So you can read my books

Wednesday, June 29, 2011


Don't forget to order your copy of STORIES FOR SENDAI. It will help the hurting in Japan and not get you on the bad side of Mesmer. Brrrr. :

My 400 word Friday entry for the Romantic Challenge given by Francine and Denise comes from the sequel to LOVE LIKE DEATH. Its title? THE PATH BACK TO DAWN.

Sixteen year old Blake Adamson has lost his heart both to a fallen angel and an alien succubus. Neither will share him. One or the other will kill him. Fallen, of THE LAST FAE, already has chained him to a tree in the wilderness to slowly starve rahter than chance him being corrupted by the infamous DayStar.

Kirika, the succubus, and Hone Heke, the fearsome Maori warrior, have been stunned to discover Blake still alive after six months of starvation.

He has survived by eating half of one of Idun's golden apples of imortality, gift of the Odin Raven, Muninn. He has saved the other half for the two girls he loves more than his own life.

In giving the saved quarter to Kirika, the succubus, who has found him, Blake finds love is never what he expects :

I frowned at my trembling. I was so weak. I fumbled at the button cinching my left shirt pocket.

I looked at Kirika. “W-Would you?”

She teasingly slapped my fingers. “The first of many buttons I will gladly undo, beloved.”

Beloved. I saw images of us wrapped in each other’s arms, doing things I knew we shouldn’t.

Not with Hone standing right there.

She quickly undid the button. Smiling wickedly, she dug into my pocket. She jerked her hand away.

Hone snapped, “What kind of trick did you pull?”

Kirika shook her head. “No tricks, Hone. Only a love that shames me.”

I pulled out the glowing slice of Idun’s apple. I looked at it. It wasn’t a jewel, but why was Kirika acting this way? Hone looked sick.

“I - I know it isn’t much --”

“Not much? Starving to death, you kept this. For me. Beyond the diamonds of suitors, I will treasure this gift.”

She slowly took it from my fingers. “Always.”

She brought it to my lips. “Now, eat, beloved.”

Muninn cawed, “Do not worry, Lady Kirika. He hast eaten a full half of ...”

Muninn looked like he could have bitten off his tongue

Kirika quickly reached into my right shirt pocket. Her eyes narrowed into slits.

“You saved a quarter for the Sidhe bitch? Fallen? She who left you chained to a tree to die slowly of starvation? You insult me!”

Muninn rasped,“I beg thee to pause an instant.”

Kirika spit in my face. I jerked. Time to leave.

“Hold, young fool. She dost not understand.”

Kirika husked, “Enlighten me, raven.”

“Hast thou truly tasted of this one’s spirit?”

“I was deceived by my loneliness.”

“Perhaps thou hast forgotten what meaning the boy places on his left side.”

“I do not understand.”

“Dost thou see no significance in his placing the apple he meant for thee in the pocket --- over his heart?”

Kirika’s lips quivered. She threw slender arms around me. “What a jealous fool I am! You did choose me over her. Over her.”

She kissed me. I couldn’t enjoy it. I would have placed her slice in my right pocket but for Muninn’s request. Muninn murmured in my ear.

“Sayest the truth, and I wilt peck out thine eye as I didst Odin’s.”

My silence was to spare Kirika’s heart not my eye. But it wasn’t any less a lie.


Tuesday, June 28, 2011


Mesmer, the only cat in the French Quarter to own a restaurant, was sitting next to me at my usual corner table.

I whispered, “Mesmer, you be on your best behavior with J.C. Martin.”

Mesmer slowly raised one eyebrow. She was the daughter of Bast, proud and mysterious. I whispered again, “This is about helping the hurting in Japan.”

Mesmer heaved her “Oh, all right” sigh. Just in time. The lovely J.C. sat down opposite us. She oohed, “What a lovely cat” and won Mesmer right over.

“Let’s answer a question I bet a lot of folks are asking. J.C. :


“Stories for Sendai is a collection of nineteen short stories (including one by you, Roland)

{Mesmer covered her phony yawn with a paw – she likes to keep me humble}

and one poem. Some are inspired by the events of the earthquake in Sendai; others are simply stories of hope and inspiration.

All are themed around the strength of the human spirit. Proceeds from the sale of the book will go towards aid efforts to rebuild earthquake and tsunami hit regions in Japan.”

Mesmer whispered a question in my ear {Unlike all other cats who have two sets of vocal chords – one for purring and one for meowing, Mesmer has a third set – one for speaking},

and I repeated the whispered question.

“What was the birth of STORIES FOR SENDAI?”

"One of the largest earthquakes ever recorded hit the city of Sendai in the Tohoku region of Japan on Friday March 11. The magnitude 9.0 quake unleashed a deadly tsunami that slammed into Japan’s east coast,

leaving a swathe of devastation in its wake. Thousands of people lost their lives, and many are still missing or injured. Thousands more have been left homeless and destitute.

As a testament to the generosity of the world’s citizens, emergency appeals have been swiftly set up in the aftermath of the quake,

but I’m sure many of you, as we did, had the same thought: our donations seem so puny. There must be some other way we could make a difference!

With that in mind, Stories for Sendai was born!”

“What are your hopes for the project?,” I asked.

Aside from raising funds to support aid efforts, we also hope that our combined messages of strength in the face of adversity, of silver linings in storm clouds, will shine a light in these dark times, providing a brief respite in a time of crisis.”

Mesmer nodded her regal head in approval, and J.C. hurried to say,

“I didn’t do this monumental task alone. I would like to thank my co-editor Michelle Davidson Argyle for all her help and advice. Without her experience and know-how, I would probably still be bumbling through everything now!

Also big thanks to our talented book cover designer, the wonderful Fena Lee. She is open to commissions, and her prices are very reasonable, from free!

I am also super-grateful to all our contributing authors. Whether their work was included in the anthology or not, they all submitted wonderful pieces that they no doubt worked so hard on, all without expecting anything in return! Without their generosity, this anthology would not have been possible!

Thanks to all the bloggers, Tweeters, readers and fellow writers who have supported us so far. This project is only possible by word of mouth, and I thank you all for helping spread the word!

And finally, a big thank you in advance to anyone who purchases a copy of the book! You’ll not only have a lovely little gem of a book, you’ll also have contributed to a very worthy cause!”

“Where can I get my copy of Stories for Sendai?”

Stories for Sendai will be available in both print and digital format.”

J. C looked shocked, for Mesmer was pawing through her own copy of STORIES FOR SENDAI. She noticed J.C.’s surprise and purred smugly.

“Ah, Mesmer, has her own sources, J.C. Anything else your readers should know?”

