So you can read my books

Friday, February 28, 2014


"I move in all kinds of circles, meet all sorts of people.

I learned engraving from a counterfeiter,

accounting from a swindler.

A succubus once tried to teach me the tango. But nothing doing.

I didn't have the hips for it."  

                                          - Samuel McCord

As Samuel McCord regards his past,

his memories are angels of lightning and storm, sweeping his mind's eye over flashes of pain through the mists of his epic life.

The dying of his mother and sister. His murder of his own father. Discovering the true face of Elu. Losing him to a strange limbo.

Riding beside his new family, the Texas Rangers. Losing that family as he turns his back on the Alamo to rescue a small boy from kidnapping Comanches.

At the age of fifty, having his blood mingled with that of the Angel of Death. Never aging from that moment on. An eternal old man.

Loving the mysterious, undying Meilori Shinseen. Losing her to his compulsion to rescue lost children and battered women.

A man with no home of his own,

making his night club, Meilori's, a home for all the frightened street orphans and hollow-eyed women that cross his path.

But it is a dangerous home, whose back hallways, some say, lead to Hell itself. Samuel himself remains silent on the subject.

Some say he has seen too much to believe in a loving God. Others say he wants to believe but cannot. Still others whisper his silence is because he is already damned.

Meilori's, among more shivering things, is a jazz club.

The people of New Orleans atrophy when kept too far from music and from that special kind of life found only where melody and magic dance in the heavy shadows.

That life is the religion in a city in whose population can be found the most profane, pagan, and deliciously wicked. And their temple?

Meilori's,  of course.

That feared club in which almost anything can happen and in which almost everything has.

Return here Sunday for an up-close and personal visit to Meilori's ... if you dare.
** ***
I think of Samuel McCord whenever I hear this theme.

Listen and you can see him riding into Indian territory, (.50)

riding up a jagged mountain beside a cascading waterfall, and stopping at the peak,

looking out at the far distant horizons for the peace that he knows he will never find.

Thursday, February 27, 2014


ACX, an Amazon owned site, was an excellent way to get your book done as an audiobook:

Until now, these royalties have been pretty generous: 

Creators who agreed to sell exclusively through Amazon and Audible got a rate of 50 to 90 percent, depending on the number of units sold.

Not anymore.

 “Effective for projects started on or after March 12, 2014, titles distributed exclusively to Audible, Amazon, and iTunes 

will earn a non-escalating 40% royalty paid to the Rights Holder (or, on Royalty Share deals, split equally between the Rights Holder and the Producer). "


After March 12th, no producer will want to accept 20% WITH NO HOPE OF ESCALATING RATES.

A quality voice actor charges $3000 for the average book.  Say my audiobook (over which I have no say in its price) sells for $10.

I will have to sell 750 BOOKS to start making my first profit of FOUR DOLLARS.


ACX has this thing called WHISPERSYNC -- 


So now, I have to SELL 3,750 COPIES OF MY AUDIOBOOK 


Let's say I get a voice actor for $1000 -- I STILL HAVE TO SELL 1250 AUDIOBOOKS TO START MAKING A PROFIT.

 Why the change? 

According to ACX, “We are lowering the royalties as we continue our mission to accommodate more audiobook productions."

 How does lowering the incentive to produce audiobooks accommodate more productions? 

Obviously, it is about greed.  The robber barons did it.  

The orange growers during the real-life horrors of THE GRAPES OF WRATH did it. 

Wal-Mart drove the Mom-And-Pop stores under with low prices, only to raise them once the competition was gone.

 Profit is god to many.

ACX states: "Our royalties still remain well above those offered by traditional audiobook publishers.”

But traditional publishers PAY ALL THE PRODUCTION COSTS.

When you catch a monopoly putting a reverse spin on what it is doing, you know the white wash is to hide greed.


ACX's stipend policy helped me to produce END OF DAYS.

Is it like the drug dealer giving you the first hit for free?  Is it all smoke and mirrors to get you hooked?  

