So you can read my books

Friday, August 31, 2012


Jennifer Lane was nearly wrong.

Hurricane Isaac almost did me in. Still very weak.

Thanks to all of you who emailed, worried about me.

How do you like the new cover for Victor's new adventure?

Even hurting as I was, I still managed to make it to page 70 of his new tale.

He and Alice are presently at the End of All Things.

I almost was a permanent resident there!

Money may not buy happiness, but try being in the hospital without it!

Victor quote of the day:

As for the Seven Deadly Sins, I hate Pride, Wrath, Gluttony, Envy and Greed. Lust and Sloth I pretty much plan my day around.
– Victor Standish

Thank you to the person who just bought THE LEGEND OF VICTOR STANDISH.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012


“On the Road that I have taken,

one day walking I awaken,

amazed to see where I've come,

where I'm going,

where I'm from.”

― The Book Of Counted Sorrows (Dean Koontz)

Isaac is officially a hurricane. And folks around here are officially unnerved. It is what it is.

If God is an author and the universe is the biggest novel ever written,

I may feel as if I'm the lead character in the story,

but like every man and woman on Earth, I am a suporting player in one of billions of subplots.

You know what happens to supporting players.

Too often they are killed off in chapter 3, or in chapter 10, or in chapter 35.

A supporting player always has to be looking over his shoulder.

So the only sane thing to do is to laugh.

As long I have laughter, I can hope. And I can ease the tension around me, healing a few hurts along the way.

Pray for those in New Orleans, for those children who do not understand but only see fear in the faces of those they trust to protect them, and for the elderly who have no one to care.

*This is a Photoshopped picture of a supercell thunderstorm that seems to pop up

with a new foreground every time

there is a hurricane threat anywhere," according to Bay News 9 Meteorologist Josh Linker.


BRING ME THE HEAD OF McCORD! is NUMBER 3 on Amazon's 100 best selling Native American Dark Fantasy Novels:

CALL ME TOMBS is number 5 on the same list!

THE LAST SHAMAN is still #17 on Amazon's 100 best selling Native American Fantasy novels:

Monday, August 27, 2012


It's finally here, the cover reveal for Heather McCorkle's Rise of a Rector, the final novel in her channeler series (due out this October). To celebrate Heather is giving away two copies of her historical fantasy novel, To Ride A Puca. Before we get to that though, here is the cover:

To add it to your Goodreads lists click here. If you'd like to check out the rest of the channeler series (her novella Born of Fire is now FREE on Amazon & B&N!) you can do so on Amazon and Barnes and Noble. To win an eBook of To Ride A Puca, all you have to do is help Heather spread the word. There will be two winners! To enter fill out the form below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

If McCord had a theme when he plays poker in his haunted jazz club, this would be it:


David Streitfeld of THE NEW YORK TIMES has heralded the new Tom Sawyer of self-publishing:

Todd Rutherford -

When he was 7, he bought a copy of PLAYBOY from a chum, turned around, selling one picture from the magazine to others for a dollar each! His father soon stopped that scheme.

Now, Amazon and Google has stopped his latest one.

What scheme?

Instead of trying to cajole others to review a client’s work, why not cut out the middleman and write the review himself? Then it would say exactly what the client wanted — that it was a terrific book. A shattering novel. A classic memoir. Will change your life. Lyrical and gripping, Stunning and compelling. Or words to that effect.

In the fall of 2010, Mr. Rutherford started a Web site, At first, he advertised that he would review a book for $99. But some clients wanted a chorus proclaiming their excellence. So, for $499, Mr. Rutherford would do 20 online reviews. A few people needed a whole orchestra. For $999, he would do 50.

Before he knew it, he was taking in $28,000 a month.

Consumer reviews are powerful because, unlike old-style advertising and marketing, they offer the illusion of truth.

They purport to be testimonials of real people, even though some are bought and sold just like everything else on the commercial Internet.

The Federal Trade Commission has issued guidelines stating that all online endorsements need to make clear

when there is a financial relationship, but enforcement has been minimal and there has been a lot of confusion in the blogosphere over how this affects traditional book reviews.

Twenty percent of Amazon’s top-selling e-books are self-published. They do not get to the top without adulation, lots and lots of it.

I can attest to that since my own ebooks are suffering from the bends!

Mr. Rutherford’s insight was that reviews had lost their traditional function.

They were no longer there to evaluate the book or even to describe it but simply to vouch for its credibility,

the way doctors put their diplomas on examination room walls.

A reader hears about a book because an author is promoting it, and then checks it out on Amazon. The reader sees favorable reviews and is reassured that he is not wasting his time.

Amazon's reviews conjure a strange world:

For example, here’s a derisive notice, recently posted on Amazon:

“I was utterly bored.”

A second reader offered this: “Mediocre.”

A third: “This isn’t good prose.”

All three were offering their opinions of “The Great Gatsby.”

Quite a few reviews of the book, the F. Scott Fitzgerald classic that’s among the greatest American novels of the last century, deem it somewhere between so-so and poor.

Back to our modern Tom Sawyer:

As soon as the orders started pouring in, Mr. Rutherford realized that he could not produce all the reviews himself.

How little, he wondered, could he pay freelance reviewers and still satisfy the authors? He figured on $15. He advertised on Craigslist and received 75 responses within 24 hours.

Potential reviewers were told that if they felt they could not give a book a five-star review, they should say so and would still be paid half their fee, Mr. Rutherford said. As you might guess, this hardly ever happened.

Amazon and other e-commerce sites have policies against paying for reviews. But Mr. Rutherford did not spend much time worrying about that. “I was just a pure capitalist,” he said. Amazon declined to comment.

Mr. Rutherford’s busiest reviewer was Brittany Walters-Bearden, now 24, a freelancer who had just returned to the United States from a stint in South Africa.

She had recently married a former professional wrestler, and the newlyweds had run out of money and were living in a hotel in Las Vegas when she saw the job posting.

Ms. Walters-Bearden had the energy of youth and an upbeat attitude.

“A lot of the books were trying to prove creationism,” she said. “I was like, I don’t know where I stand, but they make a solid case.”

For a 50-word review, she said she could find “enough information on the Internet so that I didn’t need to read anything, really.” For a 300-word review, she said, “I spent about 15 minutes reading the book.” She wrote three of each every week as well as press releases. In a few months, she earned $12,500.

Even the famous John Locke, author who sold a million ebooks, used Mr. Rutherford:

One thing that made a difference is not mentioned in “How I Sold One Million E-Books.” That October, Mr. Locke commissioned Mr. Rutherford to order reviews for him, becoming one of the fledging service’s best customers. “I will start with 50 for $1,000, and if it works and if you feel you have enough readers available, I would be glad to order many more,” he wrote in an Oct. 13 e-mail to Mr. Rutherford. “I’m ready to roll.”

Mr. Locke was secure enough in his talents to say that he did not care what the reviews said. “If someone doesn’t like my book,” he instructed, “they should feel free to say so.” He also asked that the reviewers make their book purchases directly from Amazon, which would then show up as an “Amazon verified purchase” and increase the review’s credibility.

