So you can read my books

Saturday, June 30, 2012


My last contest is drawing to a close!


Win a Robert Downey, Jr. autographed photograph!

Win an autographed hardcover of THE ART OF MICHAEL WHELAN!


You don't even have to buy END OF DAYS ...

Just write a post on this contest or on END OF DAYS and you're entered.

Write a review of END OF DAYS on Amazon and you're entered, too!

Do BOTH and you're entered twice.

My best friend, Sandra, is struggling with a grave personal challenge right now, but she insists on still drawing the names.



Thursday, June 28, 2012


Denise and Donna have a new Friday Romantic Challenge:

This prompt is about the others in the romance couple’s lives DURING the break-up.

Inlaws, best friends, co-workers siblings, the kids and other immediate family. Anyone who has connected with the couple and is expected to choose sides when the relationship ends.

What we want to see (in 400 words or less) is how “the others” feel or is changed by the ending relationship,

and what they see as the strengths/weaknesses of the couple. We want to live the romance through a second party. (This is not a love triangle.)

Me, being me, I did it in 500 words. But this is Victor Standish's story, and you know how he is!

This is an excerpt from NEW ORLEANS ARABESQUE:

Her eyes were dark with more than the night.

Yes, Meilori’s eyes were jade quarter moons waiting to rise. What made them dark was her soul steeped in hate … for me.

“Standish,” she husked, “what does it take to kill you?”

Why did all my enemies ask me that? As if I would tell them. A bloody Captain Sam had a trembling arm around her bruised shoulder. He was leaning heavily upon her.

The two of them escaped her sister’s trap by the skin of their teeth. They both looked ready to fall.

I was dribbling a bit of blood myself. They wouldn’t have made it if Alice and I hadn’t fought off Maija’s reinforcements. Captain Sam looked uneasily from her to me and back to her.

I sighed. Losing Meilori for 7 years to Maija’s deceit had almost gutted him. To lose her now after just being reunited would destroy him.

I felt my face go tight. Sometimes to save the ones you loved, you had to lose them. I sighed. I always knew that alone was my destiny. I turned to walk away.

“Time to surf the waves in California.” I whispered.

Alice cried out to Meilori, “Oh, Lady Shinseen, please do not send Victor away! I – I am bound to New Orleans. I cannot follow him.”

Meilori murmured, “You are better off without the gutter rat.”

Alice sobbed, “I will die without him.”

I kept walking, but Captain Sam called out, “Victor, no!”

Meilori snapped, “Samuel, he is your son not mine!”

I turned around. Uh, oh. Mother, the Angel of Death, was materializing beside a startled Alice. Sfumato!

There were a billion ways for this to go wrong. I didn’t think there was a single one for it to go right.

Mother smiled a thing of nightmares. “No, Ningyo. He is my son.”

Meilori smiled back. “Go ahead. Strike me down. Samuel will never forgive you. And I will have my revenge.”

I started clapping. Meilori turned furious at me. I smiled my skull smile.

“No, Your Brittleness. Your sister, Maija, will have her revenge on you. You will die. I will die. Sam will die inside. Alice will live an eternal Hell. And Mother will be denied us all after leading us to that bright light.”

I sighed, “All of Maija’s most hated enemies will die or be in torment.”

Meilori husked, “Maija is dead.”

“Really?” I sighed. “That would be a first. All my enemies, Maija included, are like damn cockroaches. You can never seem to kill them. Besides, Maija knows you. She knew what would happen when she set all this into motion.”

Meilori frowned, “What do you suggest I do, gutter rat? Learn to love you?”

I shrugged, “I’ll settle for tolerate me and love Captain Sam. That last will tie Maija’s panties in a knot even if she is dead.”

Meilori fought a smile and turned to Captain Sam. “I can do the last with all my heart. You live … for tonight.”

I smiled as if it were a raw wound. She talked as if my enemies weren’t going to kill me long before Christmas. Alice squeezed my hand.

I squeezed back. The trick was to live each moment until that last breath. Alice smiled with trembling lips as if thinking the same thing.

Three more weeks until Thanksgiving. No. I was holding the hand of my Thanksgiving right now.

{Exquisite art courtesy of Leonora Roy.}

Wednesday, June 27, 2012


We write.

We strive.

We bleed the ink the page before us has been needing.

And for what?

That answer determines the manner in which we write :

hurried to meet some self-set goal


focused like light through the prism of our soul to cast the light of our dreams

onto an imagined page some unknown reader will read, becoming lost in our imagined worlds :

"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."

- Mark Twain in a letter to Emeline Beach, 10 Feb 1868.

Will we be understood?

Thomas Bailey Aldrich, in a review of Emily Dickinson’s poetry published anonymously in the Atlantic Monthly, January, 1892 :

"But the incoherence and formlessness of her —

I don't know how to designate them — versicles are fatal….

An eccentric, dreamy, half-educated recluse in an out-of-the-way New England village (or anywhere else) cannot with impunity set at defiance the laws of gravitation and grammar."

Whose name is familiar to you : the poet's or the reviewer's?

Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul,
And sings the tune without the words,
And never stops at all,

- Emily Dickinson

Have you noticed that much of the fiction out there has become more and more stylised, more and more cut off from ordinary feeling?

Is it that so many have come to regard everything in the world around us as fiction.... All the structures in it, flyovers and motorways, office blocks and factories, are all part of this enormous novel.

And since all those around us are mere backdrop in the fiction of our lives, they cease to become living, hurting, feeling individuals.

Ernest Hemingway wrote :

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

Organizations for writers palliate the writer's loneliness, but I doubt if they improve his writing.

He grows in public stature as he sheds his loneliness and often his work deteriorates.

For he does his work alone and if he is a good enough writer he must face eternity, or the lack of it, each day.

You know that fiction is possibly the roughest trade of all in writing.

You do not have the reference, the old important reference.

You have the sheet of blank paper, the pencil, and the obligation to invent truer than things can be true.

You have to take what is not palpable and make it completely palpable and also have it seem normal and so that it can become a part of experience of the person who reads it."

Why do you write?

To touch one human heart?

To impress someone who may not even be alive, or if alive, does not see you as your dreams and soul truly are?

