So you can read my books

Sunday, May 24, 2015


"The cost of a thing is the amount of life which is required to be exchanged for it."  
 - Henry David Thoreau

By Thoreau's definition, America is precious beyond words to describe.

But what did the precious lives of fathers, sons, and brothers really buy?


Last week’s settlement between the Justice Department and five giant banks reveals the appalling weakness 

not only of modern antitrust but of our democracy so many died to preserve. 

The banks had engaged in the biggest price-fixing conspiracy in modern history. 

Their self-described “cartel” used an exclusive electronic chat room and coded language 

to manipulate the $5.3 trillion-a-day currency exchange market that went on for years.

 But there will be no trial, no executive will go to jail, and the banks can continue to gamble in the same currency markets.

Giant corporations are taking over the economy – and they’re busily weakening antitrust enforcement. 

The result has been higher prices for the many, and higher profits for the few.

 Wall Street’s five largest banks now account for 44 percent of America’s banking assets – up from about 25 percent before the crash of 2008.

 But politicians don’t dare bust them up because Wall Street pays part of their campaign expenses. 


 Americans pay far more for their medications than any other country's citizens -- 

although Americans take fewer medications.

 A big reason is the power of pharmaceutical companies to keep their patents going way beyond the twenty years they’re supposed to run.

 Drug companies pay the makers of generic drugs to delay cheaper versions. 

Such “pay-for-delay” agreements are illegal in other advanced economies, but antitrust enforcement hasn’t laid a finger on them in America.

This costs you and me $3.5 billion a year!


 Decades ago health insurers wangled from Congress an exemption to the antitrust laws 

that allowed them to fix prices, allocate markets, and collude over the terms of coverage, 

on the assumption they’d be regulated by state insurance commissioners.

 But America’s giant insurers outgrew state regulation ... hence the health insurance nightmare we now face. 


Why does the United States have the highest broadband prices among advanced nations and the slowest speeds? 

Because more than 80% of Americans have no choice but to rely on their local cable company for high capacity wired data connections to the Internet.


 Have you wondered why your airline ticket prices have remained so high even though the cost of jet fuel has plummeted 40 percent

 Because U.S. airlines have consolidated into a handful of giant carriers that divide up routes and collude on fares.


 Why does food cost so much?

 Because the four largest food companies control  

82% of beef packing, 

85% of soybean processing,

63% of pork packing, and 

53% of chicken processing.


 Google’s search engine is so dominant “google” has become a verb. 

Three years ago the staff of the Federal Trade Commission recommended suing Google 

for “conduct that has resulted – and will result – in real harm to consumers and to innovation.” 

 The commissioners decided against the lawsuit, perhaps because Google is also the biggest lobbyist in Washington.

And what of the racial hatreds simmering beneath the surface of local police forces, 

the dumbing down of our culture, 

and a thousand other festering cancers within our society?

It’s getting ever more difficult to differentiate between the bad guys and the good guys in our government these days. 


Yes, of course.  

Corruption has always been with us and will always reign in the halls of power.

The hope is within each of us ... to be the change we wish to see in the world.  

We honor the sacrifice of our fallen soldiers by standing in the breech for those hurting we see.

We cannot save the world, but we can transform our little corner of it with daily acts of kindness and compassion.


Saturday, May 23, 2015


Winning by losing. 

But lose what? 

Now that depends upon what you want to win.

"If you wish to travel far, take off your envies, jealousies, unforgiveness, selfishness, and fears."


I would add but keep your sense of humor. What did Mark Twain write?

"Josh Billings defined the difference between humor and wit as that between the lightning bug and the lightning. 

Which brings to mind the man who receives a telegram telling him that his mother-in-law is dead and asking, 'Shall we embalm, bury, or cremate her?'

He wired back, 'If these fail, try dissection.'"

Win by losing. Win a better novel. By losing ...

1) Long sentences:

Hemingway hated long sentences. He said you tended to get lost amidst the tangle of adverbs. Say more by writing less.

