Shadows of the Night…with Veronica Dale

Every single person has within them good and bad. Carl Jung understood this and called our less pious impulses our “shadow” side. It’s only when we embrace the shadow that we can come into the fullness of our true natures and be at ease and whole. This doesn’t mean we have to rob banks or kill people. It means we have to accept that we may have negative personality traits we deny or suppress. Because guess what? We all do. Vernie Dale captures this idea exquisitely in her just-released book of short stories Night Cruiser.

Many of the stories in this collection have been previously published in prestigious literary journals or have won excellence awards, or both. Each is a jewel in its own right. The last story, about a creative writing class, was so rich in real detail (I have taught creative writing) that the twist, when it came, flipped me from reality to fantasy and horror and even humor with a few skillful shakes. Other standouts include “Persons of Marred Appearance” for its faith themes, startling characters (the “grieving deacon”) and intense language like “shifting, dazzling water-stars.” What is faith? Dale seems to ask. “It’s the human condition” comes the answer from a not-quite human source. “Within Five Feet” shows hints of Dale’s COIN OF RULVE fantasy series to come, with its increasingly terrifying and astonishing imagery. Dale shows signs in this slim volume of capturing the world-wide web zeitgeist with the zeal and terror of Kafka. 

And lucky me, I was able to capture her for an interview on some burning questions I had about writing and, of course, the shadow. Here’s our talk:

Holding after resized

How does a sweet Catholic woman come up with such frighteningly horrifying stories? What compels you to write in this genre of fantasy horror?

Wow, thanks for calling me “sweet.” But I don’t think the stories in Night Cruiser are true horror. They’re pretty dark fiction, but some are funny and some have a spiritual dimension. They weren’t written to scare, but to take a good look at what we’re afraid of and ways we might deal with that. I guess the compelling thing for me is exploring Tolkien’s idea of the “eucatastrophe,” the terrible catastrophe that can become redemptive. That’s a theme in Lord of the Rings, the Gospel Passion narratives, and many other stories in which the protagonist’s struggle with the dark side results in great good. I like to compare that to an eclipse: you can’t see the sun’s glorious corona until it is blocked out by that scary black moon. So—to invent a word for it—maybe I can call the Night Cruiser stories “eclipsic” rather than horrifying.

I like that, Vernie. You are working on Coin of Rulve, a four part fantasy series. Any idea when the first book will be out? Are all four books complete or do you have a draft of each?

All four books are finished, but the last two are in somewhat rougher form. I’ve just begun seeking agent representation for book one, Blood Seed, and don’t know how long that will take. If I find an agent, she then has to get a publisher to accept the book, and then comes the long process of the publisher editing, proofreading, developing a cover, etc. My plan is to submit to a certain number of agents and, if none accept the book, to consider self-publishing.

I’m interested in your interest in Jung and “the shadow” — could you explain what it is, how you first learned about it, and how it jibs with your faith? What are some good books to read on this topic, particularly books or articles by Jung that inspired you.

I became interested in Jung when I was studying for my degree in pastoral ministry and learned about the relationship between psychology and spirituality. The shadow, according to Carl Jung, is the unconscious part of ourselves that we’re ashamed of, afraid of, or don’t want to look at. It includes our fears, our nasty side, and our weaknesses. The trouble comes when we think “Hey, I’m not like that; but he or she over there sure is.” It’s like how Christ shook his head in dismay when he’d see a person with a big stick in their eye making snide comments about someone with only a sliver in theirs. The more we deny our own shortcomings, in other words, the easier it is to project them onto other people or groups. This can lead to racism, age-ism, and all the other “isms” that our society falls prey to. A good place to start learning about the shadow is at Thirteen Quotations about the Shadow or an overview at Then you can branch out to writers like John A. Sandford, Morton T. Kelsey, or Edward C. Whitmont. 

What is your writing schedule like? Do you write every day? Morning or evening or whenever you find time? Do you need perfect quiet or can you write anywhere?

They say the most important thing about writing is to “put butt in seat.” In other words, sit down at your keyboard and click away. I love it when I can do that by 10 am, work to maybe 1 pm, start again after lunch for a few hours, take time to make dinner, and maybe get a couple more hours in after that. This hardly ever happens. Life, alas, gets in the way. So do the dreaded “technical difficulties,” like printers that suddenly don’t print, or emails that date themselves Dec. 31, 1967, or the doorbell box loudly demanding that someone “close cover!” All of which actually happened to me. Even the electrician didn’t know a doorbell box can talk. And yes, I really do need a quiet place to write.

Speaking of writing anywhere, I know you are a fan of trance music. Explain what it is, why it moves you, and if you think there is a connection between this form of music/dance and writing, specifically your genre.