In a phone interview from his office in Louisville, Ky., Mr. Locke confirmed the transaction. “I wouldn’t hesitate to buy reviews from people that were honest,” he said. Even before using, he experimented with buying attention through reviews. “I reached out every way I knew to people to try to get them to read my books.”

Many of the 300 reviews he bought through GettingBookReviews were highly favorable, although it’s impossible to say whether this was because the reviewers genuinely liked the books, or because of their well-developed tendency toward approval, or some combination of the two.

Mr. Locke is unwilling to say that paying for reviews made a big difference. “Reviews are the smallest piece of being successful,” he said. “But it’s a lot easier to buy them than cultivating an audience.”

Mr. Rutherford, who says he is a little miffed that the novelist never gave him proper credit, is more definitive. “It played a role, for sure,” he said. “All those reviews said to potential readers, ‘You’ll like it, too.’ ”

{Read the entire article in THE NEW YORK TIMES. It is a mind-blower}


What do all of you think about this?

It is not looking good for the city, so I leave you with ...

Sunday, August 26, 2012


As my city stands it seems in the crosshairs of Hurricane Isaac,

Victor urged me to remember the DANSE MARDI GRAS:

I had never seen Captain Sam so happy.

Meilori was back in his arms though it meant a target on my back. Mardi Gras was a thing of laughter within his haunted jazz club once again.

I felt like baying like a happy hound myself. Alice was flowing towards me in a black sleek dress whose long skirt was slit for the tango.

Her porcelain shoulders bare, long blonde hair a living waterfall upon them, long black gloves up past her elbows.

She leaned against me to the tempo of Grace Jones singing “Strange, I’ve Seen That Face Before.”

“What is this tune?,” she whispered in my ear.

“The Libertango,” I smiled.

“I do feel liberated,” she husked, running her toe up, then down my right leg.

“Me, too,” spoke Meilori as she slipped between Alice and me, whipping the two of us away.

Jade eyes which had watched Aztec sacrifices scream for mercy that never came stabbed into me.

“So you are the son I could never give Samuel?”

“We don’t have to be enemies,” I whispered, seeing a concerned Captain Sam taking up a frantic Alice in his arms to continue the tango towards us.

Meilori laughed a thing from nightmares.

“Oh, do not worry, Standish. Once I kill you, I will forget all about you.”

She gazed mockingly at Alice as she rubbed her body against mine, and I sighed, “You can destroy me as an enemy in another way.”


“You can make a friend of me.”

A Harlequin spun me from Meilori’s arms, shaking off her belled hat, long silk black hair tumbling down on colorful shoulders.

Maija. I wondered when she’d show.

Meilori gasped, “But you are dead!”

“Your savage of a husband only managed to kill my followers. DayStar saved me.”

I shook my head as Maija spun me in the female’s role of the tango and snorted, “DayStar doesn’t save. He damns.”

“To revenge myself against my sister, McCord, and you, I welcome damnation.”

Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Sam sweep Meilori in his arms as she whispered hurriedly to him. Marshall Hickok took up Alice and danced the tango awkwardly towards us.

Maija swept me down in a sudden dip, wrenched me up against her breasts (Aw, jeez, she didn’t believe in underwear), and hissed into my ear.

“Tonight I will pay you back for that ‘Menage a Trois’ lie you spread about you, your ghoul, and myself in 1834!”

I snapped her out, then back into my arms as the tango heated up. “Hey, I happened to ruin my reputation while improving yours with that!”

“I will kill you slowly for those words.”

“Take a number. It’s a long line.”

Another woman, this time dressed as Marie Antoinette, tugged me out of Maija’s arms.

Despite the white wig, I recognized the insane cobalt blue eyes. Empress Theodora, ruler of the European Revenant Empire.

“Royalty first, Ningyo swine!”

My dance card was getting too damn full. Theodora laughed throaty.

“Ah, my subjects are whispering that I am renewing our tawdry love affair. Another lie you have sown about your betters!”

Father Renfield and Sister Magda were twirling effortlessly towards us, their faces grim. So was Sam with Meilori and Alice with Hickok. I smiled grimly.

Lady Lovelace and Margaret Fuller were scandalizing the crowd by dancing together my way. They were too far away to get here in time.

Theodora’s steel fingers squeezed my upper arms tight. She was about to pull apart my arms and make a wish.

I smiled sad. “You’re all alone.”

“My subjects are mixed all through this crowd within Meilori’s.”

“And still alone.”

I dipped her suddenly. Jeez, didn’t any of my enemies believe in underwear?

I got a terrible mental image of Major Strasser. If I survived this tango, I was going to have to take a bath in Listerine.

“You are surrounded by toadies who are too terrified to say anything but yes to you.”

Theodora snapped up, pressing me close to her, running her own toe up and down my right leg. “And that is bad?”

“One day, your worshipfulness, you’re going to be at a terrible crossroads, not knowing which way to take. And those toadies’ words won’t help worth shit.”

I smiled wide, taking precise quick, flowing steps between her fast moving high-heeled feet as we moved fluid over the dance floor.

“Then, you’ll think of me, too stupid to lie – even to an enemy.”

Theodora studied me. “You would save my life? Why?”

“Because we’re both street gypsies. You’re just a clever daughter of a bear trainer who slept her way to the top. Me? I’m gutter trash. We’re alike and both alone in ways no one but we will ever understand.”

Theodora flicked flat eyes to Alice, and I shook my head.

“She was raised to be a Victorian lady. Like you, I was raised to survive in a world that didn’t much want me to.”

“Alike and alone,” Theodora husked.

Her cobalt eyes deepened, became wet. Before I could react Theodora crushed her cold lips into mine.

“Hey, no tongue on a first date!”

Alice was suddenly by my side. Theodora laughed oddly, linking her arm with an uneasy Hickok. “Standish, you live … for tonight. You have given me much to think over.”

Alice’s pale face became all eyes. “What was that kiss about? What did you do, Victor?”

Sam and Meilori danced to a halt in front of me. I looked into the disturbed eyes of Meilori, sighing, “Followed my own advise.”

{Excerpt from Victor's sixth book, DANSE MARDI GRAS. The 4th & 5th? THREE SPIRIT KNIGHT and SLAY BELLES IN THE NIGHT.}

*Anouchka Unel, the copyright holder of this work, hereby publishes it under the following license:

Copyleft: This work of art is free; you can redistribute it and/or modify it according to terms of the Free Art License. You will find a specimen of this license on the Copyleft Attitude site.


For Antonio Banderas fans - {You owe it to yourselves to view this full screen}


Each new version of Amazon’s Kindle eInk reader is lower-priced than the last one.

There’s been speculation that the price will eventually go to zero,

perhaps taking a page out of the cell phone model.

Think about the upcoming competition the Fire is encountering.

First there’s Google’s Nexus 7. I’ve heard the Nexus 7 described as “the tablet the Kindle Fire should have been.”

If that’s not bad enough, there’s also the iPad mini Apple is supposedly working on.

What if the smaller iPad matches the $199 price of the Nexus and Fire? Will Amazon go to $149? 99? How about free?

There is a sense of urgency in the tablet space, especially if Apple delivers something for $199.