2) Long paragraphs:

Hemingway was once mocked by a critic and challenged to tell a winning story in one paragraph. He wrote an entire story in only six words:

For sale: Baby shoes, never used.

3) Tired words:

Use vigorous words. Words that imply action, fear, pain. Words that involve your reader.

He pushed a boulder up the hill. {The ghost of Hemingway just winced.}

He sweated the boulder to the top of the hill. 

{Hemingway's ghost nodded but still frowned at me. Better but no cigar. Hey, I couldn't smoke a ghost's cigar anyway.}

4) Lose the negative:

Hemingway, not the most uplifting of souls, was still the best at this. How? He wrote what something was -- not what something wasn't.

Direct the reader's mind where you want. Using painless still focuses the mind on the concept 'pain.'

Instead of 'inexpensive' use 'economical.'

This software is error free. Ouch. This software is stable. Better.

5) Lose the shit:

“I write one page of masterpiece to ninety-one pages of shit,” Hemingway confided to F. Scott Fitzgerald in 1934.

“I try to put the shit in the wastebasket.”

6) Lose the frills:

William Somerset Maugham said his early writing was filled with self-consciousness and frills. 

He started writing well when he admitted his bad writing and cast aside the goal of fine writing.

"I decided to write bare. I had so much to say I could afford to waste no word. I set the impossible goal of using no adjectives at all. 

I used what I saw. My observing eye saw detail where others saw only vagueness.

I aim at lucidity, simplicity, and euphony. I state them in the order of their importance."

7) Lose the copy. Keep the original:

Raymond Chandler (The Big Sleep) wrote --

"The most durable thing in writing is style,and style is the most valuable investment a writer can make with his time. Your own style, not that of your writing inspiration"

This example of Raymond Chandler's hardboiled prose style has been drawn from the opening chapter of his 1939 novel, The Big Sleep:

It was about eleven o'clock in the morning, mid October, with the sun not shining and a look of hard wet rain in the clearness of the foothills. I was neat, clean, shaved, and sober, and I didn't care who knew it. I was everything the well-dressed private detective ought to be. I was calling on four million dollars.

The main hallway of the Sternwood Place was two stories high.

Over the entrance doors, which would have let in a troop of Indian elephants, there was a broad stained-glass panel showing a knight in dark armor rescuing a lady who was tied to a tree and didn't have any clothes on but some very long and convenient hair.

The knight had pushed the vizor of his helmet back to be sociable, and he was fiddling on the ropes that tied the lady to the tree and not getting anywhere. I stood there and thought that if I lived in the house, I would sooner or later have to climb up there and help him.

Compare and contrast Chandler's style with that of Ernest Hemingway in the excerpt from his story "In Another Country."

In the fall the war was always there, but we did not go to it any more. It was cold in the fall in Milan and the dark came very early. Then the electric lights came on, and it was pleasant along the streets looking in the windows.

There was much game hanging outside the shops, and the snow powdered in the fur of the foxes and the wind blew their tails. The deer hung stiff and heavy and empty, and small birds blew in the wind and the wind turned their feathers. It was a cold fall and the wind came down from the mountains.

Two styles. Neither one of them yours or mine. We must lose the copying of them and keep true to the voice within our own muse.
Winning by losing. 

Memorial Day is a day for reflecting on what we have won by losing the precious lives of the slain and the innocence of the survivors.

Are we the policemen of the world? 

Don't be so quick to answer. 

If we do not step in to help, who will? 

In all the world's major disasters, it is the American flag you will see flying over medical camps in unfriendly lands.

We help even our enemies. We are Americans. It is our way.

Thursday, May 21, 2015


Have you noticed an increase in ads on Twitter and on blogs for review services?


favorited and followed me on Twitter.  

I checked out who had done so and learned wearily it was just a way to get my business.

On their web page, they calmly explain why you should BUY REVIEWS.  Only $97 for 10 reviews.

Sigh.  Yeah, I want to get thrown off Amazon and PAY FOR THE PRIVILEGE.

