So you can read my books

Tuesday, April 30, 2013


has been fully recorded.
Within weeks, the audio book will be on sale!

Let me help:

Here is how you may do it with ACX --

I.) To use ACX

you need to already have an account with Amazon, and have the book you wish to record in their system.

Then you can go to and set up your account there, using your Amazon login.

(They are sort of in but not of Amazon. Confusing, I know. But if you understood the State of the Union Address, you will understand this.)

ACX will helpfully list books using your name as a search term, which you can claim right there or do another search to find the one you want.

II.) Set up the “project”.

I went the route of wanting someone else to record and produce the book, but you can try recording yourself. But Patrick Stewart I am not!

The project profile is where you set up the description, book category, and indicate the ideal voice artist for the work (e.g. male/female, accent type, tone and so on).

The section for additional comment is where you add enticing data like “I’m a NYT bestseller, and the half-brother of Stephen King” or whatever you think will encourage a voice artist to think you can earn them money.

I mentioned my book’s ranking and how many it had sold and how Megan Fox would date the person who chose to narrate my book.  (Just checking to see if you were paying attention.)

III.) You will also need to upload or link to the audition script.

Pick a section from your book , roughly two pages worth, something that you think will draw the interest of a browsing listener.

IV.) Next is deciding how you want to finance this.

Options at present appear to be either pay a flat rate, or do royalty share. 

Good voice artists, the ones who can do consistent accents and different voices for different characters, will run $200 per finished hour and up.

(THE BEAR WITH TWO SHADOWS ran to 10 hours, which is about average.)

You have to decide if it is worth it to you or if you will have to sell a kidney to afford it.

Also, if your current book sales will earn said voice artist enough to earn out that flat rate for your book to be worth their while

(and now you know why you mention ranking and sales …)

V.)  “Proofing” the recording:

This was the part I thought would be hard, but wasn’t.  If you are fortunate enough to get a great voice artist like I did with Jack de Golia, you will spot very, very few. 

Jack easily fixed the errors and then I approved the whole thing for sale.

VI.)  ACX approves:

I’m not sure exactly what their process is, but presumably they have some poor soul checking to make sure we weren’t just saying “fjord” for 10 hours.

This will take longer than you want, but short enough to keep your hopes alive.

VII.)  ACX is unique:

Even though they are an Amazon outgrowth, they don’t do royalties or statements the same way.

 They do give you sales data, but it is cumulative and not broken out by week or even month.

Also, they send a physical check in a folder-sized envelope, along with the royalty statement.

By the way, I totally recommend Jack de Golia

– he is a pro and a pleasure to work with.

He had a lot of fun with my characters,

and it shows.

Monday, April 29, 2013

A is for ADIEU The Bells Are Tolling the Last Day of April

Why can't we get all the people together in the world that we really like and then just stay together? 

I guess that wouldn't work. 

Someone would leave. Someone always leaves. Then we would have to say good-bye. I hate good-byes.

I know what I need. I need more hellos. 

~Charles M. Schulz

"The world is round and the place which may seem like the end
may also be the beginning." 

~ Hibbs, the Bear with Two Shadows

Hasn't this A to Z Challenge been an experience?

At the start, it seemed to stretch endless before us.  How would we do it?  But we did.

We made new friends along the way and said Hello to old ones.

And we died.

Yes, we are no longer the same person who started this trek. 

That person drifted away day by day until here we stand, the product of our words and the words of others ...

and the product of the lessons we took away from those words.

To part is sad.  But to stay together yet be distant in our hearts at the same time is tragic.

 A-Z 2013  is over.  But we are still here, together in the blogverse.  Let us remind ourselves:

No distance of place or lapse of time can lessen the friendship of those who are thoroughly persuaded of each other's worth.

Can miles truly separate you from friends?

If you want to be with someone you care for, aren't you already there?

What have you taken away from this year's A-Z Challenge?

"Don't cry because it's over. 
Smile because it happened." 

~Theodor Seuss Geisel
* Photo of Lynx public domain courtesy of

Sunday, April 28, 2013

B is for BESTSELLER as in Mark Twain Critiques 50 SHADES OF GREY!

I was trying to put the finishing touches to the last post of the A-Z Challenge that I had been tricked into doing backwards.

