So you can read my books

Wednesday, October 31, 2012


{And thank you, Milo, for Stephen King's THE WIND THROUGH THE KEYHOLE!}

NO REFUGE IN HELL_Scare Me Blogfest

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 I 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.  I was quite hungry you see ... as I am hungry now!"

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. Crap. Three tentacles shot from his middle right at me. Another kid would have died then.

But I was Victor Standish. I knew parkour. I did a full Arabian cartwheel right over those snaking things. As I flew over him, I saw razored teeth in a second snarling mouth in his damn stomach.

I sent two more ball bearings into that one as well. He squealed in pain. Better him than me.

  I landed behind his wheelchair with a light bounce. I grasped the handles of the wheelchair with both shaking hands. I shoved the nightmare creature with all my strength along the wooden floor.

 You don’t get expert in parkour without building up a lot of chest and arm muscles. I ducked those middle tentacles as I ran. What did it take to kill this thing?

I whizzed past the dead passengers and shoved this squirming mockery of a man into the blazing fire. His screams were … something I still have nightmares about.

  But I’m still alive to have them.

I turned to run when the damn thing started crawling out of the fireplace though he was going up as if he were made of dry driftwood. I tore the poker from its iron sheath and smacked him three times hard on what was left of his head.

 He slumped half out of the fireplace to lie still even though he was burning like candle wax. He smelled awful.

I ran out of the room, which was going up in flames all around me. I yelled over my shoulder. “By the way, Squishy, Trick or Treat!”

Monday, October 29, 2012


Mark Twain, Stephen King, and I were playing poker in Meilori’s.

“Why horror?,” frowned the ghost of Mark Twain.

King frowned back. “You mean why did I choose to write horror?”

“No,” snorted Mark. “The size of those stacks of chips in front of you tells me that. Why is horror so danged popular now?”

King sighed, “Not all of it is. Most of the horror movies fall flat these days.”

“Why do you think that is?” I asked.

Mark cackled, “Plain as day, son. It’s a case of the cat who sat on the hot stove never sitting on a hot stove anymore. ‘Course he won’t sit on a cold one either! They learned the wrong lessons from the successful horror films.”

King nodded. “Exploding blood bags, expensive CGI, and fancy make-up jobs won’t scare anybody over the age of 14.”

Mark winked at me. “And that’s three years younger than you have to be to get into one of those danged R rated horror movies to begin with!”

King said, “No, for a horror movie to work, it has to tap into our subconscious mind, find the things so terrible we can’t even bring ourselves to put them into words, and startle us with glimpses of them from the shadows.”

“Not directly?” I asked.

Mark chuckled at me. “Course not. Very few of us are able to look straight into the eyes of the Gorgon, son.”

“Symbols work best,” nodded King. “The best horror stories work on a symbolic level to help us understand our fears. Not face them. If you can’t face your fears, then you’re not quite sane.”

I made a face. “A lot of folks say the imaginative reader who gobbles up horror stories isn’t sane.”

Mark Twain shook his head. “No, they are more, not less, sane, Roland. They know that today apparently absolutely anything can happen, that we mortals are so very fragile, and that we walk among monsters.”

King nodded again. “The serial killers do walk among us:

Cancer, heart disease, the drunk driver. Ask a policeman. He’ll tell you that in every city block, no matter how high the income level, there is a meth user or lab.”

King rubbed his chin. “The imaginative see more than those with mental myopia.”

Twain frowned at his chewed-up cigar.

“Why, son, most of the world is more than content to read PEOPLE, howl at AMERICAN IDOL, and parrot their parent’s political opinions. That is not a useful life. That’s the life of a June bug that just happens to have opposable thumbs and can count to ten.”

King drummed his fingers on the table. “The imaginative mind takes refuge in make-believe terrors so that the real ones everyone else is ignoring don’t overwhelm them.

I said, “They go into the darkness of the movie theater, hoping to have a nightmare … because the horrors of the world outside look ever so much better when the nightmare ends.”

King’s eyes grew deeper. “But every nightmare is a solitary experience, a real world suddenly tilted on its ear vision. Hollywood should remember that.”

Mark lit up another cigar. “What I love about horror is its sheer democracy!”

I frowned. “Democracy?”

He slapped the polished oak table top.

“How can you not love horror where THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT, which cost only $100,000, can scare the bejabbers out of the whole world, grossing $250 million!

Why, son, that’s pure democracy in action. Then, you add PARANORMAL ACTIVITY to the mix. Why, Roland, that’s close to angelic anarchy!”

King frowned at his hand and folded. “SAW III and up were hyped up and phony. The movie equivalent to Thanksgiving Day Parade floats. Now, BLAIR and PARANORMAL, the damn things looked and felt real. Shaky and unexpected like your nightmares.”

Mark smiled wide. “Those movie studio heads think horror is easy. T’aint anything close to easy. But it is mysterious,”

“Like catching lightning in a bottle,” suggested King. “Or like a good joke : re-visit the punch line too many times, and it wears thin.”

King shook his head. "Sam Rami tried it with DRAG ME TO HELL, but laughs predominated over the horror. To get the right mix of the two, you have to go back to his EVIL DEAD II."