But if Amazon drops the Fire’s price to zero can they really subsidize it with ebook purchases?

Perhaps, but the more likely model is one that incorporates Amazon’s Prime membership program.

Prime is one the key factors that distinguishes Amazon from everyone else.

Amazon Prime is the online equivalent of a Costco or Sam’s Club membership. Amazon wants everyone to become a Prime member because

it increases the odds you’ll buy more products from them.

After all, you want to justify that $79/year investment.

According to, Amazon began to send out press conference invites on Thursday for their big announcement,

scheduled for September 6th in Santa Monica, California.

The speculation over this event is

that it will be the unveiling of the brand new Kindle Fire 2 tablet.

The expectations are that Amazon will introduce both a 7-inch update to their current tablet, as well as a bigger 10-inch tablet to rival the iPad and other tablets.

It appears that soon we will know something concrete.

LIKE my author's page:


{"If two people love each other there can be no happy end to it."
— Ernest Hemingway.}

Raymond Chandler, ghost, here.

I'm substituting for Roland who is laid out with that migraine still. To hurt like that and still have to work a weekend he was supposed to be off.

Hemingway and I are going to pay his supervisor a visit later on tonight. We'll be bringing the ghost of Lovecraft with us. We'll explain some things to him.

Speaking of Hemingway, I don't know if I totally agree with those words of his I quoted earlier.

But they occur to me as I think of the star-crossed love of Alice Wentworth, the Victorian ghoul, and Victor Standish.

The pair remind me of a young Alan Ladd and Veronica Lake in my BLUE DAHLIA.

You, who visit Roland's blog, think Victor's and Alice's love affair is fiction. Alas, it is not. Fiction, unlike truth, must be logical.

And as Alice Wentworth keeps saying : Their love breaks the chain of reason.

Reason you say? Yes, and good fiction must obey the RULES.


Rules. Most struggling writers think there are mysterious magic rules out there that if followed will insure success.

There aren't. But I'll give them to you, anyway.

Rule #1 :
The most durable thing in writing is style. I had mine. Hemingway had his. We're both imitated.

Be inspired by your favorite authors but leave them be. Keep the original. Lose the copy. Be yourself. But a self that grows each day.

Rule #2 :
Unlike the age of Jane Austin, this age is not remote. It is as intimate as a lonely heart and as intense as the bill collector over your phone.

Do not cliche your words. Brutality is not strength. Flipness is not wit. Do not mistake cool for character, attitude for competence.

It is not funny that a man is killed. But it is sometimes funny that he should be killed for so little, and that his death should be the coin of what we call civilization.

Rule #3 :
It's the journey, the struggles of the hero that grab the reader and keep him turning the pages. Make the hero sweat. But let him get the girl. Even Victor will get -- no, I won't go there. I can't.

Rule #4 :
Pull your nose from the computer keyboard and live life -- don't just write about it. Tasting each drink, feeling each breeze, touching the soft skin of the woman who loves you and only you.

God, I hope Victor does that with Alice ...

if only for a moment.

Sorry, you don't need to read an old ghost's keening.

Rule #5 :
Remember that human nature has learned nothing over the centuries, yet has forgotten nothing either. Men do things for reasons.

Your characters, if they are to be believed, must do so, too. You cannot shove them into actions that your prior words would not imply they would take.

Yet human nature is fickle : a man who is steel in the fires of adversity will melt at the glance of a pair of ice blue eyes. Eyes like Alice has ....

Sorry ... that ... that is all I have the heart for.

I will sit out on Roland's terrace now and look out as the night fog slips away from the bordering bayou.

The rains are over. The fields are still green.

And with my ghost eyes I will look out over the vastness of America to the Hollywood Hills and see snow on the high mountains.

The fur stores will be advertising their annual sales. The call houses that specialize in sixteen year-old virgins will be doing a land-office business. In Beverly Hills the jacaranda trees will be beginning to bloom.

And none of that will matter ... for I know how it must end for Victor and Alice.

The French have a saying that to say good-bye is to die a little. They are right. I am a ghost, and I thought I was past feeling dead inside. I was wrong.

I think I will always see Victor walking down lonely streets, leaning against the grimy bricks of shadowy dead-end alleys, saddened but never quite defeated.

Down those mean streets Victor went who was not himself mean, who was neither tarnished nor afraid ... only mortal -- who loved too well ... and not at all wisely.
Why not LIKE the kid's AMAZON author page? You wouldn't want a visit from Lovecraft's ghost would you?
This is a standard publicity photo taken to promote a film role. As stated by film production expert Eve Light Honathaner in The Complete Film Production Handbook, (Focal Press, 2001 p. 211.):

"Publicity photos (star headshots) have traditionally not been copyrighted. Since they are disseminated to the public, they are generally considered public domain, and therefore clearance by the studio that produced them is not necessary."

Nancy Wolff, includes a similar explanation:

"There is a vast body of photographs, including but not limited to publicity stills, that have no notice as to who may have created them." (The Professional Photographer's Legal Handbook By Nancy E. Wolff, Allworth Communications, 2007, p. 55.)--Wikiwatcher1 (talk) 09:35, 15 December 2009 (UTC)

Saturday, August 25, 2012


We live life sometimes on auto-pilot.

Our bruised hearts murmur to withdraw, to exist, to try to forget.

Life is patient. Life lures you to sleep. Then, the snake of Change strikes.

Timothy Carrier is a man with a past that will not give him peace.

Having a beer after work at his friend’s tavern, he tries to distract his mind from haunting memories by drawing eccentric customers into amusing conversations.

But the jittery man who sits next to him tonight has mistaken Tim for someone very different—and passes to him a manila envelope full of cash.

“Ten thousand now. You get the rest when she’s gone.”

The stranger walks out, leaving a photo of the pretty woman marked for death, and her address.

Bad right? But things are about to get worse. In minutes another stranger sits next to Tim. This one is a cold-blooded killer who believes Tim is the man who has hired him.

Thinking fast, Tim says, “I’ve had a change of heart. You get ten thousand—for doing nothing. Call it a no-kill fee.”

He keeps the photo and gives the money to the hired killer. And when Tim secretly follows the man out of the tavern, he gets a further shock: the hired killer is a cop.

Suddenly, Tim Carrier, an ordinary guy, is at the center of a mystery of extraordinary proportions,

the one man who can save an innocent life and stop a killer far more powerful than any cop … and as relentless as evil incarnate.

But first Tim must discover within himself the capacity for selflessness, endurance, and courage that can turn even an ordinary man into a hero,

the inner resources that will transform his idea of who he is and what it takes to be The Good Guy.

This is the novel that introduced me to Dean Koontz.

Koontz uses an interesting technique to build suspense.

While we gradually learn, through Tim's incredible skill in evading the killer and his unflappable grace under pressure, that he must harbor a past profession in which he cut things other than stone,

Koontz withholds this secret from the reader until the final pages of the book.

He does the same with Linda and her past, contributing not only to the suspense but also to the extended first-date-type-thrill of romance that blossoms amidst the carnage.

Take this one with you this summer's end or have it on hand for times when you want a good read. You won't be disappointed.