“Yes! We are trying to get as many people as possible to purchase a copy of Stories for Sendai tomorrow, the 30th! The more people who buy a copy, the higher up the charts we’ll climb, the more exposure we’ll get!

Also, we’re running a prize drawing until July 15th. All you have to do is to buy a copy of Stories for Sendai, and to email a copy of your receipt to storiesforsendai (at) ymail (dot) com. You’ll be in the running for all sorts of cool prizes, including Amazon gift vouchers, books, and critiques! You get one entry per purchase, so why not buy a few extra copies for friends and family?”

J.C. noticed Mesmer was gone, and that a black rose was in a vase by her iced tea.

I smiled, “Mesmer likes you.”

“Where did she go?”

“If I know Mesmer – off to persuade some Shadowlanders to buy STORIES FOR SENDAI.”

“Uh, thank her for me. And thank you for this ... experience.”

Monday, June 27, 2011


I've been told that that my style is more literary than commercial, and it started me thinking.

What has your style been labeled? How do you think an agent would catagorize it?

Are we victims of a pigeon-holing system in our queries? Don't blondes hate it when you lump them all together?

Jocks and geeks are not all the same. Nor are all politicians dishonest. Ah, I may have chosen the wrong example there.

But what is commercial and literary fiction anyway, and why is it so important for agents to know what kind of fiction we're submitting?

I.) Commercial Fiction in a nutshell :

This type of story appeals to a wide audience, has a distinct plot, and its characters actively pursue a goal or overcome a challenge.

These stories are primarily read for entertainment.

There are many categories of commercial fiction, classified by genre and sub-genres.

Each genre has basic elements that readers expect to see in the stories. Some commercial fiction may appeal to more than one type of audience, and can be considered mainstream.

II.) Literary Fiction in Freudian clarity :

These stories focus more on internal conflict than external events,

the plot is less obvious,

and there is an emphasis on artistic prose rather than the more straightforward storytelling seen in commercial fiction.

There is usually extensive development of the characters, with a slower pace,

and less emphasis on what happens and more on the character’s reaction to what happens.

III.) Ah, the penny drops (as they used to say in New Zealand.)

But this time literally. The agent is interested in how marketable our novel is.

With commercial fiction you get :

Wide audience. Action. Crisp, easy-to-digest prose. Wide market. High sales.

(Yes, "wide audience" is the same as 'Wide Market." I did that on purpose. Both mean profits hence an easier sale.)

With literary fiction you get :

The opposite ... which is death in today's market.

IV.) Agents are looking for a hot date to take to the Prom.

Literacy is not an essential. Just action, looks, and above all else ... not being boring.

After all, readers can be bored for free. And no one likes being lectured to.

V.) Think about it :

Who would you want to share a roadtrip with, Tony Stark, even without the Iron Man armor, or Hamlet?

A no-brainer, right?

VI.) A commercial hero takes matters in his own hands. A literary hero is swept up by events.

You snorgle in a genre novel. You deep-sea dive in a literary fiction.

VII.) Your prose can be both pretty and filled with action.

It is a danger however.

The beauty of your prose may have an agent knee-jerk shove you into the literary slot,

which in today's market happens to be the garbage shute.

Ouch. What do you think? Why do you write what you write?
So? Is this movie literary or commercial?

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Victor Standish's new favorite read : VAMPIRE IN THE OUTFIELD

I sat with my nose happily in my Kindle. My ghoul friend, Alice, flowed silently beside me.

My trap was set. I kept busily turning the pages with the button, apparently not noticing her fidget. I smiled wickedly.

"How do you wiggle without moving?," I couldn't keep from laughing.

"How do you keep on reading with me in this short skirt and low Gothic Lolita top?"

I grinned slyly, "Peripheral vision is a beautiful thing."

Alice snatched Walter's gift from my hands. "Oh, you!"

She smacked me on top of the head with my Kindle. "Ouch! But hey, the eyeful I got was worth it."

Father Renfield was suddenly by Alice's side. He took VAMPIRE IN THE OUTFIELD from Alice.

"Walter gave that to me."

I smiled wide, "I figured you knew all about vampires, Padre."

His sharp canines showing, Father Renfield glowered at me. "Maybe Walter thought I could do with a few laughs?"

Captain Sam smiled at the smoldering Alice, tugging up her Gothic Lolita top. "I think Victor just gave a few to us."

"To you, men, perhaps," murmured Ada Byron.

She curled an arm around my ghoul friend, making me figet as I remembered her, ah, thoughts on what gender was sexy. "Come, Alice. Let us girls put our heads together."

Alice showed her much too sharp teeth at me. "Yes, payback is a terrible thing to waste."

I groaned. I was always too smart for my own good!

Oh, if you guys want to read VAMPIRE IN THE OUTFIELD yourselves, go to :

Oh, Olivia, Alice, Captain Sam, the Padre, and the rest of us at Meilori's wish you a HAPPY BIRTHDAY. And Wendy Tyler Ryan, you enjoy that jazz concert and get better, you hear?!p>


As my old friend, Donna, pointed out :

there are some of my new friends that may not know of the history of Victor and his ghoul friend, Alice.

Here is the link to their first meeting, told from both perspectives :

But now, Lenny, for your story told by Victor Standish himself :

{Since it is 110 degrees in my apartment, I asked Victor to make it a nice chilly Christmas story! LOL.}

Alice and I stumbled through the mirror. Elu, that Apache Trickster, had surprised us both by grabbing and pulling us into his mirror world.

His Christmas present he laughed.

We came out in the middle of a roaring fireplace. We jumped right out of that blasted inferno. Lucky for us it was big enough to roast a buffalo.

"Oh, my!," gasped Alice as she looked all around.

"What you said, " I whispered.

We were in a humongous great hall. Three gleaming tables ran down the length of it. Twelve giant Christmas trees lined the stone walls.

And it was snowing.

Snowing! Snowing inside this enormous hall. Each flake seemed to be singing. And glowing with a tiny gleam of winter laughter.

I looked up, and my mouth dropped down.

Dozens upon dozens of tall candles were floating high above us, right below a vaulted ceiling painted to look like a night's sky.

I went a little cold. The fluffy clouds were moving. One slowly covered the spectral full moon.

Alice gasped, "Oh my, where are we?"

I smiled crooked, "We're not in Kansas any more, Toto."

"You are so not funny!"

An old man's voice rumbled behind us. "And you are in so much trouble."

I sighed, "Oh, crap -- ah, merde."

The man laughed. "It still means the same thing."

I turned around slowly. "Yeah, but when you're in the company of a beautiful .... Oh, wow."