To make the bestseller lists?

To become wealthy and famous? To support yourself comfortably?

To tell the stories that burn to come out and sigh in relief as you type them into being?

Why we write determines how we write and how much pleasure we derive from it/

What do you think?



Today marks the date of the death of Malcolm Lowry at the age of 48 in 1957.

When the DTs were bad, the writer Malcolm Lowry had a trick to stop his shaking hands from spilling his drink.

He would remove his tie, place it around the back of his neck, wrap either end around each hand, take hold of his glass, then pulled the tie with his free hand,

which acted as a pulley, lifting the glass straight to his mouth.

Lowry drank anything, hair tonic, rubbing alcohol, after shave, anything.

But unlike most drunks, Lowry was a dedicated writer, a constant chronicler of his own life -

everything was noted down as possible material for his novels, and generally it was.

He couldn’t enter a bar or cantina without leaving with at least four pages of hand-written notes.

In 1947, when Lowry’s novel Under the Volcano was published, he was hailed as the successor to James Joyce,

and his novel hit the top of the New York Times Best Seller List.

Move ten years on, to the English village of Ripe, Lowry is dead from an overdose, at the age of forty-eight, penniless, forgotten, with his books out of print.

It was an ignoble death for such a brilliant writer,

a death that has since been clouded with the suspicion he was murdered by his wife, Margerie Bonner,

who may (it has been suggested) have force-fed him pills when drunk -

for the pills he swallowed were prescribed to Margerie,

and Lowry was unlikely to have taken his own life without writing copious notes of his final experience.

Here are some incidents of his life from Douglas Day's MALCOLM LOWRY:

•Lowry and his wife collaborate on a screenplay of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Tender is the Night for MGM. Despite being told that the project had been cancelled, they carry on, and mail in their 500-page script anyway.

A producer at MGM notes that it is “a total filmic evocation—complete with critical remarks, attached film theory, directions to actors, fashions, automobiles…,” and that it would make a six-hour film.

•The Canadian poet Earle Birney notes Lowry’s behavior at a party. Lowry moves rapidly “from exhilaration into tipsiness into drunkenness,” getting lost in “some extremely interesting and complex sentence.”

Before passing out, says Birney, he’d enter a final stage: “We no longer existed really. He’d needed us as an audience, now he’d invented his own audience, and hallucination was beginning to take over …

animals grotesque creatures, shades and spirits of various things, were in around the corners of the rooms and he would move over to a corner and sometimes he’d turn his back on us and go on with what he was saying….

•Lowry, drunk, falls off the pier at his squatter’s shack on Vancouver Island, injuring his back on the rocks. He is hospitalized, but he becomes too violent and is sent home with a back brace.

•Lowry’s old friend Dylan Thomas comes to Vancouver, a stop on his reading tour. The two meet for drinks, but before long Thomas is coaxed out of the bar by a woman; when done, he finds Lowry at his hotel, throwing darts at a naked light bulb and having a hallucinatory talk with a different old friend, one who had died in WWII.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012



Not rumors. Conjectures. The difference?

Conjectures are based upon hard data ... and rumors. :-)

The Amazon Kindle Fire was announced on September 28 last year.

One of the major features which is attributed to its success is its use of a modified version of the Android operating System and the price point of just $199.

In the process, the Kindle Fire created its own zone in the market, that of a smaller budget tablet.

After nearly a year of successful, unchallenged existence, the Kindle Fire is now threatened by another tablet

which is expected to soon make its appearance in Google I/O. The Google Nexus 7 tablet.

The Nexus 7 is also a 7 inch tablet

but it is better than the Kindle Fire in almost every other aspect. It’s got a better screen resolution, a better processor, a better and more advanced OS

(Android Jelly Bean).

It even comes with a camera, which was missed by many in the Kindle Fire.

The final killing blow is the Nexus 7’s expected price. It is said to the same as the Kindle Fire, at $199.

Amazon’s only option to defend itself now is to bring out a new and better Kindle Fire.

And according to a CNET source,

Amazon will launch the next generation Kindle Fire on July 31, though the site cannot yet confirm the launch date.

According to another similar report on Digitimes,

Amazon plans to bring out a new Kindle Fire with a better screen resolution of 1,280 by 800-pixel

in the beginning of the third quarter

and at the same time reducing the price of its existing model to $149.

This business strategy is the same that Apple applies to the sale of its iPad.
{Source: THE DROID GUY }
Enough business! How about some myth and mystery?

On Bikes And Destiny:

Monday, June 25, 2012


{"There are keys to success in writing.

I did not learn them early.

I did not learn them all at once.

They came to me like the passing of a kidney stone --

with time and with pain."}

Roland has been going on about keys to writing success.

But who's the beloved literary genius here? Me, that's who!

So I am going to pass on a few of those keys. Not in any particular order -- just as they occur to me, much like I wrote my autobiography.


#1) Write without pay until someone pays you.

In other words, write because you love it, not for thoughts of wealth. Only a very few authors ever are able to leave their day job.

Do this and you will relax and write with confidence. The reader will sense this, and your novel will be more interesting to your reader.

Write only about what interests you. The reader will be infected with your enthusiasm and keep turning the pages.

#2) Don't say the old lady screamed.

Drag her out into the scene and have her caterwaul herself. Telling the reader that a grandmother was stabbed does not near involve him as showing her stabbed.

#3) Never say in writing what you couldn't comfortably say in conversation.

Be natural in your writing. It will add the feel of reality to your novel. Put an acorn of truth in each of your characters.

The lonely weariness of a single father will grab the heart of the reader. In the next chapter when he robs the bank, the reader will be on his side.

#4) Periods are not ugly --

so do not put them so far away from the start of your sentence. Make your sentences and paragraphs short. Do not make your writing blunt instruments of prose.

Rather, write with the ear, not the eye. Make every sentence sound good.

And for that you need a well-trained sense of word-rhythm. Train your ear by reading your pages aloud as you finish them.

#5) The more you explain it, the more I do not understand it.

Be clear. Clear writing comes from clear thinking. Know logic. Know the subjects your characters do. Know the law if your hero is a lawyer.