Twain snorted, "Like THE DESCENT. I, myself, preferred the director's DOG SOLDIERS where heart was there as well as the horror."

He saw my arched eyebrow and chortled, "Hell, son, ghosts watch movies, too."

Mark chuckled as I folded, too, and he began raking in the chips.

“Hollywood churns out the same fodder over and over again. But, son, no matter how hard you churn water, you ain’t ever going to get butter!”

I made a face again. “Which is why we get all those not-scary, straight-to-video horror movies.”

King stared off into the darkness which somehow seemed thicker suddenly. “The truly effective horror stories reduce us to the mental age of ten again.”

His face went ashen. “Ah, Roland, where did everybody suddenly go?”

I looked around. All was darkness. Mark Twain’s seat was empty. All was a hollow silence. I tried to see beyond our table.

Only a living blackness surrounded us.

I jerked. A shuffling of dragging feet. It drew closer and closer to our table.

A low moaning breathed out of the darkness: “No. No. No!”

Stephen King tried to swallow and couldn’t. The shuffling was only inches away.

“Why can’t we see what’s making that shuffling?” I asked.

“It’s right on top of us,” rasped King.

“Boo!” shouted the suddenly appearing Mark Twain, a tray of ice tea in his hands.

He winked at the two of us jumping in our chairs. “Gotcha! Figured since I fleeced you at poker, I at least owed you something cool to drink.”

He cackled a laugh. “I wanted it a surprise so I dropped that blanket of night all around you. But wouldn’t you know? I almost tripped myself up in that danged fog!”

King took a cold tumbler of ice tea with shaky fingers. “So help me, Clemens, if you weren’t already dead, I’d kill you!”

He glared at me, but I just shrugged, “Hey, this is Meilori’s. You got off easy.”

{Be sure and read Stephen King's latest: 11/22/63!

Mr. Stephen King also wants it to be known that this is a fictional account ... he positively, absolutely did not lose that poker game!}



"West of reason the hills rise wild,

and there are valleys with deep woods

that no ax has ever cut or ever will."

- H. P. Lovecraft.

Lovecraft here. Or rather his ghost.

It is Samhain, the Three Spirit Night, and I have chosen to write an article for DreamSinger.

Or rather should I say I was chosen and accepted?

Ah, you say. The ghost of H. P. Lovecraft.
Now, he will tell us if what he wrote was true.

Short-sighted mortals. I dare not say. I can not say.

I will but put forth this:

my imagination was too stunted,
my words too feeble to paint what lies beyond.

Sometimes I believe that this less material life is our truer one,

and that our vain presence on this transitory globe is itself
the secondary or merely virtual phenomenon.

Then, what brings me to Roland's apartment in these midnight hours?

I was wandering Thalarion, the City of a Thousand Wonders,
where many have passed but none returned,

where walk only daemons and mad things that are no longer men,

and the streets are white with the unburied bones of those
who have looked upon the eidolon Lathi, that reigns over the city.

Abruptly, the ghosts of Samuel Clemens and Marlene Dietrich, both heavily armed, (one with wit, the other with her icy beauty)

made their cautious way to me.

And well they should have been careful, for I am no longer altogether ... human.

I watched them from the shadows with some amusement. They stepped warily around shards of marble that thrust up from the misty ground.

The shards gave the illusion of ancient bones of some grotesque corpse protruding from an ill-made grave.

The ruins projected a diseased aura as if the very stones were cursed.

Clemens approached me. "You can roll around in your horrors like they were catnip for all I care, Lovecraft. But you owe Roland."

"Indeed I do. What would you suggest?"

"Write a piece for his ... computer newspaper."

"How quaint. On what exactly, Clemens?"

"Why the blue blazes you chose to write what you did."

"It chose me, Clemens."

"Then, write that. And try to remember what it meant to be human while you're doing it."

I fought down the gibbering darkness. "You are lucky I owe DreamSinger, Clemens."

So I am here.

Why did I come?

I came because of my lost childhood:

There are not many persons who know what wonders are opened to them in the stories and visions of their youth;

For when as children we learn and dream, we think but half-formed thoughts,

and when as men we try to remember, we are dulled and prosaic with the poison of life.

But some of us awake in the night

with strange phantasms of enchanted hills and gardens,

of fountains that sing in the sun, of golden cliffs overhanging murmuring seas,

of plains that stretch down to sleeping cities of bronze and stone,

and of shadowy companies of heroes that ride caparisoned white horses along the edges of thick forests;

and then we know that we have looked back through the ivory gates
into that world of wonder which was ours before we were wise and unhappy.

Enough of me. I ask:

Did your genre pick you?

I know mine did.

My reason for writing stories

is to give myself the satisfaction of visualising more clearly the
fragmentary impressions of wonder

which are conveyed to me by certain
ideas and images encountered in art and literature.

I choose weird stories because they suit my inclination best -

one of my strongest and most persistent wishes being

to achieve the illusion

of some strange suspension or violation of the galling limitations

of time, space, and natural law which forever
imprison us

and frustrate our curiosity about the infinite cosmic spaces
beyond the radius of our sight and analysis.

These stories frequently emphasise the element of horror because fear is our deepest and strongest emotion,

and the one which best lends itself to the creation of Nature-defying illusions.

