Serpentine Walls Release Party #6 — Roadblocks To Romance

October 30, 2013

Welcome to the Serpentine Walls release party!  I’m enjoying chatting with everyone on all kinds of topics.  Join in.  There’s virtual cheesecake and gifts to be had.

Okay, got my therapist’s hat back on for a moment.  Shall we talk about relationships? After all, that’s what romance books are all about.

People often don’t realize what’s getting in the way of finding love or making love work.  My characters sure don’t.

In Serpentine Walls, Pete is clueless for much of the story about what’s really driving his behavior regarding relationships. He’s angry at his parents for splitting up and cynical about love. His roommate, Angie, has a premonition that they’re both going to find “The One” this year, but Pete wants no part of it.

I mentioned before that Pete’s best friend, John, is my stand-in character for my therapist side.

This edited excerpt is a scene between Pete and John where John is pointing to what’s underneath Pete getting hung up on glamorous but unavailable Aidan. Although he doesn’t get it at first, Pete comes to understand himself much better by the end of the novel:


“I don’t know. I get mixed signals, but why should I care?”

Pete slumped on the futon in John and Cleo’s living room and brooded, having jogged straight there from his unsatisfying tryst with Aidan.

“You knew he was a player from the get-go,” said John, sprawled out next to him. “Don’t let Cleo hear you moaning or you’ll get a big, fat ‘I told you so.’”

“Good she’s asleep.” Pete eyed the closed bedroom door. “But—well, okay, he’s a player. He even said so himself. But neither of us are into commitment, so what’s wrong with some uncommitted sex? What’s the big deal?” He made a frustrated sound.

“Don’t be a moron. You’re already hung up on the guy, and you’ve only had sex with him two times.”


“Three? Oh, right, the time he groped you in the closet and—”


“Do you hear yourself? Jesus, Pete. If you keep having sex with him, it’ll turn into a big deal pretty fucking fast. For you, not for him. And Aidan knows it. That’s what he’s trying to tell you.”

“It wouldn’t be a big deal! It’s just hooking up.” He flounced onto his stomach and mumbled, “Why will no one believe me?”

John gave him a look that was part amusement, part exasperation. “Pete, you dimwit. Methinks thou doth protest too much.”

“Fuck you, and Shakespeare too.”

He wanted to punch John, who was laughing into a pillow on the futon, but it would’ve taken too much energy.

“So you wanna crash here tonight?” John asked, once he’d stopped laughing.

“I guess I’ll go home.” Pete rolled off the futon and was at the door when John spoke again.



“Back to Aidan. You think maybe there’s something you’re getting out of this situation?”

Don’t start with the psych babble, Pete thought darkly. “What d’you mean?”

John propped himself up on his elbows. “Just that it’s pretty fucking safe to be hung up on a guy who’s unavailable.”

“Safe?” Pete had no idea what John was talking about. “And I’m not hung up on him.”

“Whatever you say. Think about it.” John lay back down with a yawn. “Later, dude.”

Pete walked down Rugby Road in a funk. Safe. What the fuck? What does wanting to hook up with Aidan have to do with being safe?


This pattern of Pete’s to fall for people who are unavailable (and to not be interested in people who are) is one I know well, because I did the same thing throughout my twenties. My parents split up when I was eighteen and although I thought I’d gotten over it, the result was that I never could seem to find a lasting relationship. The guys that wanted me, I wasn’t interested in. And I’d get riveted on the ones who weren’t available and try to change them.

I finally realized that I was more interested in protecting myself from getting hurt than I was in having a relationship. And once I had that realization, I was able to get beyond my fear and let a great guy into my life. I’ve been married to him for 24 years.

Question time, so remember: GIFTS! Because it’s my birthday, I will be giving out some gifts.  All you have to do is answer one (or more) of the questions I’ll be asking through the day during the party. One of you will win a signed copy of Serpentine Walls and three more of you will win a free e-book of one of my novellas (your choice).

Any of you see yourselves in Pete? What are some of the roadblocks that you see yourself or other people putting in the way of love?

Serpentine Walls Order Page

CJane Elliott Website

Breaking Birthday Present News!  I just heard from those awesome folks at Dreamspinner that EVERYONE gets gifts!  With the code CJaneBlog you’ll get 25% off all of my books and all Coming of Age books in the Dreamspinner Store. It’s good until 5 p.m. EDT on Friday, November 1!

8 Responses to “Serpentine Walls Release Party #6 — Roadblocks To Romance”

  1. Trix says:

    I tend to go for those tabula rasa types, and mentally endow them with all sorts of dreamy attributes. By the time I realize it’s all in my head and totally one-sided, I’ve fallen pretty hard. Blah.

  2. CJane Elliott says:

    Trix, so many people do this! So often, “love” is what Jung and others call “projection.” We’re projecting on to the other person stuff that isn’t even there. I’m going to be talking about that and how it shows up in Serpentine Walls on Charlie Cochet’s blog tomorrow. Don’t know if comments will let me insert links but here’s the website:

  3. Carolyn says:

    I think the thing I always did was to mess up in a big way so there was no going back. My parent’s divorce (and marriage) probably had to do with my thoughts that things wouldn’t last, no one stays, people aren’t faithful, etc. If it looked like things were going in a bad direction, I think I’d just try to prove my beliefs, but since I was causing it, it was just me sabotaging. Ugh. So glad I found someone who helped me battle those demons and proves that people stay, even when things go bad. In my heart of hearts I believed that’s how it would be, but I just hadn’t gotten any proof before.

  4. Gene says:

    Great question… and I had to think really hard about it. Looking back now, I realize that when I was younger I was more interested in being in a relationship than I was about the other person in the ‘relationship.’ It was more important to me to have someone to show to my friends. That’s why I made some poor choices for boyfriends. It’s the same as a person who’s in love with the idea of love instead of with the other person.

  5. CJane Elliott says:

    Carolyn, you’re right about the sabotaging — we’ve all done that in one way or another. I’m glad you found that someone and I would venture to say that it had something to do with your own growth as a person, as well as that other person being great.

  6. CJane Elliott says:

    Gene, that’s a good insight. Sometimes we pick a person who looks good to others. But is that person really a good person for us? Thanks for commenting.

  7. H.B. says:

    Fantasizing or not allowing myself to love. I haven’t had any interest in anyone for a long time now and if I do manage to find someone I might be interested in I end up fantasizing about them but never make a move because of self esteem issues and whatnot. It’s to break habits like these.

  8. CJane Elliott says:

    Thanks for sharing that, H.B. It’s scary to actually make a move. Fantasizing is a wonderful thing and that’s what romance books are all about. But to actually have it in your life takes going beyond your fear.

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