There is a petition requesting ACX to reflect on its new policy of upping its percentage to 60%
without bringing anything new to the table: 

What do you think of this?


{Image of Empress Theodora courtesy of the talented Leonora Roy}

Every month the cyber-verse is awash with 1000 new books.

  Most are never heard of again. 

Is your book one of them?  Are you asking WHY?

Here are a few reasons:

 1. The cover is undewhelming.

      Look at your cover.  Is it too cartoony? 
      Is it too intricate? 

      If so, it will be just a blob of
      color in the thumbnail.

      Hire a cover designer if your budget allows or
      spend some serious hours trawling stock photo sites

      (like Dreamstime or Shutterstock)

      to buy an image that you can then use as part of
      your e-book cover design.

       And if your book has been out for a while, 
why not create a limited edition
or anniversary cover revamp to boost sales?

2. Your book description is ... Yaaawn!

      Writing your novel is one thing and writing sales copy that will actually sell your book is a totally different thing. 

       When it comes to selling books, your book description 
does make a difference

       and it is possible to improve it in ways that will help you to attract more browsers and convert these into readers.

             a) You have to hook the reader in immediately.

                 If you don’t grab them with the first line,
                 you’re doomed.

             b) The length of the copy is not important.

                 It should be exactly as long as it needs
                 to be
                 to make the sale –

                 but online,
                 where people skim and speed-read,
                 you need to get the message across 
as succinctly as possible.

             c) The moment you bore somebody, you’ve lost the sale.

                 You need to get them excited:

         "Archeologist and adventurer Indiana Jones
          is hired by the US government to find the
          Ark of the Covenant before the Nazis."

3. The price is not both tempting and suggesting value.

        No matter how fantastic your book is, if it is too expensive, nobody will buy it.

        If it is too cheap, the reader will hold it of little value.  99 cent books are often looked at in that way. 

$1.99 is tempting enough to gamble on with an unknown author while denoting value.

4. The market is too small for your book.

        You could write the best book in the world.
        But, if it appeals to only 1,000 people, then your sales will struggle.

        HOW TO COMPOSE GREGORIAN CHANTS may sing in your veins, but its sales will flounder beside the Titanic.

5. Don't cast your hook in the toilet tank  -- go where the fish are:

      YELL AND TELL does not work in today's internet market.

      When I want to find a new book to read, I don't check FACEBOOK or TWITTER.  I go to:

      Amazon and punch in the genre and sub-genre I want to read.

    The largest source of traffic to your book page and sales from Amazon itself will be due to Amazon search.

     The first thing you must do is keyword research.

Step 1. Google Keyword Research

Go to and search for a general keyword

related to your topic.

First of all, you will have to login to your Google account
if you haven’t already.

Step 1.  you must do is click the Exact button on the left side of the screen under the “Match Types” category:

It’s very important that you use Exact Match when searching for keywords. This tells Google that you want data for EXACT search terms –

meaning Google will count the number of times someone typed in the exact words

Next, click the “Global Monthly Searches” bar to sort the keyword by the most searched.

Once I’m on Amazon’s Kindle Store,
I’m going to type in my keywords into the search box.

Notice how Amazon almost immediately starts recommending keywords and searches to you.

Your 7 Search Keywords

In addition to tags on your book page, Amazon allows

you to choose 7 search keywords to add to your book
when you upload it to Kindle.

If you want to change these 7 search keywords at any time,
just edit your book and change them.

Whereas any customer or Amazon user can tag your book with any tag they see fit, only you, the author,

can choose these 7 search keywords and tell Amazon what keywords are important for your book -

so choose the top seven keywords you think will lead to the most sales for you!

     Post Script: 
 Go to Google or Amazon
             and type in the keywords for your book

             If your book does not come up in the
             first 3 pages, you are virtually
             invisible to all book buyers. 

                         Retool your keywords.

6. You have no reviews:
       when someone else toots your horn,
       the sound goes farther!

     Reviews sell books.  Some people won't buy a book until they see one with 10 good reviews.

     I admit to sucking at this!