Horror and the unknown or the strange are always closely connected,

so that it is hard to create a convincing picture of shattered natural law
or cosmic alienage or "outsideness"

without laying stress on the emotion of fear.

And should you think of fear, fear for Roland who dares to dream though the world slips away into the midnight of the soul.

And if by chance you pray, pray for him,

for what both the Druid priests and the Louisiana shamans

had chanted to their kindred idols

was something very like this:

"Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn." ...

"In his house at R'lyeh dead Cthulhu waits dreaming."

In 2012, the cosmic conjunctions allign.

And dread Cthulhu rises,

rises from the dark swamp called Contraband --

the swamp but miles from Roland's dwelling.

I hear the portents even now in the blackness of Roland's apartment.

The moon is dark, and the spirits dance in the night;

there is terror in the sky, for upon the moon hath sunk an eclipse

foretold in no books of men or of earth's myths.

I have looked upon all that the universe has to hold of horror,

and even the skies of spring and the flowers of summer must ever afterward be poison to me.

So should you have breath left over from your prayers for Roland --

sing a canticle for me.


Sunday, October 28, 2012




Zombies are now the next big thing. Alice Wentworth is eagerly awaiting for the craze to turn to ghouls. She could just eat up her new fans ... literally.

Why are we attracted to monsters?

No, I’m not talking about our love life. Ah, maybe I am. But that’s another post entirely.

We are drawn to monsters in our entertainment. Hannibal Lector. Dexter. Edward of TWILIGHT infamy, sparkles and all.

It is the allure of the forbidden. Hence the cover of the first TWILIGHT: outstretched hands holding a bright red apple. The eternal battle : “What I knew was right” vs. “What I wanted.”
We search for the humanity in the attractive monster: yes, he does terrible things, but never to me.

Samuel McCord chides the ghoul, Alice Wentworth, that Victor is basically a Walking Happy Meal to her. Bella is the same thing to Edward.

Should she have chosen Jacob, she would have had to walk on eggshells never to make him angry to escape the scars another mortal woman received who had the misfortune to love a werewolf.

In the latest TWILIGHT trailer, Bella said while alive she was too ordinary. Now, that she is an undead predator, she feels special.

Bella has issues.

Sure, movie vampires are sexy. And what a compliment that a sexy man wants your company when he could just as easily have you for dinner.

Our attraction to sexy vampires can be understood.

A vampire Megan Fox would be hard to refuse a nibble on the neck, if sips were all she planned to take.

But the ghoul, Megan Fox, is hardly sexy when she develops an appetite for bad, and ultimately, good boys in JENNIFER’S BODY.

Vampires are the ultimate Bad Boy in many urban fantasies today.

Many women want to believe that the right woman could tame even a blood-thirsty monster … at least enough to be the ultimate protector, provider, and lover.

As a former counselor, I cannot stress enough how unrealistic and dangerous that is.

But it sells books.

It just isn’t true to the male nature. But it is a wish that is understandable since most of those novels are written by women –

Who have to guess at the nature of males as men have to with the nature of females.

But then there is our puzzling fascination with zombies.

Zombies embody an “all consuming evil” (pun intended.) A malevolent evil with no mercy, regard, or compassion … only hunger.


If you are only infected instead of ingested, you become one of the hungry dead yourself! No sense of family, friend, or even of yourself.

And you develop terrible table manners!

Zombies are not unlike a force of Nature … and Nature has become unsettlingly dangerous these past months as we remember earthquakes, forest fires, and hurricanes.

Even now, Hurricane Sandy is brooding over the horizon, threatening helpless lives.

So perhaps we are drawn to the zombie movie because the zombie reflects the all-too-real terrors in our newspaper headlines.

Just as you cannot reason with a zombie, threaten its family or its further living … the same can be said of a terrorist.

Terrorists keep on coming until you kill them. The same can be said for the deranged killer who stalks into a schoolroom and begins to open fire with automatic weapons.

Zombies provide similar evils … but non-threatening since they could never exist. We can work out our fears of terrorists, muggers, and insane gunmen in the dark of the movie theater.

We can ask ourselves what would we do in a Zombie Apocalypse, who would we take with us, what we would take, and where would we go. In the unspoken thoughts of our minds, we translate that into a Nuclear War/Natural Disaster Apocalypse.

We identify with the survivors in the zombie movies.

We want to believe that we would survive in such a crucible. And deep down that supports our fearful hope that we would survive should Nature, Nuclear War, or terrorism reign over our landscape.

Who would have thought it?

Zombies as therapy!

* {Image of Victor's mother courtesy of the fabulous Leonora Roy.}

** {this image & the film, NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD, are in the public domain.

Source: Due to the filmmakers' neglect of the (former) requirement to put proper notice on copies of their work, this image & the film it's from are in the public domain}

Don't forget about THE LAST SHAMAN: (Now #40 on Amazon's 100 Best Selling Native American Paranormal Novels!)

Give it a try for only 99 cents.

TO DARE THE NIGHTMARE a request answered

{From the 4th novel in the Victor Standish series: 


This is for those of you who emailed me,

 asking what happened to Victor after he saved Abigail Adams Halloween night}

It was All Saints Day, and my throbbing body hinted I might be close to joining those saints in their pearly clouds.