Koontz writes well, with a dark, sarcastic style that matches the tension and violence of his situations. His images are well chosen and original;

indeed, Koontz is superior to many adepts of supposedly more serious literature. The Good Guy is something of a cross between Raymond Chandler and the TV series 24:

pulsing with action but richly, idiosyncratically portrayed.

It is also a pure thriller: unlike most of Koontz's prose, classified as horror, it doesn't involve the supernatural. I doubt you will hold it in your hands longer than three days. In fact, you will be tempted to read it on one sitting.

{THE RIVAL is still #17 on Amazon's Zombie Love Best Sellers!}

Friday, August 24, 2012


Siv, D.G., and Sia all commented on my prior post that they choose to live in a world without measurement or limits to curiosity or hope or love or the surprising nature of human nature.

I agree.

D.G. liked my response, so just in case some do not read my comments here it is:

I, too, believe there are no limits to certain things but those that we place on them ourselves.

But there is a limit to the lifespan of those we love. That those lives are limited makes them more precious due to their transitory, fragile nature.

Our own lives have an expiration date. There is a foreclosure notice in the mails for each of our lives. Soon or late, the postman will come whether we want him to or not.

To be aware of that is to savor each moment, to make life more not less.

I have counseled many whose last words to a family member were hurtful. They said them, not realizing that person's shelf life was nearly up.

Jorge Luis Borges is one of the founding fathers to what is called Magical Realism. And I pray each day to keep a child-like sense of wonder and surprise of life. :-)

Yes, indeed, scents and touch can trigger so many latent memories. I believe Jorge was trying to remind us not to take anyone or anything for granted. All flesh is grass and no bloom remains forever.

But there are other limits denied that saddened me:

Childhood has an end. Yet some parents try to keep their children dependent all their days, crippling them.

Some look in the mirror and see wrinkles as dreaded signs of the end of youth. They deny with bo-tox or surgery. They do not realize those wrinkles are signs of things lost, prices paid, and the eyes around which they lie are the wiser and kinder for the loss ... and the gain.

Passion has an end. Men race to another woman to regain it. That passion too ends.

Their lives become futile chasing after illusion. The men do not realize that though passion ends, something deeper more lasting, more rich evolves from the slumbering passion into the love of two souls grown into one.

I believe that limits guide us. They do not diminish us. They are signposts to better paths.

"The free, exploring mind is one of the most valuable things in the world," John Steinbeck.

Franklin Roosevelt wrote, "To reach a port, we must sail ... sail not drift. We must measure our course by stars we will never be able to touch."

We are limited by the finite grasp of our mind. To be aware of that fact is to enlarge the grasp of our minds not diminish them.

T.S. Elliot wrote: "We shall not cease from exploration and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time."

The journey is one of loss ... loss of innocence, loss of our arrogance, loss of our rigidity in our "rightness."

Andre Breton said, " Perhaps I am doomed to retrace my steps under the illusion that I am exploring, doomed to try and learn what I should simply recognize, learning a mere fraction of what I have forgotten."

Limits forge who we are in our thinking.

What you choose to focus your mind on is critical because you will become what you think about most of the time.

No horse gets anywhere until he is harnessed.

No stream or gas drives anything until it is confined.

No Niagara is ever turned into light and power until it is tunneled.

No life ever grows great until it is focused, dedicated, disciplined, limited.

The first rule of focus is this: "Wherever you are, be there."

The second rule of focus: "What we focus on expands."

Mark Twain's rule of foucs : "If you chase two rabbits, both will escape."

The fourth rule of focus: "Concentrate all your thoughts upon the work at hand. The sun's rays do not burn until brought to a focus."

So to be be aware of limits is to extend, not shorten, the reach of our mind and our lives. To make them burn as flames. The ghost of Mark Twain urges me to ask you to focus so that your life does not escape you.

Elu smiles at his white friend and merely says, "We do not change as we grow older; we merely become more clearly ourselves."

Once Hibbs, the cub with no clue, asked The Turquoise Woman, ""How does one become a butterfly?"

She answered softly, "You must want to fly so much that you are willing to give up being a caterpillar."

*Pietro Daverio: "Eternity".

Allegorical caryatid from the Monument to Charles Borromeo in the apse of the Cathedral in Milan (1611).

The statue holds in her hand the ouroboros (the snake eating its own tail), a symbol of eternity. Picture by Giovanni Dall'Orto, July 14 2007.

The copyright holder of this file allows anyone to use it for any purpose, provided that the copyright holder is properly attributed. Redistribution, derivative work, commercial use, and all other use is permitted



Jorge Luis Borges was born on this day in 1889.

In the earlier stanzas of his poem, “Limits,”

Borges ruminates on the fact that, though we are aware "there is a limit to all things and a measure,"

none of us can know the specifics —

the familiar street which we have already traveled for the last time,

the book in the stack upon the table which we will never get to read.

The concluding stanzas:

There is among all your memories one
Which has now been lost beyond recall.
You will not be seen going down to that fountain
Neither by white sun nor by yellow moon.

You will never recapture what the Persian
Said in his language woven with birds and roses,
When, in the sunset, before the light disperses,
You wish to give words to unforgettable things.

And the steadily flowing Rhone and the lake,
All that vast yesterday over which today I bend?
They will be as lost as Carthage,
Scourged by the Romans with fire and salt.

At dawn I seem to hear the turbulent
Murmur of crowds milling and fading away;
They are all I have been loved by, forgotten by;
Space, time, and Borges now are leaving me.
*{This image is in the public domain because the copyright of this photograph, registered in Argentina, has expired.}

Thursday, August 23, 2012

YOU DO NOT KNOW THE DARK_Friday's Romantic Challenge

It is Friday's Romantic Challenge again.

Its prompt: Romantic Picnic.


Yes, a midnight picnic in a cemetery. Hey this is me we're talking about.

Let us join Victor Standish and his ghoul friend, Alice Wentworth,

having a midnight picnic beside the crypt of Marie Laveau:

{"I shall tell you a great secret: do not wait for the Last Judgement; it takes place every day." Albert Camus}

“You do not know the dark, Victor.”

Alice’s eyes were blue fire, her translucent skin spun moonbeams, her teeth sharper than regrets.

I flicked my eyes over this midnight graveyard as empty now as it usually was in the light. Adults these days shed all their yesterdays.

Guess because when the future turned out to be a cruel place, no proof of a better past would exist. And the loss would be survivable. I smiled bitter. I knew all about lying to yourself.

I forced a laugh, “Say again? I’ve lived years on the streets. I know the night all right.”

Alice gestured at the cemetery all about us. “You know city darkness … which is never fully black.”

She shivered. “There is power in the night, terror in the darkness. Here there are … things that do not believe in wrong or right … only prey and hunger.”

I gestured to the small basket in front of her on the sheet spread on the grass. “Speaking of hunger, I got you finger sandwiches.”

“What?” murmured Alice in her odd British accent.

“You know that child molester who got off on a technicality today?”


“Well, let’s just say that he’ll never play the piano again.”

Alice’s strange eyes hollowed. “Y-You?”