More than trance, I like club or electronic dance music—a lot. I can hardly keep still listening to it. My favorites are Sandstorm, Café del Mar, and the music of Paul Oakenfold. Other favorites with a good, solid beat are Philip Phillip’s Home and Avicii Wake Me Up When It’s All Over. Summertime Sadness and Peace Sword in B Minor (from the movie Ender’s Game) are also so beautiful. I wish I had time to explore this whole area a lot more. This kind of music brings a deep-down joy to my body and heart; like writing, it takes me completely out of my mundane self.

 Let’s go dancing sometime soon! But back to Night Cruiser…this is your first book of short stories, although you’ve published non-fiction books in the past, is that correct? So far, how does it feel to be published again in a completely new way? I assume publishing has changed a lot since you first put out those early non-fiction titles. In your opinion, what ways are these changes good for writers and in what ways is it not so good? 

Night Cruiser is my first published fiction book ever. When I began writing fiction, I was convinced I would never get involved with “the vanity press,” as self-publishing was called back then. But then things changed. With the advent of self-publishing, writers could by-pass increasingly greedy contract terms, keep the rights to their own work, and get their book out in weeks instead of years. But you have to learn a ton of stuff in order to do that (which can be time-consuming, to say the least), and then you must become your own marketing and accounting staff (which absolutely no author I know likes to do). I think most writers would love to find an agent that would root for them and guide them through the maze of today’s publishing pitfalls. I sure would!

 How long have you been at work on Coin of Rulve? Could you explain the basic story (not giving away spoilers of course!) 

What is now the four-book series Coin of Rulve began in 2003. The story is about twin brothers who are born in a land ravaged by the child slavery and addiction forced upon it by the Spider-king. The brothers are separated as infants to keep their existence hidden from the despot that hunts them. Growing up in the midst of violence and cruelty, wounded in body and spirit, they have suffered so much trauma in their nineteen-year-old lives that they cannot believe the Creator Rulve has called them to an extraordinary destiny.

In addition to being feared and reviled as a foreigner, Sheft is haunted by a murderous entity that is attracted to his blood. The village priestess wants to restore the old rites—and herself—to their former power, even if a hated foreigner must be sacrificed to do it.  In order to protect Mariat, the young woman he loves, Sheft must steel himself to leave her. Teller grows up in an underground stronghold, surrounded by ambitious mages just waiting to seize his power of fire. He gives up everything he has to rescue a young girl from a grisly fate, only to find he’s been betrayed. The beautiful slave Liasit begs him to save her people, but Teller is struggling to save his own soul. Another “character” in the series is the Seani, the small walled community the brothers call home. It is the only force that stands against the growing power of the Lord of Shunder, who has been hunting Sheft and Teller since the day they were born. With the help of the Seani, the brothers confront the shattering realization of what they are called to do. In order to buy back the lives of many, they must willingly pay an appalling price.

Readers, I will certainly alert you when Vernie publishes Blood Seed and the rest of this series. And Veronica, thanks for answering my questions!

Night Cruiser is available on Amazon in e-book or paper by clicking here.

And you can visit Vernie’s website for more news and links to Vernie’s social media circles.

Love Caters All


Happy Release Day! Yes, Luke’s #1 Rule is now available worldwide in print and e-book editions.

So why am I blogging about Love Caters All, another authors’ story? Because I recently met Nicci Carrera on Facebook where we discovered we had the same publisher and that our books were being released on the same day. Yes, Nicci and I are release day twins! The coincidence was too big not to do something with it, so I’m talking about Nicci and Love Caters All and she’s talking about Luke’s #1 Rule. 

Before even reading Love Caters All, I got a little bit worried about the fact that our books seemed so similar. They’re both set in small tourist towns, both towns are on the water, they both feature red hot romance. So I’m thinking, these books are going to be too alike. But as it turns out, the only things they have in common is what I’ve already stated. Surface stuff. The stories themselves could not be more different.

What I loved most about Love Caters All is Maya, a strong heroine who supports her family and sacrifices every day to give them a better life. She’s so selfless that when she first meets rich guy Rick, she thinks about fixing him up with one of her beautiful sisters. This despite the fact that she falls hard and fast for his good looks and charm. Maya has her own business, and that’s something she and Rick share, that entrepreneurial spirit. But while Rick has made a fortune at his business, Maya toils long sweaty days in a food truck, catering to tourists in her tiny town of Lobster Cove.

Rick wonders why Maya hides her considerable culinary talents. Maya bristles at Rick’s know-it-all attitude. Sparks fly. These two clash on so many levels, but they are clearly made for each other. Readers will see it, but the lovers don’t, and here’s another area where Nicci Carrera shines. She sets up a no-win situation. You know, the kind where you wonder how these two are ever going to get together because the thing between them is too big to ever forgive or forget? I love when writers do that, make me think that all is lost. For good. For real.