     My contests have done nothing to encourage reviews.

But it seems less shabby than buying reviews like John Locke

or going to a site like to find people
    to do reviews for $10 or less.

The key to success isn’t always easy or clear-cut, but the key to failure often is.

If you have produced a good looking, well-written book
but it’s still not selling then go back through this article

to find the missing piece or pieces. 

Once you find a missing piece ... try improving that facet of your novel's presentation.

You really have nothing to lose and a great deal to gain.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014


The ghost of Hemingway sat down opposite me, whisky glass in hand. 

"What are you writing?"

"Next week's post for the Insecure Writer's Support Group, sir."

He snorted "If you have to have your hand held, then you have no business being a writer."

I glanced up from my laptop and looked at him through the bronze mists of Meilori's, saying low,

"You once said,

'Writing, at its best, is a lonely life.'"

He nodded, "I was right then.  I am double right now."

I smiled sadly,

"We all walk in the dark, sir.  But that doesn't mean we have to walk it alone."

"You trouble me sometimes, Roland."

I said, "You once said writing had the “the emotional and spiritual intensity and pure classic beauty” few other endeavors ever possess."

Hemingway gruffed, "Pay heed to your own wisdom and not to others if you would write true."

 "It never hurts to look in the past to see if you can find in it a better path to your future."

Hemingway snorted, "I need a drink after that."

He gulped the rest of his whisky down.  "You want advice to give your friends?  Here's some:

When writing a novel a writer should create living people; people not characters.

A character is a caricature.

If a writer can make people live there may be no great characters in his book,

but it is possible that his book will remain as a whole; as an entity; as a novel.

If the people the writer is making talk of old masters; of music; of modern painting; of letters; or of science

then they should talk of those subjects in the novel.

If they do not talk of those subjects and the writer makes them talk of them he is a faker,

and if he talks about them himself to show how much he knows then he is showing off.

No matter how good a phrase or a simile he may have

if he puts it in where it is not absolutely necessary and irreplaceable he is spoiling his work for egotism.

Prose is architecture, not interior decoration, and the Baroque period is over."

The ghost of F Scott Fitzgerald sat down lazily beside me.  "Posh, old boy.  Even my eyes glazed at that."

He smiled at me.  "I will tell you a secret about most writers:

I’m afraid the price for doing professional work is a good deal higher than they are prepared to pay at present.

You’ve got to sell your heart, your strongest reactions, not the little minor things that only touch you lightly, the little experiences that you might tell at dinner.

This is especially true when you begin to write,

when you have not yet developed the tricks of interesting people on paper, when you have none of the technique which it takes time to learn. When, in short, you have only your emotions to sell.

This is the experience of all writers.

It was necessary for Dickens to put into Oliver Twist the child’s passionate resentment at being abused and starved that had haunted his own abused childhood.

One of Ernest’s first stories ‘In Our Time’ went right down to the bottom of all that he had ever felt and known.

In ‘This Side of Paradise’ I wrote about a love affair that was still bleeding as fresh as the skin wound on a haemophile.

The amateur, seeing how the professional having learned all that he’ll ever learn about writing

can take a trivial thing such as the most superficial reactions of three uncharacterized girls and make it witty and charming —

the amateur thinks he or she can do the same.

But the amateur can only realize his ability to transfer his emotions to another person

by some such desperate and radical expedient as tearing your first tragic love story out of your heart and putting it on pages for people to see.

That, anyhow, is the price of admission.

Whether you are prepared to pay it or, whether it coincides or conflicts with your attitude on what is ‘nice’ is something for you to decide.

But literature, even light literature, will accept nothing less from the neophyte.

It is one of those professions that wants the ‘works.’

You wouldn’t be interested in a soldier who was only a little brave, would you?"

Hemingway snorted, "What would you know of 'brave?'"

Fitzgerald smiled drily, "I was married to Zelda, remember?"

He turned to me.

"If you want to get into the big time, you have to have your own fences to jump and learn from experience.

Nobody ever became a writer just by wanting to be one.