ANNE R. ALLEN wrote a detailed article on why this is a very, very, very bad thing to do.


I've also seen ads for KIRKUS REVIEWS popping up everywhere on the internet.

Now, when an established business starts avalanching the net with ads then I begin to think they are hurting.

 $425.00 for a review that might take 9 weeks. 

Or you can fork over the extra money and pay $575.00 for the 4-6 week review.

 Once the review is published, however, few, if anyone, will see it. 

It gets tucked away three or four layers deep into the Kirkus labyrinth of thousands of reviews.

And you wouldn’t find it unless you searched for it specifically.

 Only an extreme select few books get selected by their editors for a featured review, 

and even fewer (think Stephen King) actually get a star. 


If you want to buy a review from an objective service, you might want to look into these:

San Francisco Book Review: $125.00 (8-10 weeks)
Portland Book Review: $100.0
Readers Views: various review services (2-4 week turnaround)
Indie Reader: $150.00 (2-4 week turnaround)
Midwest Book Review: $50.00 (14-16 week turnaround)
Self Publishing Review: $119 (1 month turnaround)
ForeWord Book Review: Requires book submissions 2 months before release date

I hope this helps. 

Don't forget to go to D.G. Hudson's RAINFOREST WRITING

to read her review of my book: 



“ my eyes grew accustomed to the light, 

details of the room within emerged slowly from the mist, strange animals, statues, and gold - everywhere the glint of gold

For the moment - an eternity it must have seemed to the others standing by - 

I was struck dumb with amazement, and when Lord Carnarvon, unable to stand the suspense any longer, inquired anxiously, 

'Can you see anything?' 

It was all I could do to get out the words, 'Yes, wonderful things."
- Howard Carter in Tomb of Tutankhamen 

 D.G. Hudson has written a lovely review of my book, THE STARS BLEED AT MIDNIGHT in the latest post on her blog, RAINFOREST WRITING.

Come visit, why don't you?  

I mean ... the Mummy's Curse couldn't travel over the internet ... could it?

Wednesday, May 20, 2015


"The writer has to have patience, the perseverance to just sit there alone and grind It out. And if it’s not worth doing that, then he doesn’t want to write." 

- Elmore Leonard

"It is only by writing, not dreaming about it, that we develop our own style."
 — P. D. James

 "If it sounds like writing, I rewrite it."
 - Elmore Leonard

"The bottom line is this: Write less, not more."  
- Jeff Goins

"Almost all good writing begins with terrible first efforts. You need to start somewhere. Start by getting something – anything – down on paper."
-F. Scott Fitzgerald

 "Show up, show up, show up, and after a while, the muse shows up too." 
- Isabel Allende

 "Every character should want something, even if it is only a glass of water." 
- Kurt Vonnegut

 "Don't tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass." 
- Anton Chekhov

"You have to simply love writing, and you have to remind yourself often that you love it." 
- Susan Orlean

" If you stuff yourself full of poems, essays, plays, stories, novels, films, comic strips, magazines, music, you automatically explode every morning like Old Faithful."
- Ray Bradbury

 “Good writing is remembering detail. Most people want to forget. Don’t forget things that were painful or embarrassing or silly. Turn them into a story that tells the truth.”
- Paula Danziger

 “Two questions form the foundation of all novels: ‘What if?’ and ‘What next?’"
- Tom Clancy

 "I do not rewrite unless I am absolutely sure that I can express the material better if I do rewrite it.”
- William Faulkner

 “In truth, I never consider the audience for whom I’m writing. I just write what I want to write.” 
- J K Rowling

 "Prose is architecture, not interior decoration." 
- Ernest Hemingway

 "If you want to write, you need to keep an honest, unpublishable journal that nobody reads, nobody but you."
 - Madeleine L'Engle

 "Start telling the stories that only you can tell." 
- Neil Gaiman

 "Good novels are produced by people who voluntarily isolate themselves and go deep, and report from the depths on what they find." 
- Jonathan Franzen

 "Abandon the idea that you are ever going to finish." 
- John Steinbeck


You read my title and said,

"Get real."


