So you can read my books

Saturday, May 31, 2014


For all of you weary souls furiously typing your fingers into nubs on the end of your Work In Progress novels,

I thought the answer to that question might interest you.

I'm in the middle of THE STARS BLEED AT MIDNIGHT and putting down the seeds of its ending. 


The things about seeds ...

They are tiny but potent ... yet easily overlooked.  And that is what you want to surprise your reader with a no-cheat thread.

Don't you feel cheated by people or things appearing out of left field in the end of the novel you've been reading?

We must play fair with our readers.

Half of the fun of GREAT EXPECTATIONS was how the people and events in Pip's life were all interconnected.

The seeds had been sown fairly.

An inept ending can kill your otherwise great book. So what questions do you need to ask about your ending?

1. Does it resolve the core conflict of the novel?
This is the big "this is what my book is about" question that your protagonist has spent the entire book trying to achieve.

 This is a biggie for series books, as there's a larger story arc across multiple books. But the goal in that one book needs to be resolved.

 2. Does it satisfy the major questions posed in the novel?

You don't have to tie up all the loose ends, but there are probably a few major things in the story readers will want to know answers to.

3. Is this the ending most readers are hoping for?

 We've all read books where we wanted one ending, but the book ended another way. Let down the reader, and you can bet she or he will not recommend your book.

4. Is your last line memorable, summing up your entire novel?

The trick of a good ending, of course, is that it must capture and equal everything that has gone before.

The line “He loved Big Brother” (from a novel that ends as masterfully as it begins) means very little until you understand exactly who Big Brother is. 

A great last line will have your reader putting down the book on her lap, murmuring, "Wow."  Guess what book she next recommends to her friends?

5.  A bad ending will unfailingly kill a good story. Is your ending such a one? 

 The ending is why the reader just invested their valuable time reading your story, and if it stinks, then they've wasted that time

6. Is there CHANGE at the end?

What makes a good ending hinges on the same things that make a good story. And the most important thing that makes a good story is change.

If nothing changes, nothing happens. And if nothing happens, you've got no story.

7. Do your characters save themselves or at least those they love?

If the U.S.S. Enterprise sails over the horizon to zap the bad guys in the nick of time. Say good-bye to repeat readers.

8. Resonance is the new Closure. Does your ending have it?

One symbol, or moment, from the beginning of the story is repeated at the end. By the time the story is done it means something else completely.

The ending echoes the beginning. It gives a sense that the story has come full circle.

9. Does it establish a new normal?

The heroes begin a new life. Sometimes the farm boy returns to the farm. Sometimes the farm boy becomes king. Sometimes the hero decides to set out on a new journey.

It's a chance to show how the character has been altered by the journey, and what they're going to do with that new knowledge.

10. What are your favorite kind of endings?

The best endings leave me full, and remain with me for days.

The best books make me wish they never end, but I know they have to.  Which is why I enjoy series books.

That's the sort of ending I like. What about you?

Friday, May 30, 2014


The Western is dead.

Hollywood says so.  We are too urban a culture for its stoic hero to be evocative to the audience any more.

Will stories of King Arthur and Camelot and the knights of the round table ever die out in England?  I don’t think so.

The wonder and appeal of Showtime's PENNY DREADFUL

indicates the archetype of the mysterious American gunman is still alive in our collective unconscious.

Episode 101


I love Westerns. I love that they intrinsically carry messages of hope, possibility and freedom,

that they contain within them a deep sense of myth for a time when a country was arguably at its most fascinating.

And I believe Myth is what is needed in new tales of the cowboy archetype as is indicated by PENNY DREADFUL.

I believe that the Western has proven its evolution and can still be appreciated by modern viewers, albeit through quite a different, darker approach than at the point of its origin.

As I wandered the dark streets of post-Katrina New Orleans, the idea of an immortal cowboy out of time and place appealed to me.

A mythic Texas Ranger with the sensibilities of a philosopher and the nature of a monster contesting against other creatures of the night from the years 1815 to 2005.