It was hard to get any writing done with the ghost of Mark Twain, gasping between peals of laughter and holding his chest with tears in his eyes.

"Oh, kill me, Roland. Kill me!"

"I would," I growl, "but you're already dead."

He shakes his head, muttering,

"I never thought my ghost would be around to see the day when gals get sunburned in places I only dreamed about."

Mark Twain flips another page of 50 SHADES OF GREY and reads aloud,

"My inner goddess is doing the merengue with some salsa moves."

I pause.  "You're making that up."

Mark puts a pipe-holding hand high in the air.  "I swear upon the prose of James Fennimore Cooper I am not!"

He looks down and reads out loud again, punctuating every few words with sputtering, "Anastasia, you are going to unman me."

Mark guffaws as he strangles out,

"Listen to this -  Why is anyone the way they are? That’s kind of hard to answer.

Why do some people like cheese and other people hate it? Do you like cheese?”

He bends double as he gasps, "Oh, son, this line is wonderfully, gleefully bad - 'I can tell from his accent that he’s British.'"

Mark turns a page and sputters,

"No, Roland.  I was wrong.  This here line beats them all -

'My inner goddess is doing the dance of the seven veils.'"

Wiping tears from his eyes, he turns to me and chuckles, "How much did E. L. James make from this travesty?"

"Don't remind me," I mutter.

Mark grins,

"Of course, Ms James is not the first author to strike it lucky in a market where unpublished rivals are told to sweat over every word,

then write a perfect cover letter and synopsis so that they stand out from the pile of slush washing through agents’ doors.

 But, oh, no, she's successfully bypassed that route by piggybacking onto the fan base of Twilight.   Now, how Mormon Stephanie Meyers feels about this remains to be seen."

"What does Miss Meyers being Morman have to do with this?" I frown.

Mark Twain holds up the book. 
"Son, this sure ain't gonna be quoted from behind any Mormon pulpit!"

All laughter dies in his eyes as he turns to me and sighs,

"Why, Roland.  Why?  Why does prose-ette like this make tons of money?"

I knew what he meant.  At the start of his literary life, he had been mocked and almost starved a few times writing books that now are considered classics.  I pushed back from my laptop.

"I think 50 Shades hints at why certain books catch on whatever the quality of the writing.

The explanation is thematic."

Mark grinned,
"You actually think in words like thematic?"

I happily ignored him and went on, "They tap into modern anxieties about our lives in a way publishers fail to predict."

Mark Twain scowled, "If they could predict them, they'd write them."

I nodded,
"The Da Vinci Code hit the spot as distrust of global organisations and big government reached new levels of paranoia.  Twilight tapped into teen angst about sex."

I made a face. "On some level 50 Shades taps into their discomfort about the role of women and their relationship to power."

Mark Twain dropped his "Just Folks" manner and switched to the keen thinking revealed in his essays,  

"As an early advocate of women's rights, Roland,

I find the popularity of books like 50 Shades deeply disturbing as they represent a resurrection of the whole Madonna/ Whore archetypes of Freud."

He lit his pipe.  "Archetypes, which the overwhelmingly female fan base indicates, many women buy into."

I said,
"What unites these and far better written global phenomena, such as Bridget Jones’s Diary and the Harry Potter series, is they hark back to traditional worlds.

Whether sorted according to ability and class (Harry Potter in his boarding school) or gender – the idea that a woman’s ultimate role is wife or girlfriend (Bridget was doing this one long before 50 Shades’ Ana) – they inhabit a traditional universe."

Mark sighed,
"What is behind these phenomena may not be deliberately misogynistic, Roland, but I do believe they offer a disturbing insight into wider attitudes towards women.

They seem to say,

‘Try as hard as you like, sister, you’ll still be either a Madonna or a whore.’

That they are predominantly bought by women concerns me as much as it perplexes me.

Maybe conscious or otherwise, the fantasy of readers is that they will be thought Madonnas, even if they act like ‘whores’?"

As his ghost slowly faded, Mark Twain said, "Whatever the answer to that question, Roland, 

what they definitely tell me is that if you want to write a bestseller: 

forget the writing, remember tradition. That is what you need to tap into."

"Right," I said into the darkness.  "And after that, I'll start on world peace."

What do you think?

Saturday, April 27, 2013


there was a

Ghost in the night.