I shook my head. “Elu … which is where the rest of the pervert went. Elu gets hungry, too.”

Alice sighed, “Is he going to attend this ill-advised picnic as well?”

I faked hurt. “Ill-advised? This is romantic with a capitol R. We first met in this cemetery, remember? Right here. In front of Marie Laveau’s crypt.”

“That night almost killed you, Victor! There are no thresholds in a graveyard! Nowhere for you to run to safety. Oh, no!”

I turned around to follow her horrified look. Marie Laveau flowed across the withered grass towards us.

Her face was glowing like an instrument of dark grace. She never died, never used her crypt. Guess she just thought we lowered property values.

I gestured to our right. “The addiction counseling center is that way, Fright Face.”

Marie husked, “You always a smartass, boy?”

I shook my head. “No. Sometimes I sleep.”

Alice whimpered as she looked to our left. The shade of her insane mother rose like mist from Hell's open gate from the center of a ring of black mushrooms.

“No, not Mother. Not her!”

Alice’s mother smiled a thing of nightmares. “I shall show you both pain like you never imagined.”

As if. There were more flavors of pain than lies in a politician’s head. In my life, I swallowed most of them. It was part of the deep music, the big game.

I took Alice’s trembling fingers. “Everything important that will ever happen to you will involve pain. Like getting rid of in-laws and pesky neighbors.”

Marie laughed, “You be a fool!”

I shook my head. “I be Death’s son. And her I did invite to the picnic.”

Mother, in her traditional black robes, billowed behind Alice’s mother. The wraith blurred into smoke. Mother inhaled sharply, making a face as she consumed the essence of Alice's mother.

“Tasted bad as I knew she would.”

Marie Laveau backed up, her palm held out uselessly. “The Gray Man say I can’t be dying!”

I turned to Alice. “Evil isn’t the real threat to the world. Stupid is. And it’s more common.”

Mother flowed to Marie faster than I could blink. She wrapped a sinewy arm around the voodoo queen. “Death is a door one person wide. Let me show you what’s on the other side, waiting.”

Then, faster than fingers become fists, the two of them were gone.

Alice turned to me. “You planned this?”

“Ah, planned might be too detailed a term to use. I just thought if I made us big enough targets, those two would stop hiding in the wings.”

I winked at her. "Now, we can get back to our romantic picnic."

Alice gasped, “And if your mother had decided to let us picnic alone?”

I made an uneasy face. “It’s not good to hold on too hard to what-if’s. You’ll get muscle cramps.”

She lunged for me. “I will show you cramps!”

I sprang up, racing between crypts and tombstones as she flowed after me. “Your finger sandwiches will get cold!”

As we darted between mausoleums, Alice smiled wide. “Your fingers look warm to me!”

I sighed. Victor Standish, saving the world one stupid suicidal stunt at a time.


My songs were once of the sunrise:
They shouted it over the bar;
First-footing the dawns, they flourished,
And flamed with the morning star.
My songs are now of the sunset:
Their brows are touched with light,
But their feet are lost in the shadows
And wet with the dews of night.

Most of us know INVICTUS or at least the famous refrain of it.

But do you know its author, William Ernest Hemley?

From the age of 12 Henley suffered from tuberculosis of the bone which resulted in the amputation of his left leg below the knee during either 1865 or 1868–69.

According to Robert Louis Stevenson's letters, the idea for the character of Long John Silver was inspired by his real-life friend Henley.

Stevenson's stepson, Lloyd Osbourne, described Henley as "..a great, glowing, massive-shouldered fellow with a big red beard and a crutch; jovial, astoundingly clever, and with a laugh that rolled like music; he had an unimaginable fire and vitality; he swept one off one's feet".

In a letter to Henley after the publication of Treasure Island Stevenson wrote "I will now make a confession. It was the sight of your maimed strength and masterfulness that begot Long John Silver...the idea of the maimed man, ruling and dreaded by the sound, was entirely taken from you".

His literary acquaintances also resulted in his sickly young daughter, Margaret Henley (born 4 September 1888), being immortalised by J. M. Barrie in his children's classic Peter Pan.

Unable to speak clearly, the young Margaret referred to her friend Barrie as her "fwendy-wendy",

resulting in the use of the name Wendy, which was coined for the book. Margaret never read the book; she died on 11 February 1894 at the age of 5 and was buried at the country estate of her father's friend, Harry Cockayne Cust, in Cockayne Hatley, Bedfordshire.

When he died in 1903 at the age of 53 at his home in Woking, he instructed his ashes be interred in his daughter's grave.

But let us remember him for his fiery love for his wife:

Between the dusk of a summer night
And the dawn of a summer day,

We caught at a mood as it passed in flight,
And we bade it stoop and stay.

And what with the dawn of night began
With the dusk of day was done;

For that is the way of woman and man,
When a hazard has made them one.

Arc upon arc, from shade to shine,
The World went thundering free;

And what was his errand but hers and mine—
The lords of him, I and she?

O, it’s die we must, but it’s live we can,
And the marvel of earth and sun

Is all for the joy of woman and man
And the longing that makes them one.

{Image courtesy of the gracious Leonora Roy}

Wednesday, August 22, 2012


{Image courtesy of the genius of Leonora Roy}
Each city cries in its own voice. Your city. My city.

You know streets that whisper to stay away at night. You know what scandal has stained some avenue beyond repair.

You know what person's name is spoken in hushed tones long after he or she has died and been buried in your city.

Each city has its own personality. Like a human's, it changes with trauma, years of abuse, and moments of historic impact.

Lifting the veil from the distinctive features of the setting of your novel makes your whole narrative come alive for your reader.

Several of you have asked for me to give hints on how to give a locale its own unmistakable voice. Some of you have novels with settings outside the U.S. ,

and you ask how to make a foreign setting focus into a breathing, living image.


Some obvious to tourists. Some that you have to ferret out by research in the library, on the internet, or by listening to a local visitor to your setting.


How does your hero/heroine feel about those details? How have they affected the protagonist and those important to him or her?

Weave those details and emotions into a rich tapestry of irony and longing. What shadowed corner of your setting is especially dangerous or emotion-laden to your central characters? Why?

Paint a passage where that tapestry flutters in the shadows, not quite completely seen but more evocative because of that.


What era is it in your setting? Has your protagonist lived through more than one era of time in it?

How has the passing seasons shaped his/her mind, opinions, and outlook for the present? For the future? How does your protagonist view his and the setting's past?

Sandra enjoyed the TV show ALIAS, and how the storyline hopscotched from one exotic locale to another seamlessly and totally captivatingly.

She wondered if I could do it.

And so I tried it in a short story centering on my undead Texas Ranger, Captain Samuel McCord, in THE WEAK HAVE ONE WEAPON.

The short story appears in BURNT OFFERINGS:

A young prostitute has been murdered by Sam's jazz club. He hunts down and kills the soulless young man who did it.

But he finds there is something larger in scope than he realized. He uses the young man's plane ticket and hotel reservation to follow his only clue to Amsterdam :

Amsterdam. I’d never much cared for it. There was rot underneath its old world orderliness.