I've had fun placing Samuel McCord in the Bermuda Triangle of 1853,

next to a 12 year old Mark Twain in the Missouri of 1848,

fighting the Sepoy Mutiny as he escorts a 7 year old girl all across a 1857 India,

fighting grey aliens with an older Mark Twain in the Sandwich Islands of 1866, 

breaking Oscar Wilde out of prison with Mark Twain and ending up in 1895 Egypt,

unwittingly unleasing an ancient horror in the Badlands of South Dakota as the first talking Western is filmed in 1927,

and fighting corruption, civil unrest, and supernatural predators in the Katrina ravaged New Orleans of 2005.

And along the way meeting the undead Abigail Adams, leader of America's revenants, Empress Theodora, Empress of Europe's undead --

the hybrid animal aliens of ancient Egypt, the grey aliens of another part of our galaxy, the genius of Nikola Tesla.

And his immortal wife, She Who Devours, once known as Sekhmet, now called Empress Meilori Shinseen.

Can a monster clinging to the remnants of his humanity stay married to a being without any?

It's hard to tell which is scarier in Showtime's new series Penny Dreadful:

The living conditions of 1890s-era Victorian London or the weirdness inherent in the characters and creatures that inhabit the show.

In like manner, I show the true living conditions in each era McCord finds himself from the savage West Texas of 1815 to the harsh brutality of British ruled Egypt of 1895 --

from Queen Victoria to Winston Churchill to President Bush, McCord clashes with political cruelty.

What is a good horror story?

It is a story about people and they've got real concerns with real conflicts. But at the same time, everything that makes up a human being —

the turbulence, the guilt, the good sides, the bad sides —

they're all roiling around in everybody.

Everybody's on some journey to try and gain some kind of redemption or create a family or create a life.

“One must have a mind of winter to behold the nothing that is not there and the nothing that is.”
- Wallace Stevens

So?  Is there any hope for McCord to become popular?

Thursday, May 29, 2014


Whether overheard in a crowded restaurant, punctuating the enthusiastic chatter of friends,

or as the noisy guffaws on a TV laugh track, laughter is a fundamental part of everyday life

An old Yiddish proverb says,

"What soap is to the body, laughter is to the soul."

Everyone knows that laughter makes you feel good and puts you in high spirits,

but did you also know that laughter actually causes physiological responses

 that protect the body from disease and help your vital organs repair themselves?

Here is some medicine that won't taste bad: 

“If we couldn't laugh we would all go insane.”
― Robert Frost

Teacher: "Anyone who thinks he's stupid may stand up!"

*Nobody stands up*

Teacher: "Im sure there are some stupid students over here!!"

*Little Johnny stands up*

Teacher: "Ohh, Johnny you think you're stupid?"

Little Johnny: "No... i just feel bad that you're standing all alone..."

“Laughter and tears are both responses to frustration and exhaustion.

I myself prefer to laugh, since there is less cleaning up to do afterward.” ― Kurt Vonnegut

When I see lovers' names carved in a tree, I don't think its cute. I just think it's crazy how many people bring knives on a date.

“The human race has only one really effective weapon and that is laughter.” ― Mark Twain

What did the Zen Buddist say to the hotdog vendor?
Make me one with everything.

“I know not all that may be coming, but be it what it will, I'll go to it laughing.” ― Herman Melville, Moby-Dick; or, The Whale  

A Roman Centurian walks into a bar,  holds up two fingers, and says:  “Five beers, please.”

“Laughter is the shortest distance between two people.”
- Victor Borge

Two cannibals eating a clown, one turned to the other and said: ‘does this taste funny to you?’

"Against the assault of laughter nothing can stand."
- Mark Twain
Texan: "Where are you from?"
Harvard Graduate: "I come from a place where we do not end sentences with prepositions."
Texan: "Okay— where are you from, jackass?"

