Ka Is A Wheel….

Any Dark Tower fans out there?  Stephen King describes this epic series of his as a mash up of The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly and The Lord Of The Rings.  It’s an epic-fantasy-western, if you can even wrap your mind around all of those genres in one story, & it’s not for everybody.  But I love a good hero, & the Dark Tower provided.

RB1DarkTowerHeroes are very important to us romance novelists (and romance readers!), after all.  We love men.  Love figuring those stubborn souls out.  We want to know what they think, how they feel, and what matters to them.  We want to know what’s on that mental landscape they keep so private, & we really hope it’s us.  We’re not really surprised to find that it isn’t, though.  Or–if we are on there–that we don’t take up nearly as much geography as we’d hoped.

RB3DarkTowerBut Roland from the Dark Tower was my kind of hero.  The last gunslinger, he was born to a mission.  The world was under seige & he was the last of the heroes.  It was his job to get to the Dark Tower (wherever/whatever that may be) and do what must be done (whatever that may be) to restore balance.  This would involve great sacrifice, as all good quests do, but he didn’t question that.  He was a world saver, & there was a world to be saved.  Game on.

That said?  There are, like, eight books in this series, & it took Stephen King most of his career to write them all.  So he wrote book one as a young man, very certain of  the world & his role within it.  He wrote the last book in his mid-sixties, with grown kids & a marriage that had endured despite a great deal of physical & emotional trauma.  (Car wrecks, addictions, & world-wide fame, oh my.)  In other words, the man’s lived a full life.  He has perspective now.  He knows what pain is, what joy is, & what family is worth.  He knows what sacrifice is–his own & others’ on his behalf.  He knows what success costs.

RB2DarkTowerWhich means that Roland does as well.

I don’t want to spoil the ending for anybody so I’ll just say this–by the time Roland got to the Dark Tower, he was no longer nearly so sure of himself.  He’d sacrificed so much, broken so much, lost so much, killed so much in single-minded service to the quest.  Did he win?  Was it ultimately worth what he paid for it?

IMG_5745The grown-up Stephen King is remarkably opaque on this.  He doesn’t provide answers.  But the fact that he asks the questions is growth enough for me.  Because young Roland didn’t even ask.  The questions never even occurred to him.  But they occur to older, wiser Roland.  He’s changed.  He sees things that were previously invisible, places value on things that he once sacrificed without a second thought.  So was he successful?  Hard to say.  Is success completing the original quest?  Or do we get the chance to revise our definition of success as we get older & wiser?

IMG_5744I’ve been thinking about this as the Romance Bandits wrap up this, what, eight year run of daily blogging?  I’ve been thinking about where I started this journey & where I’m ending it.  I’ve been thinking about the Then Susan, so certain of her place & her plans.  I’ve been thinking about how different she is from the Now Susan.  Goodness knows my definition of success has certainly changed.  I was supposed to be the unholy love child of Nora Roberts, Jennifer Crusie & Susan Elizabeth Phillips by now, with a major publisher behind me, & a shelf full of RITAs behind my computer.

I think it’s safe to say that didn’t happen.

But I’m still writing.  I’m putting out books I love on a schedule that allows me to stay sane & be the mom I want to be.   I have relationships with other writers that I cherish, & that make any small success I’ve eked out possible.  (And yes, my dear Romance Bandits, I’m talking about you. )

IMG_5774And I have you.  You faithful bandit buddies who make writing worth it.   Who love the stories, who love the lair, who even love the Rooster Of Questionable Morals.  Your support, your confidence and your friendship have meant the world to me.  To us.  Thank you for taking this journey with us.

But, as Roland himself would say, Ka is a wheel.  Its only purpose is to turn, which means that there aren’t really any endings or beginnings, just the world rolling along.  So this isn’t goodbye.  I’ll catch you all on the next turn of the wheel–or of Twitter or of Facebook or whatever–because the world is small & people who love stories the way we do will always find each other.

So I’ll see you soon.  Looking forward!



  • flchen1 says:

    Ah, Susan!! Yes, let’s not be strangers 🙂 And yes, please, PLEASE keep on writing–I love your stories!

    • Susan Sey says:

      That’s so kind, Fedora! I will definitely keep writing–I’m kind of addicted at this point! And I would weep bitter tears if I thought I wouldn’t run across you often on the interwebs. I know we’ll stumble across each other all the time!