It was that moment between waking and dream. I was sitting on my apartment terrace. The night spoke to me in its velvet silence.

Owl happily was not speaking my name. He perched on the cypress branch opposite me, studying me as I was admiring him.

Brother raccoon scurried in the bushes below, carrying some prize in his front right paw.

My ghost cat, Gypsy, twitched her tail on the window sill, the mysteries of the ages whispering in her half-closed, green eyes.

My own eyes were heavy. Too many miles driven. Too few hours slept.

I put the period to the last sentence of my blog post about Marlene Dietrich with the troops in the front lines during WWII:

One afternoon after VE Day, she was walking through a little French village. All around her was rubble, and she couldn't understand why -- all the buildings along the street were still standing with curtains blowing frilly and snapping clean-crisp in their windows.

Then, she looked through one of the windows to see that there was nothing behind it. The fronts of the buildings were still standing, but everything behind them had been destroyed. There wasn't a single living person past the false fronts of those caricature buildings.

Only one lone doll lay forlorn in the rubbled middle of nothing.

With her face cupped in trembling hands, she stood in front of that window, weeping silently, refusing to be comforted ...

"... for there is no comfort for the dead," she whispered.

Beside me a husky voice intoned, "Keine Komfort für die Toten."

I went cold and still, sliding my eyes as far to the right as they could go without moving my head. My mouth became salt.

Marlene Dietrich.

In a frilly black night wrap and not much else.

She was perched over the top of a wavering, insubstantial leather chair like a cougar ready to strike.

"You write so beautifully of me. Why?"

"Y-You were brave, selfless -- entertaining the troops on the front lines with a death sentence from Hitler on your head."

I cleared my fear-thick throat. "People have forgotten that."

She reached out and stroked my cheek with chill fingers of mist.

"It is not important for the world to remember me -- only that I did not forget myself when I was needed."

"And words like that are why I write of you."

Marlene fluffed my hair with ghost fingers. It tickled.

"Do you know what they call you in the ShadowLands, liebling?"


"Sänger von Träumen -- DreamSinger."

"I - I don't understand."

Her ice blue eyes hollowed. "One day you will."

In ghost whispers, she murmured, "Death and love."


"I thought I knew them, liebchen. I was so sure. I died. Then, I saw life with new eyes."

She leaned forward, her eyes suddenly sparkling. "See you in your dreams, liebling."

And like a cloud robbing me of sunlight, Marlene was gone. I was alone. Well, not quite.

Gypsy was in my lap, yawning. It takes a lot to shake up the granddaughter of Bast.
Take a 99 cent chance on GHOST OF A CHANCE  for Marlene, will you?


Friday, April 26, 2013

C is for COURAGE_You Cannot Create Without Courage

I am called Wolf Howl.
Soon you will hear my words on what two-leggeds
call Audio.

 But first, I would speak to you here, for you are DreamSinger's friends.

To create truly, you must have ...

Woohitike—(wo-oh-hee-tee-keh)   Having or showing courage
Fortunately, most of us will not have to experience combat,
but we will have to cope with life’s challenges and overcome its obstacles.
Schoolyard bullies, rush hour traffic, injury,
illness, indifference, our own sense of inadequacy, unemployment, indecision, racial prejudice,
physical disability—
the list is practically endless.
There is a nearly constant assault on our sense of well-being and self-esteem,
not to mention an occasional or even frequent threat
of bodily harm.
Such is life.
We come and go, but the land is always here.
And the people who love it and understand it are the people who
value the rare fragile treasures
that are their friends and their dreams
who live upon it for such a short time.
Sometimes a neighbor whom we have disliked a lifetime for his arrogance and conceit
lets fall a single commonplace remark
that shows us another side,
another man, really;
a man uncertain, and puzzled, and in the dark like ourselves.
Bravery is an essential virtue because life demands it.
Whether it is cancer, a broken heart, a lost opportunity,
a withering rejection, an approaching hurricane,
a tough decision, or a dark alley,
life will continually throw challenges at us.
Any challenge is also an invitation, a standing invitation:
To learn, to grow, to become better.
Use those challenges to become a better writer.
 The Lakota hunter/warrior was always on the lookout for a mature ash tree
 that had been struck by lightning.
Such a tree had been dried and cured in an instant by the awesome power of lightning,
and any bows made from it were by far the strongest.
Lightning-struck ash trees were rare,
but they were preferred because they had suffered
ultimate adversity,
and ultimate adversity produces ultimate strength.
How much do you love to write?
Where there is great love, there are always miracles.
Trust in the miracle.
Trust in the lessons of your life.
There are some things you learn best in calm,
and some in storm.
You have endured both
and so you, too, will endure.
What is any art
but a mold to imprison for a moment
the shining elusive element
which is life itself-
life hurrying past us and running away,
too strong to stop, too sweet to lose.
Let your fiction grow out of the lessons beneath your pain.
Have the courage to endure that pain,
and you will produce great fiction.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