The man was tall, thin and very old, judging by the silver of his hair and beard, which were both long enough to tuck into his belt.

He was wearing long robes, a purple cloak which swept the ground and high-heeled, buckled boots. His blue eyes were light, bright and sparkling behind half-moon spectacles.

And his nose was very long and crooked, as though it had been broken at least twice.

"Merlin?," I croaked.

He smiled like Santa Claus and said, "Albus Dumbledore. And you?"

I smiled back. "I'm Victor Standish, and this is ..."

His smile turned impish, "Your ... ghoul friend, Alice Wentworth."

Alice looked like she was about to kick a shin, but he chuckled so good-naturedly that she relaxed smooth as you please. I just had to learn how to chuckle like that.

Alice looked shocked. "Y-You do not mind that I am a ghoul?"

He reached out and gently patted her head. "It is our choices that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities. And your choices have always come from a good heart."

Alice's neon-blue eyes widened. "How do you know that?"

Dumbledore laughed softly. "Because I am quite possibly the most powerful wizard of my time."

"And humble, too," I snorted.

Alice slapped my left arm. "Hush! We are uninvited guests. Show some manners."

I grinned sheepish. "We didn't mean to barge into ...."


I frantically searched my face with flying fingers. "Where?"

He smiled amused and sad all at once. "Where you're standing."

I leapt back, looking at the spot I just left. "I don't see anything."

Alice rolled her eyes. "He means the place we are standing, this great hall, genius."

"Oh, I knew tha ...."

I suddenly heard a whispery, dirty-silk voice inside my head. "Kill. Kill. Kill!"

Dumbledore saw my look and tapped my arm. "You heard the basilisk?"

I brightened up considerably. I could pay my way here. Perhaps even get one of those roast turkeys on the tables.

Maybe they would be magic, and Alice could actually eat it without getting sick. Now, that would be a great Christmas present.

"Hey, I'm no Perseus, mind you, but I could fight that monster for you."

Alice frowned, "That is the Medusa you are thinking about!"

Dumbledore smiled like a forgiving grandfather. "You meant well. But this challenge is for someone else's growth."

I heard a thunder of footfalls, and three voices arguing like good friends will at the other end of this enormous hall.

"Speaking of which," Dumbledore said. "Here he comes now with his two friends of legend."

"Legend?," I asked.

Dumbledore nodded with such a sad look to his wise face. "Yes, but the legend will come at great price."

I nodded back. "Yeah, that's the sucky, ah, bad thing about being a legend : the price tag that goes with it."

Dumbledore gestured, and a silver platter filled to overflowing with a roast turkey appeared in his hands. He gave it to a stunned Alice.

"But, sir, I cannot eat this without becoming ill."

He mussed my hair. "You were right, Victor, it is magic. Your Alice can eat her full of this."

He turned to her seriously. "But only on Christmas Night."

Alice look troubled. "Oh, tell me that I can share."

Dumbledore's eyes sparkled with eyes both happy and sad. "Alice, that is the truth of Christmas. There is no joy unless you share."

"Oh, thank you, Mr. Dumbledore."

He smiled at some private joke it seemed, and shook his head. "Your champion thought of it as payment for slaying the basilisk."

"But I didn't kill it," I protested.

He sighed, "Just this once I wanted intent to be worthy of merit. But I cannot let you be seen by my approaching three young legends. Off with you!"

The world exploded in stars. A ghostly music filled the air. I heard Dumbledore's whisper in my ear, though all I saw was a rainbow showering all around me.

"Tell Elu to shepherd his own legends."

I felt my hair mussed again. "And tell him thank you for giving me the opportunity to share joy."

Then, Alice and I were back in the real world. Or as real as it ever got for me.

Thursday, June 23, 2011


Due to my work schedule, Thursday has become Friday!

Don't you hate when work does that to you?

Denise and Francine have given us the theme, LOVE HURTS :

My 399 word entry is from CREOLE KNIGHTS :

Samuel McCord is walking deep into his club to face what he believes will be his last showdown. Before he dies, he wants to say goodbye to an old friend, Oscar Wilde.

Sam is wearing the spurs of Hephaestus. The first artifact the Olympian made. A gift for Aphrodite. A gift which maimed him. Finding them long ago, Samuel had given them back to Hephaestus, hoping the Olympian could undo the past.

Not even Olympians can do that miracle. And so, Hepaestus both loved and hated Samuel for the attempt.

In the chamber which is Wilde's eternal party, Samuel finds him speaking to the courtesan Cora Pearl and Count de Morny, old friends from his days aboard the cursed DEMETER :

I walked into the chamber. The piano changed tunes mid-chord. Beethovan's Moonlight Sonata began.

I turned to see who was playing. I saw grim features under shaggy brows. Hephaestus.

Oscar Wilde was bending his head next to the cold sunrise of Cora's hair. He laughed. Then, he smiled and spoke to both the courtesan and Count de Morny in low conspiratory tones.

"You ask what I stole from Samuel. Why his words, of course. One evening I spied what he was writing to his beloved Meilori."

Cora hushed, "You actually read one of his love letters to Lady Meilori?"

"Indeed. What were the words? Ah, yes :

'What can I tell you by letter? Nothing that I would tell you in person.

The heart of love travels not by pen and ink. Your presence here would not make you any more real, for I feel your fingers in my hair, and your cheek brushing mine.

The air is full of the music of your voice. My soul and body seem no longer mine but mingled in some strange way with yours.

I feel incomplete without you.

Always and Forever, Samuel.'"

Hephaestus glanced at my spurs as he played. The Olympian's fingers sparkled magic.

A day seven years dead echoed around me. The night Meilori left me. The night I died.

Hephaestus had been playing the Moonlight Sonata then, too. He must truly hate me to make me relive it.

Once again I smelled her jasmine perfume, looked into jade eyes narrowing in rage, heard her velvet voice becoming ice.

"You are leaving my side for her?"

"I'm only trying to make sure the adoption goes through, Meilori.Eve is Mossad. I'm having to pull every string I have left in Israel to insure ..."

" ... your whore has a family for you."

"No, Meilori. You're my family, my world."

"I ... I cannot give you children -- so you make that wanton ..."

"You know Eve's not that way."

"I know? I have seen how she looks at you. You must think me blind. Kiss me, Samuel. Kiss me the liar's kiss that says 'I love you' but means you only love yourself."

She slapped me and stormed out of the chamber and into the night, taking with her my soul.

I jerked at the memory. The pain jolted me back into the present. Hephaestus smiled.

Monday, June 20, 2011

from the pages of THE LAST FAE comes LOVE LIKE DEATH

Magic has its price. So does love.

