So you can read my books

Tuesday, June 30, 2015


I've worked 24 out of the past 48 weekend hours. 

 I slept most of Monday trying to heal.  

Tuesday was 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.

Monday, June 29, 2015


Have you noticed that while you were busy putting out the fires in your life 

that the world had been busily going crazy behind your back?

As talks between Greece and its creditors broke down over the past few days, 

Greek financial meltdown has become a very scary and very real possibility.

Imagine being told by President Obama that you could only withdraw $67 from a ATM per week 

and then having the ATM run out of money before you got there!

And then retailers would no longer accept your credit card!

Financial markets on three continents sounded alarms Monday 

after Greece closed its banks in anticipation of a potential default on its debt 

and Puerto Rico announced it would be unable to pay back all of its $72 billion in debt

setting up a looming default of its own. 

Imagine getting out of bed only to discover that the world as you knew it was over.

On June 18

a sunspot that had been rotating toward Earth for a few days

 unleashed the first in a series of solar eruptions, hurling a torrent of gas and magnetic field at our planet. 

When the coronal mass ejection reached Earth’s magnetosphere five days later, 

it spawned the most intense geomagnetic storm in the current solar cycle — 

powerful enough to push the northern lights as far south as Texas.

The problem is we had no idea it was going to be that strong until it was already here.

 Consider the scenario where electricity is lost completely 

— or is even just sporadically available — 

for months

Repeat of 1859 Carrington Event would devastate modern world, experts say. 

 If something similar happened today, the world's high-tech infrastructure could grind to a halt.

Satellite communications

—also essential to many daily activities—

would be at risk from solar storms.

 Every time you purchase a gallon of gas with your credit card, that's a satellite transaction.

 But the big fear is what might happen to the electrical grid, since power surges caused by solar particles could blow out giant transformers. 

Such transformers can take a long time to replace, especially if hundreds are destroyed at once.

 Imagine large cities without power for a week, a month, or a year.

Less ice means less habitat for animals like polar bears, 

and it also means there are fewer reflective surfaces in the North to bounce sunlight back into space, 

allowing the planet to absorb more heat. 

 Retreating sea ice could disrupt a major ocean circulation pattern 

and even affect climate patterns in Europe.

 Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation: 

This current acts as a kind of conveyor belt, carrying warm water from the equator to the poles, 

and then shuttling cold water back to the tropics where the cycle starts all over again. 

 If the current slows down and less warm water gets transported north, 

then less heat will be transferred in regions such as Western Europe.

And something for my new feline room-mate, Midnight:

Cat Station-Master, Tama, elevated this week as Goddess:

Tama the stationmaster, Japan's feline star of a struggling local railway, 

was mourned by company officials and fans and elevated into a goddess at a funeral on Sunday.

Sunday, June 28, 2015


As amazing as any of his fiction novels is this autobiography by Michael Crichton.

It is brutally frank about his failings.  

Yet is done with wit and humor and self-effacing observations on his growth as a human being.

A Harvard medical-school graduate, inveterate traveler and author of, among other books,  

The Great Train Robbery  and WestWorld (the film versions of which he directed), 

Crichton seeks in immediate experience of new places and cultures

to "redefine" himself and uncover the nature of reality. 

His curiosity and self-deprecating humor animate recitals of adventures

tracking animals in Malay jungles, climbing Kilimanjaro

(after reading of his climb to that mountain's summit, you will never be tempted to do it yourself!)

musing atop a mysterious Mayan pyramid in the Yucatan, 

trekking across a landslide in Pakistan, 

scuba diving in the Caribbean and New Guinea and amid sharks in Tahiti with his sister.

You will marvel at his unconscious self-destructive pattern of traveling in unwise circumstances.

You meet his sister (whom his father once beat so badly that the timid mother nearly called the police)

his big hearted brother, his mother, and his aloof, troubled journalist father.

 The first quarter of the book

chronicles his gradual disillusionment with medical school and his decision not to practice medicine. 

You will never think of the medical profession in quite the same way after reading this section.

Which is not too surprising to a student of history: 

For most of human history, doctors have done more harm than good. 

Their treatments consisted of inducing vomiting or diarrhea and, most common of all, bleeding their patients.

Crichton's accounts of visits to remote places in Asia and Africa present a perspective on his personal life. 

Shuffled among these chapters are accounts of psychic experiences 

that include channeling, exorcism, and spoon-bending and end with a defense of "paranormal experience." 

 Crichton had an interesting life, which he writes about in a crisp and disarmingly frank manner. 

His inner "travels" offer something for almost everyone.

 Crichton explains the reasons that prompted him to write this book:

"If you are a writer, the assimilation of important experiences almost obliges you to write about them. 

Writing is how you make the experience your own, how you explore what it means to you, 

how you come to possess it, and ultimately release it."

Crichton explores our need for direct experience

His premise is that modern man has lost his innate sense of himself and existence, 

relying on opinions, concepts and information structures, second hand knowledge, 

in order to make sense of the world, which, in the end, is a false perception. 

You can geet a HARDCOVER for just a penny
at Amazon! 
Go on, take a chance.

Friday, June 26, 2015


Knowing that I needed my privacy to write my new novel, 

the ghost of Mark Twain, of course, 

felt compelled to bring a long string of ghostly authors to my table in Meilori's.

I noticed Oscar Wilde when he cleared his throat beside me, saying, "Dear boy, there is a U in humour."

I sighed, "If I were British there would be."

Mark chuckled, "Well, Ostrich, now that you have the boy's attention, give him both barrels of your wisdom."

"To write well about the elegant world, you have to know it and experience it to the depths of your being."

Mark scoffed, "That's it?"

"No, of course not, Clemens. What matters is not whether you love the world or hate it, 

but only to be quite clear about your position regarding it."

The ghost of Louis L'amour sat down beside me, shaking his Stetsoned head at my empty page.  

"Ignore Mr. Fancy Pants there, Roland.   Show up, show up, show up, and after a while, the muse shows up too."

I started in shock and at the contrast when Kurt Vonnegut sat beside Mr. Lamour, nodding to my still empty page.    

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

He flicked ghost cigarette ash my way.  

"Here's a secret, son -- 

give the reader at least one character to root for ... and try not to waste the time of a person who gambled cold cash on your talent."

Louis L'amour nodded, "And every sentence should reveal character or advance the action, preferably both." 

Mark and Louis both bristled as Karl Marx stopped in front of my table long enough to gruff,  

"Perfectionism is the voice of the oppressor, the enemy of the people. It will keep you cramped and insane your whole life."

Karl noticed a tall, lnaky aristocratic man strolling our way and huffed off.  The man stopped to smile at me.  I swallowed hard.  

It was Anton Chekhov, physician by day and genius playwright by night.   He smiled at me with weary eyes.

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

And with that he strolled towards the bar to refill his champagne glass, calling out over his shoulder, 

"Do not ask me for more, young sir.  The role of an artist is to ask questions not to answer them."

Hemingway snorted as he sat in the chair opposite me.  "So speaks a man who wrote his first stories under the pseudonym, 'Man Without a Spleen.'"

Mark Twain scowled, "At the time the man was paying his own way through Medical School AND supporting his whole family."

Hemingway shrugged, "The world breaks us all."

Louis L'amour shook his head.  

"I'd always heard you were harder on a man than corn cob toilet paper, but now I know it."

Hemingway got up.  

"You want advice, Roland?  Do back exercises.  Pain is distracting.  Or write standing up as I often did. 

And remember: Prose is architecture, not interior decoration."

Then, he lumbered away nursing a grudge and his drink.

Oscar Wilde sighed, "Sad that no matter how long you nurse a grudge, it never gets better."

"Isn't that the truth?" laughed the ghost of John Steinbeck.  

"Roland, you have to lose track of the 400 pages and write just one page for each day. It helps. Then when it gets finished, you are always surprised." 

I never did get any writing finished that night.  But the company made up for it.

Thursday, June 25, 2015


Critics, book and movie, turn up their noses at fantasies.  They shouldn't.

The world as we "know" it is mostly made up of fantasies.

Take Phlogiston --

the phlogiston theory is an obsolete scientific theory 

that postulated a fire-like element called phlogiston,

contained within combustible bodies was released during combustion. 

The name comes from the Ancient Greek φλογιστόν phlogistón (burning up), from φλόξ phlóx (flame).

When America was just a new country, 

the "educated" believed in it as they believed that four humors controlled behavior. 

And they believed that the earth was only a few thousand years old.

 Now we believe the earth is four billion years old, 

and we believe in photons and electrons, 

and we think human behavior is controlled by things like ego and id. 

We think those beliefs are more scientific and better.

But are they?  No.  They are not real either.

 Have you ever seen an id? Can you bring me one on a plate?

How about a photon? Can you bring me one of those?

You never will, because those things don’t exist. No matter how seriously people take them.

Take the theory of evolution.

Evolution is just the result of a bunch of mutations that either survive or die. Right?

There’s a time problem.

A single bacterium

— the earliest form of life—

has two thousand enzymes.

Scientists have estimated how long it would take to randomly assemble those enzymes from a primordial soup.

Estimates run from forty billion years to one hundred billion years.

But the earth is only four billion years old.

Second, there’s the coordination problem.

If you believe the current theory,

then all the wonderful complexity of life is nothing but the accumulation of chance events

— a bunch of genetic accidents strung together.

Yet when we look closely at animals,

it appears as if many elements must have evolved simultaneously.

Take bats, which have echolocation:

they navigate by sound.

To do that, many things must evolve.

Bats need a specialized apparatus to make sounds,

they need specialized ears to hear echoes,

they need specialized brains to interpret the sounds,

and they need specialized bodies to dive and swoop and catch insects.

If all these things don’t evolve simultaneously, there’s no advantage.

And to imagine all these things happen purely by chance

is like imagining that a tornado can hit a junkyard and assemble the parts into a working 747. 

 A hundred, two hundred,  years from now, people will look back at us and laugh. They’ll say, 

‘You know what people used to believe? They believed in photons and electrons. Can you imagine anything so silly?’ 

They’ll have a good laugh, because by then there will be newer and better fantasies.

Feel the ground beneath your bare feet?  That's real. 

Feel the warmth of the sun on your upraised face?  That's real.

Feel your arm around the one you love and who loves you back?  That's real.

If you have friends, health, and shelter, Life is wonderful. 

It’s a gift to be alive, to see the sun and breathe the air. And there isn’t really anything else.

What do you think is real
and what is fantasy?


Not that I know for a fact that is happening, 
mind you.

But there are rumors from various sources like Forbes 

that upon seeing Unbroken, Marvel offered Mrs. Pitt $20 million to direct Captain Marvel.

But for super-star Jolie that is hardly a lot.  For you and me that sum is heart-attack inducing!  

She made her directorial debut with the 2011 movie, In the Land of Blood and Honey

She has teamed with her husband, Brad Pitt, for her 3rd feature, By The Sea -- 

in which she will be on the screen. 

She has also set up Africa which follows big game elephant poachers.  

And it, too, may once again star Brad Pitt in the lead role.

In an era when female directors are lucky enough to be regularly employed, 

Jolie has used her capital and star power to become a solid director

 and make the kind of films that we all claim to want more of. 

 In other words, 

she’s the last female filmmaker on the planet that needs a gig directing Marvel’s Captain Marvel.

She is arguably the only female filmmaker for whom directing a superhero franchise tent-pole picture wouldn’t be a huge career boost.  

She is making character studies, war-torn romances, and old-school “movies” for adults with the backing of major studios no less.

 She is already making the “one for me” pictures. 

What do you think?

Tuesday, June 23, 2015


James Horner wrote


Just yesterday, I wrote about appreciating those healing beacons in our lives ...

And now, he has died in the crash of the plane he was piloting.

One of the things I was looking forward to was James Horner's work on the sequel to AVATAR.

 I bet James Cameron never considered his lengthy gestation of that movie would cost him a trusted partner.

Just scan a few of his soundtracks:






It's strange the loss I feel. 

His music has become a bedrock of much of the fiction I write as I write certain scenes.

In fact, one of my fantasies is that he would write the music for one of my novels turned into a movie.

{Dreamer, me.}

James Horner has keen words of wisdom for us as writers, too:

 “My job

— and it’s something I discuss with Jim [Cameron] all the time —

is to make sure at every turn of the film it’s something the audience can feel with their heart.”

Horner said.

“When we lose a character, when somebody wins, when somebody loses, when someone disappears —

at all times I’m keeping track, constantly, of what the heart is supposed to be feeling.

That is my primary role.”

He deeply appreciated John Williams:

 “It was very operatic,” he said of John Williams’s famous Star Wars score.

“You had a theme for bravery, you had Luke’s theme, you had the empire’s theme, you had Leah’s theme,

and then maybe more, and they were all intertwined.

They were really significant themes and you could tell what was going on. That type of writing is gone."

He said, 

“On several occasions on films I’ve worked on, I would write a theme to express an idea

and I’d be asked to take the theme out and just do it with chords or somehow imply it."

 “They did not want a theme in the film.

I don’t really know of another way to say something from the heart except by how I orchestrate it and with a theme.”

Horner said that he had “cut back” on writing music for major motion pictures because of the rise in predictable action movies.

But he said he would never quit writing for movies,

"To have a piece of music forever married to a piece of film, that’s a special sort of relationship.”

And that special relationship is how James Horner will live on in our hearts.

Monday, June 22, 2015


Do we ever recognize what is truly important in our lives?

* Amazon is about to pay us by the number of the pages read in our Kindle books.

* Taylor Swift takes on AppleMusic and wins.  

* We are told that the music of the TOP 40 is what most of us listen to and that it shapes how we look at life.

* A sullen sociopath kills innocent people only seeking a closer relationship to their God 

* And politicians and the Media scramble to make rating glory out of it.

Our World spins around us, 

playing out in the staccato beats of pounding sound bytes of humanity slowly growing insane.

And in the pause of those beats, 

the healing catalysts of our sanity quietly go about being the steadying anchor by just being there ...

until they aren't.  

And then, we realize that our true living was done in the pauses between the shouts, 

in the exchanges with people who cannot be replaced now that they are gone. 

Neil Gaiman:

writes of now existing in the pause between inhalation and exhalation 

as they help as best they can as Anthony, the most important friend in his wife's life slowly dies.

Amanda, Neil's wife, first met him when she was a child.  

Memories now swirl all around her: 

* At the age of nine throwing snowballs at his window to say HI ...

* Troubled times of  teenage years as she came over to his house to vent her loneliness and angst ...

* Lonely nights in a German college as she called Anthony often to just hear the voice of a caring friend ...

* Her Rock-Star beginnings when Anthony gave her the name of her band, the Dresden Dolls.

Laura, Anthony's wife, Neil, and Amanda are waiting ... waiting ... waiting.

It won't be long ... but it feels an eternity.

Are you someone's healing catalyst?  

Is someone yours and you haven't realized it yet?  

If someone is precious to you ... let them know now.