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Monday, October 31, 2011


The six other stranded bus passengers hugged the heat of the room's roaring fireplace.


It should have been roasting in here. But I was still shivering.

Of course, I was also standing in the far corner. Even the shadows around me seemed cold and unfriendly. I might have only been 12 years old, but I hadn't survived years on the mean streets of four cities by being trusting.

So here I stood.

Our host at the far end of the table called out to me, "Come, boy, warm yourself at my fire. It was a long walk from your broken down bus to my estate."

"Name's Victor Standish, sir. And I'm just fine right here."

I strained to make out his features but the shadows that shouldn't have been masking his whole body stopped me from seeing him clear. "Where's our bus driver?"

"He asked me where the phone was. I told him. He seemed in a hurry to contact his superiors."

I smirked, "He had that many quarters?"

He said, "Show respect to your elders, boy."

"Respect is earned. And the name's Victor Standish."

He shifted in his chair angrily. I went cold. His body ... squished. I realized he was in a wheelchair ... and it blocked the door out of here.

"Tonight is a rare night ... Standish."

His words were spoken oddly ... as if human speech itself was a foreign thing to him.

"It is Samhain, summer's end. The Celtic New Year began this nightfall.

In your ancient Welsh tradition, this evening was called The Three Spirit Night, when all kinds of beings could roam between realities."

I went colder at his use of "your" as if he did not belong to the human race.

He wheeled his chair towards me by only inches but it seemed far, far too close.

"You really should have sat with your fellow passengers. It was over so quickly for them."

I flicked my eyes to them. Oh, crap. Some were slumped on the floor. Some across the tables. Some sat bonelessly in their chairs.

Their eyes were ... melted, flowing like mucus down their withered cheeks. And their shadows were gone ... as if their very souls had been eaten.

"You hold in your fear well ... human."

The fingers of both hands in my pockets plucked up a ball bearing each. "T-The bus driver's dead, too?"

"Oh, yes. You I picked to play with."

"It's been a long day, sir. I'm all played out."

"I think I'll eat your sharp tongue last."

There was nothing in that for me but pain so I said, "H-How did you get here?'

He laughed wetly. "You think me some space creature?"

He turned for a moment to stare into the fires with eyes I could not see nor was unhappy over that fact. "In a way I am from beyond the stars."

He turned back to me, and for a moment, I saw a wet, scaled face that looked more insect than fish. And eyes rhuemy and totally empty of anything human or merciful.

I fought back a shiver. He chuckled in a squishy gurgle.

"It began with the meteorite. The black seed of my birth fell in the back of this estate on the night of Samhain in 1843. Men could not approach the site for weeks because of the heat."

Again that terrible laughter. "And by then, the trees and wildlife were taking on strange shapes."

He wheeled closer still. "Men of your so-called science came finally to investigate. Those that managed to overcome their sudden illness and go back to their homes and beds died in them."

Closer came the wheelchair, and I saw that tentacles, not fingers, grasped the wheels. "The lovely wife of this estate's owner was pregnant."

The wheels squeaked as the chair came right up to me. "She did not survive my birth. As you will not survive this night."

I whipped both hands out of my pockets and shot two ball bearings with all my strength into his gaping maw of a slavering mouth. "Eat this!"

He choked in wet husks. I darted around his chair, twisting aside to dodge the tentacles that suddenly shot from his middle. I saw razored teeth in a second snarling mouth in his damn stomach.

I grasped the back of the chair with both shaking hands. I shoved the nightmare creature along the wooden floor, ducking the tentacles that clutched for my head.

You don't outrun the addicts and perverts on the street by being slow.

I whizzed past the dead passengers and shoved the squirming mockery of a man into the blazing fire. His screams were ... beyond my ability to describe. I hear them in my nightmares still.

I raced out of the room, yelling over my shoulder. "And by the way, Trick or Treat!"

Sunday, October 30, 2011


Wendy Ewurum has done a great post on Victor :

Why are we drawn to horror? Why are good girls drawn to bad boys?

1.) The allure of the forbidden.

That is one of the reasons horror beckons to us from out of the shadows.

Why is that boy, that deserted mansion, forbidden?

It is as old as the blood which pulsed cold and tingling through Eve's veins as she reached for that forbidden fruit on that hauntingly lovely tree.

2.) Curiosity.

It is human nature to want to know what lies over the horizon. It's what drove the pioneers across wild, hostile lands.

What does that locked door conceal? That chained chest. Why those heavy links, that rusted lock?

Is this all there is? Or is there more beyond mere line of sight? We know there is more.

Science tells of us of dark matter piercing the cosmos with light-years long strands of matter invisible to the human eye. We are likewise blind to the world of germs. What other worlds are we blind to?

Give a nugget of uranium, a tiny stone really, to an aborigine. Tell him it is a good luck charm. Tell him to drop it in the village well.

What harm could one tiny stone do? Visit his village two months later. View the many corpses laying strewn like dead dreams all across the ground.

3.) Identification.

We watch and imagine what we would do in like situations. The world dissolves into chaos as random individuals descend slowly into madness.

You are picked up by the local sheriff as you are doing your morning walk with your dog. He orders you and your dog into the back of the car. He presses his gun to your dog's head and rambles on about brains looking like wet oysters. Do you want to see?

What would you do? What could you do?

Life is frightening. Global warming. Diseases that eat the very flesh of your body. We watch horor on the screen to encapsulate the horror of real life. It is not us up there.

We would be smarter, faster, more in control of our emotions.

We like the adrenaline rush sudden scares give us. Safer than driving fast, dating inappropriate guys or gals, and with the thrill of saying mentally, "It's not real; I'm still safe."

4.) The Darkness Within.

Terror versus Horror. Is one more physical; the other more mental? Does revulsion and squriming terror pierce through our mental barriers to stab deep into our unconscious fears ... and desires?

(Take the public fascination with the trilogy of the girl with the dragon tattoo :

she is repeatedly brutalized, raped, shot, and beaten. The books and movies are bestsellers. Is there a darkness in us that wants to roll around in sadism like a cat does catnip?)

You are horrified by the news of the floods in Pakistan. You are terrorized when you wake up one New Orleans morning to the news that the dams have burst, and you look out your front door to see rushing waters swallow your neighbor's home ... then your very own.

Horror is realizing the monsters are real and are out there to get you. Terror is looking into the mirror, seeing yourself becoming one -- but still enough you to scream silently at the sight.

Stephen King said horror literature is a means for us to take out the monster, play with it for a while, and put it back.

But who is the monster?

Is he some squirming presence waiting on the other side of the dimensional wall waiting for a crack to appear? Is he the beloved president whose wife is slowly going insane at the awful reality of who he truly is?

Or does his/her eyes stare back at you from the mirror?

Carl Jung :

"Everyone carries a shadow, and the less it is embodied in the individual’s conscious life, the blacker and denser it is. At all counts, it forms an unconscious snag, thwarting our most well-meant intentions."

Why do you think we read horror? Why are we so drawn to dressing up as monsters or as our secret identities? Why do you write the genres you do? And what role does "control" or "lack of control" play in horror/scary movies and literature?

Saturday, October 29, 2011



West of the voodoo moon
and beyond the help of civilization ...