I might actually fit in with them.  No, think about it.

Recall the adventures of all those old Testament saints: pillars of salt, rivers of blood, skies of fire, angels of death.

I used to think those tales sounded so outlandish ... until New Orleans when my life took a sharp turn into the Old Testament. Maybe these were the Last Days?

Or maybe the World was always more than we suspected ... until the bottom opened up beneath our startled feet.

A black mist with threads of burning silver flowed around me worriedly. I caught the perfume of apricots. I smiled despite the pain. It died a quick death.

Elu husked from the mirror beside my bed, "I need you to come and die, Standish."

Never my best bud, Elu had increasingly become meaner of late. I swung with a grimace of agony to the side of the bed. "Let me get my boots on, Elu."

He grunted, "Do not even think of calling for help."

Bending to tie my hiking boots, I said loud, "Wouldn't dream of it."

Under my breath, I whispered to the agitated mists, "Like at Ada's. Remember?"

Memory must have served correctly for the mist was suddenly gone, and my chest felt full to overflowing.

I staggered up and walked into the misty prison of Elu's mirror world. I shivered. Like him, it had grown colder of late.

The Apache shaman, Elu, studied me like a bad meal he was being forced to eat. "You can barely walk, boy."

"Yeah, well, Trick of Treat was mostly trick."

I waved absently at the billowing clouds of thick mist all around us and smiled wide,

"But it was worse for Empress Theodora and her pet bear, Strasser."

Elu looked like he was smelling something bad. Must have been his curled upper lip. "They were only Whites."

"White 'revenants,' Ton--"

A corded hand covered my mouth and squeezed hard. "Never use that name in front of me!"

I muffled, "Guut ya, Aye-lu."

He let go and waved angrily to his left, making the mists go crystal-clear. I looked and my heart sank.

"Oh, crap."

Elu's window out of his prison, the Mirror World, showed a rocky slope of a jagged desert mountain and

... a very roughed-up Abigail Adams ... surrounded by ... I counted, getting more depressed as I went ... seven Apaches.

The cloud slipped like a dropped veil from the face of the moon. Its pale light struck fire from the long, sharp canine teeth of the Apache revenants ... think vampires on crack but without the morals.

The elegantly dressed leader of all the white American revenants was tied to a stake of all things.

I sighed, "First, Theodora. Now, this. Jeez, Elu, is she trying to commit suicide?"

His dried-apricot face went sad. "Yes, I believe she is."

I went stiff. "Well, we're not letting that happen. She's gotta give Alice away when we get married."

The fullness inside me bristled, and Elu arched an eyebrow. "Have you even asked the ghoul yet?"

"Hey," I said, gesturing to my chest. "This is me we're talking about. Who could say no?"

The fullness bristled more, and I sighed, "Besides, Elu, you and I both know I'm never going to make it out of my teens."

Elu depressingly nodded. "Yes. But you need to die soon so that Dyami may live."

My heart joined the Titanic. "Captain Sam?"


I made a mental note to myself : In front of Elu lose the "Captain Sam" and keep the scalp.

"Why soon?"

"Your weakness distracts Dyami and makes his enemies think he is weak as well."

"So you want me to go rescue Abby so that I can die?"


I smiled wide. "Well, why didn't you say so? Of course, I'll go."

As he eyed me warily, I dropped the smile from my face. "And then, I'll be back to whip your ass ... Tonto."

His fingers actually bristled in flames. Jeez. What was he?

Invisible hands seized me and hurled me through the crytalized fog. I hit stony ground with a stumbling, awkward attempt to keep from falling on my face in front of seven Apache revenants.

I thrust out my arms in a flourish. "Tada! Abby, you're rescued."

Abigail's mouth dropped, "Standish, are you insane?"

"People keep asking me that."

I eyed the Apache leader, who waved his men back, and smiled at him. "Go figure."

My heart became as cold as his eyes. Jeez. I recognized him from the history books. Geronimo. Great. It kept getting better and better.

Like slates of rock scraping against one another, Geronimo asked, "Why are you here?"

I nodded, remembering what Captain Sam wrote in his journals of Apaches. They respected only strength, sneered at weakness. "Show no fear" had been his words of advice.

Yeah, right.  I knew I wasn't shivering.  My skin was too busy clutching my skeleton in terror to quiver.

The Apaches blurred, then re-formed feet from where they had originally stood. I was no match for them in speed. I saw the moonlight gleam wet from their bloody fangs. I was no match for their strength.

I smiled crooked. I'd just have to cheat.

I went stiff. A woman was staked on the ground. She was all but dead.

Geronimo smiled cruel at me. Bad mistake. I was Death's son. To kill someone near me was to bring Mother to my side.

I whispered low, "Mother, end her pain."

There was a movement by the poor tortured woman. I saw a flicker of Mother, tall, skeletal in tattered black robes. The moaning stopped. Mother was gone. I smiled so sad it tasted of salt. Mother was gone but so was the woman's pain.

Mother was Allwheres, AllTimes, all at once. I tapped into the power of her echo, though blood seeped from both nostrils. I appeared right in front of the coward.

I muttered to myself, 'All right, Victor, time to earn that reputation of yours.' I gave him a wolf's smile.