Maybe I might have liked it at its beginning when it was just a huddle of fishing huts on the Amsel River with folks just content to hide away from the madness of kings and Popes.

It was a strange city, where coffeshop meant a place where you could buy pot. But that they were found in the Red Light District was a real clue that coffee wasn’t the only thing sold there.

And what wasn’t sold in Amsterdam? Honor, dignity, pride, sex -- all was sold on the open market.

For the thing that I had become, Amsterdam was a wild mix of scents and sounds:

the tolling church bells that played snatches of hymns or Beethovan to mark the dying of the hour;

the smell of vanilla drifting off the stack of waffles as I walked by the cafes;

barrel organs pumping happily off in the distance; hearing a gaggle of laughing girls singing around a piano as I strolled by a bordello;

watching a lone professor on a park bench, closing his eyes, as he listened to the music of Sweelinck on a 17th century organ in the Oude Kerk.

But the lawman in me found other more disturbing sensations:

the wave of cloyingly sweet cannabis that hit me as soon as I stepped off the train into the station;

the mewing of the drug addicts who had stumbled my way, begging for the price of just one more fix;

the fine smell of aged vomit rising from off the cobblestones as I had made my way along desperate prostitutes, past their prime, but with no other way to make a living on the street of Stormsteeg;

the silent hollow-eyed girls staring at me from the windows on Molensteeg, awkwardly bumping and grinding in an attempt to lure me in and keep their pimps from beating the hell out of them for poor sales.

After all, waterfront property cost to keep.

The young man’s reservation was for the InterContinental Amstel Hotel, the best hotel in the city. Hell, why not? Only the very best for the very worst.

It was where you could find movie stars, popstars, and other famous and infamous celebrities -- and me.

His suite was paid up for the month. His wallet’s money made fine dining affordable, not that I could still taste with the withered thing that passed for a tongue. But as long as I didn’t stick it out at folks, I still looked human.

The night following my arrival found me sitting in the hotel’s best restaurant, La Rive.

It had a beautiful panorama of the Amstel River. The dead boy’s money bought me a prime table with the best view.

I would have felt guilty if I had been enjoying it.

But all I could see were the addicts and prostitutes that clawed for an existence that didn't qualify as living somewhere beyond the dark beauty.

“They are cattle, nothing more,” said a velvet voice above me.

I looked up and cursed myself.

I had let my musings leave me deaf and blind. I was a pitiful excuse for a Texas Ranger. Hell, I was a pitiful excuse for a human while you were at it. But I still tried to pass for both.

She was tall -- and pretty -- if you were into human sharks.

Her smile had all the warmth of one. Too much killing will do that to you. I tried to settle an image of the shivering little girl I had carried out of that death camp, whose name I never could pronounce, much less spell.

Her outfit was tight and leather. I tried to ignore the length of legs that the short black skirt revealed.

I wanted to keep the image of that long dead little girl alive in my heart. Without asking, she sat down. But then, like I said, she and I went way back.

“Still work for the Mossad, Eve?”

Her eyes softened. “Still fighting losing battles, Samuel?”

“They might be losing battles, Eve. But I’m still not convinced they’re the wrong ones.”

Her winter blue eyes seemed to get deeper. “You are the only one who still calls me Eve.”

“Talk to Shabtai lately?”

Her face hardened. “Not since you helped him leak the information that Israel was dumping nuclear waste in the Mediterranean Sea.”

“Had to be done.”

“As does --”

She pulled the automatic from her waistbelt but stiffened.

While we had been talking, I had slipped my hands under the table, removing the glove off my right hand. She stopped speaking when I placed my right palm on the exposed flesh of her knee.

Not that she was still a schoolgirl about things like that. It was just that my right hand was no longer human. You see, I fed with my hands. As I was feeding right then, leeching the lifeforce from her.

“Sorry, Eve. I don’t know how they forced you into trying to kill me. But if it means anything to you, I’ll make them pay.”

I looked into her glazed eyes that no longer saw, as her ears no longer heard. I went cold inside. I was a monster. In all the ways that counted, I was a monster. I stood up. Time to share.

I was out of the restarant before the waitress started to scream.

I was out of the hotel before the first human ran into the lobby. I was on board a plane to Israel before the police started to look for an old man registered under the name of a dead boy.

This had become personal. I'd still find out the why of the prostitute's murder. But first I would find Eve's adopted daughter.

Probably the Mossad had used her to blackmail Eve into trying to kill me. Then, I would visit Reuven Yatom, head of the Metsada, Special Operations Division.

He damn well better have his affairs in order. Because Mossad or no Mossad, Hell was coming his way.

And he'd not be alive to see it leave.

And no film brings alive a locale as well as THE THIRD MAN does, so here is a video of a short moment of it : {Ignore the Spanish subtitles on this mystery of a dead friend found to be unsettlingly alive set in post-WWII Vienna.}


I've just come back from the Twitter maelstrom of LOOK AT ME!

I clicked on my email account to receive a half dozen impersonal confirmations of me joining new blogs with


No hint of interest in me as anything but a potential buyer of the next HUNGER GAMES.

I visited Facebook next and was awashed in


I got the image of an enormous basketball court with a million struggling writers racing frantically all over it,


I heard the Great Mystery clear his throat in my mind and cringed. "Remind you of anyone we know, Roland? You know the one with the initials ROLAND D YEOMANS!"

I sighed. I just hate it when the mirror is held up to my nose.

So I am now saying to all of my poor abused friends,

"Don't throw the ball to me."

Let me know how I can help YOU. I do care about your doubts, your frustrations, and your struggles in a publishing world with a million hungry mouths and two million grasping hands.

I have tried very hard to escape the gravity of the black hole of my yearning to be a successful writer.

I've written posts on how to better craft your work, based upon my own years as a creative writing teacher.

But I have this haunting feeling that I have succumbed to LOOK-AT-ME-itis. Oops. Guess I am human after all. :-)

Yes, I do still want others to buy my books ... but only if they intrigue you. Buy them. Do not. It's all good.

Life is more than the best seller list. Friends are the only tangible wealth we have in this life ... and the only hope for it in the next.

Alex Cavanaugh

gives us all the model on how to be a giving human being in the cyberverse. (Although as a harried rare blood courier I do not have the time he invests daily visiting us all!)

* {This painting by Edvard Munch is in the public domain in the United States because it was first published more than 95 years ago.}

Tuesday, August 21, 2012


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.

And you know what predators do to intruders.

Perhaps that is why 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, the undead Texas Ranger, 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.
* Image courtesy of the gracious Leonora Roy

C.M. asks if you can name all the different movies shown in the following video:



Join the club.

During this month of August NaNo and the WRITE CLUB, I have been playing usually to an empty house --

my contest with its great prizes largely ignored.

And except for Siv Maria, my latest book is going unnoticed.

As I finished typing the above, the ghost of Li Yaotang (pen name : Ba Jin) rapped on top of my head as if it were a door.

"I was born on this day in 1904, Roland."

His eyes were deep with wisdom hard bought by pain. "Only by not forgetting the past can we be the master of the future. Now my education, life and consciousness are talked about by those who cannot understand what I wrote, what I thought, what was my life."