  • Helen says:


    Yes that wheel will turn and we will all still be in contact with each other through some form of social media and also us readers through reading your wonderful stories 🙂

    Have Fun

    • Susan Sey says:

      I look forward to what the turn of the wheel brings, but like I said, Helen, I know it’ll bring you to us very, very often, given our mutual love of a good story well told!

  • Jeanne Adams says:

    Susan, I’ll echo Fedora, the snatcher of Chooks for the day, and say NEVER stop writing your great books!! (And I’ll never stop reading them)

    As to Roland, I’ve not delved in due to the doorstop-nature of the Tower series. (In a cue-the-Twilight-Zone-Music moment, I was just talking about this series with friends at dinner tonight!)

    However, thanks to you, I am now humming Roland the Headless Thompson Gunner. Yikes!!


    It is amazing to look at our journey – both singly and as the Romance Bandits – and see the progress, the growth, the connections and bonds. I love it! And I love that we’re taking these brave new steps together.


    • Susan Sey says:

      Big sloppy kisses right back at you, Jeanne! And get thee to a bookstore STAT because Roland doth call your name! I think you in particular would love this hero. You love your boom, & he’s got boom plus swagger. He’s aces. Go on, fall in love. I’ll wait right here. 🙂

      And yeah, it’s fascinating to look back at where we started & where we are now. Will you be in NYC this summer? Want to buy each other drinks & reminisce? Anybody?

  • ki pha says:

    Definitely Keep on writing and I know I’ll be seeing you. And it has been great here with y’all And we’ll always be here.

    • Susan Sey says:

      Oh, you’ll definitely see us around, Ki! We’ll be like my mom & my aunt when they see you across a crowded restaurant or movie theater. We’ll be jumping up out of our seats, waving frantically & yelling, “YOOOOOO HOOOOO!” Because my mom is from a family of actual yoo-hooers, if you can believe that people still do this. It’s almost a yodel. And it’s in my blood, so prepare yourself, because I’ll be throwing the internet version of that all over the place whenever I run across a bandit buddy.

      It’s a…singular experience. 🙂

      • ki pha says:

        LOL Maybe I’ll see you when the MN midwest writing chapter hits up a mall close for me to attend to see you ladies again. 🙂

  • Amy Conley says:

    Susan, I’m sorry to say I haven’t read any Stephen King since I was in high school. But, saying that, tonight I was catching up on my new favorite show and it began by asking the question “do any of us really change?” I’ve not been a part of the liar for as long as many here, but you all made me feel at home and free to write what I felt. This last year has truly been the worst year of my life, but I still stopped in,almost every single night. And while I didn’t say anything here several of you knew what was going on through posts on fb. So, I’m sure I’ll see all of you there.
    And thanks.

    • Susan Sey says:

      Amy, it’s been our privilege & our honor to share this past year with you. I know it’s been difficult, & any small comfort we could provide has been less than we would have liked. But we’ll continue to be here for you, albeit in a different, less regular way. But somebody will always be around so keep coming back!

      And I know 2015 will be a better year for you. It’s got to be, right? I’m sending prayers for just that!

  • Shannon says:

    A couple of sci-fi writers have had “Dark Towers” in their stories, which I knew was an inside joke of some kind. Now, I get part of the joke. Someday, I’ll have to get around reading these. With these cold days and a busy schedule, I find myself re-reading so that I can read just a bit, savor, and get to the real business of the day.

    I love that you mention the then, now Susan and the decision to stay sane. It’s one of life’s perplexing challenges–do almost everything well, or do one or two things superlative well and let the rest fall where it may.

    • Susan Sey says:

      I know, right? I almost got into a fist fight with a very good friend recently after we had wildly different reactions to the movie SELMA. Because she is very focused on justice–it’s one of her core values–and I thought I was seeing another biopic on MLK Jr. She found the movie moving & deeply meaningful. I was horrified at the violence & saddened by the injustice, of course, but I felt the story was incomplete because it focused so little on the personal cost of MLKJrs quest for greatness. I wanted to know more about what it cost his wife, their kids, I wanted to hear more about what everybody else paid so that MLK could become MLK. Did he choose it? Was it thrust upon him? At what price greatness??

      That’s my core question these days.

      I have no answers. But I do wonder, when the wheels turns again, what Future Susan’s question will be?

  • Mozette says:

    Hey! Woah! I had to stop reading your post right in the middle!

    I’m up to book 4 and I don’t want to know the ending as I’ve spent a good amount of money on the other books so I can read them all!