What are some of your favorite jokes?
What do you watch to make you laugh?
Who is your favorite jokester?   
-- Obama doesn't count.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014


Two early works by later-famous novelists were published on this day —  

Ernest Hemingway’s Torrents of Spring (1926) and

John Steinbeck's Tortilla Flat(1935).

 Both concern returned WWI veterans who, being at a loss for meaningful alternatives, seek wine, women and other diversions. 

Steinbeck's novel was an honest attempt to portray a generation of bruised men,

seeking some small measure of peace in a world that no longer made sense after the war.

Hemingway's first book, the story collection In Our Time, had been published by Boni Liveright the previous autumn, 

under a contract that granted them an option on his next three books. 

 Hemingway was a rising star with the finished first draft of The Sun Also Rises in his pocket, 

along with tempting offers from other publishers -- Scribners, Knopf and Harcourt, Brace.

 His only way around Horace Liveright was to get him to reject his next manuscript.

Hemingway's solution was to submit The Torrents of Spring, a ninety-page satire which he knocked off in eleven days. 

This aimed at a variety of targets, but chief among them was Sherwood Anderson and the writing style of the "Chicago School".

 Anderson was a leading author for Boni & Liveright, and Hemingway knew that they wouldn't dare publish his slap at him.

That would have been cruel enough to do to a stranger, but it was worse.

Anderson had been a friend and mentor to Hemingway, 

a guest at his wedding, and 

writer of a generous dust-jacket blurb for In Our Time and 

of letters of introduction allowing Hemingway entry to the Parisian literary scene.

John Dos Passos told him that the book was "heartless" and unfunny, and Gertrude Stein was outraged. 

Eventually, Hemingway would trash all of them too, even Fitzgerald who urged him on. 

Hemingway's wife, Hadley, thought the idea "detestable," but she too was being double-dealed at this stage, and by summer would also be dumped.

Honor, it seems, has been dying for a very long time.  

How important is it for your writing to succeed?  

Would you pay Hemingway's price?

Tuesday, May 27, 2014


Across cultures and time, honor and manliness have been inextricably tied together.

If we take even a cursory look at history, honor pops up over and over again as a central theme in literature and life.

The epic poems of Homer are primarily about honor and man’s quest to achieve and maintain it.

If you read Shakespeare’s plays with open eyes, you’ll find that honor and manhood take center stage as reoccurring themes.

 If you were to ask someone, “What is honor?” you’d likely be answered with furrowed brows and head scratches.

To define honor, as with pornography, with mere words is hard.  But you know it when you see it. 

Or do you?

Honor=integrity is the point to which the definition of honor has evolved ... at least to me.

Has honor become unnecessary and irrelevant in a society

 where, left to ourselves, we need not behave consistently, let alone be consistently well behaved?

Honor must be built on solid bedrock, and that is why it is fading from memory.

Post-modernism is distrustful of anything that claims to be universal or permanent.

H ow virtuous are we?
O nce gone, integrity is hard to reclaim
N ever soil your good name
O nly love creates true honor
R espect all to create a world of honor 

(with thanks to SOURCE OF INSPIRATION )

As a concept, honor has certainly dropped out of sight in modern society.

To me, Honor is a Virtue, like Loyalty, or Courage, and as such possesses inherent value.

But not only that, it is the supreme Virtue and towers over the others because it provides a framework for behavior

that can serve as a guide in situations fraught with uncertainty, peril or temptation.

The lone man stranded on a deserted isle has no need for honor.

But as soon as men interact with others, the need for it begins to arise and swiftly grows urgent.

The need for fairness, for civility, respect and trust manifests itself, and this need is satisfied (or left unfulfilled) via behavior and action.

The honorable man acts a certain way not because of how he feels,

but because he recognizes it is the right thing to do, and his reason allows him to conclude this.

After my two emails yesterday to Freddie, my supervisor, he emailed me that he would talk to the lab tech's supervisor --

but he has a supercillious attitude towards everybody outside the lab.

In fact, the lab departments of Lifeshare belong to a completely separate entity known as Systems.

