So you can read my books

Friday, November 12, 2010


The 3 Faces of the Heart :

Sex. Friendship. Romance.

As writers we must know each face.

Each face must be glimpsed by our readers for them to want to stay in the world we write into being.


Yes, there was sex. There was talk about sex. Boy, was there.

There was even romance. But at the heart of its success was friendship ... and humor (which in a way is the lifeblood of friendship.)

For me the parade of spotless, unwrinkled designer clothes cast the women as mannequins. Their obsession with men devoid of any other interests made them as soulless as mannequins, too.

Still their friendship carried the show.

But were they ever friends with their lovers?

Can sex ever blossom into a relationship without friendship? Perhaps sex can grow into love, for love is a kind of obsession. And obsession is blind.

Friendships endure, not because they see less, but because they understand more.


Anais Nin, the enigmatic French author famous for her journals spanning 60 fascinating years, wrote :

"Each friend represents a world in us, a world possibly not born until they arrive, and it is only by this meeting that a new world dawns."

It would be hard to say whether King Solomon was made more alone by his many wives or by the prison of his throne. Nonetheless, King Solomon wrote :

"Two are better than one; because they have a good reward for their labour. For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow: but woe to him that is alone when he falleth; for he hath not another to help him up."


It is what is so very lacking in today's cyber-society where everyone is twittering, but no one is listening.

Or giving a damn.

They are hunched over their blackberries, waiting impatiently for the message to end so they can jump in with, what is essentially, a "Listen to me!"

Because so few of us have it, friendship and its portrayal are what will bring us back to a novel over and over again. I know that it is the case for me. And for the friends I talk to.

Frodo and Sam. Sherlock Holmes and Watson. Spencer and Hawk (from the always entertaining Robert B. Parker series.) Bill and Ted. Calvin and Hobbes.

Family is a crap shoot. Love cools. But friendship endures.

Your novel must have magic to endure in the hearts of your readers. Not the magic of spells weaving patterns of color in the night. But the magic of friendship casting its healing light in the heart of two lovers.

Abigail and John Adams. Their years of letters shows lovers grown into friends. Spencer (from Parker's series again) and his one great love Susan Silverman is a great love of friends in literature.

If you can ignite that magic within your pages, the readers will read and re-read your book.

I'll let Mark Twain have the last word on friendship :

"Grief can take care of itself, but to get the full value of joy you must have somebody to divide it with."
I remember driving down lonely rural roads after Hurricane Rita as I delivered rare blood to the Katrina-devastated hospitals surrounding New Orleans. I also remember pushing back acid memories of the destruction by singing along with the Eagles as I wound down strange country roads :


  1. As usual Roland, your posts are thought-provoking and a pleasure to read.
    Thank you for this ode to friendship. Lovely.

  2. Lydia : Thanks. I try to make my posts worth the time it takes to read them. Your comment made my morning.

  3. I like that you brought up Twitter. I do not tweet. I don't really see the point in it. Alot of people do, but I don't

    @myfake tweet: I'm boiling water.

    Um...okay so who really needs to know that. Tell me somethiing that MATTERS. Okay, so boiling water might matter if the person tweeting is stuck on Mt. Hood in a snow storm and boiled watter is their only source of drinking water. In that case, why are you tweeting. Use your phone to call for HELP!!!

    I thought blogging would be the same thing. But have found it is totally not. Post and comments have proven a great way to learn about other, our shared obsession (writiing) and learn about the industry.

    The blogs I enjoy the most are those filled with a sense of who the author is. . . you're one of those bloggers.

    Thanks again for sharing.


  4. Hi Roland,

    What a wonderful tribute to a friendship. One thing that you said which in many cases might be true, however, isn't always so. It's what you said about people that don't listen in cyberspace ... you do, as do I, as many of us that visit your blog. We wait, ready to hear your next words of wisdom, insight, friendship, sorrow, and of all passion. Passion for words, life, love, honor, and once more friendship.

    MY past four weeks in this unusual and fulfilling world of blogging has brought me several new friends, who listen and try to help one another fulfill their dreams of writing and being published.

    As always I look forward to your next post.


  5. This was a great post, Roland! You had me @ Sex and the City. :) And I never really gave the whole friendship thing any real thought until now, but you are so right! A friend was recently talking about how much she loved my two MC's (lovers) but she couldn't really say why, but now that I think about it, it's the friendship thing. They're more than just two people hooking up. They like each other and joke around - they're friends first.

    I've taken friendship very seriously over the years - my best friend and I have known each other since 7th grade. I like to use our friendship as a reference when I write, to give depth and meaning to these relationships I create. Just imagining the loss of her friendship is as serious as the loss of my husband or children. I don't know that everyone is as blessed as I am to have that one person, but I hope so. It's everything.