Make sure each sentence could only mean what you wished to express.

And Lord Almighty, use short, direct words. Do not IMPLEMENT promises. KEEP them.

Remember that readers cannot know your mind. Do not forget to tell them exactly what they need to know to understand you. Speaking English to a Frenchman will not get you very far. I know. I tried.

#6) Write as if you were dying --

Indeed, write as if your readers were dying.

And in a way, both you and they are. You just do not know your exact shelf life.

They don't have time for all those long, dreary paragraphs about Aunt Edna's digestion. What tale could you spin to a dying person that would not enrage by its shallow triviality?

That thought will prune many needless ramblings on your part.

And please no adjectives to tell the reader how to feel. Instead of telling us the thing is "terrible," describe it so that we'll be terrified.

You see, all those words (horrifying, wonderful, hideous, exquisite) are only like saying to your readers "Please, will you do my job for me."

#7) Do not hoard.

Give each paragraph all the dynamite you possess. Do not save a "good bit" for later. If you do, the reader may become bored and wander off before your novel explodes.

Do not worry. More dynamite will occur to you -- if you give each scene all the wit and heart you have.

Those are seven keys to success in writing. There are more, of course.

But too many keys jangling inside your heads will make such a commotion that you won't be able to think straight, much less see where they apply to you and your novel.


Key to what?

The key to writing a classic that readers will go back to over and over again.

And just what is that allusive Second Key?


There are books I go back to just to re-read favorite passages. As in this one where Mark Twain speaks of Hawaii :

"For me its balmy airs are always blowing, its summer seas flashing in the sun; the pulsing of its surf is in my ear;

I can see its garlanded crags, its leaping cascades, its plumy palms drowsing by the shore, its remote summits floating like islands above the cloud-rack;

I can feel the spirit of its woody solitudes, I hear the splashing of the brooks; in my nostrils still lives the breath of flowers that perished twenty years ago."

Weren't you there for a moment? Didn't you catch, not just the physical touch of the islands, but the spiritual one as well?

The love, the longing, the reluctant parting with those lush, green isles.

Twain didn't write of Hawaii. He SPOKE of it, evokings its very essence and his own. I used that word earlier on purpose. You could almost hear his Missouri twang.

His description wasn't a mere flat reproduction of details. No. His recollections spoke as much of his character as it did of the land.

Descriptions of your setting, if done well, will make of your locale an actual character. They will paint a picture, not only of the surroundings, but also of the soul your perceiving protagonist ...

As in this description of Amsterdam seen through the eyes of Samuel McCord in his new novel I'm currently writing: NEW ORLEANS ARABESQUE ...

Amsterdam. I’d never much cared for it.

There was rot underneath its old world orderliness. Maybe I might have liked it at its beginning when it was just a huddle of fishing huts on the Amsel River with folks just content to hide away from the madness of kings and Popes.

It was a strange city, where coffeshops meant places where you could buy pot. But that they were found in the Red Light District was a real clue that coffee wasn’t the only thing sold there.

And what wasn’t sold in Amsterdam? Honor, dignity, pride, sex -- all was sold on the open market.

For the thing that I had become, Amsterdam was a wild mix of scents and sounds :

the tolling church bells that played snatches of hymns or Beethoven to mark the dying of the hour;

the smell of vanilla drifting off the stack of waffles as I walked by the cafes; barrel organs pumping happily off in the distance;

hearing a gaggle of laughing girls singing around a piano as I strolled by a bordello;

watching a lone professor on a park bench, closing his eyes, as he listened to the music of Sweelinck on a 17th century organ in the Oude Kerk.

But the lawman in me found other more disturbing sensations : the wave of cloyingly sweet cannabis that hit me as soon as I stepped off the train into the station;

the mewing of the drug addicts who had stumbled my way, begging for the price of just one more fix;

the fine smell of aged vomit rising from off the cobblestones as I had made my way along desperate prostitutes, past their prime,

but with no other way to make a living on the street of Stormsteeg;

the silent hollow-eyed girls staring at me from the windows on Molensteeg,

awkwardly bumping and grinding in an attempt to lure me in and keep their pimps from beating the hell out of them for poor sales.

After all, waterfront property costs to keep.

The dead man’s reservation was for the InterContinental Amstel Hotel, the best hotel in the city. Hell, why not? Only the very best for the very worst.

It was where you could find movie stars, popstars, and other famous and infamous celebreties -- and me. His suite was paid up for the month.

His wallet’s money made fine dining affordable, not that I could still taste with the withered thing that passed for a tongue. But as long as I didn’t stick it out at folks, I still looked human.

The night following my arrival found me sitting in the hotel’s best restaurant, La Rive. It had a beautiful panorama of the Amstel River. The dead boy’s money bought me a prime table with the best view.

I would have felt guilty if I had been enjoying it. But all I could see were the addicts and prostitutes that clawed for a living somewhere beyond the dark beauty.

“They are cattle, nothing more,” said a velvet voice above me.

{And as Holmes would say, "The game was afoot."}

If I managed to put my muse where my mouth is, then I conveyed as much about Samuel as I did about the streets and psyche of Amsterdam.

That is what you must do :

You must be as Hemingway -- very precise in what words you use and make them do double-duty : telling as much "why" as "what."

The tight purse-strings of his newspapers forced this discipline upon him.

Telegraphing his articles from exotic locales and warfronts cost his paper $1.25 a word. At those prices each word had better be damn important to his post.

And so it should be with your prose.

Time and patience are short with agents and the average reader. If they are not wisked away by your words to become lost in your setting, they will simply walk away.

Do not let them.

Think back on a moment when the magic of a place caught you up in a moment of awe and wonder.

What did the wind taste like? The air -- was it filled with the scent of pine and lightning strikes?

What sounds did your feet make as you walked --

the crackle of brittle leaves dying at your passing ... the cat-padding of feet sinking deep into soft grass ... the lonely cry of a solitary owl casting his voice into the hollowness of the night?

Hold the reader by the sheer magic of your words. Don't write. Speak. Speak as to a curious friend over the dinner table. Speak of the soul of the land as seen through the heart of your main character.

If you can do that, you will have grasped the Second Key.

