So you can read my books

Sunday, October 28, 2018


Jack O' Lanterns have been carved
 for centuries at Halloween.

The practice originated from an Irish myth about a man nicknamed “Stingy Jack.”

Stingy Jack invited the Devil to have a drink with him. 

True to his name, Stingy Jack didn’t want to pay for his drink, 

so he convinced the Devil to turn himself into a coin that Jack could use to buy their drinks. 

Once the Devil did so, 

Jack decided to keep the money and put it into his pocket next to a silver cross, 

which prevented the Devil from changing back into his original form. 

Jack eventually freed the Devil, 

under the condition that he would not bother Jack for one year and that, should Jack die, he would not claim his soul. 

The next year, Jack again tricked the Devil into climbing into a tree to pick a piece of fruit. 

While he was up in the tree, Jack carved a sign of the cross into the tree’s bark 

so that the Devil could not come down until the Devil promised Jack not to bother him for ten more years.

Soon after, Jack died. 

 As the legend goes, 

God would not allow such an unsavory figure into heaven. 

The Devil, upset by the trick Jack had played on him and keeping his word not to claim his soul, 

would not allow Jack into hell.

 He sent Jack off into the dark night with only a burning coal to light his way. 

Jack put the coal into a carved-out turnip and has been roaming the Earth with it ever since. 

The Irish began to refer to this ghostly figure 
as “Jack of the Lantern,” 
and then, simply “Jack O’Lantern.”

In Ireland and Scotland, people began to make their own versions of Jack’s lanterns by carving scary faces into turnips or potatoes 

and placing them into windows or near doors to frighten away Stingy Jack and other wandering evil spirits.

Wednesday, October 24, 2018


No, honest.  

I give you permission 
to stop reading my book.

We are killing the joy of reading 
by forcing ourselves to read 
a book in which we have stalled.

Sometimes the book isn’t bad 
you just never feel like reading it. 

The prevailing wisdom is to power through, 
but that is terrible advice.

Reading should be a pleasure. 

School often robs us 
of the idea that reading can be fun.

Well, we're not in school anymore

I give you permission 
to stop reading my book 
or any book 
in which you have stalled.

I want you to enjoy reading
my book or anyone else's.

But I also give you permission 
to keep on reading.

Just like a man, right?

“A Farewell to Arms” 

If you have read it,
you may not remember 
most of the book

But I bet the last 3 pages stay with you still.


The right book for the right person
 is not enough. 

It needs to be the right book, 
for the right person at the right time.

I just want you to have fun reading.

Monday, October 15, 2018


The October Challenge for WEP 
(Write Edit Publish)
 Flash Fiction 
is Deja Vu or Voodoo.

{997 words}

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. 
Place Congo was its name this far back in the past.

 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.”

 When a flesh-eating ghoul says she’s afraid,

 even a mongrel like me knows life has just hit a new high in low-down.

 The drums suddenly stopped. Every wild eye turned to us.

 I winked at her. “You think?”

A tall woman, her black face glowing like an instrument of dark grace, spoke softly, 

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 drily, “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 squeezed her icy hand.  “Never you, Alice. But you can’t let monsters see you sweat.”

Alice raised a prim eyebrow. “I never sweat.”

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

 “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.”

“So sure are you?”

I nodded to the squirming reptiles. “Pretty sure. He’s not real fond of snakes. He took their legs away, remember?”

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

 I turned to face the tall black woman with strange 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 veeery old story, Mudder.”

Alice sank my floating rib with a sharp elbow. 

“We are very grateful that you plucked us from harm’s way earlier.”

 Mother’s new face could have hung on an African hut door for all its spookiness.  

“Not earlier, child.  Many, many years later from now.  And you be still in harm’s way.  A choice is yers now, girl.”

Alice was so scared she almost vibrated.  “What choice would that be, Er-Erzulie?”

Mother’s eyes became the slate gray of winter storms.  

“Da only choice, child.  Yerself or others.  Darkness or Light.  Revenge or Love.”

 I made a face.  “That seems a lot more than one choice, Mother.”

She jabbed a long, scraggly forefinger at me.  “You remember: nothing caged can love its jailer.”

 {Courtesy Leonora Roy}

I turned to Alice.  But she was all eyes for something behind me.

I went death cold.  Three white females.  One young.  The second?

 She was Madame LaLaurie, all a’flutter with insane eyes and a long scalpel.

The third?  The third was… Maija. 

 {Courtesy Leonora Roy}

And the young white girl? 

She was what Alice would have looked like human.  

Legba looked sadly at Alice.  “De third be your mother yet to be.  Even now she be a foul, twisted thing.  

Look.  Maija be givin’ her to Laveau to learn how to make you what you is.”

The mists swallowed him.  “Ya could kill ‘er now.  Save yerself 175 years of de living death.”

Alice stiffened.  “I–I could, could I not?”

 I reached out.  “But there would never be an US.”

Her face screwed up.  “Is all you care about is yourself, Victor?  

Do you know the 175 years of living hell I endured because of that perversion of a mother?”

 She flowed up to me.  “Do you?”

For the first time since I’d known her, her face was ugly. 

“Do you!?”

Home.  I’d lost it.  I smiled so bitter it tasted of salt. 

Alice flowed after her mother being led beyond the bonfire by Marie Laveau, beyond my dreams and broken hopes. 

 Legba appeared beside me. “I knows yer power.  You could stop her.”

 “When you love someone, sir, you want what is best for them.  This will kill me.  But it will free Alice from a living hell.”

 I turned to him, no longer able to see clear through the hot tears.  “How could I say I love her if I caged her to do it?”
He reached out, grabbing my shoulder.  “Da Miracle of Life… He be remembering yer name.”

A voice I never expected to hear again murmured to my left.  

“His name is Victor Standish.  And he will never be alone as long as I live.”

 I whirled around.  Alice.  She took my hand, kissing me lightly.

She sobbed, “I heard you.  I thought to myself, ‘Are you going to let your mother hurt you again by taking someone who loves you so from your side?’”

Alice squeezed my hand.  “I remembered what your Mother said, Victor.  And I chose… you.”

I forced a wink.  “Well, who wouldn’t?”