That is Meilori's at THREE SPIRIT NIGHT.

Elliot kept shaking his head as his eyes darted from one part of Meilori's to another.

"Roland, this place keeps changing ... and getting bigger ... and weirder.

He was glancing at Norah and Grace Jones singing, "Strange, I've Seen Your Face Before" to the tune of LIBERTANGO.

"Odin's Beard!," bellowed Beowulf from a corner table as the golden skinned giant once again beat him at arm wrestling.

I laughed, "Beowulf thinks one day he will actually beat Doc Savage."

Elliot whispered, "THE Doc Savage?"

Mesmer, the only cat who owns a restaurant in the French Quarter, lithely leapt up on the empty chair next to me and yowled oddly.

I smiled, "Mesmer wants you to call him THE Doc Savage to his face."

Elliot laughed drily, "No, I think I'll pass."

Mesmer yowled again, and I translated once more, "She says The McCord has been delayed. And she wants to ask you a question about SOUTH OF CHARM."

Elliot, showing more adaptiveness than most, shook his head, swallowed, and turned to Mesmer. "Ask away."

Mesmer yowled a bit longer than usual, translating to : "Humans do not interest me, but I am intrigued by the cat in SOUTH OF CHARM. What does he represent? Who or what inspired you to be wise enough to include a feline?"

Elliot rubbed his chin reflectively.

"Considering the mystery behind the ageless tabby in my story, I've been asked through emails, and once or twice at a local signing, if his presence was indeed a symbolic metaphor.

A cat representing Danny's guardian angel or something of that nature. My answer remains the same...

the cat from "South of Charm" is content being whatever, or whomever you've decided upon for him. And if any of us should happen to cross his path, we should be so lucky."

Mesmer nodded sagely, then glared at the couple approaching our table and muttered. Seeing as how there is a mixed audience, I will defer translating.

I looked up and smiled. The ghosts of Samuel Clemens and Edna St. Vincent Millay. Sammy, whom the world remembers as Mark Twain, glared at Mesmer.

"You danged polecat. You told them about Captain Sam didn't you?"

Mesmer chuckled evilly. Edna patted Sammy's arm. "Was not this outing to raise my spirits, pun intended?"

"Sorry, my dear. That vixen just lives to rile me!"

Showing all the tact of a stick in the eye, he turned to her. "Yes, Edna. I should live by the wisdom of your poem found by your dead body at the foot of the stairs. What did it say?

I will control myself, or go inside.
I will not flaw perfection with my grief.
Handsome, this day: no matter who has died."

Edna flinched as if pinched, but Elliot seeing it, rose and took her hand gently. "Your biographers do not do your beauty justice by half."

She patted his face, sitting down close to him, flicking eyes to Sammy. "As eloquent with words outside your novel as well as within. I have a question."

"Y-You read my book?"

She smiled like the Sphinx. "How else could I have a question, you handsome young man?"

As Sammy jealously settled himself equally as close to Edna, she asked, "During the age of Katniss Everdeen and Laura Croft, female heroines standing atop the entertainment world, why take a chance on a ten year old boy?"

Elliot did a valiant attempt at ignoring Samuel Clemens' jealous glare. "The answer can be found in the some point, Suzanne Collins gambled on a young lady from the woods named Katniss. A girl with a bow and the heart of a lion.

And the world took notice. Danny Kaufman is my gamble. A likable kid from the countryside with a story to tell. Hoping to be heard."

Sammy grumbled, "I never heard of this Kaufman kid. Who is he?"

Elliot smiled, "Danny's a ten year old boy of average build. Unlike those super heroes from Marvel Comics, he's unable to turn invisible. He can't fly or divert a bullet's mid-air trajectory.

He'd find it nearly impossible to launch frozen pellets from his fingertips without an ice tray placed conveniently nearby. And if asked to run a mile in under a minute, he'd perhaps give it a go, but with the odds of success not in his favor.

Danny Kaufman is that boy you've no doubt passed on a street corner without offering more than a glance in his direction. He was likely concentrating on the cracked pavement under his sneakers.

Perhaps massaging his pitcher's elbow. Thinking of some way to repair a family in shambles, without any special powers other than a fastball deemed impossible to hit by his peers, and the courage of a child."

Samuel Clemens looked at Elliot with a re-appraising look. "Sounds like he could be friends with my Huck Finn."

Edna patted Elliots hand. "Do not mind Clemens. He got his education in the wilds of Missouri, his business methods in Siberia, his behaviour in vaudeville, and his brains in a raffle."

Elliot shook his head, laughing, "You wouldn't tease him so if you weren't fond of him."

As Sammy brightened up, Edna fought a smile, losing, "Pairing with him would be a mistake. But I am glad that I paid so little attention to good advice.

Had I abided by it, I might have been saved from some of my most valuable mistakes.”

Mesmer suddenly hissed, bucked her back, then leapt to the table in front of Elliot as a voice like the tolling of ghost bells in Hell mocked,

"Mesmer, you possess too little real power to stop me."

A tall man in gray Armani, with living shadows making love to his frame, stood facing us. DayStar. He believed himself Lucifer ...

and had the sheer power to convince many of his delusion. If delusion it was.

Words like Texas thunder rumbled behind Elliot. "Your party favors slowed me down, DayStar. They didn't stop me."

McCord's Stetson was gone. His black clothing torn, even his gloves. But he merely smiled like the last wolf he was. "Don't bother punishing them. They're past feeling it."

DayStar shrugged. "I had hoped they would slow you longer. But no matter. I have a grievance with Grace here."

Elliot, pale but still sitting tall, frowned, "What have I done to you?"

DayStar's smile flashed like a knife from the shadows. "Your foster children. I almost had them."

Groans of tortured pain came soft and deadly from the mists behind him. "I will yet."

Behind Elliot's eyes, smoky danger like the burnished steel of a saber flashed, "Never!"

DayStar laughed like the breaking of brittle bones. "And just how will you stop me, homo sapien?"

Elliot stood from his chair. "My wife and I will wrap such strong arms of love around our children that you will never pry them from that love into your kingdom. Never!"

DayStar looked for a long moment into Elliot's defiant eyes, then murmured. "Another time."

And like a card, his body folded, spindled, then turned sideways, disappearing completely.

McCord squeezed Elliot's shoulder. "Should have known Roland would pick a man with grit for a friend."

Mesmer yowled, then thumped off the table, rushing off into the darkness.

Sammy snickered, "She said she had to go to the Little Kitty's Room."


Friday, October 28, 2011

UNDER A VOODOO MOON_Friday's Romantic Challenge

It is midnight by the bayou bordering my apartment. The tolling has died but for the echoes.

Lady Night whispers, "Little Lakota, you think you know. You do not.

The world is not what you believe nor what you wish.

Life has its hungers. So does Death."

Denise and Francine have given us the prompt, HAUNTING, for tonight's challenge.

My entry, UNDER A VOODOO MOON, is , not too surprisingly, from Victor's sequel - THE LEGEND OF VICTOR STANDISH : UNDER A VOODOO MOON.

(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. Place Congo was its name this far back in the past.

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 dry, “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 took their legs away, remember?”