He sighed, "They make me up from their subjective imagination. Do not be like them. Learn from the me that I was. Learn from the Bamboo Tree."

And with that, he was gone.

When he died in 2005, Ba Jin was praised as one of China’s most important novelists, and as the embodiment of a tumultuous century.

He began agitating for change as a teenager, joining the Chinese anarchist group “Company of Equals."

When the Cultural Revolution arrived, Ba Jin became a symbol of anti-social thinking and a primary target,

his public humiliation at the People’s Stadium of Shanghai televised in 1968.

The nation watched the sixty-three-year-old author, kneeling on broken glass, endure the jeers and threats with a bowed head; then they heard him speak:

"You have your thoughts and I have mine. This is the fact and you can't change it even if you kill me."

Years of rehabilitation followed, his new work monitored, his old books and articles revised to suit the authorities.

When once again allowed to speak his mind in a public forum — the following is excerpted from a 1980 speech in Kyoto — Jin had emerged from the crucible true to himself :

"I do not write to earn a living or to build a reputation.

I write to battle enemies. Who are they?

Every outdated traditional notion, every irrational system that stands in the way of social progress and human development,

and every instance of cruelty in the face of love.

My pen is a light and my body a flame. Until both burn down to ash, my love and my hate will remain here in the world."

Feel unappreciated now? Live your own light. Fight the darkness as long as breath and light remain to you.

* Uploaded 17 October 2005 by Jiang Photo of Ba Jin taken in 1938.

This image is now in the public domain because its term of copyright has expired in China.

According to copyright laws of the People's Republic of China (currently with jurisdiction in Taiwan, the Pescadores, Quemoy, Matsu, etc.),

all photographs and cinematographic works, and all works whose copyright holder is a juristic person, enter the public domain 50 years after they were first published,

or if unpublished 50 years from creation, and all other applicable works enter the public domain 50 years after the death of the creator.

{Want to know what Ba Jin meant by "Learn from the Bamboo Tree?" Watch this video}


Monday, August 20, 2012


Hear that rumble? It is not an echo. It is a promise.

Some evils never die. They merely wait for us to grow complacent.

The Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia began on this day in 1968.

One young poet, Yevgeny Yevtushenko,
had to protest the invasion of his country else his despair would lead him to suicide.

He wrote “Russian Tanks in Prague," which was picked up immediately on underground radio in Czechoslovakia, making him a hero there and an official target at home:

Tanks are rolling across Prague
in the sunset blood of dawn.
Tanks are rolling across truth,
not a newspaper named Pravda.

Tanks are rolling across the temptation
to live free from the power of clichés.
Tanks are rolling across the soldiers
who sit inside those tanks....

The darkness which spawned those tanks is still there ... waiting, waiting, waiting.

{Oh, the lovely Kathy McKendry interviews me today!
Check it out so her visitors don't slump because of me.}

Now, back to my small voice asking you to help keep my dream alive.

A few of my friends (not a tidal wave, mind you) have emailed me with questions such as:

Why does an undead TEXAS Ranger live in a jazz club in New Orleans?

How did Samuel lose his parents?

How did he get silver hair as a child?

Why does the vampire, Abigail Adams, hate him so?

When will you write another story of Hibbs, the cub with no clue?

What was Victor's and Alice's first Christmas after Katrina like?

What was Blake Adamson, my hero who is the clone of Jesus, like before his orphanage burned?

I answered those questions and another fun one: What if our world was invaded by aliens and it was left to Evil to defend it?




Fifteen year old Samuel McCord takes his first terrible steps down a lifetime of supernatural horror in 1815 West Texas in a tale of loss and redemption.


Texas Ranger, Samuel McCord, both saves and damns twelve year old Samuel Clemens while trying to save the boy from a creature whose home is the realm of nightmare.


When the orphan, Blake Adamson, runs away from the orphanage only to meet the ghost of Elvis and the very real Lucifer, he realizes you can’t run from your past.


A fallen angel awakens in a British asylum without any memory of getting there. Worse, the asylum is being run by aliens experimenting with the inmates. What would happen if Earth was invaded, and it was left to Evil to defend it?


Victor Standish’s and Alice Wentworth’s first Christmas together looks to be their last as all the demons of the haunted French Quarter are at their heels. What can the ghost of a Spanish Inquisition priest do to help them?


In a Native American tale of myth and legend, Hibbs, the cub with no clue, is taught a fearful lesson of spirit from the mysterious Turquoise Woman.


Why did an undead TEXAS Ranger decide to live in New Orleans? Why does the vampire, Abigail Adams, hate Samuel so? This haunting tale answers those questions. But sometimes answers do not give peace.

Only 99 cents for 137 pages and 8 beautiful illustrations by the artistry of Leonora Roy!

Sunday, August 19, 2012


Several previous Kindle Fire rumors have been hitting the internet,

with one of the latest mentioning that Amazon might eventually offer its tablets for free, with Amazon Prime subscriptions!

A new report speculates that Amazon may start offering the item free as extra incentive to keep customers on board.

Amazon is looking to jumpstart its way into the increasingly competitive tablet market.

The new Google Nexus 7 has been enjoying success with its Android Jelly Bean operating system, meaning Amazon wants to get its product into the mix as soon as it can.

In other news:

1.) Robert Pattinson from the Twilight saga joins Naomi Watts in the cast of a forthcoming biopic about English adventuress Gertrude Bell.

The plot will focus on Bell (played by Naomi Watts), an author, political activist, archeologist and British spy during World War I. She is mainly remembered for her crucial role in the creation of Iraq, alongside Lawrence of Arabia.

Robert Pattinson will play British army officer Lawrence of Arabia, a role that earned Peter O'Toole an Academy Award in 1962.

2.) The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins has surpassed J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter series as the best-selling books of all time—print and e-books combined—on

3.)The 50 Shades of Grey movie casting craziness continues

with yet another interesting choice for the role of Christian Grey—

Transformers star Shia LaBeouf. So would the eccentric actor do it?

Shia did recently get completely nude in the short film Fjögur píanó,

but that's not the reason that PolicyMic thinks that he would be okay with playing flogger-wielding seducer Mr. Grey.

According to Shia, he's about to have real sex in the movie Nymphomaniac.

So what do you make of all these rumors and news bits?


{"A good novel tells us the truth about its hero;

but a bad novel tells us the truth about its author."

~G.K. Chesterton.}

You heard of Dick Tracy's Crimestopper's Tips?

Well, I have my GOOD PROSE TIPS.

GOOD PROSE TIP #1 : Your story has to breathe :

J R R Tolkien said there was an exhalation and inhalation to the flow of his novels.

I. Breathing in a novel that seem natural takes labor :

A.) Inhale - Setting the scene.

B.) Exhalation - Conflict or action.

C.) Try only one or the other and ...

it is the reader who will suffocate. You need both for a healthy novel that breathes life in the mind of the reader and in the flow of the story.

D.) To set a scene takes detail :

1.) The ghoul is not lovely ...

No, rather Alice has eyes of blue fire and skin born of moonbeams.

