So you can read my books

Friday, April 29, 2011

Z is for ENDINGS_Where to put the period, why, and how.

To every beginning there is an ending.

But not always ...

In my worldview, the soul has a beginning but no true ending. Perhaps it has a final destination, yet no ending but eternity.

What did Woody Allen say?

Eternity is awfully long ... especially towards the end.

But for novels there has to be an ending. But where?

Remember the multiple "endings" to the movie, RETURN OF THE KING. I was with my date who kept starting to get up scene after scene. Peter Jackson just didn't seem to want to end his epic tale.

Of course those of us who had read the book knew what the true ending would be. But most in the audience hadn't read the book.

And like my date, they were frustrated and a bit miffed at Peter for misleading them scene after scene.

Not unlike an old car that just wouldn't stop after the key is turned off.

Finally, the epic ends with the closing of the door to Sam's home. But it was too late. Most felt dissatisfied at the false endings.

Take John Ford's classic Western, THE SEARCHERS.

It, too, ends with the closing of a home's door -- but the perspective is switched. The audience sees from the inside out to the figure of John Wayne beyond.

A cover story in New York magazine called it the most influential movie in American history.

The opening and closing shots, of Ethan arriving and leaving,

framed in a doorway. The poignancy with which he stands alone at the door,

one hand on the opposite elbow (his arm having been wounded by an arrow earlier in the film),

forgotten for a moment after delivering Debbie home. These shots are among the treasures of the cinema.

Ethan (John Wayne) cannot enter the home which represents civilization, home, and forgiveness. He is too wounded (hence the gesture of holding his formerly wounded arm.)

Ethan's story is the tragedy of the loner : we see Ethan at the end of the film, as we saw him at its beginning : alone, lonely, haunted by the past, and deeply wounded.

John Ford had this ending in mind when he filmed the beginning. I believe to have a truly focused novel, we as authors should have the ending in view from the very start of our story. Doing so provides that emotional impact of the closing lines which touches the reader's head as well as heart.

Of course, there are different ways to do that :

Snipping all the loose ends neatly.

Bracketing the novel with book-end type scenes as Ford did with THE SEARCHERS.

Or ending with a cliff-hanger, drawing the reader into an anxious anticipation for the next chapter in an on-going story -- as life is on-going.

How do you decide when to end your novel and why?

Thursday, April 28, 2011

W is for WOW!_Isn't WENDY TYLER RYAN something special?

Wasn't that a fantastic, mind-blowing book trailer?

Not because of my book. {Well, maybe a little. LOL.}

But mainly because of the artistry and extraordinarily hard work of :


Her Papyrus Productions --

An off-shoot of her Lemon Twist Press -- is a fledgling Book Trailer cyber business.

But her creations are the polished, fine craftsmanship of a seasoned professional.

Let's face it :

Book Trailers can sweep up the on-lookers into the world of your novel.

A GREAT book trailer can have the viewer saying out loud, "I WANT that book!"

Such a dynamic, riveting book trailer as you've just watched is the result of intensive, time-consuming work.

Long days are put into such a creation.

Can you imagine laboring ten hours days that grow into a week's worth of finding just the right images & music, paying license fees for them, and then crafting them together dramatically into a hypnotic whole?

That is what Wendy Tyler Ryan did for me.

That is what she can do for you.

Check out her web site --

Tuesday, April 26, 2011


{ADRIFT IN THE TIME STREAM is now available to buy!}


is courtesy of the creative genius of the British award-winning artist, Andrew Simmons.}

Can you remember how you felt when you ended FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING?

I wanted to give those of you who finished RITES OF PASSAGE quick access to Book II. It should be out this Thursday.


Like a ghost through a wall, Captain Samuel McCord, Texas Ranger,

has slipped from one year to the next, leaving a bit of himself with each hunt until he feels as hollow as his childhood's illusions.

It is the year 1853,

and he has tracked the only lead in a gruesome murder to the transatlantic steamer, DEMETER.

A young girl he raised from a baby has been murdered on the docks of Galveston, her face removed.

She was last seen in the company of someone only known as the Gray Man.

Now, McCord is on the hunt for this mysterious man aboard the steamer.

But hunter becomes hunted. McCord discovers that fully a fourth of the steamer's passengers are supernatural predators :

revenants ( the truth behind the myth of vampires),

Kali's nymphs (flesh-eating insects),

Kali herself,

the Amal (living shadows who drain men of their life force),

Coyote (Native American trickster and chaos bringer),

the Gahe (soul-drinking demons of Apache myth).

As the DEMETER enters the Bermuda Triangle,

each person and entity McCords meets assures him that discovering the identity of the young girl's true murderer will destroy him.

ADRIFT IN THE TIME STREAM is an epic historical fantasy, whose major players are --

Captain Samuel McCord :
His are haunted and haunting eyes.

He has seen too much and understood more than he wanted of it.

He appears in his late forties though his hair, turned moon-white by the trauma of seeing his parents and sister murdered,

makes him appear older to those who only glance at him. He is lean like the hunting wolf he is ...

hunting for the peace and love that always seems to elude him.

Lady Meilori Shinseen :

Born of stardust and the sea,

the alien from another dimension has lived longer than most nations.

She is on this voyage to end that long life, having lost all hope of love and peace ...

until she meets the haunted Texas Ranger that reminds her of the noble samurai she lost tragically centuries before.