He cackled, “But Erzulie be fond of dem, 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 veeery old story, Mother.”
Katrina sent shock waves through the economy of New Orleans that nearly submerged the city and its valiant citizens. I have donated 100% of the past two months profits of THE LEGEND OF VICTOR STANDISH to the New Orleans SALVATION ARMY.

Of every copy of LEGEND I sell from now on, 10% of the profit will go to them as well. So not only do you get an eerie, absorbing story, you help the hurting in New Orleans. How neat is that?

Thursday, October 27, 2011


It is a tragic secret that people in New Orleans are still hurting from Katrina.

Since THE LEGEND OF VICTOR STANDISH begins with Katrina, I am donating 10% of my profits from it to THE SALVATION ARMY. If you have already bought it, you may donate directly in the link in my sidebar beneath the book.

In honor of the Halloween season, here is a excerpt from

my 3rd Victor Standish novel,


The throbbing cut on my temple oozed blood along my cheek and down my throat. The revenant, Abigail Adams, looked down with hungry eyes at the blood and my throat.

We were both hurt bad. Me less than her. Sometimes it paid to be a smaller target.

I was supporting her down St. Peter Street. We made a pretty strange pair -- even for Halloween.

"You bite me," I wheezed from the broken ribs that were screaming at me, "and I'll drop you on your elegant butt."

"Standish," she husked. "You are not as funny as you think."

"No. I'm funnier. I'm humble like that."

"Y-You are not even on the same continent as humble, whelp."

"You know why I don't drop you on your ..."

I coughed up a bit of blood, " ... manners?"


"Because no matter how rank you are, Empress Theodora is worse."

Theodora, Empress of The Unholy Roman Empire that had Europe squirming in its clawed fist. She hadn't always been a revenant.

In the year 500, she had been the daughter of a bearkeeper in the circus -- which explained her unique thoughts on life.

To her, life was a circus of blood where humans were trained to dance to her whims by the school of pain. Her sexual games were twisted ...

which gave me a world of reasons to help Abibail Adams.

Forget about finger sandwiches. There were other parts of my body she would make a snack of if she caught us. I shivered at the thought.

Abigail smiled sadly at me. "I will kill you myself before I allow that travesty to touch you."

"Ah, let's have a sign for that, all right?

Like -- when pigs fly.

Besides, we're almost to Meilori's."

Abigail sighed, "Theodora will never let us reach it."

"That's what I'm counting on, Abby."

"Do not be familiar, boy!"

"Hey, who has a hand snug in your corset here?"

I had rescued Abigail Adams out of Theodora's New Orleans' mansion. The bitch had her enemy stripped to her underclothes to humiliate her.

"Don't remind me, boy."

I saw the proud pain in her face and husked through my own pain, "She humilated herself, not you, by doing that to you."

Abigail's face softened, then went stiff and cold. St. Peter Street was changing in spurts and flashes all around us.

Street and store signs had changed to gothic script. Snarling gargoyles were the design of choice.

All right! About fragging time.

You couldn't walk into Meilori's in the daytime. Only at night.

By day, the corner of Royal and St. Peter housed the majestic Royal Cafe. At dusk, the corner mysteriously transformed into Royal and Rue La Mort. And Meilori's stood revealed to the night and its children.

But this wasn't just any night. This was Halloween.

It was Samhain, summer's end. It had nearly marked New Orleans' end as well. But its people were a hardy lot.

The Celtic New Year began this nightfall. When your adoptive father is named McCord, you learn these kinds of things.

In ancient Welsh tradition, this evening was called The Three Spirit Night, when all kinds of beings could roam between realities. And I was betting my and Abigail's life on that.

We turned the corner. There stood Royal Cafe.

Empress Theodora and Major Strasser stood tall in front of it.

Abigail groaned, "I told you, Victor."

Victor, huh? She really did think the game was up. I smiled like a wolf. It was only beginning.

Theodora was dressed in a black leather outfit that, if it were any tighter, would have split at the seams ... if it had had any seams.

Her lips curled. "And so the mighty Adams dies because she listened to a human boy."

I flicked mocking eyes to Strasser, then to Theodora. "Hey, I see you brought your trained bear."

Strasser growled, "Let me taste of him first."

Theodora smiled dreamily. "No, his delicasies are mine alone."

Night hungrily swallowed dusk, and the surroundings became full of nightmares.

I smiled coldly. "Lots of luck with that, Bitch Queen."

My vision blurred. My head became light. Reality stretched as if it were taffy being pulled by an insane demon-child. The world looked as if I were seeing it from the wrong end of a telescope.

Ghost demons murmured hollow promises to my ears. My legs went all weak. I felt as if I were about to topple off the street and fall into madness.

Meilori's stood towering over me. Torch-lit iron lacework balconies stretched up high into the foggy night. I couldn't make out the building's top.

Leathery wings sounded up high in the thick fog that masked the remaining balconies. I heard the thud of a heavy body, the ear-aching screech of talons against steel, and a husky laugh of hunger about to be fed.

I tore my eyes away before I saw something I'd have nightmares about.

Abigail yelped, but I held onto her with one hand and onto the still-forming surface of Meilori's with the other. I yelled at the top of my bruised lungs.

"Victims of Theodora! Hear me! She is here. Here!"

Despite the pain it cost me, I yelled louder, "And tonight she is helpless not you. Not you! Take her! Take her and her pet killer. Take them!"

Theodora stiffened as hundreds, then thousands of writhing figures of mist solidified around her. Strasser pulled his Lugar. It was snatched from his fingers and tossed at my feet.

The Empress and her killer struggled like escaped inmates from an asylum. No good. They were overwhelmed.

And in a blur of screams, blood, and writhing bodies, Theodora and Strasser were gone.

I looked up at the very pale Abigail Adams. "Sometimes it's Treat."

I smiled very, very cold. "And sometimes it's Trick."

Wednesday, October 26, 2011


All the characters in my BOOK FAIR NOVEL of yesterday

are in this haunting finale so if you guys are back, you might want to read this as well.


reaches its eerie climax NOW!


I am Meilori Shinseen.

Time holds me prisoner. A frozen bubble of it. Maija, my sister, used my concern for her to capture me. I was taken in by her lie that she was in danger.

Awareness is seldom mine. Only when my Samuel leaves Time’s boundaries, as with his excursion here to Renaissance, does my link to my mate lift the gauze of oblivion.

Maija stands gloating, knowing the mayor’s fate will be a mystery for generations. Her cheeks blush with the blood of queens and kings. Was my face ever a’glow with cruelty’s bliss as hers now?

Memories of pleasantries with Caligula, screams of sacrifices on Aztec altars, and of the perfume of a death lotus gorging on a slave in Babylon’s Gardens warn me to withhold judgment for myself.

Maija’s whole body quivers. She is planning something. She never learns. All her days will be old tomorrows where she endlessly grasps for that which cannot be captured only given freely.

Samuel fills my world. Those eyes deep with sad wisdom. He cocks his head, looking at his companions. Seeing him thus, I feel as if my heart will burst.

When he smiles, I decide I would not mind it bursting if only he would turn and smile at me one last time.

Samuel smiles only at Alice Wentworth, who has bloomed like a watered desert rose since last I saw her. Victor Standish is clearly the reason. Victor laughs.

“Captain Sam, you were right. If we hadn’t come, Maija would’ve bought the mayor’s lies and been killed by those ghosts.”

