So you can read my books

Monday, June 10, 2024



ON THIS DAY IN 1682 ...

In Salem Village in the Massachusetts Bay Colony, Bridget Bishop, the first colonist to be tried in the Salem witch trials, is hanged after being found guilty of the practice of witchcraft.

Trouble in the small Puritan community began in February 1692, when nine-year-old Elizabeth Parris and 11-year-old Abigail Williams, the daughter and niece, respectively, of the Reverend Samuel Parris, 

began experiencing fits and other mysterious maladies. A doctor concluded that the children were suffering from the effects of witchcraft

and the young girls corroborated the doctor’s diagnosis. Under compulsion from the doctor and their parents, the girls named those allegedly responsible for their suffering.

And Cancel Culture has been thriving in America ever since.

What do you think?

Friday, June 7, 2024



John Steinbeck would send his son letters

 — sometimes 18-page-long ones, when he didn’t have time to edit — 

ranting, raving, and generally trying to be helpful. 

The only thing I remember my father telling me was one word: "Survive" 

when he abandoned me at six on a rough street far from my home in Detroit.

"Happy Father's Day, Dad."

In 1958, John's 14 year old son wrote of falling in love for the first time.  

This is the letter Steinbeck wrote back:

New York
November 10, 1958

Dear Thom:

We had your letter this morning. I will answer it from my point of view and of course Elaine will from hers.

First -- if you are in love -- that's a good thing -- that's about the best thing that can happen to anyone. 

Don't let anyone make it small or light to you.

Second -- There are several kinds of love. 

One is a selfish, mean, grasping, egotistical thing which uses love for self-importance. This is the ugly and crippling kind. 

The other is an outpouring of everything good in you 

-- of kindness and consideration and respect -- 

not only the social respect of manners but the greater respect which is recognition of another person as unique and valuable. 

The first kind can make you sick and small and weak 

but the second can release in you strength, and courage and goodness and even wisdom you didn't know you had.

You say this is not puppy love. If you feel so deeply -- of course it isn't puppy love.

But I don't think you were asking me what you feel. You know better than anyone. 

What you wanted me to help you with is what to do about it -- and that I can tell you.

Glory in it for one thing and be very glad and grateful for it.

The object of love is the best and most beautiful. Try to live up to it.

If you love someone 

-- there is no possible harm in saying so -- 

only you must remember that some people are very shy and sometimes the saying must take that shyness into consideration.

Girls have a way of knowing or feeling what you feel, but they usually like to hear it also.

It sometimes happens that what you feel is not returned for one reason or another -- 

but that does not make your feeling less valuable and good.

Lastly, I know your feeling because I have it and I'm glad you have it.

We will be glad to meet Susan. She will be very welcome. 

But Elaine will make all such arrangements because that is her province and she will be very glad to. 

She knows about love too and maybe she can give you more help than I can.

And don't worry about losing. If it is right, it happens -- 

The main thing is not to hurry. Nothing good gets away.


 You should treat yourself to Steinbeck: A Life in Letters (public library

that constructs an alternative biography of the iconic author through some 850 

of his most thoughtful, witty, honest, opinionated, vulnerable, and revealing letters to family, friends, his editor, and a circle of equally well-known and influential public figures.

Wednesday, June 5, 2024

"They fight not for the lust of conquest". 80th Anniversary of D-DAY

 "They fight not for the lust of conquest. They fight to end conquest. They fight to liberate."

-- President Franklin D. Roosevelt's official address announcing the invasion.

My latest novel centers on this epic attack.

June 6, 2024, 

will mark the 80th anniversary of the D-Day landings along the Normandy coast during World War II. 

This event, which ultimately led to the liberation of Europe, will be commemorated at Normandy American Cemetery.

It is the final good-bye to the soldiers who landed on the Normandy beaches, certain they would die and praying they would not.

Not many of the surviving veterans attending this Anniversay will be alive next year.

They go to greet their fallen comrades in that land that knows no shadow only happy reuions.

Oh, my novel celebrating those heroes? 

Think Stephen King and Ray Bradbury combining to spin a tale of what led to D-Day and afterwards ...

Friday, May 31, 2024



Many believe Samuel McCord and his haunted jazz club, Meilori's, fictional. 

Keep on believing: you will sleep easier at night.

For his own reasons,

Samuel has exchanged letters between myself and John Steinbeck over the decades of his life these past twelve months.

Here is the latest delivered to me from Mr. Steinbeck:

John Steinbeck
Sag Harbor
June 3, 1953

Dear Roland:

How odd it is:

Here I am much older, not nearly as wise as I would have hoped to be, still writing to you unchanged in the year 2024!

Your words over the years have helped me, though I fear mine to you has not helped any at all.