There are disturbing depths of sad wisdom in her slanted jade eyes.

Depths in whose darkness swim the monsters which drive us or haunt us or both. They both call and warn at the same time.

Elu :

The Apache shaman who has been mentor and brother to McCord.

His mother is the dreaded Turquoise Woman, living projection of Earth's consciousness.

Becoming blood brothers to McCord cursed him to an existence in the Mirror World, a parallel dimension to ours.

The blood mingling also cursed McCord into becoming a drainer of the life force of others ...

if he touches them with the bare palm of his right hand. Hence, McCord always wears gloves.

The phrase "taking my gloves off" is only heard once by the outlaws who force McCord into saying them.

The Gray Man :

Many have been his names.
So many he has forgotten most of them. Dragon. Abbadon. DayStar. He goes now by Lord Hassatan.

Tall, eternally young, endlessly evil and cruel, possessed of a vast, complex intellect that makes the term "genius" pale by comparison.

A Hannibal Lector of supernatural beings.

He claims to be older than even the earth,

being the Darkness which existed when all was Void ...

until the arrival of Light and the Creation of all that is.

He wants his home back.

This voyage of the DEMETER is his way of either ending his tormented life or bringing an end to all life.

Only McCord, one lone cursed mortal, stands in his way of both goals.

The last voyage of the DEMETER is not a pleasure cruise.

It is not even the stocked pond that the undead aboard believe it to be.

It is the beginning of "The End of All Things."

Unless one cursed Texican can fight and win his own personal Alamo --

even though winning it will cost him all he holds dear.

Come aboard the doomed DEMETER

and sail with her into the depths of madness in ADRIFT IN THE TIME STREAM.

{Of course, a review of this fantasy of mine will also garner you 5 entries in my Autographed Book Contest. So if you review all 3 books of mine, you will receive 15 entries in my contest. How cool is that?}

Sunday, April 24, 2011


It's an odd truth : reality is a slippery thing.

We often expect one thing and get quite another.

We awaken to a dark moment, expecting death and get life instead.

That's one of the lessons of Easter.

Don't sigh. You haven't stumbled upon a finite man pompously spouting delusions about the infinite.

I'm actually writing about the art of writing.

And like any art, it requires practice and diligence and correct technique.

I'm writing about something painful all we writers must learn to handle correctly : criticism.

Ouch. It hurts.

We all receive it. None of us is perfect. Well, there was that one. But we crucified him.

I've received criticism. I'll probably receive it about this post.

But there is an Easter spin to the criticism we all receive : there is life after the grave.

But only if you take the right path.

I know from experience that when you get rejected, all becomes dark for a moment that seems to stretch for infinity. And when all is darkness, it's easy to get turned around.

In my first incarnation of FRENCH QUARTER NOCTURNE,

Samuel McCord was a man of strong faith.

A very noted, respected agent was impressed enough with my partial to request my complete manuscript.

He was kind and giving enough to explain why he rejected it.

Bottom line : I had pushed away a large segment of the reading audience who didn't believe.

And no publisher, especially in these harsh economic times, wants to buy a novel that will do that.

And after the initial "ouch," I thought about the wisdom of his words.

He was right. I remembered a novel, reading and enjoying it immensely, only to cringe when he superficialized and mocked people of faith.

They were Moslems, by the way.

I respect people of all faiths.

I laid the book down and never bought another by that author. I realized the respected agent had a point. He wasn't respected for nothing.

I didn't want to hurt or push any reader away. How could I tell my story without doing it?

I heard the voice of my best friend, Sandra, sigh, "Just tell them the story, Roland. Don't tell them what to make of it. Leave it to them to decide : like you do with me."

Sandra is an agnostic. She is my best friend.

People marvel at the friendship of two people who believe so differently, including her husband, who is a proud atheist.

If you watch the very first Gregory Peck movie, THE KEYS TO THE KINGDOM, you will find the answer.

I saw that movie as a young boy late, late at night on one of those programs that show dusty old movies. It helped shape my view on how to be a man of God.

And yes, I look just like a young Gregory Peck.

Not fooling you, huh? Rats.

But thinking on what Sandra might say to me, dawn rose in my darkness. I would focus on those subjects, those questions we all have. An enthusiasm fired me.

I would present those things, showing the amiable bickering of two old undead friends :

one who didn't believe but longed for a better universe where a loving God did indeed exist and the other a vampire priest who did believe ... most of the time.

I wouldn't clearly show which view, if either, was correct.

I mean, in an infinite world, how could any finite mind hold all the answers? I would leave it to the reader to decide.

We all hurt. We all question the hungry darkness within, the threatening darkness without. We all seek for the light. I wrote FRENCH QUARTER NOCTURNE for all of us. And I pray that the Great Mystery grant you enough light for the next step on your path.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

T is for TWEAKED_in that I have TWEAKED MY CONTEST ONCE AGAIN_last time, promise

Since I have ePublished another novel, RITES OF PASSAGE,

I thought I would extend my contest in two ways :

1.) If you write a review on Amazon for either




You will receive 5 entries to win my autographed books


Dean Koontz, THE TAKING

Laurell K. Hamilton, DANSE MACABRE

2.) To give you time to read one or both books, THE DRAWING WILL BE HELD ON AUGUST 31st.

Friday, April 22, 2011

T is for TEASE or RITES OF PASSAGE comes out this Saturday_Samuel McCord's first recorded adventure!