If you have anything to say, anything you feel nobody has ever said before, you have got to feel it so desperately that you will find some way to say it that nobody has ever found before,

so that the thing you have to say and the way of saying it blend as one matter—as indissolubly as if they were conceived together."

The ghost of Mark Twain settled in the chair on the other side of me as he shook his head.

"Lord, but don't you boys love to pontificate in prose storm clouds!"

He slapped my arm.  "I will tell you the simple secrets of writing well:

An author should say what he is proposing to say, not merely come near it.

He should use the right word, not its second cousin.

And above all else he should eschew surplusage!"

Hemingway groused, "I need another drink."

To those of you who
wrote me here and by email,
encouraging me
about my surgery --

Tuesday, February 25, 2014


For those of you who bought my books, there is a plus to your generosity!

Usually $18,
certain of my audiobooks can be bought for a mere $1.99

if you've already bought the Kindle edition!

Listen to this haunting tale of horror and love
It is 1853. An undead Texas Ranger is on board a cursed ship in search of a murderer who is wearing the face of her last victim as a mask.

{Cover photo courtesy of Steve Z's Photography}
Review for a shot at autographed AVENGERS cast photo!
Drawing held when 10 reviews for THE AUDIOBOOK are submitted.

Samuel McCord fights his last battle!
Listen to the LAST FAE
When the world is mad, there is little else to do
but show them what true insanity is!
Can a man marry both the moon and the sun?
Loving the moon and the sun at the same time causes no end of grief
to one lost clone.
Mankind's time is nearly up. 
Can the last Lakota shaman
save the soul of the assassin he loves before the end?
Souls At The Crossroads
What is the end of the tragic love of
Samuel McCord and Empress Meilori Shinseen?
What if Stephen King wrote of the life of a blood courier?

Monday, February 24, 2014



My friends have been asking how it went --

Freddie, my friend and supervisor, and my other co-workers looked out for me as much as was possible on a hectic day.

Those who didn't know about my surgeries asked why all the bandages on my face. 

I told them those girl scouts were tough!  Who knew that they would take it personal with me saying NO to their cookies?

My legs were wobbly, my head light, my surgery sites throbbing ... but not as bad as I had feared.

I dragged back to my apartment, rewarded myself with French Toast.  Sniff.  Sniff.  Was that smoke?

I popped a pain pill, put in the DVD of CAPTAIN AMERICA ( my guilty pleasure -- I am in love with Agent Carter)

and started munching on my French Toast, wiggling my tired toes.

Flashing red lights burned through the kitchenette window.  A near-by apartment in my complex was on fire!

I hurriedly put on my shoes.  I rushed out.  Four fire trucks!  No sirens.  Just lots of men, hoses, and smoke.

Luckily, the fire department quickly put it out before it spread!

Freddie, whose cousin is a Captain in the Fire Department, called him and he called me, concerned for my safety,

knowing I am twitchy about fire since my home burned.

I assured him that I was all right and that no one was injured.  He told me, "Roland, there's Bad Luck and then there's Roland Luck."

I agreed. 

"Yes: no one was hurt.  The fire didn't spread.  And the damage was much less than it could have been: exactly the kind of luck the Father graces me with."

So how was your day?
Tony Laplume has just come out with an excellent vampire novel Pale Moonlight
available in electronic and print editions. 
Congratulations, Tony!

Sunday, February 23, 2014


... and to his friends.

D.G. Hudson, in the footsteps of Sean at the Midlist Writer , has written a fine post about my recent cancer surgery and some of my books.
  But enough about me.  What do you think of me? 
Just kidding.
While great joy makes us love the world, it is great pain that makes us understand it.
The ghost of Mark Twain tells me that your whole life shows in your face, so then live as to like the reflection you see in the mirror.
I know I would like D.G.'s face from the part of her life she has shared with me.  In like manner, I know I would like the faces of all of you have been so kind to me these past few days.
Tomorrow I start a 7 day work week to re-pay my work-friends who have pitched in to help me these past 5 days. 
And I cannot walk across my apartment without my legs trembling and my head spinning.
As so many times in my past, I will do what I must ... and with the Father's help succeed.
Please visit D.G.'s blog so that the number of her visitors will not go down because she is being kind to a friend.
Thanks to all of you.  :-)

Saturday, February 22, 2014


Those of you who have written to me here and in emails

do not know what comfort you have given me in the darkness. 