I am back from Washington, D.C.  and just now reading the newspaper and your latest letter to me.

This gold medalist proclaims himself a woman and those that think this odd from a father are decried as haters and bigots?

How odd.  The tyranny of the politically correct: McCarthyism at the opposite end of the spectrum.

A former president (now leading in the polls) convicted by a corrupt judge and DA. 

Two first impressions from both my trip and your letter of your own confused times:

First, a creeping, all pervading, nerve-gas of immorality which starts in the nursery and does not stop before it reaches the highest offices corporate, media, and governmental.

Two, a nervous restlessness, a hunger, a thirst, a yearning for something unknown— perhaps morality.

Then there’s the violence, cruelty and hypocrisy symptomatic of a people which has

either too much or no chance at all to get enough,

and lastly, the surly ill temper which only shows up in humans when they are frightened.

Nothing seems to have changed in the nature of Man.

You mention this best-selling author, James Patterson, no longer writing his own books.

He does the outlines and hires different co-writers. He does credit the other writers,

and he probably does pay them handsomely,

but the whole thing is coiled up in my stomach like bad diner food.


How to express my feelings for it?  Let me try:

Early on I had a shattering experience in ghost-writing that has left its mark on me.

In the fourth grade in Salinas, Calif., my best friend was a boy named Pickles Moffet.

He was an almost perfect little boy, for he could throw rocks harder and more accurately than anyone, he was brave beyond belief

in stealing apples or raiding the cake section in the basement of the Episcopal church,

a gifted boy at marbles and tops and sublimely endowed at infighting.

Pickles had only one worm in him.

The writing of a simple English sentence could put him in a state of shock very like that condition which we now call battle fatigue.

Imagine to yourself, as the French say,

a burgeoning spring in Salinas, the streets glorious with puddles, grass and wildflowers and toadstools in full chorus,

and the dense adobe mud of just the proper consistency to be molded into balls and flung against white walls—

an activity at which Pickles Moffet excelled.

It was a time of ecstasy, like the birth of a sweet and sinless world.

And just at this time our fourth-grade teacher hurled the lightning.

She assigned us our homework.

We were to write a quatrain in iambic pentameter with an a b - a b rhyme scheme.

Well, I thought Pickles was done for.

His eyes rolled up. His palms grew sweaty, and a series of jerky spasms went through his rigid body. I soothed him and gentled him,

but to show you the state Pickles was in—he threw a mud ball at Mrs. Warnock’s newly painted white residence.

And he missed the whole house!

I think I saved Pickles’ life.

I promised to write two quatrains and give one to him. I’m sure there is a moral in this story somewhere, but where?

The verse I gave to Pickles got him an A while the one I turned in for myself brought a C.

You will understand that the injustice of this bugged me pretty badly. Neither poem was any great shucks, but at least they were equally bad.

And I guess my sense of injustice outweighed my caution, for I went to the teacher and complained:

 “How come Pickles got an A and I only got a C?”

Her answer has stayed with me all my life.

She said,

“What Pickles wrote was remarkable for Pickles. What you wrote was inferior for you.”

 You see what this says of your James Patterson and those who ghost-write for him?

If you do, please write and explain it to me.



Sunday, May 26, 2024

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old: On Memorial Day

"They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:  

Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn. 

At the going down of the sun and in the morning 

We will remember them. 


As the stars that shall be bright when we are dust,  

Moving in marches upon the heavenly plain; 

As the stars that are starry in the time of our darkness,  

To the end, to the end, they remain." 


- "For the Fallen" Lawrence Binyon 


Has society become too cynical and self-interested to appreciate Memorial Day anymore? 


What do you think? 

Monday, May 20, 2024



Monday is my "Chore Day".

I only found time to write one page of my new novel ... but I wrote it.

Those long days when I ran my bookstore, 

visited my mother as she lay dying, 

and walked back and forth to the mall and to the hospital because twice someone had put sugar in my gas tank ...

I still wrote. 

In fact those ______ who destroyed my cars improved my health with all the walking, 

gave me time to reflect on the dying of my mother & to come to grips with it, 

and allowed me the opportunity to put my thoughts into coherent order to write in my journal.

I do not know what storms hammer at you this season ... I just know they are ... or they will soon.  Life is like that.

You must ask yourself: 



Can you sacrifice who you are for who you will become?  

Can you do with 30 minutes less sleep a day to write one page of your novel?

Can you transform your lunch half-hour into one of sipping Instant Breakfast 

while plotting the page you will write tonight or tomorrow morning?

It's not about how hard you were hit but how hard you can be hit 
and still go forward.



Choose where you can do the most good.  

You cannot do everything.  Help where it makes sense.  Be flexible.  Be adaptable.  