Some years back, the lab supervisor saw the lion and tiger puppets in Khaki uniforms in the back seat of my car

that I use periodically to visit old customers who are in the hospital or their children,

and I cheer them up with terrible jokes and worse voice-throwing.

Their names are Joshua Lamb (the lion) and Solomon Cain (the usually wise tiger who has a problem with temper.)

He visited Sandra, my best friend, when she still had a store

 and sneered that they were child-molesting aids I used -- he did it in front of her customers.

He is a judge in the Miss America Pageants here, and at the time her business catered to beauty contestants.

She could not afford to offend him.

If you hadn't guessed: He is a bully, too.

She couldn't afford to ask him to leave, so she left the store and stayed away until he was gone.

Sandra called me and hotly told me NEVER to apologize to him when hospital calls necessitated me awakening him.

And yes, he had made fun of me for doing so at that time as well.

So I do not hold out much hope for what Freddie will accomplish with talking to that man.

There were times the lab supevisor came to work years ago on the weekend with alcohol heavy on his breath,

and I did not report him. He seemed competent to do his work is the reason why.

I told Freddie at the time about what the lab supervisor had said to Sandra in her store in front of customers.

He, too, got hot and looked for him in the lab, but he was not there.

I counseled restraint since the lab is the favored child of the Medical Head of Lifeshare --

and they have already down-sized our department since we are considered low level, easily replacable personnel.

Last year, Lifeshare was considering eliminating my supervisor's position when they reduced Product Management here in Lake Charles.

Upon my interview with those deciding our fates, I did not say why I should be kept,

I instead listed all the things my supervisor had done beyond the call of duty,

even so far as risking his life and health by staying at the center through five hurricanes. 

(I knew because I volunteered those times to stay with him.)

I then showed printed index cards on what studies said were the qualites of excellent, hard to come by, supervisors

and listed how my supervisor fulfilled all of them.

I said all jobs had dignity but few jobs were noble. What my supervisor and I did were noble jobs,

and I was proud to work with him and for Lifeshare.

We both kept our jobs.

But can good men keep their honor
in a world where it is not valued?

And the mysterious gunman has cursed blood -
great, now everyone will think I copied from PENNY DREADFUL

Monday, May 26, 2014


I have ...

actually I am currently being bullied by an abrasive lab tech with whom I have to work alone during the weekend.

I need the weekend money, but I could do without the harrassment from an ill-tempered woman.

Sadly, my blood center follows the maxim: The squeaking wheel does not get the grease; it gets replaced.

This has gone on for nearly two years. 

I had the email ready for Human Resources, but I knew the lab is valued more than the Product Management department as the lab brings in thousands of dollars for Lifeshare.

Here is the email (real name withheld):

Dear Director of Human Resources:

35% of adult Americans experience workplace bullying (WBI 2010 U.S. National Survey).

I am concerned that the offensive behavior of Lab Tech, Jane Porter, in Lake Charles may be contributing to a hostile work environment.

I am just a Distribution Tech.  In the scheme of things, I am unimportant.  Jane Porter is a Lab Tech, bringing in revenue to Lifeshare.  She is important to Lifeshare.

For well over a year, she has been rude and offensive to me.  As a Distribution Tech in Lake Charles, I am dependent on Beaumont to meet me. 

Often they are busy with other blood runs.  One instance: I was delayed by the Beaumont courier and wrecks both going to and coming back for a sample. 
I explained the delay.  Jane snatched the sample from my hand and snarled, “Yeah, right!”
She, in effect, called me a liar.  I said nothing.  Months of such behavior have been unpleasant to endure. 

But I am an adult.  I just focused on doing the best job I could.

Some months back I asked why her attitude was so negative with me.  She just smirked.  It was the typical response of a bully.

Today (May 25th), she hung up on me twice. 
Jane called letting me know a Texas hospital had a sample to be picked up.  I followed my supervisor’s orders by contacting the Distribution Tech scheduled to be at the center. 
The Beaumont courier was delayed by already being at another site.  Later Jane called me demanding to know what I had been doing. 