So it is not too surprising that to fall in love with a Sidhe is a fearsome thing.

To also fall in love with a being born of stardust and the sea at the same time is to walk the razor's edge.

Fallen, last of the Tuatha de Danann, fell in love with a strange teenager in THE LAST FAE.

In LOVE LIKE DEATH, Fallen learns his name (Blake Adamson) and more ...

she learns that there is a steep price to trusting your fears over your heart.

And what does Blake Adamson learn?

That it is hard to discern shadow from substance in that twilight realm between death and life where he meets ...

Solomon, the not-panther, who must live by rules that dare not be spoken.

Maija, succubus, who would kill Blake if only she could.

Huginn and Muninn, the two ravens that are the living embodiment of his Id and Ego.

Fallen of the etheral body and predator eyes, whose love wounds.

Kirika, alien born of stardust and the sea, whose love kills.

And DayStar, rumored to be the young teenager fully grown.

{Cover courtesy of the creative genius of that siren from Genoa, Italy, Orietta Rossi. Format and cover font crafted by the talented Wendy Tyler Ryan}



You read my title and said,

"Get real."


Get real. Or never get picked up by an agent.

As a writer of urban fantasy,

I have to convince my readers that Samuel McCord and his friends and enemies are real,

or they will never buy my fantastical setting and plot as "real."

No matter what you write, you must do the same. Or the readers will never become absorbed into your novel.

How do you do that?

By remembering ...

1) "God and Country" ain't what it used to be.

Duty and honor were once valid motivations. But Shakespeare is dead.

This is the "Me" generation. Even if you're writing about women in the 1700's, you are not writing FOR them.

Abigail Adams sacrificed much for her husband and family. But her letters showed a woman who insisted on owning her own property and money

(very much NOT the custom of the time.)

All of us have had to deal with a situation, not because it was honorable, but because it was heaved into our laps.

Abigail comes across as real because her letters showed she resented her husband's ambition that took him from his children and her so often and for so long.

She fumed at his inability to get along with others.

Ambition, vanity, irritability -- she saw his warts. But they were warts on a face she loved. We can "buy" a woman who sees clearly but loves deeply.

2) Ah, Love ...

"Put the rat cage on her. On her!"

In 1984, Winston is tortured by the Thought Police until he finally breaks and screams for his tormenter to put the rat cage on Julia, the woman he "loves."

Sex is a primal motivator not love.

Man will sacrifice much for love but generally there must be a good chance of success, or your average reader will feel your novel is cliche not real.

Your hero may be different and sacrifice all for love, but that extremism must apply to all facets of his life or your reader will not "buy" your hero.

3.) Curiosity killed the cat ... and the bad novel.

Without curiosity, fire and most of Man's discoveries would never have been made. But as with love, there is a limit to how much we will sacrifice for curiosity.

When a mother's children are threatened by her curiosity, she will generally grudgingly back off.

Up the punishment enough, and all of us curious types will say, "I'm outta here!"

But by the time that moment comes, realistically, it is too late. And that leads us to the next point :

4) Self-preservation or
"I'll miss you terribly, but that last life preserver is mine!"

We like to think the world is a nice place. But try being an ill, frail woman on a crowded bus and see how selfless most people are.

To continue when threats to his life are enormous, your main character must have more than self-preservation to keep on --

perhaps he/she cannot depend on the promises or threats of the adversary to keep his/her children and spouse safe.

Or as so often in life, the hero simply has no choice but to go on. The bee hive has been toppled -- and it's simply run or be stung to death.

5) Greed or

"Excuse me. Is that my hand in your pocket?"

Greed is good -- as Michael Douglas once said. But only up to a point.

For one thing, greed is not something which endears our hero to the reader. Another, shoot at most greedy folks, and they will head for more hospitable hills.

5) Revenge consumes ... the individual and the reader's patience.

Revenge is understandable but not heroic.

In historical or Western novels, where justice was bought or simply non-existent, revenge is a valid motivation ...

often justified under the rationalization, justice.

Revenge in our civilized times must occur when lapses in order happen.

Say when civilization died with the power in New Orleans during and after Katrina.

Revenge on your adversary's part must be understandable, or your plot will become cliche. Revenge must be supplemented with other aspects of the character.

Say a priest, defending his flock of homeless during Katrina, must choke off his desire for revenge for a raped little girl

to stay by his remaining flock to protect them. Playing the desire for revenge against love for helpless family can lend depth to your novel --

making it real.

For who of us has not burned for revenge against a tresspass against us but had to bite back the darkness within?

6) We want to believe ...

Despite all the harsh things I've said of love (and by inference, friendship), the reader wants to believe ...

A) that when the moment comes, we can reach within ourselves and find the hero hiding there.

B) that love can survive dark, hard times if we but simply refuse to let go of it.

C) that humor and wit can overcome the larger, stronger predator -- that we can become Ulysses challenging the gods -- and winning.

7) Give your readers a semblance of reality while still giving them the three things that they want to believe of themselves and of life --

and your novel will be a bestseller.

Saturday, June 18, 2011


It was an average night at Meilori's : one vivisection, two mysterious disappearances, and only three homicides by various undead patrons.

The beautiful Raquel Byrnes sat opposite me to talk about her latest book, PURPLE KNOT.

Father Renfield sat beside her, sipping his glass half-filled with ...

"Say it's V-8 juice," he smiled. "It will make your blog friends feel more comfortable."

"All but one of them," said Raquel with a swallow.

To keep her mind off his red-smeared canines, I asked, "Who is your favorite author and is your writing style similar to theirs?"

"Ah, my favorite contemporary author is John Sandford. He writes the “Prey” novels. I recently read Storm Prey and loved it. My writing style is completely NOT like his. He writes gritty cop procedurals and I write romance."

Alice Wentworth glided to our table, giving Victor Standish heavy-lidded looks. "I just love romances."

Victor cleared his throat, "Ah-hem, Miss Byrnes, "When naming your characters, do you give any thought to the actual meaning?"

Raquel smiled knowingly, "At first I thought I didn’t, but someone pointed out that all of my heroines have a name that begins with the letter “R”…being that so does mine, I’m wondering if there’s a reason."

Father Renfield put down his empty glass, cocking his head, "I've travelled so much over this weary world. What is the most inspiring place you have ever visited and why?"

"I think that Whidbey Island off the coast of Washington state truly inspires me. A heavily forested place, it’s so different in terms of terrain and sensory input than my own dessert home."

Sam McCord eased like a tiger into the seat next to me. " Where in the world would you love to visit that you haven't been and why?"

Before tonight, I would have said that I would have loved to visit Louisiana, particularly Bayou LaFourche. I did a lot of research for a book on that parish and although it’s not exotic, it has meaning for me."