Biting my fingers, turning the pages, enjoying the fantasy element of what it would be like to be courted by a super-rich sexy guy who pulls out all the stops to win my–I mean Maya’s–love, I was getting close to the end of the story with things still not resolved. I didn’t want the novella to end. The intensity of the inner lives of these two characters and how they managed their heartbreak, each in isolation, made me ache for them. But I never gave up hope that somehow, some way, they’d find a path back to each other. I couldn’t see how Carrera was going to pull it off, but I had faith that she would because her words sparkle like diamonds and her plotting skills are just as sharp as Maya’s kitchen knives.

Reader, I was not disappointed, and you won’t be either, because love really does cater all.

Now for some extra goodies Nicki has for you, read on.


When hard-driving CEO Rick Nordan arrives in Lobster Cove under strict orders from the family doctor to take a break, he discovers the rental house comes with a family attached, including one sexy dynamo of a caterer. She’s nothing like his ex-fiancée who wouldn’t sign a pre-nup, but maybe that means she’s the real deal and not a gold digger.

Maya Cruz wants life for her widowed mother to get easier by renting out her house during the summer. But teaching Mama business means explaining Rick isn’t a “guest,” he’s a “customer.” And the first thing Mama does is invite Rick to join their family activities. Having Rick around wouldn’t be so bad if Maya didn’t find him so attractive. The last time she fell for a vacationing millionaire, she had her heart broken.

She swore off his type, and he’s not looking, but this might be a recipe for love.


“Doc made me unplug. Ordered me to read books. Even went so far as to write out a prescription.” Rick reached in his pocket.

She took the paper he’d retrieved and read it. Sure enough, their website and the words, No electronics, read a book were scrawled on an Rx sheet in Doc’s handwriting. She handed back the note. “I’d recognize Doc’s penmanship anywhere.”

“Penmanship!” Rick grinned. “You can see from Doc’s chicken scratch, if I had to rely on the Internet for entertainment I’d be out of luck. It’s old-fashioned bound-paper for me this week.”

“I love books. In our library, you’ll find the classics, westerns, and some spicy romance.” Maya thought she’d just toss the last genre in there to see how he’d react. He grinned. Her stomach fluttered. This man was nothing like the conceited ass she’d dated last summer. Both men might be rich, but they were so different. “History, biography, and a Bible.”

“Will there be a quiz?”

“Only on the romance.” His laugh was so sensuous she could roll in it.

“I really need to dry the floor. I’ll get a rag. Excuse me.”

Mama passed her at the hall closet. “We should invite Mr. Nordan to our party tomorrow.”

Oh no. Rick was going to meet the gorgeous twins before Maya even had a single date with him.


Nicci Carrera lives to write contemporary and spicy love stories with sassy heroines and sexy heroes. Nicci believes the perfect man makes lots of bread…the kind you eat hot from the oven with butter. She lives in Silicon Valley with her husband, and yes, he bakes all their bread. When not at her keyboard writing a romance, in the kitchen, or curled up with a book, Nicci enjoys photography and long walks.

Where to find Nicci on the Internet:



An interesting Nicci fact: she actually spotted a food truck like the one she created for Love Caters All.




Rimbaud Eyes

RimbaudOur eyes tell the story of our souls. Sometimes photos capture it, sometimes not. This photo does. Just look at them. He’s a poet; there is no doubt. Rimbaud was born in 1854. Over one hundred and fifty years later, the Dum Dum Girls wrote a song about his eyes. Love the song, have been deliberate about not reading what the lyrics mean to the band, I want my own thoughts here first. And his.

“Once, if I remember well, my life was a feast/where all hearts opened and all wines flowed.”

The first lines of his poem “A Season in Hell.”

Even as a young poet, if you look, you can see that “once” is the key word. Those are not eyes that reflect life as a feast. Those eyes do not show an open heart. It’s possible those eyes had too much wine the night before.

“One evening I seated Beauty on my knees. And I/found her bitter.”

These lines follow those above from the same poem. It’s not called “A Season in Hell” for nothing. And those eyes in this picture reflect that particular anguish.

This poet, who burned all his work and never achieved anything like happiness or fame, lives on because of his lover, a famous poet at the time still taught in university today, who, thinking Rimbaud dead, published the best of his work supposedly posthumously.

It cannot be grammatically correct to end a sentence with two adverbs.

As a young poet I read Rimbaud’s work and just this morning picked up the slim volume, kept all these years, and flipped to the first poem “A Season in Hell.” That first poem hooked me on Rimbaud for life. And now I cannot stop thinking about his eyes and how they reflect other eyes I have known, including, sometimes, my own. Because Rimbaud was a gentle soul, he wanted to escape debauchery and badness as much as he craved it.