"The wind will tell you its truths if you but listen." -- Samuel McCord
At a time when the Nazi's were winning WWII, and it seemed America might find herself alone against Hell, there came a movie that merged dialogue with locale :


Sunday, June 24, 2012


{Take a chance on THE LAST SHAMAN: It is only 99 cents. Give it a try.}

The Third Key.

Key to what?

To writing a classic. {I'll talk of the 2nd Key another day.}

Summer Ross:

commented on my thoughts on meaningful dialogue being necessary to write a classic.

Scholars may debate a novel and pick it apart, but it’s the readers who make it come to life, pass it on and keep it going for future generations.


One thing that does seem to make a novel, like a classic movie,

seem timeless was the authors ability to create quotes in which readers have found wisdom, humor and words to live by.



In fact the title of one classic novel is THE HEART IS A LONELY HUNTER.

If you, the author, can speak directly to the heart and the wounded child in your reader, you will transform your novel into something timeless.


Timeless because they speak to the eternal aspects of the human condition, of the human heart. And what are those aspects?

Morality -

a classic novel should say something of value, drawing attention to human problems, condemn or applaud certain points of view.

It should make a statement that is more significant than the "Dark chocolate is the world's best candy" kind of comment.

We don't have to agree with the authors statement, it just has to be there.

Meaningful dialogue -

As I said in yesterday's post, the language used should be forceful, fresh and not hackneyed, and suitable to the purposes of the statement/message.

Truthfulness -

Is the work credible?

Does the author make us believe what is being said? Such a standard cannot, of course, be applied literally.

We do not believe in the literal truth of Gulliver's Travels or Candide, but we understand that the authors are using fantasy and exaggeration to communicate basic truths about humanity.

Moreover, a good novel, story, or drama should give us the feeling that what happened to the characters was inevitable;

that, given their temperaments and the situation in which they were placed, the outcome could not have been otherwise.

Everything we know about Willie Loman in Death of a Salesman, for instance, makes his suicide inevitable. A different ending would have been disappointing and untrue.

Universality -

Regardless of when it was written, the work should hold meaning still in the western world,

and should still hold that meaning in the future.

Huckleberry Finn, for example, although it has been called the first truly American novel, deals with a universal theme, the loss of innocence.

That is how you achieve Timelessness -

The work should be of lasting interest. The comments the author makes about people, about the pressure, rewards, and problems of life should still be relevant.

The theme of the work should be as pertinent now as it was at the time it was written.

Here is a classic exchange between two friends now turned enemies from a classic film, THE THIRD MAN:

Saturday, June 23, 2012



#73 in Books > Literature & Fiction > United States > Native American

Sometimes it feels as if there isn't any hope, doesn't it?

Wendy Tyler Ryan once had an intriguing post

Donna Hole had another one some time back (and no, not just because she mentioned me ... well, maybe a little.)

It does seem as if the publishing industry doesn't have any room for readers or writers interested in what the over-thirty dream, yearn, or struggle for.

Take Edward the sparkly 200 year old vampire. What does he see in a shallow, angst-filled, self-absorbed teenager? Isn't he really just a young looking pedophile?

Maxwell Perkins, editor of Ernest Hemingway, Thomas Wolfe, and F. Scott Fitzgerald, would have tossed Stephanie Meyers' work in the reject pile with a disgusted sigh.

But it is a different market : a youth-oriented, visual, me-generation market.

Everyone get up, look up at the night with its fading moon, and say it : CRAP!

All right, now that we have it out of our systems, what can we do?

There are several approaches :

1.) We use both a young protagonist and a mature mentor. Think AUNTIE MAME, THE SWORD IN THE STONE, the first STAR WARS. I chose this route with my THE LEGEND OF VICTOR STANDISH.

2.) Focus on an older protagonist with a youngster needing protection. Think THE ROAD, the new movie THE WARRIOR'S WAY, LONE WOLF AND CUB, and the Tom Hanks' movie, THE ROAD TO PERDITION.

3.) Use an intelligent adult for your protagonist and place him/her in a situation that chills the blood or staggers the imagination.

As in these two set-ups :

A) Your MC goes into a confessional, only to hear the priest babble about becoming Other, then the priest shoots himself.

Your MC throws the door of the confessional open only to see the priest is half-circuitry, melded into the very metal of the small room. One by one, all those your MC knows become Other in some strange way or other.

B) You wake up one morning, go to work, only to find your co-workers have faded like a photo left out too long in the sun. Day by day they fade more and more until they are all black and white, leaving you in a world full of color.

Worse, they become more and more dead-faced and robot-like until you catch them whispering ominously behind your back in a strange buzzing not unlike worker bees.

There is hope, fellow strugglers. THE LORD OF THE RINGS caught the hearts and minds of high schoolers and college-aged with hobbits, old wizards, dwarfs, elves, and a long-lived human named Aragon.

How can you bring hope to your novel?

Make the magic real. Even if your protagonist is older, keep a child-like sense of wonder and curiosity to his/her world.

And now, a little practical nuts-n-bolts advice that was sparked by Donna's post :

If you find yourself feeling hopeless with the words dammed up inside your wheel-spinning mind, it is probably caused by one of five things :

1) Overwork -
Stop writing for a few days. When you're ready to start singing tales into the night once more, you will know when the keyboard stops being forboding and starts to become a delightful toy again.

2) Boredom -
Put your novel down no matter how close you are to the finish line. Start that new idea that has been buzzing around in the back of your mind. Trust me. If your novel has begun to bore you, it will certainly bore the agent to whom you submit.

3) Self-Doubt -
Starting something new will work here as well. The joy of the new idea will spark your love of writing which led you into this profession in the first place. Then, read the first few new pages and see if you can find echoes of your old work in them.

After a few days of your new project, go back to where you were in your old novel. Read the five pages prior to your stop-point. Then, write on the novel again. It will be reborn. Trust me.

4) Financial Worries -
Tough one. No easy remedy here. You must solve them or lighten them somehow.

If it means stopping the writing to take a second job, then that is what you must do. Family comes first. Dreams second. Those months spent apart from your keyboard will sow your unconscious mind with new ideas.