Her beauty is of a fae princess whose last breath has just escaped her still lips.

2.) Father Renfield is not a scarecrow (too much of a cliche) ... rather he is so skinny you can almost smell his bones.

II.) Conflict is not always action but will pitted against will, goals striking sparks from one another like slashing sabers.

A.) Sometimes Lucifer has a point :

The world your reader lives in is not black and white. There are shades of gray. The right path in life is seldom posted. And many times in our lives, the road signs lie.

A good conflict is when your protagonist must fight someone whose case he can understand but must resist due to the methods of the antagonist.

B.) There can be only one :

Often in real life two goals can exist that are both valid, both necessary -- but the existing resources or the reality of the situation mandates that only one goal can succeed.

III.) For your novel to breathe, your characters must seem real as the breath in your readers' lungs.

A.) Torn between two lovers :

If your conflict involves two worthy adversaries that might, in different circumstances, have been friends -- then whatever conflict you place them in is notched up in the hearts of the readers.

B.) Sometimes the good guy is a prick.

The sergeant bellowing orders at you is an ass. But he gets the job done with the fewest casualties -- not because he cares but because he has a reputation to uphold.

Suddenly, he is wounded.

The rest of the squad leaves his butt on the battlefield. You're tempted to as well. But you know it is his experience and skill that will get all of you out of this situation alive.

You go back for him to the outcry of your teammates and the insults of the sergeant. A grudging friendship develops between you and the sergeant.

A chasm gets wider between you and your former teammates.

You begin to realize that their sullen insistence on refusing to acknowledge the sergeant's attempts to be a better leader, a better man makes them worse than the sergeant ever was.

C.) Your characters must talk the talk.

They must speak in believable and absorbing dialogue :

1.) Speak Easy --

Speak your dialogue aloud. You'll hear flubs in the flow of the words you never would otherwise.

2.) Speak True --

Each character has their own distinct past and status : make their words reflect that.

What shows would they watch? What food would they like? What has their past done for the way they view life and others? Their words must reflect the answers to those questions.

3.) Say What?

Have fun with the dialogue. Aim for the reader to have fun as well. Does one of your characters get all the great lines? Change that.

In real life, everyone comes up with a great zinger once in awhile.

{Don't miss D.G. Hudson's review of THE LEGEND OF VICTOR STANDISH and END OF DAYS. She added fun and zest to them: }

*** For smart zingers, you can't do any better than LUCKY NUMBER SLEVIN. Listen to the vibrant life of the dialogue from this trailer :

Listen to the first version of THE THING (Yes, it's was a League of Five favorite) : everyone gets in a great line all through the movie. So the fear and tension is highlighted by a three-dimensional cast of characters.

And in the following trailer for said movie, watch how the captain revealed his quiet cool and compassion without saying a word

but merely kindly taking a gun from a hysteric soldier.

(Also it's a bit amusing as well for those who take notice of details.) It's a bit of understatement we all should aim for in our novels :

Saturday, August 18, 2012



New York City. The town of undead dreams and shattered illusions.

My very first agent. The biggest in publishing, mind you.

And here I was -- in his elegant, spacious ... and much too dark office.

At night.

What was up with that?

Actually, I knew. Courtesy of Raymond Chandler. His ghost really.

He had hated agents in life. Now, in undeath, he hated them even more. Bloodsuckers he called them.

Now, was that type casting or what?

Aaron Bael smiled at me. His charm was colder than his eyes, and they were glitttering chips of dry ice.

With his much too long fingers, he patted my manuscript. "Odd term you use in here. 'Revenants' not the more popular, enticing 'Vampires.'"

I nervously toyed with the ball bearing in my left hand and kept from chewing my thick toothpick with an effort of will.

"In my novels, there's nothing sexy, sparkly, or warm about the reanimated dead. How could there be? Humans are their meals not their friends."

Bael nodded. "Just so. And your prose is quite good. Too good not to make large sales."

His smile dropped like a lead weight. "We cannot allow that."

A blur to my left. Fangs at my throat. Fetid breath in my face.

His not-so-lovely assistant. My thumb and forefinger shot the ball bearing into her open, snarling mouth. She hunched over choking.

Living or undead, the gag reflex will not be denied.

I whipped the thick toothpick out of my mouth and jabbed it deep into the back of her left hand still on my shoulder.

She squealed in a wet husk, then thumped bonelessly to the thick carpet like a puppet with the strings cut. She didn't move.

She was as dead as something like her could get.

Popping out of my chair, I backed up, keeping my face to Bael. "Research. Gotta love it."

He flicked an uneasy look to my manuscript. "There really is a lost acupuncture point?"

I nodded. It was the chi in the blood that animated the revenants not the oxygen. Dam the flow of chi in their bodies, and they were short-circuited : dead.

"Yes, and thanks to Tommy's Middle East tour of duty I know it."

His eyes became as flat and soulless as a snake's -- but without as much warmth. "Your precious "League of Five" friend. Well, I have a friend, too."

His canines grew longer. "As I recall, you were quite taken with Miss Lupa, my secretary, and her mini-skirt."

His office door burst open. A snarling she-wolf shambled in, her black business suit hanging from her in tatters.

Reaching slowly into my jacket's inside pocket, I forced a smile. "Honey, your legs were prettier without the fur."

Bael sneered at my hand under my jacket. "You're carrying a gun in New York City?"

I shook my head. "Only criminals get to do that."

I brought out the magnesium flare. "Meet my best-est buddy, Mr. Sunshine-in-a-Stick."

I snapped its end off to bring it to blazing life. Its red glare filled the office. And the same ultraviolet light that burns from the Sun seared the flesh from Bael's screaming, writhing body.

The stench filled the spacious room, making acid bile burn up my throat and into my mouth.

Miss Lupa had seen better days, too.

The ultraviolet light had tricked her body into a "false dawn" dress-down to humanity. But she was caught mid-way, her body changing in spurts to the surges in the flare.

She writhed on the carpet in agony. I couldn't leave her like this.

Thanks to Chandler's ghost, I didn't have to.

I walked gingerly around the still-smoldering Bael and his simply still assistant. I went to the back of the agent's desk to the middle drawer. I pulled it out.

"Only criminals get to do that," I whispered, pulling out the automatic.

Silver bullets in the clip Chandler had assured me. I chambered a round into the barrel.

I walked back to stand over Lupa. She snarled at me, spittle flying from her sharp teeth.

"How many screaming humans have you killed that were helpless to fight back?," I sighed.

"N-Not enough," husked Lupa.

"One was too many," I said low and double-tapped her.

(Unlike politicians, movies sometimes told the truth.)

She stopped wiggling. I looked over to Bael and his assistant. How many dreamers
had they shot down,

not because their work wouldn't sell,

but because it would?

A pounding shook the heavy entrance wooden doors. I went quiet and cold inside.

The zombie security guards Chandler had told me about. I smiled bitterly. No problem.

They only ate brains.

And obviously, no one who opened a can of whup-ass on revenants and ferals simply for being rejected had any of those.
Movie Art from Night of the Living Dead (1968).

Due to a failure to include a copyright notice on the 1968 print, all images from this film are in the public domain.