“Let me tear out these few hideous pages from my notebook of one of the damned.” Ends the poem, ends a life, ends the look in the eyes.

Rimbaud was one of several poets who convinced me to stop writing poetry. I would never have that gift, I was convinced. I moved on to other kinds of  writing. Can you image Rimbaud as a blogger? What would he say? No doubt a scathing comment here if the mood struck him. The thing that happened to me as a young poet would not have happened had I listened more to the gentle, insistent Rilke in his “Letters to a Young Poet” in which he entreats his protégé to keep writing, keep practicing, and keep hope that maybe one day there will be a poem worth its ink.

But I’m of a Rimbaud temperament, not like Rilke, more’s the pity. Wish I’d stuck with poetry. I still love it so. If you’re a young poet, read them both, but heed Rilke.

More Lives

YOLO. I see it all the time and it is just not true. More religions and people in the world believe in reincarnation than not. We are here in our tight little world of Judo-Christianity or our dark sky of atheism and it’s all we see, but there is more. To a lot of people there is more. I can’t say I’ve reincarnated from another time or place, since I have not done a past life regression, but it’s possible. And that’s not the ‘much more than one life’ I’m talking about.

According to recent science, there’s the life you wake up to every day and the life you wake up FROM every day. And there are the lives you live if you are a writer. Ray Bradbury said our brains don’t know the difference between writing a novel or living those words.

Actors inhabit their characters to the point where they are that guy they’re playing. Then there are people who pass into other lives in other worlds. Like Gypsy. If you don’t believe in science: superstring theory and cosmologist’s recent findings of multiverses, they sound like magic. I never knew until I read about the science and became a character in a magical novel who experienced it.

The brain can’t tell between dreams and day life, and it can’t tell between a deeply imagined fictional life and one that looks like a person sitting at a desk or standing on a stage. So, how many books can you write? That’s how many lives you can lead.

Or maybe you don’t write or act but you have a rich fantasy life, maybe you enter into the you who you want to be and you meet the one you want to be with, who is not the guy snoring next to you. You’re lying on your bed, but you’re not.

Or you enter into the novel you’re reading so completely that you wake from it like a dream when your 21st century oven timer goes off in your dystopian adventure.

I’ve been playing make believe all my life. Most kids do. Adults do it too but we call it reading, or writing, role-playing. It’s real, baby. It’s all real. At least to your brain, and, you know, if the brain is dead, the person whose head it’s in is dead, too. Or maybe they’re just on to their next reincarnation.

Hello Old Friend

tartt I support indie writers. Some books, I go indie myself. But one thing I’ve noticed…I don’t see many indie “literary” novels. Terry Tyler comes closest. She calls her work “contemporary.” No labels for Tyler. Not even the literary label. And good for her.

Still, lots of genre in the indies. Maybe I’m not looking in the right places? One of the things that seems most wonderful to me as an indie is I don’t have to follow any rules. I’m not chained to my romance or mystery perch like Fabritius’s goldfinch. Or am I? Are we all?

That’s the type of discussion that goes on in some literary novels like Donna Tartt’s fabulous The Goldfinch which I just finished last night. The last twenty or so wonderful pages would have been slashed to nothing had I sent them to a genre publisher. And that’s a shame.

So indies, what’s going on? I could take a guess or two. Maybe indies want to be discovered and offered huge multi-million dollar contracts like that erotica author who started out writing fan fic about Edward and Bella. So the indie genre books are calling cards, of a sort. Maybe.

Or maybe the indies who write in a specific genre just really like vampire books. Maybe they’re not thinking HBO series material at all. All I can really say is this indie, me, likes coloring outside the lines, and publishing indie lets me do that.

Why not submit to literary agents and publishers, then? Ah, no. I’m no Fabritius, no Tartt either. I know my limitations. We all have them. And so what do I hope to achieve with these indie novels? Well, some money would be nice. Although it does not seem to be happening, at least not yet, and I’m okay with that.

In fact, not making money from my writing is probably a good thing, even though it’s bad. (This ‘good but also bad’ dicotomy is one of the themes in The Goldfinch.) It’s bad because of course I would rather make art than teach. It’s good because I’ve been teaching so long I’m due for retirement and pension soon:) It’s bad because if I put my work’s value at a dollar amount, then my work is zero.

It’s good because I found out that I will still write, even at zero. That’s something worth learning. Because it brings me back to the innocence I had when I was 16, writing in a notebook, trying hard to get the feelings right, with no thought to being discovered, published, or important. The work was important. And that was all, that was enough.