T is for Tease ...

{Cover courtesy of my good friend, Nicholas Savant}


Captain Samuel McCord's first recorded adventure comes out this Saturday

Think :

A fantasy TITANIC.



Some dangerous souls lead lives like loaded guns.

Captain Samuel McCord is such a man. His nature is that of a poet and a philospher. His family dying in a Comanche raid right before his eyes changed all that.

Violence and death has stalked him since that day. Becoming blood brother to a not fully human Apache shaman changed McCord further. He sees around the corner in reality.

By 1853, he has become a pariah among the Texas Rangers, assigned certain death assignments. Traveling the world, McCord saves Princess Victoria's life, sets Napoleon III on his throne, and fights against both sides in the Chinese Opium War. Every crown prince of Europe and the Orient has set a bounty on his life.

McCord could care less. Someone has murdered the young girl he raised from a tiny baby. The murderer took the girl's face to wear as a mask. She was last seen in the company of someone only known as the Gray Man.

McCord tracks the Gray Man to the transatlantic steamer, DEMETER. As the ship enters the waters of the Bermuda Triangle, McCord learns that fully a fourth of the passangers are undead in some form or other.

It is not a pleasure cruise. It is a stocked pond.

An elite stocked pond : Ralph Waldo Emerson. His first wife, Ellen Tucker. Ada Byron. Horace Greeley. Sir Robert Peel. Margaret Fuller. Daniel Webster. Count de Morey. The courtesan Cora Pearl.

And only half of these illustrious luminaries are undead.

But revenants, flesh-eating insects, soul-draining shadows, and other forms of madness will not stop McCord. Not even the mysterious Gray Man.

McCord will catch the murderer of the young girl who reminded him of his murdered sister. There is no fail.

Then, the one thing he never expected comes into his life : love. Love in the deadly form of an alien born of stardust and the sea. McCord can fight any enemy, but can he survive the love of a deadly goddess?

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

R is for RUH ROH (for Scooby Doo fans), RELATIONS & RULES (Toeing the Line!)


has an evocative, lovely post on Origins and her longing for home.

It reminded me of these words from Keats :

The voice I hear this passing night was heard

In ancient days by emperor and clown:

Perhaps the selfsame song that found a path

Through the sad heart of Ruth, when, sick for home,

She stood in tears amid the alien corn

Her talk of Origins made me Reflect on my own which has led me to write of the Turquoise Woman in most of my novels.

Whenever the Lakota pray, they end with MITAKUYE OYASIN (for all our relations).

The worst insult a Lakota can give is to say "you live as if you have no relatives."

When the term "relatives" is used, it refers to all living things, from the tallest tree to the tiniest ant, and the Lakota believe that we are "all related", no matter what colour or creed.

Each of us are interconnected in that great Web of Life, in which no strand is plucked without causing ripples throughout the whole.

Mojo and SugarScribes let me know that some of my Relations are new to my blog.

It is the Lakota Way to point out for Relatives the marks along the trail that will smooth the path before them :

The mysterious Nazca lines.

What fan of the arcane and the supernatural has not heard of them?

But did you know that there were equally mysterious Nazca Lines for writers?

Bet you didn't.

But there are. And you need to know them.

Eagle-eye view.

That is what the Nazca Lines for authors provides.

First Nazca Line - The theme in one sentence.

In an important aspect, a good novel is an argument posed by the author to the reader.

As in : what is more important, love or success? What is love really? And success? How do you measure that? Your theme is your argument.

How do you get your theme seamlessly inserted into your novel?

Usually thourgh the lips of a secondary character. In my THE MOON & SUN AS MY BRIDES, Webster, the one-eyed orphanage headmaster, stalks towards my young hero as the orphange burns down around them.

He jabs at his empty eye-socket.

"You want the truth? You want to understand? That costs, boy. It costs!" {As it turns out Webster is really Wotan, he who you might know as Odin -- and wisdom cost him his eye.}

Second - The Book-Ends :

The Opening Scene and Your Closing Scene.

Some publishers look at the first 10 pages and the last 10 pages.

Think of them as the "Before" and "After" photos in all those advertisements.

There has to be a drastic change in the main character underlinging your theme or the rubber stamp "REJECT" comes down on your manuscript. Ouch.

Third - The Set-Up Lines :

The first 50 pages or the first 3 chapters.

In those you must set-up your hero, the life-or-death stakes, the goal of the story, and all the major characters are introduced or hinted at.

Think of any classic Hollywood movie. In the first 15 minutes you will see that same set-up. You don't have it in your novel? You don't have a good novel. Or least that is what the publisher will think. And he is the one we're trying to sell.

Fourth - The Flaws That Show & Those That Don't :

You should have three major time bombs in your hero's life that need fixing and three minor ones that prevent him from seeing the real problems in his life. Tick. Tick. Tick. BOOM!

Fifth : Let The Games Begin :

Fun. That's what gets readers to come back for a second and third read.

It what gets them to urge friends to read. Let the hero and his circle of comrades have adventure. Let them get away with the loot. Let them thumb their noses at the howling Dark Ones.

It's what would be on the poster if your novel was turned into a movie.

Luke and Leia swinging on that rope. Quigley shooting his rifle over impossible distances. Iron Man streaking across the dark heavens ... to slam into the brick wall of the next Nazca Line ---

Sixth - The Twilight of The Gods :

Or that is what I call it : the hero realizes too late a harsh truth.