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

As a writer of urban fantasy,

I have to convince my readers that Samuel McCord

and his friends and enemies are real,

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

No matter what you write, you must do the same.

Or the readers will never become absorbed into your novel.

How do you do that?

By remembering ...

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

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

This is the "Me" generation.

Even if you're writing about women in the 1700's, you are not writing FOR them.

Abigail Adams sacrificed much for her husband and family.

But her letters showed a woman who insisted on owning her own property and money

(very much NOT the custom of the time.)

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

Abigail comes across as real

because her letters showed

she resented her husband's ambition that took him from his children and her so often and for so long.

She fumed at his inability to get along with others.

Ambition, vanity, irritability -- she saw his warts.

But they were warts on a face she loved.

We can "buy" a woman who sees clearly but loves deeply.

2) Ah, Love ...

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

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

Sex is a primal motivator not love.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

5) Greed or
"Excuse me. Is that my hand in your pocket?"

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

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

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

Revenge is understandable but not heroic.

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

often justified under the rationalization, justice.

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

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

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

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

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

making it real.

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

7) We want to believe ...

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

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

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

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

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

and your novel will be a bestseller.

Just because I liked THE FLASH'S finale:



Sandra Thrasher, ill though she is, sent me a review of my book that she doesn't feel right putting on Amazon

since she is my best friend, but I just had to share:

"Heady, sardonic, yet compassionate -- with an unpredictable cast of lovers, liars, killers, and clowns, THE STARS BLEED AT MIDNIGHT entertains even as it reflects upon the instability of identities.  

It is a thoroughly entertaining book by a classic talent."

But enough about me ... on to a real talent I talked about 2 days ago: Patricia Briggs:

Her latest: SHIFTING SHADOWS is a volume of short stories centering on her secondary characters in her world of MERCY THOMPSON.

The intros to those stories are mini-lessons on how to write.  

If you buy only one book this month:

Buy mine, but buy hers next month!  :-)


Her book got me to reflecting upon them.  Could yours support a short story centering on them?  They should.

Each of your supporting characters should have one.  Not in your novel.  That would give you mental hernias.

No, but in your mind.  They should be real not CARDBOARD CUT-OUTS of personalities.

Your protagonist is defined by his interactions with those around him. 

And if those around him are shallow, he or she will only be able to have shallow relationships.  The reader will become bored.


How do you do that you ask.  Percolate. 

You let the different characters and the rough image of your novel's actions 

slowly work through your conscious and unconscious mind.

Too many writers rush into their novels in the heat of a great opening scene or bit of dazzling dialogue.

By all means put it down on paper or in Word, but pause and reflect for a few days maybe even .... shudder ... a week.

But if the fire is hot within you, ignore me completely.  I am used to that treatment from beautiful women.

After all, Robert Louis Stevenson wrote The Strange Case of Doctor Jekyll and Mister Hyde in SIX DAYS!


You enter one person, meet those irritating mysteries, other human beings, and emerge a drastically different kind of person.

This happens again and again and again in the lives of us all.

A fact which irritates me when an author says she cannot write a sequel since the arc of her heroine is finished. 

I want to say: "Is she still breathing?  Then, another arc is just beginning!"


Most of you know the term "Mary Sue"
The term "Mary Sue" comes from the name of a character created by Paula Smith in 1973 for her parody story "A Trekkie's Tale"

It was published in her fanzine Menagerie #2. 

The story starred Lieutenant Mary Sue

("the youngest Lieutenant in the fleet — only fifteen and a half years old"), and satirized unrealistic Star Trek fan fiction.

You can write a MARY SUE novel, too. 

Twilight is basically one and spawned a depressingly large number of copy-cats!

The wallflower or outcast who, up until now has been ignored or ridiculed. 

