So you can read my books

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Y is for YEOMANS ...Let me introduce him to you.

{The photo on this cover is in the public domain in that it was published in the United States between 1923 and 1977 and without a copyright notice.}
"The secret?
It is every artist's secret ... passion.
That is all. It is an open secret and perfectly safe.
Like heroism, it is inimitable in cheap materials."
- Willa Cather
Roger Zelazny, ghost here:

The ghost of Hemingway is presently keeping Roland company on one of his blood runs.

Hemingway is reminded of his own days driving an ambulance in WWI when he accompanies Roland.

So it is left up to me to talk to you mortal writers.

Most of you are scoffing that the ghost of Roger Zelazny is currently typing his thoughts to you.

Impossible you say.

You, and the rest of mankind, are quite sure what is possible and what is impossible.

In the daylight.

When the night descends, the stride of your thoughts is not quite so confident.

Not so Roland.

He is much like an animal. I do not mean that as an insult.

He takes what comes at face value, not forcing it to fit into any preconceived notions Man teaches as Science.

He deals with what comes without protesting that it cannot be, only seeing what is and adapting.

Perhaps that is why we ghosts are drawn to him. In him is that quality that Stubbs expressed in MOBY DICK:

“I know not what all may be coming, but be it what it will, I’ll go to it laughing.”

Not that he is overly optimistic about the world around him.  Despite being part Lakota Sioux, he still reads the Bible by his bedside. He often quotes:
“They sleep not, except that they have done mischief;
And their sleep is taken away unless they cause
Some to fall.

For they eat the bread of wickedness
And drink the wine of violence.”

That is Proverbs 4:16-17 for those of you interested in such things.

In life I was not.

I thought the love of God was like the light burning from the stars:

cold and distant.

Now, that I am a ghost …

but no.

There are some secrets the dead may not share with the living.

But the secrets on how to write well … they I can share with you.

Oh, you are wondering who I am.

Don’t be embarrassed. In life I wondered the same thing.

As I wrote earlier: I am Roger Zelazny.

I made somewhat of a splash in Science Fiction in the sixties, endured and evolved in the seventies and eighties.
I went the way of all flesh mid-way through the nineties in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

And Roland mourned me as a distant older brother
gone over the crest of the hill before him,
leaving him cold and alone.

Oh, and I inspired him to take up the pen and follow my steps into weaving tales in the genre I call Science Fantasy.

That I sparked the idea in him to be a writer drew me to him.

It was his gentle, quiet, amused nature that has made me stay. He looks on all the awkwardness of life with a sly smile that says, “You expected water to run uphill?”
But now I have an important question for you reading:

What makes one tale live, vibrant and riveting, and another merely flat, lifeless words on paper?

Not that any of us have a sure idea,
although Hemingway would glare at me for writing that.
 But we had a close enough glimpse of the answer
to make a living at what we loved to do:


What is the answer?

A joyous cry: “Come see what I found!”

If you can bring anew the childlike sense of wonder and awe
to your readers that the poisons of living
have drained from them,
you will have a loyal following that will not quit.

What words will do that?

Certainly not the same sing-song repeat and rinse
of someone else’s bestseller.

The words must tilt the reader’s expectations on its ear.
 Did you notice I said reader?

Not readers.

You are talking to only one
at the campfire of their imagination and curiosity.
If you think of your audience as readers,
you will talk AT them not TO them.

The author/reader relationship is intimate: friend to friend. “Look at this, man!”

One friend sharing with another something fantastic and wondrous:

The meaning of life in the skating sparks of the sun along the uneven facets of a piece of rock candy …

or striking fire down the razored spirals of a unicorn’s tusk.

If you are drawn to write, you do not need to be told the basics. You already have absorbed them from the masters:

Stirring plots, memorable characters, and absorbing ideas.

You must tap the humanity of the situations, of the people struggling against the tide of events.

Remember this is the Microwave Culture.

Your prose must be lean and spare, yet sing with the poetry of mystery and suspense. How do you do that?

Mind your surroundings.

Nothing is ever wasted to a real writer. Circumstances suggest. Events coalesce. The story will begin to flow like a shadow along the floor of your unconscious.