The forces of darkness have won. He is alone. There is no hope. He comes face to face with the fool that he was. And then, kneeling in blood and ashes, he decides ...

Seventh - The Phoenix Rises/ The Catalyst Sizzles :

There is losing. Then, there's quiting. The hero decides to fight on. But fight on smarter.

The bad news was really the good news.

It is that moment the reader loves. The harsh realities that every reader faces is tilted on its ear by a carefully sown subplot. The person the hero thought he has lost returns. And the forces of darkness discover you never count a hero down until you see his corpse.

And maybe not even then.

Eighth - The Mid-Point Line :

The stakes are raised. The hero wins. Or does he? The floor bottoms out beneath him. All is lost. The hero was a fool. He obtained his goal, only to discover he had lost the real treasure in getting a tarnished, empty vessel.

Ninth - The Wolves Close In :

What makes a hero?

What ticks inside a proponent of Evil?

The answers to those two questions are what turns defeat into a learning, growing stage in the hero :

The hero fights for others.

The antagonist fights for himself.

The hero is willing to die if those he loves live. The antagonist usually finds a way for followers to die for his cause. He himself wants to live to bask in the glory of winning.

Tenth - Gethsame_Golgotha_The Empty Tomb :

Death. Someone dies. Something important dies.

In every classic movie, death is the seed that is sown to bring a harvest of redemption to the hero. As the shadows close in around our defeated, dejected hero ...

Eleventh - The Sun Also Rises :

Love usually brings the believed lost partner of the hero back to his side. A moment of joy leads to a revelation of a solution.

The lessons learned in the prior pages are brought to bear. The forces of darkness have learned nothing. The hero has learned a great many things. He brings them to his arsenal of weapons.

One by one, he and his comrades and his love dispatch the enemy.

Until it is just the hero versus his arch-foe.

New surprises are thrown at our hero. He takes his hits and keeps coming. He may die, but he will not be defeated. Nor is he.

And The Lines Strikes Twelve - The "World" is changed.

Triumph isn't enough. The world must be drastically changed -- for the hero or for everyone. But changed it is.

Final Image :

It echoes the first image we got in the book.

But this image has more depth, brought by the dark colors of death, pain, and revelation. You have made your point in the argument you proposed in the novel's beginning.

You know your reader will close your book with a sad sigh at a great experience ended. And maybe, just maybe, if you've done your job right ...

your reader will turn to page one again to read your novel with renewed delight at knowing where you are going to take him/her.


And talking of eagle-eye views, here is a music video that is a life lesson all by itself :

Monday, April 18, 2011


Judith Engracia, agent for Liza Dawson Associates,

said this revealing and important truth :

"The query itself is a writing sample,

so it should be tightly written.

The manuscript could have a great plot,

but if the query letter doesn't convince agents that it's well written,

then it probably won't receive many requests."


And since she is a student of Keysi Fighting Method,

a school of self-defense that's meant to prepare you for multiple opponents in real-life situations on the street,

perhaps we should pay attention to her words!

As writers crafting a query, we, too, grabble with multiple opponents.

What did Mark Twain write?

"I don't have time to write you a short letter,

so I'm writing you a long one instead."

And that is so true. Economy in words is brutal and time-consuming.

Ever been forced to use only one suitcase preparing for a trip? Ugly.

So much had to go. Not that those items weren't useful or even necessary.

Just not as necessary as those items packed.

Doing a half page query

{ the other half is filling in who you are and what you've published,}

shows the agent we have the discipline of one of the 300 Spartans.

If we had the skill, deliberation, and grasp of story-telling

to arouse the agent's curiosity in a mere half page,

it bodes well for what we did in our novel.

Bottom line : agents are drowning in a sea of unsolicited queries.

They simply don't have the time to read a three page query

that a 400 page novel calls for.

But as Victor Standish might say, "It is what it is. So deal with it."

The half page query is forced upon us by the realities in which agents struggle.

So we have to deal with it and do it expertly and with flair.

If we want to communicate successfully with an agent,

we must speak "agent-ese."

Can you squeeze your 400 page novel into three lines?

Can you make them convey why your story is unique and absorbing,

detailing background and characters?

Sure, and after that, you'll establish world peace.

Here's an approach : go to

Type in the search box the title of a classic movie in the genre in which you write.


And I got : a manipulative woman and a roguish man carry on a turbulent love affair in the American south during the Civil War and Reconstruction.

Do those words sing?

Do they capture the magic, scope, and heartbreak of the movie?

No. They just lie there without life or spark. Well, put a little spin to them :

My novel is the saga of a selfish woman who doesn't want to admit her feelings about the man she loves, and she finally loses him.

Better but still murmurs "reject" to the agent.

How about tuning up the summary in three sentences?

GONE WITH THE WIND is the epic tale of a woman's life during one of the most tumultuous periods in America's history.

From her young, innocent days on a feudalistic plantation to the war-torn streets of Atlanta; from her first love whom she has always desired to three husbands.

She survives going from the utmost luxury to absolute starvation and poverty and from being torn from her innocence to a sad understanding and bitter comprehension of life.

Are you beginning to see how you might be able to pull off the half page query?

Now, it is your turn.

Your mission, Jim, should you choose to accept it, is to go to IMDb and type in five classic movies in the genre in which your novel exists.