5) Emotional Problems -
If charged relationships are shortcircuiting your muse, you must find a safe, neutral way to sit down with your loved one and talk through what is eating away at you.

It will clear the air between the two of you or bring a much-needed lance to a painful boil. Have a rear-exit stragedy already in place just in case things should go south. No relationship or person is or can be perfect. Look at areas where you can grow.

In the end, the only person you can change is yourself. Sometimes retreat is better than painful staying in an unhealthy situation or relationship.

There is hope ... for your writing ... for your life -- if only you do not give up on yourself and your own worth.


Friday, June 22, 2012



Christi Goddard is having a FOUR IN THE MORNING Twitter Release Party!

See the book trailer for it:

Now, back to our regularly scheduled post ...


That's a question we would all like to know the answer to.

Sure you do. Deep down we all do.

But how to pull off that miracle?

Like the photo to today's post suggests ... by giving the reader what he wants to read.

And that's what has readers come back to read our novel a second ... even a third time.

It's what has them rush to their friends, talking about the book that they just have to read.

Word of mouth gives birth to bestsellers that become modern day classics ... to movies being made of said novels ... maybe your book.

Word of mouth.

That phrase leads us to one of the three things will ensure your book is worthy of coming back for seconds,

thus becoming a classic -- (Sorry, I think I can get to only one of the three.) :

1) Dialogue that sparkles.

Take the sixties Western, THE PROFESSIONALS :

Burt Lancaster. Lee Marvin. Robert Ryan. Ralph Bellamy. Jack Palance. Woody Strode.

Each actor at the apex of their careers. How did the director draw in so many large stars at the time of one-star vechiles?

The studio couldn't afford that much in salaries.


Each actor was given lines that didn't just say something but words that MEANT something. Words that didn't just move the plot along but spoke to something primal within the hearts of the audience.

Such as :

Bill Dolworth (Burt Lancaster) : Rico, buddy. I don't deserve you.

Rico (Lee Marvin): I agree. I can understand you getting in a crap game and losing $700 you didn't have, but how'd you lose your pants?

Bill Dolworth: In a ladies bedroom, trying to raise the cash. Almost had it made, too. Do you realize that people are the only animals that make love face to face?


Bill Dolworth (Burt Lancaster) : Maybe there's only one revolution, since the beginning, the good guys against the bad guys. Question is, who are the good guys?


Rico: So what else is on your mind besides hundred-proof women, 'n' ninety-proof whiskey, 'n' fourteen-carat gold?

Bill Dolworth: Amigo, you just wrote my epitaph!


Jake Sharp (Woody Strode) : Mr. D, whatever got a loving man like you in the dynamite business?

Bill Dolworth: Well, I'll tell you. I was born with a powerful passion to create. I can't write, can't paint, can't make up a song...

Hans Ehrengard (Robert Ryan) : So you explode things.

Bill Dolworth: Well that's how the world was born. Biggest damn explosion you ever saw.


Jesus Raza (Jack Palance) : La RevoluciÛn is like a great love affair. In the beginning, she is a goddess. A holy cause. But...

every love affair has a terrible enemy: time. We see her as she is. La RevoluciÛn is not a goddess but a whore.

She was never pure, never saintly, never perfect. And we run away, find another lover, another cause. Quick, sordid affairs. Lust, but no love. Passion, but no compassion.

Without love, without a cause, we are... *nothing*! We stay because we believe. We leave because we are disillusioned. We come back because we are lost. We die because we are committed.


[last lines]
J.W. Grant (Ralph Bellamy) : You bastard.

Rico: Yes, Sir. In my case an accident of birth. But you, Sir, you're a self-made man.


On the surface THE PROFESSIONALS was just an adventure tale, plain and simple.

But your novel to become a classic cannot be plain and simple.

It must have depth. Your dialogue must do more than say something -- it must MEAN something.

As THE PROFESSIONALS had depth. Beneath the adventure was an examination of what it means to be a professional in all you did, what it took for mature, intelligent men to fight for love or for a cause when ultimately all loves, all causes, betray you.

Each character had a different surface answer. But their base-rock answer was the same : you lived in such a way as to not betray yourself -- you fought because of the people you battled alongside and for.

And that leads back to us :

as authors we write for ourselves and for those who read our words -- not to betray ourselves or the readers who paid cash money for our tale. In the end, we want what all authors want :

to tell a story that sings a song to the soul, that murmurs "You are not alone."

Thursday, June 21, 2012



The lovely Hart Johnson has me at her blog today:

You'll get to see some of the beautiful interior illustrations to END OF DAYS by Leonora Roy ... and have to put up with my boring drivel as DayStar puts it!

Not boring at all is Hart's visit with Talli Roland. Give sparkle to your day and visit them:

Victoria Smith and Jaycee DeLorenzo are hosting the Girls Just Wanna Have Fun Blog Hop!

Once I saw the instructions for this hop, I knew I had to join:

Interview a heroine of your manuscript, novel, or WIP by a fellow female counterpart also from one of your written works. Your featured heroine can be interviewed by her best friend, a heroine from another one of your written works, a sister, the opportunities are endless!


I circled Maija Shinseen as she likewise circled me. We were in her throne room of her inner sanctum, Kumonosu-jō.

She translated it as THRONE OF BLOOD. She lied. It meant "Spider Web Castle."

Maija caressed the remote triggering devise in her hand with her too-long fingers.

"Answer my questions truthfully, ghoul, or I will detonate the bomb I have placed in your beloved Meilori's."

I nodded silently, biding my time.

"Good. A new law says you have to change your name to match your personality. What would you call yourself?"

I smile, showing my sharp teeth. "Ice."

Maija frowned, "What is your greatest fear?"

"I have suffered it and endured: the death of my only love."

Maija slowed her circling. I matched her, knowing that her pet spider was creeping up from behind me. She murmured, "If you had a theme song, what would it be?"

Thanks to my love's incessant humming of the tune, I had the perfect answer as I showed more of my sharp, sharp teeth. "HUNGRY LIKE THE WOLF."

With my ghoul's hearing, I heard the silk scuttling of giant spider legs behind me as Maija smiled, "If you wrote an autobiography of your life, what would the title be?"