Alice murmurs, “Maija killed by a lie would have been most poetic.”

I curse wordlessly. If she but knew how poetic it would have been.

Maija stiffens as if stabbed and turns to Samuel. “You knew I was luring you to your death and still you came to … to save me?”

Samuel looks sad. “I don’t know any other way to be.”

She bows her head, staring at the red carpet. “You are too noble for this world. I do you a favor with what is about to transpire.”

Alice floats closer to Maija. “I have little love for you and less reason to have it. But I tell you there is a path other than the one you have chosen to gain your heart’s desire.”

Maija’s voice is thick and forlorn, convulsed with scarlet pain. “I know of no other way to be.”

Maija’s head snaps up, cruel resolve freezing her blue eyes. “Attack!”

All the exterior doors burst open. A horde of Ningyo warriors, loyal, not to me their empress, but to Maija, storm in like fluid death. Victor laughs.

“You mean these flunkies you planned to take out the mayor with? Captain Sam knew about them, too.”

Maija frowned, “Wh-What?”

Victor smiles, “Hold that pose, Your Hind-Ass. You’ll make a great Poster Girl for DUH!”

Alice flows right up to Maija, her sharp teeth at my sister’s quivering throat. “Surely, you know Samuel can fold time as well as space.”

My Samuel smiles like a wolf, “We four exist a layer of time back from your assassins, Maija. They can’t touch us.”

Maija husks, “So again you spare me.”

Samuel’s face hardens. “Not hardly. Since I’ve been layered from time, I sense Meilori. You did something to her. I’ll find her. But you ….”

His eyes become windows into Hell. “You I leave a ghost in Time.”

“No!,” wails Maija.

The impossible happens. Samuel’s eyes meet mine. “I’ll find you, Meilori.”

And though oblivion again swallows me, I smile.

(596 words)
For Week 4, Empress Meilori Shinseen graciously chose all four of the following prompts:

•The misfortune is resolved/accepted {Maija was not happy about how.}

•Relationships mend/are torn asunder {Sam’s with Maija was torn asunder. Sam comes to realize Meilori did not leave him after all but was a victim of one of Maija’s plots.}

•The final event becomes another secret for generations to come. {No one in Renaissance will ever realize their mayor was a scion of an Old One or discover his true fate.}

•There is a new arrival in town. {The spirit of Meilori Shinseen, the Ningyo Empress and wife of Samuel McCord.}


If any of you are intrigued with the mysterious Meilori Shinseen, you might want to read RITES OF PASSAGE

which details the tempestuous love affair between Meilori and Samuel aboard a fantasy Titanic in 1853 crossing the Bermuda Triangle.

Aboard that cursed ship you will find : Maija, Fallen (of THE LAST FAE), The Turquoise Woman (of THE LAST SHAMAN), the mother and father of Hibbs, THE BEAR WITH 2 SHADOWS, and...

Samuel's first duel with DayStar, the supernatural Hannibal Lector who crosses over into most of my novels.

Oh, and William Faulkner in the New Orleans of the Roaring Twenties begins and ends the tale. How cool is that?

Tuesday, October 25, 2011


M. A. Leslie (the writing team) has a great idea :




Beware French Quarter nights. The shadows are hungry. You see, voodoo never died.

And the dead?

Here they do not always stay dead. They get hungry. And lonely.

Every city has its secrets. New Orleans more than most.

To walk its streets is to move through history : Lasalle. Orleans. Galvez. Lafitte. A street map is part time capsule, part history lesson. And all Death. She is waiting in every shadow.

New Orleans is the most haunted city in America where Voodoo was big business, slavery even more so, and no government official or newspaper dares to tell the truth.

No one talks openly of the misty figures seen walking along iron-laced terraces, casting no shadow. Of the shapes seen rising from sewer grates. And no one willingly visits the crypt of Marie Laveau at midnight.

Into this strange world arrives the street orphan, Victor Standish, from Charon's Greyhound. Charon has to keep up with the times ...

the End Times.

And the teen destined to be called the "Ulysses of the French Quarter" has come just in time for Hurricane Katrina, the End of All Things, and …

the deadly love of the Victorian ghoul, Alice Wentworth.


Buy a copy and post a review on Amazon and you could WIN :








By Wendy Morrell (NZ)
Roland Yeomans, writes scenes that appeal to all the senses. Memorable characters. Rich dialogue. Looking forward to reading more from this author. I highly recommend this book!

By Dina Howell "guatefea"

The Legend of Victor Standish.....Outstanding! It is the second book I read from this author, Roland Yeomans. It did not dissapoint me once again!

By H. McCorkle (West Coast)
Roland's writing is rich and haunting. You will be drawn instantly into a world that is tangible to all the senses and introduced to characters who come alive. I loved this and would highly recommend it to any paranormal fan!

Monday, October 24, 2011


I'm listening to the haunting melody "Autumn" by Ryan Stewart from his beautiful album, EQUANIMITY. I believe America, the world itself, may be in its Autumn.

Perhaps this thought stems from me knowing that on this day in 1776, THE DECLINE & FALL OF THE ROMAN EMPIRE was published.


Because I believe all of us are standing on the threshold of something that befalls every person, every civilization, but with each at a different cost.

We move through the moments but are far them. And as the night descends, it feels as if we are leaving home.

I'm swept up in a sense of the missed opportunity, the lost chance, the closed door. In my mind, I hear Bette Midler singing “I Think It’s Going To Rain Today” as I did when I sloshed alone down the flooded streets of Lake Charles that night after Hurricane Ike.

“Broken windows and empty hallways,
A pale dead moon in a sky streaked with grey.
Human kindness is overflowing,
And I think it’s going to rain today.”

Brrr! Well this will teach me to listen to haunting music in the tatters of my darkened efficiency apartment. May the twilight hold itself back for just a few seasons more for all of us.
Ryan Stewart is a classically trained composer who has composed for FACEBOOK, GEICO, and recording artist Paul Cardall {also worth checking out.} Check out Ryan on his website


What draws us to write?

It is a solitary sojourn. Most of us will never receive world acclaim ... nor do we expect it.

What then propels us on this journey? What swept you up when you first started to read for yourself? How often do you find a book which conjures that same spirit within you now?

Not often I would wager.

I believe we write to create that world which spellbound us into reading in the first place. What voices called out to us then? What lessons did they teach us?

For me the voices were :

Magic, horror, and otherworld beauty

These three sirens dominated my solitary reading of choice during my high school years. And their voices can be heard in the background of all that I write. Like the three fates, they weave the tapestry of my unconscious muse.

As a young child, I wandered alone into Edith Hamilton's MYTHOLOGY. In junior high, I joined the League of Five and group reading with BEAU GESTE and DR. FU MANCHU. In high school, I was alone again in my reading, open to any influence that caught my fancy.

The authors of those years were my unknowing mentors in how to write well. And oddly enough it was an artist who led me in the land where they all dwelt : Frank Frazetta. And he painted the first road sign on my path to becoming a writer :


When I spotted the cover to EERIE#23 with Frazetta's "Egyptian Princess" in a used book store, I was spellbound. Yes, she was clothing-challenged. But it were her eyes that ensnared me. And my encounter with her made me quite a few dollars lighter. EERIE #23, even back then when dinosaurs roamed the earth, was a collector's item.