Once you have seen their shapes, the stories will exist as ghosts for you until you have pinned them to the paper. Perhaps that is why there are so many ghosts of writers in the Shadowlands.

We made our living from ghosts,
so reciprocity demands its due.

Sometimes you will have to post a Help Wanted Ad
in your unconscious to apply for positions in the story
and events that have called out to you.

Do not worry.
Within the hour, your unconscious mind will have them lining up for you to consider.

Read your work aloud.

Hear the clumsy prose misstep that jars your ears?
A sentence is too long? Make them two.
A word unneeded? Remove it.
Sand your prose as a sculptor would his carving.

Give your characters life by giving them a new take on what it means to be human, to be fully alive.
Most people you pass on the streets are sleepwalking
from long years of debt and unfulfilled passion.

Give them hope that there is more out there,
that each corner could reveal the start of an adventure
that might shorten their lives but awaken their souls.

Do that and you will become more than a writer. You will become an author.

Want to read more on how to be an author? Buy GHOST WRITERS IN THE SKY:

I have several chapters in it as does the ghost of Hemingway, Twain, Faulkner, even Bruce Lee and Groucho Marx!



  1. A child-like sense of wonder... If we have that enthusiasm, it will show in our words.

  2. It is good isn't it when one random reader likes a story you wrote? That's all it takes for me to make my writerly day!

    Hello Yeoman! Take care

  3. Hi Roland .. this is great - I'm loving Snuff the Watch Dog .. and then it's better to take it day by day ...

    "Most people you pass on the streets are sleepwalking from long years of debt and unfulfilled passion.

    Give them hope that there is more out there, that each corner could reveal the start of an adventure"

    Have a passion .. I know you have one - it reveals itself here ... wonderful Y for Yeoman ..

    Cheers Hilary

  4. Alex:
    That is my prayer for each day that the Father grant me a childlike sense of wonder and awe towards life and those in it. :-)

    Yes! When one random reader tells me how much they enjoyed one of my novels or stories, it truly makes my day! Say hello to Charlie for me. :-)

    Isn't Snuff, the watchdog, from A NIGHT IN THE LONESOME OCTOBER a unique character? Those of my friends who do not listen to his speaking in the YouTube clip are missing out, don't you think?

    I'm so happy that Roger's words hit a chord with you. May a new, fun adventure be waiting happily for you around the next corner! :-)

  5. Glad to see you are still in reverse mode, it's distinctive.

    And, I liked the commentary by Snuff, the watchdog. He must have been a detective in a former life, he sounds like one. Thanks for sharing that.

    So, Yoemans, you're still delivering blood - is that a good sign? What does Hemingway think?

  6. I love this: "For they eat the bread of wickedness
    And drink the wine of violence.”

    To have the Holy Sacraments for the faithful, and then these Unholy Sacraments for the wicked. Solomon was wise.

  7. I really enjoyed reading your second reversed article. So many stirring ideas, so many things to contemplate...

  8. A love and curiosity of more than the here and now makes me want to read and write!

    Thank you Roger!

    Hi Roland!

  9. What a great "Y"! Plus excellent advice from Mr. Zelazny. I think his comment about writing to one reader is so on the mark. Too many of us try to write for everyone, and that's simply not possible.

    Well said, Mr. Z!

    ~VR Barkowski

  10. D.G.:
    The decision-makers are taking their time letting us know who will stay and who will go. One team-mate is glaring at me as if wanting to hit me as he sees me as competition for money to put on the table for his children.

    Hemingway says for me to watch my back, reminding me that courage is grace under pressure.

    Snuff has a more infernal background I fear. :-)

    I thought going backwards was distinctive and a parable of my life most of the time!!

    I sometimes wish for the wisdom of Solomon to make decisions that will not hurt those around me! :-)

    The ghost of Roger Zelazny is indeed a wise man -- and full of dry wit, too. :-)

    A love to learn about the past makes me read history and a yearning to learn what the future may hold has me reading S.F.!!

    I imagine a friend or a child or a young adult to write to. It does help me spin my tale better. Mr. Z was and is a smart man!

    Going backwards helps me to get to my last name faster! Sly me, Roland