  6. Roland, good post. I think you have a good point here. I think when writing about relationships they need to be realistic and they need to start somewhere. With my first boyfriend, who is still very close to me, we started out as friends. Then we began dating; it wasn't like out of no where we started dating just because we wanted to. And we still see each other every day, which I think strengthens us and gives us both hope that we can in the future get back with one another.
    He once told me, "Making love and having sex are different. You can have sex and enjoy it for the time being. You can have love, make the love, and that you can hold onto forever. It does not end." I think what he said there shall always remain true.
    Without friendship there cannot be love.
    And honestly with almost all of the books I've written if two characters end up falling in love they always first start out as friends.

    So I think it's important, as you said, for people to remember there's more in romantic relationships than sex. There's more in the romance itself than just romance. There's love, there's passion, obsession, desires, and ultimately friendship. If you can't call the guy --or woman, for that matter--your best friend, then you truly cannot say that what you have is love.

    Great post, Roland. I look forward to reading more from you.

  7. Once again, Roland, you take my breath away. Friendship is indeed, the marrow of life.

    'To the world you may be just one person,
    but to one person you may be the world'.

    ~ Unknown ~

    "Grief can take care of itself, but to get the full value of a joy you must have somebody to divide it with."
    ~ Mark Twain

    'We come to love not by finding a perfect person,
    but by learning to see an imperfect person perfectly'.

    ~ Unknown ~

  8. Wendy : As always, it's great hearing from you. And I love those quotes. Yes, friendship is the core of both romance and love to me.

    LReneeS : Yes, you've gotten my message. What we need to do is write People not Characters (prose puppets that we march to the step of our tunes.)

    Realistic relationships will hook our readers. And when threats to that relationship look about to succeed, then the tension will be heightened in the hearts of our readers -- the pages will turn in a blur to see if our couple can survive.

    Your first boy friend sounds very wise and someone to have in your corner.

    Misty Waters : If you have had one great friend in your entire life, then you have been both truly blessed and wealthy.

    It sounds like you're on the right track with your two main characters. I wish the wind at your back in further writing their adventures.

    Michael : What I was referring to was twittering. It seems twit's (couldn't resist) seem intent on being heard over hearing. You are so right that it is quite the opposite in blogging -- or I would not have stayed.

    Thanks for visiting and commenting. It's been a 400 mile day for me as a blood courier. Whew! My 15 minute break is almost done.

    Jodi : You're right. As opposed to twittering, blogging has enabled me to meet and become friends with great people like you, Lydia, Michael, Misty Waters, LReenS, Anne, Becky, Donna, Olivia, Wendy (all the way from New Zealand), Wendy from shivering Canada, and so many others. I have grown because of them.

    Thanks, everyone. Now, I have to blood run!!

  9. Roland, oh good glad to hear I didn't miss something major you said. I definitely agree with you. There's a lot we can do with our characters to make them real for the readers and relationships greatly affect our stories. If a reader is drawn in by a relationship that looks potential it's important to continue to draw upon that and build something up between the reader and the people in the relationship.

    One of Tamora Pierce's books had a really good example of a relationship where there was a lot of feelings the two characters had between each other, but they only remained friends. (Of course this killed me because I really wanted them to get together haha.)

    There's always room for relationships in books and readers are automatically interested when they realize something is occurring between two --or possibly more--characters.

    And I'd have to agree with you there; he is very wise and I admire him for that.

    Aww, and thank you Roland. I've become friends with a lot of amazing people as well, and you're definitely one of them. You put so much into your posts; I only regret I cannot read them all.

  10. Lindsey : I regret it, too. But I'm glad for those times you do read and comment.

    Robert B. Parker wrote a mystery series on a detective with only one name : Spenser. His love affair with Susan Silverman spans most of the novels. Because of her dysfunctional childhood, she was drawn to inappropriate men. Spenser, ex-boxer, ex-cop, seemed the perfect bad boy.

    But he was insightful, a self-educated philosopher in a violent profession. Her attempts to become whole nearly destroyed him over the course of four novels (I call them the Wounded Spenser Series.) But in the end, the two endured, becoming stronger friends and lovers.

    The middle books in the Spenser series are the best : filled with witty dialogue, mystery, action, and friendship between Spenser and Susan; and Spenser and Hawk (a black killer for hire with strange standards.)

    Thanks for caring enough to respond to my comment to your first post. Have a great weekend.