D is for DESPAIR and How Writers Can Fight It

{Image of Meilori mourning upon the tomb of Samuel McCord
by the talented Leonora Roy}

Most writers feel it like some constant undercurrent of unease deep within them,

murmuring that their dreams are hollow, their minor victories temporary and without meaning.
Writers open themselves to a life of rejection and being misunderstood.  Our first encounters with those barbs are the worst. 
And that is the good news.
 People live through such pain only once.
Pain comes again—but it finds a tougher surface.
If we are wise, we remember and cherish those pains and victories over them. 

What is any art but a cage to imprison for a moment the shining elusive element which is life itself-
 Life hurrying past us and running away, too strong to stop, too sweet to lose?
We must be on guard against despair, for it erodes who we are.  This is the greatest hazard of all
Losing one’s self.
It can occur very quietly in the world,
as if it were nothing at all. No other loss can occur so quietly.
  Any other loss - an arm, a leg, five dollars,
a wife -
is sure to be noticed.
To fight Despair, remember the words of Gandhi:
“When I despair, I remember that all through history the way of truth and love has always won.

There have been tyrants and murderers, and for a time, they can seem invincible, but in the end, they always fall. Think of it--always.”

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

E is for ERZULIE as in Voodoo Frowns on Party Crashers!

{When last we left Victor and Alice in the Quadroon post, they had been flicked back to the year 1834 by the eerie supernatural entity, DayStar, like you or I would brush away knats}

The blood moon leered down on Alice and me through thick, silent mists snaking above us. The mists were the only things silent across the grassy courtyard.

Drums beat wild rhythms as rocking black men chanted, their wide eyes glazed over. In the shadows of the huge bonfire, black dancers wheeled about, long machetes flashing in their fists.

I was so scared it felt like my skin was about to leap off me and do the Mambo with my skeleton. I knew where we were from pictures in that book on voodoo in early New Orleans:

Congo Square, across Rampart Street from the French Quarter. But a very primitive French Quarter.

I reached out and took Alice’s ice-cold right hand. My heart calmed. With her at my side, I could take on monsters.

With the musk of sweat, alcohol, and hate heavy in the humid night air, Alice whispered in that odd British accent of hers, “Victor, we are in serious jeopardy here.”

Now, when a flesh-eating ghoul says she’s afraid, even a mongrel like me knows that life has just hit a new high in low-down.

The drums suddenly stopped. And every wild eye turned to us.

I winked at her. “You think?”

A tall woman, her black face glowing with deadly grace, spoke soft, yet it carried out across the dancers and slithering snakes on the grass.

But none of them equaled the boa across her shoulders.

“You two do not belong here.”

Alice murmured, “Look at Marie Laveau, Victor. She is such a striking woman.”

I grinned crooked, “Even without the snake.”

A small, crooked old man limped to us. “She be right.”

He turned to Alice, his voice gaining an edge. “’Specially you, nzumbe.”

I stiffened. “That’s Myth Nzumbe to you, Fright Face.”

Alice lips got tight. “Is everything a jest to you, Victor?”

I gave her icy hand a squeeze.

“Never you, Alice. But you can’t let monsters see you sweat.”

Alice rose a prim and proper eyebrow. “I never sweat.”

The old man limped closer. “You be half-dead, now, Miss Nzumbe. Soon you be all dead.”

I shook my head. “Don’t count on it, Legba.”

He stepped back an inch. “You know me?”

“I know of you.”

“Then, you knows how powerful I be. I be the origin of life!”

I snorted. “Get real. That would be Elohim. And I’m pretty sure you’re not Him.”