My head is throbbing, spinning, and so light I figure it will lift off my shoulders before I finish this post!

  But I owe each of you a bit of my heart which all of you have held in your cyber-hands these past days. 

So I will finish this ... or it will finish me!  :-)

I have been reading my own HER BONES ARE IN THE BADLANDS to see just what Erica and others who have bought it might be punished with as they read. 

Towards the end, my hero, Samuel McCord, has just "won," making crying, grieving orphans in the process, and he reflects:

This was one of those times in a man’s life when the recognition of his limitations, his eventual death brings him to a high place in his thinking.

His life is spread out before him: the twists and turns of it, the "smart" choices that turned out to be anything but. The ordinary flow of his life stops, and he sees his existence as a whole.

He decides anew what truly gives life meaning and what takes away from a worthwhile life. It was a ritual of reckoning.

I have always believed that, no matter what Elu said, there was only one story in all the world.

Men are caught, in their lives, in their thoughts, in their hungers and ambitions, in their greed and cruelty, and in their kindness and generosity, too, in a net of good and evil.

 There is no other story. A man, after he has brushed off the dirt and blood of his life, will have left only two hard questions: Was my life good or was it evil?

As I faced the thought of cancer and this surgery,

I have thought about what I have done with my life.  Seeing my former young customer become my surgeon told me one decision at least had been a good seed.

Our choices determines the answer to Samuel's two questions.  Your lives in reaching out and touching mine have been very good. 

In another novel of mine, DEATH IN THE HOUSE OF LIFE, McCord has been led into a Cairo alley to be killed by his wife's aide, Hayato:

"My Empress loves you. I accept that lunacy. You make her weak. That is unacceptable now when so much rides upon her thinking clearly."

His falcon eyes studied me. "You and I are killers. It is our nature. The difference is that you fight yours. I accept mine."

Hayato said softly, "I live for my Empress. I see in your eyes that you would gladly die for her. I kill you, and I will die. No matter. If my Empress lives, I die happily."

He stared at the fiery dagger and then back to me. "The world will not miss either one of us. It will be cleaner for our deaths. You and I have done evil things."

"Evil things," he repeated softly, looking into the darkness within him.

I heard the four Ningyo approach me from behind closer and closer. The four Ningyo assassins ahead were doing the same. I was glad Ada and Churchill weren’t here.

Hayato looked up into the stars. "Good men. Evil men. I do not think they exist. I think that there are only good decisions and evil decisions."

He looked deep into my eyes. "What is the good decision here, McCord Pasha?"

The silence stretched long, long in the cold desert night.

Thank you all for making the good decision in regards to me and my crisis.  I will leave you with an exchange with Samuel and his beloved Meilori:

Her wet eyes swallowed me.  “How often, Samuel, have I seen you and not seen you?  There you stand so filled with love for me.  A kind of light spreads out from you.  And everything changes color for me. 

And a day becomes good to savor.  And there are no limits to anything.  And the humans of this world are suddenly tolerable.”
          Her velvet voice thickened.  “And I am not alone anymore.”

I could feel the sand beneath my boots again.  My own eyes grew wet.  The world became possible again.  A great welling silence swept up the insides of the tent.  All became my eyes for her and hers for me.  We smiled.  The others started breathing again.

Perhaps this was the treasure that Man sought the world over, never realizing it was in the heart of another who looked upon him with love.  In this world where anguish and pain seemed to reign, where darkness swallows the light of innocents, perhaps clinging to what love we find is the only light we will ever have.

Thank you for sharing the light of your hearts with me these past days.  Now, I have to rest this spinning, throbbing head a bit!!