  11. Great post, and soooo true. We live in Me, myself and I society. Good friendship is hard to come by. My husband is my best friend, my only friend. The rest of the people I know are just close acquaintences. FWIW, I'm still holding out hope that someday I'll be able to forge friendships like those depicted on Sex and the City.

  12. Well I try to read and comment will possible:)

  13. Wonderful thoughts as always, my friend. I am terribly curious if you've read the dark tower series? Roland of gilead finds himself in a sort of friendship/league with a posse of unlikely gunslingers. Yet, in the end his cause comes before all others, despite his love for them. Very complicated tangled mess of relationships, and yet their was this sense of trust and respect. If you've read the series, I'd love to hear your thoughts on that can of worms! ;-)

    And hey- I love twitter! Not just so I can blab about boiling water (more like catapulting sheep!) but because its a sort of high five with other colleagues who are pursuing their dreams. Working their asses off just as hard as you are. It's so hard to find people with creative minds in everyday life. I feel so blessed to interact and have friendships with bloggersphere, fb, and twitter. Thank you for this posts. Lovely ponders as always.

  14. I stopped Tweeting for just that reason, Roland. It's turned into nothing but a never ending commercial. "My book is coming out! My book is out! My book is STILL out!" Ugh. No thank you. The louder they yell, the less I hear.

    But for those about more than shameless self promotion I do listen, and I do give a damn.

    It's been eye opening, how few of the 'friends' I've made since I started blogging among writers cared to drop a line in the month + I was offline and sicker than I've ever been in my life to see if I was still alive.

    Those are the folks I'll keep. The rest really don't register on my radar anymore.

    You definitely register- way up there.


  15. February : I'm so grieved that those who blogged ignored you in your time offline when you were ill and needed a touch of friendship.

    We get so consumed with our own obstacles and pains that often we ignore those who have fallen by the wayside.

    Like you, twittering just seems a way to fritter what precious free time I have.

    Jodi : When the hero has the name Roland, it did come to my attention. But a friend informed me that Roland betrays the trust of a young boy/man who trusts him. I decided I didn't want to spend time inside the mind of a man who could do that.

    My own hero, Samuel McCord, chooses people over causes : choosing to save a young boy from Comanches over fighting at the Alamo, choosing to save both British and Chinese women despite the side fighting in the Opium Wars in the early 1840's (and being labeled criminal by both sides,) and choosing to save the helpless after Katrina despite inflaming Bush, Abigail Adams, and Empress Theodora.

    He, and I, choose the little people over the Big Picture every time. The Big Picture belongs to God; the little people in my world belong to me.

    LReneeS : Each comment is truly appreciated. Life gobbles up so much of my little free time that I perfectly understand.

    Andrea : (Yours is the first name of the agent who's asked for my first 5 pages, by the way.)
    I have many friends but only one real rock-bottom friend. It's always been that way for me, too. I'm glad your best friend is your mate. That's the way it should be. I wish you luck in getting those kind of friends you saw in SEX AND THE CITY. Thanks for writing. It means a lot.

  16. My husband and I began as friends, then best friends. And I'm so thankful because it's saved us. People go up and down and if you don't have anything to hold on to, the downs will do you in.

  17. Sam sounds wonderful, Roland. The Alamo? I live a couple hours away. It's awesome your character has the kind of qualities that can see what truly matters and what does not.I like what you say about the big picture belonging to God, and the little people belonging to you. ;-) In the dark tower (since I can spoil since you aren't going to read). His "cause" really in truly, is to save the world (sort of speak), so he figures if he or the ones he loves closest die it is a sacrifice we all must make for the cause of humanity. But in the end, when he 'arrives' at the tower. Fights his way to the top, lonely (with more sorrow) than he began, I believe he comes to a different conclusion about sacrificing those he loved most. The one you come to above. It is so powerful because everything he had believed in, worked for, all the sacrifice and death... was it all for nothing? (how often do we do this in our own lives?) And the kicker, is the whole story starts back at the first sentence with the man in black fleeing across the desert. And I think King left the reader to draw his own conclusions. Will Roland make the same mistakes? Will he remember? Will he choose to save Jake(the little boy you mention in which really, the whole story turns on this one point in time-- it is so awful. And King never lets you forget it. ) this time. Please god, you think, please let him. But how dramatically would it change 'the big picture'. Aww. Love this kind of thought and discussion. All this is about agreeing with you, Roland. I really should find a book discussion group so I can stop leaving such long comments on people's blogs. Ha! Have a good one. ;-)

  18. You just gave me a reason why my NaNo novel is on the right track. Your posts are serendipitous. I drop by knowing I'll learn something, and I always come away with unexpected gems. Thanks.