    I know about Roland Gilead, the Last Gunslinger of the old times. I read the first book and then, went out and bought another edition of it and reread it (it was a better one with more in it) and I just dove on in and read 3 of the books in one year. I opened book 4, and found I had to have a year off… it got too much… this year, I opened book 4 and felt as though I was welcome by the fireside once more, given a marshmallow on a stick and a cup of hot chocolate and Sai King sat me down to continue on with the story… letting me into this imagination.

    I love his writing, his world. He thrills me, scares me, makes me think and has made me leave the light on at night since I was sixteen… and you want to know something? Sai King has influenced me in how I write my books… he’s taught me from afar how to scare the crap outa people, and how to do it good!

    The secret is to say what you need in as few words as possible which gives the greatest impact, but at the same time, make sure you leave your reader wanting more, and yet feeling as though there’s somebody else in the room – when they’ve been alone the whole time. 😀

    Yep, that’s how you do it.

    • Susan Sey says:

      Oh, Mozette, you’re so very right. I firmly believe that when history judges Stephen King, he’ll end up revered as the Shakespeare of our generation. He’s just that good.

      Probably the proudest moment of my life (outside of having my kids) was the day that Mr. Sey read something I’d written &–in all sincerity–compared it to Stephen King. I might’ve cried, just a little.

    • Susan Sey says:

      Also? I didn’t provide any spoilers, so you can read the whole post if you feel like it. 🙂

  • Angie says:

    I’m a Stephen King addict and devour everything he writes as soon as it’s available, so it’s been a while since I finished the Dark Tower series. Much has changed in my life since then, and I think it may be time to re-read them with your thoughts in mind. Thank you for that! My sixteen-year-old just started his first SK book (The Stand, no less!) and came to me wide-eyed one chapter in, almost speechless. “His writing . . .” was all he could say. I just smiled and hugged him. Seeing someone recognize truly great writing for the first time is like seeing a child born 🙂 And that’s the reason you MUST keep writing – to leave someone speechless with just one chapter!

    • Susan Sey says:

      Oh! How beautiful & gratifying! My oldest is just 11–and an anxious, sensitive 11 at that–so we’re a few years from introducing her to the wonder that is SK. But you make waiting really, really hard!

  • catslady says:

    Stephen King has been an author I’ve followed from the beginning but lately I’ve missed some. I use to buy the hardback as soon as it came out but ouch on his prices lol. I started that series but with so many years between my memory is not so good. I believe I have one more to go or maybe I’m missing something in between. I really should read it from the beginning but I keep putting it off because there are so many other books in my tbr pile. What’s funny is I’m currently reading another of his books – Full Dark, No Stars and just finished Joyland. As to changes – I wish I hadn’t been in such a hurry when young but that is hindsight. I hate hearing all these goodbyes but hope to see everyone elsewhere in the blogosphere.

    • Susan Sey says:

      I can’t say that the Dark Tower series is universally wonderful. When there are 8+ books in a series, there are always a few less-than-stellar outings. 5 & 6 weren’t my favorites, but everything in between I found amazing!

      And we’ll definitely be seeing each other. ka is a wheel…

  • Joan Kayse says:

    Um…this Roland fella isn’t a CLOWN is he?

    I am not a fan of horror so the only Stephen King I’ve read was his On Writing…excellent BTW….

    And LOL on the memory of your famous Grumpy pose at Disneyland and awww…I love pics of you and me…..

    So speaking of your writing, when’s that next Blake brother showing up??? Huh? Huh? Huh?


  • Susan,

    I’ve said this before, but I am thankful all the time that the last Bandita to come on board the Lair was YOU!

    Love your books and am happy to see you flexing your humor muscles with them. I’ve always thought your humor should take flight and you shouldn’t listen to anyone who tries to curb it! 🙂

    Can’t wait to see you this summer in NY!

    • Susan Sey says:

      NYC & my banditas are the only thing that makes me think I can get through another MN February sometimes!

      And thanks for loving my weirdo sense of humor! This next book I have coming out is a little heavy on that side, so hopefully you’re right that it’s a strength & not a very strange weakness. We shall see!

      Can’t wait to see you in NYC. I need my annual dose of Suz, or I’m just not right.

  • Jo Robertson says:

    What a beautiful post, Susan. Thanks for saying goodbye in such a NON-goodbye way. The circle of life, right? Even if it sounds corny.