Sam smiled easy, "Why is that?"

"It gave me my favorite compliment from a reader. "I got an email from a woman who grew up in Louisiana and she had read an excerpt of my third book set in that bayou of Louisiana.

She called to ask me when I’d lived there and she found out I’ve never been, she said I captured it spot on. That made me feel awesome."

I nodded, "Of course it did. It would have done the same for me."

I asked, "Do you write to music like I do? If so, what kind? Does it change what you write?"

"I write to soundtracks. I have music from the movie The Gift, a spooky gothic feel, and I used it to write my third novel set in the bayou.

I usually pump techno like The Chemical Brothers for car chases and fight scenes.

Sweeping violins from Pride and Prejudice for love scenes…than kind of thing. Goes with the movie playing in my head."

Victor smirked, "I've always been fond of BOND."

Alice gave his shin a whack. "You mean their short skirts!"

I raised an eyebrow at the two of them and sighed, "Do any of your characters speak to you?"

"Yes, but I’ll completely deny this. My husband swears he catches me arguing with them."

Victor snickered, "I never argue with Roland. I just point out where he's wrong."

I glared at him and asked Raquel, "What is the stupidest thing you've ever done?"

"I went ice-blocking with friends. We hauled a huge block of clear ice to a golf course and rode the hills on it.

I got run over and then the sprinklers turned on and we could barely stay on our feet. It was November…cold!"

"I hate the cold," murmured Alice.

Victor squeezed her long fingers. "I learned to love it."

Sam cleared his throat, "What is your favorite weapon of choice for slaying?"

"I guess I would have to go with flame thrower for monsters in general…but scimitar for zombies."

Alice shook her head 'No'. "You must never let zombies get close enough that you must use an edged weapon."

Alice bent down. "Those are lovely tatoos."

"I have several tattoos. The ones you can see are on each inner wrist. Left wrist has a quill and ink bottle, the right has a black butterfly. They are reminders to me."

Sam looked off into the shadows. "I have too many reminders."

To get his mind off the pain he was remembering, I asked Raquel, "Which character from The Breakfast Club were you most like in high school?"

Raquel smiled, knowing what I was doing, "I was a cross between the nerd and the outcast. I wrote for the literary magazine and was very dark and artsy with my black clothes, but I was in AP classes and loved pep rallies."

Victor laughed, "I've certainly had to rally for pep some days."

I frowned and turned back to Raquel, "What is the strangest compliment/insult a person has ever given you?"

"When they found out I was an author they said it explained a lot. Not sure what he meant."

Alice twisted about suddenly, looking at the entrance where a tall man in a gray Armani suit was just strolling in. Shadows danced about him as if they were alive.

"Oh, my," Alice hushed. "Not him!"

Sam and Renfield shot to their feet, helping Raquel to her feet.

Sam smiled, his face tight. "Time for lovely ladies to keep their scalps."

Raquel turned her head over her shoulder as she was hurriedly led out the side door. "It's been ... an experience, Roland."
Raquel Byrnes lives in Southern, California with her husband of sixteen years and their six children.

She considers inspirational fiction a wonderful way to minister to others. She writes romantic suspense with an edge-your-seat pace.

Her first book the Shades of Hope Series, Purple Knot, releases on June 3rd from White Rose Publishing.

You can visit her at her website: and her writing blog, Edge of Your Seat Romance

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Friday Romantic Challenge_UP,UP, & AWAY_NEW ORLEANS ARABESQUE

This Friday, Denise and Francine, have challenged us to do a romantic entry on the theme : UP, UP, AND AWAY :

My 400 word entry is from the sequel to CREOLE KNIGHTS, NEW ORLEANS ARABESQUE.

My best friend, Sandra, loves books like THE BOURNE IDENTITY and THE DA VINCI CODE, so I made the middle of NEW ORLEANS ARABESQUE be a meld of both books.

Samuel McCord kneels by the murdered body of a young prostitute and promises her spirit that he will find those responsible.

Fulfilling that promise takes him around the world :
Amsterdam, Jerusalem, and finally to the secret catacombs beneath the Vatican.

Each face he meets is but a mask, hiding deceit and death. McCord has discovered the Pope is but a puppet. But who is pulling the strings?

With the loss of his beloved wife, Sam is looking for a good death that takes out two monsters : himself and the master puppeteer.

He opens the door to the Pope's bedchambers to ask the man himself :

The bedchambers were everything a Renaissance concubine’s should be. But I was breaking into the bedroom of the current Pope.

The almost dressed woman sprawled lazily on the ornate bed. Her satin dress should have had a case of the bends, it dipped so low in the front.

It was slit clear to her slender waist. A lot of shapely leg showed. The flesh of her breasts was white velvet. Her eyes were blue diamonds. Her long hair a hot sunset.

“Please close the door,” she murmured.

“Bartolomeo Veneziano didn’t do you justice, Miss Borgia.”

“What a flatterer you are, Samuel. And do call me Lucrezia.”

She patted on the red velvet spread beside her. “Sit.”

Her voice was husky with desire. Tough. Since Meilori left me, I was a dry well. I walked to her bed and sat.

Lucrezia had insane eyes. They said she was a law onto herself, and she recognized no code but her own hungers. She studied me.

“Want to see my teeth?,” I asked.

She bubbled the laugh of a psychopath, “Oh, you already have justified the cost of poor Stanley’s life.”

“Was that his name?”

She laughed again. “My second real laugh in untold years."

I doubted that. She probably laughed at the pleas of each victim.

"My, you are a bargain. You didn’t know his name, nor the magnitude of the organization you were fighting?”


Her lips twisted Cheshire style. “You didn’t have a clue?”

“Seldom do.”

Lucrezia's smile became full Cheshire. “So you killed a sociopath and took on a worldwide empire -- all for the sake of a raped whore?”

She sneered. “Raping a whore. Is that even a crime?”

“It is to me. She was fifteen years old.”

“She was dead while she lived.”

“She was human. Seeing as how I’m not any more, that means a lot to me.”

“What exactly are you?”

“A monster.”

Her fingers softly stroked the back of my gloved right hand. “You call yourself a monster?”

“Yes. And I’ll suffer the fate of all monsters.”

“Which is?”

“To die alone, unloved, and unmourned.”

Her face flinched as if I had hurt her somehow.

She shook her living waterfall of hair.

“Have you not pieced it together yet? I have studied you ever since you clashed with the Alumbrados in 1847. I have engineered all of this just to meet you.”

She eased closer. “We two are alone as no other on this earth.”

Lucrezia wet her parted lips. “We could share that aloneness.”