"Well, Elu thinks he sent me here to die."

Geonimo's eyes narrowed. "Why would he do that?"

He blurred to rip out my throat as I knew he would. I sent myself right next to Abigail. She jerked in surprise. I winked up at her.

I edged closer to Abigail and flashed a gypsy smile. "He's jealous of me."

Standing right by her stake, I gestured grandly to myself. "Can you blame him?"

Geronimo looked like he was about to speak my death sentence, and I hastily said, "Of course, he wants you dead, too."

He barked a harsh laugh. "He sends a boy to kill me. I am so afraid."

I pulled myself up as tall as I got, the fullness growing heavy inside me.

"I killed an Old One when I was twelve. I outran the Soyoko and rubbed their noses in their clumsiness this August. And Empress Theodora and Major Strasser are a little worse for wear from this Halloween."

Geonimo gave an Oscar-winning look of contempt to Abigail.

"Why do you need me and my men for your war against Empress Theodora when you have this great warrior?"

Abigail glared down at me as if I had just sunk her great scheme. Yeah, like she wasn't already tied to a stake to greet the dawn when I got here.

Stroking Abigail's arm and stopping at her wrists, I turned to Geronimo.

"Well, she doesn't want this widely known, but ever since I got a grip on her corset at Halloween, she's been sweet on me -- doesn't want me to be in harm's way and all."

(Of course that hand had been there to keep her from falling flat on her face in front of Theodora but Chief Long-In-The-Tooth didn't have to know that.)

Abigail husked, "Standish, if my hands weren't tied ...."

"Ah, no kisses in front of these guys, all right. I get embarassed easy."

The cruel smile dropped from Geronimo's thin lips. "You have been amusing. Now, you die."

I held up the cords that once held Abigail helpless (hey, Harry Houdini was my teacher.)

"You really want to dance this dance, Chief?"

He snorted, "You two can barely stand."

My own smile dropped. "You've forgotten the first rule of hunting: never get inside the cage with the wolf."

His body blurred. He stood right in front of me, his fangs becoming longer. "You are outnumbered."

Fear made a jackhammer of my heart. But I looked at the tortured corpse of the woman. He was a coward. And even if it killed me, I'd spit in his fangs.

I shook my head. "No. You are."

The heaviness flowed as mist from my chest to reform into Alice in her short gothic Lolita outfit. She smiled with her own sharp teeth.

When someone like Elu invites me to his deadly Mirror World, I just naturally think of having an ace up my sleeve or the ghostly ghoul, Alice, inside my chest.

"Oh, Victor, you sweetheart. You know how much I like Native food."

Geronimo was only a foot away. There was no way he was getting out of this alive, or as alive as the undead got, if things got ugly.

He husked, "A ...."

"Hey, that's my ghoul friend you're about to call names, Chief. Now, we can either be friends, or you can be spare ribs. Your choice."

And that is how Abigail got her Apache warriors, and Geronimo became my ... well, his place in line to take my scalp is right behind Elu's. Like I should worry. It's a long damn line.

Saturday, October 27, 2012


The Brothers Grimm knew.

The world is full of terrible things:

Loneliness.  The shameful pain of being different.  Monsters who wear the masks of humans.  Never being truly understood.

There are more plain faces than pretty.  And in the world, it is the survival of the prettiest.  Sadly, pampered souls become poisoned from the treatment.

Is this cruel?

The answer depends upon your perspective.

Mine?  God is never cruel.  There is a reason for all things.

We must know the pain of loss because if we never knew it, we would have no compassion for others,

and we would become monsters of utter self-focus, predatory creatures of unbridled self-interest.

The terrible pain of loss teaches humility to our pride, softens uncaring hearts, and makes a better person of a good one. 

Our bodies grow.  More often than not, we remain misunderstood, lonely children inside those adult bodies.

So horror tales, prose or movie, teach us how to be fully adult in the guise of a child's entertainment.

Not that we have to be taught, mind you, only reminded.  We are not strangers to ourselves.  We only try to be.

Of course, some are drawn to horror for dark, unhealthy reasons:

One of the greatest sorrows of human existence is that some people have lost sight of the miracle and wonder of being alive and find their happiness only in the misery of others.

They foolishly believe that misery loves company when all it does is leave them emptier still. 

As Victor Standish says, "When the blind lead the blind, the ditch gets mighty full."

As with the dusk, in horror tales, the sky seems to recede; the universe expands. The night of the horror tale is bigger than the day, and in its realm, life seemed to have endless possibilities. 

And we need to feel endless possibilities exist,

that the monsters in our lives can be defeated ... even if they exist within us ... if only we do not give up on ourselves and on those who depend on us.

Then, there is that need in us to dare the nightmare, to go into the carnival's House of Horror.

Why?  To prove the horror is unreal and unconsciously assert that then the horror of cancer, of old age, of violent assault will claim others but not us.


Ghost of Mark Twain here to save this dreary post

with new lessons I learned from these danged horror movies you are depessing the bejeezus out of us with!
     1.) Whatever you do, don’t open and close a medicine cabinet
      You never know who will appear in that mirror behind you in a split second’s time. Trust me, children, nothing in that cabinet is gonna cure a bitten off head.  You may think you can tell if someone is entering the bathroom and creeping up behind you, but we ghosts know better.
     2.) Don’t back up into a closet or towards a window.    
       Or for that matter, why would you be walking backwards anywhere? The killer is always going to be at the end of that path. I mean, if you walk forward, you can appreciate the workmanship on the blade as it slashes out of the shadows, don't you know?
      3.) Don’t take a shower in a creepy house.   