Legba husked, “So sure are you?”

I nodded to the squirming reptiles on the grass.

“Pretty sure. He’s not real fond of snakes.”

He cackled, “But Erzulie is, and she be right behind you, boy. Erzulie, loa of Love and Death.”

I turned to face the tall black woman with scars on her face and smiled,

“That’s a new look for you, Mother.”

“No, child. ‘Dis face be veeery old. And you be in bad trouble.”

I winked at her and copied her accent, “Dat be an veery old story, Mother."


Tuesday, April 23, 2013

F is for FROST_Poetry is Dead

I have a ghost cat.  Gypsy is her name.  It's all right if you think I am crazy.  Most days I do as well.

Being a ghost, she warns me when I am about to be visited in the midst of my sleep.  She mutters under her breath as she was muttering now.

A reedy voice quavered in the darkness by my bed, "I have been one acquainted with the night. 

A poem begins as a lump in the throat, a sense of wrong, a homesickness, a lovesickness"

Robert Frost slowly materialized in a misty cane chair by my bed. 

"I thought people would always be held fixed by poetry -- not necessarily mine.  But now, poetry is as dead as I."

Gypsy muttered something in cat and shoved her head under my pillow, and Frost shook his head,

"Yes, even more so since I am keeping your loyal cat awake."

He smiled at my frown.  "I am fluent in Cat."

His smile died, "But no one is fluent in the magic of poetry any more it seems."

I murmured a bit of "I Knew a Woman" by Theodore Roethke:

"I knew a woman, lovely in her bones
When small birds sighed,
she would sigh back at them."

He shook a long forefinger at me.  "You do not count.  You are Lakota."

I snorted, "We Lakota hear that a lot."

He ignored me.  We Lakota are used to that, too, and he whispered,

"Society has been changing in a way that did not favor the reading of poetry. From the Me Generation of the '70s to the get-rich-quick '80s, our culture became intensely prosaic.

Ambiguity, complexity and paradox fell out of favor. You the living embraced easily defined goals and crystal-clear communication (Ronald Reagan was president, presiding over the literalization of America).

Fewer politicians seemed to quote contemporary poets in speeches, and the relatively small number of name-brand, living American poets died or faded from view.

By the '90s, it was all over. If you doubt this statement, consider that poetry is the only art form where the number of people creating it is far greater than the number of people appreciating it.

Anyone can write a bad poem.

To appreciate a good one, though, takes knowledge and commitment. As a society, you lack this knowledge and commitment. People don't possess the patience to read a poem 20 times before the sound and sense of it takes hold.

They aren't willing to let the words wash over them like a wave, demanding instead for the meaning to flow clearly and quickly. They want narrative-driven forms, stand-alone art that doesn't require an understanding of the larger context."

The ghost of Hemingway materialized beside him, sipping from a glass of whiskey. 

"Roland is part of a world that apotheosizes the trendy, and poetry is just about as untrendy as it gets. Bored housewives want to read books with buzz, the latest trend."

I shook my head.  "Not everyone."

They both said as one, "You don't count."

I was starting to get a complex.

Hemingway muttered, "Poetry is designed for an era when people valued the written word and had the time and inclination to possess it in its highest form."

Frost nodded, "Poetry is dead."

Hemingway scowled over to me. 

"If poetry is dead, you prose writers are in the next ward over, wheezing noisily, with your family gathered around looking concerned and asking about your silverware."

I shook my head and murmured from Theodore Roethke again:

"I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.
I feel my fate in what I cannot fear.
I learn by going where I have to go.

We think by feeling. What is there to know?
I hear my being dance from ear to ear.
I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow."

And since Gypsy is now a ghost cat, she drew her tiny head out from under the pillow

and yowled in a voice which sent shivers through the marrow of my bones,

 "Little do you two-leggeds know of the things that ink may do, how it can mark a dead man's thought for the wonder of later years, and tell of happenings that are gone clean away,

and be a voice for us out of the dark of time, and save many a fragile thing from the pounding of heavy ages; or carry to us, over the rolling centuries,

even a song from lips long dead on forgotten hills.” 

With that, Gypsy thrust her tiny ghost head under my pillow.  Frost turned to Hemingway and sighed, "When ghosts of cats speak wiser and lovelier than we, it is time to go."

Which they did.