(Come sit down with me at Meilori's and hear Over the Rhine singing "Sharpest Blade.")

Wednesday, June 15, 2011


On this day in 1300 Dante was made one of the six Priors of Florence,

the top political office in the city-state.

Though only a two-month term — the legal limit,
so suspicious were the citizenry of corruption and power-plays —

Dante's appointment set in motion the series of events that would eventually cause his permanent banishment,

and inspire some of the most memorable lines in the Divine Comedy

Like Dante, have you noticed that life doesn't stand in line?

It demands service ... right now.

The earthquakes in New Zealand and Japan.

The health challenges of three of my good friends. My sweltering apartment. The enforced move to another.

The destruction of the only road that leads to my apartment complex.

What has this to do with writing? Everything.

Soon or late, you will hear a pounding on the door. Take in a deep breath. It will be life demanding your attention ... now!

You will have to deal with it, dropping for a moment your writing ...

which will not necessarily be a bad thing.

From Dante to Mark Twain to Ernest Hemingway, authors have found it enriched their writing to put it away for a time, to not even think about it.

The mind is a funny thing :

your unconscious mind will be fiddling with your novel all the while you are dealing with life.

In fact, as a writer you will be listening to the people all about you, noticing every gesture, every interpersonal exchange displayed before you.

When you get back to your novel, you will, of course, want to read all of it until the point you stopped.

And the flaws in the flow of prose, the tension, the pacing ... the humanity portrayed in your novel will stand out as if highlighted.

All because your unconscious mind digested your experiences while dealing with impatient life.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011


{APOLOGY - The heat in my apartment with internet access

prevents me from staying long

and keeps me from visiting the blogs of my friends.}

Now, onto my post} :

How do you write?

Do you write as if your novel were a pressurized airplane cabin?

Are your characters insulated from the truth of their environment?

Is your locale as flat as a cardboard movie backdrop?

Are there smells to your surroundings? Does the soft breeze make an airy stew of their aromas?

Or do you drag your poor reader down sterile, silent streets?

What are the prevailing winds of mindset, manners, and economic demands of your setting?

Does your main character sail against them? Or does he/she flounder in their wake?

Or does he, puppet-like, go through lifeless motions, tugged by your whims and not by motivations relate-able to your readers?

And what about you as a writer?

Do you persist? Or do you stall out when the words become lost in the mist.

Persistence. It is what separates those just playing from those dedicated to the dream.

When the writing is sluggish that is when it is most important to bull through to the end. Writing is like life in that.

Winners don't stop when they meet resistance. Weight resistance builds muscle. Blank-out resistance builds fine prose.

Persistence is the heart. The story is the soul.

For luck, Ernest Hemingway used to carry a rabbit's foot in his right pocket. The fur had long since been worn off. The bones and sinews were polished by wear.

The claws scratched in the lining of his pocket,

and by that sting he knew his luck was still there.

Why was that?

When you feel the scratch of life against you, you know that your luck as a writer is still at your back. How is that?

The sting of life makes you aware :

of your own humanity,

of others' failings and strengths,

of the precious fragility of life.

And that awareness gives your pen the gift of perception, depth, and heart.

What did Ernest put in his journal? :

Travel and writing broaden your ass, if not your mind, so I try to write standing up.


Monday, June 13, 2011

THE LAST FAE has her own page on PREVIEW THE BOOK


THE LAST FAE has her own page on the website PREVIEW THE BOOK :

What's even better?

THE LAST FAE is keeping company with FIRE'S DAUGHTER! How's that for a team-up?


Sunday, June 12, 2011


It is still 110 degrees in my apartment, so I am longingly thinking of winter snows.

So, Lenny, I thought I'd bring a Christmas tale of Victor Standish your way. Hope you enjoy it :

{Don't be scared. Victor Standish has never met a monster he couldn't out-fox.}


The tolling of a lonely church bell echoed distant in the too quiet night.

The first Christmas after Katrina found New Orleans nearly deserted. The children's ward at Memorial Hospital was filled. Sleepy-eyed kids my age and younger were tossing fitfully in their hospital beds.

Thanks to Captain Sam, each child had a doll, teddy bear, or an actual New Orleans Saints football. They were all sleeping with them tucked secure in their arms.

And an apple was on each of their nightstands. I didn't know how he was doing it, but no matter how many apples the kids ate, another one took its place.

"So they'll know they will always have something to eat," he had told me as he left me on guard here.

Yeah, on guard.

Santa Claus was coming to town tonight for all the good little boys and girls.

Santa the revenant (think Vlad the Impaler ... but without as many morals.)

The Bourbon Street Irregulars were stretched thin tonight. I was all by myself.

So many children to protect from the ancient bloodbroker. Yeah, he stole the blood of every good little girl and boy to sell to other revenants on the black market all through the year.

The blood of innocence was a delicacy to bloodsuckers the world over.

I stood with my back to the far wall, looking warily into the shadows. The fat revenant appeared right next to me, his red hat set at a impish angle.

"Ho! Ho! Ho!," he rasped, his fangs going for my throat.

Right into his gaping mouth I thumbed two ball bearings washed in the melted snows of Eden.

"Suck on these, Santa!"

He grabbed his throat, the smoke of his burning flesh coming out of his open mouth in billowing, foul-smelling clouds. Hitting the floor with a heavy thud, he croaked into the night.

"To me, my elves!"

By this time all the children were awake, their eyes round with horror. I figured my own eyes were a little wide themselves.

Twelve slender elves in Christmas velvet and short, short skirts padded out of the darkness towards me, their steel fingernails long and sharp.

I ground my teeth. "You have got to be kidding me."

Santa might have been hurting, but he looked up and flashed me a death-head's smile. "My Slay Belles in the night."

The really pretty elves in really short skirts and long fangs started to flank me. There were too many. I didn't have enough ball bearings. Heck, I didn't have enough me. I couldn't handle them all.

I was so dead.

Then, the children started to pelt the elves with the apples. For every apple they threw, another took its place. Now, a dozen apples are a pain. Dozens of dozens of apples thrown by scared spitless kids are something else again.

The elves went down. Hissing like snakes, they rose and started for the kids. I did some pelting of my own ...

with my deadly ball bearings washed in the snows of Eden.

I took out three. The other nine wheeled about and charged me, only to be pelted again by the apples. Some broke upon impact, disintegrating the elves one by one.

I realized how Captain Sam had gotten those apples to magically appear. He must have watered them with the melted snows of Eden. No wonder those revenant elves went up in smelly smoke at the touch of their juices.

I turned to see Santa right at my throat. "You've been a very naughty boy, Victor. Time to die."