I tried to explain and said I would contact the Distribution Tech handling the affair and would be right on it. 
She snapped, “You said that 2 hours ago!”  And she hung up on me.  Actually it was an hour, but I know to her it might have seemed longer.

Calling my co-worker, I found out the details of the delay.  I called Jane back explaining the delay.  I asked her, “Please do not hang up on me again.”

“Yeah, right!” she laughed and promptly hung up on me.

Obviously, Jane is not going to change her attitude and her behavior with me.  I am an adult.  I can deal with dysfunctional behavior.  After all, I have a Master’s degree in Psychology.

But I know that such behavior can spread to others in her world. 

If it spreads to a blood bank tech at one of our hospitals – one for whom she feels the superiority and scorn she feels towards me, it could endanger a hospital account for Lifeshare.

I would not be conscientious if I did not bring to your attention the possibility that Jane’s attitude might contribute to a hostile work environment with one of our hospitals.

I will continue to give my very best work performance to Lifeshare and strive to work with Jane with as little friction as I can arrange on my part. 
Yet, dysfunctional people do not improve unless treated.  Their symptoms only grow worse.

Thank you for reading this.  Respectfully yours, Roland D. Yeomans


Have you ever been bullied by a co-worker at work? 
How did you handle it?

Sunday, May 25, 2014

WHAT YOU SEE IN THE DARK Memorial Day Thoughts

"For myself and thousands of other veterans across this country, Memorial Day is every day."
– Air Force Captain Joshua Carroll

Hemingway with Col. Charles 'Buck' Lanham in Germany, 1944,
during the fighting in Hürtgenwald, after which he became ill with pneumonia.

“Death is the mother of beauty. Only the perishable can be beautiful, which is why we are unmoved by artificial flowers.”
― Wallace Stevens

No American writer is more associated with writing about war in the early 20th century than Ernest Hemingway.

He experienced it firsthand, wrote dispatches from innumerable frontlines, and used war as a backdrop for many of his most memorable works.

“Throw away the light, the definitions, and say what you see in the dark.”
― Wallace Stevens

Researchers come to the Hemingway archives at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library

primarily to examine Ernest Hemingway's original manuscripts and his correspondence with family, friends, and fellow writers.

One object on display is far more consequential:

a piece of shrapnel from the battlefield where Hemingway was wounded during World War I.

Had the enemy mortar attack been more successful that fateful night, the world may never have known one of the greatest writers of the 20th century.

Conversely, had Hemingway not been injured in that attack, he not may have fallen in love with his Red Cross nurse,

a romance that served as the genesis of A Farewell to Arms, one of the century's most read war novels.

Hemingway kept the piece of shrapnel, along with a small handful of other "charms" including a ring set with a bullet fragment, in a small leather change purse.

Similarly he held his war experience close to his heart and demonstrated throughout his life

a keen interest in war and its effects on those who live through it.

War leaves no survivor untouched.

Data compiled from diaries and letters will affirm the presence of psychological disorders in soldiers who fought in the Civil War.

From this body of evidence,

it is clear that soldiers of the American Civil War did indeed suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder and other psychological disorders.

Until the 20th century little was known about the emotional effects of war on soldiers

and it wasn't until soldiers were studied psychologically that we began to understand what had happened to them.

The greatest glory of a free-born people is to transmit that freedom to their children. 
-William Havard

It was due to soldiers of the Vietnam war that the disorder was discovered, yet their symptoms had been synonymous with war veterans from hundreds of years before.

Veterans of war find it hard to be the same, emotionally, ever again.

Some may say that their inability to form close bonds with loved ones is due to the experience of near death and the fear that they will leave someone behind.

The emotional effects of war on soldiers very often hinders their future achievements too as they find it impossible to imagine or plan.

“The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him.”
G.K. Chesterton

Who are you remembering today?
That’s the question for Memorial Day,
the day set aside each spring to honor
the men and woman killed in our nation’s wars ...

Men and women who wanted
to see their loved ones again

But wanted them kept safe even more.