    My 4 sons have been pushing me to read Dark Tower for years! I have it on my Kindle, and on Audible, so I have no excuse. Your description makes me eager to start. Thanks!

    • Susan Sey says:

      Oooh, definitely dive right in! I’ll be right here waiting when you want to discuss! Because as I said, goodbye isn’t really goodbye. Not when we’re all just a click away!

  • That is so cool – to start a series when one is young and wrap it up when one is older and wiser and less certain of elements in life but convinced of the qualities that he once overlooked. I’m not really a Stephen King fan. Horror is just not my thing. But this series may be worth checking out.

    Beautiful post, Susan. I know this isn’t goodbye. The airline industry is bound to reroute me in your backyard again. I know I’ll see you at National and I know how to find you in the lair and on Facebook. Not Goodbye – No way! 🙂

    • Susan Sey says:

      If you’re ever stranded in my neck of the woods again I hope you’ll call! I’ll take you out for a drink! I would love that! Not that I want you to be stranded. But I’d love to have that drink. Nationals?

  • Cassondra says:

    Susan, I think Stephen King is incredible. I’ve read a couple of his books, but I can’t make that my regular reading diet or I get really, really depressed.

    My husband adores the Dark Tower series, and plowed through them like a madman. He gets a little offended when people criticize that series actually. I’d have to say that Stephen King is in his top three favorite writers of all time, though I didn’t ask him for a list. I just know that when we pass books on to other people or the library, we keep King’s books. Those stay as keepers.

    I have to guess that writing the hero over a lifetime made those books incredibly rich. I love it that you so nailed that as King grew, so did his hero. King is a heavy-duty thinker, and I admire that a lot. Thus, I admire him and his writing. If I could meet any writer and get to know that person, I think I’d really enjoy becoming friends with King.

  • Pissenlit says:

    Heh! I love that epic beard hat!

    I’ve not read that series but I have a friend or two who really like it!

    Argh! I’ve got The Byrds’ Turn! Turn! Turn! stuck in my head now!

  • Damn it, Smoov! Loved this piece. You made me cry. And you ARE the unholy love child of JC, SEP and Nora. I love your books and I won’t be surprised when you’re as big a name as those others you mentioned.

    Thank you for always making me think, laugh and cry in the same post–often in the same paragraph. It’s so true and wise that life just rolls on. And so will the Bandits!

  • Deb says:

    Well, I don’t like to watch or read horror stories, but I do remember reading a SK novel and knew he was a great writer. But, dang! Do you think I can remeber which one it was?! How neat that SK’s series grew as he did from young man and young writer to a man who has seen the circle of life and for that to be reflected in his written work.
    Best wishes to you, Susan, and I am so glad we will still see you around on social media! Big hugs to you.

  • Susan, I’ve been reading every one of your blogs since your Bandit debut. I always leave your blog with a smile on my face. So I will miss your blogs. But thank goodness you’ll continue to write your books. I love them!

    • Susan Sey says:

      I can’t tell you how happy it makes me to know that you’ve been reading my blogs! And I’ll definitely be seeing you around the internets, because people who loves stories will always find each other!

  • Kaelee says:

    Susan ~ I’m going to miss all of you so much. Thank you so much for a really wonderful chili recipe. I won’t be seeing you on Facebook but I wish you all the best.

  • EC Spurlock says:

    I’ll miss your posts too, Susan, and wish you all success! Keep writing those wonderful stories and keep us posted so we can make sure we’re caught up on the Blake Brothers and whatever your next series turns out to be!

    My hubby is a big King fan, but as a depressive I need to monitor my intake, so I’ve stayed away from his books. The only one I’ve read has been On Writing, which should be required reading for anyone who wants to be a writer, or any reader who wants to understand the writing mind. The man is truly one of the writing geniuses of our time.

  • Caren Crane says:

    Susan, as always, I am late answering this. As a fellow fan of Stephen King and admirer of Roland, I wanted to say that I, too, admire how much we have all grown as the years pass. It affects everything in our lives AND in our writing. I read things I wrote 10 years ago and am amazed how differently my mind works now. And I was no kid, even then!

    I think that’s why it’s so hard to try to embrace the mindset of a 20-something for me now. I have little recollection of how little I knew then. How unprepared I was for the challenges ahead. Ones I never in a million years anticipated!

    Ka is a wheel, indeed. I’m glad it will keep turning us toward each other. Love you, my Bandita sister!