I saw Alice, in her short-skirted Christmas Gothic Lolita outfit, form out of mist behind him.

"But he hasn't been naughty with me, yet, Santa."

She winked at me. "Leave you alone for a minute and there you go, throwing yourself at pretty elves."

"Close your eyes, kids!," I yelled, seeing the smile die in her neon eyes.

There must have something to the tone of my voice because all the kids covered their eyes. And Alice ... well, Alice, my ghoul friend, had a midnight snack.

A few Santa screams later, Alice flowed to me, licking her bloody fingers. "My first Christmas butterball turkey. Yum!"
A Christmas Haiku in a similar "vein" as my above post :

Christmas Moon looks down,
Alice's hand squeezes mine,
Stolen kiss is best.

{You know me - I couldn't resist putting in some yucky romantic stuff for the ladies who read my blog, too. LOL.}

Here's one of my favorite Christmas video's, Lenny. I hope you like it, too, Roland

Thursday, June 9, 2011


Once again, it is time to be romantic in a challenge. The challenge this time from Denise and Francine

is to write on the theme : FORGOTTEN.

My entry is entitled "WITH THE SOFT VOICE OF TWILIGHT" from my urban fantasy, FRENCH QUARTER NOCTURNE

(a review of which can be seen on the gracious Wendy Ewurum's FABULOSITY NOUVEAU : )

Samuel McCord and his best friend, the vampire priest, Father Renfield, are walking across the Katrina-damaged Tulane campus on their way to a rendezvous with Death ( an old tradition with the two old friends.):

With the soft voice of twilight, ghost music sang in my memory. It was accompanied by the chorus of the whispers of the wind from the listening sky.

I closed my eyes. New Orleans was timeless, especially to me with the blood of Death in my veins.

My transformed eyes only told me the truth, and the truth was not what I wanted to see. So I closed my eyes, and for a moment the truth was what I wanted it to be.

Meilori was back in my arms, supple and vibrant, the peach velvet of her cheek nestled against mine. She pulled back to murmur "Beloved."

Slanted eyes looked up into mine, seeming like jade quarter moons waiting to rise.

Her smile was a promise of wicked delights to come in the evening hours before us. And my heart quickened.

Her hand lightly squeezed my gloved one. Her head bent forward, and soft lips tickled my ear.

And we were dancing, dancing as if our bodies were the wind given life. It had taken me a hundred years,

but I had learned to be a damn fine dancer. The firm body in my arms had been ample incentive.

Some moments lose their way and grope their way blindly back from the past into the present. Such a moment swept me up now.

Meilori and I were dancing across this very grass. I had paid a prince's ransom to pry King Oliver's Creole Jazz Band out of Tulane's old gymnasium to play out here under the stars.

Renfield rasped beside me, "Sam, are you doing this?"


I opened my eyes and went still.

The speechless shades of a long-gone night whirled and wheeled all around us.

That long-ago evening was replaying itself before our eyes. Renfield and Magda were laughing as they danced beside Meilori and me.

Renfield sighed, "I'd forgotten how your face looked happy."

I looked at my ghostly double, envying him the sheer delight in his eyes. "I'd forgotten how it felt."

The sound of my words settled an old score with truth, and the evening shades slowly faded from sight.

I shivered. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Renfield look wistfully at the disappearing Magda in his own double's arms. I sighed along with Renfield. Some truths were best seen only by starlight.


Tuesday, June 7, 2011


Here I am in the air-conditioned refuge of BOOKS-A-MILLION.

The creative genius of Wendy Tyler Ryan has struck again. She has crafted a true gem of a book trailer for my mythic paranormal epic, THE LAST FAE.

The more we live,

the more we realize that there are layers within layers of what we consider reality. Children look at life and see magic.

Adults look at life and see deadlines and ghosts of dreams.

Physicians gaze at passers-by and see signs of disease. Economists look at the headlines and see patterns, predictors of future woes.

What would one who had lived centuries in the shadows see as she gazed upon humans, both cursed and blessed with lifespans of gnats?

Come. Pull up a seat in the shadows. Listen to THE LAST FAE.


Sunday, June 5, 2011


{Yesterday, I collapsed with heat exhaustion as my apartment air conditioner stopped. The temperatures soared to 110 degrees as I cleared the way for the handyman to try and repair it.

The repairs fizzled, and I collapsed. I still had to go to work though to pay for the rent. LOL. My life is a Mel Brooks film. I am now sleeping on the floor of a vacant apartment ... but with air conditioning ... and aching back!!

Of course I am still at work. The ghost of Mark Twain just smacked me on the shoulder, winking, "Have to pay the rent for that magnificent apartment, don't ya know?"}

Here is a Victor Standish story just for Lenny. I hope it makes you smile, my faraway friend!

When you're seven, you're too old for a swing. But I wasn't sitting in it for fun. No. I was bummed out ... in a real blue funk.

Why? Long story. And everybody's got problems. Why should I burden you with mine?

"I don't like you," sniveled the little girl in the swing next to me.

"Take a number. It's a long line."

The black-haired girl pointed her finger past me. "I don't like them neither."

"Must be my kind of people," I grunted, turning to look.

"Or not," I gulped.

Zombies. Fricking kid-zombies. "Oh, hell."

"Oooh, you just said a no-no."

"On my best day, I'm PG-13. And Sunshine, this ain't my best day."

"My name is Becky not Sunshine!"

I got up, looking all around. We were surrounded.

"It's gonna be 'Kibbles-N-Brains' if you don't put some muscle to the hustle."

What did Ulysses always say? When surrounded by enemies, get a sword, a shield, and the high ground.

Becky pulled out a wooden slingshot. "I'll stop them."

"Lots of luck with that, Nibbles."

I ran to a fallen baseball bat. Two zombies were making sure that the boy who dropped it wouldn't miss it. I darted in between them. I tumbled in a roll, snatching up the bat. One lunged at me.

I beaned him with all my might, and his rotten head burst. I laughed, "I hope your name was Homer. Cuz I always wanted to hit a homer."

To my far left, Becky screamed, "Fall down! WHY WON'T YOU FALL DOWN?"

I ran over to her, grabbed her by her pony-tail and snapped, "Cuz the fun never stops with zombies!"

"Stop!," cried Becky. "You're messing up my pigtail."

I spotted the slide/jungle-gym. High ground.

I snapped, "Those zombies will mess up more than your ...."

A kid-zombie with a half-eaten face lurched through the garbage cans lining the playground, knocking them over. A garbage can lid rolled to my feet. My shield!

I snatched it up and smacked him in the face with it. "Watch out! Low bridge."

I thumped Becky on the butt to get her moving faster to the slide/jungle-gym.

"Hey, that's my butt!," she yelled.

I jerked my head to the shambling but all-too-fast kid zombies. "It'll be theirs if you don't get a move on!"

We made it to the slide as a black kid took a mop handle and used it as a pole vault to get to the top of the metal tree-house at the top of the slide.

"Whoa," I gasped. "Way to go, LeRoy."

He laughed down at me. "Ya gotta learn free runnin' if you gonna make it on these streets, bro."

I suddenly realized I was out of my blue funk. I had just learned Lesson to Life #1 : When you didn't know what to do, do what you know. I knew how to swing a bat. I knew how to tease pretty girls.

And bopping these zombies sure was a lot more fun than a blue funk. Teasing Becky was nearly as much fun.

I smacked Becky up the slide. The ladder was too slow as a couple of screaming kids found out the hard way. We ducked aside a girl with glasses. I shield-blocked the brick she aimed at me.

"Save it for the dead heads," I snapped, scooting by her.

The slide/jungle-gym was a big son of a gun. I skipped down the steps from the tree house to the walkway where six kid-zombies scrambled towards us, moaning, "Brains. Brains. Brains."

I winked at Becky, who was taking aim at them with her ball-bearing loaded slingshot. "They can't mean you. It's gotta be me they're after."

Becky let go with her slingshot, sending a ball bearing into the only eye of a grasping girl zombie. "Ha. Ha. Very not funny."

LeRoy pushed a boy zombie off the top of the treehouse with his mop handle. "Damn! They just too many of 'em!"

LeRoy had it all backwards. The more zombie heads there were to bop, the better I would I feel.

"Wrong!," I yelled. "There aren't enough of them!"

I leapt onto the walkway, swinging with my bat and shield, knocking the grabbing kid-zombies every whichway.

Zombies scuttled like cockroaches along the top of the rungs of the jungle-gym. They dropped down on the walkway. I swung at them.

Brains, bits of skull, and rotted flesh flew as I jumped about, smacking away, not so much at them, but at my blue funk.

And if they ate Becky, who would I tease?

"Base hit. Line drive! HOME RUN!"

Glasses sobbed, "I-I'm outta bricks. They're going to eat us."

They kept coming. I kept blocking and smashing. Becky went for more ball bearings but came up empty. A giggling girl-zombie knocked LeRoy down. He screamed.

Fun was fun and all. But this was ridiculous. I raised my shield and bat to the uncaring skies and roared, "WOULD YOU JUST LEAVE!"


I could've sworn a pale green circle pulsed out from around me. The kid-zombies stiffened then just trudged away.

Becky gasped, "H-How did you do that?"

I shrugged, "Goes to show it never hurts to ask."

{I was wrong by the way. Well, not about how asking sometimes works. But why those zombies left. I didn't learn the truth til I got to be the ripe old age of 13.

But that's another story.}

Before I could get too cocky, Becky taught me Life Lesson #2 : There's no pleasing pretty girls!

Becky kicked me in the shin, and as I hopped about in pain, I yelled, "What was that for?"

Becky sniffed, "For not asking sooner!"
{This will probably be my last post for awhile. My apartment's an oven and will be for some time. The vacant apartment is not set up for the internet.

I will be off for the next two days, so no office internet. Besides, I am still not feeling well. And I am still doing solo duty as first call. LOL.}
Some more laughter for you, Lenny :

Thursday, June 2, 2011



Down below is just "mushy" romantic stuff. Yuck!! Have a great weekend, Lenny!


The world traveller Denise Covey

and the ever fascinating Francine Howarth have challenged us for another Romantic Friday project : "I Remember."

My entry is 400 words exactly. It features my Ulysses of the French Quarter, Victor Standish.

He has gone to the cyrpt of Marie Laveau at midnight, for he has believed the lie that for Samuel McCord to live, he must die.

He has just met the eerie Alice Wentworth (think Jane Eyre with very sharp teeth).

She asks him what brings him to her cemetery and how he got those slashes on his cheeks.

(If you want to know about the slashes go to : )

Victor has just discovered a skill he never knew he had and he decides to try it out again :

I jumped up on a marble slab and patted next to me. “Have a seat.”

Alice flowed like mist beside me. I reached out and softly took her hand, trying for an encore of the magic of earlier.

Sometimes in life you get more than you ask for.

I stiffened as the swirling sea of her loneliness, her joy at being in touch with another hurt spirit swept me up. I drew her into me,

into my memories of burnt out ends of smoky days laced with pain, of the withered leaves of others’ lies,

of the thousand pleas of my heart to the life-hardened hearts of others.

The autumn world of my days on the streets came up over the dark horizon of regret. Lost friends, mocking enemies, the haunted, loving eyes of Mother.

The yellowed papers of memory curled up around us from Detroit to Boston to that strange bus ride to New Orleans.

The light of hope shot through the black shutters of loneliness into images of me wandering lost through Meilori’s.

Dim figures of Billie Holliday and Daniel Webster wavered before us like ghosts of fear. My betrayal by Elu, my being an unwilling teaching aid for Strasser,

my losing everything as I decided that for Captain Sam to live I had to die.

The cry of Alice’s lonely heart calling out to me as she struggled to escape her own private hell.

Her spooky entrance into my life. My own loneliness reaching out to hers.

The circle completing its circuit. Rising from the waters of shared spirits as I gently pulled her hand from my chest.

Our fingers parting. The shiver of separation as her pale face looked at me haunted.

I shivered as our union broken left me soul-cold. Alice was shivering as well. My head was spinning. Something was wrong with my heart.

It wasn’t empty anymore.

What had I done to me?

Maybe you couldn’t see, really see, into someone without it changing you.

And you couldn’t show them the you that you really were without the two of you never being the same anymore.

A wild thought came to me.

I brought her cold, cold hand up to my lips and kissed it.

Alice’s lower lip trembled. “How could you?”

“C-Could I what?”

She softly traced the line of one of Strasser’s cuts on my left cheek. “Turn out so special?”


Wednesday, June 1, 2011


Raquel Byrnes is launching her book PURPLE KNOT on June 3rd :

Go to Cherie Reich's delightful blog SURROUNDED BY BOOKS to read her insightful interview with Raquel on why she wrote PURPLE KNOT :

The ever-fascinating India Drummond is launching her absorbing contemporary fantasy, BLOOD FAERIE today on Amazon :

For a tantalizing review of the book by Talli Roland go to her always fun blog, I DRINK COFFEE, I WRITE, THEN I HAVE WINE :
And don't forget Kittie Howard's REMY BROUSSARD'S CHRISTMAS :