For each of the five, see what has been written in the summary section for the movie.

Re-write them in ways that sing and entice.

If you feel like you're getting the hang of it after five times,

then look at your novel as if you were writing the summation for its movie for IMDb.

Something else to think about.

Your query letter is basically a job interview.

And in the job interview you are thinking internally what the company can do for you.

But what the company wants to hear is what you can do for them.

Same with an agent.

Can you make the agent money? Period. The end.

Is your summary unique and "Oh, wow!"

Do you include the punch line to your joke? No holding back to tease.

If the agent presents an unfinished turkey to her editors, she gets her hard-earned reputation bruised.

Is your novel in the genre the agent handles? Her list of agents is genre specific.

If she handles techno-thrillers, she doesn't know one editor who would be interested in your Western.

And worse, you've shot your ounce of good will with that agent.

Agents are tired, impatient, and lovers of order.

Agents want your summation to be three sentences.

That's it.

They want to see your entire query laid out in three orderly paragraphs.

Short ones. Easy on the eye ones.

Any more paragraphs, any longer, chunkier ones scream unprofessional rookie to them.

And they don't have time to be your mentor. They want a partner not a pupil.

You are not in the remake of THE KARATE KID.

Begin with the best hook you can.

Let her know you are writing to HER. Not just another agent.

Know something about her before you write, then include that in your beginning.

Don't you like to be looked in the eyes when spoken to and not looked through?

As for the intro at the end-tro, make it as personal to her as possible.

"I'm submitting to you because I saw your interview with Larry King, and you mentioned you were looking for just the sort of book I've written."

Here is my latest query to let you see my advice put into practice :

Dear Ms. Agent :

In your interview with Casey McCormick on LITERARY RAMBLES, you stated that you would like to see YA’s with a spunky, sassy protagonist.

Spunk and sass are all 13 year old Victor Standish has to stand between him and the vice and the vice cops he meets on the streets.

In his world there are : No werewolves. No vampires. No demons. One angel : the angel of Death.

Have you ever looked at your image in the mirror and thought does the world I know exist for this copy of me? Or beyond that reflected corner is there a more magical, lyrical, dangerous world?

Thirteen year old Victor Standish lives in such a world.

There are strange tales told by the vagrants of the French Quarter when midnight descends. The hours fade as the shadows creep closer.

The tales are not to amuse, but to keep weary eyes from closing.

For the creeping shadows are hungry.


Thirteen year old Victor Standish is repeatedly abandoned and picked up by his unpredictable mother. He learns “free running” and other skills a boy needs to survive the mean streets.

Victor finds New Orleans brings "mean" to a new level : the supernatural level.

A mysterious Jazz club owner takes him in. Victor learns the Jazz club is actually the Crossroads of Worlds ... and the owner has the blood of Death in his veins. They both find love and adventure as Hurricane Katrina approaches.


The undead Abigail Adams marshals her forces to repel the Shadowland invasion led by her European counterpart, Empress Theodora.

Empires care much about power and little about people. The jazz club owner is the opposite. While he tries to keep the little people of the French Quarter safe from the Big Picture, Victor falls in love with the British ghoul, Alice.

His “ghoul friend” he calls her.

Between Victor's wits and Alice's strange abilities, they save the jazz club owner from Theodora and Abigail Adams.

Victory becomes ashes when the Angel of Death arrives at the door of the Jazz club to claim Victor. He does not understand why he merits a special visit from the Angel of Death. But to save his new family, he faces her.

He discovers she is no stranger. And Victor understands why the Angel of Death has come to pick him up ... again.

She is his mother.

To get a better idea of my writing voice, you may want to check out my blog, WRITING IN THE CROSSHAIRS. For my post of April 16th, I have posted an excerpt from THE LEGEND OF VICTOR STANDISH in which he meets the ghoul, Alice Wentworth, for the first time :

Or check out the free first three chapters of my Native American Lord of the Rings, THE BEAR WITH TWO SHADOWS on Amazon :

I am a former high school teacher, family counselor, and now a blood courier. The last a result of being evacuated from Lake Charles due to Hurricane Rita and having to support myself any way I could. I found I liked the job and the people with whom I worked. And it gives me more time to write.

Thank you for reading my query. I would be happy to send you sample chapters or the full manuscript. I hope that you find some gem in the flood of submissions that pour your way. May your spring and summer hold only happy surprises with some relief for punished eyes and swamped workloads.

Roland D. Yeomans M.A.

Well, I've taken up many more than three paragraphs, so I'll end now.

Here's Diana Krall singing a favorite of mine from her concert in Paris :

Saturday, April 16, 2011


Some of my new friends have asked me how Victor first met the Victorian ghoul, Alice Wentworth.

It began at the crypt of Marie Laveau at midnight days before Hurricane Katrina.

Victor is there because he has believed the lie that for his hero, Sam McCord, to live, he must die. And he has heard the whispered rumors that to visit Marie Laveau's crypt at midnight was to die :

Once again, I was alone.

I looked around. I didn’t know what I expected to see. It was a cemetery at night. Cue the spooky music. I snorted at myself. I was playing it tough because I was scared spitless.

I had been in New Orleans long enough to know some of the legends.

Marie Laveau had ruled as absolute Voodoo Queen during most of the 1800’s. Voodoo might sound silly now. But back then, brrr.

It reached into politics and pockets, being a cold-blooded business. And Marie Laveau was reported to have been a cold-blooded business woman. She was one of the few women of color to own pieces of property – expensive places.

But Voodoo was first and foremost a religion. One you didn’t cross. Like I was crossing it now.

I looked around St. Louis Cemetery. Which crypt was Marie Laveau’s? And how far away was midnight?

I remembered they called this place the City of the Dead. Catchy name. But not anything you’d dance to … unless it was to the danse macabre.

Damn, this place was quiet. I walked softly. There. To my right. A crypt with a dozen X’s carved into its stone face. And wreaths of flowers hanging from all four corners.


That’s what they called the flowers and other things left at her tomb. I snorted. I bet I was the biggest gris-gris ever left at her tomb.

I stumbled. My head was suddenly even lighter than it had been earlier tonight when Meilori’s blossomed like a tower out of Hell. What was wrong with me?

I needed to sit down. I walked over to what I took to be Marie Laveau’s crypt and sat down with my back pressed to its marred face. I had a hard time believing how much had happened in just a few hours.

I had gone from being sure I was dead to feeling hope for the first time in years. I had felt wanted with a chance of an adopted family. My eyes grew hot and wet. Stupid. I had been stupid. Homes were for other kids. Not me.

My head spun. What was going on? Maybe it was being surrounded by all this death. Death seemed to stalk our family. Every boyfriend Mother got seemed to die in some terrible way.

I smiled bitterly. I had the answer. Mother was the Angel of Death. Yeah, she just couldn’t take me on her rounds. That was the reason she dumped me all the time.

I snorted at myself. Yeah, right. Mother’s boyfriends turned up dead all the time because they were the ultimate bad boys – the only ones Mother seemed attracted to. I smiled sour. Lucky me.

Yeah that was the name for me all right : Lucky.

I squeezed shut my eyes to keep from crying. I was Victor Standish, damn it! Tears were for little boys not me.

I pressed my back harder against the tomb of Marie Laveau. Midnight was heavy in the humid air. Fingers of black fog weaved around me as if to leech the life from me.

Was this how dying began at midnight here?

Like I cared. So close. I had been so close to a home. I could feel the tears coming. No.

I was not going to cry. I wasn't. I looked up at the dim stars. They blurred and bled down my cheeks.

O.K. I lied. I was crying.

After years of scuffling alone on the streets, I had finally found a friend. A creepy friend to be sure. But a friend.

Now, to save his life as he had saved mine, I had to die. No more Captain Sam and his eerie way of knowing my thoughts. Sure, he was undead. But who said friends had to be perfect?

My head spun slowly like a demon drunk on too much unholy water. What was going on? A voice. I was hearing a voice inside my head.

Now, this was weird. Way weird. Had I become a supernatural radio picking up the signal of the thoughts of one the ghosts buried here?

Why not? It would fit right in with all the other strange stuff that was happening tonight.

It was a girl’s voice. She sounded British. A bit like a much younger Ada Byron.

Her words suddenly filled my head :

“I am hungry. So hungry. It was stupid of me to try to eat this squealing rat.

No good. I am hungry ... hungry for the flesh of man.

And hungrier for something else. Love.

I feel tears bleed from my dead eyes. I will find flesh to tear and rend. I always do.

But love? Never. Never will there be love for the thing that I have become.

My nose prickles. My stomach coils and growls. Flesh.

Tender, moist flesh. It has come to me. I smile. I didn't even have to place a call to pizza delivery. Besides, the last one had too much fat, not enough meat.

I frown. I smell ... tears? They are common in my graveyard. But not at night. Who comes in the night to my cemetery to cry?

I sniff. A male human. A boy. I stiffen. Once I had been a girl. What had been my name?

Alice. Though now my name is Death, once it had been Alice.

Once. So very long ago. I smile cruelly. I will punish this fool for reminding me of my heart's lonely prison.

I shall woo him with poetry before I rend his flesh. I flow through the fungus-smeared wall of my crypt.

How will his flesh taste?”

What the hell had that been? How will his flesh taste? His? Crap. She meant me.

My flesh.

I stiffened. Something all misty was oozing out of the tomb in front of me. It slowly took shape. I frowned. What the?

It was a girl. She looked to be my age : thirteen. But she was dressed up in a black Victorian style dress. She was kinda pretty ... if you were into undead girls.

Deep inside I suddenly knew. She was the girl I had just heard inside my head. And I knew how you died at midnight here.

She spoke as if her vocal chords were all rusty :

"Her lips were red, her looks were free,

Her locks were yellow as gold:

Her skin was as white as leprosy,

The Nightmare LIFE-IN-DEATH was she,

Who thicks man's blood with cold."

I jutted my right forefinger at her. "Coleridge! The Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner."

She took a step towards me, and leaves crackled under her foot. Crap. There went my hope that she was just a ghost.

She smiled. Red-smeared sharp teeth. And then, I remembered what she said about that half-eaten rat.

Oh, great. A ghoul. Oh, why hadn’t I asked Captain Sam more about Webster?

All right, Victor. Think. Think!

I caught my reflection in a marble crypt. I was so skinny. That was it! Skinny.

She wanted meat. O.K. I would give her meat. I fumbled in my head just where St. Louis Cemetery was. A rough map of places to avoid popped into my head.

I smiled wide. The Snowman and his hit women, Ice and Easy.

They had much more meat to them than a scrawny street kid like me.

She brushed back a stray lock of fine-spun gold from her electric blue eyes. "You are not afraid?"

"Oh, I'm scared shitless."

She giggled and studied me. "But you see a way out for you, do you?"

I stumbled to my feet, spreading out my hands. "Hey, I'm Victor Standish. I always have a plan."

Those eyes seemed to be suddenly seeing me as more than a meal. "I am ... Alice, Victor. And just what is this plan of yours?"

I winked at her. "How would you like to add drug dealers to your diet, Alice?"

She glided to me faster than I thought she could, looping her arm through my right one. "I think this could be the beginning of a beautiful friendship."

I remembered how lonely she had sounded in my head, and I patted her cold, cold hand. "I think so, too."

I looked up at the face of shadows in the full moon. I smiled wide. I wasn't by myself anymore.

Looking at those blood-smeared teeth, I knew I would never be alone.

I'd always have the shivers.


Friday, April 15, 2011

M is for MAYHEM, VOODOO STYLE for Wendy T. Ryan's Blogarversary!

Join the fun :

{Excerpt from the third volume in the Saga of Victor Standish, SOMETIMES THERE'S NO VICTOR} [496 words]

(Victor and Alice have been flicked back to the year 1826 by the eerie supernatural entity, DayStar, like you or I would brush away knats) :

The blood moon leered down on Alice and me through thick, silent mists snaking above us. The mists were the only things silent across the grassy courtyard.

Drums beat wild rhythms as rocking black men chanted, their wide eyes glazed over. In the shadows of the huge bonfire, black dancers wheeled about, long machetes flashing in their fists.

I was so scared it felt like my skin was about to leap off me and do the Mambo with my skeleton. I knew where we were from pictures in that book on voodoo in early New Orleans :

Congo Square, across Rampart Street from the French Quarter. But a very primitive French Quarter.

I reached out and took Alice’s ice-cold right hand. My heart calmed. With her at my side, I could take on monsters.

With the musk of sweat, alcohol, and hate heavy in the humid night air, Alice whispered in that odd British accent of hers, “Victor, we are in serious jeopardy here.”

Now, when a flesh-eating ghoul says she’s afraid, even a mongrel like me knows that life has just hit a new high in low-down.

The drums suddenly stopped. And every wild eye turned to us.

I winked at her. “You think?”

A tall woman, her black face glowing with deadly grace, spoke soft, yet it carried out across the dancers and slithering snakes on the grass.

But none of them equaled the boa across her shoulders.

“You two do not belong here.”

Alice murmured, “Look at Marie Laveau, Victor. She is such a striking woman.”

I grinned crooked, “Even without the snake.”

A small, crooked old man limped to us. “She be right.”

He turned to Alice, his voice gaining an edge. “’Specially you, nzumbe.”

I stiffened. “That’s Myth Nzumbe to you, Fright Face.”

Alice lips got tight. “Is everything a jest to you, Victor?”

I gave her icy hand a squeeze.

“Never you, Alice. But you can’t let monsters see you sweat.”

Alice rose a prim and proper eyebrow. “I never sweat.”

The old man limped closer. “You be half-dead, now, Miss Nzumbe. Soon you be all dead.”

I shook my head. “Don’t count on it, Legba.”

He stepped back an inch. “You know me?”

“I know of you.”

“Then, you knows how powerful I be. I be the origin of life!”

I snorted. “Get real. That would be Elohim. And I’m pretty sure you’re not Him.”

Legba husked, “So sure are you?”

I nodded to the squirming reptiles on the grass.

“Pretty sure. He’s not real fond of snakes.”

He cackled, “But Erzulie is, and she be right behind you, boy. Erzulie, loa of Love and Death.”

I turned to face the tall black woman with scars on her face and smiled,

“That’s a new look for you, Mother.”

“No, child. ‘Dis face be veeery old. And you be in bad trouble.”

I winked at her and copied her accent, “Dat be an veery old story, Mother.”


Wednesday, April 13, 2011


Eternity is really long, especially near the end. - Woody Allen

I'm speaking at a Sci-Fi convention this weekend.

For those of you who cannot make it ... which means most of you,

I thought I would give you a bit of my first presentation :




We’re doomed. Hollywood says so. Why?

Pop Culture has long had a fascination with the end times.

21st century Man is like the proverbial kid in the backseat :

“Are we there yet?”

Man becomes preoccupied with the end of things During bad times.

And these have certainly been bad times lately :

earthquakes, tsunamis,

famines, wars,and economic collapse.

Sociology professors say that our fascination with the end times

reflects a hunger for meaning in these admittedly bad times.

We want to know where we are going And how soon we will get there.

And while myths and religions have long talked about the end of the world,

It has only been since the rumblings that led to the first World War

that literature,and later movies,

started telling stories of individuals struggling during the world’s death.

H. G. Wells wrote his famous WAR OF THE WORLDS in 1898.

Scholars call the study of the end times … Eschatology.

Which is fun for the dark little boy inside me

because it Is only letter and one syllable removed from Scatology

Which is the scholarly study of folks fascinated with Excrement.

And sadly, sometimes it’s hard to know the

Difference lately what with Hollywood has been giving us.

And so here we are in 2011.

Some experts said we wouldn’t make it.

Some theologians thought the end would come In 1988.

Why then, of all years?

It marked a full generation passing since Israel became a nation in 1948.

Then, the theologians said the time clock For the

End Times started When Jerusalem was in Israeli hands once more in 1968.

2008 came and went.

Terrible times especially around here in Lake Charles after Rita.

But no End Times

Unless all of this is a bad dream.

And sometimes it does feel like one, doesn’t it?

But the truth is when the end comes :

For you, For Man, For the World,

That time is unknown. The unknown.

Its allure is what gave birth to myth,

legend, and tales told around the campfire.

Man wants to know the unknowable.

Nature abhors a vacuum.

Human Nature hates it even more.

Mankind can't abide not knowing.

If Man doesn't have an answer, he will make one up.

And that is why we have myths.

And the desire to make up the answer is why we have science fiction and fantasy.

And the greatest unknown, of course is Death.

We listen to doomsday economic, political,religious jihad news.

We go to the theater and see the world end, only to go outside in the bright light of day,

seeing the cars pass by and hearing the pedestrians chatting away on their cell phones.

Just Hollywood. We're safe. Aren't we?

Not so you’d notice. Jamestown.

Jim Jones convinced his followers that the world was about to end in nuclear horror. They mixed in cyanide with their Kool-Aid and drank it down.

Personally, I believe something stronger was called for. It's a terrible joke for a horrendous reality But …

There is Heaven’s Gate and its herald, Marshall Applewhite,

whose followers believed his tale that

their souls were about to be snatched up by the spacecraft flying in the tail of the Hale-Bopp comet.

All they had to do get on board

Was die.

No Kool-Aid for them. No, sir. They mixed their poison with good old American Pie,

washed down by vodka.

It is no wonder Hollywood considers us gullible.

But there is another reason why we all flock to End of the World movies such as Armageddon, Deep Impact, When Worlds Collide, I Am Legend.

We want to believe

That somehow, someway,we’ll be able to fix it and make things right.

Science has become our new God. And it will make things right.


Science may be God to some.

But it is a vengeful God.

Man has never made a weapon that He has not ended up using. Even a limited nuclear exchange


5% of the global nuclear arsenal}

would almost certainly ANNIHILATE life on Earth as we know it.

Hollywood responds with THE ROAD




Hollywood tells us what we want to hear :

Something good of what we were would survive.

Hollywood doesn’t seem to get the TRUE message. Which is :

WE want to survive, skippy!

Which is why the end times movies that do the most box office are the ones in which the main hero survives

MAD MAX franchise.

The first MATRIX.

The 1st PLANET OF THE APES movie

{Yes, I know Charleton Heston’s not ecstatic.

But he’s alive and he’s got the babe. And a kicker of a last scene.}

Think INDEPENDENCE DAY : Great last scenes. “Get up and shout” scenes.

Now think CHILDREN OF MEN : “Put the gun in your mouth and pull the trigger” last scenes.

And the box office receipts showed it.

You and I don’t want to spend ten dollars to get depressed! We can stay at home and be that for free!

Oh, and don’t think that the scenario of CHILDREN OF MEN could happen?

Think again, skippy.

The average sperm count has dropped by HALF in the last 30 years!


People in industrialized countries don’t make nearly enough babies.

People in the third world lose many of their young children to poor conditions. It gives you something to ponder.

And then, there is the zombie craze.

Oh, sure, it’s all fun and games until your girlfriend suddenly wants to make a snack of your brains.

But Hollywood knows we are drawn to a story following a small group of friends,

facing a world of devastated, formerly familiar streets filled with throngs of trudging,hungering, walking corpses.

We ask :

What would I do in such a situation? Where would I go? Who would I take? What would I bring?

It is why the TV series, THE WALKING DEAD, did so well for AMC.

But behind all the movies lies the promise that we could survive if we were smart and lucky.

Bottom Line : We could survive.

There would be a tomorrow.

We all have an inbuilt need to associate ourselves with those who survive.

We all have this crazy human need to believe that we will beat the odds when others do not.

There's a powerful scene near the end of The Road,

the film adaptation of Cormac McCarthy's Pulitzer Prize—winning novel,

where a father and son sit silent together under brooding skies on a wasted, nameless beach,

littered with human and whale skeletons.

They have finally reached the coast after traversing by foot a post-apocalyptic America filled with nightmare dangers, hardships, and traps.

The boy, about age 10, has never seen the sea.

"What's on the other side?" he asks.

"Nothing," replies his father,suffering from malnutrition and despair, after having fought off evils both human and animal.

All along he has urged his son to maintain hope —

to "carry the fire" — but has slowly lost his own.

The boy, who believes there's still goodness somewhere in their dark and dying world,

looks out to the sea and says,

"There must be something."

Wanting to keep his son's hope alive, the man pauses and then answers.

"Maybe there's a father and his son, and they're sitting on the beach too."

Like McCarthy's 2006 book, the film is both depressing and redeeming;

it depicts one of the most loving father-son relationships to appear on the big screen.

And this particular scene speaks volumes for all of us asking a universal question.

What's on the other side?

And that is what good Science Fiction and Movies do for us :

They help us discover for ourselves what we feel is on the Other Side.

In my worldview,there is indeed a Father and His Son waiting for us On The Other Side.

And remember …

"apocalypse" doesn't mean end,

but is Greek for "revelation" --

an unveiling of truth.

Let us keep looking for truth in the world around us and

in that most puzzling world : The one within us.