So you can read my books

Sunday, July 31, 2011


Even the great Napoleon finds himself at the mercy of the cruel publishing industry. I hear his ghost is doing a Kindle memoir :

If you want to play the video a 2nd time hit your cursor UNDER the video.

Saturday, July 30, 2011


Ghost of Samuel Clemens here.

That Rowling gal! Watching over Roland as he sleeps like a soggy log, having driven 300 miles, I read what she said to the question : "How can a writer get published today?"

Her answer? Lord, if she didn't have such pretty legs, I'd strangle her!

"Why, they should write something that the publishers wish to publish."

"You think?!"

That reporter might as well have asked a man hit by lightning how to predict the rain.

I was a reporter long before I was a writer, and a reporter learns : don't pay no mind to what they say, study on what they do.

So let's study on the 4 things that Rowling gal did write, ah, I mean right :

1.) Planning
This is by far the most underrated of the steps in the writing process. And in the final wash up it is absolutely the most important.

It was 1990 and Jo Rowling was on a train between Manchester and London. Harry literally strolled fully formed into her mind while she was gazing out the train window at a field full of cows. (I am too much a gentleman to use the line that occurs to me.)

She spent the next four hours (the train was delayed) imagining Harry, the world he inhabited, the friends and enemies he had there and the dangers and joys he may encounter there. She had nothing to write on so had to be content to play this all out in her imagination. By the time she got off the train in London, the central cast of characters were already cemented in her mind.

But did she go home and immediately begin scribbling a story with these characters?

No, she didn’t.

She spent five years, yes that’s right FIVE YEARS creating and developing every last detail of the wizarding world, including government and education systems, how the wizarding world stood shoulder to shoulder with the muggle world, and she devised a highly sophisticated system of magic that would eventually form the backbone of her own special brand of writing magic.

On top of this she sculpted out the entire story, planning the details and events of all the seven books, before she put pen to paper to begin writing the first.

Would you set sail on the seas without a compass? Well, children, writing is as rough a sea as I've traversed!

JK Rowling planned the Harry Potter series for five years before she put pen to paper on the first book She wrote the entire first book, and felt as though she were “carving it out of this mass of notes”.

All the planning was worth it. She was able to devote herself to the actual task of writing, knowing that all the story and character elements she needed were covered.

2.) Writing
When you are writing, you are just writing. You are not planning, you are not editing. You are writing. Once you have planned your story, it is time to sit down and write it.

JK Rowling planned the Harry Potter series for five years before she put pen to paper on the first book She wrote the entire first book, and felt as though she were “carving it out of this mass of notes”.

All the planning was worth it. She was able to devote herself to the actual task of writing, knowing that all the story and character elements she needed were covered. When you do that, children, the words just flow.

3.) Rewriting

Jo Rowling rewrote the opening chapter of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone a total of 15 times.

Her mother died just 6 months after her first attempt at Chapter One of that book, and that sent her into a frenzy of rewriting, essentially changing everything.

The Potter books are about death, there is no doubt about that, and they are driven particularly by the death of Harry’s parents and his miraculous survival.

When Jo Rowling experienced such a major turning point in her own life, she rewrote the story to reflect and process her own pain.

Ernest Hemingway keeps telling me that you only write to rewrite. DH Lawrence even said that he wrote his entire first draft, threw it away and then started again from scratch.

4.) Editing

Editing is the process of refining and polishing your manuscript. This part of the process may be done by you, or by a professional editor. It is often wise to have an editor look over your work before submitting it for publication as it is extremely difficult to get the distance you need from your own work to see where it can be improved.

Writing a book is a process, never forget that, fellow dreamers. Each step in the process is unique but necessary. Don’t mix 'em, and certainly don’t attempt to skip any steps. Do that at your own peril.

J K Rowling, bless her heart, meant well with that reporter. But before you attempt your next novel, don't listen to the little lady. Follow the four steps she took in her own writing process:

planning, writing, rewriting and editing, and be sure you give each step its due.

Who knows? The lightning may strike you!
Oh, children, this here is a movie so bad, even a ghost like me laughed til tears came to my eyes. But my humor always was a tad on the cruel side :

Thursday, July 28, 2011


It is time again for Friday’s ROMANTIC CHALLENGE.

This time Francine and Denise have given us : SHE LOVES ME/SHE LOVES ME NOT.

My 400 word entry {early to hopefully spark more entries from others}

Hone Heke, the famous Maori warrior, Kirika, escaped Ningyo princess, and Blake Adamson are fleeing their enemies aboard the cursed Junk, THE BLADELESS SAMURAI.

They have just entered the stormy Sea of Fate. Hone grabs Blake to help him secure the rigging :

Hone grumbled something biologically impossible and tugged me after him and headed to the back of the Junk. The wind was picking up, smelling of lightning and rain.

We staggered against it. He motioned at some ropes. He made a tugging gesture towards his chest and nodded to me.

I got the idea and started cinching them up. He bent down close to my head and yelled above the storm.

“Are you crazy, Blake?”

“People keep asking me that. But why you?”

“Why me? Why the hell Kirika, of all pretty monsters?”


“Yeah, that’s right, monster. Succubus.”

“Suck my what?”

He rolled his eyes and looked like he wanted to strangle me. “You do know what Ningyo’s are, don’t you, son?”

I nodded sadly. “Something like a soul vampire, aren’t they?”

This time he did grab my throat and gave me a shake. “Succubus, idiot. Succubus, as in ‘poke me while I leech you.’ I know she’s beautiful, but so is a coral snake. And you don’t go to bed with either one.”

He balled up his right fist, looking like he was deciding whether to break my jaw or my head. “Do you really have a death wish?”

“You said it yourself, sir. Idun’s Apple freed her from the need to feed.”

He squeezed my shoulder.

“From the need, yes. But not from the desire, son. I know she looks like a beautiful sixteen year old girl. But she’s not, Blake. She’s not even human. She’s a Ningyo, a being hundreds of years old.”

His eyes grew hollow. “Worse, she’s in love with you, son.”

“Worse? How can being in love with me be worse?”

"Because that means she's not thinking straight. She's gonna expect you to act like a centuries old Ningyo male. And when you don't, she's going to feel betrayed. And a betrayed Ningyo is a demon let loose from Hell."

His hand squeezed harder on my shoulder. "You're walking with your eyes wide shut into suicide."

His eyes flicked past my head. My heart sank. I turned around. Kirika.

She was standing stiff, her fingers coiling and uncoiling. Her once lovely face did seem a demon's. How could I unhurt her?

I couldn't. She had heard me being told she was a monster. There was only one thing I could think of that would balance the scales. Balance them and screw up my life.

Don't miss the great two sentence pitch contest at BEYOND WORDS :


Samuel Clemens, ghost, here.

So there I was, regaling Roland with my wit in my ghost chair

while he was muttering on his air mattress

something about 3 O'Clock in the morning.

"Why, so it," I laughed. "We ghosts are at our best this time of night, don't you know?"

"That makes one of us," Roland sighed.