Pace yourself: running yourself into the ground will not help you or anyone else.


You are entitled to your boundaries.  

You have the right to say NO.  

You have the right to safeguard your own health or sanity.

Non-writers think we’re not working when we’re plotting or researching or studying how to write better.

 It’s up to you to defend your writing time as strongly as others defend their own pursuits.

Yes, you can be more flexible. 

But writing should stay on your calendar for all but the most critical days.


Skill is only achieved by hours and hours and hours of honing your craft.  

If you are not making your life or someone else's better ... then you are wasting your time.

You're already in grief from your dream.  Keep on and get some reward for all that grief.

You want your dream?  Then, go on and get the hits, the disappointments that come with the package.


 Before sleeping, make a list of three important things you intend to accomplish the next day. 

If you’re in the midst of storm and trauma, 

break bigger projects down into tiny steps you know you’ll be able to complete in a day. 

 As the storm eases, you can work with bigger chunks again.


No one's life is all sunshine and rainbows.  

For most of us, the world is a mean, nasty place ... 

and life will knock you to your knees and keep you there and laugh as it kicks you ...

if you let it.

No one is ever going to hit you as hard as life. 

But it is not about how hard you are hit ... 

but how hard you CAN be hit and get back up and go forward, 

how much you can take and still stumble forward.

That's how you win, how you can stand tall, knowing you gave it your all.


It is not the title AUTHOR or DOCTOR that makes you. It's not success that makes you.

It is your character that makes you.  Character defines success, defines fame, defines YOU.

And you sculpt your character with every resistance to obstacles you make, 

with every sleepless morning as you write, 

with all the early A.M. hours when you run dark streets ...

with doing something right each and every time you do it whether anyone is looking or not ... 

because you refuse to do shabby.


It's not someone else's.  

Do not expect help or support from someone who has their own dream.  

You must get up early, stay up late to make your dream come true ... no one else will do it for you.


Murphy was right.  Life is going to blind-side you when you least expect it.

It's all right to show pain, to even unleash a colorful metaphor or two, to suck air.

But those times are when the most growth occurs.  

You can let the tragedy destroy you or you can learn from it.

We all fall down in life.  The question is: who gets back up?

Please, choose to get back up and into the struggle, fighting smarter.

The companion to night is not darkness but light, for every night is followed by the dawn.


It is not your circumstances or your situations that determine if you are going to be successful or not.


It's the way you see your dream, your writing, how you feel it, how you nourish it.

Your mind is the battleground.  

But it is YOUR mind, sow the soil of it with truths that help not hinder you.

"I may give up one day ... 





What are your personal strengths as a writer? 

Whatever they are, they’re your leverage for hard times.

 If dialogue is your strength, 

you may want to write dialogue for the next few chapters and come back later to fill in the rest of the details.

Or you might want to carry a journal and use spare moments 

to brainstorm character names and answer “What if?” questions to sketch in a story and its conflict.


if only an extra ten minutes of sleep the next day or a dessert you reserve for hard times.

Tuesday, May 14, 2024



There is a land not too far from where you sit right now.

Its velvet grasses miss the press of your feet.

The billowing clouds strain to see your body walk slowly up the rising hill.

The fragrant winds blow through the lonely tree branches, whispering your name as they seek some trace of you.

It is where the magic lives.

That realm is lonely, wondering where you have been.

And where have you and I been?

We have been caught up in the drudgery that writing has become. 

Burdened by life's duties and our own doubts, we have lost our way. 

We have lost the magic.

Did we lose it straining for that first perfect sentence in our new novel?

Looking at the blank, impatient computer monitor did we forget the simple wonder of just writing the first simple sentence that occurred to us?

That creative power which bubbles so tingly at the beginning of our book quiets down after a time. 

The journey becomes slower and slower, the inertia of doubt steadily dragging our steps.

Do we continue doggedly on or do we stop to refresh ourselves?

The answer to that question determines whether we find our way back to the magic or not.

How do we refresh ourselves?

How do we refresh ourselves on a long wilderness walk? We stop by a stream and drink.

Drink of those poets and writers who sparked that love of the written word spoken in the lonely heart of the reader.

As a hiker takes shade under the canopy of a huge oak, 

listen to the music of those artists who stirred you to imagine images that you just had to write and make live in your own way.

Then, you shall write as a child writes ... 

not thinking of a result but thinking in terms of discovery as if you were hiking once again where the magic lives.

It is the Zen of writing: 

the creation takes place between your fingers and the keyboard, not before in a thought or afterwards in a recasting.

The magic is there waiting for you. It will come if you but get out of its way and let it in.

Come back before the ghost of H P Lovecraft comes looking for you!