As I turned to mist, letting Maija's giant spider lunge through me, I murmured, "THE QUICK AND THE DEAD."

I watched Maija scream as her spider sank its fangs into her squirming body. The detonator skittered to my re-formed feet. I picked it up, humming "HUNGRY LIKE THE WOLF."


All right, Mr. Peabody and friends,

let's jump into the Way Back Machine to the year 2009

 when the Artist Timothy Lim tipped the time-honored classic Charles Schulz’s “Peanuts” on its collective ear

 by showing the world what it would be like if written by Frank Miller.



Ghost of Samuel Clemens, here,

just trying to draw folks over to this here computer journal.

A ghost gets lonely, don't you know?

Wednesday, June 20, 2012


Wendy Lu, The Red Angel:

is having a birthday and a poetry blogest centering on the Roaring 20's. That era is special to me since William Faulkner first met Captain Samuel McCord then in New Orleans.


But this is about Wendy Lu. Let her tell about her blogfest herself:

To celebrate my second decade of being alive, I am hosting The Roarin' Twenties Poetry Blogfest. This calls for another: "Huzzah!"

The last blogfest I hosted was Inanimation 100-Followers Blogfest back in May 2011. Over 15 bloggers participated and it was one of my favorite blogging experiences ever.

I've wanted to host another for a long time - and so here we are! I'm not very good at writing poetry, but I still write with words - I am writer.

But I've decided I'm going out of my comfort zone for this one, because isn't that what part of being a writer is all about? Challenging yourself? Who's with me?

I am, Wendy. But haiku's are the extent of my poetic skills. Since the poetry has to be about time or the Roaring Twenties, I wrote this:

Lost love's long shadow,
Winter moon weeps bitter snow;
Summer rains still mourn.

{Don't forget to visit Siv Marie's Eye Spy of my urban fantasy, END OF DAYS: }

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

HART JOHNSON'S Spirit Guides and SIV MARIA'S Eye Spy!


has surprised me this Wednesday with a spotlight on END OF DAYS. Please check her post out -- I would hate her comments to slump because of me!

But today is really HART JOHNSON DAY!

Yes, that best-selling author has graciously accepted my invitation to chat a bit here in this haunted blog of mine!

Spirit Guides

Thank you so much for having me, Roland! You are always such a wonderful, kind and gracious supporter and I'm honored to be here.

Since Roland's blog so often hosts kindly, or sometimes crotchety, but never particularly frightening, spirits, I thought it was a nice place to play tribute to two spirits that are with me always.

Alyse Oleson
Sylvia Carlson

Those of you who have bothered to memorize my pen name may recognize them. They are my grandmothers. A Noregian and a Swede. Both about 5'2”. Both 2nd of seven children (five girls and two boys in both families), and both embodying unconditional love an support.

Alyse and I , circa 1967 (she even thought I chewed measuring cups well)

I was very lucky to be born with all my grandparents and no small number of great grandparents (I remember three great grandmothers and one great grandfather and I know I had MET the another full pair, but they lived a few hours away and both died by the time I was four or five.--Still... a lot of grandparents)

But those two grammies were special. The one with the pies who let me watch her with the sheep and chickens (Sylvia), and the one who taught me dice, cards and 'pretty wine' (Alyse).

Each in their own ways, they supported every single thing I did like I was the best kid on the planet. And you get a couple cheerleaders like THAT and you know what ELSE you end up with?

Enough ego reserves to make it in this writing world. Perseverance really requires an underlying belief that it will pay off, and that belief has to come from SOMEWHERE.

My mom said it. But I was sort of a brat to my mom... mom saying it didn't make it real. If my GRANDMAS said it though... THAT was law. I could do ANYTHING.

The one in the middle is mine (Sylvia)... Though it's all family.

What would my grandmothers and their mischief have to say around here?

One (Sylvia) was more a solid life skills sort of woman with some rather far out ideas. She was raised Seventh Day Adventist, so vegetarian, alcohol free and healthy living, but also into all sorts oddball home remedies.

She was a gardener and crafter and sweeter than sweet.

My other grandma though, I spent Tuesdays and Thursdays with until I started school, then many after school days digging in her dress-up trunks. Imagination was nurtured.

She also had books—it was her dad who read Sleeping Beauty to my 400 times when I had the chicken pox because he was visiting from Iowa the summer I turned 5.

And it was her shelves where I fell in love with OLD BOOKS in the form of Mark Twain and Robert Louis Stevenson (books I still have and still love). Either one of these women could have passed me my mischief streak--they both had it. Both loved to laugh. And both made the people around them feel like the center of the world.

I think either one of these grandmas could have made those stuffy, serious guys lighten up...Twain is FAR more the style of both of them... no nonsense, common sense, but MAN with a good sense of fun.

I like to think I channel them a little when I play... and a lot when I believe in myself.

The Azalea Assault

Cam Harris loves her job as public relations manager for the Roanoke Garden Society. It allows her to combine her three loves, spinning the press, showing off her favorite town, and promoting her favorite activity.

She's just achieved a huge coup by enlisting Garden Delights, the country's premiere gardening magazine, to feature the exquisite garden of RGS founder, Neil Patrick. She's even managed to enlist world-famous photographer Jean-Jacques Georges.

Unfortunately, Jean-Jacques is a first-rate cad—insulting the RGS members and gardening, goosing every woman in the room, and drinking like a lush. It is hardly a surprise when he turns up dead. But when Cam's brother-in-law is accused and her sister begs her to solve the crime, that is when things really get prickly.

Alyse Carlson is the pen name for the author some of you may know as Hart Johnson. She writes books from her bathtub and when she isn't writing, does research for a large, midwest University or leads the Naked World Domination Movement (your choice).


Barnes & Noble
Paperback or Nook
Amazon Paperback or Kindle

Confessions of a Watery Tart


On this day in 1816, the Shelleys, Lord Byron and entourage gathered at the Villa Diodati on Lake Geneva

to tell the ghost stories that would trigger Frankenstein.

This most legendary of storm-tossed evenings was a literary lightning bolt.

Want to become part of another event of legendary import?

Join Candilynn Fite:


It will be safer than the one hosted by Mary Shelly.