        If weird things are going on in a strange place, don't you know some pretty gal gets it into her blonde head to get naked and start lathering up alone in some teeny, tiny, small space where you don’t have any room to maneuver or light a shuck out of there.
      4.) Don’t split up if you’re down to just you and one other person.    

        If you two stay together, you have someone to fight off the killer as he/she goes after you. Or at least someone there to point out you shouldn't have taken that last turn as the killer kills you.
       5.) Respect for your elders is good and all but ...      

If your mother suddenly begins to hiss, lick her eyebrows with her own tongue, or suddenly needs a shave, run and don't leave a forwarding address.



We think we know what it is. We delude ourselves.

Take love and its loss.

You can decide love was all for nothing if it had to end in death with you alone


You can realize that every moment of your love had more meaning than you dared to recognize at the time,

so much meaning it would have scared you if you had looked at it square on,

so you just lived,

just took for granted the love and laughter of each day, and didn't allow yourself to consider the fragile preciousness of it.

But when it's over and you're alone,

you begin to see that it wasn't just a movie and a dinner together,

not just watching sunsets together,

not just painting a room or washing dishes together or worrying over how to pay the bills.

It was everything,

it was the why of each day, every event and precious moment of two hearts become one.

The answer to the mystery of living is the love you shared imperfectly but truly,

and when the loss one day whispers the deeper beauty of the treasure you shared, to the sacredness of it,

you can't get off your knees for a long time,

you're driven to your knees not by the weight of the loss but by the gratitude for what preceded the loss.

Not that the ache isn't always there, mind you,

but one day not the emptiness,

because to embrace the emptiness, to take solace in it, is to cheapen the gift that blessed your days.

When you awaken to that dawn of the soul, a door opens and words are feeble things to describe what enters.

 At that moment, you become a ghost whisperer.


{Detroit has become the city of the undead

except for four very frightened 7 year old children --

one of them a murderer and worse.

The 4 are finding supplies in a deserted SEARS}

“You can find everything you need at Sears,” I whispered with a smile,

remembering what Mother had once told me.

“Aren’t you finished yet?,” whispered Becky.

Over the past month we had learned to whisper whenever we talked. It had been a pretty lousy thirty days.

Especially for Becky and Glasses. Both had lost their parents long ago.

Becky lived with an older sister, Glasses with a maiden aunt. Both sister and aunt died in that playground.

I made a finishing twist of the screwdriver and nodded, “All finished.”

I handed her the tinkered leg of a walker I had worked on for nearly an hour. “Your Zip gun.”

Becky took it with a frown. “Gee, it’s heavy!”

“Should be. It fires ball bearings.”

Leroy sneered at my red wagon by the Sears hardware check out. “What else you got in there?”

I reached down and pulled out the mini-crossbow I had jury-rigged for Glasses and handed it to her. “Lighter than bricks.”

She took it gingerly. “Ha. Ha.”

I smiled thin. “I used pulleys and chains in ways Archimedes showed me.”

Leroy sneered uglier. “In another dream, right?”

I nodded. “In another dream.”

Becky made a librarian face. “How many of those silly dreams do you have?”

“Don’t know. I just seem to remember ‘em when I need them.”

I sniffed at the faint traces of familiar perfume and pulled at the cuffs of my work gloves, uncomfortable at the memories they stirred.

Leroy smiled like a shark. He shook his head.

“What? You don’t want those lily white hands to get dirty?”

“Cut. I don’t want them cut. Remember how fast Shamblers get when they smell fresh blood?”

That shut him up. He looked concerned all around the empty store. He gnawed his upper lip.

“This places spooks me. It so empty. It should be full of Shamblers as you call them.”

Glasses shook her own head. “It’s as if somebody cleared them out before we got here.”

Becky laughed bitter. “Maybe it was Victor’s Mother.”

I might have laughed with her if I weren’t smelling her strange perfume in the air.

To change the subject, I pulled out two back packs. One marked G and the other B. I handed them to the girls.

“It has bolts and ball bearings in them. First Aid kits, magnesium flares, matches, Zippo’s, lighter fluid …..”

“Why both matches and Zippo’s?,” growled Leroy.

Glasses’ eyes lit up. “Oh, I know! You skirt a Shambler with the lighter fluid, light up the pack of matches with the Zippo, and throw it on the zombie!”

For once Leroy nodded in appreciation of one of my ideas. "Barbequed Shambler! I like that."

I figured he was smiling because it was spoken out loud by Glasses. If Becky had done it, he would have done hand-stands.

He suddenly frowned, “Hey, where’s my back pack?”

“With that free running of yours, you don’t need to be loaded down with a pack.”

I bent down and pulled out my gag gift. “Here’s a new mop though .. to replace the one you broke over that Shambler's head in the playground.”

As the girls giggled, he snapped, “You know where you can stick that.”

“Where do we go from here?,” asked Becky.

