not want to know the meaning of that either."

She shook her head. "It is like listening to a good joke told badly. Much build-up for little pay-off."

Haunted eyes stabbed into me. "Liebling, the end of the rainbow is just another lonely place where hopes and dreams slowly fade away."

Her long blonde hair slid to half cover her face as she leaned forward and down to my air mattress. "Do you want that single moment they call fame ... or do you want to touch the heart?"

"You have to ask?"

Her smile illuminated her lovely face, showing the lonely soul within. "Ah, Ich liebe dich."

"Do I want to know the meaning of that?"

Her smile rivaled Mona Lisa's. "No, but later, if you are lucky, I will show you anyway."

She suddenly frowned. Not bending to pick up the book, she merely pounded a pretty foot on it.

"He wants that moment ...

and the money that writing bestsellers will give him. Ha. He promised secrets to success and gave endless pages of self-praise and using people as means not ends. Bah."

She jabbed a long, slender finger at me. "You want to touch the heart, to write a story that others will come back to again and again?"


"Then, you must give them dreams, danger, mystery ... and most importantly, you must give them love."

She sat up, running those long fingers through her wavy tangle of hair.

"And you must not make it easy, liebling. There must be two problems : one inside the hero -- one outside him."

She looked intently at me, her eyes sparkling like knife points.

"Your hero must be his own greatest enemy not some Nazi. Nazi's. Ha! They give him something to hit when all he wants to hit is her - I mean - himself."

Marlene sighed, her eyes looking into places that seemed to break her heart.

"If we have the wit, we can conquer those who would bind us. But against ourselves ...."

She bowed her head, slowly raising it.
"Against ourselves, we need help. We need love. The fire burning from one good heart will draw us out of the darkness of ourselves and onto the road leading to healing, to the light. Perhaps not triumph but ...."

She hugged herself. "Ah, but to die in the arms of one you love and who loves you ... that is a victory no Nazi can take away."

Marlene tapped the laptop by my air mattress. "Here is the stuff dreams are made of, liebling."

Her eyes looked beyond me.

"Set your stage quickly. Bring all the players on stage in the first three chapters. Be honest with the audience : let them know who the hero is so that they can attach their hearts to him or her -- tell them the theme :

does money equal success, does fame, or does the trust of one good man mean your life has not been in vain?"

She blinked back sudden tears.

"Let the readers have fun with your heroes. Toss everything in the air. Snatch happiness and safety from their heroes. Give the hero one slim chance to get it all back. Take that all away."

Marlene smiled bitterly.

"Life is quite good at that. But fiction, unlike life, must end well if you would have publishers buy your tale. Give them that happy ending. Oh, after much darkness, storm, and strife, of course."

Her smile was brittle. "Bring everything down to a single, seemingly impossible showdown. Make the enemy unbeatable."

Marlene leaned down, and her lips brushed my ear. "And unlike life, let the hero win and come away wiser, better, stronger."


"Yes, liebling?"

"You did walk away a winner : stronger, wiser, and better."

Marlene cocked her head, letting her hair become a wavy waterfall.
"Dass Liebe, die aus Trümmern auferstand,
Reicher als einst an Größe ist und Kraft."

In a husk, Marlene translated,
"And ruin'd love, when it is built anew,
Grows fairer than at first, more strong, far greater."

"Shakespeare," I said.

"Truth," Marlene smiled sadly.


  1. Apologies for not being able to stand the heat in my apartment to blog visit. Think it's time for me to say Good-Bye. Roland

  2. I always love to read about Marlene...

    I liked how you wove the writing rules around Marlene's oh so powerful persona.

  3. ...sorry to hear of your A/C dilemma, Roland. Enjoyed the post, Marlene's journey's long remembered.

    Have a good weekend...find some shade, my friend.


  4. Michael :
    Always good hearing from you. Isn't Marlene a haunting presence around whom to wrap great writing rules?

    Elliot :
    This heat-induced cyber-exile is killing me, keeping me as it does from commenting on my friends' blogs. I pray SOUTH OF CHARM is doing box office sales!!

    Is Blogger playing games with you, as it doing with me, when I try to leave the few comments I can?

  5. Marlene's ghost is HOT. Marlene not only knows where it's at, she knows where it used to be.

  6. Walter :
    And I know right where I want to be : right next to her in one of her amorous moods! LOL.

  7. Hi Roland .. lovely post - loved reading the how to in Marlene's terms .. and can quite understand you wanting a quiet (cool) amorous moment with her ..

    I hope the A/C is sorted .. and how's the new place ..

    Look after yourself ... cheers Hilary

  8. Hilary :
    Sad to say that the owner folded on me. I had made arrangements to have the weekend free to move, but the owner was a no-show and the apartment is still being worked on that I was to move in anyway. Sigh

    Thanks for visiting and staying to chat. It means a lot. Still hot in here!!! Roland

  9. Oh! Roland .. what a pain - gosh I am sorry - it's all very unsettling. I hate being unsettled .. I've got to sort myself out here .. I think I'll be ok .. and is something I need to do this week.

    I had a very bad year last year .. and so I do hope things will become more comfortable residence wise soon ... let alone the heat -which is really debilitating ..

    Does your blood van have A/C?

    Cheers for now .. and look after yourself .. Hilary

  10. Hilary :
    Your situation, whatever it may be, is in my prayers -- as are you.

    I hope that soon life will smooth out for you in the ways that you need it.

    I hate that last year was a very bad year for you. Perhaps this one will make up for it.

    The heat keeps me from the internet and my blog friends like you -- and that irritates me. But my blood van is air conditioned as is the blood center.

    I seem to have been black-listed in my posts lately. No comments. Sad. But I have endured deaths of loved ones and friends, burned home & burned body, and lost pets & dreams -- being snubbed is a piece of cake compared to those things!

    Have a week full of healing and happiness, Hilary --- Roland