From that moment on, I noticed eyes : weary ones , dull ones, evaluating ones, and those who were black windows into the nothingness that lived in the souls of those who possessed them.

As I began to write, I realized eyes could be the shorthand definition of the characters owning them. I noticed that when the eyes of strangers boldly met mine, it often meant the same thing as when Nixon proclaimed, "I am not a crook." I started counting my silverware.

But back to Frazetta. His art was vibrant, moody, and on-fire all at once. His paperback book covers led me to Edgar Rice Burroughs, Robert E. Howard, and even to H.P. Lovecraft. And those three authors sketched the second sign post :


UNDER THE PYRAMIDS by H.P. Lovecraft (with Harry Houdini)
My hands went into warp speed when I saw the Frazetta cover emblazoned with that title. Frazetta. Harry Houdini. Wow. I didn't know this Lovecraft fellow, but I had to see what kind of supernatural trouble Houdini had gotten into in his Egyptian travels.

And I wasn't disappointed :
The first sentence : "Mystery attracts mystery."

I was hooked. Then, came the terrible imprisonment within an ancient, dark pyramid. The clever escape and the final glimpse of horror :

"The Great Sphinx! God --

that idle question I asked myself on that sun-blest morning before . . .

what huge and loathsome abnormality was the Sphinx originally carven to represent?

Accursed is the sight, be it in dream or not, that revealed to me the supreme horror—the Unknown God of the Dead, which licks its leering lips in the unsuspected abyss,

fed hideous morsels by soulless absurdities that should not exist. The five-headed monster that emerged . . . that five-headed monster as large as a hippopotamus . . . the five-headed monster—and that of which it is the merest fore paw. . . .

But I survived, and I know it was only a dream."

From Frazetta, Burroughs, Howard, and Lovecraft ... I learned how history can be made alive and alluring ... and supernatural. It is a lesson that stays with me still.


Perched in the used bookstore shelf right next to a Frazetta cover of a Conan novel was the book that was to teach me that prose could be beautiful and evocative without being stale and stiff. I picked up LORD OF LIGHT and read the first paragraph :

"His followers called him Mahasamatman, and said he was a god. He preferred to drop the Maha- and the -atman, however, and called himself Sam.

He never claimed to be a god. But then, he never claimed not to be a god. Circumstances being what they were, neither admission could be of any benefit. Silence, though, could.

Therefore, there was mystery about him."

{It is no accident that my own hero is called Sam.}

Mystery. Evocative imagry. I was hooked.

I became his student -- through his books, his essays, and his poetry.

Some of his words :

"No word matters. But man forgets reality and remembers words."

"For you see, the headwaters of Shit Creek are a cruel and treacherous expanse."

"I like libraries. It makes me feel comfortable and secure to have walls of words,
beautiful and wise, all around me. I always feel better when I can see that there is
something to hold back the shadows."

"There's really nothing quite like someone's wanting you dead to make you want to go on living."

"Occasionally as an author, there arises a writing situation where you see an alternative to what you are doing, a mad, wild gamble of a way for handling something, which may leave you looking stupid, ridiculous or brilliant -you just don't know which.

You can play it safe there, too, and proceed along the route you'd mapped out for yourself. Or you can trust your personal demon who delivered that crazy idea in the firstplace.

Trust your demon."

"I try to sit down at the typewriter four times a day, even if it's only five minutes, and write three sentences. It seems to get the job done. I've written a lot of novels."

And Roger Zelazny led me to this quote by Ernest Hemingway years before it made its way into the latest PREDATOR movie :

"There is no hunting like the hunting of man, and those who have hunted armed men long enough and liked it, never care for anything else thereafter."


I have the eye-aching habit of writing long posts, so out of compassion for your eyes, I will leave that sign post to another day.
And here is a glimpse of the Frank Frazetta Museum. His wife was the custodian of it. She died in 2009 after a year's valiant battle against cancer.

The children started savagely fighting over the paintings. Sigh. Charges of burglary and theft were lodged against Frank Jr. by the rest of the family on March 2010. Matters were solved on the surface. But it proved too much for Frank, mourning the loss of his beloved wife of forty years. He died this year on May 10th.

{In early 2000, he suffered a series of strokes, losing dexterity in his right hand. The champion that he was, he taught himself to paint with his left. The painting of the warrior fighting the Mastodon in the arena towards the end of the clip was done with his left hand.}

One of the prizes on my wall of Movie Memorabilia is a Frazetta lithograph of a bear {I like to think of it as Hibbs, the bear with 2 shadows, on a bad day} signed by the artist himself.


{The Frank Frazetta Estate owns all rights to Frank Frazetta's sketchbook.}

Saturday, October 22, 2011






HOW? I will have a drawing when the 40th copy of THE LEGEND OF VICTOR STANDISH is bought.


HOW? I will have a drawing for this when VICTOR sells the 75th copy.


HOW? I will have a drawing for this poster when VICTOR sells his 101st copy!


Amazon's billionaire Chief Executive Jeff Bezos unveiled the Fire at a lower-than-expected price of $199.

Bezos said Amazon is making "millions" of the tablets, without being more specific. However, he urged customers to pre-order the device early.

"When Bezos quipped that people should get their pre-orders in quick, that wasn't just a sales pitch," said Brian Blair, an analyst at Wedge Partners. "That was him warning this will sell out."

When the first Kindle came out in 2007, Amazon hadn't made enough and the e-reader sold out in less than a week. You could win this when everyone else is hitting eBay, looking for the elusive units!
Just write a review of THE LEGEND OF VICTOR STANDISH and get FIVE entries to win!



CALL ME TOMBS_3rd Platform Builders Challange

In the mood for a laugh?

Rachel and J were so this is their 3rd challenge :

Write a blog post in 300 words or less, excluding the title. The post can be in any format, whether flash fiction, non-fiction, humorous blog musings, poem, etc. The blog post should show:

that it’s morning,

that a man or a woman (or both) is at the beach

that the MC (main character) is bored

that something stinks behind where he/she is sitting

that something surprising happens.

Just for fun, see if you can involve all five senses AND include these random words: "synbatec," "wastopaneer," and "tacise."

(NB. these words are completely made up and are not intended to have any meaning other than the one you give them.)

So here is my 300 word Halloween Humorous Entry : CALL ME TOMBS.

Between Toomey and Starks, they found me at the crossroads. If you’re Lakota like me, you know that makes me cursed. The orphanage named me Toomey Starks. Call me Tombs.

Please not Toomer. Makes me sound like an unsightly growth. Behind me, Puppy chuffs at my expense. It is not the first time. And yes, he is the curse.

But he makes for great support as I lean against his broad back and soak in the warm rays on the beach. Puppy is somewhat larger than a Shetland Pony and only slightly smaller than a Sherman tank.

And he smells like Hell. Literally. Puppy chuffs his “What did you expect of a Hellhound?” chuff.

The morning air tastes of salt. The seagull glides gracefully above me. The wind tickles my scalp as it ruffles my hair. The seagull spots Puppy. CAAAW! Splat! On my forehead!

Seagull shit is warm, gooey, smelly, thick, and damn hard to scoop off. Puppy chuffs “Good Shot” to the seagull as its wings blur in its frenzied effort to go into warp speed.

Puppy could turn a wet dream of Megan Fox into a nightmare. I perk up. Speaking of Megan Fox, two honey bunnies, wearing smiles, suntan lotion, and not much else are slowly swaying my way. I hear them laugh emptily to each other in Clueless-ese.

Blather. Calories. Wastopaneer. Blather. Synatec Tacise Diet. Blather

I don’t mind. It’s not their intellects I’m interested in. Puppy chuffs “Big Surprise There”.

He turns to smile wide at them. They shriek and fall limp to the sands. I look for pulses. None. I glare at Puppy.

“I don’t mind you scaring beautiful girls half to death. I can comfort those. But did you have to scare these two TO DEATH?”

Puppy chuffs “Hellhounds don’t do sandcastles.”


Friday, October 21, 2011

WHISPERS ONLY THE DEAD MAY SPEAK_Friday's Romantic Challenge


that eve when things can cross over to our world,

none of them lovers of Man ... except as a meal.

Francine and Denise have given us the prompt, WHISPERS, to do with as we please ...

Three heroes are all that stand between those spirits and this world in the strange city, Renaissance.

Listen to the haunted thoughts of one of them, the one who understands the Hunger that drives them the most : the Victorian ghoul, Alice Wentworth …

There are whispers only the dead may speak. Secrets only the dead may know. Still I do not comprehend why Victor insisted on walking blithely into this ambush.

Not as the living do the dead see :

one moment frozen after another.

It is why we are distanced from the hearts of the living.

Except for Victor Standish.

My Victor, of the gypsy laugh and poet’s heart. Our love breaks the chain of reason. But deep in my dry bones,

I know that love will one night break my heart … as I eat his.

This frozen moment may spare us that …

I see Renaissance’s mayor thrust Maija, who lured us here to be eaten, into the onrushing hungry soul-echoes.

“Ningyo whore! My father’s race cast yours out of their dimension. Did you think I would ally myself with you? Come, Citizens, feast!”

As Maija tumbles to the floor, he laughs, “All you touch you can drain. All that is water you control. They are ghosts, filth. Now, you die.”

Thunder rumbles as Captain McCord growls, “You first.”

His strange Colt bellows. I clutch my ears as if the sound itself would kill me. I watch as the Mayor grabs his chest. I have never seen the like. With the swirling of an open drain he seems to spin into nothingness.

McCord yells, “Maija, they are echoes of life but life still. They shape themselves from mist. What is mist but ….”

She smiles like a released demon, “Water!”

Even I, who live off the flesh of the living, am sickened by the atrocities she inflicts on the screaming soul-echoes.

Victor laughs, “Boy, you guys sure picked the wrong dance partners!”

The survivors laugh themselves as they turn to one who appears helpless. My Victor helpless? Never! Not while I stand by his side.

They halt as I flow to them. They thought me ghoul. Fools. Not ghoul. Not ghost. Not revenant. I am unique.

Shaped by my mother’s mishandling of voodoo to make me a zombie, I became Other … when Victor’s mother took me for hers.

My hunger is about to be satisfied. I stiffen as Victor smiles. This is why he walked into certain death …

to feed the one he … loves. Tears burn my eyes.

I am loved.

I turn hotly to them and whisper words only the dead have ears to hear. “I am not ghoul, leeches. What am I?”

I feel my lips pull up in a Cheshire grin. “I am the far end of the graveyard where the nettles grow. I am the Jester in the Theater of Bone. I AM HELL TO PAY!”

I sweep over them like the Death that took the first-born in Egypt. I flick undead eyes to McCord. He had been speaking to me as well to let me know I could … eat them. So I do.

His strange Colt bellows. Maija laughs hellishly. The soul-echoes scream.

I eat.

Suddenly, ball bearings, washed in the Waterfall of Eden, pepper the air behind me. A blur of movement. I smile. Victor is twirling in what he calls, in his quaint fashion,

a Full Arabian Cartwheel. He lands lightly behind me as three soul-echoes learn that acupressure can kill the undead.

He whispers, “Alice, you have to watch that lovely … behind of yours.”

I whisper back, “Why ever should I do that? You watch it enough for the two of us.”

He smiles wide and kisses me. I wait with dread heart for his lips to flinch from my cold ones. But they do not.

Not even a little.

Thursday, October 20, 2011


I was driving down a stretch of highway I hadn't taken for awhile

on my way to bring rare blood to a rural hospital.

I spied a billboard.

It was the one you see in the picture :


I sped by, thinking I would never know who this Erin was, or who was doing this unique proposal, or if she said yes.

Being a writer, I did some research and here is the link to the answer :

I arrived to the hospital to see, that in a week's time, the TACO BELL had been leveled to the ground.

Within a week.

Being a writer, I asked around at the hospital. TACO BELL was being re-built from the ground up. But what happened to the poor people depending on those paychecks to survive?

Being a writer and observer of the folks around me, I knew most of the people displaced. They were not faceless statistics. They were single mothers and struggling teens who would be devastated.

And I would never know what happened to them.

As I drove back, I thought there were other things you and I will never know :

Why do people scream at each other in an argument?

Do they instinctively know that the other person has long since stopped listening?

Where does the love go in so many marriages?

Is it evaporated under the heat of life's day-to-day burdens?

Or is it strangled by neglect, by meant-to gestures of caring forgotten in the rush of the rat race, and the poison of familiarity?

How does the brain produce consciousness?

It can't be data storage, or a computer would be conscious. Is it that something science scoffs at? The soul?

How can observation affect the outcome of an experiment?

Don't ask a mother this. You can see for yourself when she walks into her son's room unexpectedly.

But a mother will never know what impact her life of love, her words of wisdom will have on her children when she is dead.

Perhaps sometimes you just have to trust in love to stick when all else drops by the wayside.


Wednesday, October 19, 2011


There is the dark born of midnight.

There is the Dark born of souls having consumed themselves.

That Dark is midwife to a never-ending hunger for the souls of others. That Dark resides in Renaissance, a nexus between our world and many others.

Three heroes are all that stand between that Hunger and this world. Listen to the 600 words of one of them, the one who understands that Hunger the most : the Victorian ghoul, Alice Wentworth …

There are sounds only the dead may utter. Secrets only the dead may know. Still I do not comprehend why Victor insisted on walking blithely into this ambush.

Not as the living do the dead see : one moment frozen after another. It is why we are distanced from the hearts of the living.

Except for Victor Standish.

My Victor, of the gypsy laugh and poet’s heart. Our love breaks the chain of reason. But deep in my dry bones, I know that love will one night break my heart … as I eat his.

This frozen moment may spare us that …

I see Renaissance’s mayor thrust Maija into the onrushing hungry soul-echoes.

“Ningyo whore! My father’s race cast yours out of their dimension. Did you think I would ally myself with you? Come, Citizens, feast!”

As Maija tumbles to the floor, he laughs, “All you touch you can drain. All that is water you control. They are ghosts, filth. Now, you die.”

Thunder rumbles as Captain McCord growls, “You first.”

His strange Colt bellows. I clutch my ears as if the sound itself would kill me. I watch as the Mayor grabs his chest. I have never seen the like. With the swirling of an open drain he seems to spin into nothingness.

McCord yells, “Maija, they are echoes of life but life still. They shape themselves from mist. What is mist but ….”

She smiles like a released demon, “Water!”

Even I, who live off the flesh of the living, am sickened by the atrocities she inflicts on the screaming soul-echoes.

Victor laughs, “Boy, you guys picked the wrong dance partners!”

The survivors laugh themselves as they turn to one who appears helpless. My Victor helpless? Never! Not while I stand by his side.

They halt as I flow to them. They thought me ghoul. Fools. Not ghoul. Not ghost. Not revenant. I am unique.

Shaped by my mother’s mishandling of voodoo to make me a zombie, I became Other … when Victor’s mother took me for hers.

My hunger is about to be satisfied. I stiffen as Victor smiles. This is why he walked into certain death … to feed the one he … loves. Tears burn my eyes.

I am loved.

I turn hotly to them and speak words only the dead may hear. “I am not ghoul, leeches. What am I?”

I feel my lips pull up in a Cheshire grin. “I am the far end of the graveyard where the nettles grow. I am the Jester in the Theater of Bone. I AM HELL TO PAY!”

I sweep over them like the Death that took the first-born in Egypt. I flick undead eyes to McCord. He had been speaking to me as well to let me know I could … eat them. So I do.

His strange Colt bellows. Maija laughs hellishly. The soul-echoes scream.

I eat.

Suddenly, ball bearings, washed in the Waterfall of Eden, pepper the air behind me. A blur of movement. I smile. Victor is twirling in what he calls, in his quaint way,

a Full Arabian Cartwheel. He lands lightly behind me as three soul-echoes learn that acupressure can kill the undead.

He laughs like a gypsy. “Alice, you have to watch that lovely … behind of yours.”

I give Victor one of his winks. “Why ever should I do that? You watch it enough for the two of us.”

He smiles wide and kisses me. I wait with dread heart for his lips to flinch from my cold ones. But they do not.

Not even a little.
Alice, being a gracious Victorian ghoul, used all 4 prompts in her narration :

•The impending misfortune foreshadowed in the 1st set of prompts comes to pass, but one or more characters laugh at it.

•Betrayal is in the air.

•Relationships unravel or strengthen.

•A long-kept secret is revealed


Tuesday, October 18, 2011


Is it time to swing into the saddle and ride off into the sunset?

My friend, Terry Stonecrop, said goodbye to her blog in such a fashion :

She did more writing on her novel in the month she was away from her blog than ever before.

It hurt to think I was going to see much less of her cyber-wise. Yet, I could see her reasoning.

Last week Nathan Bransford asked, "Is Blog Fatigue On The Rise?"

He admitted to having Blog Fatigue himself.

The Rainy Day Wanderer has left blogging for two months now :

V R Barkowski has recently written some posts which indicate she is mulling the same topic over :

It got me to thinking and researching :

1.) The average lifespan of a blog seems to be about 2-3 years, with posting frequency going down after about 18 months on most. And the growth rate has dropped 16% in one year.

Several studies indicate that most blogs are abandoned soon after creation (with 60% to 80% abandoned within one month, depending on whose figures you choose to believe) and that few are regularly updated.

The Perseus report noted above indicates that 66.0% of surveyed blogs had not been updated in two months, "representing 2.72 million blogs that have been either permanently or temporarily abandoned".

2.) Twitter is the new rage to fritter your time away from your novel.

Twitter can consume your time. Work, real social interactions and rest can all suffer if you are constantly tweeting and following other tweets. You can check Twitter updates from your phone and send messages from anywhere.

In theory, many people use this as an escape from their own surroundings, paying more attention to Twitter updates, rather than reading that pertinent work email or writing that unfinished novel sitting on their desk.

It is a dangerous pastime.

If you pose the wrong image or comment online, you may be passed up for a promotion, considered undesirable for hire or, even, denied disability benefits for having too much fun.

3.) What do you think?

Is blogging dying? Is it worth the time away from your novel and research?

Is blogging any help to your chances of being published in today's unstable publishing environment?

Is Twitter the new forum to gain an agent's eye?

Or are we just singing to the choir, even on Twitter?


Monday, October 17, 2011


Do you believe in the supernatural?

There are two answers to that question, of course.

One that you believe in bright sunlight. And the one that you fear is true in the shadows on a strange, moonlit street.

I know. I've had too many occasions to walk the dark streets of the French Quarter at night. I wasn't suicidal. I was broke. I saw street crime naturally. I also saw glimpses of things my rational mind refused to consider.

To focus my mind off those glimpses, I tried to make a list of movies with scenes involving lone walkers at night in the growing fog. Word to the wise. Don't do that. It really doesn't help. At all.

New Orleans has been called a Twilight City, for it rises from civilized slumber to bustling life at night.

Performers often line the streets, pushers sell their brands of death, prostitutes promise sex as if it were love, dancers weave through the partiers on the street, and music throbs through the veins of the French Quarter.

If the undead do exist, they walk lazily down streets in front of buildings dating back hundreds of years. In that sense, they would be at home. It is we the living who could be thought of as intruders there.

New Orleans is famous for its "Cities of the Dead."

Since the city is below sea level, it is filled with above the ground tombs instead of graves in the moist earth.

One of the most famous of these "cities" is St. Louis Cemetery #1, established in 1789 and considered by many as being the final resting place of the infamous voodoo Queen, Marie Laveau. But Samuel McCord would tell you differently. He still visits her occasionally if the situation is dire enough to warrant risking suicide.

Samuel McCord, of course, believes in the supernatural.

How could he not? Especially after this dark scene of the supernatural from FRENCH QUARTER NOCTURNE.

Samuel is walking to the Convention Center the first night after Katrina. A wheelchair-bound woman has told him of the raping of women and young girls by drunken gang members.

It is a tale he must check out for himself. Long ago he was unable to prevent the murder of his own sister, and he is compelled to rescue each young girl he sees in danger.


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.

I had heard the Superdome was in equally bad shape. I shook my head. To get there, I would have to head north where the water was still chest-deep over the streets. It would take a miracle for me to help those at the Convention Center.

The Superdome was on its own. I might be monster not man, but I was only one monster. And Maudie had bought my help with her bravery and her disregard for her own safety.

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, whispered in my blood. “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 and throat.

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 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 her bloody 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, her tiny fists balled, 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.

Sunday, October 16, 2011


Woodstock has just got to stop watching those DVD's of


And don't forget one of the prizes in THE FRIENDS OF VICTOR STANDISH contest




My fascination, and many others', with THE WALKING DEAD

makes me ask,


The undead.

They captivate us.

The appeal to vampires is obvious :

even Bram Stoker, who coined the term "undead," painted Dracula as sexy and seductive (at least in London).

Don't get me started on the "sparkly" ones.

While most vampires are etched as lovely, though deadly, predators, what is up with our fascination with zombies?

They are Id's brought to hungry life : only appetite, no morals or guidelines. And terrible table manners.

Why are we so obsessed with zombies? They are not seductive, not appealing, what with body parts missing or rotting away as you watch.

Zombies symbolize those threats like actual skin-eating diseases,

terrorist bombs,

and natural disasters like the promised California SuperStorm that will someday in the future dump ten FEET of rain over 30 days.

Zombies symbolize our fears of death that will not be reasoned or threatened away.

Does immersing ourselves in zombie movies give us an illusion of some measure of control over death, cancer, and other all-too-real threats in our modern lives?

Seeing teens surrounded in a cabin by milling, moaning zombies, we know that soon those pretty girls will be either eaten or transformed into eternally hungry zombies.

And in a sense, we, the viewer, have become with them Death in our imaginations : unstoppable, forces of nature, unthinking.

But the zombie is never at rest : like a shark, it must continually shamble in search of prey or it will die.

Then, take little Karen Cooper (please, you take her 'cuz me and Victor want nothing to do with the little munchkin), from the original NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD :

Newly undead, the zombie girl happily starts to feast on her father's arm, then lay waste to her mother with a trowel of all things. There is something deeply unsettling about seeing an innocent child turn to a flesh-eating monster in front of your eyes.

Which is why I used the Zombie Playground picture in yesterday's post :

This, for me, is the worst facet of becoming a zombie : it robs you of your identity, of your sense of self.

Is our fascination with zombies an extension of 21st century Man's self-loathing? Or do we place ourselves in the roles of the survivors?

What would we do in their place? We revel in their violence against those shambling things which are already dead. We can mutilate and destroy with no regret, no remorse.

Or is it that zombies offer us the ultimate crucible : that arena which hones our characters and our souls into something better or into something infinitely worse than zombies -- a knowing evil against our brothers?

I already know what Victor Standish thinks about this. But don't be too sure you know. Remember his "ghoul friend," Alice.
What do you think?

Saturday, October 15, 2011


With the debut of THE WALKING DEAD,

friends have emailed asking me,

"What would Victor Standish do?"

Here is the answer from the prologue to his third novel, NO VICTOR :

When you're seven, you're too old for a swing. But I wasn't sitting in it for fun. No. My legs were just too weak to hold me up.

Mother had left me. Me. For days, maybe weeks she said. "Survive as best you can, Victor. I must be alone with my latest conquest."

And then, she was gone with her muscled bad boy. What was I going to do?

"I don't like you," sniveled the little girl in the swing next to me.

"Pick a number. It's a long line."

The black-haired girl pointed her finger past me. "I don't like them neither."

"Must be my kind of people," I grunted, turning to look.

"Or not," I gulped.

Zombies. Fricking kid-zombies. "Oh, why the hell not?"

"Oooh, you just said a no-no."

"On my best day, I'm PG-13. And Sunshine, this ain't my best day."

"My name is Becky not Sunshine!"

I got up, looking all around. Damn, we were surrounded.

"It's gonna be 'Kibbles-N-Brains' if you don't put some muscle to the hustle."

What had Chiron told me? When surrounded by enemies, get a sword, a shield, and the high ground.

Becky pulled out a wooden slingshot. "I'll stop them."

"Lots of luck with that, Nibbles."

I ran to a fallen baseball bat. Two zombies were making sure that the boy who dropped it wouldn't miss it. I darted in between them. I tumbled in a roll, snatching up the bat. One lunged at me.

I beaned him with all my might, and his rotten head burst.

I laughed, "I hope your name was Homer. Cuz I always wanted to hit a homer."

To my far left, Becky screamed, "Fall down! WHY WON'T YOU FALL DOWN?"

I ran over to her, grabbed her by her pony-tail and snapped, "Cuz the fun never stops with zombies!"

"Stop!," cried Becky. "You're messing up my pigtail."

I spotted the slide/jungle-gym. High ground.

I snapped, "Those zombies will mess up more than your ...."

A kid-zombie with a half-eaten face lurched through the garbage cans lining the playground, knocking them over. A garbage can lid rolled to my feet. My shield!

I snatched it up and smacked him in the face with it. "Watch out! Low bridge."

I thumped Becky on the butt to get her moving faster to the slide/jungle-gym.

"Hey, that's my butt!," she yelled.

I jerked my head to the shambling but all-too-fast kid zombies. "It'll be theirs if you don't get a move on!"

We made it to the slide as a black kid took a mop handle and used it as a pole vault to get to the top of the metal tree-house at the top of the slide.

"Whoa," I gasped. "Way to go, LeRoy."

He laughed down at me. "Ya gotta learn free runnin' if you gonna make it on these streets, bro. And how did you know my name?"

I got uneasy. "Lucky guess." But it hadn't been. I had just known it. Just like Mother seemed to know the names of some strangers on the streeet.

Usually the really sick looking ones.

I smacked Becky up the slide. The ladder was too slow as a couple of screaming kids found out the hard way. We ducked aside a girl with glasses. I shield-blocked the brick she aimed at me.

"Save it for the dead heads," I snapped, scooting by her.

The slide/jungle-gym was a big son of a gun. I skipped down the steps from the tree house to the walkway where six kid-zombies scrambled towards us, moaning, "Brains. Brains. Brains."

I winked at Becky, who was taking aim at them with her ball-bearing loaded slingshot. "They can't mean you. It's gotta be me they're after."

Becky let go with her slingshot, sending a ball bearing into the only eye of a grasping girl zombie. "Ha. Ha. Very not funny."

LeRoy pushed a boy zombie off the top of the treehouse with his mop handle. "Damn! They just too many of 'em!"

It hit me. Mother had left me to die. Die.

She didn't want me anymore. She didn't love me. Had she ever loved me? Ever?

Hot tears filled my eyes.

"Wrong!," I yelled. "There aren't enough of them!"

I leapt onto the walkway, swinging with my bat and shield, knocking the grabbing kid-zombies every whichway.

Zombies scuttled like cockroaches out of Hell along the top of the rungs of the jungle-gym. They dropped down on the walkway. I swung at them.

Brains, bits of skull, and rotted flesh flew as I jumped about, smacking away with all the anger I felt at Mother for just dumping me ...

for not loving me any more.

"Die. Die! DIE!"

Glasses sobbed, "I-I'm outta bricks. They're going to eat us."

They kept coming. I kept blocking and smashing. Becky went for more ball bearings but came up empty. A giggling girl-zombie knocked LeRoy down. He screamed.

I raised my shield and bat to the uncaring skies and roared, "WOULD YOU JUST DIE!"


I could've sworn a pale green circle pulsed out from around me. The kid-zombies keeled over as if their electric plugs had been pulled from the wall socket. They just lay there, all limp and finally as dead as they looked.

Becky gasped, "H-How did you do that?"

"I just yelled like Mother."

LeRoy muttered, "Bro, she must be one bad mutha."

I looked down at the swing where she had dumped me. "You have no idea."

{And neither does Victor. What really happened? Tune in to the last sentence of the last chapter to THE LEGEND OF VICTOR STANDISH for a clue.}
Oh, and as for the following clip, had Victor been there, Victor, being Victor, would have said,

"Yo, she-bitch. Get over it! He saved your life. Why?

Because you were too dumb to realize that if you hung around long enough, the zombies will starve!

They only eat us. And how many US do you see?

I mean, you don't see any zombie squirrels around do you? Of which I am really glad 'cause I do not want to have to wander around the heavenly clouds, explaining I was eaten by zombie squirrels!"