I grinned, “The mattress department.”

Leroy huffed, “I ain’t sleeping in this death trap.”

We’re gonna sit while the girls snooze for a couple of hours.”

Becky clasped both hands together. “Oh, Leroy, could we? To sleep on a real bed again ….”

He relented. “Oh, all right. But not for no two hours. Maybe thirty minutes. Those Shamblers may be gone now, but they be coming back.”

Becky and Glasses literally skipped on the way to the Mattress Department. Sears had three beds as models. The girls picked the biggest to snuggle up in together.

Leroy made me antsy the way he looked at Becky in the bed. I unfurled long sheets of bubble wrap all around their bed.

Leroy muttered, “The Shamblers get that close, getting warned won’t do no good.”

But the bubble wrap seemed to ease the girls in the way that I hoped it would. LeRoy glared at me, seeing it. Let him. We were never going to be Prom dates anyway.

They snuggled in their new Sears jeans and blouses and sighed. I sighed, too, as I noticed they kept their sneakers on. It was a new world with new rules.

I had already set up two Lazy Boys by the beds before I led us here. With the TV in front of it. Leroy arched an eyebrow.

“Where the popcorn to go with the movie?”

“No movie. Only a DVD recording marked THE LAST NEWCAST.”

Leroy made a face. “I can hardly wait.”

The quality to the DVD was better than I expected.

The newswoman looked like she had seen better days. Her fancy hair-do was all frazzled. Her business suit looked like it had been slept in for days.

The camera was even off-center as if not wanting to get too close a look at her. Her first words explained the camera.

“T-Ted, the camera man is … dead. I … shot him myself.”

She peered into the camera as if begging its owner’s forgiveness.

“You asked me to, Ted. I – I didn’t want to. God, you know I didn’t want to. B-But you said women were the stronger sex.”

(“Yeah, right,” muttered Leroy. I shushed him.)

She sniffed once, picked up a stack of rumpled news copy, and laughed bitterly.

“I don’t feel stronger. I feel … that’s just it. I don’t feel. It’s like my heart and mind are both wrapped in cotton.”

I heard the pounding and grunting from behind the camera at the same time she did.

She went stiff, dropping the papers in a messy sprawl on the desk in front of her.

“I don’t have long. But if I’m going to die, I’m going to die a newswoman.”

The pounding on the unseen door got louder. The grunting was worse somehow, and the poor lady echoed my thoughts.

“It’s that damn hungry, incessant grunting. It’s more than hunger. Sexual almost. Damn.”

She looked back into the camera, now seeing, not Ted, but the audience.

 “Ted set this up to repeat over and over again. So if you’re watching this, I’m not really here.”

She looked off into the shadows and murmured, “I haven’t been here for a long time now.”

She snapped out of it with the increased pounding and grunting behind the camera. Splintering wood was added to the mix. She tried to wet her mouth, her dry tongue.

“Anyone close to you gets bit, you kill them. In hours, minutes even, they become ….”

The grunting grew obscene somehow, and she looked towards it then back to the camera.

“… one of them. Shoot them. But not in the body.”

She smacked her forehead. “There! If you don’t have a gun, a bat, a lead pipe. Fire. Burn them and run! But save yourself. They are already dead.”

She looked down at the floor by the camera and whimpered, “Already dead.”

The door sounded ready to go, and she pulled out a revolver.

“Don’t bury them. Kill them. But don’t burn the bodies and stay! God, don’t stay to breathe in the smoke.”

“Ted and I were there when the National Guard started burning the bodies. The smoke. God, the smoke. It infected everyone by the fires who breathed it. They changed so fast.”

She closed her eyes tight as the grunting got louder, the splintering wood more shrill. “Those changed didn’t shamble.”

(Leroy looked at me with the speaking of the word. His face was ash gray, his eyes wide.)

“They were like rabid dogs. They ran so fast, their open mouths foaming. T-That’s when Ted got bit. I think I might have gotten a whiff of that damn smoke myself. I – I don’t feel human anymore.”

It sounded like the door was about to go.

“No, I feel like a little girl back in church, knowing I’m going to get a spanking when I get home.”

She stroked the revolver as if it were a cat and began to sing “O Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing” in a little girl’s voice :

“H-Here I raise my Ebenezer ….”

She put the gun’s barrel under her chin.

“H-Hither by Thy help I’m come,
And I hope by T-Thy good pleasure
Safely to arrive a-at ho-home.”

She pulled the trigger.

I jumped in my chair.

The door to the newsroom finally tore off its hinges right then. The camera was knocked down. We saw a flurry of shambling feet. Then, there was a click.

The newswoman was back looking at us again. “T-Ted, the camera man is … dead. I … shot him myself.”

The clip was repeating itself. I was shaking. Leroy husked out , “Shit.”

I managed to say, “What you said.”

Leroy frowned, “Hey, the grunting didn’t come so soon, did it?”

I quick turned off the TV with the remote. The grunting kept on. Leroy suddenly looked like an albino.

“They found us!”

We popped out of the Lazy Boys. I turned to the far end of the third floor. There. At the escalator.

The Shamblers were tumbling to the floor as their feet no longer remembered how to step off an escalator. They hadn’t seen us yet. They had only smelled us.