"I hate a man who goes to sleep at once; there is a sort of indefinable something about it which is not exactly an insult,

and yet is an insolence. I get to feeling very lonely, with no company but an undigested dinner.

"Ghosts can't eat, sir."

"But I remember some fine meals, son.

Why you are frittering your life away just sleeping like a log. I don't mean a brisk, fresh, green log, but an old dead, soggy rotten one, that never turns over or gives a yelp."

"I was a happy, soggy log."

"You know, young fella, there are reams of culture-starved souls who would kill to get the gems of wisdom I am heaping upon you here.

Why, I bet you didn't get onto Chandler about his "the meaning of words" article he wrote for you!"

"He let me sleep."

"I am wounded I say. Wounded! Ah, hi there, Gertrude."

I whispered down to Roland. "Mind your P's and Q's. Gerdy is always a mite raw-boned on the anniversary of her death."

To prove my point, she glared at me. "That is MISS Stein to you, buffoon."

"That's Mr. Buffon to you, gal."

She just upped and ignored me, pinning poor Roland to the carpet with those steely blues of hers.

"I read Chandler's drivel of last night."

She wiped her mouth as if the memory tasted bad. "Clarity is of no importance because nobody listens

and nobody knows what you mean no matter what you mean, nor how clearly you mean what you mean.

But if you have vitality enough of knowing enough of what you mean, somebody and sometime and sometimes a great many will have to realize that you know what you mean

and so they will agree that you mean what you know, what you know you mean, which is as near as anybody can come to understanding any one."

I looked at Roland with a raised eyebrow, "Suddenly, I am very afraid, son."

"Why?," he asked.

"I actually understood that."

Wednesday, July 27, 2011






Roland is still sleeping on the floor in the cool vacant apartment lent him. I have snatched his electronic gadget and come here to his stifling apartment to talk of writing.

I’ve just finished a book I took down from his shelf, POINT OF NO RETURN by John P. Marquand. Strange that such good writing should leave me with so little feeling of having read anything of any importance.

A man has no right to write that well and in the end say so little.

Who cares about the people who always say, do, think, and wear the right thing … and yet are vaguely conscious that it is only the right thing because people of money say it is.

So many modern books are like that :

sad but not too sad, romantic in a lifeless way, beautifully detailed observations ... and the total effect of a steel engraving with no color at all. I guess God must have made such writers on a wet Sunday.

I look at such books and ask, ‘Where is the heart, the soul, the marrow in the bone?’

Certainly, not in the dialogue of those books.

The dialogue. That is where they usually go wrong.

If the dialogue is not peppered with the profanity of truth, of life as it is truly felt, then you paint in grays.

Take out the real in a novel, and you neuter Chekov into the artificiality of Mansfield. Better to drink water than near-beer. So many authors know the lyrics but not the music.

Dialogue done well renders life to a novel. In Dostoyevsky, there is such a burning trueness to the prose that it changes you as you read.

We write to express ourselves, to record the reactions of our personalities to the world in which we live. Every writer dips his brush into his own soul and paints his own nature into his prose.

We look into the mirror, but we do not see the person others see. No. To others we are not ourselves but an actor in their lives cast for a part we do not even know we are playing.

In like manner, so is our prose. Others read into the mirror of our words what they know of themselves. Only if our words strike the tuning fork of their souls will they keep on turning the pages.

How do each of you try to make each page in your novel real enough to strike that tuning fork? Tell me. I am a curious ghost.

Yours most sincerely,

Raymond Chandler


As I read Roland's adventures of Victor Standish, it occurred to me that he could be played by that Taylor Lautner young man. See? Even ghosts can dream :

Tuesday, July 26, 2011



is one term Donna Hole uses to describe my novel, LOVE LIKE DEATH.

The entire review of my novel and our email interview is scheduled

to appear in the Tuesday edition of her blog :

Or you can see for yourself :

Check out Donna's review/interview. You won't be bored. I certainly wasn't. Have a great new week, everyone! Roland

Sunday, July 24, 2011


When we last left Blake Adamson in LOVE LIKE DEATH, he was surrounded by the vicious living shadows, the Amal.

Follow Blake as he is reunited with Kirika, sails the mysterious Sea of Fate, wanders lost down the Halls of Hells, and finally finds Fallen once again in Victorian London --

in the lethal brothel, The Princess Alice, whose only customers are those madmen who have killed as Jack the Ripper.

Worse, the dreaded Sennacherib is coming to fulfil his threat to rape the last fae. Can Blake save himself, much less the fae of his dreams?

If we live long enough, there comes that night when the darkness is more within than without, when we realize things have gone terribly wrong, and when we realize the answers we thought we knew have no more substance than the cardboard fronts of a movie set.

What do we do then?

What if all myths are true? What if believing can make it so, if enough believe? What if, like unwanted children, once born the myths cannot be unborn? Would a critical mass of myths one day be reached?

Only in the eclipse of myth can a young man have both the Moon and Sun as his brides. The Last Fae and The Lost Sun have both fallen in love with Blake Adamson -- and he with them.

If their crossed loves do not them kill them, their enemies surely will. Unless Blake Adamson can become the legend he is believed to be.
The lovely twin muses of my novels, Wendy Tyler Ryan and Orietta Rossi {artist extraordinaire}, have made this novel possible.
I just love this trailer whose hero and heroine remind me of Sam and Meilori :

Friday, July 22, 2011


It is time for another Friday ROMANTIC CHALLENGE given by the always fascinating Francine Howarth and Denise Covey.

Today's theme is COMING HOME.

My 400 word entry is from the sequel to my CREOLE KNIGHTS : NEW ORLEANS ARABESQUE (in the process of being written.)

The cosmic conjunctions have aligned. The Nameless Ones strain at the unraveling barrier between them and our world.

After 7 years, Maija has released her sister, Meilori, from the bubble of frozen time in which she encased her in a trap of deceit.


To see her face when she tells Meilori that her beloved Samuel McCord lies dead by the tentacles of an exiled Nameless One he killed before dying.

The undead rabbi, Ben Teradion, is comforting the devastated Ningyo. He is Death’s measure to stop the invasion of The Nameless Ones.

Maija turns to mock the rabbi with the truth of his role, not realizing you simply cannot kill a man whom Death will not take. Shrouded in the Threads of Night, Samuel McCord, bleeding and battered, stands invisible beside her :

Maija laughed. “Death saved you for tonight, rabbi, to speak the name God gave Himself, that when uttered outside the Holy Temple would rend the very universe.”

Ben Teradion said, “No!”

Meilori whispered, “Death has come to revel in the end of life. For her, the death of the entire universe would be ecstasy.”

Ben Teradion husked, “But then --”

Maija nodded. “Nothing stands in the way of the Ningyo Empire to re-enter our home plane.”

The rabbi cried, “No! The Nameless Ones would return to our world!”

“Who cares?”

Meilori gestured, black energy hissing at the ends of her fingertips. “Samuel would have cared.”

The other Ningyo’s circled her as Maija husked, “Now, you die.”

I dropped the Threads of Night. “Don’t make me spank you.”

Maija yelped, “McCord!”

Meilori took a half-step back. “Samuel!”

“Do I know you?”

She looked as if I’d knifed her, and I regretted my joke. “For seven years, the hope of seeing you again got me up each morning.”

She mewed like a kitten and rushed into my arms, her lips hungrily seeking mine. An electric connection completed deep inside me. The world made sense again.

I was home.

A trilling vibrated around us. Maija’s portal was opening.

I heard feet. The Ningyo’s were about to jump us.

“Padre, trust me. Say God’s name!”

Maija leapt forward. The rabbi bellowed.

His lips worked as if he shouted one word, but I heard the sentence he said two thousand years before as he burned before the Roman emperor.

“The parchment burns, but the words fly free!”

The sound flowed into nothing human --

as if Life had come to know itself by the simple act of hearing it.

It came from all directions. The lower notes rumbled as if from the depths of the earth. Higher vibrations trilled as if from the stars in heaven.

I was a human tuning fork, the marrow of my bones trembling. The vibrations cascaded around me and Meilori in a waterfall of sound.

Her jade eyes, first wild with fear, soon grew as deep as the love I felt for her and she for me. A sunburst exploded with us in its burning honey center.

For the first time in two hundred years, I felt warm. Meilori smiled, then kissed me.

The universe might be ending. I didn’t mind. In her arms, I was finally home.


Thursday, July 21, 2011


{"Like cheap booze, you can't keep a bad ghost down."
- Anita Loos, ghost.}

Your glowing comments about my article I posted this morning made this down ghost feel up.

And let me tell you :
that's the first time this girl has been felt up by strangers in a long time.

No howls from the feminists, please. The trouble with the Women's Liberationists is that they keep getting up on soapboxes

and proclaiming women are brighter than men.

Which is true,

but it should be kept quiet, or it ruins the whole racket.

My brother, Clifford, would painstakingly correct anyone who mispronounced our name. I never cared what people called me.

So my brother was always Dr. 'Lohse' while I became Miss 'Loose.'

Which was fitting since to survive in the madness that was Hollywood in the 1920's, I had to play it fast and loose.

Hollywood was insane then. To place in the limelight a great number of people who ordinarily would be chambermaids and chauffeurs,

and give them unlimited power and wealth, was bound to produce lively results.

But Fate keeps on happening. And insanity has apparently become the norm in Hollywood.

Still and all, this is Roland's blog, and he likes to help out his fellow writers. Luckily for you, I do, too.

In fact, I'm going to give you a way never to be stuck for what to write next ever again.

Sounds too good to be true, doesn't it? And here I am not even running for political office.

It relates to a trick I learned to lose weight : you always leave the table hungry.

You may not know this, but it takes a bite of food a half hour to make it down all those intestinal highways and byways to your stomach.

Eat til you feel full, and 30 minutes later, you'll feel over-stuffed -- because that is what you are.

In like manner, when you're writing and going good,

when you know what's going to happen next,


If you do that every day when you're writing your masterpiece, you will never be stuck.

Don't think or worry about the next scene. This way your subconscious will work out all sorts of nifty details as you go about the rest of your day's activities.

Consciously think about what you will write next, and you'll be tired before you start.

It's like staring at the brooding, silent phone, willing it to ring, thinking about that damn man who won't call.

By the time he does call, you're so tired of waiting and out of sorts, you haven't the wit or the patience to put him down like the sick dog he is.

Now, this trick won't make you rich, but wanting to be rich is all too human and all too useless.

There is a serious defect in the thinking of someone who wants --

more than anything else --

to become rich.

As long as they don't have the money, it'll seem like a worthwhile goal.

Once they do, they'll understand how important other things are --

Like enjoying each breath you breathe, the taste of that luscious strawberry, each light caress of your lover's fingertips on your cheek --

all those things I took for granted,

until I died.

Don't you be like me, girls. Please.

Well, maybe just a little bit. "Naughty" can have its own rewards.
Speaking of naughty ...

take a peek into the world in which I grew up :


{"Today there are no fairy tales for us to believe in,

and this is possibly a reason for the universal prevalence of mental crack-up.

Yes, if we were childish in the past, I wish we could be children once again."

- Anita Loos.}

Sam, that's Samuel Clemens to you still-mortals, is morose. Seems Roland lost a follower, and he feels it's his fault. I told him all this computer journal needed was a women's touch.

Being Sam, he said, "Have at it, woman."

What artist could resist such an invitation? Besides I'm a bit morose today,too. No one seems to remember me.

"And who am I?," you say. Not you, too!

Great. You people are such a boost to a girl's morale.

Hmm, who am I? Let's just say you're lucky I'm not Plato or Freud. You'd get such an answer it would put you to sleep in an eyeblink.

Ever hear of GENTLEMEN PREFER BLONDES? I wrote it back in 1926, its 1200 first edition copies selling out by noon of the day of its publication. The second edition numbered 65,000.

By 1966, there were 45 more editions, and the whole world was reading my book. Though some were downright party-poopers about it :

When the book reached Russia,

I was told by our then Ambassador, William Bullitt,

that the Soviet authorities embraced it as evidence of the exploitation of helpless female blondes by predatory magnates of the capitalistic system.

As such, the book had a wide sale, but Russia never sent me any royalties,

which seems rather like the exploitation of a helpless brunette author by a predatory Soviet regime.

Men! You can't live with them. And there're too many to kill.

Oh, there's a right way to pronounce my name, but it's too much trouble to correct everyone. So I pronounce it Luce. You might as well, too.

If you girls and boys are lucky, I'll drop by again and teach you a few tricks ... writing tricks. The other kinds you'll have to pick up on your own.

It's more fun that way. And remember : gentlemen may prefer blondes, but they marry brunettes.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011


I am Margaret Fuller.

You may recognize my name from the adventures of Samuel McCord and that scamp, Victor Standish.

History has me drowned upon this date in 1850 aged forty. In 1853, when Captain Samuel McCord met me aboard the cursed DEMETER, I was still all too alive.

Shortly thereafter, I became a unique form of undead. But then, I have always been unique -- alive or undead.

My beliefs (feminist and Transcendentalist), accomplishments and fervent personality put me in the spotlight throughout my life,

but my "last" years, spent in Rome supporting the short-lived Roman Republic, reached an operatic level of passion and poignancy.

As foreign correspondent of Horace Greeley's New York Tribune, I argued the cause of the Italian revolutionists in the dispatches sent home. In Rome, I assisted on the Republican ramparts and in their field hospitals.

I also married an Italian nobleman who was prominent in the Republican cause, and had a son by him. With the ramparts fallen and my husband in jeopardy, I reluctantly decided to return to America, despite premonitions of disaster and warnings from Emerson and other Concord friends that my socialist leanings and doubtful marriage would provoke public disfavor.

As if I have ever cared what the rabble thought. When my boat ran aground just off the New York coast, I chose to stay with my husband, who could not swim. Both of us were washed to sea and never found, (so history reports).

But Henry (David Thoreau) found me washed upon the shore not far from my young boy’s body.

The memorial to me put up by my family reads,

“Born a child of New England, / By adoption a citizen of Rome, / By genius belonging to the World.”

My genius has never been in question.

Edgar Allan Poe thought me such. He believed that the fallacy in my lobby for women's rights was that

"She judges woman by the heart and intellect of Miss Fuller, but there are not more than one or two dozen Miss Fullers on the whole face of the earth."

Poe’s evaluation is echoed in comments by Emerson and Hawthorne — though they let slip that their attraction might be more than intellectual (as it was) when they both referred to me in print as “Margaret Fuller, the Sexy Muse.”

I now know all the people worth knowing in America,and I find no intellect comparable to my own except for dear Ada (Byron, Lady Loveless - author of the first computer language a 100 years before the invention of the computer itself.)

McCord has his moments, but he is restrained by his Victorian ideals and code that he will not cast aside. I love him for his nobility. It will be the death of him.

What will be the death of you? I wager your friends know even if you do not. I leave you with a bit of my own verse :

“Let me gather from the Earth,
one full grown fragrant flower,
Let it bloom within my bosom
through its one fragile hour….”

Of my past, I neither rejoice nor grieve, for bad or good, I acted out my character.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011


The Borders Group, the bankrupt 40-year-old bookseller, said on Monday

that it will move to liquidate after no last-minute savior emerged for the company.

Borders will begin closing down its remaining stores as soon as Friday, and the liquidation is expected to run through September.

Publishers were disheartened but hardly surprised by the announcement, as they have watched Borders's troubles deepen for years. According to Bowker, a research organization for the publishing industry,

Borders accounted for 13 percent of the overall market share for print books in 2010. By July, that had dwindled to less than five percent, several large publishers said.

Barnes & Noble has fared better than Borders but after putting itself on the selling block close to a year ago, the company has only seen lukewarm interest.

Barnes & Noble has seen its book sales drop steadily, but had one major survival advantage over Borders with its Nook digital reader.

While the Nook isn't quite as popular as Amazon's Kindle, it has steadily brought in income for the slumping company.

But with news of the official collapse of Borders, even though it had been in the works for some time, Barnes and Noble might be wise to finally accept Liberty's offer.

While some could speculate that the loss of competition would be good for the company, it also could show that the market has completely dried up.

Borders Group Inc has entered talks to sell a small number of stores to retailer Books-A-Million Inc while hundreds of its other locations would be liquidated.

What does that mean for us as writers? Is America becoming a non-reading market? How will we fare in the eBook market? What will this mean to our chances with agents?
Tell me what you think?

Monday, July 18, 2011


{"Even if you're on the right track,

you'll still get run over if you just sit there."
- Will Rogers.}

So there I was perched atop a bucking aurora borealis,

trying to loop my lariet over a shooting star, when the ghost of Samuel Clemens ambled by.

"Need a favor, Will."

"I'm kinda in the middle of something, Sam."

"It's about Roland."

"Why didn't you say so in the first place? He needs help?"

"More than we can give. But his friends could use some, Will."

"How so?"

"They seem all fired up about getting droves of followers."

"Well, Sam, they could rob a bank. It worked for Dillinger."

"Yeah, that worked out real well for him, didn't it? No, you dumb Okie. Followers on that bog thing-a-ma-gadget."

I slipped off the bucking aurora borealis and nudged back my Stetson.

"Blog, Sam. On the internet. I read the papers. Wrote 4,000 daily columns in my time."

"That's what I'm talking about, Will! You know how to write.
You know how to perform. Why Zigfield trusted you with his fillies on stage."

"Old Zig didn't trust himself, much less anyone else.
But I get your drift, Sam. I'll write a column on how to snag followers."
And so here I am. Don't let anyone fool you. There are no rules for success. But that won't stop me from giving them to you :

1.) An onion can make people cry but there's never been a vegetable that can make people laugh.

Folks just naturally have more grief in their lives than they let on. They need an outlet.

You be that outlet. Make 'em laugh. You do that, and you'll have 'em coming back for more.

Or do you want to be a vegetable?

2.) Get someone else to blow your horn and the sound will carry twice as far.

How do you do that, you say. Easy. Blow theirs.

You find a gal or a fella who writes what you like, quote 'em on your blog. Add them to your blog list.

Be neighborly. You're leaving a comment on someone else's blog and spot a comment from them, say "Hi" to them in yours.

Agree with them (especially if you do) in your comment. Make a party line of it. Friendliness is catching.

3.) Good judgment comes from experience, and a lot of that comes from bad judgment.

You have to experiment to get anything outstanding done. Look at me and Wiley Post. We flew over darn near the whole world.

My daily news columns put momentum in the science of aircraft design and public support. And yes, we died in a crash.

But both of us died with a friend. Not a bad way to go.

4.) Know your audience and give 'em what they want by speaking to their hurts.

I went and read some of the blogs of Roland's friends. You folks are dreamers. We need dreamers today. Too many folks nay-say on the dreams of others.

You support those dreams in your blogs. Talk about what fears you have and how you fight them. It'll make the other gal in the cyber-trenches not feel quite so alone.

How can you know your audience?

You know you, don't you? You know what you'd like to know about publishing. Research it. And then post what you found out -- with the links you went to.

Synposis. Sounds like one of those ancient Greek philosophers. And most of you would rather kiss an ancient Greek than write a synopsis.

Well, research that subject. You find anything that makes the thing less painful, you publish it. And I guarantee you that folks will flock to your blog.

Remember fellas, there are more women bloggers out there than men. Be polite when talking about ladies in general.

Speaking of which, I'm taking my Stetson off to Laila Knight. Forgive those hairy-legged gents, Ernest and Sam. They're just men. They don't know no better.

5.) Lettin' the cat outta the bag is a whole lot easier 'n puttin' it back in.

They call it the World Wide Web for a reason, folks. Think before you write. No "how many ______ does it take to change a tire?" Thing is, there are a lot of ______ out there no matter what _______ you're talking about.

An agent rejected you? Smarted some didn't it? I'd hold back on venting rage and spite on your blog. You jab in a knife, and you may pull it out, but the wound remains.

And remember a little thing called Google Alert. You rail about an agent, an editor, a fellow blogger --- that little gizmo will alert them. And there're a lot more of them than you.

So let's be honest with ourselves and not take ourselves too serious, and never condemn the other fellow for doing what we are doing every day, only in a different way.

*** So that's a little of what I know. I'm only a wandering cowpoke ghost. I mean, I never expected to see the day when girls would get sunburned in the places they now do.

And I've tried to be diplomatic. But I'm an Okie : to me being diplomatic is saying "Nice Doggie" until I can find a big enough rock.

One last thing : have, what is that phrase they use nowadays? Oh, yes, it comes to me now.

Have the back of each gal and fella you meet in your blog travels. Who knows? They may do the same for you.

Sunday, July 17, 2011


{"Men of broader intellect know
that there is no sharp distinction
betwixt the real and the unreal."

- H. P. Lovecraft.}

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

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

I will but put forth this : my imagination was too stunted,

my words too feeble to paint what lies beyond.

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

and that our vain presence on this terraqueous globe is itself

the secondary or merely virtual phenomenon.

Then, what brings me to Roland's blog?

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

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

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

Abruptly, the ghosts of Samuel Clemens, Raymond Chandler, Will Rogers, and Ernest Hemingway (all heavily armed) made their cautious way to me.

And well they should have been careful,

for I am no longer altogether ... human.

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

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

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

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

"Indeed I do. What would you suggest?"

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

"How quaint. On what exactly, Clemens?"

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

"It chose me, Clemens."

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

I fought down the gibbering darkness. "You are lucky I owe DreamSinger, ghost."
So I am here. Why did I come? I came because of my lost childhood :

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

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

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

But some of us awake in the night

with strange phantasms of enchanted hills and gardens,

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

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

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

and then we know that we have looked back through the ivory gates

into that world of wonder which was ours before we were wise and unhappy.

Enough of me. I ask : Did your genre pick you?

I know mine did.

My reason for writing stories

is to give myself the satisfaction of visualising more clearly the

fragmentary impressions of wonder which are conveyed to me by certain
ideas and images encountered in art and literature.

I choose weird stories because they suit my inclination best -

one of my strongest and most persistent wishes being to achieve the
illusion of some strange suspension or violation of the galling limitations

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

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

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

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

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

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

without laying stress on the emotion of fear.

As to how I write a story - there is no one way. The following set of rules might be deduced from my average procedure :

1.) Prepare a chronological order of events.

2.) Prepare the narrative order of those events if you are beginning in the middle or the end.

3.) Write out the story - rapidly, fluently, and not too critically.

4.) Revise the entire text, paying attention to vocabulary, syntax, rhythm of prose, proportioning of parts, niceties, and convincingness of transitions.

5.) One last note : Prime emphasis should be given to subtle suggestion.

Imperceptible hints and touches of selective associative detail

which express shadings of moods and build up a vague illusion
of the strange reality of the unreal.

Avoid bald catalogues of incredible happenings which can have no substance or meaning

apart from a sustaining cloud of colour and symbolism.

**And so now I ask you again :

Did you pick your genre, or did it pick you?

Why has this genre captured you?

Do you have a blueprint you follow when you write your story or novel? Let me know. The remnant of humanity still clinging to me is interested.

And remember :

"Pleasure is wonder —

the unexplored, the unexpected, the thing that is hidden and the changeless thing that lurks behind superficial mutability.

To trace the remote in the immediate; the eternal in the ephemeral;

the past in the present; the infinite in the finite;

these are to me the springs of delight and beauty."
Now, Clemens would have me insert this photo to keep a pledge to Laila Knight. Since, I, in my own way, am an old world gentleman. Here it is :


Saturday, July 16, 2011


Ghost of Ernest Hemingway here

since Twain cheats at cards.

I lost to him at poker at Meilori's,

so I have to write a post

about the secrets to writing well.

Like with SEX and DEATH,

there are NO SECRETS.

Yet there are. In fact, SEX and DEATH are the backbone of most good novels, for all good stories are based in some way on those two elements in life.

So you want to know the SECRETS to writing a bestseller? All right, here they are :


Secret #1 :
There aren't any secrets.

Secret #2 :
There is only one secret :

The only secret to good writing is that it is poetry written into prose, and it is the hardest of all things to do.

But I will try to see if I can't share a bit of what I've learned. We are all apprentices in a craft where no one ever becomes a master.

And if you are reading this at night, it will mean something different than if you are reading this in the day. I know the night is not the same as the day:

that all things are different, that the things of the night cannot be explained in the day,

because they do not then exist, and the night can be a dreadful time for lonely people once their loneliness has started.

There are no secrets to good writing. But there is a compass :

No sentimentality allowed.

There is no sentimentality in prose that touches the heart.

Sounds like nonsense. It isn't.

Sentimentality, sympathy, and empathy are turned inwards, not restrained, but vibrant below and beyond the level of fact and fable.

If you would touch your reader, find what gave you a similar emotion :

what the action was that gave you the excitement. Then write it down making it clear so the reader will see it too and have the same feeling as you had.

No secrets. No sentimentality. Yet, there are rules :

Rule #1
Writing is re-writing.

The first draft of anything is shit. Get the draft done, then sculpt away anything that is excess.

Rule #2
In fiction as in life : you can't go back.

The reason most sequels, films or books, fail is that the author tries to unscramble the egg. The hero has changed, has learned, has become something other.

Rule #3

Good books belong to the reader.

The reader will identify with your protagonist if you've been honest.

The tale then belongs to him : the good and the bad, the ecstasy and the remorse and the sorrow. He will have felt the air on his cheek, smelled the bread baking on the breeze, and how the weather was.

He will feel that it has happened to him.

Rule #4
Talent is not enough.

It doesn't matter if you have the talent of Kipling. You must also have the discipline of Flaubert if you would become a good writer. Dreamers dream pipe dreams. Writers write. Writers grow in their craft.

Rule #5
Know everything.

No bullshit. And if you would be a writer, you must develop a foolproof shit detector.

A good writer must know everything. Naturally, he will not. That is why you must read.

Mr. King was right when he said that if you do not have time to read, you have no business being a writer.

Read fiction. Read non-fiction. Read psychology texts. Read biographies, autobiographies. Become a student of life.

Good writing is true writing.

If a man is making up a story, it will be true in proportion to the amount of knowledge he has about life and how conscientious he is :

so that when he makes something up, it is as it would truly be.

Sit down and think about what I've written. Look over what you last wrote. Slash and burn what is excess.

Sermon over. Now, sit down and write something.

Friday, July 15, 2011


Ghost of Samuel Clemens here.

Made you look, didn't I?

That Megan Fox gal can look more naked with clothes on than any filly I've seen.

Yes, I am a ghost, but I am a ghost of a man!

Seductive. That's the word for the day. Any day for a writer.

While babysitting Roland's blog in his absence, I've wandered over to his friends' blogs ---

who in tarnation named them that? Sounds like I'm going to sink in tar like one of those dinosaurs when I visit one.

Anyway, being the beloved literary genius that I am, I noticed a lot of you have been writing on how to get folks to like you,

to hang after you,

and to put their faces on your "wanted poster" as it were.


Be easy.

Be seductive, don't you know.

You don't? Well, you come to the right place. I can teach you all you need to know.

1.) What you learn by picking up a cat by the tail, you can learn in no other way.

In other words, learn by doing. Experiment. Gals do it all the time. That dress doesn't draw any whistles? Put on another.

Try something in your blog new and different. If no one comments, drop it faster than a politician does morals upon election.

2.) Of all the things I've lost, I miss my mind the most.

I mean, make your visitors laugh. Your blog is your home. Folks go where they feel comfortable, accepted, where they leave feeling better than when they came.

3.) Your blog is your Mini_Me novel. (And yes, even ghosts watch movies.)

And like in your novel, You need not expect to get your blog right the first time.

Write your post like you'd write a page in your novel.

Go to work and revamp or rewrite it.

God only exhibits his thunder and lightning at intervals, and so they always command attention. These are God's adjectives.

You thunder and lightning too much; the reader ceases to get under the bed, by and by.

The time to begin writing your post is when you have finished it to your satisfaction.

By that time you begin to clearly and logically perceive what it is that you really want to say.

4.) You can tell German wine from vinegar by the label.

By which, children, I mean to not have your visitors leave your blog with their mental faces all screwed up in distaste.

A.) No bragging. Not even if it's true.

B.) No slandering others not there. Not even if it's true. Don't make your guests squirm.

C.) Do help.

You know some of those literary potholes you twisted an ankle on? Point those out to those who follow after you. Make the road you walk easier for the next fella after you.

5.) It usually takes me more than three weeks to prepare a good impromptu speech.

The same for your post. Your blog is the only YOU most folks will ever see. Make sure a first time visitor gets the best YOU that you can offer.

To get the right word in the right place is a rare achievement.

To condense the diffused light of a page of thought into the luminous flash of a single sentence, is worthy to rank as a prize composition just by itself...

Anybody can have ideas --

the difficulty is to express them without squandering a quire of paper on an idea that ought to be reduced to one glittering paragraph.

And that's all the wisdom I can presently conjure. I must have a prodigious quantity of mind :

it takes me as much as a week sometimes to make it up. Don't be a stranger, hear? You don't want to miss my next brilliant gem of a post.

Thursday, July 14, 2011


Friday's ROMANTIC CHALLENGE given by Francine & Denise is SURRENDER.

My 400 word entry is SURRENDER TO THE MONSTER.


{Last Friday, Fallen, to save her love from the dreaded Sennacherib, left Blake to starve chained to a tree.

But evil will not be denied. Sennacherib visits Blake wearing the form of a friend. Blake follows his instructions on how to use his mind to escape the chains.

With unspeakable pain, Blake finds himself free …

of his now lifeless body.

He has become an invisible spirit. Laughing softly, Sennacherib disappears. Then, Blake hears two people approaching through the woods. He hears the furious voice of Philip Darius, Fallen’s only living friend.}

"I can't believe you, Fallen. You left him out here to die?"

" I- I am back."

"Only because I browbeat you. What were you thinking?"

"Of sparing him!"

"Sparing him? By leaving him to die alone?"

“It was about mercy!"

"No, it was about trust."


"You didn't trust Blake to be able to stand up to Sennacherib."

"You are wrong. I saved him from the hell Sennacherib planned for him."

"Really, Fallen? Maybe this and you were the punishment Sennacherib had planned all along?"


"Think about it. He's actually been happy these past three days."

"Sennacherib would have accused me."

"Why? You did exactly what he planned all along.”

Philip rasped, "I can't think of a worse way to die than to slowly starve with the memory of you saying, ‘Oh, Blake, I do love you. Here, let me leave you here!"

"H-He forgave me."

I heard the slap. "You bitch! I'm sure he did. Pray to God he's still alive."

They broke out of the dense overgrowth into the glade. Philip looked furious. And Fallen? I don’t have the words.

She was dressed in a long black Victorian/fae shroud. No last look at those pretty legs. Her high cheeks were hollow, but not as hollow as her green slanted eyes. Her face brightened as she saw me, ah, my body.

"Blake! Did you really think I would leave ---"

"No!," she screamed.

Philip stood rock still. "My God, Fallen, what have you done?"

Fallen raced to me. She wrapped her arms around my lifeless body.

"B-Blake, it is me. Fallen. I - I came back for you. Oh, God, I came back for you!"

Philip watched coldly as she softly stroked my face. “Please, come back to me. It has only been three days. You cannot be dead."

Philip tore Fallen from my body. Caught by surprise, she fell to the ground. She lay there, staring up at the twisted face of her only friend.

"Get away from him, you piece of filth!"


"I've wasted years looking out for you. I tried to keep Sennacherib from turning you into a monster."

He hung his head. "I give up, Fallen. I surrender to the monster inside you."

"It has not been that long," she wailed.

Philip snapped, "Don’t you get it? He didn't starve to death. He died of a broken heart!"

Fallen whimpered.

With Blake, being Blake, it gets even worse for him, Fallen, and Darius. But you'll have to read LOVE LIKE DEATH to find out.


Wednesday, July 13, 2011


“Two men look out the same prison bars; one sees mud and the other stars.”
- Frederick Langbridge

There are epic events in each person's life. What we make of them determines what we make of our lives.

Shelley F. Blatt

Laila Knight asked for a little personal information. I try to focus on writing and what can help all of us become better writers. But I said I would make a stab.

Hopefully, I will not sound like that starlet who said to an ear-weary Groucho Marx : "Enough about me. What do you think of me?"

Hurricane Katrina and Rita swept through New Orleans and Lake Charles. Neither city has fully recovered. And those of us who survived are changed forever by it.

Five years ago, Hurricane Rita was a category 5 hurricane. I spent the morning running rare blood to scrambling hospitals.

I drove back home to wolf down a hurried lunch. A mandatory evacuation was issued. I went downstairs.

Someone had siphoned the gas from my car. All the gas stations were shut down. I was stranded in the path of a killer hurricane.


Or not so alone.

Freddie, my supervisor, called checking in on me. He offered me a ride in his car as he drove beside his wife's car containing his two children.

So with the clothes on my back, my laptop on my lap, and Gypsy in a carrier, I rode with my friend into the darkness.

The highways were shut down. We drove the back roads, the cypress trees bending down over us in the blackness as if listening to our whispered voices. Freddie's eyes were hollow.

As we passed his wife's car, I saw she was frantic, on the verge of panic.

I winked at the pale faces of Freddie's two children, Allison and Abigail, pulled Gypsy, my cat, out of the carrier, and picked up her front paw as if she were waving at the two girls.

They giggled. And the grip of panic on their mother seemed to break.

She waved back and gave a valiant smile with a thumb's up salute.

Freddie studied me for a moment and said, "Dude, you're like Job."

"How so?"

"I mean you got your gas siphoned out of your car just when you needed it most."

"I bet a lot of people did."

"Yeah, but if Rita hits Lake Charles, this will be the second time you'll have lost everything.

You lost it all when your home burned. And before that you closed your business. Your mother died before that. And before that your fiancee died. And your childhood best friend died before Kathy. Damn, it's like you're Job."

I nodded, smiling sadly, "As I recall Job ended up pretty well."

"You've got a strange way at looking at life, dude."

"You're not the first to say that."

We made it to Baton Rouge where I worked delivering rare blood to all the hospitals reeling under the impact of Katrina.

I drove to the hospital of Metairie, the first suburb of New Orleans. (It is a French term for a tenant farm.)

I saw people who had only thought they knew what having nothing meant. I smelled the stench of decaying human flesh on the breath of a too silent city.

I saw young boys in uniform trying to be men under impossible conditions.

Late at night I typed the first draft of FRENCH QUARTER NOCTURNE, alone in the spacious suite afforded me by the blood center for which I worked.

It had been leased for the board of directors to oversee the new center in Baton Rouge.

So for two months I slept in a prince's suite. Gypsy was, for once, satisfied with her accommodations, she being a princess and all.

I barely saw the suite. I was always driving it seemed --

down long, unfamiliar roads to strange hospitals protected by hollow-eyed young boys with automatic weapons and dry mouths.

On my days off, I would volunteer to drive vans for the Salvation Army, Red Cross, church groups, or out-of-state relatives frantic to find lost loved ones. There are stories in that time that haunt me still, but they belong to shattered, valiant hearts.

Finally, the blood couriers were allowed back to our devastated city.

It was like something from a post-apocalyptic movie. But these ruined streets and gutted homes I knew. Our city has never truly recovered. But my friends are a hardy bunch.

Me? I just fake it.

I've only mentioned one snippet of my life, and look how much I have written. Sigh. Like Freddie says, I tend to talk a lot.

But he smiles good-naturedly when he says it.



SEX explained

We want to believe. And it causes us no end of troubles.

Many have emailed me, asking what I was doing with my SEX post.

In the last four hours of the day yesterday, I posted the one word, SEX, and two sexy photos. Nothing else. I tripled my existing number of visitors and far surpassed the highest day of the past month.

John Locke claims to know the secret of vast eBooks sales. I’m happy for him. But you don’t catch J K Rowling or Stephanie Meyers writing books on how to sell millions of books.

Why? Sometimes the lightning strikes. Sometimes it doesn’t. It rarely strikes twice in exactly the same way.

John is sure the key is to write “timeless” posts, twitter search who has spoken of your topic, then twitter them the link to your “forever relevant” post. BAM. Success is waiting to pounce upon you after that.

He wrote a post of his hero worship of Joe Paterno and his mother and followed his recipe for success. Lightning struck. The university which employs Coach Paterno chose Locke’s post as the blog of the month. Thousands of visitors poured Locke’s way. Fate’s spotlight sizzled upon him.

Locke had a backlist of books ready for the opportunity. He himself describes his books as lewd, shocking, disgusting, and deliciously bawdy. As yesterday proves, SEX sells. Amanda Hocking found out the same thing.

Can we duplicate that chance fall of the dice? Can we write something that will speak to the heart of an institution or international movie star so much that they will write of it in their blog or twitters? Lots of luck with that.

So far Stephen King hasn't written of me in his ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY articles. And I promised him a date with Olivia Wilde, too!

We all want to believe that there is a system. The casinos love those of us who cling to that delusion.

There is only the strike of lightning. Our responsibility is to have the best product we can craft should that lightning ever strike us. We can hold up the lightning rod all day, or we can continue to grow as writers. The smartest of us try to do both.


I wish.

do I wish.

But despite all the hype and rightful interest about Kindle Direct Publishing,

I still got your attention, didn't I?

Why? Name recognition.

Angelina has it. We don't. But good agents do.

Which brings me to some important points about our need for agents :


You and I are just unknowns, sharpening our elbows to edge into the focus of an agent or editor.

Say Angelina is my agent. I did. Aloud. I got shivers.

Ah, where was I?

Oh, yes, Angelina is my agent. She has worked for 15 years with editors.

And every book from an unknown she brought this particular editor has been a solid seller, and many of them have burned up the charts.

Angelina brings him my book. He'll look at it despite not knowing my name, perhaps even if its genre isn't his usual cup of tea.

He'll look at it because of Angelina's past track record. And that brings us to the next item :

Angelina has brought this editor nothing but winners. Not one turkey.

When he reads my novel, he thinks winner. The context of a situation is a key factor in sales. The tail often wags the dog here.

He'll be excited and enthused, expecting to like it. Now compare to that to an eye-weary editor dropping another dusty bundle of papers from a much too high slush pile.

Angelina has had a relationship with this publishing house for 15 years. She's charming, intelligent, and diligent.

Over the years, she has constructed an "Angelina Template" contract at this house. Little changes to the company's standard clauses.

Never much at one time. But over 15 years, her template contract has significant advantages for her clients over the company's standard contract.

The editor decides to buy my novel. He sends for Angelina's template contract.

Say that for Translation Rights it is a 75/25 split in my favor. What's some overseas translation money going to amount to anyway? The editor got away with just giving me $2,500 for an advance, didn't he?

My novel has a major character : a blonde, nubile fae in a short-skirted school uniform. Japanese businessmen are hot for school girls in short skirts. Very hot. School girls like that sell a lot of books, manga, and animation. A Japanese book company offers $50,000 for the translation rights.

That's $37,500 for me. A manga publisher offers $30,000. That's $22,500.

So I only got $2,500 for an advance. For just two Japanese translation rights sales, I received $60,000. Sure, Angelina gets her 15%. But didn't she earn it?

And that's just Japan. What about France? Germany? And the other rights like audio that Angelina wrangled a better deal for me. And what if an animation company wants the rights to my book?

All right, you say. But that's a super agent. How am I going to find a competent one, much less one like Angelina?

Well, you don't need a superstar agent. All you need is one who has a reputation for professionalism, competence, and a good instinct for winning writing. And how do you find that agent?


{Ah, actually it is, but that's another story for my memoirs.}

You do your due diligence.

You go to to find at least thirty good agents who deal in the genre you write. You read their requirements. You go to their webpage if Agent Query lists it, and scan the number of their sales and find out what the latest one is. Check its listing in sales on Amazon.

You go to to find out more about the sales of your selected agents.

If you don't want to pay the $20 monthly fee, go to PREDATOR AND EDITORS to see if there are any red flags next to any of the names that you're interested in.

You go to the excellent resource with the odd name : ABSOLUTE WRITE WATER COOLER to search the names of the agents in whom you're interested. ABSOLUTE is an excellent forum that discusses all aspects of writing and the business of getting published. You read the feelings and experiences of writers just like you. It's a fun read. Go there and check it out.

Without an agent you approach a publishing house in a fog. There are rival imprints within the same house. One prints genre. The other only literary fiction. Submit to the wrong imprint. BAM! Certain rejection. And worse, you've blown your one shot at that publishing house.

Within the same imprint there are many editors, each with their own particular slants and hates. One loves pretty boy vampires. The other slings a manuscript with one across the room. Do you know which editor is which? Of course not.

But Angelina does. And there are many editors in each imprint. And she knows what each editor likes and is looking for this very minute. It's her bread and butter to know.

If the war is a bidding war. They don't happen as much any more. But they do happen.

"Yeah, but not with my novel," you say. Really? Agent Jill Kneerim says in her 11 years as an agent she never saw a bidding war like the one for a book on Shakespeare world's. Shakespeare? That was in 2001. Look it up. See what the author got. Wow is too small a word.

Sometimes a savy agent can get you a huge advance just by taking your novel off the table and ending a bidding war for a huge publishing house before it begins. You would never be able to arrange for a bidding war or an "off the table" deal with random submissions.


World Rights. Sometimes a savy agent can get control of those for herself. What? For herself? Yes. And then, she sells, through her own agents worldwide, all those subsidary rights that mean more money to you : translation, audio, film, etc.

And that money goes directly to you -- and not into your publisher's royalty account. If you don't earn back your royalty, that money would never have stained your palms. Ouch! You get more. And you get it sooner.

So when I say you need an agent, you now understand what I mean. Due diligence, of course.

Right now, I'm going to submit my novel to Angelina Jolie. Hey, you never know.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011



{“I have heard it said that truth is mighty and will prevail.

There is nothing wrong with this … except that it ain’t so.”
Mark Twain.}

Samuel Clemens here. His ghost really. I can’t rightly call myself the ghost of Mark Twain.

Mark Twain was my pen-name. And isn’t a pen-name a ghost of sorts? Whoever heard of a ghost of a ghost?

I decided to spell poor Roland from going into that dang-blamed oven of an apartment. Now, let's see if I remember how to use this blamed contraption called a laptop, of all things!

In this terrible heat, I look at these teeny tiny keys then, like some misty rose, I see the face of my brother, Henry,

whose seared hand I held as he died from those terrible burns from that steamboat explosion.

The damnable explosion that I had dreamt in detail a whole month earlier.

It was then I realized that life was more than I had supposed.

No, I realized that the night when I first met Roland and Marlene Dietrich in my nightmare at the age of twelve …

in the Shadowlands. For you see, time is fluid and strange in that dark place.

Shadowlands you ask. You’ve seen them, too. Yes, you have.

That flicker of movement out of the corner of your eye. You turn cat-quick to catch it clear, saying it couldn’t possibly be what you thought.

And it wasn’t. It was worse. Worse than you could possibly imagine.

The Shadowlands are not Dreamtime, though they are connected, usually by the bridge of nightmare.

Roland’s mother could walk them, as could her Lakota grandmother. But only Roland is called a Name in them :


He who sings to life dreams … and nightmares.

It was in a nightmare that I first met Roland. I was alive then, for the dead do not dream. I was twelve years old and caught up in the hunt. I was not hunting. I was being hunted … by the spirits of my vengeful and dead sister and brother.

What to write of those times? They burn in me, and they keep me up at night. But now they can never be said. Besides, they would require a library and a pen warmed up in Hell.

As with most dreams, I will start this one in the middle :

It was night. It was Missouri. But not Hannibal.

It was the almost invisible village of Florida. It was a scrawny pup of a place. Only two streets, each but a hundred yards long. The rest of the pathways would be paved with tough black mud in winter, rain or thick dust in summer. I had been born there.

The skies were blood. The clouds rolling billows of fire.

Those sermons my mother had dragged me to were surely making an impression on my nightmare. I almost expected the chariot with the struggling figure of Elijah to come streaking across such a night’s sky.

The rumble of summer thunder echoed overhead. A wolf’s howl pierced the shadows with its mournful wail.

I tried to bolster my wavering courage. “N-Now, Sammy, that there’s just an hungry old wolf. That ain’t no omen of death. No, it surely --”

An unseen owl hooted. “Oh, Lord! I didn’t mean no harm to Bennie. I surely didn’t.”

And then behind me, I heard a deep voice like a happy stream. “These woods sure are a little scary, huh?”

I whipped about. And that was the first time I saw Roland. Lord, his eyes. The memory of them haunts me still.

They seemed to have seen all the pain in the world and felt most of it personal and close-up. Dressed in a strange black shirt I later learned was called “T,” jeans, and boots, he winked at me.

I winked back. “Little? Why these woods are humongous scary.”

And I relaxed just like that. He was a friend. I could just tell. And with the foolish trust of a twelve year old, I stuck out my hand. “Name’s Sammy. What’s yours?”

“Why, it's Roland. Good to meet you, Sammy. Are those spooks over there friends of yours?”


I whipped around so fast I left my smile in the air behind my head. And there they were : my dead sister and brother.

Their wispy figures of black mist flowed to my right. I felt my face go tight. They were apparitions from the spirit world.

No, not the spirit world you might be thinking of, but the spirit world each of us carries deep within the dark of our souls, the prison for our mistakes and those regrets they give birth to.

They were giggling, a hungry, soulless sound, and I made my throat work,

“Benjamin. Margaret. You leave me be.”

“What he said,” laughed Roland.

I turned to him. Why in tarnation was he laughing? Couldn’t he see they was about to make a meal of me?

He pulled out a battered pad of paper from his jeans pocket and looked over to me.
“There is power in words, Sammy.” (And that sentence of his changed my whole life. Although at the time, I did not realize their impact.)

Margaret and Benjamin both bent in unnatural ways as they turned and glided towards Roland, but only my sister spoke, revealing tiny, needled teeth. “Lakota, you have no hold on us.”

Roland just chuckled, bending towards me so that I could see what he was writing :

“And Margaret and Benjamin were caught up in the winds of forgiveness never to bother Sammy ever again.”

A keening moan hollowed from my right. I looked to where my sister and brother had been. They were gone. I turned to Roland like I had been whalloped in the head by a mule’s hooves.

“H-How did you do that?”

“I think it has something to do with my Lakota blood.”

“What blood?”

“Lakota Sioux Indian.”

“You’re an Injun medicine man?”

“Sort of. What I write sometimes comes to pass in dreams.”

“Only sometimes? Then, why was you laughing just now?”

“I always laugh when I’m scared spitless.”

“Now, you tell me!”

I edged closer to him. “You mean you could write anything down there and it might happen right now?”

He nodded. “Oh, sure. I could write : the most beautiful woman in the world flows out of the night mist and falls in love with Roland. But I won’t.”

“Why in tarnation not?”

“Being selfish with your gifts always turns out bad somehow.”

“Really?,” husked a woman from out of the fog that flowed in billows to our left.

We both jumped a foot up in the air, and the most beautiful apparition of beauty I had ever seen glided up to us. A long gown of gleaming satin, as alabaster as the moon’s face, clung to her so that even the twelve year old boy I was started to come to attention in certain places.

“I – I didn’t write anything down,” stammered Roland.

“What a strange dream this is,” she smiled, sending tingles all through me.

She looked down at the shaking page in Roland’s hand and lightly tapped them. “Does this mean you see me as the most beautiful woman in the world? I, who you have never before seen?”

And Roland said, “All men have seen you in the lonely corner of their hearts. Only a very few are lucky enough to ever meet you – even in dreams.”

Years later, when we were both ghosts, Marlene Dietrich confided in me that was the very moment she fell in love with Roland. But right then, her eyes just got deeper. Then, she faded away with the night mist.

I looked up at him. “Does this sort of stuff happen to you a lot?”

He smiled a sad, crooked grin . “All the time.”

And that is the face which comes to me whenever I think of Roland. It comes to me now that in my heart, he is my brother, Henry, given back to me.