Then comes the new kid: dark, handsome, mysterious ... and madly in love with the wallflower.

You can write a novel whose world is what you would have it to be. 

And if enough readers want the same kind of world, it will be popular.

But it will not resonate with truth.  It will be mental cotton candy.  And if you write enough of it, it will make you and your ability to create ill.


Then, there are novels where every part of the universe sucks,

the heroine is the doormat of her world, incapable of not making mistakes.  She IS a mistake.

I know we often feel that way,

but if we look down and our shoes are on the proper feet, then we have done at least one thing right.

All of us write of the world as we believe it to be. 

But we must work hard to NOT write of the world that our fears believe it to be.

Like Mrs. Briggs' title to her short story collection, SHIFTING SHADOWS, 

the world is a shifting dance of shadow and light.  

If we find our novel all light or all dark,

we are making it unrealistic and without the music of life that will sing to our readers of the truths we must find for ourselves in the darkness.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015


One of my oldest blogger friends has been gracious enough to have me on her blog 

in her delightful series: FROM THE COUCH WITH ...

The ever-more interesting and worthy Ann Carbine Best was so honored last week.  

Check it out here:

I had the crafty Apache diyi, Elu, whisk poor Denise to Meilori's so I would be on home ground!

So don't waste a moment more here, go visit's Denise's blog 

and see what the poor woman had to put up with from me!

D.G. Hudson talks of THE STARS BLEED AT MIDNIGHT that I wrote for her and Inger Wiltz.


A State Ball is being given in the Cairo of 1895.  

Upon the dance floor, Samuel and Meilori must contend with fellow dancers fresh from the grave.  

This waltz is being played:

           “Every moment of the night
            Forever changing places

      And they put out the star-light
            With the breath from their pale 

          Edgar Allan Poe

Sunday, May 17, 2015


Alex Cavanaugh & Heather Gardner have a blogfest:

{SHIFTING SHADOWS cover by Dan dos Santos}

SHIFTING SHADOWS is a collection of short stories in the Mercy Thompson universe:

the modern world as if the beings of the Brothers Grimm existed unknown to civilized Man.

Mercy is a Volkswagon mechanic, the daughter of a Blackfeet Indian and a white teenage mother.

 She is a "Walker" (a Native American shapeshifter not linked to the moon) who turns into a coyote, a gift she inherited from her father.

A rodeo man, he died a few days after consummating his relationship with her mother.

One day, not too long after Mercy was born, her mother went to her crib only to find a small coyote pup in her place.

Afraid and unsure how to raise her, her mother took her to the only place she knew was capable—

friends of an uncle, who had been a werewolf.

This is how Mercy came to be raised with the pack of Bran, the Marrok of the werewolves.

Now, she is on her own in the Pacific Northwest. 

The local vampire seethe collects protection money from the non-humans in their city. 

Mercy has no money, so she repairs the car of one of the vampires, Stefan ( the Soldier, born in Renaissance Italy) --

whose van is painted like Scooby-Doo's Mystery Machine.

She falls in love with the Alpha of the local werewolf pack, whose members detest her as a coyote. 

She is paying monthly payments to the Dark Smith of Fae legend whose shop is now hers.

Her keen sense of smell allows her to pierce Fae glamour -- an act punishable by death from the fae should they learn of it.

After a life of staying to herself,
Mercy finds herself coming to the aid of supernatural outcasts,
though her strength is but that of a human's.

But be you Uber-Vampire, Faerie Queen, River Demon, rogue government agent, or volcanic elemental,

you hurt those she loves at your peril. 

Mercy will keep on coming as long as there is breath in her body and gambits in her sharp mind.

MOON-CALLED is her first book.

Oh, and to make her life complete ...
Mercy's just learned her rodeo rider father was actually ...
Coyote, the Trickster.


"Mine," growled Adam from the open door of my mechanic shop.

"Mine," rasped Mac, his eyes the yellow of the change, his arms wrapped tight around my waist.

It would have been flattering, but at least one of them was talking about lunch.