Leroy started for Becky. I was closer. I whispered shrill.

“Cover Glasses’ mouth when you wake her.”

“Why the hell for?”

“Don’t you remember? They always wake up screaming.”
A zombie apocalypse occurs as three parkour tracuers are forced to put their skills to the test and work together to try to make it to a car and escape the city and find safe grounds.

Friday, October 26, 2012



I did today.  Jeremy graciously invited me over for an interview. 

He did a masterful job.  Come on over and visit us.

There is mystery, danger, words that lure you into the darkness ...

Oops.  No, that was the Presidential Debates.


But you'll have a good time.  Victor's Mother promises.  And would the Angel of Death lie?

{Image of the Angel of Death courtesy of the endless talent of Leonora Roy}

Read the fascinating review of THE RIVAL by D. G. Hudson:

Thursday, October 25, 2012

THREE SPIRIT KNIGHT in the French Quarter


In honor of the Halloween season,


here is a excerpt from

my 4th 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 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? Suddenly, she was on a first name basis with me.

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."

{Image of Abigail Adams courtesy of the endless talent of Leonora Roy}***

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

NaNoWriMo folks meet your new best friend : the Dali Rama

No. Not the Dalai Lama.

Not even a someone actually.

A something.

A very important something if you're a writer.


But speaking of the Dalai Lama, he did say, "Happiness is not something ready made. It comes from your own actions."

And couldn't the same thing be said of the novels we write?

What was that bit of dialogue between Alice and the Mad Hatter?

Alice : "I've had nothing yet. So I can't take any more."
Hatter : "You mean you can't take any less. It's very easy to take more than nothing."

And isn't that what our novels start out as? Nothing. Then along strolls a colorful character, an intriguing situation blossoms in our thoughts, or a bit of zingy dialogue crackles in our mind's ear.

But what do you do with those isolated bits?

Ah, that's where the Dali-Rama comes into play as we shift to another bit of back-and-forth in the adventures of Alice.

"Which road do I take?," asked Alice.
"Where do you want to go?," replied the Cheshire Cat.
"I don't know."
"Then," smiled the cat, "it really doesn't matter."

But it does matter when you write a novel. You have to know where you are going if you're going to take the reader there. We need a compass. More importantly, we need a map.

We need the Dali-Rama.

And its motto is a twist to one of the sayings of the artist who gave birth to it : Salvador Dali --

Intelligence without direction is a bird without wings. As authors, we paint our novels. To paint well we need a canvas. Yes, you guessed it : the Dali-Rama.

How many times have you stared at a blank page in agony? Buy some 3 X 5 index cards. Write your characters on one, your bits of dialogue on another, your large, compelling situation on a larger one.

The great thing about those index cards is that you can fit them into your purse {or me into my backpack (what Sandra, my best friend, calls my "Man-Purse")}.

And whenever an idea for dialogue, plot, scene re-do, or character development hits you, you scribble it down upon your stash of ready index cards.

Now, buy a cork board.

Me, I take construction paper and tape it over the board. I get markers in different colors. And then, I'm ready to paint myself a novel.

This is not a story board. That directors do AFTER the script is written.

We're more like detectives sleuthing a murder case. All those bits of characters, dialogue, situations, plot twists. We pin them up on the board in haphazard fashion. No rhyme, no reason but our subconscious.

Then, step back. Look at the surrealistic pattern you've made. Start arranging patterns in the chaos. Draw lines on your Dali-Rama connecting your different characters along paths of love, blood, hate, and circumstance. Scribble questions next to each one :

"What drives him to strive for perfection? What shaped her into a lusty gossip? Why would anyone do {fill in the blank.} Why a bank job and not a jewel heist?

What skills does a cat burglar have? How would one go about obtaining those skills and knowledge?

From the answers to those or other similar questions are born more scribbled index cards.

By now, your muse will be churning. You will see how one character fits into another in ways you hadn't even thought of when you started.

You see where you can flip this situation on its ear, blending it into laughter, suspense, or tears.

Like Dali himself, don't let structure bind you to convention.

Look at the overall "feel" and "look" of the Dali-Rama. Remember the soft, melting pocket watch in Dali's famous "Persistence of Memory?"

It whispered that time is not hard as we thought. In fact, time is often irrelevant. Think of the time spent in a dentist's chair during a root canal.

Time changes according to circumstance. And so should the parameters of your novel.

There is another beautiful thing about the Dali-Rama. It postpones the actual writing of the novel. And who of us has not hesitated and hesitated before a daunting new novel?

Now, you have an intelligent-sounding reason for procrastinating!

And I'm only being slightly humorous. I've had friends make actual pieces of art of their Dali-Rama's. They pasted frilled paths, colorful twists, only to phone me in wonder that suddenly as they looked at it, the novel just jelled into something fantastic and unexpected.

They couldn't wait to get started on this awesome surprise of a novel that had just occurred to them.

And because of the Dali-Rama, they knew exactly where they were going,

scene by scene, plot twist by plot-twist onto a climax to which they couldn't wait to take the reader. Trust me. If you follow the Dali-Rama, it will not fail you.

Surprise you, yes. Absorb you, yes. Fail you, no.

And in "honor" of BREAKING DAWN 2: