So you can read my books

Tuesday, November 9, 2010


"Sex without love is a meaningless experience,

but as far as meaningless experiences go, it's pretty damn good."

- Woody Allen

Jodi Henry wrote an excellent post ( )

on the subject she thought I was going to discuss yesterday : sex in literature.

A squrim-worthy topic she calls it. It is that and more because :

Sex sells.

You roll your eyes and go, "Duh!"

Yes, sex sells ...

but not always for the reasons you might think.

Men, of course, are hard-wired to see a beautiful woman and have their hormones go into a conga line ( )

But we men are more complex than the cliches written in COSMOPILITAN.

Sex. Lust. Love.

The first two are primal instincts. The third gives birth to legend and magic.

Every writer is in much of his work. But it is not as straight-forward as that.

J.R.R. Toilken rarely, if ever, wrote love scenes. Instead, he wrote distantly of Love, the concept with which Tennyson teased but never consumated in THE IDYLLS OF THE KING.

He was a shy man, and it shows in what he chose NOT to write.

He reflected his times -- as we must reflect ours in what we write and for whom we write.

For whom do we write? And what exactly are "our" times?

We live in a lonely age. From teenager on up, we feel outside, misunderstood, and alone -- the three labor pains that give birth to the possibility of love.

A reader is drawn to a novel by what is lacking in her/his life.

We've already touched on some of the things most people feel lacking in their lives. It can be summed up in one word : intimacy --

sex is only the tip of that iceberg floating in the existential void of modern times. There is much more beneath the murky surface.

How many of us feels valued, loved for who we truly are - bulges, skin blemishes, and other imperfections not withstanding?

Not many.

How many of us have such passion and fire in the night that we tingle in the morning light?

Even fewer.

Many of us settle for half-relationships, tepid gropings in the darkness that leave us feeling empty, not full, the morning after.

Why is that?

In the process of love-making, we leave a bit of ourselves with the other. If we make love without feeling love, the other fails to leave a bit of themselves within us.

Inside we have become less ... not more. Do that enough times and a void is carved within us.

That is why we have become the Hollow People, seeking to fill that emptiness within with all the wrong things :

Sex without commitment.

Passion without permanence.

Lust wearing the mask of love.

Think of the words of John Masefield :

I must go down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky,
And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by,
And the wheel's kick and the wind's song and the white sail's shaking,
And a grey mist on the sea's face and a grey dawn breaking.

I must go down to the seas again, to the vagrant gypsy life,
To the gull's way and the whale's way where the wind's like a whetted knife;
And all I ask is a merry yarn from a laughing fellow-rover,
And quiet sleep and a sweet dream when the long trick's over.

Why did I quote Masefield's poem?

We all long for that handsome, beautiful Other who will tenderly stroke our cheek,

fan the fires of our passions,

and fill our hearts and head with the laughter of two souls meant for each other.

Romance. Magic. Love.

Those are the stars a winning author steers by.

Fix them to your mast, and you will never go wrong.


  1. Roland,

    You really know how to pull the ole heart strings, don't you? You strip us down to our inner core and expose every one of our raw nerves. You are very gifted.

    I know you give us wonderful advise on how to write, but I do hope that your followers go beyond the lesson and feel ... because that is your true talent.


  2. Michael : Thanks that means a lot. It makes me feel as if my efforts help and touch my friends. It puts another star in my night to steer by. Again, thanks.

  3. Michael said it... better than I could...
    Wow is all I had. What an amazing gift you have for words.

  4. Colene : Thank you. Now, if I can only impress an agent the same way. Sigh. It doesn't seem to be in the cards for me. Well, I'll just work on Victor's legend. His "never say die" attitude is contagious.

  5. Roland,

    I don't know what you are sending to the agents, but if they have any heart at all, they could never miss your talent.

    It is my pleasure to give back something to you. I am glad for one thing. I never had a problem expressing my feelings. I just hope it comes out in my writing.


  6. Thanks, Michael, it does help. I think I don't make it past the interns working for the agents. Perhaps reaching to the heart isn't valued in hard hearted New York.

  7. Sad...

    I was born and raised in New York and New Yorkers are some of the warmest and sweetest people you could ever meet. I guess the publishing industry has a few out-of-towners...

    Just remember the heart ALWAYS wins out!


  8. Thanks again, Michael. I guess I fell victim to cliche. Ouch. It happens to the best of us. I think even if you lose, staying true to your heart and your dream, you lose less than if you turned your back on feeling and on your dream. Thanks, again.

  9. Great post, Roland. So true, every word, with just the right touch of emotion (another writer might have tipped into didn't, so thanks for that!). After reading your post I thought of the quote, "A great lover is not a man who has loved many women, but a man who has loved only one woman for a lifetime."

  10. Lisa Ricard : What a great quote. It reminds me of my protagonist, Samuel McCord, and the one great love of his life, the eternal Meilori Shinseen, born of stardust and the sea.

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  12. Oh, Roland. Thanks for the mention. As always you never fail to amaze. And just for the record, women think about sex the just as often as men do-- it just isn't publicized the same way. Lol.

    You said so much more than I ever hoped to with my post. Thanks for expanding on the topic.

    I agree, every word you spoke is so true. Leaving more behiind than taking from, OMG you saw that. Blushing. Yes, there's humility left in me. It doesn't come out often, but when it does, you know it's real.

    You are so the Yoda of the writing world. You can count me among your Padawan's


  13. Jodi : I hope I sent a few visitor to your blog who decided to stay and chat awhile.

    In my historical fantasy, Samuel McCord is narrating from the male's perspective of the 1850's and so is somewhat teasing and oblique about what happens between he and Meilori.

    Like with horror movies, I believe sex in novels works best when something is left to the imagination.

    If I could only find an agent that thought I was the Yoda of the writing world. Thanks for the praise. It made my night.

  14. As a romance writer, it is finding the balance. The love has to be all-consuming, yet natural. Primal, yet tender. I strive very hard to convey the emotion in it without being graphic or cliche. It's a tightrope walk with my characters.

    Alas, I will never be able to turn a phrase quite like you. Wonderful post.

    P.S. I give men the "once-over" all the time - you just wouldn't know it. ;)

  15. I must go down to the seas again, to the vagrant gypsy's life...

    Somewhere Beyond the Sea
    Somewhere waiting for me
    My love is there
    On Golden Sands
    Watching the Ships
    Go Sailing

    And until I find him, I will wait.

    Roland you NEVER cease to amaze me with what you write, what you feel. I am, as always, in awe.

  16. Hi,

    Yet another thought-provoking post.

    As I said on Jodi's blog, I cut my writing teeth on erotic romance. I broke all the rules of erotic romance at that time, romance being the key for me, a touch of humour alongside the more casual aspect of obligatory detached sexual encounters.

    In my latest historical there's an older man who seduces a young maiden, but because of twenty-first century acceptable reading, she's seventeen where in reality she would probably have been fifteen (1600s). Yes, she loves him but not as she loves someone else, and later she realises the thrill of being initiated to the pleasures of the flesh and sexual thrill (alone) does not compare to same combined with intensity of true love and desire.

    You're so right, sex sells, the baser the better regards the media (Basic Instinct etc), which is kinda thrilling but nothing like (as above) love and basic instinct. Thing is, though, how far to go with graphic detail in a romance novel? Well, I go the whole hog on the seventeen-year-olds seduction, and believe me, when she gets her sexy mitts on the one she wants he's in for super-duper sex! :)

    Me done, shall sway hips and slink off.


  17. Francine : My computer screen fogged up at your description of your love scenes!

    Anne : I could Bobby Darrin singing those first lines. Thanks for the great words about my writing.

    Wendy : Yes, it is all about balance -- brings back echoes of my Yin Yang theory from yesterday, right? And I appreciate the ladies from the side of my eyes as you do the men!

  18. I wonder what a cynic it makes me that what I want to read about is sexual tension, near misses, and how finding Mr. Right turns out NOT to be the answer... *shifty* In books with great romances, I enjoy the PROMISE of what MIGHT come much more than what actually does... or seeing a couple think what they have is one thing, only to discover it is something else entirely.

  19. Hart : It doesn't make you a cynic but a realist. It is not the attaining of the dream but the struggling for it that makes the journey. What do the Zen masters say? The journey is the reward.

    No one thing or one person will make us complete if we are not already whole within. There is no filling a bottomless pit.

    Thanks for the insightful comment.

  20. Fascinating and inciteful post! Sex does sell but you're right, the reasons are much deeper than the initial reaction.

  21. This is a marvelous post. Beautiful on its own merits, but also timely and effective. I believe we're living in an era that is throwing away treasures to gain pleasures, and our art both reflects this and propagates it. As authors, we have a responsibility to portray truth, and that's just what you've done. Thank you.

  22. One of my favorite poems. It reminds me of the New England shore for some reason.

    Sex is good, deep or shallow, but it's better deep.

  23. As always, you have the capacity to inspire awe in your writing, Roland.

    I thought you'd like these quotes:

    "A kiss is a lovely trick designed by nature to stop speech when words become superfluous."
    -Ingrid Bergman.

    Love is a canvas furnished by Nature and embroidered by imagination.

  24. Wendy : You're right. I really do like those quotes. Glad you liked my post.

    Terry : I always think of Hornblower when I hear those lines. And Woody Allen would agree with you!

    K.M. : My best friend is a psychologist, and she believes what we put into our heads and hearts via books and movies is quite important. Logo Therapy she calls it. The computer geeks might just say : garbage in, garbage out.

    That was quite a compliment you paid me. I shall endeavor to be worthy of it. Happy blogging.

    Heather : Always happy to hear from you. Why sex sells is not as simple as it might appear -- glad you agree.

  25. A wonderful post about how sex gets everyone's attention. It's kind of a simple thing, and yet so complicated too.
    Well done!

  26. Lydia : Isn't it odd how the simple, basic things get more complicated the deeper you delve into them? Thanks.

  27. I tend to write sexy stuff. I don't mean to write it like that, but it comes out like that, even in my blogs sometimes, and I've toned it down from when I used to post on more anonymous websites.

    Oh yeah, sex sells. Bigtime.

    One of the best-worst compliments I've gotten is that I should be a romance writer.

    God, I hate the comment. But still, the sell, don't they... I mean, remember Jack Nicholson in that movie where he said, "You make me want to be a better man." I forget the name, but that one, he was a romance writer.

    I've found that in my stories, the woman is consistently a very sexual, sensual, emotional creature. Just like in real life.

    Men, they just drink a lot of beer in both.

    - Eric

  28. Eric : I know the movie you're talking about -- AS GOOD AS IT GETS -- isn't it? I want to meet the women in your novels. But then again, I want to meet the women in mine! Wish fulfilment for the two of us I guess.

  29. Yes; the movie is AS GOOD AS IT GETS. One of my favorites. And I'm not usually a romance movie person. But the story wasn't just "romance" it had a lot of substance (please Francine, don't read that. .) to the story. It was so much about life. The good and the ugly.

    Those are the type movies that draw my interest. I like sex in books and movies, and yes I even need the romance factor; but sex for the sake of it, or a story just about getting the perfect guy/gal isn't appealing to me.

    Deep post Roland. I loved the Masefield poem.

    And STAR TREK. Oooh, to remember William Shatner when he was young, and good looking . .