When word circulated that the infamous Byron had taken up residence at the Villa Diodati on Lake Geneva,

one enterprising hotelier installed a telescope in order that his guests might get a close-up of the "League of Incest" --

Byron, Shelley, Mary Shelley, Claire Clairmont (half-sister to Mary, pregnant with Byron's child), John Polidori (Byron's physician) -- in action.

One gossipy note sent back to England from a nearby villa testified to Byron cavorting with "another family of very suspicious appearance,"

though the communicant admitted, "How many he has at his disposal out of the whole set I know not. . . ."

{For more details check out: }

Now, check out Candilynn's deets! (Rules):

~ Entries must be original work of the writer.
~ Only one entry per contestant.
~ 300 words or less.
~ The piece must follow the prompt provided, but may sway in any direction.**See note below
~ The contest piece should be written about the image, in some form or fashion.
~ The prompt should be used in the story and included in word ct.

The contest piece may be merely a Sketch Story . Sketch Stories may contain little or no plot.

Have a blast & be creative. :))

**Please copy and paste your entries directly into the comment section of HER post.

Monday, June 18, 2012



Candilynn Fite is holding a UNIQUE BLOGFEST:


The contestant's entries will be judged on his or her ability to follow the prompt provided, and the writer's overall creative expression. Excited yet??

The contest piece may be merely a Sketch Story . Sketch Stories may contain little or no plot. Click on link to discover more about Sketch Stories and famous authors who wrote them.

Sounds like fun, doesn't it? Check out the deets! (Rules):

~ Entries must be original work of the writer.
~ Only one entry per contestant.
~ 300 words or less.
~ The piece must follow the prompt provided, but may sway in any direction.**See note below
~ The contest piece should be written about the image, in some form or fashion.
~ The prompt should be used in the story and included in word ct.

Have a blast & be creative. :))

**Please copy and paste your entries directly into HER comment section of the post.

To get into the spirit of her contest, here is my take on it (Just as an example):

(250 words)

The streets of this city never slept. Not for the living. Not for the undead. Nor for me. I stand halfway between the two.

I am Captain Samuel McCord, cursed with the blood of the Angel of Death in my veins.

New Orleans has been called a Twilight City, for it rises from civilized slumber to bustling life at night.

Performers often line the streets, pushers sell their brands of death, prostitutes promise sex as if it were love, dancers weave through the partiers on the street, and music throbs through the veins of the French Quarter.

The undead walk lazily down streets in front of buildings dating back hundreds of years. In that sense, they are at home. It is you, the living, that are intruders here.

An odd feeling came over me as I looked at the people, living and undead, strolling the dark streets in search of ... entertainment. For a fleeting moment, I saw the overgrown square of trees and brush it once had been.

I remembered when I had been young, when every moment had been crisp and fresh, where happiness and heartache had quickly changed positions, and life was full of hope and promise. Now, things were crowded, ugly, and the only hope was for a good death.

What had Elu, my Apache blood brother, once told me? "When you were born, you cried and those around you rejoiced. Live your life, Dyami, so that when you die, those around you will cry, and you will rejoice."

Sunday, June 17, 2012


Dear Author :

Thank you for thinking of us. Unfortunately, this is not quite right for us. Better luck with it elsewhere. Your day will come. You can watch it from heaven.

By the way, your lucky numbers are : 9 - 12 - 21- 35 - 42 -54.

Form rejections.

You hate them. I hate them. We all get them.

Basically, it's silence from the agent's end.

And when you receive only silence from someone important, you're left to guess why. And we guess with our fears. And I've usually noticed from other areas of my life, what I fear usually isn't even in the same galaxy with the truth of the situation.

I would wager that is true with the silence of form rejections. But a wager is just a fancy word for a guess. And we've come full circle.

We've heard the truth before : it isn't personal. And it truly isn't. You're not paying the agent a cent. She is under no obligation to teach you how to write a letter or a novel. We're job applicants. Period.

Play turnabout. What would you want in a query if you had to read hundreds a week? No brainer. Short ones. All right, then. We have our first requirement : make that sucker short.

Short means no fluff. No Hamlet introduction. Just straight to the point. What would you want next if hundreds of queries surged in a rush of cyber-diarrhea into your inbox?

Something different. Something catchy. Written by someone who didn't have a chip on her/his shoulder. And the tone?

Not misleading. Not written in a funny vein if the novel is a tragedy.

O.K. Write the query short, with a hook up front, and in the tone of the novel you're submitting. We've getting a better idea now on how to write our next query.

What else would you want in those thousands of emails a month? Short paragraphs. Well-written ones without errors that grate like nails on the blackboard.

Ones easy to reject in a second :

Ones that are illiterate. Ones that query for genres you don't handle. Ones that query for carbon copies of hit sellers. Ones that whine.

All right. Now, we have an idea of what NOT to do.

What do we do next?

Look at your query. Does it do your novel justice? Would it make a total stranger want to read your novel with "Wow, that sounds neat! I gotta read this."

Is there building tension in your summation? Are the stakes primal : threat to survival, sex, or family? Is your hero likeable, clever, funny? He/she better be.

Even a detailed letter of why your query was rejected would still leave you wondering, without a true direction to follow. One agent's take is not gospel. Trust your instincts.

You are a reader. Try reading your query as an agent would. Try reading your novel as a stranger would. Then, as my friend, Heather, suggests : read it aloud. You'll hear flaws you never would find otherwise.

And now a word from Neil Gaiman {courtesy of }

By now you're probably ready to give up.

You're past that first fine furious rapture when every character and idea is new and entertaining. You're not yet at the momentous downhill slide to the end. You're in the middle, a little past the half-way point.

The glamour has faded, the magic has gone, your back hurts from all the typing. You don't know why you started your novel, you no longer remember why you imagined that anyone would want to read it, and you're pretty sure that even if you finish it it won't have been worth the time or energy.

Welcome to the club.

That's how novels get written.

You write. That's the hard bit that nobody sees. You write on the good days and you write on the lousy days. Like a shark, you have to keep moving forward or you die. What matters right now are the words, one after another. Find the next word. Write it down. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.

Writing is a continual search for the word that will fit in the text, in your mind, on the page. Plot and character and metaphor and style, all these become secondary to the words.

The search for the word gets no easier but nobody else is going to write your novel for you.

The last novel I wrote (it was ANANSI BOYS, in case you were wondering) when I got three-quarters of the way through I called my agent.

I told her how stupid I felt writing something no-one would ever want to read, how thin the characters were, how pointless the plot. I strongly suggested that I was ready to abandon this book and write something else instead, or perhaps I could abandon the book and take up a new life as a landscape gardener, bank-robber, short-order cook or marine biologist.

And instead of sympathising or agreeing with me, or blasting me forward with a wave of enthusiasm---or even arguing with me---she simply said, suspiciously cheerfully, "Oh, you're at that part of the book, are you?"

I was shocked. "You mean I've done this before?"

"You don't remember?"

"Not really."

"Oh yes," she said. "You do this every time you write a novel. But so do all my other clients."

I didn't even get to feel unique in my despair.

So I put down the phone and drove down to the coffee house in which I was writing the book, filled my pen and carried on writing.

One word after another.

That's the only way that novels get written and, short of elves coming in the night and turning your jumbled notes into Chapter Nine, it's the only way to do it.

So keep on keeping on. Write another word and then another.

Pretty soon you'll be on the downward slide, and it's not impossible that soon you'll be at the end. Good luck...

Neil Gaiman

Hope this helps in some small way. And here is a beautiful melody in an equally beautiful music video :



(Victor has unintentionally hurt Alice. He feels he owes Alice to see him hurt.
So he decides to give the secret to his last name to her ... in front of his friends and his enemy, Major Strasser.)

Alice made a mock bow. “Oh, do go on and quote Shakespeare, Mister Standish.”

I cleared my throat. “There is no Mr. Standish, Alice.”

Strasser’s razor voice laughed behind me. “So you admit to being a bastard?”

Sam turned slowly, taking in Strasser’s singed uniform and burnt flesh. “You made another try at Victor?”

For a second something like concern flickered in Alice’s eyes, but she froze it out, turning to the Nazi.

“Whatever my feelings for Mr. Standish, Major, his heritage is a happenstance of birth, while you, sir, are a self-made man.”

He looked like he was going to lunge for her,

then a click of a cocking revolver hammer sounded loud behind us. I turned.

Sam had his Colt the size of the space shuttle pointed straight at the back of Strasser’s right hand.

“You know my rule: no one dies in Meilori’s unless I do the killing. Give me an excuse, coward.”

Strasser smiled smug. “No, I wish to hear what the young bastard has to say.”

I gave him all the attention he deserved – which was none at all.

I turned to Alice. “Strasser misunderstood. There is no Mr. Standish.”

Ada Byron clutched Margaret’s right arm in sudden comprehension and whispered to me, “Do not do this to yourself, Victor. Not for her.”

I nodded and turned to Alice, letting my hopeless love for her show in my eyes. “Especially for you.”

Something uneasy flickered in her strange eyes, but she simply said, “Are you trying to bore me, Mr. Standish.”

Sam caught my eyes and shook his head. Sam, being Sam, he knew what I was about to say I bet. But this was my pound of flesh I owed Alice.

“I don’t know the name of my father. Hell, the only name I know Mother by is Mother.”

“You are trying to bore me, are you not?”

“A guy gets to wondering just who his father is and ….”

Alice covered a false yawn with her left hand, but I kept on. “I finally got brave enough to ask her who my father was.”

I rubbed my right cheek. “I can still feel her backhand.”

Alice started to look uncomfortable, but it was too late to stop now. “I never asked again. So, there I was, days later, sitting in the library.”

I gazed off into the memory.

“It was one of the nicer ones in Detroit. I was in air conditioning, sitting in a comfy chair, and as safe as I ever got in those days.”

I took in a ragged breath. “So there I was sitting reading a biography of ….”

Alice quickly placed a soft hand on my arm, shaking her head. “Victor, please do not. I over-reacted. Do not do this to ….”

I shook my head. I was started. And I couldn’t seem to stop. “I hurt you, Alice. I owe you to see me in pain.”

She husked, “It was a trifle, really. Do not do this. Not in front of Strasser.”

The Nazi major laughed, “Oh, do go on … bastard.”

My eyes were filling with tears. “So there I was reading a biography of Miles … Standish.”

Ada gave a little sob. Alice flinched as if I had hit her. I kept on.

“I looked at his name. Standish. Now, that was a g-good n-name. A solid one, you know. L-Like the man wearing it was of worth, a some- somebody.”

Black tears started to bleed down Alice cheeks. She was whimpering. She husked.
“P-Please, do not do this to yourself. Like Ada said : not for me.”

I blinked back my own tears. “Especially for you.”

I looked up to a Magda I’d never seen before, one with compassion in her eyes. “And for you, too.”

I cocked my head. “I remembered sliding my fingers over the embossed name on the book. Miles Standish. H-He was a somebody. Me? What was I?”

I couldn’t see any more for the tears.

“I was a fatherless nobody. And then, it hit me. I was who I said I was, who I acted. In that moment, I - I became Victor … Standish.”

Ada sobbed low, “I am Victor Standish, and I do not lie.”

I nodded to her. “Yeah, that’s me. From that day on, I was Victor St-Standish. I wasn’t nobody anymore. I was somebody. Somebody!”

I couldn’t take their eyes any more, and I turned to run up the stairs when Strasser laughed, “What a miserable story for a miserable whelp.”

I pulled up short, blinking back the tears. What did Suze always tell me? Leave it to your enemies to give you a good excuse to whomp somebody’s ass.

Alice had been flowing towards Strasser. I waved her back.

I walked right up to him.

“You, the dildo with ears! I’m Victor Standish, and I don’t run away from fights. Give me your best shot.”

He sneered, “I just did.”

“Not good enough. All you did was make me stronger.”

“And more loved,” whispered Magda.

I felt tender fingers on my shoulder. I looked up. Magda.

Pale violet tears rimmed her eyes. I smiled sour. Didn’t anybody cry ordinary tears around here?

Magda touched my own wet cheek with a single long